Transcendent Leadership

April 3, 2000

Response to Last Aha!

Several subscribers wrote me that they look forward to the day when their firms can retain the services of a “Vice President of Consciousness” – the theme of Aha! #20. A British consultant informed me that he has been retained in a very similar role after completing a consulting engagement with the client and that he’s found it to be some of the most satisfying work he’s doing now.

Several people asked if I was available for such a position. I most certainly am available to serve in this capacity and know others – such as Rob Rabbin who thought of the title – who could also fulfill this role.


Newsbriefs: March News

[More Newsbriefs can be seen in the “Press Room” at]

Hugh McColl, CEO of Bank of America (now the nation’s largest bank), seems to be bucking for “corporate rapist of this century” writes John in a new but unpublished article; the article was fueled by the March news that after lying to achieve the Bank’s takeover in 1998, McColl will receive over $50 million for 1999 when stockholders lost over 40%, 19,000 employees were laid off, and the Bank under-performed by McColl’s own pre-takeover estimates! “Move over Boetstky…we’re setting new standards for ruthlessness and greed in this century,” writes John.

############################ Features New Book

John’s new book gets top billing on, the Internet’s most comprehensive bookstore for professionals and recently named the number two

fastest-growing public company in Silicon Valley. John’s latest book – Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing – is being highlighted as one of a handful of business books available in downloadable format. Visitors can purchase the electronic file from for only $8.00 and download it.

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 The Agenda Marks its Six-Month Birthday

Launched in the late summer of last year, “The 21st Century Agenda for Business” marked its six-month anniversary several weeks back. This innovative resolution was posted on the Internet by John and a group of forty-two other co-framers who drafted and co-signed the document before inviting the global public to visit the Agenda’s web site, read it, see who else has signed it, and add their name. Since being posted, thousands of people from dozens of countries have endorsed the Agenda.

The value lies in seeing so many people agreeing to the spirit of the Agenda, thus sending a signal to the mainstream business community that real change is wanted and needed by respected and credentialled colleagues around the world.


 Chief Scientist Concerned about the Future

Bill Joy, Chief Scientist and Co-founder of Sun Microsystems, has written a significant article in the current issue of Wired magazine. A pioneer in the development of Information Technology, he co-chaired the presidential commission on the future of IT research and is co-author of The Java Language Specification. Joy expresses his concerns about the “advancement” of science that could result in the end of mankind. He writes, “Have we already gone too far down the path to alter course? I don’t believe so, but we aren’t trying yet, and the last chance to assert control – the fail-safe point – is rapidly approaching.”

In this 14-page article, Joy also quotes Thoreau, saying that we will be “rich in proportion to the number of things which we can afford to let alone.”

Joy’s incredible credential makes this article far more newsworthy. We expect it will get much attention because of his high profile in the scientific and Internet communities. He states that while we wish we could collectively influence the future through “collective values, ethics, and morals” we haven’t really gained much collective wisdom over the past few thousand years. “Then,” he writes, “a dialogue to this end would be more practical, and the incredible powers we are about to unleash would not be nearly so troubling.

“The truth that science seeks can certainly be considered a dangerous substitute for God if it is likely to lead to our extinction,” he writes. “Each of us has our precious things, and as we care for them we locate the essence of our humanity. In the end, it is because of our great capacity for caring that I remain optimistic we will confront the dangerous issues now before us.”


Transcendent Leadership

by John Renesch

2000 © John E. Renesch

For the past decade or so there has been much talk about the “new paradigm”- a new and emerging collective mindset for humanity. Like many of the paradigm shifts throughout human history, the “old” doesn’t become a “new” overnight. It can take decades, even centuries as in the case of the Copernican Revolution. Shifts from one collective mindset to another don’t always invalidate everything about the old by making the new one better. Certain beliefs from the old may be shown to be invalid in the new – such as the 15th-Century idea that the world was flat. But the new can also include the old, growing beyond it but not away from it, including it as in transcendence, rather than mere transformation.

This new consciousness will be more inclusive of this spiritual or abstract or intuitive domain. It will rely less upon evidence or empiricism. It will value the inner qualities of process, experience and intuition to far greater degrees without the absolute requirement of external evidence such as physical proof or rational logic. The new paradigm is a new age, one where human consciousness – our connection to everything and all that is – is acknowledged and valued in everyday work and everyday living, not just in churches or places where we engage in religious or spiritual practices. The transcendent leader recognizes this evolution, this gradual wellspring of a new non-religious spirituality.

As humanity continues to evolve and the coming Age of Consciousness continues to draw us toward it, more and more people are assuming the primacy of the spiritual over the physical. However, that assumption can be as big a trap as reductionism, which advocates the primacy of the physical. As Teilhard said, “Don’t privilege the transcendent over the immanent – the spiritual reality over the material reality.” The two domains don’t require a primacy of either, but rather a co-existing partnership.

The transcendent leader operates in the energy of relationship with the Divine – what German philosopher Martin Buber called “the between.” Grounded in this sacred relationship, the transcendent leader becomes a partner in a new “co-evolution” for humankind. The transcendent leader recognizes that, prior to now, human evolution happened to us. We weren’t very involved consciously. Humans had little to say about how they evolved. Now, for the first time in history, we have the opportunity to participate in our evolution and to do it in partnership with the Divine. The transcendent leader possesses the presence and knowing to stand tall for this truth – before it becomes more commonly believed, before it becomes the consensus reality and the operative paradigm for humanity.

After all, that’s what leaders do, right? They are a bit further out front, stand a bit taller than the crowd, and tell the truth a bit louder than everyone else.

*********** NEW! ******* NEW! ******* NEW! ***********


The E-Newsletter for the Introspective Leader

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

Guest editorials will be occasionally included.

eCHOICE subscribers may find it as

“inciteful” as they do “insightful.”

eCHOICE WILL BE SENT DIRECTLY FROM JOHN, not through the automatic system of his Web site – Subscribers will 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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Visa & Mastercard credit card orders: TOLL FREE: 877-2-RENESCH;

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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: 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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