“Heights by great men reached and kept were not obtained by sudden flight but, while their companions slept, they were toiling upward in the night.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
We all have ideas about the kinds of “heights” we would like to achieve in our careers and in our personal lives.
We often think that reaching heights is about the next promotion or climbing a social ladder, but Longfellow is reminding us that it is about achieving our dreams.
Martin Seligman in his new book Flourish says, “Human beings, ineluctably, want meaning and purpose in life.” The Meaningful Life, according to Seligman, involves “belonging to and serving something that you believe is bigger than yourself.”
In my coaching practice I promise to “help you to reach new heights.” By this I mean, new heights in your career and your personal life. It is my belief that reaching new heights involves achieving what Seligman describes as a “Meaningful Life.” When people understand their purpose in life, they are able to align their values with their efforts at work and at home, which allows them to make contributions that are important, or as Seligman says, to things that are “bigger than yourself.”
The Great Place to Work Institute has been researching the elements that create organizational cultures that support employees who feel that their organizations are “great places to work.” (The Great Place to Work Institute, by the way, develops the well known Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For List.) One of the most important elements that they have found to make a difference in how people feel about their jobs is their ability to make a contribution. When people feel that they are able to make a contribution, they love their jobs. This, it turns out, is not related to position or role. You can be the janitor, but if you feel that what you are doing as a janitor is contributing to something that you believe in and is important to you, then you feel that you are making a contribution and you have meaning at work.
At an organization that I had the opportunity to support by coaching the executive leaders, the employees throughout the organization understood how they made a contribution. When the janitor was asked what he did there, he said with a big smile, “I save lives!”
Having everyone understand how they contribute to the mission of the organization is a dream come true for a leader. But it doesn’t happen by accident, it happens when leaders are able to articulate how each employee’s work is integral to achieving the mission and by making sure that each employee feels that their work makes a contribution to the mission.
If you would like to train your team on creating an organizational culture where people feel that they are making this kind of contribution, call me. I can assess the culture of your organization and I can train your team on the elements inherent in creating a great place to work.
p.s. I always am interested in what you think about these discussions. Please post your thoughts…your constructive criticism and support is appreciated!
Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Certified Personal and Executive Coach. Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values.