Quit the tokenism, build congruence

How do you feel about a company that has a wellbeing program yet perpetuates a culture of over-work?

Most of us find this type of tokenism leaves us hollow, cynical, disappointed.​​  And worse, these gestures without the depth of change to back them up keep us distracted from the real cause of the toxicity in our corporate environments.

But what’s the alternative?  Have you seen it done well?

Well that’s what this week’s video is all about – and we have a cameo!

Video transcript and relevant links

Hey everyone!  Today we’re out in the paddock because I wanted to introduce you to this ol’ fella.  

This is Chief, we’ve been friends for a long, long time now and the reason I wanted to introduce you to him was because I got a question this week from Alex about… her question was, how do you feel about companies that have a wellbeing program in place, maybe there’s a yoga and mindfulness program and yet there is still this expectation, whether formalised or not – sometimes it’s just one of those informal things – that the culture expects that you’re there working 10 plus hours a day and pushing yourself and pushing yourself and that conversation about resilience being “how can you do more”.

That’s pretty much my feelings too.  So, horses are masters of non-verbal communication and to quote one of my good friends Andrew Froggatt, horses don’t care if you’re the CEO or the Janitor, they’re going to treat you the same way.  

And so a lot of people, when they first come into contact with horses, it can be pretty terrifying probably.  They’re big animals right? Chiefy here is probably 4-500 kilos worth of muscle and they’re unpredictable! So understandably, people are really nervous.

And if you’ve been fortunate enough to come on one of my retreats then you may have met this old fella.  One of the pieces that I love to do is teach people that first contact with horses as part of understanding your non-verbal communication.

Because the trick with horses is, they’re not worried if you’re scared.  What they’re worried about is when you don’t own your fear.

So all of this non-verbal communication that’s going on when you work with an animal like this, it is also a lot about how you show up and how you own your feelings and how you take ownership for what’s going on… within all of this.

And so then to get back to Alex’s question, you know, I struggle with companies who are putting in place well-being programs and yet at the same time perpetuating a culture of non-healthfulness.  Perpetuating a culture where there is an expectation to keep moving and keep working and… driving essentially a system that is not healthy.

To me workplaces should be healthy.  They should be healing places.

For those of you who’ve read Simon Sinek’s new book – and if you haven’t check it out, The Infinite Game – he talks about for as long as we keep perpetuating this idea that we can heal over things with a yoga session or a mindfulness course or a once a week well-being catch up.  For as long as we perpetuate the idea that we can do those things to solve the problems and the toxicity that we’re seeing in our corporate environments today… For as long as we continue to kid ourselves, then it just takes us longer to get to those things that are actually going to make a difference.

And for me, much as Simon says, it’s about the leadership change that needs to happen.  So it’s not about visibly seeing a couple of token gestures towards “we care about health”.  It’s about how YOU show up as an individual and as a leader and how much congruency you have demonstrating the behaviour yourself and opening up space to actually have a healthful environment for your employees, and that’s more than simply yoga and mindfulness.

That’s about building a culture and building an organisation that is responsive and adaptive and allows all of people’s unique talents to come in to play.

So, Chief and I are going to  go for a walk. It’s about 30 plus degrees today here in Queenstown, we’ve had a week of it.  I reckon we’re going to go for a swim, but if you’ve got any questions or comments I would love to hear from you so drop me a link below, thanks!

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