How to bring Wisdom into your work day

I recently attended a fantastic one day workshop where the key themes from Wisdom 2.0 2016’s conference were distilled to a varied audience.

It was heartwarming to see the range of people who attended the workshop – from CEO’s to Learning and Development specialists to Culture agents. We shared a common purpose – bring humanity back into work, showing the way for people to fully express themselves and contribute to their workplace.

If you haven’t heard of Wisdom 2.0 – their aim to help people navigate being connected through technology whilst being beneficial to their own wellbeing, effective at work and useful to the world.


Speakers come from a wide range of backgrounds and topics include wisdom in society, education, coaching, mindfulness in tech, politics, business and neuroscience.

Mel Roswell and Gemma Sides led the day, generously sharing insights they gained from their trip to San Francisco. This year’s key themes were emotional intelligence, embodiment and decision making.

Here’s what I took out from the day:


1. We all want to be seen

As the commercial wheels keep turning – driving for revenue, new market growth, improved bottom line, continuous improvement and other standard lingo – we want to contribute not only our skills and talents – but be recognised for who we are.

Be more present, more aware and able to share more fully our humanness at work.

How we choose to show up varies as much as the unique thumbprint we all have. This brings up the interesting topic of how vulnerable one can be in a workplace setting. We crave authenticity. We want real, straightforward conversations that skip bullshit and propaganda.

How do we balance that with “too much information?” One of the useful analogies discussed was thinking of vulnerability as a scale and depending on the situation and message, you move up and down – being ‘more’ or ‘less’ vulnerable. It’s not about vulnerability being a light switch where it’s definitively ON or OFF.


2. The power of a pause

Whilst we’re often taught to stay quiet and sit with the silence when there is a lull in the conversation – what isn’t shared as strongly is the power of pausing to gather and collect our thoughts before making the next step.

You may have heard this sentiment expressed in different ways – take a deep breath, count to 3, practice a quick mindfulness exercise – they are striving to the same outcome – making our brains pause.

Our amygelda brain, designed for our survival and the part of our brains that has not advanced – still interprets threats as danger signs. It can’t distinguish the difference between a hostile conversation, being advised that a client won’t be signing the large contract you were holding out for, a valued employee resigning, or an armed attack. Your body responds to the threat the same way each time and herein lies the power of mindfully pausing.

There are two parts to this. The first is to pause. The second is to observe.

The pause creates the space to allow observation to come in, halt our lizard brain from responding from a perceived ‘threat’ position and then take action.

There were various ways this was shared through the day (STOP – stop, take a breath, observe, proceed) as an example. The underlying principle is the same.


3. Emotional intelligence is an ongoing learning

The exercise was simple enough – people to position themselves through the room where they saw themselves on a scale of 0-5 with 5 being emotionally positive and in control of our feelings.

Most people clustered around the middle – herein lies a story. We’re not broken – but we’re not fully ontop of things either. So why do we expect people to behave that way at work when we haven’t been equipped with the right tools as we grew up? It takes years to undo the messages that society has given us – don’t show weakness, it’s not appropriate to laugh too loudly, swearing is unprofessional, showing anger isn’t appropriate etc.

Apart from being told how we need to be professional, temper our emotions at work – how many of us have truly been educated in managing the many emotions that we go through on a daily basis? Embracing our experience of being humans, whilst balancing back to the requirements of our environment takes courage, authenticity and self-awareness to live this more fully.


4. Name it to tame it

The exercise was simple – think of ONE emotion that you’re feeling right now….

And guess what – most of us had a jumble and it took a moment or so to land on the ONE emotion. That’s perfectly understandable given the many emotions that we can experience on a daily, never mind hourly or moment-by-moment basis.

The key outtake from this was to recognise and name the emotion. Whilst you may feel and experience the emotions – you are not the emotion itself.

This is a subtle yet crucial shift as to how we experience our days. I feel angry, calm, disappointed, frustrated, happy etc – but I am not anger, calmness, disappointment. The emotions are part of my humanness, but do not define me as an individual.


There were many more – but for me these resonated most strongly – for us as individuals who want to make a difference and the kind of workplace I would hope to see happening more and more as workplace wellness and humanity is embraced as a necessary part of success.


What did you get from the article and what aspects resonated the most with you? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

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