Thoughts on Leadership: Living the Good Life

By: Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me starting Monday with the Berkshire Hathaway Energy call followed by my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I had three succession planning calls and Wednesday began with a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties virtual life planning session, which was attended by five California Properties offices. In the afternoon, I drove to the spectacular Carmel Valley to spend time coaching Intero’s No. 1 team, the TSE Group led by the unstoppable Andy Tse, at the Tse Group Retreat. Today I recorded a presentation for the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance then met virtually with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hawai’i Realty for life/business planning followed by the virtual launch of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Area Realty and in the afternoon, I participated in the grand opening event for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Los Cabos Properties.

As I traveled around this week, I felt so happy to spend time with people I admire and respect, and it made me think about what it means to live a good life. How do you define a good life and how do you know when you’re living one?

When you envision “the good life,” you might think about days of doing absolutely nothing, no responsibilities, no job, just living on a beach somewhere sipping on fresh fruit juice as the breeze sways to the rhythm of crashing waves. But would that really make you happy?

A psychology study may contain the answer. Psychologists interviewed hundreds of British and American 95-year-olds to discover the secret for living a long life. The researchers found each participant in the study had a relatively stress-free existence. They were content. They took the day as it came. They were easy-going and positive.

These results were no surprise. But when it came to the participants’ work life, the results were puzzling.

You might expect the 95-year-old respondents to say they took a lot of vacations and enjoyed their time off. As it turns out, most respondents spend most of their lives at work. On average, they worked 60 hours a week until they were about 70 or 80 years old. The psychologists hypothesized that the key to a long life may not actually be relaxation; perhaps consistent work you truly enjoy is the secret. The researchers concluded work can positively impact one’s overall well-being, if it’s “satisfying work.”

When you couple these results with the overall number of American workers who feel engaged at work (36%, according to a recent Gallup study), you start to see the problem in our current workplace. Disliking work leads to lower levels of engagement and, as it turns out, can hinder your ability to live a long and happy life.”

So, how can we like what we do more? An answer may be found in who we work with. I’ve often said I love what I do largely because of who I get to do it with.

Some leaders think you shouldn’t get involved with your team members’ personal lives because it oversteps boundaries but in truth, our personal and professional lives are deeply intertwined. Haven’t you ever had a stressful day at the office and brought that stress home with you? Or, had a great weekend and started Monday morning at work with an optimistic attitude? For leaders, it’s not so much about trying to involve yourself in a team members’ personal life; it’s about ensuring their social well-being is met every day. Oftentimes this can be achieved by encouraging friendships in the workplace, after all, we spend so much time at work, and having a close friend at work makes that time even more enjoyable. A study found three in 10 Americans say they have a best friend in the workplace.

And a 2017 study in the journal Personal Relationships confirms the importance of friendships. It examined 270,000 people in almost 100 countries and found even though family and friends are associated with health and happiness, the older people got, having strong relationships in their lives was the predominant link to good health.

So, what’s the message? Love the work you do and love the people you get to do it with – that is how you really live the good life.

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