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“Wealth”: Gross National "Happiness"?

April 28, 2014 - Ernest Hohmeyer
If we are going to stimulate the economy and advance sustainable communities, does there need to be profound and deep changes to how we do it?

Are we even asking the right question here? Is our definition of “success” and “wealth” different today?

What is Success?

Now, do we want stability or a safer environment for our kids? That we view this earth as a living partner and not just a resource? That’s it’s not about necessarily more, but living fuller, “richer” (speaking of different perception) lives?

Is success now defined with how good you are in - CHANGING THINGS?

There are those who believe we need to make real changes to core institutions. There are not only new "tools" to help our businesses and communities create this significant change. There are new ways about how we approach them – our thinking and behavior – that can create the significant changes we may need.

Are “We” An Asset?

We talk a lot about building communities from within: using our assets like our own people, industries and culture to grow. In fact, when you think about many of the significant projects before us, many of the principles have roots in the region.

As marketing has become more personable, so too has the thought that to create real change, how we operate as individuals - is becoming increasingly important. After all each one of us is capable of creating something that goes viral right? So, we are becoming increasingly connected.

Fundamental changes may need to occur these folks believe for all us to be more “successful.”

A New Paradigm

“Spiritual Entrepreneurship - A New Paradigm for Business Creation” reads the on-line head-line from the Presencing Institute.

The Presencing Institute originated at MIT.

According to their web site, they noticed how their PhD students could aptly study the “broken systems of our current society” but the “practical impact on changing any of these systems was almost zero.”

Real Change?

The result was a “2.0’ framework for learning, leading, innovating, and profound systems change” that became known as “Theory U.”

The outgrowth of this was the Presencing Institute, an “awareness-based action-research community” that works on “profound societal renewal.” It’s founding chair and senior lecturer at MIT and author of the book “Theory U.” is Otto Scharmer. He also collaborated on another book” Presence” with co-authors Peter Senge, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers.

In this new thinking of the importance of me and you, their definitions are interesting. “Presencing,” according to the site, “means to sense, tune in, and act from one’s highest future potential—the future that depends on us to bring it into being.”

Further, presencing blends the words “presence’ and ‘sensing’ and works through ‘seeing from our deepest source.”

“Gross National Happiness”

The site provides “living examples” of their “action research projects” all around the world including the “creation of mission-driven companies,” and a “climate leadership lab.”

Here is one that will get you: the “creation of a Global Wellbeing and Gross National Happiness (GNH) Lab.”

Sound crazy?

But one of the founding entities was “Germany’s Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation.” The purpose of the “Lab” is to bring “together leading innovators from developing countries, emerging economies, and industrial nations to prototype new ways of - measuring and implementing well-being and progress in societies around the world.”

This an interesting take on simply looking at our gross national product for “well-being.”

New Leadership Capacities?

“Theory U” shows how that capacity for presencing can be developed and outlines 7 leadership capacities. These include “Holding the space of listening,” “Sensing,” “crystalizing,” and “performing.” Presencing is another leadership capacity enabling to “connect to the deepest source of self and will allows the future to emerge from the whole rather than from a smaller part or special interest group.”

“From Ego-to-Eco-system”

In another interesting section of the Presencing Institute web site is “From Ego-to-Eco-system Economies.” As they consider how to “create practical strategies that help us to operate from the ?future that we want to create,” they talk about the “3 divides” which are “symptoms of today’s global socioeconomic challenges.” These are further “illuminated” by “8 acupuncture points” of structural disconnects.”

Bring it Here?

Once again, we may be able to bring some of this new thinking to the Adirondacks as the Presencing Institute offers “a number of capacity-building opportunities.” These include the “Presencing Foundation Program” and the “Global Classroom” which is an “online introduction to latest thinking.

There is interesting thinking out there beyond the typical X’s and O’s that may help us look at real change. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it but understanding some of this may help develop new ideas for our businesses and communities.

Do we believe there needs to be some fundamental changes to "how we do business"? Then some of these new ideas and perspectives may be of interest.


Join us for Adirondack Small Biz Week May12th – 16th – Find out more @


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