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Persuasion Matters - Issue #2


Learning to flourish

April 19 · Issue #2 · View online

The latest news and stories about how to support the well-being of individuals, organisations and communities, curated by Flourish Labs

This is a personal email from me - Mitch Olson.

Choose again: Why I'm starting again
Man is not fully conditioned and determined but rather determines himself whether he gives in to conditions or stands up to them. In other words, man is ultimately self-determining. Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment. — Viktor E. Frankl
A need to change
I can remember the first time I decided I wanted to be a better person. I was in my early twenties, and I was applying for a job as a systems analyst with a company in Wellington. I was a reasonably confident young man, and I had positive expectations of getting the job. I didn’t!
It turned out I was rejected because the psychometric tests I had undertaken indicated “selfish tendencies and an unwillingness to cooperate in larger groups”. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe I was that kind of person. I didn’t want to be that kind of person. For several weeks I felt quite depressed by the whole experience.
That was the first time I can remember wanting to be a better person. I wanted to make an effort to work on myself to develop the qualities that would allow me to feel prouder of myself. Ever since that time I have been consciously trying to live my life with a greater sense of mastery and authorship over my self and my life. Understanding how to do this, for myself and for others, has been a life-long passion.
A few months after losing the job I ended up getting another job with the same company. This time I had applied for a more technical role as an analyst programmer. That was the start of my career as a technologist. Since I first discovered it I have always loved technology and I feel passionate about its amazing ability to augment our power, convenience and reach.
Thirty years later, as well as having worked as a management consultant, life coach and entrepreneur, I have worked longest as a technologist. However I think what the world needs more of today is not the artificial intelligence of computers but rather the behavioural intelligence of people.
A better difference
The most authentic way of making a positive difference is through our own passion, experience and perceptions of what the world needs. The area where my own sense of need calls me is this; in supporting people to build lives where they are have more mastery over both their day-to-day experience and their life as a whole. A life where they are less limited by their habits and conditioning, and more inspired by their personal possibility, in environments that support their flourishing. You only have to look at dropping rates of various physical, psychological, financial and social well-being measures to realise that people need new skills to manage their lives.
I am bringing my two core passions together. I am teaming up with a talented and diversely experienced group of people to create a new organisation. It’s called Flourish Labs and we describe ourselves as a design agency and innovation lab focused on supporting people to flourish.
The word flourish means “to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way”. It’s synonymous with thriving, prospering and being “successful, active, or widespread”. That’s what we are about. We are like an IDEO but focused specifically and solely on flourishing. On well-being, mastery, and the flourishing of teams, organisations and communities.
Time for action
Whilst we have been working hard behind the scenes for many months, we are officially opening for business today! And we need your help. We need it because, like any talented new team, we are starting with lots of power but little momentum.
  • Do you know any HR managers that are interested in building the well-being of their people and organisation?
  • Do you know any well-being programs that aren’t getting the results they hoped for?
  • Do you know any researchers, policy advisors or program managers who share a curiosity and passion for understanding how to support people to flourish?
If you do, please contact me at If you know anyone who you think might be interested in this post, please pass it on. And thank you for your time to read this.
It has taken me over thirty years to unravel the meaning in the clues of my early career. I believe that the future of well-being lies in our capacity for self-mastery, developed in environments where people are respected and support one another. Together with a new generation of science and technology, we have for the first time in history, the potential to support people and groups of people to flourish in a way we never have before.
Finally I have found a way to bring my two life passions together. I’m feeling pretty excited. Today is the first day of my true life’s work!
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