Interview

The Consciousness Quotient

In his book The Consciousness Quotient, author Claude Cloutier challenges us to consider what we believe and why?

Bill Fox
Oct 24, 2021
8 min read

Claude Cloutier: President, CEO, and Founder at XtremeEDA and Owner, CJC Consulting Ltd. Author of The Consciousness Quotient: Leadership and Social Justice for the 21st Century.


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What prompted you to write your book?

I felt a forceful urge pushing me to write it. I've not felt this type of feeling before or since.  As I like to say, I am the instrument that wrote the book, the author is the universe!

I'm the instrument that wrote the book. I'm not the author of the book. There was this force, this urge, this intensity, this I can't quite describe it. It was this feeling that I got to get this done. Every day it felt like this power was pushing me. I wouldn't say I like to use this violent metaphor, but I was like a rower on a galleon being whipped faster, faster get it done. Go. Go. That's the energy that I felt about writing the book.

Intellectually, I felt that I needed to make a difference in the world so that my daughter and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, etc., didn't inherit the crap we created. The Seven Generations idea that the indigenous wisdom holds. I needed the courage to put my voice out there to make a difference. To say it the way that I saw it to give my perspective on something very complex so that my voice and the energy of my voice helped others to make the shift. Where does that power come from? I think it comes from the universe.

My view of knowledge is it's just the codification of something that already exists. All information about the world or us or the universe is already there. We just happen to discover it in some way and codify it. I think there's something soulful or spiritual about this journey of writing the book where my soul was saying to me, get it done. This book is part of your purpose.

What question is at the heart of your book?

What is the nature of binary judgment and why do we do that to ourselves and each other constantly and often quite harshly? Conversely, what is the nature of non-judgment?

What's the nature of judgment and non-judgment? Why do we polarize everything? I've answered that question for myself. It's the way our biophysics works. It's part of the material universe of positive and negative.

We can't help ourselves. It's our design. The only thing we can do is realize that we're doing it every moment of our lives. And the only way that you can overcome that is to look inside and go deep and ask, "What's my brain doing in the moment? How am I judging this right now? How am I judging myself right now and letting it go and engaging not with judgment but with curiosity?

What are the top takeaways you'd like readers to get from reading your book?

There are three key takeaways I'd like readers to get:

  1. What do you believe and why do you believe it because you can't make any transformational changes without questioning your beliefs and worldview.
  2. Self-awareness, your Consciousness Quotient (CQ), is key to leadership. What is your brain doing right now even as you read this?
  3. How will you be with yourself and others?

I'm not asking people to believe what I believe. I'm asking them to question what they believe. Take, for example, the Western capitalist paradigm. What do you believe about it? How much of it is unconscious within you and in your daily behaviors and so on. I can say without a doubt that there's a lot there that we don't realize.

Just the fact that we don't like to incorporate the spiritual or the mystical in our models, in our knowledge, and our philosophies indicates how deeply the western paradigm deeply rejects these things. It is at the core of one of our deepest problems. I'm asking readers to engage at an intellectual level that many other people probably have never asked them to do. You go to school, and you're told this is wisdom. This is the truth.

Your job in life is to go out and procreate that truth. Yet, look at how many of our theories are flawed because our science recognizes that. It isn't. It is only a partial truth, not the whole truth. I'm reading a book on quantum physics, and it's pointing out all of the problems of our existing models, including the popular fact that we've had a big bang, and that's it. That's how our universe started with a big bang. This book is pointing out how now there's a lot of problems with that.

What has been the most intriguing feedback you've received on the book?

It's ethical vision.

I haven't got a lot of feedback on it. The problem is that even though I've tried to keep it as simple as possible, I don't think most people can grasp even what I'm saying because of the barriers related to beliefs and other things.

But my anthropology professor said, "It's the ethical vision of it." It's not anyone's ideas specifically. I think really in the end, that's just it. The most intriguing thing is that I didn't set out to write a book on ethics. I set out to try and show how judgment happens and how to overcome it.

How might we achieve higher levels of consciousness?

Beliefs, combined with chaos-order oscillation, make it difficult for leaders and followers alike to know themselves and to behave authentically. Only higher levels of consciousness are capable of facilitating the difficult task of knowing one’s self.

Combined with chaos-order oscillation, beliefs make it difficult for leaders and followers alike to know themselves and behave authentically. Only higher levels of consciousness are capable of facilitating the difficult task of knowing one's self.

In the CQ model, I talk about bridges of consciousness. Three fundamental levels get you deeper and deeper into your authentic self. Reflection is the most immediate and most superficial. Mindfulness is a little bit deeper — what's my brain doing to me right now? And meditation, which takes you as deep as possible into the zero point of non-judgment where this is where you're in touch with your soul because there's nothing polarized there.

When you think about input to the brain, it goes through a chaotic process then a polarity emerges. So, it's either this or that. At least, this is my simplistic way of saying what happens. A neuroscientist would have a different explanation. It seems from the Bhagavad Gita that it's almost impossible to meditate past or through that chaotic point. You can just touch your soul and can't really stay there because it is chaotic. The brain will resolve the energy field into a polarity whether you like it or not. But meditation gets you extremely deep into that point where you let go, and whatever emerges emerges. It's a very different place than living in the moment.

There are multiple techniques of growing consciousness. Whatever works for you doesn't necessarily work for me, and do it however way you like. But you got to go there, and you have to be courageous about it too because then you realize your ego wants to make you think that you're a nice person and perfect, and why can't everybody like me? But in fact, we're not like that at all. So we got to face some difficult moments about our own selves while we're doing this very difficult work.

What is brain-mind leadership, and how is it limiting us?

Traditional leadership, what I call brain-mind leadership, usually acts to promote the group's self-interest at the expense of other groups simply because we always compete for scarce resources. Therefore, as traditionally practiced, leadership is the very thing we must overcome to address our global problems. Overcoming an aspect of our very nature is the paradox of our times. Fortunately, I believe that our mind is capable of doing so. I've done what I can to figure this out, and this book and the transmutational leadership model presented herein are the results of that journey.

I mean, that's just it. If a leader is incredibly self-aware, they live with conundrums and paradoxes every moment of their lives. Suppose it's true about the golden ratio of self-interest versus group interest. If our traditional leadership practices are all about ego and self-interest, and control, then we're not balanced. And therein lies the problem that we can't even recognize it.

It's like a coin. There are three sides to the coin. There are the polar opposites, heads, and tails, and then there's the rim. There's a balance between the two. If we spend an inordinate amount of time on one side, we can't see the coin in its entirety. Therefore our behaviors are polarized. And that's what happens. So this is why I think we need to redefine purpose. We need to redefine what balance means. We need to redefine leadership because what we've traditionally done isn't going to work anymore.

How can we get better at spotting points of leverage and what are some examples?

A big aspect of leadership is the leader’s ability to spot points of leverage and cause fundamental and lasting change to occur.

Part of it starts with systems thinking. When you go back to Senge's systems thinking and Donna Meadow's work on leverage points, you begin to recognize that you can shift the system at different levels of intervention, particularly, for instance, organizational culture. Then you're intervening in the system at the most appropriate level given its context.

When you have deep self-awareness, you realize that the most important point of leverage is yourself. How are you going to be in the moment? What decision are you going to make in this context? Are you going to engage with curiosity or judgment? Are you going to engage with love or with negative behavior? Are you going to try and stay open? Or are you going to try to be in control?

What balance are you trying to achieve in ensuring that everybody gets dignity and respect? That one's dignity and respect do not dominate over someone else's dignity and respect. Instead, to be sensing the energy fields in the moment of what's going on. It's to stop seeing things as things and to see them as energy fields so that when you intervene in the system, you're intervening to find that graceful aesthetic balance. It's a whole different way of thinking.

It is so alien to Western capitalism in our orientation that everything is a noun. So, everything is a thing. Everything is separated into subject-object. Everything, therefore, can be judged good, bad, ugly, beautiful, whatever.  A systems approach is a completely a different way of thinking. It's more along the lines of indigenous wisdom – to think in terms of verbs, processes, relationships.

And indigenous wisdom that seeks balance is anathema to Western capitalism – they are two completely different worldviews. That's why Western capitalism tries to destroy it because it sees it as its primary opponent, just like it sees communism as its main opponent. It doesn't like balance whatsoever from a theoretical point of view.  If capitalism adopted indigenous wisdom, it couldn’t justify raping the planet.  People shouldn’t be confused; democracy and capitalism aren't exactly friendly either.  Maybe that’s an important reason why democracy is under attack around the world.

I was thinking about my answer regarding systems thinking. How I answered is once again an indication of how our western trained minds influence unconsciously and that is our orientation to think of the system as external to us - subject-object. I would add that points of leverage as usually discussed are externalized that way.

I'd like to add that the highest point of leverage is us/inside us - so it touches on beliefs. We are incredibly powerful in so many ways and yet are trapped from using/being it. I think it actually scares people and so they allow themselves to be held prisoner at various levels of consciousness even to the point of denying that they have that power. What is free will in the end?

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