Sep 7th, 2018
Culture Jam with Gavan Hennigan
For our second Culture Jam session we sat down with extreme environment athlete Gavan Hennigan to discuss physical feats, mental fitness and being kinder to ourselves.
From wrestling with mental illness and addiction in his youth, to having one of the world’s most dangerous jobs, to rowing across the Atlantic and competing in numerous extreme events and ultra-races, Gavan - now a national ambassador for Jigsaw, the national centre for youth mental health - has a unique perspective on overcoming challenges and on mental health.
Things got inspirational…very inspirational. So, our take outs this month are much more around the little things we can all do in life as well as work, to look after the old noggin.
STOP LISTENING TO YOURSELF, START TALKING TO YOURSELF.
We admit it. We are our own worse critics. We will be dubious through ideation, cynical in execution and sceptical in review. We will have picked apart and pieced together our work ten times over before anyone else has a word. We do this because we care. We do this because we want to deliver the best. We listen to the internal doubt and fear and let it guide us. But is that the only way to approach the work? What if we stopped listening to ourselves and started talking to ourselves? Now, of course, everybody experiences fear and doubt. That’s part of the human condition. But we can choose how much we turn the volume up and down on both.
So we’ve decided we’re going to talk to ourselves rather than listen too much to those niggling doubts and fears. But let’s be realistic, some days, we’re just not on top form. You missed the LUAS, the deadline’s been pushed forward, the meeting you’ve been prepping for has been cancelled. These things happen. And while we live in an age of rampant positivity and we’re meant to be ‘in control of our lives’, it’s impossible to be large and in charge at all times. And it’s unnecessary. Sometimes you just have to ‘zoom out’ on the Google Map that is life or work, take stock of the bigger picture and relinquish control. As four blokes from Liverpool once said, Let it be lads (ok, we added the ‘lads’).
LOSE THE STEREOTYPES
Men are strong. Women are emotional. Creatives are temperamental. Suits are pains in the arse. We live in a world of stereotypes, but we’re seeing more and more, most of the old stereotypes no longer apply, and what’s more, they can be damaging to the people they’re applied to. Gavan is a perfect example of this. He’s a former drug addict, commercial diver and extreme adventurer. He has what could be considered the world’s most masculine job and hobbies, but also happens to be gay. Stereotypes would tell us little about Gavan. As he says himself “I thought I was supposed to like the X Factor”. So let’s lose the stereotypes, take the power out of them. At our core, we all have good days, bad days, strengths and weaknesses, ups and downs. Labelling does little to help us understand people better and even less for our own mental health.