Happiness and Success: Mission Possible
Being happy is a natural need of every person. Although many people identify happiness with success, those are not always interrelated concepts. A person risks to lose the most important thing, him- or herself, when being in the pursuit of status, recognition, and material wealth. In this case, people receive not satisfaction but devastation even after achieving goals. Gohar Davtyan, certified coach, demanded speaker, entrepreneur, and simply a very wise woman, communication with whom gives great pleasure and inspiration, shared the recipe for finding a harmony between happiness and success.
entrepreneur, certified business coach, member of the International Coach Federation, business coach, lecturer within the MBA programmes at the National Research University Higher School of Economics and Moscow City University of Management of the Government of Moscow, ophthalmologist
What resources does a person need to become successful? Health, proper upbringing, motivation, education, time, contacts, talents, and knowledge... We can continue that list for a long time. However, character is the key element that matters for both success and happiness. It is the most powerful inner resource that a person has.
Until recently, people believed in the impossibility to change one’s character. Today, science confirms that it is possible. The concept of ‘neuroplasticity’ is becoming increasingly popular. This notion means that the human brain not only can but also must change. It is up to the person to choose the direction of those changes: for the better or for the worse.
What traits of character help people achieve happiness and success? Those are the ability not to be discouraged, to dream, to learn from failures and not be afraid of failure, the thirst for development, and integrity. The last quality can be called basic. It presupposes complete congruence of what a person feels, thinks, does, and says out loud. If people do not like something, they change not their mask but their essence.
As said by Socrates, “Let him who would move the world first move himself”. According to Gohar Davtyan, this is the main principle on the path to true happiness and success, which brings deep satisfaction.
The expert shared ten key rules, which, in her opinion, can help a person change character, develop better personal qualities, and enjoy every moment of life.
Rule 1: Imagine the Final Goal when Starting Something
Before choosing a path, it is important to understand where you want to go. It often happens in life that one goes with the flow without understanding one’s ultimate goal. In this case, people waste their energy and time to get to a point that has no meaning for them.
As soon as a person begins to think about what he or she wants to achieve, he or she acquires a concrete direction. Then he or she gets new opportunities that can bring him or her closer to the goal. Probably, those opportunities would have appeared in any case. However, it is unlikely that the person would have taken advantage of them without understanding how important it is. As we all know, there is no tailwind for those who sail nowhere.
To find your path, Gohar Davtyan advises to ask yourself about why you are here, what trace you want to leave, and what talent (everyone has one) you want to fulfil in this world. Only after answering these questions, you can begin to develop a plan of action.
Gohar Davtyan shared her personal story as an example. Several years ago, during an economic crisis, she worked as a top manager at a large German company. At the anti-crisis forum that brought together top managers of many European companies, Gohar expressed an opinion that economic problems of business have deep social roots. According to her, the crisis was, in the first turn, in the consciousness of managers striving for only commercial profit in business and forgetting about service. This is why we have ecology on the verge of disaster, food stuffed with chemicals, and many other problems.
The expert proposed the concept of changing the psychology of thinking in companies. Think about service first and then think about commercial profit. Success and material benefits could be the results of activity but not the goal.
At that time, many people were skeptical of her idea. That really hurt Gohar. She had a constant desire to get her message to these people with convincing arguments.
A few days later, she participated in a leadership training session, in which she was asked to write about her personal mission. Remembering the fiasco with the argument at the anti-crisis forum, Gohar Davtyan wrote: “I am a conductor of human values in business”. According to the expert, a tactical plan of action was also needed. Her plan included creating an original leadership programme, speaking at conferences, delivering lectures, and publishing articles and books.
Four years later, while cleaning out her office, Gohar Davtyan found her notes from the training and understood: 80% of the plan had already been completed. She had written articles, developed a leadership programme, and fulfiled many other parts of the plan. Human values are a red thread passing through Gohar Davtyan’s training sessions and lectures. Two days later, she was invited as a lecturer to deliver lectures within the leadership block in the MBA programme for chief physicians. Of course, Ms. Davtyan agreed and that was her ‘tailwind’.
The expert believes that you should never limit yourself when choosing the ultimate goal of your path. The main thing is to set goals from an ‘I want’ position. If your goal is aimed at serving other people, you can definitely expect miracles. Don’t shift responsibility for your path to others and don’t rely on chance. Become the true master of your destiny.
According to Mark Twain, there are two particularly important days in people’s lives: when they were born and when they understood why they came into the world. In some ways, the second moment is even more important, believes Gohar Davtyan. Only after you realize your purpose your life takes on true meaning.
Rule 2: Find Meaning in Your Work
It is very important that people see the meaning in what they do and clearly understand how they contribute to the world through their work. Unfortunately, many people do not like their profession. They choose it only because of the large salary, close location to home, the advice of parents, or by chance. However, a person cannot be happy if he or she will spend 80% of his or her life engaged in something that does not bring pleasure.
Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do”.
Answer the questions of what you really want to do, what profession is important to you, whether it coincides with what you do now or not, why you like this or that particular profession, and whether you see an element of service in your work or not.
Some people think that only such professions as astronaut, doctor, lifeguard, scientist, and teacher have deep meaning. That’s not true: any job is important to society, otherwise it would simply not exist. There are cleaners who love their job sincerely because they enjoy creating cleanliness, beauty, and comfort for others. At the same time, there are doctors and professors who go into the office every day as if they were subjected to hard labour in exile.
Many people set a trap for themselves when they forgot to ask themselves about what they really wanted when choosing their profession. Gohar Davtyan is convinced that a person’s strategic success lies at the intersection of three circles: ‘what I want’, ‘what I can do’, and ‘what I am paid for’ (the concept of the hedgehog).
It is important to remember: if people do not love their profession, they drive themselves into a dead end, suffer, and lose energy.
For 16 years, Gohar Davtyan supervised the sales department of a multinational company and was a board member. She was inspired by the idea that she and her team help doctors treat and save patients. However, one day she realized that her calling was different. Ms. Davtyan understood that she wanted to share knowledge, to help her colleagues find the balance between happiness and success.
Then she gave up her top managerial position, high bonuses, and salary for an important cause. She understood well that the earnings would be many times less in her new profession (coaching, lectures and trainings). However, it soon became clear that she was wrong: her monthly income began to exceed the salary of a top manager.
That story proves that work done with love is ‘doomed’ to success. People appreciate and are willing to pay for what is done from the pure heart, with love, and not for money.
Rule 3: Give What You Want to Get in Return
The ‘law of the boomerang’ says that what’s gone is bound to come back sooner or later. Giving generates receiving and receiving generates giving. It’s not only about actions but also about the energy and emotion that people put into them.
You can give someone what they need with the expectation of gratitude from them or approval in society. In such case, the self-interest will be the impetus for resentment and dissatisfaction if the expected response doesn’t occur. Spiritual freedom arises only when the giver derives genuine pleasure from the very fact of giving. Since the giver does not expect to receive anything in return, his or her intention is sincere.
To raise your awareness of the process of energy exchange (what emotions you give and what emotions you receive), Ms. Davtyan suggested doing the exercise named Social Atom. It is accessible to everyone. To do this, a person has to remember the list of 10 people with whom he or she has a close emotional connection, note what he or she gives them in the process of communication at the level of emotions, and then what he or she receives in return. If the exercise is done honestly, the two lists are likely to be exactly the same.
The absurdity of modernity lies that one wants to receive love by transmitting contempt through a mask. This is impossible. If you want love, share your love. If you want respect, show your respect. If you want care, take care of others. Anything you do from the pure heart and the emotions that you share will surely boomerang back onto you.
Gohar Davtyan worked as a doctor for 10 years. Then she joined an international company and started her career as a product manager. With 10 years of medical experience, she realized that she did not yet have enough competence in her new workplace, so she agreed to have a lower salary. Every time she realized that she could contribute to company more and bring more value if she got additional training. That’s why she went to study. As a result, despite her busy work schedule, she received 4 additional degrees and learned 3 foreign languages. The expert was genuinely pleased that by increasing her knowledge. She was able to contribute to the company much more than before. The management noticed the positive results and increased her salary.
Rule 4: Don’t Stop Developing
Oftentimes, people stop developing as soon as they reach a certain position or status. This happens because they don’t know what to strive for next or because it’s hard for them to admit that they don’t know some things. If a person declares an intention to learn something, it is an admission that he or she does not know how to do something. This is a major barrier for many successful managers who stop in their development at some point.
However, nature does not tolerate stagnation. Lack of progress inevitably leads to backsliding. As soon as a person says that he or she knows everything and does not need to develop further, the phase of degradation begins.
The most profitable investments one can make are those in one’s own development. They always pay off.
Gohar Davtyan shared her personal story. Despite the fact that she successfully managed the department for several years, she realized that she needed additional knowledge to increase its efficiency. Then Ms. Davtyan decided to take an MBA programme although it was quite expensive and time-consuming. It was quite challenging to allocate money for training at a time when she was paying a mortgage but she made up her mind. Gohar Davtyan studied in the evenings after work. She often came home late at night and woke up at 6 am. It did not take long to see the results of her studies. In six months, the expert achieved great success in optimizing processes within the company. That was highly appreciated not only by local management but also at the level of the company’s headquarters in Germany. To thank and reward her for her hard work, the company offered to reimburse the cost of education.
Rule 5: Live in Accordance with Your Values
It is impossible to please everyone and there is no point in doing so. It is more important to listen to yourself and always act in accordance with your values and principles.
Children know how to enjoy life more than anyone else. They are not burdened by thinking about the future or the past and by worrying about what others will think. However, as people grow older, they begin to think more about the external aspect than their own inner state.
People become so immersed in worrying about how others see them that they completely lose sight of their own essence. Studies show that the average person knows only about 3-5% of him- or herself.
How to get to know yourself? First of all, be honest and admit that you have not only positive but also negative traits. You should be observant not of others but of yourself. Study your emotions. They are the markers of our latent needs. In many ways, a person’s quality of life depends on this knowledge of oneself. Any unpleasant or conflict situation can serve as a key to self-knowledge. What is its advantage? Something that what we don’t know about controls us and becomes the hidden meaning of our lives. A short-tempered person cannot change anything in his or her life until he or she realizes that he or she is the author of conflict situations. Such people can change friends and jobs, move from place to place, but the problems will arise again and again as long as they are not aware of their temper. People learn to manage their own character only by learning about their own traits.
Values, motives, and attitudes are what shapes character and affects our behavior. They are often the 95-97% that people are afraid to learn about themselves. Meanwhile, a person who knows nothing about his or her own values and motives is forced to adapt to society, put on a mask, and suppress him- or herself. That harms his or her condition and self-perception significantly.
The way how to live and interact with society is the choice of each person.
If it is important to please others, you have to spend energy on your mask. However, if you live in accordance with your values, you need to admit your shortcomings honestly and focus your energy on self-improvement.
Rule 6: Attract What you Like
Virgil has an interesting saying that “people are like musical instruments: their sound depends on who touches them”. There is no absolute evil or absolute good in the world. A person cannot be only bad or only good as well. Whether he or she approaches you negatively or positively depends on what qualities you want to see in him or her and how you approach him or her.
Like always attracts like. Change yourself to change your environment.
During one of the training sessions, one participant told Gohar Davtyan the story of how she got the job of her dream but decided to quit after meeting the manager. Most of the employees did not like their boss considering her too tough and insensitive. However, one day when she accidentally came to work early, the employee saw her boss feeding stray dogs in the street. It turned out that she did that on a daily basis. The woman decided to look at her boss from a different perspective and discovered many of her positive qualities. Later, the employee did not give up her job and became a friend and ‘right hand’ of her manager.
If you notice something good in a person, you can multiply it easily, believes Gohar Davtyan. To do that, you need to understand what part of the personality you interact with and how you influence it. The thing is that our attention is like a magnifying glass. We increase what we pay attention to.
Ask yourself three important questions:
1. What part of the personality are you interacting with in a complex relationship?
2. How can you influence this relationship?
3. What will you do differently tomorrow?
Rule 7: Remember the Four Gifts of Our Essence
According to Viktor Frankl, people have four amazing gifts. They fill the space between stimulus and reaction.
The first gift lies in people’s independent will and freedom of choice. A bee is a natural creator and a locust is a natural destroyer. That’s why and one cannot blame the locust for the destruction. People are free beings by nature. They always have the right to choose whether to destroy or to create.
The second gift is conscience and a system of values. In nature, a predator attacks its prey to satisfy its hunger feeling no guilt because of acting based on instinct. Humans, on the other hand, have a certain system of values. There is a perception what is good and what is bad within each of us.
The third gift is imagination. The human brain does not distinguish reality from fantasy: it reacts with almost identical emotions in both cases. Often our imagination draws scary pictures and a person can fully feel the whole nightmare even if it doesn’t exist in reality. One can manage this gift consciously. For example, when one feels bad, one can restore the picture of calmness and joy by remembering the best moments of one’s life.
The fourth gift is self-awareness, the assessment of one’s own thoughts and feelings. Unlike any animal, humans can not only experience joy, sadness, jealousy, and love but also analyze themselves from the outside. Whatever negative emotion a person experiences, he or she can evaluate his or her feelings from the outside. For example, awareness of being angry or jealous gives one the opportunity to control oneself. Thus, people can take advantage of the freedom of choice, the way how they want to react to the situation understanding that the outcome of events can only be influenced through one’s own reactions.
Situations that people encounter in their lives can be divided into two types: those that depend on people themselves (they can influence the situations) and those beyond people’s control.
Stephen Covey wrote about the circle of influence and the circle of concern in his book titled ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. People with a reactive approach focus on the circle of concern: they worry about bad weather, traffic, other people’s behaviour, their past mistakes, and situations they can’t influence.
People with a proactive approach are not ‘stuck’ in a circle of concern. They focus on situations that need to be changed and thus expand their circle of influence.
They are well aware that any thought and any emotion is a pure manifestation of energy. When thinking about negativity which cannot be influenced, people risk wasting all their energy.
Gohar Davtyan advises to ask yourself regularly:
- What circle am I belonging to now?
- How will my energy level change if I am more in the circle of influence?
- What can I do to be in the circle of influence?
- What are my concerns (5 things)?
- Can I influence them?
- If yes, what three actions would help me address the problem?
- If no, will I continue to worry about it?
Rule 8: Perceive Failures as Opportunities
Every mistake carries a grain of success and every success can result in failure with a certain probability.
We all strive for success but success can weaken our sense of danger and lead to increased ego. Failure, on the other hand, can shape opportunities for new success by creating a springboard for a ‘new jump’.
Life is not perfect and failures are integral part of it. It is important to learn to give yourself the right to make mistakes and draw the right conclusions from your failures. Then any failure can be transformed into an experience that leads to personal development.
We are successful when we are mature enough to accept success without compromising our soul.
Rule 9: Develop Critical Thinking
If two people look at a cylinder from different angles, one will see a circle and the other will see a square. Similar situations often occur during conflicts. Each of the opponents looks at the subject of the discussion from his or her own perspective. Only people with critical thinking can assemble the fragments into a single picture.
Arguing and accusing people of being mistaken contributes only to a waste of energy. However, critical thinking helps to resolve and prevent conflicts. No matter how many mistakes you count and what you accuse others of, it won’t change you or your destiny!
Immanuel Kant argued that the essence of respect lies in recognising another person’s right to have his or her own opinion. It is not about making concessions or even finding compromises: it’s about being able to see the situation from different angles.
Rule 10: Dream Without Fear of Failure
Most people hesitate to dream because they are afraid of failure. However, dreams are doomed to failure if you don’t take any steps towards their fulfilment. People have all the necessary capabilities to realize any dream. They only need determination, persistence, patience, and faith.
Thomas Edison conducted 2000 experiments before creating a prototype of a light bulb. When journalists joked about his failures, he replied that they were not mistakes but “1999 ways not to make a light bulb”.
Napoleon Bonaparte said that many people will never make a breakthrough in their lives simply because they refuse to leave their comfort zone. The thing is that real miracles happen outside that zone.
When Gohar Davtyan left the company, she began to dream about creating a space for rest of the body, mind, and soul, a space of love and care for residents of megalopolises, in which tired people could be alone with nature, hear their inner voice, and find themselves. As a result, the Logos Hotel appeared in the mountains of Armenia 9 months later. Surprisingly, many of the events that contributed to it turned out to be a series of happy accidents.
“The meaning of life lies in the evolution of the mind. Life is for us to work on our character, not to judge others”, believes Gohar Davtyan. If everyone can get to know, accept, and improve themselves, the whole world will benefit from that.
If the egg is broken from the outside, life stops, but if it is broken from the inside, life only begins. That’s the great power of inner resources.
Gohar Davtyan recently published an entire book on character development. The book titled ‘The Balance Point’ is expected to be published after April 20. It tells the readers about how to defeat burnout and become happy. The book is now open for pre-order on all popular book platforms in Russia. In the book, the author shared personal stories of how she managed to change her destiny and the reality around her by changing herself.
Viktoria Yezhova, Global Women Media news agency
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov