“If you can do what you do best and be happy, you’re further along in life than most people.” – Leonardo DiCaprio
Sometimes when I talk to leaders, I get the impression that things like “happiness” and “purpose” and “unique abilities” are not part of their vocabulary. It’s as though doing your job as leader has nothing to do with any of those things. It reminds me of something a teacher told me once many years ago: “It’s work, it’s not supposed to be fun.”
I think that attitude is crippling. Not just from the standpoint that we generally want people to be happy. I think the attitude that it doesn’t matter if this makes me happy, or if this is what I’m really good at, or if this is what I’m really supposed to be doing, holds us back.
You will never be great at anything unless you’re passionate about it, and you probably won’t be passionate about something that doesn’t on some level make you happy. You have to do the things that give you energy, because you need that energy to do them at a world class level. Doing things that take energy from you means you’re never going to have the energy you need to be much better than mediocre.
Obviously, I’m not suggesting that every minute of every day of your life will always be energizing, and you’ll be passionate about every single thing you ever do, and none of it will ever drag you down. That’s not the world we’re living in (although our attitudes about it certainly have an impact). There will be days or times or situations where it’s a struggle, and sometimes we have no choice but to do things that don’t excite us much at all.
But, taken as a whole, we have to find the things that bring us energy, that make us feel like we’re on a roll, that we’re really good at, and focus on those things. If we want to be great leaders, we have to focus as much as possible on the things at which we can be great.
Ask yourself: What is it that I’m really passionate about? What is it that, when I’m doing it, energizes me? What am I doing when time seems to fly by? Where am I an expert? Where am I exceptionally good? What am I doing when the outcomes are best?
These are actual, real questions you need to ask yourself as a leader. Your job is to do what’s best for the organization, and you doing stuff that drags you down, that you aren’t any good at, that results in bad outcomes, is not what’s best for the organization. Figure out where you need to be and what you need to be doing to be your best. Then be it.
Very relevant message for where we are in the pandemic. Google Martin Seligman, a renowned US psychologist and an expert on happiness. His research led to his view that it is happy people that have the highest resilience and less likely to be impacted by COVID. He admits he is naturally a more pessimistic person but has engineered happiness into his life. A lesson for us all