6 April 2020
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Get happy! Get successful!

When the big business strategies of one-time great US corporations became reading material for aspirational business-builders, entrepreneurs and those hell-bent on climbing the corporate ladder, we started to hear about mission statements, vision statements, business plans and impressive sounding terms such as KPIs, USPs and SWOTs.

The mission statement was the starting point for a company wanting to get their message out to stakeholders from shareholders to employees to supplying business customers, of course.

In an age of a virtual self-improvement industry characterized by books, videos, coaches and conferences dedicated to making people better, which I think is a great thing for individual and national productivity, some ‘outside the square’ thinkers have encouraged us to do personal mission statements.

But what should these say?

Let me show you some mission statements from some of the greatest businesses of all time:

  • Disney — “To make people happy.”
  • Coca Cola — “To refresh the world. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness. To create value and make a difference.”
  • Microsoft: “Microsoft’s mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.”
  • Wal Mart: “To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same thing as rich people.”
  • Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

Disney nailed it best because just about every other mission statement is telling everyone that doing stuff will make you fulfilled, successful, enabled and, ultimately, happy.

Happy people are actually more productive than unhappy people.

The Dalai Lama has counselled us that “...the very purpose of our life is happiness, the very motion of our life is towards happiness.”

And the great Roman philosopher/ruler, Marcus Aurelius, explained how we get it with: “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”

What we think is critical to so many things and I reckon Eleanor Roosevelt gave us great advice in telling us: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Given Eleanor’s advice, here’s an idea: pursue happiness to boost your productivity and your likelihood of creating a great success rate.

But you might be thinking, ‘well. that sounds great but is there really a link between being happy and kicking life goals?’

A recent study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive. As the research team put it: “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”

“Financial incentives aren’t enough to make for highly productive employees.”

Google once went long employee support and satisfaction and employee satisfaction rose 37% as a result of those initiatives.

Fast Company pointed to Shawn Anchor, the author of The Happiness Advantage, who found that the brain works much better when a person is feeling positive.

When Southwest Airlines came out of nowhere, its competitive advantage was that it committed heavily to customer and staff happiness. This is its mission statement, which says it all: “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In his book The Inside Advantage, Bob Bloom talks about how Southwest looked at their typical customer — salesmen who had a hard life and were often cramped at the back of airplanes in the worst seats, so they showed them a lot of ‘love’ with their customer service and the rest was history. It was the start of a business journey that as Forbes magazine put it in 2014: “Southwest Airlines motivates its employees with a purpose bigger than a paycheck. If you're one of the 100 million passengers who fly Southwest Airlines every year, you might have noticed their award-winning service—happy, friendly employees who go the extra mile to satisfy their passengers.”

Of course, it’s great if you work for a company that has a big commitment to happiness but individuals should also think about encouraging themselves. Research suggests helping out co-workers, meditating for even two minutes a day and reflecting on three things to be grateful for at work, can actually raise happiness levels!

In an article in Fast Company Alexander Kjerulf, founder of Woohoo Inc. and the organization’s “chief happiness officer,” says happiness is a business game changer. Happy employees, in his view, make better decisions, excel at managing their time, and possess other crucial leadership skills.
“The vast majority of working adults don’t enjoy their work,” the article said.
A Gallup survey found that 13% of US employees are not engaged at work and it suggests that US companies are losing about $550 billion in lost production and income.
Writing for entrepreneur.com, Sherrie Campbell looked at “12 Ways Happiness Increases Productivity” and here they are:

  1. Just Smile — There’s no better way to enter a new day than with a smile on our face. Neuroscience has proven that laughter is truly the best medicine, so go long big smiles.
  2. Be hardy — To be successful, happy and productive, we must be resilient. The more resilient we are, the more successful we have the potential to become.
  3. Take action —Success and happiness aren’t what we have, they are what we do; therefore, we are the most productive when we’re backing our beliefs with action.
  4. Be optimistic — Optimism is a choice. To be happy, successful, and productive we must be mindful of the good, and force ourselves to look on the bright side. When we stay focused on the bright side, we more easily find solutions to our challenges.
  5. Be appreciative —Life is extremely complex because we’re having to balance so many moving elements each day. To stay motivated and inspired, it is helpful to appreciate the simple, easy-to-come-by pleasures life has to offer. To stay productive, we must take time to appreciate hugs from our loved ones and a pat on the back from our bosses or peers, etc.
  6. Be generous — Nothing will raise our spirits more quickly than being generous and kind towards others. It’s a wonderful experience to see the results of our contributions.
  7. Love what you do —When we’re totally immersed in work or projects that are challenging, invigorating, and meaningful, we experience being in our “zone.” Happiness is most deeply experienced in the workplace when we are totally absorbed and caught up in what we’re doing.
  8. Make meaningful connections — People who are more deeply connected to a select group of people tend to be happier and more productive than those who have large numbers of superficial connections.
  9. Listen — When we listen, we open our ability to take people and knowledge in. We become smarter, more insightful, and much more productive people from listening.
  10. Engage in personal contact — Although electronic communications are convenient, the happiest people have no problem making the extra effort to either drive or book a flight to see people in person when at all possible.
  11. Do a digital detox — to be happy and maintain high levels of productivity, we must take time to digitally detox. We need time away from computer screens and mobile phones.
  12. Exercise —Exercise has been proven beyond any doubt to decrease depression, stress and anxiety. The chemicals released during exercise amplify feelings of happiness and relaxation. It’s even better if we can exercise outside. Fresh air has largely proven to increase a sense of vitality.

I know I do this quote from Chris Evert all the time but it’s so relevant to all our endeavours. To explain her great tennis success, she once said: “There were times when deep down I wanted to win so badly that I could actually will it to happen. I think most of my career was based on desire.”

If you want success, simply really desire happiness. Don’t just want it, need it and I bet you there’s a great chance you’ll be an absolute winner!

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