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“Good people are not those who lack flaws, the brave are not those who feel no fear, and the generous are not those who never feel selfish. Extraordinary people ae not extraordinary because they are invulnerable to unconscious biases. They are extraordinary because they choose to do something about it.”

Shankar Vedantam, journalist, writer, and science correspondent for NPR.

I have always been drawn to unorthodox methods for forming authentic community and developing people into good citizens. In the last thirty years I have turned that interest into an obsession and a company.  Here are key questions that have led to liberation in my life and the lives of others:

  • How can we shift our civilization process so rather than diminish people and demean the human spirit, each person is assisted in expanding into their wholeness?
  • What can we do to create a world in which it feels safe to be powerfully influential, inventive, vulnerable, and collaborative?
  • What does an organization, school, family look like in which people thrive rather than simply survive?
  • How do we avoid that which makes us feel and act like victims and rebels and absorb that which makes us feel empowered, lovable, connected, and contributing?

It’s clear our current organizational structures are not working well.  News headlines make us all too aware of the meaning of the term dysfunctional.  Schools struggle to effectively educate, many businesses, marriages and families are in a state of crisis.  And then there’s the current state of health care, the economy, welfare, our judicial systems, the environment, and governments.

A requirement for mutual cooperation is essential as we expand our increasingly technological and global community. We are evolving at an accelerated pace which creates greater stress and a pressing need to be more inter-dependent and streamlined in our evolution. What once took years and even decades to create now takes only months or days and our outdated human systems have not kept up.  What’s the answer?

During the first half of the 20st century, it was the practice of parents, educators and business leaders to shape the minds, hearts and lives of others.  At that time however, this was out of balance, with something crucial missing. Too much emphasis was focused on the shaping of the child, student or employee and not enough on uncovering each person’s internal motivation, inductive reasoning and unique purpose, values and vision.

As a result, many adults and children have not developed into leaders and proactive participants in their own lives. They are out of touch with their choices and instead feel like “victims” to the whims, circumstances or preferences of others. Their disempowered beliefs lead to reactivity through resentful compliance or childish rebellion, both often unconscious. Their internal roadmap and strength of conviction remain buried; their authentic power atrophied.

“We are the most over-weight, over-medicated, in-debt, addicted cohort in history. We are afraid to live courageous, whole-hearted, authentic lives.”

Brene Brown, renowned expert researcher on shame and vulnerability

The emphasis on shaping human beings from the outside in (extrinsic motivation), is costing us more than we could ever imagine and at the root of co-dependency, shame, repression, suppression, addiction and many neuroses. It is at the root of victim consciousness. Extrinsic methods for leading others creates a disconnection within and among people.

When we do this, we are over-protecting, pampering and spoiling.  Not spoiling with too many material goods but rather, with taking too much responsibility for the ideas, happiness, behavior, choices and results of others. In the words of psychologist Alfred Adler (father of individual psychology), “people often take too much responsibility for another’s achievements and too much blame for their mistakes. They forget each person is always observing, interpreting and deciding for him or herself.”

When we leave out the purposes, self-determination, subjectivity and drive for wholeness, their social needs for belonging and significance and don’t effectively guide each in the wise use of their power, we are teaching others to be less responsible, less courageous, less mindful and less effective.  What we protect we make weak.

The job of a good leader is to help people become able to respond (responsible); effectively transferring responsibility to them so they discover their own highest purpose and their core values and visions to live it.

We live in exciting times with tremendous opportunity to expand into the amazing, capable, creative human beings we are meant to be, and to have fun alone and with each other. We are meant to be victors, not victims!

Judy Ryan is Owner of LifeWork Systems and a human systems expert.  Executives, community leaders and educators hire Judy and her company because they want the advantages of a healthy culture.  To contact her, you can call 314.239.4727, email judy@lifeworksystems.com or visit www.lifeworksystems.com

As published nationally in Women’s Journals, April 2014