We all know the saying “a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step,” but how exactly do we start that journey when the destination seems so distant and impossible to reach? When we have an idea of where we want to end, but we can’t see the series of steps necessary to get there. When we have, in Jim Collins’ words, a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) that we want to achieve, but just can’t seem to grasp how to even begin. This is often the start of the journey that many face when seeking to transform the culture of a company.
Culture is both a very simple and extremely complex idea to discuss. The journey to having a culture that is thriving and vibrant can seem elusive, arduous, and even inconceivable. Many see that their company culture just “is what it is,” an inevitable, happenstance outcome that can neither be directed nor influenced.
And yet, most business experts see culture as the biggest barrier
(or the biggest supporter) of success.
Not the second biggest,
or in the top ten,
but the single most important.
So it’s time to stop seeing vibrant culture through the lens of impossibility and time to bravely take our first step. With eyes wide open, mind focused, and heart ready, we begin the journey to transforming our company culture by taking a giant leap and starting exactly where we stand. Yes, that’s right. A complete cultural transformation starts with YOU. YOU, the person reading this right now, the one not satisfied with the tried and true, who yearns to transform a company into a cause, and clearly sees the possibilities that could be. We will not start you on this path with numerous corporate culture data points or long-winded organizational culture definitions,
we instead invite you to take that first step of your cultural transformation through action, by being a contribution.
When we see ourselves as a contribution, not as an achievement or a failure, two important things happen. We acknowledge our important connection to a bigger whole and we transcend whatever scarcity surrounds us to instead live in a world of abundance, where we have something, however large or small, to give. Being a contribution reconnects us with our passionate sense of purpose and our powerful sense of possibility.
Though this journey to being a contribution could start in many directions, we suggest you begin by creating possibility in another’s life. Here’s how:
1. Think of a coworker (one of your employees, a peer, your supervisor, a volunteer, etc.) who you believe epitomizes the vibrant culture you would like to create.
2. Write a letter directly to this person.
3. We have provided a list of things to think about to help you write a letter that comes from your heart, to acknowledge the coworker for who they are and what they do that inspires you:
– Why did you choose them to write about?
– What do you see as their contribution to the company and with your other coworkers?
– What do they do that you would like to emulate in your own work?
– What’s inspirational about them?
4. Within the next week, share this letter with them and watch the effect it has on you and the other person.
5. Request to the person receiving the letter to write their own letter and share it with someone else who then repeats, causing a culture ripple effect that focuses on what is great instead of what is wrong in the company. You might be surprised at what a seemingly simply act of contribution can do to create a vibrant work environment.
So a company’s cultural journey of a thousand miles can begin with YOU taking the first step to being a contribution. We are here to tell you that it is possible to create a vibrant culture, that a company can be turned into a cause, and that you have the capacity to begin this journey of transformation. With eyes wide open, mind focused, and heart ready, we invite you to take the first step and be a contribution … it is the most powerful thing you can do.