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Season’s Greetings

December 18th, 2013

Heather Johnston

Wishing you a Very Happy and Peaceful Christmas and a Joyful 2014!

“The aim of life is self development. To realise one’s nature perfectly-that is what each of us is here for” Oscar Wilde

What have you done to help others lately?

November 4th, 2013

Heather Johnston

Why do I ask? Because it may just help you too…At the end of October, I attended the empathy and compassion conference in society and was transported into a truly inspiring atmosphere of the latest research and thinking around ways to help improve our individual and collective resilience, so as to build a more compassionate society.

We as human beings are naturally programmed to help others, you only need to look at acts of bravery and courage (both big and small) to see how much they are rooted in putting other people before ourselves.

Taking a secular view on thinking from Buddhist meditation practices, researchers have found that those that meditate regularly develop an ability to self soothe themselves when times get tough, maintain perspective and once they get themselves balanced have a greater ability to act compassionately towards others without getting burnout.

The key? Is self compassion. When things gets tough in our ‘threat and drive’ based work organisations we all have a tendency to be our biggest internal critic and this then leeches out into a wider culture of the survival of the strongest with potentially devastating impact on people’s wellbeing, cooperation, productivity and society as a whole.

Through starting to be kinder to ourselves and being a bit more self compassionate, we naturally will start to act more compassionately towards others and this can impact up to 3 degrees of separation from ourselves, as well as increase our own wellbeing and happiness. Benefits to work organisations? Researchers have shown this is good for business too..those that start to develop more balanced work cultures that value acts of giving towards others see increased staff loyalty, increased customer service and reduced turnover as well as a reduced health bill from the impact of stress.

Want to find out where to start? Have a look at the links through this article and all it takes to get going is just 7 minutes meditation a day to take a deep breath, stop and be still. Spending time becoming aware of our own mind is a first step towards helping yourself and helping others.


Positive Emotions: Love

July 2nd, 2013

Heather Johnston

Barbara Fredrickson’s latest book is called love 2.0 It builds on her first book-Positivity, picking up on the strengths of positive emotions in enhancing our wellbeing and focusing specifically on the emotion of Love as a key to improving our mental and physical health. However the twist is that she looks at what she calls this supreme emotion from a scientific perspective, stating that positive emotions and particularly love can set off upward spirals in you life that lift you up and make you a better version of yourself.

She sees love as tiny ‘micro moments of connection’ over a shared positive emotion. This can be between strangers and is not just focused at grand romantic gestures. For love to thrive though, people need to feel safe. The second pre-condition is a true sensory and timely connection, good eye contact and people to be both physically and emotionally present- social networking and texting doesn’t have the same impact!

So how do we start to develop further our loving emotions and micro moments of connections for our and others benefit> Take a look at the tools and meditations on Barbara’s site and hear more about Barbara and her work in this short video.





Career conversations and motivation at work

May 7th, 2013

Heather Johnston


In my workshops and coaching a common question I get asked is how to motivate people that are either a) not motivated b) coming up to retirement c) not in the top 10-20% or considered to be the backbone of the organisation with few vertical career opportunities.

In essence, I feel that one way to tackle this challenge is through the types of conversations that managers are having with their employees on a daily basis and at key review points. While competency systems are helpful in creating focus on what a role needs,  I think managers could benefit with coaching and training on how to have a really good career conversation with their employees. Why? Because the answers to the questions they ask will lead to a greater awareness of what inspires people, what makes them want to get out of the bed in the morning and hence give both the employee and the manager more of an idea about what really motivates them. This motivation drives personal development, performance and productivity.

Through exploring the types of questions to ask, really good listening,  taking a focus on strengths and an exploration of what makes work meaningful for people both the manager and the employee can build up a picture of what an employees’ ‘ideal’ looks like. The conversations are then looking at the alignment of people’s skills with an organisation’s needs, while at the same time addressing an individual’s intrinsic motivation rather than relying on typical extrinsic motivations of pay and promotion. While status, promotion and money are important most psychological research points to people being more fulfilled and flourishing by considering what drives them so that work moves from being just a ‘job’ through to a career or even for some a vocation.

..and what about those coasting towards retirement? Boredom can cause huge problems for those that that are understimulated or underchallenged-they rust out rather than burn out. Key here is exploring new challenges for the employee focused on serving others in the organisation, creating legacy and helping them start to manage the transition on to different things. We all liked to feel needed and appreciated..

If you would like to find out more about making the most out of career conversations workshops and skills boosters for managers and employees please do give me a ring or drop me a mail.



Wellbeing at Work Survey for both Individuals, Teams and Organisations

January 15th, 2013

Heather Johnston


At the end of last year, to further develop my services to sustain wellbeing within organisations in these current tough times, I attended a Masterclass with Nic Marks on a new Wellbeing at Work survey. Nic is known for his great work on wellbeing and developing the happy planet index

The survey is available to individuals and small teams (up to 5) and for a small cost of £6 per head (plus VAT) an organisation/team can survey its staff and gets results broken down by their own chosen demographics. Larger organisations will be able to take advantage of lowering marginal costs per user if they choose to survey the whole organisation. Small organisations can for the first time have a state of the art staff survey at an exceptionally reasonable cost.

The survey is based on a dynamic model of wellbeing developed with leading experts and is uniquely grounded in the latest psychological findings around wellbeing and happiness. Each question has been carefully selected to reflect what the evidence says impacts well-being at work and has been tested with thousands of respondents.

The wellbeing survey results give a more complete picture of employees’ experience than standard engagement surveys as it includes engagement and stress but also employees’ positive emotional experiences. For Chief Executives, Directors and HR departments the results can be compared between teams or by other demographics and the results act as a “mirror” reflecting back what is happening within the organisation and help people to have insights on how work could be happier.

What I like about the survey is that it provides instant individual as well as organisational results for real-time feedback, provides a simple interface presenting results in traffic light colours and has National benchmarks automatically built into the questions, providing individuals, teams and organisations with an anchor point to understand and compare scores. The survey can also be repeated over time to measure any change. To find out more have a look at the survey website

If you are interested in taking a temperature check of your organisation or team and are committed to some follow up action I believe this is a great tool to open up some very important discussions around sustaining and improving happiness at work. As research shows happier employees are more productive, healthier and creative and are more loyal and provide better customer service to clients. A win-win!

Please get in touch if you would like to find out more!