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Flourishing or Languishing?


“It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.” – Adam Grant - author, organisational psychologist, and professor at the Wharton School.

It's May already!

Here we are, one third of the year has evaporated with two-thirds to go.

Some things have been achieved, with much more still to be accomplished.

My default is… be proactive, upbeat, pragmatically optimistic and action orientated. Well, at least I continually work on training my mindset and habits to make that my disposition.

However, for the last couple of weeks I have been feeling flat, dissatisfied and somewhat apathetic. I’ve been struggling to make progress with important work and while looking into the future for inspiration, the world just looked foggy, weird, and uncertain.

Was it the overwhelming tragic news of late about the continual and relentless domestic violence to women, along with the horrendous knife attack incidents in Sydney? Was this causing the way that I was feeling?

With all that going on, I still found I was ruminating on how self-indulgent it was not to be fully engaged at work (and life). I was feeling guilty for not doing that part of my job as a leader. My role is to be that person who brings energy, hope and possibilities into the room!

Then I recalled. There is a word for feeling this way: languishing.

In fact, my light bulb moment was to go back to Adam Grant’s brilliant article that he wrote during Covid, summing up the global ‘dominant emotion of 2021’ that was… languishing.

He said that languishing is the ‘neglected middle child of mental health’, or the ‘void between depression and flourishing’. When you’re languishing, it’s a sense that you are muddling through your day joylessly. Languishing, Grant warns, can dull your motivation and focus!

What we do know about having language and accurately identifying our emotions, (especially negative or alien emotions), is that we can ‘catch and own’ them before we slip into despair, or helplessness.

By being more emotionally intelligent and by acknowledging what’s really happening on an emotional level, it can be the start of our required transformation.

After re-reading Grant’s article, I felt a sense of relief (and power) by understanding that languishing is very common. It’s a shared experience for many people. Importantly, the real antidote is action.

We need to turn this feeling of languishing around by jumping back into an activity that we know will give us meaning and purpose.

Here we can move from being stuck, to regaining traction. It’s where we start functioning at our full capacity again. We can once again flourish whilst being fully engaged.

In my case, doing that one thing was finishing a new training product to launch for Proteus. How exciting. It gave me momentum back where I was quickly experiencing joy and progress again, while simultaneously getting on with leading and being of service.

Wishing you a wonderful week… turning languishing into flourishing.




Richard Dore
CEO - Director of Partnerships

Proteus Leadership


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