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The de-humanisation of our Species and the solutions that exist2

Our world has evolved into a state of VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous). It is a world that requires courageous leadership for the Fourth Industrial Revolution – leadership that puts people at the center. Leaders no longer have the luxury of preparing for this industrial Revolution – the disruption is already being experienced across all organisations as Covid-19 and technological advances drive unprecedented change.

I also believe, no more than that, I truly hope with all my heart, that the recent pandemic, will change things for the better. We need to find a better way to do things. Within only a few short weeks, our planet has already shown signs of recovery – cleaner water and air, people are being forced to interact with family members in longer more meaningful ways, less traffic, less death on this beautiful planet we call home.

As people are the most important competitive strength, new ways of developing talent to enable organisations and individuals to thrive is critical. When we consider that organisations have increased spend on intelligent technologies by 60% in 2016/17 and only 3% on training people something is wrong with the way in which we are doing things.

Previous highly successful business models are burning, ignited by disruptive technologies, demographic change, a pandemic, globalisation and other disruptions.

The question we have to ask is “How do we make meaning of this new world? How do we craft our futures, how do we identify the new success factors to lead, direct and motivate with distinction? How do we get in touch with ourselves and others?”

The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman remarked during a presentation at the Aspen Institute Conference in December 2016, “that humans, not machines, are central to an organisation’s success: All the things that are important today are the things you cannot download. It’s all the things you have to upload the old-fashioned way: one human being to another. To thrive in our rapidly changing world, we cannot replace human capabilities and interactions with all things digital.”

In a world where we are increasingly becoming high-tech, we are certainly not keeping “high-touch”, this is reiterated in Alan Cohen’s book “The Grace Factor” in which he says:
• “Our culture is technologically overfed but spiritually malnourished.
• Scientific knowledge has advanced faster than the wisdom to use it.
• We have rocketed to the moon but not risen above nationalism and prejudice.
• We have plumbed the depths of the ocean but hide in the shallows of our hearts.
• We’ve photographed every inch of the earth but the picture of why we are here, remains undeveloped.
• We can move masses of people at astonishing speeds, but can’t figure out why so many are depressed and dispirited”

As a coach working with people involved in this industrial revolution, I cannot agree more. Human values should be weighted and respected in the same way as we rate an organisations financial success.

Gianpiero Petriglieri, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD, shares how this comes to life in his definition of leadership: “Having the courage, commitment, ability and the trust to articulate, embody and help realise the story of possibility – for a group of people at a point in time” is courageous leadership.

Courageous leaders need to be curious and committed to lifelong learning – willing to integrate learning solutions that collaborate with educational institutions and businesses to create experiential learning. It is well known that 70% of training content in the United States is forgotten in 24 hours. Recent advances in neuroscience offer insight into how adults learn best. Experiential learning, tops the list.

What is required is a shift to self-directed learning – Many skill development initiatives and training/coaching programmes still follow a one-size-fits-all approach that addresses one skill gap with one specific learning intervention. Training/coaching programmes must be upgraded to enable self-directed education while providing new insights into how people learn. This personalised process will enable the achievement of behavioural change. As someone who has been involved in coaching the willing and at times “unwilling” participant- known as hostages in the coaching world- we have to work very hard to help the coachee understand, that the coaching will enable their personal development. Thus, moving from a “push” to a “pull” approach provides easy, needs-based access to relevant content. This empowers people to individualise efforts based on the unique blend of skills needed at any given moment, in a way that maximises the learning to enable behavioural change and skills transfer.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution presents an unparalleled opportunity to increase efficiency that can yield amazing advances. However, at the center on this change we should never forget about the most important resource – humans! Unlocking potential will depend on the way in which we recognise human talents and put that talent at the center.

In this world of advancing technology, we are alarmingly becoming detached from one another. Known by psychologists as social corrosion, new research is showing that every hour spent on the internet translates into a decrease of face to face contact by 24 minutes. Experts predict that the average daily time spent on meaningful conversation between parent and child is 30 sec. and between spouses 2 minutes. Fortunately, the current pandemic is forcing us to interact – I can’t imagine what lessons we are learning from this.

At home in South Africa, we have a painful past. The awful repression of apartheid traumatised and dehumanised much of our society for more than 50 years. For many families, the fear of being arrested, of losing loved ones or having family members incarcerated resulted in a sub human society where abuse, addictions, broken or distant relations created traumatic childhood events whose patterns of learned behaviour were passed on to the next generation.

How do we deal with this pain? How do we create mindful people who are filled with hope and compassion? There is only one path and that path starts inside.
In almost 30 years of coaching – we have been using the Bar-on EQi (one of the world’s most scientific emotional intelligence assessment tools) and we have noted, that the number one area of dysfunctionality that includes private and professional clients is the lack of self-regard. The deeper we explore the needs of our clients, the more we have come to realise that adverse childhood experiences are the main cause of this dysfunctionality.

Augmenting our experience was our discovery of empirical research conducted by Kaizer Permanente – A study on youth trauma, known as Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACES, that was a landmark publication when it was published in 1998 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente. The study specified 10 categories of stressful or traumatic childhood events, including abuse, parental incarceration, and divorce or parental separation; its research showed that sustained stress caused biochemical changes in the brain and body and drastically increased the risk of developing mental illness and health problems.

More recently in Prof Bessel van der Kolk’s book “The Body Keeps the Score Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma” he states that research by the Centers for Disease control and Prevention has shown that one in five Americans was sexually molested as a child. One in four was beaten by a parent to the point of a mark being left on their body and one in three couples engages in physical violence. A quarter of Americans have grown up with alcoholic relatives. We now know that war is not the only calamity that leaves human lives in ruins. The majority of Americans experience a violent crime at some time during their lives and that twelve million women have been victims of rape. For many people the war begins at home. Each year about three million children in the US are reported as victims of child abuse and neglect. It is very difficult for growing children to recover when the source of terror and pain is not enemy combatants but their own caretakers.”

So where are we as South Africans? I fear our statistics will be far worse because of the horrors of apartheid. And our work as coaches has certainly demonstrated that in the last 30 years.
At the IE Group, in conducting scientific assessments such as the Bar-on EQi, Developed by Prof Reuven Bar-on The Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i) the first scientifically validated and most widely used Emotional Intelligence assessment in the world. Based on more than 20 years of research worldwide, the EQ-i examines an individual’s social and emotional strengths and weaknesses.
Respondents self-report on their life and workplace performance in fifteen key areas of emotional skill that have been proven to contribute to proficiency in complex business activities such as conflict resolution and planning.

By identifying the areas that need improvement, the client can immediately begin developing those areas. At the same time, areas where the client excels can be leveraged to their full potential to maximise effectiveness in daily tasks.
I do not want to sow despair or fear. Indeed, my aim is the opposite – there is a solution, a pathway through this pain. As they say in the Course in Miracles; “If you knew who walks beside you on the way that you have chosen, fear would be impossible.”
Another powerful solution
In his book The Body Keeps the Score Bessel Van der Kolk – mentioned above, discusses the effectiveness of using EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Re-processing) In fact EMDR has become one of the most effective treatments for PTSD in the world. More than 30 positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR therapy. Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions. Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions. In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions. There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is now recognised as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organisations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organisation and the Department of Defense. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR therapy would be effective in treating the “everyday” memories that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and all the myriad problems that bring them in for therapy. Over 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy. Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years.

At My Pocket Coach, we have two certified EMDR Practitioners to assist our clients.

What is EMDR?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.
When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.

by Gail Cameron: An Extract from Fear to Freedom