Family Violence; a Workplace Obligation?

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited along to The Warehouse Group’s (TWG) talk on the inroads and steps they have made within their doors in terms of addressing family violence. It was shocking, thought provoking, inspiring, shameful and heart-warming all at the same time.

It’s the stats I found the most disturbing, a few I’ll share with you here;

  • Every 5 mins in NZ there is a domestic violence related call out (Police call out)
  • It’s estimated that only 20% of incidences are reported
  • 1 in 3 NZ woman will be affected
  • At 85% of all cases reported, a child is present

And if those aren’t confronting enough, I’m sure a lot of people out there will be surprised to discover that in Anna Campbell from TWG’s words “violence doesn’t discriminate”. Age, religion, sexual orientation, socio economic factors and the like are all beside the point when it comes to family violence.

Dr Ang Jury from Woman’s Refuge spoke also, and reiterated their support for ALL people, all victims of violence, not just woman & children. Her and her team are on hand to help workplaces and people in workplaces to deal with situations of violence.

Anna, Julie Simpson and Pejman Okhovat from TWG and their team are inspirational in the work they’ve done to date and continue to do into the future. Their critical points for workplaces looking to make similar inroads into the topic in their workplaces are to ensure the strictest of confidentiality at all stages of the process, to ensure staff payments go into bank accounts with their name on it only, to provide training and support for their staff (endorsed from the top down and ensuring they take the conversation wider.

All speakers repeated the need to ensure all victims receive the right response the first time as they may not be brave enough to come forward again, this includes everything from the language used to the resources they receive being accurate. They need the confidence that everything will be confidential, that they have ongoing support and realistic timeframes going forward. There is no one size fits all approach, but recognising the issue, responding appropriately then referring victims and users to trained professionals for ongoing help and assistance is essential.

The heart-warming part was discovering some of the unexpected positive outcomes TWG have noted as a result of their efforts including staff taking more ownership of issues, having pride in the programme and greater loyalty to the organisation as a result. Issues such as bullying in the workplace have reduced and people are more willing to have brave conversations with each other.

My key takeaway is that we all have a responsibility to do what we can to change these statistics. To change the reality for so many of our society – your friends, family and co-workers are all affected. To start with we can all make this something people are able to talk about. We can all be mindful, understanding and provide support for both victims and their supporters…and the users of violence when they recognise they need help to change.

Given this is happening all around us, and that we spend more time at work and with our colleagues than anywhere else, I think there’s no better place to start than in the workplace. There are the obvious effects on the likes of absenteeism, productivity, engagement and staff retention but also the lesser known or calculable costs to business of employees who are living under these circumstances. And given it’s these people we’re all with day in day out, we’re more likely to notice changes in a person’s demeanour, potentially indicating an issue than with anyone else.

I am now at the beginning of my part in that journey; I am 100% committed to ensuring my organisation joins the movement going forward to change the horrific family violence stats in NZ. I have had conversations both inside and outside my organisation post the event and have meetings in place to discuss with our Culture & Performance and Health & Safety teams on how we take it forward. I’m exceptionally grateful to the team at The Warehouse Group for highlighting the issue and sharing their work, knowledge experiences and findings so far. #StoptheCycle #ItsnotOK

 

Contacts / Resources:

http://areyouok.org.nz/family-violence/

https://womensrefuge.org.nz/

https://whiteribbon.org.nz/  (White Ribbon)

 

 

Youth Employment and the Future of Work, Part 2 – Collective Mentality

In my last blog Youth, Employment and the Future of Work, I discussed youth today, millennials, their outlook and their readiness for work now and into the future, and what companies, organisations and training institutes can do to steer and better prepare these groups for the workplace and future careers.

In this post I want to explore another phenomenon I came across in my increased and intensive time with youth of late, their collective mentality. On the whole I’ve found they think in terms of we and us instead of the me, I and my that I largely hear in in the Gen X bracket. It’s not just youth and millennials however; there are many indigenous communities the world over who live their lives collectively, communally from a social and work perspective. Here in New Zealand the indigenous Maori people are a prime example. They care about the wellbeing of the group as opposed to the individual and identify more with cooperation over competition, interdependence over independence. I note too, the massive rise and fall of labour unions, from the peak between 1940 – 1960 and the steady decline ever since. So is collective mentality and thinking in the workplace cyclical like so many other things in life or are we about to see a massive shift in the world of work?

In my HR career to date countless times I’ve had individuals (Gen X!) complaining of workloads, managers (also Gen X!) who say to collaborate and share the load – but has this ever really eventuated? In some cases yes, but in most it’s paying lip service to a problem and quietly ignoring it and the individuals struggle on regardless. Certainly more of a collective mentality in the workplace, more we and us, would improve workloads for many individuals especially as these seem to be increasing at an alarming pace of late. So is this a solution? Real collaboration? Caring about the wellbeing of all? A more tribal attitude when it comes to workplaces?

I note that conscious capitalism is on the rise, I wonder if this is being driven by the increased number of millennials and youth in employment. This was a hot topic at the Festival for the Future I attended recently; over 100 youth/millennials whose voice was loud and clear about wanting to make a difference, wanting more equality for all, shifting wealth and changing political policies to benefit the wider community.

I’m wondering what effect this is going to have on the future of work – especially given there are ever increasing examples of collective thinking being demonstrated in organisations and many of these are or have been start up organisations run by millennials, our future leaders and the future of work. I predict more collective working examples of individuals coming together and working across platforms, disciplines and geographical distances on projects and pieces of work. I predict more collaborative working spaces, where individuals and organisations share not only workspaces, but ideas, clients and development opportunities. I predict organisational structures changing as people work more within large corporates, but without the restrictions of specific job descriptions, in areas where they can specialise and utilise their expertise. I predict hearing the terms holocracy and meritocracy with much higher frequency. I predict more contracting and less permanent employment, ever more start-ups and small to medium sized organisations as technology changes and continues to evolve and develop. I predict more mergers of larger corporates as they compete on a global scale and not just in local markets.

I could go on and on with my predictions, but I’d love to hear what you think. Both about collective mentality in organisations, youth employment and the future of work.

#WellnessWarrior

The hash tag in the headline is used across social media for those on a health kick and endorsing a healthy way of living, but it’s also used for those living with chronic illness or disease. The number of New Zealanders living with chronic illness is scarily high and on the rise according to figures from the Ministry of Health New Zealand Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study, 2006–2016, and I feel certain NZ won’t be alone in this phenomenon. Those who I do think could be feeling very alone are those dealing with chronic illness at work. Be it physical or mental, these are illness’ no one else can see, often described as invisible illnesses and being chronic, won’t be just a one off occurrence.

There is much written on this topic on line and in papers & magazines from the individual perspectives of those dealing with these situations; they describe  reactions from others towards them and their situations as ranging from disdain to disbelief and vague understanding to sincere sympathy. But even given how much information is out there and being written to raise awareness and understanding I think more often than not they simply exist without any acknowledgement. Most people living with chronic illness, especially those that can’t be seen prefer to do so in private for a whole host of reasons. They don’t want to be judged. They don’t want pity. They want to be able to join in conversations on normal topics without their viewpoints being taken the wrong way. And most of all they want to appear normal. Chronic illness or disease is often multifaceted, so not only will it recur, but there are so many moving parts to it in some cases that people feel unable or unwilling to explain the extent of their illness, using an umbrella approach or describing one part of the issue/s if at all.

So what can be done to help those living day in day out with chronic illness or disease? First and foremost as with everything in life be mindful; treat others as you would have them treat you, if you haven’t got anything positive to say don’t say anything at all and all those other wonderful mottos to live by our parents gave us. Just be aware that we don’t always know what other people are dealing with. And should they choose to confide in you be understanding, be sympathetic but don’t be patronising. And try to avoid offering helpful advice if you haven’t got any first-hand experience on what they’re going through. Suggesting trying yoga to someone in chronic pain or sympathising with how tired you are too to someone which chronic fatigue won’t help and are things they’ve probably heard a million times before. Instead ask them what, if anything, can be done to help them during the bad times, encourage them to let you know when they’re having particularly hard times so at the very least they’re not going through it alone.

There are many things that can be done in the workplace to help ease these situations, make the circumstances more manageable for people and to provide support. Many firms offer the likes of flexi working arrangements where days and hours of work can be negotiated; others offer on-site occupational health and safety in the form of nurses and or wellness advisors. Employee Assistance programmes can be useful too; both for those dealing with mental and physical illness as both can be a burden and talking it through with a professional can be immensely helpful. Above all creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture will go a long way to making people feel they can be honest about these situations in the workplace. In today’s fast paced, technology driven, innovative, ever changing world many would feel it a sign of weakness to admit to and be honest about an illness, so it’s important we all work to create environments where this is ok.

As individuals I think if we all took just five minutes to Google a couple of hash tags we would learn a whole lot about living and working with chronic illness, and that in turn would bring more awareness in general. Hopefully that would also bring about more conversation and create more accepting and inclusive workplaces whereby people feel they can bring their whole selves to work. Therein lays my challenge to you: three hash tags, one minute for each on your choice of social media…#chronicillness #spoonie #invisibleillness to increase your own awareness.

Another Google search quickly unveiled a number of support groups, both in real life and via social media for an immense range of chronic illnesses. Ensure if someone does come to you or let you know they are dealing with something that you take it and them seriously and that you respect them coming to you. They may or may not know what other support is available out there, so help them explore the options available to them.

Be well!

On Leadership…

Picture this; average day, school pick up, Miss Six in the back chattering away in her usual way. Endless questions, comments on who she’d played with that day, what she’d observed whether she ate the carrots in her lunch box, and then wham! One of those moments of pure wisdom that children bring, cutting through to the crux of something that adults the world over struggle with, study, research and theorise over. Now my child does appear to be beyond her years, regularly surprising me throughout her short existence with her knowledge, depth of questioning and grasp of language…..though I’m probably biased!

On this occasion the topic in question, Leadership. Word for word it went like this:

Miss Six: “No, I didn’t eat my carrots Mama. I know about Leadership”

Me: “Oh yes honey, (choosing to ignore carrot comment) – what do you know about Leadership?”

Miss Six: “I know that a Leader is someone who helps other people. They are patient and kind and show other people ways to do things they might not have thought of before”

Me: “That’s exactly right my darling, is there anything else you know about leadership?”

Miss Six: “Yes a leader should look after people and care about whether they feel happy or sad and make sure they’re included. They need to be good at listening.”

Me: “Have you been learning about this at Kura (school – Miss 6 is in a bilingual class)?”

Miss Six: “No. I just know. Mum, if I eat my carrots can I get an ice cream at the mall?”

In a matter of minutes she’d nailed it. Leadership doesn’t need to be as complex as many of us seem to want to make. Break it back down to the basics. The best leaders I know and the top leaders in history (by and large – there are exceptions to every rule!) share the characteristics Miss Six identified:

  • They help; they are genuinely interested in and care about others
  • They take the time to give direction, and step back to let people find their own way
  • They ask questions to encourage thinking outside the square
  • They listen

Now, I could categorise all this with words like communication, integrity, authenticity, influence and write screeds about all of these things and what they mean, how they’re displayed and how to achieve them, and in turn greatness in leadership through them. But why not leave it at that. In the words of a six year old that can be understood the world over, plain and simple?

What price {cost} a smile?

How far does a smile go? Ever walked past someone at work, on the street, in a queue who’s absolutely beamed at you…and found yourself genuinely smiling back? Or caught someone’s eye across the room and shared a grin? And have you ever had one of those moments where you’ve been feeling down or similar and had received a smile, a real smile from someone you knew or otherwise that actually made you feel a little better?

So what price a smile? It costs nothing, yet are you distributing them enough? Are you taking those couple of seconds to look people in the eye, acknowledge them and smile? Appropriately! For there are a hundred different types of smiles of course! But really, it’s such a small simple act, but can change a day, a mood, an outlook. And truly make a difference to another person.

I’m not sure there’s enough happiness in the work place anymore. People are heads down, bum up working harder, faster, smarter and more to innovate, challenge, create and service. And in doing so we’re achieving amazing things. But are we happy? And are we taking the odd moment to stop and notice, reflect and connect with those around us?

A smile doesn’t cost a thing; but is there a cost in a lack of smiles? Would people be more productive if they were happier at work? And would they be happier with more smiles – given and received? There are multiple types of people in workplaces, but have a think who are the ones who stand out? For the right reasons? I’d hazard a guess it’s the person quick with a smile, who’s head held high catching peoples eye and acknowledging them be it in the lift, walking the floor or coming into the building.

We should all be caretakers of morale at work as we all have the ability to directly affect it, in how we interact with those around us. Happiness is catchy and so are real and genuine smiles. Throw a few around the place a bit more often and see what comes back to you. It won’t cost a thing and you might even find you feel better in yourself for it. Smile!

Pass the Purple Crayon!

Did you have a favourite crayon in the box back at pre-school or in your early school days? Is there one you secreted away to be able to use it every day? Or was it a favourite marker pen you used to colour everything, ensuring it ran out twice as fast as the others in the box? I’ve watched my daughter from the moment she could hold a pen make a beeline for the pinks and purples in the container. She prefers if they have sparkles or some sort of glitter shine to them as well, and these are always used first.

At work I’ve noticed people do similar things; I had a colleague obsessed with purple pens and highlighters (you know who you are!) who had a drawer full of them – and this extended to purple plastic sleeves as well. There’s another who will only write in red pen and masses of people with favourite notebooks and folders. Many of us have favourite fonts, and sizes and by the same token there’s some incredibly disliked fonts (comic sans anyone?).

Lighthearted as the subject is it got me thinking. Have you got a favourite colour now? And/or does it extend to a little something in your everyday work life that makes you feel happy, makes you smile or makes your day that little bit better? And is that all there is to it?

We recently printed branded notebooks at work and they are seriously cool – edgy, funky and useful with pockets and preprinted info on our brands & products and other useful titbits like calendars. Everybody loves them, regular beige covered notebooks lie unused in stationary cupboards throughout the building while the fancy new models are coveted. I was recently given a bound pink notebook (by a company who shall remain nameless, but I’m sure many of you will guess!), and I really like it. Now I’m not a particularly girly girl – and certainly no six year old girl (who I had to buy a sparkly pink notebook for to stop her sneaking mine) but it stands out. It’s pretty, functional and no one else at work has one so it stands out as mine if I put it down someone.

So is it colour? Is it having an individual thing or another way to express ourselves? Or is it just fluff? Or is there something more to this that could help teams and organisations come together? Is it a personality thing? Can colour affect mood, productivity and inspiration? On a subject such as this I’d love to hear what you all have to say! But to satisfy my own intrigue I googled it and here are some of my findings:

In terms of office space I found screeds of information on colour schemes in the workplace and how they affect (positively and negatively – or otherwise) the environment Entrepreneur had a basic infographic that some may find useful or relate to. Woods Bagot, internationally renowned architects have some amazing examples of pulling together data, technology and people with design to create office spaces of the future, here is an example of this and we’re seeing it a lot more in Auckland especially where Vodafone kicked off new spacial design for offices, and the likes of ASB, NZME and Fonterra have followed suit with more colour, open spaces and collaborative environments than offices of old.

BuzzFeed has this quiz to take about what your choice in colour says about your personality; and for me it was largely accurate. This article on Bustle I found interesting if only because I’ve always struggled to decide if my favourite colour is blue or yellow…and only 5% of adults claim yellow as their favourite colour! Psychology Today offered this simple exercise to assess the personality types of team members based on favourite colours. StopPress think trendier is happier – what say you?

All in all, I think Fast Company summed it up pretty well in this article, concluding whilst studies may be able to give us generalities, it’s an individual thing, humans visualise 10 million different colours; given “green” can mean or be visualised in many forms by many different people. Love to hear your thoughts…

 

I like to Move It, Move It

I came across a fantastic infographic on exercise and improved productivity in the workplace developed for Wellness Week. It includes some very interesting stats, such as physically inactive people having a 50% higher chance of developing a coronary heart disease as regularly active people. Given my partners father passed away last week after a long history of minor heart attacks and his brother in law was rushed to hospital two days ago with such high blood pressure Doctor’s couldn’t believe he wasn’t having a heart attack – this struck a chord!

We all know that exercise releases endorphins and serotonin that eases the mind and creates feelings of positivity – helping to increase productivity and decrease the mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Exercise also increases mental alertness and energy levels, and, regular exercise has been proven to increase your overall wellness and boost the immune system, resulting in fewer sick days and therefore greater productivity.

I’ve been a runner, I’m currently a walker (hope to get running again!) and fitting my walk into my day be it at 10:30am, 12noon or 3pm dependant on work demands, meetings etc is a priority for me. On particularly busy or stressful days I find the time out to move away from what I’m doing and clear my head often ends in improved results. I’d go along with the infographic stats and be a part of the 60% that claim greater mental performance post lunch time exercise.

In our organisation we have a gym onsite, admittedly it’s not the flashiest gym in the world, but it has one of everything and costs next to nothing at $3 a week (which includes social club membership). We offer onsite Yoga and Pilates classes (at the expense of the attendees), we have fruit baskets on some floors (company provided) – and these are the obvious things I can find. But digging a little deeper I discovered company touch teams, inter-organisation cricket matches, walking and running groups and weight loss support groups. There were also groups supporting each other in marathons, stair climbs and tough-mudder competitions. But I had to ask around to find them.

So does exercise and improved productivity in the workplace also come down to communication? Are we not showcasing, promoting and advocating the importance of exercise enough?

Secondly, I wonder if workplaces are supportive enough of exercise? Or is it treated somewhat like the companies where if you’re not seen in the office you’re deemed not to be working? Do we allow staff the time in their days, lunch breaks etc to make time for exercise and to fit that into their own daily schedules?

It’s in companies’ interests to ensure staff have every opportunity to be heathy and fit and participating regularly in exercise. So why aren’t more of us putting more effort into this? Not only will exercise increase productivity, but culture and engagement would increase along with it. There’s some really simple ways companies could instigate more exercise in their employees’ days and here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • Communicate! Let staff know what your company currently has on offer
  • Advocate; make sure staff know you’re supportive of their physical and mental wellbeing
  • Walking meetings
  • Encourage staff to take the stairs (create a stair challenge!)
  • Support company sports teams
  • Provide showers and space for staff to keep fitness gear at work
  • Standing desks (standing burns more calories than sitting!)
  • Organise lunch time walking groups; the easiest way to exercise and will have the added benefits of staff keeping each other accountable and building camaraderie amongst employees

And here are some great ideas for at your desk / in the office exercise (some you can do discreetly at your desk, other you may want to find a meeting room for!):

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/29-exercises-you-can-do-at-or-near-your-desk.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/health/workout-at-work/

Get moving!

The Essentials

Last week I attended a session on “Essential Employment Law” run by Nikki Peck from Elephant. First up, high five’s to Nikki for her facilitation style which ensured she had my attention for the entire day on a subject I admit doesn’t exactly float my boat, but is an essential component of my job.

Which is exactly why I was there. As an HR practitioner I prefer to focus my attentions on the likes of culture, engagement and employee development; but the reality is employment law comes into play in all aspects of HR. Over the years I’ve ensured that I’ve kept up to date with relevant law changes, as they’ve come up, but a whole day focusing on relevant acts and case law was time well spent in refreshing my knowledge. The benefits of which were threefold; networking, employee and self-development.

I met a group of HR peer’s I hadn’t previously engaged with, including one I’d been LinkedIn stalking only days before in relation to a potential new role for a friend! The value of networking and meeting peers in your industry but outside of your organisation is immense. The discussions, ideas, ways of working, suggestions and solutions that were bandied around on the day certainly left me thinking and provided me with new opportunities to research and implement in my own role and organisation.

I realised there are many roles with core skills, or knowledge needed in my organisation and that we either hire or train staff dependant on the situational need – but are we following up on that? Are we stretching them further and ensuring a constant development of their skills? A good example for me is product training; we thoroughly induct all staff into our culture, values, style of selling and product offerings, but our products and platforms change constantly. So I’ve resolved to ensure that in all cases we are adequately communicating and training staff on these changes, that there is a feedback loop for the changes and a clear go to person for any questions that may arise. While I’m at it I will be relooking at role tasks and PD’s to ensure that the essential competencies and tasks in our team roles are properly captured and that our staff are meeting the required standards.

And thirdly as HR folk are we focusing too much in any one aspect of our own roles? Are there areas you could use development in that maybe you haven’t focused on for some time that would in turn be complimentary to other facets of your role? In other words have you been focusing on your favourites and leaving the rest out? And if like me this is something of the case then research your options, as if you can find a situation like mine where the course material and facilitation made a subject that’s not my favourite fun and enjoyable then it’s a win win situation.

If we all get the essentials right in our roles and ensure we are continuously developing and progressing in these areas, they will in turn ensure all aspects of our role, skills and knowledge are heading down the right track.

Corporate Addictions in Leadership

I quit sugar. For anyone who knows me this was no mean fete. It was after a weekend where I’d eaten 18 mini Milky Way Bars and then snuck two of my daughters Easter Eggs and still didn’t feel satisfied that I realised it was a problem. A huge, sugar addicted problem. I resolved to give it up. First week I let myself have a couple of slip ups, but guess what? It didn’t work, I was straight back to consuming family bags of lollies in no time. So it had to be cold turkey, all or nothing. Now there is one exception to this…alcohol, I have to have one vice right?! I’m already coeliac and dairy intolerant so it doesn’t leave a lot! However I have changed my habits there too, I’m more conscious of my choices – soda water now being my only mixer for example.  The results? Eight weeks on I no longer spend every day wondering when it’s an appropriate time to have that first “hit”. The long term health benefits I think will be obvious, but so too, my skin is better, I sleep better and have lost weight – a happy side effect! Also, I’ve noticed it’s affected my daughters attitude towards sweets, now that mummy’s not having them (for the record I always very closely monitored her intake – easy to tell someone else what to do right?!) she’s no longer asking for them either, so better all round for both of us.

The obvious and wide reaching benefits of giving up this addiction have been awesome, and I’ve resolved to keep it up. But it also got me thinking about workplace, for this post particularly leadership addictions or patterns of behaviour, that currently detrimental, if changed could also turn to work in you or the organisations’ favour.

For example are you the type of manager who has to have the last say? Who won’t ever back down and admit that you may be in the wrong? Do you even recognise this in yourself? For sometimes addictions creep up on us without us even realising.

Are you the type of leader that can do everything yourself? Do you fail to delegate to your staff, or fully utilise them for their knowledge and competencies, complaining that you’re too busy and overworked, but loathe to give anything up for a multitude of reasons ranging from control, through power and blindness?

Or are you the corporate psychopath? The leader who thinks nothing of other’s feelings and emotions, of how what you do and say may affect others? Are you the absentee boss? Do your staff wonder who you are and what you do from the top of your ivory tower? Is bullying your tactic? Do you use this as a way to manipulate staff into your desired results?

All of these scenarios are very real, and in the worst cases there are leaders displaying one, more or all of these behaviours. The results? A disengagement and disillusionment of staff meaning you are not getting the best out of your employees and ensuring an adverse effect on productivity. It’s likely too that a breakdown in culture would ensue, or worse, a reactive culture is born out of suspicion, wariness and fear of the leader or manager.

The good news is many behaviours once identified can be unlearnt. This may take time and hard work, but ultimately the benefits far outweigh any short term pain. In terms of engagement, retention, churn, attraction, absenteeism a positive trending curve would emerge, which ultimately leads to a positive impact on the bottom line.

So whilst your corporate leadership addictions may not be as extreme as these examples, look at yourself. Really look at yourself – what could you change about your behaviours, habits or otherwise to positively impact your organisation and its employees? And maybe you wouldn’t recognise these behaviours in yourself? Is it time to ask for honest and upfront feedback – and if you did, could you `take it? I quit sugar, now the corporate challenge is on…

Tales of Inspiration

inspiration

[in-spuhrey-shuh n]

noun

  1. an inspiring or animating action or influence
  2. something inspired, as an idea
  3. a result of inspired activity
  4. a thing or person that inspires

Inspiration comes in many shapes and forms, from a variety of sources, often striking when you least expect it. You may or may not have sought it, but either way it found you and propelled you to take action or consider thought. It may have been as simple as the encouragement needed to make small changes in an aspect of your life or as major as a monumental shift in direction.

I believe we have all experienced pivotal moments in time where inspiration has struck to such a degree as to have had an effect on the future shape of our lives. Be it an individual, a community or a piece of writing. In writing this piece I realised there were countless forms of inspiration in my life, and far too many to discuss here, so following are two stories encompassing various forms of inspiration, each one vastly different from the other, but each with considerable impact around people, community and the world of work.

The first is one of inspiration through help, dedication and giving back – and I admit there are literally hundreds of similar stories, all with equal merit. I know an incredible individual who gives up countless hours of her time to help others, so much so that if I were to list the areas in which she freely gives her time, resources and beautiful smile to enriching and enlivening the lives of others I’d surely miss something out. But to give you an idea, this is one millennial thoroughly practising mindfulness through the likes of soup kitchens, gardening, caring for the elderly and volunteering in orphanages, all outside of her 9am – 5pm role. And this week I encountered Tinaya Johnston via this NZ Herald article – proving one incredibly inspiring woman has the ability to impact and change so many lives on a daily basis through one simple idea and her time. Both of these people have inspired work and community – one through motivating the people in her workplace to do more in their local communities as a result of her efforts and the other giving back to her community and in turn moving others to behave in a similar way.

The second is more professional in its inspirational nature. Beginning with an Executive Leader who spotted potential in an employee and enabled a situation whereby it was possible to take action. Followed through with the employee who accepted the challenge, stepped up and continued the professional development through mentoring and accredited education.  This individual has turned their life around in a phenomenal way and whilst that mentoring relationship and formal education is long past, they have continued to mentor with others, complete further education and seek alternative forms of development through the inspirational relationships and people they have met along the way and accepting personal responsibility for their own future path. This person has unwittingly become an inspiration in their own right; having faced numerous hurdles and adversity along the way and still coming up trumps and is now so recognised for their expertise in their field they too are being asked to speak, mentor, train and develop others.

This is a somewhat philosophical post, a reflection in many ways and a nod to all those who have inspired me. However it’s also very forward looking as I know there will be many more stories of inspiration to come; with the world both personal and professional becoming a much smaller space through the development of technology ensuring we have the opportunity to be inspired every day in thousands of ways from thousands of directions and sources. And so I ask you this, what inspires you, where will it lead and how will you use it? And secondly – do your inspirational sources know the affect they have on you? If not – maybe it’s time to give back, feedback and recognise?