PICK PRIMARY PLEASURES
The CEO slumped in his opulent and dark corner office with his head in his hands. He took another long drink of the 12 year old single malt scotch on his desk and said to himself, “How did I wind up in this miserable mess? I’ve got high blood pressure, my wife wants a divorce, and my kids say they don’t even know me and they want to live with her. Meanwhile my performance at the company is suffering because I’m exhausted. I’ve been working night and day for the last 15 years to get ahead, and this is my payoff?”
Does this remind you of someone you know? If so, let’s consider how our protagonist reached this juncture. Most folks would agree that being happy is the most important thing in life and should be included in any respectable definition of success. So why isn’t our hapless hero happy?
If happy and successful living is our main aim, then it should also make sense to live by the Pleasure Principle. That is, it’s wise to do things that bring you pleasure (like eating when you’re hungry) and avoid things that are painful (like stepping in front of a moving bus).
However, out of all the enjoyable things to do in life, which ones actually bring us the most enduring happiness and success? Pleasures fall into two categories:
Self nurturing: ensuring your physical and emotional health
Nurturing relationships with others: we’re biological pack animals; we’re hard wired to form close relationships to increase our odds of survival
Money: bread, smackers, lettuce, green, cheese, clams, wampum, etc.
Power: the ability to influence or control other people
Money and power only make you happier if you already have the primary pleasures in your life. They quickly lose their luster without physical and emotional health and people you care about to share your success with. I know plenty of wealthy people who are depressed; if money and power could buy happiness this would be impossible.
Knowing how to nurture yourself physically and emotionally is the most important skill you can learn in life. After all, if you don’t feel good, how can you be happy and successful? A friend of mine died with cancer last week; offering him ten million dollars would have meant very little to him.
Knowing how to build nurturing relationships with others is the second most important skill you can learn in life, and the most important skill determining your success or failure as a leader. “Loners” are not hardy, self reliant people to be admired, but rather lonely people who are afraid of others and deny themselves the happiness and increased probability of success brought by close relationships.
Are you listening CEO’s and entrepreneurs? Haven’t you heard the maxim, “CEOs spend the first half of their careers building their fortunes and the second half trying to buy back their health”? Framing this more positively and taking it to the bottom line, a healthy and happy leader will be more successful, both now and in the future.
Technique #1: Learn how to nurture yourself physically and emotionally; it’s the most important skill you can have in life.
Technique #2: Learn how to build nurturing relationships with others; it’s the second most important skill you can have in life and the key to success as a leader.
Technique #3: Accumulate enough money and power to nurture yourself and those you care about, but don’t sacrifice those relationships for more.
Technique #4: If your primary pleasures are solid in your life, then add money and power to taste, stir, and enjoy the good life to the fullest!
Copyright Terry "Doc" Dockery, Ph.D. All rights reserved.