Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Flourishing Personally & Professionally in 2012

What do we need to focus on in our own lives to flourish, in order to best serve humanity?

Do you want to feel full of energy, motivated, living a long and prosperous life, free from chronic health conditions and to be happy? What are the secrets? Is there a pill or a rare Amazonian fruit that can boost our beta-2-3-4-antioxidant-hydroxi-foxi-soxi levels to help us boost vitality? 
Before we rush to the latest issue of Hello! or Ralph Magazine for the verdict, lets consider a few varied and more qualified opinions.
Firstly in a lecture on mindfulness & happiness in 2010 Dr. Craig Hassed from Melbourne’s Monash University, Department of General Practice identifies his 7 pillars of health as being education, stress management, spirituality, exercise, nutrition, connectedness and the environment.
In the book Prosperity Without Growth, Tim Jackson identifies a number of factors affecting subjective well-being (happiness) in order of importance; {Partner/spouse and family relationships, health, a nice place to live, money and financial situation, religion/spiritual life, community & friends, work fulfillment.
In his book the Blue Zones, Dan Beuttner studied places around the world where people live longer and more often become centurions than anywhere else and identifies a wide spectrum of factors covering; food, physical activity, sleep, a realistic optimistic mindset, a sense of purpose, financial stability, good close relationships, strong community support and a sense of spirituality as being important.
Many traditional cultures have identified different levels to wellbeing, for example the Maori culture in New Zealand has a philosophy of wellbeing known as Hauora which incorporates four interconnecting dimensions: taha tinana, taha hinengaro, taha whanau, and taha wairua. This translates to physical, mental/emotional, social, and spiritual wellbeing. The World Health Organization recognizes this concept.

Recently, in a 2007 article in the Harvard Business Review, Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy discussed how professional people can enhance energy at work by focusing on four levels of energy; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy.  Many coaches who incorporate 4 quadrant thinking models (e.g. HBDI, MBDI, DISC)  will appreciate the parallels present in the last two examples. 

What these different sources confirm without doubt is that when wanting to really flourish it helps to respect the importance of all the different inter-related factors and it is important to open our minds to all of them if we are to live a fulfilling life and best serve humanity.

What is really interesting is that a shift in one area of life often has unexplainable positive effects in other areas.  In one of a comprehensive group of studies of thousands of people in over 150 different countries the Gallup organization proved a link between heart health and engagement at work.  Personally, I remember how the stress of a marriage breakdown in 2010 caused me to experience asthma symptoms for the first time in my life!  I also remember interviewing a young lady last year who started volunteering for those less fortunate than her and through it became inspired to start a career as a TV presenter. I can confirm the interconnected nature of wellbeing and vitality holds true again and again with many coaching client.
If you want a great starting point complete this very simple four-step vitality assessment, which can act like a springboard to making changes. 

1 2 3 4 5
How well are you taking care of yourself physically through food, exercise, and sleep to provide a foundation for day-to-day living?
1 2 3 4 5
Are you maintaining an honest, open and assertive relationship with yourself and those closest to you?
1 2 3 4 5
Are you prioritizing day-to-day activities and managing important events, finances and technology use?
1 2 3 4 5
Do you have a strong and clear sense of purpose in your life and live with gratitude and an appreciation of everything in the world

As a great coach, the next question that comes to mind is possibly - what can we change or improve to really flourish?  I’ve decided that for two reasons it would be best to provide a smorgasbord for readers to pick and choose as appropriate. 
Firstly because our circumstances are all different and I want to respect your unique situation and intelligence to decide for yourself what you need. Secondly, because I want to honor the core philosophy that a beautiful symphony is born out of the harmony between all the different instruments of life. The list of top tips below is just a small succulent selection from life’s large fruit bowl of options.

1.      SLEEP - Minimize medication and reduce alcohol use to fall to sleep or manage stress
2.      POSTURE - Make sure your desk or workstation is set up with good ergonomics so you can maintain good posture.
3.      MOVEMENT - Participate in regular repetitive physical activities to break distracted/stress related thought patterns
1.      SCHEDULE in hobbies, me time and family time in to your diary
2.      Set BOUNDRIES with staff and colleagues about when they can contact you.
3.      Reduce INTERUPTIONS by performing high concentration tasks away from phones and e-mail.
1.      Take time out, to engage you in a regular (screen free) relaxing or repetitive ritual that fills your mind with one dominant sense.  E.g. playing music, fishing, dancing, warm bath, gardening, yoga, tai chi, meditation, and painting.
2.      WALKING MEETINGS – For difficult meetings & conversations try taking a walk.  This changes the dynamics of the conversation and can lead to more effective discussions and better outcomes (Thanks to Erika Edmands). 
1.      Forgive somebody, show compassion or go and redeem yourself if you have done something you are not proud of.
2.      Become deeply engaged in an activity that is altruistic or service orientated Immerse yourself in an expression of your personal belief system

Once you have decided where focus your vitality laser in 2012, I am sure that as a great coach, you will get started by creating a vision, setting goals, diarizing action plans, engaging the services of a coach or signing up to a suitable program. Before before you do please give the following ideas the consideration they deserve.  
·       Be open to new insights & miracles
·       Utilize your strengths and respect your weaknesses
·       Use the power of community and work with a coach or partner
·       Stay committed – a resolution is for a lifetime not just for the new year
Click here, for access to the Spark Vitality Assessment.  Its a more comprehensive energy assessment and  is only available to the public for a short time. 
Hi, im Chris Eastham, a Port Melbourne based executive coach with a passion for energy management and performance enhancement.  I have a down to earth approach and aim to have an engaging style.  To find out more about me feel free to check out my website!

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