This article was co-created with Sydney Strauss, a Pacific Northwest based writer and editor passionate about the future of humanity and the planet.
As if we've become machines ourselves, it seems as though many of us have utterly forgotten what it is that makes us human. Certainly it cannot be the ritual of going to work, coming home to do more work, and complaining about what makes us feel alive; so why is it, then, that it's how we spend the majority of our finite, expendable time here on earth?
With an abundance of possibilities and opportunities that are crying so loudly for human innovation and passion, perhaps it's time for us to listen to that call, turn ourselves off autopilot, and take a moment to remember why we are here. There are lucrative, feasible, and socially impactful ways to serve our passions if only we give ourselves the chance.
It's time to ask new questions
As so many 21st century leaders know, it's time for us to pick up the pieces and fragments and become whole again - as individuals and as organizations. Sadly, pursuing this wholeness is one part of the journey that gets disregarded, as we are told to pursue growing up instead. We want to co-create a world with you - a world in which we stop asking kids what they want to do when they grow up and instead ask them how they want to make a life. Imagine how different our future would look if we asked them to explore their passions and be honest with themselves. Also, imagine a world where people stopped retiring from a job that burned them out. So much is possible if we took a holistic view of life that did not revolve around how we pay for our time on earth.
There is a new story emerging that starts with us
Society is a multifaceted superorganism, which means that bigger change can only occur first from within its smaller components - in other words, individuals (in other words, ourselves). If we can truly and seamlessly integrate honest self-care into our own lives by putting our authentic selves first, then perhaps we will be able to notice, with much less cloudy vision, the imperative of extending that self-love unto others.
This reverence for the human experience should reach even to the unfamiliar or to that which we cannot see, regardless of whether or not that makes things more difficult. We cannot truly be whole as members of the human race (or, to zoom out even further, as members of the animal kingdom on planet earth) if we choose to fragment ourselves from the frightening and uncomfortable, like actively combating climate change or paying honest attention to the global refugee crisis. We are all on the same journey and have the means to see each other. Self-love is incomplete and ultimately useless if it never transmutes into proactive empathy and compassion that leads to action.
On the journey to becoming whole in business
What they don't teach us in school is that the journey starts with each of us. There is no one else. We can't wait for someone else as no one wants to be saved or fixed. We each need to do our own work to bring our pieces together and take care of our body, mind, spirit and get back in touch with our hearts. It is only then that we can create the time for the next largest component of the societal superorganism - businesses and organizations - to also begin putting people first.
Within so many large organizations today, there is an increased level of separation and fragmentation. Typically, people build their empires not based on what's best for the organization, but on how they can get ahead and leap up to the next step on the corporate ladder. Organizations need structure, decision-making processes, and governance, yet they have not evolved at all in terms of organization development. Nowadays, there is a widespread belief that it's either hierarchy, or just flat organizations with the flavor of the month. But maybe it's not so black and white.
What if we combined conscious leaders with shared purpose? And what would happen if we really trusted each other as well as ourselves? Would we still have departments and functions inside the corporate walls fighting each other for budget and headcount? Isn't this a massive area that we need to admit has lost common sense? Isn't it time to become whole again? We are so stuck in determining our brand strategy that we lost sight of the organizational purpose of why our business is here in terms of who it serves.
We are so mired in internal divisions that people are too often fighting each other for that coveted job title and raise. And too many organizations rely on limiting beliefs of fear, scarcity and competition to build stagnant organizations that burn out people. And then communicate how socially responsible they have been with their profits. It's time for each of us to ask new questions and demand new practices as our institutions, systems, and ways of life are fragmented, broken, and are endangering our future on the earth. If business can become whole, it would require putting people in the center.
Surely as humans we are meant for so much more than mere survival and we each have the responsibility to make that first step in mending social structures to allow everyone the chance to excel and thrive. No one else can do it but us. We can't wait and expect someone else to change our fast food culture. Down the road, this might mean open borders for refugees, or collaborating with unlikely partners to come up with unique ideas about renewable energy.
What if there is only us?
Caring about ourselves means caring about others means caring about the planet - that is what it truly means to be whole. We no longer separate ourselves from the flow of nature by getting our rhythm back. We remember that efficiency and productivity no longer serve our basic human needs as our global health costs continue to spiral at the cost of all life on the planet.
To become whole again, we must remember. It's time to wake up and remember that we each have a story, and that we are all on the same journey. Each of us is meant to be whole. Fortunately, more and more people are starting to remember our bold voice t and that our voices count as much more than abstract statistics. When we become whole again, we heal the world. What's your story?