Another Monday morning, another day, another dollar? Or are you on fire and ready to set the world alight with your passion, gifts and service? This is the question that lies at the heart of WHY THRIVEABILITY?
Rule Number One of ThriveAbility is: “ThriveAbility begins with me”. Simple, and effective. You want a thriving life and world? Then start with yourself. How can you learn to thrive in your own life and career? What would it take to inject your joy, passion and love into your family, friends and significant others in your world. And into your workplace?
While most of us can think of ways to enhance the thriving of ourselves and significant others quite easily, it becomes a little harder when it comes to work and career. Depending on what kind of organization/s you work in/with, there may be some boundaries and limits to what you, as an individual, can do. There are bosses, power structures, rules and protocols, politics and much complication in this world of work. And yet, something must be done.
While 70% of the workforce globally are either unengaged or actively disengaged in their place of work, there are the lucky 30% that ARE engaged, and hence spending the bulk of their working hours (and life!) in an activity which gives their lives some meaning, purpose and perhaps even pleasure. This is the place ThriveAbility starts.
The extensive research on human flourishing shows that there are five key ingredients to thriving:
- Positive Psychology- can you take the ups and downs of life in your stride? Are you resilient? How can you become more resilient, including with the help of a support network?
- Engagement– are you and those around you engaged in activities that are important to you? Do they give you a sense of purpose? How might you transform those situations that are getting you down, by fuelling yourself with those things that lift you up?
- Relationships– probably the most important of the five factors for flourishing. Are you in good relationships that make you happy and mean something to you? Or are your relationships getting you down, a source of stress? Because relationships are always a two-way street, start with yourself and your role in those dysfunctional relationships. What are you doing that might make them unsatisfactory? Work from there to engage with the other person on the relationship to see how you might both fix it and help each other. This is an entire book, but absolutely key, as people in unhappy relationships with other unhappy people are likely to be 20-40% more depressed and unhappy than people in happy relationships with happy people. And depression really sucks!!
- Meaning– what gives your life meaning? Your family? Your work? Your hobbies or religion? Concentration camp survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl discovered that people whose lives had some meaning were much more likely to survive the death camps than those without meaning. meaning is, literally, a lifesaver. Explore how you might inject some meaning and purpose into your life, your job, your spare time, doing things that make a difference, especially for others. Service to others it the most rewarding thing you can do.
- Accomplishment– finally, we all love a little recognition for our achievements. Both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, though the former are more powerful long term. Small strokes of approval and recognition for activities well done are as if not more powerful than bonuses and trophies. The sense of being recognised for a job well done, a career that leaves a positive legacy, a life that serves as a role model and inspiration for others- these are mighty powerful things. But accomplishments, by themselves, remain empty without the other four key aspects of thriving.
In ThriveAbility, we recognise Relationship Capital as the single most important aspect of thriving, for these five reasons- relationships are the medium in which we grow and develop as people, and the other aspects of of thriving depend on healthy relationships. Viewing your family, friends, colleagues, partners, customers and other key stakeholders as a valuable source of learning and growth through their feedback and support, is the key.
If we live in a world where we are scared of what people might say about us, where we fear that we are inadequate or inferior, then we shy away from such feedback, because we “know” we are going to be hurt. Cue an environment of mistrust, paranoia and ultimately diseased and lonely people playing materialistic games with each other. It takes courage and an honest desire to be open and withstand any criticism that comes your way, to begin the process of healing that can lead the way to more joy, love and happiness in your life and career.
The same goes for organizations. If the leaders (not just the “bosses”, but those that influence others) in the organization are thriving, open, generous and good people, then all those around them will benefit and become more engaged. If the leaders are selfish, petty, demanding tightwads then expect an organization to mirror that, and expect it to ultimately fail (even the biggest titans).
In addition to Relationship Capital, there are six other capitals that make for a thriving life and world. They are:
A. Human Capital – the 7.3 billion people on the planet right now all want the same basic things- shelter, food, clothing, self-respect and respect from their peers, an honest living, and if they are lucky, some form of personal growth and development. Each of us has a talent or two to offer the world, and we need support networks to help us develop and express our talents. The world of work and organizations should be the place where we can grow and develop ourselves while also fulfilling our basic needs.
B. Social Capital– each individual and organization has a reputation, which can be good, bad or indifferent. We call that a “Brand”, which is the promise an organization makes to its stakeholders. For example, take Volkswagen. It was founded as the People’s Car — a purpose that guided the company and fuelled its growth. And VW became an iconic brand. Yet VW made a big mistake. It used its corporate financial ambitions (one capital of seven only) as a purpose. Market share and revenue targets are not purpose or values-based- becoming the world’s largest automaker by sales is not the same as being the world’s favourite, eco-friendly people’s car. An organization’s purpose shapes its brand and helps create products and services that positively impact all stakeholders to become more ThriveAble.
C. Intellectual Capital– human beings create sciences, technologies and infrastructures. We use knowledge to innovate and make better stuff as well as create better experiences and lives for our customers and stakeholders. This capacity to create is grounded in knowledge and we can see the fruits of knowledge creation as intellectual capital. It can be patented or open source, arcane or self-evident- pretty much everything we need and want in modern life is the result of one of tens of thousands of innovations that have enabled Joe and Joanna Average to live better than the richest Kings and Queens of yore.
D. Manufactured/Infrastructure Capital- the product of all our technological and social cleverness is all around us, in roads, buildings, vehicles, houses, offices, shops, gadgets, phones, schools and universities, and large organizations. Life as we know it would stop immediately without the “things that make us smart and comfortable”. You would not be able to read these words without the trillions of dollars invested in the infrastructure of information technology over the past sixty years by billions of very bright, dedicated people. Nor would you be able to make toast.
E. Natural Capital– of course none of this would be possible without nature, which we have taken for granted for far too long, So long, in fact, that we are now using more than 1.6 planets worth of resources every year to support our modern lifestyles. That is completely unsustainable, and if we do not change our ways we will find ourselves largely extinct within a century. Sustainability has been around for 50 years, but sadly there are not enough people that care enough to shift the habits of the people who don’t care or can’t be bothered. This is called the “sustainability gap”, and is the second main reason for ThriveAbility- to CLOSE the sustainability gap.
F. Financial Capital- it has been said that the love of money is the root of all evil. By itself, money is simply a useful means of exchange and unit of value, as well as an incentive system to take care of all the other capitals. Whatever currency you use, mainstream or alternative. The challenge we have is that using money EXCLUSIVELY to measure value means you know the price of everything and the value of nothing. While we need financial capital like a farmer’s fields need fertiliser, to make things grow, it should not be an end in itself. Unfortunately, our global economy has become financialised and rigged for those with loads of money, against those with little or none. its and unfair system that is leading to collapse in many places together with climate catastrophes caused by our abuse of natural capital. The ThriveAbility Equation enables us to change the way we measure our success and accomplishments, using all seven capitals in ways that are sustainable and just.
Which brings us back to Joy, Love and Thriving. We need to integrate shifts in human consciousness and culture with shifts in our capacities and creations so that they all synergize a thriving future for all of us. And we each need to start where we are, with what we are each doing or planning to do, today. We’ve designed an entire 4 year program for organizations to go on the ThriveAbility Journey, along with an Index to measure progress, and a one/two day introductory MasterClass for ThriveAbility for those ready to begin the journey. Come and join us for the world’s first, Inaugural thriveAbility MasterClass in London on 19 November. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.