PERMA and the Positive Business

PERMA and the Positive Business

[From the Archive: Originally posted at Nov 5, 2011]

In his great, recent book “Flourish“, Prof Martin Seligman introduces the idea of “Positive Business” – an idea aimed at “broadening what MBAs care about” – i.e. beyond mere money, towards the five different pursuits which he posits comprehensively constitutes “well-being” (and for which he uses the acronym PERMA):

  • Positive emotion
  • Engagement
  • positive Relationships
  • Meaning
  • positive Accomplishment

Upon reading this, it immediately struck a chord with me, surfacing some subconscious thoughts I had been accumulating whilst reading his book up to that point. For me, Rightshifting is inseparable from the idea of creating workplaces where well-being (of employees, for sure, but also of all other stakeholders) is at the core of the work experience. As Prof Seligman states:

”If you want well-being, you will not get it if you care only about accomplishment [e.g. profit]. If we want our [Management] students to flourish, we must teach that the positive business and the individuals therein must cultivate meaning, engagement, positive emotion, and positive relations – as well as tending to profit.”

Aside: John Kay in his book “Obliquity” goes even further, positing that accomplishment, such as profit, desirable as it is, often best comes about obliquely – as a fortuitous by-product of the search for other things.

Prof. Seligman goes on to write (paraphrasing): “Even if rich profits and growth are not forthcoming, individual and collective well-being may well remain stable, or even rise, on balance.”

Quoting Friedrich Nietzche’s concept of “The Child Reborn” he then asks:

“To what can we say ‘yes’? What can every human being affirm? We can all say ‘yes’ to more positive emotion; we can all say ‘yes’ to more engagement; we can all say ‘yes’ to better relationships; we can all say ‘yes’ to more meaning in life and we can all say ‘yes’ to more positive accomplishments. In short, we can all say ‘yes’ to more well- being.”

Amen to that.

+1 for Flourishing.

+1 for the Positive Business.

– Bob

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