Inner Work Life – The Power of Negative Events

Your first action has to be to remove obstacles that cause setbacks to inner work life.


Because one setback has more power to effect inner work life than one incident that causes progress. The effect of setbacks on emotions is stronger than the effect of progress.

  • The power of setbacks to diminish happiness is more than twice as strong as the power of progress to boost happiness. The power of setbacks to increase frustration is more than three times as strong as the power of progress to decrease frustration. 
  • Small losses can overwhelm small wins. Similarly, small everyday hassles at work hold more sway than small everyday supports. 
  • Negative team leader behaviors affect inner work life more broadly than positive team leader behaviors. 
  • The connection between mood and negative work events is about five times stronger than the connection between mood and positive events. 
  • Employees recall more negative leader actions than positive actions, and they recall the negative actions more intensely and in more detail than the positive ones.
Precisely because they are less powerful in affecting inner work life, try and ensure that good events at work outnumber the bad. In particular, try to reduce daily hassles.
Even your small actions to remove obstacles impeding the progress of individuals and teams can make a big difference for inner work life which means a big difference in performance.

The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work


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