Looking Beyond the Midterm Elections In Quest for Humanity’s Master Code

The following is a Guest Blog by Dr. Don Beck, author of Spiral Dynamics. For more information, visit his website at: www.spiraldynamics.org

I want you to stand 30 years in the future and tell me if the America you see is the one you envisioned in November 2018.

Politics today feel like a tug-of-war. We need to look beyond the Midterm Elections in our quest for humanity’s Master Code.


Has the “us vs. them” polarization disappeared? Have we become a stronger union because of it, or did one side of the political spectrum overpower the other and forever silence it? If it’s the latter, then look closer and see what has become of the other side. Has it transformed ideologically or has its repressed voice become even a greater vehicle for division sowing seeds for another civil war?

The question posed here might have caught you by surprise, but it is the type of exercise that triggers a mass learning experience. I have used it in academic settings as a professor of social psychology to address the unrest we experienced in the 1960s. In later years it became a conversation started for large-scale systems change that take years if not decades to fully manifest as the next cultural expression of values.

As a doctoral student of Muzafer Sherif, one of the founding fathers of social psychology, I learned early in my career about the psychosocial characteristics of conflict resolution. Oftentimes, competition for political leadership can lead to negative prejudices, frozen stereotypes, and fractious interparty conflicts. These are the early signs of trouble. As competition increases, each side moves towards an-all-or-nothing endpoint making it difficult to find common ground. Under this type of political division, one side enjoys the spoils of victory, while the other waits in the wings for its turn ignoring the real damage the discord is causing to the very fabric of a country.

I have been a witness to these political dynamics several times in my life in many hot spots around the world. They were present in South Africa where, over a 10-year period, I helped the country’s leaders design conflict-minimizing measures to ensure a smooth transition from Apartheid. If you’ve seen the movie Invictus then you’ve seen the work I’ve done on nation-building through sports after years of helping Mandela and de Klerk create a future vision for South Africa. Similar efforts were undertaken in the West Bank and Israel.

In both of these initiatives, what gave people hope is the idea that a peaceful, conflict-free future is possible. This type of optimism and long-term thinking is exactly what is absent from today’s political debate in America. Just as the right vilified President Obama, the left is doing the same with President Trump. Both sides of the political spectrum have become closed-minded, set on demonizing the other side and rejecting any and all ideas on compromise regardless of their merit. Things can’t possibly get any worse.

But here’s where solutions begin: the creation of super-ordinate goals. This concept comes from one of Sherif’s research efforts called the Robber’s Cave Experiment. At the heart of this model is the idea that groups in conflict, who don’t see a compromise with the other side as a possibility, must be made aware of the bigger picture and the resulting consequences should division worsen.

The definition of a super-ordinate goal is one that both sides to a conflicting desire to achieve but cannot do so on their own and must enroll the help of the other. It is working together to avert disastrous outcomes that neither side desires. This is what responsible leadership at the highest level must undertake, but unfortunately, the world has not seen it happen too many times.

Historically when countries fail to properly formulate superordinate goals the results, at best have been further division and at worse devastating wars. Unfortunately, the belief systems of both political parties in America today have become so rigid that ideas, like saving the planet or stopping climate change as superordinate goals, don’t speak to all sides equally. These values are generally associated with the progressive liberal side of the political spectrum that has been demonized and thrown into the enemy camp. Similarly, ideas on merit, self-reliance, limited government, and jobs for all Americans receive the same level of vitriol as they become rigidly demonized into the conservative side of the political spectrum.

When there’s clarity on a nation’s superordinate goal, it is the middle that’s made up of pragmatists and conciliators on both sides that kept the system moving smoothly. Seniority and political craftsmanship was its hallmark. Unfortunately today, that middle has disappeared and those who hold seniority on both sides are choosing not to run for reelection leaving the nation more polarized.

The solution to our predicament does not lie in whom we elect in the midterms. It has more to do with a political system that needs to be informed by a new superordinate goal that speaks to the future. Our current political parties are beholden to values of a bygone era informed by the standards of the Industrial Age. This is the narrative that suppresses the emergence of new paradigms. The voices of our politically ambitious youth are muffled. The minute they declare their desire to change the system, they’re thrown into the dark rigid confines of the two political parties. The result is more of the same gridlock.

I can’t claim to have all the answer for, or to know the finer details of a superordinate goal that has a future pull for all of America. But I do know this: the future of American politics is not a fight between the left and the right. It is a fight between the future and the past and we have to make room for young leadership to emerge. Solutions in the future will be based on leadership that deploys the talents of the “best fit” that champion the values of “thrive and let thrive” not on rigid ideologies of the left or the right which today only produce “win-lose” outcomes and create further division.

Historically, we have called on the youth in the military to defend us against enemies. Today, we must help our youth create a positive superordinate goal and empower them to pursue it so when we stand 30 years in the future, we can look back and be proud of our actions today. That’s leadership at the highest level that’s sorely missing from politics today.

By Dr. Don Beck
drbeck@spiraldynamics.net
Nov. 4, 2018


About the Author

Dr. Don Edward Beck

Dr. Don Edward Beck is a teacher, geopolitical advisor, and theorist focusing on applications of large scale psychology, including social psychology, evolutionary psychology, organizational psychology and their effect on human sociocultural systems. He is the co-author of the “Spiral Dynamics” theory, an evolutionary human development model. He spent many years adapting the work of his mentor and colleague, developmental psychologist Clare W. Graves, Professor Emeritus in Psychology at Union College in New York.


 

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Why You Need More Allies, Instead of More Friends

Do you think your coworkers have influence over you? What about your significant other? Your friends? Could they get you to do something just because you’re following the crowd?

In life, we need more allies than friends.


 

You’re probably thinking, “Eh, maybe a little, but I’m a pretty tough, independent guy/gal. I’m beyond being suckered in by others’ influences. Influences are for Junior High kids.”

Think again, buddy.

Surprisingly, we all have a wide circle of influence—larger and stronger and more powerful than we may realize, think or believe.

We’re Less Than Six Degrees Apart

Remember a few years ago, when the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” was all the rage? People were fascinated by the theory that any Hollywood actor could be connected back to the actor Kevin Bacon through six connections or less. It became a popular party game. People would sit around trying to link back to Kevin Bacon.

Truth be told, this separation? It’s not limited to just actors, and in fact, it doesn’t even go as far as six degrees. Not even close! In fact, a Facebook study revealed that users in the United States were separated by only 3.46 degrees! Everyone—from the lady at the coffee shop, to the mechanic in Arkansas, to the elderly woman in Salt Lake City—you’re connected THAT closely to the people in the world around you.

The people we surround yourself with have an impact on our actions and our achievements. Look at “herd mentality” when it comes to trends, the stock market, and more. In fact, there are plenty of consumer studies out there on the way we influence each other’s’ choices in purchasing, how we dress, and even what we eat.

The thing about herd mentality and the influence of others is that we all think we’re “above” it, right? We ALL think we’re independent thinkers. We control our own minds and choices, right? Well, guess what?

As it turns out, our circle of influence is much stronger and broader reaching than we think or realize. If you go into a room with a bad attitude or feeling like you’re having a crappy day, your influence will spread. Rapidly. Like an infection, you’ll actually bring every person down you come in contact with.

The reverse is also true. In phone sales training, you may have heard the phrase “dial and smile”—because your smile can be heard in the pitch and tenor of your voice. Even without seeing you, customers can literally tell when you aren’t smiling or happy to be selling something. Your influence even extends through the phone!

So what can we take away from all this? Are we just products of our environment? Is it time for an existential crisis?

Do we have any free will at all?

Surrounding Yourself with Transformational People

Of course the point isn’t to scare you into feeling helpless or powerless. In fact, the knowledge of your influence should actually make you feel MORE powerful and even MORE in control.

You are a person of great influence!

As it turns out, you have incredible power over the people in your life.

For example, in a study called The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years (PDF), it was found that people who were obese were more likely to have friends who were also obese. In turn, the friends-of-friends of the obese people were also more likely to be obese. And here’s the kicker: almost unbelievably, the friends-of-friends-of-friends were ALSO more likely to be obese. This isn’t a lesson on obesity, of course—it’s about the power of our influence. Our habits can affect not only our family and friends, but also our friends’ friends…and even our friends’ friends’ friends. If just our habits can do that, imagine what our attitude can do!

Right now, you have influence over somewhere around 1,000 people. Your habits, your actions, and your attitude—they all have an influence on over 1,000 people in your circle.

YOU have the power within you to influence all those people with your positive choices, your goals, and your actions.

…and you also have the power to be a stick in the mud and bring everyone down. It’s up to you.

This is why the importance of surrounding yourself with transformational leaders cannot be understated. If you want to be MORE, to feel MORE, to GROW, learn and engage, you have to surround yourself with not simply friends, but allies.

Friends vs. Allies

Friends love you for how you are. Your friends might be good influences…or they might look to you to co-conspire, to be an ear and a sounding board, or to listen, nod and smile. Friends bitch and moan to us, and yes, they care—but sometimes they’re too polite. They have their agenda. Hey, they’re friendly.

Allies, on the other hand, bring to mind a different image. We think of allies as partners in war, right? World War II, we think of the Allied forces—those who came to the aid of partner countries and helped hold the line and fight against the Axis powers.

Allies have your back. They fight with you. They call you out on your shit. They’re tough. They’ll tell you when you screw up and when you’re not doing the job you should be doing. They’ll tell you when you aren’t living up to your own expectations.

We can find allies all around us. An ally might be your life coach, your partner, or your mentor. Yes, an ally might be your friend, but a friend might not always be an ally. To truly be someone’s ally, you might need to give them tough love—not warm and fuzzy acceptance and permissive leeway, but brutal honesty.

Greatness is in each of us. Our allies know that, and more than that, they expect it. Surround yourself with allies and you will win each battle and continue to forge ahead. Allies believe in us because they can see the truth of who we are.

So look at your circle. Who influences you and whom do you have influence over? Are you their ally and are they yours? Are you pushing your friends, your partner, and yourself to be the best you can be? Are you being an ally to yourself as well as to others, or do you listen to your own excuses?


For more on how you can become a transformational agent and ignite your world, please read more on our blog at Wright Living. You’ll learn more about how to connect with those around you, expand your circle of influence, and push yourself beyond your comfort zone to a place when you can truly be your best self.


About the Author

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Why New Year’s Resolutions
Fail – and How To Succeed

So here we are, a few weeks into the New Year. How many of us have kept our resolutions? I bet a few (or more) of us are slouching down in our seats as we read this.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail


 

By the end of January, 50% of people will have faltered on their New Year’s resolutions—and it goes straight downhill from there. So, if you’ve fallen off your resolution wagon, know that you’re in very good company.

When we look at why New Year’s resolutions fail, it’s not because we don’t have enough willpower or because we’re weak. Our resolutions don’t fail because we’re just “lazy” or because we “can’t change.”

Why New Year’s resolutions fail? Because we don’t make the RIGHT resolutions.

Think of all the common resolutions you hear:

  • I want to lose 50 pounds!
  • I’m going to give up sugar!
  • I want to stop shopping online!
  • I want to get a big promotion!
  • No more bad dates!
  • I’m never yelling at my kids again!
  • I resolve to run a marathon this year!

Often, our resolutions are so lofty, they’re easily broken once…and then that’s it. We’ve failed. We throw in the towel.

Either that or our resolutions are intertwined with our soft addictions—those timewasters and other things we do that aren’t so healthy, like wasting time on the internet, skipping the gym to stay in bed, feeling guilty over too many Netflix binge-sessions, eating the extra dessert, or buying those shoes we can’t afford so we put them on a credit card (we also can’t afford to pay off).

These aren’t signs that we’re hopeless, bad or lazy, or that we can’t achieve our goals. These are all signs of “mis-wanting.” We can’t unlock our goals because we don’t actually want the things that would bring us happiness.


Watch me discuss Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail on Fox 12 Chicago.


What is Happiness?

Underneath many of our goals and resolutions is the desire to “be happy.” We all want happiness, but many of us aren’t even sure what happiness means for us, or what it would truly look like.

In a classic study of lottery winners and accident victims, it was determined that happiness isn’t as relative as one might think. The lottery winners reported immediate gratification, of course, but after a year, their happiness levels returned to their pre-win state. For the accident victims, despite suffering horrible tragedy, their happiness also returned back to baseline after a year.

The lesson here? Whether lottery winner or accident victim, the happy people stayed happy and the miserable people…well, they stayed miserable. This is referred to as the hedonic treadmill. Despite the positive or negative happenings in our lives, we often return to the same levels of happiness.

It’s not to say that we shouldn’t try to aim for happiness or determine what “makes us happy,” of course, but we should be aware that happiness isn’t our singular objective, nor does money or being thin usually result in happiness. (Although we often think that money or weight loss are the two things holding us back.)

The reality is, we think something is going to “make” us happy. We mis-want things and until we unlock the deeper desires (the “why”), we’re going to keep spinning our wheels and walking along on a treadmill…moving toward a carrot we can never catch.

Figuring Out Our WHY = Getting to the Root of True Joy

The things that really bring us true happiness are what we can offer to the world.  These are our “gifts” and they directly correlate to our deepest desires, also known as our “yearnings.”

When we work to unlock our yearnings, we can see the bigger wants—the things that will TRULY bring us the happiness, satisfaction and joy we desire. It’s not finishing a marathon, fitting into our skinny jeans, organizing our office, or even getting the promotion.

Underneath these small goals or resolutions, there are bigger, deeper yearnings:

  • I yearn to be loved.
  • I yearn to be seen.
  • I yearn to be acknowledged.
  • I yearn to be accepted.

We can unlock our yearnings by running our goals through the “so that” test, like so:

I want to lose 20 pounds, SO THAT I can have more energy. I want to have more energy, SO THAT I can keep up with my kids. I want to keep up with my kids, SO THAT I can have a strong connection with them. I YEARN to connect with my kids.

Suddenly, when we unlock the deeper meaning, the “why” of our goals and resolutions, we become laser-focused on achieving them. The steps to attaining the larger goal become clear.

Not only does our path become obvious, but also, it opens us up to the truth that, well, we don’t need to lose 20 pounds to connect with our kids. We can start getting that bliss right NOW! We already have the winning lottery ticket right in our hands!

The amazing thing is, once we identify our yearnings and seek ways to directly fulfill them, we might find the pounds melt away. We’re connected with our kids, playing with them more, engaging in life, and not numbing ourselves behind ice cream and the internet. Suddenly, we’re more active and more energized, our clothes fit and we’re loving life!

Realizing Our Gifts & Living Our Best Lives

Within each and every person are gifts that they bring to the world around them. When we’re doing things for others, thinking of ways to engage and cultivate relationships with those around us, and building our best selves, these gifts become more evident and clear.


“Accepting that we all have gifts, we can join the quest to discover them. We needn’t be limited by mistaken beliefs that we’re not talented or that others are special but not us, or that it is showing off to share our gifts. Convincing ourselves that we lack any real gifts or have nothing to contribute leaves us with an aching void that we often fill with soft addictions. Our fear of failure and our perfectionist approaches bar us from fully engaging in life. We are willing to just get by in order to distract ourselves from our fear. If we believe we have nothing to contribute we don’t fully engage in life and we seek solace in soft addictions. Since we only discover our gifts by engaging in life, we may miss finding the gifts we surly posses…
…By developing and offering your gifts, you grow. You become more skilled and more fulfilled. Something new is created and brought into the world. The creativity you express through your gifts empowers you to add meaning to your life and the lives you touch.”
– The Soft Addiction Solution


You are a gift. You deserve to be happy and have your yearnings met. Make it your resolution to STOP going nowhere on the goal treadmill. Unlock your desires and bring your gifts to the world!

Once you’re making the right resolutions, you’ll find keeping them is a pleasure! You’ll be more engaged, you’ll have more energy, and ultimately, you’ll find the secret to bringing more love, light and happiness into your life!

So stop beating yourself up about missed resolutions and failed goals. Reframe your path and aim for the things you really want! If you need some ideas on how to determine your path or if you need coaching on your life journey, please visit www.wrightliving.com.


About the Author

Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

A Look at Where Your Leadership is Heading

I just attended the funeral of my younger cousin, which has me questioning a lot about life, how I am living it, my purpose, my leadership.


Then I received a lovely acknowledgment from one of our graduate students who has been recognized as a leader and asked to help make a significant cultural shift in a major global firm to start my Easter Sunday. I really appreciated the acknowledgment and appreciative comments he sent to me. It was his email to me that spurred me to write this blog.

The email was especially touching given my state of soul-searching after the funeral yesterday in northern Wisconsin. My cousin and his family were, and are, the Leave it to Beaver family in real life and it has caused me to introspect a good deal. He was, and his brother, sister, and their wives and children are, everything most people think people should be. They are a very warm, alive, circle of Midwestern morality. They are all truly lovely people.

Questioning Leadership

As I look at and question my life, my story, and purpose are very different (schools in Germany, France, student strikes, activism, etc.), and my direction of leadership has a different focus. I believe that we are all leading all the time, and the question is, toward what are we leading? For me, I look at how leadership relates to consciousness and national, and global, responsibility. I look at stretching and fully developing my potential and the potential of all I touch as a responsibility for the advancement of humanity and sustainable, conscious living on our planet. My cousin led in different ways. He was legitimately warm, loving, friendly, a great teacher, Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry, and professor at UW-Stevens Point slated to retire this spring, jokester, loving husband, father of successful children, beloved friend to the community, and so much more. He taught critical thinking, was a sensitive listener, and an important force in the lives of those he led. We can certainly say that peoples’ lives were better for his being in them. He was a true blessing to his community and significant community leader.

His example is daunting. We are clearly different. I am nowhere near as neat and buttoned-down. My questions and concerns are driven by continued lifelong development and ultimately to human potential. In our work, these questions are essential for all of us to answer, toward what are we leading? As I think about the direction of leadership, I think about the state of the state, the country, the poor, and so much more. I am sure my cousin did too and saw his teaching and parenthood as his contribution in those directions.

I am reminded of when I went to school in Germany in 1968. My world exploded. My mind was blown to learn of the Black Panthers, the Chicago School of Architecture, and student strikes. Martin Luther King, Jr. had just been shot and I didn’t really appreciate the enormity of that. From my country upbringing (now suburban), we lived an isolated existence as our post-WWll parents sought their ideal, and the ideal my uncle and cousins
have attained. They are surprised that at 65 I am still working hard and praying to G-d to let me keep going to 80 and have the graduate university at a sustainable, self-developing, self-organizing level so it can continue without me to bring together the best in human emergence methodologies and empower leaders in all areas to bring rational, mutual, decent, sustainable living to all people, plants, animals, and the planet.

Where Is The Direction of Leadership Heading?

Is retirement the aim? Is it enough to lead companies to throw off profit, even if it is socially sustainable using sustainable materials? Aren’t we here for more? Isn’t there still so much more to learn until we have lived on this planet together right? What do you choose? I wonder if a comfortable retirement is enough. Unless we are in the trades and legitimately wear our bodies out, can’t you see retirement as an aberration? How do you want to die? Wouldn’t you rather die with your boots on?


Stop and examine your life and the direction of leadership around you. Are you headed in the right direction?


Questions One Should Ask about the Direction of Your Leadership

I invite you to join me in my questions. Toward what are you aiming? Toward what are you leading, for what are you burning? How do you spend your daily life? What risks are you avoiding and how does the environment in which you lead invite others to take risks, tell the truth, learn, grow, and develop?

Please don’t think I am being a bleeding heart. I think our job is to know and take full responsibility for ourselves and to provide for ourselves and others. I am hugely skeptical of bleeding heart ventures to “save or help others.” Too many of these folks are not helping and saving themselves—they don’t see that they are projecting their own denied selves out and then dealing with themselves externally, thereby compounding the mess they purport to clean up. I am not saying all do-gooders, simply too many, so if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it, but if you find yourself feeling defensive, ask what you are defending that you are not comfortable within yourself. Same if you are fixated on money for a comfortable retirement with a life focused on the golf course and nothing else.

The question for us to ask ourselves is not “What are we fixing?” The question is, “… to what are we leading and who are we as we lead?”

Warm Regards,
Bob

To harness more of your leadership potential, please explore our courses on Wright Now. We offer an array of interactive resources to help you learn more about your relationships, your career, and yourself. If you’re ready to start living a life of MORE, there’s no better time than now!


About the Author

Dr. Bob Wright

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Learn more about Wright Living’s Career & Leadership Coaching in Chicago & Career Coaching Courses in Chicago.

New Year, New Outlook – Fulfillment Beyond Goals

I remember this time last year, I was really struggling to start the New Year out right with a positive, can-do attitude. Things have been challenging for us financially and it hangs over my head like a cloud. Additionally, we have an amazing list of initiatives. Each one seems the most important when it is the one in focus, but this most important one gets shoved aside when the ‘next most important one’ comes into view. Talk about how to eat an elephant! It is easy to say, “Just eat it one bite at a time,” but it is quite another thing when that immense carcass is looming. Focusing on each bite and taking responsibility to preserve the carcass so we can eat it is a real challenge.

These thoughts were how I started my day, overwhelmed, challenged, and despairing. I just had a dream about someone on life-support to top that off. While eating breakfast, I had finished reading the paper. I began reviewing our book Transformed! to prepare myself for media and the book launch. We had quite a bit lined up and I remember I was going on Coast to Coast, a nationally syndicated late night radio show for three hours on January 10 and 11, 2013.

It was then that I read the section on recognizing our deeper yearnings in our book. We say to list goals and ask ourselves why we want that goal and what we hope it will do for us. We begin by communicating to ourselves, “I want this goal so that ________.” Our book directs us to keep digging until we find the deeper yearning beneath it.

I told my wife Judith about the irony of how much I needed these words right then and how I needed to practice what we preach right now by focusing on my immediate yearnings. Judith asked me a few revealing questions and I clearly was fearing pain and problems in the future and failing to choose full aliveness in the moment. Judith helped me further clear some stinking thinking that was going on in my head and it was really great. I recognized my desire for greater financial solidity and student flow is in order to have more fulfilling contact and joy.

I was missing that contact and joy in the moment right then. My day has been significantly different since then as I work on my next transformation—whatever that is. We know this since real transformation isn’t something we plan but something that emerges and is discovered—way beyond goals.

So, here is my outreach and contact—wishing you all the joy of the season and a life full of realized yearning that inspires you to engage in ways that reveal your next most radiant self and help you to the greatest contact and service.

Warmly,

–Bob

Do you want to take your New Year resolutions and fulfill them? Download Two Free Chapters of the award-winning book Transformed!: The Science of Spectacular Living and start making life goals that fulfill you.