Tag: insecurity

Now is the time to reduce stress and increase employee engagement

The clocks have gone back, it’s dark earlier, and the weather is so miserable. On top of these predictable things, there is a lot of uncertainty in the air regarding a possible second lockdown and will it be deal or no deal with the EU? Many of us are worried about the future, and some are getting anxious about what it’ll mean for jobs and careers. Given October is Mental Health Awareness month, now is a good time for these matters to be on the forefront of ALL our minds.

Many people who have been working from home for months experience ‘isolation’, leading to some stress and sense of anxiety. This is a good time to act as a really good employer and to refocus on employee engagement. Afterall when engagement goes down, commitment wanes, innovation drops and inevitably profits stall. Downward spirals are dangerous for business health just as it is for mental health.

In June I posted an article about Mindfulness and Stress reduction, and I have found the article acts as a conversation starter when speaking with business people about mindfulness.

If I hadn’t had a daily practise of mindfulness for over 15 years, I could write these articles with integrity. I feel blessed in that I have learned to overcome anxiety and stress. I have never been gripped by depression, despite being made redundant many times, even though of course these events caused a lot of insecurity, anxiety and stress! For many people, even if they are still employed, what’s happening out there in society and the economy at the moment is probably worse than a normal redundancy (if there is such a thing) because of the heightened sense of uncertainty.

All this means is that now is a good time for employers to show true leadership and refocus on keeping their people engaged, working to take away any unfounded fears they have and helping them to cope with stress more effectively. My life’s motto is ‘if I fall down 7 times, I get up 8’, based on a Japanese proverb. But it isn’t necessarily for everyone as most people need a helping hand to get through difficult times.

I enjoy teaching meditation in companies. It nurtures self-awareness, which is a vital step towards being a more effective employee and a better leader. I help transform organisational cultures by embracing mindfulness in the workplace and looking after each other. I coach leaders to be more emotionally intelligent, and communicate better with their staff.

The Mindful Leader published an article about how stressful work can be. Of course there can be many unexpected and unpleasant things at work as well as what goes on at home and outside work. In these Covid plagued times these two domains are less and less separated. The transition from work to home has become more fluid for some or non-existent for others.

Viktor Frankl, the well-known holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, highlighted that there is a gap between stimulus and how we respond and as a result we have choices and so we can learn to decide how we respond to unpleasant stimuli. The greater our awareness if this, achievable through the practise of mindfulness, the more we can ‘manage’ your way out of stressful situations. This ‘gap’ is what George Mumford, author of The Mindful Athlete, calls being ‘in the zone’ and what others might call the eye of the hurricane or the quiet place in the storm.

I recently finished a 6 months programme with a company where confidence improved with the employees that attended my mindfulness at work course. Stress and anxiety were reduced, and we worked on loads of things that helped the team get through the crisis. Please check out the case study on my website.

As a mindfulness trainer for organisations and coach for individuals I can teach techniques that combat mental health issues. I work with individuals to change mindsets and see the world from a more helpful point of view, enabling them to get unstuck or lead better.

Contact me today for a free consultation on how I can help you to balance your employees’ wellbeing and teach your leaders the right skills to navigate these uncertain times. Or feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Sunday Column (421)

I am starting to write this blog after watching a video of a man with no limbs.


If the video doesn’t work, visit Nick’s video on YouTube.

Isn’t that amazing. The attitude and positivity of a man who mastered life despite disabilities. And we are whinging when the wood for the wood burner is a bit wetter this year or Tesco delivers expired products. His life puts our misery a bit in perspective. Living in the 1st world as we call it, we are spoiled for things. As he states in the video, if he falls over and cannot get up, he will try a 100 times. He never ever gives up until he achieves his goal. However simple or small it seems to be.

Achievement, or however you want to define Success, is your true Potential minus any Interference. Whether that is Interference from the outside (physical) or internal, the things you are telling yourself that holding you back to develop your full potential to progress and achieve. Stop telling yourself how little you have achieved but focus on the whole lot you have achieved. Look at 2016 for instance: realise how many days you have done so well. You made it through, 365 days of success. You made progress, had success. You can do it and unleash your full potential, decrease your interference. Go for it.

Putting life in perspective. I have been trying to do that for a while through
a) meditation and focusing on the things I appreciate, giving thanks and quieting my mind from the hustle and bustle out there, and
b) I started a gratitude journal this year to write down what I appreciate each day and what I am thankful for.

A more religious driven person would do that in their evening prayer, and I suppose the personal development industry has realised that it works to reflect on your day, give thanks and make sure you are focusing on positivity and progress. And listening to a podcast on Buddhism this week, there was another realisation: it doesn’t matter whether you believe in re-birth or not. You can only change this very moment, this very life. Be better now, and make the most of your existing life. If you do, and there is re-birth, you have nothing to worry about. And if there isn’t a re-birth, don’t worry about it. We must stop worrying. Instead we must be living in the moment, being the best person we can be – both from an ethical and achievement perspective.

Similar to the theme we talked about last week, 2017 is all about making the most out of life. The insecurity with Donald Trump taking office this week and the Euro falling thanks to Brexit. Things are changing fast. To not loose any momentum I have made a few decisions. One was to have a fantastic meal with the wife on Monday lunch time – when else will we have the chance to do that again? We went to a place Jen wanted to go for the past 5 years and we finally went and really liked it. The Ginger Fox. We highly recommend it 🙂

Then I made the decision to take the kids to see the latest Star Wars movie in the cinema. And we made the decision how to celebrate my birthday 😉 And, last but not least, I made the decision to meet some good friends on Tuesday. So in summary, I made the most out of a few days prior to (drum roll) starting my new adventure:

Since finishing my last project, I have been debating for a while whether to do my own thing, to work on a contract basis or joining a company full time. I chose the latter, as I think this is the right step in my career. It is a company I have known for many years, 6 to be precise, and which has seen ups and downs, and I have seen them going through the phases from being a competitor, a partner and a supplier. They are now at a point where I am more than excited to join them, where I believe I can add significant value to their growth, using my experience in Programmatic and client handling. In return I am working with some very smart people in the space. Some of the smartest I have seen on the tech side for a while, people with a variety of background and strong leadership. And it is an outstanding technology. To say the least, I am very excited to step into the new role, back on the technology side of things. Back to an EMEA wide role. I am pumped for 2017, I am ready for the new challenge!

So the first few days were good. I love starting a new job on a Wednesday. It gives you an easy week to tune in, set up IT and get my feet under the table. Research suggests it takes 6 months to fully fall into a role, yet I am confident it will be a lot quicker. My KPIs are 🙂 So much to do, so exciting to go back on Monday.

This sums up an almost perfect week. Trains are back to normal (whatever that means) as of Tuesday. I have a few trips planned already. Back on the road, so just as well I have my passport back. I made plans on some personal development goals too. I feel this is going to be a good year.

Have a fantastic week,
Volker

Sunday Column (391)

This week’s highlight was Cannes I suppose. As every year, at least for the past 3 years, I went to the Cannes Lions where the adtech and martech industry is celebrating itself (actually it is the creative industry and we hijacked it, but that’s for another time). Lots of meeting, lots of yachts, Rose, fun, booze, dancing (not me), an Irish pub and football, good meetings and new developments. A great event. A bit too hot for my liking, national strikes on the way home, but eventually I made it back. I missed my family most of all, and whilst a lot of people think that Cannes is all fun, it is also hard work – just in a very nice (!) environment.

As a matter of fact the week was very productive. Good outcomes that should bear fruits in the near future. The only bitter taste is that last year the Uber strike made it difficult to get home. This year a national strike affecting the airport as well. Air France called off a strike. Some people got stuck. Some missed international connections. What is happening? France just doesn’t come across as a good country does it. But then….

IMG_6097

Then our vote on Thursday. Brexit. I was surprise hearing from someone that he voted to exit the EU. Anyone with a decent education and common sense should have voted to remain. At least this is my opinion. I awoke in shock. 52% of the country voted for a Brexit. The UK is leaving the European Union. You might have seen my comments on Facebook. I am sad. I didn’t expect that. Friends posted from Cannes that investors started withdrawing money from the UK right from 1 am, when the results pointed towards Brexit.

Where does that leave us as a family? Will we stay in this country I chose to live in and have a family? Will we move to Germany, Australia, New Zealand? What does it really mean? I have always said that history repeats itself, the European Union will come to an end at some point. I anticipated this happening via a few bankruptcies of countries and then the union deciding to unravel. Now Britain decided to leave. Scotland will now most probably leave the Great British Union, then Northern Ireland. Will we then see England being on its own?

And as is stands, a few people that wanted to ‘vote against the system’, never believed their ‘exit vote’ would count. Never mind. We just got through a recession, we are in growth mode and what we do not need is about five years of uncertainty, trouble and bad relationships with our neighbouring countries. Would, post 5 years, things get better? Maybe, but not guaranteed. Let’s face it we are better in than out. And also we don’t really symbolise as a country that we welcome foreigners and immigrants. People we need, the country needs, to fuel growth. As someone said, the people that voted to remain are the ones able to leave; whilst the ones that voted to leave won’t be able to leave and will get the brutal force of the exit. It also seems that more older people voted to exit, whilst the younger generation would have preferred to stay. Democracy I suppose: every vote counts the same.

FT comment on Brexit
FT comment on Brexit

Some predict that five years from now we will see a better and stronger Britain. Will we? Maybe. I always say to trust in the future and that things will work out, and that the universe will sort things out. Yes, I say that. Yes, I believe it. But who is influencing it. In our own little world, it would be us. In the greater world, it might be people we cannot trust anymore. Or can we? I am shell shocked. I am feeling sick and lost at the same time. Sick of thinking that you can build something that lasts. A house, a home for the family. Build to last for 20+ years for the kids to grow up in a stable environment, for us to go to work, go on the occasional holidays and have a good life. All that was put at jeopardy now? For what gain? Or will it all come good? Will we be looking back in 5 years time and say that it was the right decision for the future of our country? Will I have a British passport by then? Might I work in Germany, living in England? I guess only the future will tell.

To early to make any rush decisions I suppose. Politicians would have to come up with answers. Quickly. We need leadership and guidance, a plan to become a great nation and to offer employment, security and stability for the people in this country, no matter what their background is. London already said they would put all wheels in motion to help people to stay; a petition to have another referendum was already signed by over 1 million people. I just hope I can stay … will be made welcomed (again) but according to the legislation, after the next two years, I might not be eligible to stay. I was crying. I was in tears watching the news. I didn’t expect this. And I have the responsibility (with my wife) to bring my children up in a country with opportunity and in a stable and secure environment. The next year or so will show whether or not Britain can continue to deliver that. Or England as it looks atm, given Scotland’s looming referendum.

The dust will settle and hopefully settles quickly.
All will be good in the end I suppose. I shall and will not panic.
I don’t believe I ever have to leave the country, probably easily get a passport, but do I want to stay in the long term?

Let’s change the topic:

As you know I am writing a lot on productivity and life life balance. There was an article I read this week about why do we work so hard. A rather long article but well worth a read. Mark Zuckerberg originally shared it on Facebook. It gave some insights on our love for hard work. Quote: “It wasn’t the stress of being on the fast track that caused my chest to tighten and my heart rate to rise, but the thought of being left behind by those still on it.”

Is it perception that drives us? Is it what others think?

Having been, more than ones, in difficult emotional situations, I realise that most of what makes us worry, makes us think, flight or fight, is based on our thoughts. Our brain wiring. Coffee or alcohol can accelerate your thinking and emotional stress. Constant input from emails, tasks to finish, things to do, to remember etc etc. brings strain upon us. We don’t want to fail and want to be winning! Being available all the time and not being able to wind down will become, naturally, challenging for ‘human kind’. If I say human kind, I say that with a distinct thought that we must start to relax more often, take breaks, evaluate what is happening. We should not be constantly available and rely on people getting back to us via emails.

Whilst I am working on my next productivity book, I see the need for disconnection. For down time. There is no way that it is sustainable, let alone productive, to be constantly connected and constantly in touch with everyone. I manage to not check emails and work related things at the weekend. Quite frankly this is down to having no time and all priority on the family. This again happened this weekend.

After being away and really missing the boys, not being able to find the key rings they asked for, I took them to the Zoo on Saturday. That was my highlight. My wife was away at the weekend, so the boys and I went on the adventure to the London Zoo. We left early in the morning, spend 4.5 hours in the zoo, walked 12,000 steps (10K) and had lots of sweets, ice cream and FUN! They were knackered. They loved it. They had a fab day and I didn’t have to shout once. Being able to fulfil their needs and care about them, is fantastic. The possibility to engage with them, bonding and creating shared experience. We missed mummy of course 😉

I hope you had a great weekend too.

Enjoy the time you have with your loved ones and with the ones that are dear to you. Uncertain times ahead, yet let us hope that things will always work out in the end. Because they will.

Have a good one,

Volker