it’s all #fakenews …

As human beings we live in two worlds.

There is the external physical world. The world where we can touch a tree, watch a wren dart from shrub to shrub, scratch our elbow when it itches.

Then, there is the world of our mind and imagination. The world where we can feel hurt by what that person said and imagine what they meant. We can dream about our tomorrow and recall distorted truths of our past. A world where we believe the stories and myths of our mind. Our own fake news generator, if you will.

This second world is a virtual reality that can appear and feel just as real as the external physical world. The shoulds and musts are powerful, motivating, compelling.  Indeed, when it comes to your emotions and your imagination, the virtual world of your mind can be more real than the real world.

Our mind seems to muddle these two worlds. What is true? What is real? What is imagined? What is story? What is fake?

It seems too that our society is slowly shifting to value this second virtual world more than the first real, physical world.

For now it seems, in our modern media enabled world, we not only create our own virtual stories and myths, not only listen to those of our family and friends – those we might meet within the real world – now, we are bombarded by the stories, myths and imaginations of billions of others from around the globe. Real people we will never meet, with all their distorted stories of self and associated experience.  And we believe them. Or respond to them. Or worry about them. Or take them on as ours.

Recently, I read that more than 15% of Twitter’s 319 million users were not human. So not only are we engaging with the thoughts of other people, people we don’t know; we are listening to robotic programmed outputs from 48 million unknown devices. All adding to the melting pot of real and unreal, true and imagined, solid and distorted.

Yet each interaction is enhancing our own virtual sense of the truth. Augmenting our own thoughts and emotions. Building a more complex, layered perception of self, our place in the world and all its global dangers and intents. Causing us to be more curious, more mentally stretched, yes. Enticing us to respond, to debate. Yet also to worry, to feel pressurised, scared even. It drives a need to know. A need to be part of. Inclusion not exclusion. Powerful emotional draws deep within our ancient animal brain.

I wonder if this contributes to the rise in mental health and well-being issues? I wonder what this holds for our future as a species?

The internet increasingly drives our lives. You’re using it now to read this. We read reviews of products from unknown people and trust them. We read tweets from unknown people and respond to them, emotionally, cognitively. We scan page after page of Facebook posts, skipping across our timeline like a never ending movie.

You are reading this blog. In one sense it’s not real.

I am of course.

But these thoughts are the creations from within my mind, my virtual world. True, you can choose to ignore them. You might see reason in them. You might concur. You might though, above all else, wonder what else you interact with in the world that isn’t real?

Challenge yourself to be curious; to question what you hold in your head and how that in turn impacts your thinking and how you feel. Is it real? Is it your imagination? Or is it a distortion of someone, or something, that doesn’t serve you well in maintaining your mental and emotional well-being? Maybe anything that does that, whether true or not, is the real fake news?

Maybe take time to stand with your hand on a tree.  Ground yourself.  The tree is real.

Go well people.

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do organisations have emotions?

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We were contemplating this today.

As human beings so much of what we do is driven by a felt sense, gut, emotion. We combine this with cognitive thinking; adding reason, logic, judgement. Together these ‘brains’ afford us sense making, a motivation, value, direction.

Organisations are good at the cognitive often. The logical behind the vision, the strategy, the goals, the measurement, the success. By and large, organisations try to connect with employees cognitively. They are often not so good at connecting with the individual’s emotions. They talk about engagement or about hearts and minds, but attempt to influence, inspire and manage these cognitively with data, plans, employee surveys, roll-outs.

And what of the organisation itself? Does it have a system brain over and above the collective brains of the component people? And does it have its own emotions?

Systemic Constellations theory might suggest it does. The system behaves according to its own needs, maintaining the integrity and balance of the system itself. So, if that’s true and if it’s working well, is the system pleased, happy, excited? If the system is struggling to maintain itself, does it get upset, annoyed, disillusioned?

If organisations do have feelings, how do we engage with those and what are the implications for the workplace?

a new anxiety…

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I’ve been noticing how modern technology reminds us.

Some of this is helpful, but generally technology reminds us to catch up. Reminds us of what we’ve missed or not done. In this way it unconsciously builds a sense within us of being behind. It gives us an always on reminder; a visual or auditory ‘shove’ to encourage us to catch up.

My inbox tells me how many ‘unread emails’ I have.  It doesn’t tell me how many I’ve read today or how many I’ve responded to, or the hours of effort I have invested in my endless communication with those I interact with. No. Instead it reminds me what I still have to do.

My phone alerts me to ‘missed calls’.  Raising in me a sense that I’ve let someone down or maybe missed an important person or message. It nudges me towards a message, a voicemail the person has left, and then sends me a text in case I ignore the other signals I have been sent. It is like my phone is constantly whispering ‘Come on, come on, keep up’.

Meanwhile all my technology reminds me I have ‘updates’ – even my TV.  I’m always out of date it seems. Missing some vital feature or fix to make me ever more capable, or ever more efficient. Now, my i-phone and i-pad, not only tell me I have updates, but if I say I’m not ready to install them they say ‘shall I remind you later today?’  Nooooo!

The failure. The pressure. The anxiety.

What has happened here?

 

emotional culture

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Many organisations pay attention to cognitive culture rather than emotional culture.

They attend to the known things such as values, goals, objectives, rules and policies. They measure employee achievement in terms of these and they pay attention to employee behaviour in this context; are you doing what is required and are you doing it the right way?

What and how. It’s what many appraisal systems focus on too.

Does your workplace measure the emotional culture though? Do they check in with you on how you’re feeling about work, today, this week, this month? Are people having fun, enjoying their work? Are you happy, sad, demotivated, excited, anxious, enthralled? Does your boss know?

In reality your emotional state is likely to have more impact on your behaviour that a set of cognitive ‘these are the behaviours we expect’. It is also likely to impact your productivity, your performance, your levels of engagement with your work, your sense of wellbeing – physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual – and therefore minimise your days off sick.

How we feel about our work feeds our sense of belonging and our sense of purpose. If we enjoy our work, we get a degree of excitement from doing it, a sense of improvement, achievement and personal growth.

How happy were you at work today?

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