Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Power of Positivity

Regulars on this blog will have noticed a recurring theme in recent posts, optimism and the pursuit of happiness. Given what’s behind 2010 I’m keen to flex this springboard for a better decade, as is my long-time academic colleague and friend Dr. Mike Pratt.

A decade ago at the Waikato Management School, Mike, Clive Gilson and I co-authored the book Peak Performance: Business Lessons from the World's Top Sports Organizations. Ten years on, Mike and his wife Helga have just produced a terrific new book Sustainable Peak Performance (published by Pearson) which shows - through case studies and models - how sustainable enterprise is the future of business.

There’s a good range of enterprise stories, which include Putumayo, Stonyfield, Farm, The Body Shop, The Eden Project, Forum for the Future, Snowy Peak, Comvita, Patagonia, and Dilmah Tea.

What encourages me in the theory developed is the pivotal role of “positivity” in Sustainable Peak Performance, and the links made between sustainability, happiness and performance. Part of the book shows how the three concepts of 1. wellbeing (happiness), 2. working in “flow” or full engagement, and 3. making a difference as an enterprise can create the context for performance.

At the personal level, happiness comes through choice and action. The choice part is about ensuring both self-discipline over mind / body / spirit and self-determination of our own fate across all walks of life. The action part is about activities that provide gratification through progressing meaningful goals and activities that simply provide pleasure. Sounds spot on. And / And strikes again.

To quote a key passage from Sustainable Peak Performance:

“… happy people appear to choose meaningful personal and work-related goals, undertake activities that enable them to exercise their ‘signature strengths’ and virtues, make meaningful progress towards the achievement of their goals, and embrace altruistic goals and activities.”