Stress is on the increase. Pressure of cashflow, redundancy, pension etc face us all. Many of us in business, particularly in the higher echelons or in entrepreneurial environments share similar experiences and feelings which can mean that we may have to suffer our frustration, angst, stress or plain old loneliness – well, alone. It can be lonely at the top but it can also be stressful and un-fulfilling at all levels, in all businesses, in all roles.
Do we regularly and genuinely address these emotions with a detached and compassionate eye? Do we ignore them because we “have to”? Do we add to our own stress levels by ignoring intuitive or gut feelings? Do we let these feelings intrude into our personal and business life? Do we let it influence our behaviour and even our company culture?
My view is that all behaviour – business, sport, home, life, play etc – starts and ends with the individual. Business culture and in fact society as a whole is the accumulation and reflection of all of these individual behaviours. This is true irrespective of the relative influence of peer groups, money, social status, advertising, savvy marketing or Government initiatives. At the end of the day we all choose individually how to behave. Whether to follow or lead. Whether to buy or not. Whether to confirm or rebel. Whether to walk away or stand our ground.
In this context, our values influence our emotions and actions at an individual level and as such it occurs to me that we can all be more authentic people – at work and in life -just by choosing to be so. How does your personal culture reflect the authentic you? What does your company culture represent? Is it really supporting and developing you as an individual? Are you fulfilled?
How come we are more stressed, less valued and less satisfied?
I offer the following by way of my understanding of some of the issues at hand.
If our actions do not follow our values and morals we are inauthentic. We may be able to “live” with this in the short term but I suggest that long term incongruent behaviour is not sustainable by most of us. I always advise that individuals start in the same place if they are having feelings of incongruence, imbalance or discontent. Start in the mirror! You cannot kid a kidder and you cannot lie to yourself.
So, I developed the theme thus:
The first step to balance and growth, or at least to change, is
A=Awareness. Once you acknowledge the issue, then the first step is taken. Be honest with yourself – it takes courage but you have more than you think. Then,
I=Inclination. You have to want to change and/or grow. If you are happy with your lot – truly happy and content then fine; but if not then you must genuinely want to change. Change takes commitment so if you are not inclined, stop. Then,
R=Resources. You will probably need tools and techniques and training. Once you commit to change – whether that is your company, skills, role, environment, social group – then you will be able to find resources available specific and qualified to help Then,
S=Support. Change is difficult. The support of friends, family and even a detached coach/mentor will help you. You do not have to go it alone. Collaborate, co-operate and develop new relationships – in business and outside.
So, that’s the AIRS part. Simplistic, maybe, but concise and effective.
And so to the Graces. The pay-off, if you will.
Well, how about inner peace, balance, harmony, trust respect (self) responsibility, authenticity etc. Or even karma, dharma and nirvana? How about more job satisfaction, more fulfilment, more value, less stress?
I use these terms (emotions, feelings, behaviours) in a generic context as the higher virtues that can be obtained by living by basic, personal but universal values. I am sure that more erudite and knowledgeable parties can expand on my fundamental understanding but I hope that my summary serves to get the message across.
Your AIRS and Graces are yours to manage and receive (respectively) and just imagine the overall benefits to business, life and society if we all looked at our own AIRS and Graces more often.
Have the courage to be authentic. Find your values and ways to be authentic to them. You may just find that you, your business and your whole “life” starts to become clearer and more satisfying.