How to feel happiness as a leader

Everyone has their own definition of happiness — and with the reality check we’ve had over the past few months, each of our personal pursuits of happiness have probably been challenged, re-analyzed and reprioritized. Our work, family, personal, and spiritual lives are literally on top of each other, melded together in a way most of us have never experienced.

As an entrepreneur, there’s always been a certain degree of blending of these priorities. But I’ll be the first to admit that it’s definitely intensified over the past few months. It’s been quite a wake-up call for me, causing me to assess and reassess how happy I truly am and examine the source of that happiness. I’ve even re-tooled my morning “happiness” routine that I’ve based on my own faith-based study/spiritual reflection, Shawn Achor’s work in “The Happiness Advantage” and Brendon Burchard’s “High-Performance Habits.”

“Happiness is the object and design of our existence.”

As we each try to establish our new normal, it seems we’re all seeking enduring happiness in all aspects of our lives — particularly our careers. When it comes to our professional pursuits, we’re expecting more from our leaders and employers. We want them to care about our happiness and wellbeing, and create an organizational culture that’s supportive and even loving.

So it makes sense that companies able to demonstrate true support show higher levels of satisfaction and teamwork. Happy employees have up to 12% increase in productivity, and 68% of workers say training and development is the most important workplace policy. Satisfaction in the workplace (whatever shape that will take in the coming months) leads to greater productivity, because happy employees are better employees.

But what does success and happiness in our professions and in the "workplace" really look like, and how is it achieved?

The news is filled with examples of innovative leaders restructuring work environments to improve company culture, but what separates these genuine efforts from phony attempts to appease employees?

This was one of the many nuggets of wisdom David Royce, founder and chairman of Aptive Environmental, shared with me over tacos of course (at Tacos Tu Madre in Los Angeles) while filming my Tacoincidence video series and podcast. I wanted to know the secrets behind his success in building a breakthrough culture and brand experience at Aptive and his other companies.

As David and I spoke, he revealed his personal key to satisfaction and success in any business venture (and he’s had a lot) — the development of leaders within his company and the happiness that comes from knowing those leaders will be provided with even greater opportunities down the road.

The moment David said it, I knew this rang true for me as well. Recently, I got this unexpected text from Bradford Peck, our former food truck manager at San Diablo and current Nebraska Law school student:

“I got an offer from a really amazing law firm here in Omaha last night. It is like my dream job. And not kidding, I think a big reason I got the job was because of my experience at San Diablo. You used to always talk about how your goal with San Diablo was to help people develop their talents and help them with their goals outside of San Diablo. That certainly was my experience…It’s really not just a job, it’s an opportunity to grow talent and skills that you really can’t get anywhere else as a college student…I will always be grateful to you and San Diablo for that!”

In true Murphy’s law fashion, I got Brad’s text exactly in the moment when things were insane at a food truck event and my hands were covered in churro dough. Totally made me laugh out loud. After that crazy moment calmed down, I sent him the following message: “Wow. Brad…that’s so nice of you to take the time to write that. It’s something I truly believe with all my heart and one of the fundamental reasons I’m an entrepreneur. I just want to develop leaders that will change the world. And that’s you without question. So incredibly grateful for your hard work, vision and willingness to put up with the crazy times! Thank you for your friendship and for setting up such a solid foundation and for growing San Diablo.”

This is deep fulfillment and real happiness for me. Running a business can be overwhelming at times (maybe even most of the time). It can be hard for me to pull up from the day-to-day wild rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship and remember my “why” in every moment and every interaction. Reminders from David’s inspiring words and Brad’s unexpected text charge me up! I’m re-energized and re-committed to providing more of those opportunities for my team to grow and develop as leaders.

Whether you’re running the fastest growing pest control company in the United States or a gourmet churro business, there will always be opportunities to develop future leaders and provide employees with a greater measure of happiness.

Who have been the leaders that believed in you and truly helped you develop?

What have you found to be successful in helping grow leaders in your team?

Please comment or share your story below or as a direct message.

Watch or listen to more of David’s secrets here. We discuss everything from building a thriving company culture, working together as a team and key brand experience elements like remembering people’s names in the second episode of our Tacoincidence series

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Scott Porter

Scott Porter

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