The Natural Order of Things (updated 3-2017, expanded focus)
I’ve been on a mission to develop a better understanding of the interrelationships among and the dynamics of values and values-based leadership; engagement, physical and social-emotional well-being and how people and organizations can impact the Greater Good.
Every path kept leading me to the same destination–this hypothesis refuses to go down in flames: organizational sustainability begins with me…one person. For a company to achieve performance excellence and sustainable maximum results, it must invest in helping people connect with what is truly important to them personally. What drives them—not at work, but what is their life’s mission? What values influence their daily actions and help them set personal priorities?
Without people who are connected and aligned to their personal purpose and values, organizational excellence and sustainability are simply out of reach. After individual connection, a critically necessary step is to do a gap analysis between “my” P & V, and the organization’s. The two must be aligned or I’m miserable and the organization will get a sub-par performance for as long as I’m there.
The latest leg of this mission has involved huge leaps in learning and leaps of faith, and I’ve had to navigate numerous forks in the road. But my mission has stayed basically the same. Here’s the AHA…”organization” in the sense used above is ANY entity, ANY group of people with a common cause among them. Schools, families, civic groups, communities, governments, countries ….the world. All are organizations, all must play by the same general rules.
Very “systems thinking”, right? Now I have to get around to backing that hypothesis up.
One Pond, One Pebble is one of my essential guiding principles. It first emerged as a survival tactic more than anything, to counter my frustration with not making enough progress on saving the world. I had to learn: if you can’t budge the boulder much less heave it in the ocean, you accomplish nothing. It’s all about right-sizing and pebbles, getting full capacity utilization out of your level of influence. First task: understand your spheres of realistic influence. Second, become a credible person so you can earn and keep your influencer status. Still, all you can do is drop little pebbles into one small pond, one at a time.
Lots of little pebbles will make a significant impact as the ripples spread outward, even if you lose track of their journey. No matter, it’s not supposed to be an ego thing. You “know” your ripples are traveling possibly great distances, washing over others who may or may not be influenced to drop their own pebbles into their own ponds where they can have an impact.
|It starts with me—one pond, one pebble within my circles of influence and credibility. Tiny ripples from my pebbles eventually join up and overlap with ripples from others, until the smooth||surface of the pond is in constant motion, unrecognizable compared to the mirrored surface it once was. Who knows how far the ripples will go, and how many other pebbles will be dropped in other ponds|
by others? That’s the real rush of this influence thing—you just don’t know. All it takes is one pebble at a time, dropped into one nearby pond. We each have an arsenal of pebbles at our disposal once we become more aware of them and how to use them.
Norms, values, high engagement, and well-being are all contagious for better or for worse, easily spread by close association. You can catch the virus from others and you can be a carrier yourself who can infect others. Groups, organizations and even society are as susceptible to the virus as are individuals.
If I am highly engaged at work, I am likely to be engaged elsewhere–at home, in my community. My ripples wash over those nearby, even out of sight people. The virus starts with my one pebble rippling the surface of one pond. The outbreak of pebble-dropping by those I infect, and their resulting ripples gains momentum and speed.
There is no immunity, no known antidote. My kind of pandemic!