With all the negative stuff all around us, I thought the best gift I could give my readers is to share an outstanding video by Harvard’s psychologist and lecturer Tal Ben-Shahar. It has been one of the most popular videos on the Big Think web site. He has a very practical approach to happiness supported by research… not just fluffy talk.
- Take 4 minutes and 33 seconds to watch the video. Take notes. Do not get distracted by other things when you’re watching and listening.
- Determine how well you are applying the five things he outlines in the video. Take action based on your self assessment.
- Share the video with people you really care about.
- Recognize that genuine happiness is really more in our control than we realize.
- Put stuff that’s not in our control where it belongs.
Five Happiness Actions in the Triangle,
Alex, one of our top sales people, asked me the other day what was wrong, “You look so serious and almost mad.” Geez I thought, I’m pretty focused but certainly not “mad” at anyone. But I needed to remind myself that a leader’s mood will spread like a virus throughout his or her organization. Any emotion of the leader will spread quickly; positive or negative. While happy moods and especially laughter are the most contagious anger and despair in the boss can upset the whole group quickly too. If Alex thinks I’m worried and stressed out it becomes a negative distraction to him in his sales role. Sorry Alex… and to everyone else for a mood contagion that was a negative vibe.
So here’s the point. What we focus on largely creates our emotional state.
- Recognize that self awareness is a vital place to start. We have to be able to recognize and describe our emotions. What are we feeling and communicating?
- Focus on what needs focusing on but remember we can choose to communicate confidence or despair, and everything in between. What do we want to communicate? Choose it consciously and carefully.
- Get feedback on the vibe we send… ask, watch, listen, learn.
Mood Awareness in the Triangle,
There was much that disturbed all of America about the debt ceiling debate. But perhaps what distressed many of us the most was the feeling that making the decision that was best for the country was secondary to the “my way or the highway” mentality that permeated much of the debate. Additionally, dialogue over issues seemed to be overshadowed by personal attack. Those of us who have been part of functional families and organizations know that individuality and the ability to express needs, wants, and feelings is important. We also know that “we-ness” allows for the “me” to express itself, but that agreeing to disagree is ok too. What is not ok is when the “me” becomes “look out for number one” ONLY and the agenda between members becomes poisoned by manipulation and distrust.
The US culture is fiercely autonomous and independent. These values are fundamental to the creativity and industrious nature of the famous “American way.” To move a company (or country for that matter) forward, success is more around applying the spirit of inclusiveness and expansion. This philosophy is different than everyone agreeing and seeing everything the same way. It can and should accommodate individualism. It is also much different than, “My way is the only right way because I believe it is so, and screw everyone else.”
- Self assess how much room you have for the view of others in your work place.
- How effective are people at constructively attacking issues instead of each other (or other departments)?
- What tools like STP* are in place to help that dialogue?
- How often is the focus on “me” versus “we”? Listen to the words that people use in their communication? Is it for the greater good?
We don’t want to raise the debt limits in our companies if we can avoid it. But I believe we could all benefit from raising the respect limit!
Raising the Respect Limit in the Triangle,
* STP – Situation – Target – Proposal
Before we head out for summer vacation it is prudent to check the tires and alignment on our vehicle. It is also a good time to check the metaphorical equivalent for a good journey at work. Like four good tires, there are four primary areas that I believe determine whether people are able to optimize their contribution at work (and that includes you, me, and people who work for us):
- Pay and Recognition. Are you and I getting compensated fairly? Are we being sufficiently recognized for the work we do? Do people honestly care and value us for our individual contributions? How do we know? There are a lot of components to answering this question well. It is much broader than base pay. Ideally we feel great about total compensation AND the amount we get recognized.
- Knowledge and Information. Do you and I have the right information to do our work well? How are we measured? How do we stack up to those metrics? Do we have access to the data we need to do our job well? We need to discern between data and insight. Ideally we have insight-rich feedback systems guiding us.
- Education and Learning. Are we trained to do our job well? Does the management and information systems allow us to continuously learn? Are we getting better at our job? How do we honestly know? How much coaching and development are we seeking? … And getting?
- Engagement and Involvement. Do we have an opportunity to improve processes we’re responsible for? Are you and I actively participating in making things better? Have we made things better? What evidence do we have to prove it? Does our input to improving processes we are responsible for and impacted by really count?
You and I have a responsibility to assess whether we score high on ALL of these four areas. If any one area gets out of balance or alignment things can go badly; at worse we end up having a “blow out.” We have a responsibility to take action to elevate our score in each area. This means not being passive. We are self accountable for our work environment.
Character Move: the big four are what I call the “People Contribution System” and are part of an overall leadership framework called the “Rubis Leadership System”™. Take a moment during your summer vacation to ask yourself tough questions, while self assessing where you are on the big four. Please remember that it is important to score highly in EACH area. Put a plan in place to get the right balance. If not, a wholesale tire change may be necessary.
Time for a tire check in The Triangle,