The Nature of Corporate
peoples of the world agree that there are two fundamental fears that all human
beings dread. The first fear is the fear of abandonment. The second fear is the
terror of being limited, restricted, enslaved, or trapped. These fears are
intertwined and interrelated and each one leads to the other. People do not
want to be abandoned so they seek out fraternal relationships, but then these
relationship can become restrictive leading people to abandon one another. So
you can see that these two fear represent polarities in the human experience
and people are always trying to find that happy medium of connection without
in this article we will focus more exclusively on the fear of abandonment and
specifically explore how it impacts our business dealings with one another.
natural mammal terror of abandonment helps animals to survive the rigors of the
first months of life. In the best of worlds, with constant support and
guardianship, animals eventually learn to trust the environment and their fear
of abandonment is replaced by the intense curiosity of exploration and
learning. For humans in particular, fear of abandonment can rear its head
throughout life with the occasional loss of relationships through death,
divorce, or friends moving away. Feelings of abandonment also come with the
loss of a home, a job, a pet, or health. The reason that this is such a painful
and sensitive area for most people is that being expelled from the womb at
birth feels like the original abandonment from mother and from connection with
spirit. So from that most primary moment, human beings are set up to both flee
from abandonment and to create connective relationships with each other that
will ward off abandonment.
great is the fear of abandonment that some people resort to abandoning others
in order to control their own fear. Better to abandon than be abandoned. As a
result many people abandon their own essence and relationship to spirit rather
than experience being abandoned by them. The result is the deepest kind of
Doing Business is
business is primarily about people and relationships and is one of the main
ways that people devised to overcome their initial separateness and isolation.
When people have business to do together this becomes their excuse to interact
with one another and become involved in the games of commerce, teamwork,
communication, and production. Thus humans seek each other out to do business
with each other, to improve their chances of survival, to enjoy each others
company, to prosper, relate, and create together. Originally business was
conceived and conducted to improve survival odds, to provide social
interaction, and to have fun creating together in win-win situations and
theme of abandonment has more to do with
our modern corporate business world than anyone would imagine with truly
horrifying implications. Unless we
understand and confront this instinctive human fear, we will be unable to
address some of the most fundamental problems in our world today. Because
almost everyone engages in business in one way or the other either as a
provider or a consumer, abandonment in business directly affects you one way or
following is a vastly simplified version of the progression of human activities
in regard to commerce. Bear in mind this progression has been repeated again
and again over the course of human history and is not simply a linear process
but has spiraled into being many times over.
The Business of
the beginning people engaged in simple trades, clothing for protection, food
for shelter, basic tools and implements to make things, and adornments to
decorate. As the human race progressed and evolved and life became more complex
humans began to develop specific rules, laws, and structures that governed
their business dealings with one another. This insured that there would be a
process and a format that could be expected when doing business with others.
Thus business rose to the level of the toddler behavior, with an emphasis on
structure, rules, laws, and limits to define the game of trade.
more evolution humans began developing an appetite for competition and for
achieving the greatest successes by outwitting everyone else in order to come
out way ahead. The strategy for doing business then became about winning over
others rather than commerce for the sake of camaraderie and mutual
satisfaction. This introduced the concept of defeating competition and even
manipulating the marketplace to come out ahead while giving lip service to the
laws governing fair practice. At this
stage business rose to the level of the child playing king of the mountain and
he who dies with the most toys wins.
this turn of events, fear was introduced as a major player in transactions of
all types. Because winning and getting financially ahead at all costs became
the greatest value, people negotiating trade had to ask the new and difficult
questions. Am I being cheated here? Are they telling the truth? Do they have my
best interest in mind? Will I lose in this transaction? So trust was shattered
and fear replaced that original innocence of the handshake deal. The greater
the fear introduced into business the greater the distrust and the more each
party had to strategize to come out ahead of the other. This can only happen
when people feel so separate from one another or disconnected that they pit
themselves against the other as if they were dealing with an enemy, a total
alien rather than a brother or sister or friend. The result is the business
culture of fear that prevails in the world of commerce today. The level that is
no more sophisticated than the child of eight, nine, or ten years of age.
strong is the value to win at all costs that a corporation or a partner can be
willing to sacrifice its own employees, suppliers, and even customers at the
alter of profits. Here we have the reintroduction of one of the human race's
greatest fears, the fear of abandonment. If a company is willing at a moments
notice to dump its own in order to stay ahead of the game, then eventually
everyone lives with the fear and resulting stress of possible abandonment at
any time. This is one of the primary reasons that business is no longer fun for
so many people in this day and age. Whereas it was once about being connected
to common goals, to a community with similar values and visions, now business
is about the abstraction of the corporation and shareholders winning profits and
if that is compromised in any way there will be abandonment with dire
changes created an environment that replaced connectedness with fear of
abandonment and loss. Here are some everyday examples of the way people now
abandon each other while doing business:
business people immediately abandon a prospect after finding out that they may
not be of benefit to them.
Result: People are
seen as tools rather than as beings.
abandon a company when they hear a negative report on earnings, even if the
company is still profitable.
Stockholders do not care about the company, its' values, its long-range vision,
or its products, only that it make a profit as quickly as possible.
corporation abandons former suppliers when getting a lower bid from a new one,
even if that bid includes questionable production processes and causes greater
human suffering in some remote part of the world (sweat shops).
are seen as interchangeable and as cogs in the machinery rather than partners
company abandons employees when downsizing to become more efficient and profit
are treated like discarded outmoded machinery. The rest of the employed staff
must do their former jobs plus the work of those discarded to hold onto their
shop around for greater benefits and at a moments notice abandon the company
that has trained them.
Result: Staff sees
the corporation or company that employs them as a simple means to an end and no
abandons its staff by risking retirement funds on wild schemes and abandons its
shareholders by skimming profits and engaging in highly unethical business
practices designed to personally enrich themselves at others' expense.
has contempt for their own corporation and for others in general.
these and other similar values ruling the day, it is no wonder that most people
go to work and come home from work incredibly stressed. They are faced with
abandonment on every side each day. Remember that abandonment is one of
humankind's worst fears.
of these values and practices have become cornerstones of the present economic
system and economists have proposed that they are the necessary hard knocks of
a successful economy. Fingers point to the failure of the Japanese system where
people signed up for life employment, complete cradle to grave security,
without risk of ever being let go.
Japanese system is actually more of small child's view of business life because
of that very promise of security. This approach however represents the extreme.
There is no such thing as ultimate security because life is too rich and
variable to promise anything like that. But this does not mean the alternative
is the complete abandonment of respectful intercourse among people doing
business with one another.
the me-first, "he who dies with the most toys wins" way of doing business is
akin to a ten year old's approach to life. Ten year olds want to play king of
the mountain and are notoriously ruthless in their dealings with one another.
They are often entirely insensitive to each others feelings wanting nothing
more than to cut each other down to the aggrandizement of their own ego's. That
is what it is like to be ten years old.
the Soviet Union fell apart the remnants tried to instantly shift to a western
style of capitalism and they have failed miserably because they plunged into a
ten year old version of capitalism. The system was plagued by corruption so
massive that it has failed to thrive. This will happen anywhere that capitalism
is introduced where there is no prior experience with it. The results are that
they have begun to return to a totalitarian style of government to run their
is the ten year old approach to doing business in a nutshell. These are some of
the business practices that have fostered an increased sense of separation and
made doing business a terrifying prospect for so many people because of the
risk of abandonment.
incentives were introduced to produce profits at all costs.
Productivity became more important than creativity and
became more about personal success than relationship.
competition intensified to the point of willingness to destroy the other.
members were pitted against each other to produce more profit.
became more important than mutual exchange and enjoying interaction.
on mutual survival shifted to personal survival.
and advertising became more important than quality control.
began to emphasize consumerism over improving the quality of life.
emphasized disposables over products built to last.
became more important than people's well-being, health, and longevity.
quality products and systems no longer prevailed in the marketplace because
huge companies could squash the competition and instead offer their own
inferior products in attractive packaging.
evolution is a fact of life and a great many human beings do not carry the
values and mentality of ten year olds any more even if that is the prevailing
system left over from a former era. Many people have moved on, have become more
mature, and desire a more sophisticated way of interacting that values
relationship, belonging, and connectedness. They struggle with the present
system and often suffer at the hands of ruthless competition.
more mature business environment might include the following policies:
- Companies are
given incentives to relocate or retrain employees who have been let go due
to downsizing (tax breaks).
- Taxes are
levied on what is discouraged (pollution) rather than what is desired
schools offer required courses in the importance of relationship in the
- Business takes
another look at the value of ruthless competition. In nature there is
competition but more importantly there is cooperation among species,
something Darwin missed.
Creativity and interaction become more important than
control as the prevailing value.
Incentives are offered for contributing to satisfaction and
fulfillment in the work place.
cooperation becomes the prevailing value in team building.
exchange and enjoying the interaction once again replace profits as the
highest priority for doing business.
- Business looks
to the greatest common good in its practices.
control of the product comes first before the marketing and advertising of
emphasizes improving the quality of life.
emphasizes products that contribute to a sustainable way of life and a
- Profits are
linked to people's well-being, health, and longevity.
are just a few of the changes in values that are necessary for a return to
pleasure in doing business. These and other policies like them will greatly
reduce the fear of abandonment that prevails in the modern workplace.
the real world some people will always lose their jobs because of incompetence,
changes in methods of production, greater efficiency, downsizing, or other
similar justifiable reasons. The
argument for a change in values is not to promote some unattainable utopian
society where no one loses a job or people are kept on the payroll for doing
nothing. That is not a preferable system. It is about a sea change in the
status quo that is not only unsustainable but makes life miserable for so many
in the workplace. In a grown up world why would anyone opt for the current
system that is so destructive to the environment and the vast majority of
workers? We cannot simultaneously have an economy where greater efficiency
causes people to lose their jobs but where people need to work to buy products.
This is called a shrinking market place and is not sustainable to greater profit making in the long run. Duh! This is a
complete no brainer.
must figure out a way for people to find meaningful work even as the world
rapidly progresses to greater efficiency. Training and rearing children will
never be successfully taken over by machines and it is an exceptionally
important foundation of society. Yet the culture has not wanted to see it as
important or worth paying for so well paying jobs disappear while education and
childrearing and other services are starved to death. Perhaps we need to look
here first. If we are not willing to as a nation and as a species, then perhaps
the system must ultimately collapse before a more effective approach to our
world is discovered.