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Tony Humphreys

Author & Clinical Psychologist

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Tony Humphreys Biography

Tony Humphreys is a consultant clinical psychologist and best-selling author who speaks on the psychology of leadership and work-life, and how our sense of self, affects our job satisfaction, productivity, and life/work balance. He has spoken to and worked with a host of well-known companies in a number of industries, including banking, pharmaceuticals, and hospitality.

The author of eleven best-selling books, Humphreys has become Ireland's most influential psychologist, working with individuals, couples, families, schools, local communities, and businesses.

He is regularly sought for his expertise and views on radio and television and writes a weekly column for Ireland's two primary newspapers, the Irish Times and the Irish Examiner.

Tony is a specialist lecturer on education, communication and self-realization in University Colleges, Cork and Limerick and regularly guest lectures at other colleges in Ireland, Europe, and South Africa.

He is the director of a year-long course on interpersonal communication at University College Cork, as well as a Fellow of the National College of Ireland.

Humphreys speaks in a language that is easy and accessible. His presentations are entertaining, but he never dilutes the meaning and depth of his message.

Speaking Topics
  • Recession — Opportunity for Progression

    The word ‘recess’ has several meanings — a dark cavity in a wall, a break or time-out. The response to the economic recession does not seem to have reflected upon the deeper meanings of the word. There is certainly a frenetic scramble to get back to the prosperity that we had without a consciousness that it has not worked! In terms of the individuals at the top of banks and other financial institutions, no evidence of a deeper reflection and consequential taking responsibility for their reckless actions has emerged. This is true too for many politicians.

    There is a need for all of us — not just the bankers, property developers and politicians — to examine the dark inner recesses of our minds that led to the collusion with what happened and to the very powerful realities of depersonalisation, avarice, greed, bullying, passivity and superiority that were part and parcel of the well-named ‘tiger’ economy. In term of passivity, in the words of Seamus Heaney there was ‘the government of the tongue’ by heads of work organisations and the prevailing message among employees was ‘whatever you say, say nothing.’ Those who allowed themselves to be tongue-tied also need to take responsibility for their non-active response. The old saying ‘when good men do nothing, evil thrives’ is particularly relevant here.

    Sustained economic prosperity is only possible when there is an equal — I would say greater — focus on the emotional and social prosperity of each individual within our country. The dark development of Human Resources Departments within work organisations led to anonymity at work being a common experience for individual employees. Before the ‘boom’ these used to be called Personnel Departments which largely recognized that it is individual persons that an organization employed and not a resource to be exploited. Certainly, the reflection on the recession needs to involve a very serious look at relationships within the workplace and also relationships with clients which had also become depersonalized. However, a deeper recess within each of us needs to be visited — and that is one’s relationship with self.

    When any of us confuses self with work or success or wealth or status or power we bring a dark immaturity to relationships within marriage, family, workplace and community. These addictive responses arose from significant relationships in childhood in homes and classrooms and were creatively fashioned as substitutes for the real belonging that is part of our nature — the need for unconditional love. As an adult, it is my responsibility — not optional — to unconditionally belong to self and to operate out from a solid and independent interiority. This is the inner journey that each human being is called upon to travel and there is no better or more fitting time than the beginning of a New Year that can bring endless possibilities for a deepening of personal maturity that is critical to emotional, social, political and economic prosperity.

    Another issue that needs addressing is the belief that the ‘tiger’ economy was a result of the Government emphasis on education from the 1960’s onwards. However, a realization is now needed that that education certainly prepared people for work, but not for maturity. Indeed, it fostered a dependence on work, success and wealth and, thereby, blocked the emergence of personal maturity. Personal maturity is an essential aspect of professional effectiveness, a reality that hopefully will be realized in the coming year. The notion too that ‘the pen is lighter than the shovel’ also demeaned work that is central to physical and social wellbeing. What came about was the importing of labour to do this important work. Education needs to ensure that all work is appreciated and valued and that the pen cannot do without the shovel nor the shovel without the pen. The threat that ‘you’ll end up working on the roads’ came from a defensive superiority and has proved to be counterproductive. Education needs to be primarily geared towards individual maturity — an empowering of individuals to take responsibility for self and one’s actions. It needs to stay loyal to the true meaning of education (from the Latin word educare — meaning to draw out) and work from the inside-out of each individual student. The more that educators affirm the unique presence of each student and appreciate the unique creativity and intelligence that each individual student brings to the classroom, the greater likelihood of sustained emotional, social and economic prosperity.

  • Trusting Times

    Trust is the sine qua non of a mature relationship, be it between a parent and a child, husband and wife, lover and lover, friend and friend, citizen and politician, client and banker, employee and manager, church-goer and priest, teacher and student. Certainly, at the moment, there has been a great betrayal of trust within government, church, banks, other financial institutions, health boards and many workplaces. It is going to take considerable personal reflection and mature action on the part of individual politicians, clergy, bankers, financiers, managers, health-care personnel and employers to regain the trust of their clients. What is often not appreciated is that the betrayal of trust that has been part and parcel of the economic recession belies a deeper betrayal of one’s own integrity. Unless the inner betrayal is resolved then the betrayal of others is highly likely to continue.

    The source of the inner letting down of self can be traced back to one’s earlier years and the key relationship between each parent and the child. An infant emerges from the womb fully confident of being loved and cared for and does all in its power to attract the parent to his or her unique and individual presence. When the child experiences unconditional holding for his presence and expressions of that presence — physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual, behavioral, social, creative and spiritual — he becomes secure and trust that it is safe for him to fully reveal and inhabit his own individuality; the consequences are he learns to trust self and significant others. This experience will be repeated with other significant people in neighborhood, play school, primary school, church and so on. However, when a child experiences a lack of unconditional love, or a conditional relating or no sense of belonging, then the darkness of this betrayal leads to the powerful protective response of repression of his true self and the creation of a false/shadow self. It is in the fashioning of this false persona, this substitute presence that the child learns to not trust his own power to be real and authentic. If the child were to show trust in self in the face of betrayal of trust by the significant others (mother, father, teachers, aunts, uncles, doctors, nurses) in his life, he would be in even greater peril! It is in this way that an inner and outer world of untrustworthiness is formed. The more betrayal of trust that occurs, the greater the inner protective betrayal has to be.

    As adults, we need to examine the whole issue of trust and to determine are we continuing to depend on others for our security rather than learning to depend on ourselves. In redeeming our trust in our own unique nature we will encounter considerable risks — the enemies are still out there — but whilst there is a comfort in being hidden, it is an utter disaster for ourselves and, indeed, for all others — especially significant others — when we do not find and express the fullness, breadth and depth of our individuality.

    Such an inner examination needs to be integral to the training and preparation of all professionals especially because they occupy positions of power over others and because their own unresolved inner betrayal of self can perpetrate havoc in their personal, interpersonal and professional lives. It is in this way that personal effectiveness lies at the heart of professional effectiveness, that an inner trustworthiness determines an integrity and trustworthiness in personal, interpersonal and professional relationships.

    It is a very worrying situation that those professionals who betrayed the trust that clients had in their care are not even remotely examining their actions. There is a frenetic scramble going on to get things back to the way they were and no consciousness that this return to defensive ways, down the road, will only lead to another recession. The word recession is better understood as take a break to review how the present economic crisis has come about and to examine the inner dark ‘recesses’ of the mind that led to the grossly neglectful actions that are apparent to many of us but not to those who perpetrated them. Lessons from history are not learned when individuals do not examine their greed, avarice, arrogance, denial, egocentricity, depersonalisation and target-fixated mentality. The only hope is that clients and voters will put a lot more trust in themselves and monitor closely the actions of those professionals to whom they entrust their health, wealth and overall wellbeing. It is best never to entrust yourself totally to anybody — professional or otherwise. Trust and take responsibility for your self and keep a keen weather eye on the professional practice of service providers and those who govern.

  • The Path to Accountability

    What has been most noticeable over the last year is the major lack of accountability by individuals in the banks, government, property development, financial institutions and public bodies. Not one individual has stood up and admitted to the avarice, greed and depersonalising of staff members and customers that were part and parcel of their professional practice. Many of these individuals have attempted to hide behind the system — politicians are amazing at doing it — but it is not a system that neglects people, it is individuals. The whole sad lack of accountability is crying out for an explanation. Why would so many individuals who are well-educated, in status positions and possessing considerable political or financial power not own up to their very serious misdemeanors? It is not that those individuals — incidentally, mostly male — lack intelligence, but they certainly appear to lack maturity. The wonderful 12th century poet and mystic, Rumi, puts it well when he said ‘a person only become an adult when he takes responsibility for self and his own actions’; if it were only so we would emerge from the economic recession much more quickly. The danger now is that if accountability does not emerge, the economic recovery that is slowly emerging will be built on the same defensive emotional/social foundations which led to the economic crash. I have found little evidence in the analysis of the causes of the recession that point to the very powerful emotional process that underpinned the economic collapse.

    What is important to appreciate is that these powerful emotional processes are peculiar to individuals and whilst at an external level we can point to the avarice, the greed, the self-centredness, the depersonalisation, the target-fixated mentality, the betrayal of trust, there are deeper emotional realities to be detected. Unless these deeper more hidden realities are identified by each of the individuals who were exploitative and reckless with the ‘widow’s mite’, there will be no emergence of external accountability. When these individuals fail to examine their professional behavior and do not come to realize that their ‘unprofessional’ conduct mirrors a deeper dark reality of personal insecurity, they will continue to blatantly rationalise their actions. When individuals do not have a consciousness of unresolved inner turmoil, they are unconsciously and automatically in defence and this defensiveness manifests itself in denial. Denial is a very powerful unconscious defence and arises from deep personal insecurity. Unless the confused identity that lies at the heart of the neglect of others is resolved, no external accountability is possible. The most common confusions that exist are the confusion of one’s self and worth with such externals as power, wealth, status, success, prestige and work. Behind these projections lie fears of rejection and failure. Internal accountability is about becoming conscious of these inner unresolved conflicts and making new and mature responses to resolve them; when deep-seated and particularly when denial is present, professional psychotherapeutic help is required.

    In terms of the prevention of the greed, avarice, bullying, depersonalisation, betrayal of trust and addictions to success, power, status and wealth that have haunted our society in recent years, it is vital that individuals who have positions of power — parental, political, educational, occupational, social, religious — be provided with the opportunities to closely examine their behavior so that their inner turmoil is not projected onto others. In other words, personal development needs to be an integral part of professional development. The latter notion is not a benign issue but one that is critical to human well-being. Professional training courses need to incorporate examination of and deepening of personal maturity; too long it has been assumed that education and status equals personal maturity but the reality is that age, status, education, gender, wealth are no indices of maturity. What are indices of maturity are a solid sense of self that is not tied to anything outside of self and a separateness and independence in one’s relationship with others, work, creativity, wealth, productivity and success. Bill Gates believes that the greatest impediment to progress is success. However, it is deeper and more complex than that; the greatest impediment is a lack of regard for self, a lack of confidence in one’s intelligence beyond measure and the illusion that something outside self will resolve one’s inner turmoil. Internal accountability for our own insecurities is the sine qua non of accountability for the external actions that have so belied the trust that is inherent in professionalism.

  • The End to Insensitivity

    On a recent reading of the business section of one of Ireland’s national newspapers I came across a column titled: ‘why insensitivity is a vital managerial trait!’ I hesitated before reading the article and checked to see whether the date was April 1st! After all, given the shocking betrayals revealed about heads within the Church, the banks, other financial institutions, Government bodies, the Gardai, it seems quite perverse of any writer to be in praise of insensitivity. Not only have the leaders and managers of the various institutions mentioned lost the trust of their heretofore followers, but there is a boiling anger and even rage brewing about their heartless conduct. The major problem with the management of our leading economic, social, political and religious organisations has been a depersonalisation of individuals, an avarice, a greed, a superiority, an arrogance and, as yet, a refusal to take responsibility for their inhumanity to man.

    What gives rise to the article was the declaration by Jon Moulton of Moulton and Browne of his three strongest character traits: determination, curiosity and insensitivity. In the words of Jon Moulton ‘the great thing about insensitivity is that it lets you sleep when others can’t.’ One wonders who are ‘the others’ he is referring to — are they the ones at the receiving end of his insensitivity and seething with rage at being an anonymity within the workforce? How can any mature manger believe that being heartless is going to increase staff loyalty, motivation, productivity, creativity and commitment? Bullying – a product of insensitivity is a time bomb still waiting to go off in many workplaces.

    The writer of the column suggests that being in management means having the insecurity to take decisions that will hurt individual people. Has the writer any clue that it is the truth that sets people free and that a genuine telling of what are the bases for a difficult decision considerably softens the blow and means that both manager and employee can sleep that night! There have been cases where the insensitive firing of an individual employee has resulted in that said employee either returning to shoot the manager and his cohorts or taking his own life or both. Management is both a head and a heart practice and management that has head but no heart is not management at all. Equally, management that has heart but no head is not management at all. Effective management is a function of a solid interiority from which nobody can distance, exile, demean or lessen your presence. Sensitivity or being emotionally mature does not mean taking responsibility for others, but it does mean being responsible for self, ensuring that work, wealth, status, power are not tied to one’s worth and confidence and that interactions with employees are of a nature that individualizes and dignifies their presence. Emotional maturity is also about seeing beyond oneself from an inner stronghold; it does not mean, as the writer of the column suggested, taking what others say personally and staying awake all night agitating on the hurts experienced or witnessed. On the contrary, the mature manager sleeps because he does care, he does have heart, he does affirm the presence of workers, he does firmly and authoritatively speak the truth and he exercises his responsibility with due care of self, employees, clients, shareholders and the organization.

    Feelings occur spontaneously – they are not consciously manufactured – and they arise with the mature purpose of calling for progressive action. The manager who suppresses, or even worse, represses or denies emotional realities within self and others is a danger to the wellbeing of himself, partner, family, employees and a poor servant of shareholders.

    Managers who are fully in touch and expressive of the totality of their nature do not dither or prevaricate but are definite in their decision-making whilst maintaining a respectful connection with individual employees. My hope is that the days are over of managers who are insensitive, who bully, who depersonalize, who are narcissistic, avaricious, greedy and intimidating. The preference is that these managers will recognise their need to examine their largely unlived lives and seek the necessary help to resolve their insensitivity. However, other members of work and other occupational, social, religious and political organisations cannot afford to wait for managers to transform themselves. It is the responsibility of each of us to understand ourselves and to take due responsibility to transform ourselves and that includes challenging any heartless responses of managers and leaders.

  • Mind Without Heart is Not Mind At All

    The word mind is generally defined as what goes on in your head — thoughts, imaginings, inventions, problem-solving, analysis, planning, dreams, post-mortems, self-criticism, judgements, appraisals, memories. When individuals miss the fact that the word ‘mind’ also means ‘to care for’ then such mind without heart is not mind at all! In other words, when the heart qualities of love, tenderness, nurture, empathy, support, comfort, warmth, affection are not present, the head without the heart can prove to be rigid, judgemental, controlling, inflexible, arrogant, depersonalizing, superior, dismissive and intolerant. Our human nature only achieves equilibrium when the polarities of head and heart, feminine and masculine and right-brain and left brain are in harmony with each other. When the head, which is largely about ‘getting ahead’ — an outward movement — is not balanced by the inward movement of the heart, it can rule in a heartless way and be a major source of threat to the wellbeing of others. For example, the man who is highly ambitious — success being his God — will neglect his relationship with his wife and children resulting in considerable trauma for them. In the workplace, the loss of his own valuing of himself will manifest in a depersonalizing of other staff members and clients. Whilst he does this unconsciously from a deep insecurity and a need to be visible through success, the reality is that his head without heart for himself, his partner, children and employees results in threats to his own wellbeing and that of the significant others in his life. I recall one businessman saying to me that when colleagues warned him that his intense working schedule would give him a heart attack, his response was ‘I won’t get a heart attack; I’m the one who gives heart attacks.’ The emotional disconnection evident in this stark and harsh assertion ‘I give heart attacks’ shows very clearly the major danger posed by a mind without heart. Incidentally — and sadly — three years later he suffered a heart attack — hence his seeking psychotherapeutic help recommended by an astute medical general practitioner. Sometimes it takes a major psychological crisis or illness to bring about a consciousness of hidden vulnerabilities that need resolution.

    What is often not appreciated is that if mind without heart is a considerable threat to wellbeing, heart without mind is also darkness within and between people. The person who over-involves themselves in the life of another (for example, mother with child, friend with friend, wife with husband, employee with employer) is without mind. If mind — understanding, outwardness, determination, ambition, intention, assertion — were present then the over-belonging would be perceived as a dependence on the other, a living one’s life for the other and, thereby, making it difficult — particularly, for a child — to live his or her own life. Indeed, many intimate couple relationships are troubled due to an over-involved partner living her life through her partner or the opposite scenario is common, whereby one partner jealously possesses, dominates and blocks any bid for independence on the pat of his partner. A similar over-involvement can occur in the workplace. I have helped individuals who bent themselves over backwards for their employers — living their lives for them — only to be devastated when criticised or, worse still, made redundant. Basically, over-involvement with another is both that ‘I should be there for you and live my life for you’ and ‘You should be there for me and live your life for me’. Individuals who tend to be passive are more likely to live for others and those who bully and are aggressive demand ‘others live for them’; either way it is not a mature and happy situation. Individuals then who are over-involved and enmeshed with another are in an unconscious state of denial and unless they become mindful — conscious — of their dependence on the other, then their own maturity is seriously blocked. This unhappy situation has its origins in childhood — in the key relationship between a parent and a child — but, as adults, whatever happened to us in childhood, the matter is now in our own hands. However, for mindfulness to emerge, the person who is over-involved needs to encounter somebody who stays separate from her or him and provides the unconditional holding that creates the support for the crucial disengagement that is required. Without such support, it is unlikely that heart with mindfulness will emerge.

  • Men on Top!

    What has been evident since the economic crash that it was men who peopled the ‘top’ positions in the banks, financial institutions and property development companies. Men at the top are also a feature of the front bench (and the back benches) of the present government and of the oppositional parties. Of course, this phenomenon of male predominance is blaringly apparent in the Catholic Church. What is now clear that these male leaders have not done a good job — cover ups, arrogance, superiority, avarice, greed, recklessness, unethical practices, depersonalisation of staff members and clients, bullying, addiction to success, profits before people, unrelenting pressures to meet unrealistic targets are just some of the behaviors that were and are still being exhibited. It was inevitable that capitalism without heart, without regard for people and that made the rich richer and the poor poorer was going to fail; the problem was that those few mature voices that predicted the crash were aggressively ignored.

    There are critical questions to be asked: how is it that we are rearing and educating males to be such poor leaders and managers? Do we seriously need to question putting men at the helm of our major political, financial, educational, health and religious organisations?

    Would we be better putting women into these positions of power? The answer to the latter question is that there is no guarantee that women will do any better. After all maturity is not a gender issue, it is a human one. Furthermore, the male managers and leaders of today have been reared and educated primarily by women. Women still do 90 per cent of the parenting of children and primary school education is largely in the hands of female teachers (over 90 per cent) and female teachers are outnumbering male teachers by approximately three to one in second-level education. All pre-schools are run by women. These statistics beg the question: how is it that women who have so much power in those crucial formative years of children’s lives are not influencing both male and female children to become mature managers? There is no attempt here to put the responsibility for the present economic, religious, social and health service crises solely on the shoulders of women. After all no matter what happens to us as children, as adults the matter is in our own hands and it is the responsibility of each of us to resolve any emotional baggage we are carrying from past experiences. Notoriously, males resist this essential self-exploration and have cleverly consigned such mature reflection and consequent action to the ‘soft skills’ bin. However, if truth be told, the responsibility for each male manager to occupy both the head and heart of their individuality is the hardest challenge for them to take on — not at all a ‘soft’ ride. However, it is imperative that they do because management without heart is not management at all; effective management is both a head and a heart phenomenon and not a series of mechanical tasks that many managers believe it to be.

    Given that parents are the first managers and teachers are the second managers children encounter, it would appear to me that preparation and training for these key management positions need to be urgently reviewed. The experience of many children and students is the pressure to academically perform, intense competitiveness, anonymity, verbal threats, punishment of failure, over-rewarding of success and intensity around examinations and examination results. Secondary schools, in particular, are target-fixated and look to leaving certificate points as their main criterion for evaluating the school’s effectiveness. Yet education is no index of maturity, neither is gender nor age and, certainly, status and wealth are no indicators of maturity. When we view what happens in homes and classrooms the immature behaviors that brought about the recession are not much different. What is also now clear is that the policy of education for jobs has not worked; what needs to emerge is an education for individual maturity. Is it then any wonder that the males on top turned out to be such a flop. The worrying fact is that most of our current mangers and leaders continue to occupy these top positions and why oh why do we believe that they have changed their spots? A relentless examination of their attitudes and actions is called for and I do not see the investigation into the banks carrying out such an in-depth analysis. The challenge is to find mature individuals to conduct such an investigation. The examination has to be focussed on individual managers because it was not the banks or financial institutions or FAS or the Government or the Catholic Church that perpetrated neglect — it was individuals. I am not suggesting a witch-hunt, but I am concerned that the defensive emotional processes that ran through the veins of our top people be closely examined and that each of these individuals be supported to resolve these serious block to emotional, social and economic prosperity.

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Understanding Teenagers: Sometimes Wild, Always Wise

Understanding Teenagers: Sometimes Wild, Always Wise

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The Compassionate Intentions of Illness

The Compassionate Intentions of Illness

The Mature Manager: Managing From Inside Out

The Mature Manager: Managing From Inside Out

Whose Life are You Living?

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  • seminar details

    Dr Tony Humphreys. Understanding Teenagers, Sometimes Wild, Always Wise. Date: 17th October 2013 (Thu) Time: 7.00pm - 9.30 pm. Venue: Stillorgan Park ...

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Author & Clinical Psychologist

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Tony Humphreys Biography

Tony Humphreys is a consultant clinical psychologist and best-selling author who speaks on the psychology of leadership and work-life, and how our sense of self, affects our job satisfaction, productivity, and life/work balance. He has spoken to and worked with a host of well-known companies in a number of industries, including banking, pharmaceuticals, and hospitality.

The author of eleven best-selling books, Humphreys has become Ireland's most influential psychologist, working with individuals, couples, families, schools, local communities, and businesses.

He is regularly sought for his expertise and views on radio and television and writes a weekly column for Ireland's two primary newspapers, the Irish Times and the Irish Examiner.

Tony is a specialist lecturer on education, communication and self-realization in University Colleges, Cork and Limerick and regularly guest lectures at other colleges in Ireland, Europe, and South Africa.

He is the director of a year-long course on interpersonal communication at University College Cork, as well as a Fellow of the National College of Ireland.

Humphreys speaks in a language that is easy and accessible. His presentations are entertaining, but he never dilutes the meaning and depth of his message.

Tony Humphreys Speaking Topics

  • Recession — Opportunity for Progression

    The word ‘recess’ has several meanings — a dark cavity in a wall, a break or time-out. The response to the economic recession does not seem to have reflected upon the deeper meanings of the word. There is certainly a frenetic scramble to get back to the prosperity that we had without a consciousness that it has not worked! In terms of the individuals at the top of banks and other financial institutions, no evidence of a deeper reflection and consequential taking responsibility for their reckless actions has emerged. This is true too for many politicians.

    There is a need for all of us — not just the bankers, property developers and politicians — to examine the dark inner recesses of our minds that led to the collusion with what happened and to the very powerful realities of depersonalisation, avarice, greed, bullying, passivity and superiority that were part and parcel of the well-named ‘tiger’ economy. In term of passivity, in the words of Seamus Heaney there was ‘the government of the tongue’ by heads of work organisations and the prevailing message among employees was ‘whatever you say, say nothing.’ Those who allowed themselves to be tongue-tied also need to take responsibility for their non-active response. The old saying ‘when good men do nothing, evil thrives’ is particularly relevant here.

    Sustained economic prosperity is only possible when there is an equal — I would say greater — focus on the emotional and social prosperity of each individual within our country. The dark development of Human Resources Departments within work organisations led to anonymity at work being a common experience for individual employees. Before the ‘boom’ these used to be called Personnel Departments which largely recognized that it is individual persons that an organization employed and not a resource to be exploited. Certainly, the reflection on the recession needs to involve a very serious look at relationships within the workplace and also relationships with clients which had also become depersonalized. However, a deeper recess within each of us needs to be visited — and that is one’s relationship with self.

    When any of us confuses self with work or success or wealth or status or power we bring a dark immaturity to relationships within marriage, family, workplace and community. These addictive responses arose from significant relationships in childhood in homes and classrooms and were creatively fashioned as substitutes for the real belonging that is part of our nature — the need for unconditional love. As an adult, it is my responsibility — not optional — to unconditionally belong to self and to operate out from a solid and independent interiority. This is the inner journey that each human being is called upon to travel and there is no better or more fitting time than the beginning of a New Year that can bring endless possibilities for a deepening of personal maturity that is critical to emotional, social, political and economic prosperity.

    Another issue that needs addressing is the belief that the ‘tiger’ economy was a result of the Government emphasis on education from the 1960’s onwards. However, a realization is now needed that that education certainly prepared people for work, but not for maturity. Indeed, it fostered a dependence on work, success and wealth and, thereby, blocked the emergence of personal maturity. Personal maturity is an essential aspect of professional effectiveness, a reality that hopefully will be realized in the coming year. The notion too that ‘the pen is lighter than the shovel’ also demeaned work that is central to physical and social wellbeing. What came about was the importing of labour to do this important work. Education needs to ensure that all work is appreciated and valued and that the pen cannot do without the shovel nor the shovel without the pen. The threat that ‘you’ll end up working on the roads’ came from a defensive superiority and has proved to be counterproductive. Education needs to be primarily geared towards individual maturity — an empowering of individuals to take responsibility for self and one’s actions. It needs to stay loyal to the true meaning of education (from the Latin word educare — meaning to draw out) and work from the inside-out of each individual student. The more that educators affirm the unique presence of each student and appreciate the unique creativity and intelligence that each individual student brings to the classroom, the greater likelihood of sustained emotional, social and economic prosperity.

  • Trusting Times

    Trust is the sine qua non of a mature relationship, be it between a parent and a child, husband and wife, lover and lover, friend and friend, citizen and politician, client and banker, employee and manager, church-goer and priest, teacher and student. Certainly, at the moment, there has been a great betrayal of trust within government, church, banks, other financial institutions, health boards and many workplaces. It is going to take considerable personal reflection and mature action on the part of individual politicians, clergy, bankers, financiers, managers, health-care personnel and employers to regain the trust of their clients. What is often not appreciated is that the betrayal of trust that has been part and parcel of the economic recession belies a deeper betrayal of one’s own integrity. Unless the inner betrayal is resolved then the betrayal of others is highly likely to continue.

    The source of the inner letting down of self can be traced back to one’s earlier years and the key relationship between each parent and the child. An infant emerges from the womb fully confident of being loved and cared for and does all in its power to attract the parent to his or her unique and individual presence. When the child experiences unconditional holding for his presence and expressions of that presence — physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual, behavioral, social, creative and spiritual — he becomes secure and trust that it is safe for him to fully reveal and inhabit his own individuality; the consequences are he learns to trust self and significant others. This experience will be repeated with other significant people in neighborhood, play school, primary school, church and so on. However, when a child experiences a lack of unconditional love, or a conditional relating or no sense of belonging, then the darkness of this betrayal leads to the powerful protective response of repression of his true self and the creation of a false/shadow self. It is in the fashioning of this false persona, this substitute presence that the child learns to not trust his own power to be real and authentic. If the child were to show trust in self in the face of betrayal of trust by the significant others (mother, father, teachers, aunts, uncles, doctors, nurses) in his life, he would be in even greater peril! It is in this way that an inner and outer world of untrustworthiness is formed. The more betrayal of trust that occurs, the greater the inner protective betrayal has to be.

    As adults, we need to examine the whole issue of trust and to determine are we continuing to depend on others for our security rather than learning to depend on ourselves. In redeeming our trust in our own unique nature we will encounter considerable risks — the enemies are still out there — but whilst there is a comfort in being hidden, it is an utter disaster for ourselves and, indeed, for all others — especially significant others — when we do not find and express the fullness, breadth and depth of our individuality.

    Such an inner examination needs to be integral to the training and preparation of all professionals especially because they occupy positions of power over others and because their own unresolved inner betrayal of self can perpetrate havoc in their personal, interpersonal and professional lives. It is in this way that personal effectiveness lies at the heart of professional effectiveness, that an inner trustworthiness determines an integrity and trustworthiness in personal, interpersonal and professional relationships.

    It is a very worrying situation that those professionals who betrayed the trust that clients had in their care are not even remotely examining their actions. There is a frenetic scramble going on to get things back to the way they were and no consciousness that this return to defensive ways, down the road, will only lead to another recession. The word recession is better understood as take a break to review how the present economic crisis has come about and to examine the inner dark ‘recesses’ of the mind that led to the grossly neglectful actions that are apparent to many of us but not to those who perpetrated them. Lessons from history are not learned when individuals do not examine their greed, avarice, arrogance, denial, egocentricity, depersonalisation and target-fixated mentality. The only hope is that clients and voters will put a lot more trust in themselves and monitor closely the actions of those professionals to whom they entrust their health, wealth and overall wellbeing. It is best never to entrust yourself totally to anybody — professional or otherwise. Trust and take responsibility for your self and keep a keen weather eye on the professional practice of service providers and those who govern.

  • The Path to Accountability

    What has been most noticeable over the last year is the major lack of accountability by individuals in the banks, government, property development, financial institutions and public bodies. Not one individual has stood up and admitted to the avarice, greed and depersonalising of staff members and customers that were part and parcel of their professional practice. Many of these individuals have attempted to hide behind the system — politicians are amazing at doing it — but it is not a system that neglects people, it is individuals. The whole sad lack of accountability is crying out for an explanation. Why would so many individuals who are well-educated, in status positions and possessing considerable political or financial power not own up to their very serious misdemeanors? It is not that those individuals — incidentally, mostly male — lack intelligence, but they certainly appear to lack maturity. The wonderful 12th century poet and mystic, Rumi, puts it well when he said ‘a person only become an adult when he takes responsibility for self and his own actions’; if it were only so we would emerge from the economic recession much more quickly. The danger now is that if accountability does not emerge, the economic recovery that is slowly emerging will be built on the same defensive emotional/social foundations which led to the economic crash. I have found little evidence in the analysis of the causes of the recession that point to the very powerful emotional process that underpinned the economic collapse.

    What is important to appreciate is that these powerful emotional processes are peculiar to individuals and whilst at an external level we can point to the avarice, the greed, the self-centredness, the depersonalisation, the target-fixated mentality, the betrayal of trust, there are deeper emotional realities to be detected. Unless these deeper more hidden realities are identified by each of the individuals who were exploitative and reckless with the ‘widow’s mite’, there will be no emergence of external accountability. When these individuals fail to examine their professional behavior and do not come to realize that their ‘unprofessional’ conduct mirrors a deeper dark reality of personal insecurity, they will continue to blatantly rationalise their actions. When individuals do not have a consciousness of unresolved inner turmoil, they are unconsciously and automatically in defence and this defensiveness manifests itself in denial. Denial is a very powerful unconscious defence and arises from deep personal insecurity. Unless the confused identity that lies at the heart of the neglect of others is resolved, no external accountability is possible. The most common confusions that exist are the confusion of one’s self and worth with such externals as power, wealth, status, success, prestige and work. Behind these projections lie fears of rejection and failure. Internal accountability is about becoming conscious of these inner unresolved conflicts and making new and mature responses to resolve them; when deep-seated and particularly when denial is present, professional psychotherapeutic help is required.

    In terms of the prevention of the greed, avarice, bullying, depersonalisation, betrayal of trust and addictions to success, power, status and wealth that have haunted our society in recent years, it is vital that individuals who have positions of power — parental, political, educational, occupational, social, religious — be provided with the opportunities to closely examine their behavior so that their inner turmoil is not projected onto others. In other words, personal development needs to be an integral part of professional development. The latter notion is not a benign issue but one that is critical to human well-being. Professional training courses need to incorporate examination of and deepening of personal maturity; too long it has been assumed that education and status equals personal maturity but the reality is that age, status, education, gender, wealth are no indices of maturity. What are indices of maturity are a solid sense of self that is not tied to anything outside of self and a separateness and independence in one’s relationship with others, work, creativity, wealth, productivity and success. Bill Gates believes that the greatest impediment to progress is success. However, it is deeper and more complex than that; the greatest impediment is a lack of regard for self, a lack of confidence in one’s intelligence beyond measure and the illusion that something outside self will resolve one’s inner turmoil. Internal accountability for our own insecurities is the sine qua non of accountability for the external actions that have so belied the trust that is inherent in professionalism.

  • The End to Insensitivity

    On a recent reading of the business section of one of Ireland’s national newspapers I came across a column titled: ‘why insensitivity is a vital managerial trait!’ I hesitated before reading the article and checked to see whether the date was April 1st! After all, given the shocking betrayals revealed about heads within the Church, the banks, other financial institutions, Government bodies, the Gardai, it seems quite perverse of any writer to be in praise of insensitivity. Not only have the leaders and managers of the various institutions mentioned lost the trust of their heretofore followers, but there is a boiling anger and even rage brewing about their heartless conduct. The major problem with the management of our leading economic, social, political and religious organisations has been a depersonalisation of individuals, an avarice, a greed, a superiority, an arrogance and, as yet, a refusal to take responsibility for their inhumanity to man.

    What gives rise to the article was the declaration by Jon Moulton of Moulton and Browne of his three strongest character traits: determination, curiosity and insensitivity. In the words of Jon Moulton ‘the great thing about insensitivity is that it lets you sleep when others can’t.’ One wonders who are ‘the others’ he is referring to — are they the ones at the receiving end of his insensitivity and seething with rage at being an anonymity within the workforce? How can any mature manger believe that being heartless is going to increase staff loyalty, motivation, productivity, creativity and commitment? Bullying – a product of insensitivity is a time bomb still waiting to go off in many workplaces.

    The writer of the column suggests that being in management means having the insecurity to take decisions that will hurt individual people. Has the writer any clue that it is the truth that sets people free and that a genuine telling of what are the bases for a difficult decision considerably softens the blow and means that both manager and employee can sleep that night! There have been cases where the insensitive firing of an individual employee has resulted in that said employee either returning to shoot the manager and his cohorts or taking his own life or both. Management is both a head and a heart practice and management that has head but no heart is not management at all. Equally, management that has heart but no head is not management at all. Effective management is a function of a solid interiority from which nobody can distance, exile, demean or lessen your presence. Sensitivity or being emotionally mature does not mean taking responsibility for others, but it does mean being responsible for self, ensuring that work, wealth, status, power are not tied to one’s worth and confidence and that interactions with employees are of a nature that individualizes and dignifies their presence. Emotional maturity is also about seeing beyond oneself from an inner stronghold; it does not mean, as the writer of the column suggested, taking what others say personally and staying awake all night agitating on the hurts experienced or witnessed. On the contrary, the mature manager sleeps because he does care, he does have heart, he does affirm the presence of workers, he does firmly and authoritatively speak the truth and he exercises his responsibility with due care of self, employees, clients, shareholders and the organization.

    Feelings occur spontaneously – they are not consciously manufactured – and they arise with the mature purpose of calling for progressive action. The manager who suppresses, or even worse, represses or denies emotional realities within self and others is a danger to the wellbeing of himself, partner, family, employees and a poor servant of shareholders.

    Managers who are fully in touch and expressive of the totality of their nature do not dither or prevaricate but are definite in their decision-making whilst maintaining a respectful connection with individual employees. My hope is that the days are over of managers who are insensitive, who bully, who depersonalize, who are narcissistic, avaricious, greedy and intimidating. The preference is that these managers will recognise their need to examine their largely unlived lives and seek the necessary help to resolve their insensitivity. However, other members of work and other occupational, social, religious and political organisations cannot afford to wait for managers to transform themselves. It is the responsibility of each of us to understand ourselves and to take due responsibility to transform ourselves and that includes challenging any heartless responses of managers and leaders.

  • Mind Without Heart is Not Mind At All

    The word mind is generally defined as what goes on in your head — thoughts, imaginings, inventions, problem-solving, analysis, planning, dreams, post-mortems, self-criticism, judgements, appraisals, memories. When individuals miss the fact that the word ‘mind’ also means ‘to care for’ then such mind without heart is not mind at all! In other words, when the heart qualities of love, tenderness, nurture, empathy, support, comfort, warmth, affection are not present, the head without the heart can prove to be rigid, judgemental, controlling, inflexible, arrogant, depersonalizing, superior, dismissive and intolerant. Our human nature only achieves equilibrium when the polarities of head and heart, feminine and masculine and right-brain and left brain are in harmony with each other. When the head, which is largely about ‘getting ahead’ — an outward movement — is not balanced by the inward movement of the heart, it can rule in a heartless way and be a major source of threat to the wellbeing of others. For example, the man who is highly ambitious — success being his God — will neglect his relationship with his wife and children resulting in considerable trauma for them. In the workplace, the loss of his own valuing of himself will manifest in a depersonalizing of other staff members and clients. Whilst he does this unconsciously from a deep insecurity and a need to be visible through success, the reality is that his head without heart for himself, his partner, children and employees results in threats to his own wellbeing and that of the significant others in his life. I recall one businessman saying to me that when colleagues warned him that his intense working schedule would give him a heart attack, his response was ‘I won’t get a heart attack; I’m the one who gives heart attacks.’ The emotional disconnection evident in this stark and harsh assertion ‘I give heart attacks’ shows very clearly the major danger posed by a mind without heart. Incidentally — and sadly — three years later he suffered a heart attack — hence his seeking psychotherapeutic help recommended by an astute medical general practitioner. Sometimes it takes a major psychological crisis or illness to bring about a consciousness of hidden vulnerabilities that need resolution.

    What is often not appreciated is that if mind without heart is a considerable threat to wellbeing, heart without mind is also darkness within and between people. The person who over-involves themselves in the life of another (for example, mother with child, friend with friend, wife with husband, employee with employer) is without mind. If mind — understanding, outwardness, determination, ambition, intention, assertion — were present then the over-belonging would be perceived as a dependence on the other, a living one’s life for the other and, thereby, making it difficult — particularly, for a child — to live his or her own life. Indeed, many intimate couple relationships are troubled due to an over-involved partner living her life through her partner or the opposite scenario is common, whereby one partner jealously possesses, dominates and blocks any bid for independence on the pat of his partner. A similar over-involvement can occur in the workplace. I have helped individuals who bent themselves over backwards for their employers — living their lives for them — only to be devastated when criticised or, worse still, made redundant. Basically, over-involvement with another is both that ‘I should be there for you and live my life for you’ and ‘You should be there for me and live your life for me’. Individuals who tend to be passive are more likely to live for others and those who bully and are aggressive demand ‘others live for them’; either way it is not a mature and happy situation. Individuals then who are over-involved and enmeshed with another are in an unconscious state of denial and unless they become mindful — conscious — of their dependence on the other, then their own maturity is seriously blocked. This unhappy situation has its origins in childhood — in the key relationship between a parent and a child — but, as adults, whatever happened to us in childhood, the matter is now in our own hands. However, for mindfulness to emerge, the person who is over-involved needs to encounter somebody who stays separate from her or him and provides the unconditional holding that creates the support for the crucial disengagement that is required. Without such support, it is unlikely that heart with mindfulness will emerge.

  • Men on Top!

    What has been evident since the economic crash that it was men who peopled the ‘top’ positions in the banks, financial institutions and property development companies. Men at the top are also a feature of the front bench (and the back benches) of the present government and of the oppositional parties. Of course, this phenomenon of male predominance is blaringly apparent in the Catholic Church. What is now clear that these male leaders have not done a good job — cover ups, arrogance, superiority, avarice, greed, recklessness, unethical practices, depersonalisation of staff members and clients, bullying, addiction to success, profits before people, unrelenting pressures to meet unrealistic targets are just some of the behaviors that were and are still being exhibited. It was inevitable that capitalism without heart, without regard for people and that made the rich richer and the poor poorer was going to fail; the problem was that those few mature voices that predicted the crash were aggressively ignored.

    There are critical questions to be asked: how is it that we are rearing and educating males to be such poor leaders and managers? Do we seriously need to question putting men at the helm of our major political, financial, educational, health and religious organisations?

    Would we be better putting women into these positions of power? The answer to the latter question is that there is no guarantee that women will do any better. After all maturity is not a gender issue, it is a human one. Furthermore, the male managers and leaders of today have been reared and educated primarily by women. Women still do 90 per cent of the parenting of children and primary school education is largely in the hands of female teachers (over 90 per cent) and female teachers are outnumbering male teachers by approximately three to one in second-level education. All pre-schools are run by women. These statistics beg the question: how is it that women who have so much power in those crucial formative years of children’s lives are not influencing both male and female children to become mature managers? There is no attempt here to put the responsibility for the present economic, religious, social and health service crises solely on the shoulders of women. After all no matter what happens to us as children, as adults the matter is in our own hands and it is the responsibility of each of us to resolve any emotional baggage we are carrying from past experiences. Notoriously, males resist this essential self-exploration and have cleverly consigned such mature reflection and consequent action to the ‘soft skills’ bin. However, if truth be told, the responsibility for each male manager to occupy both the head and heart of their individuality is the hardest challenge for them to take on — not at all a ‘soft’ ride. However, it is imperative that they do because management without heart is not management at all; effective management is both a head and a heart phenomenon and not a series of mechanical tasks that many managers believe it to be.

    Given that parents are the first managers and teachers are the second managers children encounter, it would appear to me that preparation and training for these key management positions need to be urgently reviewed. The experience of many children and students is the pressure to academically perform, intense competitiveness, anonymity, verbal threats, punishment of failure, over-rewarding of success and intensity around examinations and examination results. Secondary schools, in particular, are target-fixated and look to leaving certificate points as their main criterion for evaluating the school’s effectiveness. Yet education is no index of maturity, neither is gender nor age and, certainly, status and wealth are no indicators of maturity. When we view what happens in homes and classrooms the immature behaviors that brought about the recession are not much different. What is also now clear is that the policy of education for jobs has not worked; what needs to emerge is an education for individual maturity. Is it then any wonder that the males on top turned out to be such a flop. The worrying fact is that most of our current mangers and leaders continue to occupy these top positions and why oh why do we believe that they have changed their spots? A relentless examination of their attitudes and actions is called for and I do not see the investigation into the banks carrying out such an in-depth analysis. The challenge is to find mature individuals to conduct such an investigation. The examination has to be focussed on individual managers because it was not the banks or financial institutions or FAS or the Government or the Catholic Church that perpetrated neglect — it was individuals. I am not suggesting a witch-hunt, but I am concerned that the defensive emotional processes that ran through the veins of our top people be closely examined and that each of these individuals be supported to resolve these serious block to emotional, social and economic prosperity.

Tony Humphreys Videos

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Tony Humphreys is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics such as Recession — Opportunity for Progression, Trusting Times, The Path to Accountability, The End to Insensitivity, Mind Without Heart is Not Mind At All and Men on Top!. The estimated speaking fee range to book Tony Humphreys for your event is available upon request. Tony Humphreys generally travels from and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Amanda Gore, John Wood, Kathy Ireland, Joseph Grenny and Keith Ferrazzi. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Tony Humphreys for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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  • Recession — Opportunity for Progression

    The word ‘recess’ has several meanings — a dark cavity in a wall, a break or time-out. The response to the economic recession does not seem to have reflected upon the deeper meanings of the word. There is certainly a frenetic scramble to get back to the prosperity that we had without a consciousness that it has not worked! In terms of the individuals at the top of banks and other financial institutions, no evidence of a deeper reflection and consequential taking responsibility for their reckless actions has emerged. This is true too for many politicians.

    There is a need for all of us — not just the bankers, property developers and politicians — to examine the dark inner recesses of our minds that led to the collusion with what happened and to the very powerful realities of depersonalisation, avarice, greed, bullying, passivity and superiority that were part and parcel of the well-named ‘tiger’ economy. In term of passivity, in the words of Seamus Heaney there was ‘the government of the tongue’ by heads of work organisations and the prevailing message among employees was ‘whatever you say, say nothing.’ Those who allowed themselves to be tongue-tied also need to take responsibility for their non-active response. The old saying ‘when good men do nothing, evil thrives’ is particularly relevant here.

    Sustained economic prosperity is only possible when there is an equal — I would say greater — focus on the emotional and social prosperity of each individual within our country. The dark development of Human Resources Departments within work organisations led to anonymity at work being a common experience for individual employees. Before the ‘boom’ these used to be called Personnel Departments which largely recognized that it is individual persons that an organization employed and not a resource to be exploited. Certainly, the reflection on the recession needs to involve a very serious look at relationships within the workplace and also relationships with clients which had also become depersonalized. However, a deeper recess within each of us needs to be visited — and that is one’s relationship with self.

    When any of us confuses self with work or success or wealth or status or power we bring a dark immaturity to relationships within marriage, family, workplace and community. These addictive responses arose from significant relationships in childhood in homes and classrooms and were creatively fashioned as substitutes for the real belonging that is part of our nature — the need for unconditional love. As an adult, it is my responsibility — not optional — to unconditionally belong to self and to operate out from a solid and independent interiority. This is the inner journey that each human being is called upon to travel and there is no better or more fitting time than the beginning of a New Year that can bring endless possibilities for a deepening of personal maturity that is critical to emotional, social, political and economic prosperity.

    Another issue that needs addressing is the belief that the ‘tiger’ economy was a result of the Government emphasis on education from the 1960’s onwards. However, a realization is now needed that that education certainly prepared people for work, but not for maturity. Indeed, it fostered a dependence on work, success and wealth and, thereby, blocked the emergence of personal maturity. Personal maturity is an essential aspect of professional effectiveness, a reality that hopefully will be realized in the coming year. The notion too that ‘the pen is lighter than the shovel’ also demeaned work that is central to physical and social wellbeing. What came about was the importing of labour to do this important work. Education needs to ensure that all work is appreciated and valued and that the pen cannot do without the shovel nor the shovel without the pen. The threat that ‘you’ll end up working on the roads’ came from a defensive superiority and has proved to be counterproductive. Education needs to be primarily geared towards individual maturity — an empowering of individuals to take responsibility for self and one’s actions. It needs to stay loyal to the true meaning of education (from the Latin word educare — meaning to draw out) and work from the inside-out of each individual student. The more that educators affirm the unique presence of each student and appreciate the unique creativity and intelligence that each individual student brings to the classroom, the greater likelihood of sustained emotional, social and economic prosperity.

  • Trusting Times

    Trust is the sine qua non of a mature relationship, be it between a parent and a child, husband and wife, lover and lover, friend and friend, citizen and politician, client and banker, employee and manager, church-goer and priest, teacher and student. Certainly, at the moment, there has been a great betrayal of trust within government, church, banks, other financial institutions, health boards and many workplaces. It is going to take considerable personal reflection and mature action on the part of individual politicians, clergy, bankers, financiers, managers, health-care personnel and employers to regain the trust of their clients. What is often not appreciated is that the betrayal of trust that has been part and parcel of the economic recession belies a deeper betrayal of one’s own integrity. Unless the inner betrayal is resolved then the betrayal of others is highly likely to continue.

    The source of the inner letting down of self can be traced back to one’s earlier years and the key relationship between each parent and the child. An infant emerges from the womb fully confident of being loved and cared for and does all in its power to attract the parent to his or her unique and individual presence. When the child experiences unconditional holding for his presence and expressions of that presence — physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual, behavioral, social, creative and spiritual — he becomes secure and trust that it is safe for him to fully reveal and inhabit his own individuality; the consequences are he learns to trust self and significant others. This experience will be repeated with other significant people in neighborhood, play school, primary school, church and so on. However, when a child experiences a lack of unconditional love, or a conditional relating or no sense of belonging, then the darkness of this betrayal leads to the powerful protective response of repression of his true self and the creation of a false/shadow self. It is in the fashioning of this false persona, this substitute presence that the child learns to not trust his own power to be real and authentic. If the child were to show trust in self in the face of betrayal of trust by the significant others (mother, father, teachers, aunts, uncles, doctors, nurses) in his life, he would be in even greater peril! It is in this way that an inner and outer world of untrustworthiness is formed. The more betrayal of trust that occurs, the greater the inner protective betrayal has to be.

    As adults, we need to examine the whole issue of trust and to determine are we continuing to depend on others for our security rather than learning to depend on ourselves. In redeeming our trust in our own unique nature we will encounter considerable risks — the enemies are still out there — but whilst there is a comfort in being hidden, it is an utter disaster for ourselves and, indeed, for all others — especially significant others — when we do not find and express the fullness, breadth and depth of our individuality.

    Such an inner examination needs to be integral to the training and preparation of all professionals especially because they occupy positions of power over others and because their own unresolved inner betrayal of self can perpetrate havoc in their personal, interpersonal and professional lives. It is in this way that personal effectiveness lies at the heart of professional effectiveness, that an inner trustworthiness determines an integrity and trustworthiness in personal, interpersonal and professional relationships.

    It is a very worrying situation that those professionals who betrayed the trust that clients had in their care are not even remotely examining their actions. There is a frenetic scramble going on to get things back to the way they were and no consciousness that this return to defensive ways, down the road, will only lead to another recession. The word recession is better understood as take a break to review how the present economic crisis has come about and to examine the inner dark ‘recesses’ of the mind that led to the grossly neglectful actions that are apparent to many of us but not to those who perpetrated them. Lessons from history are not learned when individuals do not examine their greed, avarice, arrogance, denial, egocentricity, depersonalisation and target-fixated mentality. The only hope is that clients and voters will put a lot more trust in themselves and monitor closely the actions of those professionals to whom they entrust their health, wealth and overall wellbeing. It is best never to entrust yourself totally to anybody — professional or otherwise. Trust and take responsibility for your self and keep a keen weather eye on the professional practice of service providers and those who govern.

  • The Path to Accountability

    What has been most noticeable over the last year is the major lack of accountability by individuals in the banks, government, property development, financial institutions and public bodies. Not one individual has stood up and admitted to the avarice, greed and depersonalising of staff members and customers that were part and parcel of their professional practice. Many of these individuals have attempted to hide behind the system — politicians are amazing at doing it — but it is not a system that neglects people, it is individuals. The whole sad lack of accountability is crying out for an explanation. Why would so many individuals who are well-educated, in status positions and possessing considerable political or financial power not own up to their very serious misdemeanors? It is not that those individuals — incidentally, mostly male — lack intelligence, but they certainly appear to lack maturity. The wonderful 12th century poet and mystic, Rumi, puts it well when he said ‘a person only become an adult when he takes responsibility for self and his own actions’; if it were only so we would emerge from the economic recession much more quickly. The danger now is that if accountability does not emerge, the economic recovery that is slowly emerging will be built on the same defensive emotional/social foundations which led to the economic crash. I have found little evidence in the analysis of the causes of the recession that point to the very powerful emotional process that underpinned the economic collapse.

    What is important to appreciate is that these powerful emotional processes are peculiar to individuals and whilst at an external level we can point to the avarice, the greed, the self-centredness, the depersonalisation, the target-fixated mentality, the betrayal of trust, there are deeper emotional realities to be detected. Unless these deeper more hidden realities are identified by each of the individuals who were exploitative and reckless with the ‘widow’s mite’, there will be no emergence of external accountability. When these individuals fail to examine their professional behavior and do not come to realize that their ‘unprofessional’ conduct mirrors a deeper dark reality of personal insecurity, they will continue to blatantly rationalise their actions. When individuals do not have a consciousness of unresolved inner turmoil, they are unconsciously and automatically in defence and this defensiveness manifests itself in denial. Denial is a very powerful unconscious defence and arises from deep personal insecurity. Unless the confused identity that lies at the heart of the neglect of others is resolved, no external accountability is possible. The most common confusions that exist are the confusion of one’s self and worth with such externals as power, wealth, status, success, prestige and work. Behind these projections lie fears of rejection and failure. Internal accountability is about becoming conscious of these inner unresolved conflicts and making new and mature responses to resolve them; when deep-seated and particularly when denial is present, professional psychotherapeutic help is required.

    In terms of the prevention of the greed, avarice, bullying, depersonalisation, betrayal of trust and addictions to success, power, status and wealth that have haunted our society in recent years, it is vital that individuals who have positions of power — parental, political, educational, occupational, social, religious — be provided with the opportunities to closely examine their behavior so that their inner turmoil is not projected onto others. In other words, personal development needs to be an integral part of professional development. The latter notion is not a benign issue but one that is critical to human well-being. Professional training courses need to incorporate examination of and deepening of personal maturity; too long it has been assumed that education and status equals personal maturity but the reality is that age, status, education, gender, wealth are no indices of maturity. What are indices of maturity are a solid sense of self that is not tied to anything outside of self and a separateness and independence in one’s relationship with others, work, creativity, wealth, productivity and success. Bill Gates believes that the greatest impediment to progress is success. However, it is deeper and more complex than that; the greatest impediment is a lack of regard for self, a lack of confidence in one’s intelligence beyond measure and the illusion that something outside self will resolve one’s inner turmoil. Internal accountability for our own insecurities is the sine qua non of accountability for the external actions that have so belied the trust that is inherent in professionalism.

  • The End to Insensitivity

    On a recent reading of the business section of one of Ireland’s national newspapers I came across a column titled: ‘why insensitivity is a vital managerial trait!’ I hesitated before reading the article and checked to see whether the date was April 1st! After all, given the shocking betrayals revealed about heads within the Church, the banks, other financial institutions, Government bodies, the Gardai, it seems quite perverse of any writer to be in praise of insensitivity. Not only have the leaders and managers of the various institutions mentioned lost the trust of their heretofore followers, but there is a boiling anger and even rage brewing about their heartless conduct. The major problem with the management of our leading economic, social, political and religious organisations has been a depersonalisation of individuals, an avarice, a greed, a superiority, an arrogance and, as yet, a refusal to take responsibility for their inhumanity to man.

    What gives rise to the article was the declaration by Jon Moulton of Moulton and Browne of his three strongest character traits: determination, curiosity and insensitivity. In the words of Jon Moulton ‘the great thing about insensitivity is that it lets you sleep when others can’t.’ One wonders who are ‘the others’ he is referring to — are they the ones at the receiving end of his insensitivity and seething with rage at being an anonymity within the workforce? How can any mature manger believe that being heartless is going to increase staff loyalty, motivation, productivity, creativity and commitment? Bullying – a product of insensitivity is a time bomb still waiting to go off in many workplaces.

    The writer of the column suggests that being in management means having the insecurity to take decisions that will hurt individual people. Has the writer any clue that it is the truth that sets people free and that a genuine telling of what are the bases for a difficult decision considerably softens the blow and means that both manager and employee can sleep that night! There have been cases where the insensitive firing of an individual employee has resulted in that said employee either returning to shoot the manager and his cohorts or taking his own life or both. Management is both a head and a heart practice and management that has head but no heart is not management at all. Equally, management that has heart but no head is not management at all. Effective management is a function of a solid interiority from which nobody can distance, exile, demean or lessen your presence. Sensitivity or being emotionally mature does not mean taking responsibility for others, but it does mean being responsible for self, ensuring that work, wealth, status, power are not tied to one’s worth and confidence and that interactions with employees are of a nature that individualizes and dignifies their presence. Emotional maturity is also about seeing beyond oneself from an inner stronghold; it does not mean, as the writer of the column suggested, taking what others say personally and staying awake all night agitating on the hurts experienced or witnessed. On the contrary, the mature manager sleeps because he does care, he does have heart, he does affirm the presence of workers, he does firmly and authoritatively speak the truth and he exercises his responsibility with due care of self, employees, clients, shareholders and the organization.

    Feelings occur spontaneously – they are not consciously manufactured – and they arise with the mature purpose of calling for progressive action. The manager who suppresses, or even worse, represses or denies emotional realities within self and others is a danger to the wellbeing of himself, partner, family, employees and a poor servant of shareholders.

    Managers who are fully in touch and expressive of the totality of their nature do not dither or prevaricate but are definite in their decision-making whilst maintaining a respectful connection with individual employees. My hope is that the days are over of managers who are insensitive, who bully, who depersonalize, who are narcissistic, avaricious, greedy and intimidating. The preference is that these managers will recognise their need to examine their largely unlived lives and seek the necessary help to resolve their insensitivity. However, other members of work and other occupational, social, religious and political organisations cannot afford to wait for managers to transform themselves. It is the responsibility of each of us to understand ourselves and to take due responsibility to transform ourselves and that includes challenging any heartless responses of managers and leaders.

  • Mind Without Heart is Not Mind At All

    The word mind is generally defined as what goes on in your head — thoughts, imaginings, inventions, problem-solving, analysis, planning, dreams, post-mortems, self-criticism, judgements, appraisals, memories. When individuals miss the fact that the word ‘mind’ also means ‘to care for’ then such mind without heart is not mind at all! In other words, when the heart qualities of love, tenderness, nurture, empathy, support, comfort, warmth, affection are not present, the head without the heart can prove to be rigid, judgemental, controlling, inflexible, arrogant, depersonalizing, superior, dismissive and intolerant. Our human nature only achieves equilibrium when the polarities of head and heart, feminine and masculine and right-brain and left brain are in harmony with each other. When the head, which is largely about ‘getting ahead’ — an outward movement — is not balanced by the inward movement of the heart, it can rule in a heartless way and be a major source of threat to the wellbeing of others. For example, the man who is highly ambitious — success being his God — will neglect his relationship with his wife and children resulting in considerable trauma for them. In the workplace, the loss of his own valuing of himself will manifest in a depersonalizing of other staff members and clients. Whilst he does this unconsciously from a deep insecurity and a need to be visible through success, the reality is that his head without heart for himself, his partner, children and employees results in threats to his own wellbeing and that of the significant others in his life. I recall one businessman saying to me that when colleagues warned him that his intense working schedule would give him a heart attack, his response was ‘I won’t get a heart attack; I’m the one who gives heart attacks.’ The emotional disconnection evident in this stark and harsh assertion ‘I give heart attacks’ shows very clearly the major danger posed by a mind without heart. Incidentally — and sadly — three years later he suffered a heart attack — hence his seeking psychotherapeutic help recommended by an astute medical general practitioner. Sometimes it takes a major psychological crisis or illness to bring about a consciousness of hidden vulnerabilities that need resolution.

    What is often not appreciated is that if mind without heart is a considerable threat to wellbeing, heart without mind is also darkness within and between people. The person who over-involves themselves in the life of another (for example, mother with child, friend with friend, wife with husband, employee with employer) is without mind. If mind — understanding, outwardness, determination, ambition, intention, assertion — were present then the over-belonging would be perceived as a dependence on the other, a living one’s life for the other and, thereby, making it difficult — particularly, for a child — to live his or her own life. Indeed, many intimate couple relationships are troubled due to an over-involved partner living her life through her partner or the opposite scenario is common, whereby one partner jealously possesses, dominates and blocks any bid for independence on the pat of his partner. A similar over-involvement can occur in the workplace. I have helped individuals who bent themselves over backwards for their employers — living their lives for them — only to be devastated when criticised or, worse still, made redundant. Basically, over-involvement with another is both that ‘I should be there for you and live my life for you’ and ‘You should be there for me and live your life for me’. Individuals who tend to be passive are more likely to live for others and those who bully and are aggressive demand ‘others live for them’; either way it is not a mature and happy situation. Individuals then who are over-involved and enmeshed with another are in an unconscious state of denial and unless they become mindful — conscious — of their dependence on the other, then their own maturity is seriously blocked. This unhappy situation has its origins in childhood — in the key relationship between a parent and a child — but, as adults, whatever happened to us in childhood, the matter is now in our own hands. However, for mindfulness to emerge, the person who is over-involved needs to encounter somebody who stays separate from her or him and provides the unconditional holding that creates the support for the crucial disengagement that is required. Without such support, it is unlikely that heart with mindfulness will emerge.

  • Men on Top!

    What has been evident since the economic crash that it was men who peopled the ‘top’ positions in the banks, financial institutions and property development companies. Men at the top are also a feature of the front bench (and the back benches) of the present government and of the oppositional parties. Of course, this phenomenon of male predominance is blaringly apparent in the Catholic Church. What is now clear that these male leaders have not done a good job — cover ups, arrogance, superiority, avarice, greed, recklessness, unethical practices, depersonalisation of staff members and clients, bullying, addiction to success, profits before people, unrelenting pressures to meet unrealistic targets are just some of the behaviors that were and are still being exhibited. It was inevitable that capitalism without heart, without regard for people and that made the rich richer and the poor poorer was going to fail; the problem was that those few mature voices that predicted the crash were aggressively ignored.

    There are critical questions to be asked: how is it that we are rearing and educating males to be such poor leaders and managers? Do we seriously need to question putting men at the helm of our major political, financial, educational, health and religious organisations?

    Would we be better putting women into these positions of power? The answer to the latter question is that there is no guarantee that women will do any better. After all maturity is not a gender issue, it is a human one. Furthermore, the male managers and leaders of today have been reared and educated primarily by women. Women still do 90 per cent of the parenting of children and primary school education is largely in the hands of female teachers (over 90 per cent) and female teachers are outnumbering male teachers by approximately three to one in second-level education. All pre-schools are run by women. These statistics beg the question: how is it that women who have so much power in those crucial formative years of children’s lives are not influencing both male and female children to become mature managers? There is no attempt here to put the responsibility for the present economic, religious, social and health service crises solely on the shoulders of women. After all no matter what happens to us as children, as adults the matter is in our own hands and it is the responsibility of each of us to resolve any emotional baggage we are carrying from past experiences. Notoriously, males resist this essential self-exploration and have cleverly consigned such mature reflection and consequent action to the ‘soft skills’ bin. However, if truth be told, the responsibility for each male manager to occupy both the head and heart of their individuality is the hardest challenge for them to take on — not at all a ‘soft’ ride. However, it is imperative that they do because management without heart is not management at all; effective management is both a head and a heart phenomenon and not a series of mechanical tasks that many managers believe it to be.

    Given that parents are the first managers and teachers are the second managers children encounter, it would appear to me that preparation and training for these key management positions need to be urgently reviewed. The experience of many children and students is the pressure to academically perform, intense competitiveness, anonymity, verbal threats, punishment of failure, over-rewarding of success and intensity around examinations and examination results. Secondary schools, in particular, are target-fixated and look to leaving certificate points as their main criterion for evaluating the school’s effectiveness. Yet education is no index of maturity, neither is gender nor age and, certainly, status and wealth are no indicators of maturity. When we view what happens in homes and classrooms the immature behaviors that brought about the recession are not much different. What is also now clear is that the policy of education for jobs has not worked; what needs to emerge is an education for individual maturity. Is it then any wonder that the males on top turned out to be such a flop. The worrying fact is that most of our current mangers and leaders continue to occupy these top positions and why oh why do we believe that they have changed their spots? A relentless examination of their attitudes and actions is called for and I do not see the investigation into the banks carrying out such an in-depth analysis. The challenge is to find mature individuals to conduct such an investigation. The examination has to be focussed on individual managers because it was not the banks or financial institutions or FAS or the Government or the Catholic Church that perpetrated neglect — it was individuals. I am not suggesting a witch-hunt, but I am concerned that the defensive emotional processes that ran through the veins of our top people be closely examined and that each of these individuals be supported to resolve these serious block to emotional, social and economic prosperity.

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