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The search for meaning

I have not met anyone from Small Giants, but it is an impressive outfit! I was looking at their website the other day and noticed a clip of Victor Frankel. I haven’t met him either, but what he has to say about flying and meaning is also impressive.

In his speech Victor likens our lives as humans to flying a plane in a cross wind. He talks about flying a plane from A (west) to B (east). Imagine that C is north of the planned landing point and D is south of that landing point. If you are flying into a northerly cross wind you need to aim for C – higher than your destination – because if you don’t you will end up down south at D and miss your destination all together.

The basic message is that if you don’t combat the cross winds and aim higher, you’ll end up much further south of your intended destination.

We all have a goal, a destination we want to arrive at. Victor Frankel suggests that in the daily journey from A to B, especially in affluent western society, we are more often than not being brought down by a cross wind of ‘meaninglessness’.

When I read the tabloids, watch morning TV in the gym and look at the repeated advertising messages about where I am meant to find ‘meaning’, I think Victor may be onto something!

And if you follow the train of thought from Victor you realise that when we don’t adjust our worldview and ambitions to counter the cross wind of ‘meaninglessness’, we end up way down south from our original ambition.

Does this explain why so much research about ‘happiness’ and ‘wellness’ in the western world finds that despite all we have, so many people live their lives in a state of dreary unhappiness – where material gain provides only temporary relief?

As it is for individuals so I think it can be argued it is for organisations. We’ve all been within a workplace where one or two or many of our colleagues are ‘nay-sayers’. They want to keep the destination of the workplace firmly aimed at point D! They resist change and innovation. Their commitment to achieving the goals of the company is about simply sitting in the one place for as long as they can doing as little as they can – except when they want to generate office gossip!

And then there are those who want to arrive at their destination by flying above the cross winds of meaningless in order to provide meaningful outcomes for customers and clients and make a real contribution to the wellness of the world in which they live.

Small Giants looks like they are flying well and truly towards this destination. And there are many others on this journey as well.

Celebration of each other’s success in this journey will enhance collaboration and generate more energy to fly above the cross wind of ‘meaninglessness’ and create better spaces and places for all of us.

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