(This is a picture I drew to remind myself about my purpose, that it's important to create your own path)
I quite like the word flourishing, being at one’s best.
Barbara Fredrickson, a famous scientist in positive psychology, writes that flourishing is not only about being happy and satisfied with life. It goes beyond that. People who flourish also do good and add value to the world. They are engaged with their families, work, and communities. Moreover, flourishing people are driven by a sense of purpose – that you do something valuable with your day and life.
This writing is mainly about purpose. Because I feel it’s important. There’s a lot of unhappiness and negativity in this world and I think some of it may be caused by people lacking purpose in their lives. Personally I can say that purpose is the fuel that keeps me going and doing things and feeling good about it. And by having a sense of purpose I don’t mean it’s necessarily something that’s stable and fixed. Purposes change, for me it’s a continuous journey of searching and re-defining.
A while ago I read an article in Harward Business Review written by Gary Hamel. It was a story of a self-managed food processor organisation where there’s no managers and at the same time everyone is doing management. How come people are engaged and responsibly playing their part in the life of this organisation and the organisation seems to do well? Because they are not driven by management but their own personal mission. The purpose.
Organisations are relational networks of people who have different purposes. Usually the (what one could say) ”traditional” management tries to control these sources of energy by putting a formal layer (policies, prodecures, rules, structures…) on top of what actually happens. For some reason there’s an idea that by prohibiting people to act how they naturally would, we become better.
What happened there? When did we stop being humans at work place? In my opinion by controlling you can only cause that the fuel in people slowly runs out. Instead of that one could try cultivating the purposes and personal missions in people. The question is if organisations are ready to do this. Are they ready to create spaces for totally different types of informal conversations? I can say it’s not dangerous.
Fredrickson, B. 2010. Positivity: Groundbreaking Research to Release Your Inner Optimist and Thrive
Hamel, G. 2011. First, Let’s Fire All the Managers. Harvard Business Review December 2011.