I’m listening to a book called The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.
In a nutshell “Scientists have made a revolutionary finding…happiness is actually a precursor to success not a result. When we are happy our success rates rise. Every single….outcome improves when a brain is “set to” positive as opposed to negative, neutral or stressed.
Of particular interest to me was a 240 question test, mentioned in the book, designed to measure 24 character strengths.
The test is FREE although at the end they do encourage you to pay $20 or $40 for more in depth results, the free results were fine with me.
Also, you don’t need to do all 240 questions at one time. You set up an account so you can go in and finish any time.
My top 5 character traits were not surprising to me…
Creativity, Humor, Curiosity, Hope and Love of Learning. #6 was great hair which is surprising as I didn’t realize hair was considered a character trait.
Anyway, I took particular interest in my character trait that came in dead last…24th out of 24.
This is somewhat true. Certainly my life and computers are strewn with scores of things I started and didn’t finish.
But dead last?
That surprised me and got me to thinking….if I’m so bad at sticking to things how did I get here? With a nice online business that so many would give a limb to have?
And as I look back over what some would consider “successes” they all seem to have one thing in common.
ACTION followed by quick hits of “success”.
In the “Happiness Advantage the author calls these “small bursts of happiness”.
Back in June of 1991 I placed a business card-sized ad in a small daily paper advertising my carpet cleaning services. I had 15 calls by 10:30AM the first day.
Back in late 1996 when I decided to get into this “get out of debt” business by teaching live local workshops, I sent letters (real paper!) to over 200 school districts in NY, MA, NJ and VT.
I got responses and classes scheduled almost immediately. Back then I was going to 20+ schools twice per year conducting my workshops.
Back in December of 2004 when I decided to ramp up this online business I sent 49 Fedex and Express Mail packages to online business people. I sent these packages on December 24th. That lead to me signing up several great affiliates within a week which helped make 2005 my best year ever to that point.
In August 2009 I got an idea to test something offline. I placed an ad on Craigslist and within a few hours had my first customer and that biz added six figures to my income over the next few years.
It seems these “quick hits” of success kept me “interested”.
But that’s logical, right?
If you did something and it worked you’d want to keep doing it, right?
So I’m not “special” in that regard.
And now I’m thinking to myself that this is starting to sound like a “this is why I’m so great” essay and that’s not my intention.
I’m genuinely curious why perseverance was so far down my list.
And I guess it comes down to I try a LOT of stuff (experiments) and most of it doesn’t work. Or maybe it’s I try a LOT of stuff and most of it doesn’t work because I don’t give it enough time to work?
I imagine the truth lies somewhere in between.
In either case this is further proof that Tom Watson, the founder of IBM had it right when he said:
““Would you like me to give you a formula for… success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You’re thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all… you can be discouraged by failure / or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember that’s where you’ll find success. On the far side.”
So, take the test and let me know, in the comments, what character trait came up first and last for you and what you think about that.
Meanwhile, I have to go run some experiments this week!