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  • Troy Flanagan

It is not the sporting team that makes you happy, it is you!

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

There is a saying in sport that people often say - “winning fixes everything”. When it comes to job satisfaction, working for a successful team does not necessarily guarantee lasting fulfillment in your role. Factors such as salary, job title, quality of your team’s organization and winning all contribute to fulfillment in your role. However, they are not usually the primary drivers for sustained job satisfaction. Long-term job satisfaction primarily comes from you taking actions to ensure you are constantly challenged, improving, learning, and feeling rewarded. Staff who feel like they are improving and getting better when they come to work are usually highly motivated and energized, regardless of the environment. Here are some tips to help promote job happiness year after year:

Take action to support your career and make hard choices, actions, and sacrifices.

Talk to anyone at the top of their field and they can recount times where they made huge personal sacrifices to further their career. I volunteered at the Australian Institute of Sport physiology laboratory in the summer of 1991 for three months. I worked for free alongside some of the world’s best sports physiologists. This experience opened many doors and led to me getting employed soon after in the institute of sport system in Australia.

Just the other day, I heard of a new graduate in data analytics who drove his car from Canada to Milwaukee and was standing outside our stadium (in the cold and wearing an inadequate jacket) waiting to talk to anyone who walked by wearing a credential about working in the NBA and asking who he could speak to about breaking into data analytics. Successful people are willing to do things that normal people are unwilling to do. People like this create opportunities for themselves out of nothing. When they do eventually get roles, they continue to generate extraordinary results. This unstoppable approach to furthering a career is an essential ingredient to achieving happiness and success.


There is no doubt in my mind that if you stop learning in the workplace and just grind away, the shine of your role starts to fade. I started up an internship program in our department. Many of us were worried we didn't have enough time to mentor an intern. Our thinking was that it was going to be very difficult to keep up with meeting the demands of our team and simultaneously train someone up from scratch. Cautiously, we selected an intern anyway and began the program. We took turns teaching the intern. All the staff showed up for these sessions because it was a chance to hear each other speak and teach. We quickly realized that we were not just teaching the intern. We were teaching each other. It changed the feeling of our days at work. I noticed the energy levels went up. People were happier. Things got easier. It was energizing to learn at work.

Challenging yourself

Working out what you want to achieve in your career and what your next step might be is really difficult. I find it easy to discuss next steps with my staff and what they want to do, but incredibly challenging when I sit and think about my own path and what I want to achieve. The answer is to formally set aside time each week and work on what is next in your current and future role. More specifically, what the gaps are and what actions are needed to fill them. Structure it in like an appointment with yourself on your calendar. Answering questions like where do I want to be and how do I get there is a great place to start. Then comes the action list, followed by the list of friends and colleagues in the industry that might help you get there. This process helps you decide what success means to you. When I help staff work on their next steps and gaps in their knowledge and skills, they get a spring in their step. I have seen staff go from exhausted to highly engaged in a brief time period by challenging their status quo and urging them to work on their big picture. Usually, their productivity naturally goes up in their current role and they fall back in love with the role they have.

Benefiting and helping others

This one I am going to keep quite simple. There is nothing more gratifying in the workplace than helping others rather than helping yourself. We are in the service industry, so serve others. It is more rewarding and makes you happier in your role.

Being your values – leadership, inspiring others and giving back

Successful people have an overall way of operating and most of them are conscious of it. Identifying what your purpose of your role is and what it means to others is a key component of good leadership and job happiness. My purpose is to be a brave and inspiring leader to those around me in the workplace. I do not always achieve it. Sometimes I can be the opposite. But I regularly sit and think about it, my way of operating and ways that I can be more inspiring to others to achieve their goals. When I achieve it, it fills me with energy.

Happiness is related to energy levels and doing things that truly fulfill you. You need to work out what these things are for you. If you deliberately plan your schedule to do these things more regularly, your job will be more engaging, interesting, and rewarding. So, it is not up to your team to win to keep you happy. It is about you!

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