Happy Warrior

Happy Warrior

One of the jobs of a leader is to model attitudes that inspire and are contagious. The attitude I find most helpful is one I call “Happy Warrior.”

The Happy Warrior thrives on challenge, smiles at adversity, gets energized by hard work, and loves the team. The Happy Warrior feels right in place, knows that whatever he or she faces is the price of greatness, and seems to get happier the harder things are.

We’ve all known the opposite. A small challenge makes an appearance and the UnHappy UnWarrior starts to whine. Usually, he or she starts to blame. The UnHappy UnWarrior loves routine, wants the easy way, secretly hates what he or she does, and shrinks in the face of adversity.

This, too, is contagious. This does not inspire. This tells everyone in the firm that an uninspiring coward is in the lead.

I have a friend who is the classic Happy Warrior. Tell him that he has lost market share in a certain region and he smiles. It’s the eager smile of a man who during a basketball game wants the ball. He’s constantly positioning himself and signaling his teammates to throw him the ball. He loves the fight. He loves creating success.

He knows he can improve market share in that challenged region–in fact, with his team he can make it better than it’s ever been. He can’t wait to dive in. There’s a silly grin on his face the whole time he’s working with his team to fix the problem, and then there are loud peals of laughter sounding from him when he’s having the celebratory drink with his fellow bruised but victorious warriors.

Here are the phrases I hear from him constantly:

Isn’t this great!
This is what we’re here for.
We can do this!
We’re gonna’ kick this to the curb.
It’s gonna’ be so fun after we fix this.
All our experience and brains? We got this!
It’s going to be awesome to look back on this victory.

This is how he talks all the time, particularly during a challenge. It’s contagious. I’ve never worked for or with him but I get inspired being around him. In fact, I find myself calling for an update on problems he’s described to me just because I get so inspired by his approach. And his victories. His workers joke about breaking something just so they can watch the beauty of him in action.

Now, here’s my challenge for you. If you aren’t in a job you can be a Happy Warrior about, then figure out what it is and get there. Happy Warriors feel destined, privileged, excited, eager, equal to the job and, well, poetic. They are those “poet warriors” we hear about at the end of the movie Braveheart.

Is this you? Has it ever been? Why? Why not? What would it take to be you again? Is it worth it to you?

That’s it. Have a great weekend.

Stephen