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Updated: Jun 1, 2019

A superordinate goal is defined by psychologists as a goal achieved only by strong cooperative teamwork. It transcends differences because it “emphasizes the very heart of humanity: we are all in this together.” (Lynne McTaggart, The Bond (2012) p. 186-7). And if that is the case, we are no longer competing for scarce resources!

The superordinate goal theory has been tested with many successes, such as that described in the movie Invictus.  The rugby team created nation-building euphoria and unified a country emerging from apartheid. (See my book, Find Your Scream, Live Your Dream: Discover Your Inner Leader, p. 49).

Creating a superordinate goal was also crucial to the survival of Chilean miners during 70 days trapped in the mine. Their name became, “The Thirty-Three,” that created a sense of one for all, pulling together against impossible odds. (The Bond, p. 189). They hung a Chilean flag in the mine and sang their National anthem. They understood their very survival to be necessary to accomplish a higher goal—for the good of their Country.

When we do things in groups, the rush of we’re all in this together creates elation, and “feel-good” chemicals are emitted. Scientists now understand that neurons become more efficient and operate as a unit when repeatedly and persistently stimulated—neurons that energetically fire together, wire together. People who fire together may wire together, in effect. We get on their “wavelength”-literally and figuratively. This energetic alignment and social cohesion is beyond money, job or assets. We may be happiest coming together as neighbors, like the old days of barn raisings. Many cultures have this “coming-together.” In Native American Cherokee, it is gadugi and in Finnish it is talkoot.

Superordinate goals are necessary whether you are the leader of our Country or your organization. People rally when their hearts are moved and they feel they can make a meaningful difference by contributing to the common goal. We move beyond self when working to create something larger than ourselves, together. For example, when brain activity is measured by an EEG cap placed on musicians playing together, it shows their brain waves are synchronized, or “in-phase.” Their energy is aligned.

As I offer in my speeches to leadership groups–It’s all about energy—energetic alignment. To win in business, it is more about how you think, feel and behave, than it is about the resources and tools you are given!! It is about how you direct your energy. And we, as Americans, need to direct our energy toward the superordinate goal of creating new, non-partisan solutions to our economic, social and health issues. Compromise and cooperation trump the politics of constant conflict. Whoever is elected, must rise above partisanship to rally our hearts to achieve our superordinate goal of restoring our Country, together.

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