What makes for a good and happy life? A 75 year-old study from the Harvard Study of Adult Development suggests that a good life comes from creating and maintaining high quality relationships.
Creating and maintaining good quality relationships is, as per Robert Waldinger says, the common element that contributes to the happiness of the subjects who participated in the study. Wealth, standard of living and success apparently play a minor and ephemeral role in a good and happy life.
In his TED talk, the fourth director of the 75 year old study, exposes the facts and findings behind the study. He quotes three lessons learned from the data:
“The first is that social connections are really good for us, and that loneliness kills.”
“…the second big lesson that we learned is that it's not just the number of friends you have, and it's not whether or not you're in a committed relationship, but it's the quality of your close relationships that matters.”
“And the third big lesson that we learned about relationships and our health is that good relationships don't just protect our bodies, they protect our brains.”
Creating relationships is more accessible than it has ever been, thanks to help of social networking tools such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc… However, as the study suggests, it’s the quality of the relationship that brings happiness, not the quantity. So regardless of how much publicity or visibility you are getting from marketing it all boils down to the quality of the relationship you are creating that is driving your company’s success.
Maintaining quality relationships may seem like an impossible challenge for a company that has hundreds, thousands and perhaps millions of clients. For startups the task can seem even more daunting. Established companies can rely on different scopes of relationships with their clients - client to product, client to staff and client to company. Startups struggle to create and maintain client relationships as they cannot rely on these different scopes of relationships.
So what can startups rely on to create and maintain these relationships?
Consider Simon Sinek’s theory: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
I believe this to be inherently true. People are much more willing to become a client if they build a relationship with why a company is doing something. Champions like Jobs and Musk have built their fortunes from creating relationships between people and the why or purpose of their company. Enter the client - purpose relationship.
While all scopes of relationships are important client - purpose relationships have proven to be an essential pillar of business development. Hence, investing in creating and nurturing a company’s purpose may just provide the best return on investment.
Nurture The Purpose
Relationships are like everything else in life, they come to life, they grow, they change and some of them die and they need nurturing to flourish and grow stronger. This and many more benefits is what happens when client - purpose relationships are created and nurtured:
- Clients relate to the company’s purpose and grow closer to it.
- Clients tend to talk about and promote the company and product.
- Employees engage and align their work with the purpose.
- Innovation thrives as it is speared and encouraged by the purpose.
- Administrative decisions become straightforward (though no always easy to take).
Companies, like people, sometimes stop nurturing their purpose and lose site of why they are doing something. This results in a decline of engagement of the employees and even the founders. The company then struggles to innovate, be productive and soon finds itself struggling on the path of survival.
Being aware of whether the purpose is being nurtured or not can greatly help a company avoid losing it’s way. How to go about it?
- Challenge decisions that seem easy to take. Nurturing purpose can be difficult an ask that counter-intuitive decisions be taken.
- Ask whether decisions and actions are based on purpose or fear.
- Question the purpose from time to time.
- Make the purpose live through your own actions and decisions in life.