Can Happiness Make You More Successful?

June 29, 2006

Usually our articles are on tips and techniques to sell more. This month, however, we want to talk about happiness—because we believe that simply being happy makes you more successful.

We didn’t expect this finding and wouldn’t have believed it ourselves, but as we talk to more and more dealers, we discovered there is a definite relationship between dealers’ happiness and their success. We believe there are specific reasons for this correlation, which we will discuss in this article.

How Happy are You?

If you can’t wait to get to work … if you would continue on even if you won the lottery … if you would pay to do your job … you are happy enough to be successful. Does anyone actually feel this way? Yes, some do.

When you think about it, why shouldn’t you be happy with your job? You are the boss—you call the shots. If you aren’t happy with your career, ask yourself: Why not? There is no excuse.

If you come to work already defeated, could failure be far behind? Simply look at how we answer standard greetings. If someone asks how you are doing, there are a variety of answers from, “Everyday is a great day when you’re rich” to, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and I’m wearing Milk-Bone underwear.” Your attitude is reflected in your sincere greeting. What common answer do you use?

Why Happiness Leads to Success

Try to start every day by thinking, “Something great will happen to me today,” and look for it. You will be amazed at the opportunities you encounter, while grumpy people—who expect trouble and wait for it—get what they anticipate.

In addition, happiness attracts great staff. People would rather work for someone with a positive and pleasant attitude than a “downer.” You will only attract optimistic and ambitious people by having the same outlook yourself. A negative outlook attracts those who are beaten down and pessimistic. Take a look at your staff, and ask yourself what kind of people you have been attracting lately.

Finally, happiness allows you to take responsibility for errors and make changes. Pessimism and unhappiness lead to a feeling of defeat that will end up costing you your business.

Why Many are Unhappy

Today, a common reason for unhappiness is that it is not “in” to be happy. In recent years, it has become more socially acceptable to be unhappy with yourself, your marriage or your job. Look at any television show or movie, and you will find that most characters are misfits who are unsatisfied with their lives. For example, the reality genre that has become so popular is filled with angry, self-destructive people and emotional outbursts.

Our culture is used to the blame game. If we can blame our jobs, families or customers, we do not need to look at ourselves. Happy people take the blame, promptly fix their problems and reap the benefits. It’s tougher but far more rewarding.

How to be Happy

Many people say, “I’d like to be happy, but my life stinks. What can I do?” The answer is: “Fake it till you make it.” Smile … a lot. Think of small things that make you happy. Pretend you are happy, and eventually, you will be. Remember that we decide what feelings to have. They are not automatic or predetermined.

When we did training for Volvo Cars of North America, the company conducted a very interesting study of salespeople. The study found that we all talk to ourselves all day, every day—not out loud for most of us, but still, we are talking. The study also found that we decide what to tell ourselves, and those who make an effort to say optimistic, happy things actually sell substantially more than those who don’t.

The fact is, we sell happiness. If every member of our company doesn’t have it, they have nothing to sell.

How to Prevent Unhappiness at Work

Happiness is a fragile flower that has to be cultivated to grow. To keep it healthy at work, you need to do a few things on a regular basis.

First, only hire optimistic and happy people. The travel insurance industry has made this a policy. They report that happiness and optimism are the most important things in new employees, and they have documented the fact that happy and optimistic people are far more successful.

Second, treat your employees exceptionally well. Have fun with them. Treat them with respect. Expect a lot, and help them to be successful. Get rid of anyone who is naturally unhappy and won’t change.

Have meetings in which your team members talk about what makes them happy about the company, the product and the service. Tell “beyond the call of duty” stories at meetings. Use meetings to celebrate successes. Even small successes like an on-time month end, fewer rental removals or a successful recruit should be celebrated.

Today’s employees spend 15 minutes a day with their kids and precious little time with their spouses. Your company is his or her life. Make them happy while they are at work, and they will want you to be successful. They will want customers to be happy, and they will never want to leave.

Get Out There and Start Smiling

So, can happiness make you successful? We believe it is the most important factor. You can’t change the water conditions, the demographics or many other factors, but you can decide to be happy, and decide how to treat your staff. Want to be more successful? Get out there and start smiling. Catch someone doing something good today, and celebrate the victory with him or her. Like the common cold, it is easy to catch. Soon you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll be more successful as well.

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