She is blonde and beautiful. A real looker. I have seldom seen such a happy soul. She is open, shows empathy like no one else, she doesn’t hold a grudge, is never cynical, very patient and almost always content. She doesn’t seem to know words like anger or aggression. Her small disability — she is missing her right small toe — doesn’t restrict her agility in the slightest. She is a whirlwind, always part of any silliness and she can’t help showing the world what she is capable of. Her charm is enticing and men simply can’t help … smelling her bottom.

Gina is our Golden Labrador.

Dogs are pretty smart — but on the other hand also a little cognitively impaired.

An example: When Gina became part of our family, we arranged three lovely little spots for here. One in the garden, one in the front part of the apartment (for daytime) and one in the back (for nighttime).

Gina did not seem to be terribly impressed by our logic within the apartment, because she chose places both in the front and back, which did not seem very cozy. There were no soft blankets or cushioning, it had to be the hard floor.

Fairly quickly we realised that she obviously liked to lie in places under which there was underfloor heating or a hot water pipe.

Around this time we had some water damage in the apartment. There was a leak in the heating and the hot water pipes. Consequence: the floor was cold. After several weeks of arduous repairs, the pipes were running in a different way, since these had all been ripped up and newly laid. Gina certainly noticed this and switched her favourite spots.

That is SMART.

However, she had no idea why the floor was cold for several weeks. And I’m pretty sure that she doesn’t know what hot water pipes are and also that she isn’t interested.

Gina only noticed the (negative) impact (floor is cold), but did not recognise the cause of this (leak in the pipe).

That is LIMITED.

With many people one also has the impression that they recognise the impact of an external influence on themselves — for example, think of being criticised by someone you have little respect for. You will show emotions like anger, irritation, arrogance or a know-it-all attitude.

But like Gina, just as many people have neither the will nor the means to delve into the causes of their emotional reactions — the why behind it all.

Gina has an excuse. She is cognitively impaired.

What is ours?

And Gina has another trump card up her sleeve:

She does not quarrel.

In the weeks of the pipe repairs there was no positive impact for Gina. The floor was cold. Did this bother her? No! Did she get angry, did she shout? No! Did she blame others for her misery? No! If so, I didn’t notice.

Gina is CALMNESS personified.

That is why she does not necessarily have to know or find the reason for the (cold) effect. She takes things as they come.

Transposed to the human world, this would mean that we also would not have to discover and understand the causality of our behaviour (cause-effect principle) at all costs to lead a happy, content life.

The only prerequisite for that would simply be: calmness.

Unfortunately this wonderful quality is not very strong in most people. If we could live in complete calm like Gina, we really would be leading a happy and carefree existence.

But we do not. Why?

Because, in contrast to Gina, we quarrel and bicker.

We would definitely be angry if it suddenly became freezing cold — we demand, we criticise, we blame.

PEOPLE SINK INTO negative emotions.

Spurred by these emotions (no talk of using them consciously) we treat others in ways we would never want to be treated — and if we are treated like this, even stronger emotions arise within us.

That is the world of the homo sapiens

Do you also sometimes ask yourself what is so sapiens about the homo?

And because we only react calmly in the rarest of cases, we cannot afford the luxury of not delving into the cause of our behaviour.

Of course no one is forcing us on this journey of discovery, but if we don’t have any interest in the cause of our behaviour, we should at least stop burdening ourselves and others with complaints about all that is happening in life and work.

One could summarise the human pattern of behaviour in four simple equations

1.   No interest in cause + emotions = ignorance = not ok
2.  No interest in cause + calmness = limitation = ok
3.  Interest in cause + emotion = personal development = good
4.  Interest in cause + calmness = clear mind = great

In our workshops there are managers aged 30 to 45, largely academics with five to 20 years of professional experience, many are already country managers, GMs, VPs or on the way there — they should be bursting with motivation, enthusiasm and real joy, but the opposite is true.

Many of the participants, practically all of them, deal with topics such as poor communication, poor leadership, overly heavy workloads, poor future prospects and such.

They are under enormous pressure (nothing against healthy, performance enhancing pressure!), some do not see a way out, some are already resigned

„Nothing will change…“

others save themselves with daydreams

„In three months it will surely get better“

or use sarcasm to survive

„If this carries on, this will blow up in their faces“


If we then look at the situation more closely during our conversation, it usually turns out that these are very clear and very human issues that can generally be solved.

 Negative emotions in leadership situations

My boss has never given me proper feedback!

What do you expect from it?

That I finally understand how I can improve and why I wasnt promoted.

Have you spoken to him about this?



He said everything was fine and we would have our personal year-end-review soon anyway.

Was this satisfying to you?

Of course not!

Did you say this to him?


Why not?



My colleague is doing everything possible to push me out of the company. He keeps important information secret, talks down to me in board meetings and refuses to help me if I ask him.

Have you spoken to him about this?

No, but we had a meeting to talk about it. Him, me and our CEO.

What came of it?

Fine words.

Did your colleague change his behaviour afterwards?

Yes, now he is even more subtle and clever about it.

Did you speak to him or your CEO about it again?


Why not?

Because it clearly makes no difference.

So what will you do?

I will resign! (almost cries)

We are talking about well-paid, well-educated managers in multi-billion dollar companies and a socially secure network.

The problem is definitely not new. For years one study after another warns companies about the consequences of poor leadership, insufficient communication, excess workloads and also the loss of human compassion.

A excerpt regarding the reasons for inner resignation

1  Errors in leadership (e.g. lack of cooperative leadership)
2  Lack of care
3  Lack of mutual feedback
4  Dissatisfaction with the behaviour of leaders
5  Failure to deliver on promises
6  Conflicts, bullying or mobbing
7  Threats caused by reorganisation processes
8  Performance ratings that are perceived as unjust
9  Dissatisfaction with work
10 Job insecurity

Gallup values the total economic damage in Germany caused by inner resignation at around 250 billion euros a year. Around 87 percent of all employees in Germany feel no sense of ‘obligation towards their work’.



Especially because it would be relatively easy to recognise the symptoms of their inner resignation — if one would only look.

An employee has innerly resigned if he/she…

1  has no more interest in debate
2  has become a typical yes-man / yes-woman
3  is always in the majority
4  no longer provides suggestions or criticism
5  has become a conformist
6  accepts decisions from management without comment
7  no longer fully exploits his/her abilities
8  accepts interference in his/her area of responsibility without objection

Afterwards the same thing always happens. Respectable university professors, psychologists or consulting companies create tempting 10-point plans for how managers should best react to situations like this. Suggestions such as:


  • Show a genuine interest and participate in the life of the employee.
  • Always pay attention to your own health as well.
  • Ensure there is inner balance and health.
  • Listen attentively with the goal of understanding your employee.
  • Have patience with the growth rate of your employee.
  • Avoid commenting on your employee in their absence.
  • Give clear direction and stay friendly when doing so.
  • Give clear consideration to the strengths of the employee.
  • Laugh at yourself and have the courage to be imperfect.
  • In conflict situations, always ask yourself what you can actively do.
  • Fulfil your leadership tasks with complete commitment.


All very obvious. All quite right.

And then?

Yes, well, then very little or nothing happens.

And why? Because it isn’t just about knowing WHAT to do, but much more about finding out the reasons WHY it is so difficult to implement these suggestions.

Provided it is actually important to be a professional leader for my team — what hinders me? Where are my own limitations?

In order to answer these questions, lists or 10-point plans do not help.

There needs to be an examination of causality.


That, which Gina can’t do (or only very limitedly).

Based on the issues that come to the fore in these workshops, one might think that business is an emotional war zone. We always say ‘business’ – but in reality it is often the one floor, the one storey in which we are working. There are 20-30 people who form part of our direct contacts.

This is our micro war zone. And even in this manageable arena there are sometimes destructive scenes that play out.

Most of the time the weapons are invisible.

Deception, ignorance, greed, anger, selfishness, bossiness.

And the outcome of the battle is not more profit or freedom — the reward for the winners is that their patterns of behaviour are replicated and copied by young observers.

Long live Darwin:

The Survival Of The Fittest.

And with all this foaming at the mouth we fail to see that an entire generation of young, motivated managers is being ruined. Or do you think that the woman, who — as described above — is going to quit because of her colleague, will be just as ‘constructive’ in her new job? Or will she tend to be distrustful?

Distrust is the opposite of trust — exactly the kind of behaviour that this woman missed in her current company. And in her new company, she herself will now also not be trusting.

She has learned. This is also evolution.

So, not only are the poor genes of the winners of the battle multiplying, but the poor genes of the losers of the battle too.



Is this normal? Does it have to be this way? Is it true when people say:

That is working life!

Or the American Truman:

If you cant stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!


Bullshit. It is not normal. It is just pervasive.


If we have the choice between keep fighting and keep suffering like:

I dont care, as long as my wifi at home is working!

and delving into the causes of conflicts and behavioural deficiencies like:

I want to get to the bottom of this,
even if it is painful and I don
t know
whether I want to hear the answers,
let alone if I am then able to change my behaviour for the better

I am convinced that nine out of ten people would opt for the latter.


the cause of their flawed behaviour, in order to develop personally.

At least I constantly hear this from seminar participants. Regardless of which country they come from — regardless of cultural background.


so they can then decide for themselves what they are willing to accept and what they want to change.

Only when we have identified the roots of our behaviour can we decide whether we want to rip them out, to care for them or to live with them with complete ease.

And that is exactly what separates us from the dog Gina.


Every single one of us.

Imagine for just a second that all of us — you, your colleagues, your boss, your partner, your children — would know the true reasons of our own behaviour.

Total causality perspective.

Brutal “drill-down”

into the deepest, most fundamental, most painful truth.

No psychological nakedness with family structures – just simple answers to the question of why we act the way we do.

Now, that would be an approach to personal progress.


Read next:

What Cicero, Plato, Goethe and Schopenhauer  teach us about personal longing and yearning


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