HIGHER LIVING LEADERSHIP
Introduction to the book Higher Living Leadership by Dr. Melodye Hilton
Culture is a reproducible system of beliefs that shape the actions of individuals. It communicates to others what are, and are not acceptable beliefs and actions. Culture tells you what is right or wrong and what you must do to “fit in.” We learn our culture through instruction and observed behavior.
Most would agree that we live in a global culture where there is a widespread epidemic of mistrust. Decisions are often stress-filled and fear-driven and the most common mentalities are self-serving and self-gratifying. At the same time, there is a remnant of emerging and established leaders who combat this epidemic by serving as catalysts for positive change in their realms of influence.
Even in the midst of the challenges of our world’s culture, these leaders refuse to focus on, and in turn perpetuate what is wrong. Instead, they deliberately choose to view the future through lenses of hope for families, communities, organizations, and nations. These leaders embody the concept that I have coined as, “Higher Living Leadership.”
Higher Living Leadership thrusts us beyond our individual successes and helps us to make the most of our opportunity to influence our culture. This is a vital responsibility that today’s leaders must both recognize and exercise. In order for our efforts to continue beyond our lifetime, we must purposely plant seeds today; we must be an incubator of validation to shift the cultural atmosphere. These kinds of leadership endeavors will prepare a generation of courageous trailblazers; the goal being to embolden them to go farther, achieve more, and give more as power and influence are used for the greater good.
In summary, Higher Living Leaders skillfully set the stage for emerging leaders to have a platform to positively impact their world.
Governmental leaders do not dictate culture; instead it is shaped by society’s loudest and most influential voices that ultimately shape legislation. Therefore, we should not look to our governments to solve all the world’s problems. Doing so not only neglects our responsibility as citizens, but also abandons our obligation to inspire, influence, train, and mentor those who do shape culture.
Science has proven that the neural pathways of our brain are constantly changing as a result of belief conversions, behaviors, or the environment. Similarly, history has revealed that the beliefs of citizenry lead to rapid changes in culture.
During the course of my lifetime, I have observed how rapidly culture has changed from one generation to another. The expression “generation gap” is commonplace to represent the drastic difference between a young person’s worldview and that of his or her parents or grandparents. The decades of the sixties and seventies—my generation—witnessed a Cultural Revolution that was, in many ways, won at society’s detriment. We were activists with a cause to liberate our and future generations from anything binding us to traditional morals, values, and responsibilities. Our mantra was, “if it feels good, do it!”
What were we thinking?
Every child is born with innate contributions in order to serve his or her world. When his or her unchanging purpose enjoys its place of expression, he or she will encounter a fulfilled life as they serve a cause greater than themselves.
The optimum environment for a child’s development is one where they are understood and raised to maturity (fully adult) by emotionally healthy and full-grown, giving parents. These parents are not driven by meeting their own needs, or by fear-driven selfishness, but to lead for the good of their children.
Today, the opportunity for a healthy upbringing is rarely a child’s experience. The sad reality is that a self-serving mentality and deterioration of morals and values has brought about a new cultural norm. This was not a premeditated abuse of power but has propagated injustice nonetheless. Our nation’s sons and daughters are surviving rather than thriving, feeling numb regarding their own lives. They are searching for some sense of personal fulfillment and finding themselves powerless to impact their world. The self-centered and personally irresponsible attitudes and actions of previous generations have shifted cultural norms, silencing healthy voices and distorting the treasure within our children.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “I conceive that the great parts of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things.” Allegorically speaking, we placed a high value upon our freedom to eat all the “candy” we wanted. Yet now we grieve the idea that today’s generation is riddled with “cavities” and “diabetes” as a result. We lived only for the moment, and failed to consider or recognize the consequences for future generations.
Freedom in the absence of accountability produces internal chaos and consequences that are incongruent to the very nature of our humanity. External achievements without internal order leave us constantly searching for more; we are never satisfied. External power without internal control positions us to hurt those we love, and to damage our own self-worth. Injustice is the outcome, and it permeates our world. It is a direct outcome of selfishness—caring only about what we want at the expense of others. As a result, we devalue human life knowingly or unknowingly by means of prejudice and hatred.
Current generations define success differently than those before them. Today we see a young generation confused and desperately trying to fit in while simultaneously searching for a unique identity and purpose. What results is an internal tug-o-war between a desire for individuality and a constant search for acceptance. What ensues, therefore, is a generation that is desperate to lead, yet instinctively and counterproductively following the loudest voice around them. They do so because of a culturally learned inability to discover and celebrate their own personal identity. We are desperately in need of those who will model another way; we are in need of those who will step up, demonstrate, and perpetuate Higher Living Leadership.
My generation of leaders led a revolution that has left our children and grandchildren searching for anything better than what they now know; they are searching for experiences that are higher, more meaningful, and healthier to the human soul. The emerging leaders of our society are desperate for a cause worthy of their time, effort, energy, and most importantly their heart. Rather than repeating a former model of revolution for revolution’s sake, this time the goals will be to improve, advance, and produce positive change in the emerging generation’s professional and private spheres of influence. This Cultural Revolution will be one of healthy internal leadership that influences our world and leaves it in a better condition than before.
On every level, from the family unit to the nation, a culture of justice will produce a breeding ground for Higher Living Leadership to flourish, reproduce, and have a sustainable impact upon the future. As Higher Living Leaders, our individual leadership is not about position or title, but the desire to make a significant difference in the lives of others, systems, and cultures. The internal motivation of justice—power used for good—is foundational to successful and impactful leadership. Justice will defend and honor. In the simplest terms, leaders who are motivated by justice will do what is right when confronted with the harsh opposing realities in their spheres of influence.
Every aspect of society is crying out for role models of higher thinking, higher responsibility, and a higher cause—a cause that makes life worth living and impacts society for good.
I very much appreciate the quality of leadership training that I have experienced. It has progressively influenced countless emerging and established leaders. I am now motivated to raise the bar even higher for our families, communities, and nations. Our world is searching for the fullness of intellectual expression, coupled with moral and ethical standards. It is by these terms that we will see a shift in the trajectory of our society by changing culture through acts of justice.
George W. Bush said, “…America’s greatest economic need is higher ethical standards—standards enforced by strict laws and upheld by responsible business leaders.”[i]
The manner in which we lead our families, organizations, and communities of today can shift culture through continual Higher Living that impacts others for good. It is our responsibility to think and act on a higher cognitive and emotional level to positively impact all of our relationships. I recognize that this is “easier said than done,” but it is what will set us apart as Higher Living Leaders.
My hope is to provide both emerging and established leaders with relevant and applicable principles that can have a positive effect on every aspect of their lives.
I will freely tell you that I am not a neuroscientist or an expert in axiogenics. My goal, however, is that through my research and experience I can simplify some otherwise complex principles, making them accessible to you, and, as a result personally empowering. I hope to define for you the appropriate functions, in both intrinsic and extrinsic areas of life, to provide you with the ability to shift cultural paradigms through Higher Living Leadership.
Strategic reformers of culture are now actively integrated into our society. The question is, will you be one of them? I invite you to join a higher model of living and leading. These are the brave leaders who will redefine, for themselves and for future generations, power used for good that will establish and influence a new way—a way of Higher Living Leadership.
“Having worked as an engineer and engineering supervisor in the Private Sector as well as the Federal Government, and having volunteered many years in Non-Profit organizations, I found my passion responding to this book with a resounding, “YES!” One thing organizations have discovered, is that it is expensive and time consuming to go through the process of clearing out employees that are performing at low levels, and so they often set them aside leaving the resources inside of them untapped. However, in this book, Dr. Melodye Hilton brings to the surface that all individuals have unique gift sets, values, and abilities that just need to be discovered and… valued. When we choose to be that Higher Living Leader and take the risk to discover, acknowledge, and value our own intrinsic value; it brings out the buried treasure within us allowing us to then acknowledge and value it in others. Not only does this book offer much research and scientific perspective on the benefits of disciplining your brain and your heart to raise the bar on your own choices and abilities, it also offers much Practical guidance on how to direct the benefits of this to the people and culture around you, through Higher Living Leadership. That’s one of the reasons I love this book so much– it takes well researched theory and examples to change the way you think and then makes it practical and applicable, starting today. Applying the information in this book will not only make you a healthier leader contributing to a healthier organization, but also healthier in your mind and body. This book will help you to unlock your personal purpose and then lead others to unlocking their own, for the benefit of the whole. I guarantee while you read this book something deep inside of you will say “YES!”, too.”Jeanenne S.