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WorldLine Training

WorldLine Training

When Happiness is the Enemy

Updated: May 17

Rush is a film about rivals. Blistering with electricity, the story pans a scene across a luxurious private house where Niki Lauda's beautiful, loyal wife says to him,

"When happiness is the enemy, you've already lost."

He nods nonchalantly.




Here in the real world, offices buzz with tension as sales forecasts come and go, people make deals and make mistakes, Someone makes someone else a coffee and someone feels slighted at someone else's thoughtlessness. A CEO recently put it like this; "You have to be careful with communication. People get upset easily"


On the shop floor, business as usual leaves no room for errors, deadlines are whatever someone else says and someone's poised ready to jump down someone's throat. A box on the floor is someone else's job to move and the previous shift always makes the most mess. The tension here is different, but no less destructive.


Negativity, take it from me, is a merciless, relentless beast. Sliding into every thought process it can access (nb; without knowing how this energy works, everyone's susceptible) and spreading with oily contagion, negativity smothers enthusiasm for even walking through the door in the morning. One thing a healthy company holds aloft among its successes is that people like to turn up every day. Without exception, everyone wants to enjoy their workplace and given the chance, they'll work hard for just that.


So here's the big mistake. CEOs can get to thinking (thanks to the Industrial Revolution) that people don't come here to enjoy themselves or make friends, they come to work, so there's nothing wrong with pushing targets and directives at people and expecting them to just comply. "That's what they get paid for. The job of the company is to get on with the job."


For sure, this case locked itself in for a long time. The Industrial Revolution happened when people were accepting subjugation as normality - being 'well treated' was a luxury for the few. Hard-line management techniques have (via negativity's passionate determination) held their enchantment even on the watch of forward-thinking executives who know there's something up with the system, with no idea how to change it or even where to start.


Nowadays, people are more discerning and mobile; the argument that 'they're lucky to be employed' indicates distrust in personnel management. The thought behind the line is that the role really isn't much to write home about but so what, someone else is taking it on. "If they don't like it. they know where the door is." The problem with that is, good people get washed out with the bathwater as few things gather more dust than a demoralised, demotivated working environment. What keeps people there is fear - as revealed in the statement itself.


A telling symptom I've seen in this situation is a reluctance to reward. As if making people happy too often is going to somehow soften up the company, make it less resilient, lead to more down-time and higher expectations. Hey, higher expectations are surely not amiss if the workplace isn't enjoying its lifetime! When those expectations rise for everyone, in a very short space of time (given sustainable incentives and opportunities) everyone is capable of working together to achieve what was wanted in the first place - a warm, vibrant, healthy environment that's consequently more productive.


You get much less down-time in a healthy work environment. Lower staff turnover, fewer absences. Another of those things everyone wants is a sense of loyalty to their logo, an alignment with their brand. A company is first a community, second a manufacturing facility. Those machines can stand for eternity without a man to do that job*.

*a turn of phrase, not a sexist statement


Opening up to happiness is a sure-fire route for everyone to reach a state of excellence. Yes, it's a leap of faith. Requires changes - no exceptions to that rule. But rewards to the company work in just the same way as any other fuel - food for animals, petrol for cars, you name it. What you put in is directly proportional to what you get out of the system.


We've moved out of the Dark Ages now, a quarter-turn into the 21st Century. No time like the Present, time waits for no man (as above) and there's no going back down one-way streets but hey, plenty to learn from the past. The great thing about history is that, given a little innovation, there's really no need to repeat it.


We only need a burst of speed and a healthy fearlessness in putting our foot down.



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