Sometimes really clever people can behave in the most unintelligent of ways.
For example, when under pressure and experience symptoms of stress intelligent people can withdraw from the greatest predictor of success and happiness – their social support network.
In his book, The Happiness Advantage – The Seven Principles that Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Virgin Books: 2011) author Shawn Achor cites countless studies that have found social networks to be the best guarantee of heightened wellbeing and lowered stress – both are an antidote for depression and a prescription for high performance. But instead, seemingly intelligent people often feel that when the going gets tough then the tough get going by working longer, harder hours and isolating themselves from their support network.
The best and brightest willingly sacrificed happiness for success because, like so many of us, they had been taught that if you work hard you will be successful – and only then, once you are successful, will you be happy. They had been taught that happiness is a reward you get only when you hit the dizzy heights of being a partner in the firm, win the Nobel Prize, or get elected to Parliament.
This is a BIG FAT LIE! Shawn Achor argues that new research in psychology and neuroscience shows it works the other way round: we become more successful in life when we are happier and more positive.
For example, when doctors are put in a positive mood before making a diagnosis then they are almost THREE times more intelligent and creative compared to doctors in a neutral state. They also make accurate diagnosis 19% faster. Optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by as much as 56%. And students primed to feel happy before taking a mathematics achievement tests far outperform their neutral peers.
It appears that our brains are literally hard-wired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive.
This suggests that the happy manager is going to the most out of the team. It’s the happy employee who will be productive, creative and perform at a consistently high-level. In education just imagine, what if it’s the happy student who gets the best SATs, GCSEs or A-levels and it’s the happy teacher who inspires children to be at their best more often, so they can fulfil their potential?
Heady stuff indeed and quite counter-culture!
Yet in today’s world, we ironically sacrifice happiness for success only to lower our brains’ success rate. Our hard-driving lives leave us stressed, and we feel swamped by the mounting pressures to success at any cost.
That’s why I find myself visiting more and more schools, businesses and communities to talk about the art and science of happiness on behalf of The Art of Being Brilliant (www.artofbrilliance.co.uk). Sadly, so many people are a million miles from feeling as great as they could. And I get huge buzz at helping such people figured out what it takes to be a more motivated, positive and brilliant person. The workshops are crammed full of stories, anecdotes, case studies, some funny stuff and a few questions that make you reflect on work, relationships and life. It’s is designed to make you think. And to laugh. But the underlying message is deadly serious. It’s about you and your life. It’s about finding out what works for you and doing more of it. You can see my Art of Brilliance profile by clicking here.
As the title of the email says there may be a revolution just around the corner! And if you want to be part of it and find out how to become a 2%er in life then get in touch. We need to talk…
Here’s to your success!
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