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Happy work and AI

The business world (like so many industries), has become obsessed with AI. The rise of technology that allows for faster and more intricate creation of media, be it text, video or images, has us all both stunned and worried. It is fair to say that our relationship with work and the happiness it brings is undergoing a shift. Whatever side of the debate you are on, I strive to guide you toward finding joy in your work in this age of technological acceleration.

Let’s revisit a fundamental truth: happiness, the profound sense of bliss rooted in your identity, forms the nucleus of a fulfilling life. Embracing your humane essence ensures that no technology can overshadow the beauty of genuine human expression.

The advent of AI has thrust an age-old question into the spotlight — one that we often dismiss: What defines intelligence, creativity, and originality? These three pillars, allegedly under siege by AI, are intrinsic to our humanity and pivotal in our pursuit of bliss. Rest assured, AI, for all its capabilities, remains a supportive companion rather than a usurper.

Intelligence: For too long humanity has been living under the impression that intelligence is limited to intellectuality, the ability for logical processes and mental cohesion. Our adoration of academia and higher education is proof of that. We think that learning outside knowledge will make us the masters of ourselves and the world, but time and again we have been taught that there is more to it. Emotional and social intelligence have been proven to be the fabric from which intellectuality blooms. Without them, logic remains cold and inhumane. AI is and will always be limited to intellectual intelligence by design. This is a limitation that technology, no matter how organic and integrated, will never be able to overcome.

Originality is connected to our tri-fold intelligence. If one believes that originality is a mere byproduct of data, we are really in trouble. Those who’ve sculpted innovation in all facets of life did so not because of access to data but due to a profound connection with emotional and social intelligence. Inner knowledge births personal art, the most original creation in the universe. Don’t fear that AI may ascend into originality; true originality cannot be imitated or reinterpreted.

Creativity takes shape in the hands of those unafraid to infuse their work with emotional and social intelligence. These creators, unshackled by fear, produce marvels beyond comprehension. While AI may mimic creativity in its approach, it has no true originality of its own. Once it’s fueled by our uniqueness, AI transforms into a powerful ally for fast and efficient execution.

Takeaway:

Happy work, the conduit for expressing your inner bliss and finding fulfillment, is a celebration of the facets that define our humanity. This intricate fabric defies synthesis. So, nurture the flame of humane-ness. Make room for the three aspects of your humanity and recognize how tools like AI can bolster your business, or help make your job easier. 

Use the below as a guideline of when you should and should not use AI:

Inner intelligence: How much do I desire bliss? Who am I truly at my core? What makes me unique?

No AI relevance. YOU have to answer these questions for yourself.

Originality: What am I born to give the world? What do I wish for the world to receive? What is my vision for a world in which I want to live? 

No AI relevance. YOU have to answer these questions for yourself.

Creativity (high AI relevance): Once you have answered the above, and you are crystal clear on who you are and what you stand for, you can use AI to create “things.” Your AI prompts will be specific to your ideal client and their journey.

Don’t fear AI; don’t let it stress you out. Master what it means to be human and create Happy Work. Then, use AI to get your message out and expand that Happy Work.  

Capitalism is good

Let’s talk about capitalism. 

Don’t worry, we’re not diving into a political debate. Instead, we’re going to shine a light on the backdrop against which our work unfolds. 

To achieve Happy Work, it’s crucial to understand the system we’re navigating. First things first, what is capitalism? Many see it as the guiding force behind our Western world, driven by the transformation of mental concepts into practical actions. But like everything created by humans, it starts with a mindset.

You know I’m all about the ‘mindset first’ approach. Any change in our personal work must begin with a shift in our mindset. And the same goes for societal change – it begins at the collective mindset level. If this societal mindset hinders our pursuit of Happy Work, we need to ask ourselves if we want to participate in and support it with our care, effort, and resources. I’m not calling for a revolution, just a moment to zoom out and raise awareness about the system we’re a part of. Perhaps, this awareness will ignite a desire within you to pivot your own work and, in doing so, impact others positively.

Capitalism, as we know it, is unique, and the word that comes to mind is ‘transactional.’ Everything revolves around the idea of transactions. Work, in this context, is driven by the exchange of money for services or products at a profit. 

We’ve started viewing life as a commodity we must afford, which has reduced our work to this concept. Work has become the necessary chore that provides us with the luxury of existence. 

In a transactional capitalist society, the sole value of work is its financial relevance. If it doesn’t pay, it’s considered irrelevant. If it’s profitable, do it. In this game, every player is a taker. But it’s those who can take a lot, quickly and easily, who stand a chance to win.

There’s a subtle issue here. Reducing our lives to financial survival and work to financial value sets the stage for a dehumanized world, and we’re not immune to this dehumanization. When everything we do can be measured in numbers, we invite practices that are not only questionable but also depleting. The rise of mental health issues, ecological disasters, and economic downturns demonstrate the consequences of such a mindset. Transactional capitalism has replaced deep emotional needs with shallow financial desires, and there’s ample evidence to show that this concept falls short.

Now, let’s dive into the driving mindset behind transactional capitalism: the Scarcity Mindset. Only a society obsessed with loss would embrace the narrative that equates money with life itself. Only people who are deeply insecure and mistrusting would consider life something that must be earned, legitimized by taking from others as the only way.

However, capitalism, in its essence, isn’t inherently bad. The freedom to engage in your own enterprise and get paid for it is a remarkable and beautiful opportunity that should be available to all. It allows you to express and share your value and make a living from it. 

Here, a different mindset gives rise to an entirely different form of capitalism: the transformative one that stems from an Abundance Mindset. When society and individuals grasp the idea that life is abundant and that work is meant to make this abundance available to us as happiness and to others as valuable service, everything changes. 

The abundant attitude in capitalism means we are no longer just takers of money; we become givers of value. 

We provide things of essence, as we prioritize serving needs over exploiting wants. We get paid generously in return for addressing those needs. It’s ironic that people tend to pay more for value they truly recognize as relevant, rather than for things sold by brands only concerned with their bottom line. 

The result of such interactions between businesses and their customers is transformation, driven by the value we joyfully provide. This transformation benefits us through happiness and those we serve through the valuable offerings we make available to them. 

The principle of transformative capitalism is the only one that guarantees emotional fulfillment and well-being for all. 

Businesses become happier places because they are motivated by the creation of meaningful value, not just financial goals. Customers are happier because their needs are met, they are treated as human beings, and their lives improve.

This isn’t a call to arms but a wake-up call. I want you to realize that the system you unconsciously participate in and support on a daily basis has inherent limitations that hinder your pursuit of happiness. It’s up to you to flip the script. If you own a business, delve deep into your value creation and shift from a transactional, taking mentality to a transformative, giving one. 

If you’re an employer, observe your workplace and, as soon as possible, transition from a transactional mindset to one that allows your transformative desires to shine. Instead of being part of the problem, you become part of something that transforms you and those around you.

Know your limits

Whenever I ask the wonderful people I work with about their thoughts on limits, I receive a consistent response: “Don’t limit yourself!” “The sky is the limit!” “Limits are only real if you make them real!” These clichéd answers highlight one thing quite effectively: we have a rather convoluted relationship with limits.

We tend to avoid them as if they were kryptonite to Superman. Limits, as we are often taught, are seen as obstacles working against us and are thought to be meant only for the weak. This is yet another symptom of the “hustle culture” that has amplified this perception. Admitting to limits has become taboo. Our understanding of growth is greatly hindered by this mindset. We falsely believe that growth must be infinite, and we must constantly push our limits further and further.

If I look around, I see many victims of this notion – people who went above and beyond in their efforts to scale. They stretched themselves thin, resorted to unethical practices, and made decisions they typically wouldn’t. When I talk to them, I see their goodness, their passion, but their voices carry the undertone of compulsion. It’s then that I suggest, “Maybe you’ve exceeded your limits.” It’s not uncommon for people to feel offended.

To those who believe in a ‘no-limit’ approach, suggesting they might have limits sounds downright insulting. That’s when I ask them to show me a single tree, plant, or animal on Earth that’s growing limitlessly. They can’t. Yet, for some reason, they think human beings should be exempt from such a rule. We’re not.

It’s a scientific principle that everything has a natural limit. There’s a threshold in every living thing at which the system’s efficiency starts to plateau and even decline. Ignoring this threshold puts the entire organism at risk of collapse. A tree that grows too tall will break. A bird that’s too heavy can’t fly. Some might argue that a tree could grow a wider trunk and a bird could develop stronger wings.

However, this is precisely where the breaking point comes into play. Growing a wider trunk and stronger wings requires disproportionately intense investments with returns close to zero.

Building a business is akin to growing a tree or flying an airplane. First, there’s the takeoff phase, requiring immense energy. Then, there’s the energy-intensive climb. Here’s where it gets interesting. Any airplane reaches a point called the “cruising altitude.” This is when things become safer, calmer, better, and more efficient. 

Once you’re at this altitude, whether you’re flying an airplane or running a business, things begin to glide and become effortless. You’re operating within the zone of maximum efficiency, and any investment you make yields the best possible result. Going higher or lower would compromise this reality.

Yet, those who deny the existence of limits think they can keep climbing. What happens to them is like what happens to an airplane: the air gets thinner, more power is required to stay afloat, everyone must remain vigilant, and eventually, the plane can’t ascend further, regardless of how hard they pull at the yoke. This creates an atmosphere of stress and frustration. Your business doesn’t level out; the engines struggle, and the more you invest, the less you get in return.

What does this mean? 

Take a hard look at your organization and identify the built-in limits early on.

Determine how far you can grow without compromising the value you offer. 

Recognize when your growth is likely to plateau and become a hindrance to your mission.

Identify the resources that will eventually lose efficiency if pushed too far. 

What are the “non-replaceables” in your business that are essential to creating value?

In my case, it was clear: I had considered training other coaches to expand my business, but I realized early on that the value of my business is tied to me. My message delivery holds all the relevance, and I am the natural limit. Training and hiring other coaches would have taken my plane into air too thin to navigate. It takes great courage to acknowledge your limits and even more to act accordingly.

Drawing a line that you shall not cross is the ultimate form of self-discipline. It’s what we owe to ourselves and the people who support us.

Happiness in business hinges on our ability to glide effortlessly. Work should not be toil. Reject the idea of an eternal climb and struggle. Find your altitude, level out, sit back, and do your thing!

Routine and repetition in business

I recently sat down with a client to review the changes they had applied in their business over the past year after completely revisiting their business strategy and incorporating an approach geared towards building sustainable value. 

About halfway into the conversation he told me about the tools and systems they implemented to promote change. However, he could not help but mention a slight level of ‘confusion’ that had crept into his work. 

Even though he felt like he knew exactly what to do and had things in place to help him achieve them, something always bothered him at the end of the day. And this bothered me. So we investigated. 

As I inquired about his processes and how he went about his business, I made an observation I would like to share with you. It’s that of learning through repetition, growth and change. 

We learn best through repetition. Even better when we have a strong catalyst that we can connect the learning with: A deep impact, an emotional moment, a spark that is connected to the thought makes the data more memorable. Ethereal thoughts become chemical pathways and eventually deep physical crevasses and canyons. They are so meshed with our brain that they become a part of us. 

But this is only half the story. The other one is the human necessity for experiential growth. 

In our businesses, we cannot just acquire data, implement it and then apply it repeatedly like robots. We need the prospect of change and growth. Repetition without growth creates complacency. And complacency destroys human value. 

Even when we feel like we have it all figured out and we are on the path to creating real human value with our businesses because of the way we have everything set up, we must find the space for incremental change and adaptation. Not by questioning the principles that we installed, but by altering our processes ever so slightly. 

If you’ve ever taken one of my workshops, then you will remember the analogy of the apple tree. The root and the trunk are far less subjected to movement than the crown with its frail leaves and thin branches which wave in the wind. There is a lot of bending and twisting happening the further up you go. If the root was in constant motion, there would be no solid foundation for the tree to grow. 

It’s the same with our work: Our principles need to be installed with fervor through repetition and conviction, and then, cemented. But the processes that carry them out need our full awareness for necessary change. We constantly need to adapt to fluid surroundings by adjusting our culture, by reframing the way we speak to and act with our people, we need to scrutinize the value offerings we build, we need to revisit our goals and visions. 

But we cannot question our base. Repetition and inflexibility at the core of our business is not complacency, it is stability. Movability and constant adjustment at the top of our business is not volatility, it is incremental growth through adjustment. This is the lifeblood of our potential. 

I want you to constantly question how you carry out your actions. How can your promise for value find a better path? How can you serve better? What could you do differently today? What did you do differently yesterday? Stay awake to new paths in your work but grounded in your mission.

About investing

In one way or another, we are all investors. Some of us navigate this path more consciously than others, yet the act of investing is an inevitable part of our existence. Over the past decades, the spotlight on investment has grown brighter, especially with the emergence of the startup culture. This shift has shattered the perception that only a privileged few can partake in financial growth. Now, many of us are connected to various forms of investment, whether it’s real estate, stocks, or bonds, but I want to take a moment to explore investment beyond the monetary realm.

Traditionally, investment has been tied to financial gains, driven solely by profit. This transactional approach has become our measure of success and motivation. Yet, let’s broaden our perspective. The heart of investing lies in the concept of “being invested” – to care deeply and engage authentically. But, when our care revolves around transactional outcomes, we inadvertently foster a world focused solely on self-gain. This cycle perpetuates highly transactional systems that chain individuals in financial obligations, a cycle that’s hard to escape.

We need to redefine our investments to embrace something more profound – an attitude that resides within us. If our investment attitude is solely survival-based, it’ll only feed our bank accounts. But if our investment attitude is about thriving, about supporting the freedom of self-expression, then our investment must cultivate that freedom. 

True freedom isn’t gained at the expense of others. This is where the art of giving differentiates investment from speculation: Investors are supporters, speculators are locusts. One gives, the other takes.

You might be resistant to this idea. It’s not what you’ve learned. For many of us, investments are only ever about outcomes, not personal development. However, if our investments fail to support freedom, they become a blight on humanity, perpetuating injustice, ecological imbalance, and emotional turmoil. 

Our investments need to empower, and this is possible when they stem from conscious intention, not automatic financial reflexes.

A responsible investor acts from abundance, not scarcity. They view investment as a tool for their intentions, not an amplifier of fears. They are very clear on where their resources go: relationships that foster growth, friendships that challenge, businesses that align, practices that enhance health, and pursuits that resonate deeply. 

Don’t invest recklessly. Don’t amplify negativity. Instead, amplify the voice within through conscious choices. 

Shift your intention to support thriving, not surviving because staying stuck in survival mode limits your intention to mere profit, perpetuating pain for others and, eventually, for all of us.

Does Monday get you down?

Does Monday get you down sometimes?

Like no matter what you do, you’re still not where you think you should be?

You’ve been going at this for years… when will the struggle stop?

The fact is, if you’re walking in your truth- if you are passionately living- the struggle, the mess, the risk doesn’t go away. It comes with the territory.

The difference is, you don’t let it stop you.

A tree is covered in bruises, cuts and scars. It is whipped by winter, scorched by summer, gnawed by wildlife. And yet, nothing can stop its passionate being from giving its fruit to the world.

You too are a passionate being.

I know this because you are wild at heart.

And when you allow your wildness to become your true nature again- not just some stowed away hobby you do on the weekends- and engage in the things that your truth demands 24/7, then you will live with passion.

Pure, unadulterated, real passion – The song of a heart that is free to express and that ignites in others the desire to do so as well.

Learning to Breathe

Biorhythm

Modern human beings are like confused orchestras. They harbor a cacophony of rhythms within them with beats that are all out of sync.

Our words wobble, our thoughts race, our heart palpitates, our steps stumble and our breath staggers. If we are to live according to our own drum, that drum is highly confused.

Everything has a biorhythm. This is the ebb and flow, the creation of space and filling of space that growth dictates. If something loses its rhythm, it stagnates and eventually wanes.

This biorhythm is enforced by nature and gives rise to the trees, the birds, the sunrises and sunsets as well as life and death. Happiness can only unfold within a body that embraces this rhythm or it will forever search for it.

Any work, be it external or internal, will always flounder if we don’t address this sacred rhythm first.

Breath

Obviously, we cannot expect to suddenly become initiated into the deeply mystical principles of the Shaolin monks who can control their heartbeat at will.

But there is one thing that gives us great influence on our rhythm. And it is the biggest tool in our arsenal: our breath.

Breathing is not just the reflex that allows for oxygen to enter our bloodstream. It is also the motion that connects us with ourselves and the world.

Loving breath anchors in the self and gives to the world.

Fearful breath anchors in the world and takes from the world.

Depending on our mindset, our breath is a source of calm and serenity, or a gasp of dread and tension.

Common breathing techniques

There are plenty of breathing techniques within the professional and spiritual community that use breath incorrectly. In my former work-life, as a leader, I was recommended breathing techniques that literally made me inhale the toxicity around me. If you allow your breath to be an outside-in motion, you allow foreign frequencies to invade your own. Consequently you will never have self-ownership.

Breathing that furthers self-ownership and roots us in our truth is the one that stems from unconditional love. This means that the breath creates itself and is then given away.

Try this

As you inhale, imagine your lungs being filled from a source within you.

Imagine that YOU create the air that fills your lungs.

Hold it for a moment and allow this reality to reach every single cell.

As you exhale, picture the breath that is filled with your own self being given to the world.

Notice how this inversion of breathing instantly brings a notion of self-reliance, gratitude but also generosity.

It roots you in the principle of disconnecting from the outside world to define yourself; it reminds you to exist in your own truth and then give your truth away lovingly.

To own your breath means to own your rhythm. And when you own your rhythm, your growth follows.

Do this daily and let me know what happens.

My personal mission statement

A note of clarity

To have something in your pocket you can always refer to when you need guidance- a little note of clarity that keeps you on track- is something we all wish for. 

As kids, our parents and guardians provided this. But as we grow older, we open ourselves up to the many voices out there in the world which distract us continuously from our inner truth and bring confusion.

Over the course of the last 3 and a half years, I have been blessed to help many entrepreneurs focus on their inner guidance. One of the goals of this work is a personal mission statement.

Such a statement is much more than a plaque on office walls or a message on your website. It is the foundation that holds your work in place. It aligns what you do with who you are while making it amply clear to the world what you are here to give- why you matter.

A lost art

Finding and writing your mission statement is a lost art. One that requires dedication and sheer will, but it is possible for anyone. 

In this thought nugget, I would like to share 5 points that can help you get started with yours:

A mission statement…

…is always built on your core truth: What is your personal central conviction?
…is always short and easy to understand. Confusion is the enemy.
…makes it clear what human value you are here to give.
…makes it clear who this value is for: Who will benefit the most from it?
…is unchangeable. Even as times change, your mission statement doesn’t.

Let’s use my personal mission statement as an example:

I guide people to recognize their inner truth and apply it in their work so they can find fulfillment and serve their value to those who need it most.”

1. Core truth: My conviction is that our potential is our story. We must own it.

2. Simplicity: The statement is one sentence long and worded in plain English.

3. Value given: Guidance towards self-ownership.

4. Value receiver: Those who seek fulfillment and purpose in their work.

5. Permanence: All of my work will always be about this statement.

Emotional attachment to a mission statement is of extreme importance. If your heart does not rejoice at the sight of it, you need to dig deeper. After all, the mission statement is your deepest desire made visible through words.

If you want to start unearthing yours, reply to this email or schedule a call to find out what it takes to get to a level of clarity and focus that will lead to fulfilling, Happy Work.

Schedule a call

Warmly,

Olivier Egli 

Listen to our latest podcast episode → Do Happy Work 

28 Questions of Reflection  → Questions

Be water, my friend.

Many remember this famous quote by Bruce Lee, but I am afraid that time and interpretation have not served the author’s intention well. So this wisdom, which I happen to consider the most fundamental of humanity, has lost a lot of its edge.

Dedicated readers of this newsletter will know about my obsession with apple trees. They stand as icons of nature reminding us to live according to our truth, relentlessly and unapologetically. However, there is a specific quality to this that is best visualized with the analogy of water. 

Water

Water, like us, has a specific nature. It behaves in certain ways depending on the circumstance. These ways are the rules of its game. They are not up for discussion. 

If water flows downhill, it will penetrate any opening down to the size of its molecular structure, H2O. There are many more rules it has to abide by, but these are the most common ones.

And when water does what water does, we say “it flows.” But what this denotes is that it simply behaves according to its nature, which is flow. 

Another way to put this is to say that it “follows the path of least resistance.” 

This doesn’t just mean that it will flow around obstacles, but that it will not go against its own rules. Water will not resist its own nature. 

This is the secret to life and the recipe for HAPPINESS.

Truth

When you discover who you truly are, you connect with your truth, your rules, your nature. All you need to do is follow this nature without any resistance and your reality will become that of flow

Consequently, you will become like water, or air, or an apple tree. This, and only this, will be the source of a deep state of HAPPINESS from which your Happy Work can emerge. Water’s Happy Work is everything it does while following its nature. 

Humans

Again, water is water. It can’t be anything different. But humans can. And that’s not always a good thing. We fool ourselves into embracing and following a nature other than our own; into believing that there is a truth other than our OWN truth. 

That’s when we lose our flow. That’s when we introduce resistance and when we fall out of our HAPPINESS and become chasers of dreams that aren’t ours.

That’s when we open ourselves up to fear and invite a transactional mindset. Suddenly, we are not like water anymore, but like water that tries to be wood. It’s an impossibility, but one we don’t realize until it’s too late, and we break. 

Be water, my friend. 

I invite you to do the work. Liberate yourself from that which binds you, open yourself up to YOUR truth, recognize your OWN rules and FLOW according to them and nothing else. Happy Work is a choice.

As always, if you ever want to chat or have a question—I’m only an email away.

Warmly,

Olivier Egli 

Listen to our latest episode → Be Like Water 

28 Questions of Reflection  → Questions

3 important questions

Here are THREE questions to reflect upon today.

  1. What weighs you down?
  2. What lifts you up?
  3. What do you need to get rid of/shift in order to do the things that bring you joy?

These questions are designed to help you start a conversation with yourself; to discover the most important of all things: 

WHO YOU REALLY ARE.

If you want to dive deeper, download my 28 Questions guide  HERE

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