Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

There are many ways. Here's one from science.

Look for meaning in what you do at work and at home.

Don't look for happiness directly. What do you do that gives you a purpose beyond yourself? What could you do?

Seem obvious now you think about it? Researchers found that three quarters of the people they studied focused directly on doing things that make them happy, but without any sense of purpose beyond themselves. Those people were much more likely to have a stress-related gene that's linked to inflammation and depression. 

Barbara Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina has studied positive emotions for decades. She says 'empty positive emotions are about as good for you as adversity'. 

What's a purpose?

Maybe the support you give to people who need it . Maybe what you contribute to your family or your colleagues. Maybe what you do for young people in sport or study, or for your clients or guests.

Make your purpose a mission, not something you do from time-to-time. For the full benefits, your purpose should become part of who you are.

Benefits at work

The researchers report that when employees are 'making progress in meaningful work' they are 250% more likely to be engaged at the office.

If you are a leader, talk about the purpose of your organisation - how it benefits customers, suppliers, your community or the world. Make sure that every individual and team knows how they contribute to that purpose. Help them to meet people who benefit from what they do. Help your people spend more time on meaningful work.

Interested in a workshop for your team leaders?



Let's say you are at a meeting, presenting at a conference, or in a job interview. The conventional advice, 'just be yourself' sounds plausible. It's built on the idea that it's vital to be authentic.

But which you are we talking about?

Is it the grumpy you, the frustrated you, or that part of you that's resentful because your boss turned down your idea? Clearly not.

We have many versions of us. If we are in front of others we must select the version of us that's most appropriate for the occasion. That's in our interests, but it's also in the interests of our colleagues at the meeting, our audience at the presentation or the job recruiters.

Is presenting our best selves less than authentic?

Only if it's false.

Is it an act? In a sense, because it's only a selection from the various versions of us. But it's still us.

 And there's something else.

We can use the act to practise cultivating the professional us. We can use it as a benchmark, so we can remind ourselves of the professionalism we showed at the meeting, the conference and the interview and strive to keep being that best version of us.

Just being ourselves has a big downside.

Like the person who throws out tactless personal criticism and says, 'I'm just being honest'.

Or the one who won't change other unsociable behaviour, 'because that's just the way I am'.

Want to be authentic, build rapport with your audience, but still you?

Give away a bit about yourself. Be human. An academic whose work I follow, wrote recently that when he goes through automatic doors he likes to imagine that he is opening them with his mind. 

Silly? A bit child-like? Fair enough.

Do you like him more? I do.


Interested in a workshop on emotional Intelligence for your team? (It's about thriving at work.)

What about a workshop on employee engagement? (For your leaders and your teams)


About Ralph Brown

ralph brown blog3

Ralph is our founder and managing director. He has a background in psychology, television journalism and business.

Ralph's passions are psychology and writing. He leads workshops on both and speaks to conferences on the psychology of thriving at work.

In 2011  Professional Speakers Australia awarded him its top speaking accreditation, the CSP.

He has written six books and more than a hundred articles on psychology and writing. International research journals have published his articles reviewing the research on resilience.

Ralph enjoys trips to France. He lives in rural Canterbury.

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