BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 28 MAY 2014


Most business development programmes kick off with key emotional intelligence traits of good rainmakers. Happiness and optimism feature heavily: who wants to spend time with a miserable sod? We choose our mood every day as we throw the duvet back: optimism, mostly, is a choice and being more aware what we send out is a mighty fine idea. Optimism is what we show the world and is infectious: see how cheery you can make the next taxi driver you are entombed with. Just this morning mine looked at the sky and thought rain, but I said sun. It changed his view... And he was taking me to the dentist!

Happiness is different. For me, it's internal; it's about contentment and knowing yourself and being in a good place and counting your blessings. Ask yourself: what makes you happy? Let me rephrase, lest you are thinking a world cruise and a BMW M5: what is the simplest thing that makes you happy?  Personally, it's a Star Bar and a hotel coffee. On the road I find the 80p I spend on peanut and caramel and chocolate and the small cup of hotel instant with long-life milk the perfect accompaniment to Champions League football. I have a sweet tooth but rarely spend a fiver of my clients' money on tiramisu when I can have all I need for much less. And when I am in that moment I consciously allow myself a measure of happiness. I put it in the bank. It's almost a meme I've been doing it so long. It also works with Turkish Delight.

We need to deceive ourselves a little to be happy because the price we pay for life on earth is that bad stuff comes down the track. My dad,my awesome dad, is recently and permanently in a nursing home. There are no real pluses but I tell myself it is best for both him and mum and they are both happier with this arrangement, after over 50 years together. I also stop myself being miserable about it all the time and try to let mum do the same, which she is. Reading Robert Trivers "Deceit and Self Deception: Fooling Yourself the Better to Fool Others" I have learned not only that evolution favours self-deception but that it is going on in our bodies all the time at a cellular level. When I see the dome of St. Paul's cathedral I consciously think myself to be the luckiest man in the world, with the best job in the world. This is by any objective measure not true (though I know I am doing just fine) and it takes some effort to believe it at 2am after travelling for eight hours and with another eight on your feet post breakfast. But thinking it really does help by changing the picture you see, and therefore your mood.

So while optimism can be a daily choice - we put our game face on - happiness is a long-term project. Over time, you can change the way you see things, for the better. The payoff? Less chance of an ulcer, no need to kick the cat and better relationships. Happiness also gets you away from the edge of the ledge when times get tough; it gives perspective when setbacks can seem overwhelming, permanent and personal.

And to be blunt, if you are in the business of business development: more sales. All for the price of a Star Bar.


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about the author

Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.

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