Beyond Transactional

New York City veteran newscaster Joe Scarborough calls out Hillary Clinton on twitter after her victory speech, the night of her primary wins in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio.

“Smile!” he demands.

There’s an instant outcry from feminists who cite the historic implications of women being asked to smile. Like, really?

Hillary Clinton does smile, of course. It’s a transactional smile. It’s a smile without joy.  The same is true for every one of her male counterparts running for office. Joyless professionals transacting their way through the process.

I had an eye surgery a week ago to take care of a retina detachment. The surgery was a success, the eye is healing fine. As part of my pre- and post-surgery process, I was seen by 6 of the top retina specialists in South Florida. No kidding, 6.

Every one of these gents is good at what he does. In this group, expertise is not a differentiator. Yes, some of them have better social skills than others. All of them are crisp, efficient, highly knowledgeable professionals. All of them execute well.

Not once did I feel that any of them were actually happy to engage with me. Transactional competence. Joyless execution.

I think of the year I spearheaded a peace project for Shimon Peres and his Center for Peace. An hour before a large gala event we were hosting in the only 5-star hotel in Ramallah/Palestine, Mr. Peres walks into a private meeting room for a meet-and-greet with about 25 top Palestinian officials. I observe Mr. Peres, in awe. He has clearly conducted thousands of these meet-and-greets in his life time. He maneuvers with a relaxed ease and charm. He shows up with a sense of polish. He is attentive to the nuances of the moment. He is fresh. He is present.

Transactional, yes. And I have undeniable sense that Mr. Peres is enjoying himself.

Beyond transactional doesn’t mean spewing social pleasantries. It doesn’t mean acting “nice.” It doesn’t mean being ra-ra happy. I don’t trust anyone who is ra-ra happy all the time.

It means finding the joy of being in that moment, with that person, even when it’s a person I may not much like, a conversation I don’t wish to have.

Want to lift your everyday game? Snap out of transactional. Know your inner enjoyment button. Press it. Vigorously. Often. Until it becomes the way you show up, every time.

It’s what great leaders do. Why not?