REGENERATIVE MIND – Emma Chow and Giles Hutchins – How we can use the achiever mindset as a tool for crafting a regenerative world

A conversation with Giles Hutchins, executive coach, keynote speaker and author of Leading by Nature, about the role of mindset in regeneration, the achiever mentality, reconnecting with nature and achieving a more sustainable business mindset, interconnectedness and the “field” in science and spirituality and more.

 Giles runs a 60-acre leadership centre at Springwood Farm, and when it comes to all things regenerative business leadership and organisational culture, Giles has been a true pioneer in the space, exploring the depths of these topics well before regeneration even became more mainstreamed. 


The Regenerative Mind series is supported by our friends at Stray who are exploring systemic investing with awe and wonder as well as our friends at Mustardseed Trust, who are enabling a transition to a care economy that fosters regenerative food systems.


”When I reflected on regenerative mindset, the first thing that really came up for me was rootedness, but also relationality, and the two don’t necessarily go together in the mind because we’ve been conditioned, which we’ll talk about, to sort of see things as kind of hard and fast. But actually, for me regeneration and regenerative mindset has that movement, it has a dance, it has a flowing into relationality to it. And of course, the more we go into soil, the more we realize that soil is full of mycelia, bacteria, all sorts of microbes that are continuously sensing and responding and dancing with each other through relationality. So, I love that idea really of a regenerative mindset being a depth of soil, a depth of richness that we go into inside our own selves, rather than a kind of thin, eroded soil, if you like of the achiever mindset, which is quite dominant in leadership today.” – Giles Hutchins


Giles defines the achiever mindset as one focused on outward achieving, grasping, and as a result, has a lack of rootedness. The achiever mindset is sneaky and by default takes over things, including the regenerative movement. We need to be careful not to judge the achiever mindset as ‘bad’, Giles argues, we need to offset it and create balance through a sense of wholeness and reconnecting to nature.

”Well, the achiever mindset really is this outer. It’s focusing on the outer, it is outer achieving, it’s grasping, it’s actually lost that rootedness. […] Since a mechanistic materialism, since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve really come to prioritize the outer. And that gets us more into our ego mindset. It gets us more into what actually neurobiologists now call the achiever mind, which activates certain attention systems, and there’s more in the left-brain hemisphere. All of that means that while our attention is more focused on outer rather than inner, we actually impoverish our inner sense of how we are. And we’re more questing for achieving things, solving things, fixing things, which is fine, it’s a very useful tool, there’s nothing wrong with it. The problem is it gets caught up and starts to dominate because it has this sort of heightened sense of needing to achieve because of an insecurity within because of a sense of separateness, essentially, from nature. We have this quest now to achieve, to try and overcome that insecurity by making stuff happen. And much of unfortunately, even the environmental and sustainability movements are pervaded by this achiever mindset without realizing, and that actually then leads to for not careful, the very mechanistic mindset creeping in to the very solutions that we think are trying to solve it, which isn’t clever.” – Giles Hutchins


Thanks to the work of scientists like Erwin Schrödinger, quantum science, and complexity science, we are getting our heads around this idea of an interconnected field, which is the invisible connectivity where consciousness itself exists. In this space is receptiveness and connectivity between the fields. When we talk about nested systems, it’s not just systems within systems, it’s also fields within fields. As a consequence, the whole is in the parts and parts reflect the whole 

”Understanding that idea that we are an experience of consciousness, the brains are not producing consciousness, they’re tuning in and limiting actually our experience of what is otherwise a relational, immersive experience of life.” – Giles Hutchins

”We started seeing how science was getting its head around this idea of an interconnected field. […] Whereas cutting edge science these days knows that even consciousness itself, for instance, is in the field, that the brain is a limiting organ, it is a sensing responding transducer. […] And what it means is that when we go into nature, which has alpha waves, and so forth, that helps settle the beta waves of the brain, help us become more in tune with the resonance of the Earth, which again, has been scientifically measured and proven that we start to open to more of this consciousness, it’s like the TV radio set, becomes more able to tune into different channels. And that opens our consciousness, it makes us more wise, more able to be in right relation with not just ourselves as human beings, but with life on Earth, and we fall back in love with life. That sense of separateness of the achiever mind eases, and we become regenerative whilst still being able to draw on the tool of the achiever mind.” – Giles Hutchins


Giles argues that, moving from conventional business through to regenerative business, we need to cross a threshold between ‘restorative’ and regenerative business. This process is similar to that of a caterpillar, which dies and lets go of the old self and then recognises the new that it needs to become. This is happening at a global level as the old (mechanistic) systems crumble, and we can also do this at the individual level—a descent into ourselves to find wholeness.
This is shown in the indigenous cultures and ancient wisdom and western societal foundations; it’s the hero’s journey of hearing the call, knowing something is wrong, starting to see the achiever mind is actually not fulfilling us; disintegrating the old self, and then allowing an emergence of new self. This process is called the ‘dark night of the soul’; it realigns us with who we are and allows us to step into our soul craft.

”The good news is that today, still today, whilst we are definitely understanding sustainable business, understanding regenerative farming, much of it is still at the head level, which I call gathering at the threshold. And what we’re needing now is more people and more initiatives that help projects go through the threshold. Actually, really deeply connecting into nature’s wisdom and attuning in that way with how life is, which is an embodied experience, It’s a consciousness shift. And we need investors, leaders, businesses, and all parts of the value chain to be engaging in this, as well as farmers, families, and so forth. It’s a positive tipping point that is beginning to happen. I think the shift from achiever into regenerator is becoming more prevalent.” – Giles Hutchins

”That is happening collectively in society right now as we go through a massive process of worldview shift from what I call mechanistic materialism into quantum complexity. This recognition of life as it really is, is happening as the old systems start to crumble. But it’s also a very deeply personal journey unique to each of us.” – Giles Hutchins

”We know that something’s wrong with our lives or something is wrong with the way the world is and ourselves as well. We start to recognise that the achiever mind is actually not fulfilling us; it’s not truly who we are. And that what society has been telling us to do, we’ve now fitted in with, but now we know this isn’t something not right.” – Giles Hutchins


Emma and Giles also talked about:

  • Measuring mindset
    There are some ways we can measure where someone is at, but we need to be careful not to get overly attached to, or overemphasise the measurement reading and lose sight of what is really important 
  • Body mind coherence
    Candace Pert, a neurobiologist, highlights how the mind is embedded throughout the body, not just in our brains. As a consequence, certain practices help the brain move out of high beta into gamma and the body is rebalanced. 
  • Influencing leadership
    When attempting to get leadership or other people on board to this idea of the consciousness/the mind having an impact and carrying relevance to the organisation and regeneration, do the following: meet people where they’re at; start with engaging at the ‘head level’ – open people up to nature’s principles through schools of thought like circular economy and biomimicry; help them understand how this is helpful in developing their/ team’s capacity to respond to a volatile world and deal with complexity; remember that you don’t need full leadership team but working with a couple people  




Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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