Tenneson is a deep thinker in Orem, Utah. He is a kind soul with a giving spirit. With steely resolve, he struggles mightily to live his life according to the new things he learns from his studies. He is helping people around the world to learn to lead in new ways. Tenneson teaches me to think in new ways.
Bethe is an artist in Kennebunkport, Maine. She is a creative writer, brilliant musician, and a friend to all. She lives simply, has adventure after adventure, and guides middle-aged learners through their Ph.D. programs as they live their passions. Bethe teaches me how to live creatively.
Richard is a retired corporate executive in Niagara Falls, New York who transformed his leadership style late in his career. He moved from a mechanical approach to managing to leadership focused on relationships with spectacular business results. Today he shares what he learned with others. Richard teaches me how men become human beings.
Tenneson, Bethe, and Richard do not know one another, but they have much in common. They are everyday people living anything but everyday lives. They live their beliefs. Each is part of a movement numbering in the hundreds of millions of people--a movement of awakening that is changing the world. Born of a deep systemic need for authenticity this movement emerged in the 60's, with personal moments of authenticity by women and men who refused to live divided lives.
This movement represents the reassertion of the human spirit and offers hope and light to the discouragement and darkness of so much of today's reality. Our five senses matter again and ethics, spirit, values, quality, and consciousness reassert themselves. The threats to our world and our humanity bring forth resolve and courage that are strengthened by the resistance of those invested in and clinging to the status quo. Millions are choosing authenticity over conformity.
Authors Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson named this group that is changing the world "The Cultural Creatives." Since the 1960's, 26 percent of the adults in the United States--50 million people--have shifted their worldview from a mechanical philosophy of life to an ecological worldview.
Separate research suggests at least as many Cultural Creatives across Europe as in the United States. I believe this movement knows no national boundaries as it was born of the convergence of life's desire to evolve itself and the earth's need for conscious and intentional change if our planet is to be sustainable. The leadership our world needs is emerging from this movement.
These enlightened and evolved people believe in altruism, idealism, and activism. They value authenticity and self-actualization. They take action and are nonlinear learners. They think globally and are spiritual. They reject the wisdom-less dominant culture of materialism, paternalism, social inequity, and are critical of large institutions and government. They are raising the moral standards of our time.
These people are ecological thinkers who are aware and mindful. They detect patterns and surface and examine deep unconscious beliefs. Like a tracker, an ecological thinker practices " . . . intermittent attention, a constant refocusing between minute detail and the whole area around it, between the track and the whole pattern of the woods" (Tom Brown Jr. "The Tracker"). The mind that can see the individual track and the pattern of the woods is a new mind.
These consciously evolving people understand that life is relationships in process, transformed constantly by information and connections, influenced by all and controlled by none. They are creative people who integrate intuition with rational thought. They reject either/or solutions and seek to optimize systems through creative both/and thinking. These are the people who will transform our organizations or leave them and bring forth new and sustainable forms of leadership and organization. They are the leaders for the times in which we live.
Most of us were not born to these values and skills. Some make a conscious choice to live and lead in new ways. They are the courageous ones. They risk loneliness and being marginalized. They face their critics--inner and external--and stay the course and stay in the questions of our times. Those who do not make this choice lie to themselves about the realities of life today.
This psychic reorientation to an ecological worldview requires courage, service, sacrifice, and intellectual vigor. If we wish to join this movement, we must see reality as it is, we must examine our beliefs, our values, our sense of purpose, and our impact on all forms of life. We let go of what is safe and comfortable. We proceed into the unknown and trust in our ability to learn and adapt. Not knowing is a constant companion as we find our way out of the abyss and into the light of a new truth and vast potential. Slowly we learn to live anew according to our values and our new interpretation of what is real.
New principles to live by emerge for us. My principles serve as lenses to experience life through:
- I can only control my own choices,
- I believe in something greater than myself,
- I live my deepest authenticity,
- I am honest with myself about myself,
- I share myself with another person,
- I take action,
- I choose a life of service,
- I am aware of my impact on others,
- I revere all living things,
- I reflect on my actions,
- I communicate with that which is greater than I,
- I share my learning with others.
The reward of this hard work is a shift of thinking, understanding, feeling, being, and behaving that is internalized and endures. Then, for leaders, instead of relying on mindless, mechanical formulas for meaningless change, aware leaders will be in a position to utilize their wisdom, maturity, and judgment to do the appropriate thing, in the right way, at the right time, to fit the unique reality of their organization. This journey within is the personal intellectual, psychological, and spiritual shift of consciousness people must make if they want to lead sustainable organizations in a sustainable world.
The leaders who emerge from this movement are men and women of character and courage. They are servants who can set the direction, live their values, hold others accountable, guide others through change, teach and create meaning.
Only authentic leaders who have a solid inner identity of vision, values, and purpose with integrity interwoven consistently throughout are qualified to lead in today's world. Less substantial leaders will falter and collapse under the pressure of constant change. These new leaders will unite under a shared purpose: to save the world by creating sustainable organizations, a sustainable global economy, and a sustainable planet for future generations to enjoy.
However, there may not be time to let the organic processes of a movement and of personal transformation follow their natural course. The ecological crisis requires an acceleration of natural processes--a conscious and sustainable acceleration of human social evolution without harming life in the process. We must see reality as it is, develop a powerful vision for the future, learn to manage massive change, and develop trust in others so self-organization and other natural dynamics of life can burst free from repression and emerge in full creativity.
We cannot look to most traditional sources for leadership. They represent the status quo. Tenneson, Bethe, and Richard represent the values that will transform our world. Those who share their values need to take action to connect with others, to develop a sense of community, to make our personal issues public issues, and to weave our lives, learning, and work into the economic system so the movement can be sustained. We need to become aware of and use our power to bring about life-sustaining change.