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Spiritual Capital

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Our world is at a crossroads; we must choose between two alternatives. The first is capitalism as we know it today-an amoral culture of short-term self-interest, profit maximization, emphasis on shareholder value, isolationist thinking, and profligate disregard of long-term consequences. Based on narrow assumptions about human nature and motivation, this system is unsustainable, a monster set to consume itself. The second alternative is "spiritual capital"-a values-based business culture in which wealth is accumulated in order to generate a decent profit while acting to raise the common good. Rather than emphasizing shareholder value, spiritual capital emphasizes "stakeholder value," where stakeholders include the whole human race, present and future, and the planet itself. Spiritual capital nourishes and sustains the human spirit. The crucial question is how we can move from one alternative to the other-how we can move from present-day business capitalism to Spiritual Capital.

Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall introduce the concept of spiritual intelligence (SQ), and describe how it can be used to shift individuals and our culture from a state of acting from lower motivations (fear, greed, anger, and self-assertion) to one of acting from higher motivations (exploration, cooperation, power-within, mastery, and higher service). Zohar and Marshall describe how this shift actually happens a given organizational culture. They look in depth at the issues that dominate corporate culture and how they are influenced by the processes of SQ transformation and discuss the leadership elite who must be the ones to bring about and embody this cultural shift. Finally, Zohar and Marshall argue that spiritual capital is still a valid and workable form of capitalism and detail what we, as individuals, can do to make it happen.

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11 Chapters

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1 The Monster That Consumes Itself

ePub

In Ovid’s tales from Greek mythology, we learn of a wealthy timber merchant named Erisychthon (Er-is-ya-thon). Erisychthon is a greedy man who thinks only of profit. Nothing is sacred to him. But on Erisychthon’s land there is a special tree beloved of the gods. Prayers of the faithful are tied to its prodigious branches and holy spirits dance round its magnificent trunk. Erisychthon cares nothing for this. He looks at the tree and assesses the volume of timber it will produce, then he takes an axe to it. Against all protest he chops until the tree is withered and fallen and all divine life that inhabited the tree has fled. But one of the gods puts a curse on Erisychthon for his greed. From that day forward, Erisychthon is consumed by an insatiable hunger. He begins by eating all his stores, then he turns all his wealth into food he can consume. Still not satisfied, he consumes his wife and children. In the end, Erisychthon is left with nothing to consume but his own flesh. He eats himself.

 

2 What Is Spiritual Capital?

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Spiritual capital” is a new paradigm. It requires that we radically change our mind-set about the philosophical foundations and the practice of business. It is not anticapitalist—or even noncapitalist, but it does require the addition of moral and social dimensions to capitalism. Spiritual capital itself is not monetary wealth, but it argues the possibility of making a profit—perhaps even more profit—by doing business in a wider context of meaning and value. It can generate profit that both draws on and adds to the wealth of the human spirit and to general human well-being.

In Chapter One, I described the shadow side of capitalism— and most of my points were not new. These same observations and criticisms have been made by socialists, communists, environmentalists, and some sociologists. But the alternative visions they have offered have not worked either. Marxism offers a clear-cut example.

According to Marx, capitalism appeals to humanity’s selfish motives and leads to the exploitation of the weak by the powerful. This in turn breeds suffering and resentment. Marx believed that the whole problem lay in the class structure that supported capitalism. If we could rid ourselves of this class structure, mankind’s highest motives would be unleashed. Our innate community spirit would prevail and we would have “the Brotherhood of Man.” Economically, The Communist Manifesto maintained, wealth would be divided happily according to the principle, “From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs.”22

 

3 The Motivations That Drive Us

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The first two chapters have painted two very different pictures of the world. In the first, the Erisychthon scenario describes capitalism and business as we know them today: an amoral culture of short-term self-interest, profit maximization, emphasis on shareholder value, isolationist thinking, and profligate disregard of long-term consequences. I have argued that it is unsustainable. The second scenario is that of spiritual capital: a values-based culture in which wealth is accumulated to generate a decent profit while acting to raise the common good. It combines the political values of both right and left. Its emphasis is more on what Tony Blair has called “stakeholder value.” But I would include as stakeholders the whole human race, present and future, the vitality of our shared culture, and the well-being of the planet itself. Spiritual capital nourishes and sustains the human spirit and is the necessary future if we are to have a future at all. The crucial question is how we can move from one scenario to the other.

 

4 Applying the Motivational Scale

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The sixteen motivational states described on the scale are, as I said, “attractors” or whole paradigms that encompass behavior, emotions, attitudes, assumptions, values, thinking processes, and strategies. Thus to know the motivation or set of motivations driving individuals or whole cultures is to know a great deal about their internal state as well as how they will react with and influence their environment. It is to know the individual or organizational “psychology” and to be able to predict their approach to action—and its effectiveness.

We can assume from historical accounts of his past and his emotional reaction to Germany’s humiliating defeat in World War One, and his own disastrous failure as an artist, for instance, that Adolf Hitler was motivated by guilt and shame (ࢤ7), craving (for power and glory, ࢤ3), anger (ࢤ2), and a good bit of self-assertion (ࢤ1). These motives were apparent in Hitler’s speech and body language, as well as in the aggressive strategies he evolved. If world leaders had been able to see this during his rise to power, they would have had little difficulty believing that his Reich might pose a great threat to surrounding countries and to certain ethnic groups within Germany. Perhaps, seen at an earlier date, this would have allowed allied countries to counter Hitler’s threat from a position of power-within (+3) or mastery (+4). Instead they waited until he began invading Austria and Poland, and then they responded from a position of fear (ࢤ4). Eleven million people died because they got it wrong.48

 

5 SQ—Spiritual Intelligence

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Mats Lederhausen first contacted me a few years ago when I was about to visit Sweden. He told me that he had read my books, and that he had a problem he wanted to discuss. He asked if we could meet. At the time, Mats was the chief executive of McDonald’s for Sweden.

We met in a café on the outskirts of Stockholm. Mats was in his mid-thirties, dark, handsome, and in obvious good health. He seemed nervous at first, slightly embarrassed by his reason for wanting to see me. “I suppose you could say,” he began, “that I have a ‘spiritual problem.’ I am still young, I have a beautiful family and plenty of money, and I’m at the top of my profession here in Sweden. But I’m not happy. I feel there has to be something more that I could be doing with my life. I’m not certain that I’m on the right path doing the job that I do.” Mats said that he felt deeply concerned about the state of the world, particularly the environmental crisis facing the globe and the breakdown of community. “Big companies like McDonald’s,” he added, “aren’t doing enough to face these things.” He came from a Jewish family and had been taught as a boy that a man must take some responsibility for society. “Yet what am I doing?” he asked. “I’m making money. I spend ten to twelve hours of my day working for McDonald’s, and I’m not serving any of the things I deeply care about. I want to make a difference. Want, if you like, to use my life to serve. But I don’t know how. I just know that I want to be part of the solution. Not the problem.” Mats feared he was letting himself down and being a poor role model for his children.

 

6 The Twelve Principles of Transformation

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Being new, nameless, hard to understand, we premature births of an as yet unproven future, we need for a new goal also a new means.

—Nietzsche, Ecce Homo

Expanding spiritual capital is my goal in this book, but it is a goal unlike any before. It requires that we act from our higher, sometimes our highest, motivations. It means that we transform ourselves as human beings. To achieve this new goal, we need some new means. For that we must look to the principles of transformation available to spiritual intelligence.

As noted, a human being’s IQ is pretty well steady throughout life, barring brain illness or damage. But EQ, or emotional intelligence, can be learned, nurtured, and improved. And all human beings are born with a potential for high SQ. Most children have a high potential for it. But our spiritually dumb culture and educational system, and our often spiritually deadening work patterns and pressures, reduce our capacity to practice our SQ. Like EQ, SQ must be nurtured. It can be relearned, and it can be improved. To do so, we must look for those qualities of a person’s being and behavior that signify the presence of SQ at work. Finding and exploring these qualities also helps us understand SQ itself. But this requires that we ask what kind of systems or organizations we human beings are, and what kind of system is operating in the human brain when SQ is in use. To know a thing’s qualities, we must know that thing itself.76

 

7 Applying the Principles of Transformation

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This chapter outlines in some detail the defining characteristics of each of the twelve transformative processes of SQ. That will put me in a good position then to link them with the Scale of Motivations and the dynamics of permanent cultural shift.

Chris Miller, CEO of Anglian Water in the United Kingdom, says, “If you really want to be a leader, the first thing you have to understand is yourself.” Two millennia earlier, Jesus promised his disciples, “If you know who you are, you will become as I am.” Yet knowing who we are is perhaps the last thing we know.

We live in a very self-obsessed culture, but we have very little self-awareness. Neither in our personal lives nor in our organizations do we have many habits or structures for reflection. We take little or no time for catching up with ourselves, for looking inward. We don’t even have any recent tradition for showing us what we might look inward for, or why. Our focus is outward, on events and problems in the world, with the consequence that we lose ourselves and all that is to be gained from self-knowledge.

 

8 How Shift Happens

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As a young child I was a bright, straight-A student. But by the age of thirteen, I was apathetic and lost. I had no interest in anything, I had put on weight, had spots on my face, and got straight C’s on my report card. School seemed a waste of time; life itself just a succession of dull, gray, pointless days. I actually considered suicide. It was my life’s first big crisis. My parents were of no use. I had lost faith in my family some time before. All they could do was fight. Religion couldn’t help me. I had lost my faith in Christianity at the age of eleven and it seemed certain I would never feel such passion again.

I was jolted out of my crisis by two events. The first was a stunning lecture by my junior high school science teacher on the atom and nuclear physics. The teacher brought in colorful models, including a model of a nuclear reactor with moving parts. He told us how atomic bombs were made. Before that lecture I found science very boring. But now it seemed to hold out a whole new world of mystery, awe, and power, a tiny micro-world we could only imagine with its own quirky quantum laws and relationships that were beyond the imagination. I literally ran home from school filled with excitement and demanded to be taken to a bookstore.110

 

9 Shifting Corporate Culture

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For the vast majority of people, the wider culture in which they operate is like the sea in which a fish might swim. The seawater is taken into the fish through its gills and permeates all its cells. It is impossible to draw any firm boundary between where sea ends and fish begins. As Arthur Miller once observed, “The fish is in the sea, and the sea is in the fish.” For us, then, that “sea” is the shared field of meaning in which our consciousness is immersed, and that shared field is our culture. Culture contains our shared motives, our common behavior, our joint attitudes. It contains patterns of meaning and common values. Unless we stand back and reflect on it, the impact that culture has on us as individuals is largely subconscious.

We humans and our relationship to culture are much more complex than fish and seawater. For us, there are many cultures that impinge on us (permeate us), and many different levels of our behavior are influenced. Each of us is immersed in a strong family culture with its own dominant and recurring behavior patterns. Many of us never outgrow this family culture, and we carry it with us throughout life in our intimate and social relationships. We are also immersed in the wider cultures of the various groups to which we belong, including our national or ethnic culture and the culture of our workplace. If these various cultures are stuck in low motivations and self-destructive behavior, they tend to drag us down. By contrast, a culture driven by more positive motivations and their accompanying ideals and values can inspire us as individuals and raise the levels of our own behavior and attitudes. Shifting culture, where that culture is negative, is critical to our human well-being. Here, we are most concerned with how to shift business culture, but the work we do on this will have broad implications for behavioral shift in other dimensions of our lives. Education, politics, and broadcasting are obvious examples.126

 

10 A New Knights Templar?

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This new order of knights is one that is unknown by the ages. They fight two wars, one against the adversaries of flesh and blood, and another against a spiritual army of wickedness in the heavens.… Truly they are fearless knights and completely secure. While their bodies are properly armed for these circumstances, their souls are also clothed with the armor of faith. On all sides surely they are well armed; they fear neither demons nor men.

—St. Bernard of Clairvaux, on the Knights Templar

The Knights Templar of the early Middle Ages were soldier monks of the Christian Church who rode into battle to serve their god.1 They were excellent soldiers who practiced all the martial arts of knighthood, but they also prepared themselves for battle with meditation (prayer), with self-sacrifice, with service, and by taking holy vows. All knights of the Middle Ages followed a code of chivalry, but the Templars had a further, sacred dedication. Unlike the “worldly knights,” who fought for wealth, honor, and glory, and who dressed themselves in the most magnificent regalia, the Templars took vows of personal poverty, modesty, and chastity. Their warrior costume was a simple white cloak emblazoned with a red cross.138

 

11 Is It Still Capitalism?

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I have argued throughout this book that spiritual capital is a vital component of sustainable capitalism, and of the sustainability of individuals and organizations functioning within an open, capitalist society. That has been the raison d’être of the book, showing individuals how they can access, draw on, and embed their deepest meanings and values in their lives, families, communities, and organizations to ensure sustainability. But as capitalism traditionally has been value neutral and without a moral dimension, skeptics might wonder whether it would still be capitalism if we added these. Wouldn’t embedding deep values and exercising moral concern for wider society constrain the freedom and flexibility so vital to the very essence of capitalism and an open society?

Past attempts to control, constrain, or replace capitalism, all motivated by a desire to limit its wider excesses and to make it more socially responsible, have not offered encouraging results. Marxism, socialism, Keynesianism, and Europe’s new Third Way have all failed to match the dynamism and material wealth-creating abilities of free-market capitalism. Their accompanying social ideals have in some cases limited the individual and institutional freedoms necessary to an open society. But there is a very sound, single reason for these failures, the same in each case. They failed to understand the kind of system that an open capitalist society and economy is (they failed to understand its essential dynamics), and their remedial measures had the unavoidable effect of further damaging the patient. They could not have done otherwise.148

 

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