This past week our operations group conducted a series of management meetings where there were presentations from various divisions, preparing us for the new year’s challenges. As the group’s leader I essentially served as the host, moderator, and keynote speaker.
My topic was Leadership – for I believe it is one of our 4 key elements to greatness as a company.
While I’ll be discussing those 4 elements in a post next week (and how they apply to all service companies), I wanted to write today about how my experience with these meetings caused me to think about the “Happy Place”.
How could a business meeting generate those kind of thoughts? And what is the Happy Place?
Here’s how it happened. Before the meetings started I was bound and determined to have a positive tone throughout – I’ve been through too many of these things that turned sour, with disjointed and irrelevant topics, a lack of participation (i.e. too much “talking at”), and negative influences getting the upper hand.
My mind set was “up, up, up”, and I knew I needed to be the catalyst. I also knew that in order to really make progress there had to be some “back and forth” going on with certain topics where I knew there was going to be disagreement – where the land mines of negativity usually are found.
As we got started and the first session unfolded I laid out our objectives and expectations, and added a request that popped into my head at that moment – to stay in the “Happy Place” throughout.
It came out as a kind of a funny way to say “keep it positive”, and it got laughs and knowing smiles. I immediately sensed that the attendees “got” it, and that I now had a virtual code phrase that I could use whenever levity (and the underlying message) was needed.
Use it I did, and it kept the mood in just the right place, and as the meetings continued, the positive energy increased. And then I entered a Happy Place of my own. As I started my keynote, I felt an exhilaration and joy that was indescribable. I realized I was doing something I absolutely loved to do, in the absolutely perfect environment for doing it – speaking to a receptive and engaged group.
I had to let that sink in – I wanted to not only experience happiness, but also acknowledge and embrace it. But as can typically happen, something in me was resisting. It was like actually admitting to myself that I was happy would somehow “jinx” it.
I was only visiting the Happy Place, and something was not letting me stay there. I finished the presentation and was quite satisfied with the response, but I continued to think about my struggle into the evening.
As I prepared for sleep that night I tried to relive the day in my head and re-enter the Happy Place, at least for a little while longer. I tried to consciously let go of what I could only describe as a fear of true bliss.
I got back in as I fell asleep, but in the morning I was back out again, as the expectations and uncertainties of the next day crept in. Another day of meetings went very well, and I continued to use the metaphorical Happy Place as a great tool.
As for the real Happy Place, I realized I had some work left to do, but that was OK. I like challenges, and this week presented me with a doozy. It’s the challenge of piecing together all the things that put us in a good place and weaving them into a constant and unwavering state of happiness and joy, unencumbered by the fear of losing it forever, or being “too happy”.
I’ll keep at it, and writing about it, because I’ve found it to be an invaluable part of the process.
Have a great weekend!