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The Flourishing Triangle

<v ->My name is Jane Dutton.</v> I’m on the faculty of the Ross School of Business, in the management in organizations area. And I’m also Co-Founder of the Center for Positive Organizations. And it’s my opportunity to tell you about the flourishing triangle, and why it’s so helpful in helping us to think about how to thrive in the current conditions. Flourishing triangle is a framework that gets us oriented towards thinking about systematically, three different conditions that foster human and collective thriving. We know that we’re thriving when when we’re in a state of optimal functioning, and we’re engaged we’re commitment committed, we’re feeling vital. We’re doing all those things that that you experience when you’re in sort of your maximal or optimal state.
Now, the flourishing triangle as a framework, orient us towards three different conditions or buckets of contributors to human and collective thriving. The first is positive emotions. So positive emotions are subjective, pleasant feelings that we have at a particular point in time. So they might include things like joy, or gratitude or serenity, pride, or awe. A second side of the triangle, a second set of conditions that are so important to human and collective thriving, are what we call positive connections, or high quality connections. Those are moments of interaction so they can be really small, in which we feel deeply alive.
So we feel at the moment when we’re interacting either virtually, or really interacting, we feel a sense of vitality, a sense of positive regard, so the way that we’re experiencing each other and mutuality. And mutuality just says that in the moment, we feel like either one of us could participate in the connection. So the second part of the flourishing get triangle gets us oriented towards looking at human interrelating. The third and sort of final part of this flourishing triangle focuses us on the power of positive meaning to enhance thriving. Now turns out, we’re very active interpreters of everything in our world. We interpret ourselves, we interpret other people, we interpret groups and we interpret communities.
In positive meaning gets us to focus on the power that we have if we interpret any one of those things with a sense of value of worth or significance. So again, let’s review the three sides of the flourishing triangle. Let’s think about what we can do to cultivate human thriving and collective thriving by fostering positive emotions, positive connections or positive meaning. Now, the beauty of the triangle from a sort of a conceptual point of view is it’s simple. It gets us to– there’s so many things we could think about to cultivate thriving. But this gets us to bet on these three different buckets. Well, it’s simple.
It’s also very rich, because in each one of those buckets of contributors, there’s lots of different ways that we could enhance those conditions. And in these times, when we’ve got so much uncertainty, so many things coming at us that cause fear cause anxiety, sometimes despair about what we can do, what the flourishing triangle orients us to is to bet on these different conditions as enablers of our optimal state of functioning. They give us hope, they open up possibilities. It’s I hope, what you will find to be a very generative framework that unlocks all kinds of possibilities for each one of us and for the organizations that were a part of.

This is the first of two grounding theoretical concepts that help explain the science of what it means to thrive.

Jane Dutton, the Robert L. Kahn Distinguished University Professor Emerita of Business Administration and Psychology and co-founder of the Center for Positive Organizations, describes the concept of the Flourishing Triangle, a seemingly simple framework that reveals many possibilities.

Understanding this triangle gives us the framework to understand how the actionable practices in Week 2 relate to thriving.

Jane explains that high quality connections offer us feelings of mutuality, energy, and positive regard. We can form them very quickly, and every interaction offers a possibility. But, it is not always natural to do this digitally. We challenge you to see the possibility for connection with other participants in this Teach-Out. Take just a few minutes to:
  • Post in the discussion to introduce yourself: where you are joining from, why you came to this Teach-Out, and how you are doing right now.

  • Find one other post in the discussion that interests you. Reply telling them why you found their post interesting. Consider offering them gratitude, a compliment, or well wishes for the rest of their Teach-Out experience.

  • Stop and think: how did that feel? What was the same and different than meeting someone new face-to-face?

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Thrive in Trying Times Teach-Out

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