fleur heazlewood resilience wellbeing

Why wellbeing should be top priority for high performers

Leadership expert Fleur Heazlewood says developing resilience and maintaining a healthy wellbeing will lead to higher performance in all areas of life.

Fleur is founder of the Blueberry Institute, and joined Bushy Martin on the Get Invested podcast to talk about how people can reclaim their wellbeing, avoid burnout and thrive in all aspects of life.

What is resilience and wellbeing?

Fleur defined resilience as ‘your ability at the simplest level to be able to positively adapt to change and adversity’. She emphasised that everybody has the ability to apply a level of resilience.

“Many of us have grown up thinking resilience is something you have or something you don’t. But actually, all of us are born with some levels of resilience. There are just people that are better at it than others. But resilience is also a set of skills. So one of the great things about resiliency is you can learn and you can develop and you can become better at resilience. And one of the things that the research shows us is, when you increase your overall resilience, it’s easier to continue to do your best under pressure and to maintain a positive approach to life,” she said.

Fleur said her definition of wellbeing is “feeling good, functioning well, and being able to live your life the way you want”. It isn’t a one size fits all – every person will have their own definition based on what’s important to them.

Once you understand what wellbeing means to you, different resilience strategies can be determined, based on your strengths and weaknesses, and used to get different results and support your needs, depending on what you’re looking to achieve.

Why you need to put wellbeing before performance

One of the biggest challenges is people perceiving healthy wellbeing as the reward for performance, when it needs to be the other way around.

“When we put our happiness, health and wellbeing first, then all of the performance measures – creativity, innovation, productivity, our relationships at work and outside of work, and our ability to problem solve – will improve,” Fleur said.

“Wellbeing should be the way that we do things. It isn’t something that should be added to our never-ending task list as another project. And so when I hear about wellbeing programs it concerns me, because how is offering lunchtime yoga going to help me reduce some of my 60 hours a week of work and reduce my stress?

“Many of us don’t take the time to think through what it is that makes us feel good. We’re also not focusing on the functioning-well bit and we tend to put the things that are personal to us last on the list. And so I encourage people to look at wellbeing as a foundation for performance and a foundation for a good life, not as something that we deserve after we’ve done all of our other obligations.”

Three key resilience ingredients

Fleur explained the three types of resilience skill sets that will ensure you have the ability to perform successfully within a busy work environment and also go home to enjoy family, friends, hobbies and everything else that is important to you.

The first two are emotional agility and mental adaptability.

“So emotional agility is about supporting us to act, rather than to react, when we’re faced with pressure and we start to feel our stress temperature gauge rising within us. So it’s a set of simple skills that are going to help us better manage pressure, stress, and the situational roadblocks that turn up on a day-to-day basis. So it’s very much around that understanding and managing our emotions and creating space between what’s going on and how we react to that,” she said.

“Then mental adaptability is a great way of being able to manage challenging changes – things like restructures at work or changes in family circumstances – in a way that’s going to be healthy and helpful, as opposed to being consumed with anxiety, worry and rumination. So within this skill set is things like being able to take multiple perspectives, including being able to determine what’s in your control, what you should focus on, and what to let go of that might be out of your control. Things like mindfulness and meditation practises sit in here because they help us to work out the facts from the fiction within the stories that our minds make up when we’re concerned about things that we don’t have a lot of information on.”

The third ‘ingredient’ is optimising energy, which is about ensuring you have sustainable daily practices in place.

“It’s about having the small things that are going to ensure our emotional, mental, social and physical wellbeing are being looked after,” Fleur said.

“I’m tending to avoid the term ‘self-care’ now because many people still say things like, ‘oh what have you done for your self-care in terms of a massage’ or something. That’s a band-aid type of thing. So optimising energy and making sure that you are fuelling your wellbeing is very much more around creating daily sustainable habits and having the one percenters that are going to make sure you are well on an ongoing basis.

“And it’s very much around putting boundaries around the things that are important and enforcing those boundaries. Many people think burnout is a result of not being in balance. But managing your energy and wellbeing is very much around the boundaries, and where we tend to find ourselves getting closer to burnout is when we are managing too much of all those expectations and we’re not supporting our own energy needs.”

The performance benefits for investors

Developing these resilience skills and a healthy wellbeing will see investors have greater clarity and make better decisions – all leading to sustained success.

“From my own experience, when you are looking after your physical health, your mental health, and you have strong relationships, you’ll have more energy to go out and research and look at more options. You’re more creative and you’re more innovative when looking at the different things that are going to best suit your financial and wealth needs. You’ll also have the courage to take greater leaps of faith and try out different investment options. So naturally, you’re going to make better decisions ,” Fleur said.

“On the other hand, when we’re under stress and we’re not sleeping well, our personal decisions are sort of squeezed into the cracks of life. What we find is that our brain moves into fight, flight or freeze mode, and our actual ability to think and reason and to consider options outside of the here and now is significantly reduced.”

Listen to the full interview here.

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