The Power of Grump

Bob Goldman on

Has your job put you in a bad mood?

That's good.

That's right!

When it comes to success in business, and maybe in life, bad is good.

Ask Hugh Grant. The "loveable, floppy-haired prince charming" on screen is so crabby and gloomy off screen that ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley calls him "Grumpelstiltskin." Did Hugh's bad mood keep him from a successful career? Hardly.

What can you learn from this fascinating Hugh Grant anecdote?


Almost nothing, except that if you are not achieving the kind of career success you want, it may not be because you are aimless, lazy and incompetent. Your problem may be that you're too darn happy.

I discovered this interesting theory in "Why It Pays to Be Grumpy and Bad-Tempered," a Zaria Gorvett post on BBC Future.

"The pressure to be positive has never been greater," Gorvett asserts, and I'm positive she's right. There are endless books, classes, coaches and PBS fundraising specials about how to be happy. What no one tells you, except Gorvett and me, is that too much happiness can sink your career.

Good moods "come with substantial risks," Gorvett explains, "sapping your drive, dimming attention to detail and making you simultaneously gullible and selfish."


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