“Success leads to happiness” is a story.

It’s so powerful and pervasive a story that often we don’t even realize that it’s working in our lives as a kind of operating system below our consciousness. We’re following a narrative that we haven’t consciously adopted, but that we’ve absorbed from the ambient culture through marketing, advertising, education, our families of origin, etc.

But this begs the question: is the story true? Does this formulation of “If A (success), then B (happiness)” correspond with reality?

Happiness Leads to Success

In this latest article for the Grand Rapids Buisness Journal, The Power of Gratitude, Rodger Price interrogates this story, and finds that in reality, happiness leads to success, and not the other way around:

“One of the better books I’ve read in the past 10 years is called “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor. One piece of wisdom that really stuck with me is that while most people think success will make them happy, [Shawn] Achor sees the reverse. He believes being happy makes people successful … and he shares data to back it up.” – Rodger Price

Becoming a Person Worth Following

Rodger goes on to explain that a key to becoming a person worth following, and to becoming a happier person is to develop a practice of gratitude:

“One of the key practices that Achor describes that can help you be happier is to regularly focus on the good things you have in your life — the classic wisdom of counting your blessings. If you struggle with having a negative outlook, doing this intentional and daily exercise can increase your happiness. If you take the time to really look around you, you can find dozens of reasons to be grateful.

“I believe this practice changes your brain chemistry over time, which leads to greater peace, greater joy and greater success.”

The Power of Gratitude

Whether or not you consider yourself a naturally grateful person, this really is good news for leaders. It means that over time we can actually become more grateful, more happy, and more successful people. I’d strongly encourage you to read and share The Power of Gratitude this week, and if there’s anything Rodger or the Leading by DESIGN team of coaches can do to be of help as you keep pressing into becoming a person worth following, don’t hesitate to reach out.