Happiness can seem elusive. You can feel its presence one moment and the absence of it in the next. That doesn’t mean you can’t expect to experience it in your life and leadership. Beyond a simple emotion, I believe you should make room to understand happiness as something that resides within you that is much more than simply an emotion or passing thought.
I’m not suggesting you have to be a happy, go lucky type of person all the time. I’m also not suggesting that you should ignore how you feel and somehow artificially create a persona that isn’t real. You can and should experience a variety of emotions in your leadership. However, it’s easy to lose sight of the reality that true happiness always comes from within.
Authenticity can be evaluated and identified rather quickly. You can’t fool the people around you; they see things in you that are often difficult to see in yourself. But your posture and orientation to your circumstances is an opportunity to demonstrate how attitude, outlook, and perspective can significantly influence how you respond and endure even the worst situations.
The Source of Happiness In Your Life and Leadership
If you want to experience more happiness, you have to understand where it comes from. More important, you must appreciate the influence your happiness has on the people around you. Your disposition as a leader impacts you, your family, and the people around you. It’s astonishing how the people closest to you will often take on your leadership traits.
· If you’re stressed, the people around you will feel and act stressed too.
· If you’re concerned, the people around you will feel and act concerned too.
· If you’re hesitant, the people around you will feel and act hesitant too.
You have a choice to make. Will you be the present and resolved leader you need to be in 2017? Or will you continue to allow circumstances and situations to distract you from developing the people around you?
Let me suggest seven ways you can be a happier as a leader in 2017:
1. Take care of you. Get the rest, exercise, and nutrition you need to care for your body. If you don’t feel good or aren’t thinking clearly, you won’t be the leader you can be.
2. Explore, learn, and grow. If you never take the time to feed and replenish your heart, mind, and spirit, you will eventually hit the proverbial wall.
3. Write down what you want to accomplish in 2017. The temptation will be to make this list long and complicated. Try to limit yourself to three to five things at most. Having a goal helps you stay focused and gives you a great chance of seeing progress and success.
4. Invest in the people around you. Whatever you need to accomplish this year, you can’t do it alone. The biggest mistake leaders make is to focus on the task at the expense of developing the people around them. You will continue to be overwhelmed until you change your approach to mentoring those around you.
5. Don’t postpone difficult conversations. This is a big one. If you need to have a difficult conversation, schedule it. Delaying these experiences will simply distract you from the most important things. Some leaders are better at this than others. The longer you delay the conversation, the longer you delay the opportunity to course correct and get back on track.
6. Be willing to change course. As you move toward your outcome, give yourself permission to shift your game plan. Don’t make the people around you feel like a pinball machine. A good plan that you iterate on over time is better than a great plan than is never implemented. Don’t let guilt or expectation keep you from making the right decision, even if that means you have to admit you were wrong or made a mistake.
7. Lead like you. I know that sounds cliché, but I can’t tell you the number of leaders I meet who are busy trying to lead like someone they admire. Lead in ways that are natural to you. You’ll never be happy trying to be someone that you can’t be. Stop trying to be everyone but yourself.
So what are the benefits of being a happy leader?
· You are more satisfied. A happy leader enjoys life like a great cup of coffee.
· You are more effective. A happy leader isn’t distracted but focused and resolved.
· You are more present. A happy leader capitalizes on the present recognizing that the present is where and when you create your future.
Happiness is so much more than an emotion. It’s living in alignment with your deepest interests, passions, and skills. When your life and leadership are in alignment with your divine design, you’ll be amazed at how the people, situations, and circumstances lock in around you and propel you toward breakthrough.
It’s too easy as leaders to live distracted, discouraged, and determined to try to force your will on the people and situations you encounter. You can’t always control your circumstances, but you can choose how you will respond. You have the power to shift your thinking and change your frame of reference. And in doing so, you will unlock potential you didn’t realize was already residing within you.
The leaders you admire fight against the same realities you do. The difference is they choose to be driven by a resolve that emanates from deep within themselves rather than drawing their source of satisfaction from situations and circumstances out of their control. You can lead and live that way, too.
Be a happier leader in 2017. You need that. The people you lead need that. And your organization needs that. I believe this will be a banner year for you. All the strength, power, and commitment you need to accomplish all that is ahead of you is already present within you. Stop trying to control yourself and the world around you, and start leaning in with expectation and conviction that you can and will succeed.
REFLECT: Are you happy, satisfied, and fulfilled with your leadership? If not, what needs to change to make that true? How can you be more present and less distracted this year? And how would your leadership experience shift if you were more present and less distracted?