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A recent staff seminar day ended with a presentation by Dr. Adam Fraser. Here are my notes.

Dr. Adam Fraser. is involved in work around topic of wellbeing.

Dr Adam Fraser is a peak performance researcher who helps people strive to achieve better performance in everything they do. In his time he has worked with elite athletes and sporting teams, special forces soldiers and business leaders.

Source: About Research Based Wellbeing Keynote Speaker — Dr Adam Fraser

In regards to education, he has developed The Flourish Movement program:

The Flourish Movement program, which began in 2016, is an internationally award-winning program, designed with and for school leaders. Driven by data and grounded in research, Flourish offers practical strategies aimed at helping school leaders develop sustainable leadership practices by improving both their effectiveness and overall wellbeing.

Source: The Flourish Movement™

The focus of the program is to:

  • Build recovery
  • Prevent burnout
  • Manage emotions
  • Improve leadership and culture

Through his work he has found that he gets different results based on methodology. In particular, his work often focuses on action research. For example, rather than getting participants to complete a single survey capturing a single point in time, he gets them to complete a ten day survey.

With a lot of change occurring at the moment, his particular focus was on disruption and how we can be manage this. After reflecting on what we thought were our biggest challenges at the moment (missing functionality? clean data?) he shared end-of-life research which suggests that at the end of their life, we regret not being more courageous. Associated with this, the things that we are proud of (excluding raising children) is often based on the hardest thing we’ve done.

Extending on from the ‘hardest thing’, he explains that ‘happiness’ is a challenge just outside our reach, it is learning something new, where we have to grow and evolve to achieve it. The opposite of ‘happiness’ is chronic boredom. Bored employees are dangerous! In the end, growth comes from those who can sit with the discomfort. Often sitting with such discomfort comes from culture.

For Fraser, culture is “how we do stuff around here.” He the example of George Mohler’s work around predicting crime and the problem associated with cultural bias of police officers to elaborate on this ‘stuff’. At the heart of it, our behaviour and mood are contagious. The question is whether our mood worth catching? (According to Fraser, the poorest work habit is contempt and lack of respect. We need to be very careful of this.) Small behaviours lead to big outcomes. To demonstrate this, Fraser argued that one of the biggest developments in medicine was nurses being able to question doctors.

As an extension of this, Fraser argued that there is no such thing as a trivial behavior. He used a survey of American schools in which the most common item to be raised in staff meetings were the dirty cups left in the sink as lack of respect and humility. Another example was two small actions that Craig Bellamy made that has changed the culture at Melbourne Storm, that is, to socialise with/as a family and get a job in the off-season.

Like many players before them, 13 of our new boys ventured into the world of full-time, labour-intensive work alongside their pre-season training duties as a part of the New Recruit Work Program.

Started 18-years ago by our very own head coach, Craig Bellamy, the program sees new Storm recruits – regardless of reputation or experience – take on two 40-hour work weeks.

The goal? Teach them about hard-work and gratitude.

Source: Gratitude, Humility & Hard Work – Our Work Program by Melbourne Storm

Every person impacts culture.

One of the problem, Fraser stated, with culture as “the way we do things around here” is that it works like an immune system. When new people and ideas come in from the outside and try to change things, the system fights them off. The only way to change culture is to get a ground swell. Too often their is a lack of alignment between behaviour and values. The danger is trivial things that go unquestioned or unnoticed can often set things back. We will forgive a lot, but what we do not forgive is a lack of alignment, that is where trust dies.

Associated with our behaviours is the challenge of our emotions. We have a big brain hardwired towards pessimism. In addition to the positive and negative ripples that we create, we need to consider how we respond. Fraser referred to Shelly Gable’s four responses to good news to explain this.

Let’s imagine you have just told a colleague that you’ve been promoted. Here are Gable’s four possible responses:

  1. Active-constructive: the responder is enthusiastic, interested and supportive. They might say, “That’s brilliant news! I’m so pleased for you. Can I help you prepare?”
  2. Passive-constructive: they seem positive but their response is muted and with no enquiry. They say, “That’s nice,” with no real interest or enthusiasm.
  3. Active-destructive: in this scenario, they energetically belittle or reinterpret your good news, focusing on any negative implications. They might say, “Seriously? It looks like more work for not much money, and the people there are boring. It doesn’t sound that great to me.”
  4. Passive-destructive: they barely acknowledge your announcement or changes the subject. A typical response might be, “I see. Anyway, guess who I saw on my way in?”

Source: Gable’s Four Responses to Good News by Mind Tools

The question that we were left with is what small things we are going to do to help support change?