The most important thing is to acknowledge and validate those feelings of exhaustion.- Marty Wilson
IN THE NEWS:
Where did you grow up and who influenced you most?
I grew up in New Lambton and childhood in Newcastle in the 70s and 80s was wonderful. In terms of influence, I was raised by the whole community in my street, which - looking back, was peaceful, settled, and absolutely idyllic.
You are a pharmacist by trade and a former Australian Comic of the Year. That's quite a difference in wage and lifestyle...
I'm actually a third-generation pharmacist - the first five years of my life were behind Wilson's Pharmacy Adamstown and the transition was simple - I was dared into it. I did my first stand up gig at the Harold Park hotel in Sydney, the week after they asked me back, and the third week they paid me. And it was too much fun to not give it a go. I moved to the UK and shared the stage with everyone from Michael McIntyre to Jim Jeffries. It was a wonderful time.
You left both behind to be a speaker on resilience and change. What led you to do that?
I had started writing a book series called What I Wish I Knew, and I was asked to give a keynote speech at an event based on what familiar themes come up when you ask inspirational people what advice they'd give their younger selves. Turns out a big recurring theme is if you want to do life well, most people in my book series says one of the keys to it is to "Do Pain Well" - handle tough times well, and the good times will look after themselves. That got me fascinated about resilience, especially through those pivotal times of change.
What work are you doing with corporate Australia?
For about 14 years I've been working with organisations that want resilient people who power through change, stress and crisis. But more lately, businesses are contacting me about getting business back to business. We've all been flattened by The Rona, but we can't stay curled up in the corner any longer - it's time to go beyond survival and into relaunch, reboot and recovery.
Have the services you offer changed in line with the fallout of three years of living with COVID-19?
I am a keynote speaker who typically opens or closes events, conferences and meetings. So my business completely shut down Feb 2020. My diary for the year was full, then two weeks later it was completely empty. Totally bare. Which was absolutely terrifying. But when you're a resilience speaker you're not allowed to get too whiny about life, so we had to pivot and take my whole business online. It kept the wolf from the door, and it was fun working with companies in the UK and US from my home office, but - because I use a lot of laughter in my speaking - I love that live events are back. People love getting together again.
Many of us feel a bit fatigued and rudderless after dealing with the pandemic, home-schooling, work and family all at once in lockdowns. How are you advising companies to assist staff who do feel that keenly?
The first thing I encourage is for everyone to be completely open about it. The most important thing is to acknowledge and validate those feelings of exhaustion. Giving people permission to be struggling is actually very empowering.
What are the most common behavioural problems that you are being asked to help resolve within businesses?
The word that keeps coming up when I talk to clients is "depleted". Another client said the other day "my people are like trees after a bushfire has gone through - they feel all burnt out on the inside and one push and they'll fall over. They just need to be reminded that they CAN do this." So mainly what I'm being asked to do is that quintessential motivational speech - congratulating people for the grit they have shown over the last couple of years, and encouraging them to use that to not just survive, but build something even better than what we had before.
What is your secret recipe in helping them return to "the new normal"?
So many people spend so much time trying to exert control over things that are way out of their circle of influence: Ranting at the television, whingeing about legislation, being a keyboard warrior on social media. Instead, spend all your energy concentrating on how you manage your own thoughts and actions.
You are speaking at the Newcastle Business Club on July 5. What are you going to be covering?
If you and your people are really struggling after the last couple of years, feeling like "it's just all too much and I've got nothing left" bring them along. I guarantee you'll walk out with some mindset adjustments and actionable strategies to move forward. And, because I'm a former Australian comic of the year, I promise it'll be a lot of fun as well.
What are three quick ways to embrace change and shed fear after such turbulent years?
Keep up your social connections even when you don't feel like it. Ask your friends and colleagues if they are okay, I promise they'll thank you for it. If you're struggling and seek professional help - if you thought you might have a serious cancer you wouldn't ask your mate Barry to have a look at it.
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