October 27, 2003

Relationships and Personal Development

Ethical Relationships

The meeting was attended by 10 members, 3 friends and 9 guests.

Business of the Institute

Program for 2004. Desmond Berghofer reviewed the Program for 2004. As the Institute for Ethical Leadership enters its sixth year in January 2004 its influence is extending into the community in significant ways. The Institute is supporting or sponsoring important projects in several theme areas.

  1. Values-Based Education in Schools (Youth and Education Theme)
  2. The Gulf Islands Centre for Ecological Learning (Stewardship and
    Environment Theme)
  3. The Integrated Medical Association of BC (Health and Wellness Theme)
  4. The Measurement of Well-Being and the Ethical Competence Framework
    (Business and Sustainability Theme)

In addition, the Institute is promoting a dialogue on Ethical Relationships (Relationships and Personal Development Theme) and supporting a number of other initiatives in the Stewardship and Environment Theme.

In order to support and maintain this extensive outreach activity, we are proposing the following program for the Institute in 2004.

Regular meetings will continue to provide an opportunity for Members, Friends and Guests to meet and be connected in the work of ethical leadership. Each of the five theme areas will take responsibility for one meeting per year. In addition, we will hold a special re-gathering meeting in September after the summer break. All meetings take place at the Vancouver Public Library on the fourth Monday of the month except when that day is a public holiday.

The schedule of meetings is as follows:

January 26, 2004 - Youth and Education Theme
March 22, 2004 - Business and Sustainability Theme
May 31, 2004 - Stewardship and the Environment
September 27, 2004 - Re-Gathering
October 25, 2004 - Relationships and Personal Development Theme
November 22, 2004 - Health and Wellness Theme

In addition to the regular meetings, the Leaders Group will meet monthly to oversee the work of the Institute. A newsletter will be introduced in 2004 to keep Members, Friends and others up to date on the activities of the Institute.

Fees: Financial support for the work of the Institute comes from Members and Friends. As the number of regular meetings will be reduced in 2004 from 8 to 6, the membership fee will be reduced from $120 to $100. We would appreciate receiving payment for membership by January 1, 2004. In addition to the annual fee, Members pay $10 for each meeting to cover the cost of the meal.

Friends of the Institute will continue to pay $25 for each meeting they attend (includes the cost of the meal).

Guests will continue to pay $10 for the first meeting attended. They may then join the Institute either as a Member or Friend.

The purpose of the Institute for Ethical Leadership is to support and encourage ethical leadership in society and thereby enhance the quality of life generally. With the program outlined above we look forward to a successful and inspiring year of good work in 2004. We encourage all Members, Friends and Guests to spread the word about the work of the Institute and help us to increase our influence in the world.

Youth and Education. Gerri Schwartz announced that an important meeting to launch the Values-Based Education project will be held on November 6 with the Principals, Vice-Principals and other officials of the New Westminster School District. Gudrun Howard will also attend representing the Living Values Program.

Health and Wellness. Maggie Gold announced that a meeting of the Integrated Medical Association of BC, which is sponsored by the Institute, will be held on October 29. Also, the next meeting of the Institute on November 24 will be hosted by the Health and Wellness Sector and will feature a presentation by Dr. Sivakumar Varma on the Benefits of Ayurvedic Medicine. Full details are provided on the attached flyer.


The program was introduced by Diane Jennings, Co-Chair with Dennis Jennings of the Relationships and Personal Development Sector. Diane stressed that relationships are important in all human interactions as evidenced by current statistics on divorce rates, family breakdown, etc. She quoted from Steven Covey in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In a review of literature on American relationships over the past 200 years, Covey noted a startling pattern. He concluded that much of the success reported over the past 50 years in improving relationships was superficial. In contrast, literature of the first 150 years focused on what could be called a character ethic, addressing qualities like integrity, humility, temperance, and fidelity. People were taught that these are basic principles of effective living and they experienced successful living as they integrated these principles into their character. Diane suggested that this was a good lead in to the presentation by Gerri Schwartz.


Gerri began by saying that she hoped to change some perceptions about relationships. Some people believe they are in the world alone and crave for relationships. We don't come into the world alone. We are bonded in a family. Irrespective of everything else, what determines meaning in our life is our relationships.

We have to redefine who we are as human beings. Science has told us that we are not matter—at our basic level we are energy, which does not stop at the skin, but flows into the spaces between all our relationships. The nature of our species is not what we thought. We are a social species. Our relationships are registered in every cell of our bodies. If they are good and ethical, open, honest and authentic, our body carries a response to this that is beneficial. On the other hand, if our relationships are not good our health and success suffers.

People who are disconnected from each other are fundamentally distressed. This was demonstrated by an experience following World War II, when orphaned babies in England were put in large orphan ages, which were good places, where they were safe and had plenty of food, but the children began to die because of lack of touch. Young girls were brought in to hold them and play with them and the babies began to thrive.

Gerri gave a brief description of brain function. We all have a brain weighing about 3 lbs or 2% of our body weight. It is comprised of enormous complexity consisting of 100 billion neurons connected to each other in 10,000 different ways. The potential of our brains has not yet been fully discovered. We are probably using less than 1% of our potential. In each neuron there are packages of messengers called neurotransmitters that carry responses instantly into every part of the body.

Gerri gave the example of receiving a bad phone call, which affects us negatively in microseconds, filling our bodies with “the brown sticky sludge of fatigue and distress.” Stress releases a cascade of ingredients that begins with the release of a hormone called CRF and ends with the release of a flood of stress hormones mainly cortisol. These stay in the body for hours leading people to feel depressed and make mistakes. Stress builds on stress. Just imagine how this can affect the health of people in the workplace if relationships are not good. The relationships you live and work with affect your body in how you are in wellness and energy. Unethical relationships will adversely affect the well-being of everyone who experiences them.

Conversely, if the “rainbow stuff of life” is cascading into your system, as happens when you get a good phone call, it boosts the immune system and energy. A cascade of neurotransmitters, mostly adrenalin and nor adrenalin, boosts energy and immune responses. It gets the neurons to work in a free flow. This is the desired state. The opposite, a stress-filled system, reduces your ability to function. You don't get peak performance when you are loaded with stress and filled with cortisol.

Cooperation, collaboration and team work release a cascade of good ingredients that sharpens up performance. A team of athletes, for example, working cooperatively and positively produce their best performance. The ingredients of high spirit also remain in the bloodstream and bankroll performance.

Businesses have not paid enough attention to the need for good relationships to produce success. Similarly, children in school who feel respected and safe as opposed to those who are fearful and ridiculed or bullied by their peers, achieve greater success in learning.

Everything that is going on in the human environment affects us either positively or negatively. Therefore it is important to focus on ethical relationships that nurture the human spirit.

Psychology is now talking about a form of intelligence that has been identified as contributing to positive and successful relationships. It is Emotional Intelligence. Neuroscience makes crystal clear why Emotional Intelligence matters so much. This is grounded in our evolutionary heritage. Psychologists know that people who measure high on IQ tests of cognitive intelligence are not necessarily the most successful in life. About 14 years ago psychologists began to describe Emotional Intelligence. Other contributors included Howard Gardiner, who identified seven different kinds of intelligence, such as Artistic and Social Intelligence, and Bob Sternberg, who developed the Theory of Triarchic Intelligence. But it wasn't until Daniel Goleman began to write about Emotional Intelligence in 1995 that we began to get some other answers as to why some people are successful and others are not. Emotional Intelligence is what allows us to deal effectively with relationships.

This is the new yardstick for measuring success. It is increasingly applied to who will be hired and promoted. Emotional Intelligence, as defined by Goleman, is the capacity for recognizing our feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.

People are now much more sensitive to this. Top performers will not put up with working in a situation where they are not honoured and respected. Salary is not all that counts.

Goleman has identified two categories of competencies in a successful person: Personal and Social. Within these categories the following specific competencies are key:

  1. Being self-confident and self-aware.
  2. Being in control of emotions and behaviour.
  3. Being ethical, trustworthy, honest, considerate and willing to accept responsibility.
  4. Being motivated, achievement focused, persistent and optimistic.
  5. Being adaptive, innovative and risk-willing.
  6. Having a strong ability to lead, influence, communicate, relate, collaborate, and cooperate.
  7. Being empathetic and understanding; willing to develop and serve others.

At a fundamental level we are what our relationships allow us to be. Our Emotional Intelligence (all the factors above) make the people around us feel trusted and safe.

Gerri asked the audience to think about the person in their lives who makes you feel the most valued and respected. What are the qualities of that person? Now think about the person who makes you feel uncomfortable. What are the characteristics of that person that make you feel that way? Talk to your neighbour about this.

From the conversations the following qualities were reported concerning people who make one feel comfortable: empathetic, encouraging, a good listener, compassionate, supportive.

On the other hand, the following characteristics were reported of people who make one feel uncomfortable: judgmental, impatient, overpowering, insensitive, arrogant, hypocritical, poor listener, dishonest.

Gerri reported that a Gallop study of 2 million people and several hundred companies found that the main reason why people stay with a company is determined by the relationships they have with their immediate supervisor.

In a second study it was found that people with “good” bosses were 4 times less likely to leave than people with “poor” bosses.

Gerri told the story of a non-profit organization with which she worked where there was one person on the Board who was negative and judgmental and affected the ability of others to get on with a positive project. Nothing could be done until this person was encouraged to leave the Board. After that, the outcome was a very successful event.

We all have these kinds of people in our lives who affect us badly. They affect us at the profound cellular level. On the other hand people can be influenced for good at this same profound level. We cannot afford to be in the presence of negative people any more than we can tolerate toxins in our environment. Our very life depends on the quality of our relationships.

Be a good friend and good partner. Do not stand for the other kind. Bullies in the school yard diminish every other child. Champions raise us all. Think about this next time you have a chance to be in a relationship.

A question was raised on the difference between men and women with respect to Emotional Intelligence. Gerri replied that we have no reason to believe that one gender is more emotionally intelligent than another.


A discussion was held around 4 questions:

  1. What are the characteristics of an ethical leader?
  2. Give examples of ethical relationships at home, in life, at work.
  3. What would be the impact if we had more ethical relationships?
  4. How can we encourage more ethical relationships?

Following the discussion the groups reported their answers to the questions.

Characteristics of ethical leaders: They are inclusive, compassionate and accountable. They are honest, trustworthy, fair and just. They are empathetic and are good listeners. They have an ethical presence. They challenge others to be ethical. They are willing to learn continuously and admit mistakes, and allow others to make mistakes and learn from them. In a group they work to get “the histories out” on the understanding that relationships are better when people understand each other's history. They show constructive humour. They are creative. They walk their talk. They express our humanity and show the way.

Examples of ethical relationships: In general, people spoke about others they know who are considerate, kind, smiling and appreciative: people who volunteer and show great unselfishness, integrity and respect.

The impact of ethical relationships: The impact of more ethical relationships would be greater peace, justice and freedom. We would experience a life of abundance, not necessarily in the material sense, but overall abundance. There would be more trust and we would see a marked decrease in violence.

How to encourage ethical relationships: It begins with oneself. We have to be the change we want to see. We have to honour ourselves and stand up for others. Live by the golden rule. Support organizations like the Boy Scouts and Outward Bound who honour ethical values. Knowing the impact of relationships on health and well-being we need to teach this to others and show by example how to live in positive relationships.


Commenting on the above summary of the discussion, Gerri said it was clear that we all know who the ethical leaders in our society are. There are no arguments about any of the qualities listed.

The question for each of us to ask is: How can I raise the bar on myself? How can I go the extra mile in practicing ethical relationships? In doing so we know that we are influencing our well-being positively. We are bankrolling our success, and creating a good life for ourselves.

Referring to the “tombstone test,” Gerri said that people don't want to be remembered after death for the size of their bank account or for their material possessions, but rather that people will think of them as having been a good person, parent, friend and citizen.

Gerri's final advice was to accept friendship and intimacy from others and return friendship in a heartfelt, authentic and wise way. If all of us can do that, we will have a wonderful world. Never let it be said that a few people acting together in a positive way can't change the world for the good. We can, we are and we must.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is November 24, 2003: 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Vancouver Public Library
Theme: Health and Wellness
Topic: The Benefits of Ayurvedic Medicine