Ep. 162: James Petrossi - Organizational Consciousness (and Individual Wellness)

January 03, 2022 | 22 Minutes

James Petrossi, President of PTNL, author of Know Your True Self: The Formula to Raise Human Consciousness, and advocate for humanity, joins Count Me In to discuss what he describes as "organizational consciousness" and how it leads to increased wellness and individual purpose. His insights into the human experience have been used for the past 25+ years to develop marketing, sales, and coaching strategies for Fortune 100 and emerging growth and organizations. James founded PTNL with the vision of creating a more consciously connected world. In this episode, he discusses why employees are feeling unfulfilled in today's working environment and what firms and individuals can do to help avoid this burnout. James is passionate about helping organizations realize their potential by implementing holistic, proactive approaches to improving company culture. Download and listen now!

Know Your True Self: The Formula to Raise Human Consciousness Book https://www.amazon.com/Know-Your-True-Self-Consciousness/dp/1734669144/ref=sr_1_2?crid=V853BCIL5IQB&keywords=know+your+true+self&qid=1636492862&sprefix=kbnow+your+true+self%2Caps%2C260&sr=8-2

Adam: (00:05)
Welcome back to Count Me In, IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. This is your host Adam Larson, and I'm pleased to bring you episode 162 of our series with featured guest, James Petrossi. James is the founder of PTNL and a researcher on human connection. He joined my co-host Mitch to talk about individual perspective, wellbeing and employees feeling fulfilled. Burnout has been at the forefront of everyone's mind following the demands of global work environment. So James has set out to help leaders develop organizational consciousness and recreate wellness for individual purpose. Keep listening to hear more about these strategies as we head over to the conversation now.
Mitch: (00:54)
So James, there's been a lot of talk about the workforce across all industries in recent times. So, you know, from your perspective, I'd like to kick things off today with asking you, why are so many employees feeling unfulfilled and why are they choosing to resign at this time?
James: (01:11)
Yeah, we're definitely facing a really challenging time and one extremely unique to evolutionary history and one to really embrace, accept and learn from. And I think there's three main reasons that employees are feeling that unfulfillment right now. The first is really the inability to cope with change. We've been going through so many changes over the past couple years and living in a state of uncertainty, especially as it relates to our job. One when the pandemic first hits, we're in a state of survival, anything to keep our job, then we're adapting to technology, Zoom calls being out of the office, changing landscapes, having kids at home, then all of a sudden there's a bright light and it looks like we're going back to the office and we're preparing ourselves for that. But our children aren't necessarily prepared to go back to school. So we've been navigating change in so many different aspects of our life and our brains rely on habits and it's through habit formations and repetitive actions that neuron chains develop in our brain. And we start to do things unconsciously. If you remember the time when you did commute to work, when you were either going there or going home, you sort of got lost in the commute. You weren't thinking about how to navigate to the office or the routine about stopping to get your coffee. Those all become unconscious behaviors. So as we continue to splinter those neuron chains and try to develop new ones, it really makes us feel lonely, disconnected, searching to find peace. So that's been a really big challenge is just navigating change. Making people feel unfulfilled and just comfortable in how they're navigating life holistically. I think another one is especially with the millennial generation and all generations, but specifically millennials and the emerging centennials in the workplace. We were coming out of the experience economy, really at the pinnacle of the experience economy and inside the experience economy or concerts, activations, all of these Instagram moments that we can share with friends and all of a sudden we became so used to just experiencing so many things on a moment to moment basis. And now we're with ourselves, we're with our thoughts, we have to contend with our emotions and our unconscious mind is not going to like this. And it's gonna tell us, you deserve to have all these things like you deserve to have life the way it was. I think it was Helen Keller said something to the effect of like character can't be developed in peace and quiet. It's through suffering that the soul gets strengthened, that we learn, we grow and we develop. So, you know, we can't get back time. We can only embrace the present moment and helping employees connect with the present moment. And the reality we face on a moment to moment, day to day basis helps us cope with change, and also feel like there's no getting back what we had. We can't quit our job and earn time back. We can only address what's currently happening. And then some of the onus of why employees are feeling unfulfilled at work is really on the employers themselves. Clearly identifying the purpose that you're creating in people's life. Just because we might not feel like we're contributing to a higher purpose on a day to day basis because not all work is infused with meaning, but it's the small actions. The things that we learn from the trying relationships that we have, the way we connect with our teams, the problems that we solve, all of these small moments in the workplace help us connect to a higher purpose. And if an organization can share their purpose through their vision, their values and making sure they're showing their employees how we help serve humanity, cuz every business that's out there is serving humanity. Whether they're providing pleasure, whether they're providing food, whether they're providing connection, we're all in the business of serving humanity and employees need to know that and make sure that an organization is living up to some type of core values. I think definitely where that connection gets lost between employers and employees is core values are sort of on the placard somewhere in the office, but how do we now activate those core values? And those values bring virtue into people's lives and help them feel like they're connected to a purpose bigger than themselves. So that purpose is really about creating a unified shared experience that truly builds a culture around an organization. And one employees can really, you know, glam onto and enjoy.
Mitch: (06:05)
So you touched on many things that I can personally relate to over the last year and a half. You know, this is now we're recording this end of calendar year 21. And a lot of the things that you mentioned are certainly relatable having kids around when you're trying to work on teams calls and even the idea of commuting again, I think it's interesting because I know at least I had a bit of a longer commute. It was almost an opportunity at the end of the day to kind of stop your mind from working and transition to home on your way. And you know, nowadays it's a bit of a challenge cuz there isn't really that time to break. You know, it's just one thing to the next you're living in it at all times. I'm sure that's just one of the many. So I'm curious: you mentioned a lot of reasons for unfulfillment, but I think, you know, employees certainly still have an opportunity to feel fulfilled, you know, and organizations have an opportunity to really hone in on those core values. And I think a lot of businesses, you know, if they didn't adapt right away, they certainly have by now. So what are some of the ongoing challenges even if they are fulfilled that you think employees might be facing and you know, do you have any, you know, recommendations for overcoming these challenges?
James: (07:21)
Yeah, definitely. I think one of them is the loss of relationships in the workplace. You know, you brought up the commute and all the moments that were ritualized inside of their achieving peace of mind. Now let's go to the workplace and in the workplace, we all of these rich opportunistic moments to connect on a daily basis with a large group of individuals, even it's just a smile and a nod in the morning. Did you catch the game last night? The moments before a meeting when there's a little bit of levity and laughter, the moments after the meeting, when you can sort of huddle with individual of team members, congratulate them, talk about next steps. We had all of these micro moments and those micro moments have truly become lost. Even the larger moments, like a cup of coffee, having lunch together, something that can't be replicated through a zoom call. We're highly social creatures. We really rely on that entanglement of our energy to feel each other, to connect with each other, to relate with one another. So I think for employers right now, it's not about a Zoom happy hour. It's not about getting a bunch of people together on something they're already fatigued on and staring at a screen, but helping connect people again, learning about each other's lifestyle interests, their families, even sharing stories of things they've learned about during the pandemic, finding ways to connect on a truly emotional level. And if you think about the life cycle of a relationship, the first stage is initiating you talk about the weather and the sports. Then you're experimenting, likes interests, movies, sports teams then intensifying. This is when you start to get an exchange of values, then finally you become integrating and you're seeing a purpose. Each other brings to you on a personal level and a business level. And finally you enter the bonding stage and where retention happens for employees is when they bond with one another, because they like to stay because of the relationships they have. Right now, we're circumventing, initiating, experimenting, intensifying and bonding. And we're just task oriented. We're just focused on the meeting right in front of us, turned it off onto the next meeting. So those human connections are gonna be extremely important for the future of the workplace. And reinstilling, getting back to them and finding tools and mechanisms where we can connect people with one another again.
Mitch: (09:55)
Now I'm sure there are plenty of reasons that these challenges, you know, have almost augmented, you know, aside from just the virtual limitations of relationship building, I think we talked about it briefly at the very start. There are other more or less habits that we have developed throughout this pandemic. And it seems like technology is in front of us 24/7, whether it's work or not. So from your experience and everything we're talking about here, as far as relationships go, what impact does technology and social media have on an individual's, you know, day to day, their overall mental health?
James: (10:37)
Yeah, well first we have to express extreme gratitude for having the technology that we do, because imagine if this was to happen in the nineties, we wouldn't be able to connect with each other. We were still in the world of long distance telephone calls. So it's amazing that we can pick up a phone and see someone's face, but we've become so reliant on it that we are not necessarily using it as a tool, but we're choosing to use it as a reality and we're getting deeper and deeper into that reality. And when we use technology, when we use social media, it divides our consciousness, it takes us out of the present moment. We can be having discussions with somebody and at the same token, I'm looking at my screen and I'm seeing comments from another project I'm working on. I'm getting alerts on my phone. So our productivity starts to diminish because our consciousness is splintered in so many ways. There's been countless studies that multitasking is a myth done by Harvard University. And the list goes on of great institutions that have studied multitasking. Yet we still believe that we can accomplish all of this at once. So one thing that we just have to make sure is as we move into the future, that we use these as a tool, you know, prior to COVID, I was probably on in my business career one or two Zoom calls. And it was because we were meeting a new team from a recent acquisition or a global team for the first time. And we would never get the chance to actually see them in person. But all of our presentations were just done over the phone. We didn't have to stare at a grid of spaces feeling like I'm on Hollywood squares. You know, everyone's like face staring at you. I know that's an old reference to Hollywood squares, but it becomes really challenging for us to deal with that. Especially for those that are visual learners, auditory learners, or kinesthetic learners, it's putting us in overload. So as employers look into the future, it's really finding purpose in those tools. You know, are you expected to have Slack open while you're presenting? It's probably not a good idea. It's probably a good idea to let someone direct their consciousness to their presentation, not have a little messages about what they should or shouldn't be saying popping up, cuz that should be done in rehearsal. If you're meeting someone for the first time, it's great to see their face. We've just met. It's nice to put a face to the name, but in the future, is it required? Probably not. We can just have a conversation. Sometimes it's a lot easier just to be in our own head space and have our consciousness focused on the topic at hand, what we're communicating to each other. So we just have to use technology correctly and we need to learn from our experience in COVID of what's worked and what's not worked and not just become super reliant on it because we know it's splintering our consciousness and dividing our attention, which is that decrease in productivity.
Mitch: (13:30)
Yeah, it's really interesting because besides the, you know, personal reliance on technology, I think a lot of businesses and, you know, individual teams are really stressing the different values that technology does offer even in the workplace. I know you mentioned Slack briefly and there are a ton of other applications, software tools that can be used. So, you know, I'll get your perspective if you wanna share it from the business perspective or the personal perspective, when does technology actually help us? You know, we talked, it could split our consciousness sometimes and maybe that takes away from work and it can hurt us. But you know, like I said, I think there are positive uses of it as well. So would you care to share anything on that side of the coin?
James: (14:10)
Yeah, definitely. I think it's, when communicating at a distance connecting for the first time or having one to one conversations that really weren't face to face, we see this in 360 reviews, providing feedback, coaching mechanisms, those are extremely important. When it hurts us, is when it's used for everything possible, everything in the kitchen sink all at once, really focusing on what is this tool for? Think about technology as a toolbox, define the purpose and the role for each of those tools that you have in relation to your workforce needs extremely important. And I feel like the time it hurts us the most is when we rely on it to run our lives. And this is in work and in just life, you know, you don't need to enter what you just ate into an app to know if it was healthy. I mean, you know, it's healthy. You know, if you ate an ice cream, you're not gonna be able to have another unhealthy meal for dinner. We don't need to rely on technology to do things for us that we consciously already know those mechanisms give us dopamine triggers. All of those alerts give us rushes in our brain. So every time you get an alert, an email, a ding, it sending a reward signal in your brain, and that's why we're so addicted to social media. That's why we're so addicted to technology is because we're used to it running our lives. The fact that we pick up our phone on average a hundred times a day is a little bit alarming and that the majority of us are on social media three and a half hours a day is pretty alarming. It's those are very alarming statistics. That's more addictive than cigarettes. That's more time on social media than people spent smoking in the heyday. So it's something we're in denial about. It's something we have to be conscious of and it's something we really need to work hard and create discipline around on how we use these tools effectively and with purpose in order to feel good about ourselves and create more wellbeing in our lives and be able to appreciate the present moments that we're in, whether it's working with colleagues on a pitch or presentation or a new client, or whether we're just connecting with friends and family.
Mitch: (16:29)
And, you know, I love the analogy you shared with the toolbox because that's what it is. You know, it's essentially, it's an asset, it's something of value, but it has an individual purpose more or less. There are very rarely tools that you can accomplish every job around the house or something like that with. So I think that's a great way to look at technology as well. We don't need our phone for every single thing that we do. We have to take a step back and look at the human elements of things, right? And I think that's, you know, excellent point and really, you know, paints a good picture for how these tools should be used. So we talked a little bit about how to kind of get around these challenges and we wanna limit the amount that we use technology for and such. I'm just curious if you have any other solutions and really any other thoughts that you would like to share as far as how can individuals find purpose? How can organizations better communicate these purposes? You know, kind of just the whole conversation we've had so far. Can you bring it together and share any last minute thoughts with us?
James: (17:33)
Yeah, definitely. Organizationally, think of an organization of one connected consciousness. You have a hive of minds working together to achieve a vision all with a unique mission. And what makes them want to go on that mission is the values that you have. So holding all of that together should be your mantra, your belief system, where you're directing everyone's consciousness to the greater good, how you're serving humanity, what you're doing to make this world a better place. Because the organizations that don't do that in the future will become obsolete to those that do employees want to work for a company for more than a year and a half, two years, they don't wanna have a revolving door, especially the generation that's entering the workplace right now, all of the centennials, gen Z, but they need to learn not just where the consciousness of an organization is directed, but how to connect with the other minds within that organization. So whether you start instilling some tried and true methods, like personality tests, having people on the team learn about each other, their likes, their interests, their passions, connecting them. Unity is the key. It's not dividing your organization. It's unifying them. And unification is the beginning of diversity programming. You can't separate people. You have to unite them first and then celebrate their differences. What each group brings to the table. I think for organizations, one of the traps is often plugging the holes on culture and organizational wellness is somewhat of a new term, but it's become very reliant on something like a meditation app or an exercise class, class passes. And those only plug the holes of organizational consciousness and what you really need to focus as teaching people about themselves, how to navigate, change, how to feel good about yourself, how to accept other people, the thoughts that are generated from your mind, where are they coming from? We need to create programming within organizations that truly helps increase the mental health and self-awareness of an organization to make that united consciousness shine really bright and achieve the goals at hand. And then I think finally, you know, just making sure for people and employees that are working for companies, learn to self-regulate your tech use uncover areas that you seek to grow and develop. You have to set goals for yourself, share those self-improvement goals holistically, whether they're talent, development, goals, career goals, financial goals, physical goals, social goals with your boss and show how you're looking to grow, what you wanna achieve and take time truly to connect with yourself and create a vision for where you wanna be in the future. And the more you share that vision with others, the more you'll gain internal support and the more success you'll have growing within an organization rather than feeling like you're defeated, deflated and fighting an uphill battle just to find peace and joy at work and work is the place where we find purpose in life. That's what's so beautiful about work. We choose a passion that's right for us, those passions shift and evolve and change over time. But work is the place that we find purpose. So it's something truly to harness the potential of, and enjoy as we're on this journey of life.
Closing: (21:17)
This has been Count Me In, IMA's podcast, providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard and you'd like to be counted for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.imanet.org.