Author Archives: Sukh Pabial

About Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development in the workforce. One blog is about that. The other is about tennis.

Is being healthy, healthy?

I’ve been reflecting lately about how healthy I am.

I’m hardly unhealthy, but I’m certainly concerned about how healthy I am.

It’s almost akin to asking myself how normal I am. And we all know what a fallacy that question and that terminology is.

So I consider the various things I have going on in my life.

I’m doing ok at work. It’s hard to know how well I’m doing, regardless of the feedback I’m getting (both constructive and positive). That’s more to do with my own standards and my own stamp on things. I want to achieve things in a certain way, I have thoughts about the direction I’m travelling, and there’s a journey to go on with all jobs. Life is good, work is engaging and there’s a fair share of good outcomes and good challenges.

My career is important to me, and I’m managing it as best I can. I’ve achieved some pretty cool things thus far and I’ve got more to do. Professionally, I’d like to further my studies in positive psychology, and there’s a whole list of unticked boxes about external validation that I’m starting to crave. Oh the sweet, sweet lure of an award. A meaningless bit of recognition that offers a beautiful stick in the shape of an achievement.

The blog is going quite nicely. It gives me an outlet for various thoughts and a forced focus for clarity and articulation. Writing regularly is not easy, but it is good fun.

My family are doing as well as can be. Thankfully we’re all well. The kids are learning lots of useful things at school, they’re having all sorts of arguments with each other, and at the same time playing well and testing boundaries. My wife is getting on very well in a her role and developing a great set of skills.

I’m mentally well – or at least I think I am. It’s something I’ve become massively mindful of. My own thoughts and what they’re telling me, my behaviours and how they reflect what I want, my language and how I talk with others, and the busy-ness in my head and where it takes me. That regulation is important, and that reflection helps me understand myself better.

Financially, I’m always learning. Commitments are being met, challenges are abound, and opportunities are not being sought clearly enough. Life is good, and I am only improving what I know about personal finances, as well as having better understanding of current affairs and the impact of a down economy on everyday life.

I’m physically in a good place. I started going to the gym in October, and go at least 2-3 times a week. I’m enjoying it, and can feel and see improvements. Whether this continues beyond the year I’m contracted to is another matter though.

Spiritually and religiously life is growing. I don’t believe I’ll ever be a strongly religious person in terms of practise, but I will be the best Sikh I can in the absence of becoming a practising Sikh.

I have a good set of friends, and am keenly aware in recent months my time with them is not as much as I’d have liked – but that’s the way it is sometimes.

I take time out to just do nothing and allow myself to just be, without being mindful, without being considerate, without achieving something, without expectation on myself.

All sounds fine and dandy doesn’t it? And in truth, it is.

I’m no different to anyone else. I have my ups and I have my downs. Life is good on some days and downright miserable on others. I make of life what I choose, and only I am responsible for how I live my life. When things are good, I enjoy those moments. When things are not, I fight to not problem-solve and just let them be. I am a good version of me, and of this I am proud.

What’s going on with you?

Whispers and Shouts

Sukh Pabial:

Top bit of writing and reflection here. Please do read.

Originally posted on fuchsia blue :


I wonder.

I wonder if I can be quietly powerful in this world.

I wonder if I have to shout.

I wonder…. Can I move situations on without fuss or ego?

Can I understand the system and whisper into it compellingly?

Can I invite you to listen to me?

Can I stir quietly?

Is it possible to elicit change without a maelstrom of noise and indignation and tub-thumping and right-ness?

Can I change a mind through a calm conversation?

If I work with quiet precision and care, can I craft something new and beautiful?

Can I laugh you into submission?

Or must I project myself?

Make my presence felt?

Command the room?

Make a noise?

Demand you hear my story?

Must I put myself in the story?

Yell for change?

Work with vigour and energy and determination  and heat?

Must I rage against the machine?

Shake the system?

Beat the…

View original 52 more words

Microcosms, engagement and trust

So there I was in full flow working with a group of managers. Good discussions were being had, good insights were being made, and lots of supportive behaviours being exhibited. We had humour, we had been fed, we had a very conducive physical environment.

Life was good.

Everything was telling me the upcoming exercise was being primed in the right way. People were having open dialogue, they were challenging assertions and practices. They were getting clarity and following directions and instructions moving from one task to the next.

I was a happy facilitator.

Then I introduced an exercise designed to give feedback to peers. It was based on the fishbowl methodology and I had confidence in the design of the session that this was the right point in the day to invite the group to participate.

And I was faced with a mixed bag of comfort about doing this exercise. So much so, we ended up doing a different exercise to the one planned.

I can deal with discomfort in a group. I can deal with nerves, anxiety, annoyance, anger, and I can deal with not believing in the model.

Had I failed? What went wrong? How were they not ready to do this? What was missing?

Trust. That’s what was missing.

What I had thought was because I was seeing engagement, and everything was telling me that they were engaged, that they therefore trusted one another.

But they didn’t.

They trusted each other as professional colleagues, but they didn’t trust each other as partners. They trusted each other to do the job they’re there for, but they didn’t trust each other enough to support one another’s development.

Big moment right there.

I can imagine the very same thing happening up and down the country and in organisations all across the modern world. Teams are working together because that’s what they’re paid to do. People are collaborating on projects because it’s a good way of working. Managers are leading on projects because that’s part of their remit. New workers are learning about their new organisations because the induction programmes are better than ever before.

They’re engaged.

But are they working better? Are they calling out bad behaviour when they see it? Are they celebrating achievements when they see them? Are they challenging each other to achieve better and more? Are they having difficult conversations about performance? Are they innovating and making their products and services better?

Because you need to trust one another to do those things.

These microcosms of activity are a reflection of the wider activity in organisations.

It’s what I’m learning more about in my role as a facilitator and as a L&Der. If I can help move people to trust one another, then I’m already fulfilling the engagement factor.

What is appreciation?

Sometimes in life it’s hard to know how to accept things offered to us.

The adage goes “it’s the thought that counts” with the added assumption – so you better appreciate the effort.

But what about those times you don’t appreciate something? When something has been offered and you’re just cynical about it. I mean, just what do we do with appreciation?

“I appreciate you” or “I appreciate what you tried to do” or “I appreciate the situation you’re facing”.

Such a loaded and confusing turn of phrase. It can swing from being a genuine “that was kind” to “I need to appease you quickly and efficiently”.

Appreciating people is hard. It means you have to take a moment and consider just what it is you’re trying to do.

Connecting with another person, that’s what you’re doing. When you appreciate something, you’re letting them know you have empathy with them and you are sharing in something they have offered.

It means letting go of your ego for a moment to accept the other person. To accept that they tried something for you and regardless of the outcome their action meant something.

Because all we can do is judge people on our actions.

When the call centre person says “I’m sorry and I appreciate what you’re going through” it’s hard to know if that’s genuine, or if it’s the patter they’ve been trained to say.

But when we recognise someone for doing something, and we let them know – that’s beautiful right there.

I have a call to action for you.

Get in touch with someone. Let them know you appreciate them. You don’t have to use the words “I appreciate you for…” as that can seem quite contrived. But you can let someone know why they’re appreciated.

Truly it’s a gift. We often reserve if for our close loved ones. Imagine how much stronger and more connected we could be if we accepted and appreciated what someone else did.

Beyond that though, we start to realise we can appreciate all sorts of things. We can appreciate difference – be that difference of skin colour, difference of opinion, difference of religion, difference of work practise, difference of hair style, and all sorts of difference.

When we can appreciate that which is beyond our modus operandi, that’s when we become the best we can be. We don’t have to like what’s happening, but an action being appreciated means we start to bridge gaps to resolution.

Reflections on social sourness

So last week became one of the most fascinating experiences I guess I’ll ever have on the blog.

I was calling out the ease at which being present on social media gets confused with being a forward thinking progressive practitioner.


When you have a community you’re tapped into – DO NOT CALL THEM FAKERS.

They don’t like it. I insulted quite a few folk. I had a fair few agree with what I was saying. I had more railing against the post and proving to me how social made a real difference in their lives.

If you’re gonna do it, you need to have a ready fitted suit of armour waiting, and a whole lot of patience and empathy in hand. It’s tiring, and I was exhausted two days later still reeling from the effects of what I wrote. Not because of what I wrote, but because of the ongoing conversations.

Here’s some of the suggestions and reactions I had because of the post:

“Take a break from writing for a while till you’re feeling better.”

“Maybe you’re in a bad mood.”

“Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed?”

“Who are you actually referring to in this post?”

I accept my delivery wasn’t palatable.

What has certainly been interesting is the reaction. It’s almost as if the reaction was more against me than what I wrote. That is, people know my writing and thereby get a sense of who I am and what I stand for. And then there I am calling social media a pile of nonsense with no real benefit for practitioners. This went against my perceived MO.

It’s like people thought I was writing about them personally.

I get it yo. It’s my thing as well as it is your thing. I live and breathe my social media life just as much as my non-digital life. To be told it’s all for nought is a big ol’ pile of wank.

What’s further interesting is suddenly people think I’m against sharing and positive supportive commenting based on your social presence.

Erm, what?

Seriously people, I wrote something based on my observations. It created a set of polarisation I’ve not directly experienced before.

Does this suddenly mean I no longer believe in the value of social media?

Most certainly not. It means I can be critical of the thing I value so much, and carry on because that’s all I was doing.

But if anything it has strengthened a resolve for me.

Ideas and opinions are all well and good provided they have a basis or help push thinking and action forwards.

But for me, the sharing of practise is what helps people get creative and innovative. They hear and see how something has or hasn’t worked, and can decide on making things happen in the way that makes sense to them.

So here on out I’m gonna be more mindful about the knowledge I share, my practise and what it informs.

Also, what is absolutely fascinating for anyone interested in the whole ‘social learning’ argument, is that in that post was essentially outlined why social learning is the thing to embrace in organisations.

Change, Social Media and Fakers

I’m calling you out. Every single one of you.

You’re all liars.

You’re all fakes.

And you wouldn’t know change if it came and slapped you with a wet fish.

Offended? Or at least confused?


I’m just as big a faker as you all are.

We write, in this social space. We pontificate, we hypothesise, we ruminate, and we stroke our own egos.

No one challenges us. Not really. They want to work with us and collaborate to achieve more.


We read, we share, we retweet, and we congratulate.

“Excellent post!”

“Great read!”


But it all means nothing.


You’re lulling yourself into the biggest false sense of security around.

“But it’s being talked about on social meeja, it must be happening somewhere.”

Have you changed because of what you read?

Or are you just motivated that someone has “risen above the noise”?

Yo, I’ll tell you now. My practise is the same as yours.

I use an LMS to administer and book people onto learning sessions.

I divvy out evaluation sheets to keep the powers that be happy.

I walk away so I can fight battles another day.

I favour face to face over online learning.

I write business cases and I write reports.

I’m a cheat.


You know the one’s who are making the difference?

The ones who know there’s a better way and making it happen.

And in all likelihood, they’re not on social media sharing their knowledge.

Not because they don’t want to, but because they’re out there making a difference.


All of us.


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