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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Happiness as a Competitive Advantage

By: Tommy Eden

 A positive and engaged brain is a competitive advantage, according to author Shawn Achor in his book Before Happiness. Shawn’s 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Sustainable Positive Change, and a Competitive Advantage, are: 

1) The Most Valuable Reality. Help your team see a broader range of ideas and solutions by changing the details on which their brains choose to focus. Your brain has only a limited capacity to focus on what is going on in your world and if your brain goes to the negatives, then the positives will be crowded out. The ADVANTAGES game takes a negative, like a sink full of dirty dishes, and turns that into an opportunity to show my wife love. Have your team play the game like this, give one point for all the negative descriptors for that “choice” and three points for positive descriptors. Multiple positive visions will give your team the opportunity to choose to make it a meaningful and productive activity. By priming your team members’ brains with positive alternatives, grateful hearts or a memory that makes them smile, sales can rise by 31 % and you are more likely to be promoted by 40%. 

2)  Success Mapping. Set goals oriented around the things in life that matter to you most. Sometimes when we are coming into a stressful situation your team looks for a way to escape. If you will help your team think of stresses as meaningful challenges, then they become opportunities for the team to win. Encourage team members to embrace the challenge, and channel the meaning buried within the stressor. That way they can make their own team map toward success. 

3) Positive Inception Transfer. Positively planting a thought in the mind of another can cause the other person to see the world in a more positive light. For example, Oshsner Health Systems implemented the 10/5 Way requesting that staff at 10 feet of a patient make eye contact, then smile and to say hello when they were 5 feet away. Six months after picking up this small habit, the patients entering the hospital started picking up this social script of eye contact, smiling, and then hello. Not only did the patient referrals increase, doctors’ happiness levels were higher than in a decade and the patients’ perception of quality of care improved dramatically.  Once others found out it was OK to be positive they joined in on the new social script. Employees are 31% more productive, 3 times more creative, and had higher levels of energy when they choose to first make others happy. 

4) The X-Spot. Use success accelerants to propel your team more quickly towards its goals. When you can see a goal then you speed up and accelerate to the finish. That is why most heart attacks for marathoners occur in the last 100 yard of a 26.1 mile run. Sometimes just taking time to recall and be thankful for your teams past successes will accelerate the team to achieve the next goal. 

5) Noise Canceling. How do we turn our brains into noise cancelling headphones? External noise makes you feel more negative. Worry is an example of internal negative noise that will not let your team focus on the present. By increasing the positive things your team watches and surrounds themselves with, you will help them put on their noise cancelling headphones. Mind PT is one of the techniques suggested by the author for this purpose: Mind PT is a free app available for download on itunes.

Common Sense Counsel: if Happiness is the joy you feel moving toward your potential, the science of happiness as practiced by Google is the secret sauce that gives it a competitive advantage so that each Google employee brings in 1 million of income. Great Teams + Great Bosses + Happiness = Competitive Advantage.

Tommy Eden is a partner working out of the Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP offices in Opelika, AL and West Point, GA and can be contacted at or 334-246-2901 and blog at