Cultivating Culture: What’s Growing on You? by Michael York

Michael YorkCreate an AMAZING CULTURE wherever you are. Someone is waiting to join you. Welcome to the PEOPLE business. We may talk about companies and organizations and tribes and groups but at the center of all these are individuals. People interacting and shaping and being shaped by other people in a manner that is acceptable by many/most in the group. Look up the definition of CULTURE. I know you THINK you already know what it means, but look it up anyway for bonus coverage.

Culture GROWS. It’s actually ALIVE. Ever hear of a CULTURE dish?

It’s how labs and hospitals and scientists capture and study LIVING THINGS. How about the kind of appreciation of the arts and theater and music that is described as CULTURE? My first recollection of the word CULTURE was on a buttermilk carton. Right CULTURED buttermilk (which goes great with cornbread by the way). NULL

There are actually several meanings and in our case there are multiple meanings even behind the definition we’re focusing on here. Culture can be created quickly or slowly. It can be degrading or redeeming.

When we talk about COMPANIES or ORGANIZATIONS being good or bad, what we’re largely referring to are the PEOPLE and the CULTURE within those companies or organizations.

What’s acceptable and what is not tolerated. What the goals or visions or missions are that drive individuals to perform for those organizations. How those individuals are incented or compensated or rewarded is critical yes, but things like peer pressure and peer recognition and protecting the status quo are also at work. The Power of Association Here is the chain of events that is set off by CULTURE and the people you interact with on a regular basis:

Where you GO determines who you MEET. Who you MEET determines how you THINK. How you THINK determines what you DO. And what you DO (daily) determines what you BECOME!

What are you BECOMING as a result of the individuals around you? What do you see in the PEOPLE of an organization? In the LEADERSHIP and the individual leaders who are a part of the LEADING EDGE of the group? Because that is what will be shaping to a great degree, the FOLLOWERS in that culture that is continually being created and re-created. Culture is not STATIC. I’ll say it again, it’s ALIVE. It is continually adjusting and evolving to the people who affect it or are affected by it. Some companies look at the CEO or FOUNDER and the values of that individual and relate it to the CULTURE of the entire organization. Not true. There are always “front-line” on-the-ground “pack leaders” who are shaping the day-to-day CULTURE of both new and existing members of the group. They are prepared to control the culture that exists (in their favor, often by any means necessary) by affecting the thinking and behavior of those entering into the group.

By the definition we’re exploring here, Webster calls CULTUREthe behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group.

Then there will eventually arise a COUNTER CULTURE or a challenge to the STATUS QUO or the old ways of doing things. Successful or not it will attract followers and maybe even leaders who buy into the message and vision of the NEW CULTURE for the FUTURE. When Herb Kellaher, CEO of Southwest Airlines in its heyday, was asked over and over why his airline was so successful when so many others were not, he almost always talked about the CULTURE they were CREATING there. It was loose and fun and PEOPLE enjoyed being a part of it. The PEER PRESSURE was very positive. Have fun, fly Southwest!

Are people having FUN in your culture? Are they JUST having fun? What are they BECOMING? Is it something that you’d like to see YOURSELF BECOMING?

I remember when I first heard Mr. Rohn say, “Don’t ask what you’re MAKING (how much), be more concerned with WHAT YOU ARE BECOMING!” Know anyone who’s “making money” but the more you see who and how they are you realize you do not want to be LIKE THEM? That’s BECOMING and you get to choose. Fundamentals and philosophy matter, but sadly today too often POPULARITY matters more. Be on guard for POPULAR THINKING and “conventional” wisdom (usually not much wisdom in there at all). Popular culture is basically thinking/things that the majority of people are into, aware of, or find acceptable. This is often referred to as “Pop Culture.” Popular culture can be anything from movies or music to marketing or advertising slogans. It can become a FAD that fades, or an enduring symbol that generations will refer to from now on. POPULAR culture is shaped by POPULAR THINKING and POPULAR BELIEFS at any given time. This is why LEADERSHIP is so critical. Because there will always come a time when decisions must be made that are NOT POPULAR. This can create that counter-culture movement where others also feel or think or believe in something OTHER THAN THAT WHICH IS POPULAR. And a new culture is created. Sometimes people leave the old ways, the old culture, yep they even leave old companies. What does this all mean? It means simply BE ON GUARD! Pay attention to what’s going on around you. What’s POPULAR and ACCEPTABLE? Everyone is excited when someone JOINS, but ask yourself this one… How does the CULTURE respond when someone LEAVES the group or organization? Are they wished well? Thanked for their contribution to the team? Given a warm send off and all carry the relationships and friendships forward into the future? No…?

What kind of CULTURE are YOU CREATING? And what kind of CULTURE is shaping your thinking, actions, and philosophy for your future?

Choose wisely. Ask better questions. Pay attention to what YOU ARE BECOMING. Create an AMAZING CULTURE wherever you are. Someone is waiting to join you. To Your Uncommon Success, Michael


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