What does the word “thrive” mean to you? On one level, it seems self-evident — to thrive is to prosper, to succeed, or to make steady progress.
But what criteria do you use to measure whether or not you’re thriving? How do you judge your prosperity, success or progress?
If you ask anyone what it means to thrive in business, or if you ask them what success and prosperity look like, you will usually find that their answers focus at least in part on money, power, and prestige. For many entrepreneurs, the measure of thriving is too often reduced to the acquisition of money and power. It can be measured in numbers: more land, trophies, profits, or employees. It can even be measured by shinier pickups and bigger machinery.
But this limited view of thriving comes with a price. Of course, good numbers are an important part of a thriving business — but that definition seems clearly insufficient. Maybe it could even be the reason you don’t feel like you’re thriving.
As Arianna Huffington, author of Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, said in a Forbes interview, “Over time our society’s notion of success has been reduced to money and power… This idea of success can work — or appear to work — (only) in short term.”
So what’s a better definition?
Let’s start by recognizing that not being sick doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Making money or acquiring land doesn’t mean you’ve created a thriving business. Then, let’s look at other metrics:
- Do your business practices contribute to your employees’ well-being?
- Does your work environment encourage more collaboration than competition?
- Are your business practices ethical?
- Do your business decisions cause more good than harm to the environment?
- Are your employees as happy to show up in the morning as they are to leave at the end of the day?
- Do you talk with your employees, and are they happy to talk to you?
- Are you more respected than feared?
- Do your goals centre around a bigger purpose than making you or your associates rich?
As I’ve met my clients and heard their stories, I’ve come to realize alongside them that a thriving business is about connection, mission and purpose. It is also about compassion and forgiveness. These concepts, which don’t appear in management courses at university, are critical for developing a healthy business.
Then, once we develop a thriving business, what about a thriving life? Can we have one without the other? Usually not.
In almost 20 years, I have seen hundreds of family farms that, with the help of marketing experts, have developed successful businesses without ever consciously trying to cultivate the ideal of “thriving.” After years of trying to replicate in their personal lives the success they’ve found in their businesses, they’re now asking how they can thrive in life.
Here again, we find that a thriving life is about more than not being sick. It is more than not having cancer or suffering from depression or addiction.
So what does it mean to thrive in life?
Thriving is knowing that you contribute positively to your family, your business, and your community. It is knowing that, at the end of the day, you will have added something to another’s life.
It is being clear about your values and acting accordingly.
It is accepting life when you can’t change it and acting with courage when you fear the situation.
It is having someone with whom you can honestly speak about your fears, your joys and your hopes.
It involves wisdom, bringing purpose and compassion into your life.
It is about forgiveness.
It is about personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance.
In short, we could say it is to feel you are becoming the best you can become, a little more every day.
So why should you care about a thriving business and a thriving life? Numerous studies show a high correlation between the psychological health of employees and the company’s bottom line.
As a leader, you participate in others’ lives. A true leader will also help others develop or maintain a thriving life. Entrepreneurs are a little like parents. People look at you, and whether you like it or not, you wield monumental influence.