Feeling unhappy at work? You’re not alone. Irobiko Chimezie Kingsley spoke with academicians in the business domain who are interested in reviewing some of his academic research books, which teach workers how to help each other to help themselves.
You don’t have to be great to start your career, but you do have to start to be great. There are countless examples of billion-dollar companies that started from offices lit by candles because they couldn’t afford lights, or selling presidential cereal to meet payroll, or a single conversation that led to a world wide empire. These are the ones you hear about. Imagine the ones you don’t hear or read about because people never even got started…
Here are some of the business secrets you should know:
- Being a Problem Solver and Relentlessly Resourceful – When you’re an employee you can’t understand what actually makes a good employee; until you’re an employer, then you can – that is the paradox. And what I realized is that being relentlessly resourceful, taking ownership and solving problems, is what makes the BEST employee, or member of a team, or entrepreneur/founder, or really with anything in life – be a problem solver and you’ll always be successful, the bigger the problem, the more successful you’ll be.
2. Insane Focus on Your Customers and Continuous Improvement – When in doubt, talk to and focus on your customers, I think a lot of people forget this, and get so caught up in putting out fires, they don’t realize that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, if you treat every customer like they’re an old best friend you haven’t seen for years, and you focus on solving their problems, you’ll be very successful. With this comes arguably the most important thing which is continuously improving, and understanding that creating anything meaningful happens by putting one foot in front of the other, day by day, and improving by just 1% per day makes you 37x better than when you started after a year – that’s a lot!
3. Making Decisive Data-Driven Solutions and Using Common Sense – It is all too easy in life to get caught up in emotion, and make decisions based on feelings, rather than logic and data. And that’s not to say that emotions and gut feelings don’t have their place, but I think you’d be surprised how important trusting data in the new digital age can be when making decisions, trust the data, be logical, and then use your gut feelings, emotions and common sense to objectively evaluate your final decisions based on data – and watch your business and your life expand!
4. Having an Owner Mentality and Working Backward from Your End Goal – A common theme amongst billionaire autobiographies is that working on a MASSIVE problem, vision, goal, and business is the same amount of work as working on something small. This logically means that we all should THINK BIG. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that he used to wake up excited to go lift weights for 6 hours per day because each day it brought him incrementally closer to his goal. Human beings need goals, they need purpose, and working toward goals and making progress gives you that purpose, and progress is happiness. So, create your goals, make them measurable, in SPECIFIC detail, give yourself timelines, and work your butt off starting with the end goal you want, and working backwards to create incremental momentum toward your dreams!
5. Simplifying Complexity and 80/20 EVERYTHING in Your Life – The famous Pareto Principle… Due to the complex chaotic nature of the universe, 20% of your actions in nearly all situations give you 80% of what you want. If you don’t take the time to stop and think about what you actually want, I promise you that you’ll never get it. So, the next time you have a problem, break it down into the end goal you desire, and then think about the 20% of your actions that will have the greatest disproportionate effect on moving you steadily toward your end goal. Steve Jobs said that innovation is saying no 1,000 times, and that simplicity is often harder than complexity, say no to what makes you unhappy, remove complexity from your life, and from your business, and focus only on the 20% of things that matter most, and watch how profoundly your life changes.
And in the spirit of simplifying complexity, and focusing on the 20% that has the largest disproportionate effect on your happiness and sense of fulfillment, there are three things that ultimately determine a happy, purposeful, fulfilling life…
Gratitude – Happiness is directly related to gratitude, and if you haven’t heard Oprah, and many other billionaires and some of the most successful people in the world continue to rehash this same idea over and over again – I will one more time :). Comparison is the thief of joy, if you made your first $100 dollars and learned about someone making $200; instead of being excited, you might feel depressed in comparison.
But in that same situation and scenario, if you chose instead to focus on the gratitude for achieving a milestone, and progressing toward your goal, and chose to focus on that gratitude rather than anything else, you would feel genuinely happy, and happiness is all that matters in the end. Be intentional, and practice, and habituate your gratitude. Do it for 10 seconds the moment you wake up in the morning with a single deep breath, and remove comparisons and social media and anything else in your life that prevents you from experiencing true, honest gratitude for everything you have.
Progress – Tony Robbins once said that progress is happiness, and he’s right. Being intentional about your life, rather than drifting through life gives you purpose, and having a finite, measurable, and meaningful goal to make progress towards – gives you a reason to wake up excited each morning. This is a POWERFUL tonic because the truth is you can wake up and be groggy and feel lost, with no real meaning to start your day or you can be intentional, have a goal, and continuously improve as you progress toward it enjoying the process along the way.
Having a specific goal, and waking up excited to get back to that goal is the greatest gift you can give yourself, because nothing feels better than making progress on a diet, or exercise plan, or on your business, even in your relationship. Feeling progress yourself, or even better sharing progress with people you care about is the best feeling in the world, and tying your own sense of purpose, and meaning, and your mission to making progress prevents you from only being happy once you reach your goal. It’s often said that desire is a contract with yourself to be unhappy until you reach your goals. But if you find happiness from the progress itself, you can learn to enjoy the process and progress, and that is the secret to lifelong happiness.
Perspective – Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s long time business partner and billionaire investor said that people are really bad at knowing what makes them happy, but really good at knowing what makes them unhappy, and he calls this the Inverse Law. And this means, that even if you don’t know what makes you happy, you can focus on removing the things in your life that you know make you unhappy, and by default, become happier!
Everything in life is based on perspective, if you gave a billionaire, and a homeless person the same cheap hotel room, even though they are both humans, and presented with the same exact room, their perspective on the situation might be drastically different – one might be grateful and happy for a shower and warm bed and some privacy, and the other might feel it was cheap or beneath them and feel unhappy about the situation. Two people, same room, two perspectives, two wildly different levels of happiness. Nothing is inherently happy or sad, it’s only your perspective that makes it so.
And to summarize I think Walt Disney says it best…
“Happiness is a state of mind. It’s just according to the way you look at things.”