Dr. Quade French is a clinical psychologist with USC Campus Wellbeing & Education and serves as a consultant for our USC community to identify systematic and interpersonal challenges that impact individual and community wellbeing. We asked him a few questions about the Culture Journey, and his thoughts around our unifying value “Well-being”.
- What made you want to be part of the Culture Network?
Culture is the foundation for an individual’s experience of wellbeing: the alignment or difference between an organization’s culture and a person’s individual values has a significant impact on whether that person feels good about the work they do each day, feels good about the place they work, and ultimately, feels satisfied with their life. Moreover, we know that the degree to which a person feels equitably included, feels a sense of belonging, and feels that they matter to their organization also impacts wellbeing. So to me, the Culture Network is a key vehicle for systemic change to enhance equitable inclusiveness and belonging in the pursuit of wellbeing, and I am committed to supporting growth and positive change at USC.
- This month we are highlighting “Well-being” one of our Unifying Values. What does that value mean to you?
Wellbeing means growth. The pursuit of wellbeing is a continuous, holistic process of self-awareness and honest self-assessment of how we are doing in important areas of life. It is an amazing process of learning, growth, and empowerment. When we pursue wellbeing, we first taking stock of how we are doing (inclusive of all range of emotions and experiences like pain, sadness, strength, empowerment, and motivation). From there, we do best when we can stop shaming ourselves for perceived “shortcomings” (another important topic to discuss), and instead, see our experiences as opportunities for growth; staying in the space of shame or guilt paralyzes us from action. From there, we leverage individual strengths and meaningful relationships to affect positive change in our lives and communities.
Critically, individual wellbeing is limited by the wellbeing of the culture in which they work. Individual strategies and effort will only go so far if that person feels their workplace is unsupportive or unsafe. In that way the conversation about wellbeing must move beyond what the individual can do to help themselves and how the organization can also seek community wellbeing to support all Trojans.
- What are some ways that we can engage this value in our own lives at USC?
The pursuit of wellbeing requires an honest assessment of where we are strong and where we need to grow, and to leverage our strengths in the process of change. This takes work. This is challenging because dominant cultures in the West and in the U.S. frame anything other than tangible success as a weakness, and that can be painful. Yet, how are we to grow and better ourselves as a community if we are unable to see where we need to grow? Do everything you can to see your strength through any self-doubt, and leverage that strength to change. This process applies to individuals as well as communities.
What is also challenging is that with the impact of COVID-19, the movement for Black rights following the murder of George Floyd, the fight against anti-Asian violence, and a host of other stressors have left many of us feeling completely depleted emotionally, psychologically, and physically. Many may struggle to find motivation to tackle the “big” issues like wellbeing if they feel they are barely hanging on.
Yet, here we have an invaluable opportunity to “walk the walk” of a culture of wellbeing. The compassion and care for others demonstrated by fellow Trojans during this pandemic has been profound, and a testament to the strength of relationships people have with their colleagues. If we can continue to support others with compassion and kindness, flexibility, perspective taking, and understanding, we are laying a foundation for trust, connection, and wellbeing.
- Now that “Well-being” is one of our Unifying Values, what gets you excited about the future of the Culture Journey?
As a part of the Provost’s Office of Campus Wellbeing and Education, I am obviously thrilled that wellbeing is identified as a Unifying Value. To me, it is a collective statement from faculty, staff, students, and administrators that we will protect our rights to live meaningful, connected, and engaged lives at USC. There is a new energy bubbling up in the community that I hope everyone will join to identify areas for growth and unite as allies in the pursuit of change toward equitable inclusion, and wellbeing.