I’m over 6’ tall, which I‘m sure many of you would consider, is tall; especially for a lady.
I’ve been asked ‘how’s the weather up there?’ more times than I care to remember, and while I’m sure no malice was implied, the names varied: baby giraffe, daddy long legs, stretch, lurch, and Amazon lady…I’ve even found myself referring to my looming presence as the ‘resident praying mantis’…
Yes, I’ve always been tall. Yes, I play basketball and netball – and not just because I’m tall; I’m useful and shoot rather well. Yes, my husband is also tall, as are our children. No, I don’t wear high heels: Ever.
Planes, trains and back row car seats have a lot to answer to when it comes to comfort and when shopping for clothes I laugh out loud at ‘one size fits all’ labels; I regularly experience cold ankles and wrist from exposure.
Those are but a few reasons why I don’t particularly like being tall, but I never gave deeper thought to them, or considered it as a barrier to being my personal best until recently when I came across an article ‘are you playing small because you are big’ by Megan Tsui and how she perceived her body size.
Megan’s comments about the mental energy consumed inside this article resonated with me, while I don’t consider myself big in the traditional weight big, my height it seems consumes more emotional energy from me than I would care to admit; my face went flush, and my stomach turned.
I shared the post and made a comment, and guess what? It resonated with others too; I was promptly invited into ABC radio to discuss this very topic.
I didn’t want to participate in a woes-is-me segment, but rather focus on how I was going to challenge these barriers that were lurkng aorund my subconscious – the awkwardness I felt from my personal appearance of clothes not fitting me in length and the physical space I felt I consumed, were they possibly holding me back personally and professionally?.
But first, what can barriers look like?
Understanding how our mind can create and use barriers is helpful in assessing ourselves, our actions and results (or lack of), inadvertently preventing us from being Healthy Happy Staff members, with some barriers including:
1. Behaviours – things we are, or are not doing and can include:
• Going to the pub or wine bar to meet a friend rather than taking a walk together
• Buying takeaway dinners because nothing had been planned for dinner
• Staying up late instead of getting a good nights sleep
• Distracting activities or procrastination which divert and dilute your available time – in my case using mental energy that would be better spent elsewhere
2. Situations – things that are:
Working hours, body composition, weather, family needs, financial limitations and are tricky (working hours) or impossible (body composition) to alter. Without fully facing our roles and responsibilities’, these situations then have us negatively create our habits and behaviours’.
3. Cognition’s – your thoughts:
When you hear or say something enough you start to believe it, and many of us unintentionally fall into a trap of not being as complimentary to ourselves as we are with others, or we fall victim to the harsh words of others. Cognition’s such as I’m (you’re) too busy, I (you) always give up, if only I (you) could be shorter/taller/skinnier/healthier eventuate, or in an organisational context ‘it’s just the way things are done around here’ or ‘ nobody notices or cares anyway’ may be heard.
4. Feelings – these transpire because we are ‘certain’ our thoughts are correct:
I’m scared I will fail…. I am worried I can’t….I feel awkward….
My host Ryk, asked if I felt relief to now have the energy I’d previously used worrying about my personal appearance and the physical space I felt I consume acknowledged, with me now able to ‘move on’.
Acknowledgment is a cornerstone of change; the lurch of your stomach, your raised heart rate – I’ve acknowledged feelings, cognition’s and behaviors that are unacceptable to me and I want to address these barriers, not unlike the barriers you and your staff may be acknowledging: smoking, drinking, over or under consumption, stress, anger, boredom, weight gain, procrastination….
So yes, there is relief felt while also understanding change doesn’t happen overnight, actually, it’s a long term 3-6 month journey and as I’ve previously written about in ‘Who’s got your back’, trial and errors is part of the new learning’s game. I’m not suddenly expecting to walk into a room feeling less awkward, especially after a long plane flight that has me physically reminded of my stature or dress for a special occasion without the drama of exposed ankles. For me now, I’ll still use the same mental energy I previously used to now reshape my cognition’s to focus on positive, lasting change, you can help kick start that same desire in your staff by downloading my guide How to encourage your staff to think about their health & wellbeing.
Healthy Happy Staff is a self-managed behaviour change program with a dedicated week on Barriers to Change; you and your staff will be encouraged to identify and positively shift personal barriers while gaining the inherent benefits of peer coaching in the workplace during the programs six month access period.
A question for you now, though; what barrier is stopping you from achieving or realising your desires intention? What do you hear your staff saying? Is it time to address what’s holding them back?
Health and wellbeing in the workplace needn’t be difficult, costly or time-consuming; it’s a smart investment in your most valuable asset!