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What is the connection between centenarians and healthy and successful teams and organisations?

I am in awe of Dan Buettner’s research on centenarians. Dan explores the factors that enable these people to live long and healthy lives. Buettner’s quantitative and qualitative research identifies the secrets of longevity and the commonalities amongst key communities that bring these to reality. These communities include Sardinia, Ikaria, Okinawa, Nicoya, and Loma Linda. Some of the commonalities include:

  1. A sense of purpose
  2. Belonging and connection
  3. Outlook
  4. Good food
  5. Movement

Thinking about Dan Buettner’s research, I realised these principles are the same for healthy teams and organisations. Take Buettner’s sense of purpose, for example. Centenarians exemplify a powerful sense of purpose that drives their day. These people set vital tasks for each day and have clarity about what they need to do and how to do it. This notion is not dissimilar to a healthy team or organisation; all stakeholders know their roles, responsibilities, vision, and mission. Expectations are clear, and appropriate boundaries are established to emphasise people sharing a common vision to achieve the goals. Everyone is committed to the ‘why’ which drives the sense of purpose.

If we think about the notion of belonging, a team and/or organisation with psychological safety invites employees/team members to learn, contribute, take risks and challenge (Clark, 2017). According to Brown (2023), belonging “requires us to be who we are” as well as having an awareness of being a part of something bigger”. The degree to which we belong fosters self-efficacy and empowers us to step up and into situations with courage and confidence. This is no different for centenarians. Various communities come together regularly through physical exercise, cooking, spending time with family, or relaxing with friends to foster connection.

A positive outlook and mindset are other factors considered to support centenarians’ longevity. Being open to possibilities, pivoting when required and taking the time to reflect paves a pathway for problem-solving and making effective decisions. Again, this is the same as the success of a healthy and high-performing team and or organisation.

Self-care is necessary if employees are to turn up to work as their best selves. Eating healthily, exercising, and getting quality sleep exemplify how we must look after ourselves. The commitment to self is a must more than ever. This is undoubtedly the case for centenarians. It is also a quality that is shared amongst successful teams and organisations. Miao & Cao (2019) highlight the strong connections between work well-being, employee creativity and high-performance work systems and how these impact the success of teams and organisations.

So, what are your thoughts? Is there a connection between the factors supporting centenarians to live long and healthy lives and the success of teams and organisations?

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