Leaders from across Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP (DHG) gathered for our annual partner meeting earlier this fall. This event is an opportunity for us to come together as ONE DHG to re-energize, learn from one another, and hear from incredible speakers. As part of the meeting, we were honored to feature New York Times bestselling author, Shawn Achor, as our keynote speaker. Shawn has conducted an extensive amount of research around happiness and how it can not only better our lives personally, but also drive better, more effective performance for an entire organization. I walked away with many key takeaways from Shawn and have since found myself proactively seeking ways to enhance the happiness and gratitude in my own life.
Happiness is a Choice
Throughout his remarks, Shawn reiterated that happiness is an active decision that we make. It opens up our minds, allows for more creativity, and enables us to connect with people on a broader basis to form valuable relationships – a core value of our firm. Not only does choosing happiness make us feel better and allow us to have a much more positive outlook on our own lives, but it also directly correlates to the firm’s ability to be more entrepreneurial, more change agile, and more open to new ideas and ways of doing things.
Optimism is an Outcome of Happiness
The theme of happiness really hit home because of how closely it ties into our focus on optimism. As we look to position ourselves as the firm of the future, optimism is one of the key attributes we have identified to help us progress in our journey. Ultimately, optimism is an outcome of people choosing to be happy and positive. That’s not to say we blindly ignore the negative, but by focusing on the positive we will then have a more positive outlook on how we approach everything we’re faced with – both personally and professionally.
Practicing Gratitude and Showing Appreciation
In Shawn’s book, The Big Potential, he gives some very practical guidance on how you can be happier while pursuing your professional career. A key component of that transformation is practicing gratitude. Shawn encouraged all of us to document three things that we’re grateful for by actually writing them on a piece of paper and putting them in a jar for 21 days in a row. By actively looking for the positive things in your life and then documenting them, you will undoubtedly become a happier person with a much brighter outlook on the future. One other suggestion Shawn shared was to take the time to be actively positive by writing notes of appreciation. Simply taking the time to thank those around you for something big or small not only makes you feel better, but it makes the other person feel better. Who doesn’t like receiving a message from someone else expressing their thanks?
Working as a Team and Building Relationships
Shawn’s research shows that when we approach problems together we have a much brighter outlook on our ability to tackle them, no matter how difficult they may be. He compared this concept to climbing a hill. If we climb it together as a team, versus by ourselves, we have a much greater chance of not only climbing the hill but being happier and more positive along the way. This concept directly corresponds with how we work through challenges as a firm, as ONE DHG.
Learning more about Shawn’s research firsthand reinforced our need for optimism as a firm and gave me guidance on how I can add more happiness to my day-to-day life. It was encouraging to hear him touch on two areas of importance for us at DHG – the value of relationships and the fact that any challenge we face will be easier and less burdensome if we tackle it together as a team. I encourage you to take these tips from Shawn to heart and to be proactive about adding happiness and gratitude to your life.