Business is a combination of human energy and money and the art of a businessman is to manage that combination as effectively as possible. In our modern world, business is the most powerful force in society and it is that force that ought to be harnessed to effect social change.
As a futurist writer, Renesch has spent over forty years in business. His experience can be regarded as mine of gold for all of students and academics who are going to experience real business in their lives not just as entrepreneurs, but also as (foresight) professionals.
Renesch is going to reshape our mindsets for our own good, to achieve our fullest capacity as human beings. His work is focused on making a “world that works for everyone.” That world may be made by a process of constant improvement.
Renesch’s utopia can be “co-created” by means of a complete transformation in our thinking or what can be called a “paradigm shift”. Today, we need a massive shift in our past and current worldviews. We should replace them with new ones suitable for the coming world. We need to change the way we look at and experience the universe we live in. It is a matter of “change”.
Published by New Business Books in 132 pages, Getting to the Better Future considers the opportunities that lie within the global crises facing us these days. Then takes a look at the economic imperialism and choices we have to create a better future, and change paradigms. In the next step, the role of business is studied followed by an analysis of the responsibility that human beings can and should take for their next step of evolution. Renesch has described one project in which he was involved, offering it as a way for the reader to join the campaign of paradigm shift. Finally, the ultimate human destiny of human beings is explored.
Renesch begins his story with reminding an important fact that “opportunity” co-exists with “crisis” and “danger”. He remembers lessons of his life in this regard. For instance, he mentions an unpleasant work situation in which he was falsely accused of wrongdoings by a colleague. Regardless of conventional ethical debates about forgiveness, he remembers if that “negative” situation hadn’t occurred, he might never have jumped into writing and speaking about social and business transformation— a source of incredible joy for him. How could he hold any grudges for such a gift?!
We all see the reports and hear the news about environmental degradation, the disappearance of civility and community, the growing cynicism in the world and the countless other dismal trends facing us and our descendants. Have we ever noticed that there’s an opportunity for humanity to evolve to a new and exciting level of planetary consciousness, a new level of community, a new level of sustainability, and a new level of getting along. This is an opportunity for a transformation well beyond our imagination!
Renesch prepares our minds for a higher level of thinking. As a successful futurist businessman he is going to replace the old paradigm of “the business of business is business” with a new one: “the business of business is saving the world.” He doesn’t want to make hero and heroine out of each businessman, but he wants to create a sense of responsibility among those who care about the future of business, a kind of future that is tied to the fate of all humans, not just the business people. He is going to provoke the common spirit of humanity in all men and women.
In the first chapter of Getting to the Better Future, Renesch reminds us that Cowboy Economics has come to an end. He defines “cowboy entrepreneur” as a person who sets a goal, assesses the resources available, and then uses those assets to meet the goal. Renesch was personally a cowboy entrepreneur for twenty years, but finally he woke up after thinking seriously about the problems that our world is affected with. He says: “I began exploring my life, my purpose, and my destiny.” That was a turning point in his life at age 37. The same age I’m now in.
Renesch came to believe in the power of human consciousness and how our “reality” is the product of how we think. He learned how material reality is the product of immaterial beliefs, concepts, and ideas about how things are supposed to be. He came to realize how our mindsets—our thinking, our worldview, our core beliefs, whatever you want to call them—create our “reality.” In this way, he concentrated on human’s “consciousness”. He chose to focus on the business community and found a balance between his freedom and independence and serving the “good group” of business persons.
Renesch takes a look at his personal experience, when he was in real estate business. Their company could bring significant profit for the stakeholders and as the managing director of the company he showed an effective functioning in that position. Meanwhile, he was continuing to examine the purpose of his life and looking at why he was on the planet, and what all this meant in the higher course of things. Making lots of money for himself, his partners, and their investors began to see his spiritual thirst for a higher meaning than just making money. That was a dawn of spiritual awakening in his life making him think about the world’s problems and see the state of the world beyond his enterprise.
In Getting to the Better Future we find that humanity is simultaneously on the brink of two major shifts: On one hand, we are about to pass a point in our evolutionary calendar beyond which our future will be inalterably changed for the worse; on the other hand, we simultaneously possess the ability to transcend this trend and leap to a new level of consciousness. The latter is the opportunity that Renesch has focused on and is going to turn it into a reality. In his point of view, humanity is like the modern adolescent. He has targeted a hopeful future when the humans accept their roles and responsibilities and become really “grown-up”. He has an eye over the concept of “planetary” or “collective” consciousness.
He thinks that by shaping such a consciousness we may become nearer to a higher level of evolution. He relates that level of evolution and consciousness to the fourth layer of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: “self-actualization.” Renesch reminds that we have an opportunity of a conscious choice about the future. We are now able to participate in the creation of our future by ending the pretense that we have to continue sleeping through the next great upheaval in our universe.
He remembers Robert Fritz’s concept of “structural tension”. Fritz had described a visionary approach to creating a new reality for oneself. He called the gap between the way things are and the way we want them to be. He noted that this tension includes an emotional component, which he’s labeled “emotional tension,” that includes fears that we harbor about our being able to manifest our vision. According to Renesch, structural tension makes people lower their expectations for the future, their visions, and dreams for themselves and their loved ones. They choose not to maintain it and assume that “reality” won’t change so they must reduce their ideas about what’s possible in order to lessen the tension.
He suggests people’s insistence on their logical and hopeful visions for the future as a solution for that tension. He believes in the power of vision and regards it as a transforming tool that can shape our preferred futures. He respects visionary leadership and leaders. At the same time, he thinks that visionaries need to be able to maintain that structural tension that Fritz talks about—that gap, between the way things are and what they could be—despite the despair and sadness and all of the other emotions that arise when things don’t “improve” as quickly as they would like.
In the third chapter of the book, a roadmap toward getting to the better future is offered based on these well-known words of Peter Drucker: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Renesch asks: “If we are to create our future, why not create the best one we can?” To make the best future we need a real paradigm shift and a new thinking. A transcendent or spiritual perspective is called for if we are to make this transition to a new age—an “Age of Consciousness” as Russell calls it.
Renesch warns against the American overconfidence in the correctness of the way that Western civilization has followed. He uses an attractive metaphor in this regard: “The Titanic crew was complacent in their arrogance, believing that their ship was unsinkable.” Citing David Berenson’s four domains of reality (context, process, form, and content), he concludes that we can stand grounded in the domain of spirit, more comfortable in the abstract and the immaterial, rather than standing steadfastly in the material world and discounting anything that isn’t physical or mental. So, humanity is at a “choicepoint” in our evolution.
Renesch is going to replace an old paradigm with a new one. The old paradigm was generated by our fixation on the hard sciences. This mindset believes we are separate beings, like gears in the machinery, individual parts of the world first and members of a “whole” second. The new mindset is the reverse perspective whereby we see ourselves as connected—members of the whole first and then as individuals or parts secondly. This reversal of perspective could be summed up as shifting from parts-to-the-whole to a perspective of whole-to-the-parts, which explicitly recognizes our interconnectedness with all other people and nature and God.
Renesch pays a considerable attention to the role of business and business people in shaping better futures. If the business community could be likened to the locomotive, then economics could be the metaphorical equivalent to the fuel used by the locomotive to pull the train. He illuminates his business world view by quoting from an American author Warren Bennis: “Believing the purpose of business is to make money is like saying the purpose of the human body is to keep blood flowing.” Profit is essential, but not the sole reason for a company existing. There are social needs to be fulfilled by the organization, rather than it being merely a leech on the body of society, keeping itself and its owners alive at the expense of the host.”
Renesch believes in starting a spiritual renaissance in business and thinks that business people are socially responsible for that mission. His desired spiritual renaissance (paradigm shift) may be begun by Telling the Truth, Feeling, Dialogue, Being Yourself, Dreaming, Thinking Systemically and Globally, Growing in Consciousness, Respecting Life, Obeying the Law, or Changing It, Finding Your Passion, Hanging Out With Optimists, Looking for the Shadows in Your Life, Reducing Your Participation in the Production/Consumption Cycle, Being Authentic, and Looking for the Opportunities in Crisis.
According to George Leonard, “awareness of a problem is the first step in solving it.” John Renesch’s Getting to the Better Future provides such awareness.
Alireza Hejazi is the founding editor of Futures Discovery website (http://www.futuresdiscovery.com/). He is currently an MA student of Strategic Foresight at Regent University School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship.
Essays and comments posted in World Future Society and THE FUTURIST magazine blog portion of this site are the intellectual property of the authors, who retain full responsibility for and rights to their content. For permission to publish, distribute copies, use excerpts, etc., please contact the author. The opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Future Society takes no stand on what the future will or should be like.
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