Friday 23 May 2014

Is remorse too great for some?

Since the financial crisis, $20trillion of US tax payers and state guarantees was used to bail out the US Banks. $780 Billion in the UK and €140 Billion in the Netherlands. New regulation has been put into place. Yet ordinary people including Banking employees still feel upset and indignant about continued higher taxes and living costs for something they were not responsible for. Whilst some banks are really changing and working on their corporate governance, training and values; governments are more in debt than ever, more money is printed and the daily scandals are ever increasing. Key questions remain. What about all our debts? What about the individuals that played their part? Why are the perpetrators not in jail? Are we changing?

Last month a former Dutch banker was found dead together with his wife and daughter. The Dutch media reported that the banker had killed his wife and his daughter before taking his own life. This of course is a tragedy and there are very few words to express in such circumstances. My heart and prayers go out to their souls and their remaining daughter. It was reported that this banker suffered a depression. This crisis has now claimed the 14th banking victim in the West.

Somehow the financial crisis appears to be sadly slowly claiming victim after victim. There has been much publicity of a minority of financiers and disgraced ex-CEO’s who held the helm during these times, such as Angelo Mozilo, Charles Prince, Jon Corzine, Rijkman Groenink, Fred Goodwin, Jean-Paul Voltron, Maurice Lippens, Dick Fuld, Paul Flowers and Bob Diamond. There are probably so many more, hiding and floating about. What about them? I am going to group these types in three categories. There are those by cashing in on non-leadership really did do harm, and sadly are simply unable to express remorse and perhaps never will, and remain in permanent denial. There are others who are clearly victims or feel victimised, either of the system that we have in place, or have been unfairly criticised for the dishonesty and sociopathic behaviour of their peers. Then there are those that understand and acknowledge what they have done, accept the consequences and hopefully become better people.

I bring this up as examples as most trained psychologists, therapists and good coaches will understand that the discovery of the human change cycle can often work as follows. At any given time or event, life can creep up on you. By this I mean that any mentally intelligent person who has led a life that has not been in, or lost, touch with his or her emotion or heart, and has either harmed himself, herself or others, will realise if he/she is lucky enough that at some point our sub-conscience will awaken and our conscience will begin to dictate. We acknowledge that something is not right. A rupture, a break, suffering, or deep unhappiness can unfold. The tough or fearful part is what follows in our human development. This is what we coaches often call the inner changing process where there is a way out. Following from our human failings such as greed, pride, or aggression, come’s the vulnerable and healthy process of shame, guilt, remorse and sorrow towards ultimately the beauty of peace, love and then forgiveness. We mature and become more authentic, coherent, fulfilled and can rediscover a new beginning which can often link us to the idea of spirituality and truth.

As we are now seeing day by day with some of us higher up the food chain in parts of our business service culture where the idea of wealth creation is dictated by pure ambition, self-enrichment, status or power, in our flawed capitalist system, more and more people have come to realise that there is more than this in life. Really, there are two combined deeper goals that us humans search for in our ultimate fulfilment, namely that of happiness and of the truth. In achieving these two great ultimate goals, there can be a price that leaves us with choices. Either we step back through fear; close ourselves by remaining indifferent, weak, on the surface and aloof or we dive in and face the music. Which ever way we choose we will come to realise that we inevitably bear the cross. By this I mean that life has its burdens and trail of tragedy, trials and trepidations in some cases unbearable so or even inexplicably so. The trick is to simply remain strong turn to the good side, and always be open to encouragement.

The fact of the matter remains; our society today has a great difficulty and very little patience in understanding human dysfunctional behaviour and suffering, the why’s and the how’s, the symptoms and the causes. Time gives us the answers, where more often than not the truth always bears fruit. Aside from this where does that pragmatically leave us? What about our debts and how do we change? Many ideas spring to mind and here is a snippet of a few.

• The minority at the top that did commit wrongdoings in the ongoing financial crisis that are in denial or hiding must be sifted out and disciplined by the justice system which can help to bring other morally corrupt business financiers to justice. These types can sell their possessions and give their money back to help our debts.

• Those that have acknowledged their wrong doings and have expressed remorse may accept the consequences and can help others where things can be put right for change.

• Those that are victims or feel victimised must be helped at all costs which will assist us through change to avoid further tragedies such as the tragic Dutch example I gave.

• Retail Banks can ban lending that encourages consumption. This will decrease personal debt which is arguably synonymous to increased stress levels and personal entrapment for ordinary people.

• With the liquidity they have, Investment Banks including shadow banks could be encouraged to further develop imaginative tangible mission statements for the common good. Triodos Bank here is a very good example of this. This can filter through the system and its employees and will help to eliminate conflicts of interest, aggressive conduct, fatigue and stress levels. This can be a way of giving back to society and open countless new opportunities and boundaries. Yes we can still have incomes!

In short the great majority of bankers I deal with are sincere, pretty decent and honest with normal incomes nevertheless we are all equally vulnerable if not responsible to make this world a better and safer place to bring ourselves into the next level for further greatness, irrespective of wealth, power or status. Einstein said ‘The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.’

Together we can fix things

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