By Dr. Franca Baroni, Copyright ©2013
Many organizations and businesses are coming across similar challenges regardless of their mission and goal. Examples of these challenges are: increased competition, decrease or loss of funding and revenues, an oversaturated marketplace, overt or undercurrent conflicts within the company, money and work as a source of stress for employers and employees with repercussion on the morale, productivity and health of the company and personnel, macro-economic limiting factors such as laws, regulations, trade barriers, bankruptcy and others.
There are many ways companies attempt to address these challenges. Big business and governmental agencies are getting more aggressive in their strategies to ensure their profits, and mid-size and small business, non-profits and other types of organizations are struggling to stay afloat. Everybody is in survival and most everybody – even the perceived market winners – loses because the race to make it has often an unsustainable price for the company and personnel, and the community at large.
What is common to this survival mentality is that the challenge is often approached from the same consciousness that created the problem in the first place. With every solution, new problems are created. Consequently, the costs increase and the revenues shrink. On the level of personnel, many are used to subtly or openly project their discontent: to the owners, the board, the employees, flawed company practices and structures, the competition, the customers, the government. If we dig just a little bit behind the upbeat companies’ slogans and the organizations’ noble causes, we find few companies and people overflowing with joy and abundance and operating with genuine and grounded purpose.
There is a simple answer to move from survival to grounded prosperity. To most, this seems naïve wish thinking. In reality, it is only a switch away and with practice the new default remains in place.
To arrive at this switch we have to look inside, at the nature of the company. This requires an adjustment, an open mind and heart because it is new territory. For a long time, we have been taught to see our practical business and organizational challenges as the cause of our discomfort when in fact they are simply the effect of what is happening inside, at the very core of the company. We have been taught to battle the effects and look away from the cause. So it is no surprise that the fundamental challenges companies and personnel encounter have changed little over the years. Fighting the effects can only bring temporary benefits and is mostly a fruitless endeavor with little lasting positive change.
If we take a deep look at the inside of the company, and embrace the challenges from that new perspective, durable improvements to the health and quality of businesses and organizations, the personnel and the overall quality of life of everybody involved, become a tangible possibility.
The Nature of the Company – Moving from Survival to Prosperity
A company is a living organism, and its health depends on how freely the energy flows through the cells of its body. Energy is life force and how much of this life force reaches into the cells, depends on the quality of the overall energy system. Companies are mostly focused on the quality of the energy system in the field of information, communication, goods, services, money, data etc. These are all important organs and parts of the company body and perform essential functions. However, the energy systems that most deeply affect the functioning and quality of the company body are the employees, the employers, and their customers. First, without people there is no reason for the company body to exist, regardless of its specific purpose. Second, only people – as living beings breathing oxygen – can channel genuine life force into the company body: whether they are working in the company or they interact with the company as customers. Third, only people –as living beings capable of feelings and capable of channeling life force- can perform the function of the heart in the company body: without a strong pulsating heart, the company body becomes stale, weak, inefficient, unsustainable and harmful to itself and others.
The health of the company body depends to a high degree on the health of the heart. If the heart is weak, the company is frail no matter its outside appearance. I.e. if the company founders and personnel are disconnected from their heart and life force, the company will reflect this disconnection. The health of the company body is interdependent with the health of the individuals working for it.
In other words, the quality of heart energy that each employer and employee brings to work each morning determines the functioning of the heart of the company’s body. If people in the company are unhappy with their lives, and incapable to deal with grief, guilt, shame, powerlessness, jealousy and other emotions, they will naturally weaken and damage the energy systems and heart of the company. If they are able to consciously use the power of their feelings, which unlike emotions open the way to the heart, the employer and employees will strengthen the company’s heart..
It is essential that executives understand that the company is a body by its nature and that if they view, understand and treat it as such they can move a company into prosperity much more efficiently than ever assumed. This not only to the benefit of the company’s bottom line but of its personnel, the people it serves and the community at large.
It is true that for a while companies and organizations have recognized the importance of people’s well-being in the company, often promoting so called “company wellness” programs. In this spirit, many companies have sought to offer skills to improve the emotional intelligence of their team members and employees, through communication and conflict resolution skills, and their well-being through motivational and reward practices and other attempts to better the morale, working environment and overall success of the company.
However, these practices often prove to bring about little authentic positive change: stress, dissatisfaction, lack of motivation or creativity, overwhelm, conflicts, sleeping disorders, mobbing, burnout, disease and more are still rampant in many companies at all levels of the company. Many companies despite their corporate wellness programs are still struggling to reach their goals and are increasingly under pressure from their competitors with no real end in sight. Why is that?
A simple answer using the body analogy is that most companies have been cut off from their source of oxygen. The focus of most companies has been on the functioning of the head rather than the whole body. Given that the company IS a living organism, the mostly exclusive focus on the head – a very limited source of life force – can only cause troubles: imbalance, discontent, struggles, losses, scarcity or unsustainable results for the people in the company and at times even outside the company. Yes, many formidable technologies and services have been created by “head-run” companies but often at the expense of the health of the rest of the body, in particular the people.
In this “head” culture, the well-being and heart connection of the people in the companies is mistakenly considered no more than a welcomed side-effect. Since the life force of a body stems from the complex interplay of many organs and from the life force transmitted by the heart, if the company draws its life force only from the head, it stands on shaky ground, disconnected from its roots. This is why a high number of companies do stand on wobbly ground, thus getting more and more aggressive in their attempts to secure their reservoir of life force.
There is a better and more effective way: when the company is “heart-run” it can achieve most formidable practical and creative results because it is fully connected to the source of unlimited life force and potential. Not simply because of the heart’s good touchy feelings floating around the offices and hallways of the company but because of the most underestimated power of the heart, which by nature grants access to prosperity and health. Since the people are the company’s heart, the healthy functioning of the company depends on the people’s ability to operate from their heart. The more they are able to access the power of the heart, the healthier the company’s heart will be. The healthier the heart’s company, the more will the company thrive. In this paradigm, the health of the energy system of the people is considered THE core of the company’s success, rather than a welcomed side-effect.
The key is for employers and employees to understand that quality and “mode set” of their energy system directly affects the health of their company. If they operate from “head-set”, the natural most likely result will be the following: the company is mostly concerned with its own survival and its attempts to beat the competitors and at times struggling financially; the personnel is not very creative, engaged in overt or passive dissatisfaction with peers and executives, stressed, feeling victimized by their bosses or their employees, overwhelmed, dull, mostly motivated by the need for approval and money, disconnected from the company’s purpose, leaving work tired, anxiously awaiting weekends and days off. If the company personnel operates from the “heart-set”, the company will effortlessly generate prosperity, joy and sustainable results. The personnel will for the most part be creative, trusting and engaged, be able to take responsibility for their emotions and stories, able to make conscious use of their feelings, be motivated by their purpose, genuinely connected to the company’s mission and empowered by their contribution to the thriving of the company.
This is not a fairy tale: it the simple and radical difference between mind and heart. It is the simple difference between the dual nature of the mind that is geared towards survival and perceives reality as limited and the whole nature of the heart that is anchored in abundance and recognizes the unlimited source of possibilities. It is the difference between survival strategies and possibility management. It is the simple difference between traditional governance and heart governance.
Heart Governance for Companies and Organizations
Heart governance is a web of governing principles, processes, and practices generating from the intelligence and wisdom of the heart. It is applicable to any type of body: an individual or a collective body (group, organization, business, government etc.). Heart governance is applied heart intelligence.
To learn to govern from heart intelligence, we need to first understand the difference between emotional and heart intelligence. The two are often mistakenly equated.
Emotional intelligence refers a person’s ability to recognize and integrate the human experience. It refers to the awareness of self-created emotional patterns and the ability to witness these patterns and transform them into a healthy expression. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to witness, understand, take responsibility for specific emotions such as grief, frustration, hopelessness, jealousy, disappointment, indifference, etc., and shift into a life affirming emotional state. In short, emotional intelligence is the ability to respond rather than react to life circumstances thus transforming us from victims/victors into conscious creative beings. Emotional intelligence gives us the tools to confront the discomfort of negative emotions and alchemically transform them into healthy seeds, opening us to more fully experience our potential.
Heart intelligence refers to the intelligence that moves an organism into a whole, healthy, balanced, sustainable and energy-efficient state of being. The source that moves an organism into a coherent state of being lies in the heart. When connected to heart intelligence, people viscerally know the complex functioning of the whole body. They have the ability to intuitively understand the wiring of a complex energy system and through this wisdom know how to maximize its functioning and create long lasting healthy results. Heart intelligence presupposes emotional intelligence because heart coherence – which activates heart intelligence – is only reached through emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence alone without a conscious embracing of the whole has only limited benefits: using the example of a building, emotional intelligence are the materials, heart intelligence is the glue that keeps the building together: on one hand you cannot create the building (heart intelligence) without the material (emotional intelligence) but on the other hand the parts alone do not capture the whole building.
This explains why the focus on the emotional intelligence of company’s personnel alone does not bring about lasting and fundamental changes to the company. The emotional intelligence of an employer or employee alone is like a healthy part standing alone in suspended air. It is only when the company’s people are attuned to heart intelligence that they can comprehend the complex wiring and interdependences of the company and genuinely contribute to its effective functioning and success. It is only when they are operating from heart intelligence that they move from being an inefficient stand-alone part to an effective integrated part of the whole company. It is only with heart intelligence that the people become the company and active co-creators of the whole living organism. It is only with the people’s heart intelligence that the company becomes alive because it is their activated hearts that feed and sustain the company with life force.
There is no fixed recipe to activate the heart of the company. It is a laboratory of discovery fed by the deeper wisdom of the personnel. It is a journey into unknown territory which for a head-run company is per se terrifying and unacceptable and at first will be judged, dismissed and dodged. The door to this journey is mostly opened through crisis or genuine curiosity and playfulness. The journey itself is like a malleable sculpture in the hands of an artist passionate about creating and detached from the ultimate outcome. It is this detachment that allows for the most brilliant forms to come through. And this art form is available to companies and organizations as well.
As it is commonly said the longest journey is 14 inches long, which is the distance between the head and the heart. However, in these times of crisis and possibility, this journey can be dramatically accelerated and the skills of the gifted artist learned more readily.
With heart governance –where governing is moved by heart intelligence – a company will naturally and easily move into prosperity and be in creative tension with their co-players (rather than competitors) and in time attract managers and employees motivated by their passion and joy rather than their own survival. Heart governance is a process, not an outcome. It creates a company that is overflowing with life force because it is inspired by love and service.