Stop Worrying and Start Living

Stop Worrying and Start Living

I was talking to some of my team yesterday and discussing how, in business, you simply have to face up to tough decisions and things you wouldn’t necessarily want to do given the choice. Last week I wrote about eating the frog which has struck a few chords it seems from comments and emails I’ve had. That technique is a great way of dealing with individual tricky situations but what about stress and hard times in general – how do you deal with that?

In my business over the years, I’ve had to take people through disciplinary procedures, I’ve fired people, dealt with horrendous computer system crashes, irate clients and many many other difficult situations. These have an impact on my general stress levels and work/life balance and over the years I’ve learnt ways of dealing with this. I’m sure you feel and suffer the same and please believe me this is not a post to get sympathy.

Dealing with difficult times is something you have to do if you want to progress in business and guess what, quite often it’s these times that teach us more than the good times so there is a positive spin on this already. In fact I remember someone saying to me once that the clients who moan the most are often your best as they point out the problems within your business. You should thank clients that moan at you – they are teaching you a lot.

I use a few visualisation/positive thought techniques to help me when the chips are down – I’d like to share a couple with you this morning.

What’s the worst that could happen?
In his book, ‘How to stop worrying and start living’ (aff link) Dale Carnegie’s first chapter focuses on thinking about what the worst thing that could happen to you is – Are you likely to goto jail? Are you likely to die? Will you lose your entire business? No? Well let’s start to put a scale of how bad this really is then. By working out what the worst that can happen to you is and dealing with that, you can start to deal with it and move on.

How did they do it?
My Grandfather was in World War 2. He landed in D-Day and was blown up and shipped back to England pretty quickly. He also served in the desert and received the military cross for bravery. I remember fondly as a child, he used to recount stories to me of his time during the war. I learnt some very valuable lessons from him. None more so than just getting on with it. He lived through some awful conditions but never once moaned about them or felt he’d be dealt a tough hand. He taught me to get on with things and face up to the fact that life isn’t always peachy. I miss him dearly now and thank him for some of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learnt.

What would others do?
Last year I was lucky enough to attend a talk by Floyd Woodrow – One of the SAS’s youngest recruits at 22 years of age. He now runs a ‘performance optimisation’ company working with business and sports leaders. He talked about leadership that day and one thing in particular stuck in my mind. When faced with a difficult situation he uses a number of techniques. One is to touch his ear which he has linked mentally to pleasant visions and ideas and the second is to consider what others would do in his situation. Faced with a tricky decision he quickly sums up what 4 or 5 other people he highly respects would do and then makes his mind up. Perhaps a useful tool for you to use? You can follow Floyd on Twitter.

I have to say folks, on reading this back to myself this post feels a little negative but it’s really not meant too and I don’t feel at all down today – I thought it would be a good follow up to eating the frog and hopefully give you some ideas for techniques to use when you’re next feeling like things are against you. After all, if you’re down, think of all the people around that you will also bring down with you.

Chin up and keep smiling :)

Now Your Thoughts

  • Do you have any techniques for keeping your chin up during adversity?
  • What keeps you going?

Thank You!

Thank You!

As I write this, at 8am on the morning of my birthday, I’ve already received numerous texts from people, tweets, linkedIn messages and facebook wall comments wishing me many happy returns. I’m actually quite overwhelmed by it. Thank you so much everyone. Many of the people on the social networks didn’t even know me a few years ago and they’ve taken the time to stop by and wish me the best – this is one of the reasons I love this medium – the ability to build relationships :)

Without wanting to get too nauseous I thought rather than a ‘list of things to do’ or a ‘top ways to….’ blog, I’d simply write about the things I’m grateful for, something I think everyone should do once in a while. It’s a positive thing to do, so even if you don’t publish it like I have, maybe do this for yourself in private – it might help put things in perspective.

Health – Another year passes and I’m in good health which has to be up there as one of the most important things to be grateful for. I’ve joined the gym this year and intend to work on this part of my life even more in 2011. Fit body, fit mind after all.

Family – I’m incredibly grateful for having a supportive family. My parents are always behind everything I do and while they are not necessarily in my life everyday, they have a huge bearing on where I’ve come from and where I’m going. A special mention here goes to my brother and his partner who had my niece, Tilly, last year – the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen and someone that has made me think much more about work/life balance.

Friends – My friends and partner are unbelievable. A close nit group, spanning the country & lots more abroad. Intelligent, enthusiastic, gregarious people who I owe an awful lot of why I am ‘me’ too. People I can turn to in time of need and most importantly, people that I know will keep me smiling and laughing all day long.

The Optix Team – No one has had it easy over the last couple of years, business in general for the country has been tougher than it’s been in a very long time so I’m thankful and grateful for my business and my team – without whom, it wouldn’t be possible.

You – Finally I’d like to thank you. For reading this, for sharing it with friends, for commenting and spreading it. It makes it worthwhile.

You can put your sick buckets away now guys, normal service will resume next post. Just thought this might be a nice little break from the norm. :)

Now Your Thoughts

  • What are you most grateful for? It would be great to hear…

The No 1. Trait I want from my staff

Someone asked me today, “Alastair, what’s the number one trait you expect or want from your staff”. Hmm interesting – this made me think very hard. Some of the obvious ones sprang to mind immediately:

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Skilled
  • Motivated
  • Hard Working

They all came close.

Do you know what I ended up answering and on reflection still consider up there at the top? (enough to write a post about it! at least!)

Someone who ‘Accepts Responsibility’

What do I mean by this?

This person never blames anyone else, they accept responsibility themselves in a positive way and offer a solution which they learn from and better themselves with. In sales especially this is very important and easy to explain using the following example:

Sales person A returns from a pitch, and say’s the following: “Boss we didn’t get it because the customer doesn’t have the money just now – times have been tight because of the recession and the chips are down – it’s hard out there right now.”

Sales person B returns from the same pitch and say’s, “Boss I didn’t get the pitch for these two reasons – I didn’t qualify the person hard enough, so hadn’t realised they didn’t have the right budget for our product and I didn’t build a good enough relationship with the decision maker. I tell you what though, I’m not going to make the same mistakes again and I’ll nail the next one Boss.”

Who accepted responsibility in that scenario? Who would you rather have working for you? Yes of course, the second guy right?

This doesn’t just apply in sales, it happens in all areas of business and I personally want to surround myself with people who have the ability to accept responsibility. If someone comes to me and says they made a mistake but they’ve learnt or they know how to fix it then that’s a HUGE tick in the box. If they come to me blaming someone else or some external factor then it has the opposite effect.

There is a great article on the Livestrong Blog which goes into far more detail about the topic and is well worth a read if you agree with my points above: http://www.livestrong.com/article/14698-accepting-personal-responsibility/

Now Your Thoughts

  • Don’t forget that when you employ people, you are looking for things like this from an early stage – what sort of questioning could you use to coax this kind of personality trait out of someone?
  • What would you say the No1 trait you look for in your staff is?

It’s Snow Joke – Tips for Keeping your Business Running in Adverse Conditions

It’s Snow Joke – Tips for Keeping your Business Running in Adverse Conditions

Wow. A week of snow and the whole country grinds to a halt! So what does that mean for your business? What precautions have you put in place to deal with these extreme conditions or are you now wishing you had?

Here’s a few things you should look into if you haven’t done so already.

Remote Desktop/VPN - We have this setup in our office so that all our staff can effectively work from home as if they were sitting at their office PC’s. I work from home as much as I can on ‘bigger picture stuff’ and use remote desktop to communicate with the office, usually dealing with email and copying files across to my local machine to work on.

VOIP telephone system – This is quite high up my shopping list. The next time we change phone system this is the way I’ll go. So basically a VOIP (Voice over IP) system will allow you to transfer calls between office and mobile automatically so your callers hasn’t a clue where you are and neither do they need to know. On weeks like this if the office is unmanned you can transfer the calls around so you don’t lose out on sales opportunities or customer enquiries.

Smart Phones - A good smart phone connected to your email system means you’re in front of your email whenever you have a 3G connection (i.e. most of the time). I have the iPhone and love it. It keeps me in touch…

Anything in the cloud - If you’ve not got an expensive internal server running your office that you can setup VPN or Remote Desktop on, take a look into software as a service – hosted in the cloud. You can run your whole office PC these days from the cloud and access it all from anywhere with an Internet connection. This could be the perfect option if you’re starting off in an office or have a couple of people working for you remotely.

So don’t let this weather bring your business to a standstill, even if the whole rest of the country is…after all, I’m sure there is some work you can do in Dubai or somewhere and I’m pretty sure it’s not snowing there!

Now Your Thoughts

  • Can you add any other suggestions to help keep people working when conditions are this severe?

How Optix Solutions does ‘People to People’

How Optix Solutions does ‘People to People’

Last week I wrote about People 2 People and Personal Branding. A few of you asked how we actually implement this in our businesses so I wanted to highlight this in today’s post – hopefully to give you some food for thought.

I’m going to use Olivier Blanchard’s (The Brand Builder) post on this for the structure of the post (hope you don’t mind Olivier :)) and expand on what we do in our main business – Optix Solutions.

Olivier highlighted 11 points that he felt every P-2-P business should have or at least work towards – let’s take them one at a time:

“1. The P2P business doesn’t hire though job sites or advertising. It hires by inviting candidates already connected to the company through social networks, both online and offline. “

I certainly can’t remember the last time we hired through advertising locally although I have to say that I’m not entirely on OB’s side here for Jobsites but the reason for that will become clear in the next few months. Yes, the old fashioned, faceless jobsite is a dying breed, but I think there might just be room for something new…more on that later :) The last few staff we’ve had at Optix have come through either social networks (or relationships built through social networks) or friends of the people that already work here. How great is that? One of my favourite things about recruiting is when one of the guys that works for me puts forward a friend that ‘really wants to work for Optix’ – that speaks volumes in my opinion.

“2. The P2P business no longer has a Director of Social Media, just like traditional B2B and B2C businesses no longer have a Director of Telephones: Social Media is completely embedded in the organization from an operational standpoint. What does that mean? It means that every department, from HR to Marketing to Product Development to Customer Service to Community Management uses Social Media the way they use any other tools and channels to do their jobs. “

Ok, so maybe we’re not quite big enough to have had an SM director in the first place, but that is probably my hat to be honest (I wear quite a few…and always look dapper ;). We have a number of staff with their own Twitter accounts/Facebook Pages/LinkedIn profiles and actively encourage this. The power in numbers through the business in incredible, all bouncing off each other, looking out for what each other is talking about on SM channels and all working together for the greater good of the company. I actively encourage my clients to consider use of SM in the same way at theirs.

“3. The P2P company doesn’t block FaceBook. The P2P company doesn’t block Twitter. The P2P company doesn’t block LinkedIn.  It doesn’t frown on access to community platforms like Ning. As a matter of fact, the P2P company helps its employees participate in online and offline networks more effectively through training and development instead of trying to insulate them from those “dangerous” online community platforms.”

I think I’ve highlighted this point above as well. Conversations actively go on (on a daily basis between staff about clever ideas for SM channels). We love it.

“4. Within the P2P business, the I.T. department no longer plays the role of cranky gatekeeper when it comes to adopting and deploying digital tools. The I.T. department has morphed into the T.E. department: Technology Enablement. Former I.T. professionals with passive-aggressive tendencies who get in the way of employees using the latest and most effective digital tools no longer have a place in the P2P Business. (Buh-bye. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way back to the ’90s.)”

Probably aimed more at the larger corporate here but once again, IT enablement is what it’s all about. I can’t understand those companies that block Facebook/Twitter etc on their networks – do they not realise that most of this SM stuff happens in the mobile space these days and they can’t block that?

“5. P2P Brand Managers are among the most sophisticated business strategists on the planet. No longer do they mostly be concerned with push messaging, self-serving marketing communications, trade dress and the ever ubiquitous logo redesigns. Their skillset has now exploded to meet the needs of an increasingly complex organization and marketplace.

  • They are now fluent in the four precepts of effective P2P program ownership: Development, integration, management (where monitoring lives) and measurement.
  • They are personally involved and invested in the communities that support and align themselves with the brand(s) they manage.
  • They are now equally involved in every step of the product lifecycle process, from ideation, design, development, manufacturing, testing, launch, and management.
  • They spend at least as much time in the world as they do inside the bubble of their corporate office, because they realize that is where their brand and products actually live.
  • Brand Managers are now mobile. They are cultural anthropologists as much as they are business managers. They look to free themselves from the corporate cocoon as much as possible to keep their perspective fresh and their insights untainted.
  • Brand Managers have become socio-cultural designers. Think about that for a minute and then think about it some more. This is key.”

We’re obviously in the slightly unique situation of working with brand strategists at other companies and so need to practice what we preach. We work with them to make sure the 4 P’s are ingrained in the strategy (In fact, we’ve worked with Olivier and Scott Gould at Likeminds to make sure our strategy offering is effective – we try where possible to practice what we preach)

“6. The P2P business understands how to smoothly blend campaigns with its daily mix of activities. Though it is naive to think that there is no longer a division between PR, Advertising, email marketing, web “marketing”, mobile marketing, customer support and community engagement, these roles and the deliverables they create work seamlessly together.”

As we’ve grown (From 2 to 13 in the last 6 years), we’ve gone through the silo effect and seen the damage this can cause. Dev not talking to Design, Design not talking to Sales, Sales not talking to anyone apart from their customers….you get the picture! Over the last few years we’ve done our very best to instil a culture of ‘team and family’ into the business. We have regular meetings where everyone thinks about client projects, we now have meetings with clients where everyone involved in the project is part of it so there is buy-in to the project. We’re not perfect yet but we’re working bloody hard to get there. :)

“7. The P2P business only uses corporate speak to make fun of corporate speak – and out of a sense of responsibility: Keeping that dying linguistic tradition alive will serve as a lesson to future generations that the world of gray cubicles, and cretinous business language almost destroyed business in the early 21st century. “

Not even going to expand on this one – The days of Gordon Geckko are no longer here…

“8. Employees of P2P businesses don’t hate their jobs. Why? Because they are empowered by their management team to collaborate with employees and the communities they touch. As a result of being clearly aware of their operational boundaries and because they receive ongoing, multilateral support from their organization, they know how to act professionally when dealing with the public.”

I think I mentioned this one earlier. When you have staff referring their friends to work for you, you’ve nailed it. After all, they wouldn’t be a very good pal if they got their mate into a business that sucked would they! We empower all our staff to ‘amaze clients where possible’ – That line is even in our staff benefits package because we want our staff to know that’s what’s important to us as a business…creating fantastic customer experiences.

“9. The P2P business no longer outsources its customer service. Period.”

We never did and we never will. Period :)

“10. The P2P business partners with like-minds. Put simply, it understands that the partners it aligns itself with say at least as much about its brand(s) as it does on its own. Even when partnerships are meant to be purely strategic or tactical, they signal an alignment of values that the marketplace (the community) is quick to take note of and interpret.”

Partners and Likeminds has been a personal goal of mine for 2010. I’ve spent a lot of time this year building relationships, strategic alliances and partnerships with some influential people and companies. As a business we recognise that the public perception of us is paramount to our success and the more people out there working with us on projects, the better. We started the Optix Inside Circle this year where we invited select partners (for strategic reasons) to a morning session where they could meet each other, network and then hopefully learn something of value for their own client base. The first event was very well attended locally and I’m looking forward to developing these events further this year.

“11. In case it wasn’t obvious: People would sell their grandmother to work there. Not just because the P2P company pays well (it might not) but because it is known to be a fantastic place to work, learn, and build lasting professional and personal relationships. People who work there are happier than most, professionally engaged and fulfilled, consider themselves successful (their definition may differ from yours), and wouldn’t dream of working anywhere else.”

This is certainly the feedback I’ve had from others…no doubt my wonderful team who are reading this will jump on me as soon as they pickup this RSS feed :)

Here’s to P-2-P Olivier – Thanks for your post.

8 things that changed my life this year

With the end of the year in touching distance, I thought I’d give you a run down of 8 things that happened to me in 2009 that have changed my life positively. The reason for writing this list is that almost all of it is open to you to get involved with too. If I’ve benefited so much from these things, I hope that at least one person reading this takes action to investigate one or two items on the list and see’s their own life positively impacted. (Admittedly a few are a little jokey but that’s just the way I roll) :)

So lets get on – here are 8 things that have positively changed my life in 2009 (in no particular order :)):

1) iPhone – So I’ve gone on quite a bit about this recently and I do understand it splits opinion with Android lovers so I’m just going to tell you a few quick reasons why this has had such a profound affect on my life/business. First of all, it’s not possible to deny this is a sexy piece of kit and pretty much everything on it has been well thought out from a usability point of view. The phone has made a huge difference to the way I interact with email outside the office as well as social media. A huge amount of the buzz surrounding iPhones is the gimmicky apps that you download and hardly ever use, but if you look carefully you can find ones that really do make your life easier and more efficient. I now do at least 75% of my social media work from my phone, on the move, using dead time that I wouldn’t have used before. Here are a couple of examples of apps that have made a differences to me – Tube Deluxe helped me around London recently giving me more time to catch up on other bits of work. The National Rail app tracks GPS on the trains themselves meaning you can see where the train is at any time on the line – genius. TV Guide gets rid of the need for paper based guides. Natwest now have an app that lets me track my money on the move at anytime. Skype lets me phone other Skype users for free and AroundMe has helped me find cabs/hotels and garages a number of times on the move. CoPilot is better than the inbuilt Sat Nav I have in my own car and Google Maps has walked me to a few places I would have got lost trying to find ‘pre-iPhone’. Remember the Milk helps me with GTD (see later)….I could go on and I know I’ve only touched the surface! If you’re in the market for a new phone and think the iPhone is expensive then (compared to other phones) I would agree, but its so much more than a phone and I know its been worth every penny and much much more. This, for me, is an absolute must have gadget.

2) Jeffrey Gitomer – Sales/Positivity Guru. I was lucky enough to be invited to see Jeffrey earlier this year by owner of TheBestOf – Nigel Botterill. I didn’t know who Jeffrey was at the time but trusted Nigel’s opinion and boy am I glad I did. ANYONE in sales or marketing (yes that means you business owners) MUST go and see Jeffrey if possible. He really is a sales legend. I wrote more about him in this post I wrote earlier in the year. I can honestly say that Jeffrey’s one seminar has made a profound difference to the way I treat the sales process now and the way I teach my sales team to treat it too. His Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude book is also a kick up the backside in the way we view our lives and other people. New staff members in my team will now be given one of these books and asked to read it during their first few months with us. I’ve bought every single one of his books now and strongly suggest you consider doing so too. A complete list of Gitomer books can be found on Amazon by clicking the link in this sentence.

3) Social Media – I don’t really know where to start with this. I was dabbling without knowing it for the last couple of years with sites like Facebook/YouTube and LinkedIn but then in Jan of 09 I found Twitter and my life changed (as well as that of our businesses). The clever integration of Social Media has lead to many new services from Optix Solutions, ending up in new work, new joint ventures and alliances, new friends and a very good ROI (yes we’ve been monitoring it). As anyone who knows me personally knows, I love Social Media – I love the connections I’ve made with people all over the world and the new exciting possibilities it brings to businesses willing to get started with it. Much like the buzz of ecommerce when I started out with my web business back in 1999, Social Media has given me a new lust for the Internet and what’s possible for clever, forward thinking businesses. If you’d like further information of Social Media or would like to contract my services in this area, please drop me an email or connect with me on Twitter (@banksy6)

4) White Tea – Alright so maybe this is a bit of a jokey one but I was getting really hacked off with other teas and my friend David Thomas suggested I got involved with White Tea! I didn’t even know this existed! Now a morning doesn’t start properly without a refreshing cup of this amazing drink! (p.s. don’t boil it for more than 1 minute – it ruins it :))

5) GTD – Getting Things Done is a global phenomenon and I never knew about it – until this year. I hold my hands up to the fact that in the past I have struggled hugely to keep all the balls in the air. As a multi-business owner, at any one point I have literally hundreds of things on my to-do list and I’d tried just about every time scheduling/work practice known to man – all to no avail. I had the messiest desk in the office (a source of constant banter for my employees). I never understood how anyone could have a clean desk if they were busy – it escaped me. Then in early 2009 two people I have a lot of respect for in Exeter – Scott Gould and Adam Stone recommended I read Getting Things Done by David Allen. Wow – what a fantastic book/system. It’s given me the tools to operate (most of the time at max efficiency and with a ‘mind like water’ – so I’m at my most creative) This is a very important thing to master as a business owner or you get dragged down in the minutiae of everyday life. I now have a clean (ish) desk and a system that allows me to keep on top of the hundreds of things I have on my plate at any one time. Every business owner should buy this book now.

6) Lizz – Lizz is my girlfriend and one of the points in this list which I hope you won’t be able to take advantage of :) I was a proper bachelor, living the high life for the last 10 years, since leaving university. While busy building a business, I had a lot of fun outside work with friends and family. A couple of years ago my present girlfriend Lizz came along and this year we moved into our first house together. I’ll admit, I was quite apprehensive about losing my independence but moving in with the love of my life (get your puke buckets ready) was the single best thing I did this year. Having a strong support network around you in life when you run a business is one of the most important things you can build. Someone you can share the hard and good times with…find yourself a Lizz if you haven’t already.

7) Apple Mac Shop – This year I got involved in the Apple brand for the first time. I bought an iPhone, we got a Mac Book Pro at work and through this I started to spend some time in the Apple shop in Exeter. I love the place so much so I wrote an article about the experience I had in another blog post.

8 ) Beacon Breakthrough – This one applies to those of you starting up/setup in the South West in the UK. This year, James my business partner and I found out about a new scheme for businesses aiming at becoming Beacon companies for the SW, the turnover threshold of which is £1.5million. For more information on the Beacon scheme check out their website. The Beacon breakthrough forums are aimed at companies that wish to take that next step and learn how already successful companies operate in every area from board setup to marketing to goal setting and planning. It’s a fantastic course and offers amazing value to participant companies. If you’re based in the SW, I would strongly suggest that you put yourself on this course next year as the differences it’s made to my web business are nothing short of phenomenal.

That concludes my line up for 2009. If there is one thing I’m going to be concentrating on next year it’s acting on things (minimising procrastination). I’ve learnt a huge amount this last year and changed my business in many ways because of the things I’ve learnt, books I’ve read and courses I’ve been on – I’d urge you to look down the list again and see if there is anything you can get involved in yourself and please let me know if you do and of course, how it worked for you :)

See you in 2010

Use a mirror not a magnifying glass

Today I have the pleasure of another fantastic post by Rachel Willis. As you read this, don’t sit there and think you’re an angel that never acts like this – I’m sure if we are all honest, we’re all guilty of it. I’ve been working a lot this year on positive, or in Gitomers language, (YES!) attitude because I understand, just how much a bit of negativity can spread – especially if you work in an office with lots of people. Just think how different the atmosphere at work is when everyone is upbeat compared to those days when everyone has a ‘screw face’. I’m certainly not perfect, but I’m working on it and know that if everyone is positive then it’s conducive to a far better working atmosphere – leading to more efficient teams and workflow. A large part of this attitude is about how you relate to other people – enjoy Rachel’s post and more importantly – ACT on it today!

—–

How often do we find ourselves wound up by a colleague, partner, family member, friend or even stranger? And how often do we rant, rave and blame that person for what they said or did? Going over and over it in our heads or with an unfortunate friend, building a watertight case for the prosecution?

In these situations, we could most likely list – in minute detail – all the things that are considered wrong with what they said or did, and we lay the blame firmly at their door.

We have looked at them with a magnifying glass and found every conceivable speck of dirt.

However, rather than viewing these situations as a bothersome conflict in your life, we can instead see them as a valuable learning exercise.

The next time you find yourself getting annoyed with someone, why not use a mirror rather than a magnifying glass, and see exactly what it is about what this person said or did that irritates you?

We often like to blame others rather than see the less-than-perfect parts of ourselves. It is easier that way. But by avoiding looking in the mirror, we miss the opportunity to evolve and uncover our hidden desires in life.

It may be that your boss asks you to get a report finished ahead of an already tight schedule. The magnifying glass shows them as demanding, unfair and selfish. However, the mirror shows us that we don’t like being told what to do and part of us yearns to be our own boss and not have to take orders.

Or it may be that you find yourself irately watching TV when your spouse returns home late from a night out with colleagues after work. The magnifying glass shows a thoughtless, disrespectful and insensitive partner. The mirror shows us that we don’t like sitting at home alone and would actually value a wider circle of friends to socialise and have fun with.

Therefore, conflict shines light on important areas and unmet needs that will only disappear when addressed directly.

So next time you find yourself about to launch an attack on someone – whether silently or out loud – consider which of your buttons they are pressing, be grateful to them for highlighting these unmet needs, and instead take a step towards fulfilling them.

Rachel Willis

rachel@rachel-willis.co.uk
www.rachel-willis.co.uk
twitter.com/RachelWillisUK

The 3 types of happiness

This is a very exciting time for me with the introduction of my first guest blogger – Rachel Willis. Rachel and I have met as a direct result of the #likeminds social media conference earlier this year and amazingly she wasn’t even there! A very good friend of hers – Caroline Bosher put the two of us in touch. Rachel is a strategist and has worked with quite a few household names including Deloitte and GlaxoSmithKline to name just two. Rachel and I hope to collaborate more in the future so this won’t be the last you read from her. Enjoy.

Happiness.

This buzzword seems to be everywhere we turn, littering magazines, books and conversations with supposed formulae for achieving happiness, as if it were a noun rather than a verb.

Subsequently, it has become synonymous with expectations, success vs. failure and fearful striving. Whether we are trying to lose that extra 7 pounds on the promise that this weight loss will make us happy, online dating to find the partner that will make us happy, or focusing all our efforts on earning the amount of money that we believe will make us happy, the motivation is the same.

Taking this approach can cause us to waste our whole lives chasing rainbows, always considering ourselves unhappy if we haven’t achieved whatever target we set for ourselves and in the process not appreciating the moments of happiness that are within our reach.

Therefore, it can be useful to understand that there are 3 fundamental types of happiness.

1. Pleasure

This is the immediate rush of happiness that comes from an unexpected windfall, the blowing of the final whistle in a triumphant Cup Final or spontaneous, carefree laughter shared with a loved one on a beautiful summer’s day.

The important point to note about pleasure is that it is transient. We cannot hold onto this feeling for anything longer than a few moments.

Once we appreciate this, we can remind ourselves that we are not being cheated out of happiness when the feeling passes, and instead of robbing ourselves of these precious moments when they occur, we can enjoy them for what they are – fleeting, wonderful and a brief glimpse into our fully present aliveness.

2. Satisfaction

This is the slow-burner of the happiness world that comes from completing a demanding10km run, putting your feet up after finishing the long-dreaded attic clear out, or handing the client the project you and your colleagues have tirelessly slaved over for the last few months.

It is a quieter, subtler sense of happiness that often occurs after completing a challenging task and is coupled with a sense of pride and relief.

For this reason, we can sometimes allow satisfaction to pass quickly, barely recognising its appearance, but why not feast on this happiness for a little longer, we deserve it!

3. Contentment

This is the long-term, sturdy feeling that is not rocked by an occasional unhappy disturbance in your life.

So often people think that if they arrange their external world according to their perceived criteria for happiness – the requisite relationship, career, body etc – they will feel content.

This mentality is totally understandable when we see that is the entire basis for the marketing industry. Companies make money from encouraging us to feel that if we use this new miracle product, eat this food or use this service then we will be happy (and more importantly, they prey on our fears that if we don’t have x, y or z then we will be unhappy).

But unfortunately, this is the wrong way around. Yes, these conditions can provide us with short-term happiness, but trying to find lasting happiness (AKA contentment) using this strategy leads to disappointment, dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

Only by feeling content and peaceful in ourselves can we feel contentment with our lives.

It makes sense. If we feel content inside then we don’t require what is happening around us to make us happy. Therefore we put less emphasis and pressure on those external circumstances. And when we come from a place of wanting rather than needing something, we can enjoy it for what it is, whatever that may be. We become selective in what we do, whom we see and where we go. And guess what, this makes us more content; it’s a win-win situation!

So, next time you find yourself feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with life, keep in mind that “man is only unhappy because he does not realise he is happy”.

Rachel Willis

rachel@rachel-willis.co.uk
www.rachel-willis.co.uk

twitter.com/RachelWillisUK


Happiness.

This buzzword seems to be everywhere we turn, littering magazines, books and conversations with supposed formulae for achieving happiness, as if it were a noun rather than a verb.

Subsequently, it has become synonymous with expectations, success vs. failure and fearful striving. Whether we are trying to lose that extra 7 pounds on the promise that this weight loss will make us happy, online dating to find the partner that will make us happy, or focusing all our efforts on earning the amount of money that we believe will make us happy, the motivation is the same.

Taking this approach can cause us to waste our whole lives chasing rainbows, always considering ourselves unhappy if we haven’t achieved whatever target we set for ourselves and in the process not appreciating the moments of happiness that are within our reach.

Therefore, it can be useful to understand that there are 3 fundamental types of happiness.

1. Pleasure

This is the immediate rush of happiness that comes from an unexpected windfall, the blowing of the final whistle in a triumphant Cup Final or spontaneous, carefree laughter shared with a loved one on a beautiful summer’s day.

The important point to note about pleasure is that it is transient. We cannot hold onto this feeling for anything longer than a few moments.

Once we appreciate this, we can remind ourselves that we are not being cheated out of happiness when the feeling passes, and instead of robbing ourselves of these precious moments when they occur, we can enjoy them for what they are – fleeting, wonderful and a brief glimpse into our fully present aliveness.

2. Satisfaction

This is the slow-burner of the happiness world that comes from completing a demanding10km run, putting your feet up after finishing the long-dreaded attic clear out, or handing the client the project you and your colleagues have tirelessly slaved over for the last few months.

It is a quieter, subtler sense of happiness that often occurs after completing a challenging task and is coupled with a sense of pride and relief.

For this reason, we can sometimes allow satisfaction to pass quickly, barely recognising its appearance, but why not feast on this happiness for a little longer, we deserve it!

3. Contentment

This is the long-term, sturdy feeling that is not rocked by an occasional unhappy disturbance in your life.

So often people think that if they arrange their external world according to their perceived criteria for happiness – the requisite relationship, career, body etc – they will feel content.

This mentality is totally understandable when we see that is the entire basis for the marketing industry. Companies make money from encouraging us to feel that if we use this new miracle product, eat this food or use this service then we will be happy (and more importantly, they prey on our fears that if we don’t have x, y or z then we will be unhappy).

But unfortunately, this is the wrong way around. Yes, these conditions can provide us with short-term happiness, but trying to find lasting happiness (AKA contentment) using this strategy leads to disappointment, dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

Only by feeling content and peaceful in ourselves can we feel contentment with our lives.

It makes sense. If we feel content inside then we don’t require what is happening around us to make us happy. Therefore we put less emphasis and pressure on those external circumstances. And when we come from a place of wanting rather than needing something, we can enjoy it for what it is, whatever that may be. We become selective in what we do, whom we see and where we go. And guess what, this makes us more content; it’s a win-win situation!

So, next time you find yourself feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with life, keep in mind that “man is only unhappy because he does not realise he is happy”.

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