Art of dimensions Essay

The Art of Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Unity for Excellence

Tom Morris, in his book, If Aristotle’s Ran General Motors explains what it’s needed for “the attainment of long-term business excellence and the experience of personal happiness at work and in life despite the turbulent and challenging times that individuals may face” (1998, p. x). Morris is a former professor at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, founder of the Morris Institute of Human Values, and author of several books. He taught philosophy at Notre Dame for fifteen years and is now recognized among the World’ top most important public philosophers and business thinkers of the present. Distinguishing himself of many for bringing the wisdom and knowledge of ancient philosophers back to life into the challenges of the present (“Tom Morris”, 2012).

Morris believes that “there are some basic truths… which undergird any sort of human excellence or flourishing, whether in a company like General Motors or in the country at large” (1998, xi). “These foundations are profound but yet simple and are universally accessible pervasively, applicable, and incredibly effective for the attainment… of the very best results” (1998, p. xi). He suggests that these basic truths are the foundations of greatness. Every individuals’ experiences the work along these foundations and thus, if they are addressed correctly, they can lead not only to job satisfaction and self-fulfillment, but also to a more healthy, nurturing, and ethical workplace that is more productive and successful in the long term. They are:

1. The intellectual dimension, which aims at Truth

2. The Aesthetic Dimension, which aims at Beauty

3. The Moral Dimension, which aims at Goodness

4. The Spiritual dimension which aims at Unity

Happiness

All human beings pursue different things in life. Some chase wealth, some fame, some love, some power, and some seek security or adventure. However, the ancient philosophers including Aristoteles concluded that there is one very same thing every individual is seeking and that is happiness. However, “Happiness means different things for different people” (1998, p. 18). Morris argues that “one of the highest forms of peace is that which accompanies satisfying engagement in a job worth doing. And one of the greatest pleasures in life is active fulfilling from a job well doing. So, happiness is connected with peace as well as with pleasure. But ultimately it is to be found in the activity. It is in the work” (1998, p. 17). He then concluded that one will not attain happiness or personal fulfillment in what one is doing “unless these four dimensions of human experience and excellence are addressed and nurtured” (1998, p. 19).

Truth

The first dimension of human experience is the intellectual dimension, which aims at truth. Truth, Morris points out is the foundation of trust which “is absolutely necessary for truly effective interpersonal relationships” (1998, p. 30). We need truth just as we need food, air, and water. Trust is essentially important for businesses as trust is what creates long-term relationships with clients, employees, and stakeholders. He claims that “trust is like a lubricant for human relations. Without it, the mechanisms of interaction are damaged and grid to a stop” (1998, p. 46). Organizations work only because individuals trust and support what these organizations do, so when this value is lost, they fall.

Morris also points out that trust is the essence of any successful business because it brings efficiency to the workplace. By “eliminating sources of waste and inefficiencies wherever they exist” (1998, p. 30). Every employee needs to feel that they are achieving something, they are growing and maturing as individuals and as workers. They are more effective and efficient for the organization when they have all the information, they need to do what is required for their jobs. However, when they are restricted from the information that they need to succeed they will waste time and energy trying to figure out what it needs to be done to accomplish their tasks when in fact this time could be used to achieve organizational goals.

Morris agrees with philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) when he said, “knowledge is power” (1998, p. 36). He believes that “as knowledge is shared, it expands. As knowledge expands, power expands” (1998, p. 37). Implying that when the company is at crisis because employees “know where they are and what’s going on, they can figure out what needs to be done” in a faster and effective way (1998, p. 38). Thus, managers and employees should always speak to coworkers and customers with the sole truth. Knowledge will equip individuals with the necessary tools to do a better job and have a greater contribution to their organization. On the other hand, hidden information from individuals sets up the organization for failure as these individuals will live in ignorance of reality of the business for which they work for and in times of crisis, they will be incapable of helping.

Finally, Morris invites business leaders to “cultivate an environment in which people are not afraid to tell us the truth. We need the truth if we are to steer safely through the difficulties we may face as we move into the future, and we are unlikely to get enough of it unless others are open to sharing it with us” (1998, p. 27). He invites leaders to create cultures where truth is encouraged, and employees live in it in and where they feel free to share it even when the truth is difficult to tell or awkward.

Beauty

The second of these dimensions is the aesthetics dimension, the dimension of beauty. Morris does a great job in his book presenting the importance of aesthetics in life and at the workplace. He refers to beauty as a quality of the aesthetics dimension that “liberates, refreshes, restores, and inspires” (1998, p. 70). Because of these, workplaces that reflect beauty tend to be more productive and have happier employees. One thing he does is to encourage the readers to reflect in those places that once made them feel refreshed, alive, and brought them great joy in order to prove them the importance of beauty. “Think for a moment where you feel most relaxed, most peaceful, refreshed, reinvigorated, and even inspired. … at the ocean, watching the sun shimmering on the waves, or just sitting at a beautiful set table, having a wonderful meal at a beautiful restaurant” (1998, p. 69). He believes that beauty is of great importance since it is in these settings of great beauty where one lived their happiest life and has the best memories.

Although it may seem the least important element of these four dimensions. Morris argues that it is the most important as beauty “plays a role that can’t be duplicated by anything else in its impact on the human spirit, freeing our greatest energies, liberating our deepest insights, and connecting with our highest affections” (1998, p. 70). The aesthetics is the first thing individuals notice as they enter a building, an office, a church, a hotel, or a house. They are more likely to feel energetic and motivated in a setting of beauty. Morris points out that there are different forms of beauty. Beauty does not only refer to the physical characteristics of a building, but beauty can also be created. Employees can do this by creating a beautiful solution to a client’s problem, or by partnering with others to do something beautiful together. People need to experience both types of beauty in their lives and in their workplace for them to be engaged and motivated.

Goodness

The third dimension of human excellence is the moral dimension, which aims at goodness. According to Morris, goodness is a necessary condition for healthy relationships and for striving community” (1998, p. 117). He also refers to goodness as those aspects in life concerning ethics and morality. Nevertheless, he believes that ethics are helpless rules created by man which only prevents individuals from enjoying life and work. Many people have come to believe that ethics will help people stay out of trouble. However, when the purse is only to stay out of trouble, people will find only alternatives to stay out of trouble. Doing the right thing or the most ethical and moral decision can be difficult as there is not one definitive definition of ethics. The series of beliefs and principles that are held by people or a group about what is right or wrong are usually determined by different factors including, culture, age, education, religion, or nationality.

Companies can create all kinds of rules and principles to oversee and control the actives of their employees, and to help them stay out of trouble. Rules are important because they point out what is expected of everyone, but if employees don’t find goodness on what they are doing, rules are helpless. Ethics is more than just going by the rules. Ethics is about “creating strength, in an individual person, a family, a community, business relationships, and life” (1998, p. 120). Other than just rules, Morris suggests that organizations should focus on creating “conditions under which people can be their best and do their best” (1998, p. 122). He also points out that every decision, every choice, and every action create an impact on what one wants to become. Thus, creating good conditions for employees to be their best starts with a good example. Starting by showing basic moral principles such as kindness, respect, consideration, honesty, courtesy, and empathy.

Unity

The spiritual dimension is the last of these dimensions, which aims at unity or ultimate connectedness. Morris claims that “the ultimate target of the spiritual dimension is unity: connectedness, or intimate integration, between our thoughts and our actions, between our beliefs and emotions, between ourselves and other, between human beings and the rest of the nature” (1998, p. 179). For this Morris specifies four spiritual needs that all humans beings have. Everybody has a need for uniqueness, they need to feel special and distinctive. A need for union, they need to feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves. A need for usefulness, they need to feel that their uniqueness is serving a greater union or purpose. Lastly, there is the need for understanding, this is the what’s, the how’s, and the whys of their work.

Individuals meet these spiritual needs through their interaction with others which allows them to connect in a deeper level through their ideas, experiences, skills, and stories. More than ever, human beings seem to be more distant for one another. Morris talks about this, “we live in a time of great disunity and disconnectedness between people and their communities, among races, within families, between ordinary citizens and their political processes and representatives…” (1998, p. 179). The recent technological advances have influenced the way people connect and communicate with each other. It is easier to be in constant communication with friends and relatives especially with those who live in distant places. Unfortunately, these advances have replaced verbal communication. With social sites like Facebook, messenger, Instagram, what’s App, and other people now spend more time sharing their status, photos, or videos than verbally talking on their smartphones or hanging out with their family or friends. As a result, people have a difficult time trying to socialize and connect with other face-to-face because there is always easier to speak one’s mind behind a screen. Morris claims that humans were created to be “social being who depend on community” (1998, p. 180) and suggests that when people connect with one another they create stronger communities and organizations that can accomplish greater things together than when working individually.

Conclusion

Truth, beauty, goodness, and unity are the elements of greatness because they lead to personal fulfillment and engagement. These dimensions also contribute to the development of stronger relationships of trust and ethical decisions. Although these four dimensions were teachings from the ancient philosophers they still relevant practices that can guide business leaders to run their businesses. I agree with Morris that a good business is one that embraces these four elements as they focus on helping organizations and individuals achieve happiness and fulfillment something that humans beings constantly seek to attain in everything they do. We chose truth over lies no matter how bad the truth might be, we go to beautiful places to uplift our spirits and motivates us to work, we want to invest our time and energy in something worth doing, and we need to feel that our talents and abilities can serve others. Now that I know how these dimensions can benefit everyone to attain not only organizational excellence but also individual excellence, they are something worth considering when applying for a job.

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