According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report for Congress, from the 9-11 attacks to date, the cost of the “War on Terror” has been US$863 billion, and growing. Since 1993 Greg Mortenson, an American mountaineer from Minnesota, has among other things, single-handedly built 55 schools for impoverished children in the forbidden terrain that gave birth to the Taliban. Which approach do you feel is producing the best outcomes in making the world a safer place, the War on Terror or Greg? To us the answer is simple, the latter.
We recommend that you read Three Cups of Tea and find out more about this amazing American and the power of the humanitarian spirit. And imagine what Greg could have achieved with the squandered US$863 billion! CxO and this newsletter are about Leadership, not necessarily about humanitarian stories, although we do draw courage from the human spirit of benevolence. However, this example patently demonstrates the difference between a CEO and a Leader. There are many approaches towards a desired outcome, and we believe that the only approach that achieves sustainable and great outcomes is Leadership (that emanate from our Essence). All the others come from ego and achieve a variety of short-to-medium-term good outcomes, and in some cases long-term, damaging, often irreparable outcomes. In our example above we see, one one side, the ego of a nation and its president and on the other, an American with a different approach, operating from his Essence, the stuff of true Leadership.
Ego is a difficult armour to wear
Ego is conditional and conditioned. It operates within certain parameters of expectation. It deals with image, consistency, expectations, biases, learnt behaviours, conformity, protection, defences, pride, routine, and much more. Paradoxically, it also feels safe for the carrier as it is built around known behaviours, survival instincts, and defence mechanisms.
Essence, however, is pure. It is about passion, purpose and the authenticity of the objective/s. Essence takes courage. It often goes against norms, at times it demonstrates unpredictable behaviour, and it is often blocked, rejected, and derailed.
However, these are not times for easy options. In our opinion the current global financial meltdown was brought about by ego and greed. It takes true Leaders and true Leadership to take us to the next stage of human evolution. The CEOs who led us to this place will not cut it for the next stage. Much discussion in our internal workshops, and much media scrutiny, has revolved around what to do to punish the CEOs and board members who have brought the world to this place and how they should repay society for their failings and the treacherous conditions in which we find ourselves. Whilst this would soothe the human desire for revenge, it might not be the right solution for achieving the next stage of human growth, as the “War on Terror” has so clearly demonstrated.
Most of these executives did what they thought was be st, and yes, some are possibly corrupt. However, these corrupt individuals are likely few in the scheme of things and need to be dealt with directly. We are going to have to trust that these governments that are handing out trillions of dollars hand-over-fist will take appropriate action to discipline them, but let’s not toss the baby out with the bathwater. Surely they are not all crooked. Surely most were doing their best and have had a notably successful track record. Still, their best will not cut it any more unless they too learn to give heed to their Essence and change from being just CEOs to being great Leaders. The lesson from Greg Mortenson is clear, take a compassionate approach to adversity. This takes true courage and comes from our essence, which at its core is pure, exploratory, growth-attuned, astoundingly innovative, and frankly, exhilarating, for when things get to their worst and humankind seems to have lost everything, great Leaders seem to emerge and take humanity to its next stage of evolution.
Last modified: March 27, 2018