To master any skill one must immerse themselves in their work, for experience and education are tightly woven. I believe a well-being practitioner is no different. A career in well-being is a career of service to others. Helping a specific person or group to regain balance and stability through facilitating sessions and resources to live a better life.
For me personally my formal education is in interpersonal and organizational communication (Pepperdine University), but as a curious lifetime athlete and living in Southern California, I was privy to some of the best physical performance coaches in the world. A decade later I now hold several certifications in exercise physiology, massage and somatic therapies, nutrition, NLP, meditation and mindfulness. I’ve also had the luxury of studying with many master teachers of the healing arts throughout my lifetime who have imparted their wisdom through countless hours of apprenticeship in life coaching, meditation, and healing movement like tai chi.
As a well-being practitioner I’ve worked with organizations to help transform the mental and physical health of employees by facilitating workshops, challenges and regular sessions with companies in many verticals: law offices, film and music studios, hospitality and tech. I also work with personal clients globally to help them develop their well-being life skills, and live a more balanced and prosperous life.
Can you tell us how you became interested in well-being?
If I were to look back and tell you a bit more about myself, I think I would start with when I was a junior conflict mediator on the grade school playground. I vividly remember helping my classmates find mutual agreements to playground confrontations. Years later, when I left university with a degree in communication, I found that the foundational strategies I had used on the playground weren’t far from the resolution tactics used by expert mediators. At that time, I was growing up in a very athletic household. My dad was into martial arts. My mother taught me how to play baseball, and I ended up playing though university. I started my career as a personal trainer and worked with celebrities and movie producers in preparation for their film roles. That quickly turned into facilitating well-being and nutritional guidance, injury recovery and prevention, mindfulness and even crisis management. My clients asked me questions about challenges they were facing, both personally and professionally, and I developed programs and methodologies to meet their needs. Well-being became my focus, and helping others to achieve well-being became my passion.
Why is it vital that a business has a well-being focus?
I believe that well-being is a life path, and I think businesses should walk this path as well. Well-being defines the ecosystem that makes up the business, the parts that create the whole, so to speak. Lack of awareness leads to possible distrust, dishonesty and resentment within teams. In a city, if the garbage truck doesn’t come to pick up the trash it piles up. Subsequently neighbors may become resentful. The same can happen in a business among team members. When the pieces of the whole aren’t functioning optimally results aren’t as successful as they could be. All businesses should aim to balance the equation and seek out data that informs them when a part of the system is in distress. This will help teams restore the life blood of any successful endeavor, including focus, energy and the ability to create amazing things.
How do you help businesses improve their performance through well-being?
Like I said previously, I believe well-being is a path we all walk, one by one and collectively. In order to better our lives and our businesses, we must become more present in our current state of health, mental and physical, and then address long term challenges to well-being that may become roadblocks for the individual, the team or the company. My role is to help facilitate and implement strategies through videos focused on well-being, live virtual events, articles, personal sessions and tailored team mood and creativity boosters. Each team is unique, and I appreciate the chance to meet many people who champion well-being as a major part of their life.
What advice would you give to someone looking to improve workforce well-being?
This question reminds me of Mari Kondo, the popular minimalist organizer. If a strategy doesn’t bring joy, then it is not worth keeping. Any successful workplace well-being tool or strategy should be joyful for employees, seamless and in congruence with the team and individuals it is meant to help. By better understanding the workforce’s well-being weaknesses and strengths, a company can steer it’s well-being programs to facilitate a positive and consistent experience.
What aspects of everyday work-life place the most pressure on a person’s well-being?
I think the hardest part of everyday work-life is managing the different hats people wear. No one is just an employee, or just a boss. Many people have loved ones they care for and/or children they’re raising. Some people have second jobs or volunteer their time to be of service in their communities. Juggling these roles can be exhausting and overwhelming at times. It’s important to help people segue between the roles they have to play by implementing mindfulness strategies. Regular meditation and other forms of self-care are useful tools to come back to balance.
Have you seen any changes in corporate attitudes to well-being?
I definitely have seen changes, and I foresee many more in the near future. Well-being strategies in corporations have focused on injury & health prevention, offering employees the resources to take control of their health and physiological challenges, and decreasing liability. The problem with this strategy is that the ROI on these programs is low. Research shows that employees aren’t getting better and the markers for stress are increasing. I see a new strategy emerging to replace prevention with vitality. Strategies and programs that promote a vital, rich life will take the lead. No more fad diets and workout programs that help people for only a short time. Instead, programs with vitality at their core will reward users for developing healthy habits. They should be easy, fun and accessible so that employees feel that the learning curve is not too high, and that they are resourced to make healthy life changes over time.
How do you think we can manage increased levels of screen time, zoom calls, smart phone checking better?
It’s a bit of cat-mouse, right? Ideally we should spend less time on screens, but the reality is that most people, including me, spend hours in front of a screen daily, and it’s not going away. I always tell my clients, it’s better to choose time to recover than have it forced upon you. What I mean is, to offset the extent of our screen time, it’s important to have time-outs, even if it’s only 90 seconds. Take a walk around the house, go outside and watch the clouds, close your eyes and breathe consciously. A little goes a long way. Help your body remember that recovery is necessary to outlast the screen-time marathon. In addition, I find that products like blue-light blocking glasses are helpful.
Which areas of a business are the most important to establish long term well-being?
I don’t think that any business areas are excluded from the need to establish a long term program for well-being. In fact, I think every business has to consider longevity and vitality because we’ve entered a new era of connectivity and information. Well-being is no longer something to be siloed. Regular snapshots are needed to evaluate how employees are coping with elevated stress levels and role responsibilities. This information is essential to improved decision making and resiliency as a business grows and expands.
How do you manage your own relationship with connected technology?
Technology is a tool to enhance my experience in life, not to hinder it. Connected tech, I feel, has been a missing innovation since the dawn of computers. As a former athlete I enjoy the gamification connected technologies offers, and I also enjoy the fact that I can benefit without making sense of the data directly. It’s important to me to track my health, without obsessing over it. Connecting with myself and others is always my first goal. Connected tech gives me confidence that when I start to notice myself in a negative state I can move through it because I feel resourced to do so. It could be an inspirational meditation, logging a workout or stretch, or just making time to cook a meal instead of eating something pre-made.
For more information on how Darren can help you or your team develop optimum creativity & well-being contact firstname.lastname@example.org or simply reply to this email.