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The Wizards Of Aus!! – A Caution for Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road

At the recent 2011 National Achievers Convention held in Sydney, over 9000 people soaked up the messages of thought leaders’ ideas on business, wealth and success. The presenters were global leaders in their core competency, and were global names such as Anthony Robbins, Harvey Eker, Robert Kiyosaki, and Donald Trump. They were a legitimate line-up of solid speakers in their respective fields.

A comment was made during the event that the passionate and excited audience should be careful of a second wave of spruikers who may follow and capitalise on the energy and on the messages and themes of that legitimate event. Why was this comment made ? Welcome to the Wizards of Aus!!

Our society is at a stage in its evolution where money, wealth, success and lifestyle are constantly used as measures of who a person is. More now than ever we are encouraged to adopt financially literate lifestyles, become pro-active investors, and escape the rat race. All this in itself is not a bad thing and represents a society informing itself of new ideas and opportunities, as more people rise out of survival consciousness.

However we also have a society populated by more than a few “Dorothy’s” who are quite innocent and naive in the ways of finance, wealth, life and how to genuinely look for happiness. Many people do require genuine support and education in such things as wealth dynamics and creating an investment portfolio, or to change their behaviours or lifestyles. Some people understand this and they go searching. They are all on some journey on their “yellow brick roads” which are hopefully paved with gold. The problem is that the unwary often cannot discern real gold from fool’s gold.

The popular modern fairy tale book and film, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is actually a profound psychological mythic story of what can happen to the naive, unaware and unthinking person who happens in life to stumble across a guru promoting a lifestyle, money, success, wealth and happiness via some “special insight” or fantastic system they alone possess. I refer you to my analytical article on the psychological dynamics and truths found in this cautionary tale titled The Wizard of Oz – A Myth for Our Age

The problem of The Wizard is translated into the fact that for every provider of sound lifestyle, financial, wealth and investment seminars, books and coaching, there are even more that are the deceptive wizard types like that portrayed in the Wizard of Oz. Predatory personalities know that there is much wealth to be garnered by offering hyped up programmes to a gullible public, who are desperate to find their pot of gold or happiness at the end of the rainbow.

I reflected on the commentators words of advice from that recent seminar. I thought why not search the internet and look at what recent offerings or presenters have graced our shores, who may appeal to that same audience but where concern may exist that they may not fill the shoes of the A-listers who just left that Sydney event.

In general all these types of events are about wealth creation and the usual marketing hype about insider tips, secrets, and psychology of money. The presenters will typically be touted as thought leaders in this arena of manifesting and wealth and success with money investments. There is often a Barnum and Bailey circus like emotional effect created around such events.

In the Barnum and Bailey circus events of 100 years ago people flocked to the circus to see the amazing midget, the hairy woman, and the Elephant man. Today we are attracted to “circus” ideas such as “3 Days to Cash”, “Make Money While You Sleep”, “The 4 Hour a Week Millionaire”, “Pillars of Success” and so on.

Just like some of the circus freaks, some of these offerings are real and just unusual, whilst some others may be more like a room full of mirrors. At the circus you bought fairy floss and show bags, and at these modern day events one can also buy show bags with books, DVD’s and literature and brochures for more upcoming events. Some offerings are solid and some are more wafer thin or like fairy floss.

The advertising and content for all these events has evolved over the years to expand their offerings to not just wealth factors but also lifestyle factors. The psychology of money, wealth and success is a more recent thread, and promotional words like “break through fear”, “turbo charged”, “discover your life purpose”, “manifest your deepest desires” and “connect to your deepest human needs” sexy up most promotional materials.

I have personally attended a number of these seminars over the years, both here and overseas. The genuine one’s are solid, and the wannabe’s will often be found to reframe and repackage others ideas plus sprinkle in some esoteric Law of Attraction pseudo-logic like that one finds in the very successful book and DVD “The Secret”.

A common thread in attracting the Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow to these events is eye catching claims that convey the idea that one can become financially and lifestyle free without following the traditional path of hard work, research, having a plan and the discipline of sticking to it. It would surprise you that some of the second rate presenters may own less assets than their audience, yet may want to share their secrets of wealth creation!! Not all can walk their talk.

The solid industry operators do offer financial education and will be seen to have appropriate industry backgrounds in either Accounting, Taxation, Law, Commerce and/or a proven business history. There are some others who have colourful “poor to rich” stories and backgrounds that appeal to an audience that you too can rise up from poverty to success like me. They may or may not have more substance behind the claimed huge enlightenment moment that transformed their lives. Do not blindly swallow all claims placed in front of you.

There are many Dorothy’s in society looking for an “easy way out” of their 8 to 6 employee working lifestyles and will typically spend the hundreds of dollars to attend a multi-day event. The genuine presenters can provide generalised grounded advice and insight to those on the Yellow Brick Road. They may let their substantial careers talk for them instead of needing to make grandiose claims.

One common rort of the wannabe’s is that they make claims of financial breakthrough, recognition, success and achievement from places and times that are neither relevant, nor traceable. Scanning through the online material I notice some hypesters making claims of achievement and success dating from as far back as the 1970’s.

Chances are that no company records nor the witnessing people either still work there or are even still alive!! Hiding behind history is a common camouflage technique. A basic rule of thumb is that if it didn’t happen in the last 10 years then its ancient history and irrelevant. Society and business has moved on paradigm shifting ways over those years and business models, claims, and ideas soon become stale in our information age.

My experience has been that the hypesters typically have a second agenda that means pressure and emotional marketing attendees into more complicated and deeper pocket subsequent programmes, coaching or merchandising. Economically illiterate people may need such ongoing coaching but often these programmes are template and “cookie cutter” one fits all packages that may not work for everyone. The same may be true of the touted formula for success.

When I read the material provided by some of these programmes what I find is that the formulas have a context and a setting where their method or process will be seen to have some application. However some presenters oversell their method as a more generic way to success, economic freedom and so forth. A one size fits all is something to be wary of.

Some of the models I have reviewed require ongoing financial, time, and repeat business, or volumes of business that are not clearly spelt out in the seminar or first presentation. This is what I term the iceberg effect. What is visible is only a small part of what is going to be really needed to make the business model work. Once hooked some people keep following the Yellow Brick Road looking for that illusory pot of gold via some system or business model that may disappoint.

Some touted business models create an ongoing dependency with the promoters support organisation that means profits may need to be reinvested back into the promoters business. This dependency appears to be the real secret of how some presenters get rich and create the lifestyles they then promote. There are a variety of schemes and promoters out there. I suggest to everyone that they have their accountant review any such offering before making a commitment to any of them.

I was curious to see what recent activity had occurred in Australia around such schemes. I did some basic Google and Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) searches to see if there was any history or anything notable in regards to any company or its promoters and presenters. I was surprised with what these searches in the public domain uncovered.

According to various ASIC public website releases there has been a need in Australia for ASIC to warn the public about some facets of this transformation and wealth creation industry. A common problem is that some promoters and presenters are seen to offer both Tax advice and Financial advice to the public and clients in contravention of Australian laws.

In Australia one needs a Tax Agents licence to provide taxation advice, and one needs an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) to give Financial advice. Giving those types of advice without such a licence is an offence under law. ASIC has successfully brought legal proceedings against some entities, specifically in relation “the way they arrange, promote and hold live seminars in Australia”.

ASIC warned in several media releases that “it is important that it is important to check the credentials of people providing financial advice”, and that it is concerned with some elements providing wealth and success seminars in Australia. What may have triggered ASIC’s concern?

An example of the general type of concern that ASIC expressed was highlighted in a 2009 article by Scott Pape, who is a respected financial commentator and columnist, who goes under the moniker of “The Barefoot Investor”. Scott researched and outlined the chaotic and ultimately criminal background of the so-named “Wolf of Wall Street”, one Scott Belfort.

Scott’s article claims that Jordan Belfort once setup a stockbroking operation in Wall Street where he and his team gathered enormous wealth from unwary investors to the tune of hundreds of millions. However a lifestyle of drugs, partying, the purchasing of grandiose objects of wealth such as 70 luxury cars, helicopters and mansions soon saw all the investor cash burned through. His scheme collapsed and he was convicted of a “pump and dump” share manipulation scheme, and served 22 months in a USA jail for fraud, money laundering and trading breaches.

Scott Pape documented Belfort’s lifestyle as involving “a spiralling addiction that saw him take up to 22 different drugs just to get through the day – which at the time included sleeping with hookers, organising workplace dwarf-throwing contests, sinking his 20 metre yacht, and crashing his car while high as a kite”. Based on these claims then perhaps he is not a role model for lifestyle emulation.

Pape notes that whilst in jail Belfort wrote his memoirs “The Wolf of Wall Street” which again gave him success and wealth as a bestselling author. Pape notes that in 2009 he has reinvented himself as a life coach and has a planned self-help guide soon to be published. It did not help his investors who lost their investments in his previous role as the stockbroker.

Scott Belfort came to Australia and presented at a wealth creation event in 2009 which was entitled “Beating the Stock Market”, which he allegedly criminally did well based on his past criminal record. The problem is that many Dorothy’s would have had no idea about the extent of his past, and the prudency of relying on the integrity and advice of someone with such a history. This is what I believe ASIC is concerned about within this unregulated industry in Australia.

Scott Pape warns everyone to be wary and vigilant when signing up for investment seminars. Many of the wizards of AUS wealth creation, life success, and investing, may have been able candidates for a part in the Wizard of Oz movie!! Typically from the hype of such events the promoters then try to capture emotionally aroused public into a tornado of signing up for books, DVD’s, expensive courses, and becoming part of an exclusive and privileged clubs and coaching or therapy!!

Unleashing Dorothy’s Dog!!

In the famous tale, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it was Toto the dog who pulled aside the curtain and exposed the Wizard as a blustering old man, a fraud who was deceiving others with lights, sounds and levers. Psychologically the dog represents Dorothy’s animal instincts and intuition, and was a warning about how to approach spruikers and Wizards with an adult critical thinking mind.

We each need to be the Dog in the way we approach any of these events and offerings that come our way in our lives. Some basic tips from various financial commentators and ASIC which can sharpen our adult critical thinking skills and discernment include:

• Check the ASIC website for any reports or media releases on the promoters or the events or the type of investment under consideration by yourself.

• Check that anyone offering financial advice has a valid Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL). Beware that some promoters may try to claim to be an associate of a company where such a licence is housed. This implies the person may or may not personally have the training or background to hold such a licence themself. ASIC can assist with such information.

• Check that anyone offering taxation advice has a valid Australian Taxation Licence. It is an offence to provide taxation advice without being registered to do so. Be aware that some promoters may try to claim to be an associate of a company where such a licence is housed. This implies the person may or may not personally have the training or background to hold such a licence themself. The ATO or ASIC can assist with such information.

• What general Accounting, Financial Services Industry, Investment industry background does the promoter have? Remember their resume will be polished to look attractive and may not tell the full story.

• Check that the promoter has formal training in some serious discipline in a business field. Ideally the training reflects the area of promotion and shows a level of gained competence by an accredited training organisation. I have found that it is possible for any person in society to buy their degrees from “internet mill” Universities. Such bodies exist on the basis you pay them a fee plus submit a tokenistic essay or “thesis”.  In return they convey a degree of impressive sounding specialist learning. Type into google the name of their university as well as the word “fraud” and see what comes back to you.

• What recognised bodies are the promoters accredited with, or members of. A sign of credibility are formal memberships of key industry bodies and ongoing training in the industry or areas of promotion.

• Do a basic Google search of the promoter’s name, their business name, their promoted package name, their industry category, and their other businesses if you find evidence of their links to other business entities. You may be surprised what shows up.

• Does their business model or promoted package sound too easy, too good, or makes extravagant claims? If they do then beware as they may be a hypester or a con artist?

• Show the promotion or offer to your accountant or Financial Advisor and ask their opinion. Do not rely on testimonials on the website or literature of the promoters. It may be contrived, overblown or made up.

• If you are introduced into such an offer or promotion by your accountant, Financial Advisor, or other professional, ask and obtain in writing a disclosure of any conflicts of interest, any commissions or fees that this person will receive, or stand to receive by introducing you to that promotion or event. If a conflict of interest exists then get independent advice, or decline.

• Step away from your emotional reaction and let that pass. Take a cooling off period away from the person or stimulus that is evoking the excitement in you about the opportunity. Do not be pressured into signing up but instead revisit the information a day later when in a rational space.

• Ignore claims of extreme discounts or only so many seats left at the event which compel you to sign up right now or today. Whatever is the carrot will always be there tomorrow as these promoters and spruikers will not turn away a new client or prospect.  Such offers are a known pressure selling technique and so potentially represent unethical conduct and should be a red flag about what else is potentially hype, pressure and misleading in the promotion or offer.

• Check upfront what does this event or promotion compel the attendee or person signing up to commit to in order to reap the benefits or gain the realisations of the business model or the success outcome. Many events and programmes are teaser events and gateways into the person being asked to commit more time, money and attendance at future events where the touted claims can only be gained.  This may be in the form of study programmes, coaching, phone linkups, and product purchases for more training etc. It is what is termed the iceberg effect as you only see the 10 percent above the water line when signing up. Understand what commitment you really will need to make to claim the benefits of what is on offer.

• Check that the success of what is on offer is not niche or context specific. What made one person famous and rich may have been just true at that point in time and locality, and it may not replicate easily or at all in Australia, or in our current economic climate. The required time to maturation of the investment may also imply some risk due to what could happen economically, legally or socially over time before the benefit can be realised. Professional advice will help you to understand this risk.

• Check what the “Law of Attraction” or “Psychology of Money” types have attracted into their own lives. On principle one should be expecting that if these people are leaders in the psychology of money industry then they should be in the top 10% percentile of our wealth group in society who control about 90% of the wealth. If they are not in the 10% group as their own outcome from using their own touted principles then be wary. Ask them and yourself do they “walk their talk” or how do they demonstrate how their claims can work if it has failed them in their own life.

• Use a well tried and tested personality profiling tool to first understand yourself at a behavioural and attitudinal level, and from there explore your psychology or wealth identity or profile. This quantifiable approach, using such tools as industry leading Extended DISC personality profiling tool is a grounded and staged approach to looking at life and wealth issues from an evidence based approach which is devoid of the hype of many touted programmes on offer.

The GFC exposed many a turkey of poorly devised or illusory business or wealth creation models that went down with their investors’ monies. There was such Ponzi schemes as that by Bernie Madoff, people caught out with Margin Lending loans from banks, people burnt with Collateral Debt Obligations (CDO’s) on the stock market, to name a few. There are some key lessons there for the gullible Dorothy’s of the world. So Dorothy there is no place like home and best you stay there when the Wizards come into town.

Happy conscious investing!

The Disconnection of the Body in Society

Mankind in the modern era has always struggled with our own body. Modern consciousness has had a dominant myth that we must control the body at all costs. The ego processes of the mind, aided by religion, have become opposed through fear of the animalistic nature of the human body, its impulses and desires.

The unconscious mental part of man has become identified with the body not just as a truth, but also as a grouped fear of our uncontrollable aspects of humanity, and both have been seen as repositories of dark forces and what must be hidden and disowned.

Both religion and the scientific age of man have attacked these parts of ourself as “that which is not to be spoken or named”, a bit like Voldermort in Harry Potter. The main religions as well as the atheist religion of science, have both agreed that the valued aspect of our human condition lies in the higher realms of spirit, mind, and rational thought.

Science and religion then fall out between themselves over the existence of spirit in man, and so we are left regardless with a culture and set of sciences and religions that promote the myth of the body/mind split. As with most myths the average person takes on such realities without reflection and investigation and so we find a modern evolution occurring in Western society where the body, and our unconscious natures, are treated in degrading ways, or denied and minimised.

We now live in a society where the rational left front brain logic and its attachment to the individual ego dominates people’s reality. Many people have as a result developed an unhealthy relationship to their body. This can manifest in one of two main ways with each being an extreme form of disconnection to one’s own relationship to the body.

The first form of disconnection from the body is the neglect or abuse of the body via poor diet, lack of exercise, addictions, lack of grooming and cleanliness, and defacing the body via excessive piercings, tattooing and cosmetic surgery. Many people live their lives in their heads and basically ignore their bodies and just clothe their bodies against scrutiny and the external elements. They have no relationship with their bodies, and find no pleasure with or in their bodies.

Such people often attempt to numb out or medicate their bodily impulses via addictions such as drugs, alcohol, food and internet based distractions such as gaming, social media, and videos. Some people actually hate and attack their bodies via self harm, and other unconscious forms of mutilation which include piercings, tattoos, and allowing others to abuse and debase their bodies.

Some sexualise and sell their bodies for money such as in the pornography and sex for money industries. Shame is a dominant theme of such people who identify with the self hatred and low self esteem that runs them.

At the other end of the scale the rejection of the body and the self is shown through perfectionism and its related forms of narcissism. Such people reject their own humanity and instead create a false self both in the mind and the body. In this context the body is not acknowledged but instead used to support and create a false and idealised image outward to the world. The body in its humanity is rejected and instead punished by extreme compulsive exercise, and mutilated by cosmetic surgery.

Such a body is normally camouflaged by dressing in glamour and power dresses and garments, augmented by perfect makeup, and time spent in salons whose business is to “perfect” your appearance. The body becomes just another object to be used to create a grandiose and perfect illusion that implies power, success and some stereotyped version of beauty.

Such people have pride as a dominant theme as pride allows them to override the deeper and repressed felt sense of shame, self hatred and low self esteem that runs the first group of bodily disconnected people. In this way they are still part of the first group but instead of collapsing into the shame, they instead rise above the shame and become more-than-human. The first group identifies with being less-than-human which relates to their feelings of shame.

The narcissists cannot bear to feel their shame and so cut-off all feelings so as not to feel the shame. You cannot cut-off just one type of feeling. When you shutdown to any one type of feeling you actually shutdown to all your feelings. Narcissists are people without feelings.

The perfectionists do feel their shame and have a lot of inner feelings. Their strategy is to cover them up with a false self of perfectionism that projects confidence, assuredness and achievement to the outside world. Their inner world is full of anxiety, torment and self doubt coupled with the base level of shame.

In all these ways both types of the bodily disconnecting people are also disconnected from the wider “body of humanity”. This is a spiritual dilemma as when you reject your humanity and fail to love yourself you are doomed to become alone and out of step with the interconnectedness of the universe. Disconnection in the “herd instinct” in the human brain promotes unease mentally or at the bodily level dis-ease which becomes medical disease.

All therapy paths and all spiritual paths that are healthy are about healing the less-than-human and the more-than-human extremes or polarities of human existence, and finding grace and holiness in our essential humble place of our humanity.

There are many transformation gurus, self proclaimed healers, “churches”, gurus, and groups who seek out those who are both “less than human” and those who are “more than human”, and exploit them towards the “more than human” extreme form of being and spirituality. In this age of Narcissism these “false prophets” are everywhere and have gained traction with their deceptive messages and often New Age pseudo-science dogmas, and blended spiritualities.

Likewise there are religions, individuals, groups and “churches” which shame their audiences into believing they are not OK in their humanity, and that only by giving one’s power to that person, group, or church will the person be saved. This is just as exploitative and deceptive as the grandiose narcissist.

The great spiritual teachers of East and West taught an essential truth of basically a Middle Path or finding one’s God connection within one’s own body which then is a temple of worship and humble grace. In this way the great spiritual teachers emphasised that the true church or body of God is not bricks and mortar but the indwelling spirit or the body of the person who carries that connection to one’s God.

Our healing path in the West is to find our way back to an authentic relationship with our bodies that has a spiritual realisation that sacredness of the body is an essential truth in all parts of our being. The body and mind are one and can only notionally be separated. Holiness is about being whole and not divided or split, or about rejecting any part of ourself as being wrong, bad or shameful.

The Problem of Workplace Bullying

Workplaces are being confronted with increasing claims of bullying according to Industrial Relations tribunal statistics in Australia. It is surprising to note that in Australia there is no common definition or statute law covering bullying or related cyber-bullying.

In terms of the law one finds that certain types of bullying behaviours such as stalking, assault, threats etc may be covered by other actual statutes and laws that relate to the immediate type of activity. In general one finds that Bullying is covered under the implied conditions that a workplace should be a safe environment for the staff involved at that workplace. Occupational Health and Safety Laws provide some guidance in this area.

In a typical workplace today one routinely finds workplace policies for internet and email usage, harassment, racism, and discrimination policies. These policies also cover workers from bullying and cyber-bullying that could occur using those themes and mediums covered by those policies. It is less common to find actual Bullying and Cyber-bullying policies but these too are now emerging to define and inform for workers what is and is not condoned in the workplace with respect to interpersonal behaviours between staff.

What is important is that employers must take the issue of workplace bullying seriously. The documented effects of bullying on the victim and the bully are quite pervasive and potentially far-reaching. Victims have been shown to often suffer trauma that equates to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and may have associated Anxiety, Depression, Psycho-somatic illnesses, and psychological disorders including impulses to suicide.

The bully often has a pattern of controlling, intimidatory and anti-social behaviours in their history and will normally found to have low self-esteem and poor self and body images. They may have been bullied themselves in their past, and bullying is often either an attempt to overcome their felt sense of powerlessness in life, or their mal-adapted way of social engagement. Bullies are often depressed, anxious, confused and may also exhibit physical and mental health issues and symptoms.

The employer suffers from the fact that their workplace becomes unsafe and less cohesive in the face of the bullying behaviours. Studies have shown how productivity drops, absenteeism rises, staff turnover increases, and morale slumps over time if the issue is not confronted and dealt with. Remember that bullies typically have low self esteem and feel powerless. They typically compensate by trying to move higher through the workplace ladder and get placed in positions of power and control, which legitimises their need to use this authority in a dysfunctional way.

The employer also suffers as increasingly staff are seeking recourse to the law to fight workplace bullying when employers are seen to ignore, or dismiss bullying by their staff against another colleague. As an example, Worksafe W.A. defines workplace bullying in quite broad terms. It is described as: “repeated unreasonable or inappropriate behavior directed towards a worker, or group of workers, that creates a risk to health and safety”.

The Workplace perspective orients itself towards the potential adverse effects on the workplace health and safety for staff and subcontractors or agents of the business.

Employers need to understand that if they turn a blind eye, or minimize or dismiss instances of workplace bullying then they run the risk of incurring expensive litigation costs in various courts and tribunals that an affected staff member may take legal action through.

More importantly employers now need to understand and enact workplace policies that describe and guide employee behaviours around Cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying is a serious topic because its effects on the psychological health of victims is more far reaching, lasting and damaging that the traditional physical bully.

Cyber-Bullying is a new concern as the tools and nature of the internet mean that any content, once transmitted and posted, can never be guaranteed to be fully erasable, deleted or removed. A rule of thumb is that what is put on the internet remains there forever. In the past a victim ceased being bullied physically once removed from the presence of the bully. Although harmful there was limits to the effect of bullying via physical avoidance or absence of presence. The audience of bullying was often small.

The nature and problem of Cyber-bullying is that one is exposed for eternity to a worldwide audience when one is subject to malicious comments, rumours, shaming, exposure or attack on the internet, particularly when conducted on social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube.

The Internet security firm AVG, researched this emerging problem and presented their finds at the 2011 American Psychological Association annual convention. AVG concluded that:

  • Victims of cyber-bullying and the related phenomena of cyber-stalking, suffer more than victims of “traditional” bullying.
  • The inability to escape from the 24 x 7 online world, coupled with the public nature of threats and humiliation resulting from posts on the internet, made electronic bullying more intense.
  • 4 out of 10 women suffered electronic harassment after dating using online dating sites.
  • 20% of prosecuted online stalkers used social media and social networking sites as part of their modus operandi to stalk victims.
  • Online bullying and stalking is under-reported and likely to increase as more people become social media “savvy”.

Psychological studies are showing how a class of people with anti-social mental disorders, and other people who feel confronted with physical interaction, are starting to live “virtually”, or increasingly locked away from true social interaction, in front of computers and mobile devices. A generation is now emerging who have been raised on these devices and technologies. Neuroscience has shown how the internet and social media experiences such as Facebook interactions are highly addictive for some people.

As a consequence of the damaged nature of some individuals in their personal histories, plus the explosive trend of the internet as a replacement or compensation for social engagement, a general social trend is emerging for remote interactions and connections that transcends workplace boundaries. This does not lift the burden of responsibility away off the employer.

An employer can be found responsible for the online practices done through the workplace supplied internet and social media enabled technologies and devices. Likewise the internet becomes the new “cyber-playground” where the bully can show up and torment others. Employers are not outside their duty of care to employees when one employee bullies or abuses another through one of the many gateways into the online world.

Employers need to be pro-active and amend or introduce updated workplace policies that provide a cohesive and linked framework of guidance, education, definition, and policy or rules that proscribe and set boundaries around personal and online presence and behavior. Whilst an employer cannot directly control the actions of their employee they can certainly articulate the physical, behavioural, cultural, online and value driven standards, rules and mores that are expected of all that would work under the banner of that workplace.

Employers that continue to omit or neglect to introduce or update doing so are increasingly running the risk of ending up in a litigation linked outcome that can only result in the risk of heavy cost, and damage to the reputation of that business.

Corporate Energetics regularly consults with employers on the matters of workplace bullying and cyber-bullying, as well as running our “Standing Tall” Anti-Bullying/Cyber-Bullying programme.

Contact Richard Boyd to find out more how he can help you to proactively introduce relevant email, internet, harassment, racism, bullying and cyber-bullying workplace policies, or Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to assist staff who have alleged bullying in the workplace.

Richard also personally assists and provides coaching to managers, supervisors and executives in the workplace who find they have bullying tendencies in their personality that are getting in the way of discharging their leadership roles to optimum success.

“Ugly” Children’s Beauty Pageants

It was announced over the weekend in the media that Melbourne and Perth would be hosting kiddie beauty pageants involving pre-school and above children. In this pageant competition the little girls are groomed, dressed and “dolled up” in adult themes that betray their innocence as children. There is judging and prizes. Unfortunately this trend is but one further manifestation of the increasing sexualisation and earlier loss of childhood in our children.

It is an accepted psychological truth that a person’s early years, if they are good, sustain a person throughout their life, just as a bad childhood damages them. Nothing is more vulnerable than childhood and childhood has never been more under threat. The trend in our society is that the experiences which nourish and help shape children into their adult lives are now being compressed into an ever dwindling window of time, and where childhood is being devalued so much that many parents seem increasingly restless to get their children’s childhood over as quickly as possible.

Psychiatrists define sexualisation of children as the imposition of adult models of sexuality on children and adolescents, and categorically state it creates psychological harm to children. They note the implied or explicit linking of self-worth with popularity in terms of sexual attractiveness, with a negative impact on self-esteem.

Parents, mass media marketing, peer pressure, single parent and double income family systems, are all propelling our children into premature adolescence as if innocence, magical thinking, wonder and make-believe are detrimental and should be replaced with “the realites of life” as soon as is possible.

Studies of children have confirmed that many children feel pressure to grow up too quickly and to dress, act and behave as “mini-adults”, often to impress parents, or have parents impress friends by parading them out like Barbie dolls or spunky, cool little dudes.

The planned children’s beauty pageant can be interpreted as part of an emerging narcissistic, dysfunctional form of raising children that is damaging and abusive to the children who undergo such experiences. A child is not able to comprehend the damage to itself that such involvement will create, and will be a willing participant from a place of wanting to please the parents, and from a place of not being able to have a mature mind that could give consent to what it is being asked to do. A parent placing a child in such a role or situation, is in my opinion abusing the child, and abandoning their responsibilities to parent the child towards a psychologically healthy adulthood.

Social commentators now refer to the emergence of a “raunch culture” which pressures girls to have sex early and against their will. Studies of Generation Y by respected researchers such as La Trobe University Sociologist Anastasia Powell reveal trends of sexualized imagery in media, music and popular culture taking its toll on the young.

Boys and men are encouraged by the same imagery to adopt aggressive roles in sex with women, to degrade and objectify them. A 2008 Australian Latrobe University investigation of 3000 year 10 and year 12 school age students from across 100 public and private schools, found that 38 per cent of female respondents having had unwanted sex, from a total pool of 40 per cent who replied they have had sex at all. Also over 30 per cent had not used a condom, over 30 per cent have had oral sex with more than 3 partners in the last year.

Television and media are now directly shaping children’s reality through children’s and teenage shows, where marketing of products is included along with portrayal of the key characters as mini-adults, who role model for children how they should dress, act, think, behave and speak. Think of such shows as Hannah Montana and the Bratz girl dolls franchise and programmes. The degree of sexualisation of the dolls and the actresses is disturbing yet we face a time when Hollywood, business and Media distributors are largely acting under self regulation which translates to permissive and sexualized themes being a valid option for children’s products to express.

Sexualised products appearing on the market for children include padded bras, G-Strings, high heel shoes, pole-dancing kits, babies T-shirts with sexualized messages. The children are often too young to understand the sexualized nature of the product, and often it is a sexualized or narcissistic parent wanting attention for themselves, who creates a “show pony” effect on their children, and effectively use the children to prop up their own low self esteem or narcissistic ego supplies.

Retailers of such products defy challenge of their “right” to market such products, saying it is just “fun” or not to be taken seriously. They dismiss the notion that such merchandise creates a normalization of a sexualized image in children, yet admit they have no psychological training or evidence to back-up or make such statements.

In effect it is a lack of accountability to the consumer as regulations are geared to more tangible and physical safety and other guidelines, and only public outcry is having a change of heart on behalf of exposed, named and shamed retailers who sell such products. Marketing is always pushing the boundaries and ethics appears to be a missing element of the thinking of many of those who sell and promote products and experiences to the wider public. Shareholders and profits appear to be the main concern of many retailers.

The attack on childhood is never more constant, and pushing the boundaries, or chasing new childhood markets, than ever before. Society is increasingly buying into this trend with a new generation of businesses now springing up to cater for children to go to Day Spas, Limousines and $1000 dresses to the teenage school balls, fashion parades, and adult theme experiences recreated for children as young as 5 years old and older.

Young teen women are presented with such sexualized adult role models as Britney Spears, Lady GaGa, Rihanna, Beyonce and Madonna from which to align their emerging sense of selves. Under peer pressure they are forced to conform to obtain acceptance from boys who also adopt the same sexualized expectations of girls from these same women role models.

At the same time these young women also attract attention from older men who are able to exploit their innocence, intimidate them with their more assured and confident natures, which can drive a young girl into the arms of a predator, and without the girl knowing how, or being able to give any real consent.

Parents are increasingly abandoning their own responsibilities to be effective guides and role models for children, and instead without question, abandoning their children in front of televisions, computer screens and other media where the new role models are questionable, unaccountable, and frighteningly absorbed into the unconscious of any exposed child. We as a society are increasingly abandoning our responsibility to our children about how to be children, we are increasingly asking our children to act like adults, but we then do not later teach them how to live, behave and be adults.

Childhood is the only safe psychological foundation and process for children to experience if they are to become secure and healthy adults. The old saying that the person who grows up too soon spends the rest of their life as a child is full of wisdom. Parents cannot afford to adopt a victim stance and say it is all too hard or not their fault. Parents have the main responsibility in taking an active role in providing a measured and balanced view of the children’s self-worth, self-image, and the creation of healthy self-esteem where they can critically challenge the sexualized messages streaming through society.

Parents need to start from early childhood in this regard, filtering content they expose their children to, and constantly creating appropriate images and messages for their children. In particular, fathers are crucial in shaping their daughters emerging sexuality via their messages and support. A parent who exposes their child to a childhood beauty pageant where the child is dressed in adult and sexualized attire, is judged by peers and adults, and there is a win-lose outcome, is being negligent, and may be using the child to live out their own unmet fantasies or unachieved goals in life.

I can only hope that Australians take a leadership role in challenging this planned series of pageants. We owe our children by rejecting the assault on the innocence of their childhood years via the objectification and sexualisation that such pageants portray.

The Need for Ethics in our Lives

One could say that spirituality is the belief in a supernatural entity or consciousness, and then codifies a set of ethics based on values such as compassion, love, integrity, and selfless service.

Spirituality addresses issues of the relationship between oneself and the godhead whereas ethics is a code that describes principles, intentions and conduct between oneself and other humans. We see ethics being expressed in context such as business ethics, medical ethics, and personal ethics.

Ethics are often centred around values and value systems such as truth, integrity, freedom, service, rights, responsibilities, and sacrifice of the personal good for the common good. This implies both boundaries and constraints for the individual who would align to, and be governed by such an ethical code.

We each need both a personal code of ethics plus a knowledge of the code of ethics that applies when we join a group or community or organisation. These will not always be in alignment and indeed part of our joining a group will be based on how different our ethics and values are from those of any group or organisation or community we are considering joining.

Psychological studies have shown that people with a personal code of ethics and values are consistently happier, healthier and rate their life as having meaning and purpose, than those people who lack such internal frameworks within themself. Organisations are also considered to have healthier cultures when a solid ethical base is lived out within its workforce.

In the context of groups such as businesses or organisations, ethics are a universal consideration and binding principle that every person in that group must fall under for that ethical structure to work and more importantly, to be seen to work.

In recent times we have seen a glaring example of how FIFA, the global soccer organisation has been the subject of wide ranging allegations of behaviour that corrupt the principles of ethics and ethical conduct. By its conduct FIFA has undermined its own integrity and reputation in the minds of billions of people.

FIFA has rendered its ethical codes impotent either by making their ethical code only subject to some employees, and in another setting to have the compromised leaders sit in judgement of themselves and their own once challenged with allegations of unethical conduct.

FIFA is awash with ongoing allegations and corruption and “bought” votes and “bought” World Cup hosting by member countries. FIFA is a large organisation that deals with large amounts of money. FIFA earned at least 1.6 billion dollars in sponsorship fees alone between 2006 and 2010 which makes transparency a key need for such a body which awards lucrative soccer events based on a voting process.

Australia reportedly just spent nearly $50 million in a failed attempt to win the right to host the 2022 World Cup which was won by little known Qatar. Australia only got 1 vote and was embarrassingly bundled out in the first round of voting despite lobbying “proving” it should have been a finalist. A wave of allegations has since emerged regarding the corruption in the bidding process of vote buying, delegate corruption, and rigging of processes.

For example it has emerged via a leaked email that Qatar considered bailing out the debt-ridden Argentine football league to win support for its controversial bid to win the 2022 World Cup. They targeted Julio Grondona, the powerful FIFA Vice-President, who hails from Argentina, and who influences and votes in the 24 executive group who awards the World Cup. His own football league is embarrassingly broke and owes their tax authorities nearly 79 million dollars, plus has multi-milllion dollar requests from member clubs who need new uniforms, equipment and funding.

The strategy would have been to bail out the debt and gain Qatar influence and returned favours. Interestingly FIFA’s Secretary-General was caught out releasing an email saying Qatar had “bought the World Cup”. Grondona who has the nickname “The Godfather”, admitted he voted for the Qatar 2022 bid for the World Cup.

FIFA surprisingly do have an ethics committee, which European press allege Sepp Blatter is part of. This committee saw it just and right to suspend both Mr Jack Warner and Mr Mohammed Bin Hammam, who were election competitors of Sepp Blatter. However it has been silent in the face of calls from member governments and professional football bodies such as the English FA to suspend Sepp Blatter for his own alleged misconduct, as well as poor leadership and governance of FIFA, and to suspend the election process for a new FIFA leader.

The FIFA president Sepp Blatter has just defied his critics by ramming through an election process which saw his challengers sidelined by corruption charges, and he reinstated despite having overseen FIFA when the alleged corrupt previous decade of paid off FIFA officials, paid for votes, and money and gift trails being uncovered to key voting delegates occurred.

Once the election process was completed then the “Family” as Sepp Blatter referred to as being the member nations of FIFA, then turned on the “Whistle Blower” member, British FA. This mirrors the actions of a cult where members turn on and abuse any “unfaithful” member who would challenge the leader and the group belief system. The act of attacking the Whistleblower then binds the rest of the group closer to the leader and the belief system out of fear as they then want to further prove their loyalty lest they are the next scapegoat. This then binds them to a culture of favour and return favour that they learn cannot be challenged.

In the last 2 election processes the Sepp Blatter election sell for his campaign was that he would “clean up” the FIFA world body. This claim for a new era of “zero tolerance” has so far appeared to be directed against critics rather than corruption. His claims appear hollow given recent and consistent allegations surfacing that refuse to go away. International anti-corruption body, Transparency International, had called for the election process to be suspended whilst the serious corruption charges were investigated. They noted the conflicts of interest in the way governance at FIFA had been seen to occur. The election occurred anyway.

Ethical principles and altruism developed as people in groups and communities learnt and recognised that they must care for each other if the group or community was to grow and prosper. Unfortunately they also learnt that certain members had only a concern for their own selfish gain at the expense to the other members of the group and community, and any healthy group needs ethics and rules to bring accountability, restraint, and consequences to those who would act for self interest when that hurts the wider group or community interest.
FIFA has shown a blatant disregard for the concerns of its own members, its sponsors, and governments and football bodies around the world. This approach may preserve the immediate hierarchy from scrutiny, but it will create cynicism and distrust that will invariably last for years. The key lesson here is that transparency and abiding by an ethical code of conduct will prevent a crisis of confidence arising where the truth is a casualty to the politics of being right.

Most people will now sneer at world soccer and the mention of FIFA. FIFA has kicked an own goal but is blind to this reality. Stay well everyone.

Welcome to our Blog on IBMP – Integrative Body Mind Psychotherapy

Hello everyone.  IBMP – Integrative Body Mind Psychotherapy is excited to have arrived in the world of blogging.  IBMP are constantly researching and reviewing new information and applying analysis and commentary on the trends and issues of the day as they relate to our human condition and bodymind reality.

IBMP is not tied proprietary to any one school of thought.  We seek to understand and highlight the holism of our human nature and to uncover the links between the body and mind that our materialism and reductionism linked mainstream sciences are still unfortunately using as conscious or unconscious assumptions in the way that psychological and medical information is presented to the public.

IBMP respects all contributors to the understanding of our human condition without needing to agree with them all of the time.  We will seek to contribute to debate, comment and analysis of the topical issues within media and society that we take an interest in or which we concern ourselves with as a bodymind psychotherapy tradition.

The bodymind is a fascinating topic that we all can relate to as everyone.  We will also post summaries of new articles that we have written which you can access on our websites.  IBMP has its origins in modalities such as Reichian Therapy, Bioenergetics and Core Energetics.

The bodymind has also come to prominence in business and corporate life.  The areas of Emotional Intelligence, the “energy” of brands and business, leadership, “toxic” organisations, culture, motivation and excellence are all key words that have links to our bodymind realities in the context of business.

We will post some relevant blogs on a regular basis that concern such issues and commentaries about the excesses of our business and sporting leaders when they “act out” or highlight behaviours and attitudes which require some soul searching.

Welcome aboard and we hope you find relevance, perspective, humour and insight from our blogs.