Tag Archives: optimism

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, Martin Seligman PhD, Free Press, Simon & Schuster Inc. 2011.

Martin Seligman’s newest book is fascinating! Seligman (world renown for his work in positive psychology) takes his past extensive studies of “authentic happiness” and expands it into the concept of “well-being”.

Seligman’s believes that one’s own sense of well-being has five measurable and sustainable elements: positive emotion, engagement, relationship, meaning and achievement. And this is not only true for individuals but equally measurable in businesses, teams, families, neighbor communities and even for whole countries. I was intrigued to read the research findings on which of 23 EU countries ranked the highest in citizen “well-being”. Pick up the book to see where we all should be moving! Leadership.

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The Happiness Advantage

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance, by Shawn Achor, Random House Publishers, New York, New York. (2010)

I found this book fascinating because it clearly shakes up our old cultural beliefs that first we need to find external “successes” before we will find “happiness”. Achor takes us along his research path – starting first with Harvard University freshman – and then into the wealth of studies in positive psychology over the last several years. I’m convinced! My time and energy is best spent on ensuring that I maximize my positive emotions to benefit both my professional and personal life.

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The Business Case for “Happiness”

So which comes first? Success or “happiness”? It’s ingrained in our American culture that if we work hard, we will become successful and once we are successful, then we will be happy. But is this really true? As we learn more about what really motivates people and how positive emotions influence all facets of our lives we see that this formula is actually backward.

Don’t believe me? Think about it . . . if success brings happiness, then each time we get that new job, new promotion, find that ideal husband, new house, new car or lose that five pounds we would be happy. But often something very different happens. We start thinking that this isn’t enough – we push out the criteria for our happiness even further. We are always waiting, waiting, waiting to really be happy.

So this is what the hard science tells us . . . in the last 10 – 15 years there has been an abundance of research in the area of positive psychology or “happiness”. And the results are clear . . . positive emotions engage and motivate us to stretch, grow and perform at our very best. We see the world clearer, especially the possibilities that we could tap into. And from that foundation of personal confidence, resiliency and creativity, we make ourselves available for opportunity. Success then seems to find us – almost falls in our laps.

So here’s the ROI of happiness . . . People do business with people they know, like and trust. We all like to be around positive, energetic and optimistic friends, family and work colleagues. We even do business with companies that project that positivity – think of highly successful Southwest Airlines. And we have total control over our own emotions – negative and positive. I vote for putting my time and energy into where I’m going to benefit the most and that is in my own “happiness”.

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Emotional Intelligence: Use It or Lose Your Career!

You may think I’m exaggerating but it’s true. The #1 reason professionals stumble in their career advancement is because of their lack of social and emotional intelligence. They may have all the knowledge, skills and even years of experience but they have earned a reputation for not being able to get along with their colleagues, direct reports or even their bosses.  In short, their own self-awareness; empathy for others and ability to manage their own emotions is limited or nonexistent.

These folks (are we talking about you?) are just known for being difficult – they don’t listen, are confrontational, unpredictable and even arrogant in their beliefs. They may be in a supervisory or middle management position because they have been with the company for so long but now their career is on thin ice and they wonder why.  But others know why . . .

So what exactly is “social and emotional intelligence”?  Here is a excellent working defination from the Institute for Social & Emotional Intelligence (ISEI), Denver, Colorado.

  • “Social and emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of our own emotions and those of others, in the moment, and to use that information to manage ourselves and manage our relationships”.

I’ve been giving workshops on emotional intelligence (EQ) for years – it’s truly my favorite topic because it impacts every aspect of our working and personal lives.  I’m delighted now to be in an intensive coach certification course (October – November) through ISEI with my Australian coaching colleagues to learn even more.  I’ve already started to pull new ideas and tools into my training courses and with my individual coaching clients.

So let’s remember that 80 – 85% of our career success at the upper levels depends on our ability to connect, communicate and collaborate with others. Our own personal work experiences confirm that research.  We have all known industry leaders who have those qualities – they inspire, motivate and engage their teams and employees resulting in people working harder with energy, creativity and greater flexibility.  The result? Less employee turnover; higher productivity and greater profits for the company.

This is emotional intelligence competencies in action. Let’s be known as one of those leaders!



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Using the MBTI to Make Life Easier

There are at least a hundred personality assessments on the market today – all with the promise that if we know ourselves better we will be happier and more successful in both our personal and professional lives.  We can take Emergenetics; the DiSC; the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI); Skill Scan; StrengthsFinder 2.0; Career Liftoff; Knowdell’s Motivated Skill Sort; the traditional 360° Assessment; Personal Branding surveys; Emotional Intelligence self-assessments and the list goes on and on.

But are they worth it?  Can they help us learn something about ourselves that we didn’t already know?  And how can we use the information to make our life a bit easier each and every day?

My answer is yes!  A bit of self-knowledge wisely applied can go a long way.  But first make sure to ask and answer these two questions for yourself ahead of time:

  1. What do I want to learn about myself?
  2. How will I apply that learning to my life today?

The answers to these two questions may be more difficult than you think.  That is why it is important to take the assessments under the guidance of a certified administrator that can clearly delineate the differences in the assessments, what you can expect to gain and then help you clarify how the resulting knowledge can benefit your goals at this time in your life.

But what about all the on-line assessments?  Yes, they have certainly gotten better in the last few years with many providing you with a robust report with more detail than maybe you even wanted.  A word of caution – be careful of the freebies.  You may be left with more questions, be more confused and more vulnerable for them to sell you a bigger package.  Look before you leap!

I am biased though and believe that nothing takes the place of talking with a real live professional that knows and cares about your own goals.  I want to know that they really know what they are talking about.  Over the years I’ve obtained certification in several of the well-known assessments.  I weave them into the beginning of the leadership or career transition coaching that I’m doing and people love them.  Maybe it’s the mystery of figuring out “Who am I really?’ or maybe it’s just trying to figure out what makes their husbands tick?

My favorite is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  It’s the best-of-the-best because once we know and really understand our own innate “preferences” life really does become much easier.  And the icing on the cake, is now we know what motivates and energizes other people both in our families and in our work settings.  We also become a little less critical and a lot more appreciative of the “gifts” we all bring to the table every day.

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