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Detox Your Culture, Detox Your Life

Decorated pickle jars from The Pickle Challenge for Charity
at Shenandoah Medical Center in Shenandoah, IA
Consider these two facts.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement recently published a white paper on the importance of joy in the workplace (you can download it here). The report said:

Joy in work – or the lack there of – not only impacts individual staff engagement and satisfaction, but also patient experience, quality of care, patient safety, and organizational performance.

IHI is telling us that creating joy is not just a frivolity, it is a leadership responsibility.

The Oxford Dictionary chose “toxic” as their word of the year for 2018. Two of the words most often found in conjunction with toxic were culture and relationships (you can view the 2-minute video announcement here). We see this reflected in the increasing prevalence of such terms as bullying, incivility, burnout, compassion fatigue, and even stress-induced suicide in the leadership literature.

Now, let me point out that joy cannot exist in a toxic workplace culture. Furthermore, a toxic culture will inevitably lead to toxic relationships, which in turn reinforces the toxic culture.

One of the guiding principles behind our work at Values Coach is that culture does not change unless and until people change; from that, it follows that culture changes one person, one attitude at a time.

The converse of that is also true: people are changed, for better or worse, by the culture of the organization where they work. A toxic culture will inevitably cause harm to heart and soul. It is therefore a leadership obligation to purge toxic emotional negativity from the workplace.

This is one of the reasons why The Pickle Pledge and The Pickle Challenge are so valuable.

With The Pickle Pledge (below) people promise themselves and their coworkers to stop complaining about problems and instead seed to find solutions. For many people, this has been a life-altering change of perspective. I am one of them.

With The Pickle Challenge people within an organization make the commitment to turn every complaint into a 25-cent donation to the charity selected by their people. To date, 42 organizations have raised nearly $80,000 for charitable causes – and that’s just the ones that have reported their results to us.

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t learn about another organization having undertaken this fun and lighthearted approach to eliminating toxic emotional negativity. I learned that Shenandoah Medical Center had taken The Challenge when we received pictures of their decorated pickle jars, including those included above.

There are few guarantees in life, but I will give you two of them.

Guarantee #1: If you make a personal commitment to The Pickle Pledge you will be happier, more likeable, and ultimately more successful. In the short run, though, you might lose some “friends” if you define friends as people who hang around venting and commiserating (co-miserate = be miserable together).

Guarantee #2: If the people where you work make a collective commitment to turn every complaint into a blessing and a 25-cent donation to the charity you choose, your workplace will quickly become a place where joy can flourish as people become aware of just how negative their attitudes have been and how liberating it is to actually have conversations that really matter instead of just whining about the complaint of the day.

Thanksgiving week is a great time for you to give this a try. It does not cost a dime (except for the quarters donated to your charitable cause) and you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

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