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What Does the Core of Human Nature Look Like?

David Brooks gives an eloquent description of a society that is emotionally out-of-whack. Here is a disturbing fact that supports David's core thesis: half of us will suffer from a mental illness during our lifetimes. Yikes!

The solution, he suggests, is a more nuanced and accurate understanding of our deep emotional nature. David's suggestion is "spot on" because it leads to a more promising and rewarding future where everybody benefits!

David points out that a new synthesis is congealing around the research of neuro scientists like Antonio Damasio. If you would like to explore this emerging consensus, here are some resources to check out:

1) Any of Antonio Damasio's books ("Descartes Error" is my favorite)
2) Daniel Pink's book, "Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates us."
3) Paul Lawrence and Nitin Nohria's book, "Driven: How Human Nature Affects Our Choices" (Nohria, by the way, is the dean of the Harvard Business School),
4) and my book, "Primal Management: Unraveling the Secrets of Human Nature to Drive High Performance."

Drive, Driven and Primal Management postulate that 4 basic human "drives" or "needs" motivate much of human behavior. One application of this evolving consensus is in the workplace. If leaders press these four motivational hot-buttons (satisfy the four core needs of their employees) employees will perform better because they experience a bigger emotional (intrinsic) paycheck.

Before I forget, Gary Hamel's book, The Future of Management, is a terrific resource as well. Hamel, as you may know, is one of the world's top management theorists and he believes that traditional, hierarchical, command and control management has to go because it coerces grudging compliance instead of motivating passionate performance. I submitted an entry to Hamel's management-innovation contest that caries David's theme into the field of management:

Paul Herr

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      Apr 1 2011: I second the new earth's sugegstion.
      Obseving the said saying, we certainly are beyond to our materiliastic world. The core of human nature is so powerful yet pure, that if we attain that bliss, to be real and clear in minds, we are the beings that can be influence to otehrs by our thoughts, words, actions and characters :)
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      jag .

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      Apr 5 2011: I third it lol, it really gives an accurate desciption of our true self. Its good news to know that our natural state is happiness and peace, now we just have to uncover and release the blockages that prevent from being our true selfs.

      One way is sedona method eckhart tolle books, etc
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    Mar 28 2011: It is love, an eternal bliss. Love is pure and it grows, the more you give, the more you get and timely you find it the source of all growths that remains and prospers forever :)

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    Mar 27 2011: Mr. Herr,

    I'd say there are important corollaries between "command and control" management in corporate settings and "command and control" of self, emotions and internal drives.

    Non-biologic mental impairment tends to be catalyzed by denial of normal human emotions. Thus it's useful for each person to avoid a controlling style of self-management. And instead adapt one akin to leadership models you suggest, to see themselves as leaders of, well, themselves! Once one understands their own capacities to "lead" by engaging their own intrinsic drives they begin to understand and embrace their capacities as qualified to lead in other realms, such as work and community.

    My interest is in this self-agency engaged in dialectic with, between and in concert with personal values, professional and public work. A colleague of mine (William J. Doherty PhD) relates this to "citizen professionalism."

    I think of it as "triangulating purpose, passion and predicament." --

    Purpose is what we value and how we choose to apply it to make our world better (public/social efforts).

    Passion being those intrinsic drives that motivate our richest expressions and outcomes.

    Predicament has to do with circumstances and "practical" considerations. Such as expertise, location and/or personal or family concerns and primal drives or characteristics. Ie: if I am easily distracted or negatively reactive in a certain environment, it is best to minimize my "energy expenditures" in it and invest more energies in places which spark my more constructive drives.

    By seeing our purpose and passion as unique strengths to be adapted with (not railing against) our predicament(s), we can realize our successes are achieved not by "top down" (repressive) self-management but due to our integral and iterative strengths. This effect can be contagious and prone to inspire confidence of managers, employees and peers to work with us, and build synergistic momentum.

    Andrea Grazzini Walstrom
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    Mar 26 2011: I agree with you and i believe the core of the human nature is to repect all ideas and to think positevely
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    Mar 26 2011: I think the core of the human nature is to find connection and then to make a contribution and belong.
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    jag .

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    Mar 25 2011: Hey, I've heard that the true nature of ours is just love, absolutely no emotional suffering whats so ever, bliss is our true state.

    This is what I've heard and I think it is true (even though what I think think isn't important) beccause as I've been doing inner work I'm suffering alot less.

    Heres a good vid (she mentions about true nature and positively thinking):

    If you like this theres more vids like this on my youtube playlist:
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      Mar 25 2011: I couldn't agree more. The human core, after so many eras of knowledge is exactly what one believes it to be. It is well known that the observer has an impact on the matter and so happens also with all the concepts and/or beliefs one has (such as the answer for this question). The beauty in it is to observe the range of impact that the answer for such "universal" questions reaches on our lives.Just to think what kind of actions would you take or not beacause of such belief.(: