Breaking through your struggle
The Bad News
Organisations and the individuals who work within them are starting to face a massive issue that is hugely underestimated, both now and in the coming years. The statistics in my home country (Australia) are quite alarming:
44% of workers identify issues in the workplace as a source of stress. A recent three-year study found over 80% of staff experiencing an intense working environment with very concerning levels of worry, chronic stress symptoms, distress and disengagement.
More than 2 million people have a form of anxiety
More than 1 million people are living with depression, with untreated depression resulting in more than 6 million working days lost per year.
Only just over half of workplaces are described by employees as being mentally healthy, with untreated mental health conditions costing workplaces almost $11 Billion per year.
This ultimately creates large amounts of adrenal fatigue, that feeds into conditions like obesity, which is currently climbing faster than anywhere in the world. Almost a quarter of our children and 63% of adults are overweight based on the latest global studies.
It also contributes to the increase of illicit drug use (including pharmaceutical misuse), and alcohol abuse as people seek to self medicate their feelings of dis-ease.
The Good News
While Beyond Blue have done great work over the last year with their Heads Up initiative to build mentally healthy workplaces, there is another way you can hack the matrix of the SADs (Stress, Anxiety and Depression) to build a more resilient, engaged and productive workforce.
That way is through the art and science of Flow.
Most of us have experienced flow. It’s that dinner party with friends where you completely lost track of time because you were immersed in great conversation. Or that time you got so into work that everything else fades around you.
Flow states have a profound influence on our neurochemistry and neurobiology.
Harvard medical school psychiatrist Ned Hallowell describes it as “…catapulting you to a level you’re not naturally in…everything you do, you do better in flow, from baking a chocolate cake to planning a vacation…flow is the doorway to the ‘more’ most of us seek. There you will find, in manageable doses, all the ‘more’ you need.”
Steven Kotler in his book The Rise of Superman, argues that flow ”…directly correlates to happiness at work and happiness at work directly correlates to success. Research into the business world proves that happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31% and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as a myriad of health and quality of life improvements.”
The hard science of flow is continually coming in from the world of extreme sports, and forget pedometers — consumer devices are getting close to giving us access to serious data where all we used to have was subjective experiences.
The bottom line is that people in flow increase their productivity by up to 500%, and are the happiest people on earth.
That’s why I’m healthily obsessed about Group Flow — the work of how to see not just individuals, but teams and workplaces transformed into cultures where flow states are safely and predictably able to be created and healthily sustained.
Over the next few posts, I’m going to break flow down into a range of distinct areas that will help you take what has previously only been available to people in the realm of extreme sports and elite performance from any discipline, and show you how to safely mainstream it into the working world that I know best — large corporates and start-ups.
It’s a path I’ve successfully trod as both an elite athlete at world championship levels in martial arts, and through the business world as both an intra and entrepreneur.
Ready to enter the arena?