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“R U OK?” Self-Care Strategies for 2021

This past year has been really tough on the mental health of millions across the globe. In this episode with R U OK? Board Director, Graeme Cowan, we discuss:

  1. Why he thinks the R U OK? movement has become so popular and important.
  2. What are the three most impactful self-care strategies that he has seen work over the years.
  3. What he does to make sure his resilience bucket stays strong.
  4. And so much more.

To watch this inspiring episode, click the video link below, or if you would prefer to read the full transcript click the blue button under the video.

#ruok365 #Leadershipresiliencespeaker #mentalhealthspeaker

[Music]

well hello

and welcome to the wine and wisdom show

it is so

wonderful to have you here if you are a

returning guest

thank you for coming back and cheers to

you i’m

i love it when i see familiar faces but

if you are here for the very first time

uh let me tell you what it’s all about i

know it must appear that

it might just be about having an excuse

for a wine which of course it is

and sharing of wisdom but the show is

actually about connection

and uh i think that’s one thing we’ve

learned over the last 12 months that as

humans we really crave

connecting with other humans who bring a

smile to our faces

some warmth to our heart and some wisdom

to our brain and

oh my gosh the guest tonight that i have

for you

we’ll definitely be doing that uh i feel

i feel very lucky that i’ve been

surrounded by so many incredible

resilient

and courageous self leaders who are

making a

positive difference across the globe and

uh yeah as i said tonight’s

guest is no different but before we get

started on

that what i’d love to do is to

acknowledge

the traditional custodian spread across

the many lands that we’re all locate

located on today

i’m personally coming to you from the

lands of the birrabirragal people

uh here in birch grove balmain i i do

pay my respects

to these traditional owners who have

nurtured and protected

this wonderful country that we all get

to work live and play

in i’d also like to extend my respects

to their elders past

present and emerging so

oh no i mean you can see what

who’s coming on are you okay board

member grey and cow and i know that

you’ve seen it everyone’s been excited

i’ve been getting

texts and emails hello graeme how are

you

great thanks hardy really lovely to join

you so lovely to have you here and

graeme

what have you got in your glass tonight

a little

pinot a little pinot noir oh very nice

oh yeah i’ve got a buttery chardonnay as

usual i’ll have it start

young hard whatever the expression is

so graeme uh we’ve known each other for

a little while i’ve i mean i’ve

i’ve watched your amazingness over the

last i don’t know five six seven years

uh but

we have in the last 12 months actually

been

in a mastermind group together so we’ve

got to know each other

quite well um but i’d love it if you

would share with everybody here tonight

you know all the good things that you

are sprinkling across the world

in the the amazing graeme cowan way

yeah i guess that really starts with um

a little bit about my story

um you know i worked in sales and

marketing and i work in human resources

and pro it was very much in the

corporate era i worked with johnston

johnson and pfizer and those sorts of

organizations and then

i worked with morgan banks and other

recruitment companies but

there was a really tumultuous time in

the market

uh which where the really the

recruitment markets just um

got got hammered and i got and i got

hammered as well

i um i i had suffered with

depression all in my life but i began a

five-year episode which my

psychiatrist described as the worst ever

treated you know i was

out of work i um you know my marriage

broke down i had to go back

and live with my parents and i sort of

call out a little bit of my george

costanza years you know

i really i really wasn’t uh kept in the

world like i love george but i don’t

want to be george

i’m sure no one wants to be judged

and then i it was a gradual uh emergence

from that

involved you know starting to exercise

regularly reconnecting with family and

friends meditating

and and a really i guess pivotal moment

was when i decided to write my first

book which was called back from the

brink

and uh that was where i interviewed

people well-known

everyday australians who’d gone through

really tough times and

what helped them and i think uh when i

was working on a

a project really that purpose and trying

to help others

that really assisted with my recovery

you know you moved from an eye to a wee

and how can you make a difference and

then through my books i started speaking

and and then

through that i met uh gavin larkin

and uh gavin uh was the founder of are

you okay

um also the ceo ceo of an advertising

agency

and he heard me speak um and he just

approached me about being an ambassador

and when he shared what was about you

know um

really targeting the people around those

who could be vulnerable

i knew how important that was to

people’s sense of um well-being and

self-esteem and all this sort of stuff

and so i really was you know all in in

that first year

and it was quite um an amazing year in

2009

we had really no money no employee

but we had a dsp as well by the way

but we did um start off with a really

really

great brand and a great great message

and it was a simple message that a

conversation could change your life

and i already know knew from my own

experience that i would have made it

without the help and support

of my my parents when i went when i

wasn’t going too well

and so that led really to being asked to

speak back in the corporate world

and even back in 2009 you know i was

offering to speak about

you know optimizing mental health and

all the companies were saying oh we’ve

got no problem here it’s all under

control not an issue

but of course that really uh changed

substantially in the last five years

where there’s been real

recognition of what the cost is of

having poor mental health and what the

the advantages are of having great

mental health and so

initially i sort of talked about

overcoming depression and

helping carers of people with depression

but it pretty

quickly evolved to um talking about

mood and i have a you know a model

called the moodometer

which has the green zone amber zone red

zone and in the green zone

you know we’re optimistic resourceful

energetic grateful

in the red zone we’re angry depressed

ashamed

etc and uh and in the middle and i found

that uh

language can be really important and

just like having the right languages are

you okay was really pivotal

you know talking about a modometer and

talking about green zones and red zones

rather than

you know mental illness really helped to

break down that stigma

and uh and it sort of evolved to

working with um you know leaders to

having the right environment a caring

and resilient environment

yeah i mean i i read a i read a stat

just recently regarding the impact that

mental ill health has in australia on

that the productivity was done by the

productivity commission which

you know as you know is the government’s

key economic kind of

advisor law to these types of things and

they said that mental ill health

uh is costing us 220 billion dollars a

year just here in australia

and you know mental health

health ill health is obviously it is the

wide spectrum of what falls under that

umbrella

but it really has a very wide ripple

effect

not just on our our professional lives

individually on our ability to form at

work but it

also has an impact on our team members

that we’re involved with

um that the customers that that

organization might be trying to serve

and of course a ripple effect through

our families and our friends and our

communities and

uh this particular report said if if we

just invested

uh i think it was i’ve got it here um

4.2 billion we could save another 20

billion

you know that there’s just so much money

in um prevention i suppose that it’s

still possible for

for us and i think you know when you’ve

got people like yourself who are going

into organizations

you’re helping leaders and their teams

to put things in place

so they can turn up and and and be able

to work to the best of their ability

i mean we just need more they don’t win

graeme because

it’s just such a such an important part

and i think

in this last 12 months gosh

i mean i don’t know about you but like

that kind of mental health pandemic that

we

are in and will continue to unfold this

year i mean everyone expected

2021 to be this brilliant sparkly

fabulous year we’re all going to get

over it and it’s going to be fine but

of course we know that’s not the case

and people are really struggling

in february looking ahead for a whole

year ahead aren’t they

they really are and um you know for the

last

year or so you know i’ve been asking

people what what the fair most stressful

about the pandemic and two things always

come through it doesn’t matter whether

it’s government or not for profit or

private enterprise it’s uncertainty and

also isolation

and the uncertainty always comes first

and you know i think we are used to

having a

degree of control in their lives and

this

this time this experience has just you

know thrown that out the window and

unfortunately you know groups in

victoria and melbourne have probably had

it worse than

anyone and uh you know they had a

massive massive i think

last time i heard that about 130 days of

you know tight lockdown

and then this last weekend they went

back and again

it’s just tragic it’s tragic

i’d love to know um for those of you who

are listening um

where are you dialing in from is anybody

from melbourne right now in lot you know

from lockdown

or we got people in sydney whereabouts

in australia are you

watching us from so we can see you know

what your experiences have been uh in

australia which of course are far better

than any other place in the world but

it’s all relative right um so graeme

when we’re talking about that talking

about how difficult uh the year ahead

is going to be for everyone as we go in

and out of things

uh i’d love you to uh he’s linda really

seeing this in the workplace right now

in sydney yes um lots of trouble

uh with people coping so which brings me

to my question

which is all about what what do you

think are the three most

i suppose impactful things that people

can do

for themselves when there’s so much we

can’t control of course

all we have to do is what we can have

some control

of in our own lives what do you suggest

are those three things that we

can have a bit of control over yeah and

i think um

you know that volatility the uncertainty

has been very draining for people and

and so what i really talk about

is focusing on the things we can control

and as you say

we have choice on what we choose to do

each day and uh i talk about

you know three areas of resilience

well-being vitality which is our

physical health like

exercise resting well eating well

intimacy which is our emotional

well-being so having

you know strong and supportive

relationships around us and nurturing

those relationships

and finally prosperity which is our

contribution well-being you know the

contribution we make in our

work or charity or wider world and

i the vitality intimacy prosperity

stands for vip and i i say to people

you have to act like a vip and acting

like a vip

is making sure that you you know top up

little bits and not wine but uh

water into those uh into those glasses

because

you can’t just do one and forget the

other it’s like a stool

and if you know one leg’s a bit wonky

the whole thing falls over

and and just fitting in little things

each day which are rewarding

i think is uh central to to being

in good shape a good mood yeah

and i’d love to know those are listening

what are you doing to make sure

uh that you are somehow someway

feeling a little better about each day

even when you don’t know what

is ahead uh what do you what is your

habitual thing that you know that

you’ll fall back uh to make sure that

you kind of can keep

yourself together um for me i mean to me

your sleep’s just so important when i

don’t sleep everything

kind of crumbles and so there’s

about a dozen things i do every day to

make sure i can go to sleep and stay

asleep and uh

gosh i wish i wouldn’t have to do all of

them but i just know that the effect of

not sleeping on that

my mental health is so dramatic

i don’t know do you have trouble

sleeping at all graeme have you

yeah i mean i’m exactly the same i’m

exactly the same

when that’s going well you know my mood

is usually going well and when it’s not

and and and the you know the striving

thing is it it can sort of

be a self-fulfilling prophecy you start

to worry about it and then you

sleep less and in fact last year

i think it was around july um you know i

started to experience that

and uh and so even though you know i

hadn’t

seen a doctor about my depression for

about eight years i

went back and got on medication and that

really helped with the sleep again and

you know that’s the first thing he said

to me

this guy had known me for you know 12

years he says you know

one priority is you know getting the

sleep under control and

we did that and then you know other

things started to fall into place but

it can be easy and i think when there’s

a real sameness about our day and

like it was groundhog day for a lot of

uh last year you know doing

in the same place doing the same things

and so

it is really important to uh you know

just remind ourselves that self-care

isn’t selfish if we

don’t look after ourselves we can’t look

out for other people and support other

people

absolutely and thank you chev for

putting here

ongoing mindfulness practice checking in

with emotion mental and physical state

every few

hours that’s fabulous focusing on your

breath and i know

belinda said that she is uh you know

exercise

everything but thing is but struggles to

make it consistent and of course

everybody’s like scrambling right now

trying to do everything

um especially if you’ve got um little

ones that you’re trying to

sort out with you know homeschooling in

some sort of way

especially in victoria it makes it so

much harder doesn’t it

it really does and uh you know

it we have a long way to go

um and so what i think is really

important is not to think too far ahead

but just to really focus on one week

ahead

and to consider that working ahead when

am i doing things for myself when am i

when i’m doing my exercise what am i

you know getting into bed when am i you

know eating well

when i catching up with friends even if

it is remotely

and uh just to know that you have those

in the week ahead i think there’s a lot

of things for

just just having a bit of a sense of

control when there’s lots that are

outside our control

yeah graeme i’m

i i told you this last year i hadn’t

thought about

mentioning it tonight but i think it’s

important because it’s part of this

whole conversation about stigma

and you know that mental ill health is

such a terrible stigma

about it and i think as professionals in

workplaces

people don’t like to say that they’re

struggling because they don’t want

well for one everyone is worried about

losing their

roles and their jobs or more now than

they’ve ever been so

they don’t want to put their hand up to

say oh my gosh i’m not coping because

they’re worried that they you know

they’ll be somehow performance managed

out

um i think this whole thing about stigma

and

sharing our stories and you know when

so what to let you all know where i’m

going with this is that

i was watching graeme uh deliver a

webinar

and he talked about what he’s just said

that

he hadn’t seen someone for eight years

he was going really well but things

started to get really wobbly for him

and unravel and he wasn’t sleeping and

went back to see his

um support people and

and you know just by you saying it out

loud and being brave enough

to say i’m struggling again

to everybody who was listening

it made me go you know what i’m i’m

actually struggling too

this has been a really really tough year

i mean

you know as as speakers and people who

are doing training and development i

mean i know for you for me i lost 95

of my work in march for the for the

whole year and i felt

it’s just scramble scramble scramble and

i did do okay you know to keep my head

above water but

far out by the end of last year i was

drowning

and ignoring it ignoring it because i

felt

i couldn’t give myself the i give myself

a break i had to save my business and

you know and i and i felt that i had

this you know talking about what we talk

about that we had this

have this gift to help others so much to

get through the tough times yet

i was drowning and so

i you know i want to say again to you

thank you for for having the courage to

say it out loud

because you know that made such a great

impact on me because i went and thought

some help that i really did need at the

time and

i just hope that if we can all

be okay with sharing a story to to kind

of

get rid of this stigma that just because

we’re wobbly

for a little bit doesn’t mean we’re

going to be wobbly forever and it

doesn’t mean we can’t perform

that’s right and it’s really great if

you share share that um

heidi i’ve you know been

in this business talk you know my books

talk about

my experience my struggle and that sort

of thing

yeah but what i’ve come to know is that

when i share my story it gives people

permission to share their story

and and and so for anyone in the

workplace

i because stigma is still there you know

more or less in some organizations and

the thing that i really

recommend to people if you are in a

workplace is to confide

in someone you like and trust it doesn’t

matter if it’s your manner if it’s your

managers that’s great but if it’s

someone else

that’s fine as well have practice

talking about it and there’s a very odd

saying

that problems shared is a problem hard

and it’s so true

you know when you voice it um it you can

almost feel

the you know the levels the levels going

down

and i’ve also you know been on a long

journey

thinking about you know mental ill

health and is it really

all bad and and uh i’d be the first to

say that when you’re going through it

it does

but there was a a remarkable book that i

read

uh called a first-rate madness and it

was written by

an american psychiatrist called nasa

gimi

and what he did was to review some of

the most extraordinary

leaders in the last century or so and

looking at people

like winston churchill looking at people

like abraham lincoln looking at people

like gandhi looking at people like

martin luther king

looking people like jfk and what he was

able to show

and you know he um was able to tap into

research

and and uh previous documents to do this

was that these people

had actually had their own um you know

mental

illness breakdown you know abraham

lincoln had a really

shocking breakdown um as did winston

churchill he battled with

you know bipolar and drinking and yet

those two leaders

are thought as the you know the two

greatest leaders in the uk

and us respectively and

nessa gimme’s point is that they

they weren’t great in spite of their

mental illness but because of it and

what he means by that

was that because they’d been through it

they had a lot of

empathy um with other people they also

had

um were able to see reality so not not

be super optimistic not be super

pessimistic but you know see

a realistic um outlook and and

and also very very pragmatic and um and

i thought you know that that is really

great thing to

to share and in some of the creative

areas you know bipolar

uh you know some of the most amazing

artists of our

of our whole life our whole world

had bipolar and yeah that’s allowed

amazing creativity and productivity

so it’s not all bad and i think if you

if you learn the lessons and um i’m a

bit of a slow learner i have to keep on

learning it but

you know when you when you learn the

things that keep you well

and you do them and and i would say the

vast majority of time

that is for me now it you know i’m in a

much much better place

than i was before i went through that

really bad crisis so

um yeah yeah and graeme

what do you think i mean i mean i really

feel for like leaders right now they

they’re trying to lead teams uh through

through a screen

i mean i some you know some groups that

i’m working with

it’s that they haven’t even met in their

team members at all face to face so

how do you what are you what are your

insights on

how these leaders can actually create

well

i suppose um have these kind of you call

them

caring teams like to be still caring but

allowing performance to happen at the

same time what are your tips for that

yeah well i think one of the things with

leaders they’ve been hit really hard

and um you know i think one of the

biggest lessons for lisa

is self-care and some can be really

um guilty of trying to help and assist

everyone else without

without assisting themselves and and all

the evidence shows that

if a leader is a good place it flows

onto the team

and so that’s the very very first lesson

um the second lesson is you know the

importance of promoting connection

and it’s been much more challenging this

time as you say people have been

geographically isolated but um you know

i’ve heard some

you know great examples of organizations

you know having things

like trivial pursuit nights and movie

nights and

and also forming interests around clubs

you know

one group i worked with had a

photography club and a movie club and a

book club and

and so they we looked at other ways to

generate that

and um so i think there’s been a great

deal of um

you know innovation in that regard i

think largely

largely leaders have done a very good

job and and it’s been tough because of

they’ve often had to over communicate

especially in the beginning yeah

and whereas they might have you know one

little 45-minute meeting

a week suddenly their diary is full of

45-minute meetings yeah and and so

carving out time for self-care in the

day

is is really critical yourself but also

your team

absolutely and i love the the comments

we’ve got here i mean chev she said you

grow older you will discover that you

have two hands one for helping yourself

the other for helping others oh i love

that so much i love it too

that is just beautiful and and um

catherine kate has said you know i mean

i think it was when you’re talking about

the bipolar and

you know the great great artists it is

just different wiring right what’s to

say that

normal wiring is the only wiring and you

know

it’s not we’re just all different we’re

humans that’s what makes us so special

and unique

and uh to yeah to just kind of put

people into these

shoe boxes of this is the way you’ve got

to be in the way you’ve got to act and

the way you’ve got to feel

and no other way it’s not right

and it’s not helpful when we’re at work

trying to perform at all yeah and

and and having this diversity where

people can feel

they can be comfortable being themselves

they can express

ideas they can try things if it doesn’t

work out we learn from it move on and

i mentioned to you just before you came

on air that i’ve been interviewing

um some leaders for a new podcast i’m

doing the caring ceo

and one of them was mike schneider the

ceo of

bunnings and um i asked him

they’re actually rated the number one

most trusted brand

in australia corporate brand in

australia by roy morgan research

and i asked him and i asked him what the

secret was of that and he said

he really believed that a big element

was the huge diversity of their

workforce you know anyone who’s been in

a bunnings will see

all races all ages they actually have 30

but their workers are over 50. i think

that’s

the only workplace that has that higher

uh number of people but he thinks it’s

it’s having that diverse group there

who are really committed to helping he

really attributes

that that trusted brand is having an

embracing diversity yeah

well i think also i mean i you know i

have no idea how to do anything

that most people go to bunnings to get

things but any time

i cannot believe how helpful everybody

is and

shabb i think you know your they should

have

your um quote that you’ve got there as

their bunnies manager because i think

that’s what they do they are forever

seeking you out to see how they can help

you and tell you which aisle to go to

and um you know someone like me who has

no idea i

say oh i want to do this what do i need

and there’s something

there’s someone there to help out so um

i do love that

graeme uh you’re a professional speaker

and uh you know things obviously changed

quite dramatically

last year for you which

no doubt had an impact on the way you

felt about your career and

and and your life and yourself and your

self-worth

i mean like it did for everybody having

to

change that what are the specific things

that you’ve done

to i know you mentioned what you said

you think are the three self-care things

that everyone should do

but what are the things that you do when

things are really wobbly

to make sure that you can and i call it

to keep your resilience bucket strong

what are you doing you’re a really

really big thing for me

in fact it’s my one thing really is

meditation and

um i’m a very early riser i usually get

about

about five and meditate for 20 minutes

and um

and i was actually i was in that sort of

situation where i was doing most times

but not all the times and i have to be

listening

to a podcast where hugh jackman was

interviewed

and he’s been a lifelong meditator

and he said well he just made the

decision that

he was going to do it first thing every

day oh

if you jackman can do that i can try

that

and it is it is you know really

good to get something so good for me

out of the way first so that’s a that’s

a that’s a huge element

i also uh live very close right

right adjoining lane curve national park

and i find um you know nature really

really

rewarding and so when i feel those

anxiety levels

rise i really cut back on commitments

and i really

make sure i’m meditating make sure that

i’m walking in nature

and also catching up with good friends

and uh you know when i had my first

really bad breakdown

i was so ashamed i couldn’t really talk

with anyone

about it i really didn’t and that led to

you know a very severe

crisis and so i came back i really made

an effort to

uh nurture um male friends to do things

together

on a regular basis and i have uh you

know two mates i mean

meet at um curl cool in northern sydney

sunday we go for a

slow slow jog dance manly and back and

have breakfast and that’s every sunday

and uh you know there’s the exercise but

there’s also really great talking after

you’ve

been through that uh every thursday

morning with a friend that’s a partner

at um

kpmg we’re catching up at 6 30 tomorrow

we go for a walk and

and we’re able to talk about you know

the real stuff

and uh and i think i think there’s

something about walking shoulder to

shoulder

and in nature which makes that much

easier rather than looking directly at

people

so i so i have these um rituals where i

have

built this relationship over a period of

time and

when it happened and i mentioned back in

july last year

i got onto these people really quickly

and said look i’m struggling again if

you want to help ask me to go for a walk

i suddenly had uh you know my diary full

of uh

full of walk and there’s a wonderful

book that i read called frendimacy

friendmaster i can’t even say it’s a

combination of friend and intimacy

written by a woman and she talks about

three components of really meaningful

relationships and the and the first is

positivity you know it must be a great

experience

yeah that’s a no brainer

the second thing she says is consistency

and you know that’s why i really decided

to put

rituals in place them happen almost by

default

and the third element and this is the

area that many many men

um break down on is vulnerability you

know being able to talk

about you know what’s not going well

what you know what are you really

concerned about

and um a lot of men to tend to bottle

that up but um

yeah i’ve just really learned that um

nurturing

strong relationships it’s probably you

know it’s a fantastic element of

of life really yeah it really is i mean

that connection piece

is just such a crucial component uh

especially when things aren’t going well

and um unfortunately

you know you’ve you’ve got to have built

those you’ve got to nearly have the

rituals and the connections

prior to when things spiral out of

control because

when you were at rock bottom gee it’s

hard to stick to rituals it’s hard

to build connections it’s actually

nearly impossible and

i suppose that’s you know i know this is

part of your life work as part of my

life work to

help people understand that building

those rituals those good habits

those connections when times are good

so they will hold you together when

times get wobbly because

as we all know especially now they’re so

we

we can’t there’s so much we can’t

control there’s so much we have no idea

what

how it’s going to impact us and we just

do what’s good for us when we can when

we know we can

so that hopefully that will hold us

together and

i mean how beautiful that you got to

that point last year where you’re like

oh getting shaky i need i need my

support crew

and prior to probably you getting lower

lower lower lower

you’re out to bring all that together

before it got out of control

and it just turns around faster when

you’re able to do that you’re very right

you know when things are good you think

oh

i can skip the gym or i don’t really

need to do that but um

but it is a bit like a you know

vaccination

or inoculation by doing it um

you reduce the chance it will happen but

you also

probably are in better place that if you

do hit a

hard spot you can take that corrective

action yeah

i love what kate said here with the

great rituals require practice till they

become automatic absolutely like

cleaning our teeth right you know we

just all do it it’s just

part of the routine and that’s what we

need with

either waking up in the morning and and

meditating whatever it is i

i don’t know if we listen to the same uh

podcast with hugh jackman was it tim

ferriss one that you listened to yeah so

i only listened to it

oh actually and uh you know apart from

meditating

far out could hugh jackman get any

better so

for everybody who’s a bit of a hugh

jackman fan all the girls who

all right now all the boys um not only

does he meditate first thing in the

morning

but he sits in bed so he gets up he goes

and makes a cup of tea

for him and deb comes back to bed with a

cup of tea for deb

he reads to her for 15 minutes and then

she reads to him for 15 minutes like

oh my god that man is so divine

and i’ll tell you something else that um

he was one of the

first supporters of are you okay i think

it was in the second

year he did a you know a video

um encouraging everyone to are you okay

so

can you imagine how much it would cost

to get hugh jackman to endorse anything

but

he had a a good relationship with um

gavin larkin

the founder and yeah he’s a legend of my

i’ve got a bit of a man crush on him

you know i’ve definitely got a man crush

on him

yeah i mean when you get your bare feet

on the ground right in nature

far out that there’s something about

their feet on sand or grass or dirt

and you just feel that just

this connection with mother earth and

it fills you up it’s so beautiful um

our chev said walk and talk with graeme

that’s

is what she’s doing fantastic um

yes

so graeme last question for the night

uh i’d love to know what is

the most impactful piece of wisdom that

you have

been given what impact has it made on

your life

and uh what are the ripple effects of

that for you

i’ll try to mention too um i

once heard a saying and it was an indian

proverb that

relax relaxation is who you are

tension is who you think you should be

and

i know that this applies to me when

you’re

authentic when you’re doing your stuff

it feels right when you’re trying to be

someone else

or upset about you know an element

of how you you know live your life

it can often really really cause stress

so that was um

you know that i think is always um been

very meaningful to me and then the

second thing

sounds a bit odd but you know before we

came on air i mentioned that you know

unfortunately my

dad passed away um uh two weeks ago

and he had a long life a healthy life a

full life

and uh but you know there’s always the

the final shock when someone you know

it’s permanent you know it’s permanent

yeah

but i was asked but i was asked to um

[Music]

do a um the eulogy and

so i don’t know you know 91 years how do

you put it in 10 minutes and so

i asked 34 people at um well just to

write three words

they thought of when they thought of dad

and then

i had it turned into a word cloud into a

big heart

and as you know word clouds the largest

words the most frequently used and by

far the largest word

was generosity and um

and he was he was generous with his

advice his support

um he was generous in the community he

was uh

you know generous with his money and um

you know really remember that

the second ones were honesty and

integrity and then

cheeky and funny

and and the one that uh caused little

last was ice cream was on there

he loved uh he loved an ice cream

but there is a fabulous poem

called what will matter by michael

stevenson

and it really talks about you know what

is really important

in the cold light of day when all the

to-do lists are gone

what will really matter and i really

encourage everyone to find that if

and if you want to get a pdf copy of it

just uh

send me a message via linkedin be very

happy to send it to you

but it ended up saying that it’s not you

know your wealth it’s not where you live

that’s going to be remembered

it’s what you built it’s what you help

teach

it’s what you help grow it’s how people

remembered advice and i must say that

you know just seeing that

um word clutter dad was

yeah very very moving i’ve really been

just reflecting on it every day

for you know since his past of course

you would i went so close as kate said

it’s very fresh

and but what a beautiful thing to do a

word cloud with everybody’s one word i

love that i’ve never seen that i mean

what a treasure thing to have of a

memory

of what everybody remembers him for it’s

just beautiful

and it’s a message for us as well what

do we want to be remembered for when we

go

yeah what word what would you want

people to say about us

and um it does put

to-do lists and work

when you think about that absolutely you

know i think

i i think for all of us you know this

last 12 months has

really recalibrated a lot of things of

you know what it you know what what do

we want to do

what do we want to be remembered for

what should i

continue to be a part of

that is actually going to bring me

fulfillment and purpose because

you know the world can change in a

heartbeat

so what there’s no point just waiting

waiting for another time

to do that one thing or to be that one

great person we need to do it now

there’s a great uh thing i’ve read about

benjamin franklin

and benjamin franklin was an

extraordinarily

successful productive person he was an

inventor

a wealthy philanthropist and

a politician and everything and he

started each day by getting up at

at 5 00 a.m and answering this question

what good am i going to do today and

then at the

end of the day six o’clock he answers

the question what good did i do today

and uh and i think that uh you know

having some sort of ritual that works

for you whatever your

you know most productive time of day is

to really think about that you know

because when you’re

scrambling with work or scrambling with

other things if you are thinking about

how you could assist someone else it’s

uh it’s good for our well-being as well

it sure is so graeme i ask you um

what would be the one word that you hope

that people put in a word cloud for you

about your life what do you think that

one word would be

um i think i’m gonna try and

emulate my dad because i think i think

generous is um fantastic on

on so many fronts so that’s going to be

mine how about you

heidi what do you think what one word

would you like to strive for

well i i have always strived for

wanting to be remembered as courageous

that has certainly

been my word i you know no matter what’s

going on

how big the challenges are a little

that i have had the courage

to take that one step forward

to try to keep moving forward um rather

than getting stuck

and yeah so courage courage is certainly

the word for me

i it’s always been my word but i’ve

never thought of it in the way you’ve

described it

tonight but i certainly uh that would

definitely be my word i’d love to know

what the people who are listening

um what would your one word be that

you’d love

people to describe you for your your

legacy as chef said working on her

legacy this weekend what’s that one word

because i think if we we have that one

word i know

and people do have one there their word

for the year but

what’s the one word for your life that

every morning you wake up and go i have

i’m going to live

that today and if i can live that

every day just a little smidgy little

bit

wow

great great word there to ship kindness

what what a beauty

yeah need thinking time i mean

yeah you know it’s certainly

i really urge you to check out that poem

what will matter and

it really speaks to legacy and um

you know what will how will the world

remember us

um kate i know you’re still listening

there but can you just put what will

matter poem in the comments for me

because i that would just remind me uh

to find it and put a link in the

comments later but if you put it there

now that will just

sprinkle my memory once we’ve finished

and um oh thank you oh compassionate

linda thank you that’s a beautiful one

to have um so what’s going to happen

after we finish which is going to be in

a couple of minutes

is that i will find the i’m going to

find the poem and i’m going to put the

link here

um or you can just reach out to graeme

by linkedin because that’s he spends a

lot of time there

definitely and thank you thank you kate

um i’m also going to put a link

graeme has a wonderful uh video series

on how to well self-care

is not selfish is what you call it isn’t

it graeme um and

i think it’s very timely that

people really take the time to

prioritize themselves when

there’s so much we can’t control let’s

just focus on what we can control

because

when when we have that feeling that our

powers taken away

of everything in life that is what can

really impact our mental health

uh in a good way or a bad way so when we

can just focus on what we have a little

bit of control on which i know that’s

what you talk about within

that video series it can make such a

difference

so i will post that for you for you all

um so that you can do that but any final

questions for graeme any final words of

legacy that you would like to

to post we’d love to see them um graeme

thank you so much

thank you for always being so honest and

raw

and sharing your story

so that we for one can

dull down the stigma that comes with

mental ill health

firstly i mean that we all want to do

that

but secondly to encourage us to have the

conversations

because it’s those conversations and

connections with other

humans that can make such a difference

absolutely and thanks uh so much for the

opportunity to be on the show

heidi i’ve really admired your work it’s

been great getting to know you

much more in the last year and i’m sure

there’ll be a lot more a lot more

discussions going forward as well

absolutely they will

um so thank you everybody for joining us

if you would like to know who my

next lot of lineup of guests are you can

subscribe here to be notified

but in the meantime we hope you have a

wonderful two weeks

and um cheers

cheers to you graeme

have a lovely night and we will see you

real soon

good night

About Graeme Cowan:

Graeme Cowan helps leaders and teams to be more caring, resilient, and growth-oriented.

In his earlier career he worked in senior leadership positions with Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and AT Kearney.

In 2000 he went through a 5 year episode of depression that his psychiatrist described as the worst he had ever treated.

He emerged from this crisis with a different view about how we can increase our resilience, mood, and performance. He is described by the Australian Financial Review as a “workplace resilience expert”.

He is the author of 4 books, including the internationally acclaimed BACK FROM THE BRINK, which has a testimonial from the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and which has become a best seller in China.

He attributes his writing prowess to religiously reading every edition of Rugby League Week when he was in Year 12.

Graeme also helped to start R U OK? in 2009 and is an active Board Director.

His Contact Details:

His Gift To You:

  • Listeners can go to this landing page to download resources that will help them manage their self-care.

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