6 months ago, a friend of mine, 44 years old, passed away. Reason: cardiac arrest
Couple of weeks later my husband’s ex-colleague passed away. He was 41 years old. Reason: cardiac arrest
Two months later, a friend of mine shared that the head of sales of her company passed away. He was 50 years old. Reason: cardiac arrest
A fortnight ago, my 43 year old schoolmate, a mentor & inspiration to many, collapsed playing weekend cricket, never to wake up again. We were to see him at the 25th year school reunion. Reason: Yeah, you guessed it! cardiac arrest
So if you are anywhere close to the 40th year mark, you have to be really an ostrich if you did not wake up to this reality and connect the dots.
Why are all these super successful men dying of cardiac arrest at such an early age, leaving a young family behind them - Why?
I heard that one of them had recently been asked to leave the organisation that he had served in for the last 20 years (basically his entire career). Another had a role that had recently been made redundant as the organisation had been with had been bought over and his career was suddenly uncertain. The third was a very high achiever and wanted to keep pushing himself for greater goals though he had amassed enough wealth for a lifetime.
This really concerns me on several levels.
1. The complete insensitivity and de-humanization of corporate life is a disaster staring at us in our faces.
2. The constant treadmill that corporate executives are running on without a breather is a worrying trend. It is even more bothersome that this way of living has wide-spread acceptance as the right way to be.
3. The underlying loneliness and lack of sharing as stress builds up inside of us and our inability to pick up the warning signals leading to premature health disasters is a call for immediate solutions. We need to be able to see when we ourselves or our loved ones need help and know what to do about it.
4. There is a far reaching impact on children growing up in such stressed out homes. Can we not anticipate the downward spiral in the mental health & capacity of future generations?
5. Achievement in overdrive is taking people to the brink of disaster. Why is there so much focus on achievements?
Who is going to do something about this? Who can do something about this?
1. The employer organisation:
Can they tone down their profit and growth expectations and instead see themselves as a place where people thrive? Can they aim to be a workplace where people come to work looking forward to the value that they are going to create for society and the planet instead of a place of drudgery & the pressure that they have to tolerate till the coming Friday (and even on weekends)?
2. The executive themselves:
Can they start saying no? No to unrealistic demands on their body and mind and time , recognising that this high pressure existence is anyway not sustainable and living a more balanced life with lesser money is better than popping off suddenly from the fear, stress & anxiety of losing the high paying job in the blink of an eye. Can they appreciate that if they are not the voice of solution then in this case, they are the silent perpetrator of the problem.
3. The Community :
Can we start reaching out to create connection so that its easy to see when a person is in high pressure or in depression and do something to support them? Can we abandon the falsehood of social appearances and embrace authentic sharing?
Let us think about our life. Not just the external trappings but the inner mechanics of our body and mind. Let us not accept pains, stress and pressure as a normal way of living. Let us challenge ourselves about our lifestyle, our day to day living. What do you need to change? How can you bring more balance in your life? How can you sleep better?
Then its time to look around. Or look up from the device in your hand. At your friends, family and colleagues. Really see them. Anyone who seems in need of a friendly conversation? Go ahead. Have that heart to heart conversation. You never know you may save a life!