Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change by Shawn Achor
January 8, 2017
There is a lot to be said about having a positive outlook on life. The glass half full versus the glass half empty attitude. That’s not to say being blind to issues, however it is to say that focusing on how to fix problems is an interesting challenge, along with believing you can (and will) be successful. Not only will this proactive and positive outlook increase your happiness, but it will also have the effect of drawing people toward you. This attitude creates magnetism both in the workplace and in your personal life because of the simple fact that people like to be around positive energy. And in the workplace, people want to be part of something they believe will be successful, they want to contribute to winning. Belief in success, and collaboration toward positive problem solving, is contagious….just as on the flip side, a negative outlook is contagious and demotivating. With that in mind, wouldn’t you rather be championing success, then feeding into failure?
In this edition of Kathy’s CliffNotes we take a look at the book Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change by Shawn Achor, which delves into the concept of being a catalyst for positive change and how to sustain and spread it.
In his international bestseller, The Happiness Advantage, Harvard trained researcher Shawn Achor described why happiness is the precursor to greater success. This book is about what comes before both. Because before we can be happy or successful, we need to first develop the ability to see that positive change is possible. Only once we learn to see the world through a more positive lens can we summon all our motivation, emotion, and intelligence to achieve our personal and professional goals.
In Before Happiness, Achor reveals five strategies for changing our lens to positive:
The Most Valuable Reality: See a broader range of ideas and solutions by changing the details on which your brain chooses to focus
Success Mapping: Set goals oriented around the things in life that matter to you most, whether career advancement or family or making a difference in the world
The X-spot: Use success accelerants to propel you more quickly towards those goals, whether finishing a marathon, reaching a sales target, learning a language, or losing 10 pounds
Noise-Canceling: Boost the signal pointing you to opportunities and possibilities that others miss
Positive Inception: Transfer these skills to your team, your employees, and everyone around you
By mastering these strategies, you’ll create a renewable source of positivity, motivation, and engagement that will allow you to reach your fullest potential in everything you do
And only when we choose to believe that we live in a world where challenges can be overcome, our behavior matters, and change is possible can we summon all our drive, energy, and emotional and intellectual resources to make that change happen before happiness and success comes your perception of your world. So before we can be happy and successful, we need to create a positive reality that allows us to see the possibility for positive change.
Your IQ teaches you what you need to do, emotional intelligence shows how, and social intelligence illuminates with whom.
Success is not just about how much intelligence you have; it’s about how much of your intelligence you believe you can use.
Happiness is not about being blind to the negatives in our environment; it’s about believing we have the power to do something about them.
When we’re in a negative mindset, all loads feel heavier, all obstacles loom bigger, all mountains seem less surmountable. This is especially true in the workplace, and it’s why, when we look at stress, workload, and competition from a negative mindset, our performance suffers.
The Ratio Between Positive & Negative Interactions/Thoughts:
Within the work environment: research found that when the P/N ratio was above 2.901 to 1 the teams had significantly higher profit levels as well as improved “360-degree feedback” reports. Below this ratio, engagement plummeted and turnover rates shot up. In fact, the highest-performing teams had a 6:1 ratio. So if you or your team are going through a rough period, ramp up the ratio of positive interactions, even by doing something as simple as complimenting someone or bringing in doughnuts.
Outside work: Interestingly, Fredrickson found that 3:1 was the ratio at which people began to flourish outside work as well. Her research revealed that when people have three positive thoughts to every negative thought, they are more optimistic, are happier, and feel more fulfilled.
Within personal relationships: there needs to be at least a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative experiences to maintain a sound relationship
The most common blind spots that hold us back in our careers. The primary one among executives, she says, is an inability to rely on other people. The second most common blind spot among business leaders is impact awareness, or the ability to see the effect their decisions will have upon their teams.
When we expect the worst, we ignore important opportunities, squander valuable resources, and miss the viable solutions—and thus end up with the negative outcome we most fear. This is because meaning is created by the individual, not the job.
The impact that the giving of social support had on their professional success rates: only 7 percent of isolators had received a promotion in the previous year, compared to about 40 percent of each of the other groups. The conclusion was clear. If you’re not giving at work, you’re not getting ahead either. I believe this finding is critical to our understanding of positive genius. In an era of doing more with less, we need to stop wasting mental energy lamenting how little social support we receive from managers, coworkers, and friends, and instead channel our brains’ resources toward giving more social support.
Finding meaning in the social support we give to others is of the best ways to harness our cognitive resources and intelligences to become more engaged, motivated, productive, and successful in our professional and personal lives.
75 percent of job success is predicted by three things (aside from intelligence): belief that your behavior matters, social support, and the ability to view stress as a challenge instead of a threat.
Pessimists assume that imagining worst-case scenarios will help protect them in case of problems. But in truth, the more time we spend imagining what might go wrong, the less time and resources our brains have to spend planning for things to go right.
The importance of setting an example/tone for your team: The manager told me point-blank that while the employee had had the technical skills and the intelligence, he didn’t get the job because he didn’t have a vision for success. The manager said, “That guy was affecting the team’s performance a ton, just in the wrong direction. How could I trust him to lead a team to success when he didn’t even trust his own chances of success?”
Remember, you have to live in your reality, so why construct it with negative expectations? It’s not that anticipating problems is inherently bad. But because what you map first is more likely to become the reality, you should spend your brain’s valuable resources looking for an escape route only once you have mapped multiple paths to success. “Let’s figure out how success is possible before talking about what might go wrong.”
Example of reward motivators: rates of participation and purchase in a customer reward program at a local coffee shop. Here is how it worked: all customers were given a stamp card and were told that every purchase would count toward a reward; in this case ten stamps would equal a free beverage. And everyone received a “bonus” double stand on their initial visit. Then they simply recorded the dates people made the coffee purchases to see if people would come in and buy coffee more frequently as they got closer to winning their free coffee. And indeed, that was exactly what happened; just as Hull’s hypothesis predicted, the closer the customers got to the goal, the faster they would race toward the finish line. If you want to incentivize your customers to visit you more frequently, make sure to design your reward programs so that people (1) have a perceived head start and (2) can perceive great progress.
The impact of perceived competitors to effort: When we perceive there are fewer competitors, we believe there is greater likelihood of success, which results in more engagement and concentration and improved performance in today’s era of instant gratification, if customers perceive doing business with you as requiring too much time and effort, they simply won’t bother,