We have just returned from 4 inspiring days at the World Happiness Summit in Como. Inspiring because of the conversations with new contacts, well-known colleagues from the profession and (now) friends, but also because of the inspiring talks. Some more than others, of course. One of our favourite talks was by Raj Sisodia, the author of Conscious Capitalism and Everybody Matters, among others.
His message is that we are at an interesting point in history. On the one hand, we are living in the best time ever. Life is safer, more prosperous and more purposeful than ever in history. As individuals, we can pursue our passions, develop our talents and do amazing things. At the same time, we are living one of the worst times ever, with existential threats such as climate change, plant and animal extinction, and who knows more pandemics. We are suffering and the way we work is contributing to this. The number of depressions, suicides and mental suffering is rising dramatically. Did you know that on Monday mornings at 4am (in the morning!) the heart attack rate is 20% higher than at any other time during the week? Not because work itself is threatening. The problem is in the way we organise, lead and manage work, the way we treat each other. While that is totally unnecessary.
Raj Sisodia says in his speech that we need to stop suffering. That we need to start actively healing ourselves and the world around us. In the field of work, organisations can play a big role in this. He cites some examples of what organisations could then do
1. To start with, we need to start looking at organisations and business an sich with a different perspective, namely as a ‘healing plate or a healing process’. Instead of exploiting people as means of production to fulfil a certain need, put people and their needs at the centre. Helping and serving people through work is the driving force.
2. Help people because you love and care about them, not because of what it brings you. Like Greystone bakery does not hire people to bake brownies, but bakes brownies to hire people who otherwise would not have a fair chance at a future. Raj asked the audience: suppose someone asks you to marry them. And you ask: why do you want to marry me? Is the answer then: married people have a better life expectancy? Or married people seem to get higher salaries? No way.
3. Leaders set the tone. As a leader, it starts with healing yourself first. The more you are healed, the more you can heal the organisation. Healing is about expressing love and care and allowing people to be vulnerable. Give people the space to do that. As James Baldwin said, Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
4. Workplaces should not feel like prisons. Turn them into playgrounds where people can use their talents, explore, grow and feel connected. When companies become a place of healing, people can leave work emotionally, spiritually, physically, socially and mentally stronger every day.
What can you do to make your organisation a healing place?