PERSONAL RESILIENCE Part 1 Help Others by Helping Yourself
There’s a lot of
self-help literature out there about how helping others is actually a good way
to help yourself. One of our favourite mantras at 5th Wall – one
that is often forgotten in the workplace – works the other way around: ‘Doing
the best by yourself in order that
you can do your best by others’.
Managing yourself is surprisingly difficult. It’s easy to take the attitude that ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’; to assume that since you know you want to be successful, you can trust yourself to always push your hardest to get there, without needing to think strategically about motivating yourself to work. As long as you make enough time, you tell yourself, and waste fewer hours on luxuries like, say, sleep, you can exceed everyone’s expectations.
Then there’s the workaholic’s double standard: the idea that it’s OK for other people to take a break, or to reward themselves, but when it comes to your own work, nothing is good enough. Other people seem to have time to enjoy themselves in the evenings – but they must just have less work to do, right?
So if you’re putting in all this effort, why is it that your productivity isn’t soaring above that of your co-workers?
In fact, by working flat out at maximum capacity, you could be diminishing your productivity, and even making life harder for everyone else, too. You don’t need to feel guilty about turning off your work laptop for a weekend, or leaving work in time to put the kids to bed. By looking after yourself, you’re doing those you work with a favour. Here’s why:
1. Working harder doesn’t always equate to higher productivity. Success isn’t only about putting in long hours; it means playing to your strengths, acknowledging your weaknesses, and resting when you need to. We’re guessing your organisation wants you to be performing at your best. You need to look after yourself in order to do that.
2. Happiness is contagious. Nobody likes a scratchy co-worker, but when you’re stressed – especially when you work closely in a team – it can rub off on other people, reducing morale and affecting the team’s performance. Fortunately, happiness is similarly contagious. So by prioritising your own mood, you’ll be boosting everyone else’s, too.
3. Overworking leads to burnout. The harder you push yourself, the more susceptible you are to stress -- which will eventually have the same effects as prolonged physical strain: you’ll be forced to stop altogether. The 105 million working days lost to stress each year cost UK employers £1.24 million. Investing in your wellbeing can make a significant financial saving.
4. Tired minds make mistakes. At best, this will mean some extra work for you or your colleagues, as you repair the damage. At worst, tired mistakes can cost a company dearly, or even cost you a job. That makes it seem worth getting some rest, doesn’t it?
5. You’ll be setting an example for everyone else. Competing over who goes home last doesn’t do anyone any favours. Especially if you’re a manager, leading by example in how you manage yourself can encourage others to do the same, increasing overall productivity.
6. The answer could be out there. If you’re on a project that makes it feel like you’re constantly hitting a brick wall instead of making progress, a change of scene could provide a solution. It’s amazing what serendipity has helped people achieve throughout history. At worst, looking beyond your computer screen will give your mind a refresher; at best, you could even have a eureka moment of your own.
Look out for the next post in our Resilience mini-series, where we’ll go into exactly what you can do to keep yourself in good working order.