Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I. Spiritual Intelligence, (written in 1996!)

One of the key points in my learning came up in a lecture on the state of the world more than twenty years ago, in which the speaker asked the question: "Are you part of the solution or part of the problem?" This made me think deeply if I was contributing with some practical action to improve the world with which I had contact. Instead of spending my time searching for, analyzing and criticizing flaws in things and people, I tried to see what was happening inside me. Later I could see that these three fundamental aspects of life were completely intertwined as in the following diagram:

There are people who are excellent in organizing things, programs and events with regard to planning, order, times and numbers. When they try to put other human beings within their intelligently prepared schemes they can’t do it with the same ease as what is on paper or in their heads. The simple reason is that they cannot see that other individuals have their own free will, attributes, perspectives and ways of being and doing. They lack the sensitivity to understand this simple truth or to detect the time and space which are sacred to the other. When delegating they don’t have the patience to prepare their people for the tasks but do not hesitate in pointing out (sometimes screaming) their lack of preparation.
There are many who are excellent in relating to others while respecting the inalienable right of everyone to be what they are. They are capable of inspiring love and understanding by their sweetness and the awareness of the state of those with whom they interact. However, organizing an activity that requires an understanding of details, logistics, timelines and amounts is beyond them. They lose it, forget everything and just create confusion.
There are those who know how to manage things and people well but their inner life is a roller coaster of ups and downs, which by tremendous effort they hide. Their thoughts, emotions, desires and images pop up on the screen of their minds in a such a disordered manner that the external world becomes a welcome place to escape to so as not to stay inside their heads with their inner turmoil. This results in some becoming workaholics and others addicted to dependent and emotionally charged relationships. They become dedicated to things and other people to escape the lack of peace in the house of the self.
Firmness, determination, insight, courage and other assets ​​important for decisive and active people have to be matched with more passive values like patience, tolerance, affection and sensitivity when it comes to living with other human beings. These two types of values ​​are born out of and are nourished by spirituality.
The true balance between organizing things and people requires real self-management and a good dose of the most important other quotient – what can be called Spiritual Intelligence. (cont.)

This article is from my book "Endoquality: The Emotional and Spiritual Dimensions of the Human Being in Organizations", published by Editora Casa da Qualidade (1997). It was in this book in which I introduced SQ, the first time that this concept appeared in a book, at least in Brazil. In the same year, the book "Rewiring the Corporate Brain" by Danah Zohar, in which she also introduced the concept of Spiritual Intelligence. I only got to see that book years later. Definitely synchronicity was happening.

Building the self

There are four phases in the construction of a building— the study of the basic concept of the construction, the evaluation of the place of construction, the architectural project and the execution of the work. In the same way there are four steps to improve our internal quality:
•    Conceptual basis—what is quality and where it applies; notions of the systemic or holistic vision of processes and the individual’s importance in the several systems of which it is a part;
•    Evaluation of the current situation—why institutions and the individuals that compose them are not developing to their full potential;
•    Project of self-change—how to plan and initiate personal transformation that brings “total quality” to life.
•    Construction of a better life—motivation and the practice of self- reflection in order to develop proactive relationships.

One of my major learning  points that has always encouraged  me towards this goal is the following; If I always seek to improve myself I have nothing to lose. If the world improves I will be better prepared to take my place in it than someone who doesn’t prepare. If the world gets worse, my effort to develop positive values now will help me to face the difficulties better than someone who does nothing. And finally, without even considering the future, my effort to improve now, and the consequent personal victories, big and small, already help me in the present! It is extremely interesting to observe and be part of a phase in human history that the future will remember as the great turning point.

Ken O’Donnell is the author of several books. This article is an extract from the introduction to his book Endoquality: The Emotional and Spiritual Dimensions of the Human Being in Organizations, published in Portuguese by Casa Da Qualidade Editora (1997)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Not another talk!

“Understanding the Human Factor – the Competitive Differential in the Era of Excellence” was the title of a recent event on human resources whose colourful brochure arrived on my desk. Opening it up, I found that the organizers wanted to go even deeper into “Bringing out the Essential Values of Being.” Other such invitations for events and training sessions on “Spirituality at Work”, “The Human Being and Organisational Transformation”, “The Human Side of Quality”, “New Values in Organisations”, “Quality of Life at Work”, arrive by mail ou e-mail. They certainly reveal how far we have come in our grappling with the most basic aspects of our reflections on the direction of work and the worker for the new millennium. Seeing the pretensions couched in such themes, I wondered if they would really take them up with the required seriousness and depth, or if they would be just another of the many talk-fests I have participated in over the years. Would they be just one more round of pleasant exchanges of clichés about how change in human beings is important, how the correct consciousness is essential to face our many challenges, how it is important to implant the new paradigms that will take us towards further glory and success? Etc.
We take our seats in the sessions of these courses and events in the hope that “this time will be different”, mainly because our time and resources are short. We have more important things to do than to lose hours hearing yet again about the new behaviour demanded by the present difficulties that perhaps not even the presenter puts into practice. After the enthusiasm provoked by the rhetoric, jokes and exhortations for a culture of change, we return to the reality of our day-to-day carousel with the reinforced conviction that it is easier to speak about change than to bring it to our lives. After all, we are also one of these human beings that “needs to discover and develop his or her own values” It is great to make lists of the values so necessary to a working professional, but to practice them demands extra power and self-discipline that we may not have access to. To think that it is the “others” at my work (and not me) who have to be rescued from their ignorance and lack of initiative ends up being a very expensive mistake. Any change starts with my own change.

To hear from someone else, yet again, that we have to change begins to seem like disrespect for the effort that we have already done. How easy it is to list the values that a good professional needs at the beginning of the new millennium — agility, flexibility, sensibility, courage, respect, co-operation, detachment from the past and so many others. If I try to imagine someone with all these virtues developed fully I cannot envisage a human being but an angel. Perhaps it’s not such a bad idea after all; to be an angel.  At least I wouldn’t have to worry so much with God around to give me a hand whenever the going got tough.

This is an extract from the introduction to his book "Endoquality: The Emotional and Spiritual Dimensions of the Human Being in Organizations" in which he introduced the concept of Spiritual Intelligence, published by Editora Casa da Qualidade (1997).

Saturday, July 27, 2013

No worries, right decisions

A person walking in the mountains and finds a huge rock blocking the way, wastes time and energy trying to remove the obstacle. If he can not remove the rock, becomes discouraged and complains of his bad luck. For a pilot flying over the scene in an airplane, that rock does not represent any difficulty. It still exists, but because he sees the situation from a different perspective, and his mode of transport is different, he continues without the slightest feeling that something serious has happened.
Any situation, as tough as it seems, can be viewed from a different perspective. The meditative state is the plane from where I can see the steps I went through to get to a certain place, and also see what is waiting for me ahead. The vision of the past, present and future of every circumstance helps keep me carefree, serene and especially make the right decisions.

Friday, July 26, 2013

III. Future vision, present action

The global crisis is not just a matter of learning how to conserve resources and not to pollute more than the system can absorb. It is the human spirit that literally gives us life that needs to be rekindled. When work is driven by a purpose and imbued with passion, the acts, the actors and the stage come to life.
The conscious practice of spirituality is not a simplistic answer to the myriad problems of the world, some of which were mentioned in the two previous blogs. It is the dimension that has the ability to change our thought patterns because it lies at the root of them. As Einstein counseled us, it is not possible to solve problems with the same mindset that created them. We can observe this phenomenon in most organizations, from enterprises which have only one employee to government offices with hundreds of thousands - the mistake of thinking that rearranging the same things constitutes change. In fact, nothing essential changes if the same mental patterns (the same people with the same worldviews) persist in trying to 'control' things.

A complex society requires a more conscious, deep and meaningful understanding of the situations, in order to solve the problems that assail us. Public and private organizations have to become more 'spiritualized'. This presupposes that they are directed by people who take up the responsibility for creating more sustainable individual and collective futures. This is a number one imperative in this uncertain and ambiguous world of the beginning of the millennium.

(excerpt from the book "O Espírito do Leader, Vol. 1', Ken O´Donnell, Editora Integrare, São Paulo)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

II. Future vision, present action (cont.)

In a study of 21 extinct civilizations, the great 20th century historian, Arnold Toynbee, found two factors in all of them - the concentration of wealth and property in the hands of the few, and the inability to make the necessary changes in time. The world is sick and sorely needs wise and courageous leaders.
Even with all these clear warnings, many insist on applying different versions of the insufficient and old mechanistic view of reality in an attempt to evade or postpone the difficulties. This approach, however partial and limited, as theorized by such greats as Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Francis Bacon, René Descartes and more modern administration ‘saints’ as Frederick Winslow Taylor, is terribly alive. It seems incredible that 80 years later that the implications of quantum physics shattered classical thought, many still think the world of objects and people is a linear and static system made of small, solid blocks that can be observed and therefore controlled in a perfectly predictable way. The basic flaw of this old paradigm is to think that by understanding things we can impose order on them. The slightest tremor of the earth shatters this illusion.
If we stopped to appreciate the dynamic complexity of the system in which our lives and assets are invested, we could learn a great lesson, especially in these days of apocalyptic predictions: it is much better to be prepared for whatever comes than to meticulously plan for an uncertain future.
It's time to stop pretending that we can continue without being sensitive to needs of our planet. The only utopia is in fact to believe that we can move towards a better future without making fundamental changes in the way we think and do things.
Much is said about the power of thought to change the direction that the individual in a complex world, but the power of will is stronger still. When this power is aligned to our innate potential, it becomes irresistible.

(excerpt from the book "O Espírito do Leader, Vol. 1', Ken O´Donnell, Editora Integrare, São Paulo)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I. Future vision, present action (cont.)

'What are your plans for your company fifteen years from now?' Ex-U.S. Vice-President, Al Gore says it will be under water.
This was the alarming phrase in the advertising material for a public lecture I attended a few years ago in São Paulo by Al Gore, organized by the American Chamber of Commerce. Extremely challenging. Certainly provocative. Maybe not too exaggerated.
The Oscar-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth" was breaking sales records in the genre. He had made more than 1,400 presentations on the topic in the previous two years to full houses worldwide. The question was would we only listen to or act on its implications.
Whatever the case, we live in a time of fundamental transformation never before seen in history. The political, economic, technological, cultural and climatic part of the same package of different winds. Together they create a huge hurricane that are moving individuals, organizations and even countries in a constant process of redefinition, adjustment and repositioning. Save yourself if you can has become the rule of the game.
At a corporate level, many of the companies that proudly featured in the list of the biggest and best in Fortune magazine just a decade or two, have not survived the storms of the present time. Millions of people have been thrown into the unemployment lines, caused largely by "downsizing" and "rightsizings" endless. The unemployment rate for people under 25 in Greece and Spain reached more than 50% in 2012. At the individual level, we have had to develop new and much more complex skills, just to keep our jobs. This is something that we would not have imagined twenty years.
The golden age of industry has died. Despite the fact that the business community has specialized in creating jobs and wealth, it has also contributed to a very forceful to malfunctions of the systems of our world. The call to stop pretending that everything is just 'business as usual' is ringing in our ears. There is a real possibility that the search for business leaders more sensitive to sustainability issues may be too late.
The mad rush to the survival of companies and countries during the last twenty years has left shameful evidence of wars and conflicts, a biosphere seriously threatened, more and more people humiliated by unemployment and/or economic exclusion. Many of those who have managed to stay reasonably employed see themselves acting against their values and principles, they have overworked and stressed by lives which have become hallucinatingly rapid and compressed. It's time to look deeply at ourselves and our values.

(excerpt from the book "O Espírito do Leader, Vol. 1', Ken O´Donnell, Editora Integrare, São Paulo)