09/28/2015 04:34 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The 4 Biggest Mistakes People Make About Being Happy at Work

Jeff Hayzlett is the former CMO at Kodak and now a bestselling author, TV show host and owner of more than 50 businesses.

In this new book, Think Big, Act Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless Hayzlett writes about how to fix some of the biggest mistakes we make in our pursuit of happiness at work.

Mistake #1: Chasing Squirrels

Do you remember the scene from the Disney/Pixar animated film, Up, when the little boy finds the dog with the translation collar? The collar translates exactly what the dog is thinking into English for the humans to understand. At one point the dog's sentance is abruptly paused and he shouts, "Squirrel!"

We are faced with distractions at work everyday. Staying on track and focusing on the most important things can be a challenge. Hayzlett and I break down more about how to do this in the video above. Here's a great matrix and reminder that I keep in my notebook from author Steven Covey from his book, First Things First.


Mistake #2: Caring (too much) about what others say

This week a friend of mine sent me a nice note thanking me for an article I wrote but had some follow up questions. [Full article here]
He asked:

"Of the 5 habits you listed, #1 is trickiest to me. I wonder if not caring what others think about us could have some pitfalls. It sometimes seems like a necessary gauge for fine-tuning our reputation, which is often how we leverage ourselves. I know we have to let go of much of life's disapproval, measured failure, and even beware of excessive adulation--all arguably having something to do with what others think of us. But somehow, underneath it all I keep weighing whether we have to keep the opinions of others within our periphery. Thoughts?"

Here's my answer:

Make no mistake, I believe feedback is important. But whether or not we should listen or make changes depends on a few things:

We're friends so I care what you think more than a stranger


Sometimes the people we care about the most have the best intentions but don't actually know what's best for us.

Example: Your mom says, "No one should ever rock climb, it's too dangerous." This is a false over-generalization not grounded in facts. No need to heed this advice.

Example: Your sister says, "Always tell someone where you are before you go on a solo climb." This is common sense and good advice worth doing.

*Be careful of the so-called wisdom of the few or many:
Who really knows truth? What worked once or failed twice is unlikely to repeat itself especially if the person, place or timing has changed.

Henry Ford is famous for saying, "If I would have asked the people what they wanted before starting Ford Motor Co. they would have answered 'Faster horses.' No one was dreaming big like Ford and the so-called wise few or informed masses always seem to mistake genius for crazy: Jobs...Disney...Einstein...there is a long list...

*Be careful of giving too much value to applause or lack of it:
This is feedback but is it a true measure of the quality? Not always. More importantly, should we feel personal worth based on it? Never.

Most of the talented artists and musicians of the early years, whose work is now priceless, were largely ignored and unappreciated. Some of the the most famous pop icons today may not have much talent except for being able to take good selfies...

I believe we have to follow our heart and mind. We have both for a reason. We have to trust ourselves but leave room for error and course correction. We must reject any unjustified shame tactics either self-inflicted or in disguise as "constructive feedback" from others.

We should be the one setting our own goals, not others. We should be the one who decides to quit, pivot or keep grinding it out. We define who we are and what we will become.

Mistake #3: Asking the wrong questions

Hayzlett tells the story of Kaitlin, a new hire at his company. A few minutes before a big client meeting she asked Jeff (the CEO) if he thought they should bring color copies of the presentation.

Hayzlett taught her that she should be very careful about the kinds of questions (not permissions) shes asks, especially to the CEO. If the CEO can easily answer tactical questions that Kaitlin could handle, why would he need to keep her around?

Mistake #4: Failure to execute

This is a big one and many people are stuck with great ideas. Failure to take action is like having an amazing car in your garage but you never put in gasoline. This is a destination to nowhere and likely to cause you heartache, frustration and pain.

What did I leave out? Watch the full video above with me and Jeff and let me know. Post a comment below or tweet me @BryanElliott and I promise to reply. For more episodes of Behind the Brand go here.