Failure, Gratitude, and the Future of Work

Responsive Org newsletter — Sept. 1, 2018

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Last year, at the suggestion of Simon Lowden, President of Global Snacks at PepsiCo, we started a Responsive Mastermind. The Mastermind meets monthly and includes folks from companies such as Chanel, AirBNB, Culture Amp, Zappos, Google, and PepsiCo. During our most recent gathering, we explored two overlapping topics that are increasingly relevant in work (and life) today: failure and gratitude.

Failure is often talked about with a lot of enthusiasm, especially among entrepreneurs, where it is assumed failure is just another learning experience. But we’ve heard, again and again, that while embracing failure might sound nice, it is hard to implement. A good place to start on this topic is the book, Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Fast Can Help You Win.

But sometimes failure isn’t something that we want to celebrate. As we discussed in our Mastermind, gratitude is a tool that you might practice, instead. Take a look at the work of Marty Seligman, the founder of Applied Positive Psychology. A good place to start is his book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. His research demonstrates that gratitude is a learned skill. Even if you aren’t happy about a specific failure, can you find something about the situation to be grateful for?


What We’re Reading

We’ve been longtime fans of the McChrystal Group and their “Team of Teams” approach. Our friends, Jeff Eggers and Stanley McChrystal, have a new book coming out in October, Leaders: Myth and Reality. Another former Navy SEAL, Jocko Willink, has his own book about leadership coming out in September called The Dichotomy of Leadership. We’re excited to read both of these leadership books in quick succession and compare perspectives.

Tristan Harris is the former Director of Ethics at Google. His new project is the Center for Humane Technology. We’ve recently revisited his article, How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind.

Responsive practitioner and speaker, Jennifer Brown, just published this articleon Medium about inclusion and belonging in the non-profit and social sectors. We had both charities, Water and DonorsChoose.org, onstage last year. This is a topic we’re passionate about. It is great to see Jennifer Brown making these conversations even more public via her podcast, The Will to Change. Jennifer is presenting alongside Sparks & Honey at this year’s conference.

We are pleased to share a chapter of Robin Zander’s audiobook, Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization. The full audiobook version of Responsive comes out in late September 2018, but in the meantime, the first chapter is available in podcast form. Here’s an excerpt. Subscribe and listen to The Robin Zander Show for the full chapter!


Responsive Conference 2018

We are 3 weeks out from Responsive Conference 2018 in Queens, NY. Join Us! (This link will give you, as members of Responsive Org, 15% off the Door Price).