Mental Health and Performance

Understanding this important workplace journey

Life is full of learnings and discoveries no matter how smart, how old or how experienced we are. During my four decades working in the fields of Clinical, Elite Sport and Organisational Psychology I have discovered two standout life learnings that have helped me immensely in my work and my approach to life generally. At a very basic level, life is composed of two dynamics that we really need to understand, appreciate and work with if we are to be successful in our pursuits and make the most of life’s wonderful opportunities :

  • My first discovery was that everything in life is a SYSTEM  or part of a system nothing is a stand-alone entity, and
  • My second discovery was that life is comprised of a myriad of JOURNEYS that we venture on as we make our way through the time we have.

For example, in regard to the first discovery, our heart is a system, our brain and liver are their own systems, our body is a system and our communities and countries are systems. This means that it is important in life to consider the dynamics of how a system works and connects with other systems. Don’t just consider, in isolation, one cog or part of a system, but you need to consider the whole working system. When the cogs, the parts that make up those systems, are in good working order and work well together (turn in unison if you like) then the system works well, is healthy and generally very productive and efficient.

However, in this article I want to concentrate on the second point of life being a series of journeys and focus on, in particular, the journey of well-being and productivity during our time we spend at work. Psychosocial well-being is a very topical subject now spear headed by the mantra of ‘psychological safety ‘in the workplace. It is also important to note that the need for Psychosocial safety in the workplace is backed up by legislation with quite severe penalties for those who do not adhere or contribute in a respectful and constructive manner.

So how can we understand the important aspects and inclusions for any journey we take in establishing Psychosocial safety and high performance for ourselves and others in the workplace. One of the other insights I have gained during my journey as a Psychologist is that the use of analogies can help people understand important psychological facts and concepts. I am therefore going to use the analogy of likening our journey in the workplace to a journey we take in a car (I’ll use this because most of us are familiar with travelling to places in our cars).

To travel successfully on a car journey the basic thing we need is the car to be in good mechanical running order. Same with us travelling successful through the workplace and our career. We need our body to be in good working order. So for us, things like eating healthily, regular exercise, enough good quality sleep and visiting a doctor for preventive or investigatory medical issues are essential to keep us running well, just as regular servicing and enough fuel on board are several essentials to keep a car running well.

Now in order for us to undertake a new journey by car from A to B we will also need a to know where we want to go and it helps motivation to get there to know why we want to go there. We will also need a well-functioning GPS and to utilise signposts as we travel the journey. To make sure we don’t detour too much from our chosen path. Now in the workplace our equivalent of the GPS is our brain and for it to be functioning effectively it needs to have learnt how to be Flexible, Adaptable, Rational, Positive and Solution Focused (FARPSing regularly). The sign posts as to whether we are on the right track are regular feedback and regular reflective practice to see how we are going. Now our brain, depending on how well it is ‘farpsing’, will dictate how well we navigate and successfully interact when we are in our workplace going about our daily activities.

When we have a good GPS and read the signposts as we travel in our car we will generally maximise our efficiency in travelling and not lose our way or go on too many costly detours. Our brain has the potential to greatly help us on our workplace journey through its ability to drive our; Thinking, Behaviour and Emotions in a constructive and beneficial manner so they help us achieve the necessary steps along our journey to ensure success and well-being. Like the GPS in our car will need adjustment and updating to remain effective, our brain needs us to help it have a good foundation of Flexible, Adaptable, Rational, Positive and Solution Focused approaches to our workplace opportunities and challenges. We need to service it quite regularly to ensure it remains ‘FARPSing’ and thereby helping us to resolve challenges, remain motivated, grow, learn and transform ourselves so we become the best we are capable of becoming and work effectively in collaborating with others to get things done.

Importantly we need to take personal responsibility for our journey in our workplace by being a positive role model for others and resolving barriers to our or others success quickly and effectively with a solution focused approach. At times we may also need to enlist the help and assistance of others or particular services such as HR, Management, Psychologists, EAP or consult with trusted people we admire who seem to be making a real success of their work based journey to gain advice, insights and ideas from. If we rely on others too much and don’t build belief in ourselves to make this important journey constructively and successfully, we begin to lose our self-efficacy. This is our belief in ourselves to be able to achieve those things in life that are really important to us. If we continually blame others or circumstances as to why we might be floundering at work and don’t take control of finding solutions we can waste a lot of time and effort on costly detours away from our success and fulfilment goals.

The highly trained and experienced team members at Veretis are there to help with the range of journeys you will go on as you travel through your life including the important work journey. If you feel you are stuck, or having trouble navigating your journeys our Psychologists can guide and coach you in those important areas needed for you to regain control and master your journey at work and in your personal life. We work with; Senior Executives, individuals, teams and whole of organisations with a range of evidence based programs and solutions.


Grant Brecht, Head of Clinical and Consulting at Veretis Group