psychological transformation process @ KP

personal reflections on the energetic/systemic patterns of the psychological transformation process embedded in the KP eduction

as 6pages .pdf here, 2pages-version as .doc here

I want to share some of my reflections on the “psychological transformation process” (Indy Johar) that i see taking place in young people going through the KaosPilot education. This is based on my perception of energetic/systemic patterns and archetypal symbols in the social field of KP in an evolutionary/spiritual context of consciousness development. Some of it will speak rather from what i see growing in myself and what the world and KP is evolving into, as where it is already now – i see KP as one of the strongest manifestations in the world when it comes to the things i will point out, but it does not embody all of them fully… yet, nor consciously. I guess it will need to be codified onto other levels to work with it, but i trust it is meaningful to share some mental clusters from my inner landscape.

Let me offer a piece of melodramatic text i spoke in a project exam last year in the context of general KP reflections: “You are experienced project leaders and you know about the journeys that groups of KaosPilots are on when they dance through the projects that the school is giving them. You know that by putting a group of young leaders into this spaceships, powerful learning will happen – shaping the individual in the collective and shaping the collective through evoking the individual. The simple notion of declaring the whole experience of this incubator as a learning field causes a tremendous acceleration of personal development. The group is unfolding a self-exposure momentum in its members… a burning platform for everyone’s growth. Shadows coming to light, wounds getting healed, others get cut. Learning in practice and feel the desire to do better. Pushing the edges of feedback in intense situations is leading us into an authentic culture of being and learning together. Broadening horizons in bottlenecks, sustainable enough to leave imprints in your core character.” Speaking in spiral dynamics terms from the transition of the green meme to the yellow meme i want to offer an image that i have been seeing on my inner eye. In the green meme we are/were sitting in a circle facing inwards, we made decision together in consensus and are all equal. The downsides of that is obviously the loss of complex ideas that individuals bring in but can’t be held in the level of consciousness of the group as it is pointing outside of the known territory – so “the group” (sub)consciously honors the idea as an expression from a free and equal individual, but rejects the un-understandable impulse when it comes to converging phases through voting and agreement mechanisms. In the yellow meme the circle is facing outwards and the individual has it’s full playground ahead – supportive/holding energy is flowing in the circle and we are there for each other. The personal confidence is sourced from a deeper ground and is not expected to be re-affirmed through appreciation in every single interaction. When i told Maria Scordialos (AoH steward) about this she confirmed the image and added a ring of elders around the circle facing outwards – in the turquoise meme they will take care that the net is woven well, so they are not so much focused on you but protect what you are needing to do, “they mend the net which gets broken no matter what, sometimes by your own selves in your desire to make something happen, ambition, thinking we know what needs to be done, etc.” (Maria) So the evolutionary inquiry is to explore how we can boost our individuality by being together! “I don’t understand what you are doing, but i trust my inner knowing and we are mates so i support you no matter what – and i am glad i don’t understand, because it means working with you on this will broaden my horizon.” It is about embracing the whole hedgehog and smiling about the massage through the many prickles. In the KP field one of the strongest values is diversity! From day one we get encouraged to see the value of a diverse team and how it is preparing us best for reality if we have our strongest opposer in your team for three years. We start to see that the team is missing out on an unique perspective when someone is not present. We celebrate our conflicts with a smile on our faces saying “how fascinating”. We get the assignment to build observing groups for the admission workshop (selecting a new team) with maximum diversity in order to ensure a fair discussion about the applicants afterwards – the group-building process becomes a fun marketplace of trading characters; “we need an introvert in our group”, “can we have one more too-much-space-taking person in our group?”, which leaves a reflective notion of peoples and ones own character qualities as a resource ready to distribute accordingly… honoring the individual AND utilizing/empowering it as a resource. New teams are build based on maximizing diversity (= maximum conflict potential in the team).

An attitude that i find strongly present and atmospherically encouraged is the processing of multiple threads simultaneously. The field will give you a feeling that its good to juggle many balls and improve your skills in doing so. Besides the lecturing program the students are in self-organized “ongoing project groups” , “learning groups”, party preparation, and private jobs.

Similar to the perseverance someone shows going to the gym to see outcomes in a few months, there is an attitude of training oneself in being mentally able to hold many strings and organize ones energy around it. There is a crucial threshold to overcome though – because telling someone that this is good to do training in “because” usually doesn’t activate enough motivation to do so – so there is motivational gap to fill before the system is carrying itself when the training starts to pay back and the feeds thereby motivation back. In the KP culture this gap get’s filled with tying the rising and failing of the individual to the very social relationship of your mates – if i stay home my team is missing out of my perspective / if i am pulling out of this group work they have to work more / if i am not helping with this party a whole other team might get disappointed / i am doing it for the group / if i am not doing this job it’s not the school that i get punished by, it’s my friends who are disappointed with me… this being sad it’s also important to acknowledge that there is a collective attitude to a certain degree of whoever is showing up are the right people and who stays at home will have reasons to do so. Eventually what this multi-processing training is breeding is a light operating system in the students – as the flow rate of tasks and inquiries is increasing the structure that holds this needs to decrease and become smooth. Like a google chrome browser processes and tasks are running in tabs that don’t affect other’s (certainly not always true in life) when one crashes and the systems learns to “suggest addresses” based on the history. And then there is of course a meta-symphony that will very much color the whole browser at once and can cause the system to accelerate, crash or other funny fluctuations. Again, through the constant invitation of the field to self-reference all what you learn about process you start to be able to be fully present with all your senses in the moment AND be able zoom so far out of the system that you can see your own inner movements of emotions and thoughts as being part of other flows in the system. You start to see your own memories as resources and not as burdens, you start to see your dreams and opinions as motivators or inspiration and not as attachments. You find yourself thinking – if i am frustrated to the bones, could i give my last breath of happiness to make a happy person even happier? just to see what happens, just to challenge the convention of balance and equality, just to give the self-recovery function of my system a chance to scratch me from the floor and rebuild myself new. just to play on life’s playground with serious intentions and a strong bright heart…. You find yourself pulling out of a group that you initiated just because you feel the constellation is more powerful without you – you know that impulse and creation can very well be the same source in a system, but does not need to be. You have a commitment to the highest energy in a moment, in a constellation, you want to foster alive energy flows – and when that means attracting rough criticism through provocation on yourself because that is what the system needs to be liberated than you go for it. When you find someone crying on the ground you cancel all your To-Do’s and are in service of your friend because you sense something big is shifting inside and it needs a hand from outside. Your inner eye can see years and decades ahead and you know that consciously working on inner processes is one of the best investments you can do for your evolutionary family. You know about the world situation, you look through what media tells us and understand the political, economical and social dynamics that are in play because you are honest enough to find all of them inside yourself too and can tackle the worlds challenges sourced by the transformation of your inner mirror of the world. You share your thoughts freely because you know that sharing is the new owning and that a free flow of information is setting the best conditions for emergence. Another term that ties for me into the multi-processing is “self-provoking” – the notion “challenge yourself” is extremely present in the field and i know for myself that i have very much internalized that. I know my fears, i know what “burning platforms” i need to stand on to grow beyond my fears and i am holding the intention of almost tricking myself onto those. We are aware that we have three years together in a ‘intimate’ and safe team-container that serves us as playground – so over time people will eventually start to use the chances they get, but it takes time to realize that barriers that you thought were there are actually not there. One of many way to source this notion to it’s conditions is that through the vast amount of feedback we give each other the energy of “i can fix it easier in others outside of me than inside me” eventually experiences a back-loop where you have to admit to yourself that there is no reason to not use the same energy actively on yourself. Otherwise people will point on your lacking integrity as you reach into their sphere without applying it to yourself. Going through the KaosPilots is like listening to a participatory symphony – this weeks feeling will be universes apart from next weeks feeling, there are endless opportunities in the next 3 hours, i am another person in the evening than i was in the evening. It’s not about setting one hour aside for a brainstorming, it’s about whirling up as many material as possible to make one strong move of running through and assembling the right pieces into a piece of art in the last minute of the hour, where no sense of direction was present just until then. And while the group is cheering and laughing you maintain a sharp ear and listen loud to the weak signals, to what is actually going on and what comes next – “after the hype is before the hype” (Simon Ulvund). Capacity building for a longer breath is key here, i know that the playlist of email-check, shower and coffee in the morning sets me up for a start into the day – what is the “playlist” i can sense in other contexts over longer periods, in what wave are we right now? What song comes next for the group? Can you sit in the embarrassing silence without filling it just to fill it? A fantastic and simple mechanism that amplifies the “learning by copying and repelling” is that we constantly get new lectures in who get briefed from the team leader, but have no clue what our energy level is, what we are looking for in their behavior, what buzzwords we get triggered by and so on. It’s almost like exposing the lectures as fresh meat to the students for them to build an opinion about their skills – and we are like wild tigers when it comes to scouting for good or bad process leader skills, how we would have preferred this or what was good and so on. So besides consciously witnessing ones own growth (optionally “milestoned” by regular guidance session and certainly self-observed in contact with family and non-KP friends over time) and the growth of the team members there is constant raw and unbiased raw material to learn from. For lectures certainly one of the most challenging environments to be in as they will eventually been seen from students who are able to see and express the wound spots behind the expert mask – that’s why it is so attractive and maybe courageous to lecture at the KP, it’s a special challenge. Sometimes it feels like a never-ending laundry where constant stimulus and experiences are molding and are being molded by a reciprocal game between the individual and the collective, the insider and the outsider and the doing vs. the thinking… like stones getting carried along in river-beds and getting shaped – the constant penetration through the field is shaping out the essence of a human being and nothing remains to work with but the pure inner core, naked on stage in a trusted circle of friends who want you to take the next step. But other than the stones in the river who loose their corners and become round, the KP student get’s both, more round and integrated and more extreme in his/her personal qualities. It seems the field is set up in a way where everyone attracts exactly the challenges he/she needs to grow on the personal leading edge. And that is because no one gives it to them, but the mechanism of self-exposure to challenges and a longing for initiation that is inherent in every human being get’s liberated and empowered. Another important ingredient in the KP field is the cross-team culture and the ceremonies we create for each other. Various activities like cross-team dinners, terrace power mingling, playing days, welcoming parties, pay-back parties, christmas parties and cross-team sparring are weaving a very interesting social field at school that is characterized by a feeling of a big family, a high level of support and also healthy ignorance of someone deeply in his own process that shows you that it’s not all about your personal up’s and down’s. A pattern that confused me very much in the beginning but have much higher understanding for now, is the reaction of a smiling “you will find out soon enough” when students below your year ask you what to expect of a certain module. It comes from a knowing that the process unfolds best when being thrown in without expectations or stories from others that overshadow the pure experience of what it is for you. So the slightly evil grin that foresees the upcoming frustration in the ‘young apprentice’ comes from a deeper ground of support and protecting integrity by not sharing ones own perspective too early… well, and sometimes just by being bored with same questions over and over again – so boredom can serve as a great systemic mechanism. And on the receiving end of the not-sharing it eventually builds an attitude of stepping into the unknown with deeper trust and a bold curiosity. The theme parties are a genius way to unleash archetypal shamanic initiation-thinking with mainstream themes like movies or time-vibes. To build a ceremony over many steps leaping into a climax and resolved in a hell of a party in a co-creational circle-leadership way really takes something. And again the driver is to “give the new team a great experience”. “How can we support the new team to be better than ourselves”, “What does knowledge sharing actually mean”, “What are the do’s and don’ts we want to handover to them”. Several breaths of evaluation and feedback hardly leave any perspective unreflected and builds multi-facetted eyes for everything. One thing that i realize while typing all this done – is that this systemic creature of KP seems so genius and intelligent to me that i guess (or even hope) no one can overview it all. The thoughts i share are based on my experience and the current vibe in the school and in my team. years before and years after it will be totally different. It is an evolving organism. So i truly truly look forward how my own perspective on KP is evolving as i am gather’s more experiences – and there is a longing in me to learn more about the conditions that such a system needs to be in to thrive so wild and gorgeous. Frustration is key, being down in the valley of unknown and time pressure will make you grab that book and read about that tool/model, and it will make sense because you gratefully dip that structure into the hot raw material in front of you and you see it crystalizing into meaning! In my first year our team leader stopped us in the first really ugly discussion we had and invited us to feel the feeling we have in our stomach and said; “this is a hopeless discussion – can you feel it in your stomach? you need to be able to feel it. watch out for this feeling, whenever it occurs you can stop the discussion and try something else.” Being thrown into the situation of having to start a project as a team of 35 without any structure from the outside other than a time-frame creates some serious intense dynamics – but it’s so so valuable to start from white space and witness the process all the way from building a structure in which to work and then all the frictions and solutions on the way up to the day of the presentation. Another pattern that accelerates the “psychological transformation” is to witness ones co-students processes and growth over the years. There is nothing that is more effectively showing you what’s possible than seeing it lived through right in front of you – it melts down the barriers of what you thought stops you. A resonance container for facing ones challenges and “suffering”/dancing through them. It can reach a level where i can foresee a piece of sadness or emptiness coming up in me and my intuition leads me to share this feeling with someone who is about to enter into sadness – by being faced with my fully unfolded sadness he get’s the choice to say yes or nor to his own one. So while being in the process myself i can also choose to give my resonance as a gift to someone and see what happens – i can offer a clarity of expression that causes something. Seeing your friends around you jumping will eventually make it inevitable that you jump as well. [ … ] Some patterns as list, yet to be formulated and put into context:

  • Seeing people party around you while you have to focus on your task – builds capacity in controlling the energies of focusing and letting loose in you.

  • Appreciating becomes deep seeing.

  • Connecting to root – coming up with structure yourself.

  • Catalyzing great qualities in interdisciplinary teamwork through the social translator ability that grew in the diverse environment

  • the value of going out of the KP environment to experience the new that grew in you

  • the bounce of individual and group – being in so many various group constellations is flexing social muscles when it comes to group identity

  • a healthy relationship to authorities through very human contact -> builds capacity to honor natural authority AND knowing about the value of playing a role sometimes

  • deep seeing of each other’s potential, extrapolating the trajectory of your development, maintaining a heart-connection to access each other’s resources. care for each other, follow-up on a personal level

  • being part of a process that you lead, different hats on, seeing my own qualities as resources in the pool just like others

  • play with and challenge conventions, not depending on them

  • attitude of “flirting with the world” – ok, this didn’t work, then let me try something else – there is absolute no value in blaming a group, it’s only an invitation to try another angle. penetrating the world with your will to manifest creations. courageous curiosity

  • resilience and perseverance

  • deeper ground, wide soul in their eyes

  • it’s more challenging to facilitate a KP team than 100 other people because of the radical learning field, feedback, evaluation

  • sensing where the impulse should naturally occur in the system, where is the energy

  • celebrating conflicts, getting energized about the heat of interpersonal friction

  • social return on social investment

  • regular whole-day character-feedback sessions in small groups trains to offer feedback as a gift but not being attached to how much it resonates. the person giving feedback and tying it to a memory builds a little story that can go it’s own way and can fall easily in love with overweighting some symbols in it…

  • the vibe amongst the Alumni

what i feel is missing in the field:

  • expression of a healthy divine feminine

  • maturity around love and sexuality

  • group organisms to build greater discipline in their energy levels and to shift them

  • an appreciation of expanding consciousness through observing and letting the matrix of your observation being widened by a mentor who see’s more and let the experience next time fill more of the expanded matrix. Developing of consciousness through story telling instead of turbulent chaos merry-go-round. (free after Jon Young, mentoring/observing skills in nature awareness)

Benjamin Aaron Degenhart, Team16, student in 2nd year, September 2010

and then two weeks later i had this short piece of tuning into questions that Paul (KP staff, very much respect him) put out into the space to deepen into the field after reading my text:

What are the mechanisms that will keep the system from falling into narcissism?

Too late :)  Well, i can speak from two very recent experiences – we had two professional process leaders from the outside coming in to lecture my Team (Zaid Hassan from ReosPartners and Jascha Rohr from the Institute for Participatory Design). Being the strong and intellectually highly potent men they were they took us for what’s there and not for the buzz around KP. I felt that gave a really healthy grounding and slap in the face of our pride and narcissism to hear from Zaid that we weren’t a challenging group to work with at all but really nice guys. So i guess one mechanism is to get in fresh outsiders who dare to cut through the buzz and challenge what is actually there.

What do the students see when sitting in the circle facing outwards?

You are not supposed to know that :) And to a certain degree it shouldn’t be visible for each other either i believe. It is about creating conditions for them to build confidence in what they are seeing there is relevant and their unique gift. There is a language though that gives glimpses into everyones leading edge… it’s art, metaphors and symbols.

What is the ethical dimension in the personal transformation process?

My spiritual ground is to offer myself as an evolutionary tool and in that sense i am inviting all sorts of transforming processes into my life. And yes, i can see how parents could become very skeptical if you would run a marketing campaign about KP that emphasizes on what (can) happen psychologically. Were there cases of serious break-downs or other traumata’s?

Who do you want to become?

For me it comes more natural to think about qualities, values and principles that i am holding while i am on my way of becoming. I certainly want to become more than what i dare to imagine now… i guess :)


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Benjamin Aaron Degenhart

Currently pursuing a Masters in Computational Science and Engineering at TU Munich.

5 thoughts on “psychological transformation process @ KP”

    1. hah, Frauke, thank you so much, that is so genius to create a dialogue out of what is meaningful to you, what a way of harvesting and feeding forward – thanks, i love this structure!
      and yes, all the very best for Hub Berlin 2.0, thank you for holding that space!


    1. wow, thank you so much Naomi for opening up to my thoughts and getting inspired by them. it makes me feel warm and honored. Bows to your openness and to all the work you put into writing your reflection, i will read them now.
      have a fantastic week as well!


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