By Tabitha Beaven

Tabitha runs a business called Light Mind, a business that reminds corporate business and individuals to prioritise wellbeing through a sense of ‘light hearted’ living, in the work place and at home. She ran a taster at Uspire’s last conference in October. Here’s her blog about the day – originally written for Laughter Yoga leaders to help break down barriers to a corporate audience.

My previous life, was a corporate career in HR and Learning until I realised my need to hit the ‘reboot’ button. That’s when I found Laughter Yoga, through choosing to ‘do more things that made me smile’.

I recently attended a conference, exploring what challenges leaders might face in the future. Taking a day out to learn and reflect, I sat back to enjoy some brilliant speakers. First up was ‘Leading through Technology’, with Malcolm Smith. Pleasingly about how leaders will benefit from focusing more on what makes us human and how to spend more time in our right brain, which is the more intuitive and creative side. Incidentally, the side that activates when we laugh, as it’s our humanity and creativity that can’t be automated or optimised by robots!

Second, the importance of dealing with ambiguity and developing emotional resilience with David Wilkinson (another laughter light bulb moment!) There I was, reading ‘Fight – Flight – Freeze’ on screen and hearing the speaker explain our physical stress response when I get a tap on the shoulder. It’s Amanda Downs, one of the event organisers, (who I met when delivering a ‘Life Hacks to Live Lighter’ workshop – Hack Number One being ‘laugh for no reason’).

Aware the energy had dipped in the room, Amanda asks if I’m up for leading a short energiser. The stress response is no longer theoretical; I’m painfully aware of my flushed cheeks and heart beating like the clappers. I’m no stranger to standing up in front of large groups – but usually, I’m prepared.

Too good an opportunity to miss, I agreed (even though the fireworks going off in my body were trying to convince me to choose differently). From zero to laughter, I gave the context that ‘change is a coming’, but we’re human, and we don’t really like change. The unknown makes us feel uncomfortable, unsafe and threatened – not great news for business! But when we’re willing to take a risk, we’re taking the chance to grow and fully experience life. Leaders continue to ask teams to navigate change, and one way to feel more prepared and build resilience is to practice getting comfortable with uncomfortable. I then gave the room an invitation to spend the next few minutes making a choice to feel a bit uncomfortable.

Diving into the laughter handshake as a new way to network, we blew laughter sounds into a stress balloon, bursting them to release our laughter along with the message that we have a choice of how to respond to any given situation. If we practice responding in a more ‘light-hearted’ way, it helps build resilience. We really pushed comfort boundaries by jumping in laughter cars and taking a drive.

A few individuals chose not to engage, but my brief was to shift the energy in the room. An obvious ‘job done’ as people sat back down – you could see the smiles, feel the energy and see that they were more open to learn and receive the next agenda item. Laughter magic in action!

Sitting down, adrenalin pumping, I remembered all the things I’d meant to say. I’m glad I didn’t choose ‘safe’ – I felt uncomfortable and invited the room to feel something similar. Sharing an emotional experience enabled the group to connect on a more human level. The corporate audience can seem scary and unreachable, so it’s good to remember that we’re all people, with emotions and the same biological feel-good response to laughter. As long as you’re clear on the ‘why’ and lead the way, let the laughter do the hard work.

About Light Mind

Through Light Mind, Tabitha is on a mission to help people make new choices to feel better through laughter, carefree singing and being more playful. Because when we feel better, we do better.

Uspire’s next Commercial Leadership Conference is being held on May 17th. Guest Speakers Grant LeBoff & John Graham will cover ‘Smarketing your business & your personal digital brand’. To register your interest please get in touch.