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Write Your Own User Manual

Have you noticed that people have handed over their user manual to others to write it? 

The other day I was talking to a few young professionals who are clearly travelling on every bloody social narrative bandwagon that passes them by and that, annoys the hell out of me. 

They shared with me their reliance on technology, Whoop watch, which dictates many aspects of their "wellbeing". According to them, if the watch indicates they've experienced 4 hours of stress, their immediate response is, "Alright, my watch suggests I've had enough stress for today." The device also dictates their sleep patterns, water consumption, exercise routines, and more. Essentially, their lives are governed by a combination of a watch, self-help literature, and advice from social media influencers. 

At times, I find myself questioning the sanity of society, wondering if we have entirely lost the plot or just stopped using our brains.

We do that at work too. We let Debbie from Talent tell us what our strengths, weaknesses, and talents are. We let the company take charge of our career development and do the jobs/roles they think we are very good at. We let people complain about the culture but when we ask them "What do you want the culture to be?" they have no answer. In fact, we have no answer to anything these days when it comes to individuals because in every answer you can distinctively hear one of the social media narratives like, "People cannot work/focus for more than 4-5 hours", "My wellbeing is impacted by work" or my favourite, "More than 1 hour of stress is not good for you I saw a TikTok video talking about this published research". 

Now, here is how you use global workplace and scientific data. 

The data is there to put you in a context and help you to establish your boundaries and limits, not to follow them!

Let's say, your Whoop watch is alerting you about a "prolonged exposure to stress" (3 hours. That doesn't mean you drop everything and chill for the day. That's the watch that manages your life. Why? Don't you have a brain to use? In such case what you have to do is stop for a moment and see how you feel. Are you really that stressed? If so, maybe you are reaching your limit and need to go for a cup of tea to reset and not take the rest of the day off. But you could also say, "You know what, I am actually good. Yes, the day has been stressful but I am good to continue." This is how you write your user manual because the information you have just processed is this: The global data says that on average, people can take 3 hours of stress a day, before it impacts their emotional, physical, and mental health and/or their productivity. However, mine is around 4-5 hours. This way you don't freak out when your Whoop watch is providing you data. That data is there to help you understand your limits, see how far you can push yourself, and establish boundaries with others and yourself. 

The same applies to sleep. I have heard from people "OMG, my application said that I didn't have enough sleep last night so I will be shit today at work." Then I asked that person if he felt like shit and how many hours he slept. The answer didn't surprise me. He actually felt good and slept 7 hours, but most importantly he woke up naturally. It means that his body had enough rest regardless of what global data and scientists are telling us. Yes, maybe the average population needs 8 hours of sleep but this person, under his life circumstances needs only 7 hours. Listen to your body not to Gwyneth Paltrow or a watch!

As for your talent and career, well, you must figure out what you are good at, what interests you, what are your strengths and weaknesses, what motivates you, where you contribute the most, how you like to receive feedback, what your expectations are, if you want to build a career or just want a job. Nobody can do that for you. Once you do that, you must communicate it to your line managers so they know how to bring the best out of you. This is you creating your user manual and giving it to others because how would we know how you operate? You are like the best TV on the market. We can have you but if we don't know how to switch you on what's the point of having you? But we don't have your user manual, you must give it to us otherwise we are going to press every button on you until you start working unfortunately by that time you have burned out or left. We have misused you because we didn't know how you operate. Hmmmm thinking about it now, maybe this is how we should onboard and develop people..... Let me think that further. 

Please do not run your life based on what others tell you! That is the misuse of you! Use information and data for context and to establish your limits. If you can work 14 hours a day because you love what you do and it gives you satisfaction do it! But, monitor yourself and see when it starts impacting you. Maybe you can do it for a full month but then you need a week off to recharge. Maybe you can do it 5 days a week with 2 days off. No global data will tell you how you operate, you need to figure it out and communicate it instead of shouting from the rooftop "I am stressed and it is the fault of my boss and the toxic environment. I know that because I read it in a book." This sounds really silly, right? So don't embarrass yourself instead use data for its purpose. 

So my questions to you all; are you really burned out? Do you really hate work? Is your work environment really toxic? Is your boss really an ass? Do you really need to drink 3 litres of water? Do you really get triggered by or care about certain things? Are you really struggling? Or you are just going with what people tell you to go with?????

PS: I just came out of a 48-hour fast. Did I gather information regarding its impact on my body, weighing its pros and cons? Absolutely! Throughout the fast, I monitored my body's reactions, aligning them with the information I had gathered. There were areas where I excelled, while in others, I faced challenges, experiencing responses that deviated significantly. I established that at around 42 hours my body slowed down and my energy level was very low. However, the scientific data I received indicated that I should have a boost of energy at that point. It wasn't the case but on the flip side, my brain was clear and sharp so I wrote 10 pages for my next book. 

Exciting news! My second book, "Blind Leading the Disengaged - From Kindergarten to Employee Experience," is dropping in April! It's a treasure trove of solutions and cool ideas to shake up your people management game. But before we get there, let's chat about where we're at now—The Corporate Kindergarten, as I spilled the beans in my first book. Check it out, and let's transform your workplace from a daycare to an awesome employee experience hub!

Join me on YouTube where I drop some ridiculous but helpful content about people management. Let's stop the Kindergarten together:

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