It is very sad to read about the suicide of the former chief executive of insurance company, Zurich, Martin Senn. How distressing for his family.
When I read things like this, rather than point a finger at another corporocrat, I wish that he had had the opportunity to learn that he is so much more than his job. His sense of self-worth was never dependent on how much his annual bonus was or his post code.
Your identity is not all about the work you do. If you are aware of this, as yoga and meditation wisdom teaches, you will show up for work using the individual talents and gifts you were born with and enjoy what you contribute.
You may also understand that it is necessary to balance your dedication to and responsibility for work with other things that make up your life and living.
Most of us show up in the workplace with our insecurities which make us susceptible to the unspoken codes of what consitutes a valuable employee: one who works late, works harder, schmoozes and politics around to secure a career.
The cost adds up: ignoring physical and mental health until you cannot switch off or sleep at night, snapping at those you are closest to, resorting to unsportsmanlike behaviour to ensure ‘visibility’, perhaps, and many more unsavoury behaviours and ways of being.
I wish that this former chief executive had learned the balance, wisdom and strength that comes from meditation and yoga practice. Even if he had made decisions that were not taken well by shareholders and higher powers, it wouldn’t be the end of his life. He just made decisions that didn’t please the powers that be. Nothing more.
Realising this, he may have allowed himself the opportunity to review his life and make some changes that would allow him as a person to flourish and perhaps contribute his skills elsewhere – can you imagine what someone with his skills and experience could do at the helm of a charity or an ailing business?
We are so much more than the limited identities that we allow ourselves. And if we are aware of this, the workplace is better for it with productive employees who know how to take care of themselves, saving the company paying out unnecessary sick leave.
This is an awareness that would offer wider perspectives at work to enhance interpersonal relating, decision making and help companies to flourish. We would have so much more to offer organsations if we lived with more balance.
Meanwhile, my thoughts are with this Martin Senn and his family now.