Seeking happiness seems to be the thing to do. These are the messages all around us: Go on this holiday to be happy. Eat this food to be happy. Get this job to be happy. Have the perfect family life to be happy. The research would say we’re wired to go towards pleasure and away from pain and therefore we should seek a life with maximum happiness. But could this be an over-worked concept that isn’t serving us?
On the back of National Inclusion Week (#NIW2017) last week, and research conducted by PM Insight, this is an essential topic for organisations to engage with. Whether you believe we live in a VUCA world or not, creativity and innovation are essential in work and those qualities will only come through bringing and genuinely including different perspectives and approaches into the workplace’s thinking.
So in November we’re inviting four experts to come and share their knowledge and experience on some of the hot topics in the world of Diversity:
> Disadvantaged young people
> Mental Health
Make sure you read about Joanna, Sean, Deborah and Karen at the end of the post.
At Learn > Connect > Do we believe in an adult approach to learning and we like to do things informally so, for this event, the experts will be available around the room much like a conference exhibition hall – but without any hard sell! So you’ll get to choose which experts you spend your time with – whether that’s 1, 2, 3 or all 4 of them. It’ll be about relaxed conversations – learning, asking and exchanging ideas.
But this event isn’t just about gaining knowledge. We’re also going to explore the barriers to diversity – what stops us when it comes to Inclusion. As a species, we’ve been scared of difference in others for many years – just check out this video if you need evidence for that (thanks to Janice Keyes for the vid). And recent events prove this fear is still prevalent all around us. So we’ll be talking about this barrier and any others you encounter, understanding them and sharing ideas together for how to overcome them.
If we keep doing the same things we’ll keep getting the same results. This is a chance for you to choose to do things differently, to make work better.
It’s going to be a bumper event with mince pies and, of course, chocoloate included! And as usual, all profits will be going to TwentyTwenty so they can continue to do their great work. All this for less than £27!
We’d love to see you there!
Email me to go on the mailing list for this and future events.
For now, here’s an introduction to our experts…..
Disadvantaged Young People – Joanna Burrows from TwentyTwenty
To represent the perspective of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, Joanna Burrows from TwentyTwenty (Learn > Connect > Do’s charity partner) will be joining us. TwentyTwenty is an award-winning employment support charity specialising in supporting and empowering disadvantaged 11-24 year olds who are disengaged from education or not in education, employment or training (NEET). We break cycles of hopelessness, worklessness and dependency in the most deprived areas of the East Midlands, operating through Lifeskills Centres in Loughborough, Leicester and Derby.
We aim to consistently put the right people, places and opportunities around each young person, to counterbalance some of their persistently difficult home, educational and social experiences. We support young people to develop self-belief and motivation, achieve in education, learn work-ready skills and attitudes and find and keep a good job.
LGBT – Sean Russell from Get Out Stay Out
Sean Russell is passionate about LGBT and enabling employment. He’s the founder of the website:
Like alcoholics, I’m not sure my treatment will ever be entirely complete, but I’m on the right track.
I’ve always strived to achieve. To achieve with the hope of being ‘good enough’ for the parental figures in my life – be they at home or work. Having always found good grades fairly easy to come by at school I expected the trend to continue in work, sometimes sorely disappointed by the different type of race being run there with politics and relationships suddenly part of the game – not just working hard to deliver ‘the work’.
And some Type A is good, it gets stuff done, it pushes boundaries, it challenges beyond what we first thought possible. But, as with most things, too much and it becomes a weakness. It’s downsides begin to outweight the up.
When I look back on my days in HR I see a me who was shoulder to shoulder with the tough-minded commercial leader : “Well, if they can’t cut it this might not be the right place for them.” “If their caring responsibilities are going to take priority over their job then this isn’t going to work.” “10% growth again this year? Of course we can do it! *collective leadership battle cries* Are you in or out?”
Some of this was because their Type A matched mine – deliver more, more, more, with less, less, less.
And this behaviour was underpinned by an unkindness, a lack of care, a lack of empathy. I was so fixed on (supposedly) doing the right thing for the business, so aligned with these focussed, driven leaders – who were meant to be the role models to follow – that it didn’t occur to me that anything else was an option. I thought it made me a “commercial” HR person – what all the books said you’re meant to be.
I did change my attitude and approach to my role in HR in later years, seeing the importance of holding that space of challenge and providing balance to the Type A leadership style, reminding leaders of the human beings involved – my kids played a big part in that development for me. And my attitude and approach have definitely changed again since leaving corporate life.
But the biggest shifts have come through working with my own coach, that this unkindness I showed towards others started from an unkindness towards myself. That I believed I was only good enough, only deserved praise / attention / love if I was tough and resilient, if I showed I could deliver the results – be they A grades in exams or improved sales and profit, only good enough if I worked hard.
These messages we get as kids, they reverberate through the years.
And so although I know I’ve come a long way in my journey from that version of me back there, I also know there is still more to do to keep myself grounded in believing I’m good enough as I am. From that self care comes a genuine care for others and the ability to make the right choices for the human beings in this world around me, more than the business results and hours worked.
Last week I had another realisation in this journey of mine and this little phrase that came to me resonated strongly – “I think if I’m being a high achiever it makes me better, but it only makes me worse.”
If you’re on a similar journey you’re definitely not alone and I’d encourage you to keep going, keep exploring, keep understanding and empathising with yourself because from there comes understanding and empathy for others.
With levels of mental health concerns rising things aren’t going to improve unless we start here.
And for my own latest exploring on this journey? It’s brought me to Buddhism which has put a whole new mind-blowing spin on it. I’m still processing a lot to be able to write on that. But maybe for another post…
[Photo credits : http://members.cogwa.org/man-blog/do-you-have-to-be-a-tough-guy-to-be-a-man/ ; https://www.surrey.ac.uk/quality-enhancement-standards/collaborative-provision
It’s not that unusual for people to cry when they work with me. Stopping the daily busy-ness and task-focused activities to pause, reflect and to think well can often bring things to the surface that people hadn’t noticed were there. Our always-on and busy lives lead us to sweep things under the carpet and carry on with an “it’s all fine” and “I’m fine” face on. Sometimes a client’s upset is “normal level” upset, sometimes it’s a symptom of medically-recognisable anxiety for which they need different help than I can provide. And when I say anxiety, don’t picture “jibbering mess, barely able to function”. Instead picture the reality which is genuinely what’s in front of me – capable, confident leaders who are very skilled at what they do and who are able to hide their anxious turmoil REALLY well.
It happened to me too. Not anxiety but definitely the surfacing of a collection of stuff which I’d been sweeping under my carpet for about a year. For me it was starting yoga that brought my tears to the surface and my yoga teacher tells me I’m most definitely not the only one. Taking time out to spend an hour in my own headspace while doing gentle yoga poses, flows and meditation gave me that non-task-focused space to allow my hidden stuff to come to the surface.
Since then yoga has become a weekly class and I don’t cry. Doesn’t mean I never will, nobody and no life is perfect, but for now I’m not. I’m also going to seasonally-timed yoga & art retreats for 5 Sundays this year. They’re amazing, luxurious time out from everything. I’ve worked with a fantastic therapeutic coach who helped me look deeply into myself and my past to reconcile some things and help me feel OK as I move forward, which has also helped with some relationships around me. Still some work in progress but a definite, significant shift, and lots of learning about me as coach.
And so what? Well, all this reflection was prompted by reading some good news in the world of mental health – that organisations are starting to make talking about mental health OK and that they’re providing solutions. The fact that The IOD are talking about it and not just The CIPD is a significant step in the right direction. Being able to help people consider a range of support options is brilliant to meet different people’s needs. Yoga doesn’t work for everyone, and neither will coaching, but an Employee Assistance Programme might, or counselling, or medical support, staff networks or buddying, and more.
For me, coaching on its own provides fantastic headspace to reflect, and I’ve also expanded what I offer to clients, making walking coaching and yoga + coaching definite options for those who want to give them a try.
Whatever’s right for you, the more you can address the causes and check under your carpet more regularly the better.
[Photo credit :https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bansky_street_cleaner_-_Chalk_Farm_(1205714884).jpg]