A business coach who often coaches top executives told me this tale:
It happens quite often that when I coach top leaders, they end up realizing that while they have indeed achieved all the outward signs of success, they’re just not happy at work or in life. They have the corner office, company Mercedes, million dollar salary and stock options. But ask the right questions, and it turns out that many of them are lonely and lost. Their work brings them no joy, it holds no meaning and creates no positive, lasting relationships. It also takes up all their time and keeps them away from their family and friends.
One well-known top leader broke down crying over the realization, that most of his work life had been wasted on chasing money and power. Soon after, he quit his job and is now doing work he enjoys – at 1/10 the pay.
This begs the question: What is success worth, if it doesn’t make you happy?
The Dalai Lama once said:
I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So I think the very motion of our life is towards happiness…
All of this applies to your life work, and I believe that we are seeing a new approach to work emerge. Where previously work was something we did to earn a living, in the future, the point of going to work, is to be happy.
So should you just be happy and forget about success? This is where it gets interesting: Recently a group of researchers published the results of a meta-study. A meta-study is a study that combines the result of a lot of other studies done in a specific field, and this meta-study combined 225 studies in happiness that had examined the lives of 225.000 people.
The researchers concluded that while success does make you happier, there is an even stronger correlation that happiness will make you successful. Research shows that happy people are more optimistic, outgoing, likable, motivated and energetic – all essential qualities for business success.
No one really has to sacrifice happiness for the sake of success – a common assumption today. In fact, the opposite is true: The happier you are, the more successful you’re likely to be.