Finding the Treasures in the Shadows: How Conscious Organizations Can Reap Huge Rewards

July 1, 2002

In this issue:

Newsbrief: Association of Professional Futurists Interviews John

Editorial: Finding the Treasures in the Shadows: How Conscious Organizations Can Reap Huge Rewards
Newsbriefs: The Birth of Capitalism on Cyberjournal
John to Address the Spirit of Business Conference in Sydney
Next Month’s Editorial: Taking a Stand: A Time for a New Profiles of Courage


Association of Professional Futurists Interviews John: Recently, John was interviewed by Randy Scheel, Director of the Association of Professional Futurists; the interview was conducted by email and has been posted to the Association’s website. Scheel sent John a note after reading the interview stating that he found it “very thoughtful and motivating to both professional futurists and the more casual reader.”


Several months ago I was hosting one our Presidio Dialogues here in San Francisco when I heard a real pearl from one of our “conversation starters” – people we invite to say a few words to launch us into a conversation of inquiry and, hopefully, discovery. The theme of the dialogue was inspired by John O’Neil’s book – The Paradox of Success – which points to the potential darker behaviors that often are attached to those qualities we normally associate with very successful people. For instance, commitment to one’s cause (a good trait) can easily degenerate into compulsive addictions like workaholism (not so good).

Our three conversation starters for the evening were John O’Neil, Grace Cathedral’s Dean Alan Jones, and Dr. Frances Vaughan, a respected therapist who has been called a “transpersonal pioneer.” What is Enlightenment? magazine called her a “midwife of the soul.” Vaughan maintains a private practice in nearby Mill Valley, up in Marin County, and teaches and lectures around the world.

After the conversation starters said a few words, the dialogue expanded and everyone in attendance joined in. The focus on “the shadow” sparked some lively conversation. The “shadow” is a term coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung to depict those parts of ourselves that we keep buried in our subconscious because they don’t fit with our self-image. Like O’Neil points out so eloquently in his book, even very successful people can suppress aspects of themselves they’d rather not admit to. In the midst of this engaging conversation, Vaughan mentioned that there are often great treasures found when one examines those hidden areas of our psyche.

As I assimilated Vaughan’s observation, it matched my own experience. Every time I discovered some part of my own shadow, and became more conscious of that previously-denied part of myself, I did indeed grow and become a more aware – a more conscious person.

Later, as I wrote about one of my favorite topics – the Conscious Organization – it dawned on me that these same “treasures” that await people who delve into these pockets of denial also await companies that shine light onto those parts of themselves that could be considered their shadows. For instance, when a tyrannical manager is endured because people are frightened of him or her, but no one is willing to talk about the situation openly, great opportunity for growth lies in bringing the situation out into the open – into the “light” and out of the shadows. Not only can the manager grow and learn why he or she behaves so badly but those who were complicit in the cover-up can also learn more about themselves and how easily they can be intimidated – even when it is to their personal detriment.

People come into organizations with skills and experience as well as with their own goblins and idiosyncrasies, hang-ups and emotional baggage. These personal shadows are the enablers of the organization shadows. If people are completely functional and conscious, they will not allow dysfunctional behaviors in their place of work. They won’t tolerate any behaviors that hinder them or limit them in any way. They will insist upon total honesty, openness and truth-telling – not for the sake of morality or self-righteousness but for the reason that it is simply healthier and the company (and the people in it) will be better off. And what “bottom line” result awaits such a Conscious Organization? Without all this energy being used to gossip, cover-up, and image-build, wouldn’t the morale and productivity of the organization soar? You bet it would!

With this insight, I became aware that “lighting the shadows” in an organization is not only healthy for the people who work there but the act also contains unimaginable “treasures” for the enterprise. These treasures not only allow the organization to perform as it was intended by shedding its dysfunctions and bureaucracies, but they can also provide a higher consciousness which allows it to far exceed its original charter.

Huge rewards do indeed await those who brave the darkness – on both personal and organizational levels.


[see John’s e-doc “Workplaces For The Self-Actualized — The Emergence Of The Conscious Organization” available at for $2.00.]


NEXT MONTH: Taking a Stand: A Time for a New Profiles of Courage


The Birth of Capitalism: Richard K. Moore writes about “The Birth of Capitalism” on the website Cyberjournal  – a very concise summary of the global climate that generated the world’s most dominant economic system – over 200 years later.

John to Address the Spirit of Business Conference in Sydney: John has agreed to present his ideas as a keynote speaker for a Sydney, Australia two-day conference named Spirit of Business, October 10 and 11. This event is not to be confused with the Spirit “IN” Business conferences that are being planned around the world – based on the first one in New York City last April. John is also scheduled to speak at two other Australian conferences in late November and early December – both in the Gold Coast region – the Inspiring Leadership Business Forum (November 29 – December 1) and the 6th annual Spirituality Leadership and Management (December 6-9).


About John Renesch: Better Future NEWS is prepared monthly by John Renesch, a San Francisco writer, business futurist, and consultant/executive coach. His latest book is Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing. For a list of all the SERVICES John offers, go to Services.

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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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