13 June 2024

The joy-fuelled symphony of success

| The European |

According to Joynetix Creator and Co-Founder Saj Shah, joy-fuelled organisations re-engineer the DNA of Work to the benefit of all, including the bottom line.

By Saj Shah

Imagine being amidst an orchestra where the instruments grapple for attention and dominance, and discordant tunes reign supreme. The ambient noise isn’t the harmonious strains of violins but a bewildering, dissonant cacophony.

Such is the dysfunctional cultural DNA that permeates every cell in myriad businesses today, leaving employees swimming in a perpetual STORM (the dreary concoction of Stress, Tiredness, Overwhelm, Resignation, and Misery).

A survey conducted by A.T. Kearney exploring workplace experiences reveals a glaring ‘joy gap’ in a typical workplace. Nearly 90% of employees expect to experience a substantial degree of joy at work, but only 21% genuinely feel it. This isn’t just a statistic — it’s a clarion call for a cultural revolution.

The marvel of CRISPR revolutionised genetic healthcare with the ability to ‘edit’ disease-causing DNA mutations.

Envisage a parallel tool that can transform the organisational blueprint. Picture a workplace that collectively orchestrates a symphony — a cultural rhythm so profound that it doesn’t just echo within the confines of its walls, but also pulsates with energy reaching customers, clients, the stock market, and cascades right down to the bottom line.

Welcome to the dawning epoch in the future of work: the “Joy-fuelled Organisation.”

Mastering the Joy Algorithm

Joy transcends happiness. It’s an innate compass, drawing us together and anchoring us in connections more profound than transient emotions.

In the corporate sphere, creating a joy-fuelled culture isn’t about superficial perks or propagating toxic positivity that muzzles genuine emotions or pain points, but about sculpting an ecosystem where purpose, challenge, and deep-seated fulfilment converge. The joy-fuelled organisation becomes an oasis, not a mirage.

Joy is the untapped, renewable energy source that can fuel a fresh new ecosystem. In such an ecosystem, employees and businesses don’t just ‘work’ — they thrive.

Weathering the STORM: The Imperative of a Joy-First Strategy

The World Health Organisation (WHO) considers employment to be a “social determinant of health” — something considered so important that it shapes our wellbeing at the deepest level.

According to the Indeed Workplace Happiness Report, 92% of people surveyed said that how they feel at work impacts how they feel at home.

Joynetix CEO and Co-Founder Saj Shah helps companies transition from STORM-filled workplaces to joy-fuelled organisations.

Now, consider this: if a third of our lives seem to play out at work (on average) — if these hours are STORM-laden — doesn’t it cast a gloomy shadow over the remaining two thirds of life? Simply put, the mood at work dictates the rhythm of life.

Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report 2023 examined how “employees feel about their work and their lives”, an important predictor of organisational resilience and performance.

The survey results revealed that 59% of workers are “quiet quitting” (i.e., are not engaged), and 18% are “loud quitting”, which is the act of being actively disengaged (but still employed). Gallup estimated that low engagement is costing the global economy nearly $9 trillion in lost productivity — Equivalent to 9% of Global GDP!

So, it would seem that fuelling joy in an organisation could be the most effective propellant for employee attraction, engagement, and retention.

Why Joy is the New Business Booster

Today’s workforce, dominated by Millennials and Gen Z, prioritises purpose over pay check.

This paradigm shift means the future of work needs to be anchored in joy and not getting lost in the STORM. Creating a joy-fuelled environment is not just a great employee-engagement strategy, it’s rocket fuel for productivity, creativity, innovation, and profits!

Studies have shown that joy at work is linked directly to a stronger bottom line. According to Gallup, “Engaged employees are more present and productive; they are more attuned to the needs of customers; and they are more observant of processes, standards and systems. When taken together, the behaviours of highly engaged business units result in a 23% difference in profitability.”

According to The Positive Leader by Jan Mühlfeit and Melina Costi, a mindset fuelled by joy at work has been shown to result in …

  • 23% greater energy when under stress
  • 31% higher productivity
  • 37% higher levels of sales
  • Three times higher creativity

Architecting a Joy-fuelled Organisation: A Blueprint

Carry Out a Joy Audit: Delve deep into the organisation’s current DNA. Understand its stories, its biases, its folklore, its victories, and its wounds.

Champion Strengths, Not Shortcomings: Amplify strengths, making them the dynamic DNA propelling the organisational spirit.

Journey with Purpose: Align the purpose with profitability and sustainability.

Listen for the Unsaid: Develop the intuitive skill to discern the unspoken sentiments, grasping deeper insights and forging stronger connections.

By following Saj Shah’s science-backed guidance, you can transform your workplace into a hub of joy, inspiration, and productivity.

Productive Play: Infuse playful creativity, catalysing innovation and collaboration.

Inclusive Conversations: Create open platforms where every voice, from intern to CEO, is heard and contributes to shaping the new cultural ethos.

Resilience Roadmap: Integrate resilience as the organisational bedrock.

Reimagine Roles: Embed broader visions into roles, ensuring every individual becomes an integral part of the grand narrative.

Nurture Growth: Champion holistic growth, investing in training programmes that augment not only skillsets but also emotional intelligence, growth mindsets and wellbeing.

Revolutionise Success Metrics: Pivot from pure profit metrics to celebrating joy benchmarks.

In this renaissance era, leaders aren’t just decision makers. They’re artisans of cultural genetics, moulding enterprises echoing with joy and purpose.

To the avant-garde leaders, will you lead the charge on unlocking your organisational joy potential or stay ensnared in the STORM?

Q&A Interview with Saj Shah

Saj Shah, creator of Joynetix, reveals how he came to rediscover joy in his life, why it is vital to be joyful, and how he now plans to make joy just a swipe away as a digital health entrepreneur.

Q. How can science help us become more joyful?

A. Imagine unlocking joy as a daily routine rather than having stress dominate the ‘today’.

At its core, science is telling us that joy isn’t just a fleeting emotion but something we can actively cultivate. The following scientific disciplines are helping us become more joyful:

  • Neuroscience shows us the ‘hardware’ of joy — the chemicals we have the power to naturally produce and the brain regions that light up when in the presence of a joyful experience. It’s like understanding the ingredients in a joy recipe.
  • Neuroplasticity reveals our brain’s remarkable ability to adapt and change. Just as muscles grow with exercise, our brain can be trained to be more resilient and joyous. Think of it as a gym workout for our mind, where practicing positive habits can strengthen joy pathways.
  • Positive psychology shifts our focus from what’s wrong to what’s strong with us, emphasising strengths and virtues. It offers tools, like gratitude practices, that can guide us toward lasting joy.
  • Lastly, the field of epigenetics illustrates that our genes aren’t our unchangeable destiny. Our environment and choices can influence how they’re expressed. This means positive experiences and environments can potentially nurture joy at a genetic level.

In essence, we’re learning that joy is both an art and a science. We’re equipped with the biological tools to experience it, and with the right practices we can enhance and amplify it in our lives. What’s particularly exciting is that Western science is, in many ways, catching up to what Eastern wisdom has expounded for generations. Concepts that might have seemed abstract or spiritual are now finding resonance in labs and research papers. It’s a beautiful melding of worlds, reinforcing the idea that joy, while universal, is also deeply personal and continually evolving.

Q. Why do we need more joy in our daily lives for our health and wellbeing?

A. At the crux of modern health challenges is chronic stress triggering inflammation, which is the culprit behind a staggering 95% of today’s diseases. Our bodies and minds were not designed for the constant barrage of stressors we face in today’s fast-paced world. Here’s where the power of joy becomes transformative:

  • Stress and Anxiety Alleviation: While chronic stress wreaks havoc on our system, joy does the opposite. It acts as a natural antidote, reducing the levels of stress hormones in our body.
  • Immunity Boost: Joy has a profound physiological impact, strengthening our immune response, making us less susceptible to illnesses.
  • Youthful Vitality: Feeling joy has been shown to slow down the ageing process at a cellular level, making us not only feel but also look younger.
  • Mental and Physical Vigour: The buoyancy of joy can amplify both our mental energy and physical stamina, ensuring we face challenges with gusto.
  • Life Expectancy: Consistent experiences of joy and positive emotions are linked to longer, healthier lives. A joy-fuelled heart can literally add years to your life.
  • Enhanced Productivity & Creativity: When we’re joyful, our brain’s creative centres are activated, and we can think outside the box. Plus, we tend to accomplish tasks with greater efficiency.
  • Self-Control and Resilience: With joy as a foundation, we’re better equipped to handle life’s adversities, bounce back from setbacks, and exercise greater self-discipline.
  • Motivation Booster: Joy acts as a catalyst, spurring us on to achieve our goals and dreams.

In a nutshell, joy isn’t just a pleasant emotion we experience — it’s a vital nutrient for our overall wellbeing. I believe infusing our daily lives with genuine joy isn’t a luxury; it’s a health imperative!

Q. You say in Joynetix: Unlock Your Joy Potential that you had a high-flying corporate career but little joy. Why was this?

A. The illusion was that I was soaring in the corporate sky, first as a pharmacist and then transitioning into law as Head of Legal in AstraZeneca. Externally it looked like I had it all but inside, there was an emptiness — I had missed the horizon of joy. The world around me, like many of us experience, defined ‘success’ in terms of titles, accolades, and numbers on a pay check. We’re so deeply conditioned to believe in this that often the real treasures —moments of pure, unbridled joy — become mere footnotes in our life story.

In the whirlwind of my so-called high-flying career, I was constantly on the move, rushing from one commitment to the next, always looking ahead, seldom pausing. There was an unspoken pride in wearing busyness as a badge of honour, even if it meant sacrificing moments that truly matter. This perpetual forward momentum, fuelled by comparisons and self-limiting beliefs, left little space to savour the present. I was so entangled in becoming bigger, better, and more successful that I often failed to anchor myself in the present, to truly experience its full glory and the joy it can bring. The biggest impact of my lack of presence was on the people that mattered most to me — my family.

It’s a lesson that reminds us that sometimes, amid climbing the ladder of what we perceive as success, we might forget to ask ourselves, ‘Is this what brings me joy?’

Q. What was your ‘wake-up’ moment?

A. Every life-altering revelation often comes from a moment of deep introspection, usually following an unexpected jolt to our lives. For me, that jolt was the sudden passing of my beloved father. His departure became my wake-up call from a life where I was, for lack of a better phrase, merely sleepwalking.

The stories shared at my father’s funeral were deeply moving and enlightening. They did not paint a picture of a man obsessed with luxury or status. Instead, they spoke of someone whose very essence was joy. It was then that I was reminded of The Dash poem by Linda Ellis. The poem speaks to the idea that our real legacy isn’t the date of our birth or the inevitability of our death; it’s about how vibrantly we live the ‘dash’ in between those dates. My father’s ‘dash’ was luminous with joy, love, and purpose.

That profound realisation was a catalyst. I made a promise to my father at his funeral, and more importantly, myself, that I would not just chase after fleeting moments of happiness but instead I would immerse myself in the deep reservoir of joy that life offers. I pledged to make joy, both for myself and inspiring within others, my true purpose — my dharma. It’s this ‘bigger why’ that now drives me, gives me clarity, and energises every facet of my day. It’s my compass, reminding me to not only live in the joy of each moment but also to inspire others to recognise and cherish their own ‘dash’.

Supercharge your workday with Joynetix, the Amazon bestseller by Saj Shah.

Q. What is the one thing every professional can easily do to unlock a little more daily joy straight away?

A. Tapping into joy isn’t always about grand gestures or radical changes. Sometimes, it’s hidden in the simplest acts. One immediate practice? Laughter. It’s no mere cliché to say that laughter is the best medicine. Research ‘champions’ laughter as a potent tool for wellness, an instant joy-sparker. Allow yourself to giggle at a silly meme, share a joke with a colleague, or just reminisce about a funny memory.

But let’s go a step further. I urge everyone to become a joy detective. Every day, make it your mission to spot, cherish, and savour those ephemeral moments of delight. They’re sprinkled throughout our day: in the aroma of your morning coffee, the infectious chuckle of a co-worker, or the serendipity of a song that brings back memories. By consciously recognising and relishing these moments, you magnify their positive impact.

Moreover, it’s vital to focus on investing in experiences that warm your soul rather than accumulating material possessions. That weekend getaway with friends, a dance class, or even just a long heart-to-heart talk can be far more rewarding than the fleeting happiness of a new purchase.

Lastly, let’s talk about our relationships. Research consistently underscores the significance of quality social connections in fostering joy. So, reach out, engage, share, listen, and be present. It’s often in the tapestry of human connections where we find the most profound and enduring joy.

Q. Is creating a joy-fuelled work environment the responsibility of the employer or the employee?

A. Creating a joy-fuelled work environment is truly a dance, and like any dance it requires partners moving in harmony. Employers certainly set the rhythm and tone, providing the tools, culture, and environment conducive to joy. They lay down the beat, establish the melody, and illuminate the dance floor.

However, the energy, the flair, the vivaciousness? That comes from the employees. They bring the moves, the passion, and the individual spirit that collectively gives life to a workspace. It’s this unique synergy between the backdrop created by employers and the life breathed into it by employees that crafts the joyous masterpiece we all seek.

Yet, amidst this dance, remember — the one element every individual has control over is their response to situations. How we react, perceive, and internalise our experiences has immense power in determining our joy levels. So, while employers and employees must collaborate to infuse joy into the workplace, each of us holds the personal key to unlocking our own joy potential, no matter the tune playing. It’s a shared responsibility, a duet where both play pivotal roles, and the magic unfolds when they are in perfect harmony.

Q. You gave one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time. Why do you think your talk on joy resonated so much with people around the world?

A. The timing of my TEDx talk seemed almost serendipitous. As our world grappled with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, faced energy crises, and tried to find equilibrium in a post-Covid reality, people were navigating an era saturated with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. In such turbulent times, my talk on joy became more than just a message — it evolved into a haven, a beacon lighting up a path towards hope, comfort, and connection.

But beyond the timeliness, the true resonance lay in the vulnerability and authenticity with which I approached the subject. Joy isn’t just about moments of elation but about finding strength and purpose amidst everyday challenges, fears, and doubts. By sharing my own vulnerabilities and tying it back to universal, daily experiences, the talk became a mirror. It mirrored the collective desires, aspirations, and hidden pains of audiences worldwide, bridging geographies and cultures.

In essence, while the backdrop of global events set the stage, it was the shared essence of human experience — that deep yearning for joy, meaning, and genuine connection — that made the talk reverberate so powerfully across continents. It wasn’t just about joy; it was a call to awaken the power of humanity’s heart.

Q. How much research did you do for your book, Joynetix?

A. For Joynetix, my journey spanned vast territories of both personal and professional experiences. Diving into my own healthcare and life sciences experience, I drew insights from my roles as a pharmacist, lawyer, and a senior leader at AstraZeneca. These diverse avenues opened my eyes to the intricate tapestry of human emotions and challenges, including my own encounters with stress and burnout.

Another pivotal aspect of my exploration was my training and experience as an ontological coach. In simple terms, ontological coaching focuses on the very essence of our being — it’s a holistic approach that emphasises the interconnectedness of our thoughts, emotions, and physical body, diving deep into our ways of being. It provided a profound lens to observe and understand how individuals create their realities and navigate the world, which significantly enriched my perspective on joy.

Supplementing this was the exploration of my own Eastern heritage. I revelled in the ancient disciplines of breathwork, the invigorating essence of laughter yoga, and the transformative power of mindfulness. Additionally, training in hypnotherapy, positive psychology, and learning about the neuroscience of leadership further broadened my horizons.

But what truly set the foundation for my research were my own personal experiences and introspections. They not only shaped my understanding of mindset and of humanity but also crystallised my purpose: to inspire joy in the world such that it becomes the default daily reality for people. Joynetix, thus, became a blend of empirical knowledge and heartfelt narratives; a guidebook that offers both a scientific and deeply human perspective on achieving a life fuelled by joy.

Q. ‘Joynetix’ is also the name of your corporate consultancy. Can you explain how you help corporates transform their businesses?

A. The Joynetix consultancy evolved from the book tapping into a niche need in organisations that was not being fulfilled by traditional consultancies. It embodies a revolutionary approach to the corporate world. Our mission is to transform traditional workplaces into vibrant hubs of joy, creativity, and collaboration. Picture this — an organisation where joy is the lifeblood of every interaction and decision, underpinning the heart of its culture.

Using our proprietary methodology, we embed joy into an organization’s DNA, creating an atmosphere where wellbeing, innovation, and productivity naturally coexist. This isn’t merely about infusing positive vibes; it’s about generating tangible, impactful outcomes. When joy is systematically integrated, it catalyses creativity, boosts morale, and forges an environment where employees thrive.

But here’s the twist! Recognising that today’s workforce values engagement and interactivity, we’ve introduced ‘productive play’ and gamification strategies into our leadership development programs. By blending play with purpose, we make learning not only insightful but also enjoyable. It’s a fresh approach to leadership, enabling leaders to tackle challenges with both creativity and gravitas while ensuring the journey is as enjoyable as the destination.

Furthermore, backed up by science, our approach encompasses the profound interplay between thoughts, emotions, and actions. It’s this blend of science with holistic insight, coupled with the power of playful learning, that sets Joynetix apart. We’re not just scratching the surface; we’re initiating transformative, deep-seated change.

Q. You are currently in the final stages of launching a new tech start-up. Tell us more about it, and why it is so exciting to you?

A. Emerging from both mine and my co-founder, Dan Kemmler’s personal encounters with the prevalent stress and burnout in our corporate lives, we recognised an overarching need. We’ve witnessed the pervasive challenges of chronic stress not just within boardrooms but classrooms, among frontline workers, and virtually every demographic. Stress, moreover chronic stress, as rightly labelled by the WHO, is the health epidemic of our times. Joining forces with Dan, a seasoned giant in the biopharmaceutical domain, has added invaluable commercial insights, propelling our vision for this start-up.

Introducing Momentus Technologies. Imagine a novel device that serves as your personal ‘nautical compass’ in the stormy seas of modern life. Its purpose? To not only help you chart your course amidst daily distractions but to anchor you in the richness of the present. In an age swamped with notifications, incessant meetings, and endless responsibilities, our creation will be your beacon, ushering you back to a state of clarity and genuine presence. This enables users to navigate challenges with serene confidence and extract joy from life’s golden moments.

My enthusiasm stems not just from our device’s remarkable capabilities but from its embodiment of a grander vision. Our aspiration is to not merely manage but to pioneer a movement that curtails the insidious surge of stress and anxiety. As we stand on the brink of unveiling this revolutionary stress-mastery device in 2024, the potential for societal transformation is palpable.

We are gearing up for our initial round of fundraising, providing a golden opportunity for vision-aligned investors to join this pioneering endeavour. If reshaping the landscape of mental well-being while achieving promising returns resonates with you, I’d urge you to reach out to us. To delve deeper into the world of Momentus and our aspirations, please explore www.MomentusTec.com.

Joynetix: Unlock Your Joy Potential by Saj Shah (Balboa Press) is out now on Amazon in paperback and eBook formats, priced £12.95 and £1.99 respectively. Visit www.Joynetix.com.

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