1

Corporate Oneness

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

—Joseph Campbell

 

It would be impossible to acknowledge the oneness that defines our universe and then go back to work as a supervisor, executive, or team leader and manage “employees” the old-fashioned way—barking out instructions with a heavy hand.

Workers historically have been commodities. Like inventory, machinery, and equipment, a work hour was something to be deployed, measured, and maximized for the good of the corporation. Workers existed to serve the company and did so at the will of those in charge. With a modern understanding of oneness in mind (the awareness that everything that exists is connected and interrelated), it’s helpful to take a fresh look at the place of work and the culture within it.

When you look at a business, what do you see?

All I see is people. I don’t see employees; I see human beings who have jobs. There’s a big difference here. As a CEO, all subsequent priorities and actions revolve around this first, essential realization.

In the world we live in, what you see determines what you get. If I were to see employees in a commoditized and dehumanized sense, then I would correspondingly see their work hours as company assets to be directed and controlled. Alternatively, if I were to see amazing human beings who voluntarily are devoting a portion of their time and talent to our company, then I would see them as guests and be thankful for their presence.

Oneness suggests that if one human is talented, all humans are talented. If one human has a valuable voice, then all humans have a valuable voice. If one human can lead, then all humans can lead. With this mind-set, managing the place of work gets much easier because you recognize that less central management is what’s required. When you see the oneness that binds the universe, you instantly see people in a different light. As one of my dear friends from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Verola Spider, is fond of saying, We are all related.

It is through this modern yet ancient wisdom that the business model flips and reinvents itself. The company begins to transform into an organization designed to serve the people who work there. The new purpose of the company is to make the place of work meaningful for the people who do it in more than just economic ways. The workplace becomes the venue where adults can grow, experiment, learn, laugh, love, test themselves, and self-actualize. As the humans at work thrive, the customer experience blossoms, and corporate performance takes off. Corporate success becomes the outcome of a higher calling.

Here, as always, the intent behind the mission matters. We are not prioritizing people at work so that the company will improve its performance. We are prioritizing the people at work because they are amazing human beings.

Corporate performance accelerates by worrying less about corporate performance.

***

What about corporate productivity, efficiency, best practices, and discipline?

My answer, founded upon a decade of empirical experience, is simple: When human engagement flourishes, all corporate metrics improve. Why do they improve? Because participation becomes voluntary—an act of free choice. When a company honors the people who work there, those people lift the company in return.

According to our safety coordinator, Gregg Speed, People are much more apt to support that which they help to create.

Voluntary self-engagement will outperform mandatory instruction-following, every time. If people feel valued at work and work becomes a place of meaning for those who do it, the reciprocal commitment to the needs of the company will grow in return.

Who carries the burden when work is inaccurate and inefficient?

Sure, the company pays the price, but ultimately, it’s the people doing the work who are victimized by the chaos. Everyone wants the work to be smooth and effective. You don’t need to force this on people.

When humans become the first focus at work, their experience becomes meaningful on a soul’s level. When their experience becomes meaningful, companies strengthen and grow on the wings of soaring humans. In this way, a company unexpectedly becomes great by putting itself second.

Check out this quick video featuring Taylor Davis, one of the amazing people who happens to work at Hancock Lumber.

***

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com




Two Thousand Years of Propaganda

The burial ground at the Wounded Knee Massacre site on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Go ahead and hate your neighbor

Go ahead and cheat a friend

Do it in the name of heaven

You can justify it in the end.

—One Tin Soldier

Why has acknowledging our universal connectivity and oneness been downplayed for so long?

The answer has two parts. First, only recently has scientific understanding advanced far enough to provide a glimpse at the underlying connectivity that binds everything in the universe through quantum physics and the study of matter in its smallest parts. Second, and today’s focus, is the fact that the existence of oneness challenges virtually all the propaganda deployed for centuries by emperors, executives, pious leaders, and politicians—call them the empire builders who consolidate power by emphasizing division and separateness.

Since the days of the Roman Empire, political, economic, religious, racial, and regional clusters of humans have banded together behind leaders who spin a narrative that says their group is special (and that other groups are dangerous). That imaginary “special” status is then used to justify taking dominion over others.

“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

—Martin Luther King Jr.

To see oneness is to recognize that everything that exists in the universe (both known and unknown) is related and interconnected—including yourself. The Sioux tribes of the northern plains call this understanding Mitakuye Oyasin,which translates as “All things are one thing.” Separateness as we experience it does not actually exist. It’s an illusion.

The presence of an ultimate creator source of the universe has long been identified by virtually all religious and spiritual disciplines as sacred and powerful. Too often, however, that “source” has also been described as separate, detached, and superior. But if it turns out that the source of this energy is present in all things, well, that means all things are also equally sacred and powerful. This would include all humans—regardless of sex, race, religion, or place of origin. If one human is sacred, then all humans are sacred. Conversely, if one human isn’t sacred, then none are. It’s all or nothing because everything is connected.

But that’s not the story you’ve most likely been told. It’s not the tale you’ve been spun. This natural truth of oneness is why it takes so much propaganda, rule-making, weapons, and fences for any small group to lead by virtue of their claim to a special status. That claim, it turns out, runs against the very fabric of the universe, to which we all belong.

“We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen, all for the glory of God and the good of souls.”

—Frederick Douglass

Oneness shines light on the infamy of slavery.

Oneness exploits all rationale for genocide.

Oneness then pivots and defeats the cries for revenge.

Oneness melts any justification for centralized control and bureaucratic rule by a few over the many.

Oneness calls for dispersed power, shared leadership, and respect for all voices.

***

What change is required for the awareness of our shared connectivity to emerge as our primary organizing principle?

The answer is shared leadership and respect for all voices.

For the age of oneness to fully blossom, existing “leaders” must lower their own profiles and voluntarily distribute power. Everyone is sacred, powerful, and capable of leading.

In return, those who may feel destined to be followers must change as well. When the truth is revealed—that everyone is powerful—no one can sit on the sidelines and abdicate control.

Oneness demands engagement from everyone.

There won’t be any trumpets blowing

Come the judgment day

On the bloody morning after

One tin soldier rides away.

—One Tin Soldier

 

__________

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com




#30 | THE COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS

“The collective unconscious contains the whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution born anew in the brain structure of every individual.”

—Carl Jung

Speaking mostly in Lakota, Medicine Man begins to talk, then chant, then pray, then sing. Others, circled in darkness, echo in response. The heat within the hut quickly intensifies and the sweat comes easily.

This ceremony could be taking place one hundred—or four hundred—years ago. My body is covered in sweat, which mixes with the dirt on my hands, arms, legs, and chest. This is a sacred ritual of the Sioux known for generations as “the making of relatives,” and I am fully immersed.

Later that evening as steam dissipates from our bodies into the cool night air of northern Nebraska, my newly anointed brother, Lester Lone Hill, is sitting beside me on a log.

“That medicine man is a ‘trickster,’ ” Lester explains. “He brings humor and the element of surprise into his ceremonies. He likes to keep everything light and entertaining.”

* * *

A week later, back home in Maine, I am reading about indigenous rituals when I come across the “trickster” persona. It turns out he is present in the mythology, folklore, and spirituality of many tribes across the globe. From North America, to Africa, to Australia, the trickster is an honored ceremonial figure. How could the same thematic character manifest globally among disparate cultures separated by oceans and epochs?

Carl Jung, the nineteenth-century Swiss analytical psychologist, understood why.

The answer lies in what he described as the collective unconscious of the human race which represents the cumulative learning of all humans across all human time. It’s the shared experience of humanity, and it’s passed from generation to generation through stories. It also manifests as instincts and intuition in newborns and children. Think of it this way: If you believe that an individual human soul survives a body’s death, then it stands to reason that the collective experiential energy of all human souls survives as well.

Mythology, Jung said, is the expression of this collective unconscious. It’s how we give earthly context to that which we intuitively know in the inner depths of being, where soul resides. That’s why it’s common for the stories and symbols of different cultures to share similar characteristics. The presence of good and evil is one example that appears universally in all mythologies.

The hero archetype also lives in the stories of every human culture. The hero generally starts out as an ordinary person, living an ordinary life. A challenge then arises which disrupts much of what the hero holds dear, forcing him or her to confront their circumstances in a saga that ultimately transforms them into someone different than they were before. The external story, which may feature strange beasts, threatening gods, and foreign lands, is actually an archetypal adventure symbolic of the inner journey of transcending our unconscious fears.

As Jung once said, Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

What’s the relevance of this to an essay series devoted to self-awareness, shared leadership, and dispersed power? The answer is that each personal life odyssey is both an individual and a collective experience. What happens to one happens to all. Progress by one is progress for all. As each individual moves his or her karmic energy forward, it becomes a drop of learning in the larger pool of all human experiences.

This is why awareness of our shared humanity is essential. Your experiences, however trivial they may feel, ultimately impact the entire trajectory of humanity through our shared collective unconscious. And this is why we must create the change we wish to see by working first on ourselves.

All human journeys matter and this is where love comes in. We must aspire to bring unconditional love (acceptance of people as they are) into our daily lives. Each seemingly ordinary shift at work and each “chance” encounter with a stranger is never really just that. It’s more. It’s always more. Every moment yields another journal entry into the collective unconscious of humanity, which ultimately determines both our personal and shared trajectory across space and time.

In the end we rise, plateau, or fall together.

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”

—Carl Jung

__________
This is the thirtieth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin Hancock to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021, in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers.
My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them.
On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk.
To receive future posts from Kevin, simply click on the link below. This will trigger an e-mail where you can confirm and subscribe. Thank you!



#21 | HOLD THAT DOOR

“Every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration.”
—Margaret Chase Smith

It can feel overwhelming to take on the subject of advancing social harmony in a delicate and divided world.

So I went looking for a simple place to start . . .

* * *

The Circle K convenience store sits at the intersection of Route 26 and the North Raymond Road in Gray, Maine. The bustling facility straddles the most popular commuter routes north of Portland. On the weekends this same road can be just as crowded while serving as a prime thoroughfare to the mountains in winter, the lakes in summer, and the speedway on race nights. That little store is churning most of the time.

I frequent the Circle K, as it’s the first gas station between my house and the city of Portland. It’s a stop I make several times a week, and it’s here, a few years back, that a simple personal experiment was born.

At the Circle K I always hold the door for the next person to arrive or depart.

While holding a door for someone is meaningful, the gesture in and of itself is not enough to maximize its potential. Eye contact and a head nod tip the split-second exchange into an act of courtesy and shared humanity.

I’ve now held that glass-and-metal door dozens and dozens of times, and the outcome is virtually always the same.

“Thank you,” says the stranger coming my way, already standing a bit taller by virtue of being acknowledged and respected.

“Have a good day,” I reply.

“Same,” says the stranger at the door.

I’ve trained myself to pay close attention to the otherwise imperceptible changes that often follow. The mood, energy, stride, and demeanor of the person frequently shifts in that moment. A self-occupied, detached, or hurried edge is broken and replaced by a spark of connectivity. If you weren’t watching with care it would be easy to miss, but it’s there. Humanity softened.

Awareness, in and of itself, is a powerful act.

* * *

I’ve made over twenty trips from Maine to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in the past ten years. The people of that community are amazing. It’s a place of great cultural, historic, and social significance where much can be learned. It’s also statistically the poorest place in America, where the hard edge of our colonialism still leaves tracks.

People often ask me what I do when I go there. For years I would struggle to provide an adequate answer because my presence always felt so small. Eventually I just started telling the truth (always a good move in the end).

“I don’t really do anything there,” I now say. “I just travel around the reservation and hang out with the people I know there.”

It took a while for me to realize that this is enough. Connectivity and intentional presence are meaningful in and of themselves. I see you. I know you’re here. I think you’re important. I value your existence. I’m interested in you.

This is my friend Catherine Grey Day. I see her every time I go to Pine Ridge. When we are together I just sit and listen to her amazing thoughts, stories, triumphs, and challenges. That’s it. That’s all I do.

Pine Ridge was originally constructed as a remote and marginalized community in the last decades of the nineteenth century. The founding purpose was to isolate the Oglala Sioux and other tribes from white society until they could be “remade” and reintroduced. The people of Pine Ridge today have transcended those genocidal origins and made the reservation their own, but that’s how it all started.

Acknowledging the presence and sacredness of another is a small gesture that, repeated consistently, can change the world. Courtesy is one of those behaviors that is easy to adopt and, unfortunately, easy to forgo. Courtesy is one conscious choice of the self-awareness.

What if everyone on earth felt trusted, respected, valued, and heard? What might change?

I think everything might change. Enabling such a transformation is within our collective reach. Seven billion humans practicing simple acts of kindness would make for a good start.

So the next time you’re pulling in or out of a convenience store, yield to the driver in front of you, pause for the passersby, and above all else when you enter the building, hold that door.

* * *

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
—Dalai Lama

___________

This is the twenty-first in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin Hancock to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021, in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk.



#14 | RESURRECTING MARY

“Jesus’s inner circle of disciples includes both men and women on an equal footing. There is no distinction made between a male group of disciples and a female group of camp followers.”
—Cynthia Bourgeault

In AD 313 the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and with a single edict elevated a banned set of spiritual teachings to official state religion. One man atop a great empire legalized Christianity with the wave of a hand.

Twelve years later the newly empowered church hierarchy convened at Nicaea to consolidate the differing stories under the Christian umbrella that had been passed down by countless, diverse clans across the empire and beyond since the time of Jesus. If Christianity were to expand, it needed a consistent narrative defining its faith and history. It needed a single story.

By AD 367 the twenty-seven “canonically authorized apostolic writings” that would eventually become the official New Testament were selected and approved. All the participants in that process were male and would be for a long, long time to come.

Those men, and their male-dominated societies, would, over time, systematically marginalize one of Jesus’s most trusted, loved, and respected apostles.

Why?

Because her name was Mary . . .

* * *

The first class I ever attended at Bowdoin College was Religion 101 taught by the esteemed William Goeghegan.

Moments into the experience I was asked a question I had never before contemplated.

“Mr. Hancock, what is your religion and why have you chosen it?”

I had no answer beyond saying I was a Christian.

As I left historic Massachusetts Hall and entered the Quad I remained consumed by the question.

Three buildings down from the old white house I grew up in stood the Casco Village Church. It was the only church in town and it was where everyone I knew went on Sundays. My Dad went there as a child as did his parents before him. That congregation was affiliated with the United Church of Christ, which made me a Protestant. That’s the entire story behind why I was Christian.

As a child in that white, wooden Church with steeple, the Bible was referenced each week and I neither questioned nor consider who edited, compiled, and sanctioned it. To me it was the direct word of God. There was no recognition at the time that it was carefully assembled by a small group of white men who, like all humans, had an agenda.

Awareness, in and of itself, is a powerful act.

* * *

Unlike the celebrated male apostles, Mary was the only one to witness Jesus’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. In fact, Jesus chose to appear to Mary alone after his tomb was found empty.

“So Mary went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what he said to me.”
—John 20:14–18

I learned of Mary’s unique role as the “apostle to the apostles” only recently and initially I was surprised. Why would such a central figure in Jesus’s life and teachings play such a minor role in the Bible itself?

Could it be no more complicated than a woman as Jesus’s closest confident didn’t fit the stories that helped justify the male dominated order of the Roman Catholic Church?

What if, as the Christian researcher and spiritualist Cynthia Bourgeault concludes, the stories that ultimately became the Bible missed or underrepresented essential components of Jesus’s life and teachings? For example, as Bourgeault writes,

  1. “Jesus’s inner circle of disciples includes both men and women on an equal footing.”
  2. Mary Magdalene was not just “first among apostles in a chronological sense (because she was the first on the scene at the resurrection), but in a more fundamental way, because she gets the message. Of all the disciples, she is the only one who fully understands what Jesus is teaching and can reproduce it in her own life.”
  3. And finally, that Mary was “clearly in a relationship with Jesus that is in some way special: a ‘beloved disciple.’ ”

What if the most sacred religious scriptures of the Western world had featured these components, telling a story of sexual equality and the necessity of embracing the sacred feminine in order for a world full of LOVE to blossom? What if Mary was the one who best understood and manifested Jesus’s message? What if man and woman as co-equals had emerged as a dominant theme of Jesus’s teachings? How might the Western world have evolved differently if led by that story?

And what if, despite these potential truths, she was later sidelined.

I have no way of knowing with certainty, but I do have a hard time picturing a supreme God source that would intentionally anoint only men as apostles.

* * *

The Bible, like all sacred texts, is a collection of stories written, and rewritten, by humans. Those humans, by virtue of their direct engagement, became creators themselves.

And what does all of this have to do with the “Business of Shared Leadership”?

A lot, as it turns out.

Those with the most power often overreach and one common manifestation of that overreaching is exercising the power of the pulpit and throne to select and refine the stories that will define the society they rule.

For me, Jesus’s teachings are about “power dispersal.” Everyone is sacred and holy. A divine light dwells within us all. Love is the unifying bond, and it does not choose favorites. Men, women, people of color, and people of different faiths . . . they are all God’s children, and as such, are all worthy of an equal footing and the same respect and love. It takes an equal dose of male and female energy for humanity to be whole. This makes Mary’s presence in Jesus’s story a leading role.

To re-examine, not recite, my Christianity is to revisit one portion of the circle of identity that defines me thereby expanding my view of a world filled with stories that differ from my own.

 

“What happened to the Divine Feminine? Why has SHE apparently disappeared from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam? In the Gnostic Gospels, we learn that Mary Magdalene was probably the closest disciple of the Christos, the one whom the Master taught the most arcane esoteric wisdom. She was and is the representation of all wisdom.”
– Laurence Galian

Research for some of the ideas explored in this essay came from the following sources:
The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity by Cynthia Bourgeault (Shambhala, 2010)
Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing by Stephan Hoeller (Quest Books, 2002)
* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the fourteenth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



Sign Our Online Pledge!

Apologies

On the cusp of this great opportunity to share an article recently published in the New York Times about Kevin and his book, A Lumber Executive Loses His Voice and Finds Balance, we wanted to share something else too!

A few months back, Kevin shared an excerpt from his book of a written apology to the people of Pine Ridge that both recognized, and apologized for what happened. We were excited to see that almost 500 people felt the same way and were willing to sign our online pledge!

It is our hope that you will continue to share this excerpt with the people around you, because as it was said before, awareness, in and of itself, is a powerful act.

Please visit the apology written by Kevin at the following link:

http://www.seventhpower.org/the-apology/

Here, you can add your name and pass it on!