President Francois Hollande, last year mentioned that Europe had lost its identity and we must concentrate our efforts economically on jobs and growth or Europe will get wiped away.
I would have to ask the question what is our identity? This is difficult bearing in mind it took me until my 40th year to find my true identity as I was for so many years compounded by my own inner struggle. I believe that our identity comes down to our understanding that we are all each unique human beings based on our talents, values, conscience and beliefs with each of us having an ability to contribute in whatever capacity or form. This is added by our innate desire to create and to do good that is coherent to our own values, natural principles and conscience which ultimately governs our behaviour and our actions. Our values and conscience are influenced or formed by our rich European Judea/Christian cultural heritage, our environment and education, our upbringing, and the love we are able to give and receive helping us to have a deeper understanding of right and wrong.
If this is what he means then President Hollande is right. It is clear that all this seems to be pulled apart, out of sinc, and totally fragmented mainly by our inner selfish desires, linked to family breakdown, loss of values, individual freedom, money and consumption. If he is mirroring himself he may also be right as with regard to his own identity, beliefs and purpose we don’t really know where he stands. As I understand with all due respect he has a mistress and parts of his government are corrupt.
An identity crisis could be linked to our very own inner conflict of values which is in a clear struggle against the current economic system resulting in a lack of belief, leadership, confidence and purpose which could be why we are forever stalling in Europe. Unfortunately I have to say that jobs and growth is neither a purpose nor neither a belief. They are the positive outcomes when getting the nuts and bolts right. Our identity in essence is the main part of these nuts and bolts and it is this that is fundamentally in crisis.
Furthermore it is also highly possible that a conflict in values has arisen between the concept of money as an emotive selfish desire and an obsessive measurement of success, consumption and status, linked to profits, entitlement, lack of belief or indifference and perhaps overall economics versus our natural desire to do good for others. Is it this that is pulling us back in Europe which exasperates our problems and therefore our identity? Is it sacrifice and purpose in each of us that might be needed? Or is it some fundamental changes required at the heart of the capitalist free market system? It is highly probable to deduce therefore that we have a cultural problem in our economic system which is in direct conflict to our want of a true identity leaving many honest and talented people in their careers suffering, feeling unfulfilled or exploited not to mention those that are left out. It needs to be dealt with and very seriously. Otherwise we may very well eradicate ourselves off the map.
Governments are finding this particular part quite difficult, scratching their heads and not offering many solutions which is hardly surprising due to the debt they have assembled which has altered their focus. It is of no wonder it wants jobs and growth. It is fair but too simple. They are in a fix unless they change or a courageous miraculous leader comes in to take on the beacon of fire.
Who else then could take the lead? How about big business that carry much of the burden of responsibility in our society? Barclays Bank in the UK is a fascinating and a very encouraging example. They behaved and let our society down recently, now they could be really changing. The CEO Anthony Jenkins has cracked our fundamental problem. ‘The entitlement culture, elevated pay, governance and obsession for profits in the short term’ is being dealt with and reformed as far as their new drive toward culture change is concerned. They have a ‘transform’ program based on values, culture and learning. Their principles and governance on their website are excellent. In terms of Time MCG’s ‘barometer effect’ as it begins to take effect over time I am certain it will move out of the storm and become a very ‘sunny’ place to work in to the overall benefit of their customers and our society. Jobs and growth will surely flow from thereon. There are many, many more good examples out there. These examples are so needed in our culture and all in all it will help us to find our identity again whereby regaining our confidence and overall sense of direction which is really what is needed in Europe.
On the other end of the spectrum I met a banker from a leading French Bank who informed me that it was being led by 3 or 4 people at the top who spend their time with government ministers instead of working on their banks culture or even leading it resulting in many talented people leaving. Is there a conflict of interest (=value breakdown) right at the top? Are the French Government and their banks at each other’s mercy or in their own bubble? Is this why the French cannot get their policies right? In terms of potent drinks it could be one of the best toxic mix ever concocted. The only thing that would keep me standing would be my pride. Ok fair enough I would eventually fall over.
In brief the solution must be strong moral leadership or leadership by example, new purpose, regular re-training, and issues of reform on pay and new creative thinking that is required in solving our conflicting values. Values that are compatible to our natural principles which ultimately govern our behaviour. We have a rich European Judea/Christian cultural heritage. Why are we here and what are we here to do? We are here to contribute, to make or to produce for the needs and benefit of others. We are here to serve. We are here to encourage and we are here to teach. Finally for those few we are here to lead with strength, cheerfulness and humility and we will be recognised. Not the other way round. Come on Europe, we have all the talent and skills to do this. Let’s take the lead in global change, get back on track, get the right people in at the top and show the rest of the world what we are made of. We have so much to be proud of.
Become what you are