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

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 success.

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).

Elements of Happiness

Several bodies of scientific research have contributed to our understanding of how the science of happiness can create a corporate culture that breeds success
    1. Positive Psychology. This includes the study of strengths, best practices, character and virtue in an organizational setting

    2. Neurosciences. 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

    3. 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 thinking.

    4. 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.

    5. 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.
Taming the Inner Ape

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:
  • 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, companies).

  • 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.
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.

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 danger.

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 accounting.

Whole-Brain Functioning

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 being bullied.

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

Final Thoughts:

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 or e-mail me by clicking here

Coach Jerry

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Jerry Pinney

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. Jerry’s ESC assignments have included coaching for several Executive Directors, and consulting on various Board Development projects and on a number of strategic planning projects.

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phone: 312-842-4577,
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