BSML’s Summary of Principles from:


By The Arbinger Institute


From the BSML Business Wisdom Series


  1. Introduction
  2. The Heart of Peace
  3. From Peace to War
  4. From War to Peace
  5. A Strategy of Peace
  6. Leadership and Self-Deception
  7. About the Arbinger Institute


Would it surprise you to know that :

  • All conflict in the world can be traced to a single root cause
  • Most of us are blind to this root cause and actively resist attempts to prevent it, whilst protesting our good intentions
  • In fact, through our blindness, we systematically invite and unwittingly perpetuate the very conflict we are trying to solve
  • The path to Peace exists within us and requires a simple choice

2. The Heart of Peace

2.1 Conflict in the Middle East

2.2 The Crusaders and Saladin

2.3 Our way of being

2.4 A heart at war

2.5 Collusion

2.6 Escalation

2.7 The right thing and the right way

2.1 Conflict in the Middle East

  • In the Bible, Abraham had two sons :

− Isaac, the father of the Israelite people; and − Ishmael, the father of the Arab people

  • Jews and Christians believe Isaac was the chosen son with specific rights granted to him, including the rights to Abraham’s land and the holy city of Jerusalem.
  • Moslems believe Ishmael was the chosen son with specific rights granted to him, including the rights to Abraham’s land and the holy city of Jerusalem
  • Descendants of each faith believe they have claim to the heritage and primary blessings of Abraham.
  • Both sides believe they are in the right, both demonize the other race, even though they are part of the same family, and both feel they have been mistreated and wronged by the other.
  • War over this land has been the result for thousands of years. Mount Moriah, in Jerusalem, is the most fought over place on earth

2.2.1 The Crusaders

  • In June 1099, Crusaders from the West laid siege to Jerusalem, to re-claim it after its Muslim capture in 638 AD
  • After 40 days they penetrated the northern wall. The Knights of the crusade had taken back that which was rightfully theirs
  • The Crusaders slaughtered most of the city’s Muslim population within two days. The survivors were made to pile the corpses into heaps then set fire to them. They were then massacred or sold into slavery
  • The Jews fared no better. They fled to their main synagogue, which was barricaded and torched. Those who managed to get out were slaughtered in the streets
  • Local Christians were tortured and forced to disclose the location of precious relics, which were then taken from them

2.2.2 Saladin

  • In 1187, having united all the Arab peoples from Syria to Egypt, Saladin re-captured Jerusalem, after besieging the city for 9 days
  • Saladin was the most successful military leader of his time. He was also known for his kindness towards allies and enemies alike
  • Prior to besieging Jerusalem he put his men under strict orders not to harm a single Christian or plunder any of their possessions. After the siege he reinforced guards at Christian places of worship, gave widows and children gifts and announced anyone could come to Jerusalem on pilgrimage, whenever they liked
  • Unlike the Crusaders, he treated his enemies with humanity and as individuals. Even at war he had a “heart at peace”

2.3 Our Way of Being

  • Philosophers call how we regard others as our “way of being”
  • We respond to others’ way of being toward us, rather than their behaviour i.e. we feel their attitude more than their words or actions, and either co-operate or resist in return
  • Martin Buber demonstrated that at all times, no matter what we are doing, we are always in a world that is either :

− I-it (seeing others as objects, which are obstacles, vehicles or irrelevancies); or

− I-Thou (seeing others as people, with hopes, needs, cares, worries as real to us as our own)

  • Any and all behaviours can be done in either of these two ways, including war
  • The Crusaders and Saladin both made war, but in different ways of being (with humanity or without)

2.4.1 A Heart at War

“Seeing someone as an inferior object is an act of violence”


  • When we see someone behave like that towards us, we generally feel abused and compelled to fight back, even to the extent it will adversely affect our own wellbeing
  • Our hearts become at war, we can’t see clearly and we don’t consider others’ needs, cares, hopes and worries in order to find a way through
  • Most problems in the world are not failures of strategy, but of our way of being towards other people

2.4.2 A Heart at War

“When our hearts are at war, we not only invite failure, we invest in it ”


  • When we see others as objects, we begin provoking them to resistance and making our lives difficult.
  • In effect, we actually start inviting others to make us miserable through hostile comments and feelings.

“Being a son of yours is a living hell. Do you know what it feels like knowing your dad thinks you’re a loser? You’re a bigger loser as a parent than I will ever be as a son”

2.5 Collusion – a conflict where the parties are inviting the very things they are fighting against

Features of collusion : heart at war, self above other, resistance leading to blame and escalation

2.6 Escalation – attracting allies to spread the war

Features of escalation : we attract allies to make us feel justified in our grievances and invest all our energies in what is going wrong, not right

2.7 The right thing and the right way

  • Have you ever been in a conflict when the other person thought they were wrong??!!!??
  • No conflict can be solved so long as all parties are convinced they are right
  • A solution is only possible when at least one party begins to consider how he/she might be wrong
  • The deepest way in which we are right or wrong is in our way of being towards others (at peace or at war)

“should I continue to lecture and berate an already hurting son? Why do I turn to war so quickly? What have I become?

If we can’t put an end to the violence inside us, there is no hope of putting an end to the violence outside. To do this we must see everyone we encounter as a person, not an object

3. From Peace to War

3.1 The story of Mordechai

3.2 Self-deception

3.3 The choice diagram

3.4 Self-justification – the germ of war

3.5 The four primary styles of self-justification

3.6 The tell-tale signs of self-justification

3.7 Ponder

3.1 The story of Mordechai

  • I lived in a village at the western edge of Jerusalem. On the morning of 9 April 1948, our village came under attack by a Jewish military group. My father went out to defend the village and never came back. I was five years old
  • After that my mother took us to Bethlehem and I became a street hustler at the age of 8, taking tourists to shops. Despite the fact that I viewed the Jews as my enemies, I worked close to a blind Jew, who appealed to the same western wallets as me. His name was Mordechai Lavon and though he tried to strike up a conversation with me and befriend me, I had never once acknowledged him.
  • One day his purse broke open and whilst I felt a sudden reflex or desire to help him. I resisted it and turned and walked the other way. Later I convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong, and that others including Mordechai were to blame. I felt angry, bitter and depressed and also resentful towards Mordechai.

3.2 Self-deception – the systematic distortion of reality, oneself and others to justify a choice that is not the right thing to do

3.3 The choice diagram

3.4 The tell-tale signs of self-justification

  1. Horriblizing others
  2. Exaggerating others’ faults
  3. Blaming
  4. Exaggerating differences between ourselves and others
  5. Exaggerating the importance of things that justify us
  6. Feeling like a victim
  7. Being consumed by who is right and who is wrong
  8. Having negativity as your starting point with some people
  9. Not being able to see anything other than that negative perspective
  1. Losing all desire for kindness and humanity

3.5 Consider ...

  • How your warring heart has invited outward war with those in your life
  • That you are inviting in others the very behaviours you are complaining about
  • What self justifications you are defending and carry around with you
  • Who you are warring with and whether they are really so different to you
  • How you can again view them as people and not objects, obstacles, vehicles or irrelevancies

4. From War to Peace

4.1 Finding outward peace towards others

4.2 The nature of the problem

4.3 The nature of the solution

4.4 Changing how we see people and situations is the path to peace

4.1 Finding outward peace towards others

We can ask a series of questions :

  • What are the person’s or people’s challenges, trials, burdens and pains?
  • How am I or my group adding to these challenges, trials, burdens and pains?
  • In what other ways have I or my group neglected or mistreated this person or group?
  • In what ways are is my self justification obscuring the truth and interfering with potential solutions?
  • What am I feeling I should do for this person or group; what could I do to help?

4.2 The nature of the problem

Parents of belligerent children want the belligerence to end

  • Those who work for tyrannical managers want the tyranny to end
  • Citizens of weakened nations want to be treated with respect
  • Warring nations want the other to surrender
  • We all want the other side to change because they are wrong and we are right.
  • We don’t need to change ourselves, because we view the world clearly and rationally. Others have the distorted view.
  • We need to correct their view as quickly as possible so we can get on with what is important to us
  • Why don’t they see that and just co-operate!

4.3 The nature of the solution

  • What if we are wrong?
  • What if our view of the world is distorted?
  • What if we are self-justifying our actions or inactions, which our conscience says are wrong?
  • What if we are seeing others as objects, obstacles, vehicles, irrelevances?
  • What if we are the ones who need to change?
  • How can we turn from war to peace?

4.4 Changing how we see people and situations is the path to peace

From: self-centred way of being, own objectives above others, lack of empathy,
leading to resistance and escalation in others

To: empathy, interest in other’s goals, openness, helpfulness, leading to collaboration and freedom from resistance and conflict


5. Summary

  • The book “The Anatomy of Peace” is focused on conflict and peace

primarily at an international and family level.

  • It tells the story of conflict through the teaching of a set of parents, who

have sent their delinquent children to a wilderness course at Camp Moriah in the Arizona desert. The parents’ objective at the beginning is for their children to be straightened out. Through the chapters, they learn that they are seeing crookedly themselves and they can only invite change in their children, if they themselves change.

  • The ultimate lessons of the book are that :

    − Conflict’s root cause stems from our self-deception and need to self- justify. This is triggered when we do not choose the right way or listen to our inner voice/conscience.

    − If we choose to view people with humanity and kindness, we choose a heart at peace and attract co-operation

    − Choosing a heart at war stems from us treating people as objects and making their hopes, needs, wants and challenges subservient to our own. This creates resistance in them and self-justification in ourselves triggering conflict

    − Ultimately the choice to live in conflict or peace resides within ourselves

6. Leadership and Self-Deception

  • Arbinger’s second book “Leadership and Self-Deception” focuses on conflict

within a commercial organisation, run by one of the parents in “The Anatomy of Peace”

  • In this book, the parent has applied the lessons from Camp Moriah to running his business and educates a new senior manager that “he has a problem”. This problem is in his dealings with others, which he is blind to
  • The story demonstrates how self-deception and conflict pervade many organisations and undermine organisational performance. Common problems like lack of commitment, poor teamwork, lack of trust and accountability, bad attitudes toward co-workers, stress and misalignment stem from our way of being towards others, not from their actions to us
  • The problem is called “being in the box” and the lessons are on how to “get out of the box” and stay out for the good of everyone. As in the “Anatomy of Peace”, the style of the narrative is for the people with a problem to be taken on a journey of self discovery
  • Again we learn that trying to change others is a dead-end without changing ourselves first. Also that helping rather than resisting is the right way

7. About the Arbinger Institute

The Arbinger Institute is an international training and consulting firm that is recognized as a world leader in the areas of leadership, team building, conflict resolution, crisis management, culture change and human dynamics.

Arbinger’s clients range from individuals who are seeking help in their lives to many of the largest companies and governmental institutions in the world. Their global website is at

For more information on Arbinger locally or globally, contact our good

friend John Cosgrove at or email him at


We work to respond to your enquiries as quickly as possible.


Tel: +64 (027) 454 9315

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