“Up and To the Right Thinking:” The Simplest Way to Create Bright Company Culture

Candra Canning
3 min readMar 11, 2020

These days, leadership calls for being able to energize a group of people around a shared vision of success that goes way beyond an organization’s bottom line. Workers are making it clear that it’s no longer enough to do a job just because it brings in a paycheck. (If you’ve ever worked with millennials, you know this is particularly true for them.) Don’t we all want to know that the way we’re spending our precious time on this planet truly matters?

As a long-time culture and leadership coach, I’m really excited to see this new organizational expectation take hold. For two decades, I’ve been helping business leaders create bright company cultures that infuse people with a sense of meaning, purpose, connection, and fulfillment. I often mention a quote from Victor E. Frankl, the author of the seminal work Man’s Search for Meaning: “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

Believe it or not, it’s not hard to give individuals and teams a powerful “why” at work. The trick is using a simple process I call “Up and to the Right.”

What is “Up and to the Right”?

This term comes from scientific research about Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP is a psychology-based approach to understanding how we consciously and unconsciously use mental, emotional, and linguistic strategies to help us reach our goals.

“Up and to the Right” implies moving forward and thinking and imagining ahead. It’s a perfect framework for turning up the dial on company culture. In this context, the burning question isn’t, “How will my company succeed?” The key question is, “How will my company succeed and make a difference in the world?”

Leaders can bring the vision of a company to life by tapping into the hearts and minds of their team and articulating, down to the tiniest detail, what the company value is for the world. (Athletes use this approach when they repeatedly visualize a perfect performance). When inspiration and aspiration get baked into every level of an organization, not to mention every piece of communication and messaging, transformation happens. Trust me, I’ve seen it!

Here are just a few examples. I’ve helped a fitness company realize they aren’t just pitching spin classes, they’re generating health and positive energy for their community. Folks at an innovative carpet company realized that by creating carbon-neutral organic carpet dyes and fabrics, they were true eco-warriors. By the same token, resort employees aren’t simply providing rooms, they’re contributing to families vacation memories. Cast members at Disneyland? They’re clearly in the happiness business.

What difference does Up and to the Right make?

When leaders talk — a lot — about how the company can make a difference in the world, there’s a powerful ripple effect. Employees feel inspired and motivated when they know that what they’re doing really matters. Working together toward a shared higher purpose helps energy-, commitment-, and creativity-levels soar. People at every level appreciate being part of a business that values something beyond productivity levels and ROI. Those good feelings, in turn, lead to increased job satisfaction and long-term retention. Just as important? Employees channel all the delicious positivity they feel at work out into the world — and help brighten the community at large.

It might sound too good to be true, but it really happens!

There’s no doubt that today’s business leaders need to integrate inspiration and aspiration into the daily culture of work. It’s not just a “nice to have” — these days, it’s a must-have. After all, businesses and organizations are uniquely positioned to pull people together so they can do great, audacious things as a team. As people increasingly crave — and demand — deeper connections and purpose at work, I believe “Up and to the Right” can help leaders meet the shifting expectations of individuals and teams and help any organization thrive.

Candra Canning is the founder of Live Bright Now. She’s been coaching corporate leaders + teams to brighten their performance for 20 years. Candra believes a bright company culture creates bright individuals + bright communities — even a brighter world.

Visit Live Bright Now to learn more about how presence and awe are great for your business — and download our free Bright Culture Pledge.

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Candra Canning

Candra Canning is the founder of Live Bright Now. She’s been coaching corporate leaders + teams to brighten their performance for 20 years. Candra believes a br