Leveraging Happiness to Drive Results

Six Practical Tips for Finding Happiness

There is an abundance of driven executives in healthcare. Leaders who engage with me have a high work ethic. They are willing to put in many hours and have a strong vision for themselves and their organizations. They are motivated and want healthcare to be the best it can be.

However, I often hear from clients about a high degree of burnout and low personal satisfaction for people in their organization, as well as for themselves. Navigating the changes in healthcare, putting the organization first, and not having life balance have resulted in an all-time high of mental exhaustion in healthcare leadership.

Often there is this myth, however deep in the subconscious, at play, “If I work hard, put in the hours, and climb the ladder; then I will be successful, and I will be happy.” However, through decades of research, scientists are finding that the opposite is true, “When I am happy first, I am more likely to be successful.”

How is this so?

Consider this example. In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor sites the following research, “Doctors put in a positive mood before making a diagnosis, show 3 times more intelligence then doctors in a neutral state, and make an accurate diagnosis 19% faster.”

Speculate what this could mean to healthcare. Happiness could have significant impact of increased productivity, quality, and patient satisfaction!

Happiness, when combined with purpose, mission, and passion, makes a leader unstoppable.  It is a key factor to success and a principle we hold in our leadership development practice.

The concept sounds simple, in theory. But I often get pushback from coaching clients. They cite challenges of running a hospital, such as: onboarding or connecting with new teams, adjusting to national healthcare changes, becoming part of a larger system, and facing ongoing pressure on revenue. To name a few.

They ask me, “How can I possibly be happy?”

To address this, I work with these leaders to help them understand the research and to initiate the process of building more happiness.

Some practical approaches I suggest to my clients to help build happiness include:

Take Control of Your Mindset

Often, leaders don’t realize the choice they have about how they view life circumstances. So, I ask them to play with the way they see situations. The mindset that we hold shapes the actions and behaviors we exhibit, and our outcomes are different based on mindset. Ask yourself, “What outcomes do I want?” and further, “What mindset should I have?”

Focus on Building Key Relationships

Building key, trusted relationships with others is proven to help build happiness. Connection is a basic human need, and when these connections are strong, happiness increases. By building these relationships, trust also increases throughout the organization, and that has other positive outcomes, such as improved productivity and innovation, as well.

Feel Appreciation

Make a list of things you appreciate. But don’t stop there. The key is to FEEL appreciation. Hold onto the residual positive feelings of gratefulness even when things feel out of place or stressful.

Refine Personal Purpose

A sense of purpose is critical to happiness. Know that you are making a difference in the lives of others, in the world. Find your way to contribute to your fullest capacity by connecting your work to your purpose.

Leverage Your Ripple Effect

Recognize the large ripple effect you have on those around you. Remember that happiness is contagious. The magnitude by which others are affected by your behavior is huge and impactful to both your relationships and your organization.

Allocate Time

To accomplish the previous tips, you must allocate time. Create short, periodic moments in your calendar. Use this time as a respite to restore energy, regain perspective, get outside, meditate, laugh, and practice self- care.

Beyond that, it just feels good to be happy!

Photo of Cheryl D. Foss, MSW

written by:

Cheryl D. Foss, MSW

Executive Coach