Liz Kimball with her husband Michael Balderama | Photo Credit: Studio 22 Photography
Can you think of a time when you felt like your most creative self?
I love hearing people answer this question. They talk about particular collaborations, classes, work projects, or a beloved mentor or coach. When they answer, their faces inevitably light up and their voices blossom, saying things like…
It was so fun and collaborative. I surprised myself and was inspired to try new things. The space was free and full of possibility. I felt like my voice mattered.
It feels good to be our most creative selves. And we never forget those experiences.
Now, imagine with me a moment—what if your current workplace could feel the same way? What if it could feel like the most creative environment in your life? What impact could that have on your employees’ well-being? And on your energy as a leader? On your company as a whole?
We talk about the need for ‘creative innovation’ at work, but creativity can feel like a mysterious and elusive land that only a precious few know how to get to. We’re not given much guidance about how to access it beyond installing a ping-poing table, or a brightly colored platitude on the wall. And yet, one of the most pressing questions of the knowledge economy is: how do we build a culture where everyone’s creativity can truly flourish?
One of my first jobs out of college was teaching ballet to four and five-year-old's. One particular student, Ava, would walk into class with a big, bright smile and dancing eyes, exclaiming: THIS IS THE CLASS WHERE WE MAKE MAGIC IN EVERY MOMENT!
Each week, Ava returned with even more enthusiasm than the last, and with a new list of ideas and curiosities. As a result of her infectious joy, teaching Ava’s class became the highlight of my week. My teaching practice significantly started to improve without extra effort or hustle on my part— a true example of what I call the Positive Cycle of Creativity, and what poet Maya Angelou calls the ‘contagious’ quality of creativity.
I made a vow that for the rest of my life, I would do whatever was in my power to create rooms where people felt like magic was possible. Because we all have our own combination of enthusiasm, wonder, and creative fire burning within us, and, when we’re in environments that ignite this spark, we effortlessly catalyze greater expansion, better ideas, and infectious delight in each other.
One of the most wonderful (and sometimes maddening!) rules of creativity is this:
We cannot control the results, we can only create environments in which results can happen.
And: the more we try to control the results, the less exciting results we experience.
This is why telling people to just be more ‘creative’ and ‘innovative’ is a great recipe for how NOT to get them to produce more genius ideas. The truth is, people don’t need to learn how to be creative (we all know this intrinsically), but instead, spend time in environments where their creativity can blossom.
I define creative well-being as the ability to trust your creative voice, vision, and ideas, and regularly act on and share them.
When I’m helping a person or an organization to develop this, I invite them to think about the three C’s—Curiosity, Consistency, and Courage.
With that in mind, here are three tips you can implement today to catalyze greater creativity in your workplace:
Tip #1: Make the curiosity bigger than the fear
Fear and creativity are like sisters—when creativity shows up, so does fear. Fear must be acknowledged as part of the creative process, but not consulted as any kind of contributing voice at the table. And one of the most powerful ways to quiet the fear voice is to turn up the voice of curiosity.
When leaders model curiosity, they send the message to their teams that it’s safe to to do same. Therein lies the key to empowering employees to be curious.
Practical ways to do this include grounding big projects in a core question, using open-ended prompts like: What’s possible...? And What if…? and regularly expressing that you don’t have a predetermined idea of what the result will be but that you’re curious to see what happens.
Tip #2: Utilize the life-changing magic of consistent creative practice
Spending a few one-off brainstorming or ideating sessions can yield some interesting ideas, but they won’t inspire lasting creative confidence in your team. Creativity is a muscle that must be worked regularly, and building consistent structures for creativity is essential for catalyzing creative excellence.
What would be possible if you got your team in small groups to brainstorm 50 new ideas each week, for an entire year?
It’s important that the consistency feels doable and not overwhelming—I invite my clients to implement a daily creativity habit of turning off their devices and engaging in some form of focused creativity for 15-minutes a day. While it can seem like a small commitment, over time, the results have been truly life-changing.
Tip #3: Create a culture of courage
We are all afraid that our ideas are stupid, and that our projects will fail. Using our creativity requires immense vulnerability.
Creating a culture of courage means inviting people to regularly engage in the brave act of sharing their work and ideas, and providing encouragement when they do.
This last part is key, because our ability to share our voice and ideas in any given moment is dependent on the way we felt the last time we shared them.
If you want your people to be their most creative selves, create a culture where they feel seen, heard, and encouraged.
Here’s what I want you to remember: any environment can be a highly creative environment, and we all have the power to create one.
Now—over to you. What’s one thing you can do today to catalyze more creative well-being in your workplace?
Want to take this to the next level? Sign-up for The Creative15—my free 15-day creativity challenge to spark creativity in 15 minutes a day.
On Wednesday, October 27th, 2021,
Liz & Laura will be chatting about Creative Well-Being.
JOIN US >
On June 15, 2015, my first book was published. Note that I wrote "first." I am hoping that it's the first of many.
It was one of the hardest, craziest, and most gratifying experiences I've had - and I thought it might be useful to share some of my experiences.
The first thing I had to do was to get over my lack of confidence. Writing a book, I found, dredges up every insecurity that might be lurking in the corners of your insides. I was always a math & science person in high school, whereas writing always felt hard. I’ve never quite fully shed that self-identifying as a “non-writer.” So, what did I do?
I got a coach. The first thing she did was to put me on a schedule. We divvied up due dates around the 10 chapters, giving me a little short of a week to write a draft of each. Then, I’d send her the draft. Just having that accountability to someone else made a big difference.
I channeled Arianna. Yup, I sure did. I thought to myself: OK, if Arianna Huffington can write 13 books (she’s now at 18!), I can write one. So, I literally put Arianna right in front of me. That is, I propped up her book Thrive - which features an Arianna portrait - right by my computer. This meant that as I pecked away on my laptop, Arianna was staring at me the whole time.
This was an idea I gleaned from a friend, who at the time was a very competitive cyclist. He had a friend who was also competitive – and just a little bit better. So, my friend had a photo of his friend to spur him on to get better. In fact, his goal was to BEAT him. And, having the framed photo in front of him motivated him.
I really got over things being perfect. I’m a lifelong perfectionist – and therefore, a procrastinator. (If it’s not going to be perfect, why start? If I wait long enough, I can blame any imperfection due to lack of time. Right?)
Well, the good news is that I had so little time – 4 months – I was forced to not wait. AND, as it turns out, I was forced to get over things being less than perfect, in fact, REALLY imperfect. The number of errors that eluded editors, friends and me, was absolutely astounding. Of course, once the book is actually in print, all of these overlooked errors are screamingly obvious.
Little did I know the impact this book would have on workplaces or how essential the messaging would be now, especially during the pandemic. The words inside and the strategies outlined have revolutionized workplaces, and it's still continuing to do so. Even recently, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota experienced higher levels of overall well-being in 2021 (after the pandemic) than before based on my strategies for infusing well-being & vitality into the workplace (as opposed to just starting a "check the box" wellness program).
If you've read the book, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. And, if you haven't peeked inside, you can do so here. But, even better, grab a copy for yourself or your team, and let's get to work infusing well-being & vitality into your workplace through a Workplace Wellness That Works Workshop!
“Retirement be damned, Betsy Warriner, almost 78, continues to give to our community.”
Photo taken by The Source, Bend, OR.
After most have retired, my mom, Betsy Warriner, is more engaged with her community than ever.
Voted “Woman of the Year” for a lifetime of giving back and championing justice and equality, Mom is leading the way. Her service extends from teaching in Ethiopia to volunteering in North Carolina, Seattle, Portland, and Bend. Founder of Volunteer Connect and most recently, Community Conversations, “she has given thousands of hours of her time, energy, guidance, and wisdom.”
Now at 82, Mom is the embodiment of the benefits of giving back. As I often tell her: “You make 82 look great, Mom!”
Community well-being, defined, is where you live and what you give. Simply put, having a high level of community well-being is “the differentiator between a good life and a great one,” write Tom Rath and Jim Harter in their book Wellbeing. I agree, and that certainly appears to be the case with my mom.
On a very basic level, community well-being means that we feel a sense of connection to where we live. It means that we are able to give a definitive "Yes!" if asked:
On a higher level, community well-being encompasses giving back, aka "being the change." As Mom’s story underscores, those who give back experience a higher quality of life, have stronger social networks, feel a deeper sense of purpose, and are more likely to live longer.
So, whether you’re 82 or 28, how can you up your community well-being, inspired by Betsy? And, what can we do collectively to enhance community well-being for all of us?
I asked Mom, and here are her top three suggestions:
1. Decrease income inequality. Income inequality isn't good for anyone, and we have the highest levels since the Gilded Age in the early 1900s.
2. Really listen to one another. In a society that is fraught with divisions, Mom is tackling the issue head on. Five years ago, she joined up with likeminded (and different minded!) individuals to start Community Conversations, an organization that is "building our community, one conversation at a time."
3. Improve our natural environment. Nature makes all of us happier and kinder to one another - essential building blocks for an enhanced community.
Out of all the dimensions of well-being that we've discussed - physical, emotional, financial, social, career and now community - community well-being is most dependent upon taking collective action. As you've heard me say a lot, the only way forward is together.
The good news is that each of us can do our part in driving this collective action forward.
Thanks, Mom, for inspiring us all to join you in being the change.
Join my next LinkedIn Live
(4th Wednesday of every month at 10am PST.)
On Wednesday, August 25th, 2021, I chatted with
Charles Vogl about Community Well-Being.
WATCH THE RECORDING HERE >
Martha Graham once said: “If I could say it, I wouldn’t have to dance it.” The work that she did as a modern dance choreographer was a manifestation of her deepest calling.
That’s great for her, but what about for the rest of us? Can we all say that we are living out our deepest calling? Sadly, most of can’t say that we are.
If asked “Are you excited about work when you get up in the morning?”, only 20% of us can give an enthusiastic “Yes!”. And now in the time of “The Great Resignation” – when millions of Americans are quitting their jobs in search of something more meaningful – this has only gotten worse.
Career well-being, or loving what you do, is considered by Gallup to be the “trump card” to our well-being. Those who are thriving in their career are 50% more likely to be thriving overall. Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, professor at Yale School of Management and expert on work identity, has identified three levels of work satisfaction: job, career or calling.
If asked, where would you say that you fall? And, what's going to make the difference in moving up the pyramid?
This is something I recently chatted about with Pete Seljevold and Elizabeth Magee at Blue Cross Blue Shield of ND on their newly launched BeWell Podcast series. Here's a snapshot of what we discussed.
It’s a job.
If you’re on this level, your work pays you, provides some benefits and perhaps some social perks. But, the overriding reason why you clock in day in and day out is to collect on your paycheck. Sure, there might be other interests and sources of meaning outside of your work – family, friends, hobbies. But, considering that most of your waking hours are likely spent at work, this is a tough place to be – and your coworkers, your employer and customers aren’t benefiting from it either.
It’s a career.
On this level, the focus starts to get longer term. You’re likely setting goals and engaging in some (hopefully) healthy competition with your coworkers to move ahead. You’re willing to put up with office politics as long as it looks good on your resume, but you may be quick to leave for a better salary or title.
This is my calling.
Once you’ve ascended to this level, you feel a deep alignment between your vocation and who you are as a human being. Your work is deeply personal and you feel a strong emotional connection to it. You’re willing to work hard, knowing that the work that you do is essential to making the world a better place. Not surprisingly, you’re in the group that is the most likely to be satisfied with their professional life – and healthier for it.
How many people fall into each category?
Interestingly enough, you cannot necessarily predict where someone is on this pyramid based on title or income alone. In fact, Wrzesniewski’s research has found that most professions are fairly evenly divided—with about a third of workers falling into each category.
What can you do to move up the pyramid?
1. Change your outlook.
If you’re feeling stuck, try changing your mindset. OK, so easier said than done. Right? Well, maybe not. The internal messaging that we engage in and the words that we say externally express can make a difference. One of the most famous examples of this is the story of John F. Kennedy’s conversation with a janitor at the NASA Space Center in 1962. When asked what he was doing, the janitor responded with, “Well, Mr. President, I'm helping put a man on the moon." This one story reminds all of us about living a bigger life just by changing our outlook.
2. Leverage your superpowers.
Those people who are channeling their inner Martha Graham, that is, leveraging their superpowers every day as she did, are 6X more likely to be highly engaged with their work. This requires effort on your part, of course, but it also requires support from your boss and your employer. Identifying and leveraging your strengths is part of “job crafting.” This is the process of taking proactive actions to redesign what you do so that you feel greater job satisfaction, are more engaged in your work and more likely to have a high level of career well-being. The more your boss is on board, the better. But, a step that you can take for yourself is to try filling in the blank: “The best part of my workday is when I ________.”
3. Foster friendships on the job.
And, not just friendships, but best friendships. Those individuals who have a best friend at work are 7X more likely to be highly engaged in the work that they do. If you’re a boss and you want to build a high-performing team, then take the time to foster collegiality within your team. Carve out time for fun.
You might even try what Dave Owings, Advanced Database Administrator at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, does. Every Friday is “Funday Friday” – a time for his team to just have some fun together. It might be meeting up at a park or taking a moment to share with one another good things that have happened that day. These seemingly trivial investments in being human on the job can go a long way in boosting career well-being and moving everyone a little closer toward work becoming a calling, as opposed to just a job.
LP, Aspiring professional dancer, NYC, 1999.
As one who literally did try to follow in the footsteps of Martha Graham and make it as a professional dancer, I’ve learned that there are a lot of ways to manifest the “If I could say it, I wouldn’t have to dance it” mentality – even if it’s not actually on the stage. It’s reminding myself every day of how I'm making the world a better place, albeit in small ways. It’s taking the time to identify what I do best – bringing enthusiasm, humor and playfulness to the forefront – and finding small ways to do this every day. And, it’s about finding and naming my best friends at work.
These seemingly small things, over time, make all the difference.
Text MOTION to 66866 to join my monthly newsletter.
It may just be the healthiest thing to land in your inbox all month!
And, as a thank you, I'll share my ME AT MY BEST® Guide with you.
Betty's Wedding #1. Spoiler alert: This was not the last!
My grandmother Betty, known to us as “Grandbetsy,” was a devout Christian (and in fact dubbed “Bible Betty” behind her back, which she loved), a leader (ran for US Congress) and funny. One time when we were shoe shopping, the store clerk asked us what our shoe sizes were. Without skipping a beat, Betty responded with: “Well, my size is 8, but 9’s are so comfortable, I wear a 10.”
Most notably, Betty was a woman who lived on her own terms. That is, she married 5 times. And, with each marriage, her net worth went up.
What is financial wellness? And how can we achieve it? Or, more specific to Betty - did marrying up increase her happiness? Can money buy you happiness?
I often pose this question as an entrée into a discussion about financial well-being in my workshops and talks. And, usually the responses are divided between "Yes" and "No." Up until recently, I’ve said: “Well, you’re both right.” Now, that may no longer hold water. A new study came out showing that actually, the answer is more “Yes” than “No.”
I, like many others, based my earlier response on a widely cited 2010 study conducted by Princeton economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman. Their findings revealed that money can make us happier but only until we hit the threshold of $75,000 a year. After that, our levels of happiness seem to plateau.
The more recent study largely upends this notion of the “plateau” effect and instead reveals that (a) the threshold is higher (now $85,000 a year) and (b) levels of happiness continue to rise as one’s net worth increases. That means that while we’d all like to believe that “money can’t buy happiness” or that you “can’t buy me love,” these beliefs are probably not true. As Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert explains, “This sentiment is lovely, popular, and most certainly wrong.”
So, bringing this all back to Betty, does this mean that she definitively was happier as she married up? Not so fast. The key is not just net worth, but also how the net worth is spent. Gilbert explains that as our net worth increases, so do our opportunities for happiness. Then it’s up to us to actually leverage these opportunities. How we spend our money – given the opportunities we are afforded – matters.
Too many of us squander these opportunities. As our wealth accumulates, many of us fall victim to the “keeping up with the Joneses” grind, which in scientific circles is known as the “hedonic treadmill.” That is we leverage our resources to buy that new car, new house or new outfit and we get a giant boost of pleasure. But, that pleasure is short lived. Soon afterwards, we feel disappointed as that new car becomes, well, just another car. So then, we seek out the next new purchase hoping for happiness, only to be let down again.
So, what kind of spending does result in more happiness? Scientists will tell you that there are two kinds:
1. Spend money on others over self. Giving to others is a gift that keeps on giving – to the giver.
2. Spend money on experiences over things. You’re better off putting money toward a vacation or a dinner than you are spending it on a material item.
Betty did both - and was happier for it.
But, what about if you’re below the threshold, and you’re struggling to make ends meet?
(I can relate!) Here are the top 3 techniques recommended by Peter Frampton, author of The Joy of Accounting and Co-CEO & Co-Founder of WealthVox, a company that teaches business and personal finance around the world:
1. Create automatic savings systems. For example, next time you get a raise, ask your employer to put part of it toward your 401K or Health Savings Account.
2. Boost your financial consciousness. Know what you’re earning and know what you’re consuming. Take time to reflect on your “money story.” What were you taught about money when you were growing up? Consequently, what are the messages you tell yourself now?
3. Talk with your friends. Peter suggests that you create your “money circle” of friends, and in doing so, you will generate social pressure to begin saving. You will also build an avenue to unload your financial anxieties and create a safe space for brainstorming money solutions.
Amazing things can happen when we talk about the taboo topic of money with our peers. Case in point, my sister got a whopping tax penalty and was trying to figure out what she could do. In a casual conversation with one of her equestrian riding mates, she opened up about her financial situation. “Why don’t you refinance your house?”, her friend asked - something my sister hadn’t even thought of. That one conversation generated the solution
to her financial quagmire.
So, it turns out money can buy happiness if we leverage our opportunities and choose our spending wisely.
Text MOTION to 66866 to join my monthly newsletter.
It may just be the healthiest thing to land in your inbox all month!
And, as a thank you, I'll share my ME AT MY BEST® Guide with you.
Did you know that stress and burnout are on the rise? Of course you know that. Who doesn't?
After a year of living through a world turned upside down - pandemic, financial distress, societal reckoning with systemic racism, and political divisions - we are all feeling stressed and burned out. And, we all know it.
Consider some recent stats, uncovered in a recent survey conducted by Jennifer Moss, author of forthcoming book "The Burnout Epidemic," Christina Maslach of the University of California, Berkeley, Susan E. Jackson of Rutgers, and Michael Leiter of Deakin University:
So, who's the biggest culprit when it comes to our failure to adequately address this rising epidemic? The workplace itself.
Sure, there's been lots written about employee burnout, but the solutions are usually directed toward the individual employee. Employees are told - largely through wellness programs - here's what YOU should be doing differently: more yoga, more mindfulness, more subsidized gym memberships. And, while lots of companies say that they care about the issue, they are failing to address the key drivers of employee burnout. They fail to fully reckon with the fact that burnout is less about the individual and more about the workplace itself.
Here are the top drivers of employee stress and burnout, according to Maslach, Jackson and Leiter:
So, how can your company step up to meet the moment to address these root causes?
First, develop policies that start to address these key drivers of stress. Do you have policies in place like paid family leave and are you taking measures to address unsustainable workload levels?
Second, empower your managers to become Multipliers of Well-Being. Give each the encouragement and the tools so that they can carve out an oasis of well-being within their team, through regular practices and rituals such as walking meetings and weekly check-ins with each team member.
Third, stop blaming the individual for "being stressed" and start applying a more systems-based approach toward promoting health and well-being. Just this reality check can serve as a huge relief to every employee.
We've broken it down into 4 levels of influencers:
The World We Live in, The Places We Go,
The People We Know & Me At My Best.
Our programs are designed to tackle each of these 4 levels.
"Nothing happens until something moves."
- Albert Einstein
If ever there’s a time that we need to move, it’s now. It’s one of the best things we can do for our health and our state of being. Period. It is one of THE best coping mechanisms we have.
THE KEY IS MORE “NEAT”
The real question is less about exercise – and more about simply infusing more motion, aka “NEAT,” into our daily lives. As described by researcher James Levine, “EAT,” or exercise activity thermogenesis refers to any kind of intentional workout – going out for a run, going to the gym, going for a swim. “NEAT,” or non-exercise activity thermogenesis, refers to any kind of incidental movement throughout our day – running errands, doing household chores, or getting up from our desk. It’s the NEAT levels we should be focused on the most. We just need to simply move more – and sit less – throughout the day, especially throughout our workday.
So, what can you do so that you can move more at work?
Here are ways that you and your team - even if you're virtually connected - can get in motion.
MOTION INFUSION IN THE OFFICE - START HERE
Set your base:
Set feet apart (need support of legs and torso).
Sit forward on chair and breathe fully.
Hands and wrists:
Z’s – Press palms together, fingers in opposition to create a ‘Z’ shape.
Wrist Rolls – Clasp hands together; roll hands in both directions.
Neck and shoulders:
Side Stretches – Stretch to the side, return to upright position; change sides.
Neck Rolls – Drop head to one side, roll through center, turn chin toward shoulder, nod up and down; reverse direction.
Spinal Extension/Flexion – Arch the back, inhale; round the back, exhale.
Spiral Staircase – Rotate the spine from the sacrum to the top of the head while keeping the feet pressing down and out against the floor; let arms slide naturally.
Seated Hamstring Stretch – Imagine having a seat belt across the waist, extend one leg forward on to floor, foot flexed, lean forward at the waist.
Cross-Over – Calf bone on top of thigh bone, keep foot flexed, drape body over leg; reach arms up and let float out to side as lean forward, let head drop.
Download the first chapter of my book, Workplace Wellness that Works.
"There isn’t any other factor in medicine – not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery – that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness, and premature death from all causes than loneliness and isolation."
—Dean Ornish, MD
Social wellbeing is vital to all of us – especially now. The effects of social disconnections - or loneliness - are devastating. One study found that loneliness is as detrimental to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Meanwhile, trends indicate that rates of loneliness have doubled over the past 40 years, only to be accelerated by the pandemic.
So, what can we do about it? Here are three things you can do:
1. Love is all you need: Remember, that your social wellbeing matters as much - if not more - than your physical wellbeing. Just as you may be tracking your steps (hopefully getting at least 10,000 a day), can you track your time that you’re connected with others? Research shows that the minimum we all need to be socially well is at least 6 hours a day. And, while in person is best, virtually counts as well.
2. Find a friend: Whether it’s getting yourself to exercise or engaged with your work or eat healthy or any other lifestyle change, you’re much better off doing it with a friend, significant other, even your dog! In everything you do, find a friend - and ideally, a best friend. Social wellbeing is good in and of itself, but perhaps most interestingly, it is inextricably intertwined with every other dimension of wellbeing. For example, building a positive mindset is good (through practices like mindfulness), but building a positive mindset in the context of others is even better (through practices like loving kindness meditation). Researcher Barbara Fredrickson with UNC calls this “positivity resonance.”
3. Be the change: If you want to make the world a better place, then invest in social connections. As a former urban public high school teacher, I thought a lot about how we can ensure that every kid has a crack at achieving the American Dream. I thought a lot about the question: Why is it that if you take two kids – with the same circumstances – one is able to rise above and the other never quite makes it? Or, put another way, why is it that some kids are resilient and others are resistant? What is the number one factor that makes the difference between the two? Research shows that the number one differentiator is having a meaningful relationship with an adult. Can you be that adult to make the difference for a young person today?
Download the first chapter of my book, Workplace Wellness that Works.
While leveraging the workplace to promote better health and wellbeing is a really good idea, most of the workplace wellness programs I’ve seen are woefully inadequate. We don’t have to look any further than the trends we see to know that what we’re doing isn’t working. Rates of depression across the US have tripled since June of 2020, obesity rates continue to climb, loneliness levels are higher than ever and hitting young people the hardest, life expectancy is going down and rates of burnout are at record highs.
Meanwhile, companies continue to churn out wellness programs to little avail. So, what are the problems with workplace wellness – and what can we do differently?
Here are the top three problems I’m seeing:
1. We’re using individual solutions to solve organizational problems. Take burnout. The top five sources of employee burnout are rooted in the workplace itself – and have nothing to do with the individual employee. Specifically, the top 5 drivers of employee burnout identified by a Gallup study that surveyed 7500 employees include the following:
Rather than addressing the underlying causes of these drivers of burnout, most companies employ workplace wellness programs which merely serve as band-aid solutions, and if anything, make the problems worse. No amount of yoga or mindfulness or step challenges can make up for a toxic work environment or being asked to do the work of three. What’s required in most cases, are broad policy changes and organizational structural overhaul. Policies like paid family leave or coaching managers to engage in weekly conversations with each of their team members can make a real difference. Yet, another lunch n’ learn on how to develop a positive mindset won’t do much.
2. Companies invest more in rewards than developing programs that are actually meaningful. Today, I delivered a session called “The Power of Love & Connection” and afterwards received the kind of feedback I love most. “I had to thank you for this social session. It started as a path to complete contribution requirements but ended up being so much more. 😊” This kind of a response is one that I hear too often, indicating that the usual experience is one that is check the box. We can do better than that, and the way we can is by humanizing the programs that we deliver. Things like prioritizing stories over statistics, posing good questions that engage participants in thought-provoking discussions and employing adult learning theories can go a long way toward creating worthwhile programs.
3. We're focusing on the wrong people. Most wellness programs are directed toward the frontline workers, when they should be more directed toward those who actually have the political capital within the organization to take action. A better way of delivering workplace wellness would be team by team, with the team leader at the helm. The truth is that every manager is uniquely positioned to either persuade or dissuade their team members to engage with wellbeing – but most are just flat out unaware of the influence they hold. Every manager needs to know that while wellbeing may not be in their job description, they are the ones who are best positioned to make a difference in the quality of life for their team members – for better or worse. Most managers simply don’t know that, for example, they matter more to the health of their team members’ hearts than their doctors do. Moreover, most haven’t been given the guidance on what they can do to make a difference. This is where training can be helpful. And, most don’t know just how much wellbeing has everything to do with building a high-performing team.
If we want workplace wellness to actually work, then companies are going to have to actually do the work. That means taking a hard look at the policies that are in place and re-examining how business is done. It means going beyond "check the box" solutions and looking for, or better yet, building their own programs that are actually meaningful. And, finally, a whole lot more effort needs to go toward engaging the right people. And, the right people are team leaders.
Download the first chapter of my book, Workplace Wellness that Works.
I often ask audience members to consider what ME AT MY BEST® looks like for them.
I offer inspiring stories to get them thinking. Like Klaus Obermeyer, former Olympic skier, who celebrated his 80th birthday by clocking in at 80 miles an hour and now, at the age of 101 is still skiing! I also offer what ME AT MY BEST® looks like for me. As shown above, one of the ways that I manifest ME AT MY BEST® is when I'm doing a handstand! (In celebration of my earlier life as a competitive gymnast.)
ME AT MY BEST® can also be the simpler things in life - like when we are fully present with our partner, solve a challenging problem or have a flash of creative insight. Or, perhaps when we manifest the words of Maya Angelou: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to fully thrive and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” This is what life is really about, isn’t it?
Being and becoming our best, however we each define that.
What are strategies you can use to become your version of ME AT MY BEST®? Here are three ideas to get you started.
1) Imagine what’s possible, invoking inspiration from Maya Angelou. Just naming what ME AT MY BEST® looks like for you is a powerful exercise.
2) Reframe well-being as energy. What are those things that restore your batteries? What are those things that deplete them? An extensive Gallup Healthways study that surveyed people in over 150 countries identified five key elements that are the differentiators between those who are struggling and those who are thriving. They are as follows: physical, social, career, community and financial. I also like to call out "emotional" as the sixth key element.
3) Be the change. While investing in our own well-being may feel self-indulgent, it is in fact one of the most giving things we can do. When we engage in self-care, we positively influence others to do the same.
WATCH MY RECENT LINKEDIN LIVE HERE WHERE I DISCUSS THIS TOPIC MORE. (And, while you're there, be sure to follow my page so you can join me live next time.)
Sign up to receive emails and free advice. You'll get the latest ideas on how you can help employees and leaders to be at their best: healthier, happier, more creative and more productive!