Sean Esbj'rn-Hargens answers the question:

What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?


Well, there are a few that come to mind but let me share one that actually has an interesting link with The Shift Network. I'm in my first year of grad school, it's 1999, I'm at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and I was invited by Ken Wilber, who's the founder of Integral Theory, to come to his house and attend what became the first meeting for the Integral Institute. 

This went really well and I was asked to come back and be part of the emerging team. And you can imagine I was totally over the moon with this because coming to these meetings where all these famous pioneers from various fields — and many of whom are actually now faculty in The Shift Network. And in this context, Ken bought me a laptop as a gift, just as a thank you and an appreciation. And this was my first laptop ever, and this was back when they were pretty big and bulky and pretty expensive, especially for a poor grad student such as myself.

So I began taking notes at all these early Integral Institute meetings. And I still have the notes and they're quite interesting to take a look at. But here's why it was the best surprise gift that I ever got, because I ended up meeting my future wife at these meetings. She was a grad student at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, and her earliest memory of me is actually of me sitting in the corner typing extremely fast, capturing all the notes in real time of the dialogue between all of these interesting people talking about different ways to apply integral thinking to different fields like medicine and education and ecology and so forth.

Now fast-forward a few years from that moment and my wife had just published... she wasn't my wife at the time, but Vipassana is her name. She had published a chapter in Stephen Dinan's book, Radical Spirit. And so Stephen was hosting a big party to celebrate the book and launch it, and so all the authors came who were part of that. And I came because I was friends with Stephen and part of the community here in the Bay Area. It was during this party that Vipassana and I ended up dancing, and that really was the spark that then proved to be the fire to ignite our romance. Had I not impressed her with my speedy typing skills, she might not have asked me to dance. And then on the dance floor I was able to use my fancy footwork to doubly impress her. And now we're happily married with two beautiful daughters.

So getting this free laptop from Ken back in 1999 set in motion a series of events that basically led me to both my wife and The Shift Network. Now things have come full circle and I'm teaching integral courses on The Shift Network.

Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, PhD, is a global leader in the application of integrative thinking to leader development, organizational design, and mixed-methods design. In 2011, he founded MetaIntegral, a social impact network that supports change leaders around the world in applying integrative principles.

Sean is a prolific writer and editor and has published over 30 articles and seven books that have helped leaders effectively deal with complexity and solve organizational problems. Many of his publications, which are used in universities and leadership programs around the world, have been translated into Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, and Russian. He has made substantial contributions to the fields of integral theory, integral ecology, integral research, integral education, and integral business. His most recent book is Metatheory for the Twenty-First Century.

Sean's passion comes from his love of being alive, his commitment of looking directly at reality without blinking, and his desire to increase people’s experience of intimacy with Being. He lives in Santa Rosa, California, with his wife and two daughters.

Click here to visit Sean’s website.

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This article appears in: 2020 Catalyst, Issue 3: Ancestral Healing Summit