A collective shift in values is essential to our future

By Tom Rausch

World Values Day is an opportunity for us all to think about our most deeply held values and to act on them. This year special attention is being paid to the values that connect us as one human society, and with what matters most in our lives. Values are the invisible bridges that connect what we stand for (belief system) with our day-to-day behaviors.

Our current values and belief systems no longer fit for providing a happy present and a sustainable future. The industrial age has run its course and now we have to deal with its legacy – the deterioration – initially slow but now rapidly accelerating, of the well-being of people and the sustainability of the planet’s life support systems. In a span of less than 200 years, we have created a global sustainability crisis. To a large extent, this crisis has been driven by the corporate sector and by the limitations of our mental/emotional/spiritual development. We have become experts in inventing new technologies and new ways to extract and create value for the select few at the expense of the many and of the system that sustains it all. This is a crisis that we cannot solve with our minds alone. We can only solve this problem through a global shift in consciousness.

Our mental models are being challenged, particularly in the way we have conducted business with a take-make-waste linear mindset that denies and externalizes our impact on the environment and society. Our emotional maturity is being challenged, demanding we give up oppositional right vs wrong feelings and opening our hearts to our universal needs for safety, connection and meaning. Primarily, we are being called to exercise the strength of our spirits, to connect as one human race, and to reconnect with what matters most in our lives.

The sustainability revolution caused by our planet’s rapidly deteriorating conditions is promoting our spiritual evolution in the same way that the industrial revolution promoted our mental evolution. Corporations are being called to evolve to a new internal architecture that embraces an expanded business model that honors life and humans to create economic and social value in a sustainable way.

In order to solve current existential problems, we must first accept that we are all one – we are potentially facing a situation in which either we all arise, or we all perish. The problems we face are global, but the mechanisms we to deal with them are national. If we depend on our governments to solve this crisis, it will be too late. We must find a way to act together – civil society, business, and our governments – because narrow self-interest is no longer a viable option.

We offer these twelve values as a perspective on how we need to shift in our current paradigms to create a future where humanity thrives and all human needs are met.


The Values of an Economy Built to Deliver Well-being for All

Today much of our world economy is one rooted in wealth consciousness. As described well by the Humanity Awareness Initiative, wealth awareness is marked by great wealth and income inequality, hierarchies based on wealth and knowledge, justice through imprisonment, women not being treated equally, and corruption is tolerated. Perhaps you recognize this where you live, I certainly do as a citizen of the USA.

Our global crisis is calling for a shift from a focus on wealth creation to a focus on the creation of well-being for all. This requires nothing less than whole-person and whole-system transformation.

This is the corporate transformation that we are inviting. Without the enthusiastic participation of business in the global sustainability agenda, humanity will not survive. Companies exist to serve society and society depends upon the environment. If the environment fails, so too will society and business.

Taking responsibility for everyone in human society is not a role that most companies are familiar with. It is, however, a necessary role. This places great demands on our business leaders and places them in a dilemma: how to meet the needs of the market and shareholders while also meeting the needs of humanity and the planet.

This will require new levels of thinking and new approaches in business, forcing all of us to consider how to balance our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

This will not be easy, but it is possible. This story of hope is eloquently told and thoroughly outlined by the brilliant leaders at RethinkX in this prelude to their book: Rethinking Humanity:

“Thanks to our advances as a species During the 2020s, key technologies will converge to completely disrupt the five foundational sectors that underpin the global economy, and with them every major industry in the world today. In information, energy, food, transportation, and materials, costs will fall by 10x or more, while production processes an order of magnitude more efficient will use 90% fewer natural resources with 10x-100x less waste.

The knock-on effects for society will be as profound as the extraordinary possibilities that emerge. For the first time in history, we could overcome poverty easily. Access to all our basic needs could become a fundamental human right. But this is just one future outcome. The alternative could see our civilization collapse into a new dark age. Which path we take depends on the choices we make, starting today. The stakes could not be higher.”

If you have read this far, you might be wondering what you can do to help make this transformation possible. Here are a few practical suggestions for you to consider.

  1. Read, understand and widely share the positive story of hope and urgency from the team at RethinkX
  2. Take inventory of your current values using our free personal values assessment
  3. Reflect on our suggested values shifts in this article and practice being a role model of that shift
  4. Dip into the resources below and follow your heart to learn more about how you can act to create the future you want to be a part of

About The Author

Tom Rausch is Director of Consulting at Barrett Values Centre. He acknowledges his current and former BVC mentors: Richard Barrett, Adolfo Jarrin, Joan Shafer and Chris Gomez. Tom is the creator of the  Coach2Lead blended learning program that teaches leaders the essential skill of listening and leading like a coach. Available at no cost during the COVID crisis.



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