“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Whether operating a global corporation or a 3-person startup, managers constantly seek ways to measure employee performance and productivity. Some are quantitative (billable hours), some are qualitative (“Gwen’s a good collaborator.”). All have merit, but there is one seldom-tracked metric that is arguably the core cultural value of every successful organization: Joy.
Quite simply, how joyous are we at our work? Do we bring energy, passion and optimism to the job every day? Is enthusiasm at the center of all we do?
Joy should not be confused with pasted-on smiles or ritualized rah-rah. Steve Jobs was famously moody, mercurial and difficult. But beneath his complexity was the intense joy he took in creating “insanely great” products that propelled Apple from near-collapse to stunning success.
Joy is the tingling sensation that accompanies the quest for excellence. Or, as Helen Keller described it, “the faith that leads to achievement.”
There is a story about a 12th century Parisian laborer, one of an army of workers with crude shovels that excavated the hard, rocky ground from which Notre Dame would rise. He would begin each day of backbreaking labor with the joyful declaration, “My friends, we are not digging a ditch. We are building a cathedral!”
Whether you’re building a cathedral or software company, don’t underestimate the power of the Joy Factor.