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Not on our Watch

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When I first found myself in a position of responsibility in my work life, four of the many pieces of advice I was given stuck and became part of my core values.

  • Each person day one in our organisation has every intention of doing an awesome job. If that changes, it’s quite likely because of something we have done.
  • Mistakes and bad things happen, the measure is how we deal with them. Great and amazing things happen, be mindful of at what cost.
  • The quality of the engagement equals the quality of the relationship.
  • No matter how daunting the task, just make a start, that alone will show you the way.

You wouldn’t say there are amazing revelations in these snippets of advice, most would agree they were obvious, they go across all aspects of life.

This week, we as a cycling community lost another amazing person, on our watch.

We start this life like a dry sponge, ready to absorb, to become a by-product of events and reactions to them. As we grow, the expectations align with each milestone, like benchmarks that are hard to live to. No one sets themselves on a course, to work towards suicide.

The misconception is that only bad events create bad reactions, and if success is in one’s life, then there can only be good reactions. Some of our failures prove to be our greatest learnings. Success and failure have a currency, there is a hidden price to pay for both. Success comes at a cost, hard work and commitment deliver results. Anxiety, sacrifice, loneliness, expectations, self-doubt and even a sense of loss or emptiness can be their price. It can also be ripped from us at any time, a love, a career, a family. What once felt rock solid can turn to thin ice.

Are we more primed to engage with our friends on the tougher events in life? An accident, a loss, a misfortune?  To reach out, to be there, to sympathise and empathise. Is it easier to show care for misfortune or is it simply more obvious? Is it harder to ask a successful friend are they ok, or are we pulling apart what they worked so hard to achieve?

Suicide is not a tally of all the bad things that have come your way. It would be nice if it was that simple. It’s a sum of the complexities of life and our engagement, or lack of within it. That means we all have a part to play. 

Today, good and bad things will happen to you and every person in your network, for each there will be a raft of reactions. Some of these will be small, that add to a compounding weight and some less obvious, others stand out as major life moments.  Be up for the engagement, to celebrate, to laugh, to simply be there, to look people in the eye, truly listen and engage.

Mental health carries a stigma like no other, it is one massive mountain to climb, so let's just start. Talk, share and care. Ask that extra question, step back and take the extra time. Just make a start.

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