Performing on the stages of life with enjoyment and success will require among other qualities a sense of humor. It will also require self-management. Often times we face challenges when we attempt to achieve new heights – be it getting into physical shape at the gym or starting a new business. Optimism and lightheartedness can go a long way when you have to have to rise to the occasion to learn and grow out of your current comfort zone. Things don’t always work out as plan so,
“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it!” ~Jonathan Winters
While you are swimming, hopefully you are learning new skills to enable you to complete the course. We can always learn to swim better as the waters can become unexpectedly choppy at times. I have found that it matters not how smart you are, how many degrees you may have or who you know – sooner or later uncertainty will find you and the environment will shift. You see to perform at your best you will need a growth mindset, one that is flexible and willing to expand. Are you able to relax and also enjoy the journey?
You will need to have good people skills, as it is getting quite tough to go it alone; the Lone Ranger is no longer popular. You will need to think and see clearly to avoid potholes along the way. Here are five factors that can fuel high performance that are not often taught in “How to be Successful” tips when making a career shift, starting or expanding a business. These are factors that are not as simple as taking a sales course and hiring a new accountant or consultant. They are skills or traits that we all need to develop within ourselves to a functional degree if we desire to perform at our very best.
Happiness will be elusive as long as a man or a woman builds their self-image or their worth based on what they do and how much money they make. I read an article this weekend in The New York Times Magazine, September 2, 2012, bemoaning the fact that many men are losing their self-worth because their, “macho” jobs are going away and their wives are making more money than they are. Mind you, it’s not that they can’t find work; they just don’t want to do service jobs that they consider, “women’s work” – such as teaching. Here’s a quote from the article which is based upon a soon to be released book, “The End of Men: And the Rise of Women” (OMG, is this what really matters to us?):
“A man needs a strong macho job. He’s not going to be a schoolteacher or a legal secretary or some beauty-shop (slam on male barbers) queen. He’s got to be a man”.
Heaven help us if being a man is truly defined by a job title. How fragile. How sad.
Now here’s the big picture – evolution is striking once again. It’s interesting how we can read about how past civilizations had to evolve and go through growth pains to get to their next level. Now, in present time the current civilizations are being called to raise their consciousness and individuals are being called to use more of our true potential – to empower ourselves. To stop gauging our worth, our value as human beings based upon one gender dominating the other or one race needing to devalue another to feel good about themselves. Here’s the subtitle to the NY Times article:
“Welcome to the New Middle-class Matriarchy”
Seriously? Really? So money still defines who is in “power”? Matriarchy? Why does there need to be any kind of “archy”? I’m not for either patriarchy or matriarchy. My gender should not be what determines my level of contribution to the world. It should not determine my level of choice.
Happiness can be so fleeting for many because we have our priorities backwards. Many people connect their sense of self-worth with their career, what they “do”. What you “do” is not the same as “who you are”. Now for many this statement will sound totally confusing. “Of course”, you may think, “I am what I do”. This is because since we were young children, we were conditioned to equate what we do and have with our worth. This began the life long habit, for the majority, of comparing notes against others. Who has the most money? The largest home? The “best” husband or wife (totally subjective, of course)…who looks better? There is much truth in the adage that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Well, science would now align with this truth. In fact, we are assigning the meaning to our life and then our body and physiology follows. Our biology is our biography. In this time of turbulence in the workplace, you are in a boatload of trouble if you are too over-identified with your job or business.
“You should not confuse your career with your life.” ~Dave Barry
I surely agree. There is the essence of “you”, the conscious being, the spirit, the “Observer” in Quantum Physics, and then there is what that Being “does” or “has” which really boils down to an “experience”. It is a fleeting experience. Our feelings are experiences. All external people, places and things are experiences. They change. The only way to have a sense of inner peace and stability is to reflect on this question long enough to realize the “aha” that disconnects you from the illusion that our Self is definable by a job or by what Jane Doe thinks about you. That question is this:
“Who do you think you are?”
One thing for sure, I can tell you what I’m not…I’m not my purpose, my mission, my career, my business. I’m not defined by the roles that I play. I am more than the many parts of my self. I can experience all of this, yet I’m not defined by any of it. I can experience it without losing my Self to any of it…if I just pay attention. Understanding our brain and mind will help to separate our thought from our being. Our brain is a wonderful storyteller. Since we are making it all up, why not create the theme and storyline to include more happiness, purpose and better relationships? You can start to “in joy” your journey.
Here are 3 tips to begin to make some changes to get you there:
True potential is a challenge to uncover if you are out of touch with what is the most misrepresented and misunderstood aspects of being human – feelings. HeartMath research findings indicate that feelings (heart) are 5,000 more magnetic energy than that of thought (brain). When the mind and heart are coherent, or “on the same page”, a person is in a higher state of well-being and creativity. So, what is the passageway to more joy, meaning and worth?
Simple as that.
Simply yes, however, since the western world in particular, has built up so much resistance to feeling/emotion, it is not easy for most people to access anything but the more “negative” of feelings – the ones that repress our joy, worth and meaning. How ironic. We have created a society that disrespects the very part of ourselves that will bring us what so many are killing themselves over with excessive “doing” and “hard work”. The issue is we have a “perception” that causes us to increase exactly what we don’t want – negative, fear-based emotion and its subsequent feelings. We become attached to “wanting” to feel happy all the time (happy is not the same as joy actually, it’s situational) or to frantically avoiding feeling sad. The great number of people are also disconnected from their heart in a way that is unhealthy. Feelings are not bad or good except thinking (judgment) make it so.
“Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity” ~Socrates, 469-399 B.C.
Our culture and social institutions historically and from what I’ve observed with eyes wide-open produce:
1. Reduction in joy (Focus on lack, fear and competition)
2. Reduction in self-worth (“Who you are” is equated with “What you do or have” and that apparently is “never enough”)
3. Reduction in meaning (The focus has/had been only on “shareholder value” in business instead of a higher purpose in work for the individual).
Work and life balance is central to health, real wealth and enjoyable relationships. Gratitude and appreciation are apparently little known secret ingredients to what everyone is really seeking – inner peace, meaning and joy. Then we can “in joy” our efforts and monetary results and use money constructively and with greater purpose. “Stuff” starts to lose its meaning in general.
“Happiness” is very situational, yet joy is the “peace that passes understanding”. It is not a transient mental state; it is the essence of our “being”. We’ve just lost sight of this truth. So, why is there so much increase in disease, debt and divorce or unsatisfying relationships – at home and at work? For one thing, we have forgotten, “who we are”. We have attached our worth and identity to “stuff” that many of us don’t really want.
In fact, I’d venture to say that most people don’t really know what they want or “why” they are so busy “doing” things. It has become a national epidemic – “Doingitis” – a “dis-ease” state. Then, we don’t even feel grateful or appreciate what we accomplish or have. There are steps and processes one can take to disentangle one’s self-worth and meaning from this chronic distracted way of living. However, here I will offer one simple remedy; cultivate gratitude and appreciation. This one thing, felt with the heart and not just an intellectual exercise can:
Business success requires more than “bottom line” numbers and current market share data (this can change overnight). In fact, when we are wise enough to go beyond statistics and gauging success solely by the external value of income, the paradox is, we are likely to have more income. I was listening to a video by Tom Peters and he closed out by referring to Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ CEO and the company’s first value to “Wow the Customer”.
“It’s ok to say “WOW” and it’s OK to act “Wow” – even in business” ~Tom Peters
I think that is right on if by “wow” you mean making it an experience that engages the heart along with the product or service. It’s not just a matter of how much you know, or how good the product performs. These things are important. Yet more and more, in our frantic world, people want to feel that you care and value their patronage.
They want to know that you care (a feeling) about how they are impacted and you are engaged not just for “bottom line” or “shareholder value”. This will require some reflection on the part of leadership – in other words, the people at the helm of the company that influence the culture. I notice that people talk about “organizations” as if they are homogenous, “things” instead of consisting of individuals who carry their own individual perceptions. If the leaders have old hang ups that want to repress expression of feelings, or see EQ/social intelligence as “soft skills” (often referred to in a derogatory sort of way), they are going to be hit with a rude awakening.
It never ceases to surprise me how a person can say, “people buy with emotion and justify with logic” and then turn around and deride feelings as something that should not be given attention. Well let me inform you – research from the HeartMath Institute has pointed to the fact that emotion has 5,000 times more magnetic energy in the nervous system than thought alone. In fact, it is emotion that powerfully wires behavior and belief.
If you want to learn how to “wow” people,
you will need to learn
how to get out of your head and into your (and theirs) heart.
Happiness is a perception that is subject to how one sees life, how one interprets their circumstances. Brain research essentially shows we create our “reality” by assigning the meaning to our lives. Research shows that our ability to create and manage positive emotions is one of the foundations for success (and happiness) in business and life.
Whether or not we are happy is often not so much about what we do or how much money or associations we have as it is about the level of self-awareness we have to engage our mind and heart in our activity. While there are studies that connect happiness with better health, meaningful relationships and meaningful work – the key is “meaningful”. What does it mean to you?
Judging how materialistic our society is and how little attention is given by our educational system to develop the unique talents and interests of individuals, we still believe that happiness is outside of ourselves. We continue to “look for love in all the wrong places”. We still believe that we can “do” happiness, or “get” happiness through more “stuff”.
Business and material “success” does not necessarily make us happy. If it did, Americans should be some of the happiest people in the world. Polls have actually shown quite the contrary and we have frighteningly high rates of depression, obesity, debt and disease despite high-income levels. The answer lies in realizing that the path to happiness is an inner journey.
It’s not that having things is bad; it just that when we associate our identity with them, they have us – we get stuck.
When we can truly love and compassionately accept who we are, independently of what we “do” then we can “be” more joyful and fulfilled as we do our work in the world. The happier and more at peace that we are, the more likely we will be prosperous and healthy. Our choices are more likely to be done with clarity and with less effort and “hard work” (“hard” is mostly due to resistance, versus “flow”). When we recognize that our minds are conditioned to focus on what we fear or don’t want, we can learn to “retrain our brain” to change our focus of attention.