What creates emotional safety in business?
In an effort to be less like lentils and incense, the mindfulness movement in business has been drawn away from its spiritual origins and leaned on neuroscience for validation; providing rational, scientific reasoning to explain why we require spiritual practices in the workplace to support our daily well-being.
The suggestion being we need to change our brains in order to be able to adapt and survive our environment.
It seems peculiar that this is being gulped down by the masses, after all, why would we need to use data and science to help people be, well more like people? Why did Google need to undertake years of ‘intense analysis’1 to discover what we already know about the conditions of psychological safety humans need to thrive? Put more simply, the universal truth: that to feel safe humans need to experience love.
What counts in business often can’t be counted
In the majority of businesses, the question of spirituality is a hot potato, to be avoided at all costs whilst maintaining focus on a safe, practical and of course more measurable well-being agenda. Ideas such as cycle to work schemes providing free breakfast to feed the brain, massages to release tension, lunchtime yoga, and even pedometers for teams to compete on step counts becoming more commonplace.
These approaches aren’t to be underestimated, but the practical, physical aspects of well being are only part of the picture, and more is needed to support emotional, mental and spiritual well being if truly healthy business systems are able to flourish and thrive.
Given absenteeism costs UK businesses more than £15 billion every year2, creators of traditional wellness programmes can be forgiven for emphasising a reduction of absenteeism as their main measure. Yet wellness at work means more than measuring absenteeism. The idea that you might be nourished, physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually whilst at work seems a radical one. At best the current business wellness agenda is superficial, at worst it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, claiming benefits for staff, whilst not being entirely benevolent.
As Chris Baréz Brown Founder of Upping Your Elvis so eloquently says, “What is counted often doesn’t count, and what counts often can’t be counted.“
Trying to keep up with our lives
The question that seems too difficult for HR to face, is why do our organisational systems have these challenges in the first place? To be honest, it is a vast question with huge repercussions, and HRD’s can’t be blamed for wanting to look the other way. It’s enough to keep most of us scurrying back to the more manageable details of day to day life, keeping a tightly closed lid on Pandora’s box.
Yet, we all know it.
The world around us is changing.
Research suggests that office life has never been more stressful, with over half of the global workforce (53%) saying they are closer to burning out than they were just five years ago3. Cortisol has become the new cocaine.
These days, for better or worse, big data rules, with 90% of data in human history having been created in two-years4. As we become masters of multi-tasking, curiosity, innovation and intuition become flattened by the weight of incoming data, and separating what is meaningful and what matters from the noise becomes an almost impossible task.
As Ruby Wax wrote, “We are not equipped for this century, it’s too hard, too fast, and too full of fear; we just don’t have the bandwidth”.
After the storm
After the financial crash, most people stayed in their organisations out of pure fear that there was nothing else they could go to. They precariously hung on, as the very systems that supported entire countries revealed their cracks and then came crashing down; those who could fled, those who couldn’t held on even more tightly in the hope they wouldn’t be pushed.
As the dust settled, wariness remained. Trust in financial establishments shattered, governments exposed as being run by the banks, and common practice in businesses revealed to include avoiding taxes, polluting environments and producing products harmful to both humans and nature.
If, as Mark Benioff CEO of Salesforce.com says, “The business of business is improving the state of the world,” then business is failing, and the people who work within these systems unconsciously know it.
A different future for business
As is true with any seismic shift in society, from the downfall of the economy a new future emerges. Today in the face of mistrust of organisations, the rise of the entrepreneur revolution is clear, and the trend of digital nomads gathers momentum. Co-working and co-living are not idealist ways for young people to live, the internet made it a possibility, then the financial collapse made it an actuality.
Today, you no longer have to be rooted to one country to live your life; and the ramifications of this for education, business, taxation, currency and border controls are immense.
But it’s not just the rise of the digital nomad, we are also seeing ‘creative destruction’ (where one industry falls for another to rise) in major industries such as newspapers, music, traditional mail, publishing, travel, advertising, hotels, television and this is set to continue.
Those who do not wish to see these new trends miss the reality of the changing landscape of business. The changes we face today in the world are also reflected in business because everything is connected. All the wellness programmes in the world will be obsolete if your employees vote with their feet to boycott your business because it doesn’t serve their changing needs or align with their personal values. Whilst much of the current workforce is still embedded in a conventional way of working, the indications are that the next generation won’t follow in their family’s footsteps; instead they seek freedom, autonomy, desiring to live differently, on their terms, with meaning and purpose. After all who wants burnout when they can have a beach?
Time to get personal
This new reality is much more complex than it has ever been before. Deep down we all know that we cannot continue as we are, and deep down we also understand these extreme times require an extreme response. Trying to change organisational culture by using a leadership checklist isn’t the solution.
People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to plug in, feel connected, find meaning, believe it what matters. These are all traits of human beings. People have a heartfelt desire to belong. They don’t want a set of prescriptive ideas, they want to be more of who they are, to be more human at work. After decades of keeping work and life separate, It’s time to get personal.
A return to the old
We are more equipped for these changing times than we realise, but grasping for new theories, quick fixes, and the latest models is not the answer. There is another way, but it is counter-intuitive. It is not a quest for something new that will best support our current and future leaders, but a return to something old.
Complexity requires us to unpack it, untangle it and to make sense of it. To do this requires us to slow down and Pause. To take time to think deeply, to see the big picture, to connect the dots, to be still enough to hear our intuition, to sit with uncertainty and to not know what is coming next.
Leadership at this level is no longer about sharing your vision and getting people to follow you, but about your ability to shift patterns in the system you lead.
Transform your world
Pause is a leadership journey that has foundations rooted in all aspects of what it means to be whole as a human, exploring the many facets of you including:
- Physical – Qi, your natural energy and how to cultivate it.
- Emotional – Emotional safety how to create it for you and those around you.
- Psychological – Patterns, how to identify and release patterns that keep you stuck.
- Spiritual – Dreams, how to listen and let them lead the way.
- Shadow – The unseen, how to shine a light on it to loosen its grip.
- Social – Community and how to find meaning greater than money.
Pause is more than just slowing down, it is an active process where movement comes from the space you allow. When you Pause, you transform your inner world, and expand your capacity to lead through:
- Stillness and space
- Insight and truth
- Conversation and connection
Pause prepares you for today’s reality by increasing your physical well being, understanding your psychological landscape, expanding your emotional experience, and connecting more deeply to spiritual realms. As you attend to your inner world, it enhances your ability to shift patterns in the system you lead.
Pause provides direction for the leaders of tomorrow, who are needed in business today.
If you want to explore how Pause can support your personal leadership, your teams and your business contact firstname.lastname@example.org