Leaders have to view others at the soul level. They must develop soul ethics. Management style, charisma, personal integrity and business acumen are not enough. Soul Ethics provides the moral courage to avoid temptations found in competitive environments.
We begin to purify the motives behind our decisions when we become fully aware of who we really are and what we are here to do. Mark Twain has said that “a man can not be comfortable without his own approval.”
When we have developed Soul Ethics:
We no longer need to rely on interpretations of sacred text or sources of revelation to tell us what to do. Our actions stop being influenced by sacred texts whose spirit has too often been lost to strict interpretation.
We no longer let feelings of guilt affect our decisions as love becomes our guiding emotion. When guilt affects our decisions we let survival fears override that guilt and we make decisions based on fear instead of love. Fear and love are our two basic emotions. Fear contains many sub-emotions and because those emotions are stronger in some and weaker in others, our consciousnesses are different and thus so would be our ethics guidance.
We no longer merely look out only for ourselves and instead we seek what is best for our clients, friends, and family. Looking out for ourselves first is truly a buyer-be-aware mentality. This would be the opposite of win-win decisions and would lead to win-lose outcomes. I guess some would mistakenly try to justify me-first decisions by thinking they had an ethical obligation to stockholders to maximize profits from every transaction.
We no longer do things just because it is our duty. We do our jobs and we take care of our family because we love to serve and we serve with love.
We no longer try to enforce our rules of respect onto other cultures as we now respect ourselves and have learned to respect other cultures. What counts as respect can vary from one culture to another.
We are aware that all of us are created with certain inalienable Rights. This is the most influential moral notion of the past two centuries and refers to minimal conditions of human decency.
We want to make the world a better place and demand a high degree of self sacrifice where we consider the consequences for everyone including reducing suffering and increasing pleasure or happiness.
We continue to develop our individual character and individual character in others. We understand that good persons will make good decisions—a concept first developed by Plato and Aristotle and an integral part of Jesuit tradition.
We become virtuous in that we work with interest and desire to help others, have creative spiritual ambition, calmness, courage, an unconquerable attitude, tolerance, patience, and peace. We no longer have doubt, mental fatigue, worry, indifference, boredom, fear, restlessness, timidity, mental and physical laziness, overindulge in anything, an unmethodical life, lack of interest, or lack of creative initiative.
We usually go about our day doing things out of habit without thinking about ethics. This is how it should be once our habits become ethical. Most of us have not taken the time to create a set of personal values. And if they loosely exist unwritten in our minds we haven’t given them much thought and they can become distorted when we have to make difficult decisions. Creating and writing my personal values is what led to this book.
We make decisions all the time. Most of these decisions do not seem to directly affect our lives or the lives of others. But when we need to make bigger decisions that will affect our lives or the lives of others, we need to be very familiar with our values.
If we develop our values in moments when we are at peace and unburdened with eminent decisions and problems, our values will be more pure than if they were developed when we were under pressure to make a difficult decision, especially a financial one. We can be guided in ethical ways if we refer to those more purely developed and written values before we make decisions.
I would imagine that if 100 people were to give long thought on their values and then write them down, those written lists could be quite different. What would make them different is our soul ethics, our soul consciousness, our desire to serve versus being served, our desire for win-win outcomes versus win-lose outcomes or even we-both-win-but-I-win-more outcomes.
To bring this back to a business example look at the difference between the thinking of two technology companies. The ego driven company strayed to advancing profits and the soul driven company stayed true to advancing technology. In the 1970’s, according to Jim Collins in his best selling book Good To Great, Texas Instruments decided to make cheap pocket calculators and throwaway watches because their vision had to do with increasing gross revenue. Hewlett Packard in comparison didn’t include increasing gross revenue as their vision and instead chose not to go after low-end technology because it offered no chance to make a technical contribution to the world.
The concept of service should be defined as providing whatever is in our friends’ or clients’ or customers’ best interest. If we do not have the product that is in someone’s best interest we should not offer or sell that product to them. While this decision could hurt us financially in the short run, it will guide us to where we need to be. Where we need to be is a place where we can provide what is in our friends’ or client’s or customers’ best interest. Albert Einstein said, “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” I think this is powerful. Accomplish it and you become the flame instead of the moth.
Dr. Wayne Dyer, in his book, The Power of Intention, tells us that it is hard to feel worthy if we are always looking out for number one. If we do not feel worthy then without realizing it we feel unworthy of being healthy or wealthy or having loving relationships and we create an obstacle that will inhibit the flow of creative higher frequency energy into our daily life.
When we are without this flow, we tend to eat too much of the wrong things, or use prescription drugs we do not need or drink too much alcohol, or we dress down, or walk or sit with poor posture, or we fail to exercise, or we treat others with a lack or respect, or make judgments we should not be making, and the list goes on and on. What we might not realize is that poor posture and disrespecting others, etc. leads to feelings of unworthiness.
We are like magnets that attract or repel positive or negative energy. Generally, people will come to us not because of what we do, but because of who we are. What inspires a customer to be a repeat customer or a new acquaintance to become a friend is our presence and the connection they feel with us. People we admire should be comfortable in our presence and we in theirs.
To do this we must continue to refine our expression—our thoughts, words and actions—to more accurately reveal the truth of who we are at our core, our true nature, then our work will deepen, our business will thrive, and our life will know greater peace and we will find fulfillment. “One can have no greater mastery than mastery of oneself”—Leonardo da Vinci.
Clarence C. Walton, in his The Moral Manager, says that personal character is one of the keys to higher ethical standards in business. “People of integrity produce organizations with integrity. When they do, they become moral managers—those special people who make organizations and societies better.”
One of the most important factors in the functioning of society around the world is the art of leadership. It is an art for true leadership is a gift, requiring great foresight, great determination, honesty, integrity and trust, the ability to not only be able to work with people successfully but to inspire them, to set goals and a vision for a society to thrive.
We have had many leaders in history that have been very charismatic, very talented and very successful and we have had many who were successful that didn’t have any charisma but were good builders.
To be a leader one needs the ability to organize, to delegate authority and to have massive energy for a leader has great responsibilities. These responsibilities can cover such a large area that a leader must be able to endure a huge burden to carry and enjoy it, be inspired by it. The greatest leaders have great spirituality, great foresight and only want to bring good and dedicate themselves to the prosperity, health, and welfare for all.
There have been major dynamic leaders in the world who have used their charisma for negative activities, succumbing to the feel of power and greed. There have been leaders in the fields of science, art, music, military, economics, welfare, etc. who have contributed greatly to mankind or have left an indelible impression on massive numbers of people.
There have been great leaders in history who truly believed in what they were working for but were very spiritually wrong. Their intent was good in their minds, necessary, seemed greatly important and they followed their path. Some have been truly righteous, while others were in error spiritually.
Leadership is a quality that can take lifetimes to develop. For some, leadership will add to their spirituality and for some that get caught up in power and ego; it will take away from their spirituality–a recurring theme in this book.
Leadership is a dangerous position spiritually for one may not be able to handle the power. Many can, many can’t. When leadership falls into corruption, the soul backtracks spiritually, loses ground. When leadership aspires to high values and operates accordingly, one gains spiritually.
Leaders always face those who aspire to take their place, work against them, threaten them and sometimes eliminate them. But without leadership and daring we would have no organization or progress.
Steven R. Covey, best known for his best seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, marks the way for us to return to fundamental values, the wisdom of solid relationships, and the importance of communicating in improving our business. Covey tells us that no matter how many people we manage or supervise we can only control ourselves. If we want to change any situation, we have to behave differently. But before we can change our behavior, we must change our perceptions.
Einstein agrees: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
We do need new perspectives. We say we have free will, but which might be stronger, instincts and habits, or our free will to do what is best. Where do we get our perceptions as to what is best? Where does procrastination, selfishness, greed, jealousy, self-interest, anger, temper, bigotry, come from– Habits and instincts or free will?
Here is a moral and ethical dilemma for you to ponder that I received in an email that was being passed around. Let’s say you are driving along in your car on a wild, stormy night, when you pass by a bus stop, and you see three people waiting for the bus:
- An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.
- An old friend who once saved your life.
- The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.
Which one would you choose to offer a ride, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your car?
Think before you continue reading.
This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job application. You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first; or, you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.
The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his answer. He simply answered: “I would give the car keys to my old friend and let him take the lady to the hospital. I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams.”
Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations.
Our personal values, character, and spirituality exert a powerful influence on the way ethical work issues are treated. Since all of us have different personal histories and have developed our values, character, and spirituality in different ways, we are going to think differently about ethical problems. All of us, as well as our managers and leaders, are likely to be at various stages of moral development. Some of us will reason at a high level, others of us at a lower level.
Every once in a while I am surprised by the maturity of a child’s expression for it will be way ahead of their years and more advanced than some adults display. But usually it is over time that we become more developed and are capable of more advanced moral reasoning.
When we are very young we want to avoid punishment. We either learn to obey authority or we learn to cope with trouble or we learn that authority is willing to cope with our misbehaving. Later we learn that cooperating pays more than does strict obeying. Someone once told me that they could not remember a time when they got in trouble if their answer to a request was no, but their yes answer usually opened the door to second guessing. I wasn’t impressed then and I still am not impressed with that comment. Just the same there are many people like him that make decisions based solely on what they perceive our societies’ customs, traditions, and laws to be. A major portion of the world’s population has not evolved their reasoning beyond this point. The groups these people hang out with whether it is friends, family, work, or clubs greatly influence their thinking and reasoning.
Our best leaders reason globally and as stated earlier care about relationships, human rights, human dignity, equal treatment, freedom of expression, and as Lincoln included in his Gettysburg Address, mans’ inalienable rights.
Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great, tells us there are two categories of people: The first are those who could never bring themselves to subjugate their egoistic needs to the greater ambition of building something larger and more lasting than themselves. Work will always be about what they get i.e. fame, fortune, power and not what they build. The second are those who have the potential to rise to become great leaders/supervisors. Jim Collins tells us the great leaders, the most successful leaders, all share certain personal traits.
- They have personal humility.
- They demonstrate a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation and are never boastful.
- They act with quiet, calm determination, relying principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
- They let the company be ambitious not themselves. They set up their successors for even greater success instead of doing anything that would make themselves missed.
- When talking about success they will look out the window and talk about luck, external factors, and apportion credit to others and not look in the mirror. When talking about problems they look in the mirror and take responsibility.
- These great leaders were described as spiritual people.
We can live a spiritual life 24/7. We shouldn’t look for time to have a spiritual moment, we should just be spiritual all the time and in everything we do, say, or think whether it be a business situation or a personal situation. We look for win-win outcomes or we pass on the opportunity. We look at every situation as if it were involving a close friend, which includes when someone is honking their horn at us or cutting us off on a busy highway, or driving too slowly.
If we were to picture those antagonists as close friends our anger would drop and we would then be able to recognize them as ourselves on other occasions when we were being the antagonist and we just might laugh instead of matching our vibrations to the vibrations of a person temporarily being an idiot. Or we can try to get the best of someone or be rude to someone or sell more regardless of it being the right product for the right customer or we can just let the customer-be-aware or we can horde or we can brag or any other activity that is not spiritual.
Maslow picked out a group of people whom he felt clearly met the standard of what he called self-actualized. Included in this group were Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Adams, William James, Albert Schweitzer, Benedict Spinoza, and Alduous Huxley, plus 12 unnamed people who were alive at the time Maslow did his research. He developed a list of qualities that seemed characteristic of these people.
These people could differentiate what is fake and dishonest from what is real and genuine. They treated life’s difficulties as problems demanding solutions, not as personal troubles to be railed at or surrendered to. And they felt that the ends don’t necessarily justify the means–the journey was often more important than the destination.
Maslow’s self-actualizers enjoyed solitude, were comfortable being alone, enjoyed deeper personal relations with a few close friends and family members, rather than more shallow relationships with many people.
They enjoyed autonomy and were not susceptible to social pressure to be well adjusted or to fit in. They preferred to joke at their own expense or at the human condition instead of directing their humor at others. They had a quality he called acceptance of self and others. This same acceptance applied to their attitudes towards themselves.
They enjoyed their personal quirks if they were not harmful and they were motivated to change negative qualities in themselves that could be changed. They preferred being themselves rather than being pretentious or artificial. They had a sense of humility and respect towards others, were open to ethnic and individual variety, even treasuring it.
They had a quality Maslow called human kinship accompanied by strong ethics, which was spiritual but seldom conventionally religious in nature. They tended to see ordinary things with wonder and from this were creative, inventive, and original. And, finally, these people tended to have more experiences that made them feel very tiny, or very large, to some extent one with life or nature or God.
These people were not this way all the time so they still had some work to do at their soul level. For example, while they were not neurotic, some did experience anxiety and guilt and some were absentminded and overly kind and some experienced unexpected moments of ruthlessness, surgical coldness, and loss of humor.
Maslow made another point about these self-actualizers that I consider very major and in fact are at the heart of this book: Their values were natural and seemed to flow effortlessly from their personalities. Maslow also defined self-actualizers by identifying their needs in order to be happy. Here is his list.
- Perfection and necessity
- Justice and order
Maslow believes that much of the what is wrong with the world comes down to the fact that very few people really are interested in these values — not because they are bad people, but because they haven’t even had their basic needs taken care of and, when forced to live without these values, the self-actualizer develops depression, despair, disgust, alienation, and a degree of cynicism.
To be a great leader in any field we must do self-study meaning looking closely at our perceptions, our way of interpreting. We need to center ourselves on values and principals, work on our character growth, and examine our habits carefully. We cannot let old habits and instincts rule our actions and thoughts. We have had a lifetime of conditioning from our parents and friends and associates, from our situations and circumstances and these can train us to see things from only one angle.
We need to see things from other angles, other perceptions, from the big picture, and from the end and less from the middle of the battle. It will give us a much broader picture and understanding and help monitor our thoughts and actions. We need to carefully listen to others and show them we understand what they are saying, feeling. Most people do not listen to understand but listen while thinking about reply. This is keeping ourselves stuck in seeing things from only one angle and limits our picture of the whole.
We need to let people know we have heard them, have understood and appreciated what they have offered. People need to know they have been heard and understood. We need to truly hear, absorb and process information coming to us and not just automatically advise or decide basing our decisions on our own experience or our own motives and behavior. We need good, open, constructive communication from other perspectives and interpretations for they are important in order to not only get out of ourselves but to see a bigger picture.
We need to hear all sides before judging. Great leadership involves having an end in mind, a goal to accomplish in mind. Then the process of achieving this goal needs to broaden greatly, allowing all kinds of information to come in and be processed. Cooperation, integrity, high values, allowing new insights to enter our mind, a spiritual outlook, calmness, and courage, patience and tolerance are characteristics of great leadership.
We need to take a careful look at our governments and leaders. To be in the government of a country, making policy, tending to issues, aiding people, protecting country, involves a tremendous amount of responsibility. Once in office as President, King, prime Minister, Senator, Congressman, Governor, the person is obligated to work for the people with truth, justice, and honesty.
Too often we see leaders get into office barely committing themselves to anything other than themselves. Then once in office they play the game of politics, being very careful over what they say in order to stay in office. Then in the office they have to deal with all the interests that helped them get into office, the lobbyists and the senior members (senior power craving egos) of House and Senate, Parliament, military, etc. Everyone wants a piece of the cake and there is a lot of give and take and bargaining. Too often policies that would really help the people are lost or forgotten or diluted.