For the past three decades in Australia, those in the ‘lucky country’ have ridden an economic wave of prosperity. Life has never been as good as it has been until the beginning of 2020. Regrettably the Covid-19 pandemic not only exposed the fallacy of economic growth, it also exposed the fragility of the economic model. The focus of the past three decades has been upon economic growth at all costs, often to the detriment of those in the bottom off any social or economic groups. Has the time come to refocus and invest in spiritual capital?
The current model is unsustainable. The collateral damage undermines its success. The outcome is a widening gap between those that have, and those that go without. Our reliance upon economic growth is at the expense of health and social & emotional wellbeing within our population.
Our challenge post pandemic is this. How do we maintain economic growth while improving the lives of those that disadvantaged and disenfranchised? Clearly the so-called trickle down effect has bought few benefits to an ever widening group of people.
The world is made up of finite resources. We cannot continue to consume indiscriminately. Damage to our environment, both by businesses and individuals will ultimately destroy our planet. Growing inequality leads to increased cost, adding to our taxation to fund additional family support, policing and health services, three of our largest societal costs due to crime, family breakdowns and unemployment. This reduces the amount of money for investment into education, research and development. Leadership within our institutions and businesses lack credibility; those with vision and ability to change the world are not found in formal leadership roles. Our visionary focus is way to short. We need plans stretching our 20, 30 or 50 years and we need bi-partisan support for those plans, and we need to shift our focus away from a belief that human beings are a resource for collection and disposal at the whim of a market.
Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall co-authored Spiritual Capital: Wealth We Can Live and they defined spiritual capital as a dialogue with meaning, vision, fundamental value and deep purpose. That business should continue to make a profit while recognising even greater profits can be made by doing good.
Today our focus is upon penalising those that have the misfortune to be disadvantaged. The future should be about how we as a wealthy nation can incentivize people, both those within and those outside of the workplace.
Spirituality is within us from birth. Like so many things we often cast it aside, blaming our need to conform, to fit and to avoid rocking the boat. Within our businesses and as individuals our criteria becomes to make more money for the sake of doing so. This is unsustainable and we need to find ways to support and nurture individual spirituality, rather than repress it.
How many business managers take time to discuss and ask the question, what are we really here to achieve? How many take for granted the system, their connections and the web they weave throughout community, without asking how can we help each other? How many deny spontaneity through top down, hierarchical management? How many lack compassion and run away from diversity? How many actually sit back and ask, Why?
Some may refer to this as appreciative enquiry, others may use different titles. None of those matter if each of us fails to take the time to reflect, to ask, to engage with others and to learn.
In there lies our spiritual capital. Combine that with material capital and we will create a wealthier and more equitable nation than at any time in the past 250 years. Isn’t that something worth fighting for?
I’m John Coxon. I work with management teams of social agencies to help increase revenue, reduce costs and improve effectiveness through my building blocks suite of assessment tools. I can be contacted by email.