Everything starts with I


“The question is not ‘Can you make a difference?’ You already do make a difference. It’s just a matter of what kind of a difference you want to make, during your life on this planet.”

Taken from Black Ants and Buddhists, thinking critically and teaching differently in the primary grades by Mary Cowhey.

We’ve been talking for a while about the interaction of a team while facing challenges in their organization, or even in society. From interpersonal challenges with a specific person, as your boss, your employee or friend, to the challenges of the financial statements, such as EBITDA, the We always emerges. The We component refers to what is understood as inter-subjectivity, two or more people referring to something concrete. For example: a team deciding on the best strategy to reduce costs.

Even though the world is becoming more and more automated with processes being operated by systems, nearly every challenge we face, at some point, needs to be addressed with a conversation. Whether it’s about lending, asking, negotiating or inquiring, in our daily work, almost everything is manifested, in one form or another, in an interpersonal interaction between I’s in a We space. During work, we face and solve challenges in the We dimension through conversations, but it all starts with I. In order to have more effective results for all parties, it is essential to be very clear that as We is the space to face challenges, I is the only dimension that can have a significant improvement in We and impact It: the objective reality.

Everything begins with I means everything starts by becoming aware of what I feel, dream, understand, listen, wish, what I… Because conscious or not, the entire weight of I is present, as if it were a transparent bubble that defines my experiences at the We level. Therefore it also defines the experience of the other I who are part of the We, with whom I interact.

Everything begins with I also means that if I am capable of setting the I in service of the We, every aspect of I—everything I feel, I understand, I believe and so on—is in service of a better We, in a way that honors and feels comfortable; subsequently the It, which is the challenge, together with the We and the I is in much more balance. So everything begins with I also refers to the possibility that the challenge we face can be confronted in a better way if I am aware of my impact at the I, We and It level.

A first step to practicing the I within the We, is to speak in first person. Talking about what I understand, I think, I feel and I… leaving aside the common: one, i.e. “when one works too hard, one gets stressed” or “there is always a lot of work” changing it to “when I work too hard, I get stressed” or “I have a lot of work.” Undeniably everything begins with I means that everything begins and ends where my responsibility is.

Everything starts with I

Find One Million Dollars in Your Business in One Hour


“I have one major rule: everybody is right. More specifically, everybody —including me— has some important pieces of truth, and all of those pieces need to be honored, cherished, and included in a more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace.”

Ken Wilber

As I have been developing my consulting work to focus on what I call today conscious management, it has become easier to demonstrate with facts the direct relationship between the developmental level of leaders and its teams with business performance.

In other occasions, we have already spoken of Conscious Capitalism, where Rajendra S. Sisodia and John Mackey demonstrate how organizations that have transcended conventional leadership and the zero-sum approach, even transcending social responsibility as the formula of ‘giving back to society’, have shown that value return for all  stake holders is far above the industry’s standard. Rajendra S. Sisodia, David B. Wolfe and Jagdish N. Sheth in their book Firms of Endearment say that:

A humanistic company is run in such a way that its stakeholders—customers, employees, suppliers, business partners, society, and many investors—develop an emotional connection with it, an affectionate regard not unlike the way many people feel about their favorite athletic teams. Humanistic companies—or firms of endearment—seek to maximize their value to society as a whole, not just to their shareholders. They are the ultimate value creators: They create emotional, spiritual, social, cultural, intellectual, ecological, and, of course, financial value. People who interact with such companies feel safe, secure, and fulfilled in their dealings. They enjoy working with or for the company, buying form it, investing in it, and having it as a neighbor. [i]

In our consulting work, we are often invited by Human Resources or by Organizational Development, which makes it difficult to prove how there is a correlation between the developmental level of a person and its team with business performance. Going beyond the beliefs that a leader can make an organization achieve extraordinary results, the question we always get is: what is the economic benefit or the return of investing on the development of a leader and its team? My work is not about developing a leader, nor is to help improve the organization. What my colleagues and I do is to talk with our clients about the business challenges of the company, together we look at the threats the business is facing and we help them integrate the entire team’s perspective.

Companies are generally used to a hierarchical culture, where challenges are faced according to the vision of the most experienced person or the one with the highest position. Our job is to facilitate dialogue, where everyone can express their vision and integrate perspectives co-creating in this way, opportunities that would otherwise not have been visible.

It is impossible to find solutions that are different when team members, supported by consultants and experts, are used to defending their point of view. However, if instead of focusing via the conventional PPT presentation meeting format, challenges were addressed by placing them on the center of a table, with dialogue being facilitated to agree on the objective, caring for the inter-subjective and ensuring that each team member is in a good place, the potential benefits of the company will emerge and amazing possibilities of performance will arise.

When individuals transcend competition and arrogance, by taking sit  at a roundtable (figuratively), they allow themselves to first understand and then talk about the business challenges. It is here, where we may find huge profit. Putting a multidisciplinary team to discuss and co-create strategies to reduce spending, increase market share, improve EBITDA and to ensure performance of the organization, is an exercise that organizations rarely do and in our experience can generate a huge benefit within hours. It is useless to teach leadership, embark on a culture change journey or spend a weekend doing outdoor teambuilding courses, if it is not precisely the strive to overcome business challenges that serve the team development itself. All that is required is that team members address a challenge the company may be facing. Then talk about what they see and understand what others see. We call this co-creation and it’s only possible when the leader is leading himself and joins the team with full responsibility, humility and integrity.

[i] Sisodia, Rajendra, David B. Wolfe, and Jagdish N. Sheth. Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose. Upper Saddle River: Wharton School Pub, 2007. Print.

Find One Million Dollars in Your Business in One Hour