The Birth of Positive Psychology

While psychology has been a recognized science for a century, positive psychology has only been rigorously studied for the last 20 years.

It wasn’t until Martin Seligman, as the president of the APA, called for its study in 1998, that psychology and neuroscience began compiling an objective, scientific understanding of the major factors underpinning human fulfillment and happiness.

And this new focus of psychological study has become known by the names Positive Psychology and/or The Science of Happiness.

The good news is that psychology has not only discovered the major factors of fulfillment and happiness, but has learned how to systematically improve them to create positive outcomes, both for individuals and organizations.

The Science of Happiness Applied to Work

Dr. Cathy Greenberg is among a handful of experts who pioneered the organizational and workplace application of The Science of Happiness, as detailed in her book, What Happy Companies Know.

And, very briefly, what happy companies know is this:

  • Happiness is not a mood (moods are biochemically regulated) or an emotion (emotions are subject to situational influence), but an approach toward life.
  • Happiness comes from exertion that challenges but does not break us (creating 'Flow States'), in the service of a goal that excites us (creating Positive Emotion and meaning).

Organizationally this means that happy companies:

The Science of Happiness and the Fearless Leaders Group

Unsurprisingly, The Science of Happiness dovetails with the Fearless Leaders Coaching Model perfectly because they are both routed in the rigorous, scientific study of positive psychology and individual empowerment.

And also because, from an institutional standpoint, one can almost be understood to depend upon the other.

It takes emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders to foster authentic and positive relationships with co-workers and employees.

And nothing short of courageous leadership can place the organizational focus on values and value creation above an exclusive obsession over short-term profit above all else.

Beyond that, it takes leaders capable of acting with inspired courage to drive out fear from the organization and to inspire exciting, courageous work from employees.

It also takes resilience and perseverance to bounce back in the face of inevitable set-backs and difficulties, so that these things do not upset or overturn the culture and its values.

If happiness is an approach to life, that approach is embodied in the fearless leader’s mindset, and justifies their “mindset maniac” habit pattern.

The Hard Value of "Soft" Skills

What my earlier work on Happy Companies proved was the bottom-line, real-world results and outcomes that The Science of Happiness created within companies.

Here are just a few facts, figures and statistics that show these real-world results:

  • A survey of 3,000 companies showed that an investment of 10 percent of revenue on capital improvements yielded a 3.9 percent rise in productivity, while the same investment in people yielded an 8.5 percent increase in productivity.
  • Companies with a clearly articulated reward strategy have 13 percent lower turnover than other companies. Practices such as a lack of hierarchy, employee input into company processes and decisions, and high trust in management deliver a 9.0 to 21.5 percent increase in shareholder values.
  • Companies with the best people practices provided a 64 percent total return to shareholders over a five-year period, more than three times the 21 percent return for companies with the weakest practices, based on a survey of 750 companies worldwide
  • Managing people in ways that build high commitment creates returns of 30 to 50 percent.

In short, smart companies focus on ROP — Return On People — as much as ROI.

Interested in the other scientific fields that contributed to The Fearless Leaders Coaching Model?

Read more about:

Applying the Science to Your Challenges and Opportunities

Want to start applying this science to get real world results?

The best place to start is with our What Kind of Fearless Leader Are You? Quiz

You'll learn your innate leadership strengths as well as how you most naturally manifest fearlessness when you're placed in a leadership role. Take the quiz and see for yourself.

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