If you’ve been a long-time reader of my work, you know that my work on positive organizations is also inspired by Charles Eisenstein. He’s a thought leader on the big questions of our time, talking about economics, climate crisis, and humanity. He’s looking for an antidote for the scientific narrative that we are separate from the world. It makes people feel like lonely, random accidents of the evolution that compete with each other and the earth. I wrote about Charles’ vision for a “more beautiful world” here:
By the way, don’t dismiss Eisenstein as another utopian hippie. He’s a Yale graduate in Philosophy and Mathematics and grounded in science. He’s not against science.
“The science story freed people once from dogmatic religion. But, the science story does no longer support life! It leads to exhausting ecosystems and competing with each other.”
At the dawning of a new year, let’s do a philosophical reflection inspired by Eisenstein’s new video course Metaphysics & Mystery. It blends very well with the principles of positive leadership and positive culture.
What’s your Purpose?
Eisenstein dives right into the big question: Why am I here? Different cultures provided different answers. The answer that science provided was a non-answer: our existence is the result of a chapter of accidents, and meaning and purpose are but human projections onto a random world. Not a very inspirational vision or purpose!
Charles Eisenstein’s answer is “To serve life” or “To contribute to the universe becoming more alive.” He says: “Don’t take my word for it! The invitation here is to examine yourself for evidence of that. What choices give you the feeling, “This is why I am here”? What actions make YOU feel more alive, more fully yourself, when you take them?”
What would your answer be…?
Positive: the Heliotropic Effect
Here’s the alignment with Kim Cameron’s concept of the heliotropic effect that drives positive leadership and organizations. People (and nature) lean toward what is life-giving and shy away from what depletes their energy. If you follow what is life-giving, what gives energy, you will get even more energy and ideas and enthusiasm. The heliotropic effect is multiplying good things. This also resonates with Barbara Frederickson’s Broaden-and-Build Theory. When you feel good, your results are better, and you feel even better, and so on. You broaden your options, skills, ideas – when you tend toward what’s life-giving.
It’s simple and profound: The reason for life is life, to make more life, to come more alive – to develop more potential. Eisenstein’s argument is that Complexity Theory and Non-linearity have shown that systems become more complex. There’s a tendency toward more organization, not more entropy (or random chaos). Systems also become more alive and complex.
He further argues that to maintain the story of separation, you have to dismiss a lot. Why reject the spiritual experiences, and deny them? “Do you know better than others, is rational better than spiritual, why are you so sure?” Great questions to ponder as the year draws to an end.
Abundance and High Performance
Eisenstein: “We’re taught that we’re separate, selfish Beings competing with everyone else. The economic structure is not supportive of sharing, but encourages hoarding: it is competitive and scarcity-based.” Many organizations operate on this paradigm as well, while positive leadership is based on the paradigm of abundance (of energy, ideas, collaboration, and results) and the heliotropic effect. Teams can achieve “positive deviance” or sustained high-performance if they use the principles of positive leadership and kindness at work.
Eisenstein’s invitation is to see what becomes possible when we step out of the separation story. He’s asking to gather evidence that you are here to serve life. Look for reluctance and excitement. Feel the energy; and do more of what gives energy.
- What are you naturally drawn to do? If you weren’t afraid of failure, competition, lack of money, and status?
- What gives you energy? What makes you come alive? That’s why you are here.
- And why is your team here? You can turn this into a team reflection to develop a (more) positive culture. What makes your team come alive?
Last but not least, one of Eisenstein’s favorite questions to enhance empathy and better understanding is: What’s it like to be you?
Positive teams thrive on kindness, collaboration and support. Next time when you feel irritated, stressed, or negative about a colleague, try this question and see how this works for you.
Do you want more positive energy and purpose? Enroll in the Positive Culture Academy
Or register for the 3-day Culture Change Leadership workshop in May 2020.
© Marcella Bremer, 2019. All rights reserved.