Consciousness
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"We help raise the consciousness of leaders to the power of collaboration for success and survival."

 

We help raise the consciousness  - we help you develop wisdom

 

We help you to develop wisdom.  Sounds preposterous doesn’t it?   Or at very least arrogant.  And yet we are pleased that that’s what many people tell us years after they have been through one of our programs. 

To begin we need to look at consciousness.   We believe consciousness implies a thoughtful responsiveness to what is happening around you - a responsiveness that takes into account not only the current events but also the ripples that follow action.  These ideas are illustrated here with a wonderful experiment that you may be familiar with.   The Good Samaritan experiment is based on one of the most famous parables from the New Testament of the same name.  The parable describes a man who is badly injured and stranded on a roadway somewhere between Jerusalem and Jericho.  No one comes to his assistance.  The pious and the wealthy avert their eyes and pass by without pausing to give assistance.   A Samaritan, one of the lowliest, almost despised groups, takes pity on the man.  He gives the man sustenance,  bandages his wounds and even leaves money behind with an inn-keeper before setting off.  He is the Good Samaritan.  

Two psychologists, John Darley and Daniel Batson, decided to test the factors that underpinned Good Samaritan-like behaviour.  They wanted to know what would increase or decrease the likelihood of a person stopping to give assistance to someone in need.  Their subjects were students from the Princeton Theological Seminary and unaware of the true purpose of the experiment. 

The psychologists considered three factors they thought might correlate with the Good Samaritan behaviour.  
 First, the seminarian’s motivation for choosing their vocation. 
 Second, the subject matter of a presentation each seminarian would be asked to deliver.  
 And third, whether or not having time to spare or being in a hurry mattered.  

The seminarians were met individually and asked to complete a questionnaire that teased out their primary motivations for joining the seminary.  Was it spiritual enlightenment?  Or were they more motivated by the practical guidance for daily living that religion could provide?   They were then asked to give a brief presentation with minimal preparation to an audience who had assembled in another building.  They were randomly assigned one of two topics, either the parable of ‘The Good Samaritan’ or ‘The relevance of a professional clergy on religious vocation.’   Half of the group were then given the following instructions.  ‘It will be a few minutes before they are ready for you, but you might as well head over now.’    The other half of the group were told.  ‘Oh you’re late.   They were expecting you a few minutes ago.  We’d better get moving.’ 

Each of the seminarians then set off to the presentation room.   Their path took them down an alley and it was here that they encountered an actor playing the part of a man lying on the ground and in distress.    Did the seminarian stop and render assistance or did he/she pass by?    The factors are tabulated below; have a go at picking the factor / factors that correlated most with the seminarian stopping to render assistance. 

 

   Primary vocational motivation

  Subject of presentation

Time frame

Spiritual enlightenment

Relevance of professional clergy on religious vocation

You are early

Practical tools for living

Parable of the Good Samaritan

You are late

  

If you chose presenting the parable of the Good Samaritan and or being motivated because of the practical tools for living that religion provides you would be in good company.   Most people unfamiliar with the experiment would agree with you (and this has been shown in independent testing).   However that is not what the experimenters found.   To their surprise the experimenters found that by far the most important factor that correlated with Samaritan-like behaviour was whether or not the seminarian was running early. 

If the seminarian was running early he/she was likely to stop 63% of the time.   If the seminarian was running late they only stopped 10% of the time.   It didn’t matter if the seminarian had prepared the parable of the Good Samaritan.   The majority of the seminarians weren’t relating the subject matter to their own behaviour.  Being late and the fear of giving a compromised presentation was uppermost in their consciousness. 

It is interesting that most people underplay the impact of emotion; particularly fear on our consciousness.  Here is another example to illustrate.  

Before his fall from power in 1964 President Nikita Khrushchev, was addressing a large audience of communist party members on the evils of the Stalin years.  It was a long speech received in almost total silence until a voice was heard from the back of the hall, demanding, “Why didn’t you restrain Stalin?  You were one of his colleagues!”  A leaden silence descended.  There was not a murmur or a movement.  Khrushchev’s gaze ran over the rows of delegate’s before he thundered, “Who said that?”  Still no one moved.  The tension mounted unbearably until Khrushchev said quietly, “Now you know why”

Consciousness is shaped to a large degree by context, of which emotion anxiety, fear, hope, love, hatred etc is an example.   The Good Samaritan experiment is one of a number of studies that invite us to deepen our understanding of the role of context in shaping our own and others’ perceptions and actions. 

Leadership Australia can help deepen this understanding - one of the ways we can help you develop greater wisdom.