More economic growth or growing better together?

By Olivier Onghena-‘t Hooft
Noble purpose entrepreneur & author of ‘The Book of Noble Purpose’

In my recently published book, ‘The Book of Noble Purpose’, I describe in the last chapter (A World of Noble Purpose) how we as human species will suffer big time from our own short term thinking and unconsciousness, from irresponsible political leaders who are more concerned about their next reelection than the next generations, from the unacceptable inequalities between the uber-rich-have-alls and total-poor-have-nots, from the disconnection from ourselves, what is truly essential for us and what will help us increase our joy in Life. Therefore we have to get our act together.

The last couple of weeks I have been silent, observing, analyzing and trying to understand what is happening with us, the economy and the world. I have tried to understand what this whole crisis means, what kind of political leadership has shown up, what sort of position the business world has taken, what kind of future lays ahead of us. I came to five conclusions.

1. The real economy at the service of Humankind

What kind of short term geared economic system have we created!? An economic system that appears to be so fragile that within only a couple of weeks it collapses, pulling the global economy to a dramatic need of trillions of euros to eventually be up and running again, although with the most unclear unpredictability. The global financial economy (making money and pumping billions per day in the system), called upon to save ‘the economy’, needs to be driven by the real economy. Not any kind of real economy, that only a small number of people understands and controls, but an economy geared towards producing locally, respecting the human race, limiting the usage of our natural resources, rapidly transforming into a circular economy. It’s not ‘the economy’ that must be saved, but our clairvoyance to build the ‘right’ economic system that operates with sustainability and long term focus.

2. Better growth instead of more growth

The dictate of more-faster-bigger is redundant and so over! It’s not sustainable and it’s totally destructive in the not so long term on so many levels. Enterprises that have as main focus to produce more and faster, whatever the – short, mid-long or long term – collateral damage, should be imposed by the local, regional, national and/or international governing bodies to transform their way of doing. Each enterprise, very small to very large, local to global, should be obliged to transform their economic activity into a sustainable, community serving, responsible enterprise. Those enterprises who are, due to the covid-19 crisis, in dramatic need of any form of finanial support, government aid or subsidies, should as a condition for support by the governments, be required to transform their way of being and doing, in order to decrease usage of natural ressources, production of waste, creating collateral damage, be obliged to shift to a maximum of local production, and truly be at the service of Humankind, society and economic needs, instead of only or mainly serving the shareholders. This requires conscious, courageous and responsible governments.

3. From political leadershiT to political humanity

This conscious, courageous and responsible political leadership will only be possible if political leaders and leaders from the public sector start to act with a high degree of self- awareness and self-respect, develop empathy for the ‘greater good’ and a deep affinity with humanity and what I call ‘the universal laws of harmony’. Each political and public leader has his/her own past, a rucksack of experiences that might have been difficult or even destructive. As long as they don’t do developmental work to clear their fears, their limiting

beliefs, their needs to be seen and recognized, their obsession with power, … they will linger in their ‘shit’ which will translate in poor leadership, sowing division, promoting fear, destroying hope, lacking empathy, … Whoever takes on a political or public role is obliged to serve the interests of Humankind and not his or her own or those of a small elite.

4. Human resilience to solve it all

Within days and weeks the human species, locked down and temporarily refrained from daily habits and needs, has totally reinvented itself. We have learned how to stay at home 24/7. We have learned to work at home, while taking care of our kids, animals and sick parents. We have learned to work with our colleagues, clients and business relations and do business without traveling. We have reinvented the workspaces, the logistical flows and the production cycle in our enterprises. We have learned to replace our nights out with nights in (and some of these are really surprisingly pleasant!). And most of all, we have learned to help each other like never before. If we are able to find solutions to this lock-down in such a fast and ingenious way, not that it has always been easy, not that it hasn’t created other dramas (increase in child abuse and couple violence, massive lay-offs, huge poverty, massive family disruptions, …), we are able to solve other major crises as well! I am thinking of the climate crisis, the poverty crisis, the undernourishment and over-consumption disequilibrium, the migration crisis, the political crisis (see point 3), the economic crisis (see point 1), …

5. From ‘homo economicus’ to ‘homo spiritualis’

Never before have I seen and heard so many people around the globe looking for purpose. People are trying to find meaning to what is happening to them. They are asking what their ‘new’ Life will be looking like. They are reinventing how they will come out of the lockdown when going back to ‘new normal’ (because Life will never be like it was BC, Before Corona). This is the time for us, the people who influence and impact people, to rethink our consumption and its collateral damage. It’s time to stop our short term thinking and acting and our ridiculous rat race. How can we go back to ‘new normal’ (AC, After Corona) without integrating all what we will have learned about how to reinvent ourselves in so little time and how to solve day-to-day and complex problems in so little time? Do we really want to leave this period of lockdown without keeping our focus on that what really matters and will give meaning to our Life and the Life of those we influence and impact? I hope and expect that we will live from now on a more conscious, responsible and balanced Life. A more ‘spiritualis’ – driven by purpose and growing together – and a less ‘economicus’- driven by growth for growth and financial results – Life.

Olivier Onghena-‘t Hooft

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