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.
Having read back yesterday’s blog it seemed that I had got everything sorted and I was on a motivational and positive trajectory however today I seemed less happy and less motivated due to several challenging issues with work and a few personal ones to boot. I guess this is what we call real-life. Over the years I have done my fair share of detoxes whether that be a juice detox, a three-day detox, a five-day detox, as far as the 10-day detox and each time, in the end, I felt some benefit however the journey to that final day took many twists and turns. Each of these focuses on the body and clearing out the build-up of toxins such as alcohol and processed foods. This is a great parallel to any toxins be it food or people. Like this week I am focusing on cleansing and today it really extended far beyond just cleaning the office and making a work environment clean. It became evident that we must also consider our personal cleansing and that’s the cleansing of the stressors and the things that take us away from being the best version of ourselves. I think I am beginning to recognise through the challenge just how much pressure I put on myself to perform and also how much pressure I internalise as I am not very open to seeking the support of others when it comes to showing vulnerability. However, if I am to achieve a higher degree of wellness in my mind, body AND spirit it is very important that I focus just as much on my mind as I do my body simply because they are very interrelated. Today I began to look at many of my own internal feelings, behaviour patterns and the amount of stress that I internalise and with an external smile to let the world see that I am okay. When really behind-the-scenes the constant juggling of pressure seems to be greatly impacting my health and also my performance. Delving a little deeper into my body and spirit it is a labyrinth of crisscrossing connections and more so than I ever thought at the beginning of this project. The interconnection between these three areas is incredibly interwoven. The conclusion that I draw from this is that any organisation looking to increase employee wellness by developing an internal program must recognise the importance of this and to understand the vastness of the subject. As people, we are all different and it is crucial to engage the employee population to find out what wellbeing means to them and how they can be best supported on their own journey. There are so many facets to consider and a cookie cutter approach to employee wellbeing is not the answer. I don’t think there is a bowl of fruit or a ping/pong table big enough to quick fix me at the moment. All jokes aside, I never appreciated the depth of this subject as I, like many leaders, have only been looking at it from the surface.
It is hard to believe that we are already one week in and looking back… it has been a full one. It has been very interesting to put my own wellness under the conscious microscope as in doing this I can clearly see just how unkind I have been to myself in all three areas of mind, body and spirit. I am not 100% sure, which one was the first to fall but I think that it was my spirit. I just seemed to hit a wall in early 2018 and after a series of unforeseen events I see now that I went into survival mode and used most of my energy to just fight fires. It was in this constant state of flux and stress that I forgot to be kind to myself and look after my own mind, body and spirit and with a great deal of humility can say now I was not always OK. I lost balance and allowed the stress of the environment to rule over all three states leaving each somewhat starved of the nutrients that maintain a healthy state of mind. It was strange, as after the office cleansing that lighter energy stayed with me and from the moment I opened my eyes today I knew something small had shifted in me. It was like something had simply let go and it was not just one thing such as cleaning the office – it has been a combination of events, discussions, research and just ‘me’ time that seemed to make a little more sense as a collective than as a series of single events. This perspective was reinforced as I had a PT session with Tom. With residual bla di bla perspective, I was not that motivated beforehand as really had to squeeze it in on a busy day (old excuses) but and I was walking home after it and something seemed to happen in my brain and I felt just a little bit happier. It is really hard to explain but I felt another little shift. If I was to offer any advice or challenge to a busy leader: take charge of one goal or action that you have been meaning to do (make it small and manageable) that will make a change in your physical environment for the better and complete it – then take a moment and feel the feeling and spend time appreciating that you did it! You did not blame time, or meetings or others or or or. You took back some of the control in the world in which you reside.
Today was one of the busiest days I have had in ages and it hit me out of nowhere. The day started with one call and then another and so on with each one taking longer than expected and each one putting me a little more behind schedule. However, it did highlight to me just how much my energy can turn on a dime as my low energy over the last few days was replaced with that of a more manic and frantic one. This was like a pendulum swinging from one direction to the other and after a full day like this, it can leave one very exhausted. Without question, it is the complete opposite of being balanced and is one of the areas that I personally wish to explore over this 50-day challenge. A very close friend of mine often reminds me that I need to find more balance in my energy in which I totally agree. I do find that mindfulness and meditation have gone some way to assist me in doing this better, as this has helped me slow the swing from depression to overtly positive and manic. This is something that I have had to deal with for many years and therefore can fully appreciate others that also have this impacting on their daily mental wellness. I see leaders from across all businesses running them self from meeting to meeting and have to begin to question the impact this has not only on their own well being but that of their productivity and ability to truly lead their team forward. It is very much easier to put on a mask and fake resilience but after a while, this does take its toll on our wellbeing and ability to successfully manage our ways through busy days or periods like this. I know that this is very early days in this challenge and this first week for me is very much about looking at my mind, body and spirit and how I am currently managing these areas and I have to say that I am slowly uncovering lots of core areas that I need to focus on and change.
I am already feeling the strain of this challenge and it is only day three. My first mindset session has opened up a few cans of worms that have been playing on my mind coupled with a newly found stiffness after my first PT session. However, it is more than that as my stress level seems to be on the up and energy to be on the down. I am thinking that maybe I became more dependent than I thought on the lovely glass or two of wine in the evening coupling with the additional sugar intakes throughout the day. Removing them cold might be a factor but I guess this is all part of pushing through. Also, 2018 was not a great year for me as I purged a few toxic people from my life, however today I met one of them after a long period and must say I could feel the energy shift in me and my resilience dropped. The energy it took to be kind and respectful in light of the hurt and disappointment this person caused. The power of others to impact on our wellness is massive and hence must be considered greatly when looking at the parallel of one person’s journey and that of organisational culture. It can be exhausting having to work with others that do not bring out the best in you or leave you with a sense of stress or negative feelings about yourself. This being a real-time experiment I am not sure what the next 46 days hold. I am excited by the challenge but must be kind to myself and ensure that over this time I find Balance between the discovery that this project brings and maintaining my day job. In the spirit of transparency and honesty, I was very irritable and even irrational at times today as I really feel that my mind, body and spirit are all moving in different directions. However, this is no excuse to project this on to others as yes it is ok to not be ok but we need to be honest about this and should ask for support and compassion from those around us that we trust and respect. Not project outwardly negative emotions that clearly impact those around us – something that I acknowledge I did not manage well today.
Liggy Webb, behavioural skills expert, author and founder of The Learning Architect, an international consortium of behavioural skills specialists, joined BridgeTalks on January 26, 2016 to talk on “Service Excellence: The Human Driver”.
The talk was opened by Dale Smith, Director of Creation at Bridge Training & Events. Dale introduced the topic with some of his own experience with resilience.
Focusing on Resilience, Liggy shared findings from research for her latest book, “Resilience – How to cope when everything around you keeps changing”.
Liggy first introduced the idea of living in a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) and turning this around to be full of Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility.
The audience came to an agreed definition of resilience (including ‘staying calm’, ‘stickability’ and ‘confidence’) before Liggy moved on to the idea of a “Boomerang” vs a “Doom-erang” and how being resilient is about letting go.
Through her research, Liggy found that the three constant characteristics of a resilient person are:
– Accountability – the ability to take responsibility for a situation
– Agility – the ability to learn and relearn
– Attitude – keeping a positive mindset
Liggy went on to share the top 10 key strategies for building resilience.
Delegates enjoyed drinks and canapés at the networking reception following the talk in the Courthouse Hotel bar.