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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/30/10

A New Paradigm for Leaders: The Macro-to-Micro Approach

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This article reviews the new millennium paradigm, the macro-to-micro approach, in which leaders first consider the macro needs and then formulate ways to fulfill those needs. In this perspective profits are reformatted from a starting point to a rewarding consequence of need-fulfilling actions, and gratification of all stakeholders at all levels is guaranteed. The article provides 5 considerations that leaders could use as a guide toward implementing the macro-to-micro approach.

The Warnings

In the past years several authors have indicated that we are going through a tremendously important transition stage at this point in time. Barbara Marx Hubbard, author of the 1998 book Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential, stresses that humanity has "gained the powers of co-destruction of our world, or the co-creation of immeasurable futures" (Hubbard, 2003, p. 359). Hubbard (2003) further asserts, "We stand at a threshold, and it has become clear that if we continue to use our new powers in the same state of consciousness in which we created them, we can wreak greater havoc upon ourselves and the other species on earth" (p. 359).

Along the same lines but in more radical language Daniel Quinn, author of, among others, Ishmael and Beyond Civilization, underscores the importance of a paradigm shift as the only way for us to save our planet from rapid destruction. The basic message in Ishmael, Quinn's 1992 book, is that we can no longer hold on to our "Taker" mentality of storing, controlling, and thinking that the earth was made for man. The Taker culture, as described by Quinn, is what we now know as modern civilization. Quinn (1992) affirms that there are 3 hard lessons the Taker society has to urgently adopt: 1) The earth is NOT the center of the universe (p. 103); 2) Man evolved, like all other creatures, from the common slime of the earth (p. 103); and 3) The gods did not exempt man from the law that governs the lives of all other creatures (p. 103) [which entails that] species that do not live in compliance with the law become extinct (p. 104). Quinn subsequently warns that Takers have to realize as soon as possible that their culture does not "fly", but is heading for a fatal crash (Quinn, 1992, p.109), unless they restart obeying the rules of the game, which boils down to empathy and reverence toward one another and the environment based on the awareness of our foundational equality to all life on earth. He thereby stresses that lesson 3 will be the hardest to accept by the Takers, and explains that it will require an awakening and a renewed respect for natural laws, thereby putting mother culture - the foundation of the Takers' perception of uniqueness and superiority - to sleep forever (Quinn, 1992, p.144).

As an elaboration for those who doubt the possibility of anything beyond our current civilization and, hence, our present ways of behaving toward the environment and the global results of our mismanagement, Quinn points out in Beyond Civilization, "No invention is ever unsurpassable. The steam engine was surpassed by the gas engine. The radio was surpassed by television. The calculator was surpassed by the computer. Why should civilization be different? (p. 3). It is Quinn's opinion that "the flaw in our civilization isn't in the people, it's in the system" (p. 171).

The Reality of Interconnectedness

For leaders in our times there is nothing more important than the act of waking up. Not in the literal sense of the word, but as an act of realizing that, with the new millennium, the imperative requirement has manifested itself more steadfastly than ever before to shift into a radically different way of perceiving the most foundational aspects of our existence. In today's day and age the realization that everything is interconnected should lie at the basis of every thought and act.

Interconnectedness may still be perceived by some as an overly idealistic and surreal perspective, but it is far from that. There is actually no reality more factual than that of our interconnectedness, not just to all of humanity but also to all life on planet earth.

Through the ages we have learned that our planet is just one miniscule part of a vast universe and that, thus far, although highly probable in the near or far future, we have not encountered another microcosm in the universe that has proven to be habitable for our type of life. Moreover, it is yet unknown when and how we will come across such a location which we then -- depending on its circumstances, livability and existing population -- could consider as an alternative to mother earth.

Now, since this alternative has not presented itself yet, we should be very cautious about the ways we treat our precious home. And here's where the key surfaces: Earth is our home. All of us who live on it should realize that any act we undertake toward harming our earth in any way, shape or form, ultimately harms ourselves. Even more importantly, we should realize that every time we become aware of some imbalance or suffering on this planet, and we choose to ignore it because it seems "far from our bed", we basically approve of it, particularly when we are in a position to do something about it.

The Wakeful Approach: A Responsibility of Every Leader

Because we are all sharing one house our planet earth --, we are all responsible for its preservation. And although not all of us are capable of contributing on such a massive scale as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, each of us can engage in enlightened behavior on our own level. As leaders of our companies, families, and most of all, ourselves, we can start behaving wakeful by questioning the purpose of all our actions. This, too, is nothing new. Emmanuel Kant, an 18th century German philosopher, introduced the idea of universalizability, entailing that we should contemplate, for every act we plan to undertake, whether it is universally acceptable, and only when our examination of our intentions passes the test of universalizability, should we work toward implementing them. Even though Kant's theory has thus far been highly praised yet left dormant, it can no longer be treated as such. Today's leaders in any setting, whether they are billion dollar business leaders, managers of micro-level Non-Governmental Organizations, owners of small Mom and Pop stores, or heads of families, should be aware of the tell-tale signs that we face in today's global environment, such as global warming, famine, and war, all of which ultimately are the consequences of shortsighted and short-term profit oriented behavior from our side driven by a win-lose (if I win you lose), rather than a win-win (if I win, you can win too), or better even, a win-win-win (if I win, you can win, and the environment can win as well) mindset.

It is unacceptable in a world where everything is increasingly transparent and interdependent -- a world where most of us can easily witness at any time of any day what's wrong in various corners of the globe -- to continue ignoring that, or even worse, continue enhancing it through short-term foci on immediate profits at the expense of other constituencies in the world.

It is not more than our moral duty to realize that if not us; our children and theirs will ultimately suffer tremendously from the consequences of our shortsighted greed if we keep that going.

A New Paradigm

Business leaders who want to practice wakefulness should realize that the time for micro-to-macro thinking, which entails the sequence "A) What can I do, and B) How will it possibly benefit others?" has become obsolete. Today we actually have no other conscious choice than the application of the macro-to-micro perspective, which entails exactly the reverse: "A) What does my neighborhood, city, country, continent, or world need; and B) How can I best help -- given my talents, connections, skills, and education -- to make it happen?"

Awakened leaders can easily see that the new paradigm, the macro-to-micro way of thinking, entails no less profits then the outmoded micro-to-macro prototype. On the contrary: the gratification that will be earned from applying this mindset reaches far beyond financial profits. This new mindset will enhance profits to a logical and satisfying consequence of enlightened behavior rather than a starting point, but more importantly, it will bring gratification to all parties involved, because it involves "doing good while doing well".

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Joan Marques is the author of "Joy at Work, Work at Joy: Living and Working Mindfully Every Day" (Personhood Press, 2010), and co-editor of "The Workplace and Spirituality: New Perspectives in Research and Practice" (Skylight Paths, 2009), an (more...)
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