Archive for ◊ August, 2016 ◊

• Wednesday, August 24th, 2016


Discomfort. It says something – but most people misunderstand what it’s saying. There is no adaptation without discomfort – or to put it another way – we don’t change for the better when we insist on remaining comfortable.

What Does Discomfort Say?
To most people, discomfort says “Stop what you’re doing! This is hard!”

But for people who are dedicated to finding a way to improve, discomfort says “Ok – this is hard now, but if you keep at it, it will become easy.”

Super Compensation
There is a really basic principle of physical adaptation – usually applied to exercise and working out. It’s called super-compensation, and all it means is this:

When you put your body under training stress, say you do heavier squats at the gym or run 5km as hard as you can, you cause some breakdown in the muscle tissues and you stress the central nervous system. Now, because we are very adaptable creatures, when my body repairs itself, it doesn’t just repair itself to the state it was before, it over-compensates by making itself stronger – building stronger muscles in neural connections.

The same is true for anything we engage in. So when we are uncomfortable, it’s out body’s signal to adapt and get better.

Becoming Uncomfortable
There are some obvious ways to increase ‘discomfort’ given the example above:

You can run longer, faster, add hill repeats if you want to become a better runner.

Or you can lift heavier weights if you want to get bigger and stronger.

Now think about the things you want to improve from a productivity standpoint or a leadership point of view. If you want to be more present, then don’t check your phone for one hour at a time If you want to be more productive then set deadlines every day that stretch you a little. If you want to give more control to your staff, then pick one thing to delegate every single day.

The main thing is it has to stretch you – even a little bit. If you do the same thing every day you stop adapting. But if you create even mild discomfort, you will start to make some progress.

• Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

Three Signs You’re Collaborating Too Much
Collaboration is a sure way to better efficiency, more creative problem solving and staff engagement. But there’s a very real downside to collaborating too much. Here are three signs that collaboration has gone too far.

Collaboration. It’s what makes a team really work. It is one of the key ingredients that takes a group of people and transforms them into a real team. It’s where you can create moments of brilliance as a team. After all, without collaboration we don’t capitalise on diversity, different ideas, different experience levels, and we don’t use the human capital that we have to the best of it’s ability.

But we can actually create problems when we collaborate too much. We can create mediocrity instead of brilliance. Here’s what to look for:

3 Signs of Over-Collaboration

1) It takes forever to get consensus

This is one of the problems with creating too much collaboration. We spend too much time going back and forth, getting more input and buy-in. All of a sudden critical decisions take too long to happen, and even longer to implement.

Depending on the size of your team or division, you might need to have some areas of a project that are set in stone, and others that can be discussed and collaborated upon. People are generally happy to accept that there are some hard and fast guidelines, but if they can have a moderate level of input, they still feel ownership.

2) You find yourself compromising the solution

This is the single biggest problem with too much collaboration. Over-collaboration can sometimes lead to a feeling that we have to include people’s opinions and come to some consensus. This is wrong. The object of collaboration is to find the best solution. We compromise that solution when we include people’s ideas and opinions just for the sake of making them feel valued.

When we collaborate too much, the best ideas sometimes get watered down, because our feeling is that we have to give everyone a ‘piece’ of the idea to feel valued and create ownership. What we need to realise that that people mostly just want to be heard and validated. They want to have their say and if there’s a valid reason their opinions don’t factor into the final outcome, then that’s generally ok. But you have to listen and give a valid reason.

3) People need to be involved in every decision

This is a classic case of over-collaboration. People suddenly feel the need to be involved in Every. Single. Decision. And if they’re not, they feel disempowered and cheated.

But the reality is that people can’t be involved in every decision. And there are sometimes critical, urgent decisions where collaboration would take too long and be too cumbersome. And there are other decisions where the staff may not have all the information to make the right decision – sometimes because of confidentiality and sometimes because of lack of time and resources.

People need to understand that collaboration is useful but we don’t live in a perfect world. And sometimes there are decisions that need to be made. But they also need to understand that you will collaborate whenever possible. That way when you can’t do it, they know the reason is genuine.

So there you have it. Collaboration is great, but it can go too far. Are your decisions taking too long? Do you sometimes settle for consensus and mediocrity over best practice? And do people feel a sense of entitlement when it comes to being involved?

• Wednesday, August 03rd, 2016


Think you can get by with less sleep than other people? You probably can’t. The research tells us that even sleeping 5-6 hours a night starts to affect our performance in almost everything you can think of.

The vast majority of research agrees that we all need between seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night. If you only get five hours sleep a night, and you do this for four nights in a row, this actually becomes the equivalent of being awake for 24 hours straight. What does that mean?

Well, in a study by the Harvard Medical School, showed that nurses who were under this level of fatigue were 61% more likely to stab themselves with a needle, and168% more likely to have a car crash on the way home. A lack of sleep affects our judgment, our decision making, our attention and our ability to control emotions and behaviours in a very real way.

If you’re like most people, then you get these symptoms or very similar ones when you have a period where you can’t sleep properly.

  • You become moody and find it hard to control emotions
  • You are easily frustrated
  • You forget things easily
  • You feel like eating junk food
  • You tend to act on auto pilot – becoming reactive and doing easy things rather than difficult things

Your Brain Can’t Recharge

The biggest thing you need to know is that without sleep, the brain’s Pre Frontal Cortex (PFC) can’t recharge itself properly. If it can’t recharge, then it can’t function for very long, and it runs out of energy to keep working.

The PFC is responsible for controlling emotions. So without sleep, you are easily frustrated and may become moody or ‘snap’ at the drop of a hat. That PFC is also responsible for holding things in short term memory, so forgetting things is pretty much going to be a given. And finally, the PFC is responsible for our top down, goal-based function. So without it functioning at its best, we become reactive, auto-pilot machines, doing the easier thing and finding it very difficult to exert any self-control whatsoever.

First Things First – Aim for 7-8 Hours

We sleep in phases, with the most important phase being ‘Slow Wave” or ‘Restorative Sleep’. Seven or eight hours will allow us to get more restorative sleep phases completed, and also, as we get closer to the six, seven or eight-hour mark, these restorative cycles become longer.

Without the right amount of sleep – even if it’s good quality – you will wake up with your brain’s PFC exhausted and your stress chemicals elevated – and neither of these things are going to help you perform at your best in any area of your life.

Set your body clock

Help your body clock as much as possible. To do this, it’s best to go to bed and wake up at the same time at least 6 days a week.

After a while, you will train your ‘wake up’ chemicals to release at the same time every morning, and those sleep cycles start to get organized and form an optimal pattern. Your body and brain knows when it is meant to go to sleep and when it has to wake up, so those sleep cycles become consistent. When your body is confused, your sleep cycles are confused as well. You should no longer need an alarm clock to get out of bed.


Switch Off, Literally: No Screens

If you’re someone who feels they have to work until late at night, then try to disengage for 20 to 30 minutes before you hit the pillow. This gives your brain a chance to shut down. Do something that allows you to disengage mentally from work.

Try turning off anything with a screen at least 30-40 minutes before bedtime. And then engage in some sort of routine to help you hit the pillow in a relaxed state. Screens emit a light frequency that keeps us awake, and more than this, multimedia is designed to stimulate our senses, not relax us.


If you want a better night’s sleep, use at least one of these strategies. If you struggle to get the sleep that you need, then use all of them. You brain (and likely your boss, coworkers and family) will thank you for it.