This week’s message takes on a more personal tone with a connection to work. So, stay with me. This story involves Zumba which is my exercise-of-choice 3 to 4 times a week with a phenomenal instructor, Terri Sims. Those of you who may not be familiar with Zumba, this is a fitness routine that includes aerobic dancing choreographed to upbeat music, primarily styles of Latin American music. I started taking Zumba classes about 3 years ago and I love it! For those who know me, you often hear me say “I love my Zumba. It makes me so happy.” Earlier this year, I spoke with Joy, one of the instructors, and expressed how much I enjoyed Zumba. Joy said to me “Zumba is my happy space.” This got me thinking on a few levels: Yes, I agree with Joy – Zumba is my happy space. Then a few questions popped up which we will explore today:
- What is your happy space?
- Why is happy space important?
- Can you create happy space at work?
- Can leaders create a “culture” of happy space?
What is happy space?
When I think about Zumba, I get all warm and fuzzy inside. A surge of energy emerges when the music begins. In addition, when I walk into the studio, now with masks and being very careful, I am ALWAYS greeted with hellos along with an OPEN ARMS sense of belonging. In other words, I feel part of something that extends beyond me. I call this community – my Zumbies which I’m proud to be a part of. This week in fact, I was recognized as Student of the Week. Here’s the message that came with the award: “Michelle has supported her fellow women, students, and instructors for years! Michelle sees sometimes what we haven’t seen yet in ourselves and her loving spirit in class is positively Amazing. Michelle sees new classes as a goal and conquers that. I know it’s a good class when Michelle dances up to the heavens.” Terri Sims. To be honest, I feel a little weird sharing this information; however, the point is simply this: recognition matters and it’s a strong motivator. Terri is awesome at that! She has successfully created a “culture of happy space” for all her students who keep coming back!
Another example of happy space relates to this story. Recently, I asked a group of ladies that I meet with regularly about their happy space. Everyone identified nature as a component of their happy space, whether that be working in the garden, taking a walk, hiking, enjoying the outdoors. For me, I have another happy space that happens to be at a family lake in Indiana. This is where I go to recharge, fish, walk, think and pray. I feel a sense of peace and tranquility that when life gets tense and I’m worried, I’m able to tap into the lake and the woods which brings me back to those same emotions without being there physically.
Your Turn – What is your happy space?
Take a few minutes, find a quiet area, close your eyes and think about a situation, a group, a place that defines your happy space.
Answer these questions:
- What is it?
- What makes this your happy space?
- What emotions come to mind when you think about your happy space?
- Do you get to your happy space often?
- Do you have more than one happy space? If so, what are they?
- Do you experience happy space at work? If so, describe.
Why is happy space important?
For reasons described above, I believe that tapping into your happy space brings forth positive energy, whether or not you’re physically in that space or not. It’s certainly not my intention to disregard pain and struggle that people experience, especially in today’s environment where people are feeling isolated and depressed. This can be serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, I also believe that it’s vital and can be offset with making choices to identify and foster happy spaces in your work and personal life. It’s also OK to ask for and seek help if needed. One of the best things you can do to tap into your happy space is to find a community of like-minded people that you can connect with. It’s important that you feel welcome, be seen and heard, and that your life matters.
Can you create happy space at work?
From a work perspective, I think that your work can evolve into “happy space” territory if you experience the following: there’s purpose and fulfillment in what you do and who you work with. For some, your work is viewed as “just a job” and that’s OK. What’s not OK, is when your attitude reflects negativity, discontent, frustration, etc. When I think back about times that I experienced happy space at work when it included the following:
- My boss was supportive
- Employees worked well together
- I was developing new skills and knowledge
- I was challenged
- I was appreciated
- I was recognized for good work
- Teamwork was promoted and encouraged
- I had fun
- I enjoyed most of the work, not all of it
Your Turn: Define your happy space at work.
Spend a few minutes answering these questions:
- Describe a GREAT day at work.
- Identify the BEST people you’ve worked with and/or for.
- When did you experience “fun” at work?
- When are you at your best?
- What brings you energy?
- Are you experiencing happy space at work today? If so, what are you doing?
- Describe the BEST boss you’ve ever had. What made this person great to work for?
- List out things that you enjoy doing.
- If you’re not currently working, create a list of things you did enjoy.
- Are you currently experiencing happy space at work?
- If not, what can you do about it?
Can leaders create a "culture" of happy space?
The simple answer is “yes”. The complex answer is: it takes a lot of focus and desire to create this type of environment. When I think about Terri Sims as a leader, she is incredible at creating a supportive environment that encourages her students to achieve than what they think they can. The culture at her studio is one of encouragement, motivation, fun, bonding, recognizing individual strengths, and giving back to her students in so many ways. Terri is one of those rare, positive influencers for those she encounters. It’s amazing to see how Terri is able to build up women and create a place where they are heard and most importantly recognized for who they are and who they are meant to become!
If Terri can create a culture in her dance studio, how can this be translated to organizations?
It begins with a leader who “CARES” for their people in this way:
C – Communicates with an intent to listen and really understand
A – Acknowledge the gifts and strengths of the employee
R – Respects differences
E – Expects greatness
S – Serves one another
If you are a leader, take some time to reflect and apply self-awareness to the CARES elements. Are you creating a happy place culture? If so, celebrate. If you want to create a more happy place, vibrant, cohesive, culture, it’s never too late to start!
“Creating a happy space gives back in spades with energy, purpose, and overall peace..”
Contact Michelle at Raising the Bar Services for a complimentary one-hour coaching session to explore what a happy place culture looks like and how you can build one for your company, your team, or your life.