How to Deal With a Difficult Coworker

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No matter how hard you try — or how much of a people person you are — there is one coworker with whom you simply don’t gel. As the word “coworker” implies, you work with this person, so it’s hard to avoid him or her in meetings, on e-mail chains or even at the water cooler. Unfortunately, you can’t spend your entire workday planning how to avoid this person, either.

So, what’re you to do? Dealing with a difficult coworker takes patience and finesse, but we’ve made all of that a bit easier with the following five tips. If you need an added incentive, friendly office relations are one of the easiest ways to make yourself happier at work, too.

In other words, it’s time to get to work — at least, on smoothing things over with your least favorite colleague.

Figure out Your Move First

No matter how nice and amenable you are, your coworker has done something to ruffle your feathers. It might be tempting to lay all of your feelings out right away in order to get them off your chest, but workplace wisdom says to slow down.

Give yourself a few hours or days to compose yourself and gather your thoughts on the situation that has caused you so much stress. Observe your coworker with others and try to figure out who this person is — and why. What is it about the two of you that isn’t working? With a bit of perspective, you might be able to better understand him or her.

Do Something, Though

So much workplace angst devolves into passive aggression, which is hardly ever a solution to your problem. You’re going to have to take some sort of action in order to deal with your problem, though there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution.

Consider both personalities involved, and you’ll have a better idea of how your problem will reach a solution. You might want to involve a boss or another coworker to mediate a discussion, or perhaps you could suggest a coffee session in which you both try to smooth things over. No matter what you choose, make sure you actually do it. The post-conversation relief and positive relations will be worth the pre-conversation stress.

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Look for the Positives

It might be hard to see past your office enemy’s, well, enemy exterior. But, dig deep: Is there anything you can appreciate about him or her? Perhaps she does work hard, or he can put together a killer PowerPoint presentation. You can even look for the positives while you discuss your problems, as prescribed above. A good and true point could help you see your coworker’s side, thus improving relations between you.

This is also a good tactic if the mediation techniques above don’t work or if it’s too soon in the game to sit down and talk about your issues with someone. See the good and — try to, at least — forget the bad. Maybe a great sales record will speak louder than your colleague chews in the break room.

Keep It to Yourself

You probably have other friends at work, and it has to be so tempting to fill them in on all of the reasons why someone is your least favorite colleague. There are good and bad things about venting — permanent damage to relationships falls into the latter category.

In the heat of the moment, you might not care whether or not you remain cordial with your colleague, so you could feel inclined to vent away. Beware that your words can get back to the person about whom you’re talking, and everyone in the conversation — including your work friends who are listening to your story second-hand — could be looped into the drama and discomfort.

Make a Move

Finally, if you’ve made the above efforts and more and still can’t get along with your coworker, it might be time to do something a bit more permanent. Talk to your boss about opportunities within other departments or even in other branches. You might even be able to scoop up a job within your same department without as much communication or contact with the person causing you so much grief.

You spend at least 40 hours a week at work — it’s time to make it a more pleasant experience. By rising above it all, talking it out and hopefully smoothing things over with your coworker, you’ll feel that much better about being at the office. Now, to work on speeding up the clock to make Friday come faster…

About the Author

Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping others find happiness and success in their careers. Follow her for more inspiring tips at @SarahLandrum

How to Keep Employees Happy and Motivated

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Six months after I started my first job out of college as a software engineer, I was “invited” to my first ever performance review. My boss told me it was an opportunity to get 360 feedback from him and a few colleagues about my strengths and the areas of my performance I could improve. As I sat down in the meeting room with members of my team, I was nervous to say the least.

Verbatim, here is what they said: I was “a positive person that brightened their days,” “diligent and hardworking,” and a “valued member of the team.” I was given a 4 out of 5 for performance. One colleague said that I sometimes “talked too loud on the phone in the open office,” and my boss said I needed to “review the code I wrote more carefully before submitting because I left out two semicolons in the last draft.” (Oh my!)

If my son–who is now only two years old–gets a review like this at his first job, I’ll be a proud mom taking him out to dinner to celebrate! Unfortunately, for myself, my brain had the all-too-common response. I ignored the positive and focused squarely on the negative, feeling discouraged. Why did I only get a 4??

Now as a positive psychology researcher, I better understand the brain response that lead to this reaction. Our brain’s negativity bias is so strong that negative thoughts significantly outweigh the positive. A number of studies have found that negative thoughts are three times more powerful than positive ones. So, if you find yourself ruminating on something negative someone said or did, know that you’re very normal. But this brain response harms performance.

Common wisdom seems to suggest that the best path to success is to identify all that is broken and fix it. We are now seeing there is a significantly stronger path that is better at fueling performance and business outcomes. Identify what’s working and leverage those strengths and skills to create greater success. The reason is that when we consciously focus on successes and solutions, we prime the brain to be in a positive state. Studies show when our brain is optimistic, it fuels business outcomes including increasing sales by 37%, productive energy by 31%, and chances of promotion by 40%. At no point do I advocate ignoring the negative, but a concerted effort to reorient the brain to the good often pays dividends in business and beyond.

This research has implications far beyond the performance review. My research colleague (and husband) Shawn Achor and I have now worked with more than half of the Fortune 100 companies, as well as schools and other organizations building positive organizations. In our research, the teams that experience high levels of success are also those that consistently focus on strengths, successes and solutions, big and small.

And the impact is measurable: A manager began focusing his team on all that they were doing right by praising one new person each day in a small way, and this practice increased the entire team’s productivity by 31% in three weeks. Celebrating success breeds success.

Whether you’re a manager or in an entry level position, focusing other people’s attention on the meaning embedded in the work, the things you’re grateful for, and the ways people have been good to you does good for those around you.

The Positive Ripple Effect

Research shows positive information spreads further and faster. In an outstanding research study, Jonah Berger, professor of marketing at Wharton School of Business, and Katherine Milkman from the University of Pennsylvania used a computer program that scanned 7,000 articles from The New York Times over a three-month period to distill what characteristics led to certain articles being included in the “most-emailed” list on the newspaper’s website.

The researchers controlled the study for variables including article placement, author gender and popularity, and the length and complexity of pieces, and found that the articles that evoked emotion were shared more often than those that evoked none—but even more importantly, the arousing, activating positive pieces were more viral than anything else.

They found that the ones that were most shared were stories that made you feel high levels of positivity, including emotions such as happiness, joy, elation, and awe.

What that means is that if we start talking about the positive, in a way that makes others feel good, that can tip the culture at work from negative to positive in a meaningful and lasting way.

Get Others Involved in the Practice

One of the best examples I know is the story of a judge from Nebraska, who said
her colleagues were disconnected and grumpy. They were always complaining about the work and each other. She secretly posted a gratitude board at the office and provided markers and Post-it notes.

Later, she told me she watched as colleagues stood in front of the board, sipped their
coffees, and talked about the gratitudes that had been posted. She secretly snapped some pictures of people bonding in front of the wall and posted them on the board the next day with a note that simply said, “The bonding I see all around me today is my gratitude.”

The story of the gratitude board spread to other government buildings, and three additional departments made them too.

Beyond a gratitude board, there are lots of ways to operationalize gratitude to create an active cycle of positive behavior and reinforcement. Here are some examples:

  1. Ask people to post their gratitudes on the board.
  2. Have them snap pictures of themselves holding index cards with their gratitudes written on them.
  3. Encourage them to post the photos on social media.
  4. Have a different employee each day share his or her gratitude with the team during the morning meeting.
  5. Showcase some of the “praise” gratitudes during team meetings.
  6. Have a volunteer from the design team create an infographic, with the organization’s logo, that focuses on the scientific value of practicing gratitude to share with the company.
  7. Tweet out one gratitude from the wall each day to the wider network.
  8. Make a video to share the story of the creation of the gratitude wall and its impact to present at an organization-wide gathering.
  9. Ask a few marketing associates to record reactions on camera from people after seeing their names and contributions mentioned on the gratitude board. Put together a short video to share.
  10. Feature the story of the gratitude board in the company newsletter.
  11. Start each month with a fresh board and a new theme, such as “my coworkers” or “the difference we make together.”

By taking even just a handful of steps like these, you have the power to shift the culture at your office to more optimistic, empowered territory. You could change the board’s theme from time to time. For instance, next month it could feature “how your colleagues have made your workday easier recently” for people to share those stories.

As for performance reviews, based on the research, a number of our clients, including Facebook, got rid of these annual traditions, and instead focused on creating a more steady stream of feedback–anchored in positive, meaningful information. This helps fuel employee performance, instead of leaving them stuck at “4” (whatever that means!), and lessens the detrimental impact of inevitable negative information. It’s the kind of work environment I hope for my son, when he is old enough (and off the family payroll!)

For more research and ideas to start your day off on a positive note, Shawn and I invite you to join us for our Wake Up & Inspire Happiness Video Workshop, based on our new PBS program INSPIRE HAPPINESS airing nationwide.

About the Author

Michelle Gielan, national CBS News anchor turned positive psychology researcher, is the best-selling author of Broadcasting Happiness. She is the Founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research and is partnered with Arianna Huffington to study how transformative stories fuel success. She holds a Master of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and is an Executive Producer of “The Happiness Advantage” Special on PBS and a featured professor in Oprah’s Happiness course.

How to Expand Employee Happiness

Do you feel engaged at work? If you don’t, you are not alone. Around the world only 13% of employees say that they feel completely engaged at work. Half of employees are actively thinking about working somewhere else.

What is so great about engagement anyway? If you aren’t already craving more engagement at work or want to convince your boss that this is important, here are some reasons to focus on engagement. Engaged employees are less likely to leave their jobs and are more likely to display excellent performance.

How do we become more engaged at work? Some of the answers lie with your boss. A boss that you feel comfortable asking questions of contributes to engagement.   

Strengths also contribute to more engagement at work. If your boss focuses on your strengths, you are more likely to be engaged at work. But, if YOU focus on your strengths Ayers notes that you are ‘6 times more likely to be engaged at work’.

I think we can all agree that we would prefer a positive workplace, but is there hard evidence that supports this preference? Absolutely. Positive workplace morale means people stay home less, they are more likely to put in extra hours and productivity improves. It also inspires teamwork and is the precursor to a thriving organisation.

Ayers, tells us more about, ‘How happy employees can lead to a happy company’, in the infographic below:

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If you want to learn more about bringing more passion and happiness to your career, check out our ebook and audio program called Proven Path. It helps you start and complete a project that will help boost your career.

Unhappy at Work? How to Tell Your Boss

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I had it all — a great company, terrific coworkers and a short commute. The only problem was I really didn’t like my job. I spent most of my day alone, crunching numbers for data research. There was no creativity and little human interaction. I wasn’t happy, but I labored on, dejected and frustrated.

One day, everything changed. I had stopped by my boss’s office to answer a question. Instead, I faced one: “Is something wrong?” Instead of brushing it off, I told him I wasn’t happy. It was more than a bad day, I needed something more in my job.

My boss sat back, stunned. Trying to backpedal, I added, “I like the office and everyone here. I’m just not satisfied in this role anymore. I need a change of pace, a challenge, something.”

That was all it took. My brilliant boss saw a good worker in distress and took action. I still crunch numbers, but I can deal with it because I also get to lead a new team. It’s not easy, but I love the challenge, interaction and creativity it brings.

A friend of mine had a similar experience. He was really good in sales, but, at the end of the day, he wasn’t fulfilled. He was more proactive than I and took the matter to his supervisor. I’m pleased to report that he’s now a satisfied — and effective — client manager.

If you’re discontent at work, you don’t have to suffer in silence or change jobs. Don’t wait to have an outburst like I did, either. There’s another option. Get some help by going to your boss and asking for help. Not sure how to do that? Here are some ideas:

1. Get a Grip on What’s Bothering You

Do you know why you’re dissatisfied? I felt unhappy for weeks, but I never took time to pinpoint the problem. Don’t make that mistake. For a week, write down everything that bugs you about your job, no matter how insignificant. When that’s done, you have data. Time for analysis.

Read through your list looking for commonalities, patterns and repetitions. Then you’ll be able to name your issues, such as too many assignments, interrupting coworkers or lack of a challenge. When you approach your boss, you can be specific. Even great bosses can’t read minds.

2. Scrutinize Scrupulously

While you’re considering what makes you unhappy, look at your life outside work as well. Sometimes people are sad and disinterested all the time, but it’s more obvious at work because of expectations and pressure. If you constantly feel helpless, tired, negative, irritable or worthless, these are all signs of a bigger problem. You may be one of the 14.8 million adults affected by a depressive disorder. In this case, a doctor will be more help than your boss, at least initially.

3. Prepare a Plan

Now that you’ve identified your problems, you may see ways to fix them. Since you’re in the middle of it all, you might be the best person to suggest some changes — or not. Either way, you’ll probably be asked for solutions, and you can either make proposals or honestly admit you’re flummoxed.

Think about what it is that would make you happier in your job and list out some things that can help you get it – maybe it’s taking on an additional project or getting to work from home once per month to get done the writing you’re too unfocused to do in your cubicle. Sure, it may mean asking for more work but if it’s fulfilling work it could be the answer to your troubles.

4. Try Talking

OK, you have a handle on what’s bugging you, and you may even have some changes to propose. Time to set a meeting with your boss. Just don’t approach this as a doom and gloom scenario, or your boss’s schedule may suddenly be full for the next two months. When you request the appointment, keep your attitude positive. You really do want things to get better, and this meeting is another step along the way.

5. Set the Stage

You hope the meeting will send you on a path toward a happier workplace, so show it. Have a productive mindset. Go in calm, cool and collected. You’ll be more efficient — and you won’t make your boss uncomfortable or annoyed at having to deal with shouting, sobbing, whining or whimpering. Be positive about the process, and your boss will be, too.

6. Sit in the Spotlight

Remember, this isn’t a gripe session about the rest of the staff. It’s about you. Tell your boss you want to be more engaged in your work. Make the case for becoming a better employee. You’re more likely to get assistance if it improves the bottom line.

7. Paint the Picture

Be upfront with your unhappiness, and use your data to back you up. Feeling overwhelmed? It’s no wonder — you had to start five new projects in the last week. Constrained? Because of the chain of command, you’ve wasted time seeking approval for little decisions you’re capable of making. Unappreciated? You put in way more than 40 hours last week but saw no additional compensation through overtime or comp time.

Don’t be accusatory or negative. In a professional manner, state your facts.

8. Recommend Resolutions

This is the time to pull out your list of suggestions — if you were able to generate it. Your boss will appreciate knowing what you think will solve the problem. They’re not a mind reader, remember? You won’t necessarily get everything you want, but it’s a good starting place. If not all your ideas are feasible, go on to step nine.

9. Solicit Suggestions

Request advice and make sure to take notes. This not only helps your recall, but it also shows the boss you’re serious. If an answer seems vague or incomplete, ask for details. You’re here for help, so it’s up to you to get it.

10. Take Action

By the end of the meeting, you should have a plan of action, so it’s time to get busy. If it’s a long list, don’t become overwhelmed and give up. Take it one step at a time. If the going gets tough, remember: This is about you being happier at work. Your boss will also notice — and appreciate — that you followed through.

Get out of your rut at work. You may not have put yourself there, but, with help from your boss, you can crawl your way back out.

Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping others find happiness and success in their careers. Follow her for more inspiring tips at @SarahLandrum

Why Curiosity is so Important in Your Career

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The legend has it that when humans discovered the potato plant, many died because of it. They have eaten the fruits and leafs of the plant which turned out to be poisonous. Sad and angry, they gather all the potato plants (fruits, leaves, roots) they could find and set them on fire to wreck this malefic organism. When the roots started to cook on the fire, the smell made everyone wonder what could that astonishing aroma can be.

Most people put more hay on the fire to make sure the plant will die, but a few curious ones took the roots out of the fire and tasted the wonderful smelling oval shaped object. They didn’t die, and now, all of us can enjoy the potato.

Did you know that latest medical research has found that eating carrots can help smokers improve lung health, but taking beta-carotene supplements increases their risk of lung cancer?

Did you know that there is a city in this world that is illegal not to smile at all times except funerals and visits to the hospital?

Curiosity can cost you, sometimes a bit more than you can chew. However, being curious about the right things is opening many, many doors for you.

Why should you be curious and how to use your curiosity?

1. Seek Personal Growth

Being curious makes you listen. Not just hearing what people have to say, but actually, listen. Listen to learn something new, opposite to hearing only to confirm what you already know.

Developing your listening skills is not only enriching your knowledge but also increases others desire to have you around, and it is improving your relationships of all kind.

You are entering a conversation with an open mind because no matter how knowledgeable you are, you have always something more to learn, you can benefit from any and every human interaction.

Curiosity also is spicing things up in your life because it is a pleasant feeling and the rewards are instant.

When you approach a person or situation with curiosity, your mind gets free of judgment towards that person or situation. Therefore, you are more likely to find solutions and ways to move forward. In a sense, curiosity is a great tool to get unstuck, right?

We are searching for ways to keep our brain young and sane, and curiosity is one of those ways because curiosity is giving a job to many neurons that otherwise would die for lack of activity.

When you find yourself in a difficult situation, your curiosity could be just the needed medicine to overcome that situation instead of lingering in despair.

  • How did others past that situation?
  • What was missing to do better? What can you do better?
  • What others way can you try to solve the situation?
  • Who are the people that can help?
  • What else is there to know about [the situation]?

Get curious about who you are, what you stand for, you present and future. Being curious about all these things are giving you the best chance to keep your self-esteem on positive levels.

Being curious is promoting your motivation and drive feelings. Plus, it helps you to keep your focus on your purpose.

When you are curious about how well you can do something, your curiosity is overpowering any self-doubt or low confidence feelings you might have.

2. Present what you want without sounding too pushy

Did you notice how children are asking indirectly for what they want? “What is that? What do you have there? Is that [naming what you have with enthusiasm]?” Can you help yourself not to offer some of [that]?!

We are not children anymore, and we have many other ways to ask for what we want. However, formulating your request as a curiosity about what you want sounds so innocent. Doesn’t it? And with some people is the only way you will get what you want.

3. Find Connections

Behind everything and everyone there is a story. You may not care too much about something until you hear its story. And every story is captivating and entertaining. Your neurons, otherwise engaged, are euphoric to follow a story, a curiosity.

Do you know who Mark Rothko is? If you don’t, do you care? What if I tell you that one of his paintings (“Rockefeller Rothko”) was sold by $14,160.000(approx)? Still nothing? The painting is not an extraordinary piece of art in the eye of an ordinary person, but the story behind it is. It’s not the virtues of the painting that made it so expensive but the fact that it was housed in the Rockefeller building for many, many years.

Allowing your curiosity to fly, will take you to beautiful and amazing stories, to new discoveries about yourself and others.

4. Make others feel important and valued

Is there a better way to demonstrate you care about somebody other than showing yourself curious about their well-being, interests, achievements, and skills?

People love to feel important. When you make them feel that, you become important to them; you become valuable.

People don’t judge you by how smart, beautiful or wealthy you are; people are judging you by the way they feel about themselves because of you.

Curiosity is a fertile ground for collaboration.

Have fun, explore what you like, show off what you know, improve what you can do, build long-lasting relationships using your curiosity.

Carmen Jacob believes that us, people are good by nature and giving the knowledge, the chance and the opportunity, they will prove to themselves and to others how extraordinary and capable every person can be.

Why You Should Take The Time to Appreciate Your Progress at Work

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“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” Benjamin Franklin

It makes sense.

You chip away at progress.

It isn’t just a sprinkle of magic that leads to a finished project.

It can feel like a little luck had something to do with it, but it’s always due to hard work that added up to achieve your goal.

It’s this progress that you see that helps you define your hard work. You can point to all the hours that you put in and understand why you did it.

Feeling productive is a human trait that is in 99% of us. We want to feel like we aren’t stuck in a loop doing the same crap every single day. We want progress.

Something from Nothing

So that means working on projects that are just an idea and seeing them come to life. Passion projects that light us up inside.

I remember when I worked on a project for six months to help us reach more young customers. Management kept stalling. We would meet and go back to the drawing board.

It wasn’t going to be a cheap campaign, but it done right we could really see a lot of growth over the next 2 – 4 years.

Most of the senior leaders wanted results in 6 – 9 months. We didn’t want to promise these results because it was our first time marketing to such a young group.

They eventually pulled the plug on the project and we kept on doing the same marketing we did the year before and the year before that.

I felt like I wasted 6 months of my life.

The Process

There was a lot of personal growth in that situation, but I didn’t see it for years after.

I stopped working as hard and coasted along.

I felt much more lethargic because I felt my progress at work had stalled.

I wished I worked somewhere else.

Some of the happiest people in the world are janitors. They are happy because their goal is clear. They walk into a dirty room, clean it and walk out happy.

Simple.

Right?

Not as simple as you might believe.

There are a lot of janitors that are unhappy because they might feel like they want to do different kind of work. If they don’t believe that their time is well spent they will probably hate their work.

The janitors that are happy find it easier to be happy if they take the time to notice the progress that they make at work.

Focus on Outcomes

Many of you who work at large organizations don’t get to see the end results of your hard work. You hand it off to another department and you get to work on the next project. Sometimes you get an update, but it’s hard when you are busy with the next project.

That’s why it’s important to focus on the outcome of your hard work.

Great questions to ask yourself are:

  1. How has my work made a difference in other people’s lives? (Your company, the customers, other employees, etc.)
  2. How has my work contributed to my success?
  3. What could I have done better to improve on my next project?

Keeping track of your hard work and the outcomes will help you appreciate your progress as well as find things you could do to improve. It always comes back to finding ways to be a little more grateful to help improve your mindset. Click here to get the 5 Tools Top Professionals Use now to help grow your career.

I like to keep a journal to help me review what I’ve done over the day, week, month and year. The end of year review is my favorite because it’s my bird eye view to my progress.

Your Turn

Look at how you can keep track of your progress. Do you follow up with other departments asking for updates on the project you handed off? Do you keep a journal? Do you ask your boss for feedback on your work?

It’s up to you, but appreciating your progress is one of the quickest way to bring happiness into your career. The best part in tracking your progress is that you can put the project on your resume.

How Can You Live with a Little More Passion?

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I’m drawn to write about something very important.

A friend of mine recently died.

He wasn’t a close friend. We briefly chatted at WDS, but I knew he was powerful the moment we chatted.

He had a honest confidence that I can’t put into complete words.

We talked at WDS (World Domination Summit) in Portland a few years ago. I asked him about his site and he asked me what I did. He listened intently. After a couple minutes his group took off and I stayed with mine.

That was the extent of your exchange.

His name was Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend.

I wanted to interview him for Work Happy Now, but I never did. This I will regret. Scott seized his moments as often as he could and it’s a lesson I’ve learned from him. We have to grab every opportunity that life has to offer.

He was a passionate and purposeful person. He was a little over halfway through his around the world sabbatical when a terrible accident happened.

Loose rocks fell on him while he was hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro.

I hope he didn’t suffer.

His site has changed thousands of lives. He’s taught people to live a life of passion and purpose. To think of every choice as a chance to live a fuller life.

He’s grown his community all over the world. It’s his inspiration that has helped me understand my mission more clearly at Work Happy Now.

At first I focused on helping companies create a happier work environment, but the reality is that it’s personal for everyone. A company can’t make an employee happy. They can create a fun and inspiring work environment that encourages open feedback and ownership, but they can’t make them happy.

I want to do a better job of focusing on helping people with growing their strengths, improving their focus, and living their purpose. The first one is where most people who are unhappy should start. Growing their strengths helps you create more leverage in your career. This starts at work and at home. A side project is a great way to build strengths and confidence.

I called the strengths, focus, and purpose all together, a superpower. I’ve gotten away from this because it’s tough for people to think of themselves as super when they don’t enjoy their careers. So I’ve focused on all three individually. Lately I’ve focused the most on purpose because it’s this driving force that will encourage you to improve your focus and strengths.

You’ve probably noticed that my content has focused on helping people understand, so they can do work that they love.

I created the Happiness Map to help you understand the importance of utilizing how you feel at work and how to do more of the work you love to grow you career. This is the 3rd email people receive when they sign-up for the e-course.

Scott’s work was amazing. I love how he talked about living your legend. He knew that projects and tasks helps us add to our legend. From consistency to creativity, each person has their own purpose. Teachers who stay late to CEOs that start a happiness at work program to the solo entrepreneur.

I see Scott’s life and the risks he took. The community he built and to be honest I felt a little jealous, but over time this faded and I admired him. I admired his passion and willingness to take risks.

I know I need to take more risks. More risks with my writing. More risks with reaching out to make new friends. More risks to grow this community. More risks with partnering with people like Tim Brownson of Coach the Life Coach.

Scott’s death is a reminder to everyone. We only have this life right now. What we do with it matters. Scott lived 3 lives in the short time he was with us.

So my question to you is what could you do tomorrow to bring a little more passion to your life? Be creative and let us know in the comment section.

RIP Scott and I know you are someplace special.

Karl Staib

P.S. I don’t want you to quit your job tomorrow. I want you to build skills that will build your confidence and help you create more leverage to make the leap to the next thing that you truly want to do. Start with a small project and see where it takes you.

Why Mastery Won’t Make You Happier Unless You Implement This Habit

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There’s a myth I want to dispel right now.

People believe that if you chase mastery you will be happy. This makes me mad. They say don’t pursue your passions just focus on being really good at something. They are fools because they want to give you the magic bullet to solve your career unhappiness.

Before you yell at me and site 10 articles that say we shouldn’t pursue our passions. Like this one and this one. I know how hard it is to chase career happiness. There is no magic bullet.

Chasing mastery can only make you happy if you have a balanced approach.

This is where most people get tripped up.

They chase after what they think will make them happy without looking at other factors.

I love music, but you won’t catch me up on stage with a guitar belting out my latest song.

Appreciate Your Weaknesses

I know my limitations. Maybe a bit too well.

You must be honest with yourself. Your weaknesses matter as much as your strengths.

This is where it gets tricky for most people. They see themselves up on stage with an excited crowd cheering them on. They want this feeling. They think it will make them happy. They believe that if they try hard enough they will make it happen. They negate their strengths and try to make their dreams a reality.

That’s why I advocate to all my clients to create a plan that fits their strengths, passions, and focus. I like to call this trifecta your superpowers. It’s the last one that’s maybe the most important.

Passion focus strengths

Focus allows you to get lost in the work. You’ve heard the phrase:

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

That’s why getting lost in the work is as important as getting great results. Because the journey is where 99% of your time is spent. If you only enjoy 1% of your work then you have a terrible happiness ratio.

This is why passion is as important as strengths. If all you did was focus on your strengths and you became the best in your industry in your field, you could still feel empty.

Know Your Purpose

It’s the people that love their work and are amazing at what they do that are the happiest and get the best results.

You can be extremely happy just doing projects that make you happy, but not a lot of money. In fact you should be doing projects that are solely done to make you happy. That’s what Work Happy Now is for me. It’s my passion project.

You can make a lot of money mastering skills that others admire and pay you well for, but true happiness is mastering work that you love.

To be able to do work that makes you happy and played to your strengths and focus is a trifold effort and always a moving target.

I might master weeding my garden, but it probably won’t make make happy for very long. There is not a lot of difficulty in weeding.

New Challenges

What made you happy 10 years ago won’t make you happy today. Skills you mastered 10 years ago won’t be as enjoyable today. Your brain craves new challenges.

The best way to make mastery an important part of your happiness program is to review and adjust on a regular basis. At the end of each day I review my progress. It’s this habit that has helped me make sure I have a balanced approach to my work.

I make sure that following my passions or mastering a skill doesn’t over consume my life.

Reviewing your day is one the best habits you can implement in your career. You may want to start with a gratitude journal. It’s where I started and one of the best habits I’ve ever implemented into my life.

How you do this is important. It’s important to have a system that fits your personality.

Do you use reflection to improve your career?

I’m working on creating the Work Happy Now podcast, so you can grow your work happiness on your commute or lunch hour. I could use your input. What do you need from me to help you be a better leader at work? Just fill out this 2 minute survey and let me know how I can serve you better.

Start Something New to Level Up Your Happiness

Of all the buildings in Texas my favorite has to be the Alamo. You can feel the pain that happened there.

Even the walls look like they are crying.There is something cathartic about walking through the historic building. I can just hand over my worries to the building.

Then after you thoughts are cleansed you go outside into the courtyard. As you walk around the asphalt paths there are soda machines tucked back by the bathrooms. They make me smile.

We can’t help but infuse modern living into museums. It’s who we are.

Do you want do work you care about? You have to start by building a resume that your ideal people love. Click here to check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide. You’ll find out the 7 most important steps to doing work you love.

There was someone that thought this was a good idea. It was voted on and now we have soda machines to quench people’s thirst as they walk the grounds.

I’m not sure it this is good or bad, but how cool would it be if there was an area to buy a drink that mimicked the experience of what it would have been like to buy a drink over 100 years ago?

Employees that worked the 100 Year Old Bar could be dressed similarly. There could be old style music. I’m not sure what they drank back then, but they could add modern drinks and flavors like Coke, but keep everything else feeling like it would a have been ordering from a bar at that time. Yes, this would cost more, but I know it would generate more money for them. It would be a memorable experience. One I would pay for again and again.

The idea is to get visitors to talk about the story of the Alamo with my friends. The only way to do this is to do something new. Something I haven’t seen before. Something worth sharing.

Yes it might be more challenging for the organization that runs the Alamo, but it could also send thousands of more people there each month.

New challenges help us become healthier. It slows down your cognitive decline and helps you work with purpose.

I want to create a better experience for you at Work Happy Now, so I decided to do something new.

As I work to infuse more ways for you to bring more happiness to your career and life I’ve decided to create a podcast.

I want to make it special. I want to make the experience fun, learning, and authentic. Something for you to download to your phone or other device so you can listen on the way to work.

So I’m hoping to get feedback from you.

Are you a fan of podcasting?

Then fill out this short survey and let me know how I can help you infuse more passion, improve your focus, and leverage your strengths at work.

P.S. If you don’t listen to podcast or don’t like audio books then no worries. I’m going to continue to write articles to help you too. If you do like audio then fill out the short survey and let me know how I can help you better.

What’s Your Next Step?

Curious Cat

Many well-intentioned parents, grandparents, and teachers urge kids to get a job with good benefits.

I couldn’t agree more.

Except.

Except that when most people talk about “benefits,” they usually mean really, really good health insurance (with full dental!) and some sort of retirement plan that will take care of you when you’re put out to pasture.

When I was going through high school, trying to decide what I wanted to do in life, I got the impression that these specific benefits were very important. Even more important than liking the actual job I was doing to obtain said benefits.

That seemed backward to me. The idea of doing a job I hated (or only kinda liked) just for the so-called benefits made shooting myself out of a cannon into a brick wall more appealing.

Fortunately, my parents did support me as I gravitated toward a career in art that pretty much assured there would be no such benefits.

It blows my mind how many people make major life decisions based almost exclusively on this narrow view of “benefits.” They are willing to stay stuck in dead-end jobs that eat their soul just because they have a good vision plan. I think that a Cadillac health insurance program or generous vacation packages are fine factors to consider when hashing out the pros and cons of any potential job. But they should never be the only ones. And maybe not even the main ones.

The truth is that my job offers NONE of the benefits in the traditional sense. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. In fact, my job as an artist, author, and speaker, comes with TONS of benefits:

  • The work I do makes a difference.
  • I spend every day doing things I love.
  • I set my own hours.
  • I am rewarded for the results my hard work generates.
  • I don’t have to answer to clueless middle managers, corporate suits, or short-sighted shareholders.
  • I get paid to travel to cool places.
  • I have no dress code. (I literally wear jeans or sweatpants every day.)
  • I can take time off whenever I want. (Kim and I were BOTH able to take a maternity leave when our kids were born.)
  • On most days, I get to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with my family.
  • My daily commute is seven seconds long.

Now these benefits don’t come without a price. (In fact, ALL benefits come with a price of some sort.) Most of mine have required many years of hard work and persistence. Then there’s the pressure of being responsible for generating income (no sales = no groceries). Also, I don’t have a pension or company-matching 401k program, but I love what I do so much that I don’t envision ever really retiring. Oh yeah, and I have to pay a few hundred bucks a month for health insurance.

Totally worth it.

So yes, you should definitely have a job with benefits.

Just make sure they’re the ones you really want.

Do here is what you can do.

Write out a list of at least ten benefits you’d like in your idea job. They could be things like a good health plan, zero commute, freedom of schedule, relaxed dress code, doing work that matters to me, lots of variety, etc. Then decide on the three most important benefits to you and circle them.

If your current job has all three, great! You’re in a good spot. If not, your next step is…to decide what your next step is. I know that sounds flip, but on the road to our dreams, we rarely know ALL the steps we’ll need to take to get there. We often don’t even know the next three. But we always know the NEXT step (and it’s usually not to just quit your job!)

Get a little curious about about what you could do to bring more benefits to your career. It’s your curiosity that will drive your next step. Maybe it’s to make a phone call. Buy a book. Attend a conference. Or design a new logo. Do that, and the next step will materialize.

What’s your next step?

Jason Kotecki is an artist, professional speaker, and author of the book “Penguins Can’t Fly +39 Other Rules That Don’t Exist,” (Amazon link) which uncovers some of the most useless so-called rules we can find ourselves living by. It explores some small but mighty actions you can take to turn your life into the fun, adventurous and exciting story you deserve. This beautiful 240-page hardcover work of art is a magical combination of Jason’s whimsical illustrations, humorous wit, and poignant anecdotes. Learn more at RulesThatDontExist.com.