Emotional intelligence made easy

Think of a time when you were in flow. Either on your own, or in a group or team. One of those times when things just seemed to happen really naturally and easily. When you didn’t have to put much effort in and yet you were making great progress, or getting great results.

Now compare that to the definition of emotional intelligence:

“the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s)”

When you were in flow, to what extent were you doing any of the things in that definition?

My guess would be not very much, if at all, and certainly not consciously. Not with intellectual effort.

This is because when we’re in our natural state, we don’t need strategies and tactics. We don’t need breathing and centring, or visualisations of the best version of us, or mantras about listening to understand not to reply.

And this is because, in our natural “flow state”, we aren’t paying attention to the thinking going on in our heads. We’re not grabbing hold of thoughts and believing them. We’re not analysing why someone’s said what they said, or why we ourselves are getting frustrated by something, and crucially we’re not trying to manage ourselves out of an emotional response we think we shouldn’t be having in that moment. We’re keeping our intellectual, egoic, personal thinking out of the way and we’re accessing a much deeper space of wisdom and intuition.

Why aren’t we in flow more?

For years we’ve been teaching people (me included until recently) that we need to intellectually manage what’s going on for us emotionally. That we need to use our brain muscle to fix ourselves, that we need to practice and repeat to build new habits and new neural pathways, all so we can be better versions of ourselves more of the time because we’ve been led to believe there’s some version of us which is not good enough and not acceptable to society right now.

The trouble is, the application of our intellectual capabilities to these emotional management tasks, takes valuable energy away from our ability to generate fresh new thoughts and ideas in any moment, from our ability to listen and hear others, from our ability to connect and collaborate.

Remember that flow state? All those things just happened naturally there because you weren’t stuck, caught, or getting tangled in your thinking. And I’m not saying that in flow everything is about positivity and full agreement, with permanent grins on everyone’s faces – but you and others will have felt able to express any frustration or concerns without it seeming like a big deal. In fact the complete opposite. Any such insights will have been gratefully received and discussed, leading to an even better way forward.

So if we’re not “managing” our state through emotional intelligence tactics, how do we get to this state of flow more of the time?

We understand how our human system really works.

What we’ve been doing with emotional intelligence is explore:

the “what” – the content of our thoughts, labelling the emotions we’re feeling,

and

the “why” – what’s triggered you to get to that response. Often then examined to be re-framed or replaced with a more helpful thought.

This different approach understands the “how” of our underlying system. Think of making a car go. There is no benefit in commenting on the shape or design of the bodywork (the “what”). And there’s also no benefit in polishing the paintwork to a high shine to make it look nicer (the “why”). Neither of these approaches is going to get the car going. You must first understand “how” all the parts of the engine work and fit together to make the thing move forward.

The exact same here.

So how does our system work?

There are two areas where we can see the system working the way it always has and always will.

  • Everything works inside-out. Everything you’ve experienced, ever, in your whole life has been experienced through your thoughts. There is no other way. Nothing on the outside can “do” anything to you or “make” you feel anything. It’s all seen through the movie projector of our experience. “We’re the writer, the director, the producer – and in fact the audience”*.
  • Our system rights itself. Without intervention from us, our thinking moves on, our feelings change and we move to a different state. Automatically. In fact, I might go so far as to use the new word I recently learnt “automagically”! We “think” we’re so clever and we’ve been taught all our lives to be clever: in education, by parents, and in work. The message we’ve received is that intellectual capabilities are THE most important capability we have. And it’s not that intellectual is unimportant, but it’s the fact that this is not all there is. In emphasising our intellectual, we’ve denied and hidden the rest of what makes us whole; the true source of our brilliance and innate wisdom. We’ve been so busy fixing ourselves to be better we forgot that we didn’t need fixing in the first place.
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    Why people disengage

    First day in the new job….
    I’ve never been responsible for so much before. I wonder what the new boss will be like.
    Better make a good impression or they’ll think they’ve made the wrong hiring decision. Better make a good impression or they’ll think I’m no good at my job.
    Must look like I know what I’m doing and what I’m talking about. I’m meant to be in charge of all this. Must look like I know what I’m doing and what I’m talking about. I’m meant to be in charge of this department.
    OK, let’s do this. OK, let’s do this.
    [Step into the office, shoulders back, head up, eye contact, confidently greeting people] [Steps into the office, looking around]

    Is he here yet?

    [Conversations in flow – listening deeply] [Conversations in flow – speaking passionately]
    Wow I’m learning loads. Wow I know more than I realised, and he seems to be really listening. This is going well!
    I have so many questions. These questions are really getting me thinking. I love this!
    These people really know their stuff. I feel like I know my stuff even better than I did before this conversation!
    They seem so engaged with what they’re doing and keen to change things for the better. I love this job and this new boss seems great!
    I’d better show that I know stuff too [adds knowledgeable stuff to conversation]. And he has insights to add. That’s so useful to have a new perspective.
    A few months later…..
    [Amount of knowledgeable stuff added to conversations grows….] [Amount of knowledgeable stuff added to conversations is dropping, confidence is dropping]
    Hey, I’m doing great!   Look at all this stuff I know now. I’m not sure I’m as good at this as I thought I was.
    I can add so much to conversations. I don’t feel I can share anything he doesn’t already know.
    I have so many ideas.  I’m thriving on sharing them with everyone! I don’t know where to take this next.  I can’t get a word in edgeways anyway.
    6 months later….
    I get all this now. I’ll wait to be told.
    I’ve got a clear plan of what we need to do and how we’re going to get there. It’s always his opinion first so no point thinking first.

     

    Why is this person saying this again? We went over this already? If he’d only listen he’d hear what I’m really saying. He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t care what I have to say.
    I asked for that last week. What are they doing? What’s the point, it won’t be exactly what he wants anyway.
    I have this amazing idea – I’ll go and tell the people who need to make it happen. It must be done yesterday! Instructions received.   Robotic task-completion mode engaged.
    Nobody has anything to say around here. …..
    I wish people would just get on and do instead of seeking permission from me! Given he knows it all I need to check this first or it’ll be wrong.
    Why does nobody interact in our meetings or bring ideas?

    It’s like they’ve all just disengaged.

    …..

    We’re taught our whole lives – from school and through work – to show our brilliance.  Have the ideas.  Show you know things.  Demonstrate capability.  Do stuff and do it well and quickly.

    All through school, university and work we’re rewarded and praised for knowing and doing.

    Then we reach leadership and we keep knowing and doing.  And people disengage, switch off their brains, and do the basics or go elsewhere.

    We need to just be.  To listen.  To allow space for others to grow into.  And yes to add insight.  To provide a broader context or set a vision higher than anyone might believe can be reached.  But all the while involving and listening to others.

    How are you doing at being?

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    #cipdldshow – Developing line managers for coaching conversations

    Final session of the show!  It’s been a ball!!

    This one is with Sandra Nixon of QVC and Rhonda Howarth from Nestle who are talking about how to develop line managers to have effective coaching conversations.  A coaching leadership style is essential to operate effectively in today’s world and for a line manager it can’t always be about sitting for hours having in-depth coaching sessions but about making it a fluid part of your everyday way of working.  I’m interested to see what QVC’s and Nestle’s takes are on it.

    First up is Sandra from QVC who’ve been going through a 10 year programme including investment in line manager skills which are being delivered in a sustainable way.  She’s going to talk about embedding a coaching environment, some of their lessons and how they’ve made it sustainable to keep it alive.

    They’ve followed the McKkinsey 7S change model and at the centre has been the focus on shared values.  they believe in investing in their people for success.  They bring their values into performance management, reward, recognition, a 2-day culture programme that everyone attends.  They believe in creating a great employee experience to deliver a great customer experience – woop!!!

    When they started the change they were getting good feedback from employees and customers, sales were in growth, new tech was being introduced, things were feeling very positive so to take the next step they started thinking about the future.  They had a lot of senior people who’d been promoted from technical roles without any development and without clarity of what leadership means in QVC.  They started to shape leadership as a role where you’re there for your team to help support, develop and grow them – woop again!

    They did their first employee survey in 2007 which cemented an opportunity to focus on skills of frontline leaders.  they has about a third of responses sitting around neutral they could see moving to positive.

    They decided they wanted to move to a coaching culture to improve employee experience – although without any idea what their strategy might be – except that they saw it as enabling a great relationship and a skill that transfers across any employee-manager conversation – absence, performance, career….

    So they thought about what they wanted to achieve – what does it look like if we have a coaching culture, what will be different, how will we know we’ve got there, what will we see, hear & feel, what do we want to keep hold of and what are we not doing.  Then what do we want to achieve in Year 1 and by Year 3?

    Sandra’s using the analogy of white water rafting to explain the start of the journey.  That was how she felt and also that’s how their managers approached it.  Do I have the skills? What if I fall out the boat?  What if I lose my job? And others were raring to get in the boat – give me the paddle, I’ll give anything a go.  they recognised they needed everyone on board before they started out so the business was clear about what the expectations were of the future and that their opportunity would be to learn towards that and make mistakes along the way without losing their jobs.

    There were lots who already thought they did coaching – what they were actually doing was giving them feedback (this is a common experience of mine too) so they needed to first of all be clear about coaching, mentoring and giving & receiving feedback – with constant reiteration of the definitions to be clear what they were talking about as an organisation and to shift mindsets.

    They developed coaching skills (see photo) – first of all doing this with the HR team so they could be ambassadors and role models.  Senior leaders were involved to set the scene at the start of the learning programme to set expectations of the learners and emphasise this wasn’t going to be a fad or the latest thing. some leaders chose to leave – which is fine.  It wasn’t for them.

    They found that leaders weren’t aware of their skills gaps or weren’t prepared to be vulnerable and admit they had gaps.  this led them to move into developing leaders into emotional intelligence, self awareness, self regulation, liming beliefs….Refer back to earlier session.  the depth and quality of coaching is enhanced by the strength of relationship and so this work really needed to be done first.

    Sustainability – workshops, e-learning, have used every opportunity to reinforce.

    They wondered how they could assess how effective their leaders were being.  They decided to get Ops Mgrs to observe Team Leaders when they’re coaching their team members to see in real time the way they’re behaving together.  Scary but a great way to get real feedback, raise awareness, learn and improve.  (Our best learning comes from discomfort.)

    They had feedback that they had too many models so they decided to become masters of 1 or 2 models.  Giving too much was clouding things for them.

    They introduced Lean 6 Sigma – another opportunity to use coaching to say How do you do things on a day to day basis, how could you improve that.

    ROI – employee survey – improvements year on year, improvements in attrition, in business results.

    When they started in 2007 they were QVC UK and other countries operated separately but now they’re a global, matrix org so looking to how to be more effective and productive in that new world.  Many of the leaders chosen to lead the matrix org have come from the UK and you can see a significant difference in their capability compared to their global colleagues because of their greater emotional intelligence.  So now they’re back to strategy – how can we influence the global agenda and how will that look?

     

    Next up, Rhonda from Nestle who’s going to talk about the role of a manager in their business and how they’ve supported leadership development through coaching networks.

    Nestle already has a global approach to coaching and a strategy. Rhonda & her team’s job is to make sure managers are equipped to coach to ensure a coaching culture throughout.  They’re a business created by lots of separate businesses that have been acquired but they’re looking to standardise expectations and standards across.

    Expectations are that they engage and inspire their people, grow and develop their people, support their career.  Variety of ways people join the programme : Apprenticeship, Graduate programme, Existing workforce, Direct entry – so leaders need to flex to different needs and priorities.

    Their anchor for leadership programme:

    As an individual – Know yourself

    As a line manager – Coach and Develop

    Senior leader – Develop org capability

    They also have NCE – about driving improvement, consistency, quality, safety, lean – done lots here around coaching to engage operators in solution finding.

    They’re about to launch Purpose and Values.  Their new global CEO wants to anchor people to this.  Purpose “Enhancing quality of life and contributing to the future.”  Sso now with coaching they want to bring people back to these and to the values.

    People Development and Performance – in Nestle they’ve fine tuned their appraisal process rather than removing it – but they have made it more frequent so people have check ins through the year.  They have a holistic assessment at year end – the overall goals & performance of day job – and feed that into reward.  Coaching is essential in check ins so people are having quality conversations which feeds satisfaction with end of year outcomes around reward – they intend this at least as they’ve not come to the end of the first year of this new cycle yet.

    Their coaching is based on GROW supported by skill development in listening, questions, giving feedback, providing challenge.  they’re also helping leaders with mindset so they go into conversations with employees clear about how they want to be and therefore the impact they want to have.

    The senior leadership have also taken coaching on board, have developed their skills and are co-coaching each other as well as using a coaching approach more in day to day.

    Nestle have a Global Coaching Network, Peer to Peer Coaching that can happen on factory floors and in the next level of supervisors, Coaching Groups connected to the Accreditation Pathway so they learn to be a coach and alongside that are these groups to continue learning.  They’ve gone with ICF Accreditation for their formal qualifications.

    Some Q’s:

    How does being a coach marry with them delivering their operational job? > In Nestle it’s been a behavioural shift by helping them stand back from problems, find a different way of solving by enabling the team to learn and self-solve through coaching so next time they self-solve with more confidence next time.  Creates more time / less pressure for the long term.

    QVC have learnt that leaders need to recognise when they need to coach, when to mentor, when to give feedback.  You can’t coach all the time as a line manager.  Also needed to help with how to performance manage with this coaching approach – it didn’t mean we aren’t doing that now, it’s just we’re doing it with a different style.  And it takes time and practice because when the pressure’s on we revert to control and tell.

     

    This post has been live blogged from a session at CIPD Learning & Development Show. I’ve shared as I’ve heard it so there may be typos and I won’t have captured the whole thing but the intention is to give you a good sense of what was shared.

    #barefootwinterconf Reflections

    Last week I attended the Barefoot Winter Conference at Prestwold Hall (beautiful location – and yes I’m slightly biased because it’s where I got married!).  This post is a collation of my thoughts and reflections from the day which I know will help me learn and absorb, and which I hope will have some nuggets of interest and insight for you.

    On the practical conference front, it was a brilliantly run event with good amounts of time for each workshop – all of which were interactive, learning sessions – no sages on stages chalking & talking.  And a good long lunch for quality network time.  A definite focus on quality not quantity all day.

    Keynote – Prof Roger Steare – on values-driven orgs, leadership and ethics

    Since the 2008 crash stories have continued to emerge of unethical practice in organisations.  Read about Roger’s keynote in my Storify and how we helps organisations back to ethical decision-making.

    Prestwold

    Workshop 1 – Clean Language – Revealing Mental Models through Metaphor 

    This session was with Sue Sharp and Tamsin Hartley from Clean Learning.

    I chose this session for what might seem odd reasons.  I’d once been coached by someone who’d just done a Clean Language course and I really hated it.  So, because I believe it’s good to challenge our assumptions, I went along with the intent to learn more and open my mind to the possibilities of how I could use it in my practice.

    What was great was that the session was involving and interactive from the start.  Lots of play with the approach, group discussion and conversation.

    To give some context, the purpose of Clean Language is to find out how people work and think to raise their awareness to that and understand themselves (and others if a team thing) better.  Its purpose is also to remove assumptions from our own language which could (inadvertently) influence a client’s response.

    A (made up) example of a clean language interaction could follow this flow –

  • For this meeting to go as you would like, it will be like what? > It will be fun and interactive and we’ll get through everything on the agenda.
  • And you will be like what? > I’ll need to keep an eye on the time while also checking everyone’s OK, and I’ll need plenty of energy.
  • What kind of [energy] is that [energy]? > It’s the kind of energy that bubbles away. It doesn’t spike up and drop down, it’s infectious and consistent.
  • Bubbles. Infectious. Consistent.  And is there anything else about that [energy]? > It’s natural.  It’s not forced.  It’s a natural result of wanting to be there in that conversation with those people.
  • Natural. Not forced. And where is that energy? > It’s in my heart and my head.  A sense of happiness and a buzz.
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    Some Guest Bloggage – including that mis-posted one!

    I’ve been really enjoying having some space to blog recently and I’ve written for a couple of people I guest blog for.

    This one for The HR Director magazine which is about how we can get stuck in our emotions and thoughts, and how we can move out of that place.

    And this one (the one I mis-posted a draft of the other week!) for Bray and Bray Solicitors about the challenging world of workplace relationships, and shifting those from the playground to an adult world.

    I hope you or someone you know finds them useful.

    This is me……….www.wildfigsolutions.co.uk

    WFS Tree

    Ignore Poor Performance at your Peril!

    How often have you seen or heard this?

    They’re just no good at their job, I keep having to pick up the slack?  I haven’t got time to do my own work because they’re incapable of doing their’s.  If only they could sort it out we’d all be better off.  I don’t even know why they’re still here – they don’t contribute anything.

    Back in April and May it was #FeedbackCarnival time where the culmination of many brains showed just how challenging giving honest feedback can be and some ideas for how we can start to change that.  Ian Pettigrew built on this with a great model for where helpful feedback sits – the top right of this 3-by-2 – where what you’re saying to the person is true, and it’s said with a positive intent to help the individual, as well as and the team or organisation around them.

    Trouble is, that’s not generally what’s happening.  What I see is people pointing the finger at ‘those people over there’ – They’re the problem. If it wasn’t for them we’d all be ok.

    head-in-hand -kg

    This feels to us like the best (easiest) option because it avoids us having to look at ourselves as a potential contributor to the problem – and therefore a potential solution.  Looking at ourselves can be uncomfortable.  And, if we don’t feel safe and supported to do that, we’ll just avoid it.

    But not only are we pointing to those people over there and saying they’re the problem,  we’re even giving them financial rewards (or positive feedback) that they’re doing the job we need them to do.  You can read about it in here, a piece shared by a fellow colleague who also cares about great leadership, Kay Buckby.  My reaction to it was (a very eloquent) “Bonkers!”.

    So when people aren’t performing in their jobs.

    We point the finger of blame at them for all the ills of the world.

    And we reward them for it, to make sure we draw an even thicker veil over the whole unsightly problem.

    If doing the same things and expecting different results is a sign of madness then I’m not quite sure how to articulate this as anything other than Bonkers!!

    Not surprisingly, underlying all of this, a seam of frustration bubbles away within the team, within the manager – and most importantly – within the customers on the receiving end of the poor service.  The customers just won’t stick around.  They’ll vote with their feet.  The manager and team might eventually take evasive action from this person (if the person doesn’t leave first) but, to begin with, their stress responses will be triggered.

    This stress response narrows their perspective on the situation and drops their cognitive abilities, reducing the possible solutions they can see for solving it.  It reduces their feelings of emotional generosity towards ‘that person’.  It causes them to look for evidence to back up their belief that they’re useless.  And, given that our thoughts and feelings show up in how we behave, their stress and frustration will leak out through their body language, their words and their actions.

    One paradoxical result of this is that, despite their poor performance, the manager doesn’t feel they can do without this person – better the devil you know, what if we get someone else and they’re worse, how would we cope with a vacancy if we can’t find a replacement?

    All of these are fear-driven responses (and stress is triggered again).

    So, what’s the alternative?…….

    …….A world of high emotional intelligence*.

    I believe in a world where people are treated and behave like adults.  Adults who can make informed choices and who can take responsibility for their own situation.

    I also believe we all want to do a great job, but sometimes things get in the way of that which means our performance can dip.  And if those things have been in the way for a long time it can be hard for us to remember what it was like to come to work and feel good about it.  This means that, as adults, we still need support, guidance and feedback from others to keep us on-track.  And we still appreciate a reward (verbal acknowledgement is often enough) for when things are going well.

    In this world when a leader has someone in their team who’s under-performing, the first thing they do is ask what’s going on, then they listen and they ask questions. Partly to inform themselves of the situation, and also to let the person vent about what’s going on. They aren’t afraid of this venting. They know that emotions are the things that motivate us to make changes in life, and when they’re swirling inside us they can’t take us in any productive direction. The simple act of verbalising what’s going on straightens these emotions out and gives us a clearer sense of which way to go.

    From this listening and asking, the result is often that the individual will spot a way forward for themselves. If not, the leader will have learnt enough about the situation to offer advice, guidance or training that will actually be helpful and relevant. Or they may be able to offer relevant feedback based on what they’re seeing of this person and in the wider team context.

    All of these things help the person become unstuck and their performance improves.

    And even if it doesn’t improve, the leader can look themselves in the mirror with the belief that they did what they could to help, and that perhaps this just isn’t the right job, or right business for them. Which means a parting of company on good terms, with dignity and respect – and without the need to pay out bonuses to hide a problem!  All of which maintains great relationships with the rest of the team, and their trust in you – which means they’ll also feel safe to share what’s going on for them.  Creating a virtuous circle!

    And I know what you’re thinking.

    When could I ever get the time to have these conversations?

    Well, they don’t actually take that long. If we’re given the space to think and speak with someone who really cares and who really listens, our brain can be pretty effective at getting to the crux of what’s going on.

    And remember, in having these conversations – maybe weekly – we get into good habits of processing what’s going on for us, and they mean the team’s performance will never get to the place of you compensating for the stuff they let drop, which automatically gives you back a load of time.

    And if you really believe that your team are the key to your collective success then you’ll prioritise these conversations over anything else.

    *You can find out more about the difference emotional intelligence makes to a business here.

    Photo credit – http://redsarmy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/kg-head-in-hand.jpg

    This is me…………… www.wildfigsolutions.co.uk

    Executive Coaching and Leadership Development

    WFS Tree

    Thinking Leaks

    A few weeks back I was feeling frustrated. I’m an independent person with a high achievement drive and these characteristics, which can be strengths, were holding me back – “I wish I could go to that event – but I can’t because I’ve been away quite alot recently and the kids need me here”….”I wish I could get half an hour to catch up on SoMe in the morning – but I can’t because I need to do breakfast and get the kids ready”…..”I wish I could exercise more – but I can’t because by the time I’ve got the kids to bed, had some tea, done some work or housework, there’s no time….” and so on.

    And then I caught myself.  I realised how unhelpful my thinking had become. I noticed it leaking into my conversations. Just a little edge of bitterness, resentment and envy.  Our thinking – both the helpful and the unhelpful – leaks out of us through what we say and what we do.  We just can’t help it.

    Leaks

    When I had my realisation I made a decision – that’s not who I want to be.

    Who I want to be, and who I know I can be, is a positive person who can always see there’s a choice. Who is grateful for what I have rather than mithering over what I don’t. And who knows that all these things start with our thinking – which we can choose – they’re just thoughts.

    So I examined my thinking and came up with some more helpful stuff to think instead, which I’ve been practicing for the last couple of weeks.

    I hope that by sharing these I can enable others who might have the same or a similar challenge to find some more helpful thoughts for themselves too…. Here are my new thoughts –

    My kids mean I laugh. Everyday.

    I get to sing Frozen songs in the car as loud as I like (yes, whether they’re with me or not).

    I chose to be a mum and I chose to have my business – I love them both and if I want to keep them both I need to enjoy them for what they are and how they are right now.

    I am very lucky to have two amazing, healthy, gorgeous children.

    If time spent [insert anything I feel I “can’t” do] is important enough I will make it happen.

    If it wasn’t for the kids I could be a workaholic, creating no space for fun, reflection or creativity – which I know invite our best thinking.

    Having so much to squeeze into life makes me great at prioritising, and focusing on the most important things.

    Having kids mean I get to spend more time outside, in grassy tree-filled places than I probably would otherwise.

    I might not get to do ‘traditional’ exercise as much as I’d like but I do get to lift heavy weights (tired kids), exercise my core (acting like a horse for them to take a ride), work my thighs and glutes (going up and down stairs a lot).

    Their school holidays mean I take more holidays than I normally would, so I get good breaks that usually involve lots of fresh air and activity.

    They’re honest and tell it like it is which helps to keep me in check – ‘but mummy you’re always busy doing something’.

    They challenge me to manage my emotions, to choose how I respond and get the best out of them – the most extreme emotional intelligence development you could hope for.

    They remind me of the simple needs we all have – hugs, time to have fun together, good sleep, a reason why to help us take action, exercise, (mostly) healthy food, more hugs, the chance to be given responsibility, having someone to listen to us and how we’re feeling, and a few more hugs for good measure!

    What do you struggle with?  What could you think instead that would be more helpful?

    [Photo credit – http://shootingparrots.co.uk/2011/12/05/theres-a-hole-in-my-bucket]

    This is me…….Wild Fig Solutions Ltd

    WFS Tree

    #EQSummit – Thoughts about Happiness and Ego

    Last week was the #EQ summit which I would have just loved to be at! Thankfully Alison Smith, Sukh Pabial and Phil Willcox were there and have shared some great content.

    One post by Phil got me thinking. Especially the bit to do with happiness, so these are my thoughts as I’ve got them out and onto ‘paper’…..

    There are two types recognised in Positive Psychology – Hedonic happiness and Eudaimonic happiness, which Alan Wallace called ‘Genuine happiness’.

    Phil noticed that neither type of happiness was labelled as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, although the name ‘Genuine’ does suggest that Hedonic is therefore false or not real.

    And in many ways that is true. Hedonic happiness is the type of short-lived, happiness buzz we get from an experience – buying a new pair of shoes, driving around in a fast car, going to a fancy restaurant, going on a rollercoaster, getting to 1000 Twitter followers…. As well as the buzz Phil mentioned we get when, for example, we see someone happy from the appreciation we’ve just shown them.

    For the moment, I just want to explore the first group of stuff…..

    This is the materialistic, man-made-reliant, experience stuff – it’s the stuff that as a society we are addicted to and which many people believe will bring them happiness.   Trouble is these things really are addictive because the happiness they bring is short-lived, therefore we need to keep doing them to keep getting a fix.

    They’re also addictive because they’re ego-serving – i.e. they boost our ego and make us feel good about ourselves in comparison to others. Trouble is, that then backfires on us because when it’s our friends telling us about something they’ve bought / done / eaten / etc., we feel inferior and inadequate – our ego takes a knock and we tell ourselves we’re not good enough. We become unhappy. And we believe the only way to find our way back to happiness is to buy / do / eat the same as them – or ideally even better stuff!

    Genuine or Eudaimonic happiness is the opposite of this. This is the happiness that comes from inside us. It comes from knowing what’s important to you that you want to make central to your life – be that your career*, your family, voluntary work…. – something which is your Purpose. It comes from appreciating what you have rather than what you don’t have. It comes from being generous towards others with no expectation of anything in return (see post here about Adam Grant’s ‘Givers’). It comes from living in the present and enjoying the simple pleasures and moments in life. It comes from positive relationships with others (hmm, something developing EQ can bring….)  And all of which is the stuff that Mindfulness and Positive Psychology support.

    So where does the ego sit in Genuine happiness? I guess it’s pretty quiet. Not gone completely, but definitely quieter. In this place you feel congruent in everything you do. You feel confident that you’re good enough just as you are. You help and enable others to succeed, which may well be to help you achieve your Purpose but you’re doing it because the Purpose is what matters (not because you achieving it and gaining kudos matters). You’re open to others’ ideas and views because your ego doesn’t need boosting by showing you know all the answers or that you’re ‘right’. And this openness you demonstrate attracts others to you and brings you even more success in making your Purpose a reality.

    But then, when you achieve your success, does that give you a Hedonic happiness rush?

    Well, I suppose it does. Just as the example of you seeing someone else happy from the appreciation you’ve shown them might give you a Hedonic happiness boost. And I think this is Hedonic in its more helpful form.  Because it’s never going to be beneficial to beat ourselves up for enjoying some Hedonic moments.

    But, that ego. It’s still there, ready to pop up and take over gain.

    You know that thing when famous people say “I’ve got my family and friends to thank for keeping me grounded” – that’s this stuff. It’s so easy for our ego to get carried away by people telling us good stuff about what we’ve done or how we are. When that happens our ego creeps in and we start doing things to get that Hedonic buzz of positive appreciation, instead of doing things for the purpose of our Purpose. We can start to think we’re so good that we become sloppy or lazy in our approach – and we stop doing or behaving in the way that got us the positive appreciation in the first place.

    So, the pop star changes and starts to make music to get more accolades / girls / money – when they started out doing it for the love of the music, for the opportunity to express themselves so that others may enjoy and benefit from it.

    Or the person identified as ‘future leadership potential’ starts to become arrogant and self-centred – when they started out with care for enabling and developing others, with a focus on team (not individual) results, with a Purpose beyond pay rise and promotion – all the things which got them spotted in the first place.

    As with all these things, there’s no right or wrong; this or that. There’s a continuum and a balance.

    I don’t think we could ever live in a completely ego-less, non-Hedonic, Genuine happiness state all the time, forever. We have a basic human need for Attention and to feel Valued so those, right there, are always going to be sought out and will feed our ego. I believe that’s why people talk about ‘practicing’ things like mindfulness because we aren’t perfect, we’re always improving, always on a journey, always trying to gain the balance of this and that. And I believe we’re better to start that journey than to sit at the station waiting for a fast train to take us there.

    So where are you on your journey?

    Where do you seek an unhelpful Hedonic buzz?

    What’s important to you beyond that?

    Where do you gain your Genuine happiness balance from?

    And when you’re flying high, who is around you to celebrate with you, and keep you grounded?

    [*When “career” features in your purpose there’s a difference between the purpose of – “I want to be a CEO of a FTSE100 because I’ll be rich and will be able to tell people I’m a CEO of a FTSE100” (hedonic happiness and ego-boost involved) vs “I want to be a CEO of a FTSE100 because I want to create a workplace where 1000’s of people enjoy working and which provides meaningful work and trade in the communities where we’re based.”]

    This is me….. www.wildfigsolutions.co.uk

    WFS Tree