Richard Maun – Happiness Through Autonomy

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Happiness Through Autonomy

8 April 2019

What does happiness mean for you? Some TV time after a hard day at work? Sneaking a second chocolate eclair? A hug from someone who cares about you?

It’s tempting to go for complexity when considering this question and to dream up extravagant trips abroad, or opt for consumer goods, when real happiness can be enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

As a young man I thought happiness came in the shape of a BMW car. My boss had one, so when he suggested I change roles and train as an accountant I jumped at the chance. Forget the studying and exams and even if I was cut out for the role, the car was my motivation.

I like business finance very much and accountants too, but I’m not an accountant. I failed my first finance exam, which turned out to be a lucky break as it put me on the path to my current coaching life.

Failure can be a gift, rather than a setback and now, instead of being a so so accountant, I’m an excellent business coach, a role I love.

And I’ve never owned a BMW. Nice cars for sure, but happiness for me comes in a different shape.

As for work, well happiness often isn’t based on salary, or a snazzy chair, or being able to boast about leading a large team.

We need 3 things…

1. A manager who is supportive.

2. Work that fulfils us and that we’re good at.

3. Autonomy.

The first two items are essential, but without the third they become meaningless.

Autonomy means that we can choose how we work, set our priorities and make decisions for ourselves. Obviously these have to be grounded within the organisational culture, as we can’t simply have free rein to disrupt the customers and their needs.

However, humans do like to set their own agenda and to have the freedom to enact it. If we are told what to do, how to think and when to act we can become resentful, or institutionalised.

Our sense of self diminishes and we can spend our working lives trapped in a grinding existence.

Autonomy doesn’t have to mean we are in charge of all decisions, just some of them. Some freedom is always better than none.

One chocolate eclair is better than none!

So, this week we can all think about our leadership style. Are we too autocratic? Too directive? Or do we invite opinion amd discussion? Do we set a task and let people work out the details for themselves?

The more we give people a sense of autonomy, the happier they will be.

And we know this to be true when interacting with children. They need space to think and to learn and grow. It’s the same with adults, as we were all children once.

Hmmm….and now I think I’m going to the shop and will autonomously buy a chocolate eclair. Just one. Okay, maybe two!

Next week: Getting Senior Hands Dirty


Click cover to view details on Amazon


Riding the Rocket

How to manage your Modern Career

Published 2013 Marshall Cavendish



Bouncing Back

How to get going again after a career setback

Published 2012 Marshall Cavendish



How to Keep Your Job

Brilliant ways to increase performance, stay employed and keep the money rolling in

Published 2011 Marshall Cavendish



Job Hunting 3.0

Secrets and skills to sell yourself effectively in the Modern Age

Published 2010 Marshall Cavendish



Leave the Bastards Behind

An insider's guide to working for yourself

Published 2007 Cyan Books and Marshall Cavendish



My Boss is a Bastard

Surviving turmoil at work

Published 2006 Cyan Books and Marshall Cavendish


© Richard Maun 2015 / Click here to contact