"Unless the distant goals of meaning, greatness, and destiny are addressed, we can’t make an intelligent decision about what to do tomorrow morning—much less set strategy for a company or for a human life. Nothing is more practical than for people to deepen themselves. The more you understand the human condition, the more effective you are as a business person. Human depth makes business sense.” ~ Peter Koestenbaum, Corporate Consultant and Philosopher, interviewed by Fast Company
Wisdom Workroom, launched this year, is my way to hold space for so many leaders I have met who are thirsty for human depth.
They want to be thriving human beings, which is a challenge in the midst of an angular world inherited from the industrial age, overlaid with a binary world inherited from the informational age.
I want to help people:
All of us feel the call of the deep.
Questions that emerge when we quiet down—perhaps relaxed by the calming rhythms of a subway ride or the road hum of a car taking us home—are questions that will never go away.
If we pay attention to them, these questions just grow more beautiful.
But paying attention does not come easy.
Often, we don't feel that we have sufficient oxygen to grapple with questions of meaning.
Questions about the countless polarities we feel inside of us and around us, questions about courage to live a life we can call our own.
Do these questions of meaning have a place in business? Yes, for at least three basic reasons:
1. RETENTION. The best people often leave organizations not because of lack of recognition or lack of compensation, but because of the lack of opportunity to make meaning.
2. PERFORMANCE. Moreover, impactful leaders who choose to stay don't burn out because they have too much to do, but because they don't work in an environment where they can work wholeheartedly.
3. RECRUITMENT. Finally and perhaps most importantly, greatly talented people do not knock on the door of organizations that fail to nourish human depth. They refuse to work at the places where they have to leave behind the great questions that animate their lives.
To do their best, our best people need to bring their whole selves to the challenge.
With the whole self comes the priceless gift of their discretionary effort and personal artistry.
What matters to high performers and potent leaders today is what has mattered for every generation since the foundation of the world: a deep inner human skill of living well and loving well. Wisdom.
How would that play out on Monday morning?
Imagine facing the turmoil of a changing workplace with the deep peace of knowing full well that nothing, absolutely nothing can escape the anxiety (pure energy) and the joy (pure meaning) of being a human being.
Imagine showing up at work with your hard-won, unique life experience and your intuition, all ready to engage, day in and day out.
Imagine coming home knowing that your life is far greater than your career, that you are stepping from one sacred ground (that of your vocation) to another sacred ground (that of your friends and family).
Is this is possible, you might wonder.
The good news is that “the times, they are a changin’.”
Big data, advanced analytics, and increasingly intelligent decision-making algorithms are transforming industrial age organizations into more sophisticated contraptions. No doubt, technological brilliance will continue to astound us. Yet, what brought us here has now become a liability.
The contraptions require persons.
That's why companies small and large are discovering the importance of wisdom through their sobering encounters with products and services of competitors who have already welcomed human depth as their most valuable business partner.
Making it possible for great people do great work is the most persistent business imperative of this age, and rather than treating it as a mere technical challenge, wise leaders are grappling with new questions that can yield genuinely new answers.
“What does it mean to be a successful human being today?”
“What are the real reasons we are reluctant to humanize business?”
“What would a wise organization look like?”
Individuals and organizations that will thrive in the future will invest in the human edge. Wisdom is an irreducibly human capacity and today is her watershed moment.
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