Wednesday, 29 May 2019

The Currencies of Wellbeing, Pt. 1: Speak Their Language


Core Education’s recently released ‘Ten Trends’ highlighted wellbeing as one of the rising focuses within the educational sphere. Identifying the current-ness of this topic in many workplace “ecosystems”, they’re quick to conclude that “there is currently no agreed international definition for wellbeing”. A colleague of mine captures this insight rather aptly, stating that “wellbeing is as wide as it is deep”, a sentiment which has been shared in earlier blogs.

Throughout this year, our community of learning has begun exploring wellbeing with the intention of ‘...promot(ing) student and staff wellbeing in the support of learning’. In order to provide structure for the many minds on this journey with us, my co-leader and I chose to draw on the work of Simon Sinek, an author, professor and leadership guru. We have focused in on his model the ‘Golden Circle’. This model is made up of three parts: why, how and what. The logic behind it suggests that, by starting with your why - your purpose - ensures greater investment in your how and what.

Though the nature of this has been slightly adapted, the heart remains. Alongside the leaders in our community, we have investigated two of the “golden circles” three components: why and what. Our intent is to now discover ‘how’ we can help both staff and students to improve their wellbeing, to flourish. Over the coming weeks, there will be a series of posts unpacking this final part. While pondering and planning the content within this series, an analogy began to emerge: currencies. Defined as a system of exchange, currency highlights the desired outcome of ‘how’, namely, the exchange of action for wellbeing.  With that in mind, let us begin.

Currency #1: Speak their Language

A common thread within wellbeing is relationships - those who we are involved with, support and are connected to. It’s not difficult to pinpoint people in your life, with whom you relate, that have positively influenced your wellbeing. Given the pivotal nature of people in our success and development, it makes sense to know them well and relate to them in a manner that helps us all to flourish. One way to achieve this is to speak their language. To help us explore the languages in which we speak, it is important to understand who a person is, which we will explore through the lens of ‘personalities’.

There are several prominent ‘personality frameworks’ which exist in our world.  Giving clarity to the complexity of human qualities, personality frameworks help to classify and quantify who we are. Understanding not only who you are, but who those around you are, provides you with the tools to effectively communicate, encourage and support them. Though I believe that a framework cannot capture the entirety of someone - as we are beautifully nuanced in our only-ness - I believe that it offers a common language to start a conversation around what we need to “be well”., to flourish

Though there are many frames we could choose from, today we will be exploring the work of Allison Mooney, a renowned speaker and personality expert. There are four personalities in Mooney’s framework: playful, peaceful, powerful, and precise. The motivations, strengths and needs differ between these personalities. Here is a brief peek into these profiles:

Playfuls - driven by their desire to have fun, these enthusiastic, funny and loud types thrive on socialisation, conversation and connection. With a gracious streak, playfuls enjoy the moment they’re in. To see them flourish, playfuls often need “attention, affection and approval”.

Powerfuls - naturally assertive, these decisive types find deep satisfaction in what they’ve accomplished and created. Often characterised by their strength and efficiency, they tirelessly work to achieve their goals as quickly as humanly possible. To see them flourish, powerfuls often need “credit, loyalty and appreciation”.

Precise - diligence and accuracy are the fruits of labour for these structured, ordered and organised types. Taking pride in the procedure or routines they’ve enacted with a self-sacrificial nature often places their work ahead of play until the job is completed to their standards. To see them flourish, precise types need “space, silence and sensitivity”.

Peacefuls - driven by their namesake, these patient, steady and forgiving types thrive on diplomacy and avoid conflict where possible. With natural inner strength and relatability to those around them, they find themselves easily fostering teamwork. To see them flourish, peacefuls often need “respect, value and harmony”.

Given the complexity of humans, people will rarely find themselves solely in one category. There will be qualities that each of us possesses which span the four profiles above, however, there will be one to two dominant types. Allison Mooney’s book “pressing the right buttons” provides a template that can be used to highlight one’s profile, however, most could place themselves somewhere within these four categories.

Even though similarities connect these different profiles, each of them, better yet each of us, operate and communicate in a unique way. Each of us flourishes in a unique way. Knowing the needs of these types, take a moment to examine the way you’ve been communicating with others and the way others have been communicating with you. Are you speaking the same language?

Henry Ford said that “coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is a success”. We’re all in this together and the nature of our career won’t let us escape our togetherness. But together, in and of itself won’t always suffice, especially if what we need to flourish isn’t being offered or communicated. So as we move forward, taking responsibility for this knowledge, let us revisit this question and attempt to make the answer a resounding yes - are you speaking the same language; their language?

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