CEO Culture Hacks: The Personal Kindness Imperative
You hear us talk a lot about enabling people to work smarter. It’s a worthy mission, but it’s driven by a higher purpose: Enriching Lives. We want our work to enrich the lives of our clients, our community, our loved ones . . . and ourselves.
How do we achieve our purpose?
Organized thinkers that we are, we built a grid to show who we serve and how:
The top axis depicts an intentional chronology:
- First, people want to feel support where they are.
- Only then are they truly ready to improve.
- Ever after, we protect.
The side axis depicts an intentional hierarchy:
- First, we as individuals should be in a good state.
- Only then will our team coalesce into its strongest form.
- Ever after, we are a powerful force for our clients.
We support, improve and protect ALL our stakeholders, but start with ourselves. If we as individuals aren’t right (by which I mean great!), our ability to enrich others’ lives is severely diminished.
Over the course of this series on our culture at Mind Over Machines, I will populate the entire grid.
But we start at the beginning, with Self:
Be good to yourself. Feed your passion.
Joy and the Platinum Rule will follow.
We all know Maslow.
It’s tough to maintain a good (let alone great!) frame of mind when you’re worried about fundamental needs.
Even with basic needs met, if you remain unfulfilled, it’s tough to bring your best self to your vocation and consistently serve others well.
But we want to do better for ourselves and our world. And we’d love to do it joyfully!
Thus we must attend to our own fulfillment first. We must Support our Self.
BE GOOD TO YOURSELF
A. Figure out what you want
B. Give it to yourself
This simple A → B construct is so fundamental, yet so often ignored. It was a revelation to me when I first ran across it:
“You mean, I can choose how I want to operate, and that’s okay? I don’t ‘have to’ do all these things I think I ‘have to’ do?
Well, what DO I want?
Hmmm. I haven’t really thought about that.
I guess I’d like to stop doing this, start doing that, and continue doing another thing.
Wait. This is okay? I can just gift this to myself?
Wow! Freedom! Lightness! Joy!”
Now, I didn’t change everything overnight. It took me some time to accept that it truly is “okay” to give myself what I want. It took practice. And, no, the world didn’t end. Indeed, it got much better.
In his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel H. Pink identifies this as autonomy, “the deeply human need to direct our own lives” and the secret to high performance and satisfaction.
I still take stock occasionally: “What do I want now? What am I doing or not doing, out of habit or inattention, that rubs abrasively against my soul?”
But this isn’t all about me. A friend of mine credits the A→B construct as well. Listening to his inner voice, he realized he wanted a sailboat. He didn’t have the means to simply write a check, but nevertheless figured out how to make it happen. Now, every outing on his boat brings him joy, not just from the experience of sailing itself, or from time together with family, friends and nature, but from the pride of having listened to himself and made his own dream come true.
A sense of confidence and well-being comes from claiming your autonomy, having agency in the world, giving yourself what you want and need.
This is the flip side of the “Be Good to Yourself” coin. Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes made. Learn from them, clean up the mess, and move on. If you can’t clean it up – the damage can’t be repaired; it’s too late to make amends; or your amends aren’t accepted – but you legitimately and sincerely tried, then forgive yourself. “Drive more carefully” going forward. And move on!
FEED YOUR PASSION
“But I can’t feed my passion right now! I have to do this first. I have to get that in order. I need to achieve this other thing.”
Maybe, but don’t overdo it.
You could be hit by a bus next week or face a terminal diagnosis next year.
What do you want to reflect on then? What will you remember? What will your family remember about your time together? What memories will make you grin!?
What brings joy to you and your loved ones now?
I don’t care if it’s personal or professional or all mixed together. Do it. Now.
JOY AND THE PLATINUM RULE WILL FOLLOW
When you’re good to yourself and feed your passion, you feel great! And when you feel great, it’s hard NOT to spread joy. It’s natural, effortless, and makes the world better!
Now, what about this Platinum Rule? It’s a more considerate version of the Golden Rule. Instead of treating others the way you want to be treated, the Platinum Rule suggests we treat others the way they want to be treated – determined empathetically on an individual, case-by-case basis.
If you’re giving yourself what you want and need in life (and perhaps bubbling with joy as a result), you’re more likely to have the self-confidence and emotional energy to connect authentically with people, learn what they want and need, and help them achieve it.
Voilà! My argument comes full circle. When your own house is in order, you can serve others, exceptionally!
BEING KIND IN CAPITALISM
So Mind Over Machines holds this corporate value, this admonition to Be Kind to oneself. Some might find it soft or naïve.
“Why so much focus on staff well-being? They’ll take care of themselves just fine.”
I would counter, somewhat tongue in cheek, that indeed our approach could be considered selfish! We call ourselves MINDs. There’s a reason for that. Our minds are our primary corporate asset. Our intellect and experience are what we sell, what we employ to bring value to our clients. If you work in the knowledge economy, you’re in the same boat.
Our MINDs need to be the best they can be – strong, rested, attentive – to deliver the best value. If they are weak, our service to our clients suffers. Weaker results, weaker reputation, weaker profits.
Therefore it’s selfish – and absolutely essential – for our company to do everything we can to ensure our employees are fulfilled, learning and challenged.
It all starts with Mind Over Machines supporting each MIND.
But it REALLY starts with each MIND Being Kind to herself.