As a kid, I was pretty spoilt. I grew up on the small island of Jersey with my grandparents who attempted to keep me sheltered from the harsh realities of the world and embedded the mantra that I could do absolutely anything I wanted too.
When I stood up at the age of seven during the annual ‘who I am and what I want to be’ school assembly and announced that when I was older I wanted to be an elephant, you can appreciate their stark but crucial realisation that perhaps telling their small and impressionable granddaughter that they can do absolutely anything (which equally includes changing species) was probably unwise. And that was the day seven year old Claire realised she was going to have some sort of desk / office job, thankyouverymuch.
Fast forward this 20 odd years and here I am with the same original mantra; I just now assume that I can do anything when it comes to business. Now please, don’t misunderstand the humility in which I write (as there isn’t any); but my ego is huge and I have more talk than the Bugatti Veyron. You can therefore imagine my excitement at the Achieving Your Potential weekend which Cass hosts every year in High Wycombe. Excellent, I said to myself, I’ll be the CEO of something by next week.
Enter the IPPQ, or more formally ‘the Science of Happiness at Work’. Their mantra is simple; happy people at work, maximum output and performance. Unhappy people at work equal… well… you get the drift.
Now this is a weird concept for me. My grandparents told me I could be anything – that I could DO anything. But they never mentioned happiness. Isn’t having the freedom to do anything you want equal to happiness?
Our coach Mark Nobbs was on hand to set the story straight. Before we arrived we were told to fill in a questionnaire which gave us a score out of 10 on how ‘happy’ we were in our jobs and lives. No one scored over 5. I didn’t even make it over 1! How had this happened?! How had we all been tricked into believing that having the job you always wanted meant you’d be happy?! What does being happy have to do with achieving your potential anyway?? WHAT WAS GOING ON!
It became obvious that this weekend was an exercise focused on challenging and changing the way in which employers enact and react with their employees. Using specially developed models and methods we assumed, concluded, revisited and re-enacted a whole multitude of processes which are there to enhance our life-work relationship. The MBA is a tool which will hopefully excel you into being a manager or more senior person (if that’s the role in life you choose to make). Mark was there to help us be BRILLIANT managers in our BRILLIANT lives and jobs. My dismal score of 1 was still exactly what it was – but I left feeling that at least I could make some changes to MY happiness at work, because I have that power.
Happiness in the work place is one of the most misunderstood concepts. Happiness, being such a personal reaction to your surroundings, can so easily be misjudged and misconstrued. It’s also incredibly important to recognise that it’s possible to manage your happiness, or happy your happiness, if you so wish.
The remainder of the weekend was spent frolicking in the bar and using our negotiation skills to try and persuade the bar staff from closing at midnight. Another thing I have also learnt is to not even attempt to out-drink Lorraine. If you value both of your kidneys’ longevity and partnership then leave that challenge well alone.
My grandparents’ generation had little access to the science which Mark and his team have, which makes their belief in me even more endearing. We assume that our friends and family are all capable of makings decisions, and with those decisions comes the responsibility and the happiness which we all deserve. The IPPQ think we should all try and be responsible for each others happiness and enable ourselves with the clarity and the tools to do so. Well done for Cass for being brave enough to support and mould the next generation of MBA students into well rounded CEOs and managers.
One thing became pretty clear from this weekend—if you’re happy you’ll most certainly achieve your potential, even if you’re still not an elephant.
Executive MBA (2019)