Businesses are most successful when they create an environment that helps people feel good. This leads to businesses seeing themselves as not only as economic, but human enterprises that exist for the benefit and well being of the whole of life. So to create a positive future, leaders will need to shift their attention away from themselves and their own needs to the larger enterprise of creating a culture that ensures a sense of well-being for all.
There are four scenarios that contribute to deepening this sense of well-being. These are everyone’s birthright no matter who they are or where in the world they live and work.
1. Homecoming and life purpose
Each of us has a gift to share. What creates the experience of homecoming and how do we each find our way there? When are the times and places when we feel most alive and engaged? What are the gifts we bring and how can we connect these gifts to our own sense of calling and purpose in life.
Most of our leadership language is focused on upward mobility and the ‘ladder’ of success. But what if we balanced this upward organic motion with growing down? To grow down is to come home to ourselves and to be native to the ground we find ourselves on. We have a curriculum for upward mobility; we need a parallel curriculum for growing down and for homecoming. This includes being local through making fertile ground of the places where we find ourselves. To come home to ourselves is to find our own unique gifts and sense of purpose and discover how together these connect us with the whole of life.
2. Belonging and connection
What if we truly saw and listened for what is authentic in ‘the other’? What is our relationship with the people and places that we hold closest to our heart? When we envision our own community of belonging how can we optimize these connections in order to create an ecosystem of well being for all?
The urge to belong is basic to the tissue that connects all of life. It creates a pattern of aliveness that brings us into alignment with the life’s hidden opportunities that exist among us. In nature everything belongs to everything else. A sense of belonging involves re-imagining our world to include; a new network or a sacred circle of relationship - wherever we find it, belonging serves as the connective tissue of life-giving relationships that align us to the essence of nature and how the natural world itself works and connects.
How do our relationships connect us to other communities? What would it mean for our perspective to become more global and inclusive of the stranger and not just our tribe? How do I belong to this place in ways I cannot belong anywhere else? How can we engage diversity both within our community and with life in its largest sense?
3. Reverence and regenerativity
How do we nurture our own sense of reverence for nature and how nature works? And how can this inspire a generative focus in our work and with our communities? What are the conditions that enable us to give birth to something new together? Could we imagine designing spaces of beauty in our life and our work that can fill us with reverence and awe each day.
To be regenerative is to be committed to the conscious evolution of life. It involves a shift in focus from problem solving to possibility through sensing the patterns of energy, flow and relationship that make the invisible, visible. In so doing, we create beauty through seeing all that we do as a form of craft and embracing craftsmanship as the expression of place through the hands and the heart as well as the mind.
To be regenerative is to act and, at the same time, to also be acted upon. Therefore to be regenerative is to ask; how can I align my actions with forces that are greater than myself? What is the natural world calling on me to do in this situation? What is the tone or atmosphere I want to set as a leader? And where are the places I go to find beauty and how can I fill a space in a beautiful way?
4. Joyful celebration and generosity
If we want to change the world throw a better party! What in our life experience fills us with joy? What most nurtures a spirit of generosity and celebration - a spirit that can upturn or replace the established order with something uniquely different and new? How can our stewardship of what is alive within and around us open a path to transformative celebration?
A generous spirit includes engaging with the life generating forces of festival and ceremony. Whenever we gather together and enliven the senses through art, music, storytelling, poetry and movement we are evoking the festive spirit. Festival is the upturning of the established order and - like the bright green blades of grass rising up through concrete - making a place in the world for the raw unformed impulse of life to burst through.
This sense of gathering together on the public square or in the commons, bringing together diverse energies, expressing the spirit of engagement and upturning the old order for the new. Together these set in motion a catharsis of this energy of transformation.
Creating a culture where well-being can flourish
Well-being flourishes when our focus shifts from absolute truth to inner truth, from separation and isolation to connection and belonging, from efficiency and control to trust in the regenerativity of life and from scarcity and limits to abundance and joyful celebration.
With homecoming our deference to external authority, absolute truth and the need for perfection shifts to valuing our own authenticity, including the wisdom to lead from the place within us that includes our gifts and the wisdom of our own inner nature and in alignment with our purpose in life.
With belonging our tendencies for turning inward and isolating ourselves from life turn toward the search for optimizing our connections in ways that lead to a more empathic resonance with our world. This includes appreciation for our connection to home, to nature, to local wisdom, to strangers and the unfamiliar as well as to ourselves and to who we essentially are.
With regenerativity the focus on efficiency and control shifts toward a trust in nature and the conscious evolution of life. This includes the sense that we can approach life’s challenges with grace and ease and an appreciation for life’s natural unfolding and a willingness to let go and let be.
And joyful celebration challenges our preoccupation with limits and scarcity and reminds us that, while there may be certain limits, the world in every moment is bursting forth based on the principle of abundance and generosity and so is replenished, not diminished, by our efforts. When our actions are aligned with what gives us the greatest sense of feeling deeply well, we are not just sustaining life, we are creating life as well.