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Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

dreamstime_angry bossI’ve only recently moved to Spokane and I love it. What I love most is that Spokane is steeped in relationships. SO many people have lived here their whole life and their parents and grandparents as well. Because that is true, folks assume that everyone has been here their whole life. This has two unintended consequences; folks explain and locate things by where businesses and landmarks used to be, and they feel comfortable talking to you anywhere and at any time, on the bus or in any line. On the bus people often comment on other people’s conversations and I’ve been helped many times by someone who overheard my conversation and contributed.

As a neighborhood council member I’m seeing some of this breakdown in the neighborhoods as so many of Spokane’s homes are now rentals. This means that new people move in all the time, so long-time residents sort of withdraw and stick to themselves. Absentee landlords rent to anyone and the ‘point the finger’ relationship between landlords and tenants leads to a downward spiral of poorly maintained homes. Rising crime rates can result from these kinds of situations and all of this seems to justify ‘righteous’ anger and a ‘they are doing it to us again’ attitude.

The other force that I see working against a culture of basic friendliness is a national cultural change that is impacting all of us. One of the ‘gifts’ of the Republican party has been a public permission to hate. Their language and rhetoric over the past few years has made it permissible to show public disrespect for anyone (including the President of the United States) that they don’t like. It has fostered people like Donald Trump, who actually garners greater public approval by his public bashing of immigrants and even public figures (John McCain) he doesn’t like. For now many people have been outraged by these statements, but once statements like these become the ‘new norm’ Trump will be joined by many more and the tone of public discourse will hit a new low.

This culture has prompted some Republicans to bring in heads of state from other countries to undermine Presidential policies. This kind of behavior would have been seen as traitorous in times past, but it has raised barely a hiccup in the media. Where is public outcry? Perhaps the culture of disrespect is further along than even I imagined.

I see this culture of hate as one of the most pressing issues we face. Not only does it make public discourse problematic, it fosters a disrespect of law and due process that is very damaging to the roots of our democracy. What is most insidious about it is that once these new ‘norms’ get established, everyone contributes to that ‘normalizing’ process. Every time a public figure acts or speaks with anger and hatred, those ‘norms’ get reinforced. Every time a public figure disrespects another public figure, the need to respect each other becomes undermined.

As I observe public meetings and news events, I have seen people exhibit behavior that does not seem to be in alignment with what I perceive as a democratic value system. It doesn’t matter if the subject is one that supports the sick and needy if the discussion and presentation of it is filled with anger, name calling and recriminations, that anger shuts down discourse and the mistreatment of fellow participants undermines respect and by extension all participants.

I don’t believe that anyone intends these consequences, however each of us, in our own way, either works to create a culture where open and free discussion is safe and valued or not. Our actions in every meeting we are in and in every public forum we participate in can reinforces this negative kind of culture or dampen it. My hope is that by bringing this to your attention you will see the importance of reinforcing respect and fostering unfearful and free discussion – I believe that our democracy depends on this! You, dear reader, have the unique opportunity of becoming a public leader in reaffirming these two basic values: free and open discourse and mutual respect, if you have the courage to apologize publically when your own habits get in the way.

Changing habits is hard work! Doing so publically requires immense courage. This is how leaders change culture and help others gain an awareness of their own lapses in behavior. This is how great leaders give others the courage to make their own changes in habit. I fervently hope you are up to the challenge.

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As an author I’m learning that there is way more to publishing a book if you want it to make an impact. I’ve been attending a month long training for authors on what you next after you’re published called Build a Business with Your Book.

I was inspired by Lynn Kippel’s presentation and interview where she stimulated me to take the next step. All of you will be invited to the up coming free webinar called, We’re Not In Kansas Anymore!: 4 strategies for the spiritually fluent leader, so keep a look out for the invitation. The webinar is based on the leadership chapter in the book I published in October of last year called, What’s It Mean – Shifting To Green? This webinar is also an introduction to the five -week online course called: Leadership as a Spiritual Challenge. I’m quite excited about this course as I believe that the spiritual aspect of leadership is rather hidden perhaps as a legacy from our belief in the separation between church and state. The class will deepen and make practical the four strategies outlined in the free webinar.

For me the whole issue of our climate/planetary crisis is fundamentally a crisis of values. I also believe that we won’t solve this threat without reassessing our ethics and values. In my humble opinion this is a spiritual crisis and an incredible opportunity to begin to align your values with your actions. That we haven’t done this (as a species) is why we are in this crisis, I believe.

The big question is how do we act from our spiritual beliefs in the world of business, what does being spiritually fluent mean? Some may even question if that is a viable business reason for doing so. Many business people actually fear that being ethical will limit their chances of making money. I hear the same fear when I talk to people about acting as if nature was important they also seem to feel that doing so will limit what they can do in their business. We will tackle these kinds of issues in both the free webinar and the online course.

Spirituality is practical! This is the foundational learning I hope everyone will have. It offers such a clear way of interfacing with everyday business issues that success can be startling. Acting from a place of nurturing and caring is not only empowering (for you and others), it also brings innovation into the workplace in very profound ways.

Understanding the gigantic impact leadership can have on an organizations success and how needed this shift is to successfully implement sustainability is eye opening. The four leverage points we will explore in both the free webinar and the five-week online course will bring a lot of ah ha’s to participants! Both of these are experiential, so people who register for either will receive a workbook and will be expected to apply what they are learning to their work situations. These are not your typical online webinars!

I’m so grateful for Lynn’s presence in this course! Her way of presenting the material set me on fire and now I’m very excited to get my online course out there. It also offered another gift to me. I got to look at my book with new eyes and see the richness of material that is in there! I’m looking forward to sharing the message from the book in this new, deeper format!


 

Kathryn Alexander, MA   is an author, speaker, and coach, and creator of Learning Parties™, she is an expert in ethics, systems thinking and change, she combines scientific insight, and spiritual sensibility as coach and mentor, working with values-based executives and business owners.

If you are interested you can click here to download a free check list to compare your own company with others and see how you measure up on the journey through the three stages of sustainability.

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The Wonders of Technology

In a recent Fastcompany article entitled ” Baby Born Inside an MRI Machine, Captured in Breakthrough Imagery” there was much excitement about the new knowledge science will now have about the birthing process. This will improve the ability of doctors to deal with unusual and difficult births.

I can see a new market here – be the first on your block to get the images of YOUR baby’s birth.

These kinds of scientific advances leave me with very mixed feelings. It’s good we will be able to develop new ways of helping with difficult births and save lives (both mother’s and babies) by doing so but are we clear on the long-term cost? What I mean by that is a reference to how very little we know about our mental and emotional development.

We have little knowledge and therefore little respect for how humans, well, become human. I wonder about the baby’s experience. What decisions is that little mind making to make sense of that experience and how will those decisions, long forgotten and very foundational, affect that child’s behavior in the years to come?

We have no way of knowing what that might be and any cause and effect will be lost in the annals of time. It is this non-linear impact that makes understanding any human behavior so difficult and so hard to change. So, ethically, what is best choice? Should we take our chances and chalk up the possible cost in human life to ‘progress’ or should we take our time to ensure a reduction in cost? What do you think?

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Listening to NPR this afternoon and a wonderful song about a deaf mother, a blind guitar playing father, a sister who played the tambourine. The singer sang of sleeping along the road, of never going hungry, of the love his mother and father had for each other and the richness of their marriage.

Today’s music is self-focused, full of angst and loss; the struggle to find one’s self or rage at what others are doing. Have we forgotten life?

Would people celebrate the union of a deaf woman and a blind man or would they shake their heads? Which life is richer, the life of song or a protected life in the Social Service system as foster children?

What stories are we telling now? They are stories of riches; gotten and lost, but the only riches we acknowledge as being worthwhile are those connected with money, but real wealth is ignored.

I am hopeful that this financial crisis as it unfolds will get back to reality. Bankers are sacrificing others in the shallow hope that some how in doing so they will not lose money and creating lose, lose situations for everyone in the process. I’ve heard stories where some banks are working to keep people in their homes by renting them back and this is certainly better than making people homeless and creating empty property that no one is really responsible for and that becomes both an eyesore and a safety hazard, but it’s not enough.

Ethics are really about relationships. To be sustainable all the relationships need to be sustained. In the economic crisis we have: worker/employer, lender/borrower, resident/city, supplier/organization, city/resident, child/family, family/school system, school system/city all involved. The focus has been on the LENDER. That is not sustainable!
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