As a kid we once went on a family holiday to a theme park called Wet N Wild, it was great. There was a ride there called the ‘Love Lane’, which was basically a meandering looped river of water driven by an artificial current. Great fun if you want to lie on a rubber ring and be carried along. I find this a relevant metaphor for modern life.
Whether we are willing to admit it or not, a large proportion of us get carried along life’s current with little or not control. We are caught up in our busy lives, focussing on things that bring us short term joy and that seems to be just dandy. Until it’s not, which is what we have seen unfold during most of last year and continuing into this, compounded by life’s usual ups and downs.
In 2020 60% of UK workers reported suffering from presenteeism - the act of showing up for work without being productive. Between 44-48% of gen z and millennials reported feeling anxious or stressed all the time. On average 30-40% of short term disabilities are mental health related and 30% of long term disabilities.
As a result there has, rightly, been a sharp focus on our mental health. However, what if I was to tell you that symptoms like the ‘isms’ (leavism[working long hours], absenteeism, presenteeism) and increased stress, anxiety and burnout probably have root causes that aren’t simply mental health related? What if I were to tell you that the traditional approach to physiological and psychological health is far too narrow?
Personally, I have always wanted to understand why I feel a certain way and why particular events impacted me in the way they do. More than that, I wanted to know if I was a freak or not. It turns out I was not alone. Our friends, family and colleagues do too. 86% of us actually.
Over the past year and a bit we have helped countless people take stock of where they are across the 4 domains of health (mental, physical, emotional and spiritual) by using our Resilience Index ®. In a work context, we are pretty good at putting on a brave face, not letting our colleagues see the turmoil of self doubt, loathe and pain inside. Now, before you say that sounds melodramatic, it’s true. We all go through sh*t to varying degrees and at various times. Yes, even you, and no amount of stoicism can provide full immunity.
So, how is this related to Resilience Is a Team Sport? Just knowing where you are at (we call it benchmarking) is a great start. Making it clear that you’re not a freak helps both optimists and pessimists understand how they tick, and there is a great comfort in that. In a team environment at work, communication, trust and support is critical.
Now, if you’re familiar with our work you will know that we firmly stand behind the fact that your resilience can be cultivated and this can be accelerated, if you are willing to make some sacrifices in your life. Sacrificing temporary, superficial joy for long term fulfilment.
'What is the sacrifice you are willing to tolerate?'
The workplaces you want to give your time to now and in the future are one’s that help you be better. A better person at work and at home. Why? Because if you’re more fulfilled, purposeful and ‘happier’ you’re going to be a more productive worker. So, despite what your company wellbeing program might say it’s not all softly softly, huggy huggy, duvet days - they want you making more widgets. That said, there must be a symbiosis to the worker/ company relationship, a mutual benefit. Think Jerry Maguire; ‘help me, help you’. How can you expect your company to understand your support and development needs if you don’t give them something to work with? Conversely, how can a business expect to have a more engaged workforce without understanding what they need? There’s only so much time, money and churn that can be tolerated.
I think we expect too much of others, especially when it comes to our own self development and the role of companies in that. Personal accountability is lacking across society. You are not owed anything and if you want to get where you want to go, you’re going to have to roll your sleeves up and get in the game. Be prepared to give a little to have that matched in return.
Ultimately, you are the captain of your own ship navigating the Love Lane of life. Take the helm.