Why Being Happy Makes Good Business Sense…

I am currently helping to develop a corporate workshop around the theme of commercial acumen.Solutions

But what is commercial acumen?

For me, it is the ability to make decisions that affect a positive outcome for a business.

So the core of the question for me is what is it that enables us to make good decisions?

Often I think we get caught up trying to ‘figure out’ what the best course of action should be in a given situation. So we spend lots of time in our mind thinking through the pro’s and con’s of taking different decisions and try to pick the solution that we think is best.

Now I am not saying that is ‘wrong’, per se, but it is a lot of work, and can be quite stressful. I am also not convinced it always leads us to take the best decisions.

To give you an example, some years ago I ran a monthly corporate training workshop and would share a tool with the delegates that was designed to help them to be clear and to make good business decisions.

Often the delegates would come to use the tool from a place of confusion, anxiety or worry, and often felt a pressing need to figure out some action steps that would help them to move forward.

And invariably they did come out of the process with a set of action steps, and typically they felt much better about their situations.

Sounds good you might think, and in the moment it certainly seemed to look that way to me too.

I ran this program for two years, and would always run a follow up session with each group three months later.

What I found interesting was that in the entire two years of running the program, not one person had ever followed through on the action steps that they said they would when they had used the tool.

In fact one of two things usually happened:

1) They had realised that the problem wasn’t really a problem, and had done nothing about it.

or

2) They had effortlessly come up with a more creative solution ‘out of the blue’ and gone and implemented that instead.

I find this interesting from a decision making perspective, because it suggests that the real key to decision making isn’t about figuring out solutions. Rather it is about connecting to an innate capacity that we all have to just ‘know’ what to do.

And as I looked more closely at what was happening I observed that one of the key things about this tool I used to share was that people left it in a better state of mind. They had connected with new thoughts about their situation and their state of mind, and their feeling, had lifted.

The thing is, though, that from that higher state of mind the action steps that they had come up with from a lower state of mind no longer made sense anymore.

When you think about it, this really shouldn’t be a surprise.

Imagine, if you can, the last time you lost your temper! Think about the things that it looked like a good idea to do from that state of mind. Now when your state of mind lifted, did those things still look like a good idea? I am betting they didn’t!

Or worse still did you actually act on those ideas, and then regret them afterwards?

You see the real key to making good decisions isn’t how much we have thought about something, or even how much research we have done, but it’s our state of mind.

As the delegates (and I) found out during the training workshop I ran – trying to figure out solutions from a low state of mind just expends more energy within the reality that you are in. It doesn’t necessarily lead to a good decision!

So what’s the key to being in higher state of mind? Well for me it’s about understanding the Principles behind our human experience.

You see, every single one of those delegates thought they needed to find a solution and do something with their situation to overcome the sense of anxiety or confusion they were in.

But none of their situations were inherently anxiety or confusion causing. The delegates just had thoughts in their mind that led them to an experience of anxiety and confusion.

It may have looked like the tool helped them, but really all it did was pacify the part of them that thought they needed to do something.

And when that part was ‘pacified’ and they felt they had options to move forward, their state of mind lifted and from that space they ended up doing something completely different!

But we don’t need a tool to access a more creative state of mind.

We just have to realise that the only thing that blocks us from being in that state of mind is that sometimes we get too engaged with our thinking.

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When we see that is happening, it creates the opportunity for us to open up to new thought, and the intelligence that is creating it in the first place. This will inevitably bring us a new experience of life and a higher state of mind.

So what’s the barometer for our state of mind?

Well for me it’s in the feeling. Think about the times when your best ideas come to you from ‘out of the blue’. What sort of feeling are you in?

I notice that my most inspired ideas come to me from ‘out of the blue’ when I am not too engaged with my thinking and am generally in a positive feeling. Those moments when I am simply hanging out in the wonder of life, free from the noise of my mind and its endless cares and concerns.

And apparently I, and the people I worked with on this workshop, are not the only ones.

A recent Gallup poll estimates that unhappiness is costing America $300 billion a year in lost productivity. A recent Harvard Business Review article stated that the level of happiness of employees has a profound impact on their creativity, productivity, commitment and collegiality.

That’s fine you might say, but how am I supposed to stay in that feeling?

Well, I am not sure that you can always be in that feeling. It’s human to get caught up in our minds from time to time, even when we have understood that life works from the inside out.

However, it looks to me like in those moments when we get caught up in our mind, just simply having the understanding of where our experience comes from and knowing that we have an infinite potential for new thought, means that we tend to spend less time in that chaos. We know that whatever experience we are having that we are just one thought away from a completely new one. This means we are less inclined to try and fix our current experience because we know it is transitory. The by-product is that our experience is more fluid and paradoxically we find ourselves in that feeling more often, far more connected to that ‘out of the blue’ space where new thoughts and deeper creativity tend to come from nowhere.

with love,

john.

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