The secret to my success in business comes down this: I’ve had an opportunity to use my personal happiness as a stepping stone to forging links between people in my workplace.
As a corporate communicator in a dairy processing firm for almost 29 years, I had the good fortune to be in a position to help dairy farmers, production plant employees and contract milk truck haulers tell their personal stories of struggle and triumph.
What would happen when I published a profile of an individual in one of our company publications? I initiated a whole set of dynamics that resulted in the following:
- My interview of that individual, more often than not, revealed some insight that surprised not only me and the interviewee but reinforced and explained our corporate mission and vision in concrete, down-to-earth terms.
- The interviewee gained personal satisfaction and began to trust me as a central office employee as well as the company as a whole, and that good will started to have a positive influence on his or her local work team.
- Senior management felt good about the profile because it showed that stakeholders in the company understood the corporate mission and vision. In fact, I was reflecting how well our top executives were doing their jobs in translating our corporate mission and vision into every-day work tasks.
- I personally gained credibility with both senior management and people all the way down the line because I was giving everyone a voice and was fostering vertical as well as horizontal communication within the company.
The fact that I had cerebral palsy, walked with crutches and talked with difficulty added a new dimension to the whole process. I found people at every level within the organization (from the CEO to the lift truck driver in the warehouse) were willing to help me. They approved my proposals (some of which, I’m sure, they thought weird at the time) as well as retrieved my crutches when they were out of my reach and carried my camera equipment when I had to hike a distance over slippery, wet floors in production plants.
I now realize I was giving my colleagues a sense of hope – the realization that someone like me (someone like themselves) could be happy and productive even though I had very evident physical limitations.
It was the 1970s and 1980s. I was engaged in my work -- long before “employee engagement” became a buzz word in business circles. I was happy in my work. I had a reason to reach out to others as a corporate communicator (driving my own car to 23 production plants in the Upper Midwest), despite my shyness and my difficulty in walking and speaking.
I had discovered a win-win-win situation, and it became a powerful force in my career, eventually propelling me to the position of vice president for corporate communication in the company.
Since then, I have learned that becoming engaged in a work setting depends, in part, on what I personally think and do about a situation. The burden of making a workplace dynamic and engaging doesn’t always fall on top management within a company. In my case, being happy in my work was largely up to me. If I couldn’t get out of what I anticipated as a “boring” meeting, for instance, I tried, instead, to “get into it,” making the most of it. By doing so, I was creating my own happiness.
I now know I’ve had “MOJO” at various times during the last 50 years – long before Dr. Marshall Goldsmith defined it in his book, “MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back When You Lose It” (Hyperion, 2007). He writes that MOJO is “that much-desired sweet spot where everything is going the right way, that moment when we do something that’s purposeful, powerful, and positive and the rest of the world recognizes it.”
Being happy at home and at work says more about us than what we’re actually doing, writes, Dr. Goldsmith.
“How you personally interpret any situation is the key to your happiness,” he explains.
I have found that I need to be happy first before I can bring happiness into a workplace. Once I’m at peace with my circumstances (changing what I can but accepting what I can’t), I’m able to make a difference in this world (during my spare time as well as on the job).
This is how I positioned myself in a resume I wrote in 1998:
“When you identify with your company’s purpose, when you experience ownership in a share vision, you find yourself doing your life’s work instead of just doing time.” - John Naisbitt, Futurist, Author.
As a driving force for managing change, I develop communities of people -- people who work effectively together in using their individual skills to create a master plan and then move it from the drawing board to on-site completion.
The tools of my trade in gaining that alignment among people include:
- Defining the master plan's direction
- Drawing an image of what is being built
- Diagramming the corporate landscape
- Designing an integrated management system
- Drafting a strategic communications plan
For 33 years, I have used these tools to forge links between people -- links that meet their emotional, mental, and physical needs -- so they willingly align themselves behind and dedicate themselves to important projects.
More than 16 years later, I’m still finding that what I do best is to bring people together by showing what we all have in common -- despite our differences. That reinforces my personal happiness.
And, being personally happy is contagious, an added-value attribute I can bring to any work team. It’s an added-value attribute because it says to my colleagues, “You make me happy. You matter. And this business matters.”
Does this give you some ideas about how to position yourself -- and your happiness -- in your own resume, during your job interviews and within your job marketing campaign in 2015?
Copyright © 2015. Hasse Communication Counseling, LLC. All rights reserved.
Jim Hasse (www.jimhasse.com), Global Career Development Facilitator, has compiled and edited the recommendations of HR experts and the personal observations of both jobseekers and hiring managers into Perfectly Able: How to Attract and Hire Talented People with Disabilities (www.perfectlyable.com/), a comprehensive disability recruitment guidebook for hiring managers published by AMACOM (September 2010), the publishing arm of the American Management Association. He’s the founder of www.cerebral-palsy-career-builders.com, a comprehensive career coaching guide for parents of youngsters with cerebral palsy, and owner of Hasse Communication Counseling, LLC, which develops win-win direct mail fundraisers for champions of disability employment.