Concepts - Self


Concepts are fundamental knowledge that is broadly applicable. By virtue of being concepts, they are knowledge; they are fundamental and applicable in the sense that they provide a springboard for action - you can do something with this knowledge.


Identity-work refers to who we are, the qualities of a person or group, what makes us different from each other. When we work with personal identity, we are trying to answer questions such as; Who am I? What am I? and When did I begin? These are all questions aimed at locating some kind of coherent self, that persists from one moment to the next. Main principles of identity-work: 1. Identity refers to your capacity for self-reflection and awareness of a persisting self. 2. Identity-work refers is the act of consciously reflecting on your own identity. 3. Identity-work is the act of reflecting on your own narratives/stories that you hold about. Through identity-work, our aim is not to find an “authentic self” or an “ideal self”, but rather to become slightly more aware of the narratives/stories we tell others and ourselves. We start a process of working consciously with beliefs, narratives and assumptions we hold about ourselves, others and the world. This process is a double-edged sword, on the one hand, identity-work has shown to promote a healthier personality-structure and increased positive emotions. The reason for this is an increased understanding of why they’ve developed particular ways of behavior and ways of approaching problems. On the other side, unsuccessful identity-work can be dangerous and has shown to increase self-doubt and negative emotions. Therefore, because of the lack of time, we only touch the surface of our identity to see if we can find some patterns in the narratives we hold about ourselves and to let go of surface-level stories that might be holding us back in life.


Mind-work refers to internal mental work on how you think, feel, solve problems and understand things. Our mind is a set of different faculties, such as consciousness, imagination, perception, recognition, judgment, language and memory. These faculties are responsible for processing feelings, thoughts and emotions, which then again influence our actions, behavior, and attitudes. Through the program, we use introspection and common sense to understand ourselves, but there are also mental operations which we are not conscious of. The aim of mind-work is to uncover these operations which lay outside of the scope of introspection and common sense. To do this we draw from principles discovered in neuroscience, cognitive science, and psychology. Main principles of mind-work: 1. The way things look/appear isn’t always the way things are; appearances and beliefs can be deceptive. 2. When we think of ourselves, we identify with the rational, conscious and autonomous self, but it is far more often that the unconscious system runs the show. 3. System 2 has some ability to change the way System 1 work, by programming the normally automatic functions of attention and memory (Kahneman, 2012). 4. It is not the event that causes suffering, but rather your interpretation of the event. 5. You can’t necessarily change how you think or feel, but you can change how you relate to your own thoughts and feelings.

Through the program, we bring up key findings in neuroscience, cognitive science, and psychology. We will present them in a practical manner, with the intention of it being easy to reflect upon and commit to specific changes in your own behavior. Changing a thought-pattern will require a lot of work, and will most likely not be a linear problem that you can solve. It will require serious attention and reflection.


Self-leadership refers to a continual process of influencing your own thoughts, feelings, will, and behavior. In that sense, you are at some level always leading yourself. The question is rather if you are doing this successfully, or if you could become better at it. Self-leadership is then about developing self-knowledge and learning what you can control and influence, and develop personal strategies for coping with everyday life, performance, growth and moral maturation.

The self-leadership literature and content can be divided into ten clusters:

  1. Understand yourself and get higher self-awareness.

  2. Become aware of what it is that drives you forward in life.

  3. To be able to influence your mindset.

  4. Create patterns that help you perform.

  5. Handle what is holding you back in life.

  6. Tackle resistance and difficulties.

  7. Create positive habits in your daily life.

  8. Develop physical and mental surplus.

  9. Manage yourself well socially and in self-governing groups.

  10. Lead others to lead themselves.

Main principles of Self-leadership: 1. To better lead yourself, you must get to know your system 1, and system 2 must learn to become the basis for more of your decisions. 2. To influence internal processes, you must become aware of them and where you have a leeway to influence them. 3. Self-leadership involves work and reflection on own behavior, cognitive work on your own thought-patterns/attitudes and motivational strategies, finding natural rewards in what you do.

4. Becoming better at leading yourself is not just an individually focused task or process, the intention of it should also be to function better with other living things.

Throughout the program, we will be using self-leadership as the foundation for most of our work. The sentence “start with yourself” will have a presence even though our attention changes towards relations and systems. The reason for this is the foundational act of taking responsibility, practicing taking responsibility, even if it is just at an individual level. This is embedded in the program throughout, as you will go through a continuous process of reflecting, accepting, committing and following through on your word. This process will be the focus at the beginning of each gathering, at the end of each gathering and in between, as you practice to implement and follow through on your commitments. The fruits and results of this will first be shown after a longer period of deliberately keeping up the process, but is also foundational for any long-term shift or change.


Conscious-learning encompasses findings in a wide range of areas, including discoveries about how humans perceive, organize, and store information and then subsequently retrieve that information from memory. We as human being learn every day, a normal day contains a whole range of different experiences which influence and change our behavior and ways of being. Conscious-learning refers to the act of boosting this natural process, by more actively paying attention to our daily experiences and reflecting upon them repeatedly over a longer period of time. We will also take advantage of the latest finding in the science of learning to relearn how we learn. We do this to be better equipped to deal with a more complex and fast-changing society.

Main principles of conscious-learning: 1. The more you think something through, paying attention to what you are doing, the more likely you are later to remember it.

2. Make and use associations. Associations not only help us organize the material so that it is easy to store in memory, but they also give us the hooks that will allow us later to dig the material out of memory, to recall it. 3. Try to learn the fundamental principles first. 4. Use desirable difficulty in tasks or commitments. 5. Evoke deep processing through highly focused work. 6. Practice, practice, practice.

Every part of the program is designed to include these principles. You will be forced to think deeply and focus until it becomes uncomfortable. We will always try to present the fundamental principles first, rather inviting you to research further on your own. All tasks and to do’s will be adjusted to your own level and context. All insights in the program are intended to lead to specific points which you can practice in your daily life, making it relevant for you, based on who you are, your relations and what you want to do.


References for identity-work:

Olson, Eric T. 2017. “Personal Identity.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta, Summer 2017. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. Ibarra, Herminia. “Provisional Selves: Experimenting with Image and Identity in Professional Adaptation.” Administrative Science Quarterly 44, no. 4 (December 1999): 764–91. Sinclair, Amanda. “Being Leaders: Identities and Identity Work in Leadership.” The Sage Handbook of Leadership Studies. London: Sage, 2011. Alvesson, Mats. “Self-Doubters, Strugglers, Storytellers, Surfers and Others: Images of Self-Identities in Organization Studies.” Human Relations 63, no. 2 (February 2010): 193–217.

Carroll, Brigid, and Lester Levy. 2010. “Leadership Development as Identity Construction.” Management Communication Quarterly 24 (2): 211–31. doi:10.1177/0893318909358725.

Delaney, Helen. 2017. “Identity Work in Leadership Development.” The Routledge Companion to Leadership. Karp, Tom, and Thomas I.T. Helgø. 2009. “Leadership as Identity Construction: The Act of Leading People in Organisations: A Perspective from the Complexity Sciences.” Journal of Management Development 28 (10): 880–96. doi:10.1108/02621710911000659.

References for mind-work: Robbins, Philip. 2017. “Modularity of Mind.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta, Winter 2017. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. Thagard, Paul. 2019. “Cognitive Science.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta, Spring 2019. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. 2014. Applications of Flow in Human Development and Education. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. doi:10.1007/978-94-017-9094-9. Goldstein, E. Bruce. 2011. Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience. 3rd ed. Australia : Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Kahneman, Daniel. 2012. Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Kosslyn, Stephen M. 2015. Image and Brain. Vol. 25.

Spradlin, Dwayne. 2016. “Are You Solving the Right Problem?” IEEE Engineering Management Review 44 (4): 47–54. doi:10.1109/EMR.2016.7792409.

References for Self-leadership: Drucker, Peter F. 2008. Managing Oneself. 1 edition. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press.

Kahneman, Daniel. 2012. Thinking, Fast and Slow

Karp, Tom. 2012. “Developing Oneself as a Leader.” Journal of Management Development 32 (1): 127–40. doi:10.1108/02621711311287080.

———. 2016. Til Meg Selv.

Karp, Tom. 2018. “We Are Asking the Wrong Question about Leadership: The Case for ‘Good-Enough’ Leadership.”

Manz, Charles C., and Henry P. Sims. 2001. The New Superleadership: Leading Others to Lead Themselves. 1st edition. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

References for conscious-learning:

Barnett, Susan M., and Stephen J. Ceci. 2002. “When and Where Do We Apply What We Learn?: A Taxonomy for Far Transfer.” Psychological Bulletin 128 (4): 612–37. doi:10.1037//0033-2909.128.4.612

Brown, Peter C. 2014. Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Craig, Scotty, Jeremiah Sullins, Amy Witherspoon, and Barry Gholson. 2006. “The Deep-Level-Reasoning-Question Effect: The Role of Dialogue and Deep-Level-Reasoning Questions During Vicarious Learning.” Cognition and Instruction - COGNITION INSTRUCT 24 (August): 565–91. doi:10.1207/s1532690xci2404_4.

Freeman, Scott, Sarah L. Eddy, Miles McDonough, Michelle K. Smith, Nnadozie Okoroafor, Hannah Jordt, and Mary Pat Wenderoth. 2014. “Active Learning Increases Student Performance in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111 (23): 8410–15. doi:10.1073/pnas.1319030111.

Kerrey, Bob. 2017. Building the Intentional University: Minerva and the Future of Higher Education. Edited by Stephen M. Kosslyn and Ben Nelson. 1 edition. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Levine, Linda J., and David A. Pizarro. 2004. “Emotion and Memory Research: A Grumpy Overview.” Social Cognition 22 (5): 530–54. doi:10.1521/soco.22.5.530.50767.

McGaugh, James L. 2003. Memory and Emotion: The Making of Lasting Memories. Columbia University Press.

Merriënboer, Jeroen J. G. van, Liesbeth Kester, and Fred Paas. 2006. “Teaching Complex Rather than Simple Tasks: Balancing Intrinsic and Germane Load to Enhance Transfer of Learning.” Applied Cognitive Psychology 20 (3): 343–52. doi:10.1002/acp.1250.

Prince, Michael. 2004. “Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research.” Journal of Engineering Education 93 (3): 223–31. doi:10.1002/j.2168-9830.2004.tb00809.x.

Willingham, Daniel T. 2009. Why Don’t Students like School? A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions about How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom. 1st ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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