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Our World is Changing wealth does not equate happiness. Mental disorders are on the rise and in the world’s leading economy, America, 15% less people consider themselves to be ‘very happy’ than 50 years ago(The progress paradox – Gregg Easterbrook).Who wants to be wealthy, but miserable? Jensen and Aaltonen speculate that GDP (Gross Domestic Product) will be replaced by the happiness indicator as a measurement of how well governments are doing to create the conditions for their citizens’ wellbeing. Once the basic needs in countries and societies are met – as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs teaches - people are looking for ways to experience meaning and fulfillment. On a global scale, notwithstanding the wealth gap, the percentage of people with unsatisfied basic needs is fast declining. Where basic needs haven’t been met, attention are drawn to them and pressure is put on the authorities to improve the situation. It is more than feasible that developing countries will grow and continue to grow. If progress is seen to be the degree to which people in general are satisfied and happy and not the size of an economy, many things would change. Countries might want to learn from those with the smallest wealth-gap and most happy people rather than the biggest economy. If, at the level of the individual, the race to ‘accumulate the most toys’ has become unattractive, the door will open wider to what potentially can enrich a person’s life spiritually. In societies where there are huge and growing divides between rich and poor, trust typically erodes and suspicion rises. Thriving societies have high levels of trust and minimal regulations and controls. From the perspective of struggling economies it is hard to believe in the possibility of a world that has more interest in people’s well-being and in collaboration than in making more money, but the early sign are certainly there. Read, for instance, the book by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers, What’s mine is yours - the rise of collaborative consumption. Why we work Some of us still think about their work as ‘a job’. A job is something one does to get paid for. We do not associate job with meaning, rather with a ‘necessary evil’.  But for more and more people, what they are looking for as ‘their work’, has changed. Their work must feel like an extension of themselves. The reason why they would work involves much more than the salary. They want to live out their passion in their work. They want to experience meaning and value for others. They prefer to think about their work as a personal vocation. Their aspiration is not to get to the top of the hierarchy of power, but to succeed in the art of living: The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both - Anonymous As such they become increasingly selective in where they will work. Companies whose shareholders are clearly only interested in short-term profits are to be avoided. Likewise with companies whose CEO’s still enjoy to boss others rather than facilitate growth.  Why we buy Do we buy stuff because we really need them or to satisfy our feelings? Do we produce stuff because there is such a dire need for them, or to keep the sales figures where they need to be to stay in business and hopefully grow bigger? As a consumer society we have substituted the rational motivation with the emotional. Today we buy stuff for their ‘look and feel’ and help the economy by doing so. Food and drink must appeal to our senses, not merely fill our stomachs. All watches nowadays keep time accurately; we make our choice based on what the watch looks like. We express ourselves through the choices we make as we buy one colour rather than the other, one design rather than the other, one brand, rather than the other. In the moment of making the choice, we are led by how we feel much more so than by a moral or logical reason. In the process of choosing what we buy, we make a personal lifestyle statement. If people buy with their hearts rather than their heads, then there is an important question for business owners and leaders: How do people, both your customers and your employees, feel about you and your business? In what way do you inspire people? What kind of emotional appeal, what kind of meaning, or which story are you selling? What dreams are you fulfilling? The truth With everything changing in our world, one might feel to ask: Is the truth at least still the truth? I’m afraid, the answer has to be a qualified one. Do you believe what is true has to be factual and objective? If so, how can we, as mortal beings, have access to such an objective reality? No matter how hard we would try to be objective and scientific, we are always limited by our individual imperfect perspective. We cannot escape the historical and cultural filters through which we observe the world. Our understanding is always both our experience and what we bring to the experience – and what we bring to the experience is an agenda that was formed by the culture we grew up with. Our language, at best, only gives us references to concepts in relation to other concepts. However, it does give us the means to communicate our perspectives, grow our understanding and grow our relationships. We neither study the physical universe objectively nor read holy books objectively. We might feel the need for absolute truth and absolute certainty, but even the Bible (Paul) teaches that in this life we don’t see the ‘the real thing’, only a reflection. Jesus didn’t offer full clarity on everything but invited us to follow him. For believers life is a journey towards the full and complete truth, and their security rests in a loving relationship with God – a relationship they experience as real and mysterious. So, with all the changes happening in our world, are you in with them or out? Will you give them some thought or ignore them? What in them is good and what is bad? One thing we do know is that we were born to take responsibility for our own life even before taking responsibility for anything else. It remains an immense responsibility, but also an immense blessing as we, sometimes in pain, take the next step on this journey. Wishing you all the best. PE   Dr Gerhard van Rensburg founded New Era Leadership and worked as a leadership and executive coach, development facilitator and academic supervisor since 2002. He is currently a lead consultant in leadership development for Corporate Governance Framework (Pty) Ltd, an associate of The Da Vinci Institute for Technology Management (Pty) Ltd, and one of Duke Corporate Education’s network of global educators. He is a co-developer of the leadership development component of the National Human Resources Management Standards. Visit www.newlead.co.za Email gerhard@neweraleadership.co.z Call 0834556513 22 Submit your Articles Personal Excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 11.2014


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