How the FOOL Can Help You ‘Go Teal’

By Richard Schultz for Enlivening Edge Magazine

Richard will be the storyteller for Enlivening Edge Community Conversations on October 6. Subscribe here by the end of your Tuesday Oct 4 to receive access information if you are not already receiving notifications.

When I was invited to write this article for Enlivening Edge and be an EE Community Conversations storyteller, I was grateful for the opportunity to share some of what I have learned from years of experience in shadow-work, Dialogue, and group facilitation. What wanted emerge through me? Do I have something that can help leaders and organizations “Go Teal?”

But then, I experienced writer’s block! I searched through my mind for what could help others ‘Go Teal.’ I noticed a slight familiar shadow of “not good enough,” and an old pattern of needing to “know it all”.

Then, an insight landed: “I know nothing! Do I really have any clue how to ‘Go Teal’? At the same time, I felt that the expansion of human consciousness might be the only thing that can save humanity from destroying itself. ‘Going Teal’ is crucial, but does anyone really know how to ‘get there’?

Sometimes, I draw Tarot cards for fun. While I was pondering this article, I pulled a card, and there was the familiar FOOL!

In Tarot, the FOOL is child-like energy, innocence, and purity. It represents the beginning of a journey, stepping confidently into the unknown. This archetype represents the source of creativity. Accepting chaos. Beyond control. What was FOOL trying to show me currently?

I had been watching a video podcast which mentioned Susanne Cook-Greuter. I searched and landed on a presentation and article, “Not knowing is the highest form of knowing” There, at the top of her article was an image of The FOOL! It explained my journey from needing-to-know to trusting-not-knowing.

In attempting to write the article, my ‘value’ was wrapped up in what I thought I knew or could be acknowledged for knowing that others did not know about the journey to Teal. The ego was playing me in the act of self-importance, and The FOOL caught me in the Act! I laughed and laughed.

Nobody wants to look like a fool. In my younger life, I avoided looking dumb! I needed to “know it all.” This useful shadow fueled my growth and path of seeking knowledge and understanding. However, it also limited my learning because I was often afraid of making mistakes and looking dumb! I often avoided learning new things, especially in group settings.

Humanity is trying to “know it all,” explain everything, and bring everything under our control so we can feel safe. It is attempting to take the mystery out of life rather than embrace the mystery, the unknowable. We are looking for the answers and certainty, “out there” in form.

In this Information Age information (often confused with knowledge) is expanding at exponential rates. We think we know a lot about almost everything, but is what we think we know now blocking our evolution? Does becoming the expert, or knowing stuff, sometimes make us dumber?

The FOOL can guide us across the great chasm to Teal

For those of us who want to serve humanity by participating in the shift to next-stage organizations like Teal, the FOOL archetype might be our friend and guide. We need to own the FOOL within us and the capacities it has for us. Does anyone who has crossed this chasm intoTeal really ‘know’ how to take someone else ‘There?’

“From all we know, climbing up the development ladder is a complex, mysterious, spiritual process. It happens from within and cannot be imposed on somebody from the outside, not even with the best of arguments” – Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations

So how can we as consultants or leaders hope to guide an organization into Teal if it is true that no one can ‘know’ the way for someone else? What capacities do we need? What are the qualities of the space or container that we can hold for ourselves and others as we set out on this development journey together?

Frederic Laloux says that there are two crucial roles a CEO needs to play in ‘going/being Teal: “1) creating and maintaining a space for Teal ways of operating and 2) role-modeling of Teal behaviors”.

Laloux’s book has lots of suggestions about Teal ways of operating, helpful systems, and structures. He emphasises that one crucial capacity for Teal leaders to role model is to replace fear and controlling behaviors with trust. This quote aligns with the journey of the FOOL archetype.

“What replaces fear? A capacity to trust the abundance of life. In Evolutionary Teal we cross the chasm and learn to decrease our need to control people and events. We come to believe that even if something unexpected happens, or we make mistakes, things will turn out all right, and when they don’t, life will have given us an opportunity to learn and grow.” – Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations

One can feel or be judged as foolish to risk stepping into the unknown, but the FOOL confidently and innocently answers the call and steps into the unknown, prepared to make mistakes, learn, and grow. The FOOL just trusts the call into the journey, not knowing for sure where it might go or the results that will unfold.

Only the FOOL has the confidence and courage to answer the call, take the risk, and embark on this incredible journey to Teal and beyond.

The Power of Knowing and Not Knowing

Have you ever had a sense of Knowing, beyond belief? I’ve had a ‘Knowing sense’ frequently, like a Knowing that I should do something, go somewhere, meet someone, say something, or something is just going to emerge.

If I follow the Knowing, I am usually stepping into the Unknown of what will happen, but there is a curious awareness and open anticipation that ‘something interesting’ will emerge. There is often a synchronistic experience that encourages the way forward or rewards the choice to follow that Knowing.

The Knowing and Not-Knowing work together. The Not-Knowing, often initiates the path to knowing  I wait for my not-knowing to guide me into my heart’s knowing of the next step, and the step after that. I have developed deep trust in this Knowing.

Trusting the not-knowing has been a much harder process. This is with little doubt the most challenging step for leaders wanting to ‘Go Teal.’

Life has been teaching me that I can completely trust the process of life as it unfolds. In hindsight, every past experience was somehow perfect because it took me to where I am now. I have been learning to surrender everything that I cannot control, which is most of it.

This FOOL’s journey of life has been gradually teaching me to open up my heart and mind, dive in, be curious, present, and to not take everything so seriously! The FOOL has been my unknown, unconscious companion and friend. And now, the FOOL and its gifts are suddenly much more conscious.

In this polarized, disruptive, uncertain world of today, trust is in scarce supply. Feeling out of control, individuals, organizations and governments are doubling down on control. There is a rise in authoritarianism, censorship, and surveillance to compensate for and manage our inability to trust, and to try to remain in control in an uncertain world that we have little control over.

The fear of uncertainty, loss of control and betrayal exists in ‘shadowland’ for most of humanity. To integrate shadow, we need to turn towards it, face it and embrace it. If we don’t, the shadow projections will eventually destroy us.

On the other hand, if we do the inner work, new gifts and capacities emerge out of the darkness. In the consciousness of Teal, control is replaced by trust. Without trust, there is no Teal. But how do we make this shift?

We don’t shift to new levels of consciousness unless pressure or a crisis becomes the catalyst and energy to launch us up the evolutionary path (or we may fall). Today, we live in a perfect storm propelling organizations and society from Orange to Green and Teal.

The problems created by the unsustainable shadows with names like domination, intolerance, arrogance, corruption, and control are inviting us to let go of control and find our way to trust. Life is squeezing our evolution along a mysterious, evolutionary path.

If we resist this evolutionary opportunity by increasing force and control, failing to learn how to surrender and trust, it may be our demise.  If we embrace the innocence of the FOOL, answer the call, and trust that the path will unfold before us, we just might make it across the great chasm to Teal.

For Teal leaders, learning to trust and embrace uncertainty and not-knowing is the greatest of gifts. It takes deep inner work to let go of the ego’s need to control everything. In the full embrace of not-knowing, we develop curiosity and formulate the right questions rather than answering the wrong questions.

Embracing not-knowing opens the heart and mind to the emergence of insight, possibilities, and potentials beyond what we think we know. Being curious about others and deeply listening to what they know or don’t know will deepen relationships and expand collaboration in teams.

The wise Jester will challenge everything you think you know, opening the way to change. The first step is to answer the call and like the FOOL jump into the chasm. Trust that Life will show you a way, your way.

Richard Schultz’s work is deeply embedded in integral, whole-person approaches to change. Open Space Technology, Genuine Contact and Bohm Dialogue are his favorite group approaches because they are counter-control, inviting participants to open up and trust their own inherent wisdom, setting the stage for Green and Teal shifts.

In working with individual leaders, he specializes in shadow integration work, helping them identify and shift the inner conflicts that hold them back, reconnecting them with their authentic power and brilliance! More information about Richard can be found at and