John Renesch. The Great Growing Up: Being Responsible for Humanity’s Future. Prescott, AZ: HOHM Press, 2012.
John Renesch states that he coined the term conscious leadership in the early 1990s. Certainly, the blurbs supporting this book suggest that he has been long considered a positive force for development and change. For example, Patricia Aburdene, author of Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism, writes,
With so many of us struggling, we all need a vision of hope that looks at life, business and the dark side of human behavior right in the eye. That’s what John Renesch does in this provocat5ive, comprehensive guide to the future—and our role in constructing it.
The list of tributes to this book include Bernard Lietaer, Peter Russell, Ken Dychtwald, Hazel Henderson, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Angeles Arrien, Stanley Krippner, Andre Delbecq, Michael Toms – and a host of other futurists, business scholars and leaders, etc. Well deserved praise for this, his 14th book. Here he takes us on an excursion of American history and the vision and values of the nation’s founding, only to be mired in a post-depression focus on the material world. He urges the re-engagement with the spirit of this culture, only now focused on the world and its challenges, not with an imperialist ambition, but with a collective hope for the future of humanity. At the heart of his vision is the notion of responsibility.
Accompanying freedom is responsibility for the society to address its challenges. Renesch urges our “taking responsibility for humanity’s future by becoming a more conscious society.” To serve this end he offers this work “to help us get more adventurous and imaginative in the spiritual/emotional aspects of being human.” In so doing he is coming from a background as a pragmatist, as well as his quest for tapping into a spiritual dimension, as well as material. He urges to stand on both dimensions to support
…awakening latent potentialities in the human race, unleashing our social consciousness as thoughtful and soulful beings. This stand is ab outg ending the lies we tell ourselves, dispelling the myths that keep us prisoners of our circumstances and prevent us from seeking a higher destiny for humankind.
This is a collective challenge.
Renesch offers up a list of 25 myths that underlie our perception of reality and keep us stuck in continually deteriorating conditions on the planet. Here are a few:
3. To get change to happen we need b etter or different designated leaders.
8. We are smarter than any of the previous generations in history.
19, Our leaders won’t let things get too bad; they know best so I’ll leave the big problems to them.
25. The modern corporate system serves free market capitalism.
After debunking these (and all the other) myths, he points toward to possibility of transformation:
Our vision for what we can be, and our continuing evolution toward a higher destiny, is what pulls us ever closer to the Great Dream. We are motivated to flee from negative forces while we are attracted to more positive ones…
Forces pushing for change include(a partial list) fatalism, lack of respect, decrease in learning, the blame game, objectifying others, the wealthy gap, objectifying women and consumerism. Exterior attractors for positive change include the East-West culture blur, acknowledgement of human rights, the spirituality movement, value shifts in society and business, alternative money systems, and systems thinking. Internal attractors or inspirations include the changing vision of reality in the physical sciences, growth in collective wisdom, the rise of interdependence, the women’s movement and the green movement.
The forces represent what is happening as the world is going through a paradigm shift “to the way human beings think: the way we think about each other, the way we think about the way the world works, and the way we relate to one another. As we are going through this process he offers a few suggestions about what we can do. These include becoming emotionally mature, examine our assumptions, engage in di8alo9gue with others, learn how to think more systematically, and so on. He calls on us to be conscious leaders by taking mature stands opposing current trends and supporting new approaches. Conscious leaders
take a stand for a new way for us all to exist in a sustainable world together, focused on our commonalities, not exaggerating our differences and warring with one another verbally o0r militaristically.