True Leaders Inspire Freedom

True Leaders Inspire Freedom

A baby elephant was tied to a pole at the zoo. For years she tried to break free tugging at the pole by the rope tied around her neck. She tried and tried and could never break free. Many years later, she grew to be a very big and powerful elephant. She was still tied to the same pole.

She could break free of her bondage so easily now that she had become a big elephant, but her mind had been conditioned that she could not. She does not even try. Much like the elephant in this story, we have been conditioned for a very long time in a work culture that is based on commands and controls.

A work culture supported by an education system that was developed for the assembly line, industrial revolution. An educational system that subtly teaches subservience.

From a society’s view point, we have also been part of a narrative for thousands of years that encourages self-sacrifice, for the greater good, which is contrary to our nature as human beings. Do we have a lot stacked against us, or do we just have the baby elephant syndrome, and think we can’t break free?

I was in Russia last week. Specifically, in Siberia Russia and I met with Tomsk State University students to talk about freedom-based cultures. We talked about shared authority, self-managed teams, equivalence, and leaders versus bosses.

These young men and women were curious, and open, and had many questions. I had just finished talking about the sense of duplicity that is predominant in many people’s lives today. Having to be one way at the office, and another at home. We talked about how duplicity causes stress, and worse how it does not foster trust among people because it does not encourage authenticity.

Are you the same person at the office, as you are at home? Does your work environment dictate what you should wear at the office? Do you have to show up and leave at a certain time? Do you have to do things you don’t care to do, just to please your boss? Do you compete with your peers, or work as a team? Are you free to speak your mind and offer up suggestions for company improvements?

Today’s work environment based on command and controls, does not foster innovation, or creativity. Today’s work environment demands conformity. Work demands of you to stay tied to the pole and not try to break free.

“Today’s work environment wants you to stay a baby elephant for the rest of your life.”

 

Freedom Cultures

I went on to explain how leaders earn followers because they are willing to serve, and they are willing to be of service.

What’s the difference between serving and being of service?

You can get paid to serve but being of service is a state of being that cannot be purchased. You enjoy being of service because it is part of who you are at your core.

“True authentic leaders are of service, because they desire to serve — it is a calling.”

The difference between a boss and a leader is that of control vs. freedom. One requires you conform to how things are done, the other encourages you to find better ways to do things, to create, to innovate, and to do things on your terms.

Why would companies not embrace freedom?

Fear is the main reason. The other reason is that much like the elephant they just accept things for how they have been, instead of how things could be.

Some of the questions and comments these young men and women asked me were:

— How do you make the change from a command and control to freedom-based company?

— How can companies adopt this in countries that don’t encourage free societies?

— This is one of those big, change the world ideas, how can it be implemented?

The questions left me feeling a sense of hope and excitement that these university students saw the value of what was being presented and started to wonder about how to implement it.

I answered every question truthfully and made myself available for follow up with any of the students. The comment made about “changing the world” stood out for me.

I looked at the young man in the eyes and said to him: “It is someone like you, who will start a company, become the leader of one, and remember this presentation, that will make the change. Then one of your people will do the same, and the trickled down effect of that will change a society, a country, and the world.”

Some of us are on a mission to start this change, to spark it, to inspire it, with a Radical Movement to help organizations embrace freedom and equivalence.

My personal mission and responsibility, as the author of the upcoming book “Emotionally Aware Leadership” is to stop the spread of a worldwide epidemic, the most pervasive disease that plagues all of humanity “low self-worth”.

Want to change the world?

You have to break free, even when you’ve been conditioned that you can’t. You can’t be a giant elephant and act like you are still a baby. 

Video clip from Tomsk State University Presentation

Living a Meaningful and Fulfilling Life Requires Purpose

Living a Meaningful and Fulfilling Life Requires Purpose

On September 11th, 2016 my third child Livia Grace entered the world to remind me of what truly matters in life. September has always been a special month to me, a month of new beginnings. While the 11th of September is filled with ill history, especially since I was there in NYC on that dreadful day and saw it all with my own eyes, the meaning on 9/11 changed for me many years later, when my daughter was born on that day.

I started my professional career on Sept 9th, 1989. After a rather nonstop career for 27 years, I decided to give myself some time to be totally present for the arrival of my new daughter by taking a long deserved and needed break. I enrolled at Cornell to polish up some skills via a certificate program. One of the companies I took from Series A to Series B got acquired for close to $200MM, and that made it more financially feasible to take a break too.

Some could argue that this wasn’t much of a break, since I also went on to be the co-founder of a services company that ended up growing rather rapidly. I didn’t go into any of my initiatives with any sense of urgency or stress. Taking a break to me, meant refocusing my energy and time towards more family time.

Taking this so call break paid off in many ways, but what I reconnected to during my little sabbatical was and still is priceless.

“You must have a higher purpose mission in your life, for your life to be truly fulfilling”

What is a higher purpose mission? A higher purpose mission is different for everyone, and it’s really no one’s place to judge what yours should or should not be. You figure out what it is by first understanding what you are really good at, and second by understanding what you are passionate about that isn’t about you.

Passion isn’t purpose

Many confuse purpose with passion. You can be passionate about many things, and most of them are about you. There is nothing wrong with that, in fact focusing on yourself is not only healthy but it’s the only way you can care about others too as I mentioned in a previous article.

Purpose is about your legacy, a legacy that impacts others, it’s about fulfilling something greater than yourself, it is about your calling in life.

There are some things I’ve become really good at in my life, one of which is being an exceptional father. When it comes to fathering, I am able to tap into an endless supply of being in service, and compassion, patience, loving discipline, encouragement and empowerment.

I can’t historically say the same about being a husband, it’s not been easy for me being a husband, and I have the expense of divorce to prove it, worth mentioning is also how incredibly expensive it can be not being good at something. Divorces translates to lots of money gone!

That being said, I finally figured out how to transfer the fathering skills into being a good husband too. It took me a while, but I got here. As it turns out being of service, compassionate, patient, loving, encouraging, and empowering works with every single relationship in life; it’s a proven formula.

Over the years I’ve become exceptionally good at leading people to believe they can accomplish more, and I am generally able to enroll people to do more and grow as professionals and individuals as a result. I’ve done this both professionally, and as a volunteer mentoring and inspiring leaders in an organization devoted to improving the lives of men and their families, and communities they serve.

My single greatest source of joy in life is when I see and hear from someone, I took under my wings years ago, become a C level executive, having a family, and contributing values to society. It makes me feel like I am living a life worth living.

What I connected to during my break through some introspection, and with the wisdom of close friends and mentors is that the context I embody when being a father serves not only my children, but serves me well as a man, as a husband, as a business leader.

By staying in a context of service and compassion, patience, discipline, encouragement and empowerment as I do with my children, I become an awesome husband to my wife and an even better leader in my community and career.

Who knew that raising children would bring out the best of me, and that I could apply this into every aspect of my life?

For a long time, I believed my mission was to build successful businesses — and I’ve done that seven times, and after my little sabbatical I was so ready and fired up to do it again in an even bigger way.

I found my tribe, my home, my calling within Nearsoft, which is an amazing company that believes in freedom and equivalence and above all treats people with human dignity. The core company values align with who I am at my core — someone who believes people should aspire to fulfill their calling in life.

I don’t think I would have finished my soon to be published third book (Emotionally Aware Leadership), had it not been for the encouragement I received from the people I work with. I don’t think I would be part of the social rights movement of the 21st century, had it not been for the people I work with.

“You have to surround yourself with people who share similar purpose as you do, and above all people who encourage you and believe in you.”

My higher purpose mission in life is to be a source of empowerment. I believe humanity suffers from a dreadful virus, a disease, a silent killer or dreams and hope. Low self-worth is an epidemic. It is my purpose and mission to provide as many people as I can reach the elixir to the self-worth roller coaster ride.

Someone recently asked me what do you think your best qualities as a professional are? I simply answered, to help people believe they are awesome.

My higher purpose mission is to empower everyone I come in contact with to be awesome. The canvas of my mission is not just my children, it is my wife, my friends, my colleagues, my clients, my book readers, and all those I come in contact with, maybe even you reading this post.

What is your higher purpose mission in life?

The Key to Leave The Self-Worth Roller Coaster Ride

The Key to Leave The Self-Worth Roller Coaster Ride

Throughout my life I’ve reached new levels of achievement and success, only to find myself sabotaging or starting over. What I mean by success isn’t just about business, it includes friendships, relationships, my emotional and spiritual state, and my physical health.

I spent over 40 years being a student of spirituality, self-development, and various streams of consciousness. One of the recurring themes that came up relates to the ego. You can find entire libraries about mastering, overcoming, killing, and letting go of the ego, and you would learn a great deal about yourself, but you won’t get to the root cause of all of our behaviors.

How we show up in the world is rooted in something deeper, something at the core of our beliefs. It is neuroscience at its best. How we related to others, ourselves, and how we act and behave is a function of our self-worth.

“Low self-worth is a worldwide epidemic, but it does not have to be a life sentence.”

One of the 12 principles of an authentic leader, covered in my upcoming book “Emotionally Aware Leadership” deals with the impact self-worth has on leadership development, how we show up in the world, how we relate within ourselves and how we act towards others.

The book covers the 12 principles in detail, and you can pre-order it soon, but until then I wish to give you a gift.

The series of videos in this post will provide a glimpse into principle # 4 of an authentic leader “self-worth” and promises to also give you a gift. I only ask one thing of you, and that is to check out the videos as they are intended from the first one to the last.

I promise you, if you are open to personal growth, these can be one of the most transformational 11 minutes of your life.

Start with video #1 and continue to video #5 — if you find it useful or know someone who could benefit from this blog post, please share it with them.

Introduction

Self-Worth and The Ego

Dirty Little Secret of Megalomaniacs

Evaluating Your Self-Worth

Breaking Free

The Future of Work from a Radical’s Point of View

The Future of Work from a Radical’s Point of View

Last summer I had this idea to find ways to bring the culture of my company, Nearsoft, out to the public. A group of us started to put together some meetup groups to accomplish this.

Before I knew it, I was part of a social movement alongside some of the world’s best thought leaders on culture, emotional intelligence, and leadership. The social movement is more than just a noble notion, it is the civil rights movement of the 21st century.

As we began to develop the Radical Manifesto for the movement, many of us wrote what we individually believe is needed in the workplace to inject human dignity in how work is organized.

What stood out the most, so far, is how easy we use the word work. It has a negative connotation for most people, but it does not have to. Work can be a source of pleasure, fulfillment, and excitement.

The problem with work today, is that most people have a need to be duplicitous. One way at the office, and another at home. This isn’t working to serve our needs as human beings. We simply desire to not have to “act” one way at the office, and another at home. Can’t we just be ourselves, all the time?

This is the future of work I personally believe represents the full expression of human dignity in the workplace, ohh and I am not the only one who believes this. You probably do too.

Beliefs

I believe in equivalence, transparency, empathy, and above all human dignity. To be a Radical is to first and foremost understand that people come first.

Radical companies are in the people-to-people business and recognize relationships as the most important aspect of business.

I believe in the principle of everything you do is who you are all the time, there is no need for duality at work and at home.

Being a Radical means being yourself all the time, no matter where you are. Being yourself means not needing to wear a mask, acting differently at work than you do when you are at home.

I believe Radicals are free people who choose to work with each other, aligned around a common purpose.

“Radicals are purpose driven who are committed to honesty, authenticity, and treating everyone as equals.”

Radicals believe the monetary value of what you do, cannot be determined by a third party, rather the worth of a Radical is established based on honest self-assessment, based on measurable value that an individual knows he/she can be delivered.

I believe companies should only have the right to terminate an employee relationship, if that employee proves to be a threat to the collective well-being, physically, emotionally, and financially.

While working for a company isn’t the same as being part of a family, employees should be supported to be successful and keeping with the belief of being empathetic and treating everyone with human dignity.

I believe when an employee is undergoing challenges in their lives, all reasonable accommodations should be made to enable them to get through it with dignity and integrity.

I believe when people take time to care for a newborn, an elderly parent, or a dying family member, that person should be afforded the time to do so without putting their job at risk.

I believe a gap in employment isn’t an opportunity for employers to lower the worth of the individual, nor should they discriminate against women or men who decided to take several years off to care for a new family.

I believe Radicals have a responsibility to be accountable to their companies by delivering value, proactively making a difference, and taking all the necessary steps to address any personal issues that may get in the way of doing so.

I believe when the individual is in trouble, the company is in trouble and vice versa. I believe there is mutual accountability needed to maintain equivalence, transparency, empathy, and human dignity.

I believe that Radicals should have the right to choose how they will deliver value on their terms, including where to work from, what hours to work, and what days to work.

I believe in values-based work output. Radicals are responsible for delivering value based on their mutually agreed expectations with the employer which align with their established monetary worth.

I believe leadership in a Radical company is a function of serving the greater good of the collective and is an earned role, not a given.

I believe hierarchy is a function of organizational value, not controls and much like leadership in a Radical company it forms organically by choice of the participants.

I believe authority is shared in a Radical company, and decisions are decentralized across all functions.

I believe the roles of market facing roles such as the CEO, CFO, and other key C-Suite executives are decided by the collective of the Radicals and determine in a democratic way, by a majority quorum.

I believe that the cornerstone of being a Radical is leadership development, and in the spirit of equivalence anyone in the organization can run to be elected for a key market facing C-Suite role for a period of time determined by the collective, or until such individual is removed with human dignity from that role, not from the company, due to lack of confidence by the collective.

I believe that Radicals have the right to be happy, and find fulfillment in what they do, and therefore should openly be able to change roles within a company, as long as there is accountability to the tenant of creating and delivering value.

I believe that Radicals need to act as owners and actively participate in the co-creation of the well-being of all company members, which includes the financial health of the company, purpose of the company, and contribution to the betterment of humanity.

I believe Radicals have a responsibility to give back to the community, and the purpose of a company is to add value to society by offering products and services that make the world a better place.

I believe Radicals are socially responsible in their pursuit for profits and actively find ways to help those less fortunate, with money, time, and training.

Being a Radical is a way of life that embodies the human spirit founded on belonging, the need to be productive contributors to the well-being of the human experience, and above all love for all people and human dignity.

I believe in embracing all people regardless of race, color, gender, beliefs, lifestyle, education, and economic background, and that all people have a right to pursue their own fulfillment.

Radicals align around purpose not organizations. I believe organizations are part of an old paradigm based on a command and control scheme that does not serve for the betterment of humanity. Patriarchy, as well as matriarchy are based on controls, not shared authority; both have failed to serve the needs of people.

I believe organizations need to be replaced by alliances, or partnerships centered around agreed to common interest purpose. I believe that the ownership of one’s own future is in their own hands.

I believe while no one owes anyone anything, interdependence is natural and healthy when it’s centered around the principle of equivalence, freedom, and human dignity.

I believe Radicals are not fixed on rules, and principles, but rather uphold the main tenet of human dignity above all else. It is this guiding tenet that gives license to evolve, and to be flexible.

I believe the concept of the organization is outdated and no longer serves the need of an evolving human experience towards a more loving, compassionate, equivalent and empathetic world.

I believe in radical transparency, whereas an employee has the responsibility to disclose their long-term aspirations, and the company can gain value from the skills of the employee but can also support the employee to develop the gaps in skills needed to achieve such long-term aspirations.

I believe employees should be considered and treated like a customer, bringing us back to one of the main Radical beliefs that developing lasting and valuable interdependent relationships is the purpose of all existence.

“It is a basic human right to be treated with dignity in all dealings of life.”

With a shift of context from a company doing business with consumers, or with another company to people doing business with people, and people hiring people, instead of the company hiring people, I believe this will create a more dignified existence for the entire world.

Instead of identifying a business as B2C or B2B or B2B2C, why not just be in the people-to-people business? I believe future generations will adopt these Radical ideas.

They are only Radical because they are contrary to a system in place that is based on the concept of self-sacrifice, which has not served humanity very well. You can read more about that in my previous blog.

What do you believe is needed to improve the future of work?

Why Being Selfish Helps Be of Better Service to Others

Why Being Selfish Helps Be of Better Service to Others

I realized a decade ago that practicing self-sacrifice and being selfless, the two concepts central to perfecting character, according to most beliefs, are wrong. Instead of building honest, genuine character, those actions result in the opposite.

Following the doctrine of selflessness and sacrifice caused emotions of rage within me. Those two concepts go against human nature.

Emotions are the fuel of our lives. Often when following the idea of selflessness, you end up stifling your emotions. They start going inward and being suppressed. In an unguarded moment those emotions can surface all at once.

“If something unfair or unjust happens, you need to address the anger or frustration. If you don’t, you suppress it. Suppression eventually harms your self-esteem.”

This realization was my first major breakthrough in my journey towards self-realization. The concepts of selfish versus selflessness are very basic to human character and to our happiness; let me elaborate on each.

Selfishness vs. Selflessness

Many say selfishness is cold and leaves no room for others. I prefer to use the term self-interested because it does away with the negative connotation of a spoiled child. However, selfishness in its true sense is the correct terminology and definition.

The best way to grasp the differences between these two concepts is to demonstrate the character development and the behavior which results from each concept.

The contrast of selfish versus selflessness can be demonstrated in the hero versus the coward concept. Everyone admires the hero.

The Hero

Strength of character

Principled behavior

Honesty

Self-confidence

Healthy self-esteem

Bravery

Self-respect

Stands up against great odds

Compassionate and fair in dealing with others

Everyone despises a coward. “Wait a minute”, you say. To be selfless is not the same as being a coward. Since doctrine holds up selflessness as an ideal, people fool themselves as to what selflessness really means; it means self-sacrifice.

Because we have been so instilled by doctrine that selflessness is moral, we fail to recognize the consequences of such behavior.

The behavior of the selfless person is the behavior of the coward.

The Coward

Puts others first and self-second

Fails to stand up for themselves

Willing to sacrifice others, because they sacrifice themselves

All these characteristics cause resentment and anger toward other people to build up. In addition, they think others can be sacrificed as he/she sacrifices themselves.

The selfish person’s behavior is identical with the hero. The selfless person’s behavior is identical with the coward. Let’s do a further analysis.

Selfish -vs- Selfless Comparison

Everyone admires the hero — vs — Everyone despises the coward.

Puts self-first Result: Respects self, therefore, respects others — vs — Puts self-second Result: Taken advantage of, therefore, feels resentment toward others.

In control and works hard to accomplish goals. — vs — Must manipulate others to achieve goals.

A strong personality — vs — A weak personality.

Self-confidence and self-esteem — vs — Lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem.

Honest and forthright — vs — Hides emotional reactions, therefore, not honest with others.

Feels secure in and has no desire to control others — vs — Feels insecure and desires to control others in order to fill inner void.

Recognizes the individual as the highest value — vs — Views the individual as someone who can be sacrificed.

Compassionate towards others because feels a love and respect for self — vs — Cannot feel compassion toward others because hates self for cowardly actions. Disguises self-hatred by projecting it onto others.

Consequences of Selflessness

When working in accordance with our biological, emotional, and intellectual nature, we are a beautifully integrated whole being. We are at one within ourselves. When we act at odds with ourselves the consequences can be disastrous.

An extreme example of how destructive selfless behavior can be, and how it can affect everyone in their daily lives is given here:

A few years ago, a young boy about thirteen years old killed a neighboring child.

No one knew why he had killed the little fellow. Not the psychologist who interviewed him, not the counselors, not his teachers, not his parents.

But it was self-evident. The TV program on this tragic incident stated the thirteen-year-old had been subject to insults and humiliations all his life from his school peers. He looked a little odd. He had offset eyes. About two weeks before the murder, the thirteen-year-old asked his stepfather what to do with anger. He was told to get it out in some kind of physical exercise, like a punching bag.

The boy bruised both hands in striking the tree in front of his house, but that action didn’t really address the cause of his anger. He had a justified anger because of the insults and humiliations he had endured. But strong anger by itself does not create a murderer.

His anger turned into violence because of the self-hatred he felt. The self-hatred caused by not standing up for himself, and not holding himself up as a worthy individual.

In other words, he viewed himself as a coward and he hated the image. Violent criminals are known for their lack of remorse toward their victims. They cannot feel remorse because they feel no remorse for themselves. Cowards feel self-hatred and project that feeling onto their victims.

“The selfless person lacks self-confidence and has a low self-esteem because they let others take advantage of them.”

Because they do not stand up for themselves, they hide emotional reactions and therefore are not honest with others. They manipulate others through kindness or “feel sorry for me attitudes”.

Although outwardly they profess compassion, inwardly the are filled with resentment and anger which really is self-hatred, self-hatred for the cowardly behavior.

The selfless person can trick the mind that selfless behavior is moral but cannot trick the natural biological and rational foundation of the inner self. Core to the true essence as a human being are emotions that need to be expressed.

The selfless person can never be centered and in harmony as long as they “act” selflessly. They lack self-respect and project that same lack of respect onto others. They also think others can be sacrificed the same way they sacrifice themselves.

What emerges from this picture is the inherent destructiveness of the selfless doctrines. The Inquisition, the Dark Ages, the many wars have not been aberrations but rather have been direct results of following the doctrine of sacrifice and selflessness.

To use a metaphor concerning selfless behavior, it’s like a pot of boiling water on the stove and the top is tightly closed. The boiling water represents all of your negative emotions you have stifled.

At some point the top is going to explode. Likewise, at some point your suppressed emotions are going to erupt. Examining those emotions makes one realize how destructive sacrifice is to build moral character.

Benefits of Selfishness

By comparison, take a person who is selfish. He/she stands up for themselves, so no inner resentment builds up.

They feel self-respect and extend the same self-respect to others. They have no desire to manipulate others but have the courage to be straightforward and honest in all dealings with others.

Because they like themselves, they are capable of liking others and feeling compassion toward them.

Selfishness includes the fact that you are moral and honest. You think of selfishness as doing things in your best interest with a sense of being moral. In other words, you don’t take advantage of other people.

People who think selfishness is cold and does not include compassion, do not grasp the full significance of selfishness.

Selfishness people are goal oriented. Strongly focused and very selfish with how they use time. The process of being goal oriented builds strength, and with self-knowledge you break with the selflessness hoax which has proven to be a false doctrine that leads to psychological turmoil.

Introspection allows you to trust your own judgments based on reality, and this gives you certainty about life followed by abiding joy and a tremendous relief that being responsible for your own well-being is being responsible for the well-being of others too.

“You can’t give what you don’t have. You can’t love someone if you first don’t practice loving yourself.”

This holds to be true with anything else we do in life. I want to be clear that we are not talking about people who are narcissistically obsessed with themselves, we are talking about the importance of letting go of the notion of self-sacrifice.

“When you operate from the frame of mind that we are all interdependently connected, you begin to realize that not being good to yourself, means not being good to anyone.”

Being selfish is about putting value on the needs of human beings, the need to be seen, accepted, belong and be loved. It all starts with us, by practicing selfish love, acceptance and belonging within ourselves. When we do, we can appreciate and recognize this in others and co-create a better world filled with compassion, and true love.

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