For more than 50 years, Gallup scientists have been exploring the “demands of a life well lived.” More recently, they conducted a global study involving more than 150 countries that together represent 98 percent of the world’s population. In partnership with leading economists, psychologists, sociologists and physicians, they identified five essential elements of “wellbeing” that cut across national boundaries and cultural lines. They include: career, financial, physical, social, and community wellbeing.
Unlike programs traditionally used in business, which tend to focus solely on business goals, our employees take part in the Summit Challenge which includes both personal and professional goals. It reinforces our organizational culture, which is built on the principles of balance, excellence, service and truth. What’s more, it is based on the reality – well‐documented in research but too often ignored in practice – that success in life is good for business.
A Challenge to Succeed – in Business and in Life
Now entering its third year, the “Summit” is designed to promote a balanced life. The process of setting goals begins in October and culminates in December, when our organization meets for a day of goal planning. Our employees establish seven personal goals and seven professional goals for the upcoming year with the help of a “life coach” from a consulting firm hired to facilitate the program. Far from being a distraction or a competing priority, participants have found that setting and working toward personal goals actually helps them in business.
“This year has been extremely exciting and difficult at the same time,” said Summit participant, Jamie Sharples. “The exciting part has been the birth of our twin boys back in July when our little girl was only 18 months old. This has made it very difficult to function well in all capacities. I can’t say that I will be able to accomplish all my personal or business goals for 2010, but I will still have the very best year in business that I have ever achieved. Just the fact that I have a written plan for my personal life and my business has helped me reach a level of balance that I would have never attained.”
The Path to the Summit
Each Summit participant receives an initial consultation to ensure that their goals are measurable, achievable and meet the Summit criteria. Program components, which vary by participant, include monthly meetings, study groups and optional one‐on‐one coaching with the consultants, to help each person “reach the Summit.” Because the “whole person” concept is at the very heart of the Summit.
There is no distinction between personal and professional goals. Each are equally emphasized and valued in individual sessions with life coaches, in group discussions and in rewards.
Summit participant Keith Rollins balances business goals with physical fitness and family. Now running the equivalent of a half‐marathon every week, he has lost 35 pounds in the past year. In addition to their regular exercise routine, he and his wife have competed together in several half marathon races. A hard worker who struggles to achieve his leisure goals, Mr. Rollins and his family now combines business trips with week‐long vacations.
Participants who are on track to achieve both sets of their Summit goals receive quarterly recognition and rewards. The program culminates in a final reward given to those who reach at least five of their seven professional goals and at least five of their seven personal goals. However, participants are finding that the ultimate reward is the tremendous personal enrichment and professional growth they experience simply by participating. “The greatness of the Summit is that I work in a culture that helps me with balance in all areas of life,” said Mr. Sharples. “The Summit Challenge is like a map that helps me stay in the right direction throughout the entire year. When I get off track, consistently looking at my 2010 Summit Plan reminds me of areas where I need to improve or continue striving to reach.”
Jeff Reeter believes in a balanced life. Mr. Reeter is the Managing Partner of The Texas Financial Group, Houston – Austin – San Antonio for Northwestern Mutual. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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