What makes us happy/unhappy?

Money:

What you may find surprising is that money doesn’t make us happy. Disagree?

According to Daniel H. Pink (author of ‘Drive’), as long as we’re compensated adequately, more money won’t incentivize us to work harder. People want autonomy in their jobs as well as more time off. However, for those that are under compensated they will likely be demotivated. So if you’re working a job that doesn’t fulfill you but you’re adequately compensated chances are you’ll eventually leave even if you are rewarded with a significant raise/bonus.

Relationships:

According to TIME magazine (The Science of Happiness: New Discoveries For A More Joyful Life), people in relationships are happier than those that are not. However, those that are in an unhappy marriage are worse off than being divorced.

In terms of holding grudges, Robert Waldinger indicated (in a TED talk) that grudges eat away at us and affect us negatively in many aspects of our lives. Relieving ourselves of grudges can go a long way in repairing relationships.

Material things:

We all look forward to buying new things whether its a new car, a new house, or maybe a new suit. Unfortunately, that feeling doesn’t last. We quickly become bored of material things. In fact, they never truly satisfy us because the more we have the more we want. It is often the case that the best part of the whole ordeal is the act of buying the item itself.

Spending money on more meaningful things tends to lead to more happiness. For example, taking a vacation provides us with stories that can retold over and over (even if it isn’t 100% true). For some people, the majority of enjoyment is felt in the anticipation of the vacation. So the lesson learned is, plan your vacations as soon as you can. You’ll enjoy it more!

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Common Misused/Misunderstood words in Organizations

Leadership

  • Many people use this word without any context.  Those that do, often associate leadership with “micro-managing”.  However, there are different forms of leadership.  Some choose to be “servant leaders” which can be just as effective or in my experience much more effective.

Accountability

  • Many people struggle to hold themselves to account.  Instead they try to hold others to account.  It’s so much easier to “pass to buck” or blame others.

Vision

  • The problem with this word is that vision rarely comes from the true leaders of the organization and that’s exactly where it needs to come from.  Only the true leaders can explain the overall big picture.  Some people feel that the vision behind an organization or a project is a nice-to-have.  I feel it’s a necessity.  Otherwise, how are people suppose to know what they’re working towards.

Coaching

  • Many organizations are starting to adopt a coaching philosophy.  However, their understanding seems to fall short.  Coaching seems to involve “advising” and asking others “How can I help?”.  Both of those things are important but they don’t paint the entire picture.  People are the best source of solving their own problems.  A good coach can get people to do that.

Alignment

  • Getting a group of people to agree on something is not an easy task especially if it’s a large group.  To expedite the process we sometimes trick ourselves into believing that everyone is in alignment.  For instance, some people conform to groupthink to maintain group harmony.  Others converge around the viewpoint that gains the most support (i.e. Bandwagon effect).  And others gravitate to the ideas of experts of superiors (i.e. HIPPO, Highest-Paid Person’s Opinion).

Culture

  • Coming up with a list of cultural practices and listing them on the company’s Intranet site is not enough.  Cultural practices need to practiced.  That means they need to be reviewed and discussed often.  One common mistake that many organizations make is that they only share their culture with employees.  Culture needs to be shared with everyone, including contractors for example.  Otherwise those 3rd party organizations will practice their own culture which may be in conflict with yours.

Team

  • It’s easiest to place the boundary of a team around those you work closest with.  However, teams are typically larger than that.  In the context of a project with onsite and offsite resources, a team can easily exceed 50 people.  This is an important concept because when everyone works together as 1 single team (as opposed to multiple sub-teams) you’re better poised for success.

Goals

  • It’s difficult to determine what an organization’s goals are.  It requires constant reflection and the opinion/thoughts of others.  Unfortunately some organizations gravitate on a solution and work backwards without any consideration for their own goals.  The main problem with this approach is that they may end of with a solution that addresses a particular problem that they don’t even have.

Value

  • Delivering value does not have to be a grand scale.  In fact, taking that approach is highly risky.  Constantly delivering small increments is a much better way of advancing.

Performance

  • Organizations constantly seek high performance individuals and for good reason.  Unfortunately, many organizations practice the exact opposite.  When it comes to performance ratings they employ techniques like bell curves and forced rankings.  That does not incentivize people to work together.  Instead, people are looking out for themselves (and not the organization) to ensure that others don’t rise above them.

Why people resist change

At some point in our careers we’ve been faced with situations where change seems so obvious to us (and at times necessary) but others feel the exact opposite.

Frustration continues to increase the harder we try and the more resistance we face.

What is the underlying problem? Essentially, why do people resist change?

  • Some people just can see what’s in it for them or their team. Maybe the change wasn’t clearly articulated. If people can’t visualize an improvement to their well being, they likely won’t be supportive.
  • Unfortunately some people are just lazy. And maybe that wasn’t always the case. Some people may be nearing retirement and just want to “ride the wave” so to speak. A change represents a disruption to their cozy work life which represents additional work for some.
  • People in managerial or supervisory positions may feel threatened. They could feel that a drastic change could eliminate the need for their position/role. What they may not realize is that it could also open the door for other positions that may be better suited for them.
  • Others get extremely stressed out over change. Some people lose sleep, start to lose their memory, skin conditions appear, or they develop digestive problems. It is important to create an environment where it’s ok to say you’re stressed and provide assistance to those that need it.
  • It a lot of cases people want to play it safe. Even though they know the current way of doing things may be ineffective and inefficient, they would rather continue along rather than take a risk. This is where developing a growth mindset vs. fixed mindset makes a huge difference.
  • Many organizations simply don’t have a culture that supports change. The proverbial “red tape” gets in the way and those that are trying to make change give up or leave the organization altogether.  Management support is necessary for change.

Final Thoughts:

Change is not easy but each of us can make an effort and it starts in our daily lives. If we strive to live outside of our comfort zone so much so that our discomfort zone becomes our comfort zone, change will seem like an everyday part of life.

MINDSET: The New Psychology of Success

I just finished reading this book by Carol S. Dweck, Ph. D. and I was absolutely blown away.

She describe 2 kinds of mindset:

The “fixed” mindset is where individuals assume they are limited by their god given talent and hard work will do nothing to increase their abilities.  As a result, their refrain from taking risks because they don’t want to fail.  Because failure would imply they’re just good enough.  They may even go so far as to blame others for their mistakes.

On the hand, the “growth” mindset assumes you can always be better.  Furthermore, failure is welcomed because it makes you better.  The growth mindset encourages you to challenge yourself and go for anything you desire.

People do not necessarily fall into 1 of the 2 categories.  For example, some people may have a fixed mindset when it comes to how their raise their kids.  And at the same time they can have a growth mindset on how they perform their job.

By understanding your own mindset as well as others you can form better relationships with friends/family/children/co-workers/etc.

Finally, if you suffer from the fixed mindset, this book can show you how to shift to the growth mindset.