Does Success Drive Happiness, Or Is It The Other Way Around?
Let me begin by saying I’m a proud card-carrying member of the Baby Boomer Generation where we were taught that hard work, sacrifice,
and perseverance would lead to success, and that success would create a sense of satisfaction and happiness. I believe we labeled it “living the American dream”. However, many of my fellow “Boomers” found that code to be misleading. The promise underlying the “hard work = success = happiness” equation didn’t always turn out to be true leaving many disillusioned about the relationship between success and happiness.
Insight can be found in Shawn Achor’s “The Happiness Advantage.” The author uses neuro science to explore
seven principles that “fuel success and performance at work.” Achor reviews a multitude of studies, many business examples, and the science behind the principle that “happiness precedes important outcomes and indicators of thriving”. Said another way, happiness causes success and achievement, not the other way around. The following is a partial list of the demonstrated value of happiness –
- Happiness improves physical health helping us to work faster and longer with fewer days lost to illness, and lower healthcare expenditures.
- Happiness enables us to be more thoughtful, creative and open to more ideas… be more productive.
- Happiness enables us to think more quickly and creatively.
- Happiness helps us to think “outside the box”, identify opportunities, and build upon the ideas of colleagues.
- Happiness helps to fight physical stress and anxiety.
Think this is just another fad? Ask the folks at Google, Coors Brewing Company, Patagonia, and countless other successful companies. Many of today’s most successful companies have abandoned the notion that the best employees are those that work the longest hours, don’t take a vacation, and who don’t “waste” their time socializing. Instead, these forward thinking companies work hard to create work environments that purposely stimulate positivity. They encourage exercise, meditation, personal development as well as professional development, and working environments that stimulate collaboration and teamwork.
And the really good news is that this approach to creating a positive corporate culture does not have to be an expensive endeavor. In fact, it will have a positive return-on-investment. One inexpensive approach is simply based on providing frequent recognition and encouragement. Studies have shown that companies with managers who provide steady encouragement enjoy substantial increases in productivity.
This book has made me reexamine my thoughts about how I manage myself and, more importantly, how I approach the critically important job of effectively managing others. And, it has convinced me to rethink the relationship between happiness and success.
I’ve only scratched the surface here. Don’t sell this content short. It’s an important read for those who are committed to creating positive, creative, and successful working environments and cultures. Please contact me directly if you would like to discuss these approaches in greater detail.