6 Reasons You Can’t Win

Why are you unhappy?
Because 99.9 percent
Of everything you think,
And of everything you do,
Is for yourself –
And there isn’t one.

– Wei Wu Wei

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Robert W. Fuller is an international authority on, and a leader of, the Dignity Movement. His books identify the root cause of indignity as rankism— discriminatory or exploitative treatment of people who have less power due to lower rank. Fuller helps organizations overcome rank-based abuses that undercut productivity and performance. He advocates for universal dignity and shows how to create a dignitarian culture in businesses, non-profits, schools, and universities. After earning his Ph.D. in physics at Princeton University in 1961, Fuller taught at Columbia University and co-authored the text Mathematics of Classical and Quantum Physics. The mounting social unrest of the 1960s drew his attention to educational reform, and in 1970 he was appointed president of Oberlin College at the age of 33. In 1970 Fuller traveled to India as a consultant to Indira Gandhi, and, on a return trip, he witnessed the famine resulting from Bangladesh’s war of independence from Pakistan. With the election of Jimmy Carter, Fuller began a campaign to persuade the new president to end world hunger. His meeting with Carter in the Oval Office helped lead to the establishment of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger. During the 1980s, Fuller traveled frequently to the USSR, working as a citizen-scientist to improve the Soviet-American relationship. This led to the creation of the nonprofit global corporation Internews, and for many years Fuller served as its chairman. With the end of the Cold War, Fuller began reflecting on his career and came to understand that he had, at various times, been a somebody and a nobody, and the cycle was continuing. He had been sought after by the media in his 30s, had met with presidents and prime ministers in his 40s and 50s, but as a former professor and former college president, he was a nobody. Fuller's periodic sojourns in “Nobodyland” led him to identify and investigate rankism and ultimately to write two ground-breaking books on the subject. He has also written for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today, and these posts have been compiled into ebooks: Religion and Science: A Beautiful Friendship? and From Genome to Wenome: The Key to Universal Dignity. Fuller recently published The Rowan Tree: A Novel. Fuller’s books on dignity and rankism have been published in India, Bangladesh, India, Korea, and China. His ideas have been widely covered in the media, including The New York Times, NPR, C-SPAN, The Boston Globe, the BBC, Voice of America, and O, The Oprah Magazine. In 2004, Fuller was elected a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science. He keynoted the 2011 National Conference on Dignity for All in Bangladesh. ROBERT W. FULLER—ACCLAIMED AUTHOR Fuller has written the definitive books on rankism and dignity. In Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank, and in All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity, he eloquently makes the case that rankism is the chief remaining barrier to full organizational effectiveness. He has recently published a novel—The Rowan Tree—about the spread of the dignity meme through the world.


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