Heads of companies, political leaders, scientists, educators, parents and the average citizen are getting increasingly concerned about the state of the world. Globally, people are feeling and expressing the need to collectively rethink our responsibilities and to find successful ways and means to tackle the growing economic and societal problems we are facing.
The effects of climate change have parts of the world suffering from devastating droughts, while other parts are threatened by rising sea levels. Severe food shortages in one area are contrasted with rising child obesity in other places. Profit maximization and youth unemployment provide fertile grounds for societal unrest.
If we continue to focus on achieving only short-term results and over-using our supplies, we will cause severe damage to our planet and its people resulting in scarcity and imbalance for today's and even more so for tomorrow's generations.
From 2008-2013 I was Chief Human Resources Officer of the World Economic Forum. I was privileged to participate in the Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos. Over the years I witnessed the rising concern amongst the world's leaders about the state of our world and a growing level of frustration about how to improve the situation. I had always shared those views. But what finally changed my life was my role as the Lead of the Forum's Global Agenda Council on "New Models of Leadership." For two years our council had been discussing the "new leader" on the basis of individual leadership competencies and behaviors. Increasingly I got convinced that such an approach would be insufficient and would not lead to adequate solutions. During one of our council's meetings I had an epiphany leading me to the question:
"Could it be that our present model of leadership actually causes the world-wide, large-scale socio-economic problems by focusing on maximizing (financial) success of the individual? Was it at all possible to make our individualistic society rethink its responsibility and create a type of leadership that understood that long term sustainability cannot be realized as long as individuals are trying to maximize their own benefit in isolation?"
Today's exclusive focus on individual success and personal benefit seem to be the main reason for the dilemma we are in. A greater awareness of the fundamental interconnection of individuals and society appears imperative.
New Sciences have changed our world view for good -- and this is bound to change our view on ourselves. Based on the work of quantum physicists like David Bohm and Werner Heisenberg the term "Interconnectedness" today holds a key role in the field of New Sciences. As we learn that the human being is part of this "universal field of information" and connected through our consciousness we realize that our thoughts and actions have an impact on the whole. This provides humans with a new dignity, identity and responsibility.
But this new reality is not limited to quantum philosophy alone. Other scientific areas are now articulating the same message. With the discovery of "Mirror Neurons" the filed of neuroscience helps us understand the human brain as a "social organ" that connects us with the world. Similarly, research in the field of epigenetics highlights that our social behavior impacts not only our own genome but that of our children and grand children as well.
But what is truly astonishing is the observable convergence between the various scientific fields on the one hand and the world's ancient wisdom traditions on the other. While their chosen angles differ on many levels, they are nevertheless describing the same fundamental essence -- the reality of interconntedness between everybody and everything.
I left the World Economic Forum in the summer of 2013 in order to dedicate my working life to implementing new ideas of leadership, to promote new concepts of training, collaboration and respect, to democratize the access to many different social impact projects and to apply those scientific results that are of greatest importance to mankind.
Time has come for a new paradigm -- a paradigm that moves away from the exclusive focus on individualism and that takes us closer to the reality of "Interconnectedness."