People + Development = Happier Earth

People + Development = Happier Earth

With the Paris Climate Talks underway, the fate of the beautiful planet we call home has been top of mind. And it hurts – I feel our precarious predicament on a visceral level.

I am not a scientist. I am a developer of people and a lover of the earth.

From this perspective, I understand that carbon dioxide contributes to global warming and that the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere is increasing so quickly that last week was the last time anyone alive will experience CO2 levels below 400 ppm. The NASA video at the bottom of the article is both beautiful and informative. The increase in CO2 is complicated but happens with more pollution and a decrease in the number of trees. Trees eat up carbon dioxide and give back the oxygen we inhale about 6 times every minute to stay alive.

According to the New York Times, the Paris Climate talks are avoiding the idea of a ‘Carbon Budget.’ So billionaire entrepreneurs are stepping in to come up with market-based solutions and space exploration is looking to Mars as our Plan B.


I recently listened to a science podcast from the UK talking about Mars exploration. One of the important questions was “Don’t we have a moral obligation to take care of our own planet before trying to make another livable as a life boat?”

Here is the sad, awful truth: If something destructive benefits enough people, it won’t change. And the way we live is convenient. Self-disclosure: I drive an awful gas guzzling, pollution emitting 4Runner to enjoy nature.

Here is the more complex view: To successfully navigate this challenge we have to balance the environment with energy and economics. Not easy!

How do we meet human needs while dealing with human nature in a ridiculously complex system of competing priorities?!?

The research from Harvard on living and working in a VUCA world (horrible acronym for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous), suggests that vertical learning is the key.
Einstein famously said that we can’t solve a problem from the mindset that created it. Vertical learning overcomes the mindsets that helped create the problem in the first place. Vertical learning brings more complex thinking, broader perspective taking, and a larger sense of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ online.

Integral Theory is one of the branches of vertical learning and a foundation of my work. About “saving the biosphere” Ken Wilber, who brought Integral Theory into popular culture, says this:

“The real problem is how to get people to internally transform, from egocentric to sociocentric to worldcentric consciousness, which is the only stance that can grasp the global dimensions of the problem in the first place, and thus the only stance that can freely, even eagerly, embrace global solutions.”

Research shows that only a small percentage of the world’s population (around 3%) is functioning at the level of development needed to solve the challenges we face in our businesses and society.

Most training and development programs focus on horizontal (skills-based) rather than vertical (developmentally-focused) learning. Developmentally-focused learning is sometimes referred to as the skill to respond to adaptive (rather than technical) challenges.

I’m not a scientist, a Politian, or a billionaire. I can’t change the world in the ways they can, so I have to do it in my way.

Fortunately, I am great at developing others in vertical learning. It is not for the faint-hearted and I feel fortunate to work with executive coaching clients who are willing to do this level of work.

Because of their courage and willingness, 100% reported a greater ability to face challenges and a move into greater leadership after our work together. About 80% also reported being more productive and feeling a stronger sense of connection.
What if that could happen with an entire team?

We have to tap into our collective intelligence to make a better world. Collaboration is the new leadership. Because of this I am bringing developmentally focused executive coaching to project management with In Parallel.

This approach develops collaboration mindsets over a few short monthswhile delivering work. The training is integrated into your everyday work to increase relevance and impact, giving you a better return on both your training and talent dollars.

Would you like to see how this could work for your team?

To make it easy to test drive, I designed the Team Assessment. I can sit in on one of your regularly scheduled team meetings, observe your dynamics and map them to models based on leading-edge research. At the end of the meeting I’ll give you the key insights that will make the biggest difference in your performance.

If you are interested, email me to start the conversation.

To our collective future (collaboratively of course),

Terra Soma

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