The fall of 2010 was a transitional year for me. In August of that year, I finished six labor-intensive years of doctoral work in Counseling Psychology. In November, a mere three months later, I relinquished my license and left my traditional psychotherapy practice to join the world of entrepreneurs as an emotion coach and psychological mentor.
No one verbalized it to me, but I'm sure many people thought I was crazy. There I was--with 13 years of post-secondary education and embarrassingly massive student loan debt--leaving the safe walls of the counseling room in order tojump into the deep end with start-up founders.
Why would I do this? Why would I leave something that I'd worked so hard to attain for something so unconventional? I can't really explain it, but I felt that familiar nudge after reading a recent post by Jessica Lawrence titled "The Next Big Opportunity for Start-ups."
Embedded in this quote is the reason I left traditional psychotherapy:
Every company, even the massive companies that are now known for having horrible cultures, began as start-ups with cultures that were often positive and passionate. As new companies are being launched, we have an opportunity to shift that trajectory, but while we're building better products, we're doing very little to build better companies.
This is why I left my practice--to help founders build better companies that can impact the world for good. I took a gamble, trading the impact of helping eight people a day with the potential to impact hundreds of people a day.
Because happiness and well-being can go viral, creating a positive company culture can exponentially effect one's ability to impact people.
And that's only the beginning.
Great company cultures can eradicate loneliness, which has ironically become the byproduct of our ever-connected, technological society.
Perhaps most importantly, great company cultures are like great societies--they can expand human potential by empowering people to do exceptional things.
Tending to your company culture may very well be one of the last win-win scenarios in life. What's good for people is truly what's good for business.
So what is a great company culture, and how do you sustain one?
While PERMA is not a silver bullet that neutralizes all evils in an organization, if you apply it to yourself first and insist on nurturing it in your organization, you'll be well on your way to building something great.
Positive emotions: Be mindful of positive emotions like gratitude, curiosity, satisfaction, and joy. Giving them your attention will increase them.
Engagement: Identify your strengths and find your flow. Stay in your strength zone 70 perent of the time.
Relationships: Be social and spend time with people you like.
Meaning: Serve a cause bigger than yourself.
Achievement: Look for opportunities to progress. Seek constant challenge and mastery.
Jessica Lawrence finishes her post,
Entrepreneurs are faced with a unique opportunity to not only build innovative products but also to build companies that break the cycle and do not play off of fear, false superiority, or treating work as simply an exchange of labor for money. Instead, start-ups can build companies in which every person they employ can flourish. The world will get better when we build better organizations, not just when we build better products.
Great cultures don't just happen. They take creativity, a willingness to be different, and a desire to improve people's lives in and out of the office.
What are you doing to build a better organization? Feel free to comment below or tweet your ideas with #betterwork. I'd love to hear them!