If you had a fever caused by an infection it could be lowered by treating the underlying cause (e.g., infection) or just addressing the fever itself. For example, in the latter case you could lie in a bath tub and cover yourself with ice. Except as an emergency measure, no one would seriously consider the ice tub an effective treatment of whatever is creating the elevated temperature.

 Yet, within the instrumental paradigm of business, countless books–many quite impressive–offer suggestions about how to improve performance without seriously addressing the core of personal mastery and efficacy, namely self-knowledge.  They offer rules and strategies for persons representing the entire range of self-awareness and emotional intelligence as if information alone is all you need. In reality, it is all they have. That is why the focus is on changing the outside while the underlying causes of less than optimal performance are not fully understood or explored. In essence, they simply fill the tub with ice and ignore the fact that the narcissist, the thoughtful, the wise, and the impulsive are not going to use their prescriptions for improvement in the same way.

 The only prescription that has the potential to move all types in the right direction is gaining realistic knowledge about the real self; for the fortunate, knowing ourselves as we truly are. As the age of knowledge evolves into the age of creation, business must find a way to get everyone’s very best irrespective of time and place. This is the new edge and the one that will contribute to competitive advantage in the likely future. We can no longer afford to leave so much human currency on the table.