Beliefs & Values Blog Conscious Leadership

Human Nature

Written by Charlie Efford

One of the problems with becoming more conscious is that the people around you often don’t change at the same pace. It’s hard to trust their better instincts if they betray your trust as soon as your back is turned. If you see the world as a community of collaborators and your colleagues see it as a pit of competition, then playing nice isn’t going to get you very far – or is it?

Most people talk about ‘human nature’ as an eternal, if often regrettable, price to pay for being alive.

Most people talk about ‘human nature’ as an eternal, if often regrettable, price to pay for being alive. If you look back through history, there is ample evidence of what it means to be human. Base instincts fuel our fight for individual survival and in contrast, our higher self seems to guide us towards acts of compassion and kindness.

If you think of a scale with base instincts at one end and loving kindness at the other, then the centre of gravity of our behaviour lies somewhere on this spectrum. To say that human nature is fixed is partly true – in that we are all capable of behaving at any point on the spectrum. However, I don’t believe that our position on the scale is fixed. We may be born into a dysfunctional family, but we all have the capacity to change. I strongly suspect that underneath the forces of our environment is a strong and steady pull towards the more enlightened end of the scale. In other words, given the right conditions, we all have an innate tendency to become kinder more considerate beings.

……given the right conditions, we all have an innate tendency to become kinder more considerate beings

The simplest way to create the right conditions is to be around people who live their lives at the compassionate end of the spectrum. When people are treated well, they tend to respond well. When they are trusted and valued for what they bring to the world, it’s not surprising that they flourish. The opposite is true too. When people are not trusted and treated with disdain and suspicion then they all too often fall back into survival mode – drifting back towards the base end of the spectrum.

They are being invited to create working environments where people are trusted and valued

In the current state of the world, it is the conscious leaders who are being asked to create the conditions for people to thrive. They are being invited to create working environments where people are trusted and valued. They are being asked to understand that it takes a while before people who have been treated poorly realise that things are different. I’m not saying that bad behaviour should be tolerated – just that people are understood and helped (albeit by maintaining boundaries) rather than being condemned.

The leaders who are willing to take on this challenge are almost certainly those whose centre of gravity is towards the more enlightened end of the spectrum. They say and do the ‘right’ things not because it is politically correct or expedient, but because their actions are a direct reflection of who they are.

…….we have a choice about whereabouts on the scale we choose to live our lives.

In summary, I believe there is a spectrum of human behaviour and that we have a choice about whereabouts on the scale we choose to live our lives. We are all capable of change and which way we go on the scale is shaped to a large extent by our environment. I believe that the underlying pull is towards the more enlightened end of the scale. Conscious Leaders (who may or may not have positional authority) have an important role in creating the conditions where people can thrive – and when people thrive, we all benefit.

When things go awry, I suggest that you stop blaming human nature and have a closer look at the example you are setting.

To answer my initial question. It is hard to play nice at times, but I think it is a challenge worth taking on. When things go awry, I suggest that you stop blaming human nature and have a closer look at the example you are setting.

About the author

Charlie Efford

My name is Charlie Efford and I have been a leader all my life. I am at my best when I hold space for others to grow and develop. I do this because I enjoy it. I listen deeply, I care and I am not afraid to use my intuition. I often see things that others miss and I like to have fun.

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