Day 26: Movie Night

Today I took Buster to Doggie Day Care for the next two days in order to have some ME time. As mentioned in previous blogs, it has been quite the juggling act keeping so many plates spinning and I just needed some free-spirit time. When I am working with client groups I often talk about time management and I do not know how single parents manage to balance a job and children. I struggle keeping on top of Buster’s needs and he is very low maintenance in comparison. This freedom also gave me the opportunity to do one of my favourite things with another great friend – go to the cinema. If I am being totally honest, Buster really does not stop me from doing this as he is very independent and can be left on his own for an evening. I have been doing some work with a client on Limiting Beliefs and the perceived barriers to our success. Looking in the mirror I saw myself and Buster looking back at me. It became apparent just how much I have been using him to reinforce my belief that I cannot do certain things, when in reality, it is my state of mind that has been somewhat depressed and a bit of my spirit that has been broken down.  So my answer to things is to blame work, Buster and any other external commitment for my need to just hide away and rest. Instead of facing my deeper limiting belief in that I do not have the strength to push myself further. It is like when I drag myself to my personal training sessions because I have to. Then like magic, Tom makes me happy and pushes me a bit further than I would have myself. In this challenge, I get a renewed sense of revived energy. By removing my ‘Buster limiting belief barrier’ I have no excuse and get the same revived energy doing something that I love with friends that I adore. The shifting of energy means that Buster and others get a better version of me without the subconscious blame or regret. Hence today I hit a double parallel in that some organisations must support their employee better with more empathy for their personal backstories. Also, we all need a little reality check with our limiting beliefs and the perceived challenges that are holding us back. These barriers, if not recognised, only pull us back from being the happier and healthier versions of ourselves. These should be seen as opportunities to grow from and areas that, with the support of others, we can overcome and better manage.

Mantra: I can do more things for me!

Day 25: The Power of Others

Today I really focused on the power of others and the joy and inspiration that they can bring to our lives. I really discovered something today that I had not really built into my own wellness plan as I have been so focused on managing all the other stuff into an already packed diary. Between reading up on nutrition, Personal Training, Mind and Body sessions with Martin, this Blog, coupled with preparing to launch two new client projects in London and India, and I cannot forget Buster and his walk time – I have not had much time to just spend with friends. I went to house-sit for a very close friend and decided to go a day early so we could spend quality time together. It was just what the doctor ordered and we spent the night talking, putting the world to right, whilst jumping randomly between subjects ranging from behavioural science, people, politics and personal stuff (not to be shared here). The night was filled with great food, laughing, debating and music. I never even had the desire to turn on the TV, which tends to be one of my habits to pass time away. Hence tonight added another layer to my wellness challenge as it became clear just how much I have slipped into so many unwell habits. As the house of cards falls and we become unkind to our mind, body and spirit, we miss wonderful opportunities to share nights filled with positivity and good energy. However, it does start with us and the power that we have to bring light or darkness to cherished friend-moments like this. I can now see more clearly the number of times that I have used these precious times to use my friends as a sounding board for all that was going wrong at that time. This negative spiral and endless dialogue only further perpetuated the negative and offered no real solution apart from reconfirming to my subconscious that I was the victim of some grave injustice (sounds better in a dramatic voice with some violins playing in the background!). Hence, it is important that organisations reach out regularly to hear the employees’ voice and action what can be done, then clearly communicate with reason why other things may be the way they are. However, leaders need to be more firm and vocal about the negative life draining voices that offer no benefit other than self-perpetuate their own negative feeling.

Mantra: Cherish the light of others

Day 24: Work / Body Balance

Wow! Life is a rollercoaster. Just when I think that I cracked one part of this challenge, I rotate back into this circular pattern of mixed priorities. I woke in the morning and focused heavily on my four ‘value words’ that I wrote down in my session with Martin. I promised myself that I would get motivated and go full steam ahead and ensure my fitness session would fit into the day. Then there was a priority shift and I could not make the 2 pm session as I needed to make a client call. Once again, this challenge is taking such a different direction to that of my dream state. I thought that I would just get better and stronger with each passing day. Instead, I am making conscious connections and learning more about myself, my environment, poor habits, stressors and the many things that are impacting on my un-wellness. What I have discovered is the interconnectivity between my mind, body and spirit is stronger than I have ever imagined and we must focus on all three to achieve a more desirable outcome. It is much like the way many organisations approach employee development in a scattergun approach. There is no real joined-up strategy at the deeper core and hence it is parallel to what I have been doing with my own wellness, lots and lots of band-aid fixes. If an organisation does not establish the deeper connection of its core and root of the culture and its people to the vision, values and higher purpose, then it can easily become unravelled at the first sign of challenge. Much like what I have been doing for many years.

Mantra: Find calm in the journey

Day 23: Turning Words into Actions

Last night I had a great session with Martin. This time he worked on my mind and we spent most of the session talking. Well, most of it was me talking and him listen to gain insight with every word and where on the timeline it sat. As much as I can do this with my clients with respect to brand and culture, I must say that it was very liberating to just get loads of weight off my mind and not my body. One of the things that I often say is when a business is stuck we need to just tear it down and pull out all the dysfunctional thoughts and then rebuild it. Just get the senior management team in the room to talk only truths and clear the air and any misconceptions that have built up over time – almost demobilising the further growth and health of the company culture. The parallel that I draw from this is that the past narratives that I have been holding on to in my head are like my leaders and they are all at odds. I have been holding on to so many past disappointments and hurts that it is really holding me back and truly stopping the authentic me from moving forward. I think that I have spent so long as a consultant and being on stage that I can turn it on when needed. Therefore I can easily wear a brave face, just get on with it and do what needs to be done to survive. And in those words I started to see the penny drop – just how genuine have I really been to myself and hence have been stuck in survive and not thrive. Bridge was built on the strapline of “turning value words into actions’. It was when Martin asked me what my personal true core values were and I instantly wrote down 4 words I realised just how disconnected I have become from my inner being and true passion.

Mantra: Live my values

Day 22: Aligning Priorities

Today very much flew by and reminded me of the variety that we can have on a Monday. We are starting to get busy and a few projects are all backing up so I know this is the calm before the storm. I managed to get lots done and this was most likely a by-product of a very mindful and restful Sunday. I am still not getting any closer to the swimming pool and this is something that I really must focus on. I am still intrigued just as to why I seem to go through so many peaks and troughs with respect to my exercise. As when I go I do enjoy it and feel the benefit of whatever I do. I am still trying to untangle the mess of wiring between mind, body and spirit and they clearly are not lining up. I hear myself using the excuse of work and how this just unconsciously takes priority but I know there is something deeper at play as I would find time for a less healthy past time like a bottle of wine and watching my guilty pleasure TV show, Judge Judy. Hence what I have really focussed on is just how one prioritises better health in a world that seems so easy to slip off the radar and eat what you want – when you want – and watch endless Netflix and social media stalking. There are just so many distractions that I know will not benefit my health challenge – but like moths to the flame I find myself attracted to it all. I believe that this is one area that companies need to reevaluate and that is to give employees more options for downtime. It does not have to be expensive gyms and only organic food however more consideration should be given to employee breaks as much as to their working hours.

Mantra: Look to the future.

Day 21 : The Energy of Others

Following in from Friday’s and Saturday’s blog, I have been doing lots of thinking about the impact that we have on others and vice versa.  Whether we are gaining in from the support we get, such as with me and the Balance team, or the support we give, as I do for Buster.  Today I was very slow to get going and I could see that Buster was mirroring my energy levels as he often does.  As leaders, it is important to recognise how much our energy can have an impact on those around us.  With employee focus groups that I have run over the years with front line staff – management is often cited as one of the top contributors to their stress and unhappiness at work. Let’s go back to Buster for a minute, as eventually, he was tired of waiting for me to get my ass in gear and started barking at the door and acting out. I think you might see the parallel I am heading towards with employees. It is not enough to just give them the right to voice their thoughts on the yearly surveys. Once heard we must activate and do something with the information. Buster is a wonderfully loyal and quite independent character when he wants to be – however he needs my commitment to ensure follow through. Funny as in addition to me giving him want he wanted I got want I needed – the drive and motivation for a fun day.  So top tip to all leaders – spend more time on the shop floor and it just might surprise you as the energy and welcome you receive just might be what the doctor ordered.

Mantra: Embrace others more

Day 20: It’s a Dogs Life

Not all habits are bad habits and today I repeated one of my good habits. Over the last few weeks I have used my early morning Saturdays to take Buster for a long walk on the common and meeting up with a good friend and his dog. Ahhh it is wonderful to see the two dogs together as they are the best buddies and shows the importance that relationships play in wellbeing.  It is also great to see Buster running and running and running and running in circles playing and playing and chasing the ball and other dogs.  It was clear that he was truly happy as he is an incredibly social dog.  Being a beagle he has boundless energy that needs to be realised. He too is an office dog so I also have to ensure that he finds balance with his need to be active. Given the opportunity to do what he loves best – sniffing and exploring and sniffing from plant to pole. It is important to see the multi-facets of wellbeing and be reminded that all of our employees have different desires in how they achieve wellness. It is very important to ask our team what wellness means to them and how they can be better supported by the organisation in their desired approach to have a more balanced and healthy work environment. If I was to use Buster as an example of how I would build a wellness program that supports thoroughly their growth and development but also their mental state then I am sure it would be very complex as everyone has varying degrees of energy and social constructs. Recently I was a little worried that maybe Buster was getting a bit bored in the office as he was sleeping more than usual. Following a little research (thanks to Google) on how much a dog sleeps, it was very interesting to discover that what I was reading coincided with something that Martin had said. In respect to the difference between rest and relaxation, dogs have a very quick switch between the two as they can go from a sleeping state to up and active within seconds. If something grabs their attention they can easily return back to the relaxed state. This is something that humans struggle with as we are constantly on and constantly being challenged to work harder, be stronger, be happier and often don’t find a state of relaxation. Hence this is why mindfulness and meditation are so important to organisations as they give people the opportunity to try to find a better balance in the state of relaxation in order for them to better appreciate their move between states. I highly recommend this practice be introduced to most corporate environments with providing even just a dimly light yet comfortable quiet space where employees can go and de-stress to find their calm.

Mantra: take my mindful minute     

Day 19: Martin, Take Two

I had a really great start to the day and filmed some bits for our Balance project and this is always fun, one day I will watch the blooper real. Working with Phil on this aspect of the project reminded me of what a great team we have put together for Balance. Each individual is a specialist in their own area and each one contributes equally to that of the overall success of the 50-day challenge. It also brought light to the fact that we must take direction from others that know and be humble enough to allow yourself to trust in the process. Looking at organisational culture it’s always important to remember that the team that supports the organisation must approach this from equal standing. Everyone is a specialist in their own right and each lends to the greater good and overall perspective. A company needs a form of hierarchy whether that be departments or management in order that it can function within its structure. However, when we look at a company culture it must be equal if it is to be healthy and well balanced. Each one of us brings something special to the party and I think more organisations should focus on delivering this message to their teams –we are all in it together!! This would allow for a much better-balanced approach and supportive team and bring relationships much more to the forefront. Today was also my second body session with Martin and once again it has left me feeling much more open and again somewhat a little confused and I am not quite sure why. However, I do feel like that I am walking a little taller and have just a little more spring in my step. I guess I just need to let go a little more, and in my own words – trust the process. As he goes through various touch points in my body and releases them the pain can be almost unmanageable but once I begin to let go I can really notice that the pain is less about what he is doing and more about what I have been holding on to. Following his advice, I took some extra time just to myself to reflect not only on the session but on my intention for my own well-being going forward. I am always quick to give advice to others however now it is time I take some and time for me to practice what I preach. I must learn to better appreciate all the positive gifts that I have been given and with a pure intent learn that it is ok to be more kind to myself.

Mantra: Thank you for my gifts

Day 18: Never ending to do list

I think today will be one of my shortest blog posts in the series as I spent most of the day clearing the decks. As sometimes balance is also about removing all those jobs on our desk that need doing. That is what I did today – I sat down and I worked through my list, knocking things off one after another. None of them were amazing or exciting jobs but they were all the tasks that just needed doing. I cannot speak for others but I hold all of these little things in my memory and head and as they build up it creates an overwhelming sense of stress and anxiety. None of them in singular are big but when they come together as a collective I can honestly feel a tightening in my chest, panic and pressure. In order that to begin to progress forward on more creative tasks that require a more open mind and free-flowing spirit, I have to remove this major stressful deterrent. I found balance in just getting rid of the little things and all those jobs that are constantly there and will remain there unless we take them off the list. By doing this today it was as if I could breath again and gave myself the permission to take back the control that these many little weights held over me. I could then have the space in my mind and spirit to focus on the big picture stuff that I enjoy and gain nourishment from. I know in the little stuff is where I often have a lot of stress and I am sure that many other leaders will truly understand what I am alluding to. Even though these jobs maybe be small and seem somewhat insignificant they are constantly on my mind and being held as things that will need to be done later – in this, the task holds the power over me and my mindset. Most have heard the expression that tomorrow never comes, well – it does and I guess it is up to us who owns it – me or that pile of ‘its on my list’. This shows the importance that organisations give employees protected time to just stop and get caught up on all the little things that are impacting on their stress levels and affecting their productivity in the now. Just taking one day and to do all the things that have been adding up in our brain can give it a chance to relax as it has been holding onto these mini weights. I finished today with a massive sense of accomplishment and finally an ability to see tomorrow with a fresh perspective. It was a long day and no great mountains were climbed apart from the insurmountable to-do list. Tick tick and tick… boom

Mantra: take pleasure in knocking off the small stuff

Day 17: Brand… Wellness

Well, I’ve made my list and I’ve checked it twice and everything on it is definitely naughty and/or nice. I guess this sits with the eye of the beholder. I now have the areas that unconsciously call my name whenever I’m feeling stressed, tired, bored or basically low. Today I had a personal training session with Tom and I want to recognise the difference between my pre and post mindset. I have been really enjoying my sessions with Tom. I know that I dragged myself there as I had lots going on – however, I did leave much more alive and more invigorated. This is the message that I need to be sending myself before these sessions, as can you imagine if I entered positive just how much more I would get from the session. This has just hit on a big parallel for me looking at organisations and their internal communication, as it is their job to sell and promote wellbeing in such a manner that individuals embrace it. I think every learning facilitator has experienced the start of a training session and when asking the delegates why they have come, heard the “I was told I had to come” and that they were given no real information that would give them a positive perspective. Much like my internal dialogue is my own personal marketing influencer and sets the stage for how I feel about what is about to happen – the internal comms team must take more ownership on the part they play in promoting wellness and the various opportunities the organisation has available. These should be seen as employee benefits and utilised more to engage employees and build better communities and relationships. I am not getting the full benefits from Tom’s sessions if I am running in 5 minutes late – doing it and then rushing straight back to my desk. This might make my body a little stronger but my mind and spirit are not getting as much out of it. Hence a great internal wellness programme needs to be all encompassing from pre to post and engage employees in the entire journey like any other brand positioning. It needs actions, objectives, information and overarching vision. I need to stop seeing this as a collection of actions but an interwoven and interconnected balance of stimulus that works in harmony to make me stronger, healthier and happier

Mantra: be my own marketer

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