As a motivational mentor I encounter people with many issues and these always divide along the lines of the three core life elements: achievement, relationship, or self growth. Paradoxically, sometimes the more the serious the issues, the easier they are to support and help. People who are doing all the right things sometimes cannot change, and therefore cannot transform their Self.
A recent debate on the IOD Linkedin Forum asked whether Investors in People and ISO 9000 et al were a total waste of time and effort. Good question! Ever since the ‘Standards’ were formulated practitioners and clients have been wrestling with this problem. I cannot speak about ISO as I was never a practitioner, but I was an IiP Adviser for seven years, and during that time must have been into over a hundred businesses and organizations, Thus, I developed strong views on the subject.
A good friend of mine copied me in today on an email he had received that filled him with disgust. It was from a senior manager in the institution in which he worked – basically, informing them all that his work was done, time for new hands to steer the tiller, and he’d be off to a glittering new opportunity in Australia … how wonderful to have made so many friends and he’d be keeping a friendly eye on his old employer/colleagues … yawn, yawn, yawn. The fact that he’d been in post less than two years, that his sector was experiencing huge trauma and upheaval, and that far from the work having been done, rather it had yet to be attempted, did not seem apparent to him.
A perennial and favourite discussion topic is the nature-nurture debate. Are values and morals learnt or do we inherit them? Do we instinctively know right from wrong or is this down to conditioning of childhood?
A friend of mine recently had a debate with their partner and discovered they had very different views: one, thinking that all beliefs and values come down to one’s upbringing and surroundings. The other, thinking that whilst 'upbringing' is a contributory factor, there were people they knew who’d had a very unhealthy moral upbringing, but seemed to instinctively know right from wrong from an early age.
I was asked my view.
Of course I am not an expert on this and anyway the research (read: answer) keeps changing. Before giving my view, however, one needs to understand a number of issues around it. For a start, this isn’t really a scientific question – people want to provide evidence largely for a belief they already have; in others words, beliefs drive the answer. The reason for this is that the question touches on the question of what it means to be human.
Put another way: animals always remain in their own state of being; human beings are always in a state of becoming. The most obvious proof of this is: animals can only live in their environment; humans create their environment – in fact, very few humans live in an environment that is as ‘nature’ intended. Moreover, the nature of being human touches on deep philosophical and spiritual questions.
So what we think on this spectrum will start reflecting profounder issues
of our nature.
As Chinese philosophy observed long ago: there cannot be yang without yin, and vice versa. So I believe the correct answer is both, but not in equal proportions: we are about 30% the product of our natures and about 70% the product of our nurture or environment.
Of course in any given individual this can fluctuate. But just as human beings can profoundly affect their environment, so they can profoundly affect their internal environment of the self and its body. In one word, the biggest single factor that will impact your being and change it is belief. What we believe we ultimately become, and the reason for this is that the actual foundation of the universe is consciousness itself.