Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice
3(2), 2011, pp. , ISSN 1948-9137
Perpetual Self conflict: Self
awareness as a key to our ethical drive, personal mastery, and perception of
Communication & Entrepreneurship
University Malaysia Perlis
Abstract. This paper
considers the nexus between the environment, self and reality, and the influence
upon ethics, entrepreneurial opportunity, and sustainability. It is postulated
that perception and interpretation by individuals creates meaning and that this
is regulated by self identity and corresponding levels of awareness. A model of
awareness and identity is presented where it is further argued that our ethics,
perceptions of opportunity, and views of sustainability are a product upon what
level of awareness we are anchored. Finally, this paper postulates that new
paradigms of ethics are required to create a sustainable society and that
individuals must achieve humility and personal mastery in order to be a creative
and effective entrepreneur and leader who will be concerned about ethics and
sustainability this century.
Keywords: awareness, self
identity, ethics, sustainability, emotions, opportunity
1. Introduction – Complexity of
Critical to opportunity is the
entrepreneur’s inner world. Within every entrepreneur there is perpetual
struggle for self awareness going on, even if we don’t know it. Richard T.
Pascale stated that the assumptions of people act as fences, thereby keeping
some things in and other things out of their awareness.1 Our inner
world not only influences, but is paramount to how we see the outer world, how
our ethics are shaped, and how we perceive and act upon opportunity. However
constructed meanings also depend upon a grounding of relatedness with others,
where our meanings are socialized, as we don’t live an autonomous existence.2
It is our perception and the
meaning we construct to what we see that defines the environment that we exist
within. Without our perception, the environment has no definition and no
meaning; the meaning originates from our social relatedness and consciousness.
For example, if one views a cube like the one in figure 1. in a relaxed way, one
can see two very different perspectives.3 In one perspective viewing
the cube from a slightly lower elevation, we can see the left hand side panel
sloping downwards from the front panel and can also see the outer side of the
bottom panel. From the other perspective, we can see the right hand side panel
sloping upwards from the front panel, and can also see the outer side of the top
panel. Thus two independent views of the same thing exist. Both views are real
and have inherently independent existences, but are actually one and the same
thing. As we will see in this paper, we project our own versions of reality onto
the environment and make interpretations through introspection, and this is what
defines the nature of the environment. The cube also shows us that even the
simplest environments are complex, something we usually don’t consider, having
multiple meanings for us to interpret and understand. When it comes to our
reality, our self and environment cannot exist without the other. Our individual
perspectives can only be the partial truth.
cube metaphoric of the complexity of our environment
A person is in a perpetual
struggle for self awareness. This begins as Melanie Klein describes straight
after birth where an infant’s first relationship is with the mother’s breast. At
this time the only object within the infant’s environment is the breast, where
it is identified as ‘good’ when he or she can feed upon it and feels
secure and nourished. When there is trouble feeding or the breast is not
available, it becomes the ‘bad’ breast. Thus perpetual conflict first
begins where the infant unconsciously splits the breast into two; the ‘good’
breast and the ‘bad’ breast. These experiences create a range
of feelings, object relations, and thought processes, where the infant feels
ecstasy, happiness and joy in the ‘good’ and anxiety, sorrow, and a
persecutory fear of annihilation, giving rise to the emotions of anger and even
a destructive ‘death wish’ for anything that threatens their survival
with the ‘bad.’4 Psychotherapy and psychology are based upon
the concept of perpetual conflict and learning how to deal with it.
If opportunity is related to
our nature, then many streams of thought, conjecture, argument, metaphor,
philosophy, mythology, science, metaphysics, and naturalism become relevant. In
the area of psychology, cognitive theory is very quickly superseding
psychoanalysis and other psychology theories of perception, the mind, and
behavior. Schema models are slowly taking over from the concept of the ego and
archetypes in explaining our perceptions, self and behavior. Any complete view
of self and the psych requires a synthesis of views from evolutionary, social,
and behavioral psychologies, neuroscience, biology and genetics, because of the
richness multiple metaphors can add to explanations. However the advancement of
cognitive science risks becoming a soulless and mechanistic approach towards
psychology. In a clinical way, it may isolate the subject away from some of the
great philosophies of the ages. Metaphor and analogies as a way to
explain the psych may disappear. Only the fact that we exist within a cocoon of
emotion prevents this. Our emotions and emotional behavior are still probably
best explained through metaphor. Even schema therapy still relies upon metaphor.5
Currently there is also an
increasing consensus and mutual understanding between quantum mechanics and
theology, particularly Eastern theology. Each stream of thinking is coming to
some accommodation with the other,6 although this is not abetted by
grave criticism from some quarters.7 Nonetheless the meaning of our
very existence and self identity, awareness, and consciousness has become a very
popular subject, not from the 19th Century
philosophical perspectives, but from the spiritual viewpoint, free of
institutional religion. A crisis of faith and rapid political and socio-economic
structural transformations are taking place which is leaving the classical
ethical philosophies to the history books, as if they are deemed not relevant to
today’s post industrial societies. Obedience to traditional authorities and
institutions have waned in favor of geographical and social mobility where
urbanization, new emerging technologies, media and peer opinion. Membership and
identity is anchored to different symbols, values, and institutions than was the
case twenty, thirty, and fifty years ago.
In a similar manner to
cognitive science, quantum mechanics is on the verge of new understanding of the
universe, totally changing the way we understand it. The Newtonian paradigm of a
set order, place, and independent existence, where objects are tangible,
definable, solid, existing, and where interaction with other objects was of
secondary importance has influenced our comprehension of conceptual reality.
Independent reality prevailed. However within the quantum world objects exist in
a relational manner to each other in a phenomenal reality, far from being the
static entities that Newtonian physics envisaged.8 This relational
manner infers interdependence for existence, rather than independence.
These relational concepts are
difficult to comprehend within industrialized occidental society, where
orientations have been towards independence rather than interdependence,
probably a paradigm that blocked physicists’ awareness of quantum
interdependencies for many years.9 When relational principals are
applied to the humans, we see the inter-connectiveness of our body where all
organs are somehow linked and must work together to create continuous
interactive processes or else we will not exist as a person. Humanity itself
lives within an interconnected Earth that is able to seek self-balance, as if it
were a living entity.10 Humankind, the Earth, and the universe are
interconnected and only exist through our perception. Our realties are
culturally defined which connects us as a society.11 According to
Daniel Goleman, our brain has developed where our interrelationships develop a
brain to brain link up, primarily through the communication of emotions.12
Even our thinking and reasoning depends upon socially manifested language for
meaning. We are not independent of anything.
This complexity is contrary to
how the brain tries to order things, as our cognitive architecture is limited.
The French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s postulation that we are not
human beings having a spiritual existence; we are spiritual beings having a
human existence brings us into the metaphysical esoteric, which cannot be
avoided in such subject material.13 What we must ask here is whether
we are really getting closer to understanding the concept of our true self
reality, or are we just creating another paradigm to explain our identity in a
What is important to this
argument is what is our “true nature” and how does our “true nature”
link to ethics and sustainability? Is this a socio-cultural link? Or is this a
link of universal nature? In other words are there inner assumptions and values
inherent within us or are they completely socialized? How are they relevant to
the phenomenology of our thinking, opportunity, action, strategy, and the
universe of objects within our environment?
We must identify the phenomenon
that blocks us from seeing our true self, so we can understand the
interrelationships between self, ethics, sustainability, and opportunity and
strategy. What gives us our ethical outlook? Are our ethical bondages associated
in any way with our true nature? How have they been covered up by our society,
civic and religious values? And, if so, how do we handle them? Are we just
encoded biological robots, or is there something much more substantive in us?
What gives us our views about
sustainability? Why do we believe in the human mythology about our immortality,
superiority of the human species, and our ability to dominate nature? Is the
realization of our “true nature” going to change anything? Is our
awareness important to survival as we know it? Why do we create defense
mechanisms to deny these realities? Why do we continue to deny these realities
that conflict with the myths we live by?
The rest of this paper argues
that ethics and our views towards sustainability come from our “true nature”,
which is usually lost during our living within our myth laden society. We need
to develop our own “true nature” that manifests our self with a sustainable
identity, free of ego and negative emotion to achieve the essence of personal
2. Awareness and the Self
Multiple aspects, terms, and
views exist about the subject of self. These come from philosophy, religion,
spiritualism, popular and academic writers, psychologists, and cognitive
scientists. Much myth and knowledge about the self has been reframed,
reemphasized, reformatted, re-orientated, reworded, reprioritized, re-metaphorized,
and rewritten in different analogies, where anyone who starts to read widely
very easily becomes confused. Ever since the “I’m OK – Your OK” awakening
of the 1960’s,14 more than half of Americans have embraced to varying
degrees some form of ‘off the shelf’ self-fulfillment spiritual
philosophies, that in itself has become a society related pursuit.15
To a great degree ‘soapbox’ spiritual philosophy is the ‘quick fix’
alternative to seemingly authoritative institutionalized religions.
How we sense, perceive, acquire
knowledge, think, and reason is governed by cognition. The advent of functional
magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and position-emission tomography (PCT)
which can measure cerebral blood flow in the brain through sensing magnetic
signals or low level radiation respectively to determine brain activity levels
has greatly deepened our understanding of the process of cognition. Quite
remarkably, the cognitive process has many similarities with computer
information processing steps of acquisition, storage, retrieval, processing,
data organization, and artificial intelligence structures.16 That is
until we factor in emotion.
Our emotions play a major role
in cognitive appraisal, deciding our likes and dislikes, what is agreeable and
disagreeable to us and the decisions we make. Many of our emotions are primal in
origin, once vital when we were hunter gatherers. Upon any sign of danger the
emotional system would take over from the cognitive system and prepare us for
fight, flight, or freeze stances against any external threat.17
Emotions would physiologically prime us by pumping adrenaline into our blood,
releasing our bowels to make us lighter for flight, move blood to our arm and
leg muscles and raise our blood pressure, ready for the next move we make for
our survival. Primal emotions, independent from our thought and reasoning
processes focus our attention to what we see in the environment.
Emotions can have a great
advantage in making quick decisions without the need to make lengthy
deliberations. However at the extreme, emotions can distort perception, reason,
and result in less than optimal decision making. As we will see emotions play a
major role in the development of our self identity.
Emotions can also trigger
memories and memories can also trigger emotions. Memories are orientated around
“I” and constantly redefine the nature of our existence relative to the
past and future, and our sense of power over any situation. Thus memories have
an important influence in forming our identity and guiding our behavior
according to our perceived nature.
The questions of who are we
really? and what is our purpose in life? have been pondered upon by
humankind through the ages. Since the time of René Descartes in the 17th
Century, scientists and philosophers in the modern era have been
contemplating the concepts of consciousness and reality. Descartes concluded
that thought is the essence of consciousness.18 He also eluded that
reality only exists through ideas coming from the external environment and
without thoughts, there can be no meaning. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz during that
same period applying his mathematical work on differentiation and integration
postulated that consciousness had many levels and degrees.19
intellectuals, and philosophers have offered accounts of consciousness from the
philosophical, religious, psychology, metaphysical, naturalist, neuroscience,
quantum mechanics, and esoteric paradigms. Each account is limited in
explanation due to the non-physical nature of consciousness, the absence of any
particular area of the brain that houses consciousness, the multidimensional
nature of consciousness, and the lack of any agreement about what consciousness
really is. In fact, some people believe that the human mind is incapable of
explaining itself20 and we can never have an objective account of
consciousness.21 Although consciousness is one of the major questions
of science, we are still not really too sure what we need to ask.22
Although no complete explanation of consciousness, self, and meaning of life has
been provided, various works and authors have offered a number of different
Consciousness needs meaning and
humanity’s search for meaning posed another important question. An Auschwitz
inmate and psychotherapist Viktor Frankl believes that man’s deepest desire is
to search for meaning and purpose in life. Frankl postulates that meaning and
purpose can be found through work and deeds, experiencing people and things, or
through unavoidable suffering where everything has been taken away, except for
one’s ability to choose their attitude.23 The ability to wonder is
perhaps one of the great cognitive abilities any individual has.
Ernest Becker saw that all
human meaning is based on factiousness and dependent upon the contrived social
nature of our civilization. Man is a social animal and therefore his meaning and
reality is built from the outside-in, rather than the other way around.24
Our reality is therefore cultural, based upon the myths and meaning society has
created. Further, Michael Polanyi postulated that the total basis of our meaning
is through our creative imagination, where this is metaphorically experienced in
poetry, art, stories, myths, symbols, rituals and routines, and religion.25
Through our imagination we assemble meaning and truth from our chaotic and
The experience of having no
meaning can be depressing and even terrifying if one realizes that their whole
life has come to have no meaning.26 Ideas about meaning and self are
rampant in popular literature and experiential workshops that create magical,
mystical, universal connotations about consciousness that may or may not be
really there.27 Religious and quantum consciousness concepts about
the non-physical offer a basis of faith, a commitment, a path to follow or a
security blanket that people can embrace and cling to, in a quest for
spiritual immortality, once they realize that physical immortality is
impossible. Because of humankind’s fear of death, the concepts of consciousness
may have been elevated to a new mythology that provides unsubstantiated
promises based on faith and belief alone.
The average person, most of the
time is not consciously aware of their ‘self’. Their awareness is like a
fish in a fish bowl, where the fish can’t see the water they are surrounded
with. We are aware of “I” and “me” and associate our identity with
‘who we are’ and ‘what we do’. I am a parent, I am a husband, I am
a teacher, I am a Christian or Muslim, I am an American, Japanese, or
Australian, etc. These identities also create barriers between us and
compartmentalize society, i.e., I am female, they are male, I am black,
they are white, I am heterosexual, they are homosexual, etc. These barriers or
separations are sources of emotion, our sense of self-esteem, power, social
positioning, and locus of control. Self concept is a combination of our
cognitive, emotional and social orientation.
3. The Self Concept
Our self concept is not a
single, unitary identity. It is layered and complex, developed through our
interaction with society and personal experience throughout our lives. Some
aspects of our identity dominate, while other aspects are suppressed. These
influence the level of our consciousness, filtering our awareness. Everything a
person experiences creates their own reality and sense of “I” or “me”.
In other words, “I” and “me’ is a construction of our self.
Our self concept could be
considered to begin with the environment. At the beginning of this chapter we
discussed Melanie Klein’s concept of object relations, the first experiences
outside the mother’s womb that give us a sense of identity, related to objects
outside of our self. We experience streams of sensation through our feel, sight,
hearing, sense, and taste. These all provide relativity, helping us to define
the internal and external. Emotions are generated with these sensations which
begin to create the first aspects of our identity. In this early infancy all our
actions are based upon our emotions, thus setting emotion as a driver of our
behavior in the absence of reason.
We are not born with any sense
of social identity and emotional bias. Emotions stimulated from sensations very
quickly suppress our true inborn essential nature, which in most cases is lost
forever as people are nurtured and brought up in the environment around them.
From our infancy, who we are, how we are, and who we will
become greatly depends upon this process of cultivation. Many of our
personality traits will develop at this stage, where for example, an infant
often neglected in feeding may develop a sense of insecurity, which may lead to
aggressive tendencies in later life. In contrast, a person well nourished and
weaned may become a contented person in later life. However the causes of
personality development and behavior still until today remain more conjecture,
as we still can’t explain these processes in their entirety.
It’s very important to have a
basic understanding of the perception process because of the influence over our
awareness. Perception is such a complex brain activity that a large part of the
brain is totally dedicated to these processes. All external stimuli are detected
by the five senses and environment energy is transformed through enzymatic
processes into neural electricity called transduction. Neural electricity
carries information within its original format, cell to cell to the sensory
stores by the process of transmission. The sensory store is not a single area
within the brain, as different areas of the brain process different types of
sensory information. These sensing stores can only keep unanalyzed sensing
information for very brief periods of time for identification and pattern
recognition. Information that cannot be identified by the pattern recognition
process is lost.
Many stimuli can enter the
sensory store at one time but only one pattern at a time can enter the pattern
recognition stage. This is controlled through perpetual limitation which
prevents people from becoming overloaded with too much information at any one
time.28 The attention function determines the sequence and amount of
information that will be identified at any one time, which restricts the amount
of information that can reach the memory, like a bottleneck.29 This
bottleneck occurs at the entrance to the to the pattern recognition stage, where
only one piece of information can be processed at any one time, thus preventing
information overload.30 This is metaphorically shown as marbles being
poured down a funnel in figure 2.
Figure 2 Limited Capacity
Entrance Channel into the Pattern Recognition Stage
Within the pattern recognition
stage, incoming information is matched against known patterns through a number
of methods, of which all we do not understand at this point of time. Perception
also takes place consciously and unconsciously, competing for limited capacity.
Some tasks are so routine they are processed automatically. However when one
comes up against unusual objects, then a great conscious effort is required to
process and make recognition. For example, when we learn to drive a car we must
initially concentrate on every decision and action we take. Once we are familiar
with the skills of driving a car, we do this without taking any conscious
actions. This is the advantage of patterning.
What information finally enters
into our limited capacity short term working memory depends upon current memory
capacity at the time, enduring dispositions, momentary interventions, and
conscious and unconscious evaluations.31 Our basic patterning
mechanism is biased and distorts information in particular ways depending on our
knowledge structures we already have. Thus our previous knowledge of the
environment influences our perceptions. Therefore our perception is influenced
by prior knowledge and the heuristics and cognitive biases they create. This is
how the brain cuts down on information overload and assists a person make sense
out of the confusion and uncertainty of the environment where thinking is
focused upon finding thinks that we are already familiar with, i.e.,
assisting a person to drive an automobile. Thus our thinking is really based
upon hindsight rather than foresight in gaining insights and ideas about the
The patterning mechanism may
partly explain why people have different perspectives from the same stimuli and
may also partly explain why some people see opportunity while others don’t,33
although this process is still far from understood.
Our emotions influence our
patterning through diverting our attention, which distorts our perceptions. It
is the ability to manipulate of change these patterns, which are like colored
lenses that we look through,34 that gives us the ability to look at
the world in different ways.35 Patterning influenced by bias,
delusion, distortion, heuristics, and socio-cultural influences on our schemas,
guide our approaches to reasoning, decision making, and problem solving.
5. The Primal Self
The outer level of our self
awareness is the “primal self”. The “primal self” is concerned
about the basic physiological needs required for existence including food,
water, shelter, sleep, sex, safety, and security. The “primal self’s”
awareness is physical and immediate, concerned about the now. Associated with
the “primal self” are the basic primal emotions concerned with survival,
physical fulfillment and contentment. These range from the emotions of ecstasy,
joy, contentment, and lust, to anxiety, fear, and anger. These emotions are
usually short lived as they automatically activate through the amygdala,
separate from our cognitive architecture, previously important to protect a
person in a hunter gatherer environment. Behavior is almost controlled by primal
emotions which focus attention on objects of physical fulfillment and drive
almost instinctive behaviours.36 Research has shown that when people
are deprived of their physiological needs, they will go to the extremes to
fulfill them, even if that means breaking social morals, culturally accepted
behavior, civic codes, and religious morals.37 Although the primal
self is very powerful, as a person’s instinctive survival is hardwired into the
primal emotional level, a person learns that other levels of the self are better
able to fulfill their needs in more sophisticated ways.
6. The Material Self
The “material self” is
concerned about pleasure, comfort, and the avoidance of pain. Goods and other
material things metaphorically extend the boundaries of a person through the
things that they own. These may include real estate, land, cars, and also extend
to intangible things like degrees, honors, social status, and other things that
bring notoriety and respect. Even a marriage partner is important to the “material
self”. The mythology of the trophy wife comes from the times when ancient
warriors captured the most beautiful women during times of battle to bring them
back to their village as wives. This is still a part of many cultures today,
often encouraged by the media attention the wives and girlfriends (WAGs) of
celebrities receive. This layer of the self is influenced by both the primal and
social emotions as motivators including greed, envy, jealousy, and attachment.
Thus at one end of the continuum a person desires objects for the satisfaction
of greed, while at the other end of the continuum objects are desired for the
social status. Self worth is perceived through the things that a person owns,
where valued objects provide comfort, pleasure, prevent pain, are attractive,
socially desirable, and a rarity in society.
The “material self” is
the source of narcissism, where an individual requires a continual source of
nourishment in the same way an infant requires a supply of food.38
The “material self” can be envious and even depressive when needs are not
fulfilled. However when the individual is in possession of prized and valued
items, he or she can verge on a narcissistic disposition. In some cases the
material self can also exhibit attention seeking and dramatist behavior in order
to attract attention to themselves,39 where attention itself can be
considered a valuable commodity. On the positive side, the material self will
tend to be highly motivated and very hard working to fulfill their perceived
need for material possessions. The “material self” is easily suppressed
by the higher levels of the self which can achieve the desired objectives for
fulfillment through more sophisticated strategies.
The “material self” can
be a trend setter, as setting trends is a sophisticated form of status. However
the majority of those dominated by the material self paradigm are impulsive
followers, influenced by peers, and usually adopt likes and dislikes of trend
setters. Trend following therefore occurs over the whole range of material
goods, fashion and brands, and also include preferences for the types of work
The “material self’s”
awareness is a social one where what others like and dislike, do and follow is
of extreme importance. This is a lower form of imitative behavior that has not
developed into full empathy. This may be a very good quality for picking up new
consumer product and service opportunities within the environment, but the
majority of people pick up the collective norms of society and can’t see outside
this social cocoon. Collective awareness suppresses a person’s ability to see
things that are different until someone else brings attention to it. This can
hinder innovation in firms led by a person dominated by the “material self”.
7. The Social Self
The “social self” plays
a very complex but vital role in one’s self concept. Self concept is very much
relative to others. The essence of humankind is a social existence, where people
have a strong need to identify and belong to groups.40 Being accepted
by others seems to be a more important driver of the self than physical and
material needs. Autobiographical accounts of hermits, prisoners, and those
deprived of human contact show the pain of isolation that individuals feel over
time.41 This need for affiliation can be seen in the way societies
have organized themselves throughout the centuries by the creation of families,
extended families, clans, guilds, unions, specific interest groups, and ethnic
groups, etc. This atmosphere of identification and belonging existed in small
towns and parts of larger cities right up to recent times. Many sports codes and
competition is based upon group belongingness, i.e., cricket, football, and
basketball, etc. Belongingness can also be seen in today’s social media where
particular special interest groups bond together and thousands of people
participate on mass in online games interacting with each other through
fantasized personas or avatars.
Aloofness and aloneness is
generally considered abnormal behavior by most of society, and one of the most
punitive sanctions a group can put on a person is exclusion from the group. Many
disputes and wars have occurred because of differing group ideas, objectives,
and philosophies. Outside groups have often been used as objects of hate, and
idealization projection and introspection to justify a sense of right,
superiority or hope. German society made categorical judgments and projected all
their blame and hate on the Jews in Nazi Germany during the 1930s. People
projected so much hope and idealization on Princess Diana and so publicly
mourned her loss. Minority groups like homosexuals are often persecuted because
they remind us of the shadow within ourselves which we cannot bear to see.42
There is probably a
relationship between disassociation, dislodgement, or disconnection and anxiety
and fear, which can lead through projection into hate. Street gangs offer the
opportunity to those who feel oppressed or otherwise feel alienated by society
or feel inferior to others to gain strength through the sense of belongingness a
group provides. Fear itself is a powerful social bonding mechanism which can
unite groups together in the face of a common enemy, whether real or imaginary.
Many of our social struggles are seen in black and white, where both
sides see right and the high moral ground or “God” behind them.
Social awareness is extremely
important to the concept of cultural capital where empathy is important toward,
to appreciate, or to have competence in working within cultural rules and norms
within society.43 Empathy is a powerful component of our imagination
in enabling us to understand others, their situations, predicaments, and
outlooks. Empathy links the individual to the larger community. Empathy can
assist a person’s awareness move into the spiritual awareness domain.
Empathy is also a way of
learning. Empathy is the ability to enter into the world of another and
understand it.44 However, too much empathy may lead to deep emotions
triggered by observing the suffering of others and in the extreme lead to
depression and lethargic states. Lack of empathy into the needs and feelings of
others is a trait of ego-centricity and narcissism which destroys the potential
for insightful thinking, where in extreme cases the destructive forces of social
prejudice, conflict, anger, and depression may occur. The absence of empathy
will leave a person within the primal and material domains.
8. The Ego Self
The “ego self” is the
most common domain people exist within.45 The ‘ego self’ is
primarily concerned about self survival. This continuum includes the domains of
how people see themselves, and how they want others to see them.
How a person sees him or herself is often suppressed and they live within the “idealized
self”. If the real self emerges and is too different from the “idealized
self”, great conflict will occur within the person. The “idealized self”
gives a person confidence to deal with and cope with all the dramas that go on
within their world. How a person wants others to see them is like a shell that
protects a person’s self esteem. It is within the ego self that we develop the
labels that give us our identity.
The ego self is the part of our
self the which develops sophisticated coping mechanisms to deal with realities
that don’t fit into a person’s self view and view of the world. For example, if
a person enters into a community 10 KM run and expects to complete the distance
in 45 minutes but actually takes just on one hour, the ego will try to explain
not meeting personal expectations away through self excuses like “it was too
hot”, “I didn’t have time to prepare for the run”, or “it really doesn’t
matter anyway”. The “ego self” copes with fears, anxieties, and
disappointments through defense mechanisms like acting out, altruism,
anticipation, denial, devaluation, displacement, distortion, fantasy, fixation,
humor, idealization, identification, introjections, intellectualization, passive
aggression, projection, rationalization, regression, repression, splitting,
sublimation, and suppression. The individual learns the boundaries and how to
control complex emotions so they can interact within the social environment
without endangering their affiliations or harming others. They live an emotional
life which links them to others with shared values important to their own self
Within the “ego self”
there is a need to glorify ourselves and distance ourselves from the feelings of
not being good enough. This is the idealized self that exists within the “ego
self”, nurturing and evolving through the journey of our lives. For example,
if we rebel, we see our combative ways as heroic and standing up for what is
right. If we are compulsive, we see ourselves as hard working and diligent and
if we are clingy, we see ourselves as very loyal and faithful. This is what we
call our survival personality which assists us to cope with our anxiety,
insecurities, and fears. However if we continually fall short of our
expectations, this may lead to deep depression. Likewise if our coping
mechanisms one day fail with a relationship break up for example, we are likely
to suffer a traumatic shock and go into denial, rage or even develop suicidal
tendencies. These types of shocks can cause fundamental crisis of our self
The whole purpose of the ego
self is to give us an identity. We develop social identities with a fitting
socialized world view where “I” and “me” is in the centre.
Everything that occurs and everyone we interact with is relative to the “I”
and “me” stance. We become lost within this socialization and don’t
even realize it, accepting this as “who we are”. In this way the “ego
self” controls how we perceive, feel, think, and act. We are strongly driven
by our social emotions, not being able to think or reason without their
influence. Awareness is our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This becomes our
self – a person who is a member of a family in a particular role, with a
particular occupation, with an affinity to a particular group, with its own
set of thoughts and feelings based on a cocktail of emotions created from fear,
trust, happiness, curiosity, anger, inspiration, etc. The ego self is not
interested in higher awareness and often utilizes intelligence as a block
against a person becoming spiritual.46
Emotion has a strong
determination upon our actions where we become sociologically ideological-ized
with feelings of righteousness, superiority, pride, with stereotyped judgments
about people, objects, and events. What we do becomes who we are giving
us the identity of “I am”. We are a creation of our own mind and the mind
is partly a creation of the events and history that we have experienced. Through
this identity we see the world from a biased position, attentive to how people,
objects, and events will affect the “me”. Our identity and role in life
demand that we act out these identities, thus locking us into a certain view and
place within the world, where we are largely unable to see outside of it. We
take society’s measures of success, i.e., education, career, net worth, real
estate holdings, rather than what we might individually like. Society has
indoctrinated us to the point where we tend to think alike within an acceptable
continuum of thought. Our morals, ethics, and views are formed, shaped, and
supported by our socialization within these continuums. How we act is also
socialized – we can never be who we really are within the ego self.
Socialization forces are so
powerful that it is difficult for anybody to free themselves from society’s
defined positions, thinking, and identities. However the “ego self” can
operate along a continuum of self awareness. At the lower end some people are
more concerned about materialism, while others within the middle ranges are
concerned about their social esteem within the community. At the higher end
there are those who are concerned about high achievement and working for causes
that don’t directly benefit themselves. Of course various actions may be based
upon different motivations from seeking genuine self satisfaction or need to
achieve, to undertaking compulsive behavior to suppress some form of feeling
within themselves like neglect, non acceptance, or feeling of inadequacy.
The ego self is most powerful
during times of success. When one is successful and attributes this success to
themselves, their innate awareness and humility can be totally suppressed. This
is the time when many business partnerships of long time friends can break up
over monetary issues and disagreements about shared efforts. This often brings
out selfish ruthlessness that is new behavior on the part of these individuals.
9. The Spiritual Self
It was the evolution of our
frontal lobes that gave humankind the ability to communicate giving rise to
symbols and language thereby enabling our search for meaning in our lives.47
Human beings are creatures of meaning. Without meaning people very quickly
become ill and die, which is a fate installed for many retirees if they have not
planned out meaningful activities for their retirement.48
Within the continuum of the “spiritual
self” people attach different values to the concept of “I” and “me”.
Only a very small percentage of people in society reach this stage as most
people are trying to achieve personal, career, and financial security, work on
developing relationships with their families and others, satisfying their primal
needs for sex, or seeking esteem from the their peers and the rest of the
community. Under the other continuums individuals are not well acquainted with
themselves, however within the spiritual self, people begin to feel integrated,
more deeply question “who they are” and “their meaning and purpose”.
The “spiritual self”
represents the culmination of all other continuums of self where a person looks
for self actualization and some form of intrinsic self fulfillment. At this
awareness level, self esteem comes from a person doing what they believe is
right. A person who is spiritually aware is willing to sacrifice themselves for
what they believe are higher causes than themselves. This is part of the
psychology some social entrepreneurs and also ironically of suicide bombers.
There is a distinct move from the trait of selfishness, common in the lower
continuums to selflessness and giving.
The higher awareness of the “spiritual
self” drives a different set of behaviors than people orientated around the
other continuums. Individuals are able to transverse the basic emotions of
excitement, fear, anger, and anxiety, etc., avoiding being trapped within
defense mechanism centered behavior patterns. For example a person will not play
out games to seek affection from their spouses and loved ones, motivated by the
fear that they may lose them. A person will not love someone out of fear of
being alone, or of the fear of having no one to love them. Instead they overcome
that fear and are able to carry out much more mature behaviors.
Within the lower continuums,
peoples’ streams of thoughts tend to be negatively based where fear manifests
itself in worry, anger, judgment, and general anxiety, leading to generally
pessimistic and negative narrative, i.e., “you can’t get away with doing
that”, “that’s so difficult to do”, and “they don’t want you to do that”,
etc. Within the spiritual continuum there will be little negative narrative
on the part of a spiritually aware person. Spiritually aware people are aware of
their patterns of thought and can consciously change these patterns when they
notice that they become negative. He or she will be curious, reflective,
exercise great patience and be a good listener before personally jumping to
quick conclusions about matters. Discussions will take the form of dialogues
rather than opinionated and advocating debates. A spiritually aware person still
experiences emotions but the difference is that they are aware of them, and the
consequences of blindly following the whims of these emotions. They will be able
to reframe their thoughts from something like “I don’t know how to do this”
to “this is a great opportunity to learn something”. Therefore a
spiritually aware person is self disciplined.
The “spiritual self”
enables one to examine information and knowledge without the bias of emotion in
deep wisdom. A spiritually aware person should possess some of the traits and
abilities listed below:
A relatively unbiased
view of the realties within the environment, aware of their own wishes, desires,
and emotions that may influence their perceptions,
An acceptance of
themselves, others, and the nature or fate, realizing that things are not
perfect and that people, including themselves will make mistakes, which they can
accept. They see setbacks, natural events, and disasters as part of life,
Adversity becomes a
positive frame where it is seen as a challenge rather than a setback,
Their life is simple
and honest. Spiritually aware people don’t need to put on airs and acts,
people trust their own intuitions,
They know their own
strengths and weaknesses,
They are very
responsive to changes within people, events, and the environment,
They revel in
diversity and contrast, rather than uniformity and sameness,
They like to learn
and wonder about new things and the big questions of life,
They are interested
in the larger philosophical and ethical issues of the time,
They feel comfortable
about being alone and don’t need company just for the sake of having company,
They tend to think
independently from the prevailing culture, continuum of ideas and thinking of
contemporary society, and consequently are often non-conformists to cultural
rules and norms,
They have their own
predetermined interests and commitments that they deeply believe in,
They are willing to
serve the community, humanity, and causes greater than themselves,
They are able to hold
these convictions against the differing opinions of others,
challenges and see them from a resolute freshness,
They have a deep
sense of compassion, a desire to help others and contribute to the human race,
They have close ties
to a relatively small number of people rather than loose ties with a large
number of people,
They have a profound
sense of fairness, not prejudiced, and don’t stereotype or look at people
They value the
journey rather than the achievement,
They have the ability
to reframe, look at things differently, see connections in a holistic manner and
are thus creative people,
They have a great
sense of gratitude to those that help them, and
They have a sense of
humility and are on the whole humble people.49
The big test for the “spiritual
self” is the ethical dilemma one would face when their values are
challenged. For example, a person who upholds life and is against abortion may
face a massive moral dilemma if they become or make someone become pregnant
outside of a married relationship. It is only the decisions made at these times
that truly show whether a person has reached the level of “spiritual self”,
10. The True Self
There is one final level of
awareness, the “true self” which is something like the eye of a
hurricane, peaceful, harmonious, and averse of emotion. This centre of
contentment is surrounded by the turbulence of crisis, emotion, distortion,
culturally based ideas and practices, prejudices, and orientations of the other
levels of self. The “true self “ is full of humility, empathy,
forgiveness, compassion, deep trust in life, love for the moment, gratitude,
joy, and wonderment.50 A person becomes very humble, knowing that
they don’t know, curious and eager to learn as much as they can. These are the
innate qualities of children who haven’t learned the deceptive ways of we
develop our social identities. They are free of guilt ridden emotions and
spontaneous towards life. We can feel some of our true self when we hear of kind
acts and shed a tear – this is a sign that there is a true self within us, even
though our experience of it is very short. This is our inborn essential nature
which has been covered up through our socialization by society and layers of
emotions we have accumulated through life. Only a very small percentage of
people ever reach this level, and only for short periods of their consciousness.
The concept of the “true
self” shares an analogy with the concept of “emptiness” in quantum
physics. Critical to this is the nature of “the first act of symmetry
breaking” that acts upon the “empty” informational ground of
potentiality.51 A soul or self of purity connected to the mind, body,
and environment – one’s true nature – will reflect the images of nature around
the self. Our “worlding” is an ongoing process of constructing and
enhancing our world views and realities through movement, openness, and
perpetual becoming. Through worlding our structure of knowledge
and understanding emerges.52
The “true self” is
awareness without labels, feeling without thinking, learning with an unbiased
innocence, orientated within the present moment. We find out that the true self
does not have any tangible “I’ or “me”. If one experiments with
meditation and escapes thinking and emotion, they may feel the sensation of
emptiness where “I’ and “me” doesn’t exist. In the true self
there is an emptiness when searching for “I am” in both mind and body. We
cannot locate the source of our self, which is consistent with the brain not
having a specific location associated with the self.53
This is the height of emotional
sensitivity or state of mindfulness where one is aware of what is happening as
opposed to letting things dwell in the semi-consciousness as emotions. Thus one
is able to see the environment without the baggage of assumptions, heuristics,
and other cognitive biases. One sees what is actually in front of them.
Emotional sensitivity involves unbiased perception to stimuli within the
environment of any particular situation that may house potential opportunities
or require decision making.54 Most people’s emotional sensitivity is
inhibited by past categorizations, rules, and routines that cloud the ability to
view any current situation with novel distinctions.55 Therefore the
greater the emotional sensitivity or more mindful a person is, the more open to
the environment they will be. Emotional sensitivity is a tool that can be used
to discover opportunity, due to the nature of opportunity being a nexus between
the self and the environment.
The more one is mindful, the
better the potential perception of opportunities, however other facets such as
prior knowledge are still vitally important, which without any individual will
not be able to perceive opportunity for new ventures, products, and services.56
Langer proposed that mindfulness may enhance the ability to perceive and shape
new opportunities through five components that have been empirically tested;
Openness to novelty –
the ability to reason with relatively novel forms of stimuli,
distinction – the ability to distinguish minute differences in the details of an
object, action, or environment,
different contexts- tasks and abilities will differ according to the situational
Awareness of multiple
perspectives – the ability to think dialectically, and
Orientation in the
present – paying attention to here and now.57
At the other awareness levels
we find that “I” and “me” are associated with labels of what we
do, who we are relative to others, and who we identify with. “I” and “me”
is part of a bundle of emotions, which mentally construct who we are,
i.e., I am an angry person, not satisfied with the job done, I am a wealthy
person, driving a luxury imported European car. To many, not having these
identities is like being naked and feeling defenseless. Our constructed
identities protect us from the environment, relationships, and events we feel
anxious and apprehensive about. These are the personas or false
identities we live by that cover up our true nature and drive our behavior in
certain ways to alleviate our anxiety and satisfy whatever we desire; mistakenly
thinking this is self fulfillment.
If we internalize a positive
sense of self within us, we would tend to have a more trusting relationship with
the world around us. If however, we internalize a sense of fear and distrust,
then the world around us will seem threatening and we will tend to seek ways to
protect ourselves. Thus we respond to the world through what Virginia Satir
called survival stances, such as placating others when feeling helpless, blaming
others when feeling worthless, rationalize like a computer when feeling
vulnerable, and distract attention away from issues and ourselves when feeling
We think through the false self
but we feel through the true self. This is important about how we approach the
ethics of life and exist in harmony with the world we live in. The closer we get
to our “true self”, the more we understand humility. The further we
deviate from our “true self”, the more we deviate from our innate nature,
and thus ethical behavior. Any mode of ethics not based upon our “true self”
relies on guilt, shame, fear, status, compliance, punishment, rewards, and
even damnation as motivators.
We see the world through the
different levels of self. Viewing the world from each level provides us with
different sets of realities which shape our assumptions, beliefs, values, and
attitudes. The levels of awareness a person are anchored to will help shape the
type of personality and source of their personal motivations. From the
perception perspective, each individual will be unique in the way they perceive
objects, people and events. At each level a person is also influenced by a
different set of emotions.
Levels of Self and Awareness
11. The Emotional Orientation
We view the world through the
level of awareness we are anchored within and the various identities we have
developed to cope with what we believe threatens us. Our awareness is also
orientated toward the past and future and our perception of the degree of
control we have over objects, people, and events (the environment). These are
the psychological realms of our consciousness that influence what types of
emotions we manifest towards objects, people, and events. Our reality exists
according to our orientation within the matrix (see figure 4). The further away
we move from the optimal region of awareness or “the now”, the more our
realities are distorted by the future, past, internal or external locus of
control. The closer to the centre or “now” of the matrix, the less
delusion exists upon our sense of awareness. At the centre, or “now”, the
past, present, future, and perception of our influence over the environment is
The past holds memories upon
which we have emotions. In the past position we live with stories that generate
feelings of blame, regret, guilt, pride, and/or nostalgia. We regret past
mistakes or relish past successes, holding past situations in either a positive
or negative light which becomes the basis for interpreting the present. Past
stories explain what we feel today and influence our form of action. We project
the past into the present and lose awareness about the reality of the present.
For example, if we are competing in a squash tournament and draw up against
someone who has consistently beat us, based on the past we will believe that we
will lose again. Therefore we lose confidence and play like a defeated person.
Our past becomes our fear, which we seek to avoid. Our past successes may
influence us keep our routines the same because they have worked in past
situations without questioning suitability for the present situation, often
bringing rigidity to what we do. The past influences our relationships and
controls our focus and attention on areas that have been successful for us. When
we live in the past, memories determine how we feel in the present. It isn’t the
truth about the past that is important, it’s what we believe.
The past is our memory which
has been recompiled and reconfigured to fit in with our sense of self. In
addition, our attachment to the past is reinforced by the stories, myths,
symbols, heroes, values, and beliefs that are manifested through our culture.
Consequently, it is extremely difficult to escape the influence of our past.
The future can represent
excitement, hope, potential for dreams, aspirations, and plans to be realized.
The future can also be a cold void of anxiety and uncertainty, which could be a
source of fear. Some people develop anxiety about not being able to control the
future. The future brings mortality, a grim reminder to many that we live a
finite existence. Like the past, the future exists within the domain of our
imagination, a vision, a feeling that someone may cling to suppress the anxiety
of the present. The hope of the future can suppress the distresses of the
present and becomes the basis for interpreting the present. We may install
excessive controls to minimize uncertainty thus stifling creativity and
initiative within an organization. We may keep postponing things like
retrenchments that cause potential unhappiness to some other time to escape the
pain. Alternatively we may justify our work in the present for something we
visualize in the future, maybe at the cost of missing opportunities in the
present. Some future orientation is necessary for holding visions that can be
enacted upon, which is the basis of all change. However total absorption within
the future can delude the reality of the present, where nothing gets done.
The image of the future is
constructed through our aspirations which can be powerful motivators and drivers
of our behavior. This is reinforced by the cultural expectations for success
from the society we live in, as we have seen that success is measured by
The other axis of awareness is
the locus of control. The locus of control is a person’s perception of their
influence over objects, people, and events within the environment. A person with
an internal locus of control expects they have influence over objects, people,
or events, while a person with an external locus of control expects that they
have little control over objects, people or events. Consequently a person who
believes that they can have some control over their grades at school who behave
differently than someone who believes they have little or no influence. The
locus of control tends to be specific to certain types of events and thus a
person will differ in their perception of their locus of control across a range
of different activities. One may have a high degree of self efficacy in one area
and lack of self confidence in another.
Within the continuum of locus
of control a person will develop feelings about responsibility, degree of
influence, involvement of luck, fate, and chance, the value of hard work, the
value of networking, what are the necessary attributes to achieve success, and
generally whether the ability to succeed is within his or her own grasp. This
strongly influences a person’s perception of self efficacy, personal power, and
self esteem. People with an external locus of control may feel they depend upon
others for success. This belief may help groom them to become effective leaders
who empower the staff, or to become compulsive and paranoid leaders who develop
strict organizational controls due to lack of trust of their staff that stifle
creativity and innovation. In the market and strategy area, people with an
external locus of control will tend to seek soft markets and uncontested niches,
as they feel vulnerable and even paranoid. They also have little trust in
customers and suppliers, and tend to rely on distributors rather than directly
intervening within the market. An external locus of control tends to make a
person underestimate their skills and abilities.
On the contrary individuals
with an internal locus of control tend to be fearless within the market, and
like taking head-on challenges, where there are winners and losers. They tend to
be aggressive, intervening directly into the market. This could be at the risk
of being overconfident which if not checked, can lead to disaster. A high
internal locus of control correlates very well with individuals within the
ego-self where “I” and “me” perceptions may motivate grandiose
visions and behavior.
Views towards sustainability
originate here. People who believe that they can control nature may tend to
discard the potential effects of nature when making decisions about activities
like farming, whereas people who believe that nature cannot be controlled will
develop their decisions based on a respect for the power of nature and possibly
try to find ways to work in harmony with nature. However society has generally
been developed on the belief that we have power over the environment, a view
supported by the advent of ‘technology’ and the ‘green revolution’
after the Second World War. Society thought during the second half of the 20th
Century that they could control the destiny of the environment. Even today many
in society are still in denial about our true impotency within the environment.
Reality only emerges from a natural disaster like a tsunami, hurricane, drought,
volcano eruption, flood, earthquake, or forest fire.
The now position is the optimal
area of awareness. The past is a memory and the future is a fantasy. The only
position of truth is now. Awareness is not about intelligence and knowledge it
is about understanding and wisdom. Awareness accepts whatever arises within
one’s field of knowing. Awareness is not about analyzing in detail; it’s about
what appears and how you respond to it.59 Interpreting “now”
at a later time changes meaning. Within the now a person is not burdened by the
emotions of the past or future orientation, so there are no feelings of remorse,
guilt, regret, attachment to what worked in the past, no fear or anxiety about
the uncertainty of the future. Likewise there are no feelings of overconfidence,
grandiosity, inadequacy, or depression. The now position is free of distorting
emotions that bias reasoning and thinking. This focuses psychic energy to the
now as it is not wasted on physically and mentally draining emotions. Living
with this high level of emotion continually drains psychic, intellectual, and
physical energies. The centre of now is calm, focused, simplistic, connected,
empathetic, and a place of humility. In contrast to the outer plain, the centre
is an area full of energy.
However as the optimum region
of awareness is a smaller circle within the matrix, a slight future orientation
allows vision, and a slight past orientation allows learning.
The Emotional Orientation Matrix
12. Meaning and Reality
Perception and emotion help
shape the meaning of our environment. If we live within the fixed emotions of
our reality construction, our meaning will remain one dimensional and rigid. It
will be very difficult to see any other possibilities while our perceptions and
thoughts are patterned in a particular way. If we believe that opportunity is
about personal discovery, then finding new meanings is paramount to finding new
We create meaning from what we
touch, small, hear, see, and taste. Most meanings we create are within social
contexts which are up to us to interpret. Take for example a parent who has
aspirations for their children to go onto further education. What are the
sub-conscious reasons behind these aspirations? This is not necessarily easy
(even for trained psychologists) to determine without time to compare narratives
and other signs given at other times by the parent. The potential motivations
for the parent’s aspiration for their children’s higher education could be any
one or even mixture of the following: keeping face, an attempt to impress the
listener, keeping up with the “Jones”, deny an unhappy family life, a
narrative device of optimism, showing off, meeting cultural expectations, or it
is the truth. Thus we cannot assume with this simple example that meaning is
always easily accessible to us. We can lose meaning through our perceptions, our
interpretations, or lack of empathy with the person involved (see Figure 5).
reasons why a parent has aspirations for their child
to undertake further education
We need to discover, reflect
upon and challenge the realities we think we see. Most people accept their
perceptions of reality without question and consequently very few people
actually test these realities, as we tend to think of reality as an absolute.
Only the creative test reality through imagination, reflected in art, writing,
poetry, invention, and even some forms of entrepreneurship.
One way to see other potential
realities in everyday situations is to reframe the current prevailing emotions
that exist in a situation. For example, if you look at a poor job done by your
employees with anger and blame, you would tend to look repressively at them and
seek ways to control them more, or take some other form of retribution. If
however you look at the same situation with calmness, empathy, and forgiveness,
you may find other reasons for your employees’ poor performance, such as high
work load, not understanding the importance of the job, or a response to some
source of anger that triggered their poor effort. Rather than repress your
employees further and increase the scope of the problem, the reframed perception
brings a new reality to the source of the problem which may be solved in a
This involves moving your
awareness to the now, not thinking from the past or the future. This means
reading the situation as it exists now and not putting the emotions of your
history into your interpretation. In the case above, this may involve dropping
the assumption that all workers are lazy, which will create conditioned
responses such as repressing and controlling the staff more. This assumption
based on our experience impedes learning by experimenting with other potential
solutions. Looking from “the now” eliminates predetermined assumptions,
enabling a reframing of our thoughts into potentially positive solutions.
Handling both strategic and
organizational situations requires a capacity for reflection without direct
emotional influence and the baggage of yesterday and tomorrow’s assumptions, so
that meaningful insights can occur. We can thus disregard our old patterns of
behavior in favor of new patterns. Once we can achieve this (and this requires
mental discipline), we are able to eliminate the emotions that influence our
thinking, in favor of humility, which opens up our mind to new possibilities.
Approaching problems with humility is better than approaching with feelings of
over-confidence or powerlessness at the other end of the spectrum. Making new
meaning is about changing the narrative.
13. Complacency and False
Urgency Change Our Perspectives of Reality
A leader after a period of time
often becomes tired and complacent. This is very common with entrepreneurs who
have led the company from an initial start-up and corporate leaders who have
been in their position for a long period of time. After some time, leaders and
entrepreneurs become tired, run out of new ideas, lose their drive, and become
complacent. Complacency is a characteristic that gradually sets into a person
who becomes very comfortable, gets bored, and is tired of the same issues and
problems each day. Work becomes a drag rather than the challenge it once was.
Complacent leaders believe that they know all that is needed to be known about
the market and cease to scan the environment for new threats and opportunities.
Within this scenario, motivation slowly declines, self discipline, general focus
and concentration wanes. The narrative of the leader becomes reflective of
complacency and repetitive without the conviction that it had during the infancy
of the firm. As a consequence, subordinates loss interest, their sense of
creativity declines, productivity decreases, along with customer service,
supplier and other stakeholder relationships. The future reality becomes a
negative one rather than a positive one.
Complacent people will never
see themselves as complacent as they will be proud of their past successes,
believe that they are invincible, and that life will go on as it is. Sense of
purpose becomes a sense of status quo and being lethargic as the firm
begins to slowly decline. Complacency is based on fear and anxiety about being
helpless and having no control over what is happening. People seek power over
others to protect their own existence through controlling their immediate
internal environment. This leads to ignoring the outside environment where
strategy becomes very passive due to denial of change and the wish to cling to
the past.60 People use up all their psychic energies to cope with the
anxiety and fear of feeling helpless. This brings on narcissism, paranoia,
rigidity, cynicism and politics where people become too burned-out to
deal with the external environment.
John Kotter elaborated of the
concept of pseudowork and described a phenomenon opposite to complacency
called ‘false urgency’.61 False urgency is a situation
where the organization is busy undertaking tasks for things that are not
important to its progress or survival. False urgency takes up a lot of
energy for what many see as causeless activities. Employees become angry,
anxious, frustrated and tired. Similarly, leaders who continually drive their
staff to higher and higher levels of activity, drain their energy until fatigue
sets in. Both these situations takeaway focus from the environment where
potential threats and opportunities that may emerge are not seen, and if seen,
ignored. Our emotional dispositions create our realities.
14. Ethics, Sustainability and
Our New Realities
The development of our cerebral
cortex gave rise to our higher levels of consciousness.62 This gave
humankind many new brain functions with the capacity for both social and
environmental interaction.63 We became thinking mammals that could
take account of both the self and the environment in our actions. This brings
back the question of who are we?
As we have seen “I” and
“me” is a constructed identity and all of our behavior is construed
within this identity. This is the false self that we live within which performs
the role of a macro-defense guarding mechanism maintaining our survival, and
suppressing the innate qualities of our true self. However this comes at great
cost. The identity that we create to protect ourselves becomes our identity, and
we don’t even know it.
When we can escape the
influence of our emotions, and this requires a massive effort focusing our
attention, we begin through our innate empathy to develop an understanding of
our self, others, and the environment. The intensity of “I” and “me”
sublimes into the background with our emotions. The boundaries become blurred
and we start coming in touch with part of our self that we are not normally
aware of. For example, a ‘macho’ male may find doors to his feminine
side, a hardnosed accountant may develop compassion for others in need that he
or she previously didn’t realize were in need, and a person may come to the
realization that they are hurting people with their behavior. These are all
insights into other realities that we don’t normally see. Eventually under all
of our emotions we find a simple state of humility, awe at life around us, and a
feeling of joy.
This is where we can see
connections like never before. We see the world as a connected entity, connected
by stories, interactions, proximity, phenomena, and being. When we buy a pair of
shoes from a shop assistant in New York, Sydney, or London, we see the life of
the person as a human that has meaning. We see the organization he or she works
for, the immigrant workers who work behind the store, their stories,
disappointments and aspirations. We see the people assembling the shoes in
factories in far off lands, their life and challenges, their children, and the
schools they attend. We see the farmers grazing the cattle that will end up as
leather for the shoes will use. This is all part of an interdependent chain of
activity and being. This creates meaning. We are connected as one system.
If we accept these
interconnections, interrelationships, and interdependencies, we have a
collective unconscious. Jung went further and posed that there is a
collective unconscious as a prehistoric collection of information,
instincts, myths, stories, images, universal symbols that are universally
understood across all cultures. The ‘collective unconscious’ embeds all
our ancestral experience and concepts of religion and morality. This inherited
content is passed from generation to generation and is part of a transcendental
reality, linking mind to mind and mind to nature. All people are born with this
reservoir of our experience as a species. Although we are not conscious of it,
this collective past influences our present behavior. Some experiences that may
come from the ‘collective unconscious’ include, love at first sight,
déjà vu experiences, immediate recognition of some symbols, reactions to
music (like the drum beat), and near death experiences.
To Jung this proved some
connection with all nature through the ‘collective unconscious’. Jung
likens the external world to one of illusion, something similar to the world of
Maya in Hindu theology.64 Our egos (jivatman)
are individual souls which are actually extensions of the one and only Atman,
universal energy or God who allows an independent identity to manifest
itself in part of himself. Through this we are all connected, independent, but
interdependent. When we die we realize the illusion that we actually existed as
we are part of God.
These ideas were considered
esoteric at the time but are becoming integrated into the concepts of quantum
mechanics today.65 If we disagree with Jung, we can believe in
institutionalized religion, a supreme being and our supreme place on Earth.
Another alternative is that we are biological robots with brains that function
in a similar manner to a computer with schemata as programs. When we die, the
brain goes dead and our identity is lost, just like machine-code being erased
from the RAM when a computer is switched off.
A realization of the humility
of our true self will bring a profound realization of our interdependence with
each other and the world around us. This decreases our sense of “I am”
and “me”, increasing our concern for all life. If we stare at the planets
in the night sky and try to imagine the distances from Earth involved, we soon
realize how insignificant we really are. We are just one person in the whole
universe, so how can I focus on ‘me’ without harming the whole. We have
no worldly justification for our self centeredness, yet our emotionally attached
self is usually painfully connected to the emotions and desires that we have
learned to have from our social constructions. This colors our sense of
humility, takes away our awareness, sense of fairness to others and our innate
sense of morality.
Our abstractions have evolved
to a paradigm where everything is commoditized to the extent where relationships
can be seen as a trade of favors, affection, support, sex, and service in
exchange for the fulfillment of personal needs and wants by others. Value to the
individual and others is the denominator and definer of relationships.
Our tendency as individuals is
to make decisions that tend to benefit the self over decisions that fulfill
ethical obligations to others. Again there is a conflict between ‘what is
best for me?’ and ‘what is the right thing to do?’ which is usually
answered according to the constructs of our self. Everyday decisions often have
paradoxes due to their particular situational circumstances that are not covered
by civic and legal codes. For example a salesperson desperately requiring a
large order to achieve his or her budget, may accept an order from a customer
knowing that his or her firm doesn’t have the capacity to supply it, which would
put the customer to great inconvenience. In such cases only decisions based upon
our “true nature” without the influence of emotions will be able to
govern ethical conduct. The ultimate test is whether we feel comfortable, where
the answer will most often depend upon the level of self one is anchored to.66
Most issues are complex situations, not easily addressed by ethical rules, thus
relying on our intuition for solutions.
Some people don’t realize we
are doing destructive things that hurt others.67 Sometimes this hurt
can lead to grave and serious illness. If we switch our self from the usual “I
am” to a different viewpoint, i.e., the feeling of being superior, equal,
or inferior to another, from one of these viewpoints we can generate new
sets of emotions. For example, if we take a superior view point to others we may
generate intensive highhandedness. If we view others as equals we may generate
feelings of jealousy and competitiveness, and if we view others from an inferior
position, we may generate feelings of jealousy and envy. This helps us see the
perspectives of our false sense of ourselves and the source of our behaviors. If
we can substitute humility for our emotions (humility does not mean subservience
or inferiority), we can see our relationships without the emotional intensities
that existed before. We can see our inter-connectiveness, how our actions hurt
people, and how we stray from our innate morality.
As we have seen, it’s easy for
us to be destructive. It’s easy for us to be complacent. It’s easy for us to
follow society and go with the flow. What is difficult is to accept who we are,
and from the humility of our self be creative. Humankind is good at being
destructive and maintaining what is, as it feels secure. One of our deepest
desires is to feel secure and this is what society and belongingness provides.
Our innate sense of humility has been covered up by our primal sense of greed.
On the scale of civilization,
many nations have amassed more resources than they really need. This drives the
economic system where greed translates into borrowing and consumption. All done
because this is what society expects and we are shaped and nurtured by what
society collectively values. As Garrett Hardin postulated, justice, liberation
and natural self determination, serve to cover up the true motives of greed,
envy, and power.68
Our economics paradigm is
partly based on our greed, rational in the sense of being efficient. Therefore
the cheapest and most economical way of doing things is the most desirable. As
resources don’t necessarily reflect their true costs and the cost of waste
doesn’t as yet form any part of the accounting system, our current methods of
exploiting resources, farming, and manufacturing will always be unsustainable.
Mines, logging, conventional mono-cropping systems, massive centralized urban
development creating mega-cities, are affecting life as we know it, changing
both the balances of the eco-system and the psycho-system of humanity. Our
consumption has great costs whether we like it or not. Production and
consumption are expressions of power. We have the power to utilize the resources
of the Earth and produce what we want. This marking of the environment is not
much different than cats marking their territories with their urine. Our
behavior is just sophisticated animal behaviour.69 We don’t know any
better as we are socially programmed to act this way.
Technology has enabled the
exponential growth of consumption. Through technology we have been able to
extract more resources from our biosphere and let go of the wastes back into the
troposphere with the blessings of institutionalized religion which deemed
mankind the master of all species on the Earth. The digging up of our resources,
amassing them for ourselves, and dumping the wastes after our consumption is
just the reality created by our primal and material self on a global scale. And
just as our primal and material self operates, all this was done without much
thinking as a collective being. Rather this is being done through our ignorance
and reptilian greed – disconnected from our reasoning. Our cerebral cortex is
still dominated by our reptilian brain which keeps us territorial animals,
greedy to amass more resources for select groups, without the ability to see
consequences of our actions.70 Our discoveries, knowledge,
development have all been undertaken in the fear of survival and in the
fulfillment of our collective ego to show how great we are over others, with the
narrative of “we are superior to you”.
Our existence through
socialization and religion on Earth has been arrogant, when we are actually only
one of many passing species calling the Earth our home. Humans have been on the
earth for about 100,000 years, only a very short time in relation to the age of
the universe, which is approximately 4,000 billion years old. Civilization only
developed around 4,000 years ago, yet over the last 200 years, the biosphere has
been threatened in a profound way, unprecedented by any other species over the
last billion years.
Nature has created almost two
million species of which humankind are only one of them. The earth has been
inhabited by an additional 7.8 million species which don’t exist today.
Humankind depends upon the other species and environment for survival, yet
humankind has developed it’s own arrogance and ignorance of the environment,
enforced by collective beliefs, which are reinforced by culture, religion,
morals, and laws. It is the system of current ethics and beliefs that are
restricting us, as life on Earth is sustainable, but we are not.71
This narrow ego-centric sense of who we are is only a social construction that
has been at the centre of our humanity, holding back progress. For example, up
until the Seventeenth Century, we thought that the Sun, Moon, and planets of our
solar system all revolved around the Earth.
We actually own nothing. “I
am” and “me” is only a passing entity that is custodian of an
illusion. We share the Earth, can never control it, we can temporarily occupy
it, but the moment we think we own it, our awareness falls into one of the
domains of our self that deludes our perceptions and sense of morality. A
custodian rather than an owner has a responsibility of mutual respect to share
the resources of the Earth and consider the other custodians. Taking would be on
the basis of need rather than want. Therefore our ethics and responsibilities
are not civic, are not philosophical, are not doctrine, are not dogma, they are
part of our innate true nature.
Our emotions enable us to take
specific paths within a universe full of multiple possibilities of reality. It
is here that our emotions override our innate sense of morality taking us away
from the potential universe that our true self could prevail within. As emotions
are universal to different cultures common archetypes of greed, indulgence,
envy, jealousy, need for power and control, etc., take us down a universe of
reality that is parallel but different from a universe of innate humility. The
universe is a state of mind and through the dominating archetypes of emotion,
they become physical ones with phenomenon occurring according to the laws of the
archetype governing it.72 We are locked through socialized psychic
constitutions with certain sets of emotions that endlessly go around and around
creating the same history, without any possibility of seeing that we are hurting
It is the archetypes that we
see the world through that gives meaning to the world.74 This defines
our own reality and potential future possibilities. The values we put on things
are the “truths” – all reality is our construction. As Jung postulated, mankind
is the second creator of the world and gives it objective existence.75
15. Towards New Ethics and
The problem with the above
arguments about ethics and our responsibilities towards sustainability is that
the ideas of self humility are too far away from the mainstream of world
philosophical thought. This was unlike the American Indian, Australian
Aboriginal, and New Zealand Maori civilizations that saw their role in life to
act as custodian of the land for future generations. These were sustainable
civilizations that only demised because of invasion and massacre. The
contemporary world is caught up in the narrative of economic development and
The ego-centric focus on “I”
and “me” prevents humanity even understanding what the true problems
really are. Current liberal ethics that most societies are based upon have
little room for personal enlightenment. Institutionalized religion sees personal
enlightenment as an affront to traditional theology and is therefore not
condoned. Our personal sense of sustainability is confused with the myths that
religion has given us, deeming ourselves as the master of all species, where in
fact we are just one of the species and caretaker of the earth for the next
generation. Through our technical progress we feel that we can control nature,
which we can’t, so when we realize that we are not immortal and don’t control
nature, we either become spiritual beings, work hard to build a legacy to
surpass our own death, or become psychotic trying to deny the truth.
simply continues because it creates profits for those in control of the
resources and the global markets that demand them. Powerful organizations both
control and depend upon this. As we saw with the 2008 bail outs of US
corporations, they are a protected species, not just embedded within the fabric
of capitalism, but they are capitalism itself. We have also seen that central
planning does no better of a job than the capitalist model,76 and the
capitalist model itself is under threat.77
The capitalist system, although
providing growth, has failed in providing wellbeing and equity in most national
scenarios and on a global basis. Economies are facing grave macroeconomic
imbalances that are reflected in high rates of unemployment, massive budgeting
deficits, highly unstable currencies, balance of payments imbalances, and highly
volatile resource, commodity, and equity markets. In addition most country’s
resources have been exploited at rates that will see their depletion within a
relatively short time span. A by-product of the current capitalist system is the
increase of carbon and other ‘greenhouse’ gases released into the atmosphere and
waterways to the extent never seen before in the history of world evolution.
This has been accompanied by high rates of urbanization, the loss of traditional
ways of life, the declining rate of biodiversity on the planet, stress,
frustration, crime, mental illness and suicide. Absolute poverty in the
underdeveloped world is still in mammoth numbers and relative poverty is on the
rise in the developed world.
The prevailing nature of
ego-centric organizations and the geo-political divide and their conquering
mentality is driving this destruction even further. Our unsustainable
practices are linked to the myths that humankind has created to cope with our
mortality and powerlessness. We live with a “scorched Earth mentality”,
with little concern for the coming generations after us. Current
solutions on the table for solving climate, food, population, resource, and
sustainability issues are like what Ulrich Beck called “a bicycle brake on an
The restriction of plastic
shopping bags, reduction of air conditioning temperatures, and the use of
biodiesel are measures that won’t make a significant difference. These measures
look and sound good on the surface, and are measures governments and
corporations are employing as a fallacy to save the world. For every
plastic shopping bag saved, a tree is being illegally chopped down in a tropical
rainforest somewhere without any hesitation at all. More ecological problems are
caused by the primitive rather than industrialized practices.79
Most popular literature on
sustainability is devoid on the morality of the issue and offer a functionalist
and instrumentalist approach within the narrative of branding, strategy,
competitive advantage, and market. They offer solutions to the symptoms rather
than the root causes of the problems.
There needs to be a paradigm
change in our logic and narrative that can transcend our rigid and culturally
set ways of doing things to a new level. The current ecological crisis is
primarily a crisis of our own ideas and approaches to the human-nature nexus. We
have measured success and wealth by what we have, therefore a new definition of
wealth and success is required. Our development must take account of both the
present and the future to meet our entire needs and keep the environment in
equilibrium. This means redefining the goals of humanity which would result in
new cultural and social traditions that can form the foundations of a new
society. This will involve replacing technological dominating, reductionist,
mechanistic orientation with an anti-mechanistic orientation that promotes a new
social order.80 Anything else would be superficial, appeasing, and
Ethics and sustainability
cannot be treated as being independent of everything else within our lives.
These concerns must be integrated into the person before they can be integrated
into the organization. To think otherwise would be a big mistake.
Our economic system is
supported on the basis that human beings are rational and calculate matters
according to their own interests. This translates into selfishness and greed
where natural resources are harvested and used wastefully, often in the most
uncreative ways. Likewise technology increases productivity and enables the
production of surpluses which can benefit many. If this waste did not exist and
our resources were distributed fairly, poverty would no longer exist today. The
problems of the world can be fixed by a matter of redistribution. In addition,
through proper practices more than double the population of today can be fed
through agriculture. By definition there can be no sustainability without
However in actual fact poverty
is not the real problem, it’s only a symptom. The real problem is the hijacking
of our innate humility by our emotions. Most attempts to solve world poverty
have failed because they have been motivated by fame and gain by many of the
World’s institutions. How many times have they tried? How many times have they
Leadership is a matter of
morality, rather than a tool for looking after sectional interests. Even our
concept of freedom is based on individualism. Liberal parliamentary democracies
are adversarial in nature where the winner takes all.
The world is always changing
according to the doctrine of natural selection. Natural selection is the basis
of competition through the Schumpeterian concept of creative destruction
that has driven our evolution and development.81 According to the
doctrine of natural selection the species struggle for survival culminates with
only the fittest surviving. However we are finding out plants, animals, and even
the biosphere works in cooperation rather than competition with other entities
to survive. We still live in a state of blissful ignorance; the metaphor of
Adam and Eve taking the forbidden fruit of sustainability.82 Our
current practices as a species have evolved out of our lack of awareness and
cultural ignorance of the consequences for survival. We still have not developed
the correct practices required for survival in our global situation today. The
shifting balance of power between humankind and the Earth is a question of great
importance. Natural selection is about trial and error until a species
determines the current practices that are necessary for survival.83
Our constructed human paradigms need to change.
16. Towards a New Mastery
To run any enterprise a person
needs skills and abilities. The ideal entrepreneur according to Kao is
enthusiastic, creative, a risk taker, have a strong drive to succeed, have broad
vision and an eye for detail, be assertive and also friendly, cool headed, and
able to make assessments and decisions in a calm manner and quickly, and have a
strong motivation to overcome hurdles.84 In addition to having the
cognitive attributes necessary for entrepreneurship, a person must have a range
of skills to successfully start-up, develop, manage, and grow their business.
These core skills include basic finance, marketing, manufacturing, and
interpersonal skills. If the entrepreneur has knowledge and experience of
entrepreneurship, he or she will very quickly be able to build up a set of
Personal competencies can be
considered higher level characteristics encompassing personal traits, behavior,
knowledge, and groups of skills.86 For example, swimming is a skill
and synchronized swimming can be considered a competency. Competencies are much
wider than skills, expertise, motivation, personal traits, self concept,
knowledge, and acumen, as they combine to form a platform for future behavior.
Personal competencies are also situational and socially defined. For example,
the ability to find where schools of fish exist is a maybe a very important
competency for an Eskimo in Alaska, but useless to a stockbroker in Wall St. New
York. Personal competencies are the total ability of a person to perform a job
or a task successfully.87 They are a set of attributes that are
relevant to the exercise of successful activities, in the case of
entrepreneurship, the creation, growth and survival of a firm. Personal
competencies have important implications for firm performance.
To develop our personal
competencies, one must develop what Peter Senge calls ‘personal mastery’.
Personal mastery is concerned with personal growth and development so that real
learning can take place. Personal mastery involves using our skills and
competencies at the highest possible level where we achieve creative fulfillment
and spiritual growth.88 Personal mastery enables a person to see
things more objectively without biases and other cognitive blocks. An individual
with personal mastery has vision and the desire to be creative. He or she
remains curious and inquisitive about why things occur the way they occur.
People with personal mastery are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and
their ability to achieve. They are on a continual quest to learn and improve.
Personal mastery also brings true courage and commitment to pursue the personal
objectives a person may have.
To develop personal mastery,
one must work on a series of ‘principals and practices’ According to Senge,
these principles and practices include;
One must develop a sense of vision, ‘a big
picture’ of what they want out of life. This goes much further than goals
and objectives that don’t carry the same deep meanings about life that a vision
contains. Visions are intrinsic that gives one a sense of purpose, motivating
action and persistence.
One must create tension inside to generate energy
to pursue the vision from where they are today.
We must overcome our own deep feelings of
powerlessness and recognize our own coping and defense mechanisms.
We must see our true selves and our respective
dysfunctional behaviors, and
To master a large repertoire of skills so that they
can be carried out almost sub-consciously, i.e., the task is integrated with
People with personal mastery are
able to integrate intuition and reason which is where personal competencies can
be utilized very effectively. Competencies are thus multidimensional constructs.90
They are deeply rooted in a person’s background, being acquired through
education, training, and experience.91
To truly achieve this requires
awareness. Seeing through our dysfunctional behaviors needs awareness. Vision
needs awareness, living in the now and a balanced locus of control. This is
vital in tapping our psychic and physical energies.
We must also forget about our
past stories of successes and failure so we can look at any opportunities in
unique ways, rather than the ways of the past that emotionalize what we see. We
must also eliminate the hopes and excitement we might have for the future so
that we can evaluate the issues without allowing expectation to influence us.
Through mastery we don’t mean
perfection, as perfection itself is just another form of emotional defense.
Perfection may stop learning, which is vital to any opportunity, strategy, and
organization. The goal should be balance between all the competencies we have,
rather than perfection in any one area. It’s the journey we must value, not the
end. Reaching the end is just another delusion which puts finality to something,
where it may just be the beginning. Systems never have beginnings and ends.
Believing one has reached the end will stifle initiative, creativity, and
ingenuity in favour of complacency.
Intellect triggers rational
consideration and adversarial debate about issues which brings up our defenses
preventing feeling and intuition. Mastery is not based on intelligence and
knowledge. It’s about experience and the feelings one derives. It’s possible to
read everything and gain instruction about how to drive a car. But until one has
actually sat in the car and tried to drive it, one will never experience the
feeling of what it is like to drive a car. Without experience intelligence and
knowledge has little use. Awareness is the key to feeling. If we are not aware,
we can never experience. Intelligence and knowledge without awareness is just
like a book on a shelf. Without the knowledge from the book being used and felt,
it is primarily useless. Mastery is not about success, it is also about failure
and learning. True mastery is about persistence and perseverance.
Once our awareness develops, we
will start to see the multiple perspectives the environment offers. Just like
the line drawing of the cube at the beginning of this chapter, everything has
multiple perspectives. However these multiple perspectives can bring
contradictions and confusion. Our intelligence and knowledge cannot easily make
sense or meaning out of it. Only our feelings from experience and intuitive
skills develop a perspective from which we can make meaning. We have to learn
that life is not based on fact, but perspective. The major decisions made in
business and war, have been made from perspective, rather than the facts.
Perspective defines our reality and how we respond accordingly, which is
counterintuitive to how we have been made to believe we should think. We need
awareness to have true wisdom.
The simple act of listening
shows how we sometimes wander through life with a low level of awareness. How
many times when someone is speaking to you, are you preoccupied with other
things? How often do we daydream when others are speaking? How often do you
believe that what you think is right and what the other has to say is not worth
listening to? How often are you just waiting for an opportunity to espouse what
you think? How often are you just thinking of rebuttals, arguments against what
a person is saying rather than actually listening to the content of what they
are actually saying? How often are you making judgments about the person
speaking or what they are saying? How often are you looking for an opportunity
to disagree, agree, or run away? How often are you evaluating and comparing what
a person is saying against what you believe? How often do you fail to seek
clarification about something you don’t understand? Do you try and control the
interaction by trying to dominate the conversation? Our listening habits usually
show that our level of personal awareness is low and we are influenced by so
much of our own emotion just in the act of listening to someone. This is at the
cost of seeing new perspectives and exercising our ability to empathize with
The ability to listen
effectively is a powerful tool in developing awareness, empathy, humility, and
consequently understand new perspectives. Listening is much more than hearing,
it involves being attentive to what others say, observing emotion, behavior and
body language, facial expressions, and fighting off our own internal
distractions that lessen of ability to listen. Listening requires much more
discipline, attention, and concentration than we expect. Think about it, how
much self discipline do we need to really effectively listen to someone? Once we
have achieved the discipline, attention, and concentration really needed to
listen, we realize how powerful a tool listening is in understanding what a
person has to say, and from where emotionally a person is saying it. Listening
skills can be developed and refined through active and reflective listening
techniques, where the listener repeats, paraphrases and reflects upon what the
speaker is saying as a means of clarifying the message that the speaker is
intending to convey to us.92
Mastery is a personal struggle.
When we are aware that our thinking is slipping into the negative, focus on
thinking uplifting thoughts, as the brain can only process one thought at a
time. In this way, through disciplined practice, one can reduce the negativity
within the mind, by changing the thinking flow, in a similar way one changes
slides on a projector.
Our identity begins to evolve,
becoming sustainable and able to flow with the forces of change around us. We
are aware of our own emotions and what delusions they try to develop in us. Once
we can see through these delusions, our ego-centric tendencies begin giving way
to a real sense of humility. Our innate sense of morality emerges. We see the
crisis of meaning around us, the lack of morality, greed and selfishness,
capitalism for what it really is, and the unsustainable ways of our society. We
begin to question society’s dreams and replace them with our own, gaining our
personal freedom from the repression of our society, our freedom to have and
follow our own aspirations. This is where our personal transformation takes
place and we reincarnate or regenerate into a new sense of self and orientation
It is only when we have this
personal ability to change that we can work through the pain of changing
organizations. Leadership is about shifting style to fit changing situations,
although values and ethics will remain as solid as a rock. Liberation is about
awareness to see new ideas, opportunities within a complex environment and have
the confidence to transcend our current state of mind through enacting
upon our new perceptions. The most probable ethical leadership qualities that
will have importance to management for perhaps the rest of this century may
A leader must have
empathy to understand. However this empathy must not be mechanical, it must be a
way of being. People need the quality of the leader’s presence in the ‘here
and now’ committed wholeheartedly to the interaction.
A leader should
always have an ethical framework within his or her mindset that looks at
possibilities that maximize benefits for the Earth and welfare of the people.
These ethics should
be applied consistently without any lapse. This may often mean that many
decisions may not make financial gain for the firm in the short term. This may
also mean that some decisions may not have a clearly immediate ethical path to
follow. This will be a quality that will be extremely critical to the survival
of firms in the future.
A leader must perform
his or her duties without fear or favour to stakeholders. Decisions and
appointments must be merit based, fair, transparent, sincere, and not in any
deceitful way to the public.
A leader should never
A leader should
ensure that his or her organization puts more resources back into the community
that it takes out.
A leader must be
close to his or her people, working alongside (if possible), and interested in
what is happening. Leading by example is the most powerful way to win respect
and change the assumptions, beliefs, and values of a firm when needed.
A leader should be
very self disciplined and never lose their temper, succumb to anger, or show
their stress, etc., to others.
A leader should not
be motivated by personal gain and fame.
A leader should show
humility and not arrogance, and
A leader should not
be deluded by past successes and rest on their or the company’s laurels.
Research has shown that high
ethical standards on peoples’ behavior has a high influence on the level of
trust by potential customers, suppliers, financiers, and employees, the public
and business partners and as such creates opportunities for a firm that may not
have otherwise existed.93
The mistake people make is that
they may do these things once, when this must be a continual process, a journey,
not an end. Just look at the number of declining Fortune List companies.
Morality and sustainability are linked to survival, and survival is linked to
adaptation, which humans are loathed at doing.
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25. Polanyi, M., & Prosch, H.
(1975), Meaning. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
26. Erikson, E.H. (1975),
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28. Broadbent, D.E. (1958),
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29. Broadbent, D.E. (1957), “A
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30. See Deutsch, J.A. &
Deutsch, D. (1963), “Attention: Some Theoretical considerations,”
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31. Kahneman, D. (1973),
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32. Pang, J. (1972), “Towards a
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33. Baron, R.A. & Ward, T.B.
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34. The metaphor of seeing
things through tinted or colored glasses has been used for hundreds of years to
describe various delusions or biases people may have. L. Frank Baum’s character
Dorothy in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz asked the guardian of the gates why
everyone has to wear green glasses in the Emerald City. The guardian replied so
everything in the Emerald City would look green, so that people would think it
really is an Emerald City (Baum 1999, pp. 130-131). Today for example, green is
associated with envy, i.e., “green with envy”, blue is associated with
depression, i.e., “the blues”, and rose or red is associated with
optimistic delusion, i.e., “a rosier world”. Popular media has adapted
this metaphor and used many ad hoc terms like ‘green glasses’,
Dole-coloured glasses’ and ‘private sector glasses’, etc. Baum, L. F.
(1999), The Wonderful World of Oz. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press.
35. Ucbasaran, D., Westhead,
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Identification,” Bygrave, W., Brush, D., et al. (eds.), Frontiers of
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36. Although some psychologists
recognize that some human motives and behaviours seem to be unlearned, a
criteria of an instinct, the term instinct is rarely accepted today in modern
psychology because humans have the ability to override these motives and drives.
37. Sorokin, P. A. (1942),
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38. Otto, F. (1938), “The Drive
to Amass Wealth,” Psychoanalytic Quarterly 7: 69–95.
39. The attention-seeking
(dramatic) typology is manifested when a person is hyperactive, impulsive and
dramatically venturesome in their lives. They work tirelessly to impress others,
often appearing flamboyant, craving novelty and excitement. Attention-seeking
(dramatic) leaders are usually great charmers of people they want to impress.
They continually seek positive feedback and admiration of their actions. They
are very opinionated on topical issues, but lack substance to support their
ideas and will change their position to suit their audience. They have very low
self-esteem and rely on others to suppress this. Being at the centre of
attention relieves this tension and the insecurity they feel. Consequently it is
hard to get along with these people unless one helps to fulfill this craving for
attention. These leaders tend to surround themselves with people who will always
agree with them.
40. Baumeister, R.F. & Leary,
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45. The word ego is a
metaphorical concept, which originated in psychotherapy, that describes the
phenomenon of emotions and our schemas (schema may also be a metaphorical
concept) interacting with our experiences to manifest our disposition towards
various types of feeling, thinking, actions, and behavior.
46. A person’s intelligence may
prevent them from considering new information on the pretence that they believe
they already know what needs to be known. Thus learning, particularly if this
new information comes from a non-traditional source is inhibited – “The cup
47. Deacon, T. (1997), The
Symbolic Species. London: Penguin Press.
48. There is abundant research
into this area, for example see: Haynes, S. G., McMichael, A.J., & Tyroler, H.A.
(1978), “Survival after Early and Normal Retirement,” Journal of Gerontology
49. Some of these traits are
based on Maslow’s view of the self-actualized and Zohar & Marshall’s view of
spiritual intelligence. See Maslow, A.H. (1987), Motivation and Personality.
3rd edn. New York: Harper & Row; Zohar, D. & Marshall, I.,
(2004), Spiritual Capital: Wealth We Can Live By. London: Bloomsbury.
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Mandela of Being: Discovering the Power of Awareness. Novato, CA: New World
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52. Batros, J. (2011), “The
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Melbourne Convention Centre, Melbourne, 16th September.
53. Strawson, G. (1999), “The
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54. Hunter, M. (2011),
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Nova Scientific, 37.
55. Langer, E.J., & Moldoveanu,
M. (2000), “The Construct of Mindfulness,” Journal of Social Issues
56. Corbett, A.C., & McMullen,
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57. Langer, E.J. (1997), The
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66. There are also a number of
other influences upon our ethics. Our state of knowledge restricts our level of
ethics. For example if we are not aware of ethical occupational health and
safety ethics, we cannot practice them. We are also influenced by our cultural
norms within society, operating with set value frameworks. This is reinforced by
what our peers do. Attitude, intent, and motivation also play key roles in
ethics, which are influenced by the level of our self awareness. Consequently
ethical behavior will be situational.
67. Sharma, R. (1997), The
Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A Fable about Fulfilling Your Dreams and Reaching
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on 27th November 2008.
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79. Lovelock, J. (1979), op.
80. Gare, A. (1998),
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89. Ibid., P. 136.
90. Smith, B. & Morse, E.
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NJ: Pearson Prentice-Hall, 15.
© Murray Hunter