This phrase often crops up and I frequently use it myself . Beneath the simple words are some powerful ideas that I would like to explore with you.
Working for the Greater Good implies serving the needs of something bigger and perhaps more worthy than your own self-interest
Working for the Greater Good implies serving the needs of something bigger and perhaps more worthy than your own self-interest, but what is this noble cause and how do you find it ? I think the answers depends on your awareness of the world around you. To illustrate what I mean, let me ask you a question. How far beyond your immediate family does your care, compassion and understanding extend? If you are like me the answer is a bit patchy.
I care deeply about my immediate family and close friends, but am less bothered about some of my distant relations. I don’t feel much connected to the concerns of my local community but feel very compassionate towards those who suffer in wars and natural disasters. I try to be kind and understanding to the people I meet (and sometimes fail) but feel more connected to those who share my beliefs. If working for the Greater Good was just about whom I cared for then my decision making would look a bit erratic from the outside.
Fortunately I have another resource to call upon for guidance – my values.
Fortunately I have another resource to call upon for guidance – my values. These are the principles that I try to live up to and cause me to wince when I’m in conflict with them. They run much deeper than my beliefs. For example, one of my values is about caring for people in distress. I do this simply because it is the right thing to do from my perspective. I have no beliefs that I should be helping people so that I can become a good person, for example.
Most people have never really thought about their values but nevertheless use them to guide their decision making. If you are in this camp then it would be well worthwhile taking the time to explore what you hold dear and what you believe about the world. You might be surprised about what comes up. Although we each have our values there is often a lot common ground between people. This raises the question of whether there is an underlying set of common human values. If there are, they might be concepts such as Truth, Compassion, Equality, Respect and Freedom. I’ll leave you to ponder about what you might add. I find that my values can override the patchiness of my consciousness. So for example, I may not feel particularly connected to one of my clients but I would not dream of doing anything to exploit them or undermine their trust in me.
What happens when you are asked to do something that might be good for an organisation but wrong for the environment or society at large
The final area that I would like to look at is ethics. What happens when you are asked to do something that might be good for an organisation but wrong for the environment or society at large? My conscience alerts me quickly when this happens and I start to feel distinctly uncomfortable. My values are the cornerstone of my ethical stance but they don’t always provide the answers. The business decision to sell a particular product might make great profits for the shareholders but might cause distress to the supplier’s workforce. If you knew this was going to happen you would have an interesting choice to make. There is no easy answer. All I can suggest is that you learn to listen to your conscience and heed its advice.
Let me pull the threads of this blog together and leave you with some thoughts to ponder. What constitutes the Greater Good is likely to reflect the extent to which you feel compassion and care for those around you. You can fill in the gaps by using your values to guide your decision making. This works well until you have a dilemma or conflict of interest to deal with. Your ethics will alert you to the problem but they probably won’t solve it for you. To do this you will have to call on your conscience and trust in its advice.
“ At the highest level of your awareness, working ethically for the benefit of all concerned”
A definition of working for the Greater Good might therefore be – “ At the highest level of your awareness, working ethically for the benefit of all concerned”.
The actions you choose will vary depending on your level of consciousness. Let me therefore leave you with some challenges and thoughts:
- How conscious are you of your Self and the world around you ?
- What are your values and beliefs?
- Do you serve the Greater Good – as you see it?
- Are you willing to expand your consciousness?
If you are in a leadership role then I hope these questions will be very relevant to you
We explore these issues on our conscious leader programmes and would love to hear from you if you want to know more.