When you have the opportunity to work with some of the most interesting and dynamic speakers in the world, you are afforded the opportunity to ask questions about their lives and the messages they share. “The Well” is an ongoing series that provides an intimate look inside the lives of some of our favourite people at the Arlan Group.
This week, we feature Allan Kehler, mental wellness and addictions advocate…
The Well: What is your “why”? Why do you feel your message is important and why do you feel it needs to be shared with your audiences?
Allan Kehler: Life can certainly present its share of challenges, and I continue to see people suffering in silence. For years, shame kept me silent as I persevered through my own challenges with mental illness and addictions. Today, I am no longer silent.
I empower my audience to use their voices in times of need, and I teach them how to create the space where others feel comfortable asking for what they need. Drawing from personal experiences, I am able to put a face to these prevalent issues and shatter stereotypes.
Many individuals go through life merely existing, and I want to empower people to live. I encourage wellness by providing my audience with tools that are applicable in both their personal and professional lives.
TW: What do you feel are the two most important take-aways from your message?
AK: Many people are uncertain how to approach others who are in distress. Whether this is with a colleague, a friend, or family member, it is not our job to “fix” someone. I reveal how one man changed my life in only 10 minutes of his time because he took the time to see a young man who was in pain, and he took the time to listen. I share his approach in my message, and remind my audience that nobody needs to be fixed, but the value of being seen and heard is immeasurable. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
I spent many years being the victim. Eventually, I learned that if you want something different you have to do something different. My message and activities allow people to examine their own lives.
TW: Is there a specific demographic or sector that benefits most from your message and if so, how have you seen your message impact the people’s lives and/or work environments?
AK: Because the issues of mental illness, addictions, stress and pain effects each of us, I have delivered my message in a wide variety of venues. I do, however, find it interesting that the most common demographic that approaches me after presentations are parents. They typically begin by telling me about their child or partner’s struggles. After about 30 seconds I say something like, “I don’t mean to interrupt, but I am not so much concerned about your child or partner as I am about you. How are you doing?” It is the blank stare in their eyes that makes me wonder when the last time was when someone asked them how they are doing.
Many of these parents show up to work in body, but their mind is renting out head space towards their loved ones. Our personal lives are not turned off like a tap when we walk into our places of work. I have witnessed how my message is able to deliver a greater understanding of these complex issues. I provide information and tools that allow people to regain power and control over their own lives. As a result, they are able to focus on the tasks at hand.
TW: How does wellbeing factor into your own life? What do you find to be the biggest challenges?
AK: When I used to work as an addictions counselor, I can recall walking through the doors of my home after a long day of work with no energy left for my wife and kids. I value my family immensely, and it was at that point where I realized something had to change.
Envision that you have 100 dollars to spend every day. This money represents where you spend your time and energy throughout the day. It is very easy for me to spend all of my “money” at work, but every day I sit back and ensure that I have enough time and energy for the things that are most important to me.
Life is always changing, and I am constantly trying to create a life of balance. I have learned that it is not selfish to take care of my own needs, but rather it is a sign of self-respect. It is also an understanding that if I do not take care of myself, the things around me that I value will crumble.
Wellbeing isn’t an end goal, it’s a continuing state of mind and focus, a way of being and thinking that we believe at its heart should drive everything we do.
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