In a presentation earlier this year, Brooks detailed some alarming stats that are the product of what he calls hyper-individualism. Thirty-five percent of the American population is chronically lonely. COVID did that number no favors but I would also suggest that we were a pretty lonely lot long before the pandemic. Other stats around suicide and opioid addiction are difficult to swallow as well but hopefully underscore our need and desire for positive change.
While many people feel like the world is changing before our eyes, I wonder if the change that matters actually starts with us. The bottom line is that we have been telling ourselves for decades that the purpose of life is self-fulfillment so our connections with each other seem weaker than ever. A new way of living may be in order and should offer us hope for the future.
The good news is that “on the surface” changes can work for a bit, but will not be sustainable over time. For true transformation to take place, it must happen from within and it requires a commitment to a much bigger purpose. On a personal level, it is a wonderful opportunity to engage your unconscious needs and consider the stuff that is bigger than the self.
One of the best places to let go of the surface level individualism is business. And before you start to think that business is all about scoring some Benjamins, I think “good” business is about much more. The reality is that the best of the best are called to do bigger things. There are so many excellent businesses that are built on caring for others and believe that is where positive change can begin.
Business is not about tribalism, which Brooks says is community’s evil twin. Good businesses understand that building community is rooted in affection for others while tribes are built upon mutual distrust of others. In other words, business is a great place to start transforming from within. Business is a platform for connection, empathy and service, which always leads to good things.
I am hopeful that there is a positive cultural shift occurring in the world. It seems to me that, especially in the current atmosphere of crisis, uncertainty, and fear, we are desperately hungry for truthfulness, clarity, candor, and, most important, authenticity that we have not gotten in a very long time. We are right to ask for these things from our leaders but we also need to ask it of each other too.
The journey of change requires us to remove the heaviness of selfishness and integrate selflessness into a way of living and leading. We must have courage to live a life of purpose and let go of the way things have been. We must shed the skin of a hyper-individualistic world and choose community as a way to blossom…together.