My friend and colleague Richard Kerr-Bell asked me to write a prologue for his book – Enjoy your Life – coming out on Amazon soon. Here it is:
When I clear my mail box at the local superette, if it’s Saturday afternoon there will be a steady stream of punters queuing to buy their lucky lotto ticket and occasionally the proprietor convinces me that I really shouldn’t miss out this week. After all, I could win $10 million! Who wouldn’t want that?
At the end of four days on a public leadership course we have groups of participants who have a bond so close, a support network so finely tuned to each other, that there are often tears when it’s time to go. If we can do this in four days, then surely we can do this for ourselves.
Senior leaders who interact with me during my leadership development work present with a range of challenges and opportunities. In coaching sessions I often hear of the boss who is only consumed by financials, by politics that derail teams and of work structures that just don’t seem right.
I see people striving to get to the top, spurred on by career ambitions from family, colleagues and probably society. If you’re not going up then you’re not going anywhere, I often hear.
Happiness is a simple concept made very complicated as we confuse the means with the end. Assumptions that money, position and relationships will give you happiness are just that, assumptions.
All of those things may contribute to your happiness but they will not on their own, or even collectively, give you the happiness that you strive. If you think that winning a million dollars, or for that matter losing a loved one will have a dramatic long term impact on your happiness, you’re wrong. Research tells us that most people return to the state of happiness that they existed with prior to such an event, within a year. One year!
Which should tell us that our state of happiness is more likely to be impacted by our own personal conduct than any external forces. Put another way, you are responsible for your own happiness.
Being responsible for something means being pro-active, engaged in the process and making changes. If you’ve read this far then there’s probably a good chance that Enjoy Your Life appealed to you because well, like me, you want to be happy. But where to start? What to do when it seems life is so complex?
When Richard asked me to write the prologue for Enjoy your Life I knew that this would be a book rich in stories, quotes and experience. This is why Richard works on our Authentic Leadership programmes. Because he’s real, has lived and knows a lot more than most people about what it takes to be happy. He knows all those simple things that will make you enjoy your life.
Career and having lots of money might well follow happiness, but the mistake would be to start there. Start with yourself. After all, no–one can ever have as much interest in your happiness than you. Don’t you owe it to yourself to enjoy your life?
And if you have a niggling doubt that to spend time on your own happiness is selfish, don’t be concerned. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that much of what it takes to be happy is about how you treat others.
In any case, I say you’re allowed to be selfish about your own happiness. In the end if you’re not happy then those around you won’t enjoy your life either. So be selfish and enjoy your life. What else is there?
ps here’s a photograph from Te Wananga o Aotearoa in Hamilton. See here for the meaning of Aroha.