Presence: Stand and Deliver

Presence: Stand and Deliver

I love tennis. The Australian Open is one of my favourites. Despite the late nights, watching these gladiators confront the boundaries of their skill under sustained pressure is thrilling and inspiring. It also highlights the important role of presence.

Whether a fan or not, to watch these women and men master their on-court presence is a lesson we can all learn from. Out there on court, with a screaming crowd or broadcast to millions, a player is under intense scrutiny through sustained pressure.

Consider the self-mastery of Tsitsipas weathering the storm of a brutal, on-form Nadal to come back from two sets down. Barty dealing graciously with defeat. Djokovic smashing his racquet in vicious rage against Zverev and coming back to win. The playfulness of Hsieh. Zverev’s sad eyes and exposing his stomach when things go wrong. The steadiness of Osaka. The power of Williams – and, ahh, the clothing.

We know that our physical signals determine how someone responds to you within 40 milliseconds. Given that emotions activate in around 300 milliseconds and thoughts in around 600 milliseconds, the body rules. What we show physically is based on how we master emotion and thought.

Resilience Podcast: Posture and Presence, Feb 2021

There are eight great lessons to help you face the challenges of leadership, parenting, politics, teams, and the hustle of making progress in a testing world. There is no one right way. This is a creative journey of building the presence you want to be in the world. Test the lessons for your own needs. Adapt and refine.

Discipline your Body. Your body sends the first signals. Are you confident? Are you open and warm? Are you fit for purpose? Are you dominant or submissive? What emotion is your body signaling? The body is tangible and malleable. Much more so than your emotions and thoughts. The body is where we must start.

Recovery

To present in life, recovery the first requirement. Sleep, breathe, stretch and nourish yourself well. Your vehicle must be well serviced. The moment a match completes triggers a structured routine of recovery. Do you believe you are physically prepared for the day?

Dress right

Unlike other creatures, we adorn ourselves with clothing, gels, jewellery and hairstyles. Creative presentation is great. Are you presenting like a male peacock? What is the signal that you want to send to those you engage with?

Walk and Stand with Purpose

A limp in an antelope is an attack opportunity for a predator. Walk tall, directly, and maintain a spring in your legs. Keep your shoulders open and let your arms swing naturally. Stand with your feet apart, weight on the balls of your feet, balanced and ready to move. Do you have a video or picture of your gait?

Lengthen the Back of your Neck

Keep your spine light and long. This reduces the strain on your neck massively. Well balanced shoulders and neck make you look alert, ready, open and confident. When your shoulders hunch and your head bows forward (i-posture), you look beaten. The signal goes both inwards to your own hormonal status (testosterone down and cortisol up), and out to the impression others receive.

Never Expose your Stomach

We are a predator species. Exposing the belly is the strongest submission pose a predator can display. Watch Zverev. He really must stop this habit. Too much exposed flesh is a distraction at best. At worst, it derails your purpose.

Shut your Mouth

Only open your mouth to speak and in extreme exercise. Breathing through the nose is much better for health and performance. Leaving your jaw slack and hanging has no benefit. Deliberately keep your lips sealed, tongue soft and slow your breathing. This will also help you to listen better.

Restrain Emotional Outbursts

Smashing a racquet, swearing or angry outbursts might have been OK in McEnroe’s time. We are past it now. Destructive emotions must be checked and expressed with respect and skill. While rage appears to excite a part of the population (Kyrios vs. Thiem), we will advance faster when we learn to express the better angels of our nature – respect, tolerance and kindness.

Practise like Crazy

Just as you cannot pick up a racquet for a masterful forehand without years of practice, so you will need to practice this stuff.

Suggestions:

  1. Watch different postural styles in contexts that you admire
  2. Review or record photos and videos of yourself in action
  3. See an experienced physiotherapist for a muscle balance assessment
  4. Develop a daily stretch and core strength routine
  5. Mitigate sleep deprivation, overload and hyperventilation
  6. Walk tall, sit up and rest well
Bounce Forward Fast

Bounce Forward Fast

Originally published on www.resiliencei.com and reproduced with permission.
 by 

Lockdown for the third time. Calls cancel work booked. Rain pelts down. Businesses are pummelled. We lifted ourselves up, reinvented work and again, we face adversity.

No-one has escaped. Many have worked from home for months, some through long, dark winters. Millions of jobs have disappeared. Families are bereaved and separated. Governments wallow in debt. Climate threats continue to build.

This is our history. Cycles of collapse and growth beset humanity. Often the four horsemen of disease, famine, mass migration and state failure are triggered by climate shifts.

Time and again, we, humanity find a way to makes sense of chaos and despair. We bounce. We innovate, adjust and find new solutions. We reconnect, demonstrate altruism and find our way back to flow.

Acknowledging fully the suffering and insecurity many of us face right now, there are lessons and deliberate actions available to help us bounce.

Lesson 1: Make sense of the downward suck

Resilience fails fast or slow. When the mind is overloaded, we lose focus and then disengage. Creative thinking fades, and the old reptilian emotions activate. Fear, the primitive flight reaction, activates first. We want to run away – go to bed, switch to a screen, drink, eat and procrastinate. If we do not accept and counter this normal reaction, anxiety is the price we pay.

When anger, the fight reaction, triggers, we seek to blame – government, epidemiologists, employers or family members. Filled with the poisonous chemicals of anger, we lash out. Unresolved, this leads to hostility and conduct disorder.

Finally, sadness, the freeze reaction, activates. We withdraw into isolation and ruminate on all that has gone wrong. Again, though normal, we must counter it before we sink into despair and depression.

Lesson 2: Bounce forward fast

Bounce back is delusional. It is a fixed mindset. You cannot go back and reverse change. When we confront adversity we learn, adapt and apply new skills. Adversity can overwhelm but mostly we grow and bounce forward to an improved state of function. Acknowledge the suck, focus on how adversity can motivate for a fresh perspective, learning and constructive action.

Focus on the small things – a powernap, a stretch, a walk, reach out to a friend or colleague, or appreciate the rejuvenation brought by rain. Action is required. Small steps lead to bigger steps. Build your momentum. Tackle bigger challenges.

How resilience fails and the steps to bounce forward fast

Lesson 3: Adversity makes you stronger

Despite our brilliance and resources, we simply fail to recognise and action preventive measures – health, saving, moderation, climate or state abuse. We are the archetypal boiled frog. 

We can learn by confronting the consequence of adversity. When we get a shock and feel pain, we pay attention and are motivated to act. This is how nature has always learned to adapt and prevail. Being too safe and over-protected leads to complacency and fragility. The body becomes weak, destructive emotions prevail, and thinking becomes sloppy.

There are times that we must protect the vulnerable. We can learn to reframe adversity as a challenge to pay attention, be curious, learn and try again. Engaging adversity with wisdom and courage, allows us to strengthen and upskill the muscles of the body, the emotions and the mind. Growth follows.

Lesson 4: Take care of yourself

Basic self-care is most essential when things are difficult. This is the time to be a little ruthless as coach. Make sure you sleep enough, at regular times and with quality. Do some exercise – even a few stretches, push-ups or a brisk walk. Even a minute can make a difference. Maintain good posture.

Slow your breathing. Focus on breathing slowly through the nose. Aim for six breaths per minute. Four seconds in and six out or five in and five out are well-established options. For the more adventurous, ideally with supervision, you can try the breathing and cold exposure disciplines of Wim Hoff.

Lesson 5: Name, tame and reframe emotions

We are slowly learning to master the world of emotion. For most they ‘do not exist’. They are unconscious experiences that take control of our lives. If they are positive, that is fine. But if your emotions are negative, flight (fear), fight (anger) and freeze (sadness), they are wrecking your life and your relationships.

If you don’t feel good, you are in a negative emotional state. Name it. Pause and ask the question: ‘what am I feeling?’ The moment you accurately name the emotion (fear, anger, sadness), the unconscious and ‘reptilian reaction’ becomes conscious. The pre-frontal cortex activates. Accept it, feel it and engage it.

Once you are aware, you are in charge. Now, tame it. Slow your breathing, relax your face, step back, stretch and let the negative emotional reaction settle.

Now you are ready to reframe it. Fear is countered with equanimity and curiosity. Anger is countered with respect and kindness. Sadness in countered with appreciation, gratitude and humour.

Yes, it sounds tricky. Twenty years of neurobiology and positive psychology shows that it works and triggers the broaden and build of growth and connection.

Lesson 6: Stop thinking

Much of your thinking in wrecking your life. A flight reaction in the body and the emotion of fear accelerates worry loops about an imagined future. The fight reaction with anger, accelerates rumination on the sins and failings of someone else. The freeze reaction with sadness, accelerates rumination on your own sins and failings.

Name it, tame it and reframe it. Notice and acknowledge when you worry or ruminate. Exhale and come back to the present unfolding situation (tame). Focus 100% on a constructive action in the present.

Lesson 7: Smile, laugh and do something you love

Yes, these are difficult times. Many are suffering. Yet life lusts for itself. Adversity activates bounce and growth. We learn, we reconnect, and we build better futures. Evolution is on our side. Our genes are resilient. We have the skills. We can watch the experts. Good studies prove the lessons above. They work.

Leading Resilience and Wellbeing

Leading Resilience and Wellbeing

How to communicate solutions with clarity

Imagine your team in a meeting with a consultant is pitching a wellbeing solution. The consultant may be a doctor, nurse, psychologist, neuroscientist or lay person. They will present what they think is “wellbeing”, “resilience”, “psychological safety”, “mental health” or many other labels. Seldom do they define what they mean.

What would you hear in the minds of your team?

  • Health & Safety Rep: “This might protect people from covid-19.”
  • Human Resources: “This can help us reduce virtual work stress issues.”
  • Training manager: “So this is psychological safety”
  • Operations manager: “Let’s toughen up our non-performers.”
  • CFO: “We are already spending $2,000 a month on ‘health’ insurance.”
  • CEO: “This has nothing to do with business performance, but we need to reassure the board on mental health.”

We have little insight into how people process the concept. The focus might be depression, anxiety, bullying, keto diets, exercise, sleep, stress, resilience, emotional intelligence or mental skills. The problem is compounded by a confused research agenda and limited research on the business benefit (ROI).

Here is an approach that has helped us make sense of this confusing topic. Our recommendation is that service providers and leaders take some time to clarify their thinking and communication. There are many legitimate explanations.

The goal is to encourage you to be clear in your thinking and precise in the language you use. Most importantly define the meaning of the words you use.

Sick, Healthy or Well

We operate in a massive, interconnected and reinforcing crisis that is in effect a SICKNESS SYSTEM. The way we live our lives, the products we sell to each other, and distress (physical, emotional and mental) we tolerate make us sick. Preventable diseases – specifically heart disease, diabetes, obesity, anxiety and depression – continue to increase globally crushing the lives of individuals, compromising productivity, and costing us all a fortune.

Unfortunately, the players in the sickness system benefit from more disease and desperation. Industries behind insurance, cure provision, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, guns and administrators have little interest in reform. Globally it is predicted to be worth USD $8.8 trillion in 2021.

Health is perhaps the absence of disease. We have the knowledge and tools to prevent about 75% of disease – physical, emotional and mental. If we successfully prevent disease, we have a HEALTHCARE SYSTEM. We spend less than 3% of our health budgets on prevention.

WELLBEING is a state of physical, emotional (and social), mental, and spiritual vitality. Life is aligned and feels good. Energy (physical), pleasure (emotional) and realistic optimism (mental) are abundant. Even when we are unwell or suffer serious setback, we are able to access our wellbeing to bounce forward and continue our growth and connection – RESILIENCE.

How to reduce confusion, paradox and conflict?

Be clear as to whether you mean sickness care, health care or wellbeing (or resilience). For example, New Zealand made quite a show of launching a wellbeing budget of NZD $500 million and promptly dumped it all into treating mental illness. Lipstick on a pig. In the US, sickness is so expensive to treat that people will compromise on their careers, entrepreneurship and wellbeing to secure insurance. With employers spending $2,000 a month on “sickness” insurance, it is no wonder they baulk at spending $5 a month on a proven wellbeing or resilience programme.

Develop a coherent concept to embrace a proposed solution. Don’t be seduced by simple, part solutions. Mature employers now have multiple operating solutions – mental health, safety, health, insurance, wellbeing, mindfulness, EQ, mental skills, resilience, EAP, sleep, and engagement. This is expensive, confusing and de-motivating. Each one has its own language, budgets and territorial owners.

Be precise on whether you are mitigating risk – depression, anxiety, substance abuse, diabetes or high blood pressure – or building strengths – fitness, sleep benefits, clarity under pressure, emotional agility, empathy or mental skills. Define the costs and the benefits to the people involved and the business. For example, sleep disturbance is estimated to cost business ~ USD $2,000 per person per year. Can you show evidence of how the intervention will improve sleep – say 25% – and demonstrate how that would save $500 per person per year.

Articulate clearly where responsibility lies. Views are split between total individual responsibility and total employer responsibility. This is not helpful. It is always a shared responsibility. Both individual and employer have a duty of care. Be precise about what you expect from individuals and what you are prepared to contribute as an organisation.

This trap that can cause conflict.  Take depression for example. You promote positivity or mental skills (CBT) which have good evidence. A depressed individual has been told that it is an imbalance of chemicals caused by genetics and that the only solution is anti-depressant medication. Then you get a grievance that your bullying triggered the depression. Messy!

Be sensitive to physical, emotional, mental and spiritual perspectives. We are moving into a biological age where objective signs (blood tests or brain scans) are being matched to physical, emotional and mental experiences.

Take anxiety for example. It is described as a mental illness, yet nothing is seen on brain scans. We observe clearly the presence of excess and persisting fear emotions. We also observe that heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline and cortisol have increased. From a biological perspective, anxiety is a sustained flight reaction. It is a physical state of being. Should we treat with a potent anxiolytic medicine or teach the person to breathe slowly?

Psychologists in particular must watch for thinking traps and be precise. No-one has yet seen a psyche. If our approach and investment in mental illness was sound, mental illness would be in decline, not accelerating.

Spiritual wellbeing must be handled gently. Perceptions are most diverse here and a challenge can be taken seriously.

Finally, there are no quick solutions. An app, webinar or workshop will not solve the problem. Preventing sickness and building wellbeing (or resilience) take years of deliberate attention, practice and reinforcement. The medical paradigm lets us believe that the drug, the surgery or the procedure will solve the problem.

Just as you continuously invest in improving your logistics or digital marketing, so health, wellbeing and resilience is an ongoing journey. Clear definitions, precise language, integration of concepts, patience and tenacity can truly transform your people, your culture, your brand and your productivity.

Stories of Resilience #2 : Conversation with Laurence Pian – President of Jan and Oscar Foundation

Stories of Resilience #2 : Conversation with Laurence Pian – President of Jan and Oscar Foundation

Welcome to this 2nd episode of our “Stories of Resilience”.

Today, our Partner Alexia Michiels talks with Laurence Pian, President of Jan and Oscar Foundation – https://www.fondationjan-oscar.ch/

Laurence is a real example of Resilience. She created the Foundation after the death of 2 of her 4 children, Jan and Oscar, in the Tsunami in Thailand in 2004.

How to bounce back from such a tragedy? What kind of routines help Laurence to experience joy and look ahead with confidence?

To note, all royalties of the book « The Resilience Drive » are donated to the Foundation Jan & Oscar.

Find here below how to place your order :

🇬🇧 In English The Resilience Drive – Also available in E-Book version: https://www.editionsfavre.com/livres/the-resilience-drive/

🇫🇷 In French L’Elan de la Résilience – Also available in E-Book version: https://www.editionsfavre.com/livres/lelan-de-la-resilience/

📚Order from 21 units, contact us directly: contact.europe@resiliencei.com

🎧 Audible version (French only) :
https://www.audible.fr/pd/Lelan-de-la-resilience-Livre-Audio/2364068940