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RECLAIMING YOUR WORK-LIFE BALANCE IN THE HYBRID ERA

Now the New Year is upon us it’s a perfect time to re-assess what IS and ISN’T working in your working regime. In 2023 we spent a lot of time working in organisations from all sectors and at all levels, especially with leaders and leadership teams. It gives us a privileged insight into current working practices, especially the impact of hybrid working on people’s working patterns and habits.

During the next six months we will be exploring the themes which have directly come out of the work we have been doing in the articles we write. We want to address the issues in common and, in typical Meta style, bring you some easy-to-use, practical tools that you can use to reduce these issues’ impacts on you. 

We’ve all been involved in a global experiment in hybrid working. The pandemic brought forward the need to create a more flexible working model that allowed people to work from home, and there is no doubt that, after the initial challenges, working from home was a rip-roaring success. 

Then, as the restrictions eased, working from home became ‘hybrid-working’ and over the last couple of years, every organisation has experimented with their own model for hybrid working – to varying degrees of success and engagement from their staff. 

As far as we can tell here at Meta, most organisations have a one-four or two-three day split between office and home. Interestingly, it tends to be the larger corporates, or some bigger public sector organisations (for example the NHS), who got rid of much of their office space and have embraced greater home working percentages. 

Having worked in all three sectors in 2023, extensively around collaboration, team-communication, re-building resilience and leadership, it’s fair to say that hybrid working has truly changed the way we work, and how we interact and collaborate with colleagues. It’s not easy to have the same (important) non-work conversations, and social interaction – the informal relationship building – that happens when you’re at the office, if you’re at home. 

It’s impacting how teams work together, how they communicate, how they collaborate, and how they build and maintain relationships. It’s also impacting the individual leader or staff team member, as they no longer have that same level of informal support from sitting in an office in amongst their team. And it inevitably affects the efficiency and performance of the teams too. 

Now, many of the bigger corporate organisations have done research into productivity in their teams (are they still getting the output they need from their workforce?) and found that productivity in the hybrid working world is higher than it was pre-pandemic. BUT, and this is a big BUT, it comes at a cost to the individual worker. One of those costs is longer work hours – especially when working from home.

Not having enough time in the day to get everything that needs to get done, is one of the most consistent themes we have seen coming out of our work in recent years. Think about it now for yourself – do you have the time and the brain capacity to get everything that you need to get done, at the right quality level (in keeping with your level within the organisation), in your normal (i.e., contracted) working hours? 

If the answer is YES to that question, then CONGRATULATIONS you are the first person that I have met in the last few years that thinks they can! 

What most people choose to do (because the vast majority of people want to do a good job) is to work through their breaks and work longer hours to try and get everything done. The problem is that there are never enough hours and work is an insatiable beast – it is always hungry for more from you, and the more you give, the more it needs from you. Essentially, you’re on a hiding to nothing.

What’s fascinating to me is that our working patterns are DIFFERENT when we work in the office and when we work at home. When we’re at the office we are more likely to leave on time (or at least we don’t tend to stay as late), because we know we have to commute home, or we have to pick up the kids or take them to a club. 

When we work from home, we tend to work beyond our normal office working times and, more often than not, we will also work through the time that would be our commute home. Our own empirical research at Meta also has shown that people are less likely, now than ever, to take a lunch away from their desk – or even take lunch or eat at all! Never mind take any other breaks in the day. This is something that has absolutely changed in the last 22 years that Meta has been in business. 

So, with the new year upon us it’s important to reclaim your work-life balance, especially when you are working from home – and re-set your boundaries (what you will and will not do) in 2024. And, by the way, this is not only important for us as individuals, but also, for senior leaders reading this, it’s important for your organisation’s success too! 

The obvious benefit is the well-being, mental health, and welfare of your staff, but the less obvious benefit is that, when we are not working so hard or as long, we tend to be more efficient and get more done (yes, even in fewer hours!). The quality of what we do improves too, and the more brain capacity we have, the more innovative and creative we can be. The less stress we feel, the better decisions we make, the more strategic we can be. The less hours we work, the more work-life balance we feel, the less stressed we are – the better we sleep. The better we sleep (and that will be a topic for another article this year, as there is a sleeplessness epidemic going on right now in the UK!) the better our all-round performance and productivity. 

Now to the practical part of the article – let’s look at some simple ways to re-claim some work-life balance back.

ANALYSIS:

The first step is to do your own analysis of your working patterns. How many hours do you actually work in a week? 

It’s really important that you are honest with yourself. More and more people are now re-visiting work in the evenings, more and more people are checking emails on the weekend – every time you look at an email or reply to a text on your work phone you are WORKING, it counts towards your working hours tally. 

Is there a difference between the days you work at home? To when you work at the office? 

Do you take a lunch break? Do you eat your lunch away from your desk? Do you have any other breaks in your work-day? (We will talk another time about just how important it is to be taking your breaks!) 

Once you’ve done the analysis, it’s a case of re-setting your boundaries. 

As I have said earlier in the article, work is an insatiable beast, it always wants more from you, so it is inevitable, having been through the pandemic, that you have ended up doing things you probably wouldn’t have pre-pandemic. Perhaps it was leaving your work phone on in the evening, perhaps it was working through your previous commute-time when you were working from home. Perhaps it was checking your emails or picking up work again after the kids had gone to bed. Maybe it was agreeing to do that evening meeting or accepting meetings that stop you taking lunch. Whatever it is, now is the time, at the beginning of the year, to re-assess and re-set your boundaries. 

Be sensible, if you’re currently working an extra two hours when you work from home, then cut it back by 30minutes or an hour at most at first. If you’re working from home in the evenings now, reclaim a few days off first. If you’ve started checking emails on the weekend or on holidays, make an agreement not to from now on. When you’ve re-set your boundaries, make sure your manager is aware of them too – and your teammates! Then they can support you and you can support them to set and keep their boundaries too! 

Then let’s address the working from home, longer working hours issue. It’s time to re-visit your working from home regime. Does it really work for you? 

Only you can decide how best to work from home in a way that works for you, however, here are some tips from META’s smarter working research that could help.

  1. Make sure you have set working times and keep to them.
  2. Make sure you take regular breaks and cook/prepare your lunches in advance, so you definitely get to eat! Take a walk in the garden with a cuppa, take the dog for a walk around the block – get fresh air and morning light if you can (it’ll help you sleep later!).
  3. Do question any meeting that you are invited to over lunchtimes – we know you can’t stop everyone, but you can at least have an agreement with your team/directorate colleagues that you don’t do meetings over lunch. 
  4. At the end of your work-day spend the last 30minutes or so tying up loose ends, doing admin, preparing your priority list or to-do list for tomorrow, and downloading/writing down anything that’s playing on your mind. 
  5. Re-claim your commute-home time – the commute home is actually an important part of your day, it’s an opportunity to start unwinding and de-stressing from your working day. It may sound odd but DO leave your house at the end of your working day and then, as a minimum, walk around the block and come back HOME. This will at least give you the feeling that you’ve left work. This is a good time to take your daily exercise, walk the dog, or go to the gym. 
  6. Make a clear distinction between ‘work you’ and ‘home you’ – the lines have blurred now, as work has come into our home. So, at the end of your working day, change out of your work clothes (and make sure you actually have different work clothes) and have an end of workday routine – shower, freshen up, change, sit and have a cuppa. 
  7. Create a restorative place to unwind at home – make sure when you’ve finished your workday and come back home, that you take 20minutes at least to download and unwind from your day. Such as a particular chair or outside seating area where you are not bothered by the kids and can escape and unwind properly. Listen to a podcast, have a glass of wine, read a book.

Follow some of these simple tips, do you own analysis, and re-set your own boundaries, and 2024 should be a more balanced work year for you. Remember, there is much more in your control than you think. If you create a working regime that works for you, then it WILL work for your team and your organisation too. If you’re happier and less-stressed, and you feel your life-work balance is more well balanced, then you will be your natural productive, creative, brilliant best more often during the day!

We hope this article has been useful, and we intend to create more of these articles in 2024. We at Meta are genuinely committed to making this experiment in hybrid-working work for all. Be that you an individual, a leader, a team, or an organisational CEO. We truly believe now is the time to change the way we work for good – to create smarter working organisations and high-performing cultures that enable everyone to thrive and excel. 

For more info on the work we can do with your people, your team, your department, your organisation – then just get in touch. We love helping organisations to get the most from their people – we’d love to help you to make your hybrid-working experiment work too! 

Have a great month and we’ll see you here again very soon! 


In peace and with love

Jo

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STOPPING TO SMELL THE FLOWERS

Over the last couple of days there have been thunderstorms, dark, foreboding and epic. Rumbles of thunder interspersed with flashes of lightning, followed by a torrential downpour of rain. 

‘Good for the garden’ – said my mum, and she continued, ‘Won’t have to water the garden for, oh, I reckon three days now, brilliant!’ 

Today, the morning after the storm, it is a beautiful day. The sun is shining in a brilliant blue sky. It’s hot, it’s summery, it’s everything you’d want from an early English summer’s day. 

The combination of sunshine, heat and then the rain, has meant that everything is growing – the wildflowers in my garden beds, the lettuce and chard growing in my vegetable patch, and sadly, the grass which I definitely must cut this weekend!

While I was out today on my daily late morning walk, I noticed that nature was in full bloom, everything seemed to be delighting in the weather, not just me. There were birds busy feeding their fledgling chicks, robins and wrens singing their little hearts out, and squirrels were bouncing across the path and climbing the trees. Trees were swaying in the breeze, their flowery pollen filling the air, and the baby fish in the river were hoovering up the pollen as it landed on the surface of the water. And of course, then there were the flowers, every garden I passed seemed to be a riot of colour, small flowers, big flowers, tropical flowers, wildflowers – all radiantly, brightly coloured, and just beautiful to see.

It reminded me, as I walked, of the everyday saying, ‘Stop to smell the flowers’ – and it prompted me to do precisely that! How often do we stop to smell the flowers as we rush through our busy lives? How often do we actually stop and notice them at all? 

‘Stopping to smell the flowers’ can be taken literally (and by the way I DO encourage you all on your next walk to actually STOP AND SMELL THE FLOWERS YOU SEE, it is such a fuel-tank filler!) – or one can use it as a metaphor. 

In a metaphorical sense, it means that it’s important to stop sometimes and get perspective on what’s going on in our lives. It’s important to realise that, actually, there’s a lot to be grateful for! 

It’s only when we stop and get that perspective that we can get a sense of what is really important, and not get caught in the drama of our lives but instead appreciate all that we have. It’s easy (when we’re busy being busy) to miss or overlook or take for granted the people and things that we love, the things that really matter. 

There has been so much research which highlights that, the happiest, most positive people are those who notice the good things in their lives and take time to be thankful for what they have. 

When was the last time you stopped, I mean really stopped? 

I have to here give credit to a dear friend of mine from New York, Karen. Every day she goes to her local park on Staten Island and sits under a tree. She sits, she watches, she breathes, and she stops. She leans against the tree (with her dog companion Luca) and together they just watch the world go by. She calls her daily visits to the park her ‘tree medicine’, the place she gets her ‘vitamin tree!’. 

Now I get outside every day, I walk most often up and down the River Severn near me, but what Karen made me realise is, although it’s great to get out into nature and have that exercise and light – I was never actually STOPPING. 

So, one day I took a leaf out of her book and found myself a nice big old tree to sit under and stopped. I have to say it was pretty revelatory! The old oak tree must have been a couple of hundred years old and, as I leant into it, I could feel its age, it’s wisdom. It calmed me down, from the inside, and I felt myself totally relax as I watched the other people whizzing by. Now I know, that probably sounds like woo-woo to some of you, but all I’m gonna say is give it a go! I’m totally hooked now, and when I’m feeling a bit flat, flustered, or stressed, I go get me some vitamin tree! 

It reminded me of one of my teachers who told me that meditation wasn’t sitting cross-legged, bolt upright, breathing deeply. Meditation could be sitting under a tree or lying on the ground watching the clouds as they crossed the infinite sky… it’s definitely meditative and it’s definitely a fuel tank filler! 

So, whether it’s to stop and smell the flowers, or whether it’s stopping to watch the world go by as you’re sitting under a tree – can I recommend that this month (especially now as it’s so summery and beautiful), you do find time to stop, and be grateful for the abundance that is all around you, and be thankful for the beautiful people and things that are in your life. 

And finally, on my way home, after having had the thought and inspiration to write this Meta article, and with the title ‘Stopping to Smell the Flowers’ buzzing around my head, I literally was stopped in my tracks by the smell of these incredible big bunches of lilies on a flower stall in Worcester town centre…

… and guess what? They were reduced to half-price, two bunches for £10! – how’s that for serendipitous!?

So of course, I had to buy them as a treat and a reminder to myself of how important it is to stop and smell the flowers! Don’t you just love how life is sometimes? 

Wishing you all a wonderful month, 

With love

Jo xxx

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WHY WE ALL NEED TO ‘BE MORE MARTY’

Just before Christmas, whilst on holiday in Holland with my daughter, I got a call on my phone from one of my Meta family friends.  

I could hear from his voice that something major was up. He was so quiet, solemn, I could feel the weight of the message he was going to have to give me:  ‘There’s no way to say this Jo, so I’m just going to say it – Marty’s gone, Marty’s died’. I was in stunned silence for what felt like an eternity. ‘What??’ I couldn’t believe it. 

I have strong spiritual beliefs that have helped me to come to terms with death over the years. I don’t fear death and I don’t believe that the essence of us dies, I think that love cannot die and lives on, the essence of those we love lives on in us. 

However, I have to confess that Marty’s passing has been particularly challenging to those beliefs. He was just 40 years young, in the prime of his life – It just didn’t make any sense. 

Marty with wife Rachel and best friend Ben

Just a few weeks earlier, I’d been at Marty’s wedding to the love of his life, Rachel and there he’d told me he was the happiest he’d ever been. I feel so fortunate to have been there that night as he told me how much I meant to him and we shared some very close intimate moments together. He was talking animatedly about his upcoming honeymoon to Disneyworld (SOO Marty!) and he promised he’d send me a photo of him with Winnie the Pooh when he found him (those of you who are older Meta family members will understand the reference as we used to read Winnie the Pooh stories at our workshops). He told me he was living his best life and he wanted to thank me for being a part of that life – he hugged me and told me he loved me. It meant the world to me as I was having my own personal issues at the time. 

After returning from his honeymoon (and yes, I did get that photo of Winnie the Pooh!), he went to sleep one night and never woke up. 

Last Friday was Marty’s funeral and the outpouring of love for this man was palpable. So many people came to pay their respects that the chapel overflowed and they had to open the second chapel at the crematorium to get everyone in. It’s the mark of a life well lived, of a man beloved that so many had come. 

What does it mean to ‘Be more Marty?’

Marty was the life and soul of the party. I don’t mean that in a clichéd sense, I mean that if you were with Marty you were bathed in the light, laughter and joy that flowed from him. He was the living embodiment of ‘joie de vivre.’ He lived life to the full, and everything he did, he did with enthusiasm and passion. 

During the beautiful service his best friend Ben and Rupert his brother urged us all to ‘Be more Marty’. It was a phrase that stuck with me, and it inspired me to write this Meta blog in honour of my friend – Marty. 

Don’t worry this isn’t a sad blog, it’s an uplifting one. My friend Marty touched so many people in his life, and the more I reflect the more I realise why he came into my life and what teachings he has for us all – that’s what this blog will be about. His life was his message – and how he was in his life is an inspiring lesson for us all. In order to understand this, I’m going to need to tell you a bit about Marty. 

At Meta we talk about the Meta family. It’s not a gimmick, it’s just that real people who have been our customers often become friends and we are so blessed to have so many (like you reading this!) whom we consider a part of our Meta family. 

Marty was part of our family, an important part and over the years he became a dear friend and brother. 

Marty came on our Journey to Mastery programme in 2018. Some people just instinctively pick up the NLP tools and techniques, and as with everything in his life, Marty gave the programme 100% and got so much in return. He was such a valued member of the group, always quick to help others in the group, so compassionate, so kind and so FUNNY! He also wasn’t afraid to share his own experiences good and bad. Marty was determined to use what he’d learnt in his life and get the most from life. I’d say that in the end he embodied what NLP really is, he was excellence in action.  

Marty DJing at ‘The Bottle of Sauce’

Over the years we’ve bonded over DJing (we both were DJs), American Football (Not his fault he was a Patriots fan, I never held it against him :D) and beer. Marty was one of those people who has lots of friends. Everywhere he went he brought the FUN – the laughter, the joy. Everyone loved Marty, everyone loved to be around him and with him. 

He was so much in demand because he was such a lovely guy. Everyone wanted a piece of Marty and Marty made sure that we all felt special when we were with him. He made you feel special, he made you feel great whenever you saw him or heard from him. It felt like for those moments, he was just with you – that’s a rare quality in a person. 

Marty wasn’t afraid to express his emotions, he wasn’t afraid to tell you he loved you and give you one of his big bear hugs! That’s unusual in a man, but Marty was that kind of man, he was kind, generous and loving. 

Marty celebrating running a marathon

Marty seemed to manage to cram so much into his life. He was a loving son, brother, uncle and family man. Loving husband, and doggie dad (to Dolly the dog). He was a runner (so proud when he did the Berlin marathon), bon vivant (never willingly without a pint in his hand, including just after his marathons!), great friend and DJ. He worked a full-time job at TSB bank’s HQ, watched every NFL game (well it seemed like he did) and he loved all kind of sports. He was a regular at his local pub ‘The Bottle of Sauce’ in Cheltenham, where he also DJ’d and shared his passion for uplifting dance music! 

At the aforementioned ‘Bottle of Sauce’ pub on Friday at his wake, I reflected with his best friend Ben and we both said that, although we were deeply saddened and struggling to understand why, we couldn’t say that he had not LIVED his life to the full. He crammed so much into the short time he was with us, and it was almost as though he had a different relationship with time because he just got so much into this life. 

I want to honour Marty’s memory, I want to honour his life and his very way of being. I think Marty can be an example to us all, and at the beginning of the year perhaps we all need to: 

BE MORE MARTY.

10 REASONS WE ALL NEED TO BE MORE MARTY

‘Being more Marty’ is about reflecting and looking at your life with a fresh perspective. It’s about grabbing life by the balls and going for it. It’s about not carrying on life as it has been, it’s about asking yourself how you can bring in more joy, more fun, more laughter into your life, and touch more people along the way. 

So what are the lessons I take from Marty? – what will be his legacy to me? I want to be more Marty in my life, and I suspect that you may too, that’s why I’m sharing these 10 reasons we all need to BE MORE MARTY:

  1. Marty was the embodiment of fun: I want to be more fun, do more fun things, live life to the fullest. 
  2. Marty was spontaneous: I want to do things for the heck of it, and just be spontaneous. Do new things and love every experience. 
  3. Marty was joyful: You can’t be half-joyful, and when you were with Marty it was a real joy. I’d like to bring that joy to whatever situation I’m in and bring that sense of joy back into my life. 
  4. Marty always gave 100%: Whatever I do, I want to give it my all – be it my work, my job, or something in my life – Marty always gave 100% no matter what it was and always found a way to enjoy it. 
  5. Marty was passionate about life and pretty much everything:  Marty had lots of passions in his life from Star Wars, to Disney, to family and loved ones, to NFL, to DJing, to running. When we have passion in our life we just get more out of life, Marty understood that and showed us that a life lived in passion is a wonderful life.
  6. Marty was quick to laugh even when things got tough: I want to laugh more, I want to enjoy life to the fullest. Sometimes life gets far too serious and that’s when we all need to be more Marty and lighten things up. 
  7. Marty was kind, generous and compassionate to all: Be it a work colleague with an IT issue, a friend in need, a homeless person or the charities that he supported in his many runs. Marty was always looking out for everyone else, if you were in need, Marty was there. How can we be of service to others? Be more kind, generous and compassionate? 
  8. Marty was a loving man and not afraid to express that love: Marty  would tell you he loved you, and when you were with him, you knew you were loved. We all need to tell people we love them more often. 
  9. Marty was such a great friend, he always made you feel special when you were with him: We all need a Marty in our corner. He was there for me on many occasions as he was for so many. We could all be a bit more Marty and reach out more to our friends. 
  10. Marty lived his life to the full: The term ‘joie de vivre’ encapsulates Marty’s life. We all need to re-assess what we want from life and where the joy and spirit is in our lives. It’s what Marty would have wanted. 

I know that Marty came here for a reason, and I am so grateful that Marty chose to be in my life. He was a true gift. I think he will live on in all of us who knew him, if we just choose to ‘be more Marty’. 

Meta family social, Marty with Jo and Rob

Now we don’t have to do everything at once, but I think we’d all agree that to be a ‘bit more Marty’ is something that we can all aspire to be in our lives. And I think we can all agree that these principles are ones that we can all subscribe to. 

I want to thank Marty, for all that he brought into my life. I miss him dearly and I know everyone who knew him and whose life he touched will be missing him dearly too – but I know that his example will live on, through us and with us. 

May we all be more Marty, I certainly intend to be. 

In peace and love
Jo xxx

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THE MOTIVATIONAL AND INSPIRATIONAL POWER OF PURPOSE

It’s been a while since we wrote an article at Meta. If I’m honest, I’ve been seeking inspiration, waiting to find something new to write about that could inspire and delight, as there is such a prevalence of doom and gloom out there at the moment! 

Part of the purpose of these articles has always been to be a little ray of positivity, to inspire and remind us all of the important things of life and work, so that’s why today I’m going to be talking about PURPOSE and why it matters. 

I have been incredibly fortunate over my time at Meta to have worked with some amazing organisations. I have been particularly blessed recently to have worked with organisations whose purpose shines through in everything they do, from Crisis the homelessness charity, to Barnardo’s, to a senior leadership team within Leicestershire NHS and, most recently, NACCOM – a charity which supports charities that help to find safe accommodation for refugees. 

With Barnardo’s, the NHS and NACCOM, we are currently working with their leadership teams on long-term, in-depth leadership and team development programmes, where we explore what it means to be an excellent team and help to upskill the leaders with tools that will enable them to perform at their best and, therefore, fulfil their purpose to an even greater degree. What has struck me in working with such organisations is the dedication, the passion and the spirit of the teams I am working with. There is wonderful diversity, true inclusion, and an amazing determination to deliver their (very different) offerings in often very challenging, under-funded and under-resourced circumstances. They have inspired me, and I have to say that I have completely fallen in love with them all! 

During our leadership and team development programmes, we always explore what PURPOSE really means and how important it is to be able to explore and ultimately articulate your purpose. 

As you know, at Meta we love the etymology of words and so here goes:

PURPOSE means: ‘the reason why something is done, is created or exists’ and it comes from Latin word: ‘propositus’ which means ‘to put or set forth’. (This is the same root word from which we get the word ‘propose’, as in to ‘propose’ to someone, to get engaged.’)

Purpose is that which gives us meaning: the ‘raison d’être’ of what we do and why we do it. 

Purpose isn’t the ‘stuff’ of what we do, it’s why we do what we do and, if we don’t have purpose at work, then we just have plans to be actioned and endless lists of tasks that have no greater meaning, other than being something that needs to be done. 

Let’s face it, that’s not very inspiring. It’s not very motivational. 

We can all find purpose, no matter what work we do, and when we do find that purpose, that reason for doing what we do, it helps inspire and motivate us to give of our best and, frankly, it helps us to enjoy what we do that much more! 

I can hear the ‘doubting Thomas’ reading this, saying: 

 “Yeah Jo, all very nice. If you’re working in the public sector or in the third sector, where you can actually see that what you are doing makes a difference to an individual, a community, or a marginalised group. Then it’s easy to find purpose. But what if you’re working for a big corporate? What if the organisation seems to only be about making money and saving costs?”

OK Thomas, appreciate the article feedback, I’m on this.. Listen, we have done this exercise with lots of corporate organisations and leadership teams too! Turns out one can find purpose in almost any field of work. 

Take the gas sales managers we worked with some 15 years ago. These guys (and yes, they were all guys) were hardened salesmen out there flogging gas wherever they could. Their world was full of sales targets and getting the most for the organisation – they struggled to see how they could find purpose in what they did, other than making money, for themselves and the organisation, which can never be a sole purpose for why we do what we do. You see, this is the interesting thing about purpose: there always has to be more than just making money – for example ‘providing for my family, ensuring that we have a quality of life’ (as well as making the money). Money alone isn’t real purpose. 

What was fascinating though, was when we began to explore the topic of purpose. Gas, as it turns out, is often used in rural communities where perhaps other energies are not available, so the gas was actually a lifeline to the community. And in fact, one of the sales managers said the gas he supplied heated a rural swimming pool, so could he say that he ‘helped children learn to swim’ in that pool? Well, one could argue that without the pool being heated there certainly wouldn’t have been as many children learning to swim’. His eyes lit up – he had found his purpose. 

We all have different purposes, different reasons for doing what we do. They don’t have to be so altruistic, but once we’ve found purpose it can really re-engage and motivate us. 

Recently, during the pandemic, I was talking with a director at a leading high street bank. This director was trying to understand why his frontline entry-level telephonists were de-motivated about coming into work during the pandemic. I did explain that perhaps part of the reason was (a) they weren’t being paid the same amount as him, but more importantly (in my opinion) (b) they weren’t being shown how purposeful their work was! 

Now, most of those staff were millennials or generation Z. And one of the really fascinating things, especially with the young talent in generation Z, is that they want to do work that makes a difference, work for a company that has values, and they want to ultimately have a real purpose to their work. They’re not interested (well, not as interested as my generation, generation X) in renumeration, perks, or career progression. They want to feel valued, appreciated for what they do, and feel that the work they do is purposeful. That’s what motivates them and inspires them to give of their best. So, if your staff has a young demographic, one of the best ways to engage and motivate them, and ultimately to be rewarded with their loyalty, is to clearly articulate and explore their work’s purpose with them. 

Going back to that senior director of a high street bank, his telephonists were actually helping those people who were calling with their financial difficulties during the pandemic, and the simple shift from ‘working for a bank to make money’ to ‘helping people to relieve the stress and worry of their financial situation’ was a great motivational reframe for the good work they were doing. 

You see, when we find our purpose, we find our meaning. We ignite the passion and drive that we all hold inside of us. We all want to do a good job, we all want to give of our best, and purpose is the key that helps us unlock that potential within us all.  

As leaders, especially senior leaders in organisations, purpose has another err… purpose! When we are clear on our purpose, we can always refer back to it when we are unclear of what business direction to take, or when we are not sure whether we are ‘on track’ or veering ‘off track’. 

If you have a big strategic decision to make or are in the throes, as many of you will be soon, of planning and budgeting for the year ahead, then it’s important to be clear on why you are doing something. Does it match with your purpose or not? If you’re not clear on your purpose or your purpose is muddied by the need to make profit and reduce costs, then it’s easy to lose your way. 

Look at the big social media companies or search engine companies (you know the ones I mean). One could argue that they started off with clear intentions, clear purpose, but along the way business decisions and the lure of bigger and bigger profits led them to a different, less-purposeful place. 

Purpose should always be our compass. It sets our direction and gives meaning to our work and journey. Without a compass, we’re likely to get a bit lost along the way – and that’s why we start with PURPOSE. 

Here’s a little exercise we do during our leadership and team development programmes, I thought I’d share it with you all – it will help you to get more clarity on your purpose. 

AN EXERCISE TO HELP YOU FIND YOUR PURPOSE:

EX.1 – What are you here for? What is your purpose? 

Why do you, your team or your organisation (use whichever is most appropriate to your position of influence) do what you do? What are you here for? What.. is your purpose? 

Think about why you do what you do – think from multiple perspectives: 

  1. for yourself, your family
  2. the team/directorate you work in
  3. the organisation as a whole
  4. for the customers you have or partners you work for/with
  5. the communities you work in (and serve, if you do)

Remember, it’s what you’re here for, it should re-ignite your passion. And please note your purpose is NOT a ‘mission statement’ so business jargon is banned in this exercise – this is one for internal rather than external eyes! 

At Meta, be it helping a team to re-find their purpose, or help a leader re-find the passion for what they do, help an organisation develop a strategy in keeping with their purpose, or indeed just helping an individual to re-connect with their life purpose, I am so lucky in that every day and every week I can reflect and see the purpose in all that I do.

If you’d like help finding a little more purpose in your work or your home-life, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch, it’s part of MY PURPOSE to help you find yours! 

Have a wonderful month reconnecting with your purpose.

In peace and love,

Jo xx

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RE-ESTABLISHING BOUNDARIES – GETTING SOME WORK-LIFE BALANCE BACK

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of workshops with leadership teams in organisations (from all sectors) and one of the recurrent themes which is coming through is about how hybrid working has meant that, for many, they feel they must be ‘permanently on’ and that, actually, work has now fully invaded most people’s home lives and there is very little distinction between ‘home’ and ‘work’ anymore. It’s something I felt was important to address in this month’s Meta blog, and I give you a practical Meta exercise to do around it! 

During the pandemic, we all learnt to embrace a new way of working. We now, for example, use virtual technology like MS Teams or Zoom or Google hangouts – no matter what size or sector our organisation is from. We all will spend some of our time (there is tremendous variation in how much time, depending on your organisation) working from home and much less time working at the office. The hybrid model is very much in full flow, and many organisations have already gotten rid of office space and have re-purposed the space they have for ‘collaborative working’ only. With this pandemic, most people working from home are thinking of having sound absorbing wall panels for their home office to create a quiet place where they can do Zoom meetings and everything related to work.

This means that more of the responsibility falls on us to manage our workloads, manage our teams, and manage our working days. The problem is that, for many of us, we are still working as if we are in the pandemic, there is always a new urgent thing to be done, the tide and pace of work is relentless, and the amount of work seemingly unending! 

Now in our experience at Meta, almost everyone we come into contact with in organisations wants to give of their best, they want to do a good job, and get what needs to be done, done. So, in order to do that, they have to put the hours in. As I’ve mentioned many times before, we are ALL working longer hours than we used to – in the pandemic, research showed that we were working, on average, an extra 4hours per week above the average for 2019. From our own empirical research here at Meta with our own leadership network, we believe this has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, just because we are now out of the pandemic. 

Most people are still working incredibly hard to get it all done and the danger is, if we’re not careful, that we normalise the extreme working practices which were necessary during the pandemic. 

I can remember, 21 years ago, working at Virgin Mobile and the then Director of IT showing me the ‘future of technology’ – a Blackberry phone. He proudly told me this was ‘a game changer in the world of work’ – and he was right, but not for the reasons he stated. It meant that now work could follow you home, the office could reach you, and emails could chase you wherever you were! 

Email checking on the weekend or turning laptops back on of an evening to do a bit of catching up with work, USED to only be done by senior executives and leaders, but now almost every manager does at almost every level, to varying degrees. 

Many senior leaders complain to me that they’re often spending most of their workday in back-to-back MS Teams meetings, and actually the only way they can get their ‘day-job tasks’ done is by turning their laptops back on at home, once most people’s working day is done. 

For most organisations, now the worst effects of the pandemic are over or are at the very least relenting somewhat. It’s time for us all to stop working ourselves at an unsustainable pace, one that ultimately could have a significant effect on our mental and physical health. It’s also time for organisations to stop and re-assess HOW they want to work going forwards. Is the hybrid model REALLY WORKING for your staff? Is it really enabling the organisation to get the best from their people? 

Look, there is no doubt that you will have done amazing things during the pandemic period and gone way beyond the call of duty, often so as to get what needs to get done – done. However, now we are out of the pandemic, it’s time to re-assess our work-life balance – get it back into some kind of balance – and one of the key ways we can do that is to re-set and re-establish our own personal boundaries. 

We can quite often let work impinge on our home life, on our personal lives. Why? Because we don’t keep it in check. As more is needed of us, we put more time in, especially now when we’re working from home often. The tide of work has slowly seeped in, and because we didn’t set boundaries or define what IS ok and what is NOT ok, the extended working hours we did because we were working from home during Covid, or because we didn’t have enough staff in our team, or because we were working on that special project – have become our new normal. Before we know it, we have no balance in our life, it is just work, work-work. 

Think to your own current work practices. Do you have set work times to your day (and keep to them?), or do you work until you’ve done your to-do list? Even if that means working beyond your normal working hours? Do you take your lunch break? Do you take breaks between your virtual meetings? Or do you end up having back-to-back meetings and struggle to find time to take the breaks that you know you should be taking?

Now is a good time to reset the boundaries, to say what IS and ISN’T right for you. Of course, we are all individuals, some of us don’t mind answering emails on the train home or turning our laptops back on in the evenings, some of us like to get in early or start early (*but do we really GO HOME or FINISH early??).

Now, more than ever, it is important to get that balance back, to re-establish boundaries. Not harsh ones but sensible ones. If you’ve lost your commute home time because you’re working from home, now is the time to re-establish that boundary. If you don’t have a set working time to your working day, now is the time to re-establish and agree a sensible working day for you. What about NOT taking your laptop home for the weekend? Or putting it away out of sight at the end of your working day? How about making sure you always have your lunch break and morning/afternoon breaks? Or get a walk/exercise/fresh air each day?

This is something that we at Meta do as part of our “working smarter not harder” workshops with leaders, teams and organisations, and it’s an exercise that we think EVERYONE should be doing now. So, that’s why we felt it was important to share with you this exercise. It’s something that of course will benefit YOU, but it’s also something that is worth SHARING and DOING with your team if you’re a leader. 

RE-ESTABLISHING BOUNDARIES EXERCISE:

EX – Have a think about your current working practice. Be honest with yourself, what IS working and what is NOT working about your working practice at the moment? You know what would work best for you, you know where you’ve let your boundaries slip. So, what boundary/boundaries would you like to set up in your work/home life? – Make them realistic and see if you can stick to them. 

I hope you’ll use this month’s blog as an excuse to reassess your hybrid working practice, and I hope that by re-establishing your boundaries you’ll get a greater sense of work-life balance in your life! 

Have a wonderful month everyone!

In peace, Joe x

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THE INVESTMENT THAT GIVES THE GREATEST RETURN 

There is no doubt that the last couple of years have been pretty tough on most businesses. Costs have had to be saved, efficiencies made in order to stay afloat and get through this challenging time. Investment was limited to that which was quantifiably justifiable to the business needs and frankly not much else. For more information about how to invest safely and successfully, visit https://skrumble.com.

If you’re investing in gold, the majority of those who work in the gold industry are moral. However, a few scammers ruin the group’s reputation as a whole. And to protect yourself from scammers, you must check out this gold ira scams page here to be informed of all the different types and how they operate as investors.

Now, however, for the first time in a long time, the future is looking a little brighter and, as we start a new financial year, we look at what to invest in as businesses, as leaders (and, indeed, as individuals!). If you’re a business owner, you should hire an insolvency practitioner to upskill your knowledge and give you guidelines if you ever experience difficulty in your business. Some business owners need to learn things like, I want to close my business and walk away; what’s the next step that should be taken after this? In this way, an expert already gives you knowledge about operating your own business.

What will get us the best value for money? 

What will give us the biggest return on our investments? 

What will serve our organisation best? 

How can we make savings, efficiencies AND improve our performance? 

Here’s where I want to introduce a radical concept: 

Investing in your people. 

(And if you’re reading this as an individual, investing in YOU!)

It’s not just the pandemic that has prevented people’s development and leadership development within organisations. I’d strongly argue that there’s been very little investment in people in most organisations for many years previous to that. In fact, my belief is that it can all be traced back to the financial recession in 2008-9. 

Since the recession, organisations have radically changed their organisational structures, flattening and streamlining, reducing headcount, cutting costs, finding savings and ‘efficiencies’ in the traditional ways, through restructuring, process and system improvements. And, in newer more modish ways, by changing business models or operating models. As a result, you’ll probably find that you are doing the role that was once done by two or more people. The role hasn’t got any smaller and, in most cases, it’ll probably have had its remit and responsibilities increased! And you will be expected in most (not all) organisations to just get on with it. 

I want you to do your own empirical research here, while you read this article. I want you to think about your own experience in this time (not just take my word for it).

In the 12 years since the recession: 

  1. How many development or training programmes have you personally been funded to go on in your organisation? (Not a team away-day, an actual development or training programme where you have learnt new things). 
  2. How many promotions (either internally or by changing jobs) have you had in that time? 

And if you’re reading this as an individual:

3. When was the last time you really invested in your own training and development? 

Research shows that the average person will have been promoted two-three times during those 12 years, which means that a frontline staff member may well now be a manager in charge of a team, or indeed a head of service. That’s a big shift in responsibility but it also requires a whole different set of skills, not least managing and leading your people. 

Now in the past, almost every organisation would have given training when you got a new role. As a minimum you’d have had a decent month-long handover from the person you were replacing and, in most organisations, you’d have had management training or leadership development once you hit a certain level of organisational responsibility. 

However, if you think to your own experience, your own history – did you?

At Meta we’re really fortunate in that our customers are from all sectors and, over time, become our friends. We are regularly in touch with our Meta family (as we like to call it) and as a result we often get to hear of people’s good news, their promotions, their new roles etc. We love to celebrate with our friends. However, all too often the new promotion, the next pay grade or newly created role in a restructure, comes with increased responsibilities but very rarely comes with training and development too. When you get your new role nowadays you’re expected to ‘hit the ground running’ and find out how to actually do the job and what it actually entails, ‘on the job’. 

I was speaking to one of our dear Meta family just this week, and she’d moved organisations recently. It was a good move she told me (not least as her last organisation was pretty toxic), but she was still ‘finding her feet in the new structure and organisation’ she was in. She’d been in role three months and still she was finding her way and figuring out how best to fulfil her role. 

On the flip side of this, organisations are hiring more ‘experts’ than ever to fill skill and knowledge gaps within their organisation. It used to be just the corporate sector that hired consultants and got in contractors to run projects or fill an area of expertise quickly. Exploring this page, https://commercial-painting.co.uk/, can be a great option for you to find the best contractor. However, both public and 3rd sector organisations now often will hire people in to do the work that used to be done in-house by skilled internal staff members. 

Now of course there are financial reasons for some organisations to get in contractors or consultants, or perhaps it’s easier to get a contractor in to do a project rather than go out to market to employ someone full time – there are bona fide business reasons for doing that. However, often it’s ALSO because they are lacking particular skills or knowledge within their workforce – they haven’t got the skills they need in the leaders and staff they employ. 

Now, we think at Meta, that it’s time to change that story. 

Journey to Mastery Masterclass 2018

It’s time to INVEST IN YOUR PEOPLE and TO INVEST IN YOU

Why?

Because it’s the best investment you will make this year – it’s not a short-term investment (although it is financially), it’s a long-term investment and one that will keep on giving you returns year after year. 

One of the key factors that people measure an organisation by is whether they feel valued. The other is that their workplace creates a culture where they feel they can learn and grow – they can progress and get development along the way. And these are measurables that most organisations, right now, will not measure well against! 

What’s that old proverb used to great effect in an old Oxfam advert? 

‘Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day – teach the man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’

It’s about making sure that we give people (and ourselves) the tools, the skills, and the development they need to do more than survive and instead, thrive. In an organisational setting it’s about giving your people the skills they and the organisation need. Note here that this is not only an altruistic thing to be doing, but it also makes SOUNDS BUSINESS SENSE. If you are training and developing your people, they will be more loyal, are less likely to be absent, will be more motivated, more efficient and yes, more productive! 

Right now, people are working incredibly hard. They are working longer hours than ever trying admirably to get what was once done by two or more people done by just one. They’ve been working really hard all through the pandemic, they’ve given their all, to help get your organisation through probably one of the hardest and most challenging times of its entire history. But they’re run out, they’re exhausted and, as a result, their productivity, quality and creativity will inevitably suffer. That hard work culture has meant that the UK consistently has one of the lowest productivity levels within Europe and across the developed world – and most people we come across will admit that they’re not being as effective as they’d like to be. 

So, here’s where you can have a real WIN-WIN. You invest in your people and in return you get a happy, more effective and more skilled workforce. They get a return on their time and investment into their work, into your organisation. They get a return on all the hard work they’ve put in; they start to feel valued and, yes, appreciated again. 

Now the reason most organisations don’t invest in the development of their staff is that they think the cost will be too much. But actually, it’s a lot LESS than you think. It’s certainly less than getting in a contractor or consultant for a month or two, and much less than going through a complete restructuring exercise, replacing a system, or getting in fancy consultants to change your operating model. 

An organisation can only be as good as the people in it. An organisation is a living system, and the living bit is your people. The system (your organisation)’s success depends on those people’s capabilities, strengths, skills and knowledge. 

It’s time to invest in your people and, if you’re reading this as an individual, it’s time to INVEST IN YOU. 

At Meta we can help develop and train your people. We can help your organisation to develop a real people strategy (one that gets the best out of your people). We can train your staff in smarter working techniques that can help them to be more efficient and yes, more productive. We can train teams to be more effective, and help directorates work collaboratively across team boundaries. We can help you to develop exciting and practically useful leadership development programmes that use real live operational issues as the basis for live ‘on the job’ implementation of the learning.

We can coach and mentor individual leaders or create a talent development programme for the stars of the future within your organisation. You need a ready-to-go well-being strategy or help developing a well-being culture in your organisation? – We’ve done all the research, so you don’t have to. You need to improve communication and collaboration in your organisation? – We can help. You need to help people to maximise their performance in the new hybrid ways of working – we’ve got you covered! 

We have worked with numerous Sunday Times Top 100 organisations; we have been researching how to help people and organisations to be the best they can be for a very long time now. We have the knowledge and skills that can help you to get the best value for money for your investment – AND the best return on that investment. 

Many people think that we just train and develop people in organisations, and yes that is our bread and butter as an organisation, but we LOVE to work with individuals too! 

Think about it, when was the last time you really invested in YOU and YOUR DEVELOPMENT? There is no better type of development than self-development. If your organisation won’t fund you, why not consider investing in your own development? 

We love helping anyone to be the best that they can be, be that through individual coaching or mentoring or, indeed, developing a personalised training package just for you – you could have 1-1 time with Jo or Di and get personally mentored and trained in the areas where you feel you need a little extra help.

Or you could sign yourself to join our flagship personal development programme ‘Journey to Mastery’, now in its 20th year. We also run numerous Meta Masterclasses (one has just been announced on June 23rd), and Leaders Network events each year that anyone is welcome to join us on, and have a very affordable cost indeed. 

So, if you take this blog to heart, and DO decide that 2022 is the year to really invest in your people or, indeed, in your SELF, then do get in touch, sign up to one of our events, or just have a chat with Di or Jo. We love helping people to shine, to be the best they can be – it’s what Meta is all about. 

We’d love to help support you in developing and investing in your people and in you, that’s what we’re in business to do! And we promise you, it’ll cost a lot less than you think. 

Contact Jo and have a chat about what we can do for you, your team, your leaders, and your organisation – jo@metapositive.com

Have a wonderful month and make 2022 the year where you put the time and investment where it matters most – in you and your people! 

In peace,
Jo xx

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HARNESSING THE POWER & ENERGY OF YOUR TEAM

Recently I’ve been back doing in-person workshops, and the thing that has struck me the most about the team away-days I’ve been facilitating is the amazing power and energy in the room. 

With most of us having mainly worked from home in the last 48months, we have been working in isolation, by ourselves, and so the only energy in the room is US. So if we are a bit flat or our fuel tanks are running on empty, then there’s no-one around to pick us up or give us a boost, it’s all down to us (which is why I’ve talked extensively about how important it is for us to look after ourselves when working from home). 

However, now most of us are heading back to the office (at least for part of our working week), and although the office is likely to have far fewer staff than it would usually, have you noticed the difference in the energy when you’re there? Has it picked you up and made you smile to see your colleagues and once again be able to chat together as you make a cuppa? 

All this talk of energy might sound a bit WOO-WOO, but I promise you it’s real science. We have been stuck by ourselves at home in front of our laptops or computer screens and so all our interactions with people have been through a screen. However, your technology only takes your energy, whereas when you meet someone in-person there is an energy exchange – you literally feed off each other at an energetic level. So, when you like someone and you’ve not seen them for a while, you always get a buzz, a little energy boost from being with them. It picks you up when you’re feeling down or feel that you’re running on empty. 

Now, the thing is you probably never really noticed that before. But now we’ve been away from others, when you get back with them you will notice it much more readily. 

When consultants talk about ‘harnessing the power of your team’ I’m sure you’d normally have switched off at that point, as you felt it was a real business jargon thing, just consultants making up stuff to get you to cough up some more money and give them more work (and I’m sure in many cases it was!) However, there is something real to it – there is a literal power in your teams that hasn’t been tapped into or properly utilised for a while. 

At Meta we have researched extensively over the last 20 years into what makes an excellent team, and how we describe an excellent team in its simplest terms is as being ‘more than the sum of its parts’. Now, in order to be ‘more than the sum of your parts’ you need to be getting the best from everyone and finding synergies between you that enable you, as a team, to deliver even more than you think possible, given the number of people in your team. 

Most teams have been working individually for most of the last year and have only just started coming back together in person in the office. So actually, the power, the energy of your team has been dependent on individuals as you’ll have mostly been working at home. Even now that you are coming back to the office, it’s unlikely that your whole team will be together on any given day so, although it’s definitely better than it was and you’ll be getting energised by being with some of your teammates again, it’s still not harnessing the potential power and creative energy that exists within your team. 

The other thing to raise here is that many teams will have new members who have joined in the last 24months, team members who have done their best to integrate into the team, but who you won’t know as well as if you’d have been spending this time working with them at the office, day in day out. Do you know what their strengths are? Do they know what yours are? 

Now, more than ever, as we try to get our businesses out of the Covid tunnel and back on track, we need to be harnessing the potential held within our workforce, within our teams. The likelihood is that most teams will have not met properly together in person in the last 24 months, and that’s a heck of a long time to not get together! 

We are, at the end of the day, social animals, but much more than that we thrive off each other’s company and, when we get together, it’s amazing what we can achieve – we fire off each other and can come up with amazing stuff if we just get together and have space and time to think and reflect. It’s also important for us to re-connect as teams, to jointly re-commit to one another, look forward to the year ahead and co-create our future plans together. 

We’ve all tried our best to make virtual working work, and I know from personal conversations with leaders how hard you’ve been trying to keep the team spirit going and keeping the flame alive. However, it’s inevitable that after 24months the team’s spirit is flagging a little and so that’s why it’s time, now that we can get back together, to get some of that team magic back. 

Now it doesn’t have to be much, you don’t need some grand gesture, but it does need to be AWAY from the office, and it needs to be ALL OF YOU in a room somewhere. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been facilitating team away-days all through January and February, and every team I’ve worked with has been astounded and delighted with what they came up with within their away-days. I also have to say that the energy in the room was palpable, it was ELECTRIC! 

Have a think now, when was the last time you had an in-person team away-day? 

I’m betting that, for most of you, it was most likely over two years ago. And during that time, you’ll have been mostly working virtually so not even working WITH your teammates in an office. And even if you are back at the office now, your team probably isn’t at full strength, you’ll take it in turns to come into the office so are rarely, if at all, together in the office at the same time. 

At Meta we really truly believe that people are amazing. Your people are amazing, your team is amazing – you’ve seen your people step up in the last two years, and you’ve seen your team do amazingly well considering the circumstances we’ve all been through. So NOW is the time to re-commit to your team, now is the time to get together and harness the power in your team.

Now is the time to: 

  1. RE-VIEW – put the Covid chapter to bed and celebrate what you’ve achieved.
  2. RE-SET – start thinking about how you’d like your next chapter to be as a team.
  3. RE-FOCUS – getting perspective on what’s important, making sure that you’re setting the right priorities for your team in the coming year and beyond.
  4. RE-COMMIT – to each other and to making your team the best it can be.
  5. RE-CONNECT – making sure that you’re rebuilding your relationships and re-establishing your team connection, your team spirit.

The best way to do all of these things? 

Simple, take your team away from the office, get them in a room together. 

There is a tremendous untapped energy and power in your team. Right now, there is more potential in teams than there ever has been. People are hungry for connection and want to get back to working together as a team, they want to give of their best and be their best. 

As a leader, NOW is the time (if you haven’t already) to plan and organise your team away-day. Seriously, it’s time to invest in a little time away from the office, to help review, re-set and get some perspective. To re-calibrate and figure out how best to tap into the power that is held within your team. 

If you’re not a leader, you can still make the suggestion that it might be nice for the team to have an away-day and encourage other team colleagues to do the same. You’ll find that many will be feeling like you, and the more who ask, the better your chances of making it happen. 

The likelihood is that you’ll have team targets which are a real stretch this year, that will require the team to really work well together in order to deliver what needs to be delivered for your business plans. You need your team to be firing on all cylinders, you need your team to be more than the sum of its parts – a facilitated team away-day can really help with that. 

At Meta we have facilitated hundreds, if not thousands, of team away-days over the 20 years we’ve been in business, and there is a real value in getting someone in who is independent, outside of your organisation, to help you facilitate your away-day. 

We love doing away-days, it’s absolutely our ‘bread and butter’ and, if we do say so ourselves, we’ve got rather good at it over all these years. We are great at re-energising the team spirit, capturing the wisdom that is held within your team, and ensuring the team goes away enthused, engaged and re-invigorated. Combine that energy with new Meta tools in the team toolkits, and after a team away-day with us your team will be ready to take on the world! We know how to access the potential in your team, and we are really good at helping you to harness the energy and power in your team, so you can do what needs to get done this year. 

So, if you decide to plan a team away-day this year, all we ask is that you bear us in mind, we’d love to help make your team away-day one to remember, the one that re-energised and re-inspired your team post-Covid and got your team feeling REALLY GOOD again. 

And even if you don’t use us, please do make the time in the coming months to really focus on your team and get them together, if at all possible, we promise you, you’ll be so glad that you did! 

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WRITING YOUR NEXT CHAPTER

As I write, the government has announced that the plan B restrictions are to be phased out, we are facing what seems to be the beginning of the end, and we are being encouraged to learn how to live with Covid. 

It’s been a challenging couple of years, to put it mildly, and I’m sure like me you’ll be glad to put Covid behind you and get on with your life. But the thing is, that for many of us, it will feel as though we’ve lost those years, and as though we’ve been in some kind of Covid stasis, unable to move (quite literally in lockdowns) and stuck in a life in limbo. However, now, most of us are starting to come out of our enforced hibernation and back out into the world. Reconnecting with friends and family we’ve not seen for a while, starting to dream and plan and book our holidays with some certainty that they will happen. We’re going back to the pub, going out for meals, doing things that Covid and its restrictions had put a stop to. 

There is no doubt that these last two years have felt out of our control, because they have been. With all the government diktats, the imposing and lifting of restrictions, it’s felt almost as though we were a character in the book of the story of our lives; with the government and Covid as the co-authors and we just being the characters whose lives were being written for us upon the page. However, as we now come out of the Covid tunnel and a new year is upon us, apparently a year of possibility, of potential, now is the PERFECT time to be thinking about writing your next chapter.

What do I mean by that? 

Well, I mean that it’s time to end this Covid chapter. Time to wrestle back control of your life, and the authorship of your story. It’s time to turn the page and start creating the life you want to have. 

You see I am a firm believer that we are the creators of our lives, the authors if you will. If we don’t write our stories who will? And as a new year begins, psychologically it’s a good time to think about how you really want YOUR next chapter to be. 

It’s a useful metaphor to think of your life as a book. You’re not just the author but you’re also the editor, the publisher and the principle character within it!  How your life will be, is up to you. Of course, there are other principal characters in your story, your family, your friends who will have an influence on the storylines, but ultimately, it’s your life and your story. 

Now I think it’s safe to say that, for most of us, we’ll be glad to see the back of the Covid chapter. It was scary, unnerving, challenging and unpredictable. But you know what? The dark chapters of our lives tend to be the ones we learn most from (good things and not so good things). I like to think of these dark times and difficult challenges as really badly wrapped presents. They look like crap from the outside, but within them often there are gems of learning. Ultimately often our biggest leaps in our own understanding of ourselves come through adversity – those badly wrapped presents! 

Now I’ve introduced the concept, and I hope you understand it, I’m sure you’re wondering, well, that’s all very well Jo but how do you write your next chapter? 

That’s precisely what I’m coming to, let me give you a step by step guide on how to write your next chapter. 

WRITING YOUR NEXT CHAPTER

For me (I have done this exercise many times in my own life), I find it easiest to write my next chapter on a day when I am feeling GOOD. When we’re feeling good and in the right state, this exercise is so much easier to do, and you’ll also come up with much more interesting storylines! 

Start by finding yourself the right environment to be creative, somewhere comfortable, somewhere you will not be disturbed for the time it takes to do this (allow a couple of hours). I start by opening a document on my computer or laptop, but you may prefer to do this in the traditional way with paper and pen, there’s no right or wrong here – just the way that works for you. 

When thinking of your ‘next chapter’ I suggest that you see the next chapter as the next 3-5 years, that frees up your mind to think more broadly, you can dare to dream and you are more likely to believe that more is possible within that time frame. 

Think in terms of a book and an author writing a book. There will be principal characters (partners, children, family, friends), principal storylines (work, relationships, love, home, passions, things that make up your life), and an over-arching storyline (your life story!). Make a note of the important things in your life, put those as headings on your document or piece of paper, and this will form the starting point for your next chapter. 

Then it’s a case of thinking about your last chapter, the chapter you’re ending. Ask yourself: 

  1. What was good in that chapter? What are storylines you’d like to continue as is into your next chapter? 
  2. Which storylines could continue forwards but need a bit of tweaking or adjusting? For example, perhaps you’d like to spend more quality time with your children, have more holidays or laugh more?
  3. What do you want to leave behind in the last chapter? This exercise is a great way to leave behind things that you don’t want to carry forward with you – perhaps worrying about things, not seeing family, uncertainty, or perhaps it’s some of the bad habits you may have had in your last chapter? 
  4. What do you want to bring in that is new? Is there anything you’ve wanted to do or have in your life that you’ve not been able to so far? Perhaps it’s a new hobby or to find a new passion? Maybe it’s to change career? To find a new friend or relationship? 
  5. Is there anything from a previous chapter in your life that you’d like to revisit or bring into your next chapter? Sometimes, as we get older, we lose track of things and let things slip that actually, when we stop and think about it, were important or useful or just fun to have in our lives. This is an opportunity to bring things from the past back into your life. Perhaps it was those date nights with your hubby, or going out for a fun wild night out with friends, or going to concerts?
  6. And finally (and importantly!), your next chapter should also include how you want to FEEL in the next chapter. For example, I’m always putting ‘more fun’, ‘more laughter’ in my next chapters and it’s right to put things like ‘feeling freer’, ‘having more time for me’, ‘more time for cuddles with the kids’.

As you record your answers to these questions you’re going to have a lot of content and it needs to be pulled together under headings so that it makes sense and isn’t just a bullet pointed list of things (that’ll be too much for your mind to take in). 

It’s also important to note that this shouldn’t look like a ‘bucket list’. That isn’t what this is. Yes of course it should be aspirational and inspiring, there should be big things, dreams, and your wishes for your life, absolutely; but also the simple things, the everyday things, the things you want to improve and make a bit better – that which makes your life what it is. 

When you have something that is looking like your next chapter, then comes the ‘creation’ part of this. 

  1. Read it to yourself – Each night, before you go to bed, read your next chapter. This shouldn’t be a difficult or onerous task, this should be exciting and inspiring, and it’s a wonderful way to go off to sleep. Do this for two months, and this then gets into your sub-conscious, it programmes your brain so that it looks for opportunities as they arise to put into action all that you’ve put in your next chapter. 
  2. Share it with another – Dare to share it with your partner, your best friend. By doing so you are daring to express how you’d like your life to be and, no, it isn’t a self-indulgent of narcissistic thing to do. Having been privileged enough to have heard other people’s next chapters, I can tell you there’s nothing more beautiful than hearing someone else’s next chapter, it’s very inspiring.
  3. Start making it happen – Choose three things from your next chapter that you’re actively going to start exploring or taking first steps towards making happen. The first step is often the hardest, and by starting to make it happen you make it much more likely for more to come to fruition as a result. 

Now I HOPE that this has all made sense, and the steps are easy to follow. I really would encourage you to give this exercise a go. I have found it truly transformatory for me over the years, perhaps one of the most powerful exercises I have ever done. 

It also reminds us at the deepest level of something that is incredibly important:

WE AND WE ALONE ARE THE AUTHORS OF THE STORY OF OUR OWN LIVES. 

That is such an empowering statement, and as you start to collate the evidence that it is true, and truly believe it, it is a life-changing statement. 

Please use this Meta blog as an excuse, a prompt if you will, to dare to write your next chapter, and see what happens for you. 

I promise you, you’ll be so glad you did and before you know it you’ll be living out that ‘next chapter’ you have created, for real! 

Wishing you all a wonderful next chapter, 

In peace and love

Jo xx

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THE COVID HANGOVER – DON’T WAIT UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE TO ACT

You’re probably fed up of hearing about Covid. I know I am. And yet, it’s a big mistake to ignore the longer-term effects of Covid on your leaders, your workforce and your organisation. 

At Meta we’re seeing more and more people in our network suffering from the effects of what we’ve termed the ‘Covid Hangover’. So, we wanted to use this month’s blog to talk about what you can do to help mitigate the longer-term effects of that ‘hangover’ on your people and your organisation. 

It’s important to state here that it’s not too late! However, we’d urge you to not wait much longer before you start investing time and yes, resources, to ensure that you, your team, your organisation and your people don’t end up suffering from one almighty ‘Covid Hangover’.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a real game changer in the world of work. Now, more than ever, we need our leaders and our staff to be performing at their best, to deliver organisational Covid recovery business plans, but, after 18 months of the pandemic (supporting their organisations), the simple fact is that most of us have run out of energy. We’re working such long hours, working harder than ever before (this is borne out of the data in research conducted on working hours since the pandemic began), and almost every person we have talked to in the Meta network over the last few months is tired (at best), running on empty (most of the time), exhausted (more times than not) and, in the worst cases, close to burnout. 

That’s a concern to us, because we genuinely care about you! We also know that, with a small amount of help, support and development, you can prevent the worst-case scenarios, and get you and your organisation into a good place – ready for the next chapter of working in a post-Covid world. 

Organisational resilience is a serious risk to every business right now, perhaps the greatest risk – and your organisational resilience (the ability to bounce back and recover post-Covid) is absolutely dependent on your people’s resilience (their ability to bounce back and recover themselves post-Covid). 

As you know, at Meta we love etymology (the root meanings of words, what they originally meant).

The word ‘ORGANISATION’ comes from the same root as ‘organic’ and ‘organism’, it means ‘a whole consisting of inter-dependent parts, a living system’. 

Your organisation (and on a smaller scale your team too) is a ‘living system’. Its success and ability to recover post-Covid is 100% dependent on your people (the ‘living’ part of your system). As it’s an interdependent system, if one area fails (or in the case of the team, more than one person is off longer term, or you experience staff turnover), then unless the rest of the system (or team) can adapt and pick up the work, the system comes crashing down. 

With very little (if any) spare capacity in organisations anymore, as we’ve streamlined our organisations down to the bare minimum of people needed to deliver what needs to be delivered, it is doubly difficult to maintain the balance in the living system that is your organisation. What once was done by ‘two’ is now done by ‘one’ – if that ‘one’ is missing, who picks up the work? 

Then throw in the mix of a hybrid working model, with some people working virtually and some in the office using resources like protective screens for offices to protect from diseases and have privacy, and this means that more and more work pressures are not shared amongst the team (as they were), but rather fall on the individual.

So how on earth do we tackle this? 

Well first of all, we need to start acknowledging that we can’t work how we always used to. We’re working on average four hours longer a week than we did before the pandemic, and the truth is that, although we are working longer and harder than ever before, we’re still not getting everything done (at least not at the level we’d like to get it done). 

We’re working longer hours, and working harder – working through breaks, doing back-to-back (virtual) meetings, re-visiting our laptops and emails in the evenings, and yet, it’s still not enough. 

We need to be working in a smarter way. But what is smarter working? We’ve heard so much about it, but what does it mean in practice? 

Be very clear here, it doesn’t mean using more technology. Having more technology in our organisations has not lessened our workloads. If anything, it’s just led to an expectation that everything should be done, responded to, solved and completed, quicker and faster. It’s just made us go faster and try and do more. 

Smarter working is about understanding HOW WE WORK AT OUR BEST, as individuals, teams and yes, as organisations. It’s about understanding we’re not robots, we’re not machines, we’re humans and, as such, have to manage our performance and our workloads/tasks in a way that matches our natural peaks and dips in an average working day – and matches our own brain’s ability to perform. We need to understand HOW our brain works: how it stores, processes and performs at its best. Then you can instantly improve your own performance and productivity as an individual. 

Then there’s self-management – the bit where we make sure that we’re in the best state possible to do what needs to be done. When we’re flat, when we’re stressed, when we’ve not slept, when we’ve worked through lunch, we’re just not going to perform at our best and so our ability to do what needs to be done suffers. So does the quality of what we do, so does our ability to be creative, to come up with innovative ideas or innovative solutions. An organisation which delivers poor quality, struggles to be creative or innovative, is not an organisation that will thrive in the post- Covid world. 

We need self-management tools that help ensure we get a good night’s sleep, that we understand our own stressors and have ways of reducing the impact of stress on ourselves. We need to understand and work with our human being-ness – really maximise practical ways of improving our performance. 

Then there’s smarter working practices, proven techniques from academic, scientific and real-life smarter working experts, which help you to manage, prioritise, delegate, plan and organise your tasks and workloads so that you can be more efficient. You need to make sure that you’re assigning the most complex tasks to when you naturally perform at your best in the day, and the easier tasks to when you’re not. It’s about carving out the time to do the things that you don’t get time for, but you know are important – this is especially relevant for the leaders reading this. When was the last time you felt you had proper time to reflect, look to the future, think strategically and do more, rather than being reactive? 

We’re so busy, that we struggle to find the headspace or thinking time to look too far into the future, to plan our routes ahead. So, we end up firefighting, putting out fires that we probably could have foreseen and made sure didn’t get started up in the first place – if we’d had the time and space to think. It can feel, as a leader, that it’s nigh on impossible to get everything done, but having worked with many senior leaders and executives over the last five years, I can promise you that with some smarter working tools in your toolkit you’ll be amazed at what a difference it can make. 

But this is not just for leaders, there are so many smarter working tools that can help you, whatever level you work at in your organisation, and now we’re moving to a more self-managed way of working in the hybrid era, we can all benefit from a few smarter working tools in our toolkits and in our working practices. 

Then there’s the problem of capacity – as leaders we need to focus on how our people work going forwards. The likelihood is that, for the foreseeable future, we will not be getting any extra resources while we are in the recovery phase of the Covid journey. So, this means INVESTING in your people, up-skilling the organisation at every level (that you can) to help you through this challenging next phase. 

That future isn’t a long way away. You can start working towards it now – creating a new way of working that works for you and your organisation. The future of work is coming, and in order to make current structures work, there will be a need for a multi-skilled workforce – one that works cross-functionally and has a flexible structure that enables the movement of ‘floating resources’ that can help you maintain the living system (the organisation) and keep it working at a high level no matter what comes your way. 

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. First of all we need to take some preventative measures, to ensure that we don’t experience the worst effects of the ‘Covid Hangover’, as individuals, as leaders, and as organisations. 

The first thing you need to do?

STOP.

Yep, you heard me. You really need to stop and take time out. 

I was working this week (and last) with a senior leadership team in a large metropolitan council. They felt that, even though we were coming out of the Covid tunnel, they were still in ‘emergency mode’. They hadn’t stopped (quite literally in some cases) for 18 months straight. Meta had offered to do a free workshop with them around smarter working practices, and one of the most common pieces of feedback from the leaders was how good it was to stop and take time out for themselves and reconnect together as a leadership team.

It’s not just leadership teams, it’s all teams and all of us. We need to stop, create a little time (in your busy work diary) for reflection. Can you really carry on the way you are working? Or is what you’re doing, and HOW you’re working, unsustainable? Are you finding it really tough to do everything that needs to be done in normal working hours? Are you stressed? Overwhelmed? Run out? Is it affecting your work-life balance? Are you struggling with your sleep? Is it affecting your home life? 

If the answer is YES to any of the above – then please, please PLEASE don’t ignore your own intuition that says something needs to change. 

This is preventative medicine, it’s like taking a glass of water and a paracetamol BEFORE bed when you know you’ve overdone it a bit. It means that in the morning you’re likely to be OK, rather than struggling to function. 

Although I’m using a humorous metaphor here, let’s be clear, there’s nothing humorous about the risk to you as an individual, you as a leader, or to your business that the ‘Covid Hangover’ brings. There’s nothing funny about your leaders’ and staff’s mental and physical health being affected by what is to come – it will seriously affect your business’ ability to function. 

META – WE’RE HERE TO HELP SUPPORT YOU

OK so don’t stop reading, but this is where we do a bit of self-promotion. Why? Because we KNOW that we can help you! Be you an individual, a team leader, a CEO or organisational leader – we can genuinely help and that’s what we’re in business to do.

At Meta we’ve always been on a mission to change the way people work, and support leaders and organisations to do that. 

Most of you will know Meta as a business consultancy. You’d have come across us through a team, leadership or organisational development journey that we’ve done in your organisation, that you’ve been a part of.

What you probably DON’T KNOW about us is that, at Meta, we do a lot of research. We’ve been (for example) researching smarter working practices for over ten years now. We understood, earlier than most, that the way we were working wasn’t sustainable, that we needed to develop a new way of working – so have an extensive library of smarter working resources based on the research we have been using in the organisational work we have been delivering these past ten years. 

You probably also don’t know that, during the last 18 months, we have been working with frontline organisations and developing a programme we have called ‘Your Resilience Toolkit’ (see link to download information at the bottom of this blog) – a programme of workshops that brings together the very latest scientific research and simple-yet-practical tools (from our years of trying and testing out what really works in the busy workplace) that enable anyone who attends to re-build their resilience, combat stress, and work smarter not harder. 

We believe we have something really special here, and we’d really love to share it with you and your team or your organisation. We’ve had amazing feedback from the organisations where we have delivered this programme.

SO HOW CAN META HELP YOU? 

If you are an individual – If you’re reading this and you are struggling, or finding it challenging/overwhelming to do everything which needs to be done, or if you’re worn out, run out, exhausted – then PLEASE get in touch to talk to us about how we can help you develop your own personalised Resilience Toolkit to help you perform at your best (and mitigate the worst of your hangover side-effects!) You might have been on one Meta programme YEARS ago, but it doesn’t matter to us how long ago it was, or whether you’ve stayed in touch – if we can help, we will, so get in touch! 

If you are a team leader – It’s time to do something with your staff. Don’t delay, don’t put it off. Don’t leave it too late before you act. If you’re too busy, if there’s not enough time, then that’s a sure-fire sign that you really DO need to carve out a space to do something with your team. How about arranging a team away-day facilitated by Meta? We could share some of our Resilience Toolkit with you and your team and, together as a team, you can support each other to implement those tools back in the workplace. We’ve done lots of team away-days over the years and we’re really good at them. 

If you are an organisational leader – We invite you to have a conversation with us. It might be that you ask Di or Jo to coach or mentor you as a leader, or do something wider with your leadership team or organisation. It’s so easy, you just drop Jo an email and say “Jo, we’d like to talk about how we help get our organisation through this next stage of the Covid recovery.” Then we have a frank chat to talk through your options. We will always be honest with you, and make sure that what we propose is tailored just for you (and yes, works for your team/organisational budgets too!). We promise you that it will take less time and will cost WAY LESS than you think to do a really effective re-building organisational resilience programme. 

If you are a CEO/leadership team – During this crisis the biggest pressures have fallen on CEOs and their leadership teams. It can be lonely at the top, especially as most leadership teams have been working virtually. It might be that, as a CEO you arrange some coaching or mentoring with Meta, or it might be that you take time out as a leadership team and do some work to reflect and think about how you create the ‘what next’ in your organisational journey. Whatever it is, please do call on us, we’re here to help. We’ve been working with a number of CEOs and senior leadership teams with their Covid recovery plans since the beginning of 2021. We all need to turn the page on Covid: we need to learn what worked, what didn’t work, and create a new way of working. That’s not easy to do with everything else you need to get done. You need to take time out, away from the office, and have some quality facilitated sessions where you really work together as a team to envision and plan your transition strategy to your ‘new normal’ as an organisation. 

The transition out of Covid is an incredibly important period to your business, and we can help you to create an organisational strategy that works best for you and your organisation. 

IN CONCLUSION

We have deliberately made this month’s blog serious, and provocative, because we think this is something that we all need to be talking more about. We HOPE that it’s stimulated your thoughts and made you think a bit differently about your current working experiences. We also hope that you will now see Meta a bit differently and call on us whilst the worst of the ‘Covid Hangover’ is still preventable. We will do what we can to help and support you. 

That’s what Meta’s mission has always been, to support lovely people like you – so don’t delay, don’t wait until it’s too late, just get in touch. The help you need is only just an email or phone call away 

You can contact Jo direct: jo@metapositive.com

Or call: 07976 262352

In peace,

Jo & Di xxx

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FINDING REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL

As many of you will know I’ve always been a glass half-full type of person. I’ve always had a spring in my step (a Tigger bounce some might say) and a positive outlook in life. Our website was originally called ‘metapositive’ and many people still think that’s our actual company name! 

I, like many of you I’m sure, have found the last 16 months testing my resilience and my positivity to its limits. At first I could deal with the adversity, the challenges that life was throwing me but, gradually over time, I found it harder to bounce back, harder to find as many positives. 

So last week I sat myself down and gave myself a bit of a stern talking to (you know, like the one your dad or your mum used to give you as a teenager when you’d crossed a line or needed picking up and motivating because you were a bit flat). I reminded myself that I am naturally a positive little soul and part of my purpose was to spread that positivity and look for the good in the world. It was time to pick myself up, dust myself down, pick myself up by my bootstraps, and give myself a good metaphorical kick up the bum to get myself up and going again. 

It’s amazing that when we talk to ourselves kindly but seriously, how motivated we can get. You see we always have CHOICE – no-one can tell us how to be, no-one or no-thing can influence us unless we allow them to. I realised that I’d been making some passive choices, choices that made me feel like things were being ‘done to me’ and so I decided it was time to make some different choices. Why? Because the passive choices I was making weren’t making me happy! 

I made an agreement with myself that I’d start looking for reasons to be cheerful, and do you know what? Since I’ve made that agreement, it’s amazing how many reasons there are to be cheerful! The fog of fear seems to have dispersed, and although I can’t claim to feel great all the time, I am definitely feeling a lot better than I did. I’m making different, more active choices, and if I find myself feeling a bit down I cheer myself up by finding some reasons to be cheerful. 

At Meta we’ve always talked about being careful about what you look for in life – if you look for what’s wrong, you’ll find it. If you look for what’s right, you’ll find that too. Now I’m not advocating being positive for positive’s sake, I’m just saying that actually, right now, there are lots of reasons to be cheerful. 

Almost all of you reading this will be at least single-jabbed with one of the Covid vaccines and many of you will be double-jabbed. That will be leading to more and more freedoms for us all, and a release of perhaps our biggest fear in the last year and a half – getting Covid. As I write this I’m self-isolating (yes, I got ‘pinged’ from NHS Test and Trace) because my daughter has Covid. Now it’s annoying, not gonna lie, but I also have no doubt that the fact I’m double jabbed has protected me and today, a few days in, I’m still Covid negative. Now that’s a reason to be cheerful right there! As is the fact that my daughter has pretty much no symptoms even though she’s not been jabbed (she’s only 15). 

Being at home I’ve got slightly addicted to watching the Olympics – wow, what incredible feats of athleticism have I been witness to. So many medals, so many brave and moving Olympic stories – having the Olympics on while you’re self-isolating? Yep, another reason to be cheerful! 

I have a concert coming up with a band I found just before lockdown, who I absolutely LOVE (Another Sky… check them out, they are amazing!). I’d managed to get tickets for a tiny gig in Bristol (just 100 capacity venue), then of course Covid struck, and the concert was postponed. However, a week Friday I shall be dad dancing without a care in the world to their music, my first live concert in two years+ and yes, that’s another reason to be cheerful! 

Once you start actively looking, there are so many reasons to be cheerful, so many little positive wins to each day, and in each week – you just have to start looking.

The world is a place of abundance, the world is full of lovely things all waiting to fill your fuel tanks and give you a positive energy boost. It’s easy to get caught by the fog of fear, easy to feel isolated, get a bit negative and lose your bounce-back ability like I did. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been feeling like this. But with a bit of re-framing, a bit of conscious choosing what we look for, we can reconnect with the abundance and beauty that’s all around us. 

There was an interesting piece of research done by the University of California, looking at mental health and well-being, that I overheard on Radio 4’s ‘All in the mind’ programme – about what they called ‘awe-walks’. 

We all know that a walk in nature is good for you, we all found that out when we had our government prescribed ‘hour of exercise’ each day during the first lockdown. So many people in the workshops I’ve been running around resilience have talked about one of the positives to come out of this Covid experience is that they’ve reconnected with nature and found so many green spots in their local communities that they didn’t even realise were there! 

The research took three groups of people. One group went about their day normally, they were given no extra tasks to do – this group was the control group. The second group got to walk for 30 minutes every day; and the third group were told to find something beautiful, something that made them go WOW on their walks (these were the ‘awe-walkers’). What the researchers were exploring was the wow effect that we get when we are in awe of something. Now, they were keen to highlight that, actually, you can find something awe-some anywhere! It didn’t mean you had to be half-way up the Himalayas, or on a rugged beach, or deep in a wild forest. They were essentially talking about noticing, on a deeper level, the beauty that was all around you. So, for example, maybe taking the time to look at a leaf, look in real detail, then hold it up to the sun see its intricate design and perfect beauty. Maybe to watch the rain as it dances upon a river, allowing yourself the time to get lost in its ripples and dancing droplets. To watch a bee as it happily hums and moves from flower to flower, buzzing its own happy buzz! 

What they found was that those who went for the 30minute walk expressed a greater sense of well-being than the control group, and those that went on the ‘awe-walks’ expressed an even higher sense of well-being.

As you know, at Meta we’ve talked for many years about how important it is to fill your fuel tanks, and to me an awe-walk is an ultimate fuel tank filler. 

I’ve started making most of my most of my walks ‘awe-walks’ (although not every one). The other day as I was out it started to rain, but rather than run for cover, I decided to turn my face to the sky and feel the rain gently pitter-patter onto my face. It felt like a blessing from the sky, and after all the intense heat we’ve been having recently – a blessed relief! 

I didn’t worry about getting wet and I watched the rain as it fell from the sky, dancing on the pavement and creating little puddles that I could jump in and splash around in. I’m sure there were a few raised eyebrows at this 6’7” tall adult splashing in puddles, but you know what? I’m sure there were a few smiles too. 

Right now we all need a bit of picking up, a bit of positivity and oomph. So, I’ve decided that now there is no better time to find happiness, no better time to choose to be happy. I saw a brilliant sign in a café in India – it was so simple and yet so profound. 

“If you choose to be happy no-one can stop you” it said. And you know what? It’s absolutely right. 

When we find our reasons to be cheerful, when we count our blessings, or just choose to look at the world differently – it’s amazing what we can find, it’s amazing what a difference it can make. 

I’m choosing to be more positive; I’m choosing that the world is a place of abundance, I’m choosing to pick myself back up and find plenty of reasons to be cheerful. 

What do you choose? 

I hope today’s blog was useful to you, and I’d like to finish by saying that it’d be lovely to hear what reasons have you found to be cheerful. Send them to me direct at jo@metapositive.com if you’d like to – I’d love to hear them! 

Have a wonderful summer, 

In peace and love – Jo xxx

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