Jill Whittington is in conversation with Vanda North about the role of the individual in organisational resilience

Organisational resilience is the theme of our FREE webinar on 18th March 2021. As an appetiser we are writing a series of articles on what we believe are the three key areas for achieving sustainable organisational resilience:

  • The Individual
  • The Team
  • The Organisation

Leaders are currently asking The Change Maker Group to support their organisations to be ‘agile’ and resilient to change to respond to the rapidly changing environment. This is why we decided to focus on this theme.  Thus, if an ‘agile’ resilient organisation is the goal, what are the main ingredients for achieving this?

This first article considers the INDIVIDUAL . I am writing it in conversation with Vanda North, a world leader in her field of organisational resilience.

What inspires Vanda and Me?

Vanda and I connected immediately. We both share a passion for supporting individuals to become self-sufficient. For individuals to become their own coach and experience freedom from life restricting thoughts, feelings, and actions both in personal and work life.

Vanda, who co-created Mind Chi, became my Mind Chi Mentor and enabled me to become a Mind Chi Mentor to others.

The Weakest Link

I asked Vanda her views on how personal resilience links to team and organisational resilience?

 ‘Where IS the ‘weakest link’? To build a really change resilient company, ready to flex with any changes that come along, it is necessary to interweave the aspects of individual, team and organisational support, wellbeing and resilience facets, then you can assure that there is no ‘weakest link’!

 We are all leaders in any organisation since leadership does not require rank or permission. We lead ourselves every day. Every day we have choices about what we do, what we think and how we behave, but how often do we sabotage ourselves with unconscious choices that hold us back? How often are we at the mercy of those limiting and doubting thoughts, that voice in our head? Is it building you up or tearing you down? Are you allowing it to run away with your mind like an untrained puppy?! Moreover, we can become accustomed to multi-tasking, lacking focus, and running out of time to achieve all that we want or need to.

Stress and Strain

We know that we all face challenges in life, perhaps none more so that over the last year. Stressors are a fact of life however what stresses me will be different to what stresses you!

In our webinar on the 18th March this will be explored further. Dr John Mervyn-Smith will describe how our natural inclination or ‘proclivity’ for delivering change is compromised by the chaos and stress we all face right now.

The key for us as individuals however is if we allow stress to build, we can become overwhelmed. This in turn creates significant strain that can lead to burnout. Burnout is exceedingly difficult to come back from.

Stress related absenteeism remains prevalent. According to People Management there was a 70 per cent rise in the number of stress-related absences among HR professionals in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Moreover, stress related presenteeism is just as damaging to productivity. A BBC study states that presenteeism is a clear and accelerating trend citing several studies which conclude that if we’re not at our best, then we’re less productive employees.

Therefore, as individuals we need to lead by example and adopt strategies that work for us

Mind Chi offers us all a technique not merely to address our stressors but more importantly to prevent them. We can ALL learn new habits to regain control over our mind to support us day in day out and that’s the critical element!

Mindfulness with Focus

I describe Mind Chi as mindfulness with focus because it enables us to re-wire our brain to adopt new habits for psychological, emotional, and physical resilience.

I was immediately drawn to Mind Chi since it neatly encapsulates psychology of well-being, the science of happiness and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) into 8 minutes a day!!!

I asked Vanda what inspired her to create Mind Chi and why it is so powerful. Here’s what she says

‘My work took me on a world tour every couple of years, and over a 12-year span, I got to know the people returning to my sessions. One year, I felt a real difference in the energy and outlook and asked what was going on. Overwhelmed and stressed was the reply. As I first started teaching stress management in the early 70‘s I expected people knew coping strategies by now, and when I inquired, I was told, ‘Oh yes! I know what to do, I just don’t have the TIME!!’ Over and over, I heard this.

 Returning home, I sat with a long-time colleague and said, ‘We must do something!’ And so, we did. We condensed the best of all we knew and crafted it into an 8-step/minute routine called Mind Chi. Our goal was to provide a simple to do, powerful process which anyone can do in 8 minutes, nearly anywhere!

Thus, for the time it takes to make a cuppa or become distracted by social media this daily 8-minute practice retrains us to have control over our mind and become our in-built coach – to operate at our best BEAT!

What is YOUR best BEAT?

BEAT is an acronym standing for B=Body; E = Emotions; A = Actions and T = Thoughts. These are steps 5 & 6 of Mind Chi and allow us to take control in the NOW!

Excitingly Vanda will be contributing to our webinar on the 18th March where she will tell you more. In the meantime, here is a snapshot from her:

‘Having checked your BEAT, in this moment you can choose to change any aspect!

You can release any Body tensions, move about for a while. You can select an Emotion that will serve you, and those around you, better – what might it be? You may choose calmness or playfulness or focus? Or whatever suits what is happening – YOU are the only one who chooses, no one else!

Action is to check you are not wasting your energy – just enough for the task at hand and finally, your Thoughts, choose to listen to the voice that is like a special friend, supporting and assisting you.

This BEAT check and choose may be performed in seconds, any time you are feeling stressed or the need to regain control over you. Very powerful.’

So, does it work?

Quite simply YES! As an accredited Mind Chi mentor myself now, I am delighted to see first-hand how this is helping individuals to be at their best. In turn this means that individuals can:

  • Have focus
  • Sleep better and have more energy
  • Choose more life enhancing actions e.g. exercise, movement, food etc
  • Create space in their mind to be creative and contribute to the strategic debate
  • Have the capacity to support others in their team
  • Bounce back quickly after setbacks
  • Be the very best they can be and
  • Live and work in joy

Is this not what any leader wants for themselves, their people, their teams and thus their organisation?

Back to YOU, the individual

Therefore, I suggest that we all have a responsibility to take charge of ourselves by adopting life changing habits that support us, day in day out. Not just to prevent burnout but to be the best we can possibly be for ourselves, our friends, our family, our colleagues and thus our organisation.

Self-responsibility is a prerequisite for organisational resilience.

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Contact Jill at [email protected]

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