How Rich are You?
I’m pretty sure, everyone’s heard the famous proverb, health is wealth. And just a few months back, I felt I was “pretty aware” of what it meant - even though I definitely wasn’t living up to it. Because as much as I understood the importance of a healthy lifestyle, I didn’t practise what I preached.
To be honest, I outright neglected it. Instead of maintaining a healthy balance between indulging from time to time and regularly overdoing it, I’d frequently enjoy the tastiest cuisines, sip on gin and juice and reward myself with a cigarette. On top of that, exercising or regular movement certainly wasn’t on my agenda.
Taking all that - along with other factors - into consideration, it doesn’t take a genius to guess what happened next: a severe heart attack at the age of 41.
So coming back to the proverb I mentioned initially and to stick to the finance lingo when it comes to my health, I was basically on the verge of bankruptcy.
Endurance is Good - Maintenance is Better
So what is it I am trying to tell you? It’s quite simple. We typically tend to continue the way we do, when things are going well for us or we believe they are in order rather. In short - if ain’t broke don’t fix it!
And even though I don’t believe in over-engineering or being overly precautious, I had to learn the hard way, certain foresight is inevitable if you don’t plan on leading the life of a crash test dummy.
Meaning, it’s crucial to have a look at what’s going on inside of you, observe what’s happening to you and pay attention to the indications your body and mind are sending you - at least from time to time. At the end of the day, I realised it doesn’t take a medical professional to understand when something’s not right with one. All it takes is common sense, logic and reacting to it and yes, undergoing regular health checks with your family doctor, simply because you never know until you know.
Now before you get the impression I’m going to hold a sermon on the aforementioned, relax. Because here’s a little anecdote that’ll help you understand where I’m coming from: Back in the days, whenever I’d detect something wrong with my car, I’d try and find out what it was, how I could fixed it, and as last resort, take it to the repair shop and have it fixed there - provided I had the cash and if there reeeeeaaaally was no other workaround ;)
Fortunately living in Germany, where health insurance and medical treatment are usually available for everybody, going to the doctor or the hospital if something’s not right, shouldn’t be your last resort - and no, I’m definitely not trying to turn you into a hypochondriac.
But despite having all facilities at hand and, in my case with indications being so evident, it still took several warning shots, including being diagnosed with diabetes prior to my heart attack, before I actually realised something wasn’t right.
Instead of looking after myself, I neglected my personal health for years together. As an obese person, climbing stairs or rushing to the bus/train station always got me out of breath, my heart act a bass drum and break a sweat at the slightest effort.
But I didn’t bother to listen to those signs since I was enduring and felt my health was in “working condition”. I was aware I needed to change something “at some point”, but for now I’d continue doing what you do; this is usually the case when you’re used to driving crappy old cars - you manage somehow, you do the minimum to maintain a “working state”. Well, I got news for you, all your endurance is worthless, without regular maintenance.
Because your health is your only true asset. The moment you’ve internalised this is the moment you’ll respond to your health with the priority it deserves.
Your Job is not Your Life, but Your Life is Your (Main) Job
‘Get what I’m saying? I’m not implying to stop putting your heart into what you do, but your job shouldn’t be your only and utmost priority. Don’t get me wrong, I love my profession, I enjoy working at InVision ever since and above all, I take pride in achieving results and helping the company thrive.
Yet, there’s more to it and we seem to miss the bigger picture most of the time. To understand this, ask yourself what use you are to your company if you’re not in a state of well-being?
Our overall well-being is vital but isn’t limited to our physical health. It equally affects our emotional and mental well-being as much as our happiness.
When I returned to work after being “out of order” for roughly two months, I experienced an awkward, yet exciting feeling on my first day. It felt like going back to school after the summer break. I was curious to know what I had missed, to see what had changed, what the latest gossip was. But most of all, I was happy to be back and more than that, my co-workers gave me the feeling they were, too.
I was happy for several reasons, but most of all, because I was in balance. Over the years I’ve come to understand, being in sync with oneself is crucial for one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. But being in sync is also based on various factors, among them, one’s environment or (life-changing) decisions one makes.
No worries, I’m not going to get all spiritual now. But here’s an example for what I’m saying: During my time in rehab, I decided to return to work after roughly two months and not stay home any longer. I made that decision because it felt right at that point. A few days before returning to work however, I asked myself if I had made the right choice?
Although I still felt good about myself, fresh and motivated, I needed some reassurance that my decision was still right. So I asked myself why I made that decision? Did it feel right at that point? And if it did, what reason would I have to doubt it now? And if it didn’t feel right now, what could I do to change it?
Eventually, reflecting on my situation didn’t just help me clear my doubts, but particularly made me understand how essential it is to be in sync with yourself. Because being in sync with yourself typically results in being in sync with your environment, which ultimately defines your overall well-being and therefore deserves to be your top most priority.
A Good Feeling is All it takes to Feel Good
Today, several months later and roughly 30 lbs. lighter, it feels like nothing ever happened. I’m back to my routine, I still enjoy what I do, but I’ve managed to turn around my life by simply adopting one golden rule for myself: Moderation, in every aspect of life. It’s definitely not a walk in the park, but it’s feasible.
Apart from having quit smoking and working out regularly, I still have a drink from time to time. I also still laze around, indulge in the tastiest - and mostly fattening - cuisines, enjoy cakes, pastries, chocolates and candy along with the occasional junk food. So yes, I still do what’s fun, but I’ve learnt to be more conscious about it - it’s as simple as that.
From a physical standpoint, it doesn’t take a master-mind to understand what I had been neglecting for years and what I had to change. However, on an emotional and mental level, things are more complex.
It’s till today, that the episode I’ve experienced has made me reflect on certain aspects of life on a factual level, but, for some reason, it hasn’t had an emotional or mental impact on me. In fact, I’d go so far to believe this incident has helped me put things into perspective, resulting in a more pragmatic approach towards life.
There might be several reasons for why I feel this way, but, as you can imagine, I have my own theory in place. As mentioned before, when returning to work I felt very happy and excited.
Reason being my co-workers, but especially my teammates, who perceived me in a way that made me feel like a long-lost family member returning home. Not for a moment did the requirement arise to have to re-adapt to my work environment. In fact, to me, it seemed I’d never been away.
I guess it’s because my teammates and I had kept in touch regularly that made the difference and gave me a feeling of stability and safety. We always knew what was going on and updated each other frequently. We also met up in private after I was discharged from rehab, which really helped reinforce our connection.
A simple gesture that created a feeling of appreciation and attachment.
It’s About Give and Take
I mentioned earlier you need to ask yourself what use you are to your company when you’re not in a state of well-being? On the other hand, what’s your company doing to support your personal well-being?
Ok, you might earn a decent salary and a few perks on top. But does your company’s obligation towards its employees end there? I don’t think so. How seriously is your company taking its responsibility towards providing a safe and healthy work environment for its staff?
I’ve come to understand, regardless of its size, any company can support its employees’ well-being by introducing simple measures. For starters, how about replacing the candy bar with fruits and nuts - even at the risk of a revolt - encouraging your co-workers to go for a walk after lunch, regular meditation/work-out sessions or getting together for a pizza and movie night every then and when?
From a purely economical point of view, the aforementioned may sound like an investment with zero (immediate) returns. But looking at it from a “Richard Branson” perspective, who once famously said “take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business”, it seems like a sustainable investment.
Now InVision does just that - well, not exactly that and not all of it, but some of it, such as:
- Supporting a trainer for outdoor workout sessions
- Supporting pilates classes at the office
- Arranging (remote) sessions with a mindfulness coach at the office
- Arranging a flu vaccination session for the staff at the office
- Encouraging its staff to host regular meetups and events by providing the venue, catering and organisational support
- Serving fresh fruits and nuts instead of candy
Especially the latter is something I’d like to elaborate on because the company’s emphasis on healthy nutrition doesn’t end there. Instead of a canteen or vending machines, InVision operates its very own restaurant at its Dusseldorf headquarters, where the InVisionChefs work their magic and serve freshly prepared and healthy meals to their colleagues every single weekday.
Now all that sounds great, but what’s InVision doing to create and retain a sustainable atmosphere that helps employees identify with and stay committed to the company? Well, above all, every employee is encouraged to contribute towards the company’s progress, and this particularly includes measures aimed at improving all “InVisoneer’s” well-being as well as questioning existing procedures and voicing one’s opinion.
But of course, there are also several practical approaches in place, such as being flexible in terms of holiday allocation, working hours and working location within the office premises or at home if need be. Moreover, you’ll find bunks in the office for those who believe in the effectiveness of power naps.
Bottom line is; the company operates within a framework that supports personal growth and well-being while providing an environment that takes mindfulness just as much as physical, emotional and mental well-being of its people into consideration - one of the reasons I bounced back so easily.
To sum up, let me say this: There’s always room for improvement - also at InVision. Yet there are probably only a handful companies out there that give you the opportunity to contribute towards the company’s progression while understanding your personal development and well-being are just as important.