Happiness at work

There are some who may emphatically agree that they find happiness at work, there would be many others who may scoff at it. I have read many posts, memes and jokes about how happiness at work is a dream that only a privileged few have managed.

Couple of years back, while on a vacation to Coorg (Karnataka, India), we got this chance to visit a coffee plantation. We were introduced upon arrival to a young gentleman who was the manager and the owner of the estate, a pretty vast one at that. He encouraged visitors to his plantation a couple of days in a week, all free of cost and made it a point to personally escort them explaining every bit of the coffee plantation process and the additional crops / plants / trees that he managed to grow, some through experiment and others through a method that he learnt from experienced veterans in the trade. His passion for what he was doing was infectious. He not only explained every bit of what we saw but engaged us to sample some unique leaves, seeds, flowers and even showed us the rich diversity that he had cultivated in the area under his control.

He admitted that the coffee trade had slowed down because it was difficult to get labour but he had formulated some labour friendly schemes to have his workers stay with him. He managed his costs by using the available space to grow a variety of plants and there was work through the year for some of his core staff. He was obviously very well educated and could have landed an MNC job anywhere in the world but chose this field as he found a calling in not only growing quality coffee beans but managing it as a thriving business with happy people to help him out. 

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Couple of years back, I hired this taxi pretty close to the place where I live to go to town. An elderly gentleman was at the wheel and he engaged me in a conversation through the journey that lasted about an hour. In Mumbai, the ‘black and yellow’ cab as they are often called are known to be impolite, impersonal and many a times rude enough to refuse a ride if the destination is not to their liking. They may sit idle for hours but will not budge if the earning potential does not excite them.

This gentleman was different; he mentioned that he stayed pretty close to the place where I boarded the cab from and he is connected to several people who engage him almost every day to drop them off to their office or even the airport at unearthly hours. He could be contacted at any time of the day or night and he would make himself available if he is not already engaged. He loves to be booked in advance too. He offers a decent discount to regular travellers and some personalised service of a pick up from their chosen point. Upon further prodding he revealed that he loved what he did and managed to earn a decent living too. He even managed to educate his children in good schools because he was assured of a decent income (in spite of the competition from aggregators). The only way he managed this was by serving his customers well and showing that he loved what he was doing.

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Two very different examples but with a common thread. Both of them found an aspect in their job that motivated them to go that extra mile. So, can there me a ‘mantra’ for happiness at work? Nothing sure shot but some techniques do help

  • Nothing comes on a platter
    there are times you end up in a place of work that makes you feel that you have hit bulls eye, but more often than not, you may have to figure out if there are elements of the job that excite you. Work hard to find out as soon as you can as they are the catalyst you need to pull you on.
  • You need an inspiration to drive you forward
    It may be an individual that you may want learn from or it may be a new product or service that you are sure will take your capabilities a notch higher. It could be a kind of a deal that you believe will open new vistas for you or it could be a creative idea that you wanted to exercise given the relevant freedom to do so.
  • Approach anyone who could be your teacher
    Take the steps to approach people. Many would come forward to help some may not. There is always a tendency to step back once you face a rejection, but a ‘ glass half full’ concept works….think positive and don’t relent. You tend to stay if you continue to learn and people are the best bet.
  • Ask for crystal clear goals
    Do not stay put till you understand your goals and the ways and means to get there. Don’t get scared of challenges or certain ambitious goals, there is more often than not a method to the madness. The goals should be measurable and the destination should open some new avenues of growth.
  • Working on an empty stomach is not a great idea
    The fodder comes out of recognition both monetary and words of encouragement. Sometimes the latter more than the former is preferred. Please understand that your idea of success or achievement may be different from what your superior or peers think….it may take some time to come to an equilibrium so patience pays.

 

The above is not exhaustive but just a trigger to help you structure your thoughts. Pen down what you think as comments below. Any more additional points or anecdotes are welcome!

About Suresh Ramakrishnan

Suresh has two decades of experience in structuring / creating new business and products / solutions in the media and content space. Among his various passions – writing, singing, reading, analyzing music and directing short plays occupy prime spots. He is a fitness freak to the core and a complete family man; prefers to spend his weekends in their company. He has an engineering degree from IIT – Kharagpur and a PGDM from IIM – Ahmedabad.

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