Aug
13

Are You Getting an A in Social Excellence?

by  Mary C. Schaefer  |  Leadership Development

Young Boy at School Raising His Hand to Answer in ClassSocial Excellence [n]: A state of perpetual generosity, curiosity, positivity, and openness to limitless possibility. A desire to intentionally connect with others. The ability to engage in deep, meaningful conversation. Acting in a responsible and respectable manner with high expectations of others… the highest level of societal participation and contribution.

What is social excellence beyond its definition?

Do you know Matt Mattson? If not, let me introduce you.

Matt Mattson and his colleagues created the Social Excellence message and movement. A recent post by Matt at The Good Men Project site blew my mind. Thank goodness someone is rallying around this and educating us about how we as human beings are affected by our sociability or lack of it.

Ignore social excellence at your own peril.

“Why do people have to be this lonely? What’s the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?”

~ Haruki Murakami, Author, Sputnik Sweetheart

There are many reasons we as humans suffer isolation, loss or social rejection. When we do, it is thought that we are programmed to relieve this pain through forming attachments.

Emily Esfahani Smith, in a 2013 article at The Atlantic, describes the work of professor Matthew Lieberman of UCLA, and author of, “Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect.”  Apparently we have been going the wrong direction in sociability over the years, and to our detriment. You are probably not surprised to learn that more and more people are neglecting their personal relationships for wealth.

The American Freshman survey has been surveying college freshman since the 1960’s. In 1965, college freshman said that “starting a family” and “helping others” were more important life goals than being “very well off financially.” In 2012, freshmen prioritized being “very well-off financially” at 81 percent, the highest that number in the survey’s history.

Professor Lieberman explains this turn of events this way:

“My gut says making more money will make me happier, but my gut is wrong… The more individuals endorse materialism as a positive life value, the less happy they are with are with their lives.”

It’s time to turn this around.

How would you grade yourself in social excellence?  How are you influencing others with your social excellence?

Image: Microsoft Clipart Gallery

About The Author

Articles By mary-schaefer
As a coach, trainer & consultant, Mary’s Schaefer’s expertise is in helping managers & employees conquer their dread about difficult conversations, to go into them feeling equipped and confident. Mary’s mission, personally and professionally, is to create work cultures where organizations and human beings can both thrive. Mary is a former HR manager, holds a Master’s degree in HR and is a certified HR professional.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Paul LaRue  |  13 Aug 2014  |  Reply

Mary, this is a pertinent reminder for us! I just read a post about our being overloaded with the noisy world around us, and I think in this “noise” age that we retreat within ourselves to either gain solitude or sanity. Which is perhaps why we detach more now than ever. We are designed to be social, to interact, and the only way to quiet the noise sometimes is to reach out to people and meet our common need of connection.

I also thank you that you just defined social excellence and gave us a question to think about. We are individuals, and social excellence in each of our lives will be as unique as our fingerprints.

Well written post!!

Mary C Schaefer  |  13 Aug 2014  |  Reply

Hi Paul. Thank you for all your comments. Those are very interesting suggestions you are making on why we might retreat, based on “noise.” I would be interested in the article you mention. Share as you see fit.

As you know, I simply won’t get off the subject about “seeing” each other and treating each other humanly, and with care. I’m particularly tuned into the first sentence in the definition, particularly about generosity and possibility. Matt Mattson’s work on this is powerful for me, and I must be clear on giving him and his colleagues credit for that definition.

Thanks again for commenting!

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