Today was the final day of 5 days workshop delivery and tomorrow I head off to India to work with a new client on developing an internal brand and culture strategy connected to 5-star service delivery. That is quite a mouthful and as I write this I realise that I must take some time and just refocus and relax my brain. It has been running on high voltage for the past week and now it seems to have just reverted to robot mode and repeat what it knows. During this workshop, we discussed the habitual mindset and how this can alter one’s perception of change. This week has shown me the importance of time to allow the brain to shut off and recharge as this ‘always on’ not only impacts health it also dulls forward thinking and creativity. I am sure it is much like how Buster felt the one time I saw him chase his tail. He did try for about 5 spins and then realised it was not for him. His active brain saw no sense in it and off he went in search of something to sniff or eat – got to love a beagle. I appreciate that some people find solitude in sameness and in routine and that is what makes us all unique in our own way. However, if I was to speak on my behalf and for others with dyslexia or with ways of thinking that need more autonomy and scope of creativity and change, it is important that we look at employees more as individuals. To be healthy we need to feed the body with the correct level of nutrients and hence the mind is equal in finding the right balance of workload. Over the next few months, I plan to monitor this more with myself between my need for sameness, creativity, exercise, social and me time. What I have truly recognised is just how out of balance I am in these 5 zones. It is like I live in excess in 1 or 2 of them till I drain the bucket and then I move to another and with excess, I drain the other. In order for my creative brain to find the nutrient that it needs to be happy and healthy, I must start to balance the filling and draining of these 5 areas with more conscious and forward-thinking strategy.
Mantra: Be kind to your creative brain
I was back in the training room again today and gave it all to the delegates as if it was for the first time. They are a lovely client. Being a private hospital empathy is naturally ingrained into many of the people as many commented on my commitment to maintaining my energy with each and every workshop. We all are able to pull out a little extra energy and hidden power when needed. Drive is directly connected to the purpose and it is within this that we find that little extra energy. However, overlaying this with Balance, when does one cross the threshold between drive and adrenaline and at what stage does this level become unhealthy? When I allowed myself to turn off in the evening I started to feel quite ill and exhausted. It was if my brain would not stop processing all that needed to be done but in a totally non-productive and unmeaningful way. I am a believer that the energy you give is the energy you receive. However, I want to remind myself again that this must be balanced with the amount of energy you give as some needs to be saved for myself. I keep coming back to one of our sessions where Martin mentioned the damage that the ‘always on’ has on the mind and body as I am now more clear on the impact. Organisations need to ensure that they find the balance with their staff workloads as in many cases the most driven to deliver on the higher purpose might also be at the most risk of burnout and stress-related illness. Even your super hero’s need a sidekick from time to time.
Mantra: Be more conscious of the drive threshold.
I think that I have moved into an interesting learning point within this 50-day challenge where all the will in the world does not allow me to do some of the healthy things that I want to do. The nature of my job means that today and for the next few days I just need to ride the wave and get stuff done. So I looked to the positive and the blessings that I should focus on as the ‘poor me’ self-dialogue only further perpetuates more stress and sense of growing mental fatigue. If left unchallenged these negative thoughts can dominate our perspective. So to find power during this busy time I must consciously remind myself that I love what I do. We have some amazing client work starting that I truly believe changes others’ lives and organisations for the better. It is in this sense of higher purpose that we find additional strength and a better mental state to approach the task that needs to be done. It is also important to remind myself that it is ok to push back if the workloads begin to impact our health. I appreciate that sometimes we do not have the luxury as we all get hit with periods of feast or famine and each of these needs their own management system in place. Each is to find balance and to ensure that wellness has a place in it. That is the theory but to be completely honest I am starting to see some cracks the more my personal energy drains and the more my approach to wellness is effected. My advice to all leaders is to be more conscious of these high-stress periods as if not careful you may just allow yourself to stay in that zone for too long and that is not good for you or those around you.
Mantra: Find time to refocus.
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!
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
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
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’