Feb 282012
 

Is your company designed so that its managers and associates will be happy at work?

Probably not.  The executives that build companies tend to focus almost exclusively on financial results.  “we have to make the quarterly earnings or heads will roll…”

But is that smart? Do stressed-out people produce better results?

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Is your kid’s select club soccer team, basketball team, or volleyball team designed and concerned about player happiness?

Probably not. Most teams that cost parents big bucks and travel to out-of-town tournaments focus on those win/loss results. “Our team has to win — I’m not paying $3 grand a year to play in Division 2!”

But is that smart? Do stressed kids of stressed, minutes-played-monitoring parents learn and play sports better than happy, relaxed kids?

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Is your kid’s school designed to keep kids happy while they are learning and maturing?

Probably not. Results darn it, results! “We must get the grades up to ensure our federal funding.”

But is that smart?

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When will leaders, when will companies, when will institutions, when will we — finally realize that happiness is a critical ingredient that leads to above average results and success, not a by product that comes after the struggle?

Start with that which is in your own control: Is your family focused on happiness? Are you focused and committed on making it so? Are you planning and doing things to make the family experience happier? What would it take to add a little more happiness into this week? A little happiness goes a long way.

Do you have influence on the job front? Are you a manager at work? Or are you a leader on your team? What can you do to inspire the spark of happiness within your little sphere of influence? Don’t be too surprised if your group starts out-performing as people smile more — just don’t tell the hard-nosed CEO until you have a one heck of a track record!

“There is no duty so much underrated as the duty of being happy.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson

Change your own world. Be happy to enjoy your life — you will find that success becomes easier when laughter is the norm. Most people are about as happy as they decide to be.  Don’t pursue happiness — Make it instead.

I.M. Optimism Man

 

Feb 252012
 

Lots of people feel that they are stuck in a rut and are powerless to escape said rut. Don’t be a prisoner of your own mind, shackled by your own neurons.

You are absolutely just one decision away from not being in a rut.  In the words and music of the Soup Dragons:

Don’t be afraid of your freedom
Freedom

I’m free
To do what I want
Any old time
I said I’m free
To do what I want
Any old time

Don’t believe it? We live in a free country that offers everyone the ability to make their own decisions. The world can be whatever you want it to be for you. Click on the picture below for a perfect video to tickle your imagination as to how much freedom this life gives anyone who wants to get a little crazy:

Still stuck in a rut? Or perhaps in a rut by your own choice?

I.M. Optimism Man

Feb 222012
 

Think of a person, or a few people, who you genuinely admire.

What do they have in common?

I generally find that people admire people who make it clear as to where they stand. They have integrity and character. They know right from wrong. They are honest, even if the prevailing wind of society is blowing against them.

Do you know where you stand on important issues? Most importantly, do you know why? If someone asked you where you stand on higher taxes, could you write a succinct couple of paragraphs on the topic in less than 15 minutes and feel comfortable that your stand would not change 5 years from today? Government regulation of health care? How about abortion? Capital punishment? Fixing health care? Education? Welfare? The right way to live? The right way to parent?

Are there many politicians that you admire? I think most people agree that the answer is “very few” — why is that? These men and women are supposedly our best and our brightest, the leaders of our great American people, our representatives no less!

The answer is of course that most politicians only stand for one thing — getting re-elected and staying in the hallways of power. Obama says one thing but then does the other. Romney flip-flops too. Gingrich has so many ideas that they contradict themselves. Both Obama and Romney act aloof and above the common problems of the common people. Against all odds, the nation is surprised that Rick Santorum is gaining traction even though he is a long shot. I’m not surprised after watching the early debates: People admire a person that knows where he stands, even if they do not agree with every facet of his positions on issues.

There is a valuable lesson found in this election and it is a personal lesson: Decide where you stand. Let people know where you stand. Not just on politics but on issues at work, at your church, at the home owners meeting, and at home. State things simply and clearly. Defend your positions but keep an open mind. Debate. Don’t be afraid to say you were wrong from time to time. You will become a person others admire but that side-effect is not what’s truly important. What is most important is forging your own character and integrity. As Teddy Rossevelt put it:

“I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do!
That is character!”

Deciding where you stand changes your approach and your confidence. Deciding and defending your position will increase your optimism and fuel your decisive forward actions. It is well worth the thought and the effort.

I.M. Optimism Man

Feb 092012
 

I have always been a great believer in the importance of differentiation.

IMHO, it is always better to be different and a bit extreme than to be pretty good, nice but vanilla, normal, ho-hum, acceptable, or a bit better than average. I’ve felt this, I’ve known this, since day one — although it has been hard to express why in rational, logical terms. In fact, I’m not sure I know why I latched on to this core idea at such an early age, but I simply have always known, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that differentiation is critically important.

Seth Godin has put it all together in this great little presentation. Yes, I realize that this makes for three videos in a row on OptimismMan, but why re-invent the message so well put? This is well worth the time:

Seth Godin

What I take away from this is that any optimist can succeed by targeting the bleeding edge customer. The Procter and Gambles and the Coca Colas of the world face a problem — they will always try to sell to the mainstream bulk of the market — they need big numbers (after all) to move the needle — but in the age of the internet and the fissure of television and print media, the leading edge early adopters are becoming the only segment that is truly important.

Pick your personal flavor and don’t make it vanilla. Vanilla blends with all the other vanilla out there. Be green chile + pistachio! There is so much opportunity for success — anyone with the right unique idea, belief, differentiation in their messaging, and the will for decisive action can breakthrough! Not every idea will work but you must get noticed or “very good” will fail none-the-less. Differentiation applies equally to business idea success, employment success, and social success.

I.M. Optimism Man