Dec 09, 2015

Capturing the Intangible


The “Human Spirit”; Powerful, Indomitable, Forever. Throughout history people have attempted to squelch it, squash it, and squeeze the life from from it. It is impossible to stop. Many thought that by the time we reached this century that people wouldn’t even be needed, that machines would be doing all the work and people would be relegated to a position of inactive observers. We have reached pinnacles in many areas; medicine, industry, education, etc. Yet, I believe we are failing in the most important ways. What ways? Business. Government. Religion. Why do I believe this? Through my own observations and a recent report by the Soufan Group, an organization which monitors global terrorist threats. Here’s a comment I will refer to throughout this post; One Soufan Group report says the following are the reasons why so many young people are being attracted to extremist cultures: “A search for belonging, purpose, adventure and friendship appear to remain the main reasons for people to join (extremist groups), just as they remain the least-addressed issues in the international fight against terrorism.” The world’s businesses, governments, and religions have failed to address the human spirit’s needs for “belonging, purpose, adventure and friendship.” Before you read on, let me clarify; I am not anti-business, anti-government, or anti-religious. In fact, I’m just the opposite. I am simply pointing to what I have seen and read are precipitating the changes already underway.

Business has failed to lead in alignment with core human values. How so? Stakeholders in business has become so preoccupied with making more and more money they have forgotten the “Who” in their business models. Ultimately, people are the “Who” of any business. If there aren’t people to run the business, to make the products, to provide the services, and to consume the products and services, then there is no need for those businesses. Yet, money has become more important that people. Just look at the examples of Enron, Worldcom, Bernie Madoff, Lehman Brothers, Cendant, Tyco, and so many others. Because the younger generations have witnessed these events at an early age and have seen people close to them divested of their hard-earned savings because of the leaders and other stakeholders in the business world possess a “Profits-Before-People” attitude, younger generations are implementing change in order to find balance in the favor of people. Just as we saw in the ’70’s in the U.S., the human spirit is rising and challenging the status quo. The change cannot be denied as corporations struggle to find ways to hurriedly change corporate culture, increase employee engagement, and find new ways to attract young, intelligent people to their organizations. So far, in this writer’s estimation, the solutions are merely surface fixes and bandages. What is most distressing to me it that our young people feel they can find higher values being expressed in extremist groups than they can within our “progressive” societies. Failing to provide “belonging, purpose, adventure and friendship” is a clear condemnation of the current way business is being done.

Governments have long been a shameful display of lack of ethics, dysfunction, and an attitude of “the elite few ruling over the masses.” You can find news casts and videos galore of governmental officials all over the world infighting, bickering, and actual all-out fist fighting.

Even in what we call “Democratic” governments, money from “Special Interest Groups” so easily and massively distributed for favors from those in positions of power doesn’t take long to corrupt those representing the masses in a society where money is more important than people. As I stated before, just like in the ’70’s, it is the young people who are calling for real change and are having an even larger impact than in the 70’s because of Social Media today as they continue their search for “belonging, purpose, adventure and friendship” which they aren’t finding through the current governments. This is a clear condemnation of the current way governments are being run.

As young people worldwide search for “”belonging, purpose, adventure and friendship” they condemn the world’s religions as failing. If you watch people in the parking lots of religious edifices, most of the time they are in such a hurry to leave that they avoid looking at each other so as not to have to interact. Or, at the very least, give a quick wave of acknowledgment and head off. It’s as if most religious people feel they have completed their “duty” and they can now get on with what they really want to do. Young people today see and feel the large chasm between what their religious writings say and how religious leadership and devotees of religions think and act. I have friends who either are, or have been, in the upper-levels of churches of some of the most prominent and highly regarded Christian churches where there are thousands of members. The members of these churches are all smiles and believe that all is well in their religious world. However, the stories of the spiritual and other forms of corruption at the highest levels in these churches is more than disturbing. If their parishioners knew what was going on within the walls of secrecy these churches would be empty. These are situations which the usual church-goer will never see. But, the effects eventually trickle down to all. Another evidence of the failure of religious entities is the high defection rate from religion that much of the world is experiencing. Why are people defecting? Because people feel their religions haven’t met their needs for “belonging, purpose, adventure and friendship”. The defection is a outright condemnation of how and what the world’s religions are bringing to their people.

The “Human Spirit”; Powerful, Indomitable, Forever. Throughout history people have attempted to squelch it, squash it, and squeeze the life from from it. It is impossible to stop. Changes have already begun and we all need to participate in the formation of what that change will look like or the the form it takes may not be for the good of all. It is time to capture, or recapture, the human spirit and give everyone the opportunity to find “belonging, purpose, adventure and friendship”.

Dr. Edward Lewellen is a Master Executive Coach, leadership and sales expert, and keynote speaker for some of the largest global organizations.

Author of The 90-Second Mind Manager