Make your team’s health top priority

October Newsletter

Make your team’s health top priority.

Hello friends

As you may know, our mission here at Living Teams is to ‘bring life to teams’ because teams are living systems and like any living system, they need to be nourished and nurtured if they are to survive and thrive.

And from what we see in your corporate landscape, it’s pretty stormy out there and burnout is at almost epidemic proportions – or should that be pandemic – another one.

24/7 is not a sustainable way of working.

And everyone knows that.

The challenge is doing something about it.

It always is.

How can we change the way we work if it’s not working?

In this edition of our campfire newsletter, we look at some pointers that might help find the path to a healthier future – one step at a time.

And of course, one leader at a time.

We are definitely stronger together and prioritising health in your team is probably the most important focus right now.

Saying a courageous yes to health means that you will have to say an equally courageous no to what is not healthy.

This is a time to take a stand – before more good people join the great resignation.

Tony, Andy and Pip

The “Living Teams” Team

You’re no good to anyone if you’re burned out

That might sound a bit harsh but it’s true.

So many bright individuals are falling victim to their strengths.

Yes, that’s right – victims of their strengths.

Strengths like ambition, desire, responsibility, drive, passion and grit.

If your ‘strengths’ lead to you working 70+ hour weeks; never turning off at weekends; problems sleeping; prioritising work over family; prioritising work over self-care; saying yes when you mean no; permanently exhausted…then those characteristics are no longer strengths – they have morphed into liabilities and that’s no good to anyone, you or the business.

Something radical has to change.

We talked with some of our corporate leader friends about this topic and everyone sitting around our virtual campfire had their own stories of burnout and exhaustion in their businesses – it is everywhere, and it is a real problem.

We concluded that the primary responsibility for change lies whole heartedly with us as individuals.

That means we have to set boundaries around our ambition; limits on our passion; we have to set limits on how much responsibility we take on ourselves; we have to learn how to say no when asked to contribute more…and more…and more; we have to listen to our bodies before they break down.

This is an interesting article from HBR which suggests that women do more to fight burnout…but at a cost.

See what you think…

This issue needs our urgent attention because sustainable success in any venture requires a healthy workforce.

Healthy, happy people are more creative, more innovative, more amazing in every department so it must make sense to prioritise health.

What will you do today to prioritise your own well-being?

Be selfish – if you want to help others

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“Dancing at the Edge” – your invitation to a team retreat in the French Alps March 2022

What if you could get away from it all with your team?

What if you had the space to just think and talk?

What if that space was in the beautiful French Alps next Spring?

What if you had time to align and get really clear on what is really important – and what is not?

What if you were invited to be the first to explore these questions with a group of 4 super experienced team coaches led by Andy Denne and Tony Barton?

What if this invitation is exactly what you need?

What if you say yes!

The one thing we don’t seem to have enough of these days is time.

Everyone is so busy – there’s hardly time to go to the loo!

The result is no quality time to think. No time to align. No time to explore. No time to listen to ourselves. No time to listen to each other.

Maybe it’s time we made time to do all of these things and more (or less)

That’s why Andy and Tony have created a Team Leadership Retreat for these times.

Join us around a real campfire to talk about what really matters.

Join us to write the next chapter for your team and your business.

“Dancing at the edge” is a 5-day retreat set in the beautiful French Alps (fly to Lyon).

It’s called “Dancing at the Edge” because that is where learning and growth happens.

We will help your team dance over the edge to a place of more clarity, more innovation, more collaboration, more focus on what really matters, more playing on purpose together as one team.

This is not for the feint hearted – it is for teams who are prepared to ‘do the work’.

If that sounds like you and your team let us know and we can start planning – our first retreat is in March and that will be the first of many.

Take time to recharge, renew, regenerate and rethink the future together.

Andy and Tony – your retreat guides

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Your ‘inner condition’ makes all the difference

As we look towards the future – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA) are not diminishing.

We all may wish that they would – but they are not.

We believe the future is inviting us all to collaborate ever better together.

We also believe that as we welcome the future – our “Inner Condition” makes ALL the difference.  As the future gets even more VUCA, we must amplify our curiosity, our compassion and our courage to act together in new ways.

The culture you create in your teams creates the culture of your organisation.

The “Inner Condition” of your team, creates the inner condition of your organisation.

Your individual competence in attending to your inner condition directly impacts the culture of your teams, which directly impacts the culture of your organisation.  And culture eats strategy for breakfast. Don’t forget culture and competence are functions of each other.

How CURIOUS are you?

Practice deepening your curiosity.  How open-minded are you?

Curiosity and a “learning/growth” mindset go hand in hand.

Be available to be danced by life.

Keep learning how to develop curiosity.

Remember Socrates: “the more I know, the more I realise I don’t know”.

Practice Tip: When going to meetings – before they begin – check in with yourself: “How open minded am I?” Take 3 breaths.  On each out breath – imagine your mind and your heart “opening” to receive the gifts of thoughts and ideas of others – the people you are about to meet.

Remember – we are all in this together – and together we find the path.


How much do you “walk in the other man’s shoes”?  How much do you allow your heart to feel what is true for all the other people involved in your projects?

Compassion means to suffer together.  How much do you give yourself permission to understand the struggles and challenges of each other – and allow yourself to lead with compassion… for yourself and everybody else involved on your projects?

Practice Tip:  Listen.  And then dig a little deeper.  BE interested.  WANT to understand and APPRECIATE. “What is the thought that drives that thought?” “It’s really interesting, what I like about what you are saying is…”

(Andy’s warning: This is all about empathy; It’s a natural muscle we all instinctively have deeply developed.  It’s part of being human.  If you use these tips as “tricks to manipulate” – those you use them on will “feel it” instinctively.  It will feel “off” to them and you will have damaged trust not built it.)

How COURAGEOUS are you?

Courage is defined in the moment.  In the moment we decide to leap or step back.

The courage to be curious and vulnerable rather than “knowing” and “secure”.

The courage to be compassionate and understanding rather than cynical and close hearted.

The courage to commit to the unknown path rather than hesitate or turn back.

Practice Tip:  In meetings – Go first, go positive.  Be vulnerable, speak from your heart not just your head.

We can all wait for other people to build the path into the future OR we can choose to lead.

Be part of the solution.


The successful leaders of today and tomorrow already feel and sense the need for new skills, mindsets, and behaviours.  They already feel the need for new, fresh, optimistic, hopeful leadership.

We work with teams who can already feel the invitation to grow.

Leaders of today and tomorrow are not martyrs who neglect their own wellbeing while they look after others. (Remember the oxygen mask instructions – make sure you put yours on first).

Leaders of today include themselves among the people they care for. They are often catalysts for remarkable projects and inspirational activity.  And they don’t let themselves burn out in the process.  They are always blending curiosity, compassion and courage – again, and again and again.

With Curiosity, Compassion and Courage “Do the very best you can, with what you have got, where you are”.

Competence and Culture are functions of each other.

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“I’m reading a book!” by Andy Denne

I love reading.  I deeply appreciate how it helps push my own thinking. This month I want to tell you about two great books that are helping me navigate my way through these times of upheaval.

“Courage is calling” by Ryan Holliday and “Dancing at The Edge” by O’Hara & Leicester

From “Courage is calling” by Ryan Holliday

“We are afraid to believe”

The psychologist Viktor Frankl, after surviving the Nazi death camps, spoke of his surprise with the “existential vacuum” that had fallen over Europe and the Western hemisphere. Good had prevailed over evil, technology had triumphed in the struggle over nature and want, and yet no one was happy and no one had any hope. The world he said was spiritually bombed out.

Yet it was because of his experiences in the holocaust that Frankl was not ready to despair.  He posed an urgent question to all future generations:

“Why did we bother to survive that awful hellscape if none of this has any meaning? What gives you the right to be so damn cynical?”


What I love about this is that it calls us forth.  If you are similar age to me – it was our grandparents who were the generation who fought to overcome said “hellscape”.  Cynical and cynicism is a state of heart – a state of being.  Plenty live their lives from this place.  You can join them easily.  You will never be lonely if you are cynical – you can find plenty of company.  And how about being brave instead?  How about making our ancestors proud of our efforts in our lifetime to carry the torch and pass it on to the next generations in ways that inspire them to keep building.

Cynicism is easy.  Compassion is a choice.

From “Dancing at the Edge” by O’Hara & Leicester

“What happens when cultural patterns are in flux?

When the old rules no longer function well because they are not up to the new levels of complexity, uncertainty and rapid change in society, but new rules have not been written?

When the falcon can no longer hear the falconer?

When a stable culture starts to collapse, the challenge is no longer just external: it becomes existential….

(Quoting Rollo May) When a culture is caught in the profound convulsions of a transitional period the individuals in the society understandably suffer spiritual and emotional upheaval; and finding that the accepted mores and ways of thought no longer yield security, they tend either to sink into dogmatism and conformism, giving up awareness, or are forces to strive for a heightened self-consciousness by which to become aware of their new existence with new conviction and on new bases.

We can as individual people or in groups adopt a more growth-orientated stance, neither denying nor tuning out the confusing and overwhelming complexity.  Instead we can sit with it, engage with it, develop and grow through it.  In some situations, when the conditions are right, we can transcend the apparent chaos and expand into something genuinely new.  We adapt to the times, allowing the new circumstance to call forth capacities we did not know we possessed.”

This book inspired the name of our new retreat venture that you can read about in this newsletter.  And if it sounds like it’s calling you…call us.


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Living Teams Rock Moments – Maisie Peters – Take Care Of Yourself

We hope you like our music choice this month, we feel the lyrics speak for themselves.

When it all goes bad
You’re the shrink of the club
But you don’t ever take your own advice
The world won’t fall if you’re not holding it up
Just take a minute, put your mind on ice

And you try and you try and you’re trying
But the burden is heavy and overgrown
And god knows that we all get tired
It’s a long night when you do it on your own, and I

I hate how you talk to yourself
It’s not weak if you need to be held
So cut off a little slack
And roll all your cavalry back
My love, take care of yourself


Call your friends, send your ego away, no
Don’t need to take it all so seriously
You don’t get a medal for the last one awake, so
Rest your eyes and give your baggage to me
And you try and you try and you’re trying
But the burden is heavy and overgrown
And god knows that we all get tired
It’s a long night when you do it on your own, and I
I hate how you talk to yourself
It’s not weak if you need to be held
So cut off a little slack
And roll all your cavalry back
My love, take care of yourself
And I hate how you’re going through hell, yeah
When you’d never let anyone else
So cut off a little slack
And roll all your cavalry back
My love, take care of yourself
Yeah, my love, take care of yourself
All these things we hide behind
Let’s not do that, you and I
Take a breath and take your time
Hold my gaze and we’ll be fine
‘Cause god knows that we all get tired
It’s a long night when you do it on your own, and I
I hate how you talk to yourself
It’s not weak if you need to be held
So cut off a little slack
And roll all your cavalry back
My love, take care of yourself
And I hate how you’re going through hell, yeah
When you’d never let anyone elseSo cut off a little slack
And roll all your cavalry back
My love, take care of yourself
Yeah, my love, take care of yourself
Yeah, my love, take care of yourself

Thanks for joining us around the campfire.

Making time and space for good conversations is essential if we are to solve some of the big challenges facing us all in these unprecedented times.

And judging by the evidence – time and space is in short supply these days.

We need to change that – which is why we have created our “Dancing at the Edge” team retreat – let us know if you’re interested and want to find out more, we are hugely excited about hosting you…and having the opportunity to sit around a real campfire together!

In the meantime – take good care of yourselves and each other.

Tony, Andy and Pip

The Living Teams Team