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Posts Tagged ‘passion’

Happiness @ Work?

Posted by Vivian Wong on September 15, 2008

What motivates most people at work include promotions and pay raises. These two factors certainly affect our happiness level at work – but they are often short-lived and sometimes leave you with more frustration than if you haven’t gotten any at all. For example: you may have recently got promoted, and yet you may think it took management far too long to give you the promotion you deserve. (This may be true but that should not rob you of the joy of receiving the promotion); Even if you were truly happy with the promotion or the raise (and better still both), that special feeling doesn’t last very long. Surely we can’t get promoted as often as we’d like – otherwise all of us would be CEOs or Presidents by now. So how do we go about finding happiness at work that doesn’t fade away like soap bubbles?     

Know Yourself
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. (Buddha)    

It is clearly not possible to love EVERYTHING about your job – but you should ask yourself: 

  • Are you being challenged and do you enjoy the challenges?
  • Are you maximizing your strengths?
  • Are you developing your greatest potential through the peaks and valley of this constant rollercoaster ride working in a large corporation?
  • Are you doing the best you can?
  • Do you get job satisfaction from your job?
If your answers to above questions are mostly no, then you should take a hard look at your career. Perhaps it’s time for you to initiate a change! This is the perfect recipe to frustration, disappointment and unhappiness.     

If there are a couple of “No”s, then you should take the responsibility upon yourself to see how you can turn them to “yes”. You could be standing in your own way of happiness! For example, say you are a developer. If you are not maximizing your strength in “presentation” because all you do is writing technical design documents and code all day. You may be frustrated that you have amazing hidden talents waiting for your manager to discover and she/he STILL hasn’t discovered them yet. Let’s face it, your managers are not trained to be talent agents. You need to take the initiative to discuss this with her/him. Perhaps you could volunteer for community services such as hosting brown bags for knowledge transfers. (Most managers would love to see their employees being proactive).    

If all your answers are “Yes” – then congratulations! You have reached Nirvana!     

Know what YOU want is key to finding happiness at work– if you have no idea what floats your boat, then how could your manager know? Aligning your own career goals with the needs/opportunities of the business with the support of your manager will certainly get you a lot closer to reaching your goals.     

Without a clear goal, you will always end up somewhere else – perhaps even further away from finding happiness!     

Love What You Do
I am not talking about loving every minute of your job. That job probably doesn’t exist. (It’s like having adorable kids or puppies, they all have their least attractive moments.;-) ). We all know that we are at our best form when we do something we love. So if you don’t love what you do (or at least some aspects of your job), then you need to figure out what you are really passionate about and go after that!     

Be Adaptable
The truth is, you have to be comfortable with change no matter what you do – in fact you should fully expect it. You have to have the strength to accept things you cannot change – because change is the only constant in today’s world. Resistance causes pain, and pain can blind you to the opportunities for your growth that changes often bring. Ultimately, this resistance can affect your happiness at work (or what is left of it).     

A pessimist sees the difficulty in opportunity, and an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill     

Be Positive
No one likes to work with a whiner who’s never happy and projects negative thoughts/attitude. Negative thoughts/words affect you and those around you on a subconscious level. People feel more at ease (and eager to help) when we are positive. There have also been countless studies that link negative thoughts to physical illnesses. For example, one recent study showed that Nuns who have positive thoughts live 10 years longer than those who don’t. Apparently being negative is a secret recipe to dying younger!     

If you know what you want to do, do what you love and have the strength to overcome obstacles along the way with a positive attitude, I think you are on the right track to finding happiness at work!     

The Paradox of Perfection: Learning to Give Your Best Performance

Posted by Ken Klaus on September 5, 2008

If you’re a foodie, love to travel, or have absolutely no problem grabbing some serious couch time on the weekend, you’ve probably seen Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. In the fifth season, which wrapped this week, we join our host as he eats his way around the world, touring Uruguay, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Spain and my personal favorite Japan – where he goes “in search of the relationship between a perfect piece of sushi and a perfect knife blade, the common ground shared by the martial artistry of kendo and the subtle aesthetics of Japanese flower arranging.” Indeed throughout the episode Chef Bourdain returns again and again to the idea of perfection, asking each of the masters he interviews (sushi, kendo, and ikebana) if they believed in the concept of perfection and whether they felt they had ever achieved it in their field of expertise. Paradoxically, though all of them believed in the idea of perfection, they universally agreed that achieving it was very unlikely and, more importantly not the point. What truly mattered was continually improving your performance – doing a better job each time you took up the task at hand.


Recently, I’ve been reading the new book from Mark Sanborn author of The Fred Factor and You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader. In his latest book, The Encore Effect, Mark offers insights reminiscent of the philosophy shared by the sushi, kendo and ikebana masters of Japan – that giving an exceptional performance has less to do with achieving perfection, and more to do with focus, passion, discipline and the desire to do your job better with each new day. The exceptional performer embraces the idea that there is always room to improve and they apply the same level of focus and discipline equally to each task, no matter how small the job or great the reward. As Mark states, “Remarkable performers focus on the outcome they’re striving to achieve and say no to any activity that would divert their efforts. They know exactly where they are going and they focus on how to get there.”


In addition to focus and discipline, outstanding performers also have passion. In an early post I wrote for the TalentedApps blog, Helping Happy Cows Stay Happy, I talked about my desire to find a deeper passion for my work. What I discovered, am still learning, and Mark far more eloquently describes in The Encore Effect is that passion does not derive from our work, rather passion is something we must bring to our work, even if the job we’re doing today is not necessarily the one we want to do; because the passion, discipline and dedication we bring to our job today may be the key that unlocks the door to the unknown career for which we are still searching. Mark says it even better: “By doing your job with all the passion and enthusiasm and creativity and energy you have, you will make yourself increasingly valuable in the eyes of those around you. And as that happens, your opportunities will expand. When people are excited about you and about what you have to offer, the possibilities that will open up may surprise you.”


I firmly believe that our vocations and our performance are entirely ours to manage. I also believe that we can provide an exceptional performance, one worthy of an encore, no matter what the job or how often we have been tasked to complete it. We simply need to raise the bar, set more challenging goals, and strive to do a better job than we did the last time; remembering that improvement and not perfection is the goal. Again citing the master, “The fact is that no matter how good you become, you can always get better. And that’s a good thing. It keeps work and life interesting and challenging, because if you have become as good as you would ever get, the balance of your days would be pretty monotonous. Perfection is not a goal but a process – one that never ends.” Thanks Mark!


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