Growing Relationship Capital Is Like Farming

If you believe having tons of money, physical attractiveness, or the accolades of the masses will elevate your life…guess again. A research study by the University of Rochester reveals that advancing on these lines actually makes an individual less happy.

“People understand that it’s important to pursue goals in their lives and they believe that attaining these goals will have positive consequences. This study shows that this is not true for all goals,” says author Edward Deci, professor of psychology and the Gowen Professor in the Social Sciences at the University. “Even though our culture puts a strong emphasis on attaining wealth and fame, pursuing these goals does not contribute to having a satisfying life. The things that make your life happy are growing as an individual, having loving relationships, and contributing to your community,” Deci states.

Using comprehensive psychological examination, the researchers evaluated contributors in core areas, including satisfaction with life, self-esteem, anxiety, physical signs of stress, and the experience of positive and negative emotions.

Desires were categorized as either “intrinsic” or “extrinsic” by asking respondents how much they valued having “deep, enduring relationships” and helping “others improve their lives” (intrinsic goals) versus being “a wealthy person” and achieving “the physical look I’ve been after” (extrinsic goals). Participants also described the extent to which they had achieved these goals. To track progress, the study was conducted twice, one year after graduation and again 12 months later.

“This post-graduation period was selected because it is typically a critical developmental juncture for young adults”, stated lead author Christopher Niemiec, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University. “During this formative period, graduates are no longer in the home or at the university. For the first time, they are in a position to determine for themselves how they want their lives to proceed.”

Commitment To A Goal

As with previous research, the survey confirmed that the more committed a person is to a goal, the greater probability of success. But unlike earlier results, this study revealed that getting what one wants is not always beneficial. “There is a strong tradition in psychology that says if you value goals and attain them, wellness will follow,” says Niemiec. “But these earlier studies did not consider the content of the goals.”

What’s “striking and paradoxical” about these findings, he states, is that it reveals that reaching extrinsic motivators such as money and appearance-related achievements actually plays a part to ill-health. People experience more negative emotions like humiliation and rage as well as more physical manifestations of fear such as “headaches, stomachaches, and loss of energy”.

On the other hand, people who value personal growth, close relationships, community involvement, and physical health are more satisfied as they meet success in those areas. They experience a deeper sense of well-being, more positive feelings toward themselves, richer connections with others, and fewer physical signs of stress.

By contrast, individuals who value or appreciated personal growth, close social relationships, community participation, and physical wellness are more content as they encounter success in those areas. “They experience a deeper sense of well-being, more positive feelings toward themselves, richer connections with others, and fewer physical signs of stress.”

The results of this research underpin the Self-Determination Theory, a well-established theory of human motivation developed by two of the paper’s authors, Deci and fellow University psychologist Richard Ryan. The theory maintains that well-being relies in great measure on satisfying one’s foundational psychological needs for “autonomy, competence, and relatedness”.

Intrinsic motivations make individuals happy because they accomplish these core needs, deduced the researchers. “Intrinsic aspirations seem to be more closely related to the self, to what’s inside the self, rather than to what’s outside the self,” Niemiec explains.

Growing Relationship Capital In Peer to Peer Interactions

If you have been reading my posts, you know I am passionate about encouraging for-profit businesses embrace a new acknowledgment and reward in our digital and social world for their employees, partners, and other key stakeholders in their ecosystem.

The Peer SaaS platform captures and measures kept-commitments & feedback in a peer-to-peer interaction. The objective of the Relationship Capital (RC) process is to build a more engaged & committed culture within a firm and it’s ecosystem of clients, suppliers, and partners.

Peer SaaS “Dashboard”

Peer SaaS: Performance Excellence & Employee Recognition

By accounting for kept-commitments and perceptions you can better manage this intangible asset that is critical to the success of high-performing businesses. Each employee, partner, supplier and/or client that participates in the Relationship Capital Interaction process registers for a Relationship Capital Account or RCA by which RC is credited or debited.

1) Commitments:

You negotiate and make a commitment or suite of commitments to another person and as those commitments are fulfilled, your account is credited with a Relationship Capital Point or “RCP”.

2) Feedback:

After you submit your commitment as completed, your peer who requested it will provide their feedback to a questions or series of questions scaled from 1 to 5 Stars.

Peer SaaS “Commitment Feedback” Scoring

Reaping The Rewards Of Relationship Capital (RC)

Effective business leaders know how to plant relationship capital seeds that will yield long-term value to all stakeholders. They are disciplined in the caring, nurturing, and harvesting the Relationship Capital (RC) earned with these relationships.

Establishing long-term meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships the product of old-fashioned hard work. Instead of living quarter-to-quarter and robbing shareholders of the long-term benefits that effective innovation truly requires, relationship capital leaders lead and build trust through kept-commitments day to day, month to month, and year to year by making deposits in their RC accounts that can be utilized to attract the right clients & customers, employees, and partners that creates a sustainable and profitable ecosystem.

At the beginning of the 21st Century, the Internet began to connect everyone to everything. Information that was once only the available to richest in our society is now available to everyone. Intangible elements such as innovation, communications, knowledge sharing, and social relationships are critical to sustainable long-term operating performance. The industry standard for the capture and measurement of Relationship Capital (RC) shines the light on this critical asset that has not been accounted for very clearly on the financial balance sheet. Business leaders can now assess, capture, and account for the quality of social relationships with all their stakeholders.


Striving for wealth and praise does very little to fulfill these intense human needs and thus, it will not create business cultures of greater purpose, risk-taking, and innovation. Employees are starving for purpose and social recognition from their firms. Growing Relationship Capital (RC) and its benefit to individuals and for-profit company’s may be that it is both an intrinsic and extrinsic motivator that rewards commitment in our hyperconnected, transparent, and morally interdependent world. And isn’t this what we need in our organizations marked by low employee engagement? Its time to plant and nurture more seeds of commitment and recognition that yield the fruits of greater risk-taking, innovation, and financial performance.

What do you think?


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