Grettings to All,
"A happy person (company) is not a person
(company) in a certain set of circumstances, but
rather a person (company) with a certain set of
attitudes" Hugh Downs
This month we explore
happiness. Don't Worry, Be Happy is a song
title, but why be happy? What is the relationship
between happy and success? So let's discuss
Elements of Happiness
The Business Case for Happy Companies
There is no doubt that business success depends on highly
motivated employees. So, why do so many companies have
uninspiring leaders and uninspired employees who plod
along with little—or the wrong—motivation?
A new body of research points to a missing dimension that
would enable organizations to achieve stellar results.
This "new science of happiness" goes far beyond putting
on a happy face.
Happiness is not a result, but a cause, of success. It's
key to fully realizing an organization's "return on people"
(ROP), which entails bringing out their best talents,
strengths, passions, interests, knowledge and skills.
From the CEO down to a company's minimum-wage employees,
individual and team happiness is measured by long-term
This new way of gauging organizational health is discussed
in depth in What Happy Companies Know: How the New
Science of Happiness Can Change Your Company for the Better
(Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006).
Several bodies of scientific research have contributed to
our understanding of how the science of happiness can create
a corporate culture that breeds success
Taming the Inner Ape
- Positive Psychology. This
includes the study of strengths, best practices, character
and virtue in an organizational setting
Bio-evolutionary theory provides new insights
into why we react as we do under stress. We now know
the brain functions with its left and right hemispheres,
as well as layers of development—from primitive to
modern. We pride ourselves on our sophisticated logic,
analytical decisions and judgment capacities. In reality,
more often than we'd like to admit, we're influenced
by these primitive instincts for survival
- Appreciative Inquiry. We've
learned a great deal about the application of appreciative
inquiry, a process that delves into the question of
what gives life to organizations. Research shows that
asking the right questions, framed in positive terms,
will lead to more creativity and energy—a superior
approach to traditional problem-solving and beat-the-competition
- Emotional Intelligence.
Among the newer psychological assessments, the Benchmark
of Organizational Emotional Intelligence (BOEI) measures
an organization's intrinsic emotional intelligence.
Other motivational profiling tools also evaluate how
and why people function in organizations, as well
as how those with differing motivations can learn
to work harmoniously.
- Cardio-neurology. The
coherence generated by positive emotion and thought
unleashes creativity and imagination in ways that
dramatically improve personal health and corporate
productivity. Not only is lowered stress good for
the individual's health, but it's apparently a success
factor for healthy organizations.
To understand the machinations and culture of work environments,
we must pinpoint how our brains function. In the most basic
terms, the brain has three functional parts:
Humans have two sets of linked circuitry: the ancient
wiring that protects and the modern wiring that serves.
We refer to the "emotional brain" to describe our primitive
and reactive parts and to the "executive brain" to describe
the frontal lobes, the center of conscious thought and logic.
- Self-preservation (fear and sexual
drive). The personal-survival brain is reflexive,
causing animals under attack to react first and think
later, thus triggering the fight-or-flight response.
- Personal and group bonding.
The social-survival brain enables us to bond to survive
hostile environments. When we cooperate with others,
we have strength in numbers to overcome larger, stronger
enemies. Bonds are strongest between individuals versus
small groups (families, clans, teams) or villages (tribes,
- Moral awareness, inspiration, creativity
and awe. What makes humans unique and extraordinarily
more capable than other mammals is the forebrain—specifically,
the frontal lobes. In this part of the brain, we experience
consciousness, awareness of our feelings and the ability
to discern right from wrong.
Hard-Wired for Hard Times
Our emotional brain remains essential to our biological
survival. While the danger of being chased and eaten by
a tiger is no longer environmentally relevant, our reaction
to danger remains the same. Fear is triggered by perceived
Any time we sense a threat (real or only perceived),
our brain speed-dials a reaction, bypassing its information-processing
parts. Usually, the executive brain kicks in a few milliseconds
later to determine whether a threat is real and modulate
our behaviors and expressions. The rational brain collects
more information and sorts things out.
But when the emotional brain reacts too strongly and
frequently over time, our highly sensitive, survival-based
emotions become the brain's preferred response. After
a while, the emotional brain hijacks the executive brain
The Opposite of Fear
As long as fear dominates, the brain centers for creativity
and high-level thought are constrained. Any sense of appreciation
is shut down. The human brain cannot process fear and
appreciation at the same time.
The executive or manager who screams at his staff
whenever he feels thwarted creates a fear environment.
He's shooting himself in the foot because his staff's
fears prevent the development of new ideas and solutions.
Sometimes, our wiring creates the perception of hard
times when they really don't exist. Because this response
is so automatic, fear frequently manifests in situations
where proneness to reactivity is extremely maladaptive.
An emotionally charged workplace can create fear reactions
that short-circuit higher, more effective business thinking.
Under stress, fear contributes to faulty decision-making,
stretching of ethics and rules, and misconduct and false
Healthy behaviors in the work environment require the
emotional and executive brain to work together. Good decisions
rely on input from intuition and feelings, and feelings
rely on logic to sort out and decide on behaviors. That's
why it's critical to pinpoint which part of your mind
is leading. If the emotional brain is in charge, you must
learn to inform the executive brain to prevent it from
Unhealthy companies are gripped by fear and stuck
in emotional reactions. They cannot adapt, leap forward
or ultimately succeed. Achieving true happiness and leadership
success means making full use of whole-brain functions.
Those who work in happy companies make full use of their
imaginations every day, and they have strong prospects
of prevailing in tough environments
I hope you and your coach are having
a lot of fun and creating a lot of energy and happiness
through personal coaching. If you know of anyone that is
interested in exploring coaching or to schedule your own
complementary coaching session contact me at 312-842-4577
me by clicking here
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For the last twenty-two
years Jerry Pinney has been president of his own consulting firm.
Currently he focuses his efforts on providing executive and personal
coaching to persons who are interested in improving their quality
of life and consulting to small and mid-sized companies and nonprofits.
He is a facilitator for peer advisory groups with The Alternative
Board and is a Certified One Page Planning Consultant. Jerry has
over three decades of experience in the food industry, and possesses
a unique perspective of customer service, marketing and strategic
planning. In addition to overall general management qualifications,
Jerry has proven expertise in operational planning and business
development. His food industry career started at Jewel Food Stores
followed by a long career with IGA, with their retailers, wholesalers
and ten years as Vice President of Marketing. In addition Jerry
has served as Vice President of Membership for the National Grocers
Association, Sr. Vice President of Procurement for Shurfine International
and Executive Manager of The Zenon Hansen Foundation.
Jerry has also served on a number of
nonprofit boards including: President of the Volunteer Center
of Northwest Suburban Chicago. He is currently a Project Manager
for the Executive Service Corps of Chicago. Jerrys ESC assignments
have included coaching for several Executive Directors, and consulting
on various Board Development projects and on a number of strategic
Pinney & Associates
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