A marriage based on the pleasure of sex won’t usually last. Companies who try to keep people happy with cool furniture and snacks continue to lose their best people. People who have meaning in their life and no pleasure are miserable. Teams who focus on keeping people happy are continually struggling with the same problems.
Regardless of context, when we focus on happiness, the outcome is often the opposite of what we want. Instead of having happiness we will be in the continual pursuit of happiness.
Happiness is another one of those complex and vague things about us humans. However, a little research revealed the conditions needed for happiness are pleasure, connection and meaning.
Happiness is at the intersection of pleasure, connection and meaning.
Having happiness is not a one-way trip. Just because you have it today, doesn’t mean you won’t lose it tomorrow. You lose happiness when things are out of balance:
- Without connection – you find loneliness and isolation
- Without pleasure – you lack stimulation and aliveness
- Without meaning – you lack a reason to care and drive
Leaders create the conditions for happiness
I’ve known leaders who try to jump straight for happiness. Who doesn’t want their people to be happy?
Leaders who fixate on happiness do not create the conditions for success. Although people tend to like being with these leaders, this fixation can lead to apathy towards results, quality, teamwork and more.
As a leader, your job is to create the conditions for happiness. When leaders do this the happiness will look after itself.
Meaning – Are the people able to find meaning in their work? You find meaning by knowing where you’re going, why you’re doing it, being challenged, and growing.
Connection – Are the people operating as a group of individuals or as a strong team? Strong teams provide each other support, encouragement, challenge and more. Strong teams are always more than the sum of the individuals on the team.
Pleasure – Are the people able to experience pleasure in their work? Do they celebrate even the small wins? Cool furniture and snacks can help find pleasure and comfort. It’s not always joyous, but it can be pleasurable.
Don’t fixate on creating happiness for the teams. Instead, work to enhance meaning, connection and pleasure. Like so many things with leadership, it’s a constant cycle of experimenting and improving.
When you create the conditions for success, the people will be happy and love what they do.