Pursuit of Happiness
Are you still trying to motivate people by trying to make them happy, talking them up, encouraging them, or being really positive? Hard work, isn't it? The reason these approaches don't work (or don't work for very long) is because 'external motivation' rarely impacts our true influencing factors.
In the movie, 'The Pursuit of Happyness' (based on the true story of Chris Gardner), Will Smith plays a failing business man who is struggling to make ends meet. He soon found himself homeless, without a wife, and with barely enough money to feed himself and his 6 year old son.
This film has many layers and lessons - one of these is how assumptions create the foundation on which your life's happiness and success are built upon.
Assumptions influence what you try, achieve and believe about yourself.
In business, assumptions determine your business vision, your willingness to take action, and your personal/team morale. Having weak assumptions acts as an invisible film that stops you from wanting to achieve more than your basic competency.
Motivating your staff, clients or colleagues doesn't come from creating hype and excitement, but rather by positively influencing a person's assumptions about their own abilities, character and potential.
1. Assumptions of Potential
Do you aspire to achieve more, advance your career, improve your skills and knowledge - or to stay comfortably competent?
You match your effort to what you *want* to achieve.
Do you inspire people to think beyond their current role?
Do you empower them to become more than who they are?
Are you helping your team to exceed their perception of their potential or do you re-enforce the box they (or you) put themselves in?
Extraordinary always appears extraordinary from an ordinary viewpoint.
Extraordinary is just ordinary from an extraordinary viewpoint.
Which viewpoint potential are you (and your team) looking through?
Extend your potential by stretching your assumption of what is possible to achieve.
2. Assumptions of Ability
When you believe that you can achieve whatever task you set yourself, then you work until you get it done. However, when you doubt your ability to reach your goals/targets, then you 'try' - Which means that you do a little, (or a lot) and then stop when the resistance gets too big.
Whether you have the ability or not is mostly irrelevant.
Your assumptions about your ability will decide the degree of ability you exert.
You match your effort to what you *think* you can achieve.
Echoing the words from Yoda in episode II of the Star Wars series, 'Try not - do!'.
Do you encourage people (or yourself) to apply themselves without the constant fear of repercussion for their errors along the way? Your ability to achieve is largely based on your belief in your ability.
3. Assumptions of Character
Do you take setbacks personally and wallow in self pity thinking 'how tough you have it' or 'how stuck you feel' or 'how useless you are'?
Assumptions of who you are create habits and patterns of behaviour that repeat - often referred to as your 'personality'. Your personality is just a bunch of habits that you keep repeating based on what you assumed your character is. Are you self confident? shy? innovative? introverted? Take your pick - it is a self fulling prophecy anyway!
You match your effort to what your *habits* tell you that you can achieve.
Resist the urge to comfort people when they slip into weak assumptions about themselves. It only re-enforces that 'yes, you are justified in believing that they are shy, sensitive, introverted, or whatever!'. Empower people past their patterns by focusing on their potential, not their pattern.
In the opening lines of the 'The Pursuit of Happyness', Wili Smith says something along the lines of 'I have learnt that happiness is a pursuit, not a given'.
Contemplate about whether your assumptions about your abilities, character and potential will allow you to be happy and successful in your life, business or career?
Sit with your team, clients and managers and talk openly about their assumptions of their abilities, character and potential in context to what they want from their career and life.
May everyone have a pursuit for happiness.
Michael Licenblat B.Sc.(Psych) is a Resilience Expert who helps people in business bounce back fast from pressure, stress and burnout in their work and life. He is a professional speaker, coach and author of three books.
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