John Styffe

John Styffe

Business consultant, coach and trainer, Focus Fitness, Switzerland

Self Sustainability in the work place

Self sustainability is a state of mind where one takes ownership of their ability to survive, exist, grow, develop and prosper be it as a corporate employee or as a business owner. In the work place this state of mind can be considered as intrapreneurial where as in the world of business it is looked upon as entrepreneurial. In this state one becomes aware that their own existence and longevity and possibly the organization rests upon themselves.

In most organizations, employees are dependent and have been encouraged to be so. Independence has actually been discouraged and often is seen as a threat to the power structure. Today, there are many new organizations, that are encouraging a self sustainable state of mind. The result has been growth where the others are experiencing the opposite. People can find their success in the ability to encourage and support others to find their self sustainability. In this self sustainable state of mind one looks upon themselves as a valuable resource that needs to be treated with respect and care. In the old way, one pushed themselves beyond their natural capabilities to achieve unattainable goals ending up with poor performance and low productivity and in increasing cases of burnout or in extreme cases even heart attack.

A key element is the ability to recognize when there is a need for change and resilience. Most are “unaware” and do not recognize the signals or the messages. Technology can help bring to our attention and awareness those things that may be limiting and affecting performance and productivity. Once we become aware of these messages, we learn how to respond effectively and efficiently. In the Agile movement a key aspect is the ability to reflect or retrospection. A person who is self sustainable has the ability for “constructive” retrospection which gives them the ability to see the bigger picture.

Another key ability of self sustainability is having clarity and focus. Peopl often have to deal with many distractions. If self sustainability is practice a person will be able to maintain clarity and focus and not be affected by the distractions. An important aspect of this model is that management needs to be in a self sustainable state in order to encourage another to be self sustainable. In a self sustainable state one is self confident and is not threatened by another’s good fortune and can encourage others in their growth and development. This model does not mean that there are no guidelines. A self sustainable person recognizes and welcomes the need for guidelines as they are aware of their imperfections and limitations. Unfortunately as one manager replied “I know what I need to do; I just do not do it”. This is where guides(management) can assist people in a supportive and encouraging manner. Actually, in my opinion, there needs to be a reevaluation of much of the language in management. As an example the use of the word “management” entails the state of control. A new word could be a steward.

In a self sustaining organization individual issues or problems are not seen as weaknesses or something that is broken that needs fixing but rather something that needs improvement. Issues or problems are not ignored or avoided.

A self sustainable individual has the ability to recognize issues that can affect productivity and performance and hinder growth and development. A self sustainable person welcomes honest and encouraging evaluation. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man (person) can sincerely try to help another without helping himself (themselves)." The objective to self sustainability is that once a person becomes self sustainable they can fully commit and contribute to the business community around them.

Management itself needs to become self sustainable so that they can encourage, support and guide others in the community, in their self sustainability. Managers need not fear that they will lose their jobs as people become more self sustainable. It can be quite the opposite as there will be a need for the managers to guide and support people in their self sustainability. In addition there will be a need for the managers to guide the employees in pursuit of their self sustainability and that of the community. Important tools in this process is measurability, evaluation and objective feedback.

Self sustainable business people will have the ability to respond appropriately to each side and encourage each side in their self sustainability. An important skill is the ability to interact with each side and not become isolated. As a person becomes self sustainable they increase their interaction. As the process develops, a business community then becomes sustainable. A community that is sustainable recognizes the need to focus on the needs of the customer because without the customer the organization is no longer sustainable. Self sustainability is a skill/ability that can be acquired by all. All that is required is the desire and motivation to do whatever it takes to become self sustainable.

In conclusion, business needs to encourage and support the members of their community to become self sustainable thus ensuring the sustainability of the organization itself. In the Agile community the individual is an important aspect.

Presentation to download: PDF (247 kB)

About John Styffe

John is a Canadian living in Switzerland. In 1998, John flew to New Orleans to take his first intensive neurofeedback course. John returned to Switzerland to practice as a neurofeedback trainer and coach. As a result of the success of this training, John enthusiastically took many courses and workshops throughout the America and Europe and he created the first neurofeedback association of Switzerland with the idea of making neurofeedback accessible to more people so that they would be able to experience the benefits of the training. In the fall of 2008, John and his partner established the HeartSmart Center. They will continue the work with the HeartSmart® program that they developed together. John works as business consultant – pilot project for Google, coach and trainer for banking owners, business executives and entrepreneurs and is occasionally held public speeches. John is active participant in “The Stoos Gathering to Transform Management”.

Workshop: Self-Sustainability in Business in Program section