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About the book and author


Competitive Business, Caring Business
An Integral Business Perspective for the 21st Century

by Daryl S. Paulson, Ph.D.
Foreword by Ken Wilber

Paraview Press, 2002
ISBN: 1931044392 
Business, Paperback
160 pages, $14.95



Sitting in this airport lounge overflowing with business people, I am surrounded by many upbeat, aspiring, successful people. Or am I? Why do they need to drink? It’s only 11:05 a.m. I look deeper into the faces of these individuals, and I begin to see a different picture. Under the blush makeup of the attractive, middle-aged woman to my left, I am struck by her disenchanted eyes. And, to her right, the sharply dressed man in a blue suit has a look, just beyond his smile, of despair -- of meaninglessness. I haven’t seen that since my combat days in Vietnam. And the couple just in front of me, obviously married but not to each other, seem to have escaped from this life to a better, more joyous one, if only for today.

“What has happened?” I ask myself. Why is it like this? The economy is good, jobs are plentiful, and Wharton and Harvard business schools have life’s answers, which we learn in their pricey, streamlined professional development seminars.

But I know what’s wrong, deep in my heart; it’s the same thing that’s wrong with so many of my peers. There is lack of meaning, lack of substance in their lives. They know they are merely dispensable tools. Their value is only in what they are perceived as producing, not who they are. They keep their mouths shut and deny the injustices they see, they feel, and they know. And I remind myself that “at least in Vietnam, you knew when you were shot. In business, you can be half-dead before you even know you’re a target. I remember being exactly in this place several years ago.”

I wrote this while sitting in a lounge at Chicago O’Hare International Airport waiting for a flight in the summer of 2001. Business people, like so many others, before September 11, 2001, were consumed with managing their portfolios, accumulating more wealth, brandishing power, controlling their life environment, looking good, and living in denial -- denial that their lives lacked meaning, as did their professions. 

Then came September 11, 2001. Both the North and South Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were destroyed by terrorists, as, too, was a section of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. It seemed as if the United States was unraveling. Scenes of panic, smoke, death, and dust were everywhere. 

But, out of the depths of fear and despair, Americans rose. New Yorkers, not known for their compassion, were volunteering to help rescue workers any way they could -- carrying the dead and wounded out of the rubble, bringing ham sandwiches and bottled drinking water to firefighters, and helping those who were showing photographs of missing friends and family in hopes of finding them. Throughout New York, citizens responded with bravery, generosity, and a deep authentic sense of community. That sense of community -- care and concern -- reverberated throughout the country and has continued to do so. 

Many business people, not generally known for philosophical thinking, felt helpless like many Americans in the face of this tragedy and began to question what they were doing -- their work and their lives as a whole. Is life really just a game of survival? Must dog eat dog? Can there be no meaning beyond making money and acquiring power, both of which can be lost in a heartbeat? Is there a way that matters by which I can contribute, not just to my family, but to my neighbors, the truly disadvantaged, my peers, my country--to the global village? 

A growing number of business people have begun answering these questions in an altruistic manner. No longer is their goal solely to look out for number one--themselves -- but now, it’s also to contribute to the greater good in a particularly novel way -- through their business practices. Interestingly enough, altruism is not the serving of others at one’s own expense. It is, instead, cooperating for mutual gain (Post, 2002). Biological altruism makes the survival of the group more probable than does just looking after one’s own interests. For example, prairie dogs, upon seeing danger, emit a shrill warning sound. This gives their own position away, but enhances the survival of the group. Psychological altruism enables individuals to benefit others, as well as themselves. This is the win-win position we will discuss repeatedly in this book. 

Business people have begun openly discussing their feelings of emptiness and lack of meaning with friends, family, peers, and, perhaps most importantly, with themselves in contemplation. Business people, being business people, people of action, have not stopped with the “talk.” Now, they are “walking the walk.” Their former ways of greed, self-aggrandizement, and acquiring money are not enough to satisfy them. Personal meaning and value are necessary now, with the clear realization that, since human life is temporary, there is no time to waste in vacillation. 

One way to accomplish this task -- contributing to human betterment through business -- is the topic of this book. While intentions are good, solid theory, “do-able” technique, and consistent practice in honing one’s business skills are required to make such a contribution. 

© 2002 Daryl Paulson



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