This year I enjoyed the amazing opportunity of helping a Fortune 100 company roll out a major talent and leadership development strategy for their emerging leaders in Central America.
As I held one hour meetings with 230 members of their sales, finance, HR, marketing and executive teams, I discovered something very fascinating. Even though everyone was working for the same company, with the same support and same rules, some locations were succeeding and others were struggling.
Obviously, there are many variables that contribute to this phenomenon: different countries, different economies, different cultures, different values, different lifestyles, different currencies, different governments, etc.
It didn’t take long before I began to wonder why some markets were more successful than others. I asked questions about this as objectively as I possibly could and was astonished to discover that nearly everyone blamed or attributed the same set of circumstances. Some saw these circumstances as advantages and some saw them as disadvantages.
This would have been easy to accept if it wasn’t for the fact that even within each country, I met some people who were really succeeding and others who were really struggling.
What makes the difference?
I quickly realized that the individual was the variable worth studying. Their personal behaviors and individual leadership styles contributed more to the success or failure than any of the other variables mentioned above. This simple, and rather obvious observation, makes it easy to propose the following theory: If we want to have a thriving organization, we must have thriving people who work in it.
The thriving individual
The expectation of creating a thriving individual too often falls upon the organization. Too many employees expect that the organization will wave a magic wand and give them all of the experiences and nurturing they need to grow and thrive. Sadly, no matter what the organization does, it never seems to be enough. This is because we are all individuals and we each need different conditions to flourish. As a result, it is extremely difficult for any organization to create a “one-size fits all” program for personal development.
The thriving individual understands this and becomes accountable for his or her own development plan and subsequent results. The thriving organization understands its responsibility to create an environment that fosters the development of thriving individuals. This means it values initiative taking, being proactive, decisiveness – and it encourage its employees to take risks, even when some of those risks result in failures or setbacks.
The healthy environment never removes the responsibility to thrive from the individual. Each person who seeks to thrive must be willing to set meaningful goals, make decisions, walk with purpose, and demonstrate a willingness to move initiatives forward in the face of obstacles that threaten success. Most organizations value these behaviors, even when their cultures do not foster their development.
Permission to grow
You are responsible for creating the thriving you. Nobody else can or will do it for you. If you don’t like your current circumstances, you and only you are free to change them.
My call-to action is for you to examine your current circumstances.
Are you thriving? If no, why not? If so, are you thinking today about your next level and how you’ll get there?
This is a great time of year to review your personal progress. The more time you spend understanding your own development needs, the more likely you are to be seen as a valued contributor to the world around you.
Thriving demands growth that stretches us to become something more than we have ever been before. Nothing out there matters more than your individual contribution to solving the puzzle we call personal growth and development.
You are the difference maker.
Today’s guest contributor, Dr. Andrew Thorn, is the founder of Telios Corporation and creator of The Telios Experience.™ Dr. Thorn is also the author of U-wun-ge-lay-ma: A Guide to Next-level Living and the upcoming book Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Whole? The Future of Meaning and Purpose.