Doing the Right Thing

Our son, Casper, is 6.  He talks earnestly about “catching baddies”.  He has a pretty black and white view of baddies and the appropriate treatment for them.  When he says this I ask him “how can you tell who the baddies are?”  So far he has, very sensibly, entirely ignored the question.

I don’t blame him,  It is an absurdly complex question that humanity as a whole has failed to adequately address, so far.  It depends, so much, on your perspective, the priorities you are applying and what you can actually see from where you are.

It is comforting to look at extremes, where the judgement is easy, but most of life is not like that, most of life is far more nuanced and most of life, is the decisions we take every day.

Every decision we take has consequences.  It creates our future and influences the futures of others, both close to us and far away.  We cannot possibly know all of the remote consequences of our decisions.  If we do stop to think about all of the consequences we end up frozen in the glare of a million long term searchlights.  We can’t eat (unless we grow it ourselves), we can’t travel (unless we walk) and so on.

If we take on the responsibility of everything we stop.  We have to take a more pragmatic approach.

It turns out, according to Paul Zak, that Oxytocin is the “moral molecule”, it is what enables feelings of trust and empathy.  It is produced naturally in the body, but has a half life of about three minutes and so dissipates quickly.

Oxytocin is inhibited by testosterone and stress and it’s absence allows us to make sociopathic choices.  Testosterone and stress are both increased in competitive situations.  Oxytocin is increased when we show or are shown trust and is stimulated by hugs.

If we want to take decisions which minimise harm and maximise good, therefore, we must take them in safe. trusting and affectionate surroundings.  We must avoid taking them when we are stressed or feel under pressure.  (Like during an all night emergency European leadership summit meeting – for example).

The horrors that have been and are still vested on the world can only be done in dehumanized situations, where stress and testosterone are maximized and humanity, love, empathy and Oyxtocin are avoided.  The dictators tactic of choice is, specifically to dehumanize the opposition and at the same time exaggerate the threat they pose, to persuade ordinary people to do horrific things.

If we want to take good long term decisions at work, at home and in government, we must, as far as possible humanise our environment by encouraging love and empathy.  We can start as Paul Zak suggests, with a minimum of eight hugs a day.


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With love


Neil Crofts
authentic business
+34 646391384
Skype – neilcrofts






About Neil Crofts

Writer, coach and consultant on authentic business and authentic leadership. Neil has inspired and motivated hundreds organisations and thousands of individuals to their highest potential. Neil has written three published books and numerous e-books. Neil is a coach, facilitator and consultant helping people and businesses find their authentic purpose and use it to inspire and motivate them to be everything that they can be. Neil has raced cars, been self-employed, run a company and sold it, been employed by large companies, experienced growth and contraction at the heart of the dotcom boom, tried changing companies from the inside and from the outside as European Head of Strategy at internet consultancy/rock band Razorfish. Neil has been independent for over 10 years and delivered his Authentic Leadership message to a diverse range of business audiences including people at BP, Shell, Microsoft, Kraft Foods, MSN, Jamie Oliver, South Gloucestershire Council, National Blood Transfusion Service, KaosPilots Business School, Fashion company By Malene Birger, German technology company Eleven.
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