Quality Sleep-Sound Mind-Happy World

March 18 is World Sleep Day and the theme for this year is

Quality Sleep – Sound Mind – Happy World.

We all know how we feel when we are sleep deprived. I’ve experienced first hand, through clients and family, how completely life and personality changing lack of sleep can be.

Good quality and quantity of sleep is crucial to help us reset physically and metabolically, mentally and emotionally. It’s like wireless recharging!

Sleep is essential for us be at our best cognitively and rationally. It helps us manage and regulate emotions better. It helps us learn and retain information. It’s in fact crucial for effective leadership (see below from a recent McKinsey article).

McKinsey and Company : Sleep and Leadership

Here are some pointers:

  1. You need at least 8 hours of quality sleep.
  2. If you have some form of insomnia, see a professional that can help you diagnose a possible sleep disorder.
  3. Reflect on your sleep routine
  4. Switch off blue light from tech gadgets 2 hours before. Read a physical book, play music, speak to loved ones.
  5. Keep your bedroom cool and for sleeping (not working, watching movies, eating). Charge your phone away from your bed.
  6. Find a wind-down routine that works (dim lights, meditation routine, music, bath etc)
  7. Have a light and early dinner
  8. Get the family involved and make it a lifestyle choice.

So, healthy sleeping is a way of becoming more awake to life, to being present to life and to living more fully.

Make a choice today, to change your sleep habits!


You make choices, and your choices make you: a…

For many of us, by now, New Years resolutions have become a distant memory. Research says that of the 41% of Americans that set resolutions at the beginning of the year only 9% are successful at keeping them. Perhaps the fact that we set our resolutions, often misty eyed, in the afterglow of a holiday, festivities, rest and fun could be a factor? However, the New Year promises a new beginning, a time to reset and inspire ourselves into what we believe our potential is. In my view, even a small step towards a positive change is an improvement. So, are you in the large majority whose goals are now fading slowly? This is not a disaster. I have recently been helping MBA student clients review their goals for their year ahead, and also experimenting with my own.Here are some strategies that we’ve been playing with.

1. Setting a soul-based goal rather than an ego based one – what this means is looking deeply at the “why” of the goal. As an example, you can set a goal like : “I want to lose 10kgs by the end of the year”. Let’s look at these words. They feel hard. They may have the implication of perhaps diet and deprivation? This is an example of what author Marci Shimhoff calls the “ego-based goal” which we can transform this into a “soul-based goal”. One that feels lighter, and has more “ease and openness” associated with it. Something like “ I would like to be my best physically (maybe emotionally and spiritually” or “I would like to have energy to do the things I love and be with my loved ones” These are just some of the ways that you can, using language, create a deep soul-felt intention about something that is important to you. 

2. Asking “who do I want to become?” rather than what I want to do? An example of this is looking at what some of our goals would result in. Perhaps you have a goal of reading one book a week. How would that change you? Perhaps it is around becoming well read/ an expert on a certain subject? Perhaps you would like to be someone that uses your time deliberately and intentionally? What would your goals help you to transform towards? 

3. Getting clearer and clearer on what these goals actually mean. Goals that are vague are difficult to achieve, so visualise your goal, the end result with exquisite precision. Get into the detail, the picture as precisely as you can. What would you feel like. What do you see, smell, taste and feel if you achieve this goal? 

4. Having “micro-goals” linked to the big picture. Following on from the above, what do you need to do daily, weekly, monthly to achieve this goal. Also called chunking, in setting the micro-goals, the big goal becomes more achievable. Just one step at a time, every day, is where the magic lies

5. Getting back on the horse, when life bucks you off. Yes, this happens and I can certainly vouch for that too. How can we see this not as failure, and simply a detour in the path? Remember that in building new neural pathways, the old ones are still there, and can be activated at the drop of a hat especially when life happens. 

How can you use the mindset that life is iterative, just the way, a computer program needs several tweaks and need redesigning to change your perspective. Use the fall of the proverbial horse to inquire into what happened. Perhaps you had a stressful day, where you simply could not fit in the 30min walk, or your child was not well. The trick is to be gentle with yourself, and not listen to the tyrannical voice many of us have inside our heads. Literally say to yourself “It’s ok, tomorrow is another day”. Write in your journal and unpack the noise and stories in your mind, and create space for trying again. As Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal — it is the courage to continue that counts.”

6.Focus on the process not the outcome.James Clear, author of Atomic Habits says that “Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference” See your goals as a journey to becoming more present and intentional about what truly matters to you in life. Stay with the process and invite ease and an attitude of learning, iterating and learning some more. 

So as you haul out and dust off some of your goals from January:

First, invite ease not criticism. 

Next check if this is really what you want to become. 

Ask “why?” 

Then, rework  and reword them if your need to. 

Lastly, take one tiny step today. It could simply be making a call, putting on your walking shoes, or not reaching for the candy bar. 

Your goals are not more complex, than the next smallest choice you have to make, because in the end  as Anne Frank said “Our lives are fashioned by our choices. You make choices, and your choices make you”


What’s missing in the conversation on wellbeing at work?

If there’s ever been a word that’s been used more than “COVID” in the last 24 months it’s “workplace wellbeing” or some adaptation of it. The pandemic has really made it clear that health and wellbeing are front of centre of our lives. From a personal health perspective, COVID has shown us that those with chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and obesity have been impacted the worst clinically. In the corporate  health perspective, companies big and small have woken up to just how important mental wellbeing is to the sustainability of their organisations. While personally, many people are seriously considering and taking action on how to prioritise wellbeing, one of the many reasons for what popular wisdom is naming “the great resignation”, organisationally many companies have embarked on initiatives and programs that are aimed at supporting their employees as people deal with the serious impacts that COVID and lockdowns have had. Grief, financial losses, relationships breaking down, job insecurity, working from home, balancing family and work, to name just a few. 

This shift has been a long time coming. What was considered a nice to have, an HR function and something that was a ‘tick the box’, is now a priority. It speaks to corporate sustainability, productivity and resilience, and yet, what exactly is not hitting the spot, making sense or feeling uncomfortable in these conversations? This is a question that I have been chewing on for quite a few months. I have reflected on some of my thoughts here in this short post. 

Getting clear on intention?

My first thought is the principle that is crucial to any action. WHY? What exactly is the intention of these work place wellbeing programs? While actions may be taken towards wellbeing, the essence, sincerity and real intent of the company needs to be visible and transparent. Is your intention to “tick the box” or as a company are you genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of your people? Do you wish to embark on this to improve productivity, or is the real health of your real humans important to you? Is this the short game or are you prepared to invest in the long conversation? Where and what are you spending money on? (An accounting lecturer once said that if you would like to know the “real” strategy of a company, look at what they are spending their money on)

Changing the culture from the top-down, and from the inside out. 

Almost every company I know has its values clearly articulated somewhere. Most people know them and in fact sometimes employees’ performance is measured by how the values are lived in the work setting. While the word integrity may seem like a scary word in this context, this is what we are feeling into when we look at actions and behaviours rather than just the spoken word. It needs to be “this is how we work here”. It should be apparent in the actions of the senior leaders and CEO. Small things are indeed the big things. Do you receive emails at all odd hours? Are we expected to respond during family time, weekends and at odd hours of the night? The spirit of an organisation is the intangible energy that pervades it’s buildings, its people and it’s emotional vibration. Therefore, it is indeed a requirement that wellbeing be part of the pervasive spirit, and not just the espoused word.

Changing the culture from the bottom-up, and from the outside-in

What conversations are actually happening? Is it the senior leadership conversation? Or are we actually having the conversations that matter where it matters, when it matters and to whom it matters? What are the conditions and climate? Are our customers and partners involved in steering this intention meaningfully? Psychological safety and the belief that one would be treated benevolently creates the safe space for true connection and courage to show up. Connection that will change the spirit and intention of the organisation.

Finally, while to some, it may seem like semantics, to me, it feels meaningful and courageous  – to move the conversation from workplace wellbeing to wellbeing. Truly feeling and meaning that we care about the health and wellbeing of our people. Not just the mental wellbeing, but their physical and spiritual wellbeing and that of their families. To show that we care about their “why”, and that we connect deeply to join in the “collective why”. This shift may indeed surface that people need to change and move along to where they truly belong, and in the process the company may also gain the people that feel their essence. This is a positive discomfort in the long term. 

So, let’s shift the conversation. Let’s start the conversations that matter. In fact let’s muster the courage to listen – with deep care, with empathy and compassion. The birthplace of true wellbeing of ourselves and those we serve.