What is the collective health of your organisation? Are you healthy?
Are you treated as a racehorse?
Imagine if you owned a $5 million thoroughbred racehorse. I take a bet you would pay a lot of attention to how you feed and train the horse. How much is your own body and mind worth? Are you worth $ 5 million? How medically literate are you? How well do you look after yourself? How well is your company looking after you?
Mismanagement of health
It is interesting that in our society, some of our most basic physiological human needs are so often neglected. We mismanage our health every single day. Seventy per cent of Americans take at least one prescription medication. Currently, the workplace is the number-one source of dysfunction in people’s lives.
Is your organisation performing at its best?
An organisation is defined as an organised body of people with a particular purpose, especially a business, society, association, etc. It’s simple. All organisations are people with a purpose. For many organisations and their people, having the motivation and drive to perform at their best can be as elusive as a rainbow. What every organisation is looking for is how to optimise the people they have and the people they will have. It boils down to three performance outcomes. Focus, energy and drive.
Build the best people
Your most efficient way to become the best organisation is to build the best people. If you have a purpose to fulfil, you will always want to develop your people first. Starting with their number- one asset: health. Because what is the most valuable asset of your people? It is their health; your people’s most valuable asset is their health. To build the best organisation you must build the most valuable asset of your most valuable asset.
Our definition of healthy is to be your most optimised self. Without comparing you to others or peers, we can help you optimise the gifts, talents, and attributes you have. What if your organisation was the number-one source of positive influence? What if your organisation actively and intentionally was the number-one source for greater well-being, satisfaction, and happiness? What if people were happier and healthier because of work? Imagine creating an organisational culture that was driving this mindset, this entirely new way of thinking?
The long-term differentiator of any organisation, when compared to others, is people, the mind and body behind the technology. The secret that is overlooked is capacity. The ability to use every skill and resource at your disposal. The maximum amount that something can contain. The ability or power to do, experience, or understand something
- Does your team feel or perform like they are overwhelmed?
- Is stress a noticeable problem throughout your culture?
- Have you had cutting-edge innovation in the last 3, 6, or 12 months?
- Is there sustainable and profitable revenue growth?
- Are you giving back to charities or the community?
- Is your organisation the number-one source of positive influence in your employees’ lives?
- Are you currently learning something new?
- Do you have a clear focus on your purpose?
- On a scale of 1–10, is your energy level 8.5 or higher most days, hours, and minutes?
- Do you have time for family, friends, or volunteering?
- Does the thought of doing more upset or frustrate you?
- Do you feel you are fulfilling your purpose?
More and more people aren’t able to regulate the mounting pressure. The real reason for all this rampant increase in anxiety and stress, along with record levels of depression and mania, is the overwhelming complexity of our interconnected world. The overstimulation and processing our brains endure on a daily basis. These stressor inputs are called mind chatter and determine how we process and perceive immediate threats.
We cannot cope
Human capacity is lagging behind technology. Our collective focus has been completely obliterated by these new shiny screens that we are forced to interface with every waking moment. The average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013 and is still diminishing rapidly. Now amplify this to the nanosecond speed of information. We send 269 billion e-mails a day; that is up from 215.3 billion in 2016. The average mobile user taps, swipes, and clicks their phone 2,617 times each day, and heavy users engage with their smartphones 5,427 times. How can we expect to keep up if we are constantly distracted?
The baseline KPI for any advertising campaign is CPM, or cost per thousand impressions. An impression is your attention, even if it’s less than a second. Social media platforms now have billion-dollar valuations (with no actual profit) because they dominate your attention. From a physiological standpoint, too much of this type of hyper-connectivity can be dangerously addictive and draining. Social media is a dopamine delivery system on steroids. Phantom vibration syndrome is just one alarming symptom of our over-dependence on digital media and our inability to unplug from it.
Currently, we are beholden to the tools, in many cases allowing them to control us. Tools were meant to be used by us, not vice versa. There’s never been a better time to upgrade our capacity to enable us to use these powerful tools more effectively. No technology or future technology will ever come close to matching human creativity, adaptability, flexibility or compassion.
Focus is the new IQ
No timeline is shorter for greatness, than that of a professional athlete. The athlete is laser-focused and lives in the present. You can ultimately only control your effort and execution. Cal Newport, the author of “Deep Work“, argues that focus is the new IQ. People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. That’s not what it means at all. It means saying NO to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. In the digital world we live in, focus is the ultimate differentiator.
(Unconscious) mind over matter
It all starts with your mind and how it processes the world around you. Starting with self-awareness. Unfortunately, routine and habits have become the new normal for many workplaces and their people. Routine is the route to being replaced by a robot. It is the unconscious mind you need to tap into. Do you know that there are at least 100 billion galaxies in the known universe? Trying to wrap your head around that is impossible because it’s infinite—it literally cannot be quantified. A limitless reservoir of knowledge, creativity, and experiences that makes up the other 85 per cent of our brain we can’t directly access, yet still has tremendous influence over our behaviour and decision making.
Daydreaming and idle thought may be the most valuable use of your time. Critical thinking—Unconscious thinking effortlessly builds connections between the conscious (self-awareness) and subconscious (autopilot) parts of the brain. Enhanced insight—Professors Benjamin Baird and Jonathan Schooler have proven that taking a few moments to daydream and reflect on a new task leads to more insightful responses than immediately focusing on the solution. Your mind-wandering capacity is like a super biocomputer. It can get to solutions that your conscious mind just can’t see. Read “The power of the subconscious mind“.
Attention spectrum management
Don’t you ever wonder how much more you could contribute to society if you cut out the noise and focused on your genuine passions? What if your organisation was filled with a thriving network of teams that could focus on demand? Remember, you have only one ride through life so give it all you got and enjoy the ride. You need to manage your attention spectrum. When we are engaged and internally interested in something, we can focus on it for hours on end without our performance diminishing. It is called flow. In the middle of the attention spectrum and what takes up the most space in our lives is boredom. How bored are you? Like routine, boredom will also be replaced by robots. You should spend more time paying attention and engaging with the stuff that actually matters.
Creating organisational habits
Did you know that 80–90 per cent of what we do each and every day are unconscious habits—habits we don’t even think about. The key to creating sustainable change is creating repeatable habits that grow into daily rituals. How do you build habits throughout an entire organisation? How do you create a culture of highly driven people? It starts with the individual and it is “Move, eat, sleep“.
Move your body
Exercise is good for you. Why exercise? Have you ever wondered how did formal exercise or movement begin and why? Since the beginning of time, it was necessary for humans to use their bodies for transportation, for physical work, to fight, to run from predators, to climb; we had to move to survive.
Movement motivates the mind
Movement washes your brain. We have always believed that the mind motivates the body, but through Amy Cuddy’s work along with many others’, we now know that the body can motivate the mind—you just need to get up and move. Next time you need a shot of motivation, get moving; motion creates positive emotion!
Moving is good for you
The research on the benefits of daily movement is overwhelming. In addition to making people happier, daily exercise improves mood, increases energy and engagement, improves sleep, decreases stress, improves heart health, decreases the risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes, improves bone health, keeps weight under control, improves strength and flexibility, improves sex life, increases brain power and memory, boosts the immune system, improves digestion—the list is long and will continue to increase.
Stress is what you say to yourself. Read “Solve for happy” People are not disturbed by things, but the view they take of them. It’s not what happens to you but how you react to it! Pain and suffering come from the stories we tell ourselves about the future. We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can decide how to respond to them. We manufacture most stress from our primal fear of the unknown and assume the worst.
Stress is physiological
Stress is not worrying, frustration, or anxiety. All of these emotions may be a response to stress, but they are not stress. Stress is physiological: heart rate, muscular activity, hormonal function, and digestion are the main physical responses to stress.
Many stress resources explain how fight or flight, or rest and digest, are automatic responses, meaning you have little control over your stress response. The human body was designed to cope with stress.
Your body as a system
Can you imagine if you had to think about your heart beating or taking a breath while you were sleeping? The human body is truly amazing with all its connected systems and processes. One of the most remarkable systems is the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system acts as a stress control centre in the body; regulating the heart, digestion, respiratory rate, perspiration, pupil dilation, sexual arousal, and many organs and muscles. The autonomic nervous system is always working to maintain balance with our internal systems. Whereas most of the actions of the autonomic nervous system are involuntary, some such as breathing and heart rate work in tandem with the conscious mind. The autonomic nervous system is divided into two parts—the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The job of the autonomic nervous system is to synchronise both systems and maintain balanced responses throughout the body. “Fight or Flight” versus “Rest and Digest”
24/7/365 overstimulation forces us into an unsustainable overdrive. A chronic dominance of the sympathetic nervous system, or bear response, starts to overstimulate our nerves and we become increasingly aggressive and impulsive. The fastest way to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system is using the diaphragm to breathe; this is called diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing.
One of the most powerful methods to get people back into balance from a dominant parasympathetic nervous system is movement. Movement stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and speeds things up to get the mind and body back into balance.
The other half of this coin is implementing small periods of rest throughout your day. We can learn a great deal from the rigorous training program of the United States Navy’s primary Special Operations Team, the Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, and Land). The SEALs are an elite fighting team that works under extremely high levels of stress. The SEALs know if you load up on stress and take away ample recovery, most people will crack and want to give up. Why are the Navy SEALs looked upon as one of the elite fighting organisations in the world? Capacity! The Navy SEALs have an immense capacity to handle stress.
They can handle almost anything that comes their way without diminishing their performance. One area we found extremely interesting in the Navy SEAL training is that candidates who possessed a strong purpose—a powerful why—had the greatest chances of becoming a Navy SEAL. This can also be said for the most successful organisations. A strong purpose is forged from the resilience of experience and wisdom.
What is a hormone? Hormones are chemical messengers that coordinate physiology and behaviour by regulating, integrating, and controlling our bodily functions. Chronic stress has a powerful impact on your hormones, especially cortisol and testosterone.
Integrating rest and rejuvenation strategies into your daily life, along with quality nutrition and daily movement, is the fastest way to get your hormones back into balance. The human body has a powerful ability to heal if given the right resources. You are what you eat is not a cliché—it’s one of life’s most fundamental truths.
Upwards of 75 per cent of our immune system is based on the health of the gut. If your gut is not healthy, you are not healthy. Read “The hidden half of nature“. Did you know that approximately 50–75 per cent of your production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that triggers happiness and helps build melatonin, comes from the gut?
- Cut out the processed foods and beverages.
- Chew your food.
- Eat more live foods.
- Balance your pH.
- Bring on the friendly bacteria.
- Drink water
Leading by example
Only you have got yourself right, you are managing your stress, are eating well and you are fit, can you lead by example and bring it back to your organisation. Read “The new leadership literacies“. I would suggest that very soon leaders that are not physically fit, will not be leaders for long. It would be number one on the selection criteria. People with pot bellies need not apply. If you do not meditate, do not apply. Those will be two disqualifiers for future leadership.
Imagine what could happen if all your staff was super healthy. The optimised self is the biggest opportunity to differentiate yourself. Focus, energy, and drive are the oxygen of your organisation. Not technology. True organisational health as the “not-to-copy“.