Two weeks ago I was expecting to be part of a Compassion Lab with Mary Freer in Australia. Instead, I found myself on the receiving end of compassion, after my sister, Wendy died. Wendy, or Boo as she was known in the family, had cancer and we knew we had months and not years left together yet we were not expecting her to go so soon. She died suddenly at the end of September. I miss her terribly.
Compassion suddenly had a different, intense and very personal dimension.
I am grateful for the way my colleagues held me, and experienced first hand what compassion at work feels like.
Before Boo died learning more about compassion at work was on my agenda. It is the first of the six values of Wellbeing Teams. Now it is in focus with a new intensity.
Books are my favourite place to learn and two books stand out. I already had a copy of the book ‘There is no good card for this: what to say and do when life is scary, awful and unfair to the people you love’ by Kelsey Crowe an Emily McDowell. I love their re-interpretation of the Five stages of grief.
I highly recommend this as a way to address the questions of what to say and do, when. I am grateful to my friends and colleagues who sent texts, and cards and messages and got past the fear of not knowing what to say or worry of saying the ‘right thing’.
I then found Awakening Compassion at Work by Monica Worline and Jane Dutton. It is both inspiring and practical. It looks at compassion in organisations, how organisations can cause and respond to suffering, and shows how compassion at work makes a positive difference to innovation, collaboration, service quality and retaining staff.
I reached out to my ‘go to’ people in this area, Mary Freer, Shannon Weber (founder of Love Notes) and Andy Bradley, and to colleagues on Linked In and Twitter to ask who else could help me think and learn more about compassion at work.
The generosity of my colleagues in Linked In and Twitter has connected me to people who are making contributions around compassion at work. Over the next two months I will be podcasting with Mary, to share her work with Compassion Labs, and how she is supporting people to start with self-compassion.
Mary has also been collaborating with Andy Bradley who introduced me to Compassion Circles, and Andy has also agreed to do a podcast.
I will be bringing together different voices on compassion at work through a series of blogs, and then taking part in Creating Compassionate Workplaces at Roffey Park in December.
Today, my first step in putting compassion in work into practice is to build on the values questions, that we use in recruitment, and add some specific ones from the practical suggestions in Awakening Compassion at Work. We have our recruitment workshop this week for Community Circle Connectors and Coaches, and I want to include more questions about compassion in this.
This is a blog of intent. I intend to ‘Learn Out Loud’ about compassion and what this means at work. I am very grateful for the compassion I have received over the last month and I want to see how we can build compassion into the heart of Wellbeing Teams, and how I can show up with more compassion at work. Please join me.