Looking for White Knights

Chess-by-SalvatoreVuonoWhen I conducted sales management seminars in corporations I would begin by gathering the attendees in front of the conference room window and ask everyone to look out. Then I asked, “What do you see out there?” They pointed out people here and there, cars driving in and out, delivery trucks and the like. Then I asked them to look as far out in the distance as they could and asked if anyone could see a white knight on a white horse making way to our conference center?

Of course no one ever did. Then I would make the point: no white knights were on the way. No reinforcements were being sent to help us. In fact, nobody was coming. It was us and that was it. If we didn’t solve the problem at hand it wasn’t getting solved. We all had to think and dig deep together. The answers were in our minds, imagination, experiences, intuition, and innate ability to see the invisible. Right in front of us, in the invisible, the elements of solutions are waiting. There simply isn’t any technology in existence which can compete with the human mind. Thinking is the very top line.

Equipment does not cure our sick.
Physicians do.

Money cannot teach our children.
Parents can.

Money can’t bring electricity to our homes.
Electrical engineers can.

Revenues do not grow our businesses.
Talented people do.

Printing presses do not write books.
Writers do.

There’s no doubt we’ve been sent here with plenty of talent to invest. Quality thinking is the principle law of commerce! And quality thinking is infused with wisdom—a spiritual realm composed in part by the mystical, in part by the practical. If we don’t know the answer or solution to something it remains for all intents and purposes, invisible. Spirituality is invisible simply because it refers to one’s interior life; the realm of inspiration, the mystical, the intuitive, the creative, the giftedness and of course the sacred, all of which I bundle under the banner—The Brilliance of People. In the spiritual realm, we host the deepest sense of who we are, why we exist and seek our compelling destiny. Within the creative realm of the spiritual, compared to the realm of the material, we encounter the soul or essence of who we are, our unique giftedness.

The gift is intended to function at peak performance when imbedded in the appropriate opportunities, in the right purpose. For almost everyone these opportunities are most often engaged in the world of work. Considering we spend well over half our lives at work, this is no casual claim. Our gifts is intended to function on at least two levels.


Many facets are required to create results at this level. A diamond is so brilliant because it is cut with many facets providing multiple reflective surfaces that catch light and reflect it in all directions, thereby increasing its sparkle. People are engineered in such a way as to permit their facets of brilliance: soul, will, intellect and emotions to catch and reflect light all around them in the form of improvement and innovation. We observe this where poor systems run well and good systems run poorly because of the people. The business is an extraordinary canvas on which to create wonderful transactions between demand and supply. The world of commerce holds the resources to provide an atmosphere to achieve many levels of brilliance.

An interesting article from Harvard Business touted self awareness as: “…our candidate for the number one managerial aptitude of the next decade.” No small prognostication is it?

Business has met spirituality and in many cases hasn’t benefited from it. The results are
easily recognizable: rising absenteeism, mediocrity, just getting by, lackluster expectations, idea famine, loss of leadership, productivity problems, greed,
cooking the books, low profit results, and the like are surely dividends of spiritual prohibition.

Outcomes like these are among the most costly to organizations, yet remain unaccounted for on the spiritual balance sheet (a “soft-measure”). Future successes are greatly hindered when spiritual brilliance is lacking in the dynamism of business consciousness. This is not meant as a statement of blame. It simply validates a large body of real-world experiences and many studies. Yet, within such circumstances are opportunities to collaborate and enhance the atmosphere to more deeply explore reclamation of spiritual brilliance. Thomas Merton’s writings admonish us to exert ourselves to find this “hidden wholeness.” What organization would not want to obtain the wholeness of every employee to whom they pay salaries and benefits, as opposed to obtaining only a portion of their capacity? Tapping into the internal archetype contributes to valuable outcomes.

We have witnessed many fingers pointing at organizations for not pursuing people at
these powerful levels. But it is not at all a one-sided issue. Individual workers at every level hold direct personal responsibility for delivering as much of their wholeness to their work life regardless of the organization’s understanding or lack thereof. When workers withhold their inner brilliance they are participating in reverse lunch money stealing.

Untold solutions still await us but will only be unlocked through the collaboration of people and the structures of business in which they function. Without a method of engagement to spiritual brilliance the organization remains in a partial drought of wholeness. And within any one person employed, there may well be solutions to marketplace problems that could revolutionize everything.

An amazing number of new products and technology have come to us by individuals who left organizations because they could not pursue their ideas. When this occurs the organization loses tremendous opportunities to gain from such advances because the individual who birthed them had to do so elsewhere. The person resigns and either brings this inner brilliance to another organization or starts his own. The idea or product is launched with magnificent success and financial reward. Follow-on products and services flow out of this new product. The original company that employed him has essentially financed his internal pursuit for years and now that it has been translated to reality elsewhere, all that investment is a deficit. Sadly, the original company held in its midst everything necessary to enjoy this success. Like an acorn which has within it everything needed to grow an oak tree and propagate a forest, the company only needed to plant and water the acorn of spiritual brilliance.

Over many years of working with CEOs, business owners, executives in various businesses, I have consistently found a recurring myth. When I ask about issues and missed opportunities, the response is usually a point toward equipment problems, system problems, inventory problems, technology problems and so on. In fact, there are no problems of any kind except people problems; the proper use or misuse of one’s inner brilliance. All excellence and all mediocrity are manifest results of human thinking. The fact is, people are untapped goldmines of brilliance, walking around in the world of business. Does this mean every single worker in an organization is going to be a sparkling, multi-faceted diamond? No. Just because one has the potential, doesn’t assure it will be applied. A business must provide a setting, just as the jeweler does, upon which the diamond is mounted. The quality of the diamond is not up to the jeweler. The jeweler does not produce the diamond but he does provide its setting which presents the brilliant value. When a company provides such a setting it will benefit. Organizations that understand the inherent power of people will achieve their goals with less cost, less effort and problems.

Walking Embassies

Many years ago I was invited to the United Nations to attend an Earth Day event. I stood next to Ambassador of a substantial country. There we stood in a small courtyard while we waited for the program to begin.. During those 5 minutes or so, he spoke to me and my associate about the wonderful things his country was doing and the innovations they were pursuing. In fact he went on and on about his country, sincerely presenting it in the most positive light. He metered out an amazing number of achievements, all with a deep pride. I didn’t get a word in.

Over the days that followed I began to study a little more about ambassadors and what they do. It was eye opening. An ambassador is the highest ranking official of his country when in a foreign land and is charged to conduct business that will best support his country’s interests. He is there to represent his country in business and negotiation issues. But an ambassador is more than that. He is a virtually living surrogate of his country. Everywhere he walks his country walks.

Everyone he deals with is dealing with his country. Everything the ambassador does is geared to build his country’s future and create relationships with others for mutual benefit.

The ambassador is a walking, talking embassy. You are the ambassador of your business and your life in every thought you think, every word you speak and every action you take. When they see you or hear you they see and hear your company. Be aware of what you are projecting. You never know who you are standing next to or sitting next to.