How might it feel to possess greater levels of physical and cognitive flexibility along with improved levels of resilience? All of which are useful in business and across all other aspects of life. Recently I have been asked by a number of clients what steps I take on a daily basis in order to improve my own performance. I like to think of it as training both body and mind. In terms of both, variety and flexibility is key.
I sincerely believe that regular exercise or activity has hugely beneficial outcomes. Physical activity, it has been proven, provides oxygenated blood and endorphins that are released during movement which not only prevent illness, lengthen our lives but so too enhance our day to day lived experience. Increased productivity, less stress and maintaining good mental health are just some of the benefits. Of course, if you haven’t exercised in some time, you should explain to your own doctor your intentions and seek advice. Exercise in the formal sense may be intimating to some, but being active less so. Small changes in your daily routine can make a significant difference but where possible try to target stamina, strength, speed and flexibility. There is no need for expensive gym membership but a few pointers from a qualified professional to begin with may go a long way.
The benefits of getting outdoors have also long been acknowledged so go for a walk on a beach or up a hill. Visit your local park. There are so many options available and the changing seasons provide us with a unique experience as the weeks and months go by.
For me, daily exercise is a must. Mornings work best but for others evenings might suit better. I try to vary the activities but regulars are walking, running, weight training, stretching, swimming and surfing. Partaking in these activities each day provides me with more energy and that ‘feel good’ factor. I move from one activity to the next so that my body and mind is trained to cope with the variety of demands placed upon it. This promotes both resilience and flexibility.
I intentionally look for the same variety and flexibility when it comes to my cognitive development. How do I go about this? Well, rather than spend an entire evening reading one book, I challenge myself to cope with change. Reading a chapter from one book on lets say leadership, then a chapter from another book/author on business strategy and a third from another book/author on perhaps coaching. In absorbing information in this way, it demands cognitive flexibility, readjusting to different topic content and different styles of communication. At times, I might intersperse my reading with listening to an audiobook or podcast. Again, this promotes cognitive flexibility.
Life is never simple or straight forward and our ability to adapt has been proven over millennia as essential to human survival. By creating a varied environment for ourselves and having the ability to cope with mixed stimuli, it promotes resilience and flexibility. We may not face the same challenges today as our predecessors but if we wish to survive and indeed thrive in a professional and personal sense, we must be able to respond regardless of the challenge that we are confronted with.
By disrupting our habitual patterns of thinking and behaving we promote the physical and cognitive flexibility to build resilience and improve our performance. Additional measures that you might take are to once a month read book from a different genre than normal and/or to listen to different types of music then your day to day norm. Similarly, try something new next time you go to the movies or theatre and try a different restaurant (and dish) than the ‘old reliable’. Try driving or walking a different route to your workplace from time to time and how about rearranging your desk every few months? Notice the tendency to resist change and how with patience and time, your cognitive flexibility improves.
Along with the steps that are outlined above is the necessity for regular hydration. Bring a bottle of water everywhere with you and use it! Add a slice of lemon or lime if it helps. Reducing or eliminating toxins such as alcohol and caffeine are highly recommended as well as eating a diet rich in healthy carbohydrates e.g. brown rice/pasta, sweet potato; proteins such as white meat and oily fish, plenty of vegetables and daily fruit. Keep it simple by varying the colours of these and where possible eat local, organic and in season. An adequate amount of sleep is a must in terms of performance. For me, I can function with five hours but provide me with six and my batteries are fully recharged and ready to go! Each of us is different, so for some eight, nine or indeed ten hours are needed. Go experiment and see what works best for you.
Finally, create the space in your daily routine for silence. Whether it is meditation, mindfulness, etc. This allows us to be truly present and neither dwelling on past events or worrying about the future. It also provides us with the opportunity to have self compassion and gratitude for the things, regardless of how big or small, that are going well in our lives. Try to schedule time in your day and let the silence do the heavy lifting.
create10 provides a variety of client services such as executive coaching, workshops on leadership, innovation and team performance as well as online courses. Reach out to us today!