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The business of beingness

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

Rick Warren’s infamous quote from his book, The Purpose Driven Life[1], reminds us that “we are human beings—not human doings.” But what does this really mean for us—in business; as leaders; and in life?

Some might suggest that being human is about the practice of self-care, as a way to make ourselves more effective through setting the right priorities in life. Others may suggest that in our “Being” we do not identify with our occupations or the actions we take. Still others might offer that “Beingness” is about the values we hold for ourselves and others, linked to how we treat people and how that intersects with our own acceptance of our basic humanity.

For the purpose of this article, we are defining Being as our natural state of existing—our human essence. Beingness is therefore the quality, state, or condition of having existence. It is here that we invite you into your own beingness, where you are enough simply as you are, and yet continually expanding, simply because there is always more to be discovered.

Too philosophical? Then let’s begin with something perhaps we know all too well—especially in business: our Doingness.

Doing is when we perform or execute on something. Doingness is therefore “the state of doing something; action”[2]. We all know what this looks like; it’s our proverbial “to do” list. We also know what this feels like; that list becomes a never-ending task sheet filled with itemized responsibilities and appointments that we reload every single day in ways that are eerily automatic.

In contrast, when you come more predominantly from a place of Being, you internally inquire about your place in the environment with a strong desire to participate in ways that feel meaningful and are in cooperation and collaboration with others. You don’t feel a need to control a person or situation in order to feel a sense of validation. In this, those more aligned with their being understand and appreciate that rest, recovery and renewal are hugely valuable parts of their overall success and toward the success of others.

In Joseph Jaworski’s best-selling book, Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership[3], he uses a full chapter to share about the traps he encountered that were hindering his founding the American Leadership Forum (ALF). The biggest trap he discusses is what he calls the Trap of Overactivity. Overactivity can be one of the most painful traps, as it can result in deep incoherence not only within oneself but with others and your organization. We feel this all the time—that sense of overwhelm when you realize that maybe you’re in too deep—that you are in the midst of something so much bigger than you. Joseph likened this to his dream to build ALF. But it can be anything! Building your business; feeling fulfilled in your role and function, as you lead or work within your organization; spending time with spouses, partners, family and loved ones; parenting your children; making a difference in your local community—and in the world.

This trap—and perhaps all of the traps Joseph speaks of—gain their energy from our fear of not having enough. Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough success. Not enough…fill in the blank. It is from this vulnerable position that we start to believe there is no alternative, and so we stay stuck in over-working and over-worrying, unconsciously imagining that we are doing this for ourselves and our families when in reality, we are causing everyone more stress, including those around us at the office, and which—as we know—can lead to burnout.

A Gallup study[4] conducted in 2018 with 7,500 full-time employees found that 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes with 23% feeling burned out at work very often or always. What this means is that about two-thirds of full-time workers experience physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress on the job.

Chronic exhaustion, headaches, dissatisfaction, anger, and uncertainty about how to advance disinterest, sarcasm, pessimism, resentment. These are all classic emotional and physical symptoms of work-related, chronic stress we define as burnout. And that’s just the beginning. This “occupational phenomenon”[5] usually sneaks up on us subtly over time, impacting workers almost without notice. And there are many things that can lead to burnout, including:

● Feeling as if you have little control over decisions that directly impact your schedule and workload.

● Uncertainty about your role and function and expectations placed on you by your boss.

● Micromanagement by managers.

● A non-engaging work culture where morale is low, and results take precedence over people.

● Lack of balance in the energy you put into your work and life.

In 2019, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health released information from a meta-analysis of evidence from 1998 to 2018 on the effects of long working hours and overtime on occupational health[6]. The results were stunning, predominantly showing that long working hours—comprising main tasks of job-related activities, commuting, and travel, “is detrimental to the health of workers relative to risks of cardiovascular disease; depressive state; anxiety; sleep quality; all-cause mortality; and self-perceived health, mental health status, and hypertension.’

For many decades, burnout has been wrongly accused of being some made-up industrialized capitalist phenomenon. Yet what we have learned is that it is very real—so much so that The World Health Organization (WHO) recently included it in its International Classification of Diseases. Continuous overactivity—nonstop busy-ness—not only creates incoherence within yourself, others, and your organization; it can lead to poor health and even death. So, it would make sense then to instead focus on what you love to do, because if you do what you love, it’s not work. And if it’s not work, how could you possibly burn out?

Turns out, that’s not the case. Too much of anything is not a healthy thing, as evidenced in an article by Jennifer Moss in the Harvard Business Review that passion can lead to burnout. “When we equate work we love with ‘not really working,’ it propagates a belief that if we love it so much, we should do more of it—all of the time…But this mentality leads to burnout, and the impact on our mental health can be profound.” Purpose-driven, values-based organizations; “mission-driven executives; non-profit employees; teachers/principals; nurses; and physicians are some of the people most at-risk for burnout.” What leaders need to do to prevent burnout in their own organizations is to teach people that setting healthy boundaries is okay. “It’s not selfish. It’s actually selfless. It allows you to be more effective at what you do and to better help those you wish to help.”[7]

All of this to say that busy-ness is a choice; although most of us might not see it that way, which is certainly understandable, given we wear it like some badge of honor, marking it as a validation of our merit. We live in a global culture that regards professional success as one of our most important values. Think about it. What three little words do we often say to decline an invitation or apologize for not responding to an email in a timely manner? I’m too busy.

In a world that rewards us for exhaustion and overtime, busy-ness is nothing more than a construct our society has created. The notion that we have to complete a certain task within a certain timeline simply reinforces our present-day beliefs. And while this may be challenging to consider, given the 24/7 always-on environment we have created for ourselves, just like everything else, busy-ness is a choice. We always have a choice; we might not always like what we have to choose between, but we always have a choice. And the question to consider in choosing the “kind of busy” we want to be is from where? In this, we can discern when busy-ness is healthy and when busy-ness is potentially harmful.

I liken harmful busy-ness to that of being stuck on the all too familiar hamster wheel—being busy all the time, never really achieving anything important or following through to the end of a task. We get caught up in our “to-do” lists because there is always something more to do; in this connection, every day begins to blend with the next. This kind of busy-ness is incredibly draining. You’re in a constant state of anxiety with no established boundaries, never having enough time to tend to those “big rocks” (mission-critical objectives). The from where state for this kind of busy-ness comes from frenetic energy.

Healthy busy-ness on the other hand is when you are more deeply connected with your purpose, mission, and values. The tasks and activities you choose to do feel fulfilling in a way where you don’t feel like you have a list of “have-to’s”; you have a list of “get to’s”. And when we “get to”, we “want to.” In this, you realize what is a priority over what is important in a way that is balanced with daily “emergencies” and distractions, continuously discerning whether your next thought or action will move you toward your goals or take you further away from them. The from where state for this kind of busy-ness comes from source-inspired energy.

It is our energy that can be managed; not time. You can manage events and occurrences relative to time, but you cannot manage time; the idea that we can is a myth. We all get 168 hours in a week, making time a valuable and limited resource. In effect, you have no control over time. But you do have control over your energy and your focus by regularly renewing your four core energy needs: intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual, setting sensible boundaries for rest and rejuvenation.

So how do we create thriving cultures that encourage healthier busy-ness over the kind that is potentially harmful?

First, by acknowledging that while the formal work we associate with our role as leaders typically falls into Doing, much of our impact is in our Being, which tends to get much less attention. And second, by understanding that Being and Doing are always in relationship with one another—interdependent upon one another—a polarity to manage, not a problem to solve. In short, Being and Doing are not an either/or—even though they feel like opposites—they are a both/ and—often pulling at each other as a way to keep things balanced. We often don’t feel that sense of balance—instead we might feel stuck or confused, a signal that a polarity is in play. Identifying the polarity can help us get unstock, not because it solves a problem but because it helps us to reframe. In reframing, we create different ways of seeing things, allowing new understandings to emerge.

Being and Doing is a polarity. Neither pole is “good” or “bad.” Both are needed to understand the other. Rebalancing is key. When you feel too much of the hamster-wheel kind of busy-ness, this is an indication that you are leaning too heavily toward too much work and need to move more toward Being. By the same token, when you feel too much leisure in your life—the work is not getting done—that is an indication that you need to move more toward Doing. Like a seesaw, continual rebalancing is our most natural tendency and usually the best option. The example Barry Johnson[8] uses is breathing. Oxygen in, CO2 out; without this natural and continuous rebalancing, we would not exist. Polarity management therefore involves noticing when you’re getting into the shadow side of the polarization and then choosing to move toward the upside of the opposite pole.

Perhaps the ultimate polarity that we all have as human beings is the polarity of light and shadow. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung was the first to coin the term “shadow” as a way to describe those aspects of ourselves that we don’t like, or think are unacceptable by society—so we push them down deep inside of us to a point where they become hidden. “There is no shadow without light and no wholeness without imperfection.” If we want to unleash our full potential, we need to embrace our shadow.

As shared previously, too much of anything is probably not a good idea. And this includes people. People can be too much of something. As an example, if you are too empathetic, you might spend too much time worrying. As another example, if you tend to talk too much, you might not spend enough time listening. A third example is having too much confidence, where there is a chance you could be perceived as arrogant.

All character strengths come with both a light and a shadow side which in turn comes with the possibility of being misunderstood. A shadow side of a character strength is created when a particular strength is overused, exercising that strength in the wrong context or in a manipulative way and/or in a way that is not attuned to others. While our shadow often feels unpleasant, once realized, it becomes our source of renewal—an opportunity to discover our true “hidden potential.” It is this very tension between the light and the shadow that can create new understandings.

I like to think of it this way: tension is the point of creation. Consider how a baby is born or how a new star comes to be. And how a seed, planted in the soil must sprout and then push its way up through the soil to become the mighty oak. Tension is required for growth. it’s how you hold that tension and what you do with it that matters. Actively listening is the key.

We hear a lot about active listening as a critical skill in business along with its many benefits like building trust, forging healthier relationships, and increasing productivity. In my experience, the act of listening is a solid skill to cultivate. And…if you really want to take your life—and your organization to a whole new level, consider Empathetic Listening as your new superpower.

“Everybody’s talking at me. I don’t hear a word they’re sayin’. Only the echoes of my mind…[9] Some of you have heard this song, and most of us are familiar with at least one of these quotes:

● “We don’t learn from talking; we learn from listening.”

● “The word LISTEN contains the same letters as the word SILENT”

● “We have two ears and one mouth.”

And let’s not forget Stephen R. Covey’s most famous mention: “Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

All of these — an indication to talk less and listen more. Most of us know how foundational listening is to our human interactions; yet we keep on talking.

Why do we find it so difficult to listen and what can we do about it?

Given our innate desire to be acknowledged—to be heard—is at the root of why we listen less than we talk. Add to that certain mindsets we hold about the need to be right, know the answer or have the solution—especially in business—and we have the perfect storm.

Our obstacle to listening is our preconceived notions and attachments we have to them. With these beliefs come hard, fast assumptions and expectations that build up our individual sense of projecting a need to get our ideas out there—through words; and if we don’t, somehow, we’ll get lost or not be noticed. This is where something as simple as a small notepad can be incredibly freeing.

Over the course of more than 20 years, I’ve been in more meetings than I care to count where I observe nearly 100% of the time people “talking over”—verbally interrupting others or speaking over them in a loud tone. When a facilitator is present, he or she can point out these sorts of interruptions. But when you’re on your own, these interruptions often go unnoticed or unchallenged, leaving those who participated feeling tuned in or tuned out.

So how can you develop this superpower of Empathetic Listening? Before we go there, we must understand the difference between that and active listening.

Empathetic Listening is the highest form of listening; it goes beyond active listening. The reason is because Empathetic Listening involves more than simply listening with your ears; it involves listening from the eyes and the heart in addition to what you actively hear. In short—and in my view—Empathetic Listening is listening for meaning. And fully understanding from a place of meaning is one of the highest forms of connection we can make with another human being.

As often as you’ve read about the benefits of listening, you’ve probably also learned that empathy is not only one of the most important business skills, it is also the most overlooked. As Peter Bregman points out in his story for Harvard Business Review, “it can turn a confrontational conversation into a collaborative one—allowing all parties to arrive at a shared truth.” This fosters connection. This fosters engagement. And with only 15% of employees engaged in their work worldwide, if you are a business owner, manager, or CEO, you may want to pay some attention. Couple that with “63.3% of companies stating that retaining employees is actually harder than hiring them” [Gallup], and we have once again created the perfect storm.

So, keeping your employees happy with salary, benefits and the work environment you create should do the trick, right? Not necessarily. I much prefer the definition of “engagement” as set forth by Quantum Workplace: “the strength of mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their places of work”. And here is where the rubber meets the road. Empathetic Listening is about fully and deeply understanding another intellectually and emotionally—sensitive to all the nuances and not merely to what is happening in your own mind.

In his book, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey states that in empathetic listening, “you listen with your ears, but you also, and more importantly, listen with your eyes and with your heart. You listen for feeling, for meaning. You listen for behavior…you sense, you intuit, you feel.” To do this, you first need to participate in the process of listening—you need to be actively listening. Once you have developed that skill, you can move on to Empathetic Listening where through your ears, eyes, and heart, you truly seek to understand the meaning that the other is trying to convey; getting inside that person’s frame of reference; seeing and feeling the world through his or her paradigm neutrally, with as little judgement as possible, in a way that does not project your experiences on to the other.

How do you cultivate Empathetic Listening? First through actively listening, expanding to more active self-awareness around sound and body language. Less than 10% of our communication is represented by the words we say. Another 30% is represented by sound—and 60%—the largest percent of communication is represented by our body language. This is why Empathetic Listening is so powerful. Instead of projecting your own autobiography, assumptions, feelings, motives, and interpretations, you honor the reality inside another person’s head, heart and gut. Through this, you are listening to more fully understand, being in deeper communion with one another. You listen with an intention to learn. You listen until the other feels seen. You listen until the other feels understood. You listen for shared meaning.


For over 20 years, my work has centered around the thoughts and teachings Dr. David Bohm shared and wrote about in his book On Dialogue.

David Bohm was born in 1917 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, 18 miles southwest of Scranton. His Hungarian Jewish immigrant father, a furniture store owner, was Bohm’s primary caregiver; so, as Bohm grew up, he learned the family business; and when it was time for college, Bohm attended Pennsylvania State College (now Pennsylvania State University), eventually over time, landing at the University of California, Berkeley where he obtained his doctorate in theoretical physics. While Dr. Bohm is best known as a theoretical physicist, he had keen interest in subjects “considered outside the purview of traditional science” like the nature of thought and consciousness. Considered by Albert Einstein to be his “spiritual son”, Bohm is acknowledged today as “one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century,” contributing “unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, neuropsychology and the philosophy of the mind.”

For those of you who may not be familiar with On Dialogue, let me share with you some of the cliff notes, starting with what Dr. Bohm meant by Dialogue, in his own words:

Dialogue is a “stream of meaning flowing among and through us and between us. This will make possible a flow of meaning in the whole group, out of which will emerge some new understanding. It’s something new, which may not have been in the starting point at all. It’s something creative. And this shared meaning is the ‘glue’ or ‘cement’ that holds people and societies together.” In short, Bohm considered Dialogue as a free flow of meaning between people in communication where an attempt is made to reach a common understanding.

And how do we attempt this? Through listening. In playing an active role in listening, we slow down the process of thought.

When I first read what has now become Bohm’s infamous little book, I was struck by how he talked about creating an empty space with no agenda or program. This of course is something that feels quite foreign to most organizations because it comes with the mindset that simply talking doesn’t get us anywhere, and if we are not committed to accomplishing anything, then we cannot be successful or competitive in the marketplace.

Yet Bohm offers a different perspective—a perspective that involves creating an opportunity where we listen to all of the opinions in the room. “And if nothing seems to get done…the process of Dialogue is still going to affect us at a much deeper level…simply by listening to all the opinions.” Doing so with the intention to fully understand another’s view “will bring us together” for it is the “defense of opinions” that separates people.

As shared above, one thing I have observed about listening is that most of us don’t really listen to one another. From Steven Covey’s perspective, we listen with the intent to reply. From David Bohm’s point of view, we listen to win. Dialogue creates a space where there are no winners or losers—allowing people with diverse perspectives to discuss topics that are important to them where all parties feel safe and respected no matter how great their differences or point of view. It is possible for people who strongly disagree with one another’s views to still have an opportunity to learn from one another without feeling forced to either protect or change their opinions. In short, Dialogue creates a space of psychological safety—where you can break down self-imposed barriers to be able to authentically show up and employ yourself without fear of negative consequences to self-image, position, or career. This psychological safety is essential, and from Google’s perspective, “the critical differentiator between consistently successful teams and others.” Bohm’s view was that if people listen to one another in a way that encourages all opinions to be heard, and “would do that in government or in business or internationally, our society would all work differently”; and my assumption is that he meant for the better.

“But then, that requires sensitivity—a certain way of knowing how to come in and how not to not come in, noticing subtle cues…and your response to them…what’s happening inside of you, what’s happening in the group” being sensitive to the meaning (or lack of it).

In On Dialogue, David Bohm talks a lot about meaning. Why? Because meaning holds everything together; it is the “cement”, the bond.

From the works of Viktor Frankl, “to find meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man. This meaning is unique and specific and can only be fulfilled by him alone. What matters is not the meaning of life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.” It is indeed this very search that defines our humanity—so much so that when this deep need for meaning goes unmet, our lives come to feel empty and unfulfilling. So, it’s no surprise, perhaps, given that Bohm was a quantum physicist that Dialogue is based on the five essential questions of existence:

  • Who am I?

  • Where do I come from?

  • Why am I here?

  • What can I do?

  • What should I do?

When we can’t discover the answers to these fundamental questions, we find ourselves in a “crisis of meaning.” Meaning has to be part of life because we need to make sense of our existence. We need to understand our Beingness.

And David Bohm felt strongly that there is one thing blocking our sensitivity to meaning: defending assumptions and opinions.

On Dialogue teaches us that meaning is flowing. In other words, it is not a static process. This is why David Bohm refers to it as “cement” or “glue.” In sharing meaning with one another, it flows among us and “holds the group together. Everybody becomes sensitive to all the nuances going around and not merely to what is happening in his own mind” with his or her own thoughts. “From this forms a meaning which is shared. And that way, we can talk together coherently and think together.” Imagine what that could do for your team or business over and above a culture of psychological safety.

With all of Bohm’s works, I find I need to read and re-read some of the passages. His writing is not for the faint of heart. But if there is just one thing that is abundantly clear from On Dialogue, it is that the biggest thing that gets in the way of Dialogue is holding on to our assumptions, judgements and opinions and defending them. It is when we become attached to these ideas that we become personally identified with them. This is true for the collective as well. Similar to group think, identifying collectively with a certain mindset or opinion not only sabotages collaboration, it also creates an environment where people cannot authentically listen and lead.

And so now we have come full circle. When you are attached to a certain assumption or hold a fixed mindset and defend it, “the main difficulty is that we cannot listen properly to somebody else’s opinion because we are resisting it.” We don’t really want to hear it; and so, we shut down, creating barriers between us.

When we defend, however—and it happens to all of us—Dialogue is not suggesting that you judge yourself for defending your opinion; it’s rather about noticing when you are defending. Because we will defend. We will judge. We will have our biases—it’s the brain’s way of protecting us. The practice is to be “sensitive to that that condemns and judges, and so forth…looking at all the opinions and assumptions and let them surface…because assumptions are powerful; and we are not usually aware of them.” By suspending our assumptions—hanging them out in front so you and others can see and experience them—we can more fully understand one another and from that understanding, derive meaning.

Dialogue lays a path for authentic leadership and collaboration. Here are some of the steppingstones Bohm addresses:

  • Listening is more important than speaking. Listen to fully understand.

  • When we actively participate in listening, we slow down the process of thought.

  • In slowing down the process of thought, we enhance our ability to observe and sense what is happening inside of us and within the collective.

  • Observing and sensing makes us more sensitive to the shared meaning that is emerging.

  • In being more sensitive, we more consistently notice our opinions, assumptions, and judgements—not to let them go—but to instead suspend them for all to see. This requires vulnerability. Vulnerability demands psychological safety.

  • In suspending, we more fully see and value one another and from that deeper understanding, co-create the glue that binds us.

I’ve been studying Bohm’s works for more than two decades and have read On Dialogue more times than I can count. Each time I pick up the book, I resonate at deeper levels and learn something new, as I continue my journey to seek for deeper meaning in my business, relationships, and life.

The most significant thing I can share about my experience with Bohm’s work is that Dialogue has become so much more than an approach to communication and breaking down barriers through which we give rise to meaning and connection. What Dialogue has become for me is a way of being, based on quantum physics, underpinned by a set of principles—an opportunity to explore the deeper layers of what is meaningful and valuable through deeper listening, more open communication and relationship.

And while there is no one answer to the world’s problems, “the important point is not the answer. Just as in Dialogue, the important point is also not the particular opinions—but rather the softening up, the opening up, of the mind, looking at all thoughts, views and ideas.”

If there is some sort of spread of that attitude, it will most certainly serve us well.

But what does it truly take to soften the heart and open the mind, making the shifts from Me to We to Us? What shifts need to be made in your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)?

Employee attraction, engagement, satisfaction and retention has not been strong for decades. Less than 30% of leaders report they have the talent they need. Companies can fill just 47% of their leadership roles with 11% of Human Resource professionals reporting they have the necessary talent pool required[10]. Across the globe, just 20% of employees feel engaged at work[11] and 65% of candidates report they have deliberately withdrawn from a hiring process because of an unappealing EVP.

In considering these and other statistics, it becomes abundantly clear that organizations need to adopt and commit to a more human-centric approach to business, creating opportunities that are centered around the whole person—the human being—not simply seeing people as workers. This “new human deal" comprises five components: deeper connections; radical flexibility; personal growth; holistic well-being; and shared purpose”, especially post-pandemic.[12]

Many organizations are already focusing on these five elements—especially purpose-driven, values-based organizations. However, the “new human deal” takes us beyond the internal confines of the enterprise to a place where deeper connections include strengthening family and communal relationships—not just work relationships. A feeling of autonomy on all aspects of work—not just where you work and for how long. Helping employees to grow as people—personally developing alongside their professional development. Reinforcing that people feel they are cared for by ensuring they use the well-being benefits you offer over simply making them available. Championing action on societal and cultural issues in ways where people feel invested because they are meaningfully contributing to something much larger than themselves.

In 2018, the University of California, Berkeley shared an article about how Americans can be neighbors again, building from the emotional and social skills taught by none other than Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, a children’s television show, which aired in the US for over 30 years.[13] The article suggests that what Mister Rogers taught children over 30 years ago still applies today—perhaps even more so. Imagine if we could teach our children and run our organizations in ways where people knew that they could feel whatever they feel—not as an excuse for bad behavior—but that it’s okay to name, feel and explore our feelings—even when they seem chaotic and complex. That “anything human is mentionable, and anything mentionable is manageable.”

What if we could truly and fully accept diversity simply because we know everyone else is just as complex as me and in that honor our responsibility to care for others more vulnerable than ourselves?

Imagine an organization operating from a foundation of acceptance, consciously working to make a difference right from where they are, every single day because “there are many ways to say, ‘I love you’ and through that, deepen the realization and the importance to make time to care for ourselves.

Many might say that Mister Rogers was overly optimistic. He called us neighbors—not friends…boys and girls…ladies and gentlemen. He called us neighbors, “gently pulling us out of our structures of power and our silos of sameness into lives of mercy and care for one another” because we are human.

So much irony. And one of the reasons why my purpose has been to bring humanness back into business. I believe in human potential. And we are human—even though it feels like we need to learn how be who we are, which feels counterintuitive.

There are ways to be a better human being; and it begins with the inner journey—the inner path of leadership, as Joseph Jaworski suggests in the title of his book, which has a direct impact on the internal state of your organization. As my former business partner, Bill O’Brien, CEO of Hanover Insurance—the first organization to become a learning organization—so profoundly stated: “the success of any intervention is dependent upon the interior condition of the intervenor.” In short, the inner game affects the outer game. Your Beingness affects your Doingness. And that’s the beingness of business!

“The best design emerges not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” [14](Antoine de Saint-Exupery).

Beingness requires space to be and grow into the fullness of yourself. It begins with you along with a commitment to create opportunities for yourself to—quite simply—just BE. In an automated, frenetic world that seemingly moves at the speed of light, we are constantly lured to add to our “to-do” lists, programs, messages, and meeting agendas. Yet adding more does not create space for beingness. Beingness invites us into a true opportunity to go slow to go fast, where less is more, and silence is one of our greatest gifts.

It may feel challenging to create time for yourself within a world that is always on. One way to begin is to start small, committing to “mini moments” to be dedicated to your beingness. Even 5 minutes of quietude is better than none.

Below are some practices that might be helpful; and let’s first begin with a few principles:

  1. Explore Beneath the Surface: Look at the foundation that underpins all of your “Doing” and consider this first. An unstable, cracked foundation leads to unstable decisions and results. Consider hidden mindsets and assumptions. Create conditions in your relationships and organizations where it is safe to explore what it is like to be in a space without repercussion. Can employees be themselves or do they need to play out a version of themselves?

  2. Stop Quantifying: People are a means unto themselves, not a means to an end Stop measuring how much people are doing based on scores and points and better/worse mindsets. It is innate within human beings to learn. How are you continually learning—personally and within your organization? How does it feel? Could learning be enough?

  3. Wholeness is Real: David Bohm insisted that “wholeness is what is real. Fragmentation is the response to [wo]man’s action, guided by illusory perception, shaped by fragmentary thought.” What kind of “labels” do you use within your organization? Notice words like “divisions”, “units” and “centers”. Discover ways to break down the silos we all too frequently (and unconsciously) create simply by how we label them. How can we dissolve the separation we feel in organizations through conscious “labeling” and cross pollination?

  4. Embrace Inquiry. What open questions can you ask to unlock and release curiosity and introspection? How are you inviting curiosity—the awe of wonder that underpins our search for meaning?

  5. Say YES to the Mess: In business, we are expected to know the answer. Often times, we are paid for how we approach problem solving. But human beings are messy. And complex. How are you creating conditions where the “mess” and the discomfort that often accompanies it is acceptable? Are you allowing for the expanse of not-knowing?


[1] The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren. ©November 2012. Zondervan; 10th Anniversary edition (December 31, 2013) [2] Wiktionary doingness - Wiktionary [3] Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership. Expanded Second Edition by Joseph Jaworski. ©2011. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. [4] Employee Burnout, Part 1: The 5 Main Causes ( [5] Burn-out is included in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) [6] The Effect of Long Working Hours and Overtime on Occupational Health: A Meta-Analysis of Evidence from 1998 to 2018 ( [7] When Passion Leads to Burnout by Jennifer Moss. ©2019. Harvard Business Review [8] Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems by Barry Johnson. ©2014. H R D Press [9] Everybody’s Talkin’ by Harry Nilsson ©1969 [10] What to Become 36 Leadership Statistics - What To Become [11] Gallup Workplace U.S. Employee Engagement Holds Steady in First Half of 2021 ( [12] Employee Value Proposition (EVP) Postpandemic Should Focus on the Why ( [13] Seven Lessons from Mister Rogers That Can Help… ( [14] Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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