A collective breath out

A few weeks ago I was struck by a comment from a nurse working in the NHS who said:

‘I haven’t breathed out yet’

It’s stayed with me vividly since and I often think about it, wondering what it will be like for those in health and social care when they finally get a chance to breathe out. How will they transition back to a more everyday kind of work life – will it be with a huge sense of relief; a sense that things have changed so much, there can’t be a return to a pre-covid way; or any number of iterations inbetween?

What about those outside of healthcare – who’s work and life has been directly or indirectly affected by Covid? Can we neatly step back into a more normal version of our working life or has too much happened to do that? For something that has been a rare collective event, our experience of it and its effect on us will have been intensely personal and individual.

What about if in organisations we had a metaphorical decompression chamber – a transition space where people can re-settle, re-orientate and take a collective breath out. For some people it may just be a short visit, for others they may need to spend a little longer in there, but its recognised as an important and valuable part of the return.

I think the space in between transitions aren’t talked about enough in our eagerness to leave behind, get somewhere new or return somewhere familiar.

I really encourage organisations and leaders to think about this space, especially when the push to move back to a more recognisable way of working builds momentum.

To think about how we might we need to support those who have experienced traumatic events during Covid.

To actively and purposefully explore how to balance the needs of those who welcome the return and feel excited about it, with those who have little desire to return to ‘what was before’ because they’ve experienced something different.

To encourage conversations around these things and to listen to the responses not just hope it will resolve itself.

There’s so much opportunity for reflection, conversation and growth. I hope we have the courage to create a moment of pause and to allow others to do that too, in whatever way feels right for them.

Reflections on Courage

Courage 1

I’ve been reflecting over the last few weeks about where I’ve grown or shifted this year as a business owner, a facilitator and coach, a person. During this process, five words have kept resonating with me

Courage, Optimism, Uncertainty, Instinct, Hope.

As we approach the end of the year, I thought I’d share my reflections around each of these words – where I’ve noticed them, what they’ve meant to me and what I’ve learned from them. I’d absolutely love it if you would share your stories and reflections around those words too.

Here’s what courage has taught me this year:

Courage can be quiet and momentary.

It can show itself when we least expect it, and disappear from sight when we most expect it to be there.

It’s mostly internal – others won’t often see or feel those moments when courage is present for me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not being courageous. Courage isn’t always on show.

It’s important to me, and makes my personal and professional life richer.

Here’s how courage has played a part in what I do:

Feeling comfortable to take a risk and confront feelings and emotions which are fizzing in the room when I’m working with teams, but which no-one feels able to mention.

Sitting with discomfort for a while until it feels more comfortable, and when it’s right, helping others to do so in my facilitation and coaching practice too.

Acknowledging earlier this year, that I can’t do something I’ve promised to because I’m not well enough, and accepting this is the right thing to do, even when it feels wrong.

Asking myself questions I’ve been avoiding for a good long while and being ready to listen to the answers.

Courage emerges so often through the support, love and help of others, and that’s certainly been true this year. To all of those who have helped me feel and be more courageous.

Thank you. 

 

 

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

When thoughts and values converge

Light_Painting_1_-_Booyeembara_Park

Steps towards something

It’s fascinating how chance meetings and conversations can develop into creative partnerships. Some potentially promising opportunities don’t blossom, while others germinate through conversations to the point of saying “Why not? Let’s give it a go.” That’s what we, Kirsten and Anne Marie, have decided to do.

Although we are united in what we believe in and what drives us (in essence, that everyone deserves to work in organisations and environments where they can thrive and contribute), we think and see things differently. It is what is emerging from this difference that is exciting us.

A moment of optimum hum

Right from our initial Skype conversations we found ourselves talking about and coming back to our experiences of great leaders and companies we had worked with.

  • What was so inspiring about them?
  • What was it about the structures, the people, the values, the atmosphere and how things had got done that had been so invigorating?
  • What was it that had instilled a feeling of belief, confidence and inclusiveness?

These weren’t companies that had massive budgets, smart offices, all the latest kit or free gym membership. In fact they didn’t have any of these. What they did have were managers and leaders who expected you to do well, and who invited and enabled you to contribute wholeheartedly.

“You’ve got a good idea for how something might be improved or done differently? Do it!”

There was never any sense of hierarchy – even when some of these workplaces were, in fact, traditional and hierarchical. These remarkable colleagues and organisations supported you when you failed,  and provided a safety net that encouraged you to go further than you thought was possible.

When you’re in a team or organisation that’s working like the one above you can almost feel it humming. There’s an energy, a buzz, an excitement, a purposefulness – to us it became ‘optimum hum’.

Leaders matter. The expectations that they set matters. The performance cultures that they influence matter. The way they create, shape and mould their organisation matters. All this creates possibilities and permission for people to be bold, to be courageous.

Where we’re heading next

We’re fascinated by what creates and sustains optimum hum – what defines it, what it feels like, how we know we’ve got it?

We want to help leaders shine a light on the inner workings of their organisation – help them understand what optimum hum looks like, for them. What encourages and enables it? What causes imbalance in their organisation and what impact does this have? How can balance be restored and optimum hum returned?

We’re excited to be starting this journey together  – to begin sharing our thoughts with you over the coming months, so look out for our twitter chats and blogs.

We’d also love to hear about your own experiences of optimum hum, and what has made some organisations exceptional places to work for you.

Anne Marie and Kirsten

Anne Marie Rattray is the founder of The Smart Work Company Ltd which helps people – independently or on behalf of an organisation – to assess and develop future-focused work skills. For more information go to http://www.thesmartworkcompany.com

Kirsten Holder is the founder of Kickstart Development which helps leaders, teams and organisations to feel clear, purposeful and energised so that they can deliver results more swiftly, more easily and more sustainably. For more information go to http://www.kickstartdevelopment.co.uk

Photograph by JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons