How To Build The Happiness You Thought Your Success Would Bring You But Hasn’t Yet Arrived – Part One

Success, accomplishment, happiness, thank you’s, accolades, and gratitude only come, for most of us, when you build your own happiness triggers into your daily life, and the lives of others.

I’m talking about personally building a really fun and important personal habit, remembering what you learned every day that helped you help others have a better life. Guess what, every day and time you make someone else more successful, they will in turn remember and acknowledge your role in that success.

Task One:
How to Help Yourself Remember
What You Learn Every Day and From
Whom Your Daily Lessons Learned Log

Consider these six questions every day. (The discipline is that you respond to at least one. The more you harvest daily from your life, just brief reminders, a word, phrase, name, idea, or short sentence, the more you brilliantly and magically remember later will inspire you, and others around you. The six questions are:

  1. What’s the most important thing I learned today? From whom?
  2. What’s the most interesting thing I learned today? From whom?
  3. What’s the most unusual, surprising thing I learned today? From whom?
  4. What questions have arisen today that need answers? From whom?
  5. What will I do differently tomorrow, based on what I learned today, and thank whom?
  6. How can I share these learnings with others?

Make it formal. I still like notebooks, so I have a notebook for lessons learned and I generally require all of my employees to maintain them for themselves and copy me on them daily. The notebook is simply filled with the six questions.

  • Each question has two or three lines on which to jot something down.
  • Keep it in your computer or wherever it is convenient. I like notebooks because standing by my desk they remind me to do this every day.
  • Once you start doing this you really recognize how many people you owe your own success to and they should know about that and they should hear it from you.

A simple and meaningful, personal note is quite powerful.

When I was 26 years old, I was in a management training program at a large retail music company in Minneapolis and the management training program consisted of assigning an up-and-coming individual to supervise store departments. I worked part-time here for several years out of high school in the band instrument department. The first department, they assigned that I managed for a month was Stereo Components and Electronic Devices.

My manager, Dick Loberg, gave me just two assignments every month.

First, I needed to conduct a sales meeting at 7:30 every Tuesday morning for an hour and provide the department’s five award-winning salespeople a fresh idea to use that week in closing sales.

Second, at least twice during the month I needed to send each of the five men a brief note thanking them or recognizing them for something they were doing that I liked.

I learned quickly that successful salespeople can make any suggestion a success.

The notes were a little harder, but I managed in the first month to give everybody two brief notes about something I liked about what they were doing.

In the second month, one of these salesmen, Tom, passed away. It wasn’t my fault but my boss came down and said to please go through Tom’s desk because his family was coming over tomorrow to spend half the day in the space where Tom worked for 35 years. “Be sure you get rid of anything that could embarrass him or the company.” I found nothing.

My last item to tackle was Tom’s desk. There in the lower right-hand drawer was a box, way in the back. I was prepared to pitch it then noticed that all the pages were in chronological order going back almost 30 years, the length of time Tom worked in the company.  Every piece of paper had a note from someone complimenting Tom on something. There were several from the founder of the company who said things as simple as, “Tom, you saved the Anderson’s business, I owe you for that one!” It was signed by Paul A., the founder of Paul A. Schmitt Music. Because they were in chronological order leading up last week, there at the head of the stack, were the two notes from me. I teared up.

I put that box on his desk just in time for his family to arrive the next morning. The whole family dove into this box with great excitement and they pulled out papers and talked about when Tom, their dad, uncle, or grandpa had talked about these various events at the dinner table. Tom had taken them home, showed them off, talked about them, and was very proud of them.

People remember being thanked. And maybe all of us need to be thanked a lot more often. I tear up almost every time I tell this story. This experience is something you want to be responsible for.  

In Happiness File #3, I’ll be talking about “The Platinum Rule” for making a happy life.

The Platinum Rule for making a happy life. “Help others achieve those things they feel are meaningful, helpful, and important for others beyond themselves, but need help completing what they hope to accomplish.” Translated, do good things for others who are doing good things for, yet others and they’ll all come to thank, recognize, and do good things for you in return.