I recently was watching a fairly guilty pleasure of mine- Tomorrowland. While the movie was generally not well loved by critics and it didn’t meet Disney’s expectations (it supposedly lost north of $100 million), I enjoy it and have found a number of great takeaways from the film. I’ll likely end up covering more of these in this blog but the first one I want to share with you is the parable of the wolf.
There are two wolves that are always fighting.
One is darkness and despair.
One is light and hope.
Which one wins?
I was recently reading a great blog post by Lolly Daskal where she pointed out something amazing. Only 15% of people are happy at work. I found this stat remarkable and almost startling how many people are not happy. Work is something most of us do from the time we turn 16 until we retire at 65 (if we planned well). In those 50 years, we spend between 50-52 weeks a year at our jobs, working 40+ hours.
That is a long time to be doing something you do not like. Happiness, like many things in life, requires effort so we need to learn how to join that 15%. We have already talked about how to lead your team to happiness but that may have been putting the cart before the horse a bit. Being a leader that creates the proper environment for happiness to flourish while not being happy yourself is an incredibly challenging thing to do.
So what can you do to put some happiness into your life?
There are many interesting things about humans but one thing that leaders have and others do not is a vision. Vision involves seeing not what is there today but what could possibly be there in the future. This is something I have heard many times in my professional and academic careers but I did not fully understand it until I was fortunate enough to visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
As I have matured, I have found that most modern art just doesn’t really speak to me. A great example of one that does not speak to me is that was a white square painted on a white canvas (Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist Composition: White on White from 1918). The painting pushes the limits of abstract art to the limits and while some talk about the movement created by the off-kilter square, I find that the painting is not all that interesting to me. My mother-in-law has a saying that fits in nicely here, “isn’t is good that we all have different tastes”.
In visiting the MoMA in New York, I did find a handful of paintings that actually did speak to me. One, in particular, is one that I find is a great example of vision and optimism, which I had not thought possible for ‘just a painting’.
Starting in 2000, the Secret Society of Happy People expanded their annual Admit You’re Happy day to an entire month. With that in mind, this month, I will be focusing a bit more on happiness as it relates to leadership.
First, I feel like it is important to discuss why happiness matters. We live in a very results-oriented world and sometimes, we find the demands on those results tend to drive our decisions. However, sometimes, those decisions can come at the cost of the happiness of those that we lead. At the same time, we know happy employees/followers produce better results. How can you manage for happiness?
I recently took a class where a central theme of the class was the idea of entropy. Entropy is the second law of thermodynamics which helps explain how things like pans cool down and how companies die. Energy disperses throughout the proverbial system as time goes on.
Think of DNA. The DNA in your body is being copied over and over. Mistakes are made from time to time so, over time, the quality of the copy deteriorates. Think of a hot pan fresh off the stove. The heat is generated from the vibrations of the atoms. That vibrating is not perfectly transferred to other atoms through so eventually, the vibrating dies down and the pan slowly cools.