Matthew Barzun on his new book The Power Of Giving Away Power

Virgin Radio

21 Jun 2021, 09:10

Businessman, diplomat and political fundraiser Matthew Barzun joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about his thought-provoking new book. He told Chris about the pyramid mindset: "It's the world of top down hierarchy and I think we've all got the memo that that's not very effective or certainly has many limitations but what we often do is say let's be the opposite and we say we'll be bottom up and that feels better for a second, but it's really no better.

“If you think about a bottom up world you're either thinking of other people as beneath you or you're thinking of yourself as beneath other people, so bottom up is really just as bad or no better. 

“We haven't really escaped the pyramid if we say bottom up, it’s the same shape just in the other order. So if you want to get out of that world of up and down, in or out, which can be so exhausting and demoralising, then you think well maybe I'm giving up order and stability and it's just everybody on your own.

"But this other image of a constellation says to us, no, you can escape the pyramid and you can think of another way of thinking about yourself and those people around you, it isn't chaos. 

“There's order and stability of a different kind and this one happens to be an American symbol from back in 1776 from our American logo when we didn't love the image of King George when we became independent.

“The triumph of back then for us wasn't independence, because any band of revolutionaries can do that, our trick and our best idea - and we fall short of it all the time - but our best idea as a country was interdependence.

"How you could be fully yourself yet connected to others to create something bigger and more powerful than you could alone and that's where the constellation comes in because you could be a star on your own individual and yet connected to other stars to make new patterns and that's the constellation.”

He advises: “I think that the real thing is it's actually inside of each of us and so the little test - and I encourage listeners to try this sometime - if you get ten people gathered somewhere and you say okay, what's the opposite of winning? And then they'll all say in unison losing, but that's just the trick to get them warmed up.

“Then you say well, more interestingly, what's the opposite of winning and losing? Nine out of ten of us will say some version of I don't know, not playing, sitting it out and one in ten of us will say playing or laughing or learning or loving or all the other things we do in our life that we get value from that aren't about winning and losing. 

“And that's how the pyramid is within us, that default setting but it’s win or lose and the good news is that the nine in ten of us who who say sitting it out, once we hear that alternative we say to ourselves, oh yeah, there is that because you don't win a relationship, you don't win a career, you certainly don't win a marriage, you could lose one.

"But we get so locked into that pyramid world of win or lose that we are blinded to the constellations all around us, which connects us to LeBron… Teddy Roosevelt 100 plus years ago had this famous speech and he talks about it's not the critic who counts, it's the man who's actually in the arena…

“You're either in the arena fighting it out, it's a gladiatorial metaphor, or you're sitting it out on the sidelines and so I think if we look at life you either have to fight it out or sit it out.

"I get why you would pick fight it out but there is another option - a whole bunch of other options - like work it out, work it through, play it through. 

“Let's build big things together again and that's not sitting it out and it's not fighting. It's this other thing and we're not doing enough of it.”

The Power Of Giving Away Power is on shelves now.