It’s commonly assumed that good leadership styles are mostly mind or personality based. Although it’s recognized that leaders should look the part too, being physically fit and well groomed. And some even give consideration to speech training and the way a person carries herself. But beyond that the body isn’t thought about much…
That’s a mistake because ultimately what’s inspiring is a leader’s presence and way of being.
An embodied leader is aware that planning and leading are definitely whole mind/body/spirit activities. And that’s what makes business leaders who have embodied leadership skills so different and more much effective.
Take for example a leader we’ll call Sarah.
She’s so busy she doesn’t have time for breakfast as she rushes off to meet her team. They greet her with demands that pull her in eight different directions. She tries to handle them all at once, while not giving any of them the attention they deserve. Oh, her frustration and stress levels are rising. She has deadlines to meet, so she cancels another lunch date with her best friend…again! She just hates putting her friend off like that, but she couldn’t have eaten a bite anyway.
The presentation scheduled this afternoon is making her sick to her stomach. And no, she can’t make it to the gym today. She’s must keep her doctor’s appointment because her blood pressure pills need to be adjusted and she want to talk with the doc about getting something for the anxiety and depression that’s closing in on her.
Everyone thinks she has it all together. That she’s so successful. She looks like a leader. Yet she’s falling apart inside. Something is drastically wrong. Her leadership style is impossible to maintain.
Are you starting to see that effective leadership styles requires that the body be completely congruent with the mind?
A successful leader must be able to intervene in his or her own physiological responses to stress and have the awareness to know which decisions are going to support the things that are really important in life.
Sarah, from the above story, wants to be calm and collected. She has every intention of reaching her goals for having a successful business, strong friendships and good health. Yet as stress is introduced, her body betrays her. Because she’s only thinking with her conscious mind of doing the things she know good leaders do, her body rebels, because it reverts back to patterns that have been formed by a lifetime of habits.
Your habits live not only in your memories, but in your tissues and cells. The body remembers. Embodied awareness lets you hear what your body is saying. It helps you watch yourself from an outside perspective. Then you can engage in practices that develop your ability to take more effective actions. In time, you develop a new muscle memory that lets you do things you couldn’t have done before, whether it’s being calm under crisis or being an assertive introvert.
Extreme stress can cause a mind/body disconnect that makes people act in crazy ways. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “She’s not herself today.” When stress triggers an interaction in our brain between the hypothalamus, which regulates hormones and the amygdala, which assigns emotional significance to an event, the fight or flight stress response takes over the conscious mind. Normally you wouldn’t scream, yell, shake, and cry, but the brain/body disconnect makes you behave in a way that’s foreign to you.
Let’s put it in another way…you may know you’re not supposed to run from a bear, but your legs don’t believe you. This is a really dangerous mind/body disconnect that gets you in trouble. Because the next thing you know you’re trying to outrun a bear…not a good idea!
So what can embodied leadership principles do for you that other leadership styles do not?
It supports you as you make slow and steady progress toward a strong awareness of your mind/body/spirit connection. Through mindfulness, centering, somatic exercises, breathing techniques, and NLP anchoring techniques you learn how to be present in the moment of stress in a relaxed, unattached way. It gives you time and the skills to slow down, be fully mindful so your actions truly reflect a peaceful state of mind. If you’d like to work with me as you master these skills, I’d be honored for you to contact me. We can set up a time to meet in person at my Ashland, Oregon office or via Skype.
Stressed out. Strung out. Uptight. On edge. Tense. Nervous. People have such a hard time achieving a deeply relaxed state of mind. Any little thing can set them off, send them over the edge. This is taking a terrible toll on the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health of us and our loved ones.
Earlier, I shared a number of ways to achieve deep relaxation through Progressive Muscle Relaxation and simply making time for things you enjoy. (Yes, that’s me in the picture. I love archery!) As mentioned, to get the most benefit, focus on relaxation via the body, via the mind, and via the soul.
What do I mean by Deep Relaxation via the Soul?
A lot of people say that they can’t relax because their lives are chaotic and messy. It’s important to practice your ability to relax fully no matter the circumstances or the conditions around you. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) teaches us that we can choose any psychological state at will. This means that you can experience bliss, joy, gratitude, or love no matter what is happening in your life. And one of the NLP techniques that helps you do this is called “anchoring”.
In NLP, “anchoring” refers to the process of associating an internal response with some external or internal trigger so that the response may be quickly and subtly accessed.
NLP anchoring techniques are based on science. Russian scientist, Ivan Pavlov, famously demonstrated how conditioning works. He rang a bell every time dogs were fed. Soon the dogs psychologically associated the smell and taste of food with the sound of the bell. So even if the food was not present, the dogs would salivate at the sound. The bell (an external trigger) caused a real physiological response (salivation) even though the smell and taste were absent.
NLP anchoring techniques similarly cause you to psychologically associate a signal or trigger (tapping your chest, snapping a rubber band, squeezing your fingers) with a physiological response (an emotion, mood, or mental state) of your choice. When you experience a negative emotion, you can trigger a positive emotion and extinguish the negative one. This thereby allows you to choose your mood or state of mind no matter what the circumstances are.
Here are 7 Easy Steps to Anchoring a Resourceful State of Mind:
- Decide on the state you want to anchor. For example being calm and relaxed.
- Recall a memory or imagine a situation where you can experience the state. Make it very detailed and vivid, using all your senses.
- When the experience is vivid and you’re in the desired state, connect it with a part of your body. For example, put your hand on your heart when the state is at its peak!
- Now, break state by removing your hand and doing something else. Open your eyes, count down from 10 to break state and distract yourself.
- Apply the anchor by just placing your hand on your heart and check that the required state, such as calmness or peace, occurs again.
- You may need to repeat the anchoring process a number of times to make the experience sufficiently intense.
- Use your new anchor in the situation where you want to experience the desired state. For example, when you’re feeling stressed during your next business meeting, place your hand on your heart and make sure it creates a sufficiently robust resourced state of calmness.
NLP anchoring techniques are really a method of deep relaxation that is best learned under the guidance of a trained professional. If you’d like to add this excellent tool to your life skills, please contact me and I’d be happy to help you finally achieve the peace you crave.
Are there times when you struggle to focus on the task at hand? Perhaps that’s because there’s too much going on in your attentional field. What’s that? It’s a term used to describe everything within your attention span – your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, sights and sounds around you. Right now your attention is on the website reading this, but you may at the same time be distracted by other things like the mug of tea you’re sipping, the sound of your child or pet in the background, the thoughts of a deadline looming later today.
Focus is the ability to attend to internal cues (what’s going on inside of you, your feelings and thoughts) and external cues (what’s going on around you, like the knock on the door) in your attentional field. In all areas of life, whether you’re giving a presentation at work, having an important conversation with your spouse or training for a marathon, in order to excel you need to be able to focus.
What can you do to learn how to focus better? Here are two main skills you’ll need to master:
- In order to tap into the tremendous power of concentration, determine what the relevant cues to the task at hand are and learn to focus only on them. We learn to selectively focus on or block out cues every day, otherwise the background noises and activities would drive us crazy.
Think about a star ball player. He must be in tune to his technique, his opponent, the score, the referee, the coach, and time remaining on the scoreboard, to name only a few cues vying for his attention. What would happen if his focus shifted to the pretty girl in the bleachers? He, in all likelihood, might miss the ball flying towards him. Hence at this point and time, that pretty girl would be considered a performance-irrelevant cue that must be ignored.
- So the second skill for achieving better focus is determining what the performance-irrelevant cues are so you can ignore them as you strive to excel. These would be anything that would hurt your performance when you must accomplish a task.
There are two types of harmful cues that you’ll encounter:
Interfering cues are those that directly hurt your performance such as negative thoughts, anxiety, and concern over what others think.
Irrelevant cues are those that distract you from an effective focus including what restaurant you’ll go to tonight, the project that you must finish by tomorrow, or that pretty girl in the bleachers.
Each of us has a different dominant focus style, which is what we default to under stress. We pay attention in two distinct ways. These two focus styles are…
Internal-focus style. These people are totally and consistently focused during a specific activity like a presentation, a practice session or a competition. They need to keep their focus narrow, thinking only about their performance all the time. The down side of this intensity is that they also tend to be easily distracted by their surroundings.
External-focus style. These people only focus on their specific activity when they’re about to begin the event or competition. They function better by taking their mind off of the activity at all other times, because they tend to over-think, becoming negative, critical, and anxious. For them to excel, they must focus on other things when they’re not actually performing.
Neither approach is right or wrong. The important thing is identifying your focus style and utilizing it to improve your powers of concentration. If you’re trying to force yourself to adopt a style other than your own, you’ll find that under pressure you’ll revert back to your normal style and that could really throw you off your game.
Would you like assistance in utilizing your personal style to excel at everything you do? We can work together in person or via Skype. Please contact me and I’ll be happy to help you identify your weakness and learn how to tap into your strengths.
A good place to begin is by taking my 7-Point Wellness Assessment. You can download your free copy by clicking here.
“A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success.” ~ Joyce Brothers
Did you know that how you see yourself in your own mind has a great impact on your fitness level? Scientists and sports coaches have found that when you imagine yourself as fit and healthy, the brain believes it, which encourages you to make choices that consistently support your self-image as a fit person. To reinforce this positive shift you can definitely benefit from mental strength training.
That’s right! To improve your physical fitness you need to strengthen your mental fitness. Why? Because mental strength training will help you shift your self-image so you are empowered to reach your potential. Imagine how your fitness will improve when you can…
- Focus and deal with distractions. Rather than having a result-oriented focus, you’ll be able to focus on the present moment rather than becoming self-conscious.
- Develop a fearless mindset. You know that one event doesn’t define you as a person so you’re not afraid of embarrassment or failure.
- Control your emotions. You’ll be able to deal with setbacks and errors as you stay composed under pressure to perform.
- Improve endurance. You’ll be able to perform at your peak for a longer period of time when you are able to work in the “zone”.
- Find your true motivation. You’ll be able to deliver your optimal performance because you’ll be doing things for the right reasons.
What mental training techniques can you use to create a better self-image and boost your fitness level? Here are a few techniques I like to use with my coaching clients:
Relaxation: Calming your mind and body relieves tense muscles, which is essential to allow your muscles to stretch without tearing or pulling your skeletal frame out of alignment. By relaxing and contracting mindfully through all of your muscles groups you create deeper mine/body awareness that allows you to move more freely.
Visualization: Imagine yourself enjoying the benefits of reaching your goal. Do you want to reduce one size? Visualize how great that feels…how much better your balance is…how much stronger you are…how much more stamina you have…how well your clothes fit…how happy you are with the renewed energy to take that mountain hike or play ball with the children. The more engaged you become in this, the more your brain actually believes it to be true.
Anchoring: An anchor is a preset response to a specific stimulus. To help you feel like working out, recall a time when you had an awesome workout. Visualize the experience fully, and at the peak moment set an anchor or cue that makes your brain relive this feeling each time you employ the anchor.
Reframing: Identify your unhelpful thoughts and replace them with positive statements that support a positive self-image. Remove the phrase “I should” from your vocabulary. Instead use “I can do X now, which is so much more than when I started.” Also, get rid of the all-or-nothing mentality by refusing to personalize or over-generalize each event. One event does not define who you are as a person.
Mental editing: Whether you perform an exercise routine or only picture it, you activate many of the same brain connections that link what your body does to the controlling brain impulses. It also stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which increases the heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. For example, Jack Nicklaus excelled because he practiced each shot in his mind before taking it.
You’ll get the best results if you enlist the assistance of a trained coach who can teach you how to do each of these techniques correctly. Mental strength training is all about taking you from where you are now and enhancing your fitness and self-image incrementally until your mind/body health transforms you into a top performer. Contact me and we’ll schedule an appointment so you can get started on your path to an excellent self-image and improved fitness.
“Achieving good fitness involves making yourself a priority.” ~ Robert Dilts
Do you know anyone who has turned their indoor treadmill into a clothes hanger? It happens more often than not. People in the United States are spending billions of dollars on physical fitness equipment each year, too much of which sits and collects dust. Just the gyms and health & fitness clubs alone this year are estimated to be $30 billion industry!
We all want and are trying to buy what they’re selling…to live longer, have more energy, enjoy better health, maintain greater flexibility, and create lean bodies that look super. So what’s causing this huge gap between the desire to be fit and the reality of everyday life? If spending money isn’t the answer, what is?
There are no magic pills or quick fixes to obtaining your optimal fitness. For many people, fitness depends on overcoming long-held habits and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Complete fitness applies to the combined health of your body, mind and spirit, which are supported by proper nutrition, exercise and a healthy outlook on life. These are the things that fuel your motivation to make real change!
How can you step up your inner game for physical fitness and lasting motivation that gets you through the tough times?
While the outer game focuses on your physical skills, the inner game focuses on your mindset, your mental approach and wellbeing – such as your attitude, self-confidence, your ability to deal with setbacks, and your commitment level.
First do a reality check. If you keep doing what you’re doing …
- What will you look like when you’re 70?
- Will you have the flexibility to tie your own shoes?
- Will you have the stamina to dance at your granddaughter’s wedding?
- Will you greet each day with joy?
If you don’t like what you see, then NOW is the time to start making changes. You are the master of your own body. No one can live your life for you. Each decision is your alone – to eat healthfully, to exercise regularly, to think positively.
Right now, take a moment, close your eyes, and visualize how you want your life to unfold from this day forward.
Visualization is powerful and can be dramatically enhanced by NLP. What’s NLP and what does it have to do with fitness? It may surprise you to learn that using Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) for fitness motivation is highly effective. It’s a set of guiding principles, attitudes and techniques about real life behavior. NLP allows you to change, adopt or eliminate behaviors as you desire. It also gives you the ability to choose your mental, emotional, and physical states of wellbeing. It’s a powerful tool you can use to create real and lasting change in your mental and physical wellbeing.
You may think you need a physical trainer to get in shape and that might be true. But it is also true that our physical wellbeing is dependent on our mindset. Working with a life coach or psychotherapist can help you achieve excellence in every aspect of your life, including your physical fitness. For example, you can work with a life coach on…
- Setting achievable goals for where you are right now.
- Developing self-discipline to make these goals part of your new lifestyle.
- Making being fit part of your new identity by breaking old habits and setting new ones that create the lifestyle you want to live.
- Updating your self-image and self-esteem by appreciating the progress you’ve made.
Are you ready to learn how using NLP for fitness motivation can help you achieve the healthy lifestyle you desire? Let me support and challenge you each step of the way as you activate your inner abilities to achieve and maintain your motivation for total wellness and fitness. Contact me and let’s get started as soon as possible!
If you haven’t you received your free copy of The 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment yet, download it right now. It will help you get started on the path to a healthier you.