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In this episode of The Inner Chief podcast, we speak to Casey Lyons, Co-Founder and CEO of LIVIN, on the rollercoaster of grief, being not weak to speak, practising self-care.
In this episode I get to hang out with an unsung hero.
He's one of those humans that goes about every day making a difference in other people's lives, yet there's no fanfare, no cheers, to him it's getting on with the job, a role he stepped into with the death of his best mate Dwayne Lally to suicide nearly a decade ago.
Casey is the CEO and Co-Founder of LIVIN, an Australian registered charity that has been on a mission since 2013 for the world to accept that “It Ain't Weak to Speak.”
Dwayne's death was the catalyst for Casey to start LIVIN as he didn't want other friends and family to go through what Dwayne and his family were going through.
LIVIN is breaking the stigma of mental health and getting people talking about how they are feeling, making mental health part of the everyday conversation.
In this episode we talk about:
- Riding the bumps of the rollercoaster that is life, and coping with grief
- Showing that #itaintweaktospeak
- Building resilient kids who know it’s ok to lose
- Being kind to yourself and practising self-care
Connecting with Casey Lyons
You can connect with Casey via LinkedIn.
Books and resources
- Legacy – by James Kerr
- The Trillion Dollar Coach – by Eric Schmidt
- Aro Ha Wellness Retreat
- How to have a deeper conversation with a mate – Chief Maker Minisode
“Suicide is the leading cause of death between the ages of 15 and 44 in Australia. We lose 9 people every single day, 7 of whom are male. Indigenous Australians have the highest suicide rate in the world. For every completed suicide, there's another 20 attempts. And for a country like Australia, this just should not be happening.”
On losing his best mate
- Reflecting on that moment and looking back, just numb. I remember sitting there at the front of the hospital going, “What do I do now?” Life had just turned completely upside down. I'll never forget the sound of what I heard when I arrived at the hospital and just the complete devastation.
- We just knew we had to do something, but we had no idea what we wanted to do. We just wanted to do something because that's the type of person Dwayne was. He was this larger than life character. He always had a smile on his face and he was going through what he was going through and he was fighting that behind closed doors. But he was always going out of his way to help people. We knew that to keep his legacy alive, we had to do something similar.
On riding the grief rollercoaster
- “Ride the rollercoaster.” If you are laughing and if you are having a good time, just let that happen because you shared some great times with that person. And it's okay to sit there and laugh and not be sad for a little bit. But then when you're sad, it's okay to be sad as well.
- The only thing that can get you through it is time, which is tough. There's no magic word or magic fix to get through it. You just got to go through it and surround yourself with good people and make sure you're taking good care of yourself amongst that mess because there's so many unanswered questions and what ifs and could have dones.
On the suicide statistics
- Suicide is the leading cause of death between the ages of 15 and 44 in Australia. We lose nine people every single day. Seven of those are male. Indigenous Australians have the highest suicide rate in the world. And for a country like Australia, this just should not be happening. For every completed suicide, there's another 20 attempts.
- Often, suicides can go unreported too, so it could be a whole lot worse. Single vehicle accidents, drownings, etc. that they can't quite pinpoint that it was suicide.
- Another thing that often gets missed is men and women both attempt at the same rate. Men just have a much higher suicide rate, because they are a little bit more aggressive, have a get it done attitude.
- Suicide has always been a big problem. It's just that now we are starting to give it a little bit more attention and the attention that it deserves.
On LIVIN’s mission
- Suicide is actually our secondary mission. Our primary mission is that we want the world to accept that it ain't weak to speak. We want to empower people that are living in silence, to empower those people living with mental ill health to speak up and put their hand up and ask for help or seek support, whether that be through a professional, through their family, or through their networks.
- We want people to be LIVIN and we want people to be living a healthy and happy life, whatever that looks like for them.
- There has been a 10% or more increase in men seeking help.
- There is research out there that suggests that men are less likely to follow up; they'll go to the first session, but the second and third they won't attend because often the therapy that they receive is a one size fits all approach rather than targeted to men.
On having a conversation with a struggling friend
- I think it's all about trying to keep it simple and staying relaxed. Obviously there's some things that have led you to believe that they're struggling.
- It can be as simple as, “Hey Greg, how are you doing?” And you'll just probably give me the throw away, “Yeah, mate, all good.” “No, no, how are you really going? I've noticed that you've been coming to work late. You haven't been yourself.”
- Use all those examples and open-ended questions. Open-ended questions are the best thing. If you ask the close-ended questions, you're just going to get a yes, no, and the conversation's probably going to end. Then from there, the best thing you can do is just listen. We have two ears and one mouth and we need to listen twice as much as what we speak.
- Because when you start to talk, you're throwing out all this advice giving, but you're not actually listening to them. When you listen, something magical can happen and people can tell you exactly what's wrong and exactly how you can help them. But you need to listen. Avoid all distractions, like your phone, the clock, your next meeting, just be present with them and listen to what they have to say.
- You can always ask, “How can I help? What can I do to help you?”
- Both external and self stigma are the main ones. The perception that individuals hold about themselves, the stuff they communicate to themselves is often quite negative.
- The advice you'd probably give yourself would be negative, unrealistic. We are our own worst critics. Sometimes we just need to be a good friend to ourselves.
- Social media has played a role, that aimless scrolling and comparing our life to what we see on that screen.
On building resilient kids
- Build that rapport and that trust with the kids so that if they ever need you, they will call you. You need to keep that communication open with them. That means if you make a promise to your kid, keep that promise.
- An important part of growing up for kids is they need to learn how to lose. Nowadays everyone gets an award for coming, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, or last. I don't think that's a good thing. That erodes resilience, that erodes discipline and hard work.
- All of these things go across the whole of life because that then breeds good habits, and then when we actually lose in real life, what are we going to do?
- I’m continually amazed by the amount of people that we can continue to impact. We deliver our live and well mental health education stigma reduction programme in the schools right around the country, and going into those schools and seeing their faces at start, oh here we go, another presentation. What their faces look like at the end and stories they come up and share with us. That's what excites me.
- We've got plenty of other great things happening, but if I bring it back to why we started, that's what excites me most because I know that we're having an impact and I know that just the stories that the kids share with us, even if it's not right there after the session, it's an Instagram message a couple weeks later, or because of what you taught me during that presentation, I saved my best friend's life, or I put my hand up and I was going to take my life. These are the stories that keep us going and they let us know that we're on the right path.
On being a good neighbour
- Holidays can be a great time for a lot of people, but for other people it can exacerbate their feelings of loneliness, helplessness.
- And it could be a neighbour, it could be a loved one. Make sure that you continue to check in on them.
On leadership lessons
- The best thing you can do is just delegate. Get a good team around you. Hire the right people. I've learned to get good people around you and just empower them to do the job.
- Take that step back and say, “Okay, well what's my highest and best use right now? Or what can I do that will bring the most value rather than just doing, which can lead to burnout?”
- Keep it simple. Sometimes there's a shiny toy over here or there's an exciting opportunity over there and we get things thrown at us all the time and I need to remember to take a step back and sometimes saying “no” is the right thing to do. And I know, it's very hard, because when you say no, you're like, “Oh, could that have been the opportunity that got away?”
- When I get a bit busy the first thing that goes out the window is self-care. But it is the most important thing to always stay on top of, because if you look after yourself, it's only going to flow positively into your business life and you're going to become more productive. You're going to have clarity of thought, so you're actually going to make better decisions.
- It's something I've been sort of asking myself lately, is what you're doing right now, is this something that you're going to reflect on when you're on your deathbed? If it isn't, why are you worrying about it? Or why are you putting your neck out for those people that aren't going to be there when you're on your deathbed?
- And I'm not saying neglect work and neglect your responsibilities, they're important, but it comes to a certain tipping point and you need to make that decision.
- When it comes to solving complex problems, just breathe, take a step back and have a look at the problem from all angles. Because often when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
On his favourite interview question
- “What is the biggest stuff up you've made and what did you learn from it?”
- For most cases I don't really care what they've done wrong or stuffed up, I'm more interested in hearing them articulate what they did wrong, but then also articulating what they learned from it. Because the people that say they've never stuffed up, they're lying. Everyone stuffs up!
Final message of wisdom and hope for future leaders
- Life's like a rollercoaster, it's full of ups and downs. I don't want to sound negative, I think we need to accept that things aren't always going to be okay. Life isn't always sunshine and rainbows. When it is, enjoy those moments while they're there. While you're down a little bit, try and learn from those moments. But just persist and get through it. Work your butt off, continue to work on yourself and it will be okay. Don't give up.
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