According to Wiki, happiness is a “state of mind or feeling such as contentment, satisfaction, pleasure or joy”. Don’t you love it when things that are hard to define are defined by other things which are equally hard to explain?
But, however it’s defined, happiness is something that most people want to feel as much as possible. Of course, we can’t be happy all the time – shit does happen – but, given the choice, most of us would choose happiness over the alternatives.
Selling is an unusual and challenging vocation. We need to be positive, passionate, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, serving, etc, etc – all in the face of rejection. But, in the end, we choose to be salespeople. We choose it for many reasons (in spite of the challenges) – for the financial rewards, for the freedom, for the personal satisfaction that comes from achievement and service – and a host of other reasons.
In the current economic environment, the usual challenges have been multiplied for many. So can we be happy in the face of these circumstances?
We certainly can – if we choose to. Research into the mind has given us many clues as to the actions we can take to “be happy”. In this piece we’ll look at some of these, and provide a list of disciplines you can action every day, and be happier in the process. But I’m afraid there’s no shortcut.
We have much to thank Dr Martin Seligman for. On January 1, 1998, he assumed the role of president of the American Psychological Association, and immediately challenged the profession to broaden its scope and take an active look at the “normal” population. The result was an explosion in research into the positive side of mental health – happiness, optimism, healthy character aspects and positive emotions were on the research radar. Only seven years later, Time magazine featured a cover story on “The New Science of Happiness” which summarised some of the research which had developed in the previous decade.
In Australia, psychologist Dr Timothy Sharp established The Happiness Institute in 2003, which has served to bring the power of positive psychology to our region. According to the Institute, you can achieve happiness by practicing some basic disciplines every day. Change won’t happen overnight, but, with time and determination, we can all change. The key is that it’s our choice to change. The Institute has a great set of strategies built around the acronym CHOOSE. If you want more happiness – try these actions:
1. C is for Clarity.
Happy people tend to be clear about their goals and their direction and purpose in life. They set clear plans and revise them regularly. And it’s up to you – because no one else can or will do it for you.
2. H is for Healthy Living.
Health is a critical aspect of happiness. You need to be active and exercise regularly; think about your diet and nutrition; and make sure you get enough rest and sleep
3. O is for Optimism.
Those that view the world and their life positively will be happier. You need to be realistic in your approach – but looking for the positive will reap rewards.
4. O is for Others.
As humans, we’re social animals, and relationships are important for us to lead happy lives. We need to work at these and devote the time necessary to build and maintain quality relationships.
5. S is for Strengths.
Stop focusing on your weaknesses and instead work on the aspects of yourself that are strong – and we all have them. Find out what your good at – and do more of it.
6. E is to Enjoy the Moment.
The past is gone and can’t be changed – and who knows what tomorrow may hold. We have today and now to enjoy. Happy people live in the moment.
As salespeople, here are some ways you can apply these strategies more broadly to your work – and your life. These are a starting point – add your own:
- Have clear goals for your career. Know where you want to go and how your current role will help you achieve your goals – at work and more broadly in life.
- Actively plan your personal and business development to complement your longer term goals.
- Use a coach to help keep you on track – and to help you look at alternatives and options you may not have considered.
- Find a mentor – someone who knows the selling game in your industry. Seek – and apply – their advice.
- If you’ve got valuable experience in sales – be a mentor to others. It’s rewarding and something that their manager can’t really do for them.
- Look after all aspects of your health – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual
- Get a dog and take it for a walk. Use the time to reflect on your work and your life. If you don’t like dogs – get fish and watch them.
- Abstain from alcohol at least 2 days a week.
- Build your optimism – and share it.
- Mix with positive people at your workplace. Every sales team has its share of critics and doubters. Avoid them.
- Don’t neglect the important relationships in your life. Children grow quickly, and we all lose our parents. Don’t regret not having enjoyed their company when you could.
- Be a supportive partner and friend. Thank them for being your partner or friend.
- Every salesperson is good at some aspect of the sales process. Few are good at everything. If you have a particular strength which you enjoy – focus on it, and make sure you have a role which capitalises on your strengths.
- Enjoy the moment. Even though much of our role is leading to a final deal, enjoy the journey – and smile at fellow travellers.
- Celebrate success – but not to excess.
- And lots of others – what else can you think of?
So, we choose to be salespeople – and we can choose to be happy salespeople. It’s a lot better than the alternative – but we have to be responsible and accountable for our actions. And – despite what Hollywood would have us believe – there are no shortcuts.
The good news is that – with the right approach – the longer journey is more enjoyable. And you’ll sell more.
Like to find out more? Check out these resources:
Find out more about Dr Timothy Sharp (and his books and publications) and The Happiness Institute at:
For the last five years Sydney has hosted a 2 day conference on “Happiness and its Causes”. You can look at past and future programs here:
Get a good overview of the positive psychology movement and the work of Martin Seligman (and a copy of the Time magazine article on happiness) here:
Thanks for reading this post – Paul Sparks, Sales Effectiveness Australasia.
“Taking you beyond sales training and keeping you informed about the latest ideas, trends, innovation, research & best practice in professional selling and sales management”
If you would like to connect with Paul Sparks please email paulsparks [at] saleseffectiveness.com.au