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Career Success, Personal Growth, Leadership Library

Leadership Library Selection: The Algebra of Happiness

When we think of leadership, we tend to think of leading others or making a positive impact. Though both are true and vital to our own mission at The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), we can sometimes lose sight of the importance of taking the lead on our own well-being and happiness.

Advocating for yourself, prioritizing your happiness, and understanding what you want out of life is integral to being an effective leader. In a way, it's the first thing you need to master to be in a leadership role. 

In Scott Galloway's The Algebra of Happiness: Notes on the Pursuit of Success, Love, and Meaning, the entrepreneur and highly-rated business school professor takes an honest, practical approach to optimizing happiness in your life and work.


Galloway's known for his realistic look into the issues we face as a nation and the realistic ways out. His most recent book, Adrift, depicts America in 100 charts, laying out the harsh truths of our time and proposed solutions for a better tomorrow. 

He urges us to get real about our expectations and to find balance that leads to a sense of meaning and fulfillment. Instead of "never giving up," or simply "following your passion," he writes, "Your job is to find something you're good at, and after ten thousand hours of practice, get great at it… nobody starts their career passionate about tax law." 

We've written about using realistic goal-setting techniques to land your dream job. Aligned with Galloway, your “dream job” is more nuanced than simply doing what you love. The reason his book is called The Algebra of Happiness is because of the many variables at play in your life, and the compromises you need to make to maximize your well-being. 

By getting real about your priorities and doubling down on your strengths, you'll be on a path toward happiness.

Find Your Happiness by Embracing Boring

It's easy to tell someone to follow their passion but sometimes, following your passion doesn't always make sense financially. Galloway never ignores the monetary impact our decisions have. 

Let’s be honest, money can't necessarily buy happiness but it does buy security. By working out the equation of your life and balancing the variables, you'll be better equipped to manage your finances and happiness. The first thing to do is reformulate your expectations of work.

In his book, Galloway explains how to overcome the anticipated boredom associated with work and find meaning in the work you do. By deriving pleasure in hard work and achieving a common goal with colleagues, you'll be more suited to the harsh truth that Galloway reiterates throughout: most fields that make good money are usually not the ones you dreamt of as a kid.

To Galloway, boring is sexy. “I try to avoid investing in anything that sounds remotely cool.” By leaning on statistics, Galloway shows how much professional fulfillment people receive from jobs that are not considered “sexy.”

Through relationship building, formulating deep connections with others, and finding a work-life balance, happiness awaits.

Key Takeaways: The Algebra of Happiness

In his book, Galloway writes about: 

  • The inevitable compromises you'll have to make
  • Traits that make for a good modern employee and entrepreneur
  • Re-thinking "rich" and what that word really means
  • How to define your idea of financial security
  • The importance of education and a college degree
  • Finding the perfect life partner and why never to keep score
  • Why you should be constantly praising your friends and family

Read Scott Galloway's The Algebra of Happiness: Notes on the Pursuit of Success, Love, and Meaning and gain a new perspective on achieving happiness in a modern world.