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Happiness in Business and Innerpreneurship


March 31, 2013 by Zara

This has got to count as one of my favourite TED Talks. As a social entrepreneur as well as an innerpreneur (what’s that?), I am heartened because I feel a little less alone and crazy in thinking that “business is where we transform ourselves and the world”.

In this talk, John Miles reminds us that success ought to be defined, in Earl Nightingale’s word, as “progressive realization of a worthy ideal“. Note the words worthy. And ideal.

He shares the triple bottom line he uses at his company:

  1. Are we happy?
  2. Are we growing as people & an organisation?
  3. Are we viable, sustainable or abundant?

And also presents Robert Kennedy’s sad but far-too-true sentiments on how we value and measure progress:

Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product … if we should judge America by that – counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

These same sentiments hold for many of us in countries beyond America, and are things I could not feel less strongly about.

In closing, the poignant reflection is that “we’ve traded our lives for paycheck, when all we really want is happiness.” And he points us to these guideposts to find happiness in work, business and our lives:

  • Have a Purpose: something based in Positive Values
  • Have a Practice: something that cultivates inner peace, that puts context to your external world
  • Find Flow: look for challenges and growth opportunities. Flow opens up after 10,000 hours of perfecting your skill.
  • Find Connection: Surround yourself with people you like.
  • Measure how you’re doing: How do you feel? What’s going on inside? If you’re happier this year than you were yesteryear, you’re on the right track. If not, you gotta make some changes.

But the last and best of all I must re-iterate celebratorily:

“Business people have the greatest chance to transform our world.” — Dr. Timothy Leary


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