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In 2008, the G8 Summit was held in Japan. One event, in particular, caught my attention. It was a six-course lunch followed by an eight-course dinner where the agenda was – hang on to your hat, and take a deep breath –  famine and the global food crisis.

First, some details

  • Participants were served 24 different dishes during their first day at the summit just hours after urging the world to reduce the “unnecessary demand” for food and calling on families to cut back on their wasteful use of food.
  • The dinner consisted of 18 dishes in eight courses including caviar, smoked salmon, Kyoto beef and a “G8 fantasy dessert.”
  • The banquet was accompanied by five different wines from around the world including champagne.
  • African leaders including the heads of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Senegal who had taken part in talks during the day were not invited to the function.
  • The dinner came just hours after a “working lunch” consisting of six courses.

For me, this lunch/dinner misstep is a metaphor for the unconscious, hypocritical and insensitive behavior many leaders and managers manifest when they espouse values that purportedly support the well-be-ing of their organizations, (in this case, the “world” is the participants’ “organization”), and then engage in the excesses and antithetical behavior that undermine their integrity, trustworthiness, respectability and credibility.

Betrayal and untrustworthy behavior on the part of leaders and managers appear regularly in the corporate world – betrayal in the sense, for example, that leaders and managers paint a rosy picture of the future and then show thousands of workers to the door, and then pile the work on the remaining individuals to take up the slack, or, in the sense that leaders and managers urge employees to take care of their health and then denigrate them for using the gym on “company time” while urging them to work 70-hour weeks, including weekends, or, in the sense that leaders and managers can drive their organizations into the ground financially and walk away with huge bonuses and severance packages for doing so, while employees walk away with nothing – just a few examples of daily betrayal that creates mistrust in the workplace.

The egregiousness of the behavior of the G8 participants, leaders and managers in their own right, with their excessive spending and lavish consumption, points to the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness when it comes to living life by taking the high road, to living life by following one’s inner moral compass and to  living life from a place of serving others.

In a past food-for-thought piece, I offered the notion of four levels of consciousness:

Not conscious – instinctual, follower
Subconscious – habitual, robotic, reactive
Conscious – aware, intelligent, conceptual, reflective
Superconscious – intuitive, guiding, truthful, loving, universal

The behavior of the G8 folks, for me, is one of simply being unconscious – allowing one’s lower-level, ego-driven, base, instinctual, selfish and blind desires to drive – completely unaware of the consequences and the impact on “larger good” of the community, of humanity.

It’s not about arrogance. It’s not about greed. It’s not about politics. It’s not about contempt for others.

It’s about intelligence – being conscious! Awake! Aware! It’s about the fact that no one – NO ONE – said, “Wait a minute! What are we doing here! Something doesn’t feel right to me!” No one! That’s unconsciousness. That’s being disconnected from our True and Real Self. Unconscious.

Consciousness is about spiritual (not theological, not religious) intelligence, about the fundamental principles that govern the behaviors of our leaders. It’s about honesty, sincerity, self-responsibility and self-awareness. It’s about living one’s core values – assuming one has core values, and has thought “consciously” about how they live their core values at 9:00 Monday morning. It’s about integrity. It’s about walking the talk. It’s about being a business person and human being at the same time. It’s about taking the high road.

Consciousness is about viewing my life, right here and right now, from the 25,000-foot level and asking, “What am I doing right here, right now?” “Who am I being, right here, right now?” “Am I acting in alignment with my core values?” “Is there harmony between what I think, say, feel and do, and if not, why not, and how can I create that harmony for myself and for the good of the order?” “What am I thinking about and what do I think about what I’m thinking about?” “Am I ‘going along to get along’ even though I know it’s inappropriate?”

Consciousness is simply about being decent right where I am. That’s who successful and truly respected leaders and managers are. It’s simply about having and showing character, and working for the highest good of all concerned right where I am. That’s what successful and truly respected leaders and managers do.

Consciousness is about showing up, authentically, in integrity, and acting to make the workplace, and the world, a better place – for everyone – right here and right now, even if it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient. Pure and simple.

Some questions for self-reflection: 

  • How aligned am I with my core values? How so?
  • When my colleagues, bosses, direct reports, clients, friends, and family observe my behavior, do they consistently observe me “walking my values talk?”
  • Do I ever act in a way that others might perceive as arrogant, haughty, egotistical or greedy? If so, do I care? If not, why not?
  • Do I show concern for my fellow man (generic) at work, at home, at play, when I comment on the world at large, and when I’m out and about?
  • At what level of consciousness do I live my life most of the time?
  • Have I ever spoken up when I felt I needed to tug on someone’s sleeve about their inappropriate behavior?
  • Do I gloss over unethical or immoral workplace behavior as the “cost of doing business?”
  • Do I exhibit the change I’d like to see everyone else exhibit?
  • Have I ever betrayed another person? Have I ever been betrayed? How did I feel in either or both event(s)?

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(c) 2020, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

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