8 Perspectives on Happiness On and Off the Clock

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Personal leadership doesn’t begin and end at work.  Whether you are responsible for guiding others or simply managing yourself, leadership is not a work that merely takes place in the professional realm of life.  Personal leadership gives rise to contentment and happiness that span a continuum.  While it is true that a person can achieve success in one realm and struggle in the other, genuine un-forced happiness reflects conscious decisions and a developed perspective on living and problem-solving.  The mantras below will serve you well as a colleague and a friend.

#1:  Your job isn’t responsible for making you happy.  Your job is merely responsible for compensating you and meeting any other commitment it has expressly made to you.  It is a bonus if you find complete personal fulfillment at your job; however, there may be interests and professional aspirations that you have that you job can’t help you meet.  If this is the case, it doesn’t mean that your job is bad.  Perhaps it means that you’ve outgrown it or need to explore ways to take on different responsibilities within the organization. Perhaps it means that you expect too much from a job.  Finally, if you accept this perspective, it will help you distinguish between constructive criticisms of the workplace and complaints that will never be address regardless of what management does.

#2:  Develop interests outside of work that affirm you as a person and allow you to gain new strengths and utilize your existing ones.  This is part of the way you keep your job from being your everything.  It is okay to reserve some parts of yourself for certain purposes, people, and categories of your life.  There’s no requirement that you have no boundaries.  Likewise, expecting your job to make you completely happy is like getting married and expecting your spouse to never disappoint you:  both are farces!  Further, having multiple interests reduces the devastation of the blow when something doesn’t work out because your entire world doesn’t hinge on one thing.

#3:  Exercise courage.  There are going to be days when you have to ask yourself how much risk can you tolerate.  If you find yourself regularly complaining about what’s taking place within your civic group or family or place of employment, you should first ask yourself why the thing bothers you.  Then, you should speak up.  If you can’t take or won’t take a risk, you must look for a perspective that doesn’t make complaining your sole option for release.  Complaining brings you down as well as the people listening to you.

#4:  Regularly update and evaluate your deal-breakers.  Periodically, everyone should re-evaluate all of their regular and significant engagements and responsibilities.  In the course of daily living, you change.  What you think is important changes.  Your life obligations change.  You should evaluate whether your core values have shifted and whether your day-to-day activities, including your job (even if you’re self-employed), take you closer to or farther away from those values.

#5:  Embrace the spirit of personal evolution and regular situational change.  If you make evaluating the direction and success of your life a regular habit, you’ll get into the habit of changing course.  Change should be tied to a reason.  If you’re honest in your self assessments, you can see big changes coming a mile away.  In fact, they usually become big changes because the small warnings that our actions and values out of sync were ignored.  In the same vein, when you undertake these efforts in your personal life, it will be easier for you to be open-minded about changes in the workplace and in your civic engagements.

#6:  Commit to excellence in the quality of your work as well as your energy and spirit in whatever environment you find yourself.  If you are going to spend more than an inconsequential amount of time on any effort or in any environment, choose to find satisfaction in doing your best regardless of what others do.  Even if no one else expends the same amount of effort, your behavior and energy should reflect your own values.  Aim to set yourself about through your consistency of excellence.

#7:  Build your relationships within your organization as well as outside of it.  Oftentimes, people dismiss the value of intentionally building relationships with other people because of their own egos and laziness.  For some, it is hard to admit that people and all of their messiness and feelings are important parts of your life. Respect and consideration go beyond mere politeness.  Relationship-building is an unavoidable and essential component of personal and professional life.  Look for a common chord with people and choose to see and believe that which is the most productive and effective.  Time and experience will tell when to change your perspective on a person-by-person basis.  Finally, it is imperative that you authentically build relationships which means taking into account the approach that will be most effective with your audience while reaching out in ways that earnestly reflect who you are.

#8:  Reflect on what works and doesn’t work for you.  If you keep hitting the same wall, and it hurts, STOP AND ASK SOME QUESTIONS!  You may not always be able to walk away from a situation that distresses you; however, once you understand it, you can plan for it.  You can solicit support around your problem or make a case for concessions you need to do your best despite the challenge.

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