There’s a reason why Crossfit has become a global sensation, not because they reinvented exercise, people have trained in a similar way for years. The reason they have 13,000 ‘boxes,’ (gyms) and over 4 million members is because they found a way to create a culture, probably one of the most powerful examples we have in modern society. You only have to walk into a Crossfit box to feel it, there is a specific type of behaviour that’s encouraged to be part of the culture and that is to always give your best effort. Unless you’re willing to do that, you’ll probably realise Crossfit isn’t for you and you should find something else. The people that last in Crossfit buy into the culture 100%.
It made me wonder about the events industry, the culture that we have and the behaviours necessary to be part of it, because our environment is the key to starting and maintaining positive health behaviours.
The social culture of events and networking generally lends itself to behaviours of drinking, eating rich foods and staying out late.
More often than not networking involves having a few alcoholic beverages, if not for our own Dutch courage, then to avoid having to explain why we are ‘letting the side down.’ Most of all we just want to make a good impression with people, especially potential clients, “people buy people and all that,” and part of the networking culture dictates that in order to be relaxed and sociable, you need to grab a glass of Prosecco on arrival.
Ok it’s not always as prominent as that, no one is standing at the door with a wooden stick, forcing people to take a drink. It’s more of an unspoken ritual, a subtle part of our culture that to some extent we all partake in. Maybe it’s all in our heads, maybe no one is judging what we drink, but there is always that voice telling us that our networking performance will be way better if we take on board a few gins first. That decision is heavily influenced by the environment we create as an industry when it comes to networking events.
We definitely don’t need to replace that environment, it’s an amazing part of our industry, but like anything in life it’s great to have an alternative. Don’t forget many of us attend networking events multiple time a week as part of our jobs, so it can take its toll after a while.
Maybe there’s room for yoga-networking or meditation mornings or something with a nutritional focus where we can still build relationships with each other, that’s the real purpose of networking right? Lots of people in our industry are interested in wellness too, but it seems to be structured so that health and wellbeing is an extracurricular activity, something we fit in around our busy event-lives.
We are part of an industry that’s at the forefront of trendsetting, we create events around themes and concepts all the time, mostly to sell new products or to raise awareness for something important, but what’s more important than our health and wellbeing? Surely as an industry we can do more to encourage behaviours that benefit the mental and physical state of the people in it. Maybe alcohol doesn’t always have to be the catalyst for successful human interaction.
This is why I jumped at the chance to be part of the EventWell initiative, a social enterprise founded last year aiming to bring positive change to the events industry’s relationship with health and wellbeing. It’s given us a platform to encourage the industry, organisations and individuals to take a look at our culture and start thinking about how we can support positive health behaviours.
It’s not just about healthy networking events, it’s also about letting our employees know that their wellbeing is important to us, it’s about people feeling empowered and motivated to continue their New Year’s resolutions while they are at work but most importantly it’s about supporting each other to be the best versions of ourselves. To do that we need to be mindful of the environments we create and the behaviours that those environments facilitate. If we can learn anything from the rise of Crossfit, it’s that the most powerful way to reinforce positive behaviours is to create a culture and an environment that supports them.