Every month I pick a book from Audible.com and study it. For the month of May I have been studying the Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. It talks about the 7 principles of positive psychology that fuel success and performance at work. I have to say right up front – I LOVE this book, just listening to it makes me happy!
The book highlights the impact of our focus and perception, and in simple terms says that happiness is a matter of perception. We need to focus more on the things we do have instead of all the things we don’t, spend more time exploring the upside than the down, talk more about the solution than the problem, tell more positive rather than negative stories, and look for the good rather than the bad in others. It sounds like common sense right? But why is it so hard for some?
From my experience most leaders and organisations invest too much time and energy in what’s going wrong (the problem) and they spend way too little time sharing stories of success (the solutions). Let’s face it about 80% of people probably do a pretty good, if not awesome job each day, but we take it for granted… 80% is a massive majority of good stuff happening every single day, however this information rarely becomes water cooler gossip.
Discussion, interactions and meetings are often high jacked by problems…not physically but psychologically. Here’s how I see meetings commonly unfold; it starts with a purge about difficult people, and the things they have tried but failed, I hear about some new initiatives that worked for a bit, and then confusion around why things never stuck. Finally we talk about the fact that the increasing pressure to do more with less creates unrealistic expectations and the chances of any change long term are slim to none. I keep my chin up as hope walks out the door…
…and then I get happy and attempt to turn things from toxic to terrific! I use positively geared questions because the right questions can quickly change the mood, direction and energy levels of any discussion. I love seeing people’s face light and body language shift when they take a different view.
Here are some examples of questions I love to ask:
- Can you tell me about some of your star performers?
- What’s a recent good news story?
- Can you describe what success looks like for you and for your team?
- What are you most proud of?
If our minds get lazy our default becomes negative, at least 80% of our news is bad news, our mainstream health care system is focused on sickness and bad word of mouth stories travel 10 times faster than good ones. What you choose to focus on becomes the fabric of who you are. Be a conscious thinker, and choose to focus on the things that make you happy.
Want to learn more? Click here to see Shawn Achor’s TED talk.