Are you doing what brings you Joy?

Written by Larry Fehd, CEO & Founder / HPS

At one point my friend asked, “Are you doing what brings you joy?” He then said, “Perhaps you should only do what brings you joy.” Our meaningful conversations tend to be open and boundless as we often step, not just think, outside-the-box. I struggled to find an immediate response to “…doing what brings you joy”. Passionate, fulfillment, making a difference in other lives, yes! Joy, aside from the stretch of “…only do what brings you joy” was stifling.

The question, “…only do what brings you joy” prompted more reflection including while sitting down to write this post. I continued to struggle with the questions and opted to consider them separately 1) “…doing what brings you joy and 2) “…doing only what brings you joy.” Part of my consideration involved getting clear on some definitions.

The definition of joy is a feeling of great pleasure. Synonyms include delight, jubilation, triumph, exultation, rejoicing, exhilaration, exuberance, elation, euphoria, bliss and ecstasy. I was curious about the contrast with happiness, defined as a state of being happy. Both joy and happiness share many of the same synonyms. However, what really stood out was an example of usage with both, “Trying to discover the joy and happiness we once knew.”

“Trying to discover the joy and happiness we once knew” struck a deep chord. On the surface, “…what we once knew” appeared to defy logic and the life-long learning process (e.g. the more experiences, the more we know). How might “what we once knew” benefit us today? How might it change our lives for the better? How might it make us more effective leaders and able to inspire the best (and more joy) in others?

I became curious about the association between joy and leadership. I entered joyful leadership into Amazon’s search function. After scrolling through all the listings, there were no titles on the subject of joyful leadership. I asked myself, “How many times have I used or heard others use joy in the context of leadership?” I could not recall even one incident throughout my career. I committed to writing more on the topic and perhaps a book on joyful leadership. Perhaps joy should be a chapter in Invitational Leadership™. Imagine joyful leadership.

Joy extends beyond the personal realm (e.g. teams, organization culture, customers, etc.). Recall my recent posts from neuroscience and why creating a safe place matters. One could argue that creating a joyful culture matters too. Organizations shift focus from mere customer service to customer delight; from customer touch-points to customer journeys. People recall 100% of emotion and only 6% of content. Words matter, but emotions endure. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

The Gallup Organization introduced the concept of playing more to our strengths. I wonder how we might start playing more to our joyfulness. I wonder how Pareto’s 80/20 Principle might be helpful in focusing on the joyful few versus trivial many that either do not create joy or even take us further away from it. I wonder how our lives might be different if we focused on experiencing more joy as part of our ONE Thing.

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T.S. Eliot

Tips and Practical Applications:

  • Set aside some quiet time this week to consider and rediscover “…how the joy and happiness you once knew” may be eluding you today. Recover and integrate what you “once knew” into your life roles.
  • When you think of the word, joy, what comes to mind? When was the last time you experienced joy? What will you START, STOP and CONTINUE doing to create more joy into your life? Your role as a leader? Inspiring the best in others and creating opportunities for them to experience more joy in the workplace?
  • Be deliberate and look for opportunities to use the word joy in your conversations with others. You may find that raising your awareness of joy will create more of it for yourself and likely more for others too.

Comment on this Article

Power of Invitational Leadership,
Value of Emergent Innovations™

© Human Performance Strategies (HPS). All rights reserved.

Larry Fehd


Larry Fehd is CEO and founded Human Performance Strategies (HPS) in 2000 following a successful career with Johnson & Johnson where he led executive leadership, team and organizational development. He is masterful at helping clients to break through inertia and the status quo.  He conceived the new and proprietary concept of Invitational Leadership™. He envisions the future of leadership as a passage beyond inertia and status quo and works with clients to develop invitational leaders at all levels of the organization.  He consults to a diverse group of U.S. and international clientele, and speaks and writes about, building high-performance leaders, cultures, teams and organizations.

(512) 415-0748

Comment on this Article

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *