Risk is inherently stressful and, most likely, you are absorbing that stress every day. Our editor, Lauren Gow, offer up a genuinely difficult challenge: take better care of one of your company’s greatest intangible assets – you.
At the moment the ink is drying on this issue of StrategicRISK, I will have completed a 25-day journey of more than 21,500 miles, across 22 time zones, three continents, with two pieces of luggage and countless double macchiatos. The jet lag is horrendous and I find myself working at odd hours and, often, on little more than a few hours’ sleep.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not complaining. This is all part of my job as a magazine editor on an international publication and travelling is something I genuinely love. But the personal toll this takes on me, and anyone else who travels like this for work, cannot be underestimated. According to Psychology Today, prolonged sleep deprivation is an especially insidious form of torture because it attacks the deep biological functions at the core of a person’s mental and physical health.
I have spent a lot of editorial this year, and in fact dedicated much of this issue, to highlighting the often-missed intangible asset risks within organisations. However, what had not occurred to me until my most recent trip is that I am neglecting to risk manage the most important intangible asset – myself.
Like everyone, my ability to perform my job to the highest standard possible relies on my mental stamina. Protecting and nurturing mental health is becoming more important in every workplace and it has long been a passion of mine. And yet, how quickly I forget this when I am under pressure. The need to do more, to say yes to everything, be everything to everyone and an overwhelming burning desire for perfection often leaves me on the brink of burning out.
As risk managers, your job is inherently stressful. The very definition of risk means ‘exposing someone or something of value to danger, harm or loss’. You are dealing with crises or trying to predict and stop a crisis before it occurs. Every day, you are pulled in multiple directions across your organisations and must manage multiple stakeholder expectations within unrealistic timeframes.
There is no doubt in my mind that this pressure must take its toll on you as individuals. Especially when you feel this hard work is undervalued by your organisation. One risk manager in Singapore recently said to me: “Sometimes I wonder why I bother. Management don’t even read my reports.” To this person: you are not alone, trust me. I hear this much more often than I care to.
As you read through our special report on protecting intangible assets or check out Warren Black’s latest piece on preparing for the Fourth Revolution, I want you to consider your own value as an intangible asset. Your value to your organisation should not come at any cost. Whether it be the long hours you work in the office sandwiched by a long commute, or checking your phone for emails while also trying to reading your kids a bedtime story or enjoy time out with friends, all of this takes its toll on you.
We all need to get better at risk managing ourselves. I don’t know one person who does it well. As a collective, we need to put more value on ourselves and our time. I am sure, like me, most of you love what you do, but that doesn’t mean it always loves you back. Take care of yourself because unless you do, everyone loses and how will we risk manage our way out of that one?
I have a challenge to you, my readers, for the remainder of 2019. Sure, work your hardest. But go for that run. Take an afternoon off because it is sunny. Sleep. Don’t check your phone at the cinema. From this I can guarantee, we will all manage our intangible asset risk better. What organisation wouldn’t want that kind of experience?