This week’s headline articles include words of wisdom about happiness from a billionaire, from happiness at work scientists and from people like you and me figuring out what happiness means and how to make it through the challenges and encounters of their everyday lives.
The Anne-Marie Rodriguez Radio Show – featuring Mark Trezona
And the really exciting news for me is that Anne-Marie Rodriguez has invited me to be one of the expert guests, with wellbeing expert and trailblazer Nic Marks and Adrian Pancucci from ORSCC, in the launch programme of her very first brand new weekly radio show exploring ways for people to create working lives worth living.
This first programme will focus on happiness at work and you can tune in to hear the live programme live between 7.00-9.00pm GMT this Wednesday 5th November at urban jazz radio
But if you miss it I will bring you the link to its podcast version in a future post.
Wish me luck…
The Golden Circle of our wisdom about happiness (BridgeBuilders STG Ltd 2014)
We are slowly developing our own Golden Triangle to pinpoint the three sources of wisdom about happiness:
- The New Science of Happiness
Loudest of all at the moment is the clarion call of the burgeoning new science of happiness that is sprouting exponentially from diverse fields including positive psychology, neuroscience, biology, economics, and contemporary organisational and leadership practices.
- Old Wisdom from our Past
But these are built from a strong and long historical framework of older wisdom that extends as far back as our human story. For as long as we have been human we have wondering and thinking and writing about what happiness means and how we can be happier. And, whether or not we continue to believe in their tracts and tenets, our old philosophies and religious teachings are written into our DNA and continue to inform how we define and understand and reach for happiness today.
- Lived-Through Personal Wisdom
And then there is another much less visible but equally reliable and important source of knowledge that we all draw from to understand and learn about happiness, and this is the practical lived-though personal experience of happiness that every single one of us knows something important about from our daily enactment of being alive and human. Happiness is individually experienced and understood and for each one of us it will mean something unique and particular. The surer we trust our own understanding about happiness the greater we can draw from the other two sources in ways that will be be meaningful and relevant for ourselves. And whatever we derive from the new science of happiness or the older heritage from our past thinkers, its real potency and value comes when we apply it into the practice of living our lives.
These three sources of wisdom about happiness are inextricably, interdependently and synergistically connected:
- without the intelligence from the new science of happiness we deny ourselves its vitality of the fresh oxygen of the new knowledge about what it means to be human it gives us;
- without the older wisdom from our history we lose its foundations and the solidity, universality and deep insights our past gives us about what how to live a truly good life and to live well and happily with each other;
- and without the same care, attention and legitimacy for our everyday wisdom we lose our way to put what we learn to work, to develop our mastery and weave ourselves the incremental, iterative aspirational tapestry that continually learning to be happy makes of our daily lives.
In the film, Four Chambers, Imanuel Goncalves has gathered together four everyday stories that movingly illustrate the wisdom of everyday people making extraordinary choices, offering us intelligence that we cal all draw from in our own encounters and aspirations along the path of becoming happier.
And here is a summary of the other articles you will find in the rest of this post, all taken from this week’s new Happiness At Work edition #115 collection…
“Happiness at work comes from your own attitude…”
– Jack Ma, Alibaba billionnaire
One of China’s most successful entrepreneurs, Alibaba founder Jack Ma writes that “happiness at work comes from your own attitude”, a message that is thoroughly endorsed by science of happiness experts like Shawn Achor, whose principles for achieving what he calls The Happiness Advantage are cinematically introduced in a new series of 1minute movies.
If you are still doubting whether happiness is really a force to be reckoned with, this week’s news about the new What Works Centre for Wellbeing that the UK government is launching next Spring is clear evidence of their continued undertaking to take our happiness seriously and make it more influentially and centrally closer to the heart of policy and economic decision making. The new centre will initial be led by Lord O’Donnell, who last year published an international study that cited meaningful work as one of the key drivers for happiness, along with mental health, social support and the physical environment, so we dare to hope that this will have positive benefits for our working lives as well as our wider environmental and society conditions.
We know from research across a variety of contexts that inequality one of the greatest destroyers of happiness. The greater our sense of unfairness, the greater our unhappiness. This is as much a mounting challenge for our societies as it is for our organisations, and in The Consequence of Unfair Workplace, Art Markman advocates the need for shifting the terms of engagement between us and our organisations away from a ‘contract’ and towards more a ‘covenant’ – which my Collins Dictionary defines as ‘a binding agreement’ from the Latin convenire meaning ‘to come together and make an agreement.’
…companies do not engage in agreements with a group of strangers. Instead, they create a neighbourhood in which everyone understands the role they play to help the company to succeed in its vision…A covenant is what allows employees to feel like they are part of something bigger then themselves. They are engaged in working toward a significant future. People with that level of engagement put in the level of effort that is required to allow that vision to become reality, regardless of what the letter of an employment contract might say.
When the organisation does things that seem unfair…people ask whether they are truly part of a community. They begin to wonder whether the organisation really deserves a covenant. And at these times, people may begin to revert back to the letter of the contract they signed rather than the spirit of the vision of the organisation.
Jessica Pryce-Jones found compelling evidence about the importance of perceived fairness in her research with more than 9,000 people from around the word. Writing about organisational culture, one of The Five Drivers for Happiness At Work, she highlights:
Performance and happiness at work are really high when employees feel they fit within their organisational culture. Not fitting in a job is like wearing the wrong clothes to a party—all the time.
It’s hugely draining and de-energising.
If you’re in the wrong job, you’ll find that the values mean little to you, the ethos feels unfair or political and you don’t have much in common with your colleagues. What’s interesting about our data is that employees like their organisational cultures a lot less than they did in pre-recession times: in particular “generation Y-ers” or “millennial” workers really don’t seem to like what they’re experiencing at work.
So any business which wants to attract and retain top young talent and find the leaders of tomorrow, needs to start addressing this issue today.
The need to respond and work in very different ways with younger employees, as well as the essential importance of feeling like we are able to work towards our fullest potential that Jessica Pryce-Jones writes into her happiness at work methodology, are themes picked up and emphasised in Leadership For The Millennial Generation: An Interview With Lindsey Pollak:
To best develop Gen Y leaders, organisations need to understand their deep desire for personal and professional development. In The Hartford’s 2014 Millennial Leadership Survey, Millennials said employers can most demonstrate their investment in them as a future leader by offering training and development (50%), a clear career path (35%), and ongoing coaching and feedback (34%).
“…for too long Government has tended to use the blunt measurement of increasing GDP to assess the success of the country when actually it was unconnected with people’s general happiness.”
– Lord O’Donnell
by Whitehall Editor, The Independent, Wednesday 29 October 2014
Increasing national well-being is to be put at the heart of Government policy-making, ministers will announce today, with the establishment of a new centre to measure the impact of policies on people’s happiness.
Two years ago the Office for National Statistics began publishing the first data on national wellbeing as part of its Integrated Household Survey. Now the Government is to set up a centre to assist Whitehall policy-makers assessing whether Government initiatives are likely to improve or diminish the happiness of those they affect and the wider society.
The plan is that eventually all decisions from building a third runway at Heathrow to best approaches to cut crime should be subjected to a well-being assessment in much the same way as they are assessed for economic impact.
The new What Works Centre for Wellbeing will launched by next spring and will initially be led by the former Cabinet Secretary Lord O’Donnell.
Last year he published an international study that identified mental health, meaningful work, loneliness and the physical environment as some of the key drivers of happiness or unhappiness often overlooked by policy-makers. The centre will initially develop a methodology for assessing wellbeing in policy terms before commissioning work designed to assess the impact of specific interventions to help improve quality of life.
Lord O’Donnell said that for too long Government had tended to use the blunt measurement of increasing GDP to assess the success of the country when actually it was unconnected with people’s general happiness.
“The ONS recently re-assessed the level of the UK’s GDP upwards by including things like illegal drugs and prostitution,” he said. “But they don’t measure things like volunteering which we know have a tremendously positive impact on wellbeing.
“So you could have a society where everyone gave up volunteering and took up crack dealing and prostitution and that society would have a much higher GDP growth rate. That’s crazy.”
Lord O’Donnell added that whatever methodology that was used would have to take account of the fact that some decisions could have a beneficial effect on the happiness of some people but a detrimental effect on others. For example an extra runway at Heathrow could increase the number of direct flights to different destinations – reducing hassle for travellers. But at the same time it would increase noise levels for those in the vicinity.
The new centre will be supported by an initial £3.5m grant with from other organisations.
The Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood said it was “vital” that the Civil Service had the capacity to ensure that decision-making was supported by “high-quality evidence”.
“We are using evidence and behavioural insights to drive real change across government. The What Works Centre for Wellbeing is the latest step in embedding evidence-based policy-making across government.”
…When the morale of an organisation suffers, it is important for leaders to think about things they may have done that would push employees from thinking themselves as neighbours to thinking of themselves as strangers. At those times, it is important for leaders to hold out an olive branch and to do what they can to welcome disgruntled employees back into the neighbourhood.
by Art Markman for Fast Company
…life is not fair.
Bad things happen to good people. Projects begun with the best of intentions and developed with people’s full effort can still fail. And, in some organisations, people are not always rewarded equally for the same level of work.
Why does this matter?
A Contract vs. A Covenant
We generally think of business as something done by contract. I sign a contract with my employer that states my responsibilities, and the company makes an agreement about how I will be compensated for that effort.
The thing is, contracts are agreements that are designed for strangers. If I don’t know you very well and you don’t know me, then a contract is great. It stipulates exactly what you will do for me and what I will do for you, and the legal system enforces the letter of the contract.
But, companies do not function if they run only contractually. A good company has a mission to build a great product or to provide a first-rate service. That company has to succeed today and to look forward toward an innovative future. It is not possible to enumerate all of the tasks that go into making this company succeed.
And so, good companies do not really have contracts with their employees. They have covenants.
A covenant lays out the vision of the company’s future. Employees agree to give their effort collectively to create that future, and the company agrees to support their employees through compensation, benefits, training, and the creation of a fair work environment.
In this way, companies do not engage in agreements with a group of strangers. Instead, they create a neighbourhood in which everyone understands the role they play to help the company to succeed in its vision.
And that is where fairness comes in.
A covenant is what allows employees to feel like they are part of something bigger then themselves. They are engaged in working toward a significant future. People with that level of engagement put in the level of effort that is required to allow that vision to become reality, regardless of what the letter of an employment contract might say.
But, when the organisation does things that feel unfair, it causes people to question why they are part of this community. If upper management is compensated far more than rank-and-file employees, even in economic downturns, it creates a sense of unfairness. When one person is promoted despite the presence of other people who seem more deserving, it creates a sense of unfairness. When projects that people have worked on for a long time are cut without explanation, it creates a sense of unfairness.
That feeling that the situation is unfair leads people to ask whether they are truly part of a community. They begin to wonder whether the organisation really deserves a covenant. And at these times, people may begin to revert back to the letter of the contract they signed rather than the spirit of the vision of the organisation.
For example, teachers and nurses will often engage in a “job action” when they are involved in contract disputes. In those situations, the employees believe they are being treated unfairly. So, they only perform the duties they are contractually obligated to perform. Teachers arrive exactly when they are required to and leave as soon as they are able. They do not engage in extracurricular activities or stay late to help struggling students. The community suffers, because the teachers have gone from treating the workplace as a neighbourhood to treating it as a collection of strangers.
That is why it is so important to think about fairness.
When the morale of an organisation suffers, it is important for leaders to think about things they may have done that would push employees from thinking themselves as neighbours to thinking of themselves as strangers. At those times, it is important for leaders to hold out an olive branch and to do what they can to welcome disgruntled employees back into the neighbourhood.
Jessica Pryce-Jones writing for the Wall Street Journal
“We’re here to talk about happiness. Happiness at work.”
The words sound so flaky; “happy clappy” and “happy hippy” ping into my mind even though the numbers tell their own story.
We’ve all had to face and deal with a very different working world, especially since the financial crisis and ensuing recession.
Data which we’ve gathered since 2006, shows that people everywhere feel less confidence, motivation, loyalty, resilience, commitment and engagement.
And whether your local economy is in a state of boom or bust, employees are experiencing similar pressures and bosses can only squeeze until the pips squeak for so long.
But imagine a mindset which enables action to maximise performance and achieve potential in these tough times. At the iOpener Institute for People and Performance, we understand that this is another way of describing happiness at work.
Our empirical research, involving 9,000 people from around the world, reveals some astonishing findings. Employees who report being happiest at work:
- Stay twice as long in their jobs as their least happy colleagues
- Spend double their time at work focused on what they are paid to do
- Take ten times less sick leave
- Believe they are achieving their potential twice as much
And the “science of happiness at work” has big benefits for individuals too. If you’re really happy at work, you’ll solve problems faster, be more creative, adapt fastest to change, receive better feedback, get promoted quicker and earn more over the long-term.
So how can you get to grips with what it’s all about?
Our research shows that there are five important drivers that underpin the science of happiness at work.
This is about what you do, so it’s made up of some of the core activities which happen at work. Like having clear goals, moving positively towards them, talking about issues that might prevent you meeting your objectives and feeling heard when you do so.
You’ll do all this best when you feel appreciated and valued by your boss and your colleagues. So it’s not just about delivering: it’s about doing that within collaborative working relationships too.
Here’s what Daniel Walsh, executive vice president at one of the world’s leading transport and logistics organisations Chep, said about his insight into the value of his colleagues’ contributions:
“I was very task-focused and goal-oriented early in my career and I delivered significant deals. But afterwards it would take a few weeks to mop up the wreckage because I was more gung-ho than I needed to be. I had a meeting with my mentor who said, “look this has got to stop. You’re delivering fantastic results but you’ve got to take people with you.
“Now I try to create an environment where people feel their opinions or views matter and I appreciate what they bring to the table. I can’t do my job on my own.”
This is the short-term motivation both in good times and bad. That’s the key point: keeping going even when things get tough, so that you maintain your energy, motivation and resources which pull you through.
Key to doing this is feeling that you’re resilient, efficient and effective. In fact, our data clearly shows that we’re much more resilient than we are aware but we’re much less aware of how variable our motivation is and how to manage it.
Actively deciding to do this can make a huge difference.
As Adam Parr, CEO of Williams F1 said, “a driver who gets out of a car when it’s spun off or he’s been hit and it’s all gone horribly wrong and reminds himself that he’s privileged to do the work and there’s a job to be done—that takes him to another level.”
Performance and happiness at work are really high when employees feel they fit within their organizational culture. Not fitting in a job is like wearing the wrong clothes to a party—all the time.
It’s hugely draining and de-energizing.
If you’re in the wrong job, you’ll find that the values mean little to you, the ethos feels unfair or political and you don’t have much in common with your colleagues. What’s interesting about our data is that employees like their organizational cultures a lot less than they did in pre-recession times: in particular “generation Y-ers” or “millennial” workers really don’t seem to like what they’re experiencing at work.
So any business which wants to attract and retain top young talent and find the leaders of tomorrow, needs to start addressing this issue today.
Commitment matters because it taps into the macro reasons of why you do the work you do. Some of the underlying elements of commitment are perceiving you’re doing something worthwhile, having strong intrinsic interest in your job and feeling that the vision of your organization resonates with your purpose.
We’ve seen commitment decline for the majority of employees post-recession as leaders and organizations think that tuning into this soft stuff is a waste of time.
It’s how you enable your employees to understand why they should make a greater discretionary effort for you. What is important is to recognize that the five factors work as an ecosystem.
That means if one of the five drivers isn’t functioning well, the others will be affected. For example if you don’t feel high levels of commitment, it’s likely that your contribution will be affected. When contribution goes down, conviction, especially the motivation part of it, tends to go down with it. And that obviously has an effect on your confidence too.
Confidence is the gateway to the other four drivers. Too little confidence and nothing happens: too much leads to arrogance and particularly poor decisions. Without greater levels of self-belief, the backbone of confidence, there will be few people who’ll take a risk or try anything new. And you can’t have confident organizations without confident individuals inside them.
Here’s what Dr Rafi Yoeli, founder of Urban Aeronautics, the leading Israeli fancraft aviation entrepreneur said:
“We’ve built a flying machine that’s half way between a Harrier jump jet and a helicopter. We work very differently here, it’s organic engineering. You need a high level of curiosity and of expertise if you’re going to make something extraordinary. And you need an even higher level of confidence to put it together.”
And finally, understanding what makes you happy at work and how that affects your performance offers a whole new way of managing yourself, your career and your opportunities.
What are you doing to ensure your leadership capacity is in sync with today’s marketplace?
by Caroline Ceniza-Levine for Forbes
Lindsey Pollak is the author of the recent New York Times Best Seller, Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders. She is one of the country’s leading experts on the Millennial generation and consults with top corporations on attracting, engaging and managing their future leaders.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine: What prompted you to write a book specifically on leadership for Gen Y?
Lindsey Pollak: …I [partly] wrote this book because I am frustrated by the common portrayal of Millennials as “entitled,” narcissistic and overall a “lost” generation. I believe very strongly that today’s young people have tremendous potential, but they do need some guidance on “soft skills,” such as face-to-face communication, work ethic and professional patience. This book is my attempt to provide that guidance and support this huge generation of out world’s future leaders.
Ceniza-Levine: On the subtitle of ‘New Rules’: Are there rules that apply to Gen Y specifically as opposed to X and Boomer leaders? How is Gen Y leadership different?
Pollak: I do believe we need new leadership rules today, but they are not replacing the classic rules; they are additive. We are living in a time of massive generational change, with the enormous (76 million strong) baby boomer generation finally giving way to the enormous Millennial generation (80 million strong). (I’m a member of Gen X, the tiny 46-million member generation sandwiched between these two.). While there are tons of great leadership books written by and for the older generations — and I have an entire chapter of the book dedicated to reviewing the classic books and concepts any new leader should know — I believe Millennials are leading in different times and also see the world in a different way.
Ceniza-Levine: What can X and Boomer leaders learn from these New Rules? What should X and Boomer leaders know to best develop Gen Y high potential leaders?
Pollak: There are many tips in the book that are relevant to any leader of any generation today. For example, leading people virtually (through Skype, instant message and other technologies) is a new leadership competency.
To best develop Gen Y leaders, organizations need to understand their deep desire for personal and professional development. In The Hartford’s 2014 Millennial Leadership Survey, on which I collaborated, Millennials said employers can most demonstrate their investment in them as a future leader by offering training and development (50%), a clear career path (35%), and ongoing coaching and feedback (34%). Leadership is a learnable skill and if we want the next generation to be great leaders, we have to teach them how to do it.
Ceniza-Levine: In your research for the book, what’s a surprising fact you learned that may not have been in your initial hypothesis?
Pollak: Great question! I was most surprised by the percentage of Millennials who already view themselves as leaders today, whether or not they hold a traditional leadership or management role. According to the same survey mentioned above, 83% of Millennials consider themselves to be a leader in some aspect of their lives — work, community, family, sports, etc. I knew Millennials were a confident group, which is terrific, but this number is much higher than I anticipated.
If, as Pollak highlighted, leaders today need to navigate multiple generations, know how to lead via new technologies and prioritize professional and personal development for themselves and their teams, what are you doing towards these ends?
Are you regularly networking with people outside your generation, including adopting a reverse (younger) mentor if needed?
Are you blocking time out on your schedule (and your team’s schedules) for professional and personal development?
What are you doing to ensure your leadership capacity is in sync with today’s marketplace?
by Eugene Kim
He also runs his own blog where he often shares his thoughts on business and life in general.
On Tuesday, Ma wrote on his blog how work happiness could be achieved with a simple change in mindset.
While resting at an airport in Alaska in a small, simple room, I watched the night shift employee Jennifer. In just ten minutes, she and my colleague discussed the influence of genetics on disease and her own unique take on the influence the earth’s rotation has on atmospheric warming.
Off to the side, I was shocked by her level of knowledge, so I curiously asked about her background. She was a geneticist from the American south, she knew how to fly a helicopter, was over 50 years old, and had three kids. She came to work in this small, polar town after her husband’s work transferred him here. She said she had already worked at that customer service desk for nine months, and she laughed: “I like this job because I don’t have to think too much, it’s simple and pleasant.”
Happiness at work comes from your own attitude. There are always people who can find happiness even in their tedious, repetitive jobs, and yet others are always dissatisfied regardless of how important and interesting their jobs are.
A good job isn’t something you go out and find, it’s something you discover while you’re working.
Meanwhile, Wall Street analysts started coverage of Alibaba on Wednesday and estimated that its shares could go as high as $178. That would make the company worth $500 billion.
We are huge fans of Shawn Achor’s Happiness Advantage and use his seven principles in our Happiness At Work workshops and eLearning programmes.
These short 1minute movies by Megan Early are a great taster and introduction into Achor’s six of Achor’s seven principles:
Principle #1 ~ The Happiness Advantage – becoming happier in order to become more successful and productive
Principle #2 ~ The Fulcrum and the Lever – leveraging positivity
Principle #3 ~ The Tertris Effect – training our brains for optimism
Principle #4 ~ Falling Up – growing from set backs and failure
Principle #5 ~ The Zorro Circle – gaining control and mastery one small step at a time
Principle #6 ~ The 20-second Rule – reducing the obstacles and getting momentum
(Principle #7 ~ Social Investment – building strong relationships does not yet have a movie in this playlist)
Four Chambers is an extraordinary film about life and living it to the full.
Imanuel Goncalves explores four life affirming and uplifting stories about compassion, courage, vision and wonder. Featuring the viral sensation, “The Cab Ride I’ll Never Forget”, wisdom and insight from the world’s top neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and the unforgettable stories of 5 year old Austin, and the horses of Greatwood, Four Chambers could change the way you see the world forever.
All of these stories and many more are collected together in this week’s new Happiness At Work #115 collection.
And here are our seven favourite practical guides you will find in this week’s toolbox of tips and techniques:
…what are the main sources of intrusion, how do they affect us, and what can be done to curb them?
…Regardless of whether you work at home once a month or every day, there are a handful of crucial habits you’ll need to adopt if you want to work effectively…
…from No.1 Making Time For Family and Friends to No. 14 Recharging…
…if you know Myers-Briggs Personality Types this is an excellent resource to adapt your influencing approach to best match the people you want to connect with from, from ‘staying strictly logical with ESTJs’ to ‘always acknowledging good work from INFPs…
…three measures that can help both employees and leaders who have to deal with a controlling boss who is clearly stuck in the ‘this is the way things are done around here’ mindset to ensure that they are able to promote growth and collective success in their organisation.
Psychologist and leadership consultant Kathy Kramer on what makes great leadership these days…
“Leaders do not realise how important they are in driving the change. They have a ripple effect that they often underestimate. People follow people, not just great ideas. Leaders have to put themselves into the equation – you are as important if not more so than any other strategy. People need to look at you, hear from you, and they need to know how much they matter.”
…an really useful searchable, downloadable resource of free online resources in a database containing 500 of the most popular webpages, writings, articles and pieces written on positive psychology. Worth filing away in your library of resources…
I hope you find plenty here to enjoy and use to your own happiness advantage.