It’s December so forgive me for feeling reflective. I’m actually feeling well proud of everything that Guerrilla has achieved in such a short space of time. And I’m wondering why that is?
So, just as we’re compiling ProperGanda, I notice that on 10 December it’s the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Convention of Human Rights. How timely. So today Matthew, I want to talk about one of those fundamental HUMAN RIGHTS: Autonomy - our right to independence. Our right to choose our own shits and gigs. Our right not to have to OBEY a higher authority. The freedom for us decide for ourselves. And I’m now getting very excited as I’m realising that all of that stuff is close to my heart. More than that, if there was such a thing, autonomy would sit at the centre of a ‘Guerrilla Manifesto’.
For me, the shameless desire to be autonomous runs through my veins and the drive for this, is what connected me to Barry and what we both resolutely want for everyone. This is why we are coaches. This is why we set up Guerrilla. This is why we want freedom for every employee to connect with the essence of who they are and to recognise that they have choice. This is why it works. Because along with the now visible seeds of change within the culture of work, Neuroscience also tells us we’re not wrong.
According to Research by Dan Cable, our brains operate on a ‘seeking system’ which when activated, enables us to find joy in the jobs we do. In other words, to find stuff out for ourselves; to be led by our ideas; curiosity and passions. We become ALIVE when we’re empowered and rewarded, especially in the workplace. Autonomy is a human given.
The trouble is, organisations, the more traditional ones anyway, get a little nervous of giving their people too much autonomy. We might mess things up, waste time, waste money, have bad ideas or start trying to take over. Well I say this to you traditional organisations out there, autonomy will enable your people to GET THINGS RIGHT, SAVE TIME, MAKE MONEY, HAVE GREAT IDEAS and TAKE OVER!
These are great things for innovation and growth. Great things for moving things forward. It IS a Human Right to be allowed to express your ideas, see your ideas through and be rewarded for the added benefit these ideas bring. It’s actually not rocket science.
We have found that by having ‘in the moment’, positive, empowering conversations with all sorts of people in organisations, their light bulbs have been firing up. Their eyes look up to the left and they start imagining. They start creating. They start thinking. And I’ll tell you this. It's THE MOST BEAUTIFUL thing to watch, and an absolute honour to be able to facilitate.
Let’s get this Human business Right.
Peace and Love
I don’t do stress. I see everyone else doing it and I’m thinking ‘NO THANK YOU!’ I would rather stick needles in my eyes than have a big moment shrieking, drawing attention to myself and deal with all the angst that would follow. I ain’t got time for none of that. Life is waaaaaaaaay to short. Its not that I don’t bump into stressful situations, but when I do, my reaction is to decompress. To go calm. To lock down, observe, learn .. say nothing.
Of course, there are exceptions to this. But I seem to skip the whole stress thing and go straight to anger. Like when I’m driving the car. I know, I know … my very, very bad.
I think I ‘don’t do stress’ because I grew up with my mum stressing left, right and centre. Everything was a drama. Voices were permanently raised, fear and put downs reigned. I didn’t like it one little bit because, in all the sodding, bloody drama, I was lost. Invisible. My voice was not only never heard, it never even featured and I decided for my life to be a happy one, I was going to do the opposite. No drama. No stress. Listen to the underdog.
Great. My plan worked! Or has it? Nooooo. Obviously not. By not overtly showing my stress, I internalise it. Without telling a soul. Keeping it to myself. There is no open valve to extinguish the pressure and guess what. I have now got an auto immune disease, had two knee replacements and inject myself weekly with a biologic drug and take lethal tablets to lower my immune system. Recent studies show that stress is a key indicator in waking up cells that cause inflammation and disease in the body and in avoiding acknowledging that stress even exists in my life … my body has called my bluff.
It's nearly 9am. I have meditated, have coffee on the go and attempting to get back into a healthy routine. Gym was on the list for this morning too, but small steps and all.
It's wonderfully quiet, peaceful and the sun is beaming though the kitchen window onto the table top. Beautifully autumnal but warm as toast.
So, here I am in my kitchen drinking from my Guerrilla Experience mug. How lovely.
Today is World Mental Health Day and it feels the right time, and opportunity to pause and reflect on this journey that I am on.
Hand on heart the place that I am currently in is completely and utterly the best place I have ever been in. I'm not looking back, I'm not looking forwards, I'm just content and satisfied with where I am in this precise moment - sat in my kitchen. I'm not bragging, it's just refreshing to be able to say that. I haven't always been able to say that.
On January 25th 2016 I stood in the this very kitchen and planned, attempted and ultimately failed to end my life.
For an accumulative and collective bunch of reasons I had allowed myself to think, not only think, but rationalise with perfect clarity (or so it felt), that the best and ultimate solution to the pain I was feeling, and the disappointment I had brought to everyone around me, was to tap out. To let the world and everyone in it carry on without the burden of having to have me in it. It was a selfless act. Or so it felt. Anyone who claims suicide is selfish has a long way to go to understand what is going on in the head of someone contemplating this decision.
I don't want to fill this present space with dark details, but let me just say that, when you're a solutions person, as I am, sometimes you have to look at the worst case scenario. Sometimes it does genuinely feel as though you have no other option. Sometimes your brain exhausts you so much that it knows it needs to power down. Mine was a mixture of childhood difficulties and teenager difficulties, that ultimately lead to me running, very fast, into danger, carelessness and self hate. (side note: Mothers out there - you are doing an amazing job. You are enough for your children. Just as you are. Now, put your arms around your babies and tell them you love them and that they are enough as they are).
I wanted to write this piece as a reflection back from where I am today. Alive. Happy. Successful. Loved and loving. It is possible.
I can, without doubt, lay the responsibility of saving my life down to two people. One, my flatmate at the time whose innocence and wonderfully bright eyed freshness to London, at that time, acted as an unbeknown hitch in my plan. He was starting out on his journey here, the beginnings of a big city adventure that didn't need to be punctuated by, an ever burnt on image, of me, hanging in the kitchen over a pool of blood. I needed to be strong for him. So thank you Tom. To this day I'm not sure you know what went on that night, and the subsequent weeks, but please now know that your green green grass smile from Wales saved me that night.
And secondly, Dr Ibison of Minute Green Surgery, of NHS amazingness. When my back up plan also failed and my utter desperation and frustration resulted in me completely losing it (cos planning to hang yourself from the kitchen ceiling isn't, OK!) your pure love, warmth, time and patience got me into the care system I needed, and ultimately the medication I needed. You sat and monitored me all day with constant tea, biscuits and kindness, and eventually when you were able to have organised all your other patients, you came with me in the taxi to A&E and waited with me until I was seen. You did all the talking and offered me the simple maternal loving warmth, through your smile, that I had been lacking for so many years. You literally saved my life that day. Thanks doesn't cut it.
So here I am now. 37. Drinking coffee out of my 'exclusive' The Guerrilla Experience mug. The company that I have since set up with the most incredible woman, gobshite and friend - Teresa Klasener. Between us we have written a new set of rules on how to live and work - in fact there's only one - Enjoy it. Everyday we are laughing, and if we are not laughing, we are making sure as hell we will be tomorrow. That makes us sound like cartoon maniacs, but honestly, if it's not bringing us goodness, we are not doing it. Goodness no.
The Guerrilla Experience is simple. People need people. Who ever you are. What ever story you have been living, whatever script you have been acting out. Underneath it all, the (and yes, I will use this word) magic behind what happens when people are in ACTUAL contact with other people is literally life saving.
We are not attempting to 'cure' mental health - it's not something that needs fixing. We all have problems, we all deal with them in our own ways. But just keep an eye on it. Try not to get run over. Try not to get diabetes. Try not to have a heart attack. Try not to sabotage everything by ignoring your mind. It WILL help talking to someone. I guarantee it.
We are not attempting to save lives. We are just reminding you that more often than not, simple is best. Humans need other humans. We are not cyborgs or robots yet, so until we are, let's stop acting like them. We don't need to be the most efficient. We don't need to be the fastest, the smartest, the most successful. We don't need to 'hack' life. We don't need to be Google searching the apps, tips and tricks to be as good, if not better, than the next image in our feed.
Stop searching. Stop moaning. Start living.
The answer is not right in front of your face, it is your face. The skill is to just go find another. You don't even need to say anything/ Just smile, drop the shoulders, take a long slow deep breath, sit back and know, deep inside, from your gut, that you are going to be OK. We are going to be OK.
The person opposite you is as much of a fuck up as you are. Yes, you heard me. They are as much of a fucking superstar as you are.
The funny thing is, you already know all of this don't you? Yes you do! So, what's stopping you?
Thanks to resident Guerrilla Barry for kicking us off with our first blog. Amongst all the Coaching and People Development we do, we're taking on Identity Coaching as our personal crusade. It'll all make sense when you've read the blog but in a nutshell ... why not live the life you deserve to live? Be the person you are? Everybody else is taken.