Culture wars and division all around

It is becoming obvious across the United States that there is a culture war happening. Sometimes blatantly, as in the NFL’s struggle to balance non-violent free speech protests with respecting the National Anthem and the American Flag. Two sides, two passionate versions of the same story. Two perspectives and strong division. What does that look like at work? What is OUR culture within THE culture?
Similarly, there are quite a few polarizing issues within and on the other side of the borders of this country. Shoot! The borders are an issue in and of themselves. Did I say shoot? Sorry. That’s offensive, along with one hundred seventy thousand, six hundred and thirty-three other words and phrases as of yesterday. Or at least, that’s how it feels some days, doesn’t it? I’m not sure where the wisdom went that said “You cannot legislate morality or intelligence,” but it’s slipped our collective mind it seems.
Facing all those shifts, arguments, and divisions and staying afloat much less thriving for business, can be one of the most significant challenges of the day. What I mean is that my companies all have a vast variety of employees. We have every employee; male, female, short, tall, every ethnicity, creed, religion and nones, and every shape, size and food preference you can imagine! What do you do with that? How do you create an environment where everyone feels equal, respected, supported and appreciated? Well, that battle is raging across the country, right? Those screaming for inclusion are excluding those who aren’t screaming for inclusion. It’s a no-win, no-brainer, empty, angry war resulting in nothing long-term favorable for its combatants.  Nope. No one wins.

Nope, you cannot please them all

Significantly, maybe the very first thing to realize is you will not ever ultimately be able to ensure that everyone in your organization feels included, loved, needed and appreciated. Why such a harsh statement? Because it’s the truth! And it’s truth some people absolutely refuse to acknowledge in exchange for whatever their gain might be. The reason is simple: there are humans with emotions, likes, dislikes, experiences and did I say, emotions? All those factors contribute to every day and depending on where one or the other might be, today may look nearly the polar opposite of yesterday in the same building with the same employees doing the same jobs! Come on now, you know that’s true at your office too! If your place of business is always at the same speed, every day, in and out and everyone is utterly contented, someone is dosing your water cooler with more than just water!

The basics in human nature might help

But, there are basics we can draw on in every human’s nature that can help in the development of a culture of unity within a broader culture of division and me-centric thinking. I have found through the years that one of the most potent contributors to creating at the very least, a much more tolerable work environment, is when the people employed understand it’s not all about them. When they realize they are providing a vital contribution to something greater than themselves, there is a shift in the culture.

I observe young, eager ladder climbers who initially will step over a coworker to make an impression. Come on, we all did it to some extent right? It’s a massive part of our ‘me-centricity.’ But I’ve also noticed, as these new employees begin to realize how their work is interconnected with others, they begin to take on a help minded idea of what this culture will be all about for them as well.

That ‘other’ factor

Interestingly, what’s the ‘other’ factor? Slowly, as the newbie becomes familiar with the product, the customer and more telling than not the results, their enthusiasm grows from a place of genuinely desiring to make a difference in another’s life. As one of my employees put it recently, “I love the thought that I’m contributing to something that is saving lives that I will never meet!” And, there it is. The ‘other’ factor. This simple, priceless experience is more motivating than any paycheck, promotion, high-five or recognition. It dives deeper into our psyche than some of the most well laid me-first motivational arguments. Helping someone else changes things. Knowing you are helping someone else shifts things. Hearing and seeing the results of helping someone else motivates. This notion has caused many a hero to rise to the top, some under the most excruciating circumstances.

Altruism

The fancy ten-dollar word for this is Altruism. Scientists know that altruism stimulates brains’ pleasure center. Layman’s terms say our bodies physically react positively inside of us, and usually unbeknownst to our cognition, every time we are altruistic. Imagine that. We make our own bodies happier inside by helping out someone else. Crazy right? But does this altruism thing affect OUR culture within THE culture?

OUR culture within THE culture

Covertly, how can we capitalize on that process to make our work environments more positive, balanced, and efficient?  In our case, we join together and remind each other, root for each other and fully support each other. Why? Because we know we are helping someone ‘out there’ in our customer land that none of us actually interact with. We see pictures of customers who have horrific stories of falls, hospitalizations, etc. who are now standing or sitting there with their new-found protection on and they are smiling. Smiling!

Gratefully, they have restored peace of mind and confidence to get up tomorrow and do this life thing another day. Our culture and the members of it, when they see that, are all moved by that very sense of altruism, and our insides become happy for that moment. And we will take more and more and more of those moments. It’s why we show up at work.

Positive impact can be the secret change in a culture

And yes, the pay, the comradery, the work motivates us, but really,  there’s nothing better than seeing that 78-year-old smile as she tells the story of how or product literally saved her life! Or how that Mom of that college student actually has decided to let her stay in the dorms for the first time because even though she’s at risk, she is now protected.

And last but not least, the gratitude in his eyes that no, he will not have to move to a retirement place or assisted living facility today because for now at least, the whole family feels he is safe and sound right at home where he wanted to be all along. There is nothing better, nothing more motivating and nothing more encouraging than knowing those stories.Our culture within the culture thrives on altruism.

What a culture

Finally,  for the health of my staff, for the altruistic motivation of the humans in my sphere of influence and especially for those who don’t even know their life is going to shift today, here’s to realizing, being intentional in, and continuing to create a united culture. We will keep going regardless of what’s happening outside of our own positive moments here in our culture. United in providing independence, safety, and peace to others. What a job. Amazing blessing.
Incredible culture!
Our culture within the culture thrives on altruism

Our culture within the culture thrives on altruism