What do Arianna Huffington and Mark Twain have in common besides great hair and a sense of humour?
They both said that most of the worst things in their lives never happened.
So let's stop worrying and start managing our minds. That was the main message at this week's global launch of the Third Metric held at Bafta London, featuring Huffington and a high powered panel of CEOs and thought leaders, including upcoming CMI 2013 Conference speaker Cilla Snowball, Chairman of AMVBBDO Europe, and my former colleague, P&G's Roisin Donnelly.
Our technology fueled world leads us into a heightened state of hyper connectivity and 24/7 anxiety. Modern-world, (male-created) management culture is largely to blame for this, says Huffington. We are sitting on two-legged stools of success, where power and money are all that matter. This steers us to do jobs we don't enjoy, ditch ethics and empathy and set impossible standards of performance that don't permit sleep and switching off. The result? "Successful people are falling off their successful stools," says Huffington. And she's right.
CMI's 2012 Quality of Working Life research supports Huffington's contention that workplace well-being and job satisfaction are declining, whilst workplace anxiety and depression are on the rise. The figures are even worse for the public sector - still the UK's biggest employer. Although Britain's official survey says the nation was marginally happier in 2012 than 2011, the levels in our 2012 survey are still well below what they were five years ago. And even holidays are no longer true time off, as our recent holiday survey showed that two-thirds of managers are still checking emails from their sun loungers. As for ethics and empathy, the Moral DNA study from CMI-collaborator Professor Roger Steare demonstrates that that we tend to leave these home when we go to work. Little wonder that management and managers are mistrusted and maligned by many in society.
So what can we do about all this? Fortunately, quite a lot! It all starts with our ability to unleash our inner gazelle, according to Oxford psychologist Mark Williams, another panelist and leading mindfulness expert. Why gazelles? "Because they run when they need to run, and graze when they need to graze," he says. By contrast, we humans tend to get caught up in our regrets, what ifs and what could've beens - behaviours that lead to living life in what he calls an "eternal worry loop." Instead, we should reset to zero, and live in the now. That is the essence of mindfulness, and of a growing collective voice, championed by Huffington's Third Metric, that calls for bringing back humanity, wisdom and compassion into the workplace and into our headspace. Apparently, 25% of American corporations are introducing mindfulness programs. Why not join them?
Stop managing your stress levels and start managing your mind! Your inner being, the well-being of those around you, and your company's bottom line will all benefit. At CMI, we'll be exploring more about how to reinvent management at our October Conference and our next issue of Professional Manager. Meanwhile, here are ten other top tips from yesterday's amazing panel on how to unleash your inner gazelle and get grazing; make sure you try at least two this week!
1. Do what you love. Avoid the 'existential' stress of being in a job you hate.
2. No technology in the bedroom - no blackberry, iPad or laptop.
3. Make home time and weekends an email free zone.
4. Stop multi tasking and start being present. Put down that gadget and focus on whoever is in front of you. You'll have fewer sidewalk collisions too.
5. Recognise and accept that you will never, ever, get everything done on your to-do list.
6. Make rules for your schedule and stick to them. Call your Mom every Saturday. Set an hour of child time every day. Spend every other Friday night with friends.
7. Trust. Live life as though it's rigged in your favour.
8. Praise outcomes not 24/7 presence.
9. Don't second guess your choices. Make them & move on. Be less selfjudging.
10. Make time for connectedness. What nourishes us is what seems most dispensable. It's not.