Managing for Happiness or Why I’ve Stopped Trying to Grow my Business

by | Aug 26, 2013

happy_business_8-28-13Some of you know that I’ve been undergoing a sea change in the past several months. The short version is that I’ve awakened to a deeper understanding of Thought and how it creates our experience. Further, and this blows my mind, I’ve come to see that wellbeing is our default setting, and the more that we are in touch with our fundamental wellbeing, the more access we have to wisdom and creativity.

This new understanding, articulated as the Three Principles,* has become the foundation of my work as a teacher and coach. And, in light of this understanding, I see that the wisest way to live, not to mention grow a business, is to lean into wellbeing. To look to the experience of wellbeing as a barometer the quality of my thinking. When we are experiencing wellbeing, our thinking is creative, even wise. When we are temporarily cut off from our wellbeing, our thinking is recursive and constrained.

So, as I told my Brain Trust back in April, instead of managing for profitability, I decided to manage for happiness.

Actually, it’s managing from wellbeing

Back then managing for happiness was my best understanding of the implications of the Three Principles for my business. Over time I’ve come to see it in a more nuanced way. It’s not about managing to create happiness, it’s managing  from happiness or, more precisely, from the wellbeing we experience when we are in touch with our true nature.

When we are in touch with our fundamental wellbeing, we experience higher levels of consciousness and higher quality thinking. We are naturally smarter and wiser. Given that, it doesn’t make sense to manage from any other place.

You can test this for yourself

Think about a knotty problem you’ve had recently that has since been resolved, one that had you worked up or, as I like to say, wrapped around the axle. Notice the quality of your thinking in that state of mind. Invariably it will have been recursive and constrained. That kind of thinking cuts us off from the flow of new thought, not to mention wisdom.

Now, notice the mood or state you were in as the problem was resolving. Reflect on the quality of thinking you experienced then. Invariably you will have had some insight into the situation, insight that you could not have when you were wound up.

Duh, right? But wait, there’s more!

This may not be stunning news to you. But here’s the deal. In spite of knowing that low moods indicate low quality thinking, we often buy into strategies and steps for our businesses that don’t feel good. We believe that feeling crappy (a technical term) about doing business is unavoidable, so we might as well just get on with it.

Too often, when it comes to growing a business, we throw out the insight rule book and expect ourselves to navigate well from pressure and stress. And when that doesn’t work, we blame ourselves (and/or we decide that there’s just no way to have a business that is both profitable and happy). We become information junkies, or self-improvement fanatics, or both. Surely, we think, if we just learn enough and work on ourselves hard enough, we will have what it takes to succeed.

And it doesn’t work. It simply perpetuates the cycle of stress and pressure and low quality thinking. The harder we try to solve the problem of growing a business, the less insight we have into how to do it for ourselves.

Yup, sometimes that means you do nothing

These days I don’t know where my business is going. Apart from individual coaching, I don’t know what programs I’m going to offer or what, if any, products I’m going to develop. I’m curious, and I look forward to creating something new, but I’m not in a hurry. When it comes to me to make an offer, write an article, or change my website, I do it. When I don’t see the way ahead, I do nothing.

I get anxious and think that this is no way to run a railroad. But what I notice is that I don’t get great ideas when I’m in that frame of mind. At best I get ideas based on what other people are doing, ideas that, however good, are disconnected from my heart and from my commitment to serve you. I know from experience that those ideas don’t fly, and now I have a deeper understanding of why that is.

So I’m tooling along here, leaning into wellbeing, following the dancing spark of inspiration, and staying open and curious. I’m having lots of conversations with people just to connect, which is something I haven’t had time for in years. I’m continuing to deepen my understanding of the Three Principles, doing a lot of cartoon and watercolor homework, and working toward a mentor coach certification. Most of all, I’m doing whatever moves me into feelings of connection and resonance with people I want to serve.  (That would be you, by the way.)

Something for you

Gordon_Neill_Hangout_7-30-13One of the things that suggested itself to me was to hold a free Google Hangout on Air with bestselling author Michael Neill. Together we explored the inside out nature of the human experience and implications of the Three Principles, especially for those of us who are self-employed.

The video is about an hour long. The first minute and 53 seconds are Michael and I (and Bolivia the Wonder Cat) setting up the Hangout. You are welcome to watch that but, if you’d rather get right to the conversation, fast forward to the 1:53 mark.

Click the link below to get to the video, and leave your comments after you watch it. I really care about sharing this understanding with you.

Photo by Jeremy Salmon via Flickr


*Judy Sedgeman articulates the Three Principles this way:

“Three universal principles explain the thinking process: Mind, Consciousness and Thought. Simply put, Mind is the energy of life, the fact that we are alive. Thought is our ability to create forms or ideas from that energy. Consciousness is our ability to experience what we think as real. In other words, we are born thinking. We think our way through life. We see life through our thoughts as we go, and the quality of our thinking determines the quality of our lives (how we see things moment-to-moment).

“Awakening to those principles sets people free from attachment to the contents of any particular thinking with the knowledge that thoughts naturally come and go. It frees people to see their state of mind, their felt response to perceived reality, as an indicator of the moment-to-moment quality of their thinking. A stressed or negative feeling state or state of mind produces a low mood and increasing tension, a feeling of insecurity, or dis-ease. That feeling warns us to allow our thinking to quiet. As people learn to trust their state of mind as a guide through life, they catch themselves earlier and earlier in the process of insecure thinking that can lead to chronic stressful states of mind and worse. Recognizing the signal to quiet down, people can leave negative thoughts alone and allow them to pass. As our minds quiet, our feeling changes and our perceived reality changes. We naturally regain our ability to address life circumstances and challenges from a wiser, more optimistic and hopeful perspective.

“Once people recognize that innate health is constant and always accessible, they are able to navigate the ups and downs of their thinking without frightening themselves with their most negative thinking or deceiving themselves with their most positive thinking. We are able to be grateful in moments of exhilaration and graceful in moments of distress, and to experience the rich landscape of all our thinking as the gift of life.”

~Judy Sedgeman