When I was a kid, there was a soap on Irish television every Sunday night. Glenroe, was set in the Wicklow mountains and had massive viewership all through the 80s and 90s, but my only real memory was the theme tune.
When the jaunty pipes and slide-show of Irish farmland came on, my body went into shock.
For you it might have been the theme to Sounds of Praise, or the Simpsons, or even listening to the top 40 on Radio 1, but we’ve all gone through the Sunday Scaries – in fact two-thirds of workers in the UK have some form of Sunday anxiety!
Thirty years later, and I still get the Sunday Scaries. But it’s not that I’ve forgotten an English essay that needs to be handed in on Monday morning, it’s a signal that something is not quite right.
“…that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest.”
Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Is the work you’re doing meaningful and does it create value?
Do the people you work with raise you up and make you a better person?
Are you trying to do difficult things that will make the world a better place?
If you’re feeling the Sunday Scaries and the answer to these questions is, “no”, then your body is trying to tell you something – Find meaning in your work life or find a work life that gives you meaning.
It’s hard out there. Really hard. We’ve just been through a pandemic, lockdowns, Brexit, wars across the world, and now a cost of living crisis that most of us haven’t seen since the 1980s. How do we trust that the world is a good place in the face of all this?
This week is Empathy Week and I truly believe that empathy is a super-power. Empathy is not some touchy-feely HR concept that means we all need to go do trust falls. Empathy is the core of what makes us human and without it we are nothing.
How can you deliver your best work without understanding what your colleagues need to deliver theirs?
How can your team work effectively without trusting each other and you?
How can your organisation deliver great value without understanding the pain your customers go through?
“Be curious, not judgemental” – When someone expresses a different point of view, ask questions. Try to understand before trying to fix. Bracket your own thoughts until you’ve put yourself in their shoes.
Remember that a person’s lived experience is real to them – Don’t dismiss what someone is saying out of hand, but instead understand what they experience is real to them even if you don’t feel it.
Read fiction – We love reading about the next big technology, process, or management fad, but reading fiction is an immense machine for generating empathy. Read books by people who don’t look like you. People who don’t come from the same background as you. People who don’t have the same viewpoint as you. Learn about the lived experience of others.
None of us is an island and none of us can be truly great without the help of our communities.
A little over five years ago I had a crazy notion – I was going to study psychology part time. After several months of feeling completely burned out at work without any idea why I got into computers in the first place it was time to look for something more interesting to do. Thankfully the burnout left along with the job but I kept the idea.
I was told I was crazy, told I’d never see it through, told that The Open University is actually just a society of house-bound, stressed-out recluses who can’t deal with the real world. In reality, it was hard work, but the OU has over forty years of experience in making higher and further education available and accessible to those who can’t afford traditional university (pretty much everyone now thanks to the Thatcher Con-Dem government).
All degrees are taught using a modular system, where each course counts for a number of experience points and when you gain enough you get to level up you’re awarded a degree. Imagining I was playing a very painful and boring Role Playing Game was enough to struggle through and be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology for Christmas.
So that it, right? School’s out, no more teachers? Turns out all a Diploma means is that you can read a textbook and join the BPS, so I’ve signed up for an MSc this April. The race is on the see if I can get a PhD before I reach retirement age.
Alter Ego was a video game released by Activision in 1986. The brainchild of psychologist Dr. John Favero it allowed players to play out an entire lifetime as if it were a Choose Your Own Adventure novel by playing out events based on hundreds of interviews conducted with people about their lives.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been leaving these to the last minute, which has ended up with me writing all night before it needs to be in and trying to buy time travel delivery from the local Post Office.
This year, however, I’m trying to be grown up so I’ve decided to get cracking a week and a half early. I’ve used Mind Maps before when taking notes so tried this
open source application. I’ve managed to create my entire outline in the time it’s taken the boss to have a bath. Maybe I won’t be sneaking envelopes through my tutor’s door this year.
In a Grumpy Old Man moment, I previously remarked the young people today seem to have too much self-esteem which leads to an inflated sense of entitlement and general rudeness. While I had nothing to back up my opinion it turns out that my rant was at least close to the truth.
An extensive study of 16,475 college students from the United States has revealed narcissism has risen steadily among that population since 1982 due to the last couple of decades’ obsession with promoting self-esteem.