What is Wellbeing?
The thing about wellbeing is that it's a very amorphous thing. It's a thing that means different things to different people. It's a thing that can mean something different to you today than it means to you tomorrow.
What we do know is that wellbeing isn't something that necessarily can be achieved. I like to look at it as a journey rather than as a destination. And wellbeing is the balance of a number of things, and how those things balance depending on outside influences that can change over days or weeks.
The big people, the big, very famous, very, very well researched people whose work I like to use, I reference and I use in my work, there are two main people who I talk about when I talk about wellbeing. First and foremost is Dr. Jim Harter of the Gallup organisation. Gallup started out as a research organisation. Gallup conducted a large range of pieces of research about many things covering many areas. And Gallup now is a large American incorporation, and they have turned not just from being a research organization, but they're now also a consultancy organisation. So they use the research that they've conducted to then make suggestions about and make hypotheses about things they've done.
The second of my trusted sources is Simon Sinek. What Simon Sinek doesn’t know about emotional intelligence, about the needs of being an awesome leader, a leader in your own life, as well as a leader in an organisation. What Simon doesn’t know and doesn’t genuinely Express around how to treat people and how to get the best from people isn’t worth knowing. And so between Simon and Dr. Jim Harter, and is where I find most of the theory behind the techniques that I help people put in practice.
Now, one of the big pieces of research they did was, what is wellbeing, if Gallup can do it, well, why not everybody else? And what Gallup found was, in order to assess a life well lived, in order to assess “What do we mean by wellbeing?”, there were five key areas where people's lives, and the scale that they define themselves on in that area of their life, helped to demonstrate best, as far as Gallup were concerned, what wellbeing meant. And those five areas that Gallup use are Financial Wellbeing, not necessarily being a millionaire, but do you have access to enough income, enough money in your life, to make you feel comfortable, to make you feel secure in that, you know you have a roof over your head, and you know that you have enough certainty around that income coming in on a regular basis that you know, you can do what you need to do to live.
The second area is around Social Wellbeing. Social, not just being going out, but social being around how much access do we have to people who we love, and to people who love us, and to friends and to family and to social interaction.
The third area was Community Wellbeing. This is the one that regularly gets forgotten. But how much access and how much, how do we rate our wellbeing in our local community or in the communities in which we operate? How well are we able to take part in life as part of a community that might not be where you live, but it might be, for example, a lifestyle type community or a community that is linked to one of your hobbies. For example, you might well be part of a running club, but you don't just turn up to do the running, you want to help with the organising of it. And you also help with that. How much access do you have to being able to contribute to and to make better the community around you.
So we've got Financial, we've got Social, we've got Community.
Career wellbeing - so again, not as you might automatically imagine, but career wellbeing is how much do you like what you do on a daily basis? That could be as well for my 13 year old daughter as it could for my 74 year old retired dad. It's not just about the paid work that you do. It's about how happy are you? How satisfied are you? How fulfilled are you? How exercised are you? How challenged are you? How successful are you? How well do you feel about the thing that you do on a daily basis?
And the fifth part of wellbeing is Physical Wellbeing. So not necessarily, are you able to run a marathon? Are you a Yoga Queen? But how physically are you well, how free from the burden of disease are you? How well are you able to do the things you want to do on a daily basis. Now, obviously, some of these things are subjective. I am quite happy not being able to run a marathon albeit, I would be very worried if I couldn't walk to my own front door. So how I measure my own physical wellbeing may be very different to how somebody else would measure their physical wellbeing, albeit with the same level of ability as me. A lot of this is subjective, depending on how important that particular area is in your life.
I certainly more recently would suggest that there is a sixth area of wellbeing and that is Psychological Wellbeing. So How comfortable are you with the company of your own mind, with the thoughts, with the stories you're telling yourself. How kind are you to yourself? How well are you emotionally and psychologically?
So I would argue that What is Wellbeing? Well, wellbeing isn't specifically any one of these things. But your wellbeing definitely would be impacted by a significant growth or a sudden growth, or a significant deficit, or a sudden deficit in any one of these areas.
And so when I talk about a balance, a lot of what you might perceive your wellbeing as, relies upon how important are these areas to you, and in what quantities, and what is that balance. So for example, it might be that financial wellbeing to you is less important than social wellbeing. So you have the aspiration of knowing that you have financial security, that says that you can live the life you live, but actually, you can very comfortably achieve that kind of wellbeing on a £30,000 a year salary, for example.
It might be that financial wellbeing to you is actually really important, financial wellbeing is the thing that is yours. And really, that's the success marker by which you judge yourself or you want to be judged by others. And so financial wellbeing at £30,000 a year to others, genuinely is not considered wellbeing and that actually a level nearer £100,000 or £200,000 or whatever it may be, but I hope you get my drift.
There are these six core areas. And if you imagine, I can't remember what the thing’s called, but you can get a child's game. And it's kind of like a platform, and the platform tilts in all different directions. And, you have to keep a balance and you have to keep it upright. Now there will be times where actually you're better balanced with your left foot down and your right foot up, but with your weight shifted in a different way. So that balance, that equilibrium, will be very different for me than it is for somebody else. It also will be very different for me today than it might be next week or next month. Because when one area gets impacted, we need the others to help balance out the imbalance while we get that one area back on track.
So I’ve kind of tried to explain to you what I mean when I talk about wellbeing, even if you use those same six areas of wellbeing, you could also relate those to your workplace.
So yes, you need to have career stability, and you need financial stability, you need some kind of social stability in the workplace. And you absolutely need some kind of community. And you do need some kind of physical wellbeing.
How do we apply all of those areas of wellbeing to our workplaces? Which then allow the people who we work with and alongside and for and beside and who we are in this movement with. How do we enable all those people around us to up their wellbeing score in all those areas by making work a place that does that?
So my raison d'etre, my why now, is to help individuals and organisations recognise and value the total benefit of putting wellbeing in all of its guises at their heart, and then helping them to do so.
So that's me. That's my why, that’s my very brief rundown of what wellbeing means to me, and what I hope to help it mean to other people. And what I hope to be able to help organisations to do even better is to create cultures where our focus is on enabling people to do their best, not on managing, it's on an empowering basis. So kind of a lifting up, not at squashing.
I heard the amazing Joshua Leigh on a podcast, possibly a year ago, maybe a bit less. And he used a really amazing quote, which I'm really sorry, I can't remember who it was, he was quoting. But he said, a rising tide lifts all boats. And I just think that's such an amazing analogy of how it is that I would like to be able to help organisations and individuals. That in raising ourselves, we help to raise others. So in me being able to raise my own wellbeing, I'm able to help others do the same. If we're able to do that for one person in an organisation, then why not try it across the whole organisation.
And also to recognise that this is a journey, not a destination. There are always going to be things that can be tweaked or changed or improved, or pivoted or looked at differently. And anybody who says their culture is sorted and doesn't need any more work, is going to have some problems a couple of months down the line.
It always needs to be there, it always needs to be on the agenda. We always need to be looking for the way in which we can enable ourselves and everybody around us to just be the best of all of those six different facets that they can be and then absolutely benefit from that in whatever form of life it is that we know them in.
So whether or not it's our friends or colleagues or our bosses, or our employees or our partners or our children or our parents or whoever it is, why don't we make this effort towards finding that wellbeing, finding that balance, driving whatever area it is.
Because when you raise one you raise them all. Raise one area of your wellbeing, you raise the whole thing.
A rising tide lifts all boats