Executive Maturity

May 3, 2000

Did you know that approximately 75% of executives in U.S. companies are functionally adolescents? According to Larry Liberty, author of a forthcoming book on executive maturity, this percentage might even be conservative. With over 25 years of consulting experience, Liberty estimates that there are very few true adults in the workplace and that the large majority are mentally and emotionally stuck in adolescence where their primary motives are to look good, cover their butts, and maintain the pretense that they are fully-functional. As I mention this estimate to people, they inevitably nod their heads as if I just stated the obvious – but no one has made it explicit until now.

I’m helping Larry get this landmark book written and published…something I do once or twice a year for people whom I admire and who are too busy to do it on their own.

I fully expect Larry’s book to be a blockbuster when it eventually comes out.


Special Offer to Aha! Subscribers!

Aha! subscribers who sign up for John’s new e-newsletter – eCHOICE – will receive a free copy of April’s premiere issue. eCHOICE costs as little as $1.79 per monthly issue (see details below).



U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Anan is seeking collaborations with business enterprises as much as well as governments. In an interview with Leaders magazine, Anan states, “If we can create an enabling environment, working with companies as well as in conjunction with governments, we can really do a lot of good in the world.”

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The Economist magazine is concerned over the “new capitalism” threatening the traditionally more compassionate economic system, called “Rhenish capitalism” (no, John is not behind this!). The magazine describes this form of capitalism as one that emphasizes “continuity, consensus and social justice.” European managers are concerned that the enormous economic growth of the U.S. economy will push a new, harsher form of capitalism – one described as “financial and social brutality.”


FatBrain.com Features John’s Book for Earth Day New Book:

FatBrain.com, the Internet’s “most comprehensive bookstore for professionals and recently named the number two fastest-growing public company in Silicon Valley,” featured John’s new book – Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing – on its homepage for Earth Day, 2000. Visitors may purchase the book in downloadable format from FatBrain.com for only $8.00 and download it.


Since being posted, thousands of people from dozens of countries have endorsed “The 21st Century Agenda for Business.”



By John Renesch

The degree to which I hear reports of growing cynicism in today’s workplace reminds me of the parable of the boiled frog. As the parable goes, a test is set up using a frog and a pan of water on a stovetop. With the water at room temperature, a frog placed in the pan is content to sit in the water, especially if it has been out in the air for an extended period of time. It has no compelling reason to move. When the heat under the pan of water is warmed ever so gradually, the frog slowly adjusts to the warming water and, in the absence of any sudden change in temperature, is eventually boiled.

On the other hand, goes the parable, if you were to heat the water in the pan before the frog is placed in it, it will immediately sense the danger and leap from the hot water and the pan to a place of presumed greater safety.

The purpose of the parable is to show how unaware we can be about insidious threats to our well-being. It shows how easily humans can adapt to incremental changes, even changes which threaten their health and spirit, if these changes are slow and gradual enough.

The modern business enterprise is founded upon the principle of the “invisible hand” of the free marketplace that moral philosopher Adam Smith popularized with his eighteenth-century writings. Since then he became known as the de-facto “father of capitalism.” Thus the corporation has become the most adaptive human organization ever created, designed from birth to be as responsive to market changes, trends and styles as a large organization can be. The corporation’s ability to adapt as an organization is unmatched.

In this parable, the frog represents people. The water represents the system – the places where we work along with other people. The pan represents the container, the larger system – society – which includes the market, our communities, other countries, nature and the environment. The heat under the pan represents the energy that is threatening to destroy everything in the pan, even if it is doing so very gradually. The frogs – people in this parable – have been getting slowly and consistently “boiled” much like spending too much time in a sauna or a hot tub. Like the frog, people don’t notice the small incremental changes in their environments, at work or in society in general.

They have also learned to cope with all the changes – good and bad – at a record pace since change is happening at ever-increasing rates, demanding greater and greater degrees of adaptiveness from every one of us. Coping has taken on several forms as we scurry for more and more ways to deal with the continuous onslaught of change. Unfortunately, many of them require us to sell out our humanity – to sell our souls. And, its very difficult to notice these compromises unless you have been “dropped into the pan” when the water has already been heated.

An important distinction between people and frogs: frogs don’t think. Frogs react. Frogs don’t make choices. They respond by instinct. People think and can make choices. They can awaken from their complacency and choose different outcomes for themselves. They can respond to critical choice points when they become aware of them.


John’s New Book

“Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing”

from New Business Books of San Francisco…
Foreword by Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop.
Endorsements by Warren Bennis, Neale Donald Walsch, Peter Russell and others…..

For preview, go to Getting to the Better Future


Credit card orders: call TOLL FREE 877-273-6372 or 415-437-6974.
Single copies: $13.50 (plus $3.75 S&H); CA residents add 8 1/2% sales tax.
20% discount for orders of five or more copies.


eCHOICE The E-Newsletter for the Introspective Leader

John’s new monthly E-newsletter eCHOICE contains provocative articles, resources, and network contacts for subscribers who are interested in making meaningful change happen in the business or organizational world.

Guest editorials are occasionally included.

eCHOICE subscribers may find it as “inciteful” as they do “insightful.”

eCHOICE is SENT DIRECTLY FROM JOHN, not through the automatic system of his Web site – Renesch.com. Subscribers receive eCHOICE in two formats – as text in the body of the email as well as in MS Word in an attached file for each issue so more attractive copies can be archived by subscribers.


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About John Renesch

 Aha! is prepared monthly by John E. Renesch, a San Francisco writer, futurist, and business philosopher. His new book – Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing – is just out. You can preview it at his Web site: www.Renesch.com/TheBetterFuture. To order the book or to contact John call TOLL FREE 877-2-RENESCH


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John Renesch

John is a seasoned businessman-turned-futurist who has published 14 books and hundreds of articles on social and organizational transformation.

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