At a time of unprecedented strife and uncertainty in our world history, it is time to take stock; review and resolve the core question ‘what is a good life?’ How do we, as men and women of all types, ages, cultures, creeds and abilities, come to the table to explore this, describe this, and create this without strife and argument? Is life and love important or does money and material gain drives us to exclusion of happiness itself? What is enough for each person to hold a meaning for life that is the best for them?
Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival. –The Dalai Lama
I believe in our endless capacity to love each other and to seek new ways to create a buoyant, abundant, compassionate world were all count. I know in my deepest essence that I am part of a whole existence that covers not just this day, but all the past and future that is. I share the responsibility for our world and see the natural energy of co-creation with us. Working with men and women in diverse arenas, generations and situations, I see men and women holding the two halves of a whole solution, yet not creating a new blueprint together. Is it that, stuck as we are in an old pattern that does not serve us any more, we stubbornly refuse to believe that there is another way – and that the way forward could be easy as we each make choices in our hearts rather than in our heads.
In Donna Thomson’s new book ‘The Four Walls of My Freedom’ she says
“The life that we value and have reason to value is one that has at its heart caring and belonging. If life is a pie chart, money is only one slice. The care of vulnerable citizens is a corporate act on the part of society; it’s not just the job of social workers. It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes every citizen in every village to help sustain each other.”
Donna writes about her beautiful son Nicholas, who was born with cerebral palsy and is now 21, and how her journey and her family’s experiences alongside his own have been a magical, sorrowful and yet extraordinarily rewarding journey of love and determination. In reading her book manuscript, I encourage you all to read it for the powerful insights it brings on the whole social change we must explore if we are loving compassionate human beings. It is not only about major disability but a window on the vulnerability we all may experience one day. In finishing the book, I experienced a new perspective on our societal responsibility for the vulnerable in our world – a perspective that is not just to observe their presence and pay others to tend them, but to take full caring responsibility economically, politically and emotionally without condition or resentment as individuals and as a local or global community. If we are the materially-able contributors, we must be truly loving partners in the wholeness of life rather than be singularly selfish in greed of money and fear only our own situation. In seeing the whole we enable ourselves too.
My own philosophy of life and business
I am ‘me’ i.e. my natural self, and knowing ‘me’ is my first journey. If I love myself, respect and honour my life, I can share ‘me’ with all I meet in an open, respectful and loving manner; and all relationships are therefore down to ‘me’ and my flow in honouring others at all times (even difficult times). So together, ‘me’ and ‘you’ can thread all our respective relationships together (‘us’) and grow open, respectful loving communities (‘we’) that give everyone a sense of belonging and joyful inclusion and meaning of life. Giving to each other becomes a joy and capabilities shared are our abundant table of rewards which don’t have to all about salaries or financially orientated. The rewards can be a mix of material wealth and emotional joy.
My life rewards; emotional, spiritual and material; are therefore plentiful merely by ‘me’ being conscious of my own natural human gifts, by own my ‘being’ and ‘doing’ the best I can everyday.
I don’t need to try to be someone else – a different type of women, a bitch business women, a subservient wife or mother, or a victim lover; I can be all my roles as ‘me’ – a mother, grandmother, business women, writer, dancer, lover, friend, sister, daughter …all facets of ‘me’ naturally. I call this my “value cycle”, which becomes simultaneously “our community value cycle”. This can only spin more brightly if fueled by unconditional love from every ‘me’ into every community I am a member of. Do you honour “who you are” rather than the money you earn or the wealth you possess?
If we are to transform our world in all aspects of life – to be consciously committed to all human beings, to our families, our communities, our nations and our planet – then everyone matters in this “value cycle”; the able-bodied and the dis-abled-bodied, the advantaged and the disadvantaged, the young and the elderly, the healthy and the infirmed, men and women of all nations across the globe are each part of the whole. Yet many are still marginalized on our own doorstep.
What struck me about Donna’s story is that we will always exclude the vulnerable from our future plans for business transformation if we believe that business and life are separate.
I believe they are actually inseparable. And most women I know believe the same. Women know this from birth to death, their emotional imprint, born into this world, is to care and nurture all their lives and often not their own first. Women are, in the majority, the carers in the world, and are more likely than not to be caring for a dependant at some time of their life. I have an amazing Mother of 92 years and although currently well-cared for and reasonablely stable, is always on my mind as she reaches the end of her life. One call and my brothers and sister will be tumbling back into the concern we had last year when she was hospitalized many times and we felt we might lose her.
“everyone is some mother’s child”,
Women are often seen as the vulnerable players in business world, and are still marginalized on pay and opportunities, and for ‘having babies’! Yet women work all their lives without being measured for doing so. In the business model created by men, ‘giving life’ and ‘caring for life’ has never been factored in as a ‘credit’ value on the balance sheet. Yet “everyone is some mother’s child”, motherhood is a key ‘credit’ in creating new generations of men and women. Without mothers, we would have no generations to build this world for and on whose shoulders we will lean on graciously as we grow old. At the end of our lives we will without exception become a vulnerable member of society ourselves, men and women, as our elderly years decrease our ability to function. We are then no longer an employed person, a business man or woman, an active mother, father, student, academic, Politian, scientist and the like. Does our ‘usefulness’ to society disappear because we become a cost to society? Does our life depend on whether we ‘worked’ for our living when maybe we couldn’t or not to any capability that counted? Surely we are still part of the same world we built. We are still human beings.
Our business model to date seems to say that “that which cannot be counted for business is not useful”.
Business is always looking for cost equation, efficiency, bottom line profits, measurable improvements, tested quantifiable resources. Value seems to be only counted in when it can be quantified in £££s. Yet more and more we realize new sustainable business will grow due to two key aspects – wonderful relationships and good emotional behaviour – these count and can often not be counted in £££s! However we feel the pain both financially and emotionally when these two aspects are not present or rotten to the core. Money and measure are two obstacles in our way of finding a good life for all.
Albert Einstein said “Everything that can be counted does not always count; and everything that counts cannot always be counted.”
The question is – does life matter to business – or is business separate? Is business part of the whole and making money merely one of several spark plugs that drive the engine of our society and our care of all? Can we merge fiscal mechanisms with emotional fuel to drive future sustainability and abundance, care and compassion for all of us?
Over 200 years of business growth and industrialization of our western world, we have allowed material wealth and physical and intellectual power to count for more than emotion, to the extent that these dominate the complex matrix of our lives. Economically for sure we are driven by financial needs; politically we have created rules and regulations which often strangle the less advantaged, in policies, tax and allowances; and socially, we are suspicious of many factions in society, especially the divide between those who have and those who have not; those who can contribute financially and those who can’t. Paid work is the still the main criteria for “useful existence” in many sectors and most people’s eyes. Disability, motherhood, dependency of the elderly and ill-health are all seen as burdens on those who pay the bills. The vulnerable are seen as useless in the money game yet money does not buy us what is most important – unconditional love and happiness. We will all be vulnerable one day before we die. Maybe the original blueprint was OK back in the 1900s, but now we have a new horizon and the edge of the world is coming fast towards us. A new more compassionate, consciousness blueprint pervades our common desires. Men and women need to design this together.
Business is part of the pie-chart but money only one part of business.
The consequences of the global financial crash, the on-going recession and rising population demands continued to create chaos across markets, in our communities and in our very homes, the sanctuary that should be our place of harmony and happiness.
Men and women, families and parenting, education and dependency factors, and social cohesion are, for me, all on the pie chart of discussion alongside business. If we want harmony and joy as drivers for change then we need to open our minds to men and women co-creating the new blueprint together and counting human happiness and joy as a valuable part of human business evolution.
Money doesn’t buy happiness.
That is not to say wealth and good fortune cannot create joy as well. But money is only piece of the pie chart remember – it is about the whole that we seek redress. Women know that life is key to business and men had not planned it that way over many decades, so even though many top business leaders wisely see the value of emotion in business there is no ‘measure’ that everyone accepts as real. The selfish ethic of gain through effort rewarded is still core to the world we experience day to day.
How can we measure what is immeasurable? How can the vulnerable be accepted as core to the human business model and transform our hearts and souls to embrace all?
“Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present” Albert Camus
How can we ‘generously’ transform our core business model to embrace men and women, life and social needs? Does business have to stand alone in a male task focused measureable way? Can we shift our thinking so that intangibles are factored in an interdependency model rather than an independence or co-dependence model? We need a model, a blueprint now that merges what men and women want, and that counts in vulnerable contributors for their emotional giving rather than seeing them as ‘debits’ on society’s balance sheet.
If we explore a change of mindset, using magical conversations, maybe we can set a tangible value on happiness as a key contribution to the state of our nation, and truly valued this emotional essential alongside physical tasks, competence and hard work. I propose that we piece the ‘pie-chart’ together in a loving compassion abundant yet practical manner.
Can we lead a truly compassionate business experience day to day that creates a society that truly cares? For this to happen, I believe that women need to own their core natural differences that contribute magnificently to business and life. They need to honour their own wide range of capabilities as different types of women, support each other both as business women and mothers (as desired). I believe that men need to recognize the power of the natural woman, of all types from masculine task focused women to feminine softly focused women, all whom complements men’s male energy and bring a flexibility and emotional dexterity into business success in ways that men cannot do alone.
Don’t forget, we each are unique, beautiful and perfect as human souls; we are all the same and all different.
Nicholas is perfect in his own existence; he is only vulnerable because society makes him so and his condition brings him an existence of pain and challenge on a daily basis that many of us can never imagine. He is courageous in his determination to live. Can we be as courageous to transform business so it takes on responsible approaches to life so that all who are vulnerable are valued in equitable ways?
We will all be vulnerable in some way at some stage of our lives and don’t let it be too late when you turn around and wish for the future we can embrace right now.
Magical Conversations set out a new way to explore the unexplored; to journey into “what is a good life for all”; to bring men and women together to merge their experiences and viewpoints and gather everyone’s contribution in a magical manner out of which anything can happen. The first London based Magical Conversation commences July 22nd 2010. A review will be posted after the event. Your comments welcomed.