Love & Sustainability

Hello! Let’s talk about love and sustainability! Wow, seems so different ideas, but they are much more connected than we might imagine🙂

According to several ancient cultures, ignorance is a major cause of suffering. However, it’s not the ignorance related to the lack of information. It’s the ignorance related to a fundamental misunderstanding of perception of the true nature of self and all phenomena.

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As Dalai Lama (1) states, all negative emotions and negative mental states (such as fear, greed and hatred) are ‘illusory’ mental states, since they are rooted in a misperception of the true reality of the situation. As powerful as they are, in the end these negative emotions have no valid basis, they are based on ignorance. On the other hand, all positive emotions and positive mental states (such as love and compassion), have a solid foundation. When the mind is experiencing these positive states, there is no misrepresentation because they are anchored in reality. They can be verified by our existence. There are a kind of solidity and rootedness in reason and understanding. For example, compassion, a positive emotion, comes from the fact that we do not want to suffer and we have right to happiness. This can be verified and legitimized by our experience. We recognize that other people, just as ourself, also do not want to suffer and also have the right to happiness. This becomes the basis to begin to generate compassion. As an example of negative mental state, greed, simply based on a state of dissatisfaction, of wanting more, even though the things we want are not actually needed. Thus, greed has no valid reasons to be legitimized.

But if all this is true, how to justify the negative mental state of a fear of destruction of our planet? How not to fight against this possibility ? How not to try to correct this unsustainable state of the planet? Well, if we put ourselves as “saviors of the world”, but motivated by fear, we will still be within the state of consciousness of ignorance / illusion. And it does not have much strength, in fact, we tried this for centuries and centuries. Whatever it is, if motivated by fear, it will be still in the old state of consciousness. But when it is motivated by love, then it has force! Then, we are not so interested in what we are against, we are interested in what we are favor (2).

Mahatma Gandhi always told people: “I am not against British rule, I favor the sovereignty of India, I support the rights of India. I’m not against anybody. “

Nelson Mandela was not against white people, he was in favor of the rights of black people.

Thus, let’s be in favor of life! Let’s be in favor of the full development of all human beings! Let’s be in favor of nature! Let’s be in favor of universal compassion! Let’s be in favor of love in the highest meaning!

“Someday after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall harness…the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”  (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)

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References

(1) Dalai Lama & Howard Cutler. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living. Hodder General Publishing Division, 2009.

(2) Adyashanti

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Conscious Leadership for Sustainability – Presentation in Oslo

I have had the joy and honor of being invited by the city of Oslo to present my research on the same Venue of Nobel Peace Prize!

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 Photo 1 – Audience of my presentation in Oslo

Following is a summary of my presentation – “Conscious Leadership for Sustainability” at “Oslo Innovation Evening”:

I’ve been working in the field of sustainability for almost 20 years, in all regions of Brazil, with companies, universities and communities. What have my experience taught me?

I have realized that the understanding of sustainability and the approach to sustainability are very different from company to company. So – What makes one company – or a city – handle sustainability challenges better than others?  What characterize their leaders?

After assessing many organizations and interviewing hundreds of leaders, I realized that to truly understand sustainability a different consciousness is needed. Leaders who can understand a higher purpose for their organizations, not just profits. Of course, profits are needed for the survival of businesses, just as we as humans need blood cells for our survival (1). Although, the production of blood cells is not our purpose. In the same way, profits are not the purpose of business, is much more than this!

Companies can find purpose and even increase profits – through new ideas and business models, but it needs to happen through finding a shared agenda with your stakeholders, finding ways in which your prosperity leads to others prosperity as well. It’s also about thinking long term. After all, purpose transcends a quarter, a semester, or a year. The most important thing is knowing who you are and why you do what you do (your purpose).

To find a different purpose, it may be necessary to view the world through different lenses than before.

As stated by Einstein:


“The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the consciousness that created them”.

Therefore – this became my quest and my passion – contributing to the development of “Conscious Leadership for Sustainability” (2), the theme of my PhD research in Netherlands. I started my quest from scientific literature and ancestral cultures and I was amazed with the similarities between both – Different words to explain the same issues!

What I found in both cases, is that Sustainability is not just a way to make better use of technology (e.g. cleaner energy), is also a form of being different (3). What do we want to be as human beings? What we want to be as a civilization?

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Photo 2 – Presenting at Oslo Innovation Week

To develop a conscious civilization, we need conscious leaders. Consciousness can be divided in to stages and each stage is more complex.  Each stage of consciousness development transcends the previous stages, but includes its essentials, is like going from atoms to molecules, from molecules to cells, and from cells to organisms. In the words of Robert Kegan, a Harvard developmental psychologist:

“What gradually happens is not just a linear accretion of more and more that one can look at or think about, but a qualitative shift in the very shape of the window or lens through which one looks at the world.”

Kegan’s scientific research has shown leaders depending of their level of consciousness can be: self-sovereign, socialized, self-authored or self-transforming (for more see Constructive Developmental Theory).

Imagine 4 leaders and a mountain.

The self-sovereign leader is at the base of the mountain, he can’t see the beautiful landscape. This leader looks only for his umbilical and just see others as facilitators or obstacles to the realization of his own desires. Thus, for him corporate sustainability is just obeying the law (when obeying), just for the fear of being caught.

A little bit higher up the mountain is the socialized leader, he can see a small part of the landscape and he is very busy waving for the friends. He likes to show others that he applies corporate sustainability, in small practices and philanthropy to show off in the media.

At the middle of the mountain we find the self-authored leader that can see more landscape than the socialized leader. She can see more than her own group. Thus, for her corporate sustainability is being focused on stakeholders’ management and triple bottom line.

At the top of the mountain, the leader who climbed the most, with the most developed mindset, is the self-transforming leader. She can see the entire landscape, is a visionary, ahead of time. Her corporate Sustainability is about creating value for stakeholders and the entire society. Not very surprising, there are not many people in this last category. Actually less than 1% of world’s people are self-transforming. Examples here are Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who worked with the premise of love above all. Mandela – after 27 years in prison worked with reconciliation, developing the civilization towards equality. Gandhi illustrates the idea of achieving independence without violence.

In an away – this is what my PhD research is all about – how to get up the mountain. How to speed up this development process in leaders, finding ways and methods that will act as a catalyst for consciousness development.

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Photo 3 – Answering questions after the presentation, with the Mayor of Oslo and executives from Australia and Mexico.

Humankind always transformed in order to survive. However, for the first time in the history of our species, surviving will require more than a collection of Socialized Minds. The complexity of the challenges facing us cannot be solved solely through better policies, or technology.

We all need to strive to evolve – to climb the mountain – together!

“The real change takes place within our souls; the real change takes place when the unfolding of our souls reflects in some deep, mysterious way the unfolding of the universe. Then it is – when an individual person dares to live within his or her truth – that the world is changed, forever.”  (Vaclav Havel)

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Photo 4 -In the audience after the presentation, with the Mayor of Oslo and executives from Australia and Mexico.

For more about this event, please see:

http://oiw.no/program/oslo-innovation-evening/

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(1) See Edward Freeman

(2) See also Barrett Brown

(3) See also Marina Silva

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Trust, Self-development and Sustainability

The world is facing complex sustainability challenges, manifested in many interdependent crises, including climate change, deforestation and desertification, hunger and poverty, lack of drinking water, public health issues, political conflicts, institutional failure, loss of biodiversity, among others. All these crises diminish people’s trust in social structures, in leaders, and even in themselves.

Little has been said that sustainability is not just a way to make better use of technology (e.g. cleaner energy), but that is also a form of “being” different. As Marina Silva (former environmental minister of Brazil) says, is valuing the “being” instead of the “doing”, “having” and the “appearing”.

But, how to value this “being” different? Here are some tips, the elements of authentic leadership (studied by researchers as Bruce Avolio, William Gardner, Fred Walumbwa), one of the theories that I am using in my doctoral research:

  • Relational transparency: it is to be transparent, to present the authentic “self” to others, honestly share information and feelings, thus promoting confidence in relationships.
  • Self-awareness: this is a little more difficult, requires self-knowledge and self-development over time. Understand the world in a larger, more inclusive form. Self-awareness refers to a deep process of discovering who one is, learning about internalized concepts and visions, how one makes meaning of the world and how that meaning making process impacts the way one views himself over time. It’s like climbing a mountain during lifetime, and on this uphill discovering new vistas, new ways of seeing and understanding the world and himself. For more see the “Constructive Developmental Theory”.
  • Balanced processing: objectively analyzing all relevant information before making a decision, without prejudice to any information that does not fit in the current internalized worldview. Also, to look for points of view that challenge core beliefs and try to understand with open heart and mind.
  • Internalized moral perspective: it is a form of internal self-regulation, guided by internal values and moral standards versus group and society pressures. It results in decision-making and behavior consistent with internal values, independent of social pressures to the contrary.

PS: Post also published in:

http://tedxradboudu.com/2013/05/blog-trust-and-sustainability/

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Trust and Common Resources Conservation

Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economic Science, studied cases around the world in which communities successfully regulated common resources (like forests or fisheries) use through cooperation. The research overturned the conventional wisdom about the need for government regulation of public resources.

She contests the theory of the “Tragedy of the commons”, in which people would be doomed to conflict due to scarcity of resources. For example, in a lake with few fish, people would tend to fish as much as possible, without thinking about the needs of other residents and the ecosystem as a whole. Thus, as a result in a short time the lake would no longer have fish. According to this theory people would fish as much as they could, and they would be unable to talk personally and address the situation, because there would not be third parties (government, for example) to enforce the decision.

However, what Ostrom found in field research was that when people could (and wanted!) to talk and to gain the trust of others, reaching cooperation, they prospered mutually! She searched several examples and analyzed small societies, which instead of competing with each other for the same resources until extinction, learned to cooperate to survive. Her work shows that, in many cases, societies are able to prosper by creating alternatives to resolve conflicts of interest, respecting the other, and ensuring common resources conservation.

Nevertheless, Ostrom cautions that this does not mean that people will always resolve conflicts. But the theory of the “Tragedy of the commons” was that people would never solve, and she succeeded in demonstrating that often people solve. According to her, in many cases people fare better than government or private bodies, but not always. She points out that there is no single standard to reach a solution; people need to learn to deal with the variety of problems they face.

But her tips regarding the communication between people and mutual trust as success factors for cooperation, already represent an excellent starting point, don’t they!?

For more see the video of her Nobel Prize Lecture:

http://www.nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=1223

 

PS: Post also published in:

http://tedxradboudu.com/2013/04/blog-trust-and-common-resources-conservation/

 

 

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World´s end X Sustainability

Much has been said about the end of world in 2012 … I sincerely hope this be true … Now you must be wondering…how a person who intends to write about “sustainability” wants the word´s end?
Calm down, I’ll explain … what I hope is the end of this world … of sick planet and unhappy people. And the solution can be much simpler and happier than we ever imagined.

Ancient cultures, such as the Mayans, did not believe in linear time of beginning and absolute ending as the Western culture. For these people the time is conceived in spiral form of permanent evolution, and then the end of a cycle does not mean the end of the world in the literal sense, but only the end of an era for a better one, more evolved.

So I propose a new way … happier … and more sustainable for all people … and the planet.

May people in world have more love, consciousness, compassion, communion… we are all one, independently of nationality, origin, beliefs…

May disappear borders between countries, hearts, hopes, humanities…

May enterprises follow purposes of greatest love, responsibility, honesty, planetary sustainability…

May the society of maximizing profits be replaced by the society of maximizing love … which is actually our most precious asset…

May war no longer be an excuse to peace … that peace be our constant breathing…

May we evolve together … as people, society, planet…

May love in the highest meaning, universal peace and shared happiness become our ways!

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Constructive Developmental Theory

Hello! We will see one very interesting theory about consciousness development. This is one of the theories that I will use in my PhD research for the development of conscious leadership for sustainability.

Researchers in the past thought that just children could develop mind, then Robert Kegan (a psychologist researcher from Harvard University) developed a theory of adult development that defines five stages of mental complexity or “orders of consciousness”.

To better understand this theory, first we will see the concept of object-subject relationship. In Kegan words:

Subject-object relationship is a fundamental distinction in the way that we make sense of our experience—a distinction that shapes our thinking, our feeling, our social relating, and our ways of relating to internal aspects of ourselves. The subject-object relationship is not just an abstraction but a living thing in nature. What I mean by “object” are those aspects of our experience that are apparent to us and can be looked at, related to, reflected upon, engaged, controlled, and connected to something else. We can be objective about these things, in that we don’t see them as “me.” But other aspects of our experience we are so identified with, embedded in, fused with, that we just experience them as ourselves. This is what we experience subjectively—the “subject” half of the subject-object relationship.

In short, subject is “me” and object is “not me”. For example in a baby there isn´t a subject-object distinction, for instance in the source of discomfort caused by bright light or hunger in the belly. There´s no distinction between self and other.

Kegan’s theory describes five developmental stages or orders of consciousness:

The Impulsive Mind (1st order of consciousness): the first stage is what mainly characterizes the behavior of children, who are unable to distinguish objects from people in the environment. This is the basic level of development. The person and the environment are linked.

Instrumental Mind (2nd order of consciousness): Individuals in this stage (usually until adolescence) are self-centered and see others as facilitators or obstacles to the realization of their own desires. At this stage, the human being has only one perspective, his own.

The Socialized Mind (3rd order of consciousness): at this level of consciousness, the person identity is tied to living in relationship with others in roles determined by his local culture.  Such a person is subject to the opinions of others and is therefore strongly influenced by what he believes others want to hear.  Such a stance tends to be reliant on authority for direction and less likely to question, making one a loyal follower. Approximately 58% of the adult population is until this level of consciousness.

The Self-Authoring Mind (4th order of consciousness):  is able to take a step back from its environment and hold it as object, regarding his culture critically.  The Self-Authoring mind is able to distinguish the opinions of others from one’s own opinions to formulate one’s own “seat of judgment”.  The result is a “self-authoring” of one’s own identity that is independent from one’s environment.  Guided by their own internal compass, such a person then becomes subject to his own ideology.  These individuals tend to be self-directed, independent thinkers.

The Self-Transforming Mind (5th order of consciousness): is the highest level of consciousness in Kegan’s model.  From this point of view, one is able to regard multiple ideologies simultaneously and compare them, being wary of any single one.  This multi-frame perspective is able to hold the contradictions between competing belief systems and is therefore subject to the dialectic between systems of thought.  Less than 1% of the adult population is at this level of development.

According Kegan, the ultimate end state of this story—of this process of gradually but qualitatively shifting more and more of what was subject to object—would be a state in which the subject-object distinction comes to an end again, in the opposite direction than in the first minutes of life. There are two different ways that you can get out of the subject-object split. One way is by being entirely subject with no object—this is a baby. And the other way is through the complete emptying of the subject into the object so that there is, in a sense, no subject at all—that is, you are not looking out on the world from any vantage point that is apart from it. You’re then taking the world’s perspective.

Poetically:

“The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes, in seeing the universe with the eyes of another, of hundreds of others, in seeing the hundreds of universes that each of them sees” – Marcel Proust.

For more about the work of Robert Kegan:

http://www.gse.harvard.edu/directory/faculty/faculty-detail/?fc=318&flt=k&sub=all

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Message of Hope

Hello! A new year begins and with it the hope of a better life, world…

But, how to keep this hope despite of the growing global problems? Isn´t a naïve hope due to the world chaos?

Hum, let’s see what the new discoveries in science can say about this (based on the book “Leadership and the New Science” by Margaret Wheatley):

-New models for understanding change and disorder came from the chaos theory. A system is defined as chaotic when it is impossible to know what he’ll do in the next moment. The system never behaves the same way twice. However, as demonstrated by the chaos theory, if we observe a chaotic system over time, it demonstrates an inherent state of order; his uncontrollable actions remain within an invisible boundary. The system contains its own internal order. And reveals the self-portrait as a beautiful pattern, its strange attractor (see figure below).Therefore, in the whole universe, exists order in disorder and disorder in order. We always thought that the disorder was the absence of order state, seen the own construction of the word, dis-order. But, what happens is a dance – of chaos and order, change and stability. Thus, we are faced with complementarities that only give the impression of being polarities. None of them has the primacy, both are absolutely necessary. When we observe the growth, we see the result of the dance.

Figure of a chaotic strange attractor (Max Planck Institute, Germany).

– In chemistry, Ilya Prigogine received the Nobel Prize in 1977 for his work that demonstrated how certain chemical systems reorganize themselves for a highest level in order, when faced with environmental changes. Prigogine created the term “dissipative structures” to describe the contradictory nature of these discovered systems. The dissipation describes a loss, a process of gradual flow of energy, while the structure describes the order embodied. In a dissipative structure, anything that disturbs the system has the crucial role of helping it to self-organize into a new form. When the environment provides new and different information, the system chooses to react to it or not; if this information becomes a disturbance of such magnitude that the system can no longer ignore it, there is certainly a real change on the horizon. At this point, with so many internal disturbances and far from equilibrium, the system disintegrates, but this disintegration does not mean its death. If it can keep your own identity, the living system can reconfigure itself in a higher level of complexity, a new form of self that can better deal with the present. Thus, dissipative structures show that the disorder can be the source of new order, and that growth arises from disequilibrium, not from equilibrium!

Then let´s see some of the insights about these discoveries of science:

– Life seeks order, but uses the disorder to get there. What happens is a dance – of chaos and order, change and stability.

– Chaos and change are ways for transformation. The growth arises from disequilibrium, not from equilibrium.

Thus, the actual chaos installed in various dimensions of society (economy, environment, politics, organizations …) means that we need to rethink all these issues and evolve as a society and as human beings!

May 2012 be a year of profound transformation, evolution and love in the higher meaning.

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