Paul Hughes' team at PEI Education New Zealand

Leaders – It’s Not Important To Be Happy

Is our happiness more important than everyone else’s happiness?

I saw a post on LinkedIn by a prominent person who said we should “be doing things to be happy”.

But the reality of life is we are called to do things, or we even must do things (especially if we are leaders) that we don’t want to do and may even make us unhappy or upset when we do them. But even despite our hesitation or apprehension we make a decision to do it anyway because it brings happiness to someone else or just because it is the right thing to do.

As leaders, it is especially important to be mindful that we must frequently put the interests of our team and staff ahead of our own happiness or goals because by doing so we inspire them to follow us and to follow our example. And in the long run, we will achieve greater success, and happiness, because we have a team (or friends, or family, or spouse, or child, or BFF) that follows our leadership, not out of fear or demands or because “we’re the boss” but because they believe in our leadership, and they know we have their back. Why do they know we have their back? Because as leaders we have demonstrated that we have put their happiness & goals ahead of our own.

Of course, there are many times that we as leaders must make unpopular decisions or get our troops to do things they don’t want to do (or family or friends to do things they don’t particularly like). But even in those times there are ways to lead that will inspire and motivate that will be richly rewarding, and can even bring about happiness, to those we are leading and of course to ourselves.

Recently, I was faced with the most difficult and heartbreaking time of my life because someone very close to me “wanted to be happy” and they believed that could only be accomplished if they went their own way. In a society of ‘instant gratification’ they did not take the time, or even make the effort, to see if their happiness and goals could have been accomplished in any other way than independence. So, unfortunately, it wasn’t long before they discovered that being on their own and “free to do what they wanted to do and pursue their own goals unencumbered” didn’t actually bring them happiness or help them achieve their goals as they had expected.

At work, it is too often pretty much the same. Our bosses, in their mad dash to climb up the corporate ladder, and when striving for things and doing things that they think will make them happy, leave behind them a wake and trail of unhappy staff and disgruntled team members.

As a leader, as a mentor, as someone’s BFF, my greatest happiness doesn’t come from what I have accomplished or achieved or even from doing what I like. It comes from knowing that I have inspired someone to overcome, I have shown someone how to achieve their goals, I have helped someone navigate through their darkest moments, that I have given them the tools and skills to drain the swamp, so they can get their heads above the water and, most of all, that I have given someone the courage to succeed and find their own happiness.

by Paul Hughes – written in October 2019 – first published on Small Business Network Connections in August 2022.