Every company Impact works with expects a lot from their people. In turn people expect a lot from their company. One of the big issues confronting both employer and employee is the sheer volume of stuff that needs to be done. The pressures of deadlines and that exhausting sense of being overwhelmed. There are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there with the latest time-management tools - the shiny app, the new pen, the clock on your desktop that shouts at you when you fall asleep - all of which make big promises but ultimately fail to deliver on your hopes of being better organised and more efficient.
But there is hope! There are some tried and tested methods for tackling these issues, we know because we have been trying and testing them. We have put all our best ideas into a new programme called Going the Distance (GTD). We did a lot of thinking, reading, talking and learning in putting GTD together. Ultimately the programme is helping us to see that we need to get better at making choices which support our hopes and our dreams as well as improving our capacity to crack through the daily to-do list.
Making better choices
So, how would you like to be at your very best everyday? Those days when you are “in the flow”; when everything works and you feel great.
If you are really honest with yourself, you might be surprised just how much of that day is actually down to the choices that you have made. Not just the decisions made on that particular day, but in the days and weeks before. We all make choices every single waking minute and they aren’t always in our best interest.
In his book Eat, Move, Sleep - Tom Rath describes a different life. His life. One where consequences are right in your face. Susceptible to cancer in many forms, Rath soon became aware that his everyday choices had the potential to kill him very quickly.
Rath has a lot of vital things to say about making better choices in support of improving our well-being and therefore our performance. Rath isn’t advocating the life of a carb hating, monastic gymnast, he’s simply saying “look, here are some insights into what you might be doing to yourself; you have choices, take responsibility for how you are and what you do”.
Are we even that aware that we have so much control over them and therefore what our day is like?
It isn’t just about what you eat, whether you cycle to work and how often you get a good night’s sleep. That is simply about being in good shape - which is a good start - but there is more. A lot more.
Digging Deeper into choosing
What goes on in our heads when we make those choices, especially when they are made under pressure? A good friend, sports psychologist Duncan Richards, introduced us to the notion that we all have our own patterns that drive the process of making choices. These patterns are very personal. What works for you won’t necessarily work for your family, friends and colleagues (so easy on the advocacy next time!). It is about knowing yourself and being honest about what works for you, and what doesn’t, and then most importantly using that knowledge wisely.
And then there is also something key in there about purpose. What (as Benjamin Zander describes it) gives you “Shiny Eyes”? What makes you get out of bed in the morning? In an increasingly complex, connected and yet unpredictable world, the human spirit too often ends up in the gutter. We are all entitled to a fulfilled life.
And finally, you need some space, space to reflect, space to talk it through, maybe even get challenged on some lifelong assumptions and mind-sets. Get out of your comfort zone and watch carefully what happens. In all our work we so often hear people saying: “I never thought I could do that!”. So make some space and surprise yourself.
As an employer, wouldn’t it be great if you knew that all your people came to work every day in good shape, with shiny eyes, with the insight of how to get the best out of themselves and the respect for how to get the best out of others. We think work would be a very different place and I suspect most of your customers notice a positive change as well.