The Heritage to Flourish: Knoxville's Footprint

We recently had a “100-year flood” here in Knoxville. The resilience of our residents within this crisis has spoken to the presence of a healthy, thriving community. This reminded me of the Flourish 51 vision of 51 percent of the world population thriving by 2051, if our society makes some changes. Dr. Martin Seligman, the pioneer of modern Positive Psychology and self-described pessimist, nevertheless has devised a framework for humans to flourish via the PERMA model. In a nutshell the model is empirically proven to increase our well-being with positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishments, offering the following concepts:

  1. Success of a government is measured by the well-being of its citizens.

  2. Positive journalism includes stories of virtue alongside stories of misery.

  3. Positive business shares the goal of profit equally with relationships and meaning in the workplace.

Source: Action for Happiness May 16, 2011 Flourish 51 M. Seligman

Wanting to learn more about what makes Knoxville flourish, I interviewed local business leaders. This is what I found:

Sandy Smith, president at Sandy Smith Seminars, said that leaders foster engagement and meaning in employees by sharing their vision with them. Rob Shomaker, vice president and chief operating officer of CUPA-HR, noted the importance of adding employees to the team who think differently in order to foster creativity and a well-balanced viewpoint. Daniel Monday, chief operating officer of Slamdot, related how individual “Lunch with Monday on Mondays” fosters a relational conversation with employees to give feedback for the company.

Dr. Shirley Raines, president emeritus of the University of Memphis, shared her philosophy of leadership: “people oriented and goal motivated.” (I am currently reading her book, “An Uncommon Journey: Leadership Lessons From a Preschool Teacher Who Became a University President” – highly recommend!) Stacy Myers, Ph.D, president of E-Assessments Inc., said that only 17 percent of companies have true teams. He challenges leaders of companies to reward teams and not individuals, as this is a measure of having a true, unified team.

The list of accomplished leaders fostering well-being in Knoxville could go on and on. No wonder our citizens weathered a historic flood with such resilience!