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Welcome to Two Sides, ONE Coin.

Quote of the Week comes from Albert Einstein

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Leadership: Economy of Thought Part 2

These are times unlike any other time I have witnessed in my life and I’ve been around long enough to bear witness to several decades. Aeon Alliance, my Consulting company, was so named to indicate the ability to see events within the context of time that spans eons rather than measuring time by months or by quarters. Aeons see the world, and themselves in relation to it, through the long term view, as well as the short term view. 

What is the long term, Aeon view? How does life change when we view events from a broader and more expansive context? I’ve specialized in Finance because it tells the story of what has been done over time and quantifies the results. Good results, however, don’t necessarily translate into “good practices” unless we are using a specific yardstick that measures but by one result – the amount of money we made. We have far less capable means of measuring the way we made it and whether we consider the trade-off as “fair”, or as equitable.

Financial reporting is bound by time – weeks, months, quarters and years. Monies in and monies out are tracked, item by item, followed by calculations that determine the difference between them. Each month the numbers totaling money in are analyzed to drive the numbers higher; the numbers totaling money out are also analyzed to drive the numbers lower. The combination of cost-cutting, while concurrently increasing sales, is considered the magic combination to increased profits. This strategy is nothing new – what is new is the attitude and beliefs surrounding cost cutting measures and the apparent “need” to show ever-increasing profits on a month to month basis. (If billions of dollars in profits aren’t enough to satisfy the greedy among us – what is?)

Today our headlines are filled with the news of increasing profits that are made in the billions of dollars; profits that were “earned” through cost-cutting measures that are more accurately described as eliminating the “expense” of the paychecks of millions of workers. We read these numbers daily – billions of dollars and millions of workers. We have grown so accustomed to hearing numbers reported that we tend to forget that one number is in reference to dollars (a thing) while the other number refers to the effects of those numbers on real human lives. The life of someone’s mother, father, son or daughter has been waylaid and thrown into uncertainty- in numbers beyond any the world has ever seen. 

In today’s economic world, people and persons have been reduced to just another commodity in plentiful supply – easily dispensable and easily disposable. How can money and the quest for ever-increasing profits be considered more important than the value we place on the vastly diminished quality of millions of human lives? It can – and it has. This misplaced value, a product of our thoughts, can only sustain as valid or “reasonable” when we economize ( isolate, restrict, and confine) our thinking and fail to see ourselves as belonging to something much larger and greater than ourselves – the whole of human kind.

From an Aeon perspective, we all share the same species identification. All of of our other identifications serve to classify variations within our species and to separately identify one member from the others. Does our thinking about our variations make us separate? No. Our personal identifications are conceptual and convenient but they cannot change what is real – our identifications can only alter our perception of what seems real.

A reduction in time spent on thinking as well as a reduction in the allowable content of thoughts (strictly business, nothing personal) has led us to focus on “individual” variations while overlooking and disregarding that the individual (or shareholder) is contained within the whole of humanity and is not an island unto himself/herself. We have collectively lost sight of the bigger, over-riding picture and no longer consider what is good for All but have limited our thinking to what is good for Me, not We.

The billions of dollars “earned” in profits and their corresponding toll on human lives can hardly be considered of comparative value by anyone with even the smallest sense of conscience. If we pause long enough to consider how the profit numbers and the numbers of unemployed are linked and interdependent, we might wish to re-evaluate the real life consequences of reductionist thinking. The numbers become more than just numbers and we begin to re-associate the symbols of language to the very real things that words merely symbolize, the things that words point to but can never replace . One of these numbers is a cause (cost-cutting as a billion dollar profit making strategy) and the other, it’s effect (millions of people suffering and struggling to survive). There is a direct and interdependent relationship between them.

Ignoring interdependency will not remove it’s existence. It will only ensure that the quality of life will continue to diminish for the vast majority of human beings. We need to more closely examine the relationship between profits and employee layoffs and whether we still wish to continue to view them as isolated economic events. We need to start doing so today.

The (nothing personal) persons that support business need to be factored back in to our economic equations. Not as disposable commodities but in terms of our collective human progress and development. We will see no such progress so long as millions and millions of hard-working people are still being thrown off company payrolls and thrown into despair, consumed with concern for their very survival.

Maybe we would find we have a different and more meaningful view of our world, and a more meaningful view of ourselves and each other, when we are less tied to an economy of thought that is centered on economics, rather than on people. We might find we share a deeper connection, enjoy an enhanced sense of community, or discover the depths of our own compassion and creativity.

There are few among us who cannot find some strength in softness or some softness in strength. There are also few among is who do not find some fear within their confidence or some confidence within their fear. All states of mind, by divine or evolutionary design, are transient and temporary. Fear comes and goes, much like confidence waxes and wanes. The reality is confidence and fear are indivisible and inter-twined, much like our hopes and fears are similarly bound together. What we most hope for is also what we most fear to lose. They are interdependent of each other and can’t be separately “contained” within our person/personality. But that does not seem to stop us from talking and acting about these things (and everything else) as if they could or should be separated. 

Reality is not bound or restricted by our thoughts – only the workings of our individual minds are “boxed in”. What IS reveals the results of boxing ourselves in. We are now experiencing some of the worst economic crises and ecological disasters the world has ever seen. How far will we go and how many millions more lives will be adversely affected before the conflict between what we think and what IS shatters our illusions surrounding the benefits of consistently fast or exclusively focused thinking – our present “economy of thought”?

We, the People of the United States, has evolved into thinking solely of Me and Mine. This represents Exclusivity of thought rather than Inclusivity or expansiveness. Thoughts surrounding We and Ours are gradually being eradicated from our thinking processes. Do we see this evolution in thought as some form of progress or do we see this as regressive, even primitive?

Reading the news one would surmise that we have become a nation of victims all around, with every one pointing fingers, but blameless themselves. Perhaps, in a way, we are all blameless, all victims. Maybe it is the way we have come to think of ourselves and the world around us that gives rise to many of our problems. Maybe we are victims of our own ways of thinking. 

What might happen if we lifted a few of our self-imposed restrictions and began to think of the world, and all things in it, in broader terms? What new solutions might we discover if we could expand the boundaries of thought to extend beyond the numbers themselves? Would the world come to a screeching halt around us if we paused long enough to consider that the numbers we use as the primary basis for decision-making are merely dollar signs and that these dollars have become more important symbols than the lives of real people?