What brings you and your team joy?

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I passed this baby Buddha in a shop, admired it… then thought better of purchasing it.

It stayed in my mind for a week, the bliss-filled face resonating … until I couldn’t resist. I went back to the shop thinking “If it is still there, it is meant to be”. The rest is history.

Let me tell you why this brings me joy.

First of all, it is the bliss-filled face, the cute dimples and the uninhibited sense of peace, aroha and connectedness I get from the smiling face. It reminds me of the of my own children (now adults) and the children I have taught over the years. From a traditional Māori perspective, not only is the child endowed with spiritual potential or a divine spirit, but the world the child is born into is also endowed with spiritual influences. This sits with my belief in human potential.

Secondly it is the openness and open arms that spoke of just ‘being. This resonated because it is a state I often find myself-in when travelling. Having back-packed solo through many countries over the past few years, I know that when I go with aroha, that is exactly what I get back. This is to say I am not careful, but when I go with a heart-space of ‘connection’ I have met the most amazing people, and have had incredible experiences. This is a heart-space I try to emulate in my life.

For me the open arms also symbolise trust. They say “I’m all good in my ‘hood’, and I trust you in my space”. To me they say my inner ‘pou’ is strong and the external world and it’s ebbs and flows cannot alter my inner core. There is a sense of self assuredness in this stance. I consider this a lifelong work-on.

The prayer beads also represent connection. For me, they symbolise mindful practice that calls-upon the minimising of ego and maximisation of presence, and the belief that we are both significant yet a small part of this thing we call our universe and beyond.

Finally, the tears in the clothes symbolise humility. They symbolise that joy does not come from material things. A few years back having experienced the ‘loss’ of my home, years of toil vanished and future security dissolved, and at the same time supporting my mother who was dying, I was brought to my knees. There is humility in asking for help, there is humility in saying ‘things are a bit tough at the moment’. It is through embracing humility that we grow stronger, and learn from our experiences. For me, the tears in the clothes represent the tears-shed, and the reminder to remain humble as I move forward.

Joy is also an integral part of my mahi when working alongside others. This includes:

  • holding ideas lightly and with curiosity, rather than firmly and with rigidity,

  • having a giggle or a belly laugh along the journey, rather than being overly serious,

  • celebrating the strengths of the group and acknowledging when we have leaned-into areas of challenge

  • leaning into vulnerability and authenticity

  • regularly looking back at the journey taken with gratitude and appreciation

  • looking forward at the journey to be taken with hope, intent and excitement

These acts give us a ‘happy hit’. They can trigger the release of dopamine, giving us a sense of success, which in-turn can increase our personal and collective wellbeing. As leaders, how are we supporting our teams to notice and celebrate their successes in an on-going manner?

These behaviours can also increase our levels of oxytocin, which heightens our sense of connection. If we are wanting to foster trust, collaboration and ‘teaming’, how are we providing opportunities for meaningful connection? One example may include an off-site team meeting or activity that everyone can take part in.

When we seek, support and sustain joy, we also nurture our own and collective wellbeing, and I reckon our world needs more of this.

So what brings you joy?

How do you as a leader also foster joy within your teams?

How are you joy-ful and also joy-filling?

I’d love to hear your stories.

Go well this coming week amazing people.

MA :-)

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