Towards An Understanding of the Origins of Self Leadership

May 18, 2011

This post is longer than most. While it is lengthy, its message is critically important to your well being and happiness in your career. It is because it gives you the necessary awareness and insights about yourself to organize and develop yourself to be highly successful in your career through self leadership.

How Self Leadership Emerged: Impact of Historical Changes

1. Nietzsche, the German philosopher (1844-1900), had it right when he said “God is dead”. What he meant was that everybody said they believed in God; however, people had stopped behaving as if they believed that a God existed. Dostoyevsky, the Russian novelist (1821-1881), elaborated on Nietzsche’s comment by saying that “If God is dead, then anything is morally possible.” Until then, an individual’s “self” in a western society was largely programmed by their beliefs in God and religion. People’s behavior was largely kept in check by programmed religious and moral imperatives (beliefs and thoughts) promulgated by religious organizations.

What Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky recognized was that people’s behavior no longer conformed with the teachings of religions in western societies. Nietzsche called the game. Because of the industrial revolution and industrialization of the western societies, people’s moral and religious beliefs began to be un-programmed and reprogrammed with non religious beliefs and morals that suggested that people could have the power to affect and impact their environments and towns by beliefs and behaviors. Indeed, through science as reflected in industrialization in the Western societies, people were able to think and behave in ways that could impact their environments, cities, and communities, and thus their own lives.

2. Freud, the Austrian physician, neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis (1856-1939), hypothecated that a person’s “Self” was comprised of three parts: Superego, Ego, and Id (including the Libido). The superego was programmed full of ethics and morals based upon by the religions and cultures in the society at the time. The Id was the reservoir of instinctual drives and the source of psychic energy and dominated by the pleasure principle and irrational wishing and impulses. The Ego operated as a mediator between the Superego and the Id, and as long as the Ego was weak and ineffectual, the Superego most often times became the ruler and victor.

Because the Ego was largely ineffectual, Freud hypothecated that people functioned based on the paradigm of Stimulus —- Response, where there was very little filtering or shifting going on by the Ego in the “Self” of the Organism. People largely behaved (response) on the basis of the reinforced beliefs and thoughts (stimulus) programmed into them. Freud emphasized the role of the Superego in the “Self”. Much of Freud’s work dealt with people’s conflicts between their Superego and their Id as manifested through the guilt and anxiety in their Ego.

3. Jung, the Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist and a protégée of Freud 1875-1961), hypothecated that there is a “personality” within the Ego of the “Self” comprised of basic “character” elements known as sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and proactive/reactive in various combinations. He further hypothecated that there was a fourth part of the “Self” besides the Superego, Ego, and Id, that he called the Collective Unconsciousness, that everybody has access to, and it is comprised of philosophies, religions, truths, principles, values, ideas and Gods, etc. Finally, Jung hypothecated that people can function on the basis of the paradigm of Stimulus — Organism —- Response, not just Stimulus — Response which Freud emphasized.

Jung emphasized the role of the Ego in the Organism (including the personality and character), reinforced by one’s own connection with the Collective Unconscious. He believed that if the Ego could be properly understood and developed in each person, it would be strong enough to function as a filter between the Superego and the Id.

Hence, Jung gave to each of us the opportunity to create our own Ego (with one’s own personality, character, and philosophy), plus one’s own created connection to the Collective Unconscious’s ( Higher Self/True Self) as part of the “Self” in the Organism, which could now be powerful and strong enough to control and mediate between the Superego and the Id in the Organism. Jung gave us all a useful Organism, one that was now beyond the control of the State or any religion, if it could be used properly and purposefully by a person in one’s life. The Ego could be powerful enough to mediate the demands of the Superego and the Id in the “Self” of the Organism.

How Self Leadership Emerged: Impact of Contemporary Changes

1. Joseph Campbell, the late but contemporary philosopher, uncovered the meta stories (significant and lasting myths, largely religious and temporal and reflective of the religious and cultural beliefs, ideas and teachings of the day) that were programmed into the conscious and unconscious parts of the Ego and Superego of people in society over thousands of years. Such meta myths that Campbell hypothecated created the civilizations and cultures we have come to learn about largely in his books, and secondarily in our history, sociology and political science books..

The changes in the meta myths produced the rich variety of civilizations and cultures that have existed over the years. These civilizations and cultures , significantly created and reflected in the myths written about by Campbell, were based on the paradigm of Stimulus — Response where very little filtering or sifting existed between the Stimulus and the Response by the Organism in the first 1,000 – 1,500 years of civilizations. This is so because meta myths were beliefs, ideas, and thoughts that were programmed through repetition into the unconscious of people in a society through the religious media of the times.

In the next 1,000 -1500 years of civilization, especially the last 500 years, Campbell’s writings reflected myths that were based on the paradigm of Stimulus – Organism – Response, where the Organism began to have a more involved role in how the Responses were going to occur. Indeed, because of the collaboration between the State and the Church, Campbell’s myths through his writings, began to show how the Organism began to function to produce the Response that were programmed into people which reflected the ideologies of the State mixed with the religious beliefs and thoughts of the Religions of the times.

Per Campbell’s myths, the big change that occurred in the last 500 years was the enhanced role of the Organism in its relative degree of sifting of the Stimuli to produce the Responses which the State, through its military, and the religions, through its media, expected in communities and cultures.

2. Keen, a protégée of Campbell, has hypothecated that a fundamental change has occurred in our societies as reflected in the displacement of the Superego in favor of the Id. That is, it is now the Id with all of its instinctual drives and dominated by the pleasure principle and irrational wishes and impulses that is more in control of the “self”.

Keen goes on to say that in the last 50 years (1950-2000) through the understanding of psychology as promulgated and used by the media (TV, movies, radio, magazines, newspapers, etc.) , and especially advertising, has reinforced and fueled the dominance of the Id in our society. Our contemporary meta myths largely reflect the beliefs, ideas and thoughts of the Id as witnessed and reinforced through our media which has repetitively reprogrammed the unconscious of people in Western societies.

Because of the unleashing of the Id, he concludes that we now experience violence in our schools, work places, homes and communities. He further states that we also experience significant psychological dysfunction’s in the form of depressions, anxieties, and phobias to mention a few pathologies. Third, he proffers that we experience many people who are “lost”, disoriented, and misdirected in the way they are living their lives. Finally, he says that we experience many people who are exhibiting signs of an existential void as reflected in their meaningless lives.

Keen further reflects how the two World Wars, especially Hitler’s role, highlights how the Id has become a (the) dominant force in the Self. (It also reinforces the happenings in corporate America today as seen by the financial scandals occurring at Enron/Anderson, Xerox, WorldCom, etc.)

Keen has come to the conclusion that our western societies are at a “breakpoint”. This “breakpoint” is reflected in the shift from the paradigm of Stimulus — Response as reflected in the eras and writings of Nietzsche and Freud to a paradigm of Stimulus — Organism — Response as reflected in the eras and writings of Jung and Campbell.

He further concludes that because of the shift from the Superego to the Id as a (the) dominant force in the “Self” of the Organism, he proffers that the “breakpoint” is more profound than people realize. Indeed, it is Keen who believes that the new “heroes” of our times, and the creators of the new meta myths of the future, will be found in our corporations and our political organizations.

In Keen’s theory, the companies and/or the governments, instead of the churches and church organizations plus the military armies of the Western world through the governments, will likely be the source of the new meta myths in the hundreds of years to come as voiced by their leaders. Indeed, in Keen’s mind, it will be the corporate CEO’s and government rulers, as leaders, who will be the new “heroes” of the new meta myths. In contrast, Campbell believes that the new “heroes” of the future will come from the “artists” of the world.

3. Senge, Goleman, Drucker, and Maxwell all contemporary philosophers and professors of business and/or leaders in American business contributing to the fundamental changes occurring in corporations and companies today, advocate the use of “leadership” to manage these changes. All of them proffer the proposition that to use leadership one must have a “character” grounded in their own “personal philosophy” as part of their personality in one’s Ego. They further advocate the identification of one’s personality, gifts/talents/intelligence, and cognitive learning styles to establish the proper foundation for one’s “leadership.”

What they are saying is that each of us, especially the key members of the company, needs to develop the Ego in the Organism through learning to operate effectively and efficiently as a strong Ego between the Superego and the Id so as the achieve a balance between the Superego and the Id on the inside of a person and a balance between the Stimulus and Response outside a person through the Organism. By doing so, a person benefits the company (and its employees, customers and shareholders) and the community it serves.

All of them advocate the re-programming of dysfunctional beliefs and thoughts and the programming of new beliefs, thoughts and ideas through repetition and practice to change the beliefs, thoughts and behaviors of people in companies. While all three stand on the shoulders of Jung in formulating their hypotheses and models of human development, their major contribution that takes Jung’s work further is that a person has the ability, opportunity and responsibility for re-programming themselves as a person through their own initiatives.

No longer does a person have to become a product exclusively of their environmental programming such as parental upbringing, peer group pressure, or messages from the media, etc. A person can learn to teach themselves to re-program their own conscious and unconscious in their own “Self” through their own Ego in their Organism to be the type of person they wish to be. Correspondingly, a person can learn how to mediate and manage their own Ego between the Superego and the Id to successfully function as a productive and contributing Organism to properly filter and sift the demands of all the Stimulus in the environments in which they live.

4. Wooden, Cashman, Blanchard, Maltz, and Covey, all contemporary “philosophers” and proponents of self leadership for oneself in one’s life, including their work lives and their personal lives, have become very popular in the last 20 years in America and in many countries of the world. Fundamental to their beliefs as manifested through their books is the idea that one’s Ego can be self-programmed with specific thoughts, beliefs, values, virtues, and principles which reflect desirable and beneficial behaviors for the person him/herself as well as for the communities in which they live.

At the heart of their ideas is the proposition that one’s “character” can be formed in an individual as based on the creation of their own “personal philosophy.” All four authors pull on and use the wisdom and ideas of the great thinkers of all time including the well known philosophers, authors, poets, and novelists for the foundation for their values, virtues, principles and beliefs to be placed in one’s “personal philosophy” and to be the cornerstones for their “character.” All four authors propose that the individuals themselves are responsible for the creation of their own “character” and the creation of their own “personal philosophy”, and that a person can learn to self-program their own “personal philosophy” and “character” into their Ego so they can live by them. In so doing, self leadership is developed and used in a person’s life.

Absent from their propositions is the notion that the State or the Church is the main source of one’s “character” or “personal philosophy.” The sources now are the “common person” in the communities who uses the mass media to broadcast their ideas. People like Wooden, Maxwell, Blanchard, Maltz, and Covey reflect the new “heroes” of our times as they take us all on a journey into the darkness of our own “Self’s” to build an Organism that is strong enough to properly mediate and manage the demands of both the Id and the Superego.

What all five contemporary “philosophers” are reflecting is the emergence of the synthesis (the Ego) resulting from the thesis (the Superego) and the antithesis (the Id). As Campbell and Keen would say about the great meta myths that reflect our times over the centuries, we have moved from the meta myths that reflected our close relationship to nature (thesis) to the meta myths that reflected our domination of nature and people (antithesis) to now the future meta myths that will reflect the inclusion of people and nature unified together in one whole spaceship of communities and organizations called “spaceship earth” (synthesis).

Reflections, Discussions and Conclusions

Over the last 2500 years of civilizations, the individual human being as a person has developed a “Self” that has the capacity and the know how to be in control of itself. Paramount to the emergence of the “Self” in a person has been the creation of the Ego to manage the instinctual demands and needs of a person (Id), both conscious and unconscious, and the demands and needs of a society (Superego), both overt and covert. In the advent of the Ego in the Self, a person has the capacity and know how to build a formidable Organism to mediate the demands between the Stimuli and the Responses in the person’s environments, whether those environments are at work, in organizations, in the home, or in any other areas of life.

A crucial observance is the fact that the individual person can develop the capacity and the know how to build an Ego as part of a Self in the Organism. Unfortunately, the individual person does not know how to use the know how that is available and their own capacities to create their own Ego. However, a person can learn the knowhow and develop their capacities to build their own Ego as part of their own Organism.

We know that the necessary knowledge and know how is available by reading the works of Senge, Goleman, and Maxwell as this knowledge and know how applies to the development of companies and organizations through their people, and Cashman, Wooden, Maltz, and Covey as this knowledge and know how pertains to the development of the person themselves in the context of an organization, company, or a group. Thus, whether the goal is build a company through its people to be more productive, or build a person to be more of a success in life with happiness, especially at work, self leadership can be and needs to be developed by a person themselves.

Central to the process of developing a person’s Ego as a part of their Self in their Organism, through knowledge and know how, is the art of self leadership. The art of self leadership involves the development of one’s own personal philosophy and character as they manifest themselves through the enhancement of their personality and intelligences to provide the “centeredness” and power required for a person’s Ego to be strong enough to mediate the forces between the Superego and the Id within the person, and correspondingly between the Stimuli and the Responses outside the person.

Self leadership is an art since it requires that each person must identify and develop their own personal philosophy, character, personality, and intelligences (emotional, cognitive and behavioral), and then learn how to package these attributes into meaningful roles and work activities that benefits the communities and societies in which a person exits and lives.

Self Leadership is also based on a science since neuroscientists have found that the brain is “plastic,” which means the old neuropath ways coming from the original programming, can be replaced with new programming and new neuropath ways based on new thoughts and beliefs of one’s own choosing. Consequently, you can reprogram your brain (you mind) by creating new neuropath ways based on your own beliefs, thoughts, ideas, principles, and values. Such a discovery allows a person to form their own Self Leadership in their mind, based on their own Personal Identity, their Internal Director, and their Life Purpose to create their own Self Leadership in their own Self.

©2002 -2010 by Robert Gardner All Rights Reserved Gardner Associates Oakland, CA


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