It can feel like the political situations, leaders and institutions that govern us are full of mistakes, confusion, dishonesty and self seeking – we can either allow ourselves to feel negative emotions and have embittered thoughts about this and the people who aren’t doing right, or we can choose to focus our attention on the sphere of influence we have in the lives we live, in our friendships, families, communities, schools, neighbourhoods, workplaces, and make a positive difference, little by little, day by day – it may not change the world, but it may change your world around you and the lives of those in it.
So, you see, I’m in this situation at work, and perhaps you have experienced similar situations yourself, where I’m working in collaboration to take forward an innovative idea (or at least innovative for a technically slow moving local authority). Basically, this involves creating our first ever company podcast for internal communications. It’s a great idea, and the people involved are energised, and I’m one of the key people in this work. However, the person whose idea it was is about to hit an iceberg, and his team are afraid to tell him that, so diplomatically I have to politely (and perhaps quietly) sound the alarm bells. The draft intro to the podcast (can you call it a draft if it relates to audio? I’m not sure 🙂 ) is, let’s just say, not to everyone’s tastes, it is probably not to most people’s tastes, certainly not to the tastes of Senior Management, and it is at odds with the company culture. My colleagues have thanked me for politely expressing written feedback when requested, and I made sure to remember that I am giving the feedback to a person, and as such, open and close with positives, and be constructive in any observations that may seem to take the form of ‘criticism’. Privately other members of the team have thanked me for the feedback which they felt was ‘spot on’, which they themselves are too afraid and reluctant to give to avoid the repercussions that might ensue. However, the greater risk of avoiding the issue for fear of offending someone and experiencing an uncomfortable team dynamic is that by not raising those alarm bells, you allow that person to steer their way straight into an iceberg and face criticism and ridicule from a far larger group of people once it is ‘out there’.
So what can we do? I think it’s important to remember that we all have blindspots, and we all need to look out for each other. We do need to ring that alarm bell when we see the iceberg approaching, but in a work environment, we sometimes need to ring the alarm bell politely, quietly and diplomatically for it to be effective, as ludicrous as this analogy might sound.
While other colleagues may know, and say to you that so and so’s idea or execution of that idea is terrible, and all are too afraid to say anything, you can’t let them hit the rocks. Be diplomatic, be kind, and be sensitive. Try to understand both your and their communication styles and take time to consider how to address these issues, while providing suggestions of an alternative approach. This may take time, but don’t give up, and ‘listen’ to what is not being said, as well as what is (a person’s tone, body language and ‘vibe’ can say a lot so take it on board but without jumping to conclusions) and pay attention to how things are affecting the team dynamic, and know when to take a step back.
Easier said than done, right? I know, but at the end of the day the diplomat in you might just save your colleague, team and team’s reputation from crashing into an iceberg and sinking into the bottom of the sea!
Life as it happens to be, just now, seems to be opening up doors of new opportunities to me. Little by little, things that make for my health and wellbeing seem to be falling into place, and I am grateful. After many tough times with my health, including panic attacks at work, and after several meetings, assessments, and recommendations for reasonable adjustments, I have been moved out from the open floor into a little corner room by myself, with big glass windows, and a view of trees and sky, and the main road. Today it is a rare bright and sunny day, and I am sitting at lunchtime in my little sunny spot, and for the first time in a long time at work, my brain, my nervous system, and all that has been distressed, is being given some relief and a chance to heal, recover, and grow stronger. And at this time new work projects and creative ventures are opening up to me at work and I am finding myself feeling not only ‘safer’ but more engaged, interested and happier in the challenge.
I don’t know about you, but it can be all too easy to get ‘stuck in a rut’ whether in work, in our personal lives, with how we spend our ‘down time’, and sometimes it feels like we are just dragging ourselves through our days, feeling bored and uninspired. It’s not a great place to be. Sometimes we just have to ‘do what we have to do’ to keep things ticking over, and we may not be able to change much about a situation we are in other than our thoughts, attitudes and perspective towards it. However, as important as it is to do that ‘inner ground work’ to encourage ourselves to be positive, perhaps we are allowing ourselves to believe that we can’t make a change. That things have always been done a certain way and so we just do the expected to fit in with the ‘tried and tested’ rather than challenging ourselves and others with the possibilities to innovate.
One of the projects I am embarking upon at the moment comes from the innovative idea of a colleague to introduce something new into our organisation that hasn’t been done before. They were met with an initial ‘resistance’ as their proposal is unfamiliar territory to management who are perhaps a bit more ‘old school’ in their thinking. I was asked to conduct some research into whether and why this would be a good idea for the organisation, providing the formal backing and facts and figures to validate this great idea from my colleague – the paper is going straight to senior management having been received well at a lower level, and now I am getting the chance to be part of the creative team to design, produce and implement this new idea, a team which I’ve wanted to be part of for a long while now, because I am both a very creative and analytical person, but need creativity in my life and a variety of outlets in order to thrive, and not just survive or go through the motions.
The reason I was asked to do this piece of work is because I volunteered to help out other teams – I asked my boss if I could broaden my skillset and because I am industrious, fast and efficient in providing a high quality of work for him, he knew there’s capacity for me to do more. Sure, there are no financial rewards that go along with this additional work, but there are the rewards of satisfaction of developing my skills, engaging my creativity and working with other inspired individuals – in a word, ‘fulfilment’. My boss therefore told a couple of fellow managers in two other teams that I was available to help out, and so the knock on effect has been new opportunities and connecting with other people with innovative ideas.
Sometimes we find ourselves wishing for a change, but not taking the first step to realise that maybe it is us that needs to do something about it. Change and new challenges or opportunities may not be handed to us on a plate, but we can take our inspiring ideas, and pitch them to the people with the power to make those changes. We might be knocked back, maybe at first, but at least we tried. So if you are looking for variety, more interesting challenges, and opportunities for creativity, maybe it is a gift you have to give yourself – in whatever area of your life – challenge yourself to create a new challenge, to ask new questions, and to break new ground – you may just find you really enjoy the opportunities that you yourself create! 🙂
Self-care is such an important practice to incorporate into our lives on a regular basis. But what even is it, and where do we start? I will blog in more detail on why this is important in a separate longer post, however, I want to keep these simple challenges ‘short and sweet’ and as accessible as possible so that if you so wish, you can follow along and incorporate some of these suggestions into your life.
Each of us is unique, and therefore what is important in terms of looking after ourselves, may vary significantly from person to person. However, we all do share similar basic needs in terms of health & wellbeing both emotionally/mentally and physically, so hopefully you will find something of value to enrich your life and relationship with yourself through this simple series.
So here goes, and keeping it quite simple for the first challenge:
~ Invest in a notebook that is just for you. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy or expensive as there are plenty of places nowadays that you can buy a very inexpensive yet beautiful notebook. Just something that you are happy to look at and write in.
~Make it your aim to use this notebook ONLY for your self care challenges, i.e. not for shopping lists, or writing down friends’ birthdays or daily ‘to-do’s’ – this is your special personal space, just for you.
~And once you have your notebook, here’s a task for you. Think about someone you admire for their qualities and characteristics. This can be someone you know, someone from history or someone you’ve heard about through the media or through friends. Now think about what you admire about them, not physically, but in terms of character traits, such as kindness, gentleness, passion, commitment and so forth. Don’t write it down, just think about it.
~Next, gently and compassionately think about yourself. It may be hard to think positively about your own character traits, but just as you are able to do so for other people, now is your chance to do so for yourself. The difference this time is that I would like you to write down three to five character qualities about yourself that you admire, and think about at least one way for each of these qualities that you have displayed them.
Take your time over this, this is your time. Think about and appreciate what is special about yourself and write it down, with pen and paper preferably as I find you are more connected, but if you prefer to blog it, and link to this series, you are most welcome to do so, I would love it if we can go on this journey together and share insights as friends.
To help you out, I’ll give it a go myself.
Qualities about myself that I feel positively about:
1. Kindness ~ I have a genuine care and concern for other people and seek to do what I can to be helpful, kind and caring to them. In the past I have done special things for others such as making personalised gifts, giving food to homeless people and helping someone in a fatal accident before they died.
2. Loyalty ~ I am a good friend to people, and I love my friends and family. I seek to build and maintain good relationships with the people in my life and have long-lasting relationships with close friends and family as a result.
3. Creativity ~ I find inspiration almost everywhere, and long to share this inspiration with other people. Creative things that I do include photography, writing, blogging, ‘doodling’ and the occasional collaborative project with creative friends.
Ok, so now it’s your turn! Pretty simple, but important, and a good first step. I’d be delighted if you want to share with me, but there is absolutely no pressure to share your self care with anyone but yourself! So go for it…be kind to yourself today, and I’ll see you soon for Self-Care Challenge # 2. 🙂 xx