Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s ‘Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning’

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Good Business: Leadership, Flow and the Making of MeaningAfter my lesson, I headed over to the audio books section to get my next few hours of learning while driving. I picked up some foreign language cd’s and another business book: Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning. Right now, I know it’s about time to stop jumping from book to book and really focus and follow one, however, the subtitle caught my attention. I’m glad I picked it up.

It’s another Nightingale-Conant Production. For those that don’t know, it seems like almost every book makes the world a better more meaningful place. This book is no exception. From the get-go Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (say that three times fast) made a few remarkable points about happiness. (Not a literal quotation, more an outline of thoughts)

We strive for happiness. It’s above wealth and power, because those are sought after to attain happiness. What are different levels of happiness? How do we attain them? Who is happier?

On a very low level, we need some material things to make us happy. Someone who’s starving, will find happiness in being able to get food. An extremely impoverished family will find happiness in rising to a more stable level of living. However, after a certain bit, materials no longer have a lasting effect. Many people who win the lottery are at first very happy and then they go back down. Many people who become injured or disabled, also show a comeback and bounce back to previous levels of happiness. How does this work?

Again, at the lowest level, we have basic necessities. Having enough to live comfortably. After this level people go for status or love to support them. Marriage and family, status symbols, cars, job titles, specific careers. These are steps toward getting self-esteem. Upon gaining this self-esteem, people may still be unhappy. In order to attain the highest level of happiness people must truly live out their life to its full capacity, meaning making use of their talents and abilities for a purpose greater then the self.

True happiness comes from knowing that one is living at 100% of one’s potential–from doing something that’ll improve other people’s lives and enjoying what you do.

This should be the basis for any business. Any company and every product must aim to raise its customers’ happiness. Some products offer only temporary improvements at high costs, while others offer hopes of happiness with little chance of success. Some try and fail to deliver, those are forgivable, while others lie from the start, those are not good businesses. A good business, that will bring true happiness to its owner is one that will bring happiness to its customers and to its employees. The perfect role is one which is complex enough to make you work hard and keep your interest, and at the same time it should energize you and make you feel like you’re living a fun and meaningful existence.

The purpose of one’s life should be to do something that raises the happiness of others and at the same time lets you enjoy doing it.

Few people have broken it down as well as Mihaly did within the first few minutes of his Good Business. Many have hinted at it, but he hit the spot. Can’t wait to share more.

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