Does culture play a role in both our personal and professional lives? Recently, the Dimensional Insight Book Club discussed the importance of positive culture within organizations after reading The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle. However, can one build, develop, and promote good culture outside the office?
My husband and I recently took a summer vacation to a family resort in Poland, Maine. Throughout the week, we enjoyed walks, food, and even meeting and interacting with a fascinating stranger. I didn’t realize the impact this stranger would have on my vacation, where I gained a bonus life lesson about promoting positivity and living one’s life to the fullest, no matter what age.
Upon our arrival to the family resort, my husband and I had a long wait to check-in and sitting across from us was a man, small in stature with a big smile. His name was Harry. My husband has this uncanny percentage of knowing someone related to a stranger (six degrees of separation). And, this was the case with Harry. My husband knew the VP of Sales at Harry’s former company.
As they conversed, I realized that my husband’s acquaintance, the VP of Sales, was well in his seventies. Meanwhile, Harry was referring to him as his “all-American boy hire.” Looking at Harry, I would have assumed that he was also in his early seventies. So, I had to ask, “Harry, how old are you?” He replied, “I’m 88.” Soon after, a very attractive older woman walked up to Harry, and they kissed. Harry introduced her as his lovely lady, who had been in his life for the last 18 years. She is 16 years his junior.
Harry had worked for NASA on Apollo 12, later founded two very successful companies, and was now enjoying retirement. Truly enjoying retirement. The quality of retirement life we all hope for. As he talked, I was fascinated by Harry because he was immensely joyful.
Promoting positivity in our circles
My husband and I continued to engage with Harry throughout our week-long vacation. During early mornings, we would see Harry eating breakfast and then head off to play golf. In the evenings, Harry would be playing pool, taking brisk walks, drinking wine, laughing, hugging, and dancing with his lovely lady.
At some point, I asked Harry, “what is your secret to aging?” He said the key is 20 push-ups a day and always try to have a good time. But I knew Harry wasn’t just having a good time because he was on vacation. It’s his life culture – he values love, friendship, and his good fortune to have the ability to be active. His decision to live this way sustains him and keeps him vital. His positivity is his secret sauce, which attracted us to him, and also an example of how to live life.
I recently read a New York Times article, which emphasized the importance of being surrounded by the company we keep. Our social networks and relationships can impact and influence our overall happiness. I think about the impact of my relationships inside and outside the office. Inside the office, I work with an incredible marketing staff who inspires me to work hard, form positive bonds, and makes me happy to come to work every day. Outside the office, I also think about the positive relationships in my life, one of them being the relationship with my husband.
So, how do we work to promote a positive culture and environment? One can take steps by enabling positive social bonds inside and outside the office. At work, we can emphasize teamwork and work with people who work towards a common goal. One’s team can inspire everyone to “work smarter not harder” and inspire everyone to achieve goals. Outside the office, we can surround ourselves with positive relationships and extend our social networks to include those who impact our happiness.
Takeaways: how to live life to the fullest
People tend to think that the good times that Harry was having are the experiences of our youth. However, age isn’t a factor to having good times; it’s rather an attitude. Just like a positive attitude can inspire employees to conduct their best work, a positive attitude will enable you to bring out the best in you.
Who would have known that one of the takeaways from a summer vacation with my husband would have been some bonus life lessons? Meeting Harry was one of the most memorable parts of my vacation. He reminded me that I should never be afraid to grow old, and also not to let my age be a reason for not truly living. Other big takeaways were: stay active, have fun, and talk to a stranger (senior) who may inspire you just as Harry did for me.
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