Mastering the art of pleasure

We often think that high-performing professionals are the opportunists, that they succeed because they are eager to expose themselves and show their potential… But what we forget is that sometimes we don’t even have the opportunity to showcase ourselves. So what’s the magic formula for standing out from the crowd?

After years of researching how the most successful people benefit from adversity, I’ve discovered that the ability to “enjoy yourself” is the key to opening doors. But enjoyment is much more than simply bringing joy or satisfaction to others. At the heart of pleasure is an element that most people miss: surprise.


The fun is in the unexpected

In a large meeting with high-profile clients, it’s sometimes difficult to build rapport to “break the ice” and reach a second level of communication. But if there’s one thing everyone has in common, it’s the desire to have fun and be comfortable in their environment every minute of their lives.

Not all of us are naturally gifted with the ability to relax. But it can be mastered through deliberate practice:


  • Do something unexpected. The best way to assuage the skepticism others may feel about you is to surprise them with spontaneity – in a memorable and engaging way.
  • Don’t over-prepare. While it’s helpful to prepare, doing so rigidly won’t get you very far. In fact, it can actually prevent the kind of natural conversations that allow you to connect and delight the other person.
  • Work with what you have. A lot of fun is had when you engage with others in an authentic way. Use your existing context to hone your quick reflexes and help you with delivery.
  • Immerse yourself in the fun. Look for people, products and situations that you consider delightful. Consciously identify what makes them delicious to you. This will help you develop and refine your own style of pleasure.
  • Use authentic humor. Don’t confuse delight with suck-up chatter. Delight is about genuine engagement and offering a playful response “in the moment.” In fact, people who show a sense of humor at work are perceived as warmer and more competent than those who don’t, since being comfortable demonstrates confidence.
  • Know and pay attention to your audience. Have a thorough understanding of the circumstances and context of the position – and place – you are in. This can take time to develop… because one misstep, gesture or inappropriate word can lose you the game very quickly.

When we enjoy ourselves, we violate perceptions, but in a benign way. Pleasure disrupts and challenges beliefs about your context. It attracts the attention of powerful people and opens doors to enormous opportunities.

Laugh and be authentic to your context and you’ll enjoy getting through your challenges!


Adapted text from Laura Huang’s post – CNBC make it contributor. – Article from February 3, 2020 – Harvard professor: Elon Musk once told me to “come out” in a meeting, this is how I seduced him.

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