Optimism in Culture
No one needs to feel like a blancmange in suit. Or just a blancmange, really (useless and wobbly - ask the English rugby team, arf!). Two half-hour sessions at the gym a week have done me the world of good – regardless of outward improvement, I feel better. It’s hard to lead by example when you don’t feel like you can, and this mental and physical strengthening has helped bring out my psychological sunshine. This week, I was even feeling positive about a two-day workshop.
There are few times I have been optimistic at workshops: organisers fail to prepare adequately; ideal outcomes are ethereal; and we fumble through presentations hoping for the apocalypse. Or a tea break. Post session, everyone agrees that the core message could have been attained in two hours. Oh, and if you can kindly catch up on two-days of missed work in your spare time, that’d be brilliant. Yet as I approached this session focusing on Culture Uplift, I was extremely positive: the company hired professionals to run it and hand-chose it’s attendees. Additionally, the people that opened the address had power within the organisation to effect changes. They had invested, and so had I.
So . . . what the hell is culture, anyway? In an indigenous awareness session years ago, we were asked exactly that: music; art; stories; history; language; food; family; customs; religion all came up. I think it’s what binds us together as social animals, which may relate to that basic hormonal needs of serotonin (well-being and happiness) and oxytocin (feeling of love or social bonding). We fundamentally need to form a cohesive bond of implicit trust and togetherness. Without that within your workplace or personal life, you’re dead in the water.
The workshop included knowledge from Carolyn Taylor, a new name to me, and her tome Walk The Talk (now added to the reading list) and referenced one of my favourite speakers, Simon Sinek. In this case, it prompted me to steal back a book I bought as a gift, Together is Better. A small book of optimism and leadership, it’s an absolute cracker. I also purchased another of his, Leaders Eat Last, and am half-way through. The trick to these books is that they are so accessible: nothing in them is new, per say. We’ve just become so estranged to what good looks like, we think being led by profit mongering bastards is the norm. It can be better.
It’s an extremely difficult task to improve culture when you’ve just let go of thousands of people in huge batches of redundancies, although a might bloody harder doing it before you let them go one would imagine. But I admire the effort and purpose. As with the gym, leadership and cultural muscles take time to build, so it will be an interesting journey. I got sunshine in my pocket, people!
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