Episode: 427 |
Tim Streeter:
The Contentment Commitment :


Tim Streeter

The Contentment Commitment

Show Notes

Tim Streeter spent 25 years working in consulting and human resources including global leadership roles in Talent Acquisition at Accenture and Whirlpool. As the former chief operating officer of talent acquisition at Accenture, where he was responsible for managing a recruiter headcount of 2500 people and delivering 100,000 new hires every year. He’s also the author of the Contentment Commitment, which we will chat about in this episode.

Tim can be reached through his website, https://www.contentmentcommitment.com/, where you can also learn more about the book.

Key points include:

  • 00:52: The personal history behind the book
  • 03:19: The six dimensions of contentment
  • 08:32: The commitments Tim made
  • 20:10: Tim’s work with organisations

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:01

Hello, and welcome to Unleashed the show that helps you thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman. And I’m excited to be here today with Tim Streeter, who is the former chief operating officer of talent acquisition at Accenture, where he was responsible for, you know, managing a recruiter headcount of 2500 people and, and delivering 100,000 new hires and Accenture every year. He’s now he’s left Accenture. And he is the author of the contentment commitment, which is what we’re gonna focus on chatting about today. Tim, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. So, Tim, love your new book contentment commitment. Tell me a little bit about the history behind this book, this highly personal history behind the book.


Tim Streeter 00:52

Sure, the book is really something that started as a framework and tool that I built for myself. So it started during my consulting years when I was really transitioning into some of the talent acquisition roles. And it was a time in my life where my second child that just get born, we moved to a new city, a new house. And I was having success in my professional life. So I had hit all the promotion milestones and felt like I was doing everything I was supposed to from that perspective. But at the same time, I felt like I wasn’t being as good a father as I wanted to be, it wasn’t doing all the things I wanted to do with the husband, I felt like my physical health was, was going in the wrong direction. And, you know, friends that had been with me for a long time I hadn’t seen in many years. And so I felt like I needed to make some changes. And I was just trying to go about it in a structured way. Growing up in consulting and having an analytical mindset helps me take some of the emotion out of those types of decisions to have a framework to follow. So I actually took some of the tools that exists to help measure happiness at work and employee engagement, and really evolved and adapted those, to build a framework to help me focus on happiness in my personal life. And it works so well for me that I asked my wife to do it, and kind of critique it and see how it worked for her. And it works so well for the two of us that after those cycles, I started sharing it with other people as well. So sometimes friends, sometimes colleagues, but really over the last 10 years or so I’ve probably shared it with around 500 or so people. And I always give a disclaimer, you know, much like a diet, it’s not like there’s one magical thing that works for everybody. But clearly, there are many things that worked for many people. And so having had success with this and believing it could be life changing for the right person in the right circumstance. I’ve always wanted to really document it and share it broadly. And so just in the last year, I’ve had that opportunity to really reflect and build out the framework in more detail, and bring it to life with some personal stories. And so I’m excited to you know, to be at the point where we’re actually hopefully starting to help people on a bigger scale.


Will Bachman 03:14

Fantastic. So walk us through the framework.


Tim Streeter 03:19

Sure, the the framework is really focused around six dimensions of contentment. And so in those dimensions, you’ve got self, partner, dependents, friends, family, and community. And so within each of those, it’s really forcing you to do three things. So first, you kind of reflect on where you are. And so the way that happens, whether it’s in a live workshop, or through the book is through a lot of questions, simply. So it makes you think about things that you wouldn’t typically think about, for example, in the friends dimension, which friends do I talk to the most on the phone? Which do I visit at their house? The most? who visits me the most were who do I like to go on trips with the most? How am I actually spending my time? When I leave those discussions? Or trips? Do I feel energized? Or do I feel drained, you know, my getting more getting more? So, so a lot of questions like that, to really help you reflect more deeply than you might otherwise and more holistically than you might otherwise. And so once you’ve done that, then it really asks you to, to rate them and rank them. And so this is the hard part. It’s probably easy to read it, you know, on a scale of one to 1010 means everything’s perfect news wouldn’t change anything. You know, one obviously means the opposite. So, once you’ve rated it, the hard part is to say, you know if I can only improve one of these things in the next six months, the next 12 months in this dimension, what aspect Am I going to focus on and that’s hard So you can’t have a six way tie for first, you got to actually ask yourself the question what matters the most to you right now. And their dynamic, right? So early in your life or career, you know, it might be that it’s all about self development and self exploration and having experiences yourself, it may be eventually focused on partner. And maybe if you have kids, you know, it’s the situation I described earlier. So regardless of whether you’re, you know, moving, or you have health issues, whatever the trigger is, it’s dynamic. So you could have everything working nicely, and then something happens in your life. And all of a sudden, you need to reprioritize and refocus. So it’s really a framework to help you go through and reflect rate and rank. And once you’ve done that, really, the next step is to prioritize, because if you’ve got a list of 20, things you could do, that you know, would improve your happiness, you’re probably not going to try to do all of them. Otherwise, you just have anything going to be frustrated that you didn’t finish them all. And so there’s also a tool that helps prioritize, so that you understand which of those is going to give you the biggest impact overall, to really help narrow it down to the top three or five that you actually want to focus on. And once you’ve done that, that’s where the commitment part kicks in the contentment commitment. So once you understand, really what drives your contentment, and you identify actions that will improve it, and you prioritize the ones that will have the biggest impact, then you commit to those actions. And so that commitment is a formal contract, you get a witness to sign it, someone who’s going to support you, throughout the journey, someone who doesn’t think it’s a silly exercise that actually wants to help you live a happier life. And once you’ve done that, the vast majority of people that reach that stage and make that commitment, complete the commitment. And everyone who completes it inevitably comes back with a story of how they’re feeling, feeling happier in those dimensions. So across the framework in a nutshell, yeah,


Will Bachman 07:07

so that’s great. So across the six major dimensions, you would prioritize one of those areas. And it sounds like within those dimensions, there’s sub dimensions, and you rate and rank, the different priorities within those to figure out what you’re going to focus on very specifically.


Tim Streeter 07:26

Correct. So for example, in the self dimension, the sub dimensions are wellness, professional, financial, creative, cultural, and spiritual. So I won’t go through all of them, but it gives you the idea, it’s essentially just taking a more holistic approach, and really thinking about each of those aspects and saying, you know, there’s lots of things I could do for myself, but, you know, travel, spiritual connections, you know, starting painting, or acting or writing poetry, or whatever the things are, that you’ve always wanted to do, or you’ve dabbled in and always wanting to do more of, it’s really asking yourself, if I can only do one of those things, which one’s going to be most important and really give the biggest return on the time investment, if you will?


Will Bachman 08:14

Give us some specifics, maybe from your own journey of what were some of the things that you kind of prioritize what were some of the specific changes that you made and some of the commitments that you made? Tell us a little bit some of the real specifics of your own journey?


Tim Streeter 08:32

Sure. So. So for example, when I first started with the framework, and I brought my wife into the discussion, one of the things I learned in sharing with her how I was feeling about these different areas, and then asking her to do the same. Because we discovered that we were both unhappy with our physical health, we both wanted more time together. And we weren’t really helping each other achieve that. And so simple thing like, deciding a point in the day, when we had time and ability to simply take a walk together, exercise together, was something that could help across multiple dimensions, not just, you know, thinking about ourselves individually. Similarly, I would say simple things, like a concept I’ve shared with a lot of people that date lunches. So when you’re both working, or one’s working and one’s at home. Regardless, you know, as long as you’re in the same city, some people think it sounds ridiculous until they start to try it. But if you’re both busy at work, and you’re both busy in life, you know to set up a lunch date and block two hours out of your calendar and commit to it and keep it like you would any other appointment is a simple way to get together without distractions of dependence without distractions of devices, and just enjoy the time Together, however you want to do that, so. So there’s some simple things like that, you know, there’s bigger things. For myself personally, one of the things I was always interested to explore was music. And although I’m not a musician myself in terms of having mastered any instruments, I’ve done enough programming to be pretty comfortable with audio editing tools. And so about 10 or 11 years ago, I wanted to find a good way to spend more time with my brother. And so I proposed, hey, let’s, let’s try to make some music together, you do the parts I can’t do and I’ll do the parts you can’t do and we’ll figure out the rest. And so that’s been something that’s been super fulfilling, for me personally, just to be able to create something I didn’t know I could create, to be able to deal with my brother. And you know, and to continue to do and as long as it’s, as long as it’s bringing happiness is, is another example. So there’s countless, literally, but hopefully, those are few that helped bring it to life in terms of some of the ways you can make improvements.


Will Bachman 11:08

Yeah, that’s great. Let’s go through the next level and just walk through the sub dimensions of these. So you listed them for self, can we go through the other categories, and just briefly describe the the sub dimensions to help kind of show this level of richness? Maybe we’ll start with number two. So


Tim Streeter 11:27

in the partner dimension, which of course, goes without saying, it can be any flavor of partner. So whether it’s a formal union or informal union, you know, regardless of how people are labeled, etc. How do you define partner, but the sub dimensions are dating, intimacy, responsibilities, financial, parental communication. And so really just gets into a bit about, you know, typically when your partner and it starts out, it’s all about the dating and doing fun stuff together. And often that gets done less and less over time. So sometimes that’s an opportunity for improvement. You know, there’s mundane things like responsibilities, like who’s doing the dishes and taking out the trash, that can be a source of discontent with your partner, if you don’t discuss it, and align on it. Same with financial. And then there’s, you know, broader things like parenting and communication, where it’s more about how are you going to have an ongoing dialogue. So some of the things that you don’t always like to talk about, or Remember to talk about, what’s an easy way to, to create an environment where you’re both in a good place to have those kinds of discussions regularly, so that it’s not an argument or something you dread. But rather, it’s just a regular part of your relationship that helps, helps each of you understand, you know, what the other is happy and unhappy with. So that’s partner. If I move on to dependence, dependence categories are providing, teaching, playing, experimenting, socializing, and communicating. And so dependence here, you know, there’s a few different flavors as well. So for some, that’s pets, for some, it’s kids, for some that might be an aging parent. So regardless of the angle, or multiple angles that you might have, you know, providing is the basics, right food and shelter. So if you’re struggling to do that is probably your first priority. There’s always things you want to teach, there’s things you regret, for example, with my children, my wife, and I always wanted to make sure that they spoke more than one language more than just English. And despite several attempts, it’s not something we’ve succeeded with yet. You know, so there’s, there’s things like that. We, you might ask yourself regularly, am I doing all the things that I said I wanted to do in terms of teaching them? You know, playing as much simpler, but just, what do they like to do? Am I doing it with them? Am I more than just being disciplinary and our teacher and I also doing fun stuff with them, you know, experimenting and exposing them to new things and helping them find things that they love and make them happy? socializing, and by connecting them to other people and observing how they interact with other people and trying to coach and guide and help them make connections that way? And also, you know, how am I communicating with them? You know, what are the moments of the day where they’re willing to have a chat, or where they’re most relaxed or least released, distracted, for example. So thinking intentionally about what moments in what places you choose to have some of these types of discussions. If I move on to friends, and the friends category, we’ve got talking Visiting, going back and changing. So alluded to these earlier, so I won’t go through each one. But what I’ll say is just thinking thoughtfully about, do you have friends that you only exercise with or only travel with, or only ever go out drinking with? You know, and who are you spending the most time with, and Are those the people that you’re enjoying the time the most with. So actually being thoughtful about where you focus, and if you only have so many hours per week to spend with friends, making sure that you’re getting what you want to get out of it as well, you know, and that you’re reciprocating, and you’re giving as much as you’re getting as well. And the changing as that is acknowledging that, you know, as we live our lives and our situations change, a good example is, sometimes we get married, and it’s easier to hang out with other couples, then, then you’re single friends, because you’re not trying to meet people. And sometimes you have kids, and it’s easier to hang out with other people that have kids and people that don’t, because you don’t have to feel embarrassed to explain why your kids are behaving poorly. So, so examples like that is just asking, you know, acknowledging that you’re going to meet new friends, but also just because you’ve had a friend for a long time, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should have them forever, if they’re not adapting and evolving and caring about how your, your whole life is evolving. If they just like a piece of it, that was from the past. Moving on to family, it’s a bit more straightforward. It doesn’t require a lot of explanation. But grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles, cousins, and extended family. It really the message here is most people have more family that they could visit or spend time with than they do. Sometimes you have the opposite problem where you’re kind of forced to spend time with family members that you don’t really want to or bring you more frustration than happiness. So it’s just thinking through that. And reflecting on, you know, how you spend the time together? And are you Is there a way to adjust how you can time or the amount of time or who you spend time with, you know, that could could make you feel more connected to family and less frustrated about some of the things that we all experience as a community. So in the community dimension, there’s business, there’s schools, there’s worship, entertainment, arts and service. So just thinking through those, you know, places make you happy to write and so your favorite coffee shop, your favorite restaurant, your favorite bar, whatever it may be, those local businesses are part of your community. Certainly schools, you know, while most people think of as being important just to people with kids, you know, schools, if you have universities in your town, you know, that also brings a lot of entertainment and sports and, and opportunities for you to learn, as well. So thinking about what schools exist where you live, can be something that is important for some people same from place of worship, tends to be either top of the list or bottom of the list for most of the people that I’ve met, depending on its priority for you personally, you know, arts and entertainment, clearly, music, theater, sports, comedy. And beyond these, these are things that some people live for, some people don’t know that much about. And then service, you know, whether it’s volunteering, whether it’s paid or unpaid. The things that you do to help make the place you live better. Maybe you go and clean up the community park, maybe you serve soup at the homeless shelter. Maybe you write checks for domestic violence center. Whatever that is, it’s thinking through all those dimensions is saying the place where I live has a big impact on on my happiness as well. And how I use each of those or how I interact with each of those sub dimensions, has an opportunity to make me happier or more unhappy, depending on how I spend my time. So it’s probably a lot to absorb at once. But hopefully gives you a good sense of the sub dimensions of each of the six


Will Bachman 19:30

dimensions. Yeah, it sure does. And it’s incredibly thoughtful kind of breakdown and structure of those different areas. How are you thinking now about bringing this to people? You know, we talked a little bit before we start recording about how you’re planning to offer this as a bit of a consulting service to corporations that are to companies or organizations that are looking to enhance the overall happiness level of their employees. So, talk to me a bit about how you might work with organizations that are looking to, you know, help their organization or their people have a have a more content life.


Tim Streeter 20:10

Sure. So if I think about what exists in the companies today, and I remind myself of the audience, this podcast, and the consulting backgrounds, I think the way I would frame it really, is to say, there is already well established link between employee engagement, which I would call happiness at work, and business performance. So I don’t think too many people would argue that, you might argue, the exact correlation, but there’s little argument that one affects the other. So what I’m, what I’ve certainly observed, experienced myself and believe strongly, is that your happiness outside of work directly affects your happiness inside of work. So think about a person going through a divorce or a child with a health issue, or their best friend moving to another city? How do you think these things will affect their performance, their retention? I think anecdotally, it’s easy to see those types of connections. And so what I, what I would argue, and a 32nd pitch, you know, to, to HR leaders, within my professional network, is to say, I think there’s a ton of tools focused on improving employee engagement, and how we can make people happier at work. And I think a hugely underserved area is how happiness outside of work or happiness in life, well, contentment is I would call it has the opportunity to not just make them happier in life, which is my focus, but from a business point of view, directly impact business performance, as well, via increased employee engagement, increased productivity, increased retention. And so what I would like to do is with that pitch, to say, let’s pick the population. So if you want to pick one that that has poor metrics, in those areas, and poor results in those metrics, that’s a logical place to start. But equally, you could take the Young Professionals Network, Women’s Network, employee resource group, you might look at leadership development program, you know, we’re asking people to take on bigger roles and more responsibilities, and they’re gonna have to balance their personal life with with increased responsibilities in their professional life. So pick any population. And my goal will be to work with that population. To show that this is more than theory, it’s reality. And once they’ve viewed that success firsthand, I would expect it to spread within the company. And once it spreads throughout a company, I would expect word of mouth to extend to other companies as well. So my intent is just to reach out to my personal network probably start with three or five companies that I have a strong affinity towards, and really try to position them as the innovators are first to market with this type of approach. And we’ll see how it goes. But if it’s successful, I’d expect that to create demand over time and hopefully, more demand than I can respond to you personally.


Will Bachman 23:21

Fantastic. And, Tim, for folks that are interested in learning more or reaching out to you, where would you like to point them either websites or email address or for if they want to follow up?


Tim Streeter 23:33

Sure, I think the first place to go is contentment, commitment, calm, just to get the 32nd context, obviously, there’s a lot of context here. But to take a step back, and to look at some of the tools that I referenced as well and kind of see them yourself might be easier to absorb then than just me describing them without a visual. And beyond that there’s certainly buttons for to contact, but my direct email is Tim at contentment, commitment, calm as well. So I’m happy to connect with anyone who wants to explore introducing us to their company, what might be the best way to do that, and really get it going.


Will Bachman 24:12

Fantastic. Well, Tim, I love this framework. I’m gonna be exploring it some more. And it’s, you know, it’s so thoughtful and structured and kind of breaks down stuff into very discrete pieces. I love it. Thanks so much for joining today. And we will include those links in the show notes, listeners. Tim, thanks for joining. Excellent, I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you

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