“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.
David Epstein’s “Range” shows how a generalist can triumph in a world full of specialists. Succeed in any field by developing broad interests and skills.
Summer is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, so many will be looking for books to read. So, I just found out that David Epstein, author of “The Sports Gene”, which spun the “10,000 hours” theory on its head, has now come out with a brand new book:
I haven’t read it as yet, but am clear that I still recommend this book because:
If it by David Epstein it will be valuable to read
I’m definitely a generalist, so I’m biased!
For years I used to say “my specialism is that I’m a generalist”, so I’m intrigued by what Epstein has come up with.
I also seem to have developed a niche in developing senior leaders in central government. Civil Servants are indeed specialists at being generalists, so I hope to pick up some great new learnings to support such clients in the future.
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.
How much is too much? Musings on Florence and the Machine “Too Much is Never Enough” as applies to businesses and wealth.
So recently I met a highly successful businessperson in their late 40s. As they told their story as an entrepreneur, they had earned amazing wealth by their late 20s, then moved continents and made 10x that much again within a few years, only to find they had reached such a high profile that politics stepped in and they had the feeling of losing it all. This individual is quite brilliant at business and so has gone on since then to once again be highly successful.
However, what do we mean by the word “success”? Is it all about making money and using that money to buy material things? Or, as this person explained, for them they do love to build businesses and so that means they make money, but since their tough experience with their first success, they look at success differently now. (more…)
Travel has the power to shift our context, causing us to look at things in different ways.
A one hour flight, thirty-five minutes drive, a converted shipping container on a farm overlooking a view for miles and miles of peace and tranquillity.
I live in the centre of London, an amazing bustling world city of something like 10 million people. Often it seems like most of them hustle through my local railway station, one of the busiest in Europe.
So, last weekend felt really different, spending two nights in this exquisite “tiny house”.
It got me thinking about the power of travel to shift our context, as well as the power of shifting context, of looking at things in different ways. (more…)
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.
The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed. You waste years by not being able to waste hours.
~ Amos Tversky
Michael Lewis, author of such books as Moneyball, Liar’s Poker, The Big Short and more, wrote “The Undoing Project” about the friendship of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahnemann, two academics of massive influence to the field of Behavioural Economics.
In his book David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell talked of the Tversky Intelligence Test, a joke among academics about the intelligence of Tversky. The test?: “The faster you realized Tversky was smarter than you, the smarter you were”.
So, with all of that intelligence, I love this quote, one of a series of thoughts noted by Michael Lewis in his book that Tversky kept to hand as reminders to himself.
The other day a dear friend of mine, a top elite sports coach and voracious learner and networker around leadership and behaviour, sent me this white paper.
Within it are some powerful learnings for leading collaboratively, yet, as so often, I wonder why corporate leaders and their consultants need to speak in such overly complicated ways.
Today let me endeavour to use Oxford Leadership’s version of the iceberg principle (ie the image above, captured from their white paper), to make a few simple points for leaders to anchor upon if they choose to lead collaboratively. (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…)
Again and again, I work with leaders seeking to find the perfect way to address a challenge, take advantage of an opportunity.
All too often leaders feel they have to choose one solution and discard another, what I would call an “Either, Or” choice.
Now, more often than not, when I coach/advise/counsel people, the answer they eventually choose is more of a “Both, And” where they take the best from more than one potential solution to address what is typically a complex problem where no one solution is the right one.
At a philosophical level, I am also an advocate of “Both, And” as it is from a place of abundance and choice and such energy is where ideas, motivation and empowerment come from. “Either, Or” is more from a place of scarcity and control, hence tends not to energise or motivate.
So, consider for yourself next time you are looking to make a decision, can you approach it from a “Both, And” approach or are you locked into “Either, Or” mindset?
Today I am reminded of the difficulty of seeing ourselves how others see us and the power of critical thinking both for that and to truly see and understand others.
These are universal challenges for each of us. For those who lead others, the “self-leadership” part is at the core, then the layers and dimensions simply expand, to the people in our organisation, the values, beliefs and cultures consciously and unconsciously present. The opportunities for understanding and exploring are endless as we then look at societal, systemic, structural issues.
For this reason, we often look to understand such issues through philosophy and also art, including writing.
Today I’ll share teachings from this from two great authors, David Foster Wallace and Robert Burns, I hope this supports you in looking at what you can do to see yourselves as others see you, as well as to look to understand and see others more clearly. (more…)
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