"I'll be happy
when...." is the way many people think they are living their
lives. Yet, happiness is not something that happens to you.
Happiness is inside you now. You are motivated from within.
You only have to allow happiness to surface.
Happiness = K
(knowing who you are) X D (discovering your life's work) X L
(learning not to tolerate what's not
That's the formula
for happiness--know yourself, your true calling and that you
get what you tolerate.
Happiness is being
aware, not only of the positive events that occur in your
life but, that you yourself are the cause of these
events--that you can create them, that you control their
occurrence, and that you play a major role in the good
things that happen to you. Happiness, said Benjamin
Franklin, "is produced not so much by great pieces of good
fortune that seldom happen as by the little advantages that
occur every day."
Happiness isn't off
in the future, but in living in the "now" and loving the
moment of our daily experiences. We form an impression in
every business or personal interaction. In the business
world, we don't speak much about the heart. Yet, the purpose
of doing our life's work should come from the heart---since
all businesses are ultimately people serving people. We all
need connection, belonging and meaningful contribution.
The paradox of
happiness, as stated by Viktor E. Frankl in The Will of
Meaning, "To the extent to which one makes happiness the
objective of his motivation, he necessarily makes it the
object of his attention. But precisely by so doing he loses
sight of the reason for happiness, and happiness itself must
fade away. Success and happiness must happen, the less one
cares for them, the more they can."
The circumstances in
life have little to do with the satisfaction we experience.
Health, wealth, good looks and status have astonishingly
little effect on what the researchers call "subjective
well-being" according to The "Science of Happiness" by
Geoffrey Cowley (with Anne Underwood) in Newsweek, September
amassed a heap of data on what people who deem themselves
happy have in common. Mood and temperament have a large
genetic component. In a now famous 1996 study, University of
Minnesota psychologists David Lykken and Auke Tellegen
surveyed 732 pairs of identical twins and found them closely
matched for adult happiness, regardless of whether they'd
grown up together or apart. Such findings suggest that while
we all experience ups and downs, our moods revolve around
the emotional baselines or "set points" we're born with.
In his book,
"Authentic Happiness" (Free Press), University of
Pennsylvania psychologist Martin E.P. Seligman tells us that
happiness is not about maximizing utility or managing our
moods. It's about outgrowing our obsessive concern with how
we feel. He says, "The time has arrived for a science that
seeks to understand positive emotion, build strength and
virtue, and provide guideposts for finding what Aristotle
called the 'good life'."
Beyond pleasure lies
what he terms "gratification," the enduring fulfillment that
comes from developing one's strengths and putting them to
positive use. Half of us may lack the genes for bubbly good
cheer, Seligman reasons, but no one lacks nascent strengths
or the capacity to nurture them.
"No man is
born into the world whose work is not born with him." James
At certain times in
life, people take stock of where they are and where they
want to go. Deciding what is important to us in our life's
journey, including where we may be stuck, is the way to
begin this life planning. The gift of knowing who you are
and what you are meant to do gives you the energy to
transform your life.
Getting to Know
To begin the journey
of knowing who you are, take some self-assessments to
understand your personality, preferences, learning style and
emotional intelligence. Read "Now, Discover Your Strengths"
(Free Press, 2001) and take the StrengthsFinder assessment
to discover and strengthen your signature talents.
The use of
self-assessments is based on the reasonable assumptions
1. Different people
have different ways of seeing and acting in the
2. These different
ways of seeing and acting have consequences on our
effectiveness and well-being.
3. These differences
can be identified through self-assessment instruments,
4. Personal change
is possible and desirable.
As individuals, we
each have a personal perspective on the differences between
right and wrong----between good and bad. Our sense of ethics
comes from our assumptions/beliefs, values, vision and
guiding principles make up our unique identity. These are
the primary factors that affect and control our
Writing down your
unique identity elements will help you better understand why
you do the things you do. Here are the definitions of the
'intangible identity elements' that form the foundation of
your identity-driven behavior. Being aware of your unique
identity gives you the ability to choose how you wish to act
in your personal and professional lives (even when it is
hard to see the frame when you are part of the
An operating mental model or reality map formed through
reinforced experience. This would be a manifesto of the
mental models you use and believe in to create the future of
your work and personal lives.
An emotional word picture of a future reality leading from
now through near to far reality. Energizing people to
support your purpose with an overarching description of what
the leadership sees the organization becoming in the future
is not an easy task.
An attitude or world-view depicted by one word or one single
concept observed through one's behavior. Values often
influence people's choices about where to invest their
energies. Leaders must establish a hierarchy of values and
beliefs and articulate what matters---or employees drift
away from the organization's core competencies, which
reduces your company's competitive advantage.
A universal operating standard that guides decision making
both personal and organizational. Leaders use guiding
principles to align, create trust and walk the talk by
putting everybody on the same playing field. Energy is not
sapped up in the politics of the organization because there
aren't different rules for everybody at each given moment.
Principles are guiding beacons that create consistency and
Working on the
intangible "inward" elements (your personality, preferences,
leadership style, signature talents, assumptions/beliefs,
values, vision and guiding principles) is what it takes to
become more aware of one's identity. Once you know who you
really are, and can articulate your "purpose," you are ready
to cross the bridge to a tangible action plan that gets you
where you want to be.
Many people make the
mistake of developing tangible action plans without first
discovering their unique identity, signature talents and
life purpose--- and then wonder why it is so difficult to
"inward" is difficult, it is recommended that you travel
this unexplored territory with a personal coach. As humans,
we are complex and may need a guide to help us in our life
discovery and change. Developing a life signature, the
tracing of the talents we are given and how we express them
in our lives, can provide a mental model or compass toward
discovering and living our purpose.
Should you decide to
discover your life purpose alone, here's a tip: Many of us
believe we know how the world works rather than just
perceiving how the world works. Our individual perception
forms our reality. When beginning on this journey of
discovery, be aware of your "inherited or conditioned
purpose" before attempting to come up with your true life
purpose. Your inherited purpose (which flows from your
unconscious beliefs) tends to have these characteristics: is
based in fear (your need to survive in the world), is your
default mechanism, operates in the background (where you are
not aware it is there) and is lacking in
happens unless first a dream." Carl
Remember when you
believed that you could change the world? Where are those
dreams and aspirations of youth? You may feel you are now
ready for a life makeover but are not sure what the changes
should be. But you know you want more than what
Po Bronson, author
of "What Should I Do with MY Life" (Random House), tells us
that some people keep from finding themselves because they
feel guilty for simply taking this question seriously. Many
people feel guilty for obsessing about what kind of work
they should do. It feels self-indulgent. Yet, people succeed
by unleashing a productive, creative and focused energy that
flows from the inside-out to work at things they love
We live in an
economy where we don't have to tolerate jobs we hate. For
the most part, we get to choose. But that choice isn't about
a job search so much as an identity quest. So, don't be
cursed because of your tremendous ability and infinite
choice of jobs. Decide what you can devote your life to and
then live your dream.
There are too many
smart, educated, talented people operating at a slow speed
in jobs they are just tolerating. They have put their dream
in a lock box so they could go out an make a ton of money to
support the big house, the fancy car, the summer/winter
place, the private schools, etc. The unfortunate outcome of
following this path is that they become emotionally invested
in that world--and don't really want to ditch it by opening
up the lock box and letting their dream surface.
Sooner or later, we
all yearn to break out of our secure harbors. The heart
moves beyond the familiar and convenient into more
adventurous realms of possibility. If we don't break out,
our future will always remain in the hands of someone
else...not as something we claim fully as our own. Living
our life with a deeper understanding draws us to realize our
ideals, walk our talk, and act in accord with what we know
to be true is to live our dream.
the touchstones of our characters."
Leaders move people
by articulating a dream they hold that elicits optimism,
compassion or a sense of connection---aspirations that point
toward a hopeful future. Resonance flows from a leader who
expresses feelings with conviction because those emotions
are clearly authentic, rooted in deeply held
You Get What You
In medicine you look
at how "well tolerated" a drug will be related to its side
effects. At work and at home, many people evaluate new
opportunities related to what can be well tolerated. Yet
after life, most people don't want their tombstone to read,
"He tolerated stuff for other people because they paid him."
Especially, when we realize that we can make more money and
have more fun doing work that engages our passions. Life is
too short for doing work you don't enjoy for people you
Doing What We Do
Bill Gates, founder
of Microsoft Corporation and the world's richest man, says,
"You know, the notion that a kid who thought software was
cool can end up creating a company with all these smart
people whose software gets out to hundreds of millions of
people, well, that's an amazing thing. I've had one of the
luckiest situations ever. But I've also learned that only
through focus can you do world-class things, no matter how
capable you are."
July 2002, tells us that Gates, then 46 years old, devotes
most of his time to what he loves best: namely, communing
with the geeks who actually build Microsoft's products. His
new role plays to perhaps his greatest skill---that uncanny
ability to foresee how emerging software technologies can be
woven together and parlayed into must-have "industry
standard" products, which, in turn, reinforce demand for
other software from Microsoft and its allies.
Says bridge buddy
and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett: "Bill has found a
rhythm in the three areas of life that he really cares
about, and that's terrific. In business, in philanthropy,
and in his personal family life, he has what he wants, and
it's all clicking."
Microsoft chief technical officer for advanced strategies
and policy, explains, "Bill's unique gift was always the way
he does this complete and continuous synthesis. It's like
he's a pipe, and all kinds of stuff goes in at this end and
a continuous output of optimized strategy comes out the
other end. What we are designing is critical infrastructure
for everything digital going forward--business and
government systems, communications, entertainment, you name
it. The complexity of the challenge is unprecedented, but
that just gets Bill's competitive juices flowing. Bill has
three modes in meetings, which you might describe as
listening, challenging, and coaching. He's gotten better at
coaching in the past couple of years."
Focus Here Now
After studying time
for more than three decades, physicist Julian Barbour has
come to a fascinating and counterintuitive conclusion: Time
is an illusion.
All that's real are
instants that Barbour calls "Nows." Our brains are hardwired
to take the experience of these "Nows" and create the
illusion of time. "If you try to get your hands on time,
it's always slipping through your fingers," says Barbour in
the Summer 2000 issue of Spirituality and Health magazine.
"People are sure it's there but they can't get a hold of it.
My feeling is that they can't get a hold of it because it
Even if physicists
eventually accept Barbour's theories, his ideas will, like
quantum mechanics itself, be thoroughly understood by very
few. Still, to the rest of us, they offer a powerful
metaphor to reflect on the moments of our lives and how we
might best live them. As Barbour says, "to see perfect
stillness as the reality behind the turbulence we
experience" is good for us all to learn.
Focusing on what
matters, moment by moment (rather than thinking of reality
as what happens when a series of still pictures runs through
a projector), helps us reach clarity. B. Alan Wallace,
Ph.D., tells us not to overlook the importance of attention.
By refining our attention, we can focus and thereby
rediscover the sense of well-being that emerges
spontaneously from a balanced mind. Research tells us that
geniuses of all kinds shared one mental trait, despite the
wide range of their individual brilliance: They all
possessed an exceptional capacity for sustained, voluntary
Dr. Wallace's wife
taught Tiger Woods at Stanford University before he emerged
as a superstar of golf. What most impressed her was his
powerful ability to focus---a skill that has evidently
contributed to his recent achievements. Woods uses his
talent of sustained, voluntary attention to maximize his
strengths (his extraordinary long-game and putting skills)
and minimize his weaknesses, like that of chipping out of a
To a degree, we all
have an innate talent for some activity. By focusing our
attention on building the strength of our unique, individual
and enduring talents, while applying damage control to our
weaknesses, we can choose to move from satisfactory
performance to excellence. When we know what our principle
talents are and how we might apply them in our life purpose,
the application of attention allows our focused energy to
push us toward success.
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