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Life Arts    H4'ed 5/9/10

Sleepwalk No Longer: It's Wake-Up Time!

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Message Joan Marques
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There are many reasons that could be attributed to the disappointing trends we witnessed in the corporate world during the past years. One of the first that comes to mind is insufficient ethical education to business people, resulting in business decisions that mainly focused on short-term profits and not on long term relationships or general societal well being.Â

Another pitfall could be found in the often excessive individualistic mindset amongst corporate leaders, leading to astounding individual financial affluence, and a simultaneous impoverishment of the lower level workforce members.

A third problem area could be sensed in the lack of adaptation to 21st century strategies and needs. For many leaders, changes occurred so fast, that they did not have the chance to come to terms with the understanding that a lot of the practices of the past century now sort a reversed growth effect on businesses: homogeneity in acting and thinking no longer leads to progress. It's diversity in every aspect of the business that wins the customer and the investor: diversity in employees' capacities, backgrounds, cultures, age categories, and thus, insights.

A fourth challenge is the ignorance about other countries and their performance. Merely thinking that you are still the leader is the quickest way to make you lose that position. Countries such as China, Japan, India, Brazil, and several European nations have aggressively improved their productions, education levels, and awareness about the needs of our changing world.

And then there's the personal side of ignorance, which keeps us sleepwalking in a world that is smaller in our minds than it actually is. We continue to see ourselves as citizens of this or that nation, while we have become citizens of the world. We continue to confine our perspectives and developmental plans to one part of the world, while every corner of the earth may become our home tomorrow. By continuing our sleepwalk, we forego opportunities to learn about other countries and cultures, and continue to focus only on our day-to-day (short term) activities without allowing ourselves any thinking or acting beyond those.

Most of all, we are often too immersed in a shed mentality, that confines our performance to thought patterns, which our parents and their parents used to uphold: seeing ourselves as workers instead of suppliers of services, holding on to a victimized mindset instead of an equally based one, clinging to unsatisfying jobs for fear of taking risks, and dwelling on a disposition of security that has long passed on.

If we want the second decade of this century to be more successful than the first, we cannot wait on governments, big businesses, non-profits, or employers to help us. We need to start the stride toward lasting progress internally. We need to take more ownership of our circumstances by considering how we could start working toward improvement. We need to shift our paradigms and prickle a metanoia that will dramatically change our entire perception of the world. We don't necessarily need formal education or exposure to special teachers to establish this. We can just sit ourselves down and use our brains to rethink our lives and ourselves:

*By only following the grim reports about climate change, disappearing rain forests, endangered species, ongoing wars and recurring poverty, we can expand our awareness in day-to-day decision making, and focus more on long term well being for larger communities than just our own. *By opening our eyes to the reality that we're not islands but interconnected beings in an interconnected global community, and that our actions today, will certainly affect the well being of our children and their children in the future, we can try to ensure better conditions for larger groups than merely our own small circle of friends and family. *By altering our mindsets from rejecting to embracing diversity and all its advantages, we don't just pave the way for our organization to excel beyond expectations in the future, but we also ensure our own personal and professional progress in the world. *By broadening our views, taking our fellow nations in the world seriously, and following their developments with more interest, we can establish a growing exchange of knowledge and practices, and learn from one another in the most profitable way. By escaping the narrow scope of patriotism and opening ourselves to global citizenship, we may start considering our options in a broader perspective, and tap from infinitely more resources in education, employment, and personal development, that can lead us in directions we couldn't even dream of in the past. *By reframing our reality, regardless of its current state, we can rise above feelings of confinement and inexorable imprisonment, We can start realizing that we always have a choice, start thinking of ourselves as entrepreneurs even if we work full time for an employer, and start accepting the fact that security is non-existent.

The overarching result of these mental shifts is an enhanced internal locus of control. We will have fewer tendencies to blame others for the things that happen to us, and take more responsibility. We will make more conscious choices, with the result of a greater sense of gratification at the end of the day. Most of all, we will live a life in which there is no room for regrets later on.

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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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