Happiness at Work?

Published on February 7, 2013 by

How would you like to go work for a company, be treated to four weeks of incredible training, and then be offered $2,000 to quit? Crazy, right? Not according to Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and the author of Delivering Happiness. There’s a method to his madness: Hsieh only wants employees who are committed to the company’s mission and who are a good fit for their culture – and he is willing to bribe employees who aren’t in sync to leave.

Now it’s time for a reality test: What would you do if your company offered you a couple thousand dollars to pack up and leave? Are you happy with your job, or would you seek greener pastures? Since your company isn’t likely to do that, let’s talk about how you can increase your happiness quotient right where you are. Here are three strategies that will deliver more happiness to you right away:

Commit to being the best at what you do. No, not the best at what you do compared to your colleagues – the best at what you can do compared to yourself. Your happiness at work is tied to you mastering your craft and having a mindset of ongoing improvement. Anything less is complacency. Learn a new skill, improve 1 percent in something you already know, or add to your knowledge base by reading an industry publication. The key is continuous, daily improvements to enhance your abilities.

Challenge yourself. Don’t wait for your manager to take on a new, possibly intimidating, responsibility – get in the habit of challenging yourself. Too many of us are going through life without firing on all cylinders – that makes for boredom, not happiness and fulfillment. If you’re nervous about public presentations, join Toastmasters and upgrade your ability to connect and influence others through public speaking. The point is, choose something that challenges you and get going – your happiness at work depends on it.

Celebrate every day. Celebrate what, you ask? Good question. What is there about your company, your day-to-day work or your life that you can celebrate? I’m not going to give you a list of what you have going for you at work or elsewhere – I’m urging you to do that. On paper is best, but at least take a mental inventory. What do you have to be grateful for when it comes to your job, your company, and your life? Celebrate all that, every day! It’s easy to take things, and people, for granted, and it’s a sure way to kill your happiness.

If you take this on, not only will your work improve, you will take problems and setbacks in stride. You will also be more proactive, innovative, and, of course, happier. It’s not hard – to deliver more happiness to yourself, commit, challenge, and celebrate!


  1. Steve Pederson

    When I read this it makes me think that it all boils down to taking personal responsibility for your own happiness. This takes away the excuses as to why something outside you is making you unhappy and puts the ball in your court. Thanks for this!

  2. Alan Allard

    Steve, you are right when you say "it all boils down to taking personal responsibility for your own happiness." Only we can make ourselves unhappy and only we can make ourselves happy. Others can be there for us and love us in many ways, they just can't be happy for us. We have to do that for ourselves. Thanks for your comments.

  3. Cindy

    What jumps out to me is Tony Hsieh's committment to the values of Zappos. They drew a line in the sand and are willing to defend it.

    That takes guts, real guts. But look at the dividends the organization is reaping! We see this over and over. Smart leaders who hold steady to core believes...no matter how lonely and misunderstood they may feel...end up being called great.

    It all comes down to managing risk and having the fortitude to do what you say you are going to do.

    Great post. Well said, Alan!

    • Alan Allard

      Cindy, it does take guts to draw that line in the sand. Tony Hsieh is one of those leaders, and as you said, he is reaping the dividends. We all want to get similar results, but not so willing to go through what it takes to get those results. Thanks for stopping by and for your insights Cindy.

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