Ask me about my career low light and I can recall it without a trace of hesitation.
It was a spring day in New York. My boss, the owner of the business, had been AWOL all morning, had missed important client meetings and finally showed up in the afternoon, calling me into his office.
It had been a big few weeks. Many of the team had worked fifteen-hour days; we’d recently created a new department and revenue stream for the business, and I’d been promoted into a new role heading up that department.
Stepping into the corner office for what I assumed was a quick de-brief of the morning’s meetings, I was coolly informed I no longer had a job at the company. No explanation. No warning.
It was the business equivalent of being dumped on my arse. And it hurt.
But like any good break up, it taught me a lot, and raised important questions like –
What was I doing working for someone who routinely dressed-down employees in public? Why was I surprised when there had been a revolving door of people in the short year I’d been there? How could I sustain these hours, this pressure, and remain human? What did I really want to do with my one short, precious life?
I began to realise the disconnection between my own measures of what made good work, and the work I was willing to put up with. And I don’t think this is unusual.
Many people stay in jobs they don’t love because they feel they have little choice.
Most people want to contribute more, they just don’t know how.
Every individual has values and a way of living that makes them happy; but many choose to leave this at the office door.
Aren’t we crazy?
After many more great working relationships, fulfilling work and experiencing the benefits of happier workplaces, I made it my mission to reconnect business to people and purpose.
I could clearly see what made a good team hum, and all the pitfalls that came from bad culture. It just made sense.
In fact, anything else is unsustainable – in the true sense of the word – because a business without people or purpose at its heart is generally creating more problems than it’s solving.
Whether that’s long term environmental and community disaster, or the closer-to-home mental illness, conflict and poor quality work that comes from having an unhappy workforce.
But how is this achieved?
Like any great business, it needs some good planning. You need to understand what’s at the heart of the problem you are solving; you need a process for working through the issues; and you need to be willing to take on a new worldview.
I’m convinced that many problems stem from disconnect – a disconnection from nature, a disconnection from each other, a disconnection to our own wisdom and intuition and a disconnection to what really matters (even in our own measure).
I workshop all of these ideas with businesses through my organisation, Make Do Co., where I teach yoga, mindfulness meditation and other thinking tools for change and practical skills for working better together. Our aim is to help organisations grow their third metric and improve their end impact. We also want to help entrepreneurs kick off new ventures that rewrite the definition of success.
“Why yoga for business? Isn’t that for stretching and relaxing?” People sometimes ask.
And they are right to some degree.
The old sages knew that without a healthy body, a healthy mind was almost difficult to attain. They taught that without a clear mind, higher consciousness was impossible to grasp. They knew that without the empowerment of the individual, the betterment of the collective could never be reached. They understood the reality of interconnectedness, the importance of the whole and the need for balance.
There are other schools of thought that understand this too: Permaculture; behavioural design; and non-violent communication are all based on the importance of connection, the strength that comes from addressing every facet of the system.
At Make Do, we offer a series of workshops that integrates the philosophies and design systems above, with the aim of reconnecting business to people and purpose. Topics we teach include: Cultivating calmer minds, making waves with storytelling, practical skills for better workflow and the new measures for impact. You can learn more about what we do here.
At Purpose 2015 I’ll be taking a session on communication, teaching Marshall Rosenberg’s revolutionary framework for speaking with clarity and listening with empathy, an incredible, authentic tool for relationships at work and in life, particularly for leaders.
On Day 1 I will lead a mindfulness meditation session over the lunch break, explaining how it helps people gain clarity, improve their productivity and become more resilient under stress, as well as demystifying the actual process and practice of meditation.
I’ll also be taking a yoga session on the morning of Day 2, teaching mindful movement, self-awareness, discipline and intuition – all qualities we could use more of in the work place!
Finally, I’ll be interviewing keynote speakers, including Malcolm Rands of Ecostore, for my People of Purpose podcast series.
I am honoured to be a part of Purpose 2015, and can’t wait to experience the goods this festival has to offer.
Johanna is the founder of Make Do Co., a small businesses aimed at fostering a culture of change makers empowered to pursue values-led business and purposeful living. Make Do’s aim is to help organisations grow their third metric and improve their end impact on the world. We also want to help entrepreneurs kick off new ventures that rewrite the definition of success. We offer public classes, business learning and immersive retreats. Make Do Co. is the combination of Johanna’s experience in communications, design, lean startup thinking and behavioural design; and her passions for writing, yoga, permaculture, creativity and meditation. She is a certified yoga and meditation teacher, has a Permaculture Design Certificate and continues study in each discipline.
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