Over the past few years, more and more people and organizations have had their eyes opened to the extreme power of simple gratitude. No longer just the domain of pre-Thanksgiving Dinner share sessions, scientific research has been showing that those of us who intentionally make an effort to think about what we’re thankful for and express our gratitude to those around us are generally happier, healthier, and live more fulfilling lives. However, the key word in that last paragraph is intentional. Our brains are wired like thermostats, and have a tendency to emotionally regulate themselves back to a default state in the face of extreme changes. When an emotion is experienced frequently, this trait (called “hedonic adaptation") causes that emotion to be felt less strongly, which can make it difficult to be fully aware of when something truly positive is happening in our lives.
What is a habit? In the most basic terms, it’s your brain rewiring itself to make life easier… for itself. When we repeat something often enough, our brains create the neural pathways that make these tasks feel like second nature, meaning we have to devote very little brainpower to completing them successfully. This is great when you don’t have to think about brushing your teeth before bed, but it can be not-so-great when it comes time to break a habit that’s detrimental or unhealthy, like responding defensively to constructive criticism or pushing back against changes to your work routine.
For many people, they think that burnout is the same as stress, but that’s not entirely accurate. Stress is acute–we experience it in-the-moment due to a particular trigger. But burnout? Burnout is more long-term. It stems from accumulated stress over time, and often manifests almost like a depression: you may feel perpetually exhausted and anxious. You may feel like you can’t catch up on sleep, or that nothing brings you pleasure. You have trouble concentrating and connecting with people you love. Burnout takes time to set in, and also takes time to heal, and it’s often caused by long-term workplace stressors (although it can definitely be caused by non-work-related concerns such as marital problems or ongoing crises). What can you do if you’re feeling burned out at work? Here are five things you can do as a coworker or manager to help yourself and others find relief.
Choose Your Attitude is one of the 4 core pillars of the FISH! Philosophy, and is perhaps the one that requires the most personal reflection in order to really internalize. To Choose Your Attitude is to be aware of your emotions and to make the conscious decision to alter your behavior in a way that better suits the situation at-hand. The FISH! Philosophy recognizes that every situation is unique, and choosing your attitude is not meant to prescribe a particular attitude or behavior at any given moment (c’mon, do any of us react positively when someone tells us to “just stay positive”?!). Fundamentally, choosing your attitude is about practicing mindfulness: recognizing that we’re feeling a certain way, that those feelings are likely externalized via our outward behavior and demeanor, and that this behavior affects both others’ perceptions of us as well as our perceptions of ourselves, and that these are often re-internalized in a way that further alters our mood and our attitudes.
We don’t need to tell you how vital energy is to the well-being and success of your organization. Energy is that hard-to-define feeling that grants any given individual the motivation and willingness to push forward with passion and a drive to succeed, and is key to our long-term sustainability, both as individuals as well as a collective unit of workers and professional colleagues. With boundless energy, we show excitement for our work and it feels like the sky’s the limit when it comes to what we can achieve. While we can get work done without energy, that work is often pulled out of us rather than being given willingly, which leaves us feeling demotivated and–over time–leads to burnout, mental anguish, and organizational distress. So how can your organization keep your team energized and working together happily and passionately?
We don’t need to tell you how vital energy is to the well-being and success of your organization. Energy is that hard-to-define feeling that grants any given individual the motivation and willingness to push forward with passion and a drive to succeed, and is key to our long-term sustainability, both as individuals as well as a collective unit of workers and professional colleagues.
Out of all the FISH! Philosophy's core pillars, the concept of Play is–perhaps somewhat counter-intuitively–often the most challenging for organizations and employees to wrap their minds around and to commit to integrating into their workplace culture. This idea of Play is often very inviting at first; after all, who doesn’t like the idea of their work day being a little bit more fun? But as people dig into the idea, we hear a common refrain: “what we do here is far too serious for us to be playing around.” And hey, we totally get it. When you’ve got big ideas, big goals, and are serious about doing good in the world, it can feel weird to be told to Play more.
All corporations, for-profit or not for profit, must have a margin. The cost of healthcare has been scrutinized for many years and yet it continues to rise. Hospitals are becoming more financially challenged and leadership has to determine the strategy to sustain the financial health of their institutions. There are two opposing strategies to accomplish both improved culture and margin. Does the leadership focus on the margin so the team can pay higher wages and pay for the “nice things to do for the staff” to then improve the corporate culture? Or do they focus on the organization's culture to improve the margin?
If you are leading an organization in times of difficulty, you need an extra spark to keep your head up. The requirement for you to be the chief encourager and visionary doesn't dissolve because the economy is down. The expectation for you to show up with vision, passion, and commitment still rests upon you. In times of difficulty, there is a separation among leaders – those who just have a “title” that indicates their leadership and those who truly have the mantle of leadership. The title will give that person access, provision, and affluence. The mantle of leadership, however, may also provide sleepless nights, heartache, and discouragement – as well as joy – at various times.
As a former CEO of hospitals across the midwest for 35 years, our CEO Jonathan Goble brings a great perspective to FISH! in healthcare during this difficult time. I believe today, with the onslaught of COVID 19 ravaging our resources, our people and our attitudes, we (hospitals) are particularly at risk without a specific strategy to address the impact this pandemic has on our people and culture. As healthcare workers we are brave and will walk into the face of danger. We do it each and every day, even without COVID 19 present in our midst. We are hard workers who are willing to work extremely long hours when needed. We are called in and called off and still come back to serve our patients the next day. We have strange senses of humor because of the work that we face. It helps to be a bit irreverent when the seriousness of our work could easily drain our spirit. We are strong but the challenges of the healthcare world today threatens our infrastructure and our people. So, how could FISH! help?