Can We Be Happy AND Successful?
Can We Be Happy AND Successful?
According to the UNSDSN’s World Happiness Report in 2018, Singapore is ranked the 34th happiest country in the world, which is a drop from 2017’s ranking of 26th. Despite being one of the richest countries in the world (ranked 9th in the world), Singaporeans don’t seem very happy for a country that’s doing so well. On #PrimeTime, we spoke to Lim Kim Pong, CEO and founder of StrengthsAsia and creator of The Reframe Programme.
Howie Lim: Can we be both happy and successful? Because anecdotally, it feels like it’s always one or the other?
Lim Kim Pong: It’s kind of interesting to see that Singaporeans are actually at the bottom of the happiness index. Part of the reason, I think, is because we work really hard and very often when you work really hard, you are successful but happiness eludes you.
Peter Drucker said something cool [about having] Life #1 and Life #2. In Life #1, you spend a lot of time making a living, building your career and your wealth. But in Life #2, it is not just about making a living, but it’s also about making a life. Peter Drucker made a cool observation where a lot of us are over-prepared for Life #1 but we are grossly under-prepared for Life #2. We are professionals in our work lives but amateurs in our personal lives. Essentially, no matter how successful you are in Life #1, happiness is just going to elude you.
HL: We can’t do [one or the other] first, we have to do it together concurrently, don’t you think?
LKP: Yeah, I think the truth is, we are complex and smart people. So we can really toss up all things at one time and do it concurrently.
Bernard Lim: So who are we when we are truly in our element?
LKP: Well, three simple things - find out your strengths, passion and your role.
Your strength is your best ‘how’ - this is how you bring about your best impact and every time you do that, you have tremendous energy.
Your passion is your best ‘why’ - why would you bring your greatest impact all the time? And every time you do that, it brings you tremendous amounts of satisfaction.
And [lastly], your role is your best ‘what’ - what is the role that you play? You may be a father, you may be a deejay, but what is your best role?
If you put all three of them together, that is your element. That is your sweet spot and who you truly are.
HL: If we narrow in on the professional aspects of our lives, could you give us a life hack on how we can have more good days at work compared to that sluggish attitude of ‘another day, another dime’?
LKP: Ask yourselves two questions. On your best days at work, how did those moments look like? How were you feeling, what were you doing, who were you hanging out with and how [did] you do the things that you are doing now? To find out what you’re terrible at, ask yourselves the reverse questions. What did the worst days look like? Find out what are the things that sucked your energy out or who you were with. [With this], you can tell what are your strengths, passion and the best role that you play. For [your] worst days, [you’ll] know what are the things that will trigger you and drive you crazy. So answering these two questions will really give you a simple hack for your life.
BL: Why are time and relationships essential to giving us a greater meaning in what we are doing?
LKP: For relationships, I call it the ‘Anchor of Intimacy’. You can do everything right in life and be successful, but if you don’t have [any] relationships around you, [something bad happens]. Our spouses, families, really close friends, God - these are the priceless relationships in our lives. They are priceless because they are irreplaceable. If you lose them, you lose the meaning of why you exist or live. Very often, we find meaning and purpose in our lives simply because we are of value to the people that matters most to us. So that is why I think relationships [that are] built overtime with that amount of intimacy matters so much to the meaning and purpose of what we do.
HL: What about ‘Anchors of Time’? One always feels that we have too little time in the day.
LKP: ‘Anchors of Time’ essentially goes two ways - forward and backwards. If you go backwards, looking back, time is a teacher for you. I call it an anchor because if we pause for a moment and look at what has been happening in our lives, we would be able to pick up all those moments of significance that happened. You can ask yourself a simple question - how do we move those moments of significance into momentums of change and transformation for us?
Going forward - time is a resource. If you know what you know today with greater clarity of who you are at your very best, what would you do? Would you squander your time? So looking back is not [about being] stuck in time but to be educated by time. The whole idea here is really asking yourselves what has been given to [you] rather than what’s not given to [you]. What’s been put into [your] life rather than what’s been left out of [your] life. Very often, we are looking all over the place in our lives except for the present. How do we take all that to design a life for ourselves with the best possible future?
HL: In order to better ourselves as individuals, do you think we should focus on our strengths or improve our weaknesses?
LKP: Is fixing your weaknesses the best thing to do to improve on it? [Even though] this is the right thing to do, that is the wrong question to ask. The right question is not [if that is] the right thing to do, [it’s if] that’s the best way to do it. If you want to build strength, do we start from what we are not good in? Or do we start from something we can be potentially be great in? If you fix [your] weaknesses, there will always be an improvement. But, very likely, the improvement will be incremental. But if you can figure out your potential growth and development, and you invest in them, you can have an exponential growth.
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