Above and Below the Line

Leaders: Your one New Year's resolution should be to improve the mental wellbeing of your team

Leaders will not be alone in making New Year’s resolutions for 2019 – but if they want their business to be more successful, they should choose just one: To improve the mental wellbeing of their team. 

If they succeed in this one resolution, everything else will improve as a result.  

Too many people are battling with low-level mental unhealth. Businesses will be more successful if more of their people rested in a healthy state of mind more of the time.

That mental wellbeing is easier to achieve than many realise, and that mental wellbeing will result in greater success. 

A significant proportion of people function at a low level of mental unhealth, a lot of the time. 

Low-level mental unhealth is at epidemic proportions. It’s a bit like fish and water. It is everywhere, to the extent that people just don’t notice it any more.  

When I meet people for the first time, they soon start to open up about what’s really going on in their mind. 

I’ve stopped being surprised at how many people succeed in business despite what I see as an unhealthy state of mind. 

That’s because it is possible to function at low levels of mental unhealth. People plough on. This is why it goes unnoticed and why the main focus of attention remains on dealing with ‘full scale’ mental illness. 

An unhealthy state of mind versus a healthy state of mind 

The diagram shows how we differentiate between an unhealthy and a healthy state of mind. 

This is not our description. These descriptions have been drawn from people on our programmes. 

Time and time again, people, and leaders, use the same words to describe the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy state of mind.  

As you can see, stress, pressure, frustration, aggression and competitiveness are all aspects of an unhealthy state of mind. 

Without these we are calm, relaxed, clear, confident. It’s obvious how coming from this state of mind, all competencies would improve. 

If people are no longer fighting against their own thinking, you can imagine how much easier life would get. 

We often refer to this as ‘above the line’ or ‘below the line’ kind of thinking. 

What is ‘above the line’ and ‘below the line’ thinking? 

Above the line is low-quality thinking, and below the line is high-quality thinking. Above the line is mental dis-ease, and below the line is ease. Above the line is unhealthy, below the line is healthy. 

The next question is always ‘why is high-quality thinking’ below the line and not above the line? 

That is easy. It’s because below the line is our natural and default state. If we could reboot our minds and get rid of the ‘viruses’ of disturbed thinking, we would default back to this state of mind. 

This state of mind is always available to us and we can ‘fall’ into that state of mind at any time. And we do. More than you might imagine.  

When people start to see this, and realise it for themselves, they fall back into their healthy state of mind more of the time. 

Read more: Want to be a better leader in the future? 

Imagine how much more productive, effective and efficient they perform when they do that. 

The trick is not to try to do that. The trick is in the understanding that this is how it works. 

When you see that it’s your relationship with your thinking that determines whether you are above or below the line, then you can go below the line more of the time.  

When you remain below the line more of the time, it acts as a tuning fork for others to follow suit, without them realising that is what is happening. 

How to remain below the line 

Joy, a participant on our recent online leadership programme, gave an example of how this understanding helped her and two other leaders in a meeting. 

The other two leaders were being competitive and argumentative. Each needing to win, they talked over the other. 

Joy remained below the line. She stayed calm and quiet. She recognised how, previously, she would have engaged in the same type of thinking and joined in the competition. 

She saw how her ego was tempted to go ‘above the line’ and join in.

Her understanding enabled her to ignore the invitation. She waited and stayed below the line. 

As a result, the two egos fell away in front of her eyes. Two people who started off ‘above the line’ started to listen to each other. Hear each other. Understand each other. A different outcome achieved. 

Joy, in that moment, changed the dynamics and therefore the outcome of the meeting by doing nothing – other than resting below the line. 

In doing so, she acted as a tuning fork for the other two to fall below the line. The meeting then became more collaborative and productive. 

Solutions were found to the problem. Solutions that wouldn’t have transpired if all three leaders had remained above the line.  

Leaders’ New Year resolutions must focus on a healthy state of mind 

As a leader, all you need to focus on and notice is your own state of mind. 

When you rest in a healthy state of mind, your team will find themselves there too. 

So, your New Year’s resolution for 2019 becomes even simpler. Don’t worry about anyone else’s state of mind. Make your 2019 resolution to notice and rest in your default, healthy state of mind more of the time.  

Then watch greater success follow. 

If you would like to understand more about how to do this, please do get in touch. We’d be delighted to share this with you. You can speak to us directly on 0344 335 0205 or email us at maria@meridianiliffe.co.uk


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