Category Archives: Happy at Work

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Six Tips for Happiness

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Being Happy Makes us Better at just about Everything!

Advice from Tal Ben-Shahar

1. Give yourself permission to be human. When we accept emotions — such as fear, sadness, or anxiety — as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness.

2. Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning.

3. Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well being is determined by what we choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by our interpretation of external events. For example, do we view failure as catastrophic, or do we see it as a learning opportunity?

4. Simplify! We are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.

5. Remember the mind-body connection. What we do — or don’t do — with our bodies influences our mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.

6. Express gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.

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Growth vs Fixed Mindset

Three Common Misconceptions about a Growth Mindset

Carol Dweck’s work on Growth vs Fixed Mindset has gained significant following.  It’s relevant to every aspect of our lives, including our work lives.  But she’s found many of us are taking too high-level a view; or are just getting it wrong.

A Growth Mindset helps us be much more successful than we would be without one.  It’s an excellent example of the power of Attitude over IQ.

Here’s an excerpt from a HBR worth reading:

Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).

…three common misconceptions:

  1. I already have it, and I always have.
    People often confuse a growth mindset with being flexible or open-minded or with having a positive outlook — qualities they believe they’ve simply always had. My colleagues and I call this a false growth mindset. Everyone is actually a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets, and that mixture continually evolves with experience. A “pure” growth mindset doesn’t exist, which we have to acknowledge in order to attain the benefits we seek.
  2. A growth mindset is just about praising and rewarding effort.
    This isn’t true for students in schools, and it’s not true for employees in organizations. In both settings, outcomes matter. Unproductive effort is never a good thing. It’s critical to reward not just effort but learning and progress, and to emphasize the processes that yield these things, such as seeking help from others, trying new strategies, and capitalizing on setbacks to move forward effectively. In all of our research, the outcome — the bottom line — follows from deeply engaging in these processes.
  3. Just espouse a growth mindset, and good things will happen.
    Mission statements are wonderful things. You can’t argue with lofty values like growth, empowerment, or innovation. But what do they mean to employees if the company doesn’t implement policies that make them real and attainable? They just amount to lip service. Organizations that embody a growth mindset encourage appropriate risk-taking, knowing that some risks won’t work out. They reward employees for important and useful lessons learned, even if a project does not meet its original goals. They support collaboration across organizational boundaries rather than competition among employees or units. They are committed to the growth of every member, not just in words but in deeds, such as broadly available development and advancement opportunities. And they continually reinforce growth mindset values with concrete policies.

It’s hard work, but individuals and organizations can gain a lot by deepening their understanding of growth-mindset concepts and the processes for putting them into practice. It gives them a richer sense of who they are, what they stand for, and how they want to move forward.

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Should I Keep Working (Here)? Consider How and Where you can Best Use your Strengths

Sometimes I wonder if I should be officially retired. People seem to think it’s a great thing to do.  But I don’t.  And I know many others who don’t. The Freedom 55 commercials really had an effect on us.  But is that vision practical or truly universal?

“A survey by Ipsos Reid, conducted for Sun Life Financial of Canada and released last year, indicated that Canadians have not seen age 55 as a realistic retirement benchmark for some time, and that the age they feel it will be possible to retire is drawing further away. In the first year the research was conducted, in 2008, 51 per cent of Canadian workers surveyed over the age of 30 said they “expected to be fully retired, not working for money,” by age 66. In 2010, the number of respondents who had that expectation was nearly cut in half: only 28 per cent expected to attain “freedom” at 66.”


So whether we’re wondering if we should stop working, or stop working at our current job, let’s consider:

Am I Using my Signature Strengths?

Am I in a Job, a Career or a Calling?  (this is for another post)


Signature Strengths


From a VIA  (http:// blog:

There is an increasing body of research into the application of strengths, which suggests that a strengths approach is having a positive impact on the workplace for both employees and organisations. Where a strengths approach has been introduced into organisations, it has been shown to increase:
 •    Employee engagement
 •    Job satisfaction
 •    Wellbeing
 •    Productivity
 •    Achieving goals more effectively
 Further benefits have been that employees are also reported to have fewer days absent due to illness, which is becoming of greater concern with the rising number of cases of employees being signed off work due to stress or burnout.


So I took the VIA strengths survey, and considered:  What do my strengths say about what I want to do now, instead of retiring?

Here are some thoughts related to my strengths.  You can take the survey yourself for free at:



One of your signature strengths is perspective, also referred to as wisdom. You see the big picture, and people come to you for advice or counsel. You are insightful, and you have a way of looking at the world that helps make sense of things. You can address important and difficult questions about life’s biggest issues with a clarity that others value.

In coaching this is a truly valuable strength.  I can use this strength in other places, but it seems perfect for the coaching I’m doing now.  If I retired I wouldn’t have such a great chance to enjoy using one of my top strengths.


Love of Learning

One of your higher strengths is love of learning, which means you have a passion for learning for its own sake. It is most present when you are mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge. When you learn, you take your initial curiosity and interest in a topic to ever-deepening levels.

I wasn’t learning anything new in my previous job.  So I could have retired, I guess.  But instead I took two coaching courses, one on business coaching, one on positive psychology coaching. What fun!  And what a great body of new knowledge, or expansion of existing knowledge.

I could have used my Love of Learning strength at my last job, theoretically.  But it had lost its appeal and from the VIA website:

“One of the best ways to improve your love of learning is to make the topic area or subject matter of personal interest to you.”


So, if you’re not thrilled with your job, possibly even though you once were, consider a change.  Not necessarily a stop, no matter what your age. I like to adapt the saying, “A change is as good as a rest.” To

“A change is as good as a retirement.”

And, of course, use your strengths in jobs you like.  You’ll like them even more and do even better.

Some reading:


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Success is Driven More by Attitude Than IQ – The Importance of Mindset

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When it comes to success, it’s easy to think that people blessed with brains are inevitably going to leave the rest of us in the dust. But new research from Stanford University will change your mind (and your attitude).

Psychologist Carol Dweck has spent her entire career studying attitude and performance, and her latest study shows that your attitude is a better predictor of your success than your IQ.

Dweck found that people’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.

People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.

Common sense would suggest that having ability, like being smart, inspires confidence. It does, but only while the going is easy. The deciding factor in life is how you handle setbacks and challenges. People with a growth mindset welcome setbacks with open arms.

According to Dweck, success in life is all about how you deal with failure. She describes the approach to failure of people with the growth mindset this way,

“Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else.’”

Regardless of which side of the chart you fall on, you can make changes and develop a growth mindset. What follows are some strategies that will fine-tune your mindset and help you make certain it’s as growth oriented as possible.

Don’t stay helpless. We all hit moments when we feel helpless. The test is how we react to that feeling. We can either learn from it and move forward or let it drag us down. There are countless successful people who would have never made it if they had succumbed to feelings of helplessness: Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Starbecause he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas,” Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a TV anchor in Baltimore for being “too emotionally invested in her stories,” Henry Ford had two failed car companies prior to succeeding with Ford, and Steven Spielberg was rejected by USC’s Cinematic Arts School multiple times. Imagine what would have happened if any of these people had a fixed mindset. They would have succumbed to the rejection and given up hope. People with a growth mindset don’t feel helpless because they know that in order to be successful, you need to be willing to fail hard and then bounce right back.

Be passionate. Empowered people pursue their passions relentlessly. There’s always going to be someone who’s more naturally talented than you are, but what you lack in talent, you can make up for in passion. Empowered people’s passion is what drives their unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Warren Buffett recommends finding your truest passions using, what he calls, the 5/25 technique: Write down the 25 things that you care about the most. Then, cross out the bottom 20. The remaining 5 are your true passions. Everything else is merely a distraction.


Take action. It’s not that people with a growth mindset are able to overcome their fears because they are braver than the rest of us; it’s just that they know fear and anxiety are paralyzing emotions and that the best way to overcome this paralysis is to take action. People with a growth mindset are empowered, and empowered people know that there’s no such thing as a truly perfect moment to move forward. So why wait for one? Taking action turns all your worry and concern about failure into positive, focused energy.

Then go the extra mile (or two). Empowered people give it their all, even on their worst days. They’re always pushing themselves to go the extra mile. One of Bruce Lee’s pupils ran three miles every day with him. One day, they were about to hit the three-mile mark when Bruce said, “Let’s do two more.” His pupil was tired and said, “I’ll die if I run two more.” Bruce’s response? “Then do it.” His pupil became so angry that he finished the full five miles. Exhausted and furious, he confronted Bruce about his comment, and Bruce explained it this way: “Quit and you might as well be dead. If you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there; you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”

If you aren’t getting a little bit better each day, then you’re most likely getting a little worse—and what kind of life is that?

Expect results. People with a growth mindset know that they’re going to fail from time to time, but they never let that keep them from expecting results. Expecting results keeps you motivated and feeds the cycle of empowerment. After all, if you don’t think you’re going to succeed, then why bother?

Be flexible. Everyone encounters unanticipated adversity. People with an empowered, growth-oriented mindset embrace adversity as a means for improvement, as opposed to something that holds them back. When an unexpected situation challenges an empowered person, they flex until they get results.

Don’t complain when things don’t go your way. Complaining is an obvious sign of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset looks for opportunity in everything, so there’s no room for complaints.

Bringing It All Together

By keeping track of how you respond to the little things, you can work every day to keep yourself on the right side of the chart above.

From an article by Travis Bradberry 

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Do you know how happy or unhappy your employees are?

 Any leader worth their salt knows how happy their people are.  You should know from your daily interactions with your people.

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The 4 C’s of Reducing Stress in the Workplace

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Did you know that an unhappy workplace leads to 46% more expenses for the organization? Or that stress is now recognized as the #1 health threat in the United States? Stress in the workplace is linked to absenteeism, presenteeism, lack of productivity and focus, health care costs, and turnover – all of which cost companies a lot of money.

According to the American Institute of Stress, the biggest form of stress is workplace stress. This affects the health and well-being of many individuals personally and professionally as well as the bottom line for many organizations. To synthesize some of the principles of mindfulness, we created the 4 C’s – a simple yet profound path to help people understand, integrate, and apply these practices.

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