Smile, Flap and Step To Success

Books Happiness Respect


Key Point: Happiness and forward action fuels success, not the other way around. It’s that simple and that complex. It’s that easy and that difficult. Shawn Achor‘s  book, The Happiness Advantage, draws on tons of rigorous Harvard driven research, and practical experience to demonstrate that this principle is a truism.

Achor introduces seven practical and actionable principles that are tried, tested and true in demonstrating how we can apply what he calls, “The Happiness Advantage,” to maximize our personal potential. While we learn and read about these principles, I’m going to share a short cut to accelerate this path to success.

He refers to an activity he has applied with thousands of people in a variety of situations and cultures. He breaks groups up into pairs and instructs one person per couple to use every bit of their self-discipline to show NO emotion, regardless of what their partner says or does. He then brings in the other person and instructs them to simply look the other person in the eyes and smile. Literally every time, usually within a few minutes, the person instructed to use discipline and show no emotion, ends up flashing a reciprocal smile or even erupts in bursts of laughter. This is the foundation of something called the “ripple effect.”

You likely have heard that a single butterfly flapping its wings can create a hurricane halfway around the world (Aka, the butterfly effect). The point is that every small change can trigger a bigger one. And I recently read a poem by Antonio Machado that states: “Walker, there is no path. The path is made by walking.” The poem reinforces that we all have only one real choice in front of us, which is to take a forward step. The step is more important that looking and waiting for a perfect path. That expected trail most likely doesn’t exist.

Character Moves:

  1. Embrace the research, science and belief that self-happiness leads to success, not the other way around.
  2. Genuinely walk through your day, consciously looking people directly into their eyes and smiling. Positivity is contagious. (Be honest… How much do you look people directly into their eyes and smile before EVERY intersection)?
  3. Flap and step! It is forward action that causes a ripple effect. Do not worry that there might not be a path. Do not worry if you can fly. Just flap and step and you will cause a ripple!
  4. Read and apply Achor’s seven principles to get real, sustainable momentum. However while everyone, including you, is studying and learning the seven principles, remember that smiling, flapping and stepping will create a positive wind, and maybe ripple into much more!

Smiling, flapping and stepping in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: In today’s sometimes-hypersensitive society, I’ve read/heard that a smile from a stranger can be perceived as something “more” than just an expression of positivity. Some assume there’s an agenda attached. It’s troubling. I don’t think that should be the case… But unfortunately, a smile from well-dressed doorman in New York City (nice to see you too, sir) could be received differently than one from a homeless person on the corner (oh he wants something), or a guy at the gym (what a creeper), or a woman at a bar (she’s into me), or even a co-worker (what are they smiling about)? But let’s be realistic, intuition isn’t a guarantee, and we all make hasty assumptions about what each smile “really” means. That’s our own mistake for overthinking it in the first place. The nitty gritty is that smiles are, on the surface, just a universal expression of friendliness… And one that should continue. Our self-conscious makes them something more/less… Chances are, if someone just means well, everyone will read that right on their teeth. Keep smiling. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

A Free Pickle Face Antidote

Accountability Growth mindset Happiness


Key Point: I am going to remind you of something that we intuitively know, but sometimes forget the importance of. Many of us are using the New Year to reflect on what might improve us. You know, make us healthier, happier, live longer, become more attractive, benefit our relationships and overall state of being, etc. This blog has a recommendation that is almost too simple, easy, and frankly, may seem a little corny.

This involves no gyms, no diets, no vitamins, no therapy, no Botox, no drugs, other mood modifying substances, no purchase obligations and zero cost. And the recommended action is scientifically proven over years of research to make our life better. If it sounds too good to be true, in this case it actually isn’t. It just works. You’ll probably be a little surprised.

Please take seven minutes to watch Ron Gutman‘s TED Talk video:

The data on the benefits of smiling are almost laughable. Practically validate this research by thinking about the people you interact with or work around who rarely smile. How attracted are you to them? How often is that sourpuss you?

Thanks for investing in yourself by watching this great TED Talk. Now…Even if you don’t commit to any other New Year’s resolution, or set any other 2014 objectives, please consider doing the following: (Or make better Character Moves).

Character Moves:

  1. Consciously greet people through the day by smiling at them; start with who you live with in the morning when you get up. Do this more often than you do today. It is so rewarding to be around someone who smiles. Why not? What will you lose or give up? It’s free.
  2. Take a “selfie” photo of you smiling a few times per week and send it someone you care about. Think of the research regarding pre-1950 baseball cards and how much longer those players who broadly smiled lived… Seven years longer than the frowner downers… Wow. This action will create your own “live longer, smiling baseball card” on a regular basis. Think it’s silly? How much is living longer worth?
  3. Purposefully do something to make you smile more often daily like taking a multi-vitamin. Make a point of smiling more than 20 times per day. Apparently less than 25 percent of adults actually achieve that. Little kids smile on average 400 times per day. What happens to make us grumpy adults? Don’t be that “pickle face” I have written about previously. Consciously smile more and accept the positive returns throughout 2014 and beyond.

More smiling in The Triangle :),



The Astonishing Gift of Smiling

Abundance Kindness Well-being


Key Point: In this season of gift giving I want to remind you to give yourself and others a huge gift that scientifically is proven to generate emotional and even material wealth, yet is absolutely free: A SMILE.

Ron Gutman has written a book Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act. Please allow yourself 10 minutes to watch the following entertaining video by Gutman on this topic in TED talk. Share it with people you care about. Put in their digital Christmas stocking.

The facts are overwhelming. People, who genuinely smile a lot, live longer, are perceived to be smarter, have less stress, and just do better in life. If you want to review the wealth of studies and research that support this premise, read Gutman’s book. If you want a practical test, just walk around the building you’re in now and observe smiling. Think about the good feeling that is generated when someone just smiles at you. One fact that reinforced this for me is that little kids smile about 400 times a day; we adults a heck of a lot less (see our grandson, right, with his first ice cream cone).

Character Move:

  1. Consciously think about smiling a heck of a lot more. It is free AND has a huge ROI! (Go check the facts if you think this suggestion is just mushy do da.)
  2. Walk in your work area and smile at everyone on the way in the morning. Do the same thing when you leave for the day.
  3. Do not take things so darn seriously. Even the most serious business/work issue is a candidate for a smile. It isn’t usually a life or death matter. So be a strong, tough minded, disciplined leader and just friggin’ smile.

Smile Power in the Triangle,



Tough Times End …Tough People Keep Going

Abundance Gratitude Growth mindset


After 40 years in the work world if I know anything I know this: you and I are going to lose sometimes, and more often than we would like. Some will be big losses but most will be skirmishes. If you’re a lawyer you’re going to lose a few big cases.  A doctor will miss a few vital diagnoses. A carpenter will have measured wrong more than once, and so on. How will you and I react? Well, we have a right to be disappointed, sad, mad, and a variety of other “feel bad” emotions.  We will be seduced into the world of blame and we will likely be the harshest on ourselves. And we may want to blame a number of other things or people. Certainly we have to deal with others who will want to blame and criticize us. So what can we do?

The following action list is a helpful general guide but the most important thing we have to realize is that what we do about the loss is what matters most! How we react will tell us and others more than the loss. Please believe me. You might get empathy but there will be little or no sympathy. Only you and I can take us off the hook. We are in control and everyone is watching. If we choose the road of feeling sorry for ourselves, the ironic thing is that people like to pile on, usually in a negative way. More people push us away than pull us toward them, unless we:

  1. Choose to examine the outcome as a serious student. Do not look for absolution. Without being defensive, get motivated to openly learn. Be objective. Collect data. Get honest feedback. Do not act victimized in any way. Other than our family and friends, most people don’t care if we won or lost. They will be attracted to helping if we’re a serious learner.
  2. After a brief period of feeling sorry for ourselves, consciously choose to end the pity. We must not let our minds control us. If we “mind wander” we will likely go to “should’ve, …could’ve…” All this may be somewhat cathartic but not of much real value going forward.
  3. Put the learning into specific principles and actions. Identify things to apply and practice so we don’t repeat the things that contributed to the loss.
  4. Say thank you and be grateful for the loss so we get the opportunity to win again. Celebrate being in the mix. Show tenacity and mental toughness. Most people love those who get off the ground and dust off.
  5. Smile and find the humor in the learning process. Forgive ourselves and others if mistakes were made. We’re alive. And as the old adage says, “You only trip if you’re moving.”

And by the way, don’t feel bad if this feels like it is easier said than done. It is.

Live the Triangle,


The Terry Bradshaw Manifesto: Keep It Fun …Keep It Simple

Abundance Gratitude


Many of you may not be American football fans, or you may be in part of the world where it is irrelevant. However, I had an opportunity to hear American football icon Terry Bradshaw speak to a room full of business executives the other day at the Aria Hotel & Casino (a beautiful facility) in Las Vegas. He’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is an actor in a number movies (including Failure to Launch).  It was interesting to see Terry hold 300+ people in the palm of his hand for 60 minutes. Of course many were men or women who saw Mr. Bradshaw lead The Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl titles as quarterback, twice as Super Bowl MVP, and watches him religiously every Sunday in his role as a Fox NFL Sunday Analyst.

He held the room mesermized with more than just talk about football; it was his philosophy of living. During the talk Terry had this incredible approachability, like he was just jawin’ with a bunch of good ole boys at the bar, or mates at the pub.

Throughout his stellar football career he, like most of us, has had many personal ups and downs, several divorces, financial issues, and more.  He couldn’t get a high enough grade to get to a top notch college. People called him dumb, too stupid to be a pro QB. So through the highs and lows, here are a few elements of the Bradshaw philosophy:

  1. Have Fun every day… smile all the time …laugh …laugh …and find the humor in life, it’s all around us (read my recent blog on humor).
  2. Love and respect yourself first.  How can you love others if you don’t love and respect yourself first?
  3. Say thank to people every day.  Most of us need others’ help and support to be successful (as you might imagine Bradshaw told poignant stories of the help he got from his teammates).
  4. Call your mamma and papa.  Tell them you love them.  Forgive them if you have to; they probably did the best they could.
  5. It is all about family. When we die they are likely to be the ones in the room.

There were a number of other “bradshawisms” but in the end he tries to simplify life everyday by focusing on what’s most important. People want to be around people who want to win… and Terry talked about how glorious a feeling it is to accomplish what one sets out to do.  In the end it often comes down to human beings having fun and liking to be with each. We like to do business with people we like.

If you want to see Terry living out his philosophy, watch him this Sunday on Fox. He’ll be there with that giant Louisiana smile, grinning through our TV sets like we are all his buddies watching the game together.

Bradshaw’s speech reminded me that while the Character Triangle has a serious back bone, living it daily can and should be done with fun and laughter. Every interaction starts out better with a smile. I don’t know about you but I need to be reminded of that from time to time.

Live and laugh the Triangle,