building a solid foundation for high profitability
The definition of success is changing. It's no longer measured in dollars alone. Success is beginning to be better understood as an alignment between life and livelihood, between monetary gain and an abundance of joy, vitality and good relationships.
It is important to reach professional benchmarks and organizational goals. However, there's a "softer," more difficult to measure, side to success. Study after study is showing that when employees are fulfilled, they work more productively to increase the bottom line. When they aren't fulfilled, they lose time, attention, dedication, cooperation, and morale and that hurts profits.
In earning my doctorate in the Reinvention of Work and in literally searching the world for keys to success, I've discovered that the combination of today's thought leadership with the ancient Taoist concepts of yin and yang helps my readers, audiences and clients achieve the balance between striving for excellence, profitability and productivity (yang) and increasing creativity, satisfaction and vitality (yin) in the workplace.
For thousands of years, Taoists have taught that the physical world is a constant swing between yin and yang and that it's important to seek balance between the two. But, there is no such thing as absolute yin or yang. There is always a little yin in the yang and vice versa. That's why the yin/yang symbol has a dark circle in the light area and a light circle in the dark one. And while balance between the two is an ideal, it's literally impossible.
You'd die if your body hit pinpoint homeostasis. Breathe in, you're more yin; breathe out, more yang. Yin and yang are dynamic, relativistic terms: you might be more yin (kinder, gentler) than your boss but more yang (goal and fact oriented) than your friend. Even at rest, a yin state, our hearts and lungs are pumping, a yang activity. Men are generally considered more yang, women more yin. But I like the terms specifically because they transcend gender to help us distinguish qualities.
While there is no absolute balance point, the healthiest professionals and the strongest cultures develop equanimity between yin and yang, allowing the proverbial pendulum to swing both ways. That means balancing movement and rest, feminine and masculine, goals and feelings, dignity and productivity, creativity and data, work and play. Accordingly, my work is in helping clients best leverage the yin and the yang in order to bring forward the most universal solutions possible.
On a macro level, we've been in a millennia-old yang-ward spiral that's characterized by predominantly male religious and political leaders, rampant militarism, and a profit-at-any cost mentality that's produced a poisoned planet, starving children, and pervasive violence that commands an unprecedented percentage of our resources. The extreme yang-ized model of "prosperity" has set new benchmarks on the scale of economic failure.
We have yang-itis! Taoist philosophy might say we suffer from a yin deficiency. Just like we need positive and negative charges to create matter, and just like batteries need positive and negative poles in order to spark, and just like we need day to turn to night, we can't reach our professional potential if we don't bring equanimity between yin and yang values.
For example, for the first time in history we are capable of declaring that all kids eat and go to bed safe and warm - a yin value. Instead, we pay for weaponry and multimillion dollar executive bonuses that perpetuate the yang imbalance that keeps hungry kids in their place. On the same token, we know that values-driven workplaces are more sustainably successful, yet we still rely on outdated profit-at-any-cost methods of leadership.
We need more women at more tables because they naturally engender yin qualities. In building more equanamous yin values into workplace and civic cultures, men will also be freed for more authentic whole-self expression, which studies show to be an important factor in retention, satisfaction, innovation and productivity.
Coaching question: What's a balanced defninition of success to you? Do you need to make corrections for "yang-itis?" Is it time to "yin out" by developing relationships, being creative, visioning...?