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.
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
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
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
Today was a very busy day as it seems like a lot of things are beginning to happen at Bridge. Coupled with the Balance program, it’s beginning to feel quite overwhelming. On one side I am very fortunate as this project is allowing me to meet many experts on wellness on a variety of subjects and I am learning a lot as I go, however, it is another area that requires my attention. In all of this, I am trying to find more personal balance with regards to wellbeing in my own workplace and daily life. Today I focused on my own resilience and how time pressures can really take its toll on our ability to perform at our best. During periods of such busy schedules, individuals must look at how we manage this workload and still maintain a focus on wellness. I am struggling to build this into my daily activity amongst all the other things I have to commit to – how do people do it? It is so easy to put this on the back burner as the demands of the workplace and others can easily take precedence. Today this was more evident. I had a long dialogue with myself about the things that I should do but I found myself falling back into the habit of putting work first and my health second. The areas that I committed to changing in my health fell by the wayside and I used all the energy to just stay on top of things. I can now see so much more clearly just how quickly the work-life balance can get lost if we do not ensure it plays an active part in our structured day. I am thinking that this is why we need to make the unequivocal commitment to ourselves to break through this barrier in order to give it the time to become part of our DNA. The focus on our wellbeing needs to be threaded into all areas of our lives so that it has strength in numbers and not just one hit wonders like I have been doing for years. I need to be kind to myself and managing this work/health balance needs to be my focus so that it has time to take root and become a new habit. Much like smoking, drinking too much, not going to the gym and negative thoughts find time in our lives – so can more positive influences. Coupled with humility and self-awareness there needs to be a more detailed plan to ensure the outcomes are achieved and health must take equal importance to other things on the ‘to do list’. Old habits are hard to break however, with the right support of others, the right mindset, a clear and agreed plan and a contract with self … umm yea that’s easy!! With all this coming together then we can eventually replace one habit for the other. I truly believe that I can overcome some of the bad habits that I have created by putting work commitments before my own health but it is easier said than done. This mindset shift without question is not going to be simple, as I do find myself falling back into work over health and at this stage of the balance program I feel that I am at breaking point to continue or slowly let it slip. I think I am probably at my most crucial time in needing the support of others because it’s very easy after 3 weeks to start falling backwards. I was given some great advice today and that was to make a list of the 10 things that I must focus on as then my unconscious mind has something to focus on and keep it close to remind my conscious brain of the barriers that I need to overcome. Every transformation needs structure and clear, actionable and transparent goals. To break through this barrier I have to remind myself that I am looking forward to taking on this challenge and it must find space in my busy day. Let’s see how we go…
Mantra: Put my health on the ‘to do list’
Today was a little bit of a slow day and something that I needed to own. Of course, we need to have some downtime time however what I have started to recognise in myself is just how destructive I have been to all three of my zones of mind, body and spirit. When left unmanaged I was not nourishing them appropriately and then one would have a knock on effect to the other, the balance between them lost. Falling back into my poor diet habits of just not to eating clearly sent my body into shock as it was enjoying its new diet. This is surprising as I have been feeling great after eating breakfast and a healthy lunch and a balanced dinner and today I did not eat until early evening(if that is what you’d call it), as I consumed two pieces of toast with cheese just before bed. Having explored my diet with Victoria this was one bad habit that I fell back on and the result was clearly not great for my motivation or my sleep. However, this time was slightly different as I chose to consciously feel the effects on my body and mind and I could see a negative correlation. This has been a pattern that I have been doing over the last couple of years blind to the real impact that it was causing. In my first consultation with Victoria, we discussed the importance of nourishment and what the right food brings to the bodies and the impact it has on our wellness. From my perspective, I often fall into bad habits just at the brink of introducing a new one that would benefit me. The question I have been challenged with is – why? I have worked on several organisational transformation programmes and found the answer in the people and businesses that I have worked with over the years and those of which have been challenged by change. Even though the current environment is not benefiting us, it offers comfort in the fact that we know what we know and we know what we get. So often we will either stay in or return to this behaviour as we draw comfort from it. In many cases, we will extend our reach just far enough to get to the edge of our comfort zone and then return home. As a species, I guess this is something we have been doing since our hunter and gatherer days and the early formation of cultures and communities. This cycle just repeats itself whether it be a single individual or a company – reinforcing my point that businesses behave like humans because they are driven by humans. My advice to organisations that want to embark on any transformation is to ensure that you choose the leaders to manage the change carefully as it takes an inspirational leader that is not challenged by risk and has the resilience and open mind to drive it through to the end and beyond.
Mantra: Feed my spirit with the foods I eat.
The first memory of the day was one of being very heavy headed. My sleeping pattern has definitely started to change and I’m sleeping deeper than I have in ages. The strange thing is I am not feeling that refreshed as it is taking me longer than normal to shake it off. I guess this is one of the things that I have to continuously remind myself about balance is that it is not a one-hit wonder cure and one that will just fix itself overnight. To balance anything it must wobble and move back and forth until it finally slows and comes to a rest. It is in this balancing act that we find the correct point when both sides are in harmony when each is supporting the other. This challenge to look at wellness both from a personal perspective and one of promoting better health within the workplace has been more demanding than I thought. Don’t get me wrong. I am enjoying it and starting to see the benefit however I am still struggling to manage to fit some parts into a busy diary. Just how do people do it? As at the moment, I am still trying to break away from old behaviours and make room for new ones and it is not so easy, but why? Today I had several conversations with individuals in an attempt to find out what others think wellness or wellbeing means in the context of being part of company culture. I had a variety of answers with some people thinking more from the aspect of the body while others directed it more toward mental health. Other conversations included diet and even relationships. At the end of the day, it is a combination of all of these things and I think that I have been managing myself in such an unkind way – I have more work than I thought to find balance with Balance. What I can say is that I believe that to be healthy an organisation must support its culture across all areas considered wellbeing. It is such a vast subject that companies must adopt a diverse approach that supports all of its employees and use a vision of a connected healthy workforce.
Mantra: don’t be hard on yourself!
Following on from yesterday I decided that today I would wake up with a much more conscious mind choosing my intentions for the day. So before even getting out of bed, I decided that I was going to do my 10-minute meditation. During this protected time, I made a conscious choice to really focus on the language that I use and the way in which my energy can project onto others. I have to say as the day continued I really did notice a difference not only in myself but also in the way others responded to me. As I tend to think that I am generally quite a happy person and very considerate of others, this focus must extend beyond my holding the door and saying thank you – two of my Canadian favourite past times. During this 50-day Balance: Mind|Body|Spirit challenge I have to continuously remind myself that this is a journey and things are going to be going well on some occasions and not so well on others. Trying to really focus on cleansing this week has been a lot more difficult than I thought having started the week by cleaning the office I would have ticked the box and had a fresh perspective for the week. However, just cleaning away some dust and some old paper in the office is only part of the fix. The toxic environment that impacts on our wellbeing can extend into relationships that we engage in all the way through self-talk and the way we speak to ourselves. This brings a new aspect to the understanding of the effect that the culture in which we work has a massive impact on our wellbeing. Healthy and supportive relationships at work can be make-or-break for many people. Hence my advice is to be more conscious of this and with this awareness, we should seek out those that support a more balanced approach through trust and positivity. Hence my decision to be more present today and seek out those that nourish my spirit and impact my wellbeing in a positive way. We must recognise that we have more power when we consciously control all the toxins that erode use. My advice to all leaders is to own this power and to stand up and put in place protection for their team to remove these from the environment.
Mantra: There is order in chaos