Friday, February 24, 2012

The Best 12:21 of Your Day: The Happy Secret to Better Work

This TED talk delivered to us all the way from TEDxBloomington is on rethinking how we view work and happiness.
Shawn Achor is CEO of Good Think, Inc. a corporate consulting firm. A former Harvard instructor, he explores positive outcomes and human potential, especially what he has coined the "Happiness Advantage."

Fundamentally, Mr. Achor believes that instead of working productively to gain happiness, we should work to be happy in order to increase work productivity. He uses his study of "positive psychology" and the belief that we need to escape the cult of the average in order to maximize our happiness. This makes complete sense once you look at it that way, but it is seldom done in any industry.

Let us consider a key piece of research that Mr. Achor references. When gauging success in the workplace only 25% of success is based on IQ. A full 75% of job success is due to optimism, social support and viewing stress as a challenge instead of a threat. 
This is huge for several reasons. First, we need to consider hiring and how we evaluate people. Considering there personality and attitude more than their IQ or educational attainment. How will they respond under deadline? How will they work with their peers? What overall attitude will they convey?
25% of success is based on IQ
75% of success is based on optimism and support 
Second, we need to consider how we manage. As a small business owner and someone who has spent a career in high-stress, high reward industries, this positive outlook is seldom used. Take for instance the advertising agency environment. Most agencies motivate their staff through winning of accounts, deadlines and the work hard - play hard system. Thus, the motivation is based on the success or failure of clients, revenue and projects delivered. The current model of, "hard work = success = happiness" simply forces employees to reset their goalpost of success to meet the next client deadline or next new business win. You never feel happy because there is always another goal to meet. 

But what if we followed Mr. Achor's philosophy? How do we make people feel positive in the present?
What if we focus on instilling happiness as a basis and then letting that happiness and optimism carry the individual to success?
It is a great thought that all leaders should consider.


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