Wellbeing: what’s not working?

Last night a group of coaches, HR pros and leaders gathered in the pretty town of Castle Donnington to talk about wellbeing and explore what’s not working, why are the figures going up, what is needed? All facilitated by Debbie Leafe using Nancy Kline’s Thinking Environment.

The group

In the context of the work I do with clients – reconnecting them to their innate ability for connection, clarity and calm – this session was important to me, both to give our delegates an experience of those innate qualities on the day, but also for them to explore what wellbeing really means and what really needs to happen. read more

A theme for LearnConnectDo 2019

On 14th March this year it’s the first LearnConnectDo event of 2019 as these events run into their 4th year now!  Wow.

“These are always thought-provoking and useful sessions!”

CH, previous delegate.

Huge thanks to everyone who has attended, facilitated and helped us along the way – including PKF Cooper Parry who kindly sponsor us by letting us use their amazing workspace for every event.  read more

How do you create a community?

On 13th September Cat Hase and I ran a Street Wisdom for September’s Learn > Connect > Do event, and welcomed an inquisitive bunch of wanderers to the PKF Cooper Parry offices up here in the East Mids.  You can *see some of them there in the photo 😉 (*courtesy of Cat’s creative skills and in the absence of us thinking to take photos!)  Thanks to these wonderful people buying tickets to find wisdom in the streets, we’ve now upped our total donated to Twenty:Twenty to £325 so far this year – more than last year’s total already!  We’re delighted!!

As well as that great news, I wanted to share about the experience of one of the delegates because it led to learning and insight for me too.  This is the kind of brilliance that comes from Street Wisdom and I didn’t even wander!

Jonny, Head of Fundraising at Twenty:Twenty, brought the question – how do you create a community?  Clearly an important question for his job, and for many in the world of work whatever the sector.

His first thoughts as he began his quest were “well, an airport runway, how am I going to find inspiration here?’.  And of course he did, because our mind is a wonderful thing and Street Wisdom is an amazing tool to access it.

This seemingly dead-end question led to a realisation that the runway is in fact itself a creator of community.  All the people who visit the airport, who work there, who transport people there, who work in the businesses that are only there because of their proximity to the airport.  These people are all part of that airport community.  They might all have different individual, small-group or large-group purposes to be there but they’re all connected by that central tarmac object.  All part of that community.

Later that night, or the next morning, I can’t quite remember….I had a realisation too…..multiply that up.  Take it bigger.  Take the earth.

We might all have our individual, small-group or large-group purposes here but we are all connected.  We are all together, living our purposes, connected by this shared central earth-shaped object.  All part of this community.  And not just humans – plants, creatures, weather, water, mountains…..  All connected.

What does this change for you?

Learn > Connect > Do : Wellbeing and the Thinking Environment

A week ago on 9th March was the latest Learn > Connect > Do : an event held quarterly in Leicester which is for people professionals who care about making work better through doing great people stuff.  These are also people who care about giving back while they learn and I’m delighted that we raised a fantastic £130 for Twenty:Twenty through ticket sales.  This will enable a young person to get support with transport costs to get to their local centre to learn, or to go for a day out to celebrate their learning successes!  And even more than that, with the professional backgrounds we have there are so many other ways delegates can get involved and support these young people into jobs they might never have considered an option before.

Each time we meet we have a topic to discuss and learn about, and a facilitation approach for people to experience so that, if they think it could be useful to them or their organisation, they can go away and explore more for themselves.  This time we talked about Wellbeing – what are we doing about it at work? – facilitated using Nancy Kline’s Thinking Environment approach.  The event was sensational!  One delegate said she didn’t know what to expect of it “but that it over-delivered by far!”.  Makes it all worthwhile 🙂

Having chatted, got to know each other and captured the questions all the delegates brought, I started things off with an intro to the Thinking Environment and how we’d use it as a group.  It’s a very different way of behaving together and so it needs careful set up to agree with the group how it’s going to work and why.  I highlighted how the Thinking Environment really connects to what we know, and are continuing to learn, about how our brains respond to threats, and also it has a strong connection to the theory of Human Givens which is about the conditions needed to help people thrive.

Andrew Harris then shared 8 (plus a bonus 9th!) top tips about how not to be effective with wellbeing.  You can read more about these in a great blog Garry Turner wrote after the event.  It gave a great, concise injection of information and advice to feed the later conversation.

Janice Keyes then took the reigns to help the group choose the top question they wanted to focus on – the choice was broad with aspects like influencing top leaders, showing ROI, engaging managers and employees, developing managers to have conversations about wellbeing, communicating what’s happening and what’s working, developing a strategy…..From all those options the group chose this question: “If wellbeing means something different to each individual, how can an organisation develop a strategy with the flexibility to meet those needs?”   Great question!

We then got into the Thinking Environment group activity.  The evolution of everyone’s thinking was fantastic – there was great diversity and appreciation of each other for new ideas that were introduced.  And laughs, especially when Rhodri highlighted the (unfortunately too often) sad truth that we only need the term “work-life balance” to demonstrate the fact that when we come into work at 9am we die, and only come back alive when we finish for the day.  Like David D’Souza’s Reverse Superman Effect.

Something that struck me was that the same goals we have of empowering people to take responsibility in work, to have clarity of the end game and everyone’s roles in that, and to help people more often choose what they do and when they do it are the same for the topic of wellbeing.  Therefore if you have a great, empowering, coaching-centred and human organisational culture, wellbeing is naturally part of that and doesn’t even need a separate strategy.  Wellbeing is the vehicle, not the destination” as Mark Gilroy so beautifully said.  The addition an organisation might bring is around education about physical and mental health, nutrition, sleep and exercise….  For continued pondering…..

The discussion was so rich and diverse I didn’t feel I could do it justice on my own (these photos show a snapshot of the brilliant thinking that was going on) and so I asked the delegates to send me their thoughts on it.  Here’s what they’ve had to say…..

 

Jo Lee wrote a whole post about it.

 

“I read Nancy Kline’s book “Time to Think” a while ago and I’ve heard it talked about a lot but I hadn’t experienced the thinking environment in action.  The thinking environment that Helen created last week gave me the space to think, to go with whatever came to mind, to let my thoughts evolve, without feeling I had to compete.  I felt very calm.  My takeaway was how powerful something so simple could be – just being able to speak and listen without interruption.  Who’d have thought of that?

My individual takeaway about wellbeing was less about the organisations and strategies that the question we talked about posed.  More about personal responsibility.  How we all have a responsibility to recognise and say how we are feeling – like a wellbeing contract with ourselves.  How what we mean by wellbeing can change, for us as individuals, as a society and how we live our lives.  I am also mindful how important people managers are in the whole wellbeing agenda but how they may not feel equipped or mandated by an organisation to promote wellbeing or respond in an individual way to the people they work with.”

Karen Foyster

 

“The Thinking environment process is powerful, moving, insightful and challenging.  Powerful and moving in terms of the depth of listening and understanding that one draws from the process.  Insightful as one hears and learns on a completely different plane/level.  Challenging as, I at least, am used to competing to be heard (in relative terms), so the serenity and calmness of the process is genuinely mind-blowing.   This is a process that I have already promoted to some colleagues internally and I will practice it in my own time also.

The Fit for Work presentation from Andrew was excellent, very insightful and engaging.  I learned a lot about the aims and process of this organisation, but I also took away the consistency of challenge, like so many other people interventions, that exist around introducing effective wellbeing into organisations i.e. leadership buy in, effective line management training etc

All in all genuinely my best CPD experience of my career to date.”

Garry Turner

 

“The session was a perfect fusion of process (thinking environment) and content (wellbeing) with each being integral and complementary to the other. To have the opportunity to talk and listen in such an uninterrupted, focused and purposeful way was illuminating and made for one of those ‘moment in time’ sessions we all hope for as facilitators. What was most striking for me was the synergy between the process and the content – our own wellbeing (many of us reported feeling calmer and clearer) was being enhanced as were discussing the topic. I am already thinking of how I can use this approach for teams in crisis and for leaders who are under significant pressure”

Kirsten Holder

 

“So many gems. I appreciated hearing from others about how to promote wellbeing as a strategic consideration for any organisation. Helen’s facilitation of Nancy Kline’s Thinking Environment was positioned expertly, and a timely refresher of a highly valuable facilitation tool, one which enriched the quality of the conversations throughout the session. All this, topped off by the knowledge that a portion of the cost is being donated to a worthwhile local charity. It’s easy to cover a lot of content in a short amount of time…but to also have time built in for reflection, networking and practical takeaways, that’s something special. Time well spent.”

Mark Gilroy

 

So thank you to all the delegates for their energy and wonderful thinking on the day.  Thank you to Janice and Andrew for facilitating the session with me.  Thank you to Mark for taking fab photos.  And thank you to Bianca for supporting me with the very important and hidden administration to make the event happen.

If you’re interested in joining a future event, the next one’s 8th of June 3-6pm at The Observatory in Leicester.  If you’d like to go on the mailing list, email me.  Or keep an eye on the website, or on Twitter (#LearnConnectDo) or on my LinkedIn.

It would be great to welcome you to this growing community!

 

No man is an island

“Mummy am I Muslim or Hindu?”
“Neither darling, you don’t really have a religion.”
“So can I choose what I am?”
“Yes you can!”
“Oh good! That means I can marry Shey and be a Muslim. My teacher said that if one person doesn’t have a religion they can marry anyone and be the same as them.”

This was a recent conversation with my 5 year old daughter.  I loved the simplicity of it.  Her thoughts reminded me of an item I heard on the radio last week where a Christian lady was being interviewed about her 40 year marriage to a Jewish man.

The point of the item was to highlight the challenges of living a tandem life like this. She talked about the difficulty their parents had accepting that they would marry. How they worried that she’d feel excluded from his Jewish celebrations because she wouldn’t be allowed to join in. How they wouldn’t be part of either community and therefore how they’d have none.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”  ― John Donne, No Man Is An Island - Meditation XVII

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
― John Donne, No Man Is An Island – Meditation XVII

Being part of a tribe or community is really important to our primitive brain.  We like to spend time with people like us because it helps us feel safe and, as far as our primitive brain’s concerned, safe = good.  The minds of this couple’s parents would definitely have been seeing this marriage as a serious threat to their safety and security.  And especially in those days.  40 years ago when they married – about 1975 – there were three TV channels, no mobiles, no internet, definitely no social media.  This meant two things:

………The world was much smaller and awareness of wacky things like inter-religion marriages was incredibly low.

………And, being part of a religion at that time was a significant source of having our basic human need of ‘community’ met.  If you didn’t have support there, where could you get it?

Today we have so many ways to be part of a community – whether virtual or in real life – yes religion, and also communities based in work, sports, music, shopping, theatre, food, friends and family …and more, and then there are all the social media community options…..

They provide us with support and a sense of belonging.  A sense of shared purpose with others.  Community is one of our basic human needs that, if not met, leaves us with a sense of dissatisfaction with life, and a lack of balance. Or worse.

If you stop now and think…..  What communities are you part of.  Why not list them out.  How important are each of them to you?  Where would you like to spend more time?  What would that give you?  And what would that mean for your other priorities?

But what about communities you’d like to be part of but never ventured into?  Communities that might challenge your thinking, your attitudes, your experience – and ultimately help you grow and develop in some way.

That little voice of our primitive brain is still there sometimes, telling us whether it’ll be safe or not.  Just like the parents of that couple 40 years ago.  And yet there they are, still happily married with a richer life because of it.  From the joining of their two religions, they’ve had a great breadth and depth of conversation about how to live their lives together, how to raise their children.  And apparently their kids were the most enthusiastic with the most mature perspectives in RE class, because of their broader and more varied experience.  And they’ve benefitted from the support of two communities rather than one.

So what communities do you want to join that could broaden your horizons and give you a new perspective or a new challenge?  And what’s stopping you?

I believe in people being the key to success and that success is unlocked by great bosses. And being a boss is a tough job.  

If you believe in this stuff too, get in touch for a chat and let’s see what we could do together – 07718 316 616 or helen.amery@wildfigsolutions.co.uk or take a look at my website to find out more.

Executive Coaching and Development for SME leaders –

creating success for you, for your team, for your business.

[Photo credit – world-visits.blogspot.com]