Why do some people and businesses accomplish deep and resounding success and prosperity while others do not? What are the qualities that set them apart? And what about as a collective? Have our man-made constructs and inventions led to the creation of an integrous, thriving global community or a dull, infertile wasteland? This article briefly examines the existing approaches to studying human beings and considers the limitations of those approaches in relation to how we participate in life and why we need a radical new paradigm if we want to be more effective and integrous as human beings, individually and collectively. The article also explores how this is being addressed by the Being FrameworkTM, a model and system I engineered with the support of my team following years of study and research that enables us to see, with remarkable clarity, how humans are being in the world and why that matters. The framework, which I cover in depth – together with the philosophy and science behind it – in my book, BEING, is now being used by individuals, leaders and organisations all over the world.
In working with many people over the course of around ten years prior to developing the Being Framework, particularly those holding leadership roles, I came to the understanding that while many were exceptionally knowledgeable and effective in their field and industry, they understood very little about human beings, the very beings they must work with to varying degrees, from their business partners, spouse and other commercial stakeholders to their employees, contractors and clients etc. This lack of understanding leads them to make ineffective decisions, and this gets in the way of their fulfilment and ability to achieve their objectives.
Before we examine the existing approaches and their limitations, we should consider the impact of the countless man-made constructs and inventions in the world. While some constructs and inventions were manufactured in order to bring ease and flow to our lives, others were clearly devised as a means of control and manipulation. Many have been theorised by renowned thinkers and others are the product of the collective interactions, feelings, wishes and desires stemming from cultural or societal matters. Many have served – or are still serving – humanity, while others are now obsolete. Some directed us to the path of growth and others to regression and annihilation. Some led us to benevolent acts like promoting human rights, while others led to collective psychosis played out in wars, acts of terrorism, tyrannical dictatorships, societal manipulation etc. The ability and willingness to discern between the constructs that are contributing to our overall integrity and those that are taxing it is critical to our effectiveness and wellbeing as humans. While there are no fundamental issues with some of these constructs, others have led us to create parallel layers of reality with little to no truth to them.
Existence: the ultimate Reality, ruler and lawmaker has defined a series of laws, and when these laws are twisted or denied, we create suffering. This is why all man-made constructs should, at their root, be the concern of objective study and science. We should not create constructs for the sake of creating constructs or turn to a solution to a nonexistent problem. On the contrary, any construct should be purpose-driven and serve a genuine need. Ontology is the field of philosophy concerned with the study of Existence and Reality. It is one of the key approaches I tapped into during the course of my research and discoveries. When we take an ontological approach to investigating constructs or discoveries, a number of inauthenticities and inaccuracies become clear. It helps us separate the wheat from the chaff.
Some common approaches to studying and working with human beings
Let’s consider a couple of inauthentic and delusional interpretations of reality, beginning with Personality Type theory, which categorises people into different personality types and assumes that is how they are programmed to be. This approach treats human beings as fixed objects doomed to be dealing with their shortcomings for life. Furthermore, this approach treats our shadow self (our troubled side) as a state of Being that is, metaphorically speaking, genetically hard-wired to always be that way. Some experts in the field even go so far as to suggest that we should learn to just deal with our dysfunctional sides rather than go through a process of transformation.
Behaviourism is another approach favoured by many. Behaviourists primarily focus on individual behaviours, or at best behavioural patterns and habits. The issue with Behaviourism is that it ignores what actually drives our behaviours. Rather, this approach encourages us to correct individual dysfunctional behaviours, patterns and habits and prepare our environment to be conducive to this. Furthermore, this approach begs the question: who defines which behaviours are acceptable and which are not? Correcting individual behaviours is like watering each and every leaf of a tree. It simply doesn't work; this fact has been scientifically proven. Despite this, it is a discipline that continues to dominate within corporate cultures, organisations and even many societies. The problem is, while you may be able to train a pigeon through conditioning, once she finds an opportunity to escape from her environment, the behaviour reverts back to its original form. Imagine how it is with an intelligent human being!
Sitting on the extreme end of the spectrum are the so-called ‘gurus’ and motivational speakers who believe it is all about positive thinking, encouraging their audience to adopt a purely romantic view of the world and see life through rose coloured glasses. In their view, everything is mutable and human beings can live purely on the basis of how they define themselves, which is their choice. To think that all you need to do is think positively for opportunities to line up and land in your lap is not only delusional, it can lead to suffering and dysfunctionality.
The three approaches I have touched on are not completely devoid of merit. However, they all miss fundamental requirements that facilitate transformation. That’s primarily because, while these and many other disciplines of mainstream modern psychology focus on fixing or refining individual behaviours or, at best, behavioural and cognitive patterns, they ignore the deeper, more subtle, yet far more important Aspects of Being which drive our behaviours. It is those deeper Aspects of Being and drivers of our behaviours that I set out to define and map out, resulting in a radical new paradigm which I call, the Being FrameworkTM. While it is impossible to elaborate on every aspect of this comprehensive framework in a single article as I have done in my book, BEING, my aim is to depict a simple picture of what it is, how it describes human behaviour, its influence on our decisions and behaviours and what it brings to the table in terms of practical application.
A radical new approach to seeing human beings
I spent more than a decade working with and studying entrepreneurs, startups, leaders and investors, including many exceptionally high achievers, to discover the behavioural patterns and qualities that determine success or failure. I found that it’s not due to a lack of capital, technology or the right techniques or strategies; it’s because of who and how they are BEING, the underlying qualities that influence their decisions and drive their behaviours and actions. These deeper qualities largely influence your decisions and choices and drive your behaviours, which ultimately determine how fulfilled and accomplished you are going to become as an individual, a family or an organisation. I call these qualities Aspects of Being.
The philosophy and approach behind the Being FrameworkTM is: when you have a relatively polished Being and are committed to maintaining its integrity, effective behaviour unfolds, which ultimately leads to your fulfilment. Multiply this on a collective scale, and the benefits will be apparent on a larger scale. Where correcting behaviour is like watering the leaves of a tree, transforming Aspects of Being – of which there are thirty-one in the Being Framework – is like watering and nurturing the entire tree from the roots up while simultaneously acknowledging that the branches and leaves will require pruning at times.
The Being Framework
The Being Framework, as shown below, is a radical ontological approach towards understanding what it is to be a human being, how you are being and the consequences of that in the context of your life and/or organisation, and how to cause transformation from how you are being now to your future you.
The model above, shows a helicopter view of the paradigm, which I have called the Being Framework, and its core components:
The Ontological Model – Put simply, the Ontological Model is where I mapped out thirty-one qualities of human beings that are tied to our performance, leadership and effectiveness. It gives us the ability to see the qualities of ourselves (how we are being) and others with great clarity and depth, offering a new, more powerful lens through which to see human beings, including ourselves.
Transformation Methodology – The Transformation Methodology is a series of processes and principles that lead us on a transformational journey. It begins with raising our awareness, before culminating in a sudden and dramatic transformation, becoming effective and polished in all Aspects of Being, travelling from how we are being now to how we want to become.
Tools – The core assessment tool associated with the Being Framework is called ‘the Being Profile’. It is the world’s first and most comprehensive and effective ontological profiling tool for performance, effectiveness and leadership by which all Aspects of Being can be accurately measured.
The Being Framework Ontological Model
As you can see in the model above, I have broken down the thirty-one Aspects of Being into four distinct layers for ease of understanding. They are called: Meta Factors, Moods, Primary Ways of Being and Secondary Ways of Being.
Meta Factors are the high level qualities of awareness, integrity and effectiveness. They are the three factors that influence your performance, power and ability to lead. Awareness has an impact on all Aspects of Being, integrity is impacted by your Primary Ways of Being and Moods, while all Aspects of Being contribute to your effectiveness.
Moods are the qualities that set the scene, give context to your participation and are at the heart of what drives you deep down. They are also the channels through which you disclose yourself to the world. The four Moods in the model are fear, anxiety, care and vulnerability. Put simply, the healthier your relationship with these Moods, the more effectively you will disclose yourself to the world. For example, while some may see it as a negative trait to be vulnerable, it is actually the opposite. To have a healthy relationship with vulnerability means you are open and not prone to putting your guard up. The same is true with fear. The healthier your relationship with fear, the less it will prevent you from taking considered risks and moving forward.
Primary Ways of Being distinguish the fundamental ways through which you project the true manifestation of who you are and how you experience yourself to be in the world. These primal qualities impact your behaviour, performance and the subsequent results you produce in life. In other words, they determine the way you contribute to your work, engage in relationships, participate in life and also how you experience and expand on the reality around you. For example, one of these qualities is authenticity, whether you are being yourself or are in the mode of pretending and filtering your expression of self. Primary Ways of Being are deep and subtle and hence may not be clearly visible in your behaviours.
Secondary Ways of Being support you in bridging the gap between what lies in the deeper parts of you (Meta Factors, Moods and Primary Ways of Being) and what is presented on the surface. They are readily observable, as you project your Secondary Ways of Being through your decisions, actions and behaviours. An example of a Secondary Way of Being is assertiveness. When you are being assertive, you openly and firmly say your real yeses and noes as opposed to being submissive or aggressive.
Why should we care about creating awareness around the reality of who and how we are being?
By casting light on your Being, you not only get to know the Aspects of Being you have a relatively healthy relationship with, the ones that are contributing to your overall integrity and hence enabling you to produce your desired results, but also those you don’t. I refer to the latter as your shadow. Put simply, the shadow refers to the parts of ourselves that, when we bring them to our awareness (intentional consciousness), we find troubling and uncomfortable. Most of us would rather hide or disguise the shadow side of ourselves – which is reflected in unhealthy relationships with our Aspects of Being, particularly because they may contradict our values or morals. Or perhaps they violate our intentions, commitments and the expectations we have of ourselves, others or of life in general. Someone who doesn’t see the value in being vulnerable, for instance, would avoid being vulnerable by constantly having their guard up and refusing to be open to the ideas and opinions or feedback of others. This can cause many other issues. The same is true when any other Aspect of Being is troubled, revealing the shadow side. That’s because sometimes our shadow demands things of us that we are not comfortable with, like remaining loyal and committed in a relationship we are struggling with or to remove our mask (fake persona) and reveal our authentic self. When people come face-to-face with their shadow, regardless of how they may describe it: the ‘dark side’, ‘bad side’ or ‘troubled side’ etc., they often use metaphors to describe these encounters, such as ‘facing my demons’, ‘wrestling with the devil’, or even a ‘midlife crisis’ or ‘seven-year itch’, to name just a few that you would no doubt be familiar with.
When we take an ontological approach to understanding human beings, we see a rock-solid fact about human beings that we are ALL self-interested. The very first question we keep asking ourselves is, ‘What’s in it for me?’. And I want to assure you I am not going to go about this from a moral standpoint. It is what it is; it’s neither good nor bad. The fact that we want to know how something will benefit us personally leads us to care about certain matters in life and neglect others. This defines what we value and our priorities, which differs from one person to another. Yet the fact that we care is something we all have in common. We all have matters we care about. It’s how we relate to the quality of care, one of the thirty-one Aspects of Being, that can differ. This is just one example of a commonality of human beings that make us, at least in part, studiable in an objective and scientific way. How you are being determines what you contribute and accomplish in life, which is precisely why you should care.
The fact that each and every person has a unique set of matters they care most about leads to their unique contribution to the world. I call this the projection of your Unique Being. Your Unique Being is where your talents and innate qualities lie. Unless you become aware of and polish your Aspects of Being, your Unique Being (the real you) is at risk of being suppressed and may never be amplified and expressed to the world. What a liability that would be to the whole of humanity! Imagine if Mozart, Beethoven, Tesla, Edison and Steve Jobs had not managed to express their Unique Being to the world. Not only did expressing their true selves fulfil their potential at an individual level, it also provided meaning and context to their lives by sharing their unique contributions and being of service to others.
Who knows, maybe you are the one who could sing like no other. Or perhaps you are the one who could cure that commonly perceived incurable disease or invent the device that could solve a deep pain point for humanity. So while we all come to this world for a very short period of time and are eventually blown away like a speck of dust, as individual beings, we are also a node in the network of humanity. Therefore, what you say, the decisions you make and the actions you take matter and make an impact, no matter how big or small.
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A tangible example of how your Aspects of Being play their role in your life
Imagine you are in an uncomfortable argument with your partner, whether it is your business partner or life partner. When you want to express yourself, your Moods are the first Aspects of Being to set in. For the sake of this discussion, let's say your dominant Mood at the time is anxiety or concern about the future. You ask yourself, ‘What if I bring up my genuine complaint or request and he/she leaves me again? And what if it escalates the matter at hand?’. This then channels into your Primary Ways of Being, for example authenticity, causing you to start filtering what you want to communicate. This leads you to package your argument in such a way that it doesn’t create more problems. With your anxiety Mood occupying the driver’s seat, another Primary Way of Being is being impacted, your presence; you are no longer paying full attention to the conversation as your inner voices are taking you away from the matter at hand. This may also impact yet another Primary Way of Being: self-expression. You feel you are not getting a chance to express what you initially wanted to communicate and you may feel you are not being heard. Now we move to the Secondary Ways of Being: let’s say assertiveness, which has never been your strong suit as you generally have a tendency to be submissive in these types of situations. Failing to communicate your perspective, you hold resentment towards your partner. You are now a victim and start to self-sabotage. I’m sure you know where this is going and that the only outcome of having an unhealthy relationship with these Aspects of Being is suffering, both for yourself and others.
Now imagine you had a healthy and effective relationship with anxiety, authenticity, presence, self-expression and assertiveness. Let’s recreate that scenario. You are arguing with your partner. While you have concerns about the future, you find it important and trust that this conversation needs to take place. You can be with anxiety and the discomfort it brings as you acknowledge it as a necessary part of the relationship. It does not suppress you, so you find no reason to be inauthentic and you are present, in sync and in communication with your partner, politely tell them that you have a complaint and a request. You articulate and share it with them assertively and appropriately demand a response. You engage in the conversation and ask for a commitment or give your partner the opportunity to share their point of view authentically and assertively. There may be a need for gentle confrontation with the intention of restoring the integrity of your relationship, and while uncomfortable, you give it what it takes because you are committed to resolving the problem so that the relationship can continue.
The first scenario illustrates an unhealthy relationship with the Aspects of Being in question, while the second illustrates a healthy relationship with the same Aspects of Being. Which scenario would you prefer?
To recap, we began with an inquiry into how man-made constructs can play a healthy or detrimental role in our lives from an individual, familial and organisational level all the way through to a societal and global level. I brought attention to the need to adopt an ontological or ‘let’s get real’ approach with these constructs and showed the limitations of existing constructs, including Personality Type theory, positive thinking and behavioural approaches. I then introduced the conclusions of my studies from over the last decade that resulted in the formulation of the Being Framework, briefly exploring how our self-expression or Unique Being can be channelled to fulfil what we most care about in life and the world. Finally, I laid out the four layers of the Being Framework Ontological Model: Meta Factors, Moods, Primary Ways of Being and Secondary Ways of Being, before explaining the shadow and giving you a tangible example of how your relationship with certain Aspects of Being can play out in the real world.
In this introduction to the Being Framework, my intention was to explain how the framework does not categorise people but unveil how it supports them to understand and discover the missing pieces of the puzzle, making them more self-aware and aware of others. The most important step in any treatment is diagnosis. After all, how can you remove the pain when you don’t know why it’s happening and the underlying reason? It is not until you have gained awareness that you can see what’s stopping you. Your Being directly impacts your effectiveness, integrity and ultimately your ability to express your true self (Unique Being), achieve your goals and live a life of wellbeing and fulfilment. And the same is true when it comes to the Being of others around you, such as in your relationship, family and organisation. Such is the power of Being.
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