A few years ago, I was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. I am not sharing this to garner sympathy but to share how it has recently struck me how the action plan I put in place then is completely in line with the Workplace Resilience and Wellbeing pillars I share with clients today.
What pillars am I talking about? The 5 WRAW pillars are:
- Energy – we hear a lot about how managing our nutrition, water intake, sleep and exercise is so important. Little adjustments can have significant impacts on our emotional and mental well-being as well as our physical. These adjustments were a prime focus when I was ill, but they are so important if we want to be our best at work too.
- Inner Drive – We all have times when we have done something we didn’t think we could, but were spurred on by desire and determination. I had spent years of my professional life working to register new treatments for this disease. Now I was ill, I was adamant that it wasn’t going to get me. Focussing on what motivates us and believing in what is possible, enables us to dig deep and keep moving forward.
- Flexible thinking – when battling cancer, I didn’t know what each day would bring, and I had to be agile and prepared for anything. Rather than stressing out and rigidly trying to stick to my plans, I had to accept and adapt. It actually allowed me to be much more resourceful and to change track quickly if needed. Research shows that people who are more agile and flexible in their thinking have less stress and can manage adversity and change much better.
- Future focus – it is often easy to fall into the trap of ruminating over the past, being stuck in what is going on in the present, feeling sorry for ourselves and losing sight of the possible future outcome and goals. It is remarkable: that if we have a clear intention, a clear goal and a reason for doing something, that can power us through difficult times.
- Strong Relationships – when times are tough, many of us can retreat into ourselves or put our heads down and power through. We think that putting all our energy into doing the doing will get the result we need. However, this isolation and heavy expectation of self can massively increase stress and limit our performance. At times like these, resilience and well-being is increased by extending out to those we have strong connections with and using our sounding boards, asking for support/guidance/advice or even just someone to give you a different perspective or to make you laugh. It activates chemicals in our bodies that are known to reduce anxiety. When I was sick, my Chief laughter officer (my father), my chief communication officer (my Best Friend), my chief nutrition officers (my parents), and my chief hugger (my mother) were people I had around me and turned to every day. The positive impact it had on my well-being was huge; nothing I could have done alone would have had the same impact on my mental and emotional strength and energy levels as all that they did. At work, we have similar people who can provide that strong support, but do we tap into them?
When faced with such a clear purpose (my fight to survive), putting all the aspects of the plan in place was a no-brainer. I truly believe that this foundation was crucial in enabling me to manage the gruelling treatments, recover and have the current good prognosis for the future that I have.
But why do we often need a dramatic event to create a purpose to work on our Resilience and Well-being?
It should be an integral part of our every day, an enabler of managing the complex, stressful world we exist in, not something we either vaguely attempt to fit around our day or we just turn to when we need help.
We all deserve to live fulfilling, healthy, energised lives where we enable ourselves to perform at our best.
We are realising now that Workplace Resilience and Wellbeing is not a ‘nice to have’ but is intrinsically linked to high-performing individuals, Teams and Organisations. I am passionate about this work and hope this post has passed on some valuable things for you to consider and implement.
Do let me know if I have.