Archive for the ‘Culture & Society’ Category

27
Oct
by Gaudenz Assenza (Professor at IE School of Arts and Humanities)

For many years, our economic system rewarded those who said, “I want, give me” while ignoring others who practiced the idea “I have, let’s share”. But with the economic crisis, the momentum of self-interest has begun to wear out. Greed, frivolity and hedonism are increasingly out of fashion. Instead, more people are rediscovering the beauty of slowness, enjoying family, friends, hobbies, spending time in nature — all those things that are neglected when work is the priority. The slowdown was not just about the economy; it reflected a broader shift in values. Realizing that life has more to offer than a fat bank account, fewer people are willing to work 12 or 16 hours a day in the pursuit of a career.

If we look underneath the recent hype and anxiety, the message of the crisis is clear: slow down, reflect and reconnect with who you truly are and what you really want to do. If we disregard these signals — if instead of slowing down we try to accelerate — we do so at the risk of a more drastic slowdown in the future. If we decide we want more of the same, we may get it at the cost of sacrificing our health and our relationships. Phenomena such as burnout, depression and nervous breakdown are not confined to people on the fast track. But if those on the fast track change their ways, they help themselves and others who are dependent on them.

Wise business leaders do not pressure subordinates to accelerate; they form environments where people can thrive and be creative. Instead of installing more controls in an attempt to speed up and achieve unrealistic profit targets, leaders can focus their ingenuity on ways of releasing the power of free will and self determination. If leaders do not learn fast, subordinates may fail to respond, numbed by the proliferation of incentives and punishments imposed from above. Efforts of performance maximization and crowd control are losing their edge. Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Speed is irrelevant if you are moving in the wrong direction.”

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