Guest Post: “The Happy Leader: A journey of finding true happiness”

Published On: April 5, 20216.1 min read

When we heard our March 2021 Webinar presenter Shawn Johal was publishing a new book on leadership, we immediately asked for a sample. Shawn’s insights as an entrepreneur and coach for numerous scaling companies have impacted us and we hope you’ll find them equally valuable. Stay tuned for an exclusive free chapter at the end of Shawn’s guest post!

By Shawn Johal

What is a Happy Leader?

A Happy Leader is someone with a thirst for learning. They want to grow both personally and professionally while working tirelessly to develop other leaders around them.

We all have the opportunity to lead in our lives. We can lead in our family, at work with our colleagues and in our community. I wrote The Happy Leader to help entrepreneurs be great leaders while taking their happiness to the next level.  

Origin Story aka My Road to Happiness

Our stories may be similar. I had a thriving career – but it came at a cost. I worked long hours and felt overwhelmed, with zero semblance of work-life balance. 

My physical health suffered. My mental health disintegrated. I experienced “shutdowns”: my body would give in, feeling like I caught the flu or a virus – but it was entirely related to the heightened levels of stress and anxiety I was feeling on a daily basis. I began asking myself if this was the life I wanted.

I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. Instead, I grew into one by working hard, persevering, and constantly learning. Built out of a family bankruptcy, I co-founded my first business, DALS Lighting, with my brother-in-law Joey.

We started our business on pure faith. We went all-in: we mortgaged our homes, took on risky, high-interest debt, and just hoped to get by. Eventually, we started to see positive growth. However, as we grew the business rapidly, the stressful times never seemed to subside. Fierce competition, process failures, the challenge of supporting a team of employees who now depended on us – all of it led to increased levels of stress. 

I began exploring visualization meditation to deal with this pressure and started to take it more seriously as the business continued to grow. The benefits and impacts it had on my mindset were quick and powerful. I found myself gaining clarity on complex situations; I learned how to better control my emotions; I discovered how to listen to the signs my body was giving me. Most importantly, I learned how to create my own future. I realized that each of us has the power to create our own path; we are only held back by society’s insistence on conformity and by self-limiting beliefs.

Having experienced the highs and lows of entrepreneurship first-hand, I want to help other leaders build a more integrated and happy life for themselves. As a Scaling Up Coach, I help leaders navigate their stresses (both business and personal) and help them build their true vision and purpose.

In The Happy Leader, I examine concepts, tools, and tactics to help entrepreneurs achieve the best version of their future selves. 

Leaving a successful career to pursue my passion and embark on a journey that aligns with my vision was the best decision I ever made. My mission is to help others in finding their path to HAPPINESS and SUCCESS. 

The Book

For the past 8 years, I have been working on a book, outlining this journey of discovery and growth. The Happy Leader is finally launching on April 6th. Prior to publishing the book, I shared it with some trusted friends and mentors. At the time the book was called The Happy King, a loose translation of my Indian name Sukhraj. When I gave the book to my friend and Scaling Up founder Verne Harnish, he really challenged me on the title, pointing out the potential alienation some people might feel when reading it. That is how The Happy Leader was born, and it became my mission to help other entrepreneurs become Happy Leaders.

I see an opportunity to show leaders a better way to truly live in the present moment and share my thoughts on balancing a successful career with happiness. Many entrepreneurs I have been speaking and working with are exhausted, stressed, and anxious. They struggle to find work-life balance or work-life integration. Instead, they often look forward to an “event” that has to happen in order to be happy. For example: “When I sell my business I will be happy” or “When I land this next client everything is going to be different.” The reality is that even though these things eventually come to fruition, people don’t actually become happier. The same challenges and fears eventually come back. This really inspired me to study this topic and to find ways for sustainable and long-term happiness that will withstand the unknowns entrepreneurship brings. The Happy Leader Book focuses on four distinctive themes: 

  1. The 4 laws of happiness
  2. Habit Hacking
  3. Meditation
  4. Growth Mindset 

Although a business leadership book, The Happy Leader is actually written in the fiction format. Leaders and authors like Robin Sharma and Patrick Lencioni, who wrote major leadership books in the fiction format, truly resonated with me. That is why I made the decision to write my own book this way. 

When you think about a regular day in your life, you realize how distracted we are. We think of the meetings that are in our calendar, all the “to-dos” left for the day, dinner, groceries…essentially the future. But what I realized is at the core of finding more happiness and balance is to train ourselves to live in the present moment, and enjoy it. 

Making a change

I truly want to help people become happy right now, not in some hypothetical future once certain events take place. So here’s a 10-minute meditation that you can do anytime during your day to feel more clarity, a sense of self, and be present in the moment.

Mindful breathing: 

This exercise will teach you to listen to your emotional state and help you overcome stress and anxiety by pinpointing where these feelings are located in your body. Ideally, do this exercise every day for 10-15 minutes for 14 days. The more and the longer you do it, the more your mindset will improve.

  1. Sit, stand, or lie down comfortably and start focusing on your breathing as you inhale and exhale. It may be easier to do with your eyes closed.
  2. An exaggerated breath at the very beginning can help release tension. Inhale deeply through your nose for 3 seconds, hold your breath for 2 seconds and exhale deeply through the mouth for 4 seconds. When exhaling you can make a noise to fully release your stress.
  3. Now stay in a relaxed position for 5-7 minutes, relax your body, and tune in to your breathing. If your mind begins to wander, acknowledge it and bring it back gently.
  4. Before you end the exercise, check-in with yourself and notice all the changes that have occurred.

Learn more!

Get your copy of The Happy Leader: A Leadership Fable about Transformation in Business and in Life” for Kindle or Audiobook today!

As a special treat, I decided to give Align subscribers exclusive access to the first chapter of my book, if you are interested check it out below.

[Get your copy here

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