Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Makes Me Happy?

I was recently in a meeting with senior managers who commented on my generally even temperament.  I rarely express extremes of emotion (joy, sadness, anger, despair) in the workplace.   They asked me what makes me happy.

Here's my own version of "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens".

What makes me happy

1.  Innovation - Operations is really important, but if I can spend dedicated time each week creating something new,  I feel invigorated and inspired.

2.  Focusing on one thing and doing it really well - In our multitasking world, it's hard to meet everyone's expectations for real time response if you are focused on a single task at a time.

3.  Teaching a willing student - Sharing the lessons I've learned with my family, friends, and colleagues is very fulfilling for me.   Teaching my daughter has been one of my life's great joys.

4.  Experiencing the world with a friend - I enjoy exploring exotic locales from museums to mountaintops with my best friend - my wife.

5.   Time in the wilderness and outdoors in general - Every week I try to spend time hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking or climbing.

6.  A breakfast of rice, tsukemono, vegan miso soup and big cup of Gyokuro green tea from Uji  - It's healthy, low calorie, and satisfying.

7.   Vegan Pot Pie or Split Pea Soup after a day working outside - These are definitely my comfort foods.

8.   A Saturday morning at home with a coil of  blue incense from the Kungyokudo Incense shop  (near the Kyoto train station)

9.  A glass of red wine on a cold winter's night.

10.  Growing Japanese cucumbers, eggplant and shiso.  The taste of cucumber salad (sunomono), grilled eggplant with miso (nasu dengaku),  or shiso on soft tofu reminds me of summer nights in Japan.

What makes me unhappy

1.  Unplanned work that increases scope without a change in resources or timeline

2.  Needless administrative or bureaucratic processes imposed by those who are not actually doing the work

3.  The guy behind you who honks 2 milliseconds after the light turns green

4.  Flights that are delayed or cancelled due to equipment failure when the airlines run so lean that no spare aircraft or parts are available.

5.  Cold callers from organizations you do not support

6.  Your neighbor whose dog barks continuously and whose children play loud musical instruments, but who objects to the sounds created by garden maintenance at noon on a Saturday.

7.  Staff at home improvement stores who have never done home improvement

8.  Monday morning quarterbacks who lack the expertise to do work but are happy to criticize others' work.

9.  People who believe that the louder they yell the faster those around them will work

10. Machiavellian people who use politics, relationships, and manipulation rather than hard work to get ahead.

There you have it.

Last night it was 25F and I enjoyed a glass of Syrah with a vegan pot pie, spent the evening with my family, and then focused on writing a book preface.  That makes me happy.


Anonymous said...

Great post! Since your list of work-related things which make you unhappy sounds familiar to all, the key to your even temper must be your reaction (or lack thereof) to such things. A good lesson for all of us.

bev M.D.

Anonymous said...

I generally enjoy reading your blog for the pure satisfaction of learning. I particularly, however, enjoyed your Nov.4th blog. As someone who aspires to reach a high level position, such as the one you're in (albeit not that one in particular :)), I do find your #10 comment, on what makes you unhappy, very comforting. By that I mean, I too hold a general displeasure towards the “Machiavellian" types; so for someone with resemblances to my personality type to be able to "rise through the ranks" via good ole’ fashion hard work is very reassuring to me. Thanks!


Tomcat said...

Dr.Halamka, in regard to your number one favourite happiness producer, innovation, does HMS and BIDMC have formal procedure, policies, etc. in place to actively solicit, not merely accept passively, ideas for innovation from its employees and customers? Does either institution have any position akin to an "innovation champion", one to whom employees can turn for help in buffing up their idea, for example?