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‘Awakening Humanity at Work’: Leadership in the New Age

“It’s not personal, it’s business.”

How many of us have heard this statement in the workplace and/or have cited it ourselves? Well, I not only have heard it, personally used it many times earlier in my career.

If you find yourself saying “What’s the matter with you, Sesil? Of course, business is business, it has nothing to do with who I am at home!”, here is a set of statistics for you to contemplate on:

  • According to OECD, in the last 50 years, productivity has not inclined over 1% in EU and has been ~2% in the US – No matter which new technology we inject into the system, our bodies can only take in so much…
  • Stress induced long term illness is causing organizations more than 500B USD per year in the US alone – WHO predicts the number one epidemic of the world to be depression, triggered by work-related stress…
  • According to Global Leadership Forecast, only 26% of HR leaders and 38% of business leaders report having provided quality work experiences – Imagine if those in “leading” positions pointing fingers to a system, who may “save” us from our reality?

Now, close your eyes, think of what picture we may have held of our professional experiences in our minds when we had enrolled ourselves in education. Next, come back and connect to today’s workplace reality and ask yourself: How big of a gap?

Evolution is often seen as a process of “survival of the fittest,” implying that egoism and selfishness are embedded in our genetic code. This is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – dogma of our Western societies: Self-interest.

The term “survival of the fittest,” often attributed to Charles Darwin, was actually coined by Herbert Spencer and the Social Darwinists who wished to justify class and race superiority. Darwin’s message was, however, quite to the contrary. He argued that evolutionary success was more dependent on fellow feeling than exclusive self interest: “Communities which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring” (Darwin, 1871, Chapter 4, “Sociability,” para. 11).

There is more to our being as living species than self-interest. We have a need to care/connect and we have a need to have meaningful experiences in life.

In fact, when we observe nature, we find the most resilient, the longest living creatures (like trees or moss) are built on the promise of true collaboration and connection. Trees, for example, will literally scan their eco-system for wellbeing and if there is a “weak” colleague close by, they will collectively pull off on their resource consumption to channel some into the one in need.

There is a whole new body of evidence spanning psychology, neuroscience, and even economics today revealing that as a species our default mode is not one of self-centeredness but that we are wired to connect and when we connect our physiology improves for the better. For example, a study that subjected volunteers to the common cold virus on purpose as part of the experiment found that when those volunteers rated the doctor who interacted with them as very kind, they were less likely to develop a full-blown cold, their symptoms were less severe, and the illness cleared up faster.

Let us remind ourselves then, the key to human well-being lies at least as much in our ability to connect with and care for others as in beating the competition.

A New Way of Being is Possible!

This is probably why we already started receiving amazing reviews on our Awakening Humanity at Work program in collaboration with Stanford University’s CCARE. The scientific research is really intriguing for people. Many of us are unaware of the productivity loss across sectors and the shift in mindset required to rejuvenate resilience and growth in the 21st century.

Our conversations around how to re-awaken our human side despite the transformative states our businesses are in, has been the most rewarding.

Therefore, we are introducing a new pilot class to be held in October, in the US for those who couldn’t sign up for September session. If your schedules allow, please come and join us in our last discounted session.

I have been studying, participating in, leading change efforts for over two decades and I can tell you with confidence that change is relational.

In business, in societies, at home.  Before we can initiate change, we need one person, who is willing to put self out there. The driving force may rise from a self-need, a heart-driven mission, it may be a dream, a vision, but there has to be at least one to go “crazy” with a purpose. Then, comes the need to create a ‘critical mass’, becoming the yeast, the glue holding it together.

We are playing the role of “crazies” and we need your support to build a “critical mass”. We need a group of leaders, who have a clear purpose and quality in their offering. We need a small yet mighty community willing to take the task to create a reaction.

Because only then, with that sort of connection, curiosity and compassion, it will be possible to reimagine business and it will be possible to invite beauty in. Join us!


  • 5 September 2018

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Enjoyed the read… thank you for your forward amd.fuller thinking…
Seaking of relational… thought you might enjoy this co-relation from 2009 🙂


John Brian Hennessy says:
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