Happiness: The Secret to Productivity and Success

Instead of needing success to be happy, can happiness bring success?

According to Shawn Achor, that’s exactly the kind of mindset we need to take. In his talk “The Happy Secret to Better Work,” Shawn suggests reversing the role of happiness in our lives, using it as a catalyst for more happiness and success, rather than seeing it as the end goal.

This video is part of the TED series. For videos like it, visit TED.com. Also, be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more updates about success and leadership. Rock on!

5 Common Mistakes of New Leaders

Even natural leaders need to develop their leadership skills.

Everyone makes mistakes, and the best leaders are no different.

Here are five mistakes that leaders (especially new ones) make most often. Rock on!!


5 Leadership Lessons from The Galactic Empire

Leadership is a constant learning experience. You can’t simply look at a great leader and follow his or her formula– it takes trial and error, and learning from your mistakes. While it does help to see what makes a successful leader, you also have to look at why failed leaders don’t succeed… which brings me to Star Wars.

With the 3D rerelease of The Phantom Menace, the Star Wars name has (for the millionth time) found a way to reignite its relevance in popular culture. But long before Jar Jar Binks was introduced to the saga, the original trilogy was teaching some great things not to do when it comes to successful leadership. Here’s five things we can learn from the failure of The Galactic Empire:

1. Don’t build an organization around particular people – By the end of Return of the Jedi, we realize that the Empire is nothing without the Emperor and Darth Vader. They spent all that time gaining power and expanding their reach, but didn’t leave any way for the Empire to continue in case something happens to them (which it does). Make sure that there’s responsibility and talent on all levels.

2. Give people the chance to have stake in the organization – This goes along with the first one, but there’s an important difference. Once you give people responsibility, you have to give them reason to care. In the eyes of the Emperor’s underlings, there was no reason to work extra hard or be unique in any way– if they did, they surely wouldn’t get recognized for it. This ruins efficiency and makes terrible use of your most valuable resource: people’s time.

3. Have tolerance for failure – When somebody screwed up, the Emperor and Vader usually just killed them. Making mistakes is one of the best ways we learn. If you get rid of everyone the first time they make a mistake, all you’re doing is surrounding yourself with amateurs.

4. Don’t focus all your efforts into a single goal without considering alternatives – Obsession and tunnel vision is a mark of terrible leadership. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be driven and determined, but sometimes you have to alter your course just a bit. The Empire’s narrowed goal of completing the Death Star prevented them from seeing any other opportunities, and it allowed the Rebels to win.

5. Learn from mistakes – Not only do you have to let your workers learn from their mistakes, you have to admit when you as a leader have failed, and what you can do to prevent it from happening again. The Empire’s response to the first Death Star being destroyed was: build another one. They don’t bother to analyze why it didn’t work the first time and learn from it, they just barrel forward.

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How to Make a Good Impression in 30 Seconds

For many people, the Super Bowl is as much about the commercials as it is the game. For the people making those commercials, the game means even less. They have 30 seconds to make an impact, and it’s the most expensive 30 seconds their business has ever seen. It’s no surprise that these companies save their big ideas for Super Bowl Sunday.

While most of us will never have to make a $3.5 million ad, we still get opportunities to make a good impression. These windows of opportunity can come and go as fast as TV commercials, and while money isn’t always on the line, our reputation is. This could be something as big as a job interview (think of every question you’re asked as a chance to prove yourself), or as small as running into someone at the grocery store. As a leader or team member, times like these are when you show that you’re valuable, and worth listening to. We only get one first impression, but all the impressions after that still matter too!

It’s important to make the most of these moments, and it’s time like these that we can learn from ads. For both, the same rules apply:
Capture your audience’s attention — The first thing you have to do is make yourself known, but make sure it’s in a positive way. You don’t have to do something radical to get someone’s attention– that does work, but it’s not recommended! The best commercials are bold, yet poignant, which is the best way to capture anyone’s attention.

Convey a clear message — The most radical commercials may be the ones we remember, but that doesn’t mean they’ve made their point. If you’re not making a strong, clear statement, then your audience feels like you’ve wasted their time. It’s important to be well-spoken, and before you make yourself heard, have a goal in mind.

Focus on differentiation — People get annoyed by repeated information. When your 30 second window is over, you want your audience to see that your perspective is unique and noteworthy.

Do your favorite commercials fit these criteria?

Swap Your Bad Habits for Good Habits

Everybody has bad habits. It doesn’t have to be something big like smoking or drinking– it could be as small as procrastinating, or being unorganized. We often use these things as coping mechanisms to avoid, or maybe forget about, responsibility or stress. When these start to add up, it can make a person unpleasant and unproductive. This is when you know it’s a good idea to kick the bad habits and start fresh– but it’s not always that easy.
Instead of trying to quit these habits cold turkey, try replacing them with more positive, healthy routines. You’ll find that these substitutes not only do a better job of helping you deal with stress, but also have rewards of their own.
Here’s a list of common bad habits, along with some recommended alternatives:

Bad Habits

  • Eating junk food
  • Nail biting
  • Drinking
  • Procrastinating
  • Shopping
  • Being messy
  • Swearing
  • Smoking
  • Watching too much TV

Good Habits
  • Go for a walk
  • Do pushups, jumping jacks, or crunches
  • Meditate
  • Do yoga
  • Play music
  • Read
  • Take a rest
  • Be social– call a friend or family member
  • Eat a healthy snack
All these things can enrich your life. None of them take too much time out the day, and when you’re done with them, you’ll feel more refreshed and find that you’re more productive! Rock on!
Do you have any positive habits that aren’t on my list?