3 Jun 2016

Culture vs Strategy

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a commonly used saying in leadership and no one exemplifies it better than Jane Cay of Birdsnest. Ranked by BWR the 8th ‘best place to work’, Birdsnest is increasingly seen as a model for the healthy joyful and creative place to work.  I had the pleasure of partnering with Jane for our Mindful Leadership retreat in Bali last week and her disarmingly honest and warm example of modelling ‘Excellence in Leadership’ is inspiring.
No doubt creating and maintaining a healthy culture is paying off in many ways.  Not only is Birdsnest madly successful, having increased its turnover 30 times since the first year of operation, but there is joy, creativity, compassion and learning on the agenda every day in the ‘nest’.  A great example of excellent workplace culture fostered by leadership from the top!

As I do both mindfulness in the workplace and mindfulness in relation to our eating, weight and body issues, I am often curious about how the two areas inform each other.

In our research on our ‘Dear Body – Mindful Eating Program’ we have found thatwhen we change the relationship with the body it changes how we treat it.  We protect what we fall in love with.  A compliment to that is the practice of Taking in the Good (TIG), which is consciously using positive neuroscience to become happier, in effect we drink in delight experiences.
By engaging in changing the relationship with the body to be more compassionate and kind, while at the same time enhancing healthy mind states through TIG, we in effect start to experience a healthy internal culture.
It is when we are tired, stressed, frustrated and angry that our ‘strategies’ for eating and drinking less, while exercising more, or not screaming and yelling at the kids are hard to live up to, right?  When we feel fine, strong and motivated we can manage our routine, but one day we are bound to be tired or a little grumpy, and whoops, there we go and in goes the chocolate or wine before we even know it.  The grumpiness or stress provides an inner culture where permission thoughts flourish and where we don’t care about ‘doing good’; we just want to feel good, and instant gratification rules.
John Gottman, who is one of the worlds leading relationship experts, observed that couples who had a ratio of 5:1 of positive interactions to negative interactions fared so much better than those with a ratio lower than 5:1.  Workplace studies show that an optimally healthy culture is achieved by the ratio being 5.26:1.
What do you think the ratio is for your inner landscape? What is the quality of your self-talk and taking care of yourself, versus ignoring your needs?
If you want a change strategy to work, looking after the culture is essential. So why not start there?  Start by being kind to yourself, by listening to yourself and allowing yourself to truly enjoy beauty, kindness, generosity and your favourite activities.  If you feel it is self indulgent, then remember that we are all ‘contagious’.  Your state is contagious, so you might just be doing the very kindest thing for those around you, while of course profoundly strengthening the chances that new strategies will be executed!

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