“Sleep is a natural performance enhancing drug. Tragic how many people think they can get by on 7 hours or less.” @DHH
My two oldest sons were elite swimmers. As teenagers then university students, it may have seemed to outside observers that they were lazy, as when they weren’t swimming or at lectures they were mostly eating and sleeping.
What may not have been obvious was that eating and sleeping were consciously planned and part of their training regime. Eating and sleeping weren’t what they did when they weren’t training, it was part of the training. When you train well over twenty hours per week and also maintain a high academic workload, fueling and resting are essential.
The younger of these two boys seemed to take this to all new levels. Not only did he typically eat well over 8000 calories per day (that is about 4 times the average adult requirement!), he could also easily sleep 12 or more hours per day. If sleeping were an Olympic sport, he may well have won Cayman’s first medal!
Perhaps inspired by my boys and my own experience as an athlete in the past, I’ve always focussed on human performance and support leaders around this as part of my 1:1 work with clients.
When someone appears tired, unfocussed, demotivated, scattered, very often I’ll ask them (or pick up without having to ask) that they don’t sleep well.
Sleeping is critical for performance, addressing sleep issues is not optional, it is paramount. Perhaps you don’t think you have an issue with sleep, but do you sleep at least 7 hours per night and wake up without an alarm each morning? If not, then I’d say there is real room for improvement.
Managing your energy is as important as managing your time and money.
So, I sit here at 7pm on Thursday to write the daily blog for Friday at 8am, feeling quite tired after a really active day full of a variety of meetings.
As I am about to write, I get an email reply from someone I’d messaged about a meeting with them for next week that I thought I had confirmed but didn’t see in my diary. They had replied to say that my wonderful EA, Katie, had noted to them that my diary was a little packed that day and that, as it was the day before I go away on a trip, they agreed together to move the call to after that trip.
Perfect timing as a reminder to manage my energy.
If Katie had only focussed on managing my time, she would have put that meeting in the diary, but as she has a higher context of managing my energy, not my time, she didn’t.
Katie’s key role for me is to manage my diary. With that context of managing energy and not time, we took time from the outset and on an ongoing basis for her to understand what works for me in terms of when what and how many meetings to book for me so that I can always have the energy and the right kind of energy for the people I am meeting and talking to.
Hey, I often coach leaders on managing their own energy for their optimum performance and wellbeing, so I do always do the same for myself.
So, today I give thanks to Katie for managing my energy through her awareness and understanding, also for bringing me a reminder that sometimes we don’t know what we need, we need other to see it for us. We can’t see the goldfish bowl we are swimming in!
With all of this pointed out to me, and with it being 7pm at night as I write this, that’s it for today’s post, I’m tired, I need to recharge for tomorrow.
Remember to take time to recharge and rest during your busy life.
Swans and cygnets in a London park this weekend
The last two weeks have been pretty intense for me, both with lots of work and also with the death of someone close then their funeral.
I thought this weekend I’d balance it between doing a little work and a little relaxation each day. However, yesterday (Saturday) morning, decided instead to take 24 hours completely away from the norm. No work, no regular routine. Instead to be outdoors and in nature as much as possible.
So, central to this was to go for a walk. Quite a long walk with a companion across commons and parks in London. Nearly 15 miles in the end, with a few stops, taking much of the day.
I then followed this up this morning with a strong ride with my usual riding buddy, so now I sit here, a little late for posting my daily musing, yet all the more refreshed for it.
So, sometimes we can recharge in a few minutes or hours, sometimes we need weeks or even months. Sometimes a day in nature is what it takes.
I guess what I did yesterday was tune in to myself and listen to what I needed. A long walk in nature was just the ticket.
Meeting interesting and inspiring people, listening, being present to them, seeing where I can help them. This is my work, this is what I love to do.
This also fills my batter, brings me energy as I (hopefully) bring energy and inspiration to them to.
I’m generally highly positive, full of energy (mostly calm and centred energy, though with passion and purpose). This is what I tend to bring whenever I meet people.
It is a rare occasion, then, where my energy tank is too empty to be at my best for others when I meet them.
Today is one such day. Today I am in the city of my birth, Edinburgh. This trip was planned weeks ago around visiting someone dear and close to me who has been terminally ill for some time. As I was going to be here anyway, I booked a full afternoon and evening of meetings and events to come after simply meeting this dearly beloved person for a cup of tea.
Sadly, they passed away suddenly last week, so today in the middle of the day, instead of meeting them for a cup of tea, I am attending their funeral. (I wrote of this last week and thank you so much for all the messages and emails I received from regular readers).
I still planned to continue with all my meetings from later in the afternoon onwards, but as I woke up today, I realised that, though such meetings to give me energy, if I am not at my best for others, it makes no sense to go through with those plans.
So, I contacted my first meeting, where I was going to meet to do what I do, to be a sounding board. I realised I would not be at my best for them, so cancelled the meeting, explaining to them I needed to focus on self-care.
I’ll be at my best again very soon, am blessed and inspired to have walked the path on life’s journey and will take the funeral to both grieve and celebrate. However, for now, I do have the self-awareness that I need to take care of myself above all else today.
I work with leaders who are often so selfless that they may risk burn out from their workload in service of others. I talk about repeated themes on this site. One phrase I have repeated countless times is:
“Put the oxygen mask yourself before you help others”
Today I put the oxygen mask on.
I hope this story is of support to you in knowing when to do the same for yourself.
I’ll be back and writing again tomorrow. Writing is what I do, being a writer is part of who I am. Being of service to others, #MakingPotentialPossible is my “Why”.
Thank you for being with me as a reader on this journey too.
There are indeed no ordinary moments and life carries on in the people you meet.
A personal blog today and also one where I wish to share from what I took from a day of shock news.
I write this shortly after receiving the unexpected news that someone very close to me had passed away.
I got the news at 9am as I was about to start a day of five meetings in person and on video around the world.
I was initially frozen and in shock. I then burst into tears as I stepped onto a commuter train. A moment later I remembered a lyric from a song that goes: “life carries on in the people you meet” and I decided to carry on with my day. The dear person who had just died was all about living life in each moment, so to honour them I chose to do the same. (more…)
I recently learned a powerful lesson from someone close to me who has a disease that they are choosing how to address.
They shared with me that they learned from their doctor that this was not something you “fight”, as to approach it from a “fight” mindset means that you are not giving your body permission and highest capability to heal. Instead, adopting a level of acceptance of “what is” can allow that healing to be strong, thus giving the highest chance for the body to be strong and so allow the medical team to take on the disease to the fullest extent.
Today some thoughts on when to fight and when to accept, whether when one has a disease, or in terms of learnings from martial arts, then around leading at times of crisis. (more…)
“we risk being deafened by the negativity all around us here in London”
Part of a message I received from a friend in London as I am in Baja at Modern Elder Academy. Later that morning, as I sat on the terrace with the Pacific in the background, I had a call with a friend and client, an entrepreneur and business owner who is facing challenges with their UK business, one that is in a sector that very much depends on consumer confidence and so consumer spending.
Today some thoughts on resilience for businesses and their leaders. (more…)
This weekend the annual Kilkenomics economics and comedy festival in the gorgeous tiny city of Kilkenny.
I write this on a Sunday morning musing on diversity of thought and “how much is too much?”.
We learned that Andy Haldane (Chief Economist of the Bank of England) has found that Economist talk and listen less to those outside their profession than any other social science. My own experience is that the lens of traditional economic models places quite some limits on their thinking, though that is the ‘sandbox’ they play in, so I have openly been keen to see different thinkers at the festival.
Yesterday, though (again, as I write this on Sunday morning though), an episode occurred with one show where one person was so, so offensive to many that people got up an left. It has me musing on “how much is too much”, as one particular panellist showed up and expressed extreme views so distasteful that some people got up and left. I stayed, and these are my thoughts and reflections.
I recently spent a week back in Cayman, where I had upwards of thirty meetings, talking with well over sixty people, including leading a four-hour session for a team of twenty-two. I worked out that in all that time I had less than two hours at a stretch on my own on any day.
I then flew to New York for three nights, finding myself waking up on my first day to this view and, by dint of serendipity, with no plans at all and with my host not arriving back until the next day.
So, what did I do with that solitude and what can I share about the power of solitude? (more…)
I had lunch recently with an investor who expressed frustration about founders of startups and scale-ups.
They are not a fund partner, nor VC or from the Private Equity world. No, they actually built a business of value and lived it for the whole journey through to an ultimate sale and cash out for a significant sum, thus giving them space and funds to invest in other businesses. Cards on the table, I prefer such investors as they’ve been through it personally, rolled the sleeves up. Experience brings empathy at a level that is irreplaceable. This gives them a powerful edge in mentoring founders, who often are sorely lacking sounding boards on the roller coaster ride.
So, why was this investor so frustrated when I met them? Could it have been that they wanted to vent along the lines of my own common frustration with founders focussed on raising round after round of funding without actually building a business that generates revenues? Not that day, though certainly something I may write about another time!
No, they were frustrated with founders pretending they are bulletproof. (more…)
For the first months of daily writing on this site, I wrote around the theme of “Smashing Paradigms” each Friday, with many written on that theme you can now explore. I began each one with;
For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“.
One way of defining a paradigm is “we’ve always done it this way”
Today I’m inspired by Eliud Kipchoge, who on September 17, 2018 utterly obliterated the marathon world record, so have come back to the theme of Smashing Paradigms and will share some ideas and thoughts for leaders. (more…)
I love the power of language, and of well-chosen words. A little over a month ago, I wrote a post bringing together a number of the words and short phrases I’ve mused on over time on this site with links to those posts. That post is called
In that post I highlighted the power of language for leaders: “we follow leaders partly through rationality, through thinking about what they say. However, we also process (often unconsciously) other ways in which they communicate. Are they calm? sage? energised? fierily passionate? purposeful? resolute?”
By choosing words and phrases of rich meaning, we bring depth to our expression and so our leadership. One such word of resonance to me right now is:
People are my library, my daily writing a way to discover what’s in it: ideas, inspiration, wisdom, and a little fun. As your humble librarian, I invite you to subscribe to check out a digest of daily emails emailed twice each week. No late fees, ever.