Welcome to stren #98, Corporate Survival and the Brain. This stren explains why we have individual and corporate greed, the tipping point predicted to bring about global catastrophe, and what corporate leadership in particular can do to prevent it. The very same dynamics that led 250 world experts to warn us of human catastrophe before the end of 2013 can help us understand the confrontation of the public with corporate greed. Know thyself has been heralded through the ages as the cure for humankind’s ills, and the very same forces that direct human behavior are applicable to corporate behavior. A simple understanding of our brain provides us the best means to prevent harmful confrontation.
Group, political, and societal policy are concepts that exist in individual minds. The collective wills of individuals determine the rules that create our fate for good or ill. The three controllers of our will – nature, nurture, and self-mastery – have distinct perspectives. Unlike animals who are servant to nature and nurture, we are uniquely privileged by the ability to discover knowledge and apply common sense wisdom to become master of our self. Einstein told us the one solution to prevent human catastrophe: we must teach ourselves a newer way of thinking. The major obstacle is our own self-deception. We erroneously believe we are using common sense when we are in fact servants to the authority of nature and our nurturers. We are guided more by the animal portion of our brain than the cerebral cortex that is our source of humanity. Common sense is not yet common; surviving and thriving requires that we make it so. Our corporations have the power to make a difference once awakened to the danger.
A simplified understanding of the brain is sufficient to understand the problem. The animal brain and the animal portion of the human brain represent the prewired behavior patterns that have effectively worked in savage environments for hundreds of millions of years. The intelligent cerebral cortex that distinguishes us from animals is our tool to create language, acquire knowledge of cause and effect, interpretation, and imagination. Common sense wisdom is the basis of values, ethics, morality and civilization. The more knowledge we acquire, the more we become godlike creators. Given that there are more scientists alive today than all of history and new technology to rapidly share information, our constructive power is accelerating to quantum speed like an asymptotic curve. One image showing asymptotic growth of power provides startling insight:
An asymptote is a curve that draws increasingly nearer to a line without ever touching it. Let’s now look at an asymptotic curve and assign meaning that turns on the immense power of knowledge:
The horizontal line represents time and the vertical line indicates increase in human knowledge. Knowledge of cause-and-effect relationships is the means by which we increase our power to influence our self and all that is about us. The curve in this simple chart illustrates that we have grown knowledge very slowly until the introduction of the scientific method. The timeline could begin with the first life on earth, 3½ billion years ago; or with the appearance of intelligent humans circa 150,000 years ago; or our ancestor’s invention of sophisticated language, which inspired a quantum leap in the growth of civilization some 50,000 years ago. Wherever you begin the timeline, the observation remains the same: the line representing knowledge was almost flat until the development of the scientific method about 300 years ago. The further back we go, the flatter the line, indicating the growth of knowledge was virtually imperceptible. Our ancestors were intelligent but they had limited knowledge. Notice that the dramatic upturn of the curve representing increased power that comes with knowledge began very close to the end of the chart. We dramatically increase our power in shorter and shorter periods. The introduction and proliferation of weapons with ultimate destructive power is occurring NOW during our very own instant in historical time! The tipping point – do or die – is here but we fail to realize the danger.
As we make ourselves increasingly powerful creators through the asymptotic growth of knowledge, we change the world in other ways. For example, the increases in our population and in our prison populations grow in an asymptotic pattern similar to our frenzied growth of power. Meanwhile, we have barely changed our way of thinking. We fail to recognize the consequences of creating constructive and destructive change in such rapidly diminishing periods of time. The purpose of this stren is to make ourselves aware so we can take urgent preventive action.
Estimated size of human population from 10,000 BCE–2000 CE.
USA incarceration timeline
The most imminent problem is that we deceive ourselves into thinking we are using common sense wisdom when we are still dominated by our animal brain. Only conscious awareness of our erroneous assumption will enable us to change. Einstein told us the solution – we must teach ourselves a newer way of thinking. We know how to proceed to succeed once we waken ourselves to the urgency to make common sense common.
What does our animal brain want?
We are compelled by instinct to obey the dictum “survival of the fittest.” We are programmed to fight at any cost to achieve dominance, and for flight to escape danger. One sentence best sums up the perspective of instinct: “My way, the only way.” The animal brain, like all dictators, rules through authority. It is reluctant to give up power to common sense wisdom and will resist any attempt to do so. Because our cortex is not fully mature until about age 18, its intelligence is servant to the rule of the animal brain. Instinct was once satisfied with “enough,” but now equipped with language and the meaning of “infinity,” becomes motivated by greed. It is easy to deceive ourselves that we are noble in our cause when our goal is quite self-serving.
What does the common sense portion of our human brain, our cerebral cortex, want?
Wisdom recognizes that the world has changed. Insight by insight, we expand the power of knowledge to promote or destroy the larger system. Like the various organs that comprise our body, cooperation for mutual gain must replace dominating by the use of harmful confrontation to demonstrate superiority. Cancer cells take, don’t contribute to the system, and then must die. The sudden proliferation of weapons of ultimate destruction (WUD) in everyone’s arsenal has reversed “survival of the fittest” to “destruction of the fittest.” Win-lose outcomes turn into lose-lose outcomes. Most people wish or pray for peace but fail to unite in effective action because we remain servant to instinct and tradition.
What do people want?
We begin life wanting what our instinct demands and what our nurturers teach us to want. The dominant wants in contemporary society include the symbols of power to dominate: money, a good image, titles, fame, approval, and if not immortality at least a promise of a good hereafter. The perspective of our animal brain will persist until we educate our cerebral cortex in a newer way of thinking driven by common sense wisdom more than authority.
What do our corporations want?
Like most people who say they want well being for all (Love thy neighbor), corporations adhere to the traditions of the animal brain. Some do so consciously while others remain seduced by the false illusion that they are doing the right thing. Corporations want employees who are loyal, work in a team effort to support their mission, who take pride in their creativity and experience the joy of doing something that contributes to the well-being of their local AND global community. They want to create a brand and image that the public respects, that will encourage use of their product. But these goals will not be realized while the animal brain remains CEO of the corporate mind.
During President Eisenhower's farewell address, January 17, 1961, he used the term military-industrial complex to refer to the growing political and financial relationships between legislators, the armed forces, and the industrial sector. Political contributions, lobbying to support beneficial legislation, and approval for government spending increased with WWII and subsequently the Cold War. 46.5% of the total world military spending in 2009 was spent by the United States. Corporations grow bigger and more powerful as individual businesses disappear. The potential for corporations to express power for good or ill continues to expand. Their economic, political, and spiritual influence on the community has grown to endanger personal liberties and independent enterprise throughout the country. In 1956, sociologist C. Wright Mills claimed in his book The Power Elite that a class of military, business, and political leaders, driven by mutual interests, were the real leaders of the state, and were effectively beyond democratic control. The power of corporations to influence our society has immense bearing on global well-being or its lack. Self-serving motives and both personal and political corruption is widespread. Knowledgeable people power is required to direct corporate actions to constructive outcomes.
Corporate leadership is a growing source of power, and needs the knowledge to use it wisely. Winning by domination is no longer adaptable to survival. Cooperation for mutual gain must replace survival of the fittest by “beating” and competing at any cost. Leaders who want to sustain a social consciousness that promotes global well-being in addition to local prosperity will also want the best education on how to accomplish these goals. The disconnect between what people want and what people do is the source of our current crisis. A newer way of thinking (ANWOT) that makes common sense common is required.
What can corporate leadership do?
- First and foremost – become informed. Create education in the skills of ANWOT for corporate leadership. Uncover self-deception to replace corporate greed with good deeds through newer out-of-the-box solutions that fulfill community responsibility. Common sense wisdom leads to higher purposes.
- Provide in-service education to offer the newer way of thinking skills. Morale-building creates loyal employees who are happier, energetic, loyal, and take pride in their productivity. Years ago, as a member and on two occasions the chairperson of the National Institute of Mental Health substance abuse review committee, I had the opportunity to monitor grant recipients around the country. Programs where the staff had high morale had best results; it mattered more than the treatment method. The same observation held true in developing employee assistance programs within corporations. Stressed employees are links that weaken the whole chain. Staff happiness and satisfaction contributes to corporate productivity and well-being. Examples have been set: Zappos has created a “happiness officer” position, and Ben and Jerry’s added service to community and employee satisfaction to making money. Whatever the corporate mission, high morale correlates with effectiveness and success.
- Corporate image is one of the best forms of promoting customer loyalty. Admiring customers are the most effective marketers. Offering education in ANWOT to the broader population can be effected with little effort and limited use of resources because email lists and other links to the community are already established. Loyal customers are already receptive to corporate offerings. Education that promotes well-being is likely to go viral and help popularize corporate brand names.
- Linking with nonprofit corporations that are already dedicated and recognized as bearers of well-being is popular, but more attention to such partnerships will have huge payoffs. Terrorists are effective because they unite their followers into action. A small band of dictators creates great power by organizing their followers while giants get beaten because they emphasize “beating” competition more than collaborating for multiple benefits. Corporations working together can offer continuity and contiguity that will be unstoppable.
Einstein’s solution, ANWOT, is the most likely way to increase well-being, cohesiveness, friendliness, and inner and global peace. The skills that detoxify anxiety and fear diminish our fight or flight instinct. The five component skills of a newer way of thinking are easy to teach and to learn: (1) self-endorsement, (2) mental freedom from instinct and tradition, (3) wise use of our will power, (4) the collection of wisdoms proven by others to work, and (5) the universal values discovered by multiple independent tribes. Further education in the skills that create a joyous, meaningful life experience can be most effective within the context of the workplace.
Unlike many worthwhile missions, education in ANWOT does not require money. The curriculum can be offered free to everyone via the Internet, within the work environment, at one’s preferred time, at home or a convenient place of study. The global well-being universally sought in our wishes and prayers requires sufficient social entrepreneurs who will unite to unleash the pent up energy imprisoned within the global population. Give Einstein’s solution a try and become one who will teach many. Go to the Educational Community FOREVER FREE web site at www.anwot.org, sign in, and learn a newer way of thinking that creates peace of mind. Become a powerful force for world peace instead of remaining part of the problem. Make your life REALLY significant.
1 Stren = mental strength, wisdom
2 The World at Risk,; Vintage Books, December, 2008
3 The medulla, pons, pituitary, pineal body, cerebellum, and thalamus constitute the animal brain. The cerebral cortex is the sophisticated “freedom organ” that distinguishes us from all other species.
5 According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military%E2%80%93industrial_complex