July 26th, 2019
Working as an executive coach and an organisational development consultant these questions come up again and again. What do we value? What does success look like? How come what I used to love I don’t anymore- what next? What type of success drives me and why…Where should we be as a business? Why? How can we stop falling out as a team? How can I raise staff wellbeing?
In our lives and work we are driven innately by what we value and the social context of what is around us. We may also be being influenced by our bodies’ and minds’ automatic wiring, pushing us towards and away from things and people that we desire and avoid. We react, make decisions and lead our lives by these implicit rules and behaviours. This is us on automatic pilot– our own personal intelligence that helps and guides us through life, so that we don’t have to stop and think every second to appraise what might be best.
It is a complex web and who you talk to will focus on a different element of that web- driven by what is important or makes sense to them. Very simply, social psychologists and behavioural scientists may tell you that actually you have little agency and that your behaviour is determined by the context that you work and live within- social comparison and a desire to belong within groups being at play. Other specialisms of psychology will focus perhaps more on the individual level, your own personality perhaps, or common themes among people seeking out life satisfaction. Philosophers will come again at another angle exploring how do we know what is important to us? Challenging us to think about what matters and what doesn’t and why.
So I invite you to consider a couple of things:
You may in fact be being driven by your social context and not actually what makes you happy…do your really want that degree, get married, promotion etc For a challenging look at these social memes that may be guiding you I invite you to read Paul Dolan’s latest book and have a look at this MOOC
Have you stopped to consider what really matters to you? What are your personal indicators for a good life? The fields of positive psychology and wellbeing try and measure this area using indicators such as satisfaction with life and psychological wellbeing. Looking at your own personal balance between eudaimonia (flourishing/fulfilling our potential) or what is purposeful to us and what makes us feel happy in the moment -our own personal pleasure (with thanks to Paul Dolan).
For some of us that are in the lucky position to have moved beyond pure survival, pleasure may be our key driver for others success and a good life is more about realising our potential, learning, growing and challenging ourselves. What is your balance? To explore this further I invite you to start being your own personal investigator- noticing in the moment when you feel good and not so good- is it when your ‘think’ you ‘should’ feel good, perhaps having a go at this self test for a few days. If you are struggling with a lack or purpose or meaning have a go at the test above and reflect on what is really important to you in your life? What challenge, change, learning or area of growth would bring you more fulfilment and/or what contexts (hobbies, workplace, communities) would support and enable this?
Interested in exploring this further both individually or as an organisation? Drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org