A quick societal review tells us that there is quite a lot of anger around in the world right now. There are rifts of conflicting opposites, each side of which mounts up on a parapet, face-to-face, shouting as loudly as possible.

About as fruitful as shouting in the wind.

(This was first published as a guest blog post on techspark.co on 3rd February 2017)

Unsurprisingly, stress is something that I come across a lot in my line of work, coaching business leaders, entrepreneurs, and athletes in extreme sport. They tend to be under a lot of pressure, a lot of the time, of course.

However, most of my clients wouldn’t necessarily admit to suffering from stress, even if I suggested it to them. Is this because they’re denying their reality, lacking in awareness, or could it perhaps be more nuanced than this?

Fort William

I work in what seem to be completely contrary environments.

In one I've got clients that spend much of their lives outside in open, wild and risky environments and in the other it's indoors in typical office space.

With one set of clients I end up spending a lot of time outdoors and in the other, I'm cooped up in their offices with them.

This gives me a unique perspective on coaching in different physical environments and why it's more important than we think...

(This was first published as a guest blog post on TechSpark.co on 5th January 2017).

Delegation and how to do it successfully is a perennial problem in business. I would be surprised to find anyone who hasn’t found it a challenge at some point in their working lives. In my executive coaching work, I find it to be particularly problematic in smaller, entrepreneurial start-up companies, especially when they’re growing.

As I a came off a telephone call with my client I didn’t feel very good. I had a rising sense of panic derived from a big dose of self-criticism and a mixture of other feelings all rolled into one: inadequacy, shame, embarrassment, sadness and hurt but at the same time this was tempered by some relief and elation.

I sat for a few minutes in this really rather uncomfortable space to consider what might be going on and then texted my client to thank him for his feedback. Like it or not, when I reflected on what had happened it was a really important development, not just for me in a coaching context, but also for the coaching relationship with my client.

All rolled into one, I’d ended up feeling pretty vulnerable in this coaching context.

So I went on a search to find out about the subject of vulnerability in executive coaching and leadership development..I did some thinking..here's what I came to.

Checking in….only to check right out again.

This article is part 2 of a series of musings on the subject of Resilience - is it cultivated through nature, nurture or just what does the concept actually mean? If you haven’t read it, part 1 is here: Resilience by nature, by nurture…or just what it might mean.

This is more of a personal reflection in the here and now relating to daily function and effectiveness..

A little while ago I was watching an athlete batter himself both physically and mentally trying to complete a series of new tricks for a film piece. It was pretty extreme. A few days later I saw someone else battle their fear to be able to do a pretty dangerous climatic trick for their new short film.

Not that any of my clients would use the term, but since it is much more in popular usage, it made me reflect on the nature of resilience, especially in terms of its use in business as well as wider afield in personal development.

It’s been building for a few decades now, but the forces behind some popular psychology and self-development techniques have reached epic proportions in some spheres. In some of these, breathing plays a pretty important role. Well, in reality it’s an essential life critical one, but what I mean is that..

(I originally posted this article on 17th March 2016 on medium.com)

I’ve been motivated to write this article by a recent outpouring from a number of entrepreneurs, in particular James Routledge and the sentiment around Mental Health being anything from a hidden secret right the way through to an embarrassment, weakness, or even a failure on the part of the person experiencing it to cope with their world and the pressures it exerts upon them.

This article comes into the debate from a different angle, that is of one who works in this environment, helping clients, not just psychologically, but as a whole person in this context.

I’m beginning to write this post as I have yet more questions about Mindfulness echoing around inside my head. It comes up a bit in my coaching, and in the space of a week, I’ve had three lengthy discussions with individuals where it isn’t producing the desired effects, but ‘it should be working’ I’m told.

Once upon a time I sort of thought I had a fairly good idea what it was about, but when I stopped to think about it, I began to wonder..

The wonderings that were coming to mind ranged along the lines of what’s it all about, what do we get from it, all the way to is it really all it’s cracked up to be? 

As the answer, I’m really not that sure, emerged from my gut, I was taken back a little bit. I felt the need to explore this a little and thought it might be useful to write about it while I did so.

In my earlier article What is Rhythm? and in Stage 1 of this series about reading the race circuit, I talk about how one of the most important skills for finding and improving upon your racing performance is being able to read the race circuit effectively. In Stage 1 I gave a brief overview of how we get to know our world and described a way for you to build on what you know by getting different views of the circuit and letting it sink in.

Stage 2 is more about understanding what were you doing and why.

In my article What is Rhythm? I highlight that one of the most important skills for finding good racing performance is being able to read the race circuit effectively. In that article, I describe the race circuit as sheet of music a racer must read to find their rhythm. The racing lines and the way the bike is ridden is an expression of how the circuit has been read by the racer. This depends on perception - how we get to know our world through our senses.

I think that not reading the circuit well is one of the biggest limiting factors to a racer's performance, both in lap times and in their available mental capacity. On the other hand, the best and most successful racers develop very good patterns of circuit reading and they know that this is the foundation of their performance.

Fear..

Just the word is enough to stir up associations that in themselves can strike fear into peoples’ hearts and minds.

Classified as a ‘negative’ emotion that needs to be controlled, overcome, ignored, or let go, we’re told it equals ‘Fight or Flight.’ An ancient rudimentary survival mechanism that, depending on who you ask, is rooted deep down in either our lizard brain or chimp brain. Because of this, it’s now out of date and inferior to our more developed rational thinking brain departments who should really be in charge.

Performance psychology is awash with comments about how fear wrecks performance in almost every area where it counts - in business, in sport, in performing arts, even in education.

But does this actually stand up to scrutiny in the real world?

Graham Hill Bend

In this second part of 'Why you should always walk the circuit', we're going to look at some softer psychological benefits to walking the circuit that racers often don't think about or recognise. The main benefit we're going to talk about is how it can help you to prepare yourself for racing.

Druids to Graham Hill Bend

There are numerous reasons why walking the circuit is so important if you want to a) improve your racing performance, and/or b) have a more enjoyable and rewarding racing experience.

The first, and probably most important reason why you should do this is: it is the only way you can fully develop your circuit knowledge. Let's look at why:

During 2014 I was introduced to Anthony Kirwan and Talan Skeels-Piggins and the newly formed motorcycle race team, Talan Racing. Talan was returning to racing from a pretty major crash at Assen in 2013 and I was asked if I might be able to help with the psychology and performance development of the team.

Given such an opportunity, how could I refuse? So I helped the team out a bit and together we achieved some very good results, with Talan's performance showing consistent improvement. I was then asked if I might work with the team for this season, 2015, as they had some new riders coming onboard and they wanted my continued support. Naturally, I agreed.

What is so remarkable about this team?