The Winning Formula

 A happy place is a place of respect, camaraderie, and where positive energy rules.

A sad place is the complete opposite, typically dominated by an atmosphere of pervasive bad behavior and the prevalence of a penchant for mistakes, terrible decisions, irresponsibility and failure. A sad place often resembles some degree of your worst school nightmare: a playground brimming with bullies, liars, cowards, rude selfish individuals, backstabbers, suck-ups, blamers, and other bad behavior types. Despite “grown-up” organizations boasting core values like integrity, teamwork, customer responsiveness etc., many of these “values” are nonetheless gimmicky, shallow or simply ignored while bad behavior runs rampant. 

The Work-Life Equation is dedicated to ending these sad and bad behavior environments, helping you transition to a happier place, and greatly improving people engagement. It is for the millions of people and business managers virtually surrounded by bad behavior (with its attendant mediocre results and abundant failures), but who hope and dream for a transition to a place more populated by characteristics associated with happiness and success. As The Equation explains, such a transition is dependent upon solutions arrived at via the following heuristic formula, which is dominated by six key behavioral factors:

(H, S) = f (4C, 2R)

Within this formula, Happiness (H) and Success (S) are a function (f) of six behavioral values: Cooperation, Consideration, Compassion, Courtesy, Respect and Responsibility.

An heuristic formula, by the way, bases itself upon experience-based techniques for problem-solving fueled by intuitive rationale as opposed to scientific studies. This particular heuristic has actually been derived from the core values at a middle school in New Jersey, but which are also seen at other forward-leaning schools and children’s programs. Beyond institutions, clear-thinking parents demand the very same simple but powerful behaviors from their children.

Unfortunately, many parents who try to teach their children these values conveniently forget to apply them to their own environments (sometimes as a result of pure intellectual dishonesty). Or they fall prey to friends and colleagues in their work/life environment who exhibit annoying, hurtful, child-like behaviors, ensuring failure for all. The fact of the matter is that a vast number of people behave like a bunch of nasty kids, and many of us know how sad that can be for those caught in the flak.

Yet boosting success and happiness for individuals, teams, and the overall organization can indeed happen if this formula is implemented. This is a type of environment that many people and companies crave in the adult world. Although the values in the formula may seem obvious, their significance lies in waking people up to the way we can all better live up to these values. It’s all about understanding the true meaning, implications, and consequences of each value, and then following up with practice. This is a call-to-action for getting back to basics, and to self-discipline, respect, and a return to those previously held high values of decency most of us learned during childhood.

The individual inputs in the “Winning Formula,” are by no means unique. A host of books have been written on each and every one of them as well as related areas, whether it be issues of respect, accountability, a toxic workplace, a terrible person, conflict, lack of cooperation, or whatever. What is unique about the formula is the specific components and the combined power as a whole.

In the same way that you can combine two simple elements like hydrogen and oxygen to produce water, a universally powerful and beneficial compound, so too can you effectively combine the six elements of this formula to produce a powerful solution for a more happy and successful work-life environment.

Applying the Pareto principle, there are at least 20 to 30 common bad effects in work-life that create the majority of stress and unhappiness today, including: 

Yelling, cheating, chastising, withholding information, interrupting, lying, blaming, distorting, exaggerating, teasing, bullying, ignoring, harassing, failing to apologize, being disrespectful or rude, abusive, derailing or undermining others, slacking, sucking up, intimidating, embarrassing, self-serving, cowardly, cursing, setting someone up to fail.  

All these bad effects can be tied back to the absence of self-awareness, or one of the six key values or behaviors addressed in this “Winning Formula” Cooperation, Consideration, Compassion, Courtesy, Respect, and Responsibility. Hence we have narrowed down the majority of problems to six key areas.

By applying Pareto’s principle in identifying the few root causes of bad behavior and combining them into a simple heuristic, we have a winning formula for happiness and success in the work-life space.

There is a saying that “old habits die hard” where someone may find it particularly difficult to change their behavior. Therefore, the key is to have a manageable number of behaviors to focus on (in this case six) at the individual, team, and enterprise levels.

Most companies or organizations have five to ten core values that often include words like integrity, excellence, personal growth, and innovation. Many of these words sound gimmicky, and their true meaning can be vague. Take integrity, for instance. If you ask someone if they have integrity, they will most likely answer “of course,” viewing this simply as “I do not steal or cheat.” Fewer people will view it more subtly as “I always speak my mind, whether or not I could face adverse consequences for it.” Many people do not always convey their honest opinion, sometimes out of fear, or simply because they have become “yes men or women”; yet they still consider themselves people of high integrity—in reality, they are not.

By instituting behaviors or values in the “Winning Formula” that we can easily relate to from our childhood days, or as parents of children, or simply as mature individuals, we can have a more profound positive effect on ourselves, our co-workers and our organizations.

By no means are these six core values easy to apply on a consistent basis (otherwise we’d all live in a very happy world), but they are a manageable number to focus on, simple to understand and relatively easy to self-assess.

Whether or not you or an organization chooses to embrace the “Winning Formula” as a separate set of “social values” or simply incorporate them into its core business values, it does not matter. What matters is the importance, focus, and attention placed on these values and that they essentially become a Constitution, a Bill of Rights.

How Can This Possibly Work With So Many Jerks Around?

Many people will question whether this approach can work if the CEO or management teams in your companies—or people you associate with—are jerks. Well, let’s discuss that.

First of all, everyone has the capacity to be a jerk at some point in time… myself included. It all depends on where you currently are on the “jerk spectrum.” If someone is an occasional jerk yet a very smart person, they might feel this Winning Formula — (H, S) = f (4C, 2R) — is worth focusing upon for two good reasons: (a) it will make life better for their friends, partners, or employees, and (b) everyone will profit from it. Not a bad set of results.

Secondly, a terrific book called “The No Asshole Rule” by Robert Sutton received a huge amount of support in 2010 because of the attention it brought on the negative impact of mean-spirited employees on a company’s bottom line. I’ll refer to assholes as “jerks” from now on, in the spirit of being more courteous. So the management of many companies not only read Sutton’s book but followed up with instituting “no jerk” policies. A good start, but in the end only a dent in the many major problems that companies populated by jerks were facing.

Now a few years later, it is clear that policies alone cannot solve this problem. To eradicate the many ills caused by jerks requires more. One reason for this is that a person committing any ONE of the 20-30 common bad behaviors outlined earlier in this chapter could end up finding himself or herself implicated as a bona fide jerk. Yet this may not be the case at all, so calling a person out as a “jerk” in most situations probably won’t completely solve the jerk problem.

What is needed instead is a deeper dive into the root cause and key behavioral components of jerk-ism so that people can really focus on where and how to improve. Someone for example may be very cooperative, courteous, compassionate, and respectful yet wholly incapable of also being answerable or accountable. This colleague would think nothing of throwing the blame onto others when something goes wrong, provoking a reaction such as “What a jerk!”

But suppose this same person has five incredible positive traits and only that one flaw. Instead of firing the supposed jerk, let’s help him or her hone in on that one flaw and fix the problem area. To achieve this requires that deeper dive into root causes, not a flippant, superficial “You jerk!”

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