A Personal Reflection on Heart of Florida United Way’s Second Mental Wellness Skillshop with Dwight Bain

Blog MWS 2

By Victor Norman

Skillshop 2 Collage

I’ve lived in Orlando my whole life, and — like most Orlando natives — have been to countless pools and waterparks, but Thursday morning: Dwight Bain taught me how to swim.  

Early on Thursday morning, I drove to Winter Park’s Center for Health and Wellbeing to participate in Heart of Florida United Way’s Mental Wellness Skillshop featuring Dwight Bain, Mental Health Counselor and Founder of The LifeWorks Group Inc.  

The center is absolutely beautiful. With ceilings that stretch high and invite natural light into the facility all day, you can feel yourself take a breath right as you enter the lobby. It’s the perfect location for this kind of reflective experience.  

The skillshop was opened by Ray Larson, Heart of Florida United Way’s Senior Vice President of Strategic Impact and Community engagement. and Matt Noe, Executive Director at the Center for Health and Wellbeing. They discussed how coming to this skillshop was an excellent first step in improving participants and our community’s’ mental wellness, and how happy they were that Dwight Bain was going to guide us. 

Dwight Bain of Lifeworks Group is a Nationally Certified Counselor, a Certified Leadership Coach, and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Needless to say: we were in good hands that morning.  

Dwight’s skillshop focused on a piece of ancient wisdom:  

“We need to stop pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

– Desmond Tutu

He told us that he didn’t just want us to find out why people were falling in, he wanted us to learn how to swim, and to teach others how to swim. This metaphor explained how in the workplace, burnout has been on the rise. People have been experiencing chronic stress from the pandemic for over three years now. He also explained how the issue is affecting more than the corporate world. It’s affecting schools, the non-profit sector, emergency rooms, and doctor’s offices. No one is exempt from the impact of slow drip stress. 

We learned at the skillshop, the best way to deal with stress and anxiety is to recognize that it is energy, and to turn that energy into a positive force.

“Wellness flows from the Triangle of Support,” Dwight told us.  

The triangle of support focuses on three key points: Skills to Cope, a Story of Hope, and Support. Being able to LIVE UNITED means living in a world where we can be open and honest with one another, and share when we’re feeling overwhelmed, when we need help or even just a friend. Building skills to deal with stress and making friends in the workplace can help to reduce feelings of burnout and anxiety. It’s harder to drown when you and your friend have a life jacket, and each other to keep one another afloat. 

Dwight with Life Jacket

The skillshop was filled with emotional stories, coupled by reminders to breathe — teaching participants like myself how to deal with heightened emotions in a professional environment.  

As the skillshop came to a close, Dwight was given a standing ovation. It was touching to watch the emotion come over his face as he thanked the participants for their time. As the man who had been teaching us how to deal with stress and heightened emotions began to get teary-eyed, I realized how important it was to see a leader’s vulnerability.  

“Feeling emotional and overwhelmed isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of being human.”

– Dwight Bain