How I Discovered Happiness: A Real Story

By now, most of you know, that I had two back surgeries in the late spring of 2010 and as a result, after being a very healthy and fit person, I was no longer able to walk – let alone the other basics of life that we all take for granted (e.g. having dinner out, seeing movies, enjoying a walk on a sunny day). Lucky for me, I was able to stay connected to my friends and loved ones via social networks and mobile technologies – Facebook, Apple's iPhone, and my wife's iPhoto account. But in the journey of losing my health – I learned what real happiness is – connecting with others on a deep, personal level. I made new friends, learned new things about myself, and connected in new ways with old associates in ways I never thought possible.

In some small way, companies like Apple (connectivity), Facebook (connections) and Zappos (shoes - a little more on this later) gave me hope. I always felt surrounded by people that loved and cared for me and who constantly reminded me that in time, I would regain my smile, my laugh, my health.

Four and a half months later, I can tell you they were right! I am getting healthy again. My smile is returning, I am having dinner out with my wife and boys, seeing my friends, and starting to laugh again. I am even starting to have quiet walks with friends and sharing profoundly our stories of life.

As part of that journey, I recently went to Tony Hsieh's Delivering Happiness Tour.

I reconnected with Tony (we were on the speaker tour many years ago together) and I was able to share my story about how for six months I could not wear shoes due to my back injury and that I was barely able to walk without crippling pain in my feet. So when he asked me to tell my story about what is happiness to me and what role did Zappos played in it, I was happy to oblige.

Although for almost all of you wearing shoes is something you can do, but I had not worn shoes.

When I purchased my first pair of shoes after surgery, I turned to Zappos for help. It was like I was a child, buying my first pair (but I am 56). I was uncertain, afraid if they would hurt when I put them on, and unsure about where I should start. With their help and hours on the phone with their call center– I was able to purchase my first pair – and I now wear them with comfort. But more importantly, they delivered happiness to me – I could walk again. Small as that might seem – it is profound for anyone that has been severely crippled or unable to walk due to a major injury.

That story brought tears to the Delivering Happiness team's eyes and they recorded a video testimonial for their tour. For me, I am happy to have shared it and to let Tony know that he Delivered Happiness to me all through the people and culture he has developed at Zappos.

The moral of this story is less about my returning to health or Zappos's amazing culture that has made it a raving success. It is about the reality that all organizations need to focus on their real mission - meeting people's need for happiness, connectedness and self-actualization – not just the next feature or function. Further, if you want to be really successful, you need to deliver joy to your people and in turn, they will help you achieve your goals. Start today and enjoy the benefits of really serving others.

As Tony says – you will profit in the process.

Cailin Darcy