The Wisdom Worker:
The 21st Century Solution
I facilitated a conference for a leading-edge research organization in a Colorado mountain resort one time. The room set-up of 30 seats around mahogany tables and chairs looked a bit formal to me, and the first attendee commented, “It looks like we’re in for a Congressional Hearing today!” As I opened the session I had 6 seconds of stage-fright. I acknowledged it and moved on without further incident, but privately beat myself up over it all morning.
The value of my momentary embarrassment came to life in the afternoon when one of my clients, who shared my enthusiasm for the heart, was making his 30-minute presentation. He was young and the surroundings must have been intimidating to him too. A few minutes into his power points I sensed he was losing confidence and looking all around the room as he spoke. I slowly walked to the side of the room where I could connect with his eyes. I quietly practiced my remembrance and smiled at him as he spoke. He knew I was there for him, and steadily regained his strength as I slowly walked to the back of the room with our eyes locked.
He spent over 20 minutes speaking to just me and his presentation went over great. Afterwards he gave me a big bear hug and said, “You saved my bacon!” I smiled and said, “Wasn’t it awesome that no one else in the room had any idea there was a whole lot more going on during your talk than anyone could see?”
Technological breakthroughs accelerate and change our world almost daily; but what’s the other half of the solution to a world with a growing gap between those who thrive and those in poverty?
Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, popularized the notion of the knowledge worker as the driving force in the workplace during the latter part of the 20th century. Knowledge workers primarily use their heads to make things happen. They acquire and apply intellectual, theoretical, and analytical knowledge to solve problems.
Adding value with acquired knowledge accelerated greatly in the Information Age. This made it possible for knowledge workers to build upon what industrial workers have done to create value, making things happen with their hands and physical exertion.
Society changed dramatically during the past century due to the emergence of technology and knowledge workers. Now, another societal transformation in the workplace needs to happen.
Unless we are moving towards our highest intentions for a flourishing economy for all, getting to the future with better, faster technology will not eliminate our growing societal suffering.
I believe that the wisdom in our hearts must inform what we accomplish with our ever-advancing technology. I believe knowledge workers and industrial workers must also become wisdom workers. Wisdom workers will add value with their hearts first, and then with their minds and hands, as opposed to replace knowledge and industrial workers.
What are the characteristics we are already seeing in emerging wisdom workers?
- listening deeply to what people are feeling in addition to what they’re saying
- seeing the commonality among diverse people and points of view
- expressing positivity that neutralizes and even transforms the negativity in others
- sensing when team dynamics need a heartfelt dose of listening and mutual respect, and make sure people receive what they need to stay unified
- being driven by cause, as much or more than by compensation
- exhibiting empathy and creativity in pursuit of a better way to go work, not just for themselves but for everyone.
The human heart contains our spirit that longs for a better world economy, environmental sustainability, and global peace. While it is easy to look at current reality and become discouraged, darker times often bring us back to spiritual solutions.
Fortunately, there are spiritual principles at play in our universe that we are underutilizing.
Scientists at the HeartMath Institute, Stanford University Center for Compassion, and the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, are having breakthroughs of a very different kind. They are discovering that our hearts have the capacity to bring more value into the world through these spiritual principles and practices. Scientific evidence now supports these remarkable statements:
1. More information travels from our hearts to our brains than vice versa.
2. The information moving from our hearts to our brains can affect our performance.
3. Focused reflection in our hearts can alter our emotional state in a positive direction.
4. Meditation and quiet reflection reduces stress and improves our health and vitality.
5. The electromagnetic signals generated by the heart can impact people around us.
6. One person’s heart signal can affect another person’s brainwaves.
7. All of life is interconnected and interdependent.
This is exciting information! Scientific research is telling us that we are hardwired for heart to heart connections; and that our heart to heart connections affect how we use our brains and bring the best out of one another.
Our longing for the experience of “genuine connection” is already built into humanity. Cooperation is fundamental to our happiness and survival. Generosity activates a circuit in our brain to enhance well-being that endures longer than winning a game or earning a prize. Love can overcome the fear that is often at the source of our struggles. So, how could a society of wisdom workers transform our productivity? I see three fundamental ways:
1. We can ask ourselves deeper questions: “For the sake of what are we pursuing business success? And at what cost to our global community?” Wisdom workers want to invest their lives in adding real value for everyone impacted by their business. It is apparent from our current societal difficulties, that this has not been our norm. In fact, we are in trouble when it comes to the unintended quality of life consequences of our business practices to date. This raises the question, “How can business leaders ensure both stakeholder and shareholder value is being taken care of so that global flourishing is possible and eventually optimized?”
2. We can minimize the waste occurring in the human mind. With our hearts more enlightened through reflective practices and building upon our good news, our judgmental perceptions, limited thinking, and disempowering beliefs will eclipse less of our brain power. People lose heart, time, and energy when they forget their values and engage in conflicts, gossip, and see a limited future rife with intractable compromises. The pursuit of a flourishing organization will render these culture-killers obsolete.
3. We can optimize an unlimited supply of inspiration and creativity. Our hearts are where our inspiration and aspirations reside. These are the best qualities to foster our human propensity towards innovation, and they are an infinitely renewable resource. A truly inspired, collaborative, and passionate team that deeply trusts what they are working towards, and who they are working with, will produce more value.
Let’s not take our technology for granted. Let’s use it wisely to create a flourishing world for everyone.