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What do you hold yourself and others accountable for? What are your core values against which you make your decisions at home, in your job, on the street…..?
These simple questions have the most complicated anwers. When we consider the consequences of our choices than we could repeat the accountability question again.
Definition of “Accountability” (Merriam Webster): an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions .
It hence is something else than responsability itself. Who is responsible for the global pollution for instance? And who is accountable? We probably anwer that we are all responsible but none of us is held or feels accountable. We either all are together or no one is specifically.
Definition of Sustainocracy: Sustainable human progress (evolution according 5 predefined natural core conditions) and Democracy (our freedom to choose our priorities among those core conditions).
When I introduced Sustainocracy as new societal instrument for sustainable human progress in reality I invited ourselves and our institutions to become accountable for 5 core conditions for our sustainable wellness and evolutionary skills.
Does it change anything in our lives? Not really as an individual, yet its effects are huge collectively. It simply affects the choices we make and against which we calibrate them. By doing so it modifies our discourse, our way of communicating with each other, our decisions, our design processes and the symbiotic interaction between people and institutions. The institutions start to deploy a new kind of commitment and operational activity while governance becomes oriented towards the proactive way of addressing and facilitating the development of these core conditions. For us individually it is just a choice, for our complex societies it represents a mayor turnaround.
Does it affect our economies? Sure! It makes them resilient, strong, independent and sustainable. When we make our politicians, business leaders and scientists accountable for those core conditions too then they develop their decisions accordingly and we create a global community of progress and resilience. It is simple and resolves, even heals our complex societies and issues.
Just try it and look at yourself and your surroundings from a core values Sustainocratic perspective. As a teaser you can download here our globally published “global health deal” after the example of the Brabants Health Deal.
Join AiREAS (healthy city development from air quality perspective) and School of Talents (Participatory learning) as first sustainocratic cooperative models that work with this kind of accountability.
“To be there or not to be there”, that does make a difference.
In sustainocratic ventures (eg: AiREAS, co-creating healthy cities) it’s about making it happen, not negotiating the presence in the meeting. It’s up to the participant to consider it important enough to be there or not. When people see that a process goes ahead whether they are there or not they will make sure they are in it when there is something for them to gain or loose.
That is sometimes disturbing for people who consider themselves more important than the process or the commitment.
To explain the difference this story always helps:
Mary and John arrive home after making their wedding promises, and John (democrat) suddenly says: “Oh, I forgot to tell you, Mary. In the weekends I always eat with my parents. On Monday eve I have my weekly jazz night out in the pub. On Tuesday my friends and I play poker and Wednesday afternoon it’s football time. Friday we have drinks with the colleagues at work.”
Mary (sustainocrat) smiles and says:
“That alright my love. Just remember that here at home at 6 pm we fuck, whether you are here or not.”
Sustainocracy is the commitment of otherwise fragmented interests (business, government, science, civilians) to achieve regional sustainable progress together (eg. AiREAS: Cocreating a healthy city). In such multidisciplinary setting it is not the promise but the being there that matters.
In established sustainocratic ventures we do not have a problem of senior atendence anymore. It took just 3 metings to settle the difference.
Jean-Paul Close (gamechanger)
Let’s not make things more difficult than they are. Sustainable human progress is loving the miracle of life through passionate, value driven cooperation, commitment, awareness, trust, health, safety and self sufficiency.
We are worldwide in a complex phase of transformation from an ancient old human operational reality into a totally new one. We see this happening with ourselves and the institutions that surround us. This Global Shift occurs in three big awareness steps (Quantum Leap in our consciousness).
Step 1: Recognizing the obsolescence of the old structure and its functioning.
This ancient reality places the human being inside a regional (country) political and economic confinement. There are various 100’s of such regional “country” realities across the world, each pretending still to manage their own identity with a lot of subsystems (counties, cities, business enterprises, etc) that function the same way. Over the past there was a large operational diversity (society systems) spread across the world. Since WW-II many assumed the political and economical system’s reality of consumer economics, creating a diplomatic and commercial network between the countries with open borders for economic exchange of products and human productivity. Consumption, money and debt systems are a common denominator.
Step 2: The awareness of the paradigms of nature
Since around 1970 already we become aware that the old reality was going to become obsolete. Consumption based economies and exponential population growth was going to reach a point of singularity. A new reality forced itself into our awareness: the natural limitations of planet Earth. The old reality entered into stress and crisis.
Shortage of natural resources became something to account for in productivity. The local government systems had to learn how to deal with the consequences on nature (human welfare diseases and effects of pollution and global warming) and migration of cultures. Consequence driven subeconomies were introduced demanding more consumption to finance the problems it is causing.
Our health started to become affected by pollution…. Migrations began to follow material wealth (people in search for securities and wellness) and poverty (business in search for financial competitiveness through low wages). Climate is affected and influenced. System and Nature develop a tension that produces awareness and transformative processes through vision, need and crisis.
We are now in the midst of this awareness building and transformative processes. The old reality and its obsolescence is causing stress across the world as we can see from this impressive visual compilation (take some time to observe the explosion of stress in the last couple of decades) of the evolution of conflicts from 1979 till 2012.
The individual human being ( you and me) is trapped in between with our own awareness processes. We need our society for securities but realize its obsolescence in current executive positioning. We (as human being) tend to dispute and even steps out of the old perception, to create a broader view and experiment with new realities through new awareness.
Institutions follow human leadership and transform through awareness and conflict.
Step 3: The holistic awareness and human organization
Consciousness boosts throughout the world and people combine wellness with responsibilities. Nature (the Universe) is recognized as dominant and human system need to adjust to become servant. Debt will cease to exist and new value systems emerge.
Sustainocracy is a step 3 pioneer
Sustainocracy is a new democracy based on step 3 awareness, creating operational experiments (s.a. AiREAS) within the step 1 country and business positioning with step 2 stress reality. It helps self aware business and government leaders program the transformation processes through proof of sustainable development and change.
For the ease of retrieving information of the recent blog series on the “secretes of life” I decided to present the links in an ordered list:
Secrets of Life: Introduction to the series & song of Irma Lohman
Secrets of Life 1: The first key to life? What is it? Will it provide with answers?
Secrets of Life 2: Matter moves. The very first key is in the frequencies of matter
Secrets of Life 3: Matter is charged. But does a polarity give life?
Secrets of Life 4: The magic of frequencies. Pythagoras and Galilei
Secrets of Life 5: The universe, cycles and music. Kondratieff, Ray Tomes
Secrets of Life 6: Harmonic relationships. A + B become (A+B)
Secrets of Life 7: Life = Awareness, the revelation of what life is in phase 1
Secrets of Life 8: Competition and Fear, phase 2
Secrets of Life 9: The power of being different, phase 3 and higher self awareness
Secrets of Life 10: The art of living together, phase 4, Symbiosis
Secrets of Life 11: Sustainocracy, the next evolutionary step of Democracy
The series is helping people position their own life, their relationship with their natural environment and even the way they address their professional activities. It is my pleasure to be able to contribute.
This has become a long blog again. It places “the secretes of life” blog-series in context with human society. The development of our democracies of freedom can be seen as a natural process. But freedom alone is not enough and maybe even counterproductive for sustainable progress. We become aware that the old democracy is obsolete and we need a new commitment to living life. The “next step”, the acceptance of a new democracy (Sustainocracy) is in a pioneering phase and creating precedents. It is not an institutional process but one of intense human choice and leadership.
This week I received an email signed by Kofi Annan. He wrote in the name of “The Elders”, a group of well known old world leaders who use their name, fame and personal authority to influence on important issues of human rights around the world. He wrote to announce the transfer of group leadership to him as successor of the initiator of the Elders, Desmond Tutu. I am simply in the loop of their newsletters but could never get these personalities involved in the evolutionary steps that I am working on myself for and with humankind with Sustainocracy, the new democracy. The “Elders” remain in their role as critical influencers of policies and policy makers around the world to get the old democracy still properly off the ground. At the end of the newsletter this particular wording out of a speech of Mr. Annan on “plurality” shows their commitment:
“Just as no country is born a democracy, no one is born a good citizen. Mutual respect and tolerance have to be fostered and taught.”
This statement shows the need for “proper” education and our commitment to democratic social structures through awareness and consciousness. How else can we step up our evolutionary respect for and progressive harmony with our natural universal environment if we cannot even bring up respect our own human selves and fellow people?
Human rights of freedom and equality are of course an important issue when we consider the lack of individual freedom still of many people across the world. Our natural spiritual freedom, as I described in my series of lectures about “the secretes of life“, is conditioned by the way we organize our communities through our own historic interpretation of consciousness, harmonic relationships and the four areas of awareness (growth, competition, adaptiveness and symbiosis) of life. We have built societies around human suppression, control, aggression, greed, debt, bureaucracy, laws, rules and any other single and multiple expression of power and control.
Our “fear for the other”, that sees in every human being a potential competitor rather than a co-creative equal or partner, has led to this type of systematic distrust and manipulation. The quest of the Elders is hence a noble one, in which humankind is challenged to see itself from the beauty and strength of “being” rather than our weakness of “fighting for having” or “fear for loosing”.
Self centered blindness
The idea of “freedom” is often conditioned to the allowance by our human surroundings and the necessary fulfillment of our living needs. We are never ever truly “free” as we always have a commitment “to living life”. We have learned that life originated from harmonic bonding resulting in a first living species in hunger for more harmonic relationships through growth. Life is related to a commitment and hence cannot be see as “free”. This commitment represents a purpose that gives us the inner drive that keeps our living molecules together in harmony. Our inherent thrive for growth is individual as well as collective and continues when we face competition. Our own species started to develop speech when complex strategies of attack and defense were to be agreed upon. This goes beyond the standard biological hunting scenario of predators when teamwork improves the outcome of the chase. In a war against self aware equals more is needed than just teamwork. Complex planning ahead and influencing the outcome through ingenuity is then key for success. Our “fear for the other” generated all the evolutionary effects of innovations by creating tools, systems and structures to improve the competitive outcome between human beings.
Our own aggression for growth is also the cause of further elimination of freedom, making people instrumental to a system of competition. The purpose of growth through nutrition and procreation, defending one’s interests and attacking for expansion, requires strength or teamwork, discipline, sacrifice and hard work. Morality and ethics are relative to the circumstances of life, subject to the reflective discussion around the purpose of actions and structures. Also in nature “only winning is right and there is no wrong other than the lack of trying”. This has made humankind an extremely self centered species that has just been blindly focused on its own self interest, expressed individuality through levels of control and hierarchy and collectively through militarized communities of self protection and the power of aggression.
But when attack does not lead to winning anymore common sense demands new awareness and strategies. Adaptiveness makes one unique and inventive. So when the status quo of equality in strength arrives then the art of being different gives new opportunities. In case of non conflicting equality the art of working together gives maybe safety, harmony and stability. Diplomacy is yet another competitive instrument that demands the development of the power of reasoning and negotiation rather than the destructive brutal force. Equality is the acceptance of brotherhood instead of confrontation. From the series “secretes of life” we learn that equality appears when we become aware that “I cannot eat you or destroy you for my own growth”. That does not sound too romantic but life is about harmonics in a multiple complexity, not just romance. Equality then expresses itself in two ways:
Which is exactly what Mr. Annan wants us to learn and indeed seems the best solution for safety, harmony and peace. But is it also the best solution for sustainable progress?
When aggression makes way for diplomacy a new social structure appears. Aggressors needed soldiers and weapons, diplomats need supporters and arguments. Both need commitment to progress, one through brutal force, the other through harmonic development and negotiation.
The threat of competition through aggression gradually disappears and makes way for new ways of competing. The relationship then evolves around the status quo on “remaining equal” and the harmonics of avoiding aggression “by being attractively or repellingly different”. In modern society “differences” may be expressed through technological innovations, economic relationships, educational power, capacity of work forces, the impression of power, or anything else that gives diplomacy the power of negotiation.
Some risky inequality still remains through the speculation around shortages and aggression for fulfillment of material needs.
When aggression disappears the population is challenged to contribute in a different way than through fighting as soldiers for their system to achieve safety through violence. Now people need to become intellectual contributors to uniqueness and adaptiveness. Equality between powerful communities leads to levels of equality within the members of the populations themselves in order to free creativity for the development of new uniqueness. This may lead to new eras and means of growth of the species. Territorial confrontations transform into diplomacy, business negotiations and a powerful diversity of trade appears.
Democracy is a modern human system where freedom of speech and equality have become instruments of adaptiveness of a society in a human world of evolving realities. Democracy gives freedom to the development of awareness simply because we break loose from the ancient system confinement of aggression and control. That is why democracy is a greater common good, similar to the spiritual freedom that any living being enjoys by natural birth, and hence worth defending at any expense. The community gains in flexibility, functional awareness and adaptiveness, which helps to adjust rapidly to harmonic and disharmonious impulses. We contribute to our evolutionary progress by becoming aware of our own individual existence, capable of voting for our representatives and hence influencing the further adaptiveness of our community. Our internet generation for example is already showing a much looser attitude of freedom and awareness than the still more disciplined older generations.
But democratic freedom brings another important issue to the surface: responsibility. It demand also totally new form of leadership that the rigidity of past systems. Democracy is a great instrument of individual freedom and collective development of expressive awareness through innovative impulses. Yet not at any expense.
The wrong democracy
Democracy did not come alone. After a turbulent history of trial and error social securities were introduced to give democracy a solid basis of safety for the public. But harmonic social stability has the counter effect of public reluctance, greed and apathy. Since the 70’s of the 20th century the individualized system of organized consumption was connected to the financial system of managing shortages for economic growth. Instead of using democracy for the individual commitment to collective sustainable progress it became an individual voting system to sustain greed. This type of democracy is causing again a huge problem of human dependencies in the interest of bureaucrats and a new class of dictators, bankers, the managers of debt.
People get addicted to consumption at the expense of their own sustainable stability and adaptiveness. They are captured by a financial imposition that gains control over the community through systems of debt. Respect and tolerance make way again for inequality, differences and hierarchies. This system of abuse misuses the human natural affection for growth through food, and competition through status, causing psychological and behavioral disorder at the expense of economies in crisis. The collective greed is seen as normal and stimulated by the financial systems that have their own objectives of growth. Still, also these financial systems find out that growth in a finite environment is limited resulting in crisis when in reality change is required.
More over, the size of the world wide population and the development of such consumption based economies around democratic self interest is causing a huge environmental problem as well.
When dealing with human complexities, the first life’s principle “growth” is behavioral synonym for greed. We feel safe when surrounded by permanent abundance yet feel horrified if we have no access to it. This is the psychological entrapment of the consumer based economy. People are willing to mortgage their entire lives to sustain a certain life style. Greed and competition are driving forces to develop consumer symbolism of status. A virtual reality has been created that takes material resources away from our natural surroundings to present them in enormous abundance to the consumption machinery as a constant teaser. In reality we both show a huge debt to ourselves and our environment. But this people cannot see due to lack of awareness. Public blindness is the instruments of people who manipulate this out of self interest of positions of power and control.
Research tells us that people show solidarity with the problems of climate change, global warming, pollution, poverty, etc yet neglect their commitment to it when facing personal choices. Self interest is of course lured to the virtual abundance that surrounds us even when we know that is destroys our habitat and eventually our own selves. 99.99% of people are followers and reluctant to be the first to make a difference, especially when this means that one has to let go of a certain lifestyle.
When we then consider a democracy based on purchase power and personal wealth and ask people for responsibility for the greater good they will strongly agree but still vote for their self interest rather than change. It is a sad paradox but very logical from an evolutionary point of view. As a species we tend to be optimistic about the future. Despite all the evidence of looming chaos and disaster people will think that it will only happen to someone else, not them, if it will happen at all. This reassuring thinking pattern of permanent opportunity and faith makes this type of materialistic democracy a disaster for change and potential cause of chaos and war.
When a democracy is based on the right to be selfish and greedy for the benefit of bankers and bureaucrats we find it to develop in an individualistic, fearful, anti-social, materialistic, selfish, discriminatory and dangerous society which is cold and impersonal in its social interaction.
This is not the right type of democracy.
The right democracy
A democracy should consist of freedom within the context of a common purpose of living life in a sustainable way. We see that also the mere concept of “democracy” needs to evolve as we find out the hard way that freedom itself is not giving the right type of progression. Our current parliamentary democracies are based on old hierarchies of self interests, grouped around political expressions. This has not accounted for the need to address “sustainable progress”. In the 19th century, when the democracies started to get a common ground in the constitutions of countries, the idea of sustainability as we know it today was not at all alive. Conflicts due to inequality between industrialized employers and people with or without work were much more important to deal with. With a global population of one billion and the rise of industrialized processes there was still plenty of room for growth and competition.
Only in the 70’s of the 20th century we were becoming aware of the finite situation of our surroundings and consequences of our behavior. But our democratic systems around greed were so organized that common sense could not prevail to introduce drastic changes. The wrong democracies were booming and spreading around the world. Awareness grew through and slowly all kinds of crises started affecting communities. Diplomacy grew and so did the acceptance that changes were needed. But these changes were still introduced as minorities in a political system that was governed by the majority around greed. The wrong democracy will not vote itself to change.
How can a minority create progress in an environment that blocks it our of self interest? The idea of the right democracy was born on paper. It is not a political democracy but a purpose driven one. It understands the human complexity and secretes of life with its 4 awareness areas (growth, competition, adaptation and symbiosis). It understands that Sustainable Progress is not achieved through competing human being but by providing wellness to oneself and share abundance with others. The new democracy is not about choosing direction for greed but to create valuable abundance in a sustainable way. We now see the evolving need for societies to turn around and evolve based on techniques of self sufficiency, circular economies and harmonic local relationship between the people themselves and their environment. Competition is avoided through self supporting initiatives and when regional interaction is done it is for the purpose of education, exchange of values and recreation. Health, safety, food, clean water, wellness, etc is being recognized as common wealth that cannot be left to someone else. Sustainable progression that involves many people that take responsibility themselves.
The biggest problems that arise are related to the transformation between the right and wrong democracy. 55% of the world’s population lives in cities and is totally dependent on economic systems as natural self sufficiency has been expelled and subcontracted. They are surrounded by land that is being used for massive, standardize productivity of food or other economic initiatives. The transformation to local for local values is intense and extremely complex. If it is not done properly the transformation can cause the chaos even before the “wrong” democracy collapses.
The need for Sustainocracy
A common mistake is the thought that all institutional leaders (government and business) are just focused on material challenges, personal status and selfish bonuses. Many are, but certainly not all. We encounter people in powerful positions that feel very much prisoner in their current job description. They are relieved to come across Sustainocracy as a totally new worldview based on the “right democracy”. It substitutes the old complexity with a totally new one by mere CHOICE. Being able to choose between worldviews to allows them to value where they can score best. Key in Sustainocracy is that exactly the same powerful puzzle pieces of a democracy are being used only connected in a different way. Interesting for them is that they can use the same network of professional relationships to make a difference. Rather than managing institutional interaction for greed they develop human leadership interaction for progress.
Sustainocracy isn developping precedents now in areas such as Eindhoven, the 5th city of the Netherlands with 220.000 people. The G4 (the 4 largest cities of the country) are very dominant in the “wrong” democracy with. Eindhoven has a tradition of having to uphold itself among these dinosaurs by being especially adaptive and unique. It is hence not at all strange to find a positive vibe in this city to make things happen that are unique in the world but of a complexity that requires the co-creative commitment of many different parties.
Being able to deploy the very first signs of a new democracy with a sustainability purpose in a city is of course a challenge, especially when populated still by institutions that are being run with directives of growth and competition. Still we find people in executive positions that are willing to participate in something new. Sustainocracy is presented as an experiment so that it feels safe for them. For me it is a time to prove to everyone around the world that this works and provides perspectives that are worth everyone’s while with only winning scenarios and no other losers than those who do not participate.
Sustainocracy is hence implemented as a “right” democracy within a “wrong” democracy. It is introduced by a minority of people, true human beings who happen to be in charge of a city, multinationals, university departments, etc too. Their personal commitment is key and after that they try to get the backing from their professional structures. The latter can, if involved properly, become the rapid carrier of this type of social and practical innovation around the world. They participate out of self interest and see that their overall authority and competitiveness can grow if they set aside their responsibilities within the old “wrong” world. Understanding this is awareness, a first step in taking the lead in change.
It is a beginning in the evolution of our democracies. When the results become visible I am sure that many current social leaders that now see their communities fall apart, affecting their leadership, take their chances and cross the line to try out Sustainocracy themselves with their own local network of people. The new democracy exists, it is good, sound and safe, sustainable and progressive but needs to find its way into the world through the hands of people who are willing to do this.
We get back to the words of Kofi Annan about respect and tolerance and the two questions that I posed:
1. Is a democracy the basis for respect and tolerance?
No! Just the freedom of speech and choice is NOT enough. It lacks the common purpose of sustainable progress and hence evolves around self centered individualism. This eventually ends up in the “wrong democracy” that lacks respect and tolerance.
2. Is respect and tolerance the best basis for sustainable human progress?
Yes! Respect and tolerance needs to based on the development of awareness as guided by sustainable human progress. It does not eliminate growth, competition nor adaptation through just symbiosis. It introduces new rules of conduct provided by a higher purpose that makes respect and tolerance, in a setting of true democratic freedom, a true living instrument of peaceful innovation.
With Sustainocracy we can practice the right democracy by personal choice. If we don’t we need to justify to ourselves why not? If we do, we already know why.
With reference to my previous blog I decided to visualize the situation of Europe by using my model of the human complexities (first published in 2008) expressed by two lines (to be + to do) crossing. These lines symbolize at their intersection the eternal conflict between our actions (to Do) and our moral ethics (to Be). This happens at individual but also at cultural and institutional levels, creating societies in cyclic situations of greed, chaos, awareness development or around wellness. In each country individual people and institutions can be in the different phases themselves yet what I show here is the dominant situation of the majority, not the minority.
The “saving” of countries in the chaos zone is nothing more than an attempt to pull them back into the area of institutionalized greed at the bottom right hand side. This is necessary to avoid the collapse of others in that area. It is just a matter of time for all to go down in a violent confrontation with ourselves by ending up in chaos all together. Still it is not necessary! There is another route, not by pulling back into greed but taking responsibility for wellness and sustainable human progress.
This desired European situation represents a jump along the line of ethics, responsibility and awareness. This line (To Be) consists of various levels of awareness. At the conflict crossing at the center we situate the area of self-awareness, a point where the pain of consequences are converted into knowledge and conscious understanding. We have gone through this point very often already, as individuals when we grow older and wiser through personal experiences, and as communities throughout time and the same. Chaos is often represented in society by depressions and even wars. Chaos represents a violent letting go period, painfully creating room again for renewal through awareness. Awareness often comes when the blindfold of greed and control is taken away. There is a sincere possibility that this is going to happen again, in Europe and anywhere else in the world. Enough signs are showing and can affect us at any time.
The big difference today with our past is that we can now pinpoint where we need to place society within the human complexities and act accordingly. In the past societies only knew that they collapsed or were surprised by the collapse of something else causing their own. Knowing the 4 areas in the model as a logical sequence we can also position ourselves where stability and sustainable progress occurs. This is a simple ethical choice of educated awareness. The only excuse that people can have in our current Europe is that they have not yet seen this blog. When they do, then they have no excuse anymore to make the choice and take responsibility, as an individual and as a professional. Each of us can take personal responsibility now, get educated to deal with it or we can be asked by their surroundings to do it. At first it takes guts to decide. If you do not you can be blamed in the future. What is worse? Guts now or having to give painful explanations afterwards?
The choice of ethics of all people involved is to let go of the Euro as the sole dominant goal and adopt European wellness as something to take responsibility for, not by creating it but by allowing it to be created by everyone together. This can only be achieved by working in purpose driven processes in which money is a means, just like anything else needed for this process. It is a choice but once the choice is made the complex process starts to make it happen, based on the new ruling of such wellness based self sufficient European society. This is where the need for a new European constitution comes in. Our current constitutions are based on managing greed and avoiding chaos. We need to work on new constitutions that develop and protect ethical awareness and co-create wellness, avoiding greed.
This cannot be done in the fragmented jobs and self interests of politicians, civil servants, business people, bankers, individual consumers, scientists, educators, etc. In our current society they interact through money based systems and dependencies. None of these institutionalized individuals can take the initiative, if they are aware at all at professional level. Professional blindness tends to rule making people incompetent to ethics and responsibilities beyond their professional position. The only one that can take responsibility is the human being itself, liberated from all previous dogmas, professional limitations and dependencies. This person, any person, on the verge of absolute material poverty in the old world, but totally free from burdens, can invite all the powerful fragmented authorities to come over to the new world together and become instrumental to it.
That is what I did when I created Sustainocracy. I invited all people whom I had made aware through my personal interaction and explanation. They were invited to take that personal choice to position themselves in the new wellness based society and come join me in purpose driven human co-creation processes. In these sustainocratic processes all fragmented responsibilities of the old world are represented together, in equality, without dependence of each other but through the authority they represent (entrepreneurial creativity, regional government, knowledge based science and education, and behavioral cultural populations). They come from a fragmented structure of self interest into a holistic environment of common purpose.
The city of Eindhoven and province of Noord Brabant is the first place where Sustainocracy is applied in the world of complex societies. The combination of the right people with the right ethical attitude and awareness, on the right levels of authority, were found to make it happen in AiREAS (health & environmental quality), VE2RS (self sufficiency) and other initiatives. It is first step and still far from getting the entire nation or Europe to adopt the process. But with the precedent in Eindhoven en Noord Brabant I expect that more and more will follow.
Of course, the same counts for America and China and any other area in the world.
Now that you have read this, you can choose too and take responsibility accordingly.
When I started my consultancy group of self employed coaches, and later my STIR foundation that creates purpose driven cooperatives, I came across this interesting human phenomenum: the process of letting go leadership to gain true leadership.
It all started when I wanted “to change the world” and realized that I could not do this all by myself. I defined certain objectives that needed the co-creative input of different people and even institutions. Keeping things only to myself was risky. If something would happen to me my world changing plans and the instruments that I had developed would soon be forgotten. I decided to do two things:
- I made all my instruments, models and views freely available to anyone who would want to use it. The 5K method for 21st century entrepreneurship, UNITED for effective teamwork, the pyramid paradigm for institutional positioning, the model of Human Complexities, MultiDimensional Entrepreneurship, the Index, etc and finally the new model for society: Sustainocracy. If people had open access to my toolbox they would use it and contribute to the world change, also without my involvement. By letting go of my control I could gain much more than by keeping it all to myself.
- I invited people to work together with me on the basis of equality. Since I was the source of the toolbox I had a better understanding of how we could use it. This knowhow I could pass on to partners in the process of addressing the world’s transformation. This would cost me time and I asked the people who joined to also count me in a little bit when I helped them towards successes.
We started to form groups around my initiatives. My idea was to empower people with all my tools and help them to become successful. To my surprise this did not happen. On the contrary. People who joined me kept looking at me for instructions. When I organized meetings to create team spirit and develop a group attitude I would sit in front of the group and everyone in the group would be looking at me. Every member of the group would ask me for permission to speak or act and try to find a justification of action through my approval.
How could I get the people to stand up and take responsibility by themselves? It had never been my intention to create a hierarchy but it simply occurred by de facto, even with self-employed people from whom you would expect a degree of entrepreneurship. In the group they acted like sheep in a herd, without the need to think, trusting the sheppard that he would lead the pack to green fields. It was a bit like asking the football trainer if he already had the world cup in his hands for the team even before starting the very first training.
My consultancy group eventually fell apart, teaching me important lessons.
- Even though I defined world change in a consultancy method of my own the partners that joined me saw the innovation as a new way of accessing a financial market for themselves.
- The purpose of my innovative method still belonged to me, even when giving away my tools. The partners recognized themselves in parts of the execution and expected me to do the convincing of the market of accepting the methods and purpose.
- None would take group responsibility. They considered their own relationships of their own and my relationships of the group. Group interest was combined with self interest, not the other way around. They had come just “to take” not “to bring”.
So when I started the STIR foundation I needed to put this learning curve into practice again.
At first I tried to get others to take initiative, allowing them to show leadership, and I would help them. I had attributed the falling apart of my consultancy group to the fact that leadership and toolbox were in the same person. So if I stepped aside as a leader I could provide more and more people with my tools and help them forward. This did not work either. People would stand up to take on a leadership role, even shared the idea of value driven objectives, but when a glimps of success started to appear the loyality to me and the paradigm shift would disappear. They would fall back into a money driven venture with a large degree of selfishness at the expense of the relationship with the foundation. This is fine of course when the venture contributes to change. It certainly was not my objective to keep some control over everything. The problem was that when the fundaments of an initiative were shaken by greed the initiative would rapidly fall apart, damaging the hard work that had been put in and delivering no reciprocity to anyone. This tought me another lesson:
- I had to take responsibility for the purpose and the executionm but in a different way
- I had to find a way that people would commit with me in taking co-responsibility too for the purpose
- I had to find a way that people put in effort, create value and share in the value created by defining it themselves
- In fact I had to become a leader without leadership
When you really want the team to grow and the purpose of the venture is right it is best leadership practice to step back into the pack or outside it all together. By doing so the group of followers become self-leaders again. If they believe in the objective they will go for it. If the objective is complex enough they may even work together.
By stepping into the pack the initiator of the process shows respect for equality of all the talents in the group and allows the group to define the processes themselves. Someone who is good at initiation of processes may not at all be that good in managing them with large groups of people. They are different functions.
Secondly, the definition of the objective, the purpose, defines also the profile of the followers and their desire to commit in one way or another. Giving them freedom to determine the outcome together tends to be an excellent way of improving even the expectations. The leader that steps aside and remains looking at it at a side line or steps right into the group with his/her own talents will then gain by seeing the group grow. The purpose needs to be right though, the role of each person involved also and the interest of the group should be well protected. I had discovered that when the group consists of a single discipline trying to work together on a common purpose the group would always struggle:
- A group of business people working together for more money always disagree on the sharing of the benefits
- A group of governments working together want to reduce costs yet increase bureaucracy and become less effective in their territory
- A group of football players that all play left back never wins a competition.
It is not the commonalities that make the group strong. It is the diversity in differences. That is why I defined the new age, multidisciplinary cooperation. It is purpose driven cooperation in which leadership protects the group’s purpose and interests through result driven activities proposed by the group itself. The purpose of the group is not financial, nor of control, yet human and driven by change. The results obtained can have financial consequences for members in a variety of ways yet the essential purpose is always value driven. So when I start such venture I present myself as initiator, never as director or president. The entire purpose of setting the venture up is to step aside and let the members take authority by themselves. It is interesting to see that members are capable of scaling up the expected results to much higher levels than they would have done under a management structure. Like someone once said in one of my initiatives: “Jean-Paul, here I can blow my mind freely and make it come true”.
This in particular is interesting in sustainocracy when also institutions take a seat at the cooperative table. Particularly government can gain power by releasing it.
Government in society
Government in society wants to have a dominant territorial role by establishing economies of growth and establishing rules of conduct. In a monye driven, consumer oriented society government is consequence driven and has no leadership role anymore for the same reasons as mentioned above. People stick with government if they get what they want, else they drop it. In times of a paradigm shift there is no garantee that people get what they want because the old world is in crisis. In order to fake a leadership position politicians tend to do the following things:
- Negate publically that there is a problem
- Promise improvements in the future
- Try to gain a position of elected power to be able to do what they can’t say during the elections.
Their leadership today is not based on any reality anymore but they are very good at making promises that they cannot keep. The lawfull dominance of politicians in a democracy in times of crisis is a type of leadership similar of a capitan that negates that his ship is sinking while his feet are already under water.
The problem a territorial government faces in an open, globalized market is that all people and institution come to take and bring nothing. In order to take they have to pay taxes but these taxes should come from value driven processes. When a crisis occurs the value driven processes on which the taxation was based have become unstable. A government can raise the taxes or reduce the securities that people get. In the Netherlands the government developed into a dominant care taking organization. The community is one that sees the wellness of such care taking as a right and claims it continuously. As a consequence the central government has fallen every 2 years, new political parties stand up claiming that they can do it better and the old dominant parties manipulate to remain in power where no power can be exercised properly. This is not an issue just in Holland, it is a problem all over the world. I call it the power of the powerless because the capitan is running around his ship trying to fix each hole while the sailors and passengers just try to keep their own feet dry or strip the pieces of value of the ship for themselves. Meanwhile the capitan would keep shouting “full steam ahead”, trying to keep up the appearance that everything was alright, meanwhile causing the ship to make more water still.
So when I found out the hard way that I had to take responsibility for my own life, it was not me who was to step aside but the dominant government, pictured as the foolish capitan in the metaphore. I found that I had the democratic right to take responsibility but the government would try to convince me to step back into the pack. My claims that the ship was sinking would be silenced by the political desire to keep up the appearances. Giving the territorial power back to the people was against the reigning paradigm and in a multiple party political system there were many capitans waiting for their chance to run around the sinking ship.
I could not dismiss the entire government as a single person but I could ask government to help me build a solid ship alongside, respecting even the territorial authority of governance. In fact, what I did was to invite people to a purpose that I had defined and that was within the desired situation of governance yet could not be achieved by their own leadership. I was not relating to politics but to the practical reality of providing sustainable human progress in a region. Governance in a day to day activity is not far from the crude reality. Even though the structure is highly bureaucratic and risk avoiding by common nature of fighting a crisis by turning back instead of going forward, operational people inside are often blessed with common sense. They do not see my invitation as an attack on their authority but a way to make proper use of it.
So in Sustainocracy local territorial government was asked to step into the pack by releasing their overall dominance and concentrating on their key responsibility: facilitating progress. They had to let go to receive more authority. After what I had learned in my foundation I could also deal with this process on such a large scale. The purpose became leading, I became the initiator of the process and invited institutions to take full responsibility within their own true powers of control and authority. My own role was that of initiator, connector and protector of interests. My role was also to break through that unjust hierarchy of unproductive control over anarchy. It took some time to make the very first venture happen but when people recognised that releasing power would give them back full authority, the first multidisciplinary cooperation (AiREAS) saw the light. Key in the process is that I always step aside, never asume a leadership role nor establish a new hierarchy. It is the group that puts in all its power and energy to make it happen, not me, making me the leader without leadership, a facilitator of powerful instruments to tool up together for sustainable human progress.
With sustainable human progress as leading factor priorities can be choosen democratically that form multidisciplinary, purpose driven communities that work together on the line of progress. This is most affective when the territory is clearly defined. Multiple ventures can act at the same time in a self steering process of progress. Institutions, people and professionals can interact in different ventures freely as long as they contribute to the purpose driven goal.
The only reason that I had to initiate the process was that no one else could. They all adhere to the old paradigm and cannot start a new one by themselves. They are instrumental to society but society itself is leading. So all I had to do was to ask the instruments to populate my toolbox, represented by the sustainocratic society that I had defined. I defined a new paradigm and allowed powerful instruments to reconnect in a new way. We were all showing leadership by doing so, releasing a piece of control to gain authroity in the new value driven communities. All people felt that they gained in authority by letting go. A true win-win-win…..
We have still a long way to go because in a fragmented, money driven society, most institutions and people hold on to their financial position to remain in control of their dependencies. They block progress by keeping their hierarchies tightly under control. To get them to understand that this is counter productive and eventually gets them into trouble is difficult. Many executives receive bonusses to keep control, not to introduce change. It takes courage to let go in order to receive authority back. As sustainocracy shows its effects by giving th example there where people unite that take the daring step, the rest will follow.