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Social Capital is Good for You

Mon, 04/25/2011 - 1:17pm
Dan Hahn, Emergency Management Plans Chief, Santa Rosa County

While perusing my “social capital” Google Alert email, I found an interesting post on the Sustainable Business Forum site. The author, a man named Charles Ericson, seemed to get it.  

Get what you ask? Inter-organizational relationships, or as I like to call it, social capital. You can read his article here. 

I recently defined social capital in the March/April 2011 issue of Continuity Insights. It was there that I told you this conversation was far from complete, so here I am again. 

Aside from the article by Ericson, there are many current and applicable studies, articles and opinions on the use and validity of social capital. In fact, social capital has a plethora of definitions and applications. You can find a way to support whatever you are doing using social capital research if you frame the question or argument correctly. 

An even better reason to understand social capital is that it is good for you — your health, I mean. 

In a recent article by Air Force doctor (Col.) Brian Hayes, he gives a great explanation of what social capital is and why it is important. Being an Army guy myself, I tend to automatically discount anything someone in the Air Force says. But in this case, I actually agree with the guy. 

Dr. Hayes, the 60th Medical Group commander at Travis AFB, had the following to say about the importance of social capital: 

“Studies have shown that people with social capital are at lower risk for high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, and suicide.”  Now if that doesn’t get your attention, keep eating that cream cheese bagel and turn on Oprah — you are in for a short life.  

Dr. Hayes goes on the say that “Social capital is like money in the bank — you make deposits when you help other people and take withdrawals when you need help. You may have experienced this when you did something nice for someone and they replied ‘I owe you one.’ The movie Pay it Forward was also based on this idea of passing good deeds on to the next person.” 

I hope you can see that social capital is good for you to understand, either for organizational purposes or for health reasons. If not — well, I tried. I may re-visit this topic again, assuming I don’t just kick back with a bag of donuts and watch a soap opera or something (not likely). 

By the way, did you know that May is International Civility Awareness Month? I found out while reading a great piece in the San Francisco Chronicle called Connect with Civility — It's What the World Needs Now. It’s really a long sales pitch for a book about civility; but hey, I learned about International Civility Awareness Month — something only a trivia buff would know. Now if only Alex Trebek would call … 

How much social capital do you have? Leave a comment in the field below.

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