Deep Souls: The Keynote Species of a Thriving Organization

Kathryn HaydonBusiness, Deep Souls

Deep Souls: The Keynote Species of a Thriving Organization

By Kathryn P. Haydon

Business, Deep Souls

What is the keystone species of an organization?

In the prairie, as in all ecosystems, the keystone species are essential to a thriving habitat.  Without these native plants, the entire ecosystem and the wildlife it supports will deteriorate (Prairie Moon Nursery Newsletter, 1-11-23).

Without a healthy keystone species, an entire ecosystem will deteriorate.

So, what is the keystone species of an organization?

To answer this question, we must consider the opposite of business deterioration: innovative growth.

Anyone, of course, can be an innovator. My book, The Non-Obvious Guide to Being More Creative No Matter Where You Work, teaches the tools of the trade for what I call the scientific method for innovation.

However, there is a specific category of people that, in prairie parlance, are native innovators. These are people who, for lack of an accurate name, I have termed deep souls.

Deep Souls Are An Organization’s Essential Keystone Species

In my study of creators and innovators across centuries, I found that deep souls share seven overarching characteristics:

  1. Bravely Independent
  2. Meaning Seekers
  3. Deep Divers
  4. Knowledge Questers
  5. Learn by Making
  6. Intuitively Sensitive
  7. Crave Authentic Understanding

The difference between deep souls and the rest of us is that they vehemently resist sacrificing their deep soul characteristics. These traits are so integral to their being, that deep souls often prefer to be considered weird or outcast rather than give them up. Deep souls have the courage to remain unique, against even the most relentless pressures to conform.

Most Organizations Don’t Understand or Nurture The Keystone Species

The problem is that most institutions, starting with school, do not present abundant opportunities to exercise one’s deep soul traits. In fact, they usually require conformity to the prevailing “type” that exists in that organization. Deep souls resist this from the start, becoming daydreamers, rebels, or class clowns to cope. Instead of being supported for their innovation potential, they often get labeled or disadvantaged.

Adulthood can be better for deep souls because they have more choices. In Sparkitivity’s study of over 100 deep souls, we found that those who are CEOs, Presidents, Founders of companies, or Solopreneurs are more likely to report that they contribute at work to their highest levels of potential.

Deep souls who are employees are more likely to report that they contribute at work to the lowest levels of their potential. Employees who report contributing at higher levels are more likely to work at an organization of under 50 employees.

It is rare to be a deep soul and thrive as an employee in an organization because most organizations don’t know how to cultivate a culture that allows for the original thinking that deep souls bring.

To innovate you must think differently. But the tendency of any group or organization is to move toward the common over time, to regress to the mean, to devolve into groupthink.

Deep souls keep things fresh; they question; they seek truth; they add new perspectives. For this reason, they are the keystone native species that can lead to thriving, innovative growth.

But people in groups don’t always welcome fresh thinking, new ideas, and outside-the-box perspectives.

Do You Want Your Organization to Deteriorate?

Of course you don’t! Then it is essential that you seek to understand the keystone species of an organizational ecosystem: the deep soul. I guarantee that you already have several of these thinkers on your roster.

If you can identify them and provide an open runway for their innovative thinking, you will find yourself with fulfilled, motivated, productive employees who are helping your organization thrive. A deep soul’s greatest wish is to be understood for his or her authentic strengths, and just by reading this article you are on your way to understanding.

To learn more, download our free PDF: Seven Ways to Spot a Deep Soul at Work.

As always, reach out for a customized consultation to help you apply these ideas to your particular situation.


Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.

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