A Culture of Significance
Our personal lives are around meaning and purpose which we seek to have a fulfilled existence. Purpose we need for ourselves, our ambitions and self fulfilment we seek and meaning we have to have for others rather than ourselves, manifesting in our place and standing in society. This we cannot create ourselves only others can if they value and respect our actions and behaviours.
The same applies for our professional engagements where these two elements are the foundations of "a culture of significance", but again significance for others and not for oneself that is.
Making a difference, having a positive impact, creating results and achieving something which benefits others as well makes us proud and fulfilled at the end of a day. Being recognised, appreciated, respected or simply important to others makes us relevant. If we are not relevant we are insignificant.
Significance can only be achieved by what we do, why we do it and how we do it and not by who we are, want to be or worse, think we are. That un-programmed, almost natural approach who’s rewards or incentives are never directly of monetary nature, have been the pillars of great societies and one of the few behaviours only humans can display.
Success is a consequence of doing the right thing and not something that can be sought directly.
“Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” JFK
Only a culture of significance can be soil where “self governance” can flourish, which is the ultimate form of self organization of a society or of any group of people in general.
Self governance is the most efficient and satisfactory way of self organisation and defined by the absence of absolute authority, strict rule and tight control.
Self governed societies will be the strongest groups since they have shared values and believes which are understood and lived by all group members without the need of authoritarian enforcement, leaving all strength of that society to be available to defend its group against others in a united way, free of internal structural weaknesses.
"If from lawlessness or fickleness, from folly or self –indulgence (we) refuse to govern (our) selves, then assuredly in the end (we) will have to be governed from the outside" Theodore Roosevelt.
Self governance however requires strong foundations which are shared and lived by all its members. These encompass empowerment of the people, accountability of each member, open free thought, fairness and mutual understanding.
They are almost sacred principles, clearly visible from all individual members thoughts, words, behaviours and actions. New members to such a society will experience these principles and any violation would immediately be corrected by any or all members of that society without the need of a special authority to take action.
For a self governed society and a culture of significance to flourish we need to embrace some key values, attributes and behaviours.
Gratitude & Respect
Gratitude is appreciation of ones own and others haves and doings for one another are key for a happier and more rewarding life. Thank you is free but priceless.
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” Epicurus
Respect is often the admiration one has for another person, their achievements or what they stand for. But respect is also the basic attitude we should have towards others no matter how much or how little we share or what place one has in society. It’s a sign of acceptance and tolerance of individuals and shows that we value other people.
Respect is always earned, never given and cannot be bought. Respect can only be received if one respects others first.
“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” Albert Einstein
Integrity & Trust
Integrity is the strict adherence to a moral code of fairness and justice, reflected in transparent honesty and complete harmony in what one thinks, says and does. Integrity is a key attribute in leadership and a foundation of building trust and gaining respect. If missing or inconsistent one lost credibility and any support or respect has vanished.
“Confidence in others' honesty is no light testimony of one's own integrity.” Michel de Montaigne
“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.” Warren Buffet
Trust is one of the most powerful things we can give to others or receive from others but also the most perishable good at the same time. It takes a long time to build it but can be destroyed in a single instance and once lost it is difficult to regain. The trust we give reflects our believe in others and therefore represents inspiring experience for the people we trust.
The trust we receive we should treat with honour.
“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.” Friedrich Nietzsche
“Trust is like a mirror, you can fix it if it's broken, but you can still see the crack in that mother fucker's reflection.” Lady Gaga
Leadership without integrity, trust, gratitude and respect is not possible. Only when all the pillars exist one can show true passion, be an inspiration, care given will be perceived sincere and guidance provided is felt as such rather then seen as instructions. Leadership must happen on all levels especially in a society of self governance and in a culture of significance. Everyone leads to a certain degree depending on their role and function, but there is no such position where no leadership is possible.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward
“He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.” Aristotle