Wikipedia tells us that an earworm is “a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person's mind after it is no longer playing.” Bobby McFerrin’s 1988 worldwide smash hit Don’t Worry Be Happy certainly fits that description.
We’ve learned at lot about happiness and it’s impact on our personal and professional lives in the ensuing 29-years, and it seems Bobby’s rather sticky lyrics were spot on.
Here's a little song I wrote. You might want to sing it note for note. Don't worry, be happy. In every life we have some trouble. When you worry you make it double. Don't worry, be happy
The pursuit of happiness is certainly not a new development. Indeed we can trace Buddha’s teaching that happiness is one of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment back to sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE in ancient India.
Greek philosopher Socrates advocated self-knowledge as the path to happiness and Plato's allegory of the cave influenced western thinkers who believed that happiness is found by finding deeper meaning. Aristotle believed happiness, or eudaimonia, is constituted by rational activity in accordance with virtue over a complete life.
Around 307 BC the Epicureans believed in reaching happiness through the enjoyment of simple pleasures and in the 3rd century AD, the Stoics believed they could remain happy by being objective and reasonable.
More recently the positive psychology movement, founded by Martin Seligman, has shifted the focus of his profession from human suffering, mental illness and misery, which is where it spent it’s time for the last half century, to human flourishing, strengths and happiness.
In many ways the psychology profession’s obsession with what’s wrong with people parallels the sales professions focus on what’s wrong with business. In much the same way as psychologists are trained to identify all the negative influences that make your life so miserable. Salespeople are trained to prod and poke to uncover more and bigger issues undermining business performance that only their solutions can address. No wonder sales interactions are often characterised as being somewhat stressful and combative.
Think about, whether you’re on the buying or selling side of the equation, how happy do you feel about your interactions? Chances are neither side is feeling particularly uplifted, energised or excited about the experience. OUCH!!
And it’s so unnecessary. Every salesperson on the planet has the ability to become what John Golden, Chief Strategy Officer at Pipeliner CRM calls a “Purveyor of Prosperity”. Essentially this means we see our roles as helping the individuals and companies we work with to flourish and thrive, and as a result, we do the same. You may think that’s just semantics, but I urge you to think a little deeper.
If we see our life in sales as being all about finding problems we can solve, we’ll be focused only on what’s broken, what’s not working and what’s wrong with our client's businesses. Much like psychologists only focused on human misery and suffering before the positive psychology movement.
But if we see our life in sales as being about helping our clients to achieve more, to reach higher, to excel in ways they may not have thought possible. Wow! That shift in mindset not only has a powerful influence on the way our clients will see us. It has a powerful influence on the way we see ourselves.
The really great news is that selling, doing business and living life this way will not only result in you and your clients being happier and more fulfilled, you’ll actually be more successful. Harvard Psychologist, Happiness Researcher and Author of The Happiness Advantage - Shawn Achor knows more than most about this subject and his research has discovered that happiness not only inspires us, it actually results in a 37% increase in sales. Watch his TED Talk below to learn more:
I want to leave you with one truly wonderful fact, and that is for each and every one of us, happiness is a choice. It may not feel like it sometimes and it may take some work, but take strength from the knowledge that you have the power. You can choose happiness. The question is will you?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ian J Lowe is the Founder & CEO of eccoh, a sales transformation, coaching and consulting organisation pioneering a movement to change the way the world thinks about sales. The selling environment has radically changed and yesterday’s attitudes, mindsets and cultures are no longer relevant. To succeed we need to be much more than in the past. Our mission is to harness the collective energies of every salesperson on the planet as a force for good in the world. That's the open effect.
Image Credit: Yes Man movie, 2008 - Warner Bros