Jan 29 2018| Leadership

Contemplating Happiness

Finding workplace contentment, even joy, is possible; here's how.

by Kaaren Welsby PhD



Have you driven to work today feeling really happy? Maybe you’ve walked into the office thinking, 'Yes! I love my job; I am so happy to be here. This is where I truly belong.'

Some people are lucky enough to gain real happiness and fulfilment from work or feel as if they have genuinely found their vocation.

However, many more people spend too much time hoping that someone will tap them on the shoulder and say: 'Hey, you're really good at that, why don't you do that for a job?' Or: ‘You did so well, have a promotion and a pay rise!’

We are all, either consciously or unconsciously, looking for that perfect job and that happy life.


The Mentor Factor

Having a mentor or a friend who can objectively see your strengths and weaknesses is sometimes of critical importance.

Finding that person at your shoulder to support you in hard times, or in moments of indecision, can provide immeasurable strength.

Maybe you had a boss who recognised how great you were, who mentored you and suggested the next steps to take to move your career forward. These are the colleagues who give the time, energy and aptitude to notice and support others.

On the flip side, perhaps you’ve suddenly woken up to the realisation that no one is metaphorically 'watching your back', or your career, and that time has inexorably passed you by.

We can always remember the great bosses we have worked for - and the inspirational colleagues whom we have worked alongside.

Equally, can we ever forget the terrible bosses we have worked for? Or the toxic co-workers whom we have worked alongside?


Good Versus Bad

It is a very human trait to emulate the behaviour that we see around us, good or bad.

But what does good, or bad, actually look like?

For you, good might look like a great boss you once had who instinctively identified where your interests and your passions lay, and could pinpoint your strengths too.

This individual might have completely changed your career path and your life. Their influence and mentoring might have been absolutely formative.

The complete opposite can be true of a bad boss.

It is very human to feel grateful and humbled when someone recognises and acknowledges our potential or our contribution.

Being valued or praised is sometimes a difficult thing to assimilate. It is likely that we are all habitually unaccustomed to receiving compliments, but there is an enormous power behind a piece of praise.

These seemingly small things can make us feel very happy indeed.

So how do we generate happiness?


Harnessing Happiness

It’s important to identify the factors that have directly affected you:

  • What has made you feel happy today?
  • Have you been lucky enough to receive a compliment at home or at work?
  • Have you had the opportunity to pass happiness on to others?
  • What kind of leader have you been today?
  • What kind of leadership have you observed?
  • Have you started or finished the week feeling worn out and frustrated, content or energised?
  • Who has contributed to the positive and negative in your life and work this week?

If we can model the values that we hold, and notice others with empathy and encouragement, then we will become respected and compassionate leaders.


Your Leadership Legacy

The simple acts of being kind and taking time to notice and invest in others will make those around us happy. This kindness, and the happiness that it may engender, will ultimately come back to us.

We can choose the type of leader that we want to be. This may be different for each situation in which we find ourselves because, in the words of Field Marshal Viscount Slim, 'leadership is simple; it's just plain you.’

Let your legacy be that others recall you with respect and that you can remember being happy at work.

Are you happy in your leadership role and do you harness and spread happiness at work? Tell us how.

About The Author | Kaaren Welsby

Dr Kaaren Welsby is a charismatic communicator and academic achiever with 20 years of front-facing military, education and training experience. She is energetic and creative, with the ability to motivate and inspire others. Kaaren possesses a first class BA (Honours) degree in English Literature, an MA (Honours) degree in the written word and the visual imagination and a PhD in English Literature and Art History. She also has a PGCE in secondary English teaching. Kaaren is a Major in the British Army Reserves; she has undertaken two operational tours and is a trained media officer. She has worked extensively in the field of army recruitment, education and programme delivery, before becoming an education adviser for the Army Officer Selection Board, part of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst group. She now specialises in the educational and psychological assessment of potential army officer candidates. Kaaren has a breadth of experience in working with people from a variety of backgrounds, including intensive one-to-one support for young people in education and care. She is an experienced coach, assisting others to fulfil both their personal and professional potential.

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