"It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life -- daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual." [Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning]
Life is meaningful, yet the meaning is different for each person and it changes more often than one might think. Recognizing that life is meaningful is important for a successful navigation on the road to happiness.
People's ultimate quest is to the fulfillment of their personal version of what success looks like. Part of that conversation revolves around where people spend their time -- that's why culture is such an important part of work.
They call it the soft stuff, the touchy-feeling thing that at best gets a summer picnic and a holiday party in the winter. While it's great to have opportunities to come together in informal settings and celebrate, culture is so much more than that. If we take a look at the definition on Wikipedia (emphasis mine):
Culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning "to cultivate,") generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance and importance. Different definitions of "culture" reflect different theoretical bases for understanding, or criteria for evaluating, human activity.
Anthropologists understand "culture" to refer not only to consumption goods, but to the general processes which produce such goods and give them meaning, and to the social relationships and practices in which such objects and processes become embedded. For them, culture thus includes technology, art, science, as well as moral systems.
We spend a lot of time at work, some spend a lot of time creating new ways of working that affect social changes. A company's culture matters to its bottom line -- whether people have a way of employing skills, talent, technology and processes to advance ideas in products and services and can use values as a compass to gage direction is vital to the health of a business. Mike Wagner calls it Own Your Brand!
The interesting discussion on the Web 2.0 World being skunk drunk on its own kool-aid launched this week by Steve Rubel has inspired many comments from people to define and find meaning of actions with words. One comment by Evelyn Rodriguez really struck a chord with me:
About 18 months ago, it seemed to be a pivotal point here. Historically I thought it was like Florence maybe before the Renaissance. After a while you have so much wealth and so many riches from wool trade and the new world of banking finance, that they started applying that wealth towards the beautification of the city spreading the abundance into artistic, spiritual, and cultural endeavors too. However, as the economy (particularly Web 2.0 / VC-driven) kept getting better over the last 18 months that is not at all what happened here -- it seems rather that those with the cash use their wealth to pour it back into other startup ventures -- either their own, or as an angel.
To those who think that culture is the soft stuff, that culture can be dealt with if there is any time left over I say -- boo-ho. Culture matters a great deal. This whole conversation on social media is not about new shiny tools, it's actually about how we find meaning within new dynamics for relationships, connections, friendships, and markets, even the news cycles -- globally. The catalyst that allows so many people to start their own business today is technology; the reason is meaning. They are busy leaving behind bureaucracies that do not serve the people they were created to assist right when and where they need assistance.
"Everything can be taken from a man but ...the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." [Viktor Frankl]