For the latest instalment of our HR industry executive interview series, we sat down with The Zone Founder & CEO Liam Forde to talk about life balance, wellbeing and upholding your values…
Q: What’s the main problem you see in your global travels?
Today’s world is fast, faster than any time in history, and a consequence of this is more strain on mental, physical and emotional health.
The Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation shows that in 2017 almost 300 million people worldwide suffered from anxiety. The British charity Mind refers to a statistic that 1 in 6 people in England experience a common mental health problem, such as anxiety and depression, in any given week. In big cities like London, the stresses compound.
Environmental factors however are not the only stressors; career, family, finances, relationships and world news from Brexit to climate disaster, can raise blood pressure!
Q: How does this impact HR leaders?
As a Human Resources leader you have the additional burden of responsibility for the business, the overall wellbeing and performance of your people, employer reputation, talent acquisition, up/reskilling the business to face the future, and leadership development. Add to this the mounting swathe of regulations we face just to do business and often times this can feel like a complex lonely journey. One thing is clear, leadership is key. Good leaders make a huge difference to engagement, productivity and success. Turning inwards helps us lead more authentically, making values based decisions helps us stay true to ourselves and avoid the trap of short-term gains with long term pains.
As a coach, mentor and advisor, I am still confronted by people who have success in one element of their lives, say their career, but are struggling personally, or with family, or even struggling to stay connected and relevant to their friends. Early signs of stress start to manifest.
Our brains cannot distinguish “real” threats (dangerous wild animals or physical danger) from “imagined” threats (failing, getting fired, being alone, losing love…being sidelined…) and our hard wired F3 (fight-flight-freeze) response is triggered. This makes us prepare for danger (real or imagined), adrenaline courses through our veins, blood pressure rises, hearts race and we start to perspire. We get digestion issues, gain weight and constantly feel exhausted. We are in an always ON state. It’s all in the mind.
Q: What can HR leaders do to help?
Everyone needs to find a safe haven where they can decompress, a way to rebalance and recover. Understanding your values is a critical first step to understanding yourself. In understanding yourself better you can unlock an oasis of calm and centeredness that can sustain you through the toughest of times.
Your values are your life compass, your True North. Without a compass life tends to drift from one demand to another, and over time, we lose sense of who we are, what we stand for or what we stand against.
The word Values derives from its root word “valor”, meaning courage. The Lion in the Wizard of Oz, felt lost without courage, in the same way, without understanding who we are and what we stand for we can sometimes feel lost and unable to make the right decisions.
Understanding our Personal Values gives us courage, gives us strength.
Q: How can we uncover our values?
The first step to discovering your values is to understand the Values Equation:
V = I x P
Values = Importance X Priority
The popular movie Mary Poppins demonstrates the equation well. Mr Banks and Mary Poppins both knew Family was Important, but who made it a Priority? Mr Banks made Work a priority, so we can see his behaviour was all about money, his image, his career, fitting in (being a good banker archetype) and approval from his bosses. Both Mary and Mr Banks had Discipline, Order and Manners as Priorities, so he felt respected by Mary, and Mary understood Mr Banks. Mary though, had Play as a Priority, for Mr Banks it was not even Important, children need to learn to be Serious (like Bankers), there was a clash. Mary saw how much the children yearned for Love and Play, as all children do. When Mr Banks finally woke up, he realised his mistake and began to “fly a kite” (a Play behaviour). It saved the family. Finally he and Mary were aligned.
Happiness and stability starts by making sure you and your Values are aligned, that also applies to work, relationships and family. Misalignment causes stress, unhappiness, underperformance and dis-ease.
It’s important now to distinguish between our Inner World (our thoughts, feelings, values etc) and our Outer World, what is happening around us, and the impacts of what we do. We are the Queens and Kings of our Inner world, we rule, we decide, we make the rules, but often in our Outer World we have less control. We can control our actions and reactions, but we can’t control the weather, the traffic, politicians or our bosses! If we focus solely on the Outer World, and make that our King or Queen, we may feel swept along and out of control, even a victim. If we focus on our Inner World, we can regain composure, control and calmness. This is the power of living our Values.
We published a short fun Values Discover Exercise recently, enjoy it and let us know what happened, we’d love to hear from you 🙂
Liam Forde is a TEDx speaker, Executive Coach, and Founder of The Zone, a global partnership of Leadership, Culture & Performance facilitators, trainers and coaches with the purpose of making organisations more human. Their approach, developed over 20 years, working with 100+ companies in 30+ countries, gives leaders, teams and organisations the tools to create happy and high performing cultures, and unlock collective intelligence to creatively solve their biggest challenges. Check them out at: www.thezone.co