Monday, February 09, 2015

Opening Keynote: The Science of Happiness & Success #TrainingMag

These are my live blogged notes from the Training 2015 Conference and Expo happening this week in Atlanta. Forgive any typos or incoherencies.

The Science of Happiness and Success (applied to the workplace)
Michelle Gielan, Founder, Institute for Applied Positive Research
with Shawn Achor (her husband)

How can we ignite and sustain positive change in society?

She was a news broadcaster with CBS. Decided she wanted to study research on positive change.

We're all broadcasters. We're constantly broadcasting news and info to other people. And this influence not only our own lives, but also the lives of others.

Can we tap into the power of people who are optimistic in the workplace but don't express it? 31% of people are positive, but not expressive of it. Can we tap into that 31% to transform the workplace at large?

The Happiness Advantage:  The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor

We see productivity and mental agility increase with increased optimism.

3 points of inflection are the three greatest predictors of success:

  • How optimistic are we in the face of challenge? Do we see challenges as temporary or permanent and pervasive? Optimists take steps more quickly than pessimists.
  • Our stress response. Is it cortisol or dopamine?
  • How strong is our social support system? And how likely are we to jump in and help other people?

What work routines can we implant with our colleagues at work that bring out the best in everyone in relation to those three predictors in order to fuel their optimism quotient.

Positive Psychology is a relatively new movement. We're taught that we're our genes and our environment and that's it. But what we're realizing is that we can tramp our genes and our environment -- that we CAN move people from depression and stress and change them into optimists.

But we want to avoid sugar coating life with irrational optimism. We need rational optimism. You start with realism. You don't ignore the limits, but you're not stopped by them.

When our brains are positive, we are more productive, more likely to receive a promotion, we outsell the other sales people on our teams, we're more successful.

If we HIRE for optimism or bring neutral people up on the optimism scale, our organizations are more successful.

As a leader, how can you broadcast that optimism out to your people?

How can you create some of those corporate habits in people's lives?

We did a group experiment in the keynote: partners stare into each others eyes. One person smiles and gazes warmly into their partners eyes. The other person is told to show NO EMOTION. 90% of us failed this experiment and smiled back. Your mirror neurons are fighting against your brain. Dopamine kicks in. You can't help but smile.

Negativity, stress, uncertainty, anxiety -- we can pick these up like secondhand smoke from those around us.

Humans are not wired together, but we're wirelessly connected.

Individual habit changes can wirelessly change the brains of people around us.

At the Ritz Carleton staff are trained that if you get within 10 feet of them -- they smile and make eye contact with you. Within five feet, they verbally greet you (The 10-5 way). When this was implemented at a hospital, the hospital ratings went up

What's the social script that we use at our organizations to describe stress? Chronic stress turns our immune systems up to the highest levels it wrecks your body vs. a message that stress enhances us and can be used to our advantage.  By changing that social script, we can reduce the negative impact of stress.

Start all of your communications with something positive -- one line in an email. Don't take for granted those moments that foster social connection.

Globally, the triggers of happiness are the same everywhere. How you view change happening in life, how you view stress, your social connections...

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