May 29, 2017

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The Slowest Seagull

I felt like the seagull that couldn't get a chip!

I was surfing yesterday and all the younger, faster guys kept stealing my waves from right under my nose. I would be just about to paddle into a wave when they would swoop in like a seagull on a chip mission and steal it from me.

I kept trying and trying in the same take off spot but every single time I they would 'snake me' (surfing term). What could I do? I could go in and drive along the coast further but it would be the same deal. I could try waiting until the crowd thinned out but that wasn't going to happen until dusk...also know as shark feeding time..no thanks.

Finally it dawned on me that the first wave of each set was a little smaller and broke a little closer into shore...and there was no one on them. Even though it was smaller, it was also much cleaner because the waves from the previous set had already made their way back out to sea.

Happy days! I finally got a few rides before some of the pack wised up and followed in..and you guessed it, starting monopolising the waves again.

Anyway, the moral is that the solution to a challenge might be much closer than we think. It may not be a permanent solution because things are changing so fast, but the positive action creates momentum.

February 13, 2017

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Get in the Go Zone

The Go Zone is a combination of personal efficiency, discipline and resilience.  It's much more than time management because it includes motivation, daily actions and clear thinking.

t’s like having 3 gears (Go, Slow and No ‘Zones’) and being able to choose the right gear or zone at the right time.

Go Zones are planned and prepared periods each day where we perform at our best without excuse or distraction and with a clear and achievable goal.   Go Zones are crucial when we have more tasks to do than time available or in times of high stress. Here’s how it works:

First we have a pre planned task list. Next, we have a set time frame for our Go Zone. Third, we focus on one task at a time without worrying about how much is still left to do. The aim is NOT to tick off every task on your list but rather to focus on one task at a time until your Go Zone time period is up.

If you find it tough to get to sleep at night, or you crash for about 2 hours then wake suddenly thinking about all the things you need to do tomorrow, you are likely to be a victim of too much adrenaline.

If your life is busy and your find yourself getting angry about minor things like a photocopier jam or heavy traffic, you are also likely to benefit from using Go Zones.

Go Zones put a time limit on your worry and they help control the blood chemistry that has so much impact on our mood and energy levels. The very act of writing your to do list purges the anxiety from your brain. It’s the number 1 tenet of Sports Psychology…whatever it is that’s worrying you; get it out of your brain and onto paper.

Having a time limit for your Go Zones (2-3 hours in an office, 4-5 hours in a farm environment) gives you a strong sense of accomplishment and a goal that you can achieve. Rather than aiming to get your list completed or a set number of tasks tick off, your target is to keep going in a focused and effective manner until the time is up. This boosts your productivity and reduces your stress.

The obvious question is ‘but what happens when I’ve still got more work to do?’

That’s where the Slow Zones come into play!

Slow Zones are less intense but still productive.  Here we do routine tasks or even the same tasks but at a slower pace. We consciously choose to drop down a gear.

I personally like to do my Go Zones in the morning. I finish my Go Zone around lunchtime, have a bite to eat and even though I’m still working in the afternoon, it feels like I have already achieved a good day’s work and I’m a bit more in cruise mode. I try not to make key decisions in the Slow Zone or take on technical tasks that require my full attention.

The third zone is my personal favourite.

No Zones are where you refresh, recover and relax. You 'let it go', at least for a little while.  Because many of you work long and diverse hours, it becomes crucial to have short and effective No Zones so high level performance can be sustained long term.

No Zones need you to be not working AND not thinking about work.

You have to do something just for you. Something that distracts or immerses you so much that you stop thinking about work. My hobbies range from surfing (exciting) to pen collecting (nerdy but fun to me). They key is if I’m trying to catch a wave or make sure my pen is writing properly, I’m not thinking about work. When you do this for at least 30 minutes, all your blood chemistry rebalances. It is absolutely crucial for your recovery and to balance your high performing Go Zones.

You have to find a passion. Anything from riding (cycle, trail bike, horse) to playing chess, painting, sports, reading, woodwork and hundreds of other things…it doesn’t even have to be physical, as long as your enjoy it, feel better for having done it..and it’s legal!!

Never feel guilty about having a No Zone!

Overall it's about having control of what 'zone' we are in and building strong personal disciplines and resilience ( not too high on the highs or low on the lows).  Don’t endure your career, enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

October 27, 2016

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Don't Learn from Your Mistakes!

Learning from your mistakes is a mistake in itself!

That's what mentors are for...find the right mentor and learn from the mistake that they made back in the day.  You will save yourself a truckload of time and three truckloads of money.

The right mentor has lots of experience and not too much ego.  They won't try to go all Yoda on you, and be the expert on every facet of business, they will just talk honestly about what they did wrong and what they'd do differently if they had their time over again...that's the good news, you don't have to go through the tunnel of pain!  

You're on your way into a Restaurant and you bump into a Food Critic friend on their way out.  If they tell you to avoid the Linguini at all costs, I hope your wouldn't go in and order the Linguini.  That's why it's a mistake to learn from your own mistake; your mentor's expertise and experience prevents your future mistake.

The 5 mains areas they will help you are:

1. Hiring and Firing..they may have recruited the wrong person at some point and held onto them way to long!

2. Cashflow..you may think you are on top of the numbers, but a good mentor will give you the rigour to make this a daily focus.  Remember, turnover is vanity in buisness, the only number that counts is what you get to keep!

3. Lease of Buy..they will have been through this and have some good intel on the pros and cons in different situations.

4. Marketing...Most people have an 'endowment' belief.  We think our product or service or resume or idea will change the world and magic will make it happen.  Your mentor will keep your realistic and know that being great is not enough..you need the right channel to market and optimism alone is not enough.

5. Recovery..many mentors will reflect on not taking enough time for their families, for themselves, and their hobbies.  Under no circumstances should you EVER learn from your own mistakes on this front because time invested in your kids is never wasted and time invested in yourself and your wellbeing is the best business protection you can ever get.

Finally, mentoring is not only about age.  

One of my Coaches used to say that "you can be a man at 18 or a boy at 30".  If someone has the skills, reach out to them.

My sons mentor me on Digital strategies and Finance and I love learning from them.

If you don't have a Mentor, you're just not trying hard enough!

Live the Life YOU Love

October 05, 2015

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First Post

When I was a young athlete trying to make it in the AFL, I had the chance to do some summer running training with the legendary Athletics Coach (and Philosopher) Percy Cerutty.

Percy was a cantankerous and eccentric person who would rarely go for more than 5 minutes without sharing one of his hard won wisdoms like: “If it hurts, make it hurt more” and  “The first ache you have to overcome in life is the belly ache”, a reference to not overeating or complaining about going hungry for a little while.

Percy was renown and feared for making his charges do grueling runs up and down the steep sand hills around Portsea, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. Percy spoke in awe about his most famous athlete, Herb Elliot who Percy said almost ran himself to death on several occasions!

Percy had this theory that if you were half was through a race and you thought that there was any possible way that you were going to be able to finish, it meant that you weren’t working hard enough!   This meant that you had to run so fast that you just knew that you couldn’t keep it up..but then you had to! It was torture.

Fortunately I got out of the camp alive a few days later, forever humbled but carrying with me two crucial lessons that I now think of as being the yin and yan of wellbeing, resilience and work life balance. To be honest, I think this experience set me on the path to become a writer and speaker and try to influence as many people as I possibly could through my Go Zone and Every Day Counts Programs.

The two lessons only work in unison. One without the other doesn’t work. Alone the lessons are dangerous and detrimental. Together, they have helped many people.

 Lesson 1

 You can achieve much more than you think you can.

When I trained with Percy, I thought I was already fit. Then I saw a level of intensity and conditioning way beyond what I previously thought was possible. When I reached that level myself, the previous level seemed moderate at best and my entire mindset changed. Barriers became challenges and I became more ambitious.

I later worked as a Conditioning Coach for Collingwood in the AFL for 16 years and saw this lesson repeated year after year with young players bursting through self imposed mental barriers. Seek out someone to coach you through this process if you can, but the lesson applies to all aspects of life, business and personal ambition. Never let your mind hold you back!

Lesson 2

Learn to switch off lesson 1.

If you can’t switch off lesson one, you will never be satisfied, always striving for the next challenge and virtually impossible to live with. Lesson 1 is a mindset you switch on when you need it than switch off when it’s time to recover, have fun, relax and not take yourself too seriously.

 

If you only learn lesson 1 you will be vulnerable to worry, anxiety and fear…whatever you do, it will never be enough! Percy Cerutty, despite his greatness couldn’t switch his mental toughness off and was a deeply troubled and unhappy man. When you switch off worry, anger and fear, you can really be at peace for a while, and that’s the best was to recover!

If you never use lesson 1, you will underachieve in your life and as Percy used to say, “ If you don’t suffer the pain of discipline, you will suffer the pain of mediocrity”.

 If you use lessons 1 and 2 together, you will hold in your hands the secrets to true work life balance..a high level of achievement and the ability to enjoy life.

 Live the life you love!!

Mark