Let There Be Light: Appreciating the Flamekeeper

It is high time to look in new places for different answers, according to UAE-based Susan Furness, an alternative strategist, coach in Spiritual Intelligence, and a senior associate with Edgewalkers.org.  

In 2006, the founder of Edgewalkers, Dr Judi Neal wrote the book Edgewalkers, people and organizations that take risks, build new bridges, and break new ground. Dr Neal is an acclaimed thought leader on the relationship between transformational leadership and spirituality.   

The original article was penned by Susan for the Edgewalker Blog found at www.edgewalkers.org.  

In my role as a high-impact communications strategist, I love playing with word polarities or opposites. I embrace their canny ability to help recognise positive learning, especially by naming truth through observation and not opinion.   

Consider this.   

In leadership especially, if we are unable to describe the liberation in fearlessness can we effectively name and tackle the paralysis of fear?   

Metaphorically, if dark or darkness has not been named in experience, can light be described and appreciated?   

In her book, Edgewalkers Dr Judi Neal unleashes truths found in the experience of the moment. Indeed, the book was birthed after years in the corporate world as she integrated decades of business experience with many years of academia-based research.   

As Dr Neal compared her professional insights with freshly harvested data she was able to ground and describe her intuitive knowing; we each have the ability to open up intuition to unleash what we all ready know.   

She describes the Edgewalker archetype as the cutting edge of human evolution suggesting when an Edgewalker is awake to self-truth they become committed to making a positive difference in the world.  

Not surprisingly, Dr Neal embraces the realization we each show up with different worldviews as she names five orientations, or Archetypes of Change.  

In the 15 years that I have strategically introduced the Edgewalker philosophy to clients, I notice a change in glossary and vocabulary can encourage a sea-change among the team resulting in expansionary communications, innovation, risk-taking, and openness to doing things differently, especially when the future is unclear.   

Words matter. Time and again, when guided the play with polarities helps leader teams flick the switch to an alternative understanding. In a ‘blink’, as a ´new´ experience is named – and felt – the individual and collective view is ripe for evolution. In that moment, Dr Neal’s profiling of an Edgewalker comes alive: ‘using human potential integrated with intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual energy in service to something greater (than myself)’.   

Dr Neal cautions : “It can be lonely being out on the edge, and people often think you are crazy….”.  

Ain’t that a fact. But one I receive as good news, especially in these curiously lingering corona times as many seek the ‘new useful’.   

In this hazy light we all need a guiding light. Let´s meet the second archetype of change, the Flamekeeper.   

Flamekeepers are those people who keep the original vision of the organization or community system alive. They keep wise counsel and are focused on what is best about the past … always open to change but using experience to honor what has worked in the past.  

These sound like worthy attributes to influence the leadership toolkit for 2021 ‘ which some COVID-19 pundits labelled ‘twenty twenty won’.   

The Flamekeeper invitation is to carry luggage not baggage, appreciating the courage required to say ´goodbye´ to what doesn’t serve anymore. This takes corporate de-cluttering to a new place, often on the edge of surrender.   

Dr Neal reminds a Flamekeeper orientation would pay homage to the guiding mission and purpose : “A strong sense of stewardship permeates the culture of a Flamekeeper organization, allowing the business to carry into the future the best of the past, while also remaining adaptive and nimble.”  

The Flamekeeper also appreciate values : ‘…values are clearly articulated, and employees are able to name when actions are in alignment with these values.’  

There is deep value in the vault of vocabulary unleashed by Dr Neal’s work especially the relationship to change and time akin to the five archetypes.   

And there is no time like the present to face our truth and douse the flame that no longer serves.   

These times call us as beacons; to illuminate an expansionary view of our business as we walk the bridge from objective to intention, and from outcome to impact. Indeed, let´s make that an expansionary impact for everyone touched by our leadership, in business and in life.   


Do read more about the Archetypes of Change, as well as the surveys for individuals and organisations. These are valid and reliable instruments which have been used in a number of different settings. They are proven to enable a better understanding of yourself, and of someone who may see the world in a very different way. Each of the orientations has strengths to offer an individual or an organization, and each of them also has a shadow side. The customized report details these strengths and shadow sides for each participant, providing guidance on developmental opportunities.

Photo Credit: 

The View is the work of internationally-acclaimed Contemporary Master Artist, Dario Campanile 

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