I think I started trying to make a dent in the perception surrounding ‘mental health in business’ because I thought that it was just about men standing up to be counted… 4 years and millions of impressions later I still struggle to comprehend the reality of what I’ve actually found.
At the heart of it we know the stats, the 1 in 4, the “everyone has mental health” etc. You hear them from every green key note speaker, as they regurgitate the phrases we coined in the original movement, before even the big businesses really stood up to take notice, back in the days where you’d likely lose all your clients, or even your job, for speaking out…
But I still think we’re missing the fundamentals.
We talk about mindfulness and meditation, healthy eating, exercise, but we miss for the most part the ethic of every human being, the intent behind the driver.
It’s a risky business this piece behind ethics, because in a sense if you’re not an ’empath’ then how can you truly understand your impact on another human acutely enough to ensure that you’re not a part of the cause?
It’s most likely that the majority of high end mental health campaigners question this on a regular basis in their quest to save the world and change perceptions. But to what avail?
When I started sharing my story just over 4 years ago, I didn’t realistically know what I wanted to achieve. I just knew that only 19% of men at the time would admit to suffering from an issue surrounding their mental health and I knew that it was more likely 2% of that number who actually put their name to it. I also knew that was not good!
At the time, as I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I was fiscally struggling and I also payed too much heed to what other peoples perception of me was in the ‘business community’ and it wasn’t until the stats on mental health rang true, that I thought “f**k this – I’m not going to get any less financially stable and none of those people are going to be there if I end up back on the train track…”
And so began my Joan of Arc moment, with slightly less ‘form fitting’ mental armour and I began to present what I’ve always considered a sort of Dave Gorman, meets Russell Brand’esq story that would engage the ‘every-man’. And by that I mean the every man, woman and beyond.
I wanted to appeal to the masses, the people who face real trauma every day. And to me that didn’t mean that they’d necessary had a knackered upbringing, I just wanted to reach the average Joe, who was suffering the slings and arrows of life, while trying to live within the confines of the lifestyle that’s considered the societal norm.
Fast forward to present day (hundreds of key note speeches, inclusivity & well-being events, individual interactions, multiple millions of views of my videos, articles and the likes later and the dream is still the same in a sense, but the learning is far more evolved.
As a business consultant, specialising in commercial strategy, my job entails working with people, to engage and understand people…
And what that means is that I’m most often asked to connect to an existing team of individuals, to introduce them to new and interesting partners who fit their culture, all the while considering how I make their company more financially & commercial stable by appealing to individuals, who may or may not part ways with incremental revenue based on how well they perceive the company I’m working with and that’s most often down to that companies values.
But it’s deeper than that!
It’s deeper because a companies values are what have been put down on paper, very often by people who don’t even work at the company whose values they’ve defined; also very often by stake holders, who don’t have to impart those values upon those who might fill their coffers.
Also very often there’s no value chain at all, so you have a CEO or leadership team, wafting their finger in the air, based on their personal ethics, social evolution, learned behaviours or perceptions surrounding what humans really want and eventually the Chinese whispered value proposition is engaged & executed by youngsters in their first role, who are already thinking about their second role and what their title might be, or what they’d rather be doing, that actually means something. Then someone throws in an ad spend and you’re off!
What are we doing here?
We’ve already established that well-being encompasses your career, your physical self, the community that surrounds you, the social aspects of your lifestyle and your financial comfortability. But while this is scientifically demonstrable, every human being must engage for us to thrive.
Many people perceive that ego is the key and it is, that’s definitely a major factor in whether you’re a d*ck or not! If we remove that veil of vanity surrounding ones self, then we might more openly approach the world and those around us. But there’s still more to it than that.
Ego explores the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for your personal concept of reality testing and what might offer you a sense of personal identity.
That said, you may still be a good human, especially if you tap into the concept of evolving your state of egoism, people may even be drawn to you, you may find more friends, engage in more positive and constructive social activity, but how long do you spend with the grubby looking guy, with the gnarled hands by the back doorway of Costa that you see every day? My consideration is probably none…
Sure, you’ve perhaps spared some change, but that will just go on drugs or alcohol right? ‘They’ are all do drugs, or drink alcohol obviously… You may even be one of those individuals who has evolved to the point where you get ‘them’ a few sandwiches or a bottle of water, because if you dished out any cash it would obviously go on drugs and alcohol, but you’re better serving them and your ego if you provide sustenance right?!
Sure… that’s not a bad solution, if we set aside the fact that you’re assuming ‘they’ don’t have the capacity to gauge where best to spend their donations… why’s that? Should we assume that you’re good because you provide food, while not passing judgement on your perception of an individuals intellect, based on a visual extrapolation? Do we have the right to pass judgement on you at all? You were just trying to help right?!
Regardless of who you are as an individual, shallow people dwell on the surface of false perceptions and they will always see something sinister in you, regardless of the truth you heart contains. So what’s your truth? Deep within?
Is that too philosophical for a Friday morning? I know you’re still thinking about the chap who’s outside Costa as we speak, waiting for you to evolve further… So let me tell you more about him.
His names Daniel, he’s an architectural engineer turned artist and after the death of his 6 year old son James, who was hit by a car, he started drinking. He’d been there when it happen, he watched him run out into the street after the balloon he let go, that Daniel bought him. Daniel saw him drawn under the car as the soul left his body… Daniel blacked out, collapsed lifeless on the ground shielding his son.
His wife Emily blamed him, he also blamed himself. If he’d not bought the balloon, if he’d been walking on the side nearer the road, if he’d not let go of James’ hand, if they’d not gone out at that time, on that day, in that circumstance, then James would still be alive.
Emily left him. After that he became despondent at work. He was fired. He sat at home, the mail piled up and he eventually lost his house and now he’s here, judged in part by you and everyone else, until perhaps at some point he’s dead, maybe because he’s malnourished in constant varying harsh weather, brought about by humanities consistent need to consume and produce sh*t, or perhaps by the hand of a gang of youth’s, kicked to death for what little dignity remains…
The end at this point is unclear… but I believe we have the ability to shape it!
So what do we know? We know that I’d not have any idea who Daniel was had I not sat down in that doorway with him. We know that if I’d not shrugged off the damp patch on the arse of my 3 piece suit as I sat there, that I’d probably not connected. We know that he probably judged me as I approach, just as I’d have judged him in years gone by. We know that he thought I might throw some change in a state of pity. We know that he’s been able to forgive himself for what happened and that although he will always hold James deep within his heart, that his focus is on a path back to some semblance of reality. We know that he doesn’t drink any more and in fact he never did drugs. And most important of all, we know that he still knows how to laugh… there’s still something electric about his smile, beyond the wispy beard and that when you take a moment to stare into his eyes, you feel that sparkle that once was, you feel that he’s a person who once brought joy to others, before it was ripped away from him by cruel twist of fate…
And if we know all this… Then why don’t we engage with Brian in accounts? Why don’t we genuinely care how Carol in marketing feels after maternity leave? Why do we assume that Mike as the CEO has his sh*t together, does he not warrant being asked if he’s OK, because he was born to lead, or because his pay packet’s bigger?
And why don’t we wait to genuinely care about how they respond to our connection?
We’re too busy running through life to get to the end, that we’ve lost what it means to be present… we treat people like sh*t because we’re selfish, not because we’re cruel… We are the protagonist in our own story, but why are we becoming narcissistic, wouldn’t it look so much better if we made that story more of a montage?
I’ll let you decide for yourself, because I’m not perfect by any stretch, I just care about the answers to the above!