Philippa reflects on creative leadership from her experience as an actor.
Join Matt as he introduces the idea of Creative Leadership and what business leaders can learn from theatre directors!
In this episode, Master Coach and Cultural Change Consultant Rebecca Watson is back on the show talking with 4D’s Katie Churchman about listening to and learning from the body’s signals.
‘Not doing enough’ is a fear-based activity and in this episode Becks advocates for more space to listen to- and see- the body for what it is: an amazing and unbelievably complex system that’s only got our best interests at heart! This podcast covers a variety of topics including: personal energy, self-care, appreciating the body and changing the relationship we have with our body.
The meaningful & joyful gifts…that keep on giving!
We are what we put our attention on. Or as writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau said…”It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Every day, in our heads and right in front of us, there are all kinds of gifts – ideas, thoughts and human qualities – that we can choose to focus on and experience. Some negative, some positive. Some distressing, some motivating. Some contracting us into anger, some expanding us into hope. Some fuelling hate, some offering love. It is up to us which ‘gifts’ we choose to look at, take in and allow to become part of our moment-to-moment experience.
As human beings, we can be pretty good at absorbing the danger, threats or difficulties around us. There are two things going on here – neurologically and psychologically. We humans have a negative bias. Meaning we are more alert to the negativity in a situation and the potential danger to our survival. All very useful when out on the savannah thousands of years ago and our survival depended on being hypervigilance to threats to our existence. But that same mechanism is not always so helpful when dealing with a disagreement at work. Secondly, we have a strong tendency towards confirmation bias. Once we’ve already decided something is true or real, at an unconscious level we will then gather further evidence to support that belief.
These two things can have a huge impact on our perspective on the world, our experience of ourselves, our feelings about other people and our view on life in general. When times are tough or something challenging happens, it can be easy and automatic to allow feelings of anger or fear or sadness to colour everything and everyone around us. That’s what our autopilot brain does. Look for and gather even more ‘danger cues.’ To flip this and create a more balanced, positive perspective we need to take a moment to start looking for and gathering what we call ‘safety cues.’ Information and evidence that make us feel better, safer, and more connected. In other words, to create a more hopeful, happy experience of life – even when we feel surrounded by sadness or conflict – we need to start consciously looking around our landscapes for other kinds of gifts. Gifts of care, gifts of joy, gift of fun and gifts of hope. They are all there – in the kind act of your work colleague, in the smile of the coffee barista, in the silly tiktok video link your family member sends you. We simply have to switch from our autopilot confirmation bias gatherer and choose to see the other gifts available. Anytime, in any situation, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Penelope and I lost our father to pancreatic cancer in February this year. And through all the sadness and pain that his death brought to us and our family, I remain so grateful and respectful for who he was and what he gave us. For the way he lived his life and indeed the way he faced the end of his life. The humour, knowledge and curiosity with which he managed his illness to the very last. The love, joy and fun we all still shared through such a tough time.
Perhaps, like me, you have also found yourself having a moment of laughter at the funeral of somebody very close to you. A moment of light in a time of darkness. Because even in the hardest of times there are other gifts available, if we choose to see them.
Equally when dealing with challenges at work or moments of conflict or frustration… the landscape all around you will still be dotted with many other gifts like possibility and kindness. Take a moment to think of a challenging situation and as you are flooded with all the negative feelings and evidence…now shift your focus to other gifts that might be available. The people offering you gifts of love, of learning and even laughter. Perhaps in unexpected places.
So this festive season, as gifts are given and received, we invite you to consciously choose the gifts you look for all around you. And choose the gifts that spread more fun, love, peace, hope and joy. Look for the gifts that mean you are creating the life and the experience you choose. So that – to quote one of the greatest gifts given to me by someone very dear to me before he died – ”…you are happening to the world, rather than the world simply happening to you.”
Here are 5 gifts you might look for this holiday time…
Fun is not just for children. It’s for all of us. Fun and laughter do incredible things to your brain and body. When we embrace the gift of fun and laughter we get a big shot of dopamine to our brain – a kind of reward system that gives us feelings of euphoria and motivation. And the rewards keep coming! More fun and laughter lead to increased immune functioning, stress relief, increased tolerance for pain, better heart health, reduced anxiety, and improved mood. As children we innately look for the fun and laughter. As adults, sometimes we need to more actively look for those moments. So, whether it’s a silly joke, a game, an amusing present, a playful activity…what moments could you consciously seek out, so that the gift of fun becomes an everyday part of your day, month, year – and life?!
4D HumanBeing can help you inject more fun and creativity into your team through our Team Creativity & Collaboration training and into your whole organisation with our fun, engaging Improvisation Keynote to inspire your whole workforce through fast-paced change.
We don’t often allow ourselves to talk about love in the workplace. Yet research tells us that the more employees feel a sense of compassionate love in the workplace the more engaged they are. And the more people feel they work in loving, caring environments, the more they report higher job satisfaction and teamwork. When put together, love and a sense of purpose are the key elements to experience a fulfilling life. It is also reported that a sense of love for our work and colleagues leads to peak performance in individuals. Meaning that love really can lead you and your colleagues to be at your best. So, what J.K. Rowling said really is true… “In the end, love wins. It does win. We know it wins.” How can you look for – and create – the gift of love in the workplace. It’s all about those tiny moments between co-workers…A warm smile, a supportive note, a kind word or a caring ear. How are you giving – and importantly letting in – the gift of love this holiday season…?
Through our Leadership Development training, Diversity and Inclusion programmes and Workplace WellBeing offers, 4D HumanBeing can help you and your people increase the gifts of love, understanding, care and collaboration within your organisation.
I love the saying “You don’t have to turn up to every argument you’re invited to.” And it’s true. We don’t have to be drawn into the dramas around us. We can take a moment, step back and choose to see what other possibilities and responses might be available. It’s such a gift to realise you can choose where you put your energy and whether you pull others into a fight or let others cast you in their own movie of drama and discord. By learning to manage our own trigger responses, fears and defences we can open ourselves up to the wonderful world of more peaceful options – internal peace in our own nervous systems and external peace in our relationships. When we are able to create more internal peace and regulate ourselves and situations, with a deep breath or some time out, we stimulate our glorious ventral vagal system. This is the part of the nervous system that is all about social engagement, connection, safety and flourishing. If you can create even a tiny space between the trigger and your reaction, you have the chance to see the opportunity for harmony and the gift of peace. As someone said to me recently, we don’t have to tear each other apart in any break up or disagreement. There is always another choice. In what situations of discord could you choose to bring the gift of peace right now? With an offer of letting go, or a card of kindness or an acceptance of difference?
Through our Mastering Challenging Conversations Training programmes, 4D HumanBeing can upskill your people to help problems become peaceful, turn hostility to harmony and transform conflict into creativity
Hope is the last thing to die – so the saying goes. Even in the hardest of times, we human beings can still access the gift of hope if we choose to. And it really is a gift. It turns out that feelings of hope release neurochemicals called endorphins and enkephalins into our systems that block pain and accelerate healing. Meaning we can overcome more hurdles and move to a place of recovery. Plus, when we vision a more hopeful future or outcome, we create a new story in our brain. And through research we know that the brain doesn’t recognise the difference between actual events and the narratives we create in our minds. So, when you imagine a more hopeful scenario, your brain and body-mind actually have the experience of this more hopeful perspective – as if it were really happening. Finally, recent studies show that by embracing the gift of hope we reduce anxiety and increase motivation, problem solving and goal-orientated behaviour. Hope really does lead to increased possibilities and tangible, positive outcomes. So what can you hope for this holiday? What situation might turn out better? What might be possible? What dream would you love to come true? Start to imagine it. Write it down. Breathe it in and let the science of hope work its magic for you.
Whether you and your business are going through tough times or managing change our 4D Culture Change programmes and 4D Managing Change keynote will bring your people the hope, clarity, energy and motivation to embrace the potential and possibility ahead.
The emotion of joy can be defined as “a feeling of extreme gladness, delight, or exaltation of the spirit arising from a sense of well-being or satisfaction.” It can be experienced in a passive form – for example when we enjoy watching children play or friends laughing. Or it can be active. This is when joy feels more expansive, and we want to share the feeling of a moment with others, such as the joy of a beautiful view or TV show or book or piece of news. We have placed a lot more emphasis on the more long-term acquisition of happiness which means we often miss moments of joy and find ourselves working in bland environments. Yet moments of joy build to a rich, exuberant experience of daily life. Joy also activates a different part of the brain to happiness. Happiness stimulates the sympathetic nervous system triggering feelings of excitement, energy and activity. Whereas joy activates the parasympathetic nervous system which promotes feelings of peace and calm. Joy can be instant and we can look for moments of joy in the tiniest of moments. The bright colours in our environment, the cartoon mug in the kitchen cupboard, the closeness of a friend or colleague, the cuddle with your pet, the sharing of a recent trip, sending a picture of a frosty sunny morning walk, wearing that silly animal-face bobble hat on your winter walk, the new zesty shampoo fragrance…moments of instant joy are absolutely everywhere if we choose to see and share them. What moment, thing or experience can you appreciate and share with someone to bring more moments of joy bursting into life this holiday?
Check out our 4D Storytelling and 4D Presentation Skills programmes to help your leaders and people craft inspiring stories, messages and visions to spread even more joy within your workplace culture – everyday.
Are you exhausted? Stressed? Burnt out? Beyond your capacity or just not coping?
Do you know friends and colleagues who would also say yes to these questions?
You’ve reached the end of your tether. We can all do it! We’ve all had those moments where our capacity bowl is so full that one bad bit of customer service, one smashed glass, one frustrating phone call with the electricity company or one set of unexpected roadworks can totally tip us over the edge. Until we are quite literally crying over spilt milk. I’m right with you… and it’s okay – we’re all human.
It’s one thing to recognise the symptoms of burnout or stress and to take time out to look after yourself. More and more we are seeing individuals and leaders who ignore or don’t recognise the stress signs and double down on their levels of overwhelm by putting on a public mask and working hard to make it seem they are coping fine. What we are calling the second pandemic – “the Pandemic of Pretence”. This pandemic is affecting those people and leaders who are ‘coping’ by putting on the jolly front, the positive facade, the happy face, who are feeling the necessity to act strong, motivate others, be the leader they feel they should be and push away or hide some of those very real feelings underneath.
The problem is that by putting on a front, we are actually doing ourselves far more harm than if we simply acknowledged that we are not entirely coping. The bigger the gap between how we feel we should show up in the world and how we are really feeling, the bigger our chances of even worse emotional burnout, mental fatigue and physical illness.
Not only that but in terms of your leadership skills, your performance and your creativity, you are far better off being in touch with what’s really going on for you than pretending. Pretence is neither a top performing, truly collaborative or highly creative space to be in. We are far more healthy, creative, connected and successful when we are in touch with our true selves and true talents. In other words, the real leader is the better leader.
So, if you know that you are putting on a front and inside you have a stressful or negative narrative that is a long way from that façade, then you might be contaiged by the pandemic of pretence. If you are only letting the world see your ‘turned out half or shopfront ‘ as psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott called it – then you are denying to others and to yourself what’s really going on and it might just be time to ‘get real!’ The more you close the gap between how you think you should be in the world and how you really feel the better you are serving yourself and others. So, let’s get real with some super practical tips on how to not only deal with burnout but deal with burnout bluff. Let’s say goodbye to the pandemic of pretence and get down with how we really feel – let’s get real.
Here are six tips to help you close that gap, reduce the pretence, get in touch with what’s really going on, be an even better colleague and turn up – not as a pretend leader – but as a truly Real Leader…in all 4 dimensions, all 2 contexts. The 4D2C of peak WellBeing, Leadership and Performance.
1. Physical Dimension
Slouch it! Tip one is change your posture.
Change your posture from stiff, upright and in fix, solve and ‘be brilliant’ mode to a posture that connects you more with your body and your self. Try moving from ‘solve it’ to ‘slouch it’. Lean over to your side, curl one foot under you and sit like you might sit chatting to a friend in the pub or on the sofa with a family member. Let your body tell you that you are relaxed, safe and simply connecting with your colleague or team member rather than bracing, fixing or solving all the time.
2. Emotional dimension
Open it! Take 20 seconds before your next meeting to check-in with the feeling in your belly.
Stop trying to push it away or hide from it but imagine it is a message that needs opening up and reading. Ask the challenging feeling in your belly or chest… What are you trying to tell me? What do you want right now? What are you telling me I need? The more we push our emotions away the more harm we are doing to ourselves. Emotions aren’t the problem, ignoring them is. Your emotions are simply messengers that are trying to tell you something. Is your feeling anger, sadness, frustration, or fear? If you grab that emotion and open it up – what’s the message inside? Do you need a break, do you need to call a friend, do you need some help? What’s the message inside the emotion? This is a brilliant tool for breaking the pandemic of pretence, helping you close the gap between who you think you should be and how you’re really feeling.
3. Intellectual dimension
We are really good when we are stressed and burnt out at gathering further evidence that things are difficult or going to go badly. We can start worrying and our intellectual dimension goes into overdrive with overthinking. Retrain your intellect to focus on safety cues… What is working well, who is helping you, who does have your back, what is fun about this project, what are the possibilities? When you shift from looking for danger cues to seeking out safety cues you’re changing your internal chemistry and closing the gap between your negative fear and your positive pretence.
4. Intentional dimension
So much of our education teaches us to fix and solve, to know and to be right. When we go into conversations with colleagues or burnt-out team members, trying to fix everything is just more stressful for them – and for you. Try going into these conversations and meetings with ‘curiosity.’ Set your intention to be curious and suddenly you take the pressure off yourself to know, to be right or to fix things. All you have to do is be open and explore and be curious. Curiosity is one of the best intentions we can hold to get our nervous systems in a really good place. Now we don’t have to pretend to be positive and know everything. We can sit in the far less stressful state of simple curiosity.
Context 1: The Environment
Move it! If your office desk has become a location of stress, then change your environment.
Try taking the next meeting on a walk or in your armchair or on your sofa. Use your environment to signal to your body that you are in a relaxed, calm and safe state. Our environment has a huge impact on our state. Your physical state is the foundation of your WellBeing, Leadership and Performance. Take your next call in a different place where you feel different. Where the Netflix watching, popcorn eating, laughing, joking version of yourself can chill out and be relaxed in conversation with colleagues!
Context 2: Relationships
What we mean by this is take 10 seconds before your next meeting to slow your physiology down. The more we run at a crazy rate the more our nervous system goes into fight or flight. When this happens, and the more harm we are doing ourselves and the more we are stressing out other people out around us. Slow it down. Imagine a parent shouting and screaming and stressing at a baby to eat its food. Imagine what that is doing to the baby’s nervous system. When a parent slows down and self-regulates, they teach the baby to regulate itself and that the world is safe. You too can do this for your colleagues and your team members. Slow it down, regulate your own pace and you will be doing incredible, wonderful things for your colleagues’ nervous systems. The biggest gift you can give is the gift of slowing it down. Nothing gets in the way of the pandemic of pretence more than slowing things down!
We hope you enjoy your six tips to go from burnout bluff and the pandemic of pretence, to being more of the real you and the real leader that actually has far more to offer is far more creative and much more inspirational than the pretend version of you. Have the courage and take the risk to close that gap, be real with yourself and real with others so you can really be the leader and the human being you know you can be.
For more information, please visit the workplace wellbeing page on our newly updated website – https://www.4dhumanbeing.com/training-programmes/4d-workplace-wellbeing/
Before you go…
This is the final episode in a short series on ‘leadership from the perspective of the theatre director’. In this episode Matt from 4D is excited to be talking with the brilliant Bruce Guthrie. Matt and Bruce discuss the process of directing a play and bringing a team together in service of a goal (and a deadline!), the flexibility needed to lead different teams producing very different work and how to encourage individuals to flourish and maximise their creative potential.
Bruce is the head of HEAD OF THEATRE & FILM at the NATIONAL CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS in Mumbai, India and has worked extensively in the UK, USA and in Asia. Having initially trained as an actor Bruce has a wonderful perspective on being led by directors and what it takes to lead truly creative and collaborative teams. He trained at the National Theatre Studio and with Howard Davies, Sir Richard Eyre, Deborah Warner & Sam Mendes.