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Week 39: Weekend reading for health, wealth and happiness

By Sam Instone - September 24, 2020

Yesterday marked 100 days to go in this tumultuous year of 2020.

My friend and coach, Mick Todd of 2bLimitless, sent me a message recently - "Don't wish it was easier... find ways to be better!" This week's edition therefore kicks off with a video from ABC that Mick shared. It provides a fantastic summary of the processes around elite sport performance and covers the theme of 'How can we be the best version of ourselves?'. This is not only applicable to a sporting context, but to business, careers, parenting and living a great life!

Given most of our financial work is also in the elite executive performance/technical planning sphere, creating healthy, prosperous and most importantly happy people is critical for us.

A focus on happiness leads to less burnout, less staff turnover, greater resilience, superior productivity, greater feelings of security, more sales, less costs, as well as greater employee and corporate success.

Perhaps most importantly it leads to greater engagement or 'additional discretionary effort' exerted by team members. I have therefore shared a TEDx link to 'The happy secret to better work'.

This is all about well-being theory which shows you can flourish by increasing Positive Emotion, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning and Achievement or 'PERMA'. A large body of evidence shows things such as success or money don't make people happy, but happiness (driven via an internal positive mindset) is normally a precursor to money or success.

Whilst genetics are responsible for our general settings (we all move up and down within our pre-set range), we can all exert substantial control over the way our brain processes information (which is responsible for 90% of happiness). Genes matter, but so do our thoughts and actions.

Our intentional, effortful activities have a powerful effect on how happy we are over and above our general settings, and the good or bad circumstances we find ourselves in.

Not only is this critically important for our own well-being, but those we interact with in life and business.

This has huge implications on things such as our marriages and even how we raise our children. In Jordan Peterson's '12 Rules for Life', he encourages us to follow "Rule 5: do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them", and "Rule 11: do not bother children when they are skateboarding."

Strategies and tactics for moving your internal PERMA settings include:

  • Meditation mindfulness - training awareness and getting perspective (why not try 'Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics').
  • Gratitude journal - express appreciation for what one has as opposed to an emphasis on what one wants.
  • Random acts of kindness - can be as little as opening doors for other people or always saying a signature hello.
  • Find out your signature strengths and deploy them to increase engagement - you can find out your strengths using 'Clifton Strengths', 'DISC', 'KOLBE' or 'Myers-Briggs'.
  • Develop authentic connections in the workplace and even with strangers - happiness comes from getting the right relationships between yourself and others, yourself and your work and yourself and something larger than yourself.
  • Pursue self-concordant goals - run a 5k, 10k, marathon or Ironman, or even a bucket-list challenge like Kilimanjaro.
  • Take regular exercise like walking.
  • Treat yourself like someone else's child your are responsible for - focus on your sleep habits, nutrition and stress management.

Intentionality is so important. The guiderails you create (in my case with people such as Mick) matter. Document and share them in the form of an accountability document so you know if you err off the track and ensure you re-centre to focus on what matters.

Broken rituals or uneven cadence impact where people sit on the happiness dial between disorder, languishing, moderate and flourishing.

Back onto the topic of investment and money, I have included a link to the findings of the semi-annual report 'S&P Indices Versus Active scorecard' or SPIVA, which unsurprisingly once again shows that active investment managers have failed to beat the market. Traditional active and discretionary managers often claim they will come into their own during a period of volatility, but the evidence against active appears simply overwhelming. I've included again a video on 'Informed Risk' from Andy Hart.

On the money theme, the remarkable story of Chuck Feeney, 'the billionaire who wanted to die broke... is now officially broke'!

The final word is taken by former senior British Army officer, inspirational leader and Ironman champion David Labouchere on 'leadership and positioning', for the most important decision we make on any given day is where to position ourselves on our battlefield.

This week's meditation

As the Stoic philosopher Seneca advised -

"Let us prepare our minds as if we'd come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life's books each day... The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time."

A question for you

Cassius, a Roman nobleman, uttered this phrase when he was talking to his friend Brutus, in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar -

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves..."

So, where could you be better?

Enjoy the ‘light’ reading and happy weekend! If you liked this post, please share it with others using the icons at the top, or just forward them this blog.


ABC's video 'The sports whisperer and icons of footy'

Shawn Anchor's TEDx talk on 'The happy secret to better work'

Martin Seligman's 'PERMA' model

Jordan Peterson's '12 Rules for Life'

Dan Harris discussing his panic attack live on air and 'Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics'

Strength finder tools: 'Clifton Strengths', 'DISC', 'KOLBE' and 'Myers-Briggs'

Insights from the 'SPIVA report'

Andy Hart on 'Informed Risk'

Chuck Feeney's story of being 'the billionaire who wanted to die broke... is now officially broke'

David Labouchere's 'Where do you lead from?'

Master every area of your life