Leading ‘sustainable engagement’ in the workplace

By | Engagement, Leadership, productivity, Wellbeing | No Comments

The wealth of your business is reflected in the health of you!

If we take inspiration from successful sports teams, our natural aspirations to do well and be successful is something that is multifaceted and embedded into the daily habits and rhythm of life and should also come with a rule book, just like any sport!

The optimal performance of human beings is simple to communicate and share (the wisdom on social media), yet harder to achieve and embed in life.

Over the years many scientific and management studies have provided evidence on how to engage and motivate your people, build high performing teams, told us what to eat, do, think, say and why we should do it! However, with all the best-selling books, well-intentioned advice from experts, proven research, that often gets updated, we still find ourselves in an escalating health dilemma. We see more people in workplaces experiencing an energy crisis, there is an unease within various socio and economic ecosystems, and we are witnessing a decline in performance and productivity in some countries.

“In 2014, US workers worked the most hours per week, followed by Japan, Canada, and the UK. An overall downwards trend can be observed across countries for hours worked” (1)

So, we know more, do more, have more, fill our days working more, yet the very thing that we seek to become — successful, productive, healthy human beings, is moving further away at an unrelenting pace from the masses, or bare minimum sticking on autopilot.

The World Health Organisation predicts that workplace stress, depression and burnout will top the world’s most prevalent diseases by 2020.

Engaged people feel well. To be well and do well is a daily practice based on a few simple principles of moving, resting, recharging and reflecting. These need to be embraced by you and your team(s) at all levels in the workplace, with the ultimate intention to role model better and healthier ways of working and living, if you wish to create sustainable engagement from your people and a thriving workplace(2).

I get it. I do. You feel like you are on your own at times, striving, fighting back. You have targets to hit, costs to reduce, customers to serve, people to engage and motivate and policies and processes to simplify.

You find yourself racing from meeting to meeting, going faster on the road, treadmill, and barely taking a breath, and yet you crave more time to make better decisions, seek creative solutions, create white space in your diary to spend with high performing teams to have deep conversations and spend time with the people you serve — your customers. You don’t need to fight back! Where is the fight taking you? It’s the very shadow of the organisation that has become tired and drained of all energy. Start to conserve your energy for something much bigger. There is another way. A better way.

Don’t look back; you’re not going that way.

I invite you to join me and adopt new management practices into your workplace and re-write the rules.

Drawing on over a decade of leading research by the LSE with McKinsey & Company, Stanford University, and more recently other participants…Results have consistently shown a statistically significant correlation between good (management) practices and firm performance: well-run companies are in general more productive, profitable, and have higher sales growth than those with inferior practices. (1)

38,000 feet in the air on a flight back from Sydney I listened to the airline safety video expressing the need to ensure your oxygen mask is on before helping others. This is a great metaphor for optimal performance and being well, particularly when the majority of your daily journey is served in the workplace.

Create your + rule book for performance in an engaged workplace:

  • Develop your set of personal and professional rules that give a framework for each day and be consistent. It may be that all calls you take are standing. You value the energy and presence of your team, so in meetings, all phones are banned. You know the importance of good food to keep you energised, so you gather with colleagues and create the time just to eat.
  • When you prioritise your energy requirements to perform at your best, you, in turn, prioritise others.
  • Focus on the decisions you want to make and space (time and environment) required to make them, and in turn, you empower others to do the same.
  • Carve out white space in your diary to re-charge and re-focus daily and others will come to you with comprehensive and creative solutions

I’m not a deep expert in any area of health and wellbeing; I am a practitioner of wellness for sustainable human performance in work and life. An unconventional and former Human Resources (HR) professional who is moving further from the term ‘Human Resources’ to valuing that our place of work requires a ‘Human Performance’ team to support and enhance performance rather than supply the people! I am on a quest to find a better way of working and living, that is different to the current way because let’s be honest it isn’t working out that well!

sources: (1) The Power of Productivity Report, Dec 2016 by Dr Alexander Grous, London School of Economics and Political Science. (2) Workplace Wellness that Works by Laura Putnam

Why 10 days of silence felt loud!

By | Flow, Pause, productivity, Wellbeing | No Comments

I went for peace & became more productive

As I sat in the hall on the fourth day, you could hear a needle drop, yet in my head, the big band were only just getting started, and the constant beat of thoughts was creating a ripple effect of how I sat in stillness.
The decision to go was not something I took lightly. In fact, at the time I felt I was under immense pressure at work, experiencing daily panic attacks and suffering from chronic stress. On top of that, I was trying to be a great wife, mother and friend with barely enough energy for all. Something had to change. I went to learn, to change my mindset and to experience something that is rare — slowing down!

– You’re irresponsible; you won’t stick at this, you’re going crazy, you’re too trusting, run away, get out, get out, get out!

As I rolled into day six, the band was in full swing, and I wanted to throw in the towel, or cushion I had been perched on for 6 hours each day. I was distressed and confused. I had gone expecting to find peace through slowing down, yet it was, even more, louder in the slow lane. I scribbled frantically in the writing pad by the hall entrance to seek support from one the team. Within moments of writing it, I was approached and helped, Anna helped me make sense of what was going on in my mind, and at that moment the shift took place.

“You get to a place where you begin to be guided by something greater than yourself. You stop fighting and striving (indeed the need to expend this type of energy is often a strong indicator that you are not in flow and where you are meant to be) and instead, surrender to your higher purpose and be guided from there, allowing things to happen, trusting in source, focusing on your why and letting go of the how…”
― Wayne W. Dyer, The Shift: Taking Your Life from Ambition to Meaning

My inner dialogue that had been faint, yet humming in the background for years, often blurring into the hyperconnected web of life was now fully present and at maximum volume. It had my attention, and my role was to sit with it for the next four days and not react. Walk a little slower, explore this noise and create a new melody.

On day ten I stepped out the meditation hall with belief and relief. As I drove through the tranquil valley on the edge of the North York Moors National Park back home, the world looked and felt very different. My awareness within was now reflected in the outer world.

The days that following was about integrating back into the hustle and bustle of day to day life and at times, the overload of my senses. I did this gradually, yet the smell of paint fumes, to my surprise, was the hidden secret of those ten days in silence. I stood proudly in my newly decorated bedroom. What usually have taken two days had taken me half a day. I was surprised by the level of focus and flow, but not as surprised as my husband who thought I had got decorators in!

So when I need to boost my productivity, focus and flow, I minimise the distractions from the outer world and explore what is going on inside.

Being in the flow

By | Flow, Pause, Wellbeing | No Comments

Using our senses to navigate our way of being

Everything in life needs to flow. At this very moment you are in a natural relationship with the flow, and despite the flux, you naturally have the abilities to guide and choose your next move.

The flux can often become our crux of the very thing that allows us all flow.

Flow is undeniable in its energy and movement. Flow doesn’t need to force, push or try harder; it circulates, slides and glides while helping us make our strides. Flow is a natural state, a way of being, despite the pressures and stresses of life, full of endless possibilities and potential.

In many Eastern traditions, flow is a form of energy. From my studies in Yoga, the Sanskrit word and is derived from the root nad, which means “flow”, “motion”, or “vibration”. Identified in many Tantric texts, the human body consists of 72,000, or more nadis that provide universal energy (prana) to every cell in the human body. When the nadi system flows freely we are healthy and well, yet when it becomes weak and congested, we struggle with poor mental and physical health.

How is your flow? 

Are you working too hard? Tangled up in thoughts and to-do lists? Working daily to land that deal, or seek that decision, Do you feel fatigued by your day and often hijack your meals with coffee and snack bars (and that’s when you remember to eat!)?

It’s time to plug into your natural abilities and guide yourself back to the choices you always have:
– Choose an optimal choice that brings flow (e.g. set a daily routine for when you eat, sleep, etc…)
– Choose a suboptimal choice that forces, or diverts flow (e.g. eat on the move, or when you can squeeze it in, while sat at the desk of course!)
– Don’t make a choice and run the risk of becoming stuck

Now stand up and take a closer look our your window and notice the flow happening — traffic, people, nature, the time of day. Pause a little. What do you notice? Use all of your senses.

Next turn your attention to your resources — time, energy and money. Where are you investing these to support your flow, or where are you not? Your legacy to be well, feel well and do well in all aspects of your life is synonymous with your reality.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu

If you feel you’ve strayed from your flow, reached a transitional period in your life, or strive for better balance in work and life then invest in harmonising your natural rhythms first — sleep, eat, move and most importantly rest.
Your ability to recognise and change how you perform, make decisions, listen, focus and succeed are all based on your flow, except don’t find your flow, get in your flow.


Three steps to get into your flow:

  1. What do you love? Or what’s your ambition in life?
  2. Plot your daily rhythm – Grab a piece of paper and draw a horizontal time line from 6 am today, to 6 am the tomorrow, or use your calendar. Block out time for sleeping, eating, moving, resting and relaxing (note — relaxing is not sat in front of the TV every night! — let’s save that for another blog!)
  3. Now reflect on what resources (time, energy, money) you current invest in your dream, or ambition on a daily, or weekly basis and how much is achievable for you to do going forwards?

“The idea flow from the human spirit is absolutely unlimited. All you have to do is tap into that well. I don’t like to use the word efficiency. It’s creativity. It’s a belief that every person count”.

– Jack Welch

The Hopeless Wanderer

By | Being Present, Bereavement, Pause, Wellbeing | No Comments

The search and quest to find ‘me’ in my forest of thoughts

“You heard my voice I came out of the woods by choice
Shelter also gave their shade
But in the dark, I have no name”
– Hopeless Wanderer, by Mumford and Sons

Over 14 years ago my beautiful mum lost her battle to breast cancer and I sadly watched her slip away as she took her last breath. I took on the role of ‘be strong’ for everyone. I felt it was my duty to mum & my broken family. I became a serial perfectionist, control freak, strived for achievement no matter how much strain it put me under… And looking back now, hindsight is a great thing, I was the sole contributor to it all!

After an enlightening holiday to Australia in 2013, some nine years after my mums passing, I realised I had been running from bereavement for so long and only last week I was reminded of this when I listened to Prince Harry share his own personal experience of losing his mother and the impact it had on his own health. I must admit listening to him helped me appreciate that I am ‘normal’ and bereavement really has no timeline, textbook approach and differs for each and every one of us. Sometimes the pain of accepting it is too much to bear and no ‘bereavement curve’ is going to get you there quicker.

Over that long block of time in my life, I found it easier to distract myself, although I wasn’t aware that I was actually doing that for years. My distractions went from minimal chores to significant changes — moving house 3 months after mums passing (so we had a house big enough to host a family Christmas!), cramming work hours into my week until I was too exhausted to do anymore, fundraising and organising charity balls to bring something good out of the mess of losing my mother.

Like many people that lose a parent, you eventually arrive at significant family occasions where their physical presence is hugely missed and my wedding day, birth of our daughter, birthdays and ‘Mothers Day’ are moments when I have and still feel unsteady on my feet and mind, often wishing to embrace the moment and also get through the day/event as quickly as possible without tears of the special memory not being shared with her.

What are you running from, or what are you running to?

Wandering in Manly above the trees! — Sonia and I

This powerful question was left rattling around in my head and I got curious. In March 2016, on top of a mighty hill not far from Manly Wharf and for the first time in ten years, I got perspective, I slowed down, relaxed, ‘paused’, practised yoga, walked and spent deep quality time together as a family.

Three weeks allowed for this and I will always be eternally grateful for that opportunity to visit a beautiful country and the special memories I am left with and the rituals I have embedded into my life to this very day.

Each day I remind myself to be more present, to count my blessings, to be cool with the ‘lack of control’ with life! I’m by no means saying “I’ve cracked it”, I still have my wobbly days, but every day I try, and the days I don’t succeed, I notice and acknowledge it. After all, perfection is an unattainable goal and the moment I think I have ‘cracked it’ will probably be a sign that I stepped back into the woods again!

Notice, what you notice!

My family, friends, early morning meditation and yoga, walking, daily moments to pause and good food are the gifts to me each day to be well. Being well is a daily practice for us all.

Manly Beach — Beach Wandering!

As they say in Manly (well my brother does!) Live. Love. Smile — What great advice!