Thoughts on Leadership: Are You Happy, Always?

This week my travels found me first in Orange County, conducting meetings and strategizing with the team at the HSF Affiliates headquarters in Irvine. Next, I traveled to Minneapolis for a HomeServices of America, Inc. board meeting. From there, I traveled home to Northern California, where I sit writing this to you now, preparing for a 10-day road trip.

Over the next week and a half I’ll travel to Boston for the National Association of REALTORSÒ Conference & Expo, (if you can’t make it, I suggest following #NARAnnual on Twitter for the live updates), then jet across the pond to London for the launch of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kay & Co, our network’s second global franchisee. Finally, I’ll end up in Berlin to visit with our award-winning brokerage, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Rubina Real Estate.

It’s going to be a whirlwind journey, complete with chances to deepen existing connections and forge new ones, two activities that bring me happiness. As I always say, I love what I do largely because of who I get to do it with … but I also love my job. Genuinely. Helping others achieve their goals faster than they would in my absence (my personal mission) makes me happy each and every day.

The concept of happiness is important—maybe the most important—and it’s one I’ve been thinking about as I read Happily Ever After: A Top-Selling Real Estate Broker’s Secret Guide to Confidence, Contentedness and Security.

The book was written by Michael Rosenblum, a top-producing agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group’s Gold Coast office in Chicago. (You can find out more about him and purchase the book at happilyeveralways.com.)

Michael’s book is an intriguing read because so many threads of his personal happiness philosophy mesh with my own. Here are my five favorite concepts Michael outlines in the book:

Happiness is an inside job. Michael begins the book with a quote from one of my favorites, Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What lies before us and what lies behind us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” This means we can destroy our own happiness but better yet, we can also create it. Any goal—no matter how big or how small—can be accomplished with a positive mindset.

Happiness means being true to your word and applying yourself fully to your commitments. When you commit to something and give your word, you must always follow through. Acting on your commitments strengthens the relationships with those around you. (As a reminder, in the 4DX system, we state our commitments with a regular cadence and MUST execute on the Wildly Important Goals we commit to accomplishing.) As Michael writes, “Even when you seem to have nothing, you still have your word. And like any asset, your word has value—a value decided by the people to whom you give your word and your ability to follow through on the promises (spoken and unspoken) you make to the people around you. Fulfillment on your word compounds over time.”

Complacency is the nemesis to personal growth. “We become comfortable with our stature, but the next level is still out there if we only had the strength to reach it,” Michael writes. “In the continuum of experiences that shape us into the people we become, it is our responsibility to be aware.” As I always say, smugness comes before arrogance and arrogance is the precursor to disaster. Once you think you know it all, your slide to mediocrity has already begun.

Some of the most impactful lessons we’ll learn on our path to happiness will be gleaned through our hardest challenges. Michael emphasizes that a lot of the lessons he learned in his media and real estate careers came from adversity. “Not all lessons are taught through the generosity of loved ones,” he writes. But, as he eloquently explains, spring always follows winter and sunshine always follows the rain. If you begin to see your challenges as experiences from which you’ll grow, you can find happiness even in the toughest of situations.

Acts of kindness bring personal contentment but acts of kindness with no expectation for gain bring true happiness. Taken over time, this is a recipe for true and lasting happiness. Be altruistic and compassionate with no agenda in mind. Happiness is not about personal advancement at the expense of others; it’s about selflessness because you want to see others succeed.

So, what’s the message? Simply put: Happiness is possible for everyone, though it’s often a slow process. As Michael writes, “It’s like putting a seed in the ground. It doesn’t become a plant overnight.” He also describes that happiness is a thing made not found, which is a truth that benefits us all. Because in the end, if we can craft our own happiness that means it’ll stay with us not just today or tomorrow but always.

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