Getting to God: A Radical Idea for Business Leaders

August 1, 2004
In this issue:
1. Newsbriefs: September/October Trip to Brazil
New Classes for Sustainable MBAs Start This Month
2. August Editorial: Getting to God: A Radical Idea for Business Leaders
3. More Newsbriefs: Zurich Hosts Spirit in Business
Talking at LaVerne
4. Quote of the Month: Robin Williams

September/October Trip to Brazil

With great excitement, I’m finally going to Brazil at the end of September and beginning of October. My trip is being sponsored by the U.S. Consulate who’s paying expenses to and from Porto Alegre where I’m delivering a keynote to a conference for Parceiros Voluntários. I’m hoping to make some other stops while there, seeing some old friends in Sao Paulo and possibly talking to some other groups. If any of you subscribers know of groups who’d be interested, let me know immediately so we might include them.

New Classes for Sustainable MBAs Start This Month

Presidio World College is in the final stages of enrollment for their two Fall 2004 cohorts in their MBA in Sustainable Management classes; based in San Francisco’s Presidio, PWC teaches students how to integrate social and environmental values within a core business curriculum; applications are still being accepted, but hurry! For more information call (415) 561-6590.

Almost thirty years ago I had a conversation I shall always remember. It was in my living room with quantum physicist Fred Alan Wolf. Our mutual interest in personal growth and spirituality was what brought us together in those mid-1970s days when the human potential movement was at its peak. I was still somewhat in awe of Fred, even though we had become friends months earlier. After all, he seemed to completely comprehend dimensions of science I could barely fathom. Plus, he had written a book – Space – Time and Beyond. I was very impressed by anyone who had actually written a book (I hadn’t yet written one). I was a real estate broker at the time, very steeped in matter-of-fact business pragmatics, and had given little thought to science since my school years in the 1950s.

Fred and I were talking about the nature of collective consensus in how we humans perceive reality. He was explaining how much space existed around the neutron of atoms and how little mass there really was to anything. I was an engaged student for most of our conversation which stimulated me to wonder about the mysteries of the universe, such as “why does a ‘solid’ feel differently than mere space when their atoms both consist of so much emptiness?”

During this stimulating conversation, I asked Fred how he had gotten into the arena of spirituality. I thought physics was grounded in reductionistic, non-spiritual materialism. To my surprise, Fred matter-of-factly told me that any scientist who gets to the top of their field eventually gets to a choicepoint – sometimes a difficult place – where they must either accept the idea of a “higher power” and acknowledge a spiritual energy of some sort, or invalidate their experience. As I recall, he put it something like, “You either accept the existence of the Divine or retreat and become a high school physics teacher.”

While my memories may not be exact, this idea has stuck with me all this time.

Since this happened in the mid-1970s, I became totally immersed in the arena of human consciousness. I subsequently had my own spiritual “awakening” and changed careers so I could work in this arena, marrying the world of business with which I was familiar with this new passion of mine. I read about artists of all sorts who discover God as they master their art. I have read the writings of musicians, composers and performers who have shared similar experiences. The “super stars” in professional sports often report a place they often visit – some call it the “zone” – where they experience the transcendent.

It seems as if mastery of any endeavor – be it a profession or an avocation – leads one to an intimate, personal experience of the transcendent. They all reach a place where they meet the Divine in some form. Some may turn their back on this wonderful new relationship, not knowing what to do with it or how to respond to it. Many take it in deeply into their inner psyche and embrace this relationship as part of their existence. These are the people who Piero Ferrucci writes about in his book, Inevitable Grace: Breakthroughs in the Lives of Great Men and Women: Guides to Your Self-Realization, a book about the incredible transcendent lives of masters throughout the ages – from Michaelangelo to modern industrialists.

As I have pursued my own work over the past twenty-five years, bridging the worlds of business and consciousness, it has occurred to me that business – an art form of a different type – offers similar opportunities for its practitioners. I have heard from more and more business leaders who report having these experiences – these insights to “all that is” or “a power greater” or “higher consciousness.”

Does this seem like a radical idea? Is it possible for people who have been conditioned to be mechanistic and exclusively explicit in their approach to doing their work – treating employees like machines, the market as something they can manipulate, the shareholders as their royalty, and their work as their cross to bear – could find something so intrinsically experiential as God? Or, more incredulously, is it possible that they could find God through their work?

I say “yes indeed!” They can, and do! Greater and greater numbers are having those transcendent experiences – mastering the art of leadership, the art of enterprise, and seeing for themselves that there is something beyond mere functionality and bottom line results.

Like Wolf telling me that quantum physicists eventually found God or went back to teaching high school physics, business leaders who excel in their field are making similar choices. They can stay with the measurable, materialistic reality they have gotten so familiar with or embrace this less familiar reality and begin to explore new levels of self-discovery, new avenues of self-actualization. If they choose the latter, the experience becomes an exquisite element of their evolving humanity.

Author’s note: Fred Alan Wolf’s website.

Next Month’s Editorial: Help Wanted: Vice President of Courage


Zurich Hosts Spirit in Business

Spirit in Business is having a major event in Zurich, October 1 & 2; featuring a wonderful array of international speakers, including Dr. Hans Peter Dürr, Former Head of the Max Planck Institute in Münich, a man some call “the new Einstein”.

Talking at LaVerne

I was delighted to visit the University of LaVerne in Southern California to give a talk for one of their Graduate Program’s Authors’ Days;” some of my true heroes had appeared before me, like Warren Bennis, James MacGregor Burns, Frances Hesselbein and Jim O’Toole, so I felt like I was visiting a shrine of sorts. Great crowd, great conversation! Thanks to Carol Sawyer who chairs the Graduate Program for her invitation.


“Good people are in Hell because they can’t forgive themselves.”
– Robin Williams in the movie “What Dreams May Come”

About John Renesch

Better Future NEWS is prepared monthly by John Renesch, a San Francisco writer, business futurist, and mentor.
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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