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Infinite Empathy

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The thinker Charles Eisenstein posted last November that 'the dissolution of the old order that is now officially in progress is going to intensify.' And he suggests that this is both a huge danger and a wonderful opportunity.

Let's not assume, though, that he is right about the dissolution of anything. It might be truer to say that discontinuity is speeding up in line with the increasing speed of communication.

There is perhaps more reliability to be found in his assertion that 'we are entering a space between stories', and that in this place of unknowing the one thing we can rely on is Empathy. Can we, he asks, take Empathy into the political world and 'create an eye of compassion inside the political hate vortex?' My question is: can it come from the corporate world so as to infuse the political one?

Our work in The Corporate Theatre has shown us that Empathy is not just 'standing in someone else's shoes', but the central capability that leaders have always needed to develop so as to be more productive; and the wonderful opportunity that Charles Eisenstein puts before us is that corporations can become sources and powerhouses of human Empathy.

Why would this be a good thing? Because the full richness of Empathy is one of our profoundest neurological constituents as people, and because the tendency of corporate culture towards conformity in behaviour, in language and in attitude is to stifle Empathy.

Last December the Times leader argued that 'we need a new language of power.' Empathy is the most powerful vocabulary in the most powerful language of power: inspiration. And Empathy means becoming fully alive to each experience as a source of wonder, fun, energy and love.

In this 'space between stories,' then, as leaders are tempted to retrench back into a kind of business as usual (or even as it was), the opportunity for human energy in the form of Empathy to lead corporations through and beyond the dangers becomes even more wonderful than Eisenstein predicts.

This Empathy means becoming energised towards the whole miracle of life itself, and enabling others to connect with that energy as we experience it. Empathy means being truly curious, truly enquiring, truly engaged in letting go of assumptions. It means being open to others so that they connect with us, not simply standing in their shoes. It is less intellectual and more intuitive, but it is more productive because it involves the release of a power that can inspire others to reach their best. And it is infinite.

Surprised by Joy
Thoughts on Empathy