The Root Cause of Stress Today

The profit incentive is a proven and effective motivator but has serious side effects in making intrinsic changes to our quality of life, individually and as a society. It is not something that can be measured by slide rule or balance sheet, but affects every one of us. Profit causes separation by “ever so gently” removing us from a process of human interaction that previously united and now alienates us.

To try and get to the bottom of the financial whirlwind we seem to be in I decided to examine my favourite “micro society” the school, to see what single element most affects its atmosphere and culture. In the schools that my kids attended, without fail it was the head teacher who set the climate that directly influenced the attitude of all its members – pupils, parents and staff alike.

In each instance the positive environment established by the head in their desire to see the overall development of each child, resulted in a steady stream of confident and positive children, even though not all attained high academic achievement.

The increasingly stressful atmosphere experienced by today’s society is I am convinced, brought about because of the presence of shareholders, who represent society’s “headmasters”.

As a body, essentially they contribute only money, although some also contribute expertise as well. However the bottom line for any company with shareholders is to deliver profits – first and foremost! If the profits are not forthcoming then the shareholders take their money somewhere else, and this subliminal threat is where the pressure and stress now inherent in our society begins.

The shareholder, not unreasonably, is only concerned for the return and safety of the investment made – the money.

From this initial demand to deliver an “acceptable” return on that investment, the pressure is passed on to the directors of the company, who pass it down to management, and then on to the company’s suppliers and its own staff. Finally the customer is put under pressure to perform by buying more.

The life and durability of products and services are reduced and changed to intensify the purchasing cycle, and increasing levels of psychology are applied to motivate us to buy. Every element in the operation is dictated by the pressure of attracting and retaining shareholders, and this is achieved by producing ever increasing levels of profit.

The level of pressure generated in producing profits can become so intense that financial scandals are an inevitable by-product. Even that independent temple of financial probity, the accountant, has sometimes been induced to present corporate accounts in a positive light which does not represent the true financial state of the company.

Profit can provide the incentive for fraud. This is by no means a modern phenomenon, but bears out the ancient oriental wisdom that, “When a financial value is applied to possessions, crime is created.”

We need as a society to confront this increasingly insatiable beast we have created and consider how it should operate for the benefit of all. To do this we need to consider the following:

1. Realise that the profit motive contains addictive qualities.

2. That we are human and succumb to those qualities which, like any addiction, can reduce our quality of life and overall wellbeing.

3. At the root cause of global warming lies an out of control profit motive which is now threatening our future survival as a species.

4. Profit is a proven motivator, and to this extent is beneficial and necessary to our personal


For millennia traditional beliefs have supported and promoted our attitude towards profit. However we are a much more sophisticated society than in the time of the Romans, with seriously improved methods of generating greater levels of profit through technology and new global opportunities that have never existed before in our history. The effect of this upon us as a society is to increase personal levels of stress with all of the associated health related problems.

It is generally accepted that wealth alone does not provide human happiness. It makes sense therefore to start looking at and reviewing these outdated beliefs, with the goal of us better managing the part profit plays in our lives, rather than it increasingly managing us

Copyright 2007 John Coombes

Born in 1946 in South London and with a Secondary education, for 35 years John Coombes had a successful career in the City where he built several companies and a £100 million group. In the late 80’s he became disillusioned with “just making money” and in his early 40’s suffered several traumas including ME, Breakdown and Bankruptcy. In the space of 18 months Coombes went from a City boardroom to the paint shop in a small art metal works factory. At the time the Stock market and housing market also collapsed and he lost everything, including his family.

By yanam49

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