The mental wellness story of one of our founders

The mental wellness story of one of our foundersKaur Lass as Conscious Initiative conference moderator
09.03.2021

Our Managing Director and one of our founders, Kaur Lass, often hears the question: What is your mental health story? 

Kaur has written his mental wellness story and now shares it with you. It opens up that you can be and stay well while working with mentally demanding tasks.

We hope it inspires you to stay well!

TO STAY WELL = KNOWING HOW TO DEAL WITH PRESSURE

I have experienced a lot of external pressure as my main business was spatial planning and environmental consulting. Leading any spatial plan means you get to meet different people. Some are thriving and productive entrepreneurs, others are worried or stressed, and some are angry. Some even come and shout at you, as they are irritated. Some even threaten you as they do not like what might be coming close to their backyard (the famous NIMBY effect). Every person is different. While most people are lovely, some provoke you and some blame you for their struggles.

I have always looked at those situations as a challenge to stay calm and focus on my professional task.

That task was – to get the plan at hand made with the best possible quality, sometimes with compromises, sometimes with finding a consensus. Sometimes the developer and local municipality got what they want without any disagreements. Every plan that I was involved with was different. However, each of them demanded dedication, focus, and inner calmness, as you needed to reach the numerous agreements demanded by law during the tightly regulated spatial planning process.

Almost 20 plans, out of the 450 that I was involved with, ended up in court here in Estonia. Every single court case out of those was victorious, as we did our work professionally in an impeccable way and managed to kept calm with our team. However, finding a way to stay calm isn't exactly taught to us in school and remained something to be figured out by trial and error in real-life situations.
 


A short overview of the different plans that Kaur Lass has been involved with from 1995 to 2015. Slides are shared with the permission of the OÜ Head.

Preparing a high-quality plan that is legally correct has never been a question of luck. It has been a question of dedicated work, documentation, lengthy negotiations, and excellent written motivations. You do not survive on this kind of job when you are stressed and lack the capacity to sustain focus for very long periods. The ability to observe, notice, and adapt to the situation as you move along also comes in handy.

 

THE PRESSURE IS NOT THE PROBLEM, YOUR REACTIVITY IS

Let me be honest: Doing spatial plans = exposure to constant external pressure

I have seen many colleagues and competitors burn out and suffer. I aimed to find a way to avoid it. Hence my interests in awareness studiesmental wellness, and psychology. This interest was always practical – I needed the hands-on skills to stay well as a planning expert and as an entrepreneur responsible for running my business. Besides keeping a calm and focused mindset, I also needed to calm others down by showing leadership.

Luckily, I had an excellent awareness teacher Ingvar Villido, and I was married for a long time to a bright psychiatrist Dr. Helena Lass (who now is my business partner). Probably the fact that my mom was a psychologist also helped.
 


Besides leading a planning business, Kaur Lass has been moderating and organizing Conscious Initiative Conferences in partnership with Dr. Helena Lass. Photo by Madis Palm. 

The supporting factor for sure was reading leadership, awareness, and psychology-related books. I always understood my own responsibility. But theory is one thing and standing in front of people in a public meeting is something different. There what you read did not matter and the only thing that matters was how you handled difficult situations in practice. It made me understand the difference between theory and practical skills.

Skills help you through challenging situations. The theory may provide some support, but it is not something you can fully depend upon because your own experience is missing. All skills develop only with practice, be it professional, business, interpersonal, or intrapersonal skills. What I learned in a hard way is that skills are the secret success ingredient that will make all the difference in real-life and work situations.

My core business principle has been simple – promise only realistic things based on your skills and then deliver those promises. If there is an opportunity, then over-deliver by using every skill you have as impeccably as you can at any given moment. That is also the principle I have kept with Wellness Orbit mental wellness gym and Conscious Initiative Conferences – we promise no false hype, only what we can deliver.

 

7 MENTAL WELLNESS AND (SELF-)LEADERSHIP LESSONS

What I learned can be summed up in these 7 mental wellness tips that kept me well:

  1. Always secure your own mental wellness first. It really is the most fundamental aspect. You cannot support others while you feel unwell. You cannot do impeccable work when you are stressed and worried;
  2. No matter what others say or do, your primary task is to be aware of your awareness and keep your inner peace. When you mess this up, you lose your calm and face worry, stress, and may soon experience burnout;
  3. Focus on the solutions, not on the problems. If you cannot come up with a solution right away, you need to keep looking. Solving any challenge demands time. When it is needed, try a different path. Situations change, strategy to achieve the final destination should stay the same, but ways how you get there should always be flexible and take into account the regulations of your business area;
  4. Take time off. Planning is not a single lap race; it is more like 24 hours of Le Mans on country roads (remember Ford v Ferrari movie; preparing a spatial plan takes time from 6 months up to several years, mostly 1-2 years). Or other long races where pit stops are inevitable and decide who wins and who loses as much as moments on the road. In long races, you should dictate your own pace and rest well while you can. When others dictate your race or your subconscious mind dictates your race, you will never finish successfully;
  5. After you have kept yourself well, protect your team. Secure good intrapersonal relations within your team. A support network is needed when the ride is rough and/or the fight is tough. It is easy when you have a supportive home base to land to;
  6. Go for impeccability, not for perfectionism. To be impeccable means doing the best with the means you have and with the skills you have. Yes, tomorrow you could do it better, but you live now, without the skills of tomorrow. Accepting things as they mean doing the best with what you have at any given moment and forgetting perfectionism that has the potential to burn you out.
  7. Stay present. Being aware of the actual situation enables one to seize the day. 

Knowing how to keep a fit mind based on those 7 mental wellness principles is the core of my mental wellness story. As it took years to figure out as I lacked mental wellness lessons in school (just as everyone else), then sharing how to be mentally well is my passion. For me, this comes down to having the 'right toolbox’ in the form of practical intrapersonal skills that I can apply at any given moment without depending on an external device or support.

 

MENTAL WELLNESS IS THE FUNDAMENTAL SUCCESS STORY

I am lucky as I cannot share any mental ill-health stories. I have always been well. But not always perfect, not even always happy, or always kept a positive outlook. 

I have seen my share of frustration, bad luck, and betrayal. I have also experienced some threats. The key has been letting go of my inner reactivity and keeping my inner calm. Besides excellent intrapersonal skills, also the support from my family, few good friends, and some outstanding colleagues and business partners have mattered a lot. Here I would love to thank you all! ... there are too many to be listed.

I have had my share of luck, but I have found out that the more I know how to be mentally well and the better I can apply my professional skills to the fullest due to my excellent intrapersonal skills, the more luck I seem to have. Life is far from perfect. When I meet a struggle, I ask: What can I learn from this struggle?

When things are on shaky ground, I ask: What disturbs my inner peace? … and after I discover such intrapersonal disturbance, I always ask additionally: Do I need this feeling or thought? Letting go of what disturbs me is my secret key to being well.

Even the lengthy difficulties become possible to overcome when I know how to restore my inner peace and keep a healthy and peaceful mind. Sharing such knowledge is what I love as it allows others to benefit from my intrapersonal lessons.

THE HOBBIES THAT KEEP ME MENTALLY WELL

I have the strangest hoppy that keeps me well: I love to listen to silence, both the external and internal silence. The silence allows me to become aware of my awareness, it is a state without thoughts and emotions that restores my inner wellness. 

My wellness does not depend on positive affirmations or positive psychology; it depends on my inner silence. This inner silence is accessible 24/7 and has a natural inner joy aspect to it. The challenge is to re-find this inner joy when the ride is rough. That is why my priority every morning is sitting in silence and establishing a strong connection with it. After a silent start of the day, I am ready to take on any external challenge. 
 


Silent Nordic pine forest. Photo by Kaur Lass

When I get tired due to extensive week, I go for long nature walks in silent Nordic forests or bogs. External silence and the consciousness present in nature restore my inner silence, and the physical walk keeps me physically fit. Sometimes I keep a camera at hand to capture such special moments, and some of those moments get shared on our social media and on the Wellness Orbit webpage.

I also love music. I mostly listen to power metal and symphonic metal – epic and inspiring stories, and crafted musicians who manage to use silence to amplify the sound always leave me in awe – my favorite bands are Avantasia, Nightwish, and Stratovarius. I also love more mild and style-free Marillion from the UK and straightforward German heavy metal bands like Accept and Helloween

Here is the masterpiece by Nightwish that helps to set things in the right perspective. Click play and enjoy!

“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. /.../ That's here. That's home. That's us.” – Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994


"All The Works Of Nature Which Adorn The World – Ad Astra" official video by Nightwish (Nuclear Blast Records 2021).

As I have been to art school and play a little guitar, I admire the flow, that is present in the music of creating art. However, I know that awareness and awareness-based intrapersonal skills, such as creativity and intuition, easily open such flow in any work situation. 

THE STATE OF FLOW

The state of flow is just an aware state of being present and doing what you do with your focused concentration. You can not play any instrument in the past or the future, you need to be fully present when you play in a band or in an orchestra to make a shared piece of music. The same applies in work situations – when you work with others, you need to be aware of what they do and interconnect your actions to their actions. In that sense, everything we come in contact with can be a lesson. However, awareness, as a universal and most basic intrapersonal skill, makes learning and adapting easy.

So, for me being well is about being present and aware of my own inner processes. Observing what is going on within my mind has allowed me to let go of the inner disturbances and overcome external obstacles. 

I know that until I lacked a system for securing my inner wellness, I struggled. Just as building a business demands a systemic approach, or doing a plan needs a system, securing your mental wellness also becomes easy when you have a systematic approach

The proactive mental wellness approach that we have developed for you here in Wellness Orbit is such a unique and well-designed system that keeps you well.

YOU WIN MOST BY LEARNING FROM MENTAL WELLNESS EXPERTS

Just as you learn investing from successful investors, entrepreneurship from successful entrepreneurs, you should also learn mental wellness from those who possess skills that support staying well.

Thank you for reading my story. I want also you to be well. You can start to find out how to be mentally well and fit in our:

  1. Proactive Mental Wellness e-trainings;
  2. Mental wellness blog posts;
  3. Mental wellness articles;
  4. A short video about stress and burnout prevention;
  5. A short video introducing the proactive mental wellness approach;
  6. Free e-book introducing the new proactive mental wellness approach;
  7. Free stress test.

Did my story inspire you?

In case you have any questions or would like me to share it on webinars, write to me here.

CONCLUSION

I truly understand the value of my fit mind and my excellent intrapersonal skills, as an entrepreneur, as an expert, and even as a father to my two lovely children, and I would feel happy to share my story with you. It would have been amazing if someone shared their skills with me back when I started my career. It would have made my life so much easier and so much more free from struggles.

We have one life, and knowing how to integrate work and personal life into a holistic one that allows us to serve others and have a calm mind is a blessing.
 


The first presentation of Wellness Orbit concept at Conscious Initiative Conference 2016. Photo by Madis Palm


This blog post is by Kaur Lass