in memory of Tony Hsieh
Tony Hsieh, (pronounced Shay) founder of Zappos tragically died in a housefire. Tony was the founder and leader of Zappos, and was known for his visionary thinking, creativity and focus on culture and care. I have spent some time reading about Tony (he wrote the book Delivering Happiness), how we discovered what he was passionate about, and used that as the impetus for the way he led his business, but I was particularly interested to read about what he wished he had known when he was younger. (I really posted about what I would tell my younger self – not quite in Tony’s league but you can find it here).
Here is a summary of what Tony said – I think there is a lot we can take from it.
You need to know who you are, and know your passions, your purpose, your strengths. Tony believed that the more you knew what you did well and enjoyed, the happier each of us would be. This isn’t an excuse for doing what you like and not giving a monkeys about anybody else – you can see from Tony’s life that that isn’t how he lived. He means that when you know what you do well, and what you contribute, you can stop worrying about the rest and instead lean into that. If you’re in a job and you don’t enjoy it – make a change. If you’re unfulfilled in your day to day – be honest with yourself and make a change. If you’re ready for a new challenge – take the first step.
Once you know your passion and purpose, you need to keep asking yourself if what you are doing is aligned with this. Are you on course for what you believe your passions are, or are you heading down a track that isn’t going to end up where you’d hoped? This is an important question – even a little off-track with our values, passions and purpose can mean a lot lost. A single degree off course on a flight will have you ending up in the completely wrong place. You may feel like you are following your passions and strengths. But how on course are you? What might a one-degree adjustment in your life look like?
Also – keep in mind what we’ve discussed about happiness before – Tony is referring to the concept of eudaemonia (which he calls meaning) rather than transient happiness in the moment (he calls this ‘rock star happiness’)
Whether you are leading a team, or a company, a charity, a family, yourself – this is relevant. What are your values? Not words that sound nice and have been used by others – but your values? A simple starting place for this is to ask yourself – what triggers a response in you (good, or bad)? This is a good indication that one of your values has been crossed. When you read a list of values (you can find loads on the internet but here’s James Clear’s list) which ones really stand out to you? Narrow it down until you get to a final 5. Next part – how well are you living out, and leading from, these values? Give yourself a score out of ten. Then pick one to focus on. (If you’d like to read Tony Hsieh’s final list, he got it down to ten).
As you read back over these three pieces of advice from Tony, which stands out to you? Which needs your attention? Perhaps you know you’ve settled and you need to take a first step. Maybe you are on the right track but it needs some fine tuning. Finally, you might feel you’ve compromised on your values and you know it isn’t sitting easy with you. We’re heading into a new year. Now’s as good a time as any to make a change.
I’m going to sign off with a favourite quote from Tony.
No matter what past has been, you have a spotless future.
P.S. Those following the laptop debacle (last week I poured a cup of tea over my new laptop) may like to know the end of the story. I left it alone for two days (this on its own was character forming) and it seems to have lived to tell the tale. A bit of screen damage but I can handle that! Laptop is now named Lazarus.
P.P.S. If any of the above has got you thinking it’s time for some change, or you know someone who is ready for a new season, I’ve got something perfect for you (or them) which I’ll tell you about next week. But for now, there’s my free 5-day guide to purpose in your everyday to whet your (or their) appetite. Get it here.