The world motorcycle grand prix has just been run at Phillip Island. An amazing event where riders push their bikes and themselves to the edge of their capabilities. I am particularly astounded by their courage and skills because I had the opportunity to ride that same track on a motorcycle at high speed.
It was a hot and blustery day last summer that I arrived at the grand prix track. My mission was to complete a superbike training course, where I would learn to ride smoothly at high speed, improving my skills and capability.
Along with about twenty other students of varying ages and abilities, we gathered nervously in the briefing room to receive our instructions on how the day would unfold, and what was expected of us.
Our instructor strolled up to the front of the room and introduced himself as a well credentialled former racer himself who also claimed to have trained several world champions through the superbike school format. What he said next was the most important piece of advice I would receive:
“Your bike can go up to 300km per hour down the straight. Visual information will be rushing at you at incredible speed. Your brain is not designed to receive and process visual data at that speed. Your brain evolved to process data at running speed which is 44.2km per hour if you are Usain Bolt. You will be travelling down the straight here 250km per hour faster than that and your brain will struggle. As a result most of your instinctual survival reactions will not be helpful to you. If you follow them, at best you will go slow, at worst you will crash. Your most important work today is train your brain to adopt new and different habits of thought and patterns of action.”
In that moment our riding coach had articulated the exact same challenge that I have been seeing across many of my executive and professional clients. What he described was similar to the way that many of us are experiencing life in general as we try to thrive in a world that is moving at incredible speed, throwing tremendous amounts of information at us via new technology platforms and the 24/7 connected world. Its like we are travelling down the track of life at 300km per hour and our brain is not designed to handle it.
There’s a wonderful video on youtube that perfectly sums up our daily experience. Take a look. It’s called Late for Work by 5 Second Films. Seriously, it's a 5 second film, so go take a look now!
See what I mean? If this is the same experience that many of us are having, no wonder that we are experiencing stress and anxiety at unprecedented levels. In fact, the Australian Psychological Society reported that one in four adults in Australia experienced anxiety above normal levels, and more than 3 in 10 adults were experiencing significant levels of distress in their lives.
I deeply worry about the impact that this extraordinary pace of life is having on people, especially my family, my friends, and the clients that I coach or who attend my leadership programs. What this extraordinary pace is doing to their mental health, their physical wellbeing, and their spirit.
I especially hate to see people giving up on their dreams and aspirations because they struggle to respond to the fast pace, or even worse people who crash and burn through stress and executive burnout because their instinctual responses towards overwork and undercare are unhelpful.
I am so concerned that I’ve teamed up with my friend and colleague Paul Taylor to build something that can help leaders and executives adopt more helpful patterns of thought and habits of action. So that they can adapt to this incredible fast-paced life that we have to lead, learn and love in.
It’s based on our collective research and experience in the fields of neuroscience, physiology, psychology and philosophy. In other words, it links together powerful ideas and life hacks that help us get the most from our brains, bodies and minds….plus a little bit of soul too.
The work we do is centered on the rituals executives adopt and cultivate in our lives that either help or hinder their sustainable wellbeing and performance.
We’ve been trialing it with clients recently and we are getting great feedback. We’ve also observed some leaders achieve some life-changing moments of clarity and insight into their wellbeing rituals - thinking habits and patterns of behavior that are either adding to or detracting from their wellbeing and sustainability.
If you’re interested in exploring this program further, please reach out to Paul or I. We would dearly love to help you and the people in your care to thrive.
Hint: You might want to turn the sound down if watching this in an open office environment ;)