Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Behavioural Change: The Way out of this Mess? (for the virtue project)

A series of interviews on virtue

The project is a response to the current financial crisis, the causes of which continue to be widely explored. Which ever way you look at it, greed and envy feature prominently. There is no clear view regarding how we are going to move out of the recession and overcome the broad range of personal and societal troubles it has brought to light. Fiscal easing means very little to most people - we need to start by changing ourselves.

We know that "acts of virtue" have a powerfully positive impact on us. The time is right to develop and present a practical understanding of virtue: what it is, what it does to us, and how to "do" it. To that end, I will be interviewing well known people who are leaders in their fields of writing, religion (broad spectrum), neuro-science, and psychology to explore what they understand by virtue and the role it plays in our lives, spiritually, physically, and psychologically.

People all over the country, in all walks of life, are frightened by the current financial crisis and they do not know what to do. They are hunkering down, taking fewer risks, and bringing less and less of themselves to their personal and professional lives. This isolation contributes to a downward spiral that will be increasingly difficult to reverse. Many people feel they are not in control of their lives and have no power to improve them. However, what almost everybody can control is their own behaviour.

The reality is that most attempts at change are unsuccessful because people don't know what to do differently "on Monday morning" to realise the benefits of changing. The graphs, charts, and accompanying speeches that communicate the perils of maintaining the status quo, or the benefits of changing it, may provoke an emotional reaction and even a genuine desire for change, but are simply not practical enough to be helpful.

My background is not journalism, but business. I was a partner in a global consulting firm, working mainly in financial services. To that end, I bring a practical understanding of the difficulties of corporate and personal change and a deep appreciation of the conflicts inherent in the modern (corporate) culture. I also happen to believe in the goodness of human nature and its infinite ability to adapt and grow. I genuinely believe the results of this project will provoke debate and inspire individuals to change for the better, and help them to do so.

You can view the names of people who are participating in the interview process at:
Contact list and log of progress (virtue project)

You can view a comparison between the major religious faiths' understanding of virtues:

Virtues (for the virtue project)

You can view emerging findings:

Emerging Findings (very very draft and incomplete)

To read summaries of the interviews please click on your chosen link:

Summary of the interview with Stephen Venner, Bishop of Dover

Summary of the interview with Reverend William Taylor

Summary of the interview with Father Nadim Nassar

Summary of Interview with Canon Precentor Jeremy Davies

Summary of interview with Dan Winder

Summary of Interview with Lucy Beresford

Summary of interview with Martin Vander Weyer

Summary of interview with Peter Manning

Summary of interview with Rob Taylor

Summary of Interview with Imam Asim Hafiz

Summary of interview with Dr Yazeed Said

Summary of interview with Matthew Taylor

Summary of interview with Mark Goodrich

Summary of the interview with Nigel Seed, QC

Summary of Interview with Jonathan Aitken

Summary of interview with Professor Janet Reibstein

Summary of Interview with Ed Kessler

Summary of Interview with Mandeep Kaur

Other interesting links:

Jeremy Davies used our virtue conversation as a basis for one of his sermons in Salisbury Cathedral:

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