“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” George Eliot
I believe that learning to thrive is learning to explore; both by ourselves and with others. I like to look at thriving through three lenses: the lens of you, the lens of others and the context lens. I believe that we can learn to thrive by knowing, developing and protecting ourselves, and by working together to shape our context.
The lens of You
Self-awareness and self-reflection can help us to look at our lives with a fresh perspective. Honesty is both the best and the toughest policy. When we recognise the good, the bad and the ugly, we can be realistic optimists. I find that knowing and using my strengths boosts my positive energy and mood. A positive mood broadens my thinking so that I can see new ways forward. Whether it be creativity or humour or kindness, find your unique strength and use it regularly.
Goals give us direction and purpose, but pursuing them mindlessly can lead to burnout. When we step back and consider how we feel, we can simultaneously learn, develop, and maintain our energy levels. Positive feedback and rewards have the feel-good factor, but it’s important to remember that we can also validate ourselves by acknowledging our own accomplishments. We can learn not to feel helpless even in unfavourable work contexts. Others might not notice that we bit our tongue or shared the credit for a job well done, but we can notice.
The lens of Others
We protect ourselves by putting our own oxygen masks on first, but then we can share the wealth. Adam Grant’s TED talk celebrates ‘givers’ and introduces the idea of ‘five-minute favours’. We can gradually build relatedness in the workplace through small mindful actions.
Others can help us to move forward. It’s helpful to consider whether we surround ourselves with people who tell us that we can, or people who tell us that we can’t. When my self-belief wavers, I am so grateful for the people who tell me that I can.
The Context lens
We can look at our life goals and consider whether our current workplace facilitates our future pathways. As we move towards mid-life, it is our knowledge, experience, and social intelligence that flourish. Our workplace can nurture our development by valuing us at each life stage.
Being ‘always on’ depletes energy and stifles creativity. I believe that we can take small steps to gradually replace long days of ‘face’ time, with shorter days replete with vitality and learning. How we relate to each other shapes our context. Positive emotions build positive emotions, and these positive moods broaden our scope of thinking and action.
A final thought
Be humble and be vulnerable. Authenticity is the new black. We can lead by example to create a climate of safety. We can hold our hands up when we make mistakes. We can be as proud of the failures as the successes; they are but stepping stones.
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