A New Psychology for a New Economy: The Benefit Mindset

Every business wants to grow and be successful. But is the pursuit of growth alone actually holding businesses back? In this article we explore how a community of organisations are using psychology to unleash whole person, whole business and whole planet potential.


In what is being called a global movement, a growing community of like-minded organisations are using business as a force for good. Globally, there are now 1700 B-Corporations who are using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Concepts like Conscious Capitalism and the Sharing Economy are flourishing, as are conferences on Purpose and The Future of Work.

At the heart of this movement is a simple question; what does it really mean to be successful in business — and in life?

And their simple answer is: to be a pulse of hope — on purpose.

This inspirational business community is indicative of a new mindset emerging around the world in numerous fields including education and sustainability. Rather than being driven by individual gain, this community is finding there is real value, in being of value — to themselves, to others, to nature and to the future. It is a purpose-driven mindset that is redefining success; from being the best in the world, to being the best for the world. It is the Benefit Mindset.

The Benefit Mindset

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value” — Albert Einstein

Having recently completed the Master of Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne, I studied this emerging mindset. The Benefit Mindset describes society’s everyday leaders who look beyond growth, to promote wellbeing on both an individual and a collective level.

The Benefit Mindset builds on Carol Dweck’s pioneering research, on how beliefs about the nature of intelligence can profoundly shape the lives we lead and the actions we take. This framework takes her Fixed and Growth Mindset to the next level — towards a richer definition of success.

What sets everyday leaders apart from their everyday achieving counterparts is how they aspire to discover their strengths, in order to meaningfully contribute to causes that are greater than the self. They question ‘why’ they do what they do, and believe in making a meaningful difference.

The Benefit Mindset gets to the heart of who we need to be and how we need to relate with others, in order to do what we want to do.

This new psychology is not only showing up in business. It’s particularly evident in the Positive Education movement — schooling that looks beyond academic success to promote whole person flourishing. It can also be seen in new concepts, such as Net Positive, that are redefining success in sustainability, from minimising negative footprints to maximising positive handprints.

Why Everyday Leadership Matters

Everyday leaders use purpose to guide them toward deeply meaningful and valued outcomes.

You may be thinking; why should anyone really care about contributing? What’s in it for me? Well, while there is a common expectation that being a ‘success’ will make you happy — the science of positive psychology is showing this isn’t exactly correct. While success might make you happy in the short term, it doesn’t last. There is always going to be another mountain to climb, and the pursuit of success tends to lock people into a deficit cycle — always pursuing bigger and better successes.

Everyday leaders with a Benefit Mindset take a different approach. They see happiness and accomplishment as a by-product of meaningful contribution — by doing something of great value that is intrinsically motivating. In doing so, they make a fundamental shift from cycles of scarcity, to cycles of abundance, which is at the core of promoting long-term wellbeing and peak performance.

By connecting the dots between individual wellbeing and collective betterment, these purpose-driven businesses empower their people to show up more fully at work. Given that companies with high engagement report 2.5 times the revenue than companies with low engagement, tapping this new psychology makes good business sense.

Being a Pulse of Hope

“My guess is that this new idea [benefit corporations] will turn out to be a winner, that will yield some of our most profitable corporations because of the employee and community support they will inspire.” — Robert Shiller — Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economics

Developing everyday leaders could be one of the best points of leverage we have for liberating human potential — and simultaneously bringing out the best in business and the planet.

Imagine what would be possible if businesses wholeheartedly embraced this mindset? Imagine the ripples of change that would be possible with whole generations living their lives with purpose. Imagine a world where individualism and collectivism flourishes together.

If you’d have any comments you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.