ACTION FOR HAPPINESS course – Swindon, September to November 2017

AFHBooking is now open: Book now

The Action for Happiness course (“Exploring What Matters“) is a unique and inspiring 8-week course to explore what matters for a happy and meaningful life.

The course is based on the latest scientific evidence and is intended for people of all backgrounds, particularly those who would like to see a more positive and caring society.

Each session has a theme, based on a ‘big question’, such as: What really matters in life?  What actually makes us happy? How should we treat others?

Each weekly session lasts for 2 hours. Each session follows the same format, which has been designed to be inspiring and interactive, including:

Tuning in: simple activities that are great for wellbeing (e.g. mindfulness exercise)

Expert view: an inspiring 15-minute TED-style video/talk from a leading expert (including Richard Layard, Ed Diener, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Karen Armstrong, Brene Brown, Shawn Achor)

Personal view: a chance for people to reflect on their own experiences

Did you know?: fascinating and surprising research findings relating to the theme

Group discussion: sharing ideas in groups and listening to each other’s perspectives

Action ideas: everybody comes away with an action they hope to take as a result

The course content has been developed and tested by Action for Happiness, but the course itself is run by local volunteers who believe in our aims and have some relevant experience.

Course value

The course is run by volunteers and valued at £90 (£10 per session and £10 for the course book). Every participant is asked to make a donation to sign up for the course, which helps to cover the venue hire and provision of materials.

The recommended donation is £90 but if people are unable to afford this they can make a donation of their choice instead. Some people choose to donate more than the recommended amount, to help to cover the costs for those who cannot afford to give so much.

 Who is behind the course?

The course has been developed by Action for Happiness, whose co-founders are Prof Richard Layard, Sir Anthony Seldon and Geoff Mulgan. Key members of the team include Vanessa King and Dr Mark Williamson. It is backed by the Dalai Lama, who is the patron of Action for Happiness.

The course starts on 14 September for 8 weeks, Thursday evenings from 7-9pm.
Booking is now open: Book now
For questions about this particular course please contact the volunteers who are running it: Peter Mayes

More about Employee enlightenment

During these uncertain times it’s worth exploring how organisations can work together and maximize the contribution of everyone

employee-engagementLatest blog from bookboon about my book follows on from the February newsletter and continues to explore the engagement as a management device or as a tool for growth

Employee Engagement: Organisational Brain Washing or Enlightenment?

Employee engagement:a state or mind or organisational brain washing?

February 2017 newsletter

Over the years there have been many slogans, trends and life boats for organisations and some of them have even worked, but given the overall failure rate of most quality improvement, continuous improvement and company initiatives, a lot has been said and not much done.

Based on a history of how organisations have developed their relationship with employees either driven by a wish to grow or a wish to survive, employee engagement has morphed into a whole thing in its self.

Employers want well motivated, creative, learning and flexible employees, employees want a work place that uses their skill, recognises them as human beings and enables them to succeed at work and have a great life. Is this really too difficult for employers to facilitate and employees to work with?

When it works employee engagement transforms companies and transforms lives. Sometimes organisations are crushed by dogma and bureaucracy; they have a process for everything except a process that works.

So whose responsibility is it for this to happen? Well, it’s everyone’s.

Engagement is based on the values of the organisation matching the values of the employee, that leaders are engaging, and that contributions are valued and respected. In my book Employee engagement: Getting the best from everyone, not just another survey I explore where employee engagement has come from, what helps it to work, how to do it and where it is going.

Employee engagement is an emerging theme for many organisations, how in changing times, with differing employees and constant market pressures they get the best from their people.

  • What’s the difference between engagement and engaging employees?
  • How can leaders be engaging and work for the benefit of everyone?
  • What are the keys to success and the pitfalls to be avoided?

The book also reflects on the nature of leaders, coaching and mentoring within organisations as triggers for successful employee engagement. It also looks at the changing world of work and the adapting types and forms of motivation to inspire and keep employees engaged throughout their career. Case studies, practical examples and guidelines are throughout the book which helps to answer the key question of how to help all employees be engaged.

Change and a whole new world or not?

Change can be scary even in a turbulent world

Throughout our lives and careers we all have to cope with times of change, either of our own making or where we are pushed into it. With the changes in governments, changes in expectations of how stable or consistent the world will be. What is it that we can do, well we can all opt out, run for the hills or realize that these changes will happen and that we can influence somethings and sometimes we are unable too. I heard a radio programme the other day where they talked about a post trust age, really have we really stopped trusting

There’s no denying that change can be scary, but that’s normal.  There are several perfectly justifiable and normal stages that we go through.  The first is normally panic, followed by confusion and then a need to find out more information.  You can’t subvert those stages, but by helping people through that process and by encouraging them to do things that are positive and productive it can change their view of the situation.

This time of year is one of reflection and looking back so for me its been a different year, writing more, spending time with family especially recently arrived granddaughter, enjoying working with new people and deciding what to do next.

Worst case scenario

When career coaching, the first and the only piece of advice I would give would be to stop panicking.  Of course, that’s very easy to say and quite hard to do.

In my experience people tend to react far too quickly.  For example, if they are losing their job they will often write their CV the day after they know they are going and send off several applications straightaway. But they are still at the very beginning of a personal change process where they are learning about what they need to and how to get there.

By really taking some time to explore what they’re good at, what they enjoy doing, what the most important thing for them is about their new role and what outcome they want, is a vital process.  It provides the best possible start to know how to move forward and I’ve found that getting this key stage right saves people huge amounts of time, effort and anxiety later.  If it’s not carried out properly they’ll keep coming back to it.
It’s also often the case that things are not as bad as they seem.  So it’s a good idea for people to write down the worst case scenario.  After writing it down and thinking about what would be the worst that could happen, it usually doesn’t seem as bad and some of the anxiety disappears and it becomes more manageable.   We have a tendency to over think.

I also like to challenge people’s assumptions about what they can do and help them think things through calmly and rationally and above all to do things that are productive to help them change their view of what’s around them.  By following this process it’s possible to start that person’s own journey to where they want to go by helping them come up with the solutions themselves.

My own goals for next year are to be published again this time on employee engagement something that is very important but missed by many organisations, do more public speaking its a real buzz and the most important thing be happy and enjoy life.

How do we learn when it’s all so complex?

profileLearning by not getting stuck in a loop

Learning both in individuals and organisations is often undervalued and not fully acted upon because we don’t take the time to work through all the learning loops

Firstly lets look at the questions we ask ourselves.

Single-Loop Learning

Are we doing the right things? This is the single loop where we compare actions to results. Single-loop learning assumes that problems and their solutions are close to each other in time and space .  We are primarily considering our actions. The small changes that are made to specific practices or behaviors, based on what has or has not worked in the past. this is where we do things better without necessarily examining or challenging our own underlying beliefs and assumptions. The goal is about improvements and fixes that often take the form of procedures or rules.

Are we doing things right? (procedures or rules)

Double-Loop Learning

Double-loop learning leads to insights about why a solution works. In this form of learning, we are considering our actions and our assumptions. This is  where people become observers of themselves, asking, “What is going on here? What are the patterns?” We need this insight to understand the pattern. this level of learning will help us to change the way we make decisions and deepen understanding of our assumptions. Double-loop learning works with major changes, like redesigning an organisational structure.

Are we doing the right things? (insights and patterns).

Triple-Loop Learning

Triple-loop learning involves principles.  The learning goes beyond insight and patterns to context. The result creates a shift in understanding our context or point of view. We produce new commitments and ways of learning. This form of learning challenges us to understand how problems and solutions are related. It also challenges us to understand how our previous actions created the conditions that led to our current problems. The relationship between organisational structure and behavior is fundamentally changed because the organisation learns how to learn.  The results of this learning includes enhancing ways to comprehend and change our purpose, developing better understanding of how to respond to our environment, and deepening our comprehension of why we chose to do things we do.

How do we decide what is right? (principles).

Double and Triple-Loop Learning are essential

Organisations and lives are becoming ever more complex and with complexity comes indecision and reduced decision making.

When the levels of complexity in our work and the issues we are working with are high, it becomes more critical for us to be able to also use double- and triple-loop learning to:

  • succeed in new contexts,situations that we might not have experienced before
  • make learning an integral activity to our work and lives by reflecting more and
  • ultimately to achieve results that are appropriate to the context and principles.

Often solutions are adopted that are merely different forms of sticking plaster and as we all know the plaster some picks off.The future is becoming evermore unfamiliar and unpredictable. Solutions cannot be calculated in advance based on what has worked in the past. Emergent solutions have to worked out as situations unfold.(through exploration and realisation)

I have incorporated the single, double and triple loop learning approach to help clients and organisation gain the most from the coaching and mentoring programme and to ensure that we all avoid getting stuck in a loop.

Asking the right questions, helps to move people through the loops and gain deeper more fundamental forms of learning, its where coaching can create the space and opportunity for real changes to be undertaken. So if learning is the key, coaching is the hand that helps the key unlock insights and different thinking.