Today’s Solutions: June 15, 2024

From The Intelligent Optimist Magazine

Summer 2016

Nature provides the principles for sustainable business, but a fear-and-greed-driven mindset obstructs us from running business naturally. Why the “whole brain state” is essential to sustainability.

By Rob Williams

Photography: Bruce Heinemann

We live in a world where our economy and ecology are facing an uncertain future: Some companies are not allowed to fail, while others struggle to survive. Our currency values can fluctuate dramatically and unexpectedly. Virtually every living system in our ecology is in decline, and we are destroying our environment faster than it can repair itself.

Business as usual can’t solve this tsunami of problems, and doing what we’ve been doing more efficiently will simply exacerbate these challenges. Nothing short of a major re-visioning of what business is, and how to conduct it, is needed to avoid a complete meltdown of our global economic and ecological systems. That re-visioning must include the realization that the economy and the ecology are both vital to creating a hospitable, just and economically sustainable future for all of us.

Much of what we need to know to solve these problems can be found in nature. Nature provides the core principles of sustainability.

When most people think of nature, they think of trees, mountains, lakes, oceans, deserts and all manner of animal and plant life. What most people miss are the underlying principles that nature uses to create and support life. “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better,” said Albert Einstein. For millions of years, nature has, through the process of evolution, tested all different kinds of processes and mechanisms and honed them down to make the most perfect systems to support life. These principles are shared by all life forms, even the planet’s most primitive organisms. Bruce Lipton, cell biologist and author of The Biology of Belief, says, “We need to use these proven principles to create sustainability and balance in economy and ecology. What if you could hire the world’s best business consultant with millions of years of experience and a proven track record for sustainable success? Well, you can! That consulting firm is called nature.”

Most people today operate under the concept that the survival of the fittest is the primary driving force of evolution. This attitude creates a competitive and aggressive, “Do unto others before they do unto you” world. “Survival of the fittest” has come to be interpreted to mean that only the most unethical, most ruthless people will survive and thrive, that it’s a “cutthroat” world out there and the ends justify the means, especially when it comes to making money and acquiring material possessions. This mindset, based on a misreading of the principles of evolution, has led us down a catastrophic path.

Nature is based on cooperation. During the first three billion years of life, cells were scattered all over the planet. Through evolution, cells started to come together in order to thrive. They began to specialize, take on different roles and work together to create a sustainable system. Today, multicellular organisms thrive in nature because of their diversity, collaboration and interconnectedness. There is a 17th-century definition of competition that is very different from today’s interpretation. According to Webster’s Dictionary, competition was derived from two Latin root words that mean “to strive together.”

In today’s world, greed and fear stand in the way of collaborative competition toward a common goal. There’s widespread ignorance of the complexity and interdependency of our relationships with one another and our environment. This feeling of disconnection and alienation explains much about how we treat ourselves, others and nature. True respect and kindness seem to be a thing of the past. They have been replaced by cunning, competition and mistrust. We have created a “me” culture instead of a “we” culture. This has led to a global society where we struggle to find meaning and purpose, a society in which our mental and physical health is being challenged in the name of progress—a society, too, where business cannot sustainably succeed.

Our mindsets are out of alignment with the principles of nature, resulting in poor health, destructive behaviors and a general sense of helplessness and hopelessness. Life just isn’t working well for millions of people. We are trapped in a prison of limiting beliefs about how to create joy and happiness in our lives.

In order to create a safe, joyful and sustainable future, we have to do something different, we have to think differently, to elevate our thinking to a new level of consciousness that can free us from this mental prison. By aligning our beliefs with the principles of nature, we can reintroduce the ancient wisdom of interconnectedness and collaboration and provide a template for creating a sustainable future for ourselves and our planet.

So how do we do it? Neuroscience provides some answers. Recent research indicates that the highest level of brain function occurs when both hemispheres of the brain are engaged simultaneously. This is called the “whole-brain” state. This state creates an awareness of interconnectedness, as a reflection of the interconnectedness of the hemispheres. Greed and fear are symptoms of a belief in separation, and perceiving reality in that way is very difficult while in the whole-brain state.

From a neuroscience point of view, the whole-brain state is a bilateral, symmetrical brain-wave pattern; from a business point of view, this simply means greater functionality and therefore greater performance. This state of consciousness also allows for high-speed mindset change and expanded creativity, as well as dramatically improving problem solving and opportunity leveraging. A key benefit of the whole-brain state is that it provides a “communication bridge” with the subconscious mind, which is the storehouse for our attitudes, values and beliefs. Contemporary neuroscience tells us that at least 95 percent of the time, our thoughts and behaviors are generated from the subconscious level of the mind and are therefore below the level of our conscious awareness. This means that most people are running their lives on autopilot. Just as computer software becomes outdated over time, so do subconscious beliefs.

These subconscious beliefs create the perceptual filters through which we respond to life’s challenges and form the basis for our actions and reactions to each situation in our lives. Beliefs establish the limits of what we can achieve, or, as Henry Ford once said, “If you believe you can or if you believe you can’t … you’re right!” The ability to perform effectively, personally and professionally, is profoundly affected by such beliefs as “I am competent,” “I am powerful” or “I am safe.” With beliefs like these, you can undertake challenging projects with confidence and stay focused on the task at hand. But if you have beliefs like “I don’t really trust myself to do a good job,” or “How things turn out is not really in my control,” you will proceed hesitantly, fearing mistakes, criticism and failure.

It’s possible, however, to align your subconscious beliefs with the principles and philosophies that produce lasting successful behaviors, actions and results. My own work over the decades has led me to develop one method for making such changes at the subconscious level of the mind and changing long-held limiting beliefs. This communication method—PER-K—enables you to write new “software” for the subconscious mind that effectively updates the often self-defeating beliefs that can sabotage your success, personally and professionally, even if you don’t consciously know what those self-defeating beliefs are.

In order for civilization to have a sustainable future in our fast-changing world, we have to get out of the competitive, separatist mindset and reintroduce the ancient wisdom of interconnectedness and collaboration. When we start to model ourselves after the wisdom of nature, we begin to model ourselves after successful, sustainable systems. This critical change begins with a change of our mindsets and our subconscious beliefs. When we see others as competitors for limited resources, such as material goods, recognition and money, every day is a struggle for survival, and we live fearful and stressful lives. Instead, the mindset we need is one that fosters a sense of common purpose, security and abundance, rather than fear and scarcity. This change of beliefs integrating the principles that have served nature so well for billions of years is not only possible but also critical for the journey toward a more sustainable and hospitable world. 

Rob Williams is the originator of PSYCH-K and PER-K and the author of PSYCH-K … The Missing Peace in Your Life! Find out more at


Learning to live in harmony with each other and the earth is life-enhancing. It is the remedy for stress in our hectic lives, and a key quality of sustainability in a business.


Determination and flexibility are key characteristics of success. Nature teaches us the importance of seeing limitations as opportunities, and adapting accordingly.


Just as the action of the water shapes the shoreline, the beliefs and perceptions of a business shape its future success … or failure.


Imagine this scene with all the trees having only one color, one shape or one size. Not very interesting compared with the diversity of colors, shapes and sizes you see here. Diversity is beautiful! The same is true for people, businesses and cultures.


These aspen trees appear to be separate from one another, but they are all part of the same root system. In a similar way, we appear to be separate from one another, but are rooted in a common spirit of vision called a corporate culture.


While balance is important to a bird on a branch, a balanced perspective is important to a business in order to create a stable and sustainable foundation for success.

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