Too much Mastery = Burnout – Too much Pleasure = No Purpose

The title of this blog was inspired by a quote a friend shared with me during a recent catch up after realising she may have reached corporate burnout.

We ended up having quite a deep discussion and I thought some of the learning may be useful to others.

We discussed how we both had grown up pretty focused in school and mastering good grades and were now doing the same in our careers. We reflected that we spend a lot of our free time on mastery and learning, whether that be listening to podcasts, reading business books or studying.

You can see my quest for mastery from a young age via this year 10 journal entry my mum found!

Whilst this is productive and healthy up to a point, we also reflected on how you can be too focused on mastery and lose the focus on pure pleasure in life. For us that includes being in or around the ocean, reading or listening to fiction, watching some light TV, spending time laughing with friends, playing with little ones or just hanging out with our partners in the moment.

It was an interesting reflection for me. The next night, I had planned to jump on the bike turbo and study a cyber security module (fun sat night!) whilst the husband was away. Instead a friend messaged and asked if I was around. She came over and we watched Wimbledon and ate ice cream, pure pleasure, which is more what I needed.

On the flip side, too much pleasure can be not productive. This article in Psychology Today is an interesting read, “Too much pleasure, not enough happiness.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/longing-nostalgia/201903/too-much-pleasure-not-enough-happiness

The takeaway I distilled was to make our pleasure meaningful. I’ve found that a daily pleasure practice of gratitude and meditation helps give my life meaning.

I think too much pleasure as the title quote suggests could equal no purpose and it’s great to strike a balance being the two which will vary depending on your circumstance.

Also, I do think that there is a sweet spot where mastery can become pleasure when you’re so accomplished and enter a flow state.

With my balance recently being more tilted to mastery than pleasure, I’m looking forward to a pleasure trip at the end of next week to visit our family in Cyprus and to England for my sister’s wedding.

What would you say your current balance is of mastery versus pleasure?

After this conversation I was reading a Peter Cook Thought Leader’s blog which I always find insightful and came across the notion of extreme self care. Whilst I am a big fan of self care and help balance my mastery tendency with meditation, massage, manicures and facials / blow drys I hadn’t heard the notion of extreme self care.

Pete shared this term was coined by Thomas Leonard who came up with an extreme self care checklist. Whilst every item on the 100 point checklist may not relate to everyone, I found this a useful exercise to go through. Interestingly, one of the 10 focus areas is pleasure!

A handful of the actions that stemmed for me were to:

⁃ Book in a nutrition session before I start IM 70.3 training

⁃ Book in annual health retreat date

⁃ Have another massage before our long flight to Europe

⁃ Floss twice daily, versus once a day

⁃ Stretch more regularly

On reflection, I think you could go into mastery mode with extreme self care and get too focused, which might defeat the point, but I think it is useful to think about what time and energy we’re devoting to ourselves to then be our best for others. The classic aeroplane oxygen analogy, putting your own mask on before helping others.

I hope by sharing this at least one person may have an insight and action emerge which was always the purpose of starting to write this blog and sharing some thoughts.

Love to hear any comments / reflections.

(I picked the blog title image as felt it represented my two year old Huw in pure pleasure! I think young kids generally have a good balance of pleasure and living in the moment :-))

The ‘aha moment’- Five tips to increase your moments of insight

I have been fascinated with the ‘aha moment’ ever since learning about the coaching process whilst working in this space previously.

How great’s that feeling you get when a flash of insight emerges and you get a breakthrough in your thinking?!

I have wondered what happens in the brain when an insight occurs.

In his book ‘Your Brain at Work’ (which I highly recommend), David Rock summarises the science of the aha moment citing researchers including Beeman and Ohlsson . A few quotes below:

When insights occur, they seem to involve unconscious processing. That makes sense from experience – insights often come from nowhere and at the most unusual time, when you are putting in no conscious effort to solve a problem – such as in the shower, at the gym, or driving on the freeway. This knowledge about insights provides a possible strategy for increasing creativity: let your subconscious brain solve the problem. And when you take a walk in the middle of your workday, you now have hard science to explain this when your boss looks at your funny.”

“Ohlsson’s principle of inhibition explains why insights come in the shower or the swimming pool. It’s nothing to do with the water. When you take a break from a problem, your active ways of thinking diminish. This seems to work even at the level for a few moments. Try an experiment: next time you’re working on a crossword or other word game, when you get stuck, do something totally different for a few seconds (anything as simple as tying your shoes or stretching; the main thing is not to think about the problem). Then come back to the problem and see what happens. I predict you may notice how sometimes the prefrontal cortex, your conscious processing capacity, is itself the problem. Get it out of the way, and the solution appears.”

“This quirk of the brain also explains why other people can often see answers to your problem that you can’t. Others are not locked into your way of thinking. Knowing a problem too well can be the reason you can’t find a solution. Sometimes we need a fresh perspective. This is an unusual concept, as normally we think the best person to solve a problem is the one who knows everything about it. With so many impasses* each day at work, perhaps what’s needed are more thinking partnerships, where one person has a lot of detail and the other very little. Together they can come up with solutions faster than either can his own.”

*Impasse = a roadblock to a desired mental path. It’s a connection you want to make but can’t.

For those interested in learning more, David Rock has developed the ARIA model, which stands for Awareness, Reflection, Insight and Action which describes the stages of an insight and practical techniques for increasing their likelihood.

So how can we increase our number of aha moments? Five tips below:

  1. Take a break and change your environment / activity
  2. Create a fun environment – there’s a reason why organisations including google look to create a fun environment to heighten creativity
  3. Engage with a coach / thinking partner to help shift your thinking
  4. Meditate to help quieten your mind
  5. Journal and map out the big picture including any patterns instead of focusing on the problem details

From my own experience, I know that I have more moments of insight at work when I take an exercise or meditation break, move floors to a new space or speak to someone on something completely unrelated.

So why is this important?

I think, our ability to think is going to continue to be a career differentiater, especially in light of artificial intelligence.

I realise a common thread in the Leaders / Coaches / Entrepreneurs I most admire is the way they think. I remember Steve Vamos (now CEO of Xero) saying ‘Think about how you think.’

As David Rock says ‘Insights are the engine of the economy.’

Here’s to us all creating the space to have more insights 🙂

Have space in your togetherness

For those who know me or follow me on social media you may have seen I’ve been on a few adventures in April (without the kids!).

First there was a work rewards trip to Sanya in China and then to the UK via Singapore for my cousin’s wedding.

It has been nice to take some time out for me and have quality time with family and friends without the distraction of kids and for my husband Owain to have some quality time with our little boys Ethan and Huw.

I’ve found it interesting to see how this situation is viewed by our network. Responses range from “Good for you, enjoy the well deserved time out”, “Don’t feel guilty” to “ I feel bad for Owain”, “Will the boys remember you” and “You’re away again??”.

Not judging these comments as everyone’s entitled to their opinion but it was interesting to reflect…

Did I feel bad for Owain? Not really. He’s a highly capable world champion athlete who is more organised than me. He would have had the household like clockwork. I feel empathy however as I know single parenting can be hard and it has a lot of logistics. It was nice to relieve him when I got back, especially as he’d come down with a virus, 10 days straight with the kids will do that!

Will the boys remember me? I should hope so after seeing them almost everyday of their lives so far 😀 With messenger chats it was easy to keep in touch when overseas and Ethan was counting the sleeps until I came home. I thought it was good for them to see me with their other family and having new experiences.

Did I feel guilty for leaving our boys with Owain? Hell no- he’s their dad! He’s not babysitting, he’s their father. Of course I missed them when away but I do think it’s good for them to have some time together when the boys can be attached to mummy. For example, I loved seeing these pictures from an Easter breakfast he went to whilst I was away.

When Owain went away for a similar period last year for a wedding and a race later on in the year no one commented on anything, funny the stereotypes which are still embedded in society.

Watching the movie “On the basis of sex” recently it made me reflect on how unfair society can be to women and that we all need to call it when we see opportunities to. I think it’s great to see movements like equal pay to champion equal pay for equal roles regardless of gender.

Being a working mum who also competes in triathlon is tough, it takes commitment, patience, selflessness and resilience. It’s also incredibly rewarding and I wouldn’t change it (on a good day!). However, I definitely think mums (and dads / partners) all deserve some time out.

Chemmy Alcott the former Olympic skier has a refreshing podcast sharing her journey with motherhood and life with two little ones https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/chemmys-chair-lift-chats/id1445155023

Some quotes from a recent interview with Chemmy which say it well – “Of course, we do have a wonderful life together. We share a passion for skiing and know how lucky we are to have two beautiful, healthy sons, and I’m totally fulfilled by my kids. But I’m happy to admit I’ve found motherhood is 100% tougher than skiing!” says Alcott.

When you’re skiing or an athlete, it’s all about you – your aim is to make yourself stronger, faster, and reach your goals. It’s a very selfish existence. But when you’re a mother, it’s all about the responsibility of someone else who’s completely unknown to the world, so fragile, so new. It’s really challenging, scary and lovely all at the same time.

Dougie and I totally co-parent, he’s devoted and hands-on. But I was on my own with the boys – Cooper was only three weeks – when he had to go away on a job. Lockie was teething, Cooper was struggling to feed as he had tongue tie, I was exhausted and almost at breaking point, and it’s the first time in my life that I reached out and said, ‘I need help’,” recalls Alcott. “I even went on Facebook and asked, ‘Can anyone hold a baby for a couple of hours!’

“I don’t want to come across like this perfect celebrity mum, who snapped back into shape instantly and took coping with two little ones in my stride,” she adds. “Just like any other mum, as well as experiencing the amazing highs at a few points, at others I’ve relied on TV to entertain the two-year-old and reached for the biscuits to give me fast energy.

“Dealing with an energetic toddler and a new baby and a career is full-on. It can be just as fun and also as scary, exciting and demanding as any ski challenge.”

My aim for writing this post is that even if it just inspires one other mother to not give up on her own goals and take some well deserved time away it will be worth it. You deserve it and your other half will survive!

Keeping a sense of our own identity is important, especially as our children will one day not be dependent on us.

Now back to reality with refereeing two energetic boys and Huw’s terrible two tantrums. Remembering to breathe, be grateful and smell the roses. Optimism is a daily spiritual practice and happiness a choice as Shawn Achor shares in this Oprah Supersoul conversation exploring “The Life Altering Power of a Positive Mind”.

Our next adventure (this time as a family) is up to beautiful Port Macquarie next weekend to cheer Owain on in the 70.3 triathlon and friends on in the Ironman and to celebrate Ethan turning 4 (how that time has flown!).

To finish, I’ll end with a piece of marriage advice my Grandma gave to my little sister recently who is getting married in August which seems to theme well with this post:

“Have space in your togetherness”.

Having celebrated their Ruby wedding anniversary before my Grandpa passed away there must be something in this 🙂

Training our minds

As a believer and a practitioner of training our minds as well as our bodies, I was curious to take a Vedic meditation course last week with Cathy Rolfe to deepen my practice and learn a new technique.

Cathy comes from the corporate world, which appealed to me with the program described as ‘an easy 4-step management program designed for busy professionals’.

This involved four morning sessions before work to learn the technique, practice and reflect in an iterative learning process.

The mantra based practice involves practicing for two 20 minute periods a day ongoing. Part of the idea through practicing this is to be able to tap into our being more regularly than our automatic thought, action, achievement orientation.

Deepak Chropra has some insightful thoughts on the benefits of meditation in this in a Super Soul interview with Oprah Winfrey. When we tap more into our being and accept each moment we accomplish more with less effort (law of least effort) as we’re being true to ourselves and are on our spiritual path. It makes authentic decision making easier.

As an example of acceptance on my own journey, on day three of the program I was getting the boys ready for daycare before the session with Cathy and managed to misplace my phone. This was an interesting exercise of acceptance in this digitally connected world. I realised:

– I didn’t have the address for my client meeting in North Sydney later that morning

– I couldn’t order an Uber myself between meetings or call a cab

– I didn’t have access to google maps to find a city meeting location later that day

– I didn’t have on the go communication to communicate with colleagues between meetings

– I didn’t have access to my wifi hotspot to connect in a cafe without wifi during a online session

– I couldn’t access my meeting notes saved in draft on my phone not in the cloud

It was a good chance to meditate on my mantra against these thoughts and settle the busy thought patterns down.

By good old fashioned communication and problem solving I found my way through the day but it was interesting to reflect on how much of my day to day life is now managed by this device.

By my second meditation later that afternoon I was quite relaxed about now not having my phone and wasn’t in any rush to find it. In fact, I had a very clear idea arise after the meditation which helped me solve a work problem. The phone did eventually turn up at 9pm when I had a look, finding it wedged behind the ottoman.

As my friend Tricky said this could be a great Executive Education exercise to randomly take an executive’s phone for the day and allow them to problem solve!

What did I learn?

One of the stand out concepts during the program for me was the notion of adaptation energy. My interpretation of this was the more we fill our energy bucket by things like good sleep, nourishing food, healthy relationships and rest time the more energy we have to adapt to unforeseen change and circumstances. When we are tired, we can be more irritable and react to things rather than respond. Vedic Meditation helps us get into a deep rest state (deeper than sleep) to help us recover and build our adaptation energy.

Interestingly, I hadn’t really reflected before how intense physical exercise is on the body as a stressor. If we keep pounding the body but aren’t adequately recovering we’re not tapping into the healing parasympathetic nervous system.

On Saturday I had a window to run after Owain’s training. I tapped into what my body needed and it wasn’t a run so I went and got a relaxing pedicure instead.

In a yoga essentials book I’m reading currently it says the more we tap into our being, the more we know what the body and mind needs and adapt our daily habits to suit this. Rather than being so regimented that we power through regardless. Good food for thought.

So what else have I noticed so far?

Yesterday when playing in the garden with the boys I felt my senses super heightened to the beauties of nature and was tuning in more than usual to the beautiful flowers, trees and sky. I also noticed a lot of ants carrying food which the boys then enjoyed watching too.

I really enjoyed watching them play together too with a new found appreciation for their relationship.

This morning on a Liv community ride I felt very present and grateful to my surroundings and enjoyed taking in the magical views.

This afternoon I tuned into my body and realised I needed a nap and slept with Huw for three hours, it was beautiful and I didn’t feel guilty that I didn’t make it to the shops! Online shopping here we come 🙂

As it says in the trust life daily inspiration book I’m reading there’s power in dropping ‘should’ for ‘could’.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds over the next few months with work, travel, family life etc. I am committed to getting into a regular habit of twice daily practice as know based on the science this is what gets results. Like with physical training, consistency counts.

I’m sure some adaptability will be needed along the way. For instance yesterday I woke up before the boys and was all poised to go with my first 20 minutes of the day and Huwey woke up. I smiled, accepted the situation and took him onto the couch, put on Kung Fu panda and meditated next to him. Not ideal but practical.

Thanks Cathy for the great training and I look forward to the journey ahead!

Husky Classic Race Report

It’s been a week since I took on the Husky tri festival Classic distance triathlon (1km swim, 60km bike and 10km run), the longest distance completed since having our mini Matthews boys.

A few mums asked me how I managed to fit in the training and whilst reflecting on the learning from the experience I thought I’d share them more broadly in case these prove useful for others 🙂

Power of having a goal – As I wrote about earlier this year in ‘Setting up 2019 for Success’, I believe there is immense power in writing down goals and then sharing them with accountability buddies. Having this goal in my goal digger journal for 2019 helped to keep me on track with weekly milestones to get there.

Accountability – Having a structured training program written by my husband coach was instrumental in being time efficient with two little ones under 4 and a focused corporate job. I do believe consistency over time is queen when it comes to triathlon performance.

Focusing on the purpose of each session – This is something Coach Waino is passionate about, not just ticking off a session on autopilot but actually thinking about why we’re doing that session in a mindful, focused way. I think that’s helped me improve my bike power on minimal kms.

Being smart with time – Living overseas and having a husband who trains a lot we’ve had to be smart with our time slots to fit in the necessary requirements to race at a longer distance. For me this often involved getting in a session after the daycare drop off before work and using lunchtimes or evenings. This helped minimise the time I was away from the boys and meant that Owain could have the early morning slot which he likes. I have to admit there were a few 8pm turbos which aren’t ideal but I would really look forward to my Wed and weekend turbos to listen to a podcast which felt like a great indulgence – often Oprah’s SuperSoul conversations.

Lifestyle – With the unpredictability of parenthood (3am bedroom wanders, head lice outbreaks, croup episodes to name a few!) I decided I would try and control some lifestyle factors to help keep my recovery and energy high. This included dry Jan and Feb (until the race) which helped with my recovery, also early nights and adopting a vegetarian diet which has helped me wake up more refreshed. A weekly / bi weekly (painful) Chinese massage also helped too and building in a yoga / Pilates / strength set into my schedule. I also found the SIS products really beneficial in refueling me quickly after hard sessions.

Keeping perspective and at time’s conceding – With the race being a key goal, I also found it important to keep perspective. If one of the boys wasn’t well, like when Huw had croup, then mummy cuddles became a priority and I have cut sessions short when Huw especially is pining for mummy. I found having another focus made sure I didn’t take things too seriously.

Enjoying the journey – in line with the quote – “it’s about the journey and not just the destination”, I really enjoyed the training kicking off this race block in Jindabyne. There were some other memorable moments along the way including a couple of brick sets to some great tunes with the Fonginator, our local club race and a couple of Sunday rides with friends. Also the family holiday to Husky that surrounded the race was wonderful. The boys had a blast and Ethan has decided after seeing a camp site that he wants to get a tent and camping gear for his 4th birthday in May. This got us excited about family camping adventures.

Celebrating the achievement – It was lovely to enjoy a chilled corona with the family and friends after the race and I’ve had a great week enjoying less training, some drinks and more social time. I was talking with a mentor this week and we shared it’s easy to quickly move on from one goal to the next but it’s important to stop and celebrate.

So how did the race pan out?

I was pretty happy with my result of 3hours10minutes coming 8th in the 30-39 age group and 15th female overall. A little disappointed not finishing higher in my age group after being inspired by my lovely sprint podium friends the day before. One of my race day mantras however was #focusonyourself and not getting carried away with what others are doing on the course. I was on track with my target times for the bike and run but quite a bit off my prediction on the swim, not helped by choppy condition and a long course but I definitely take ownership of more work to be done.

On reflection, if I want to be competitive in my AG, I need to work harder on my swim. I’m excited to have a swim buddy at work now to help motivate me for some tag team sessions.

So what’s next?

We’re excited to be venturing to beautiful Orange in a couple of weeks for the NSW triathlon champs then I’ll take a break for a work trip to China and UK trip for my cousin’s wedding. Then I would like to target a duathlon and fun run or two in the winter to keep motivated and build to a 70.3 later this year, starting the training after my sister’s wedding. This involves talking to my husband and planning our goals and seasons in conjunction to make sure we don’t both have a big race at the same time. He’s currently gearing to Port Half in May.

On that note, a big thanks to my husband for his support in helping make this achievement happen, the awesome Giant Sydney and Liv Sydney team who set me up on my new TT for the race and the wonderful Balmoral Triathlon Club community who make this sport a real joy to be part of.

To wrap up, at the Huskisson holiday haven where we stayed there was this simple quote which has stuck with me;

Motivation + Dedication = Success

If you want something hard enough and put in the effort you can get the result.

All the best with your 2019 goals.

If you enjoyed this read you may also enjoy:

Road to the Gold Coast Triathlon World Champs as a Mum

The F’s and P’s Learnt of Becoming and Ironwoman

Becoming Mum

Becoming mum #2

Setting up 2019 for success

I hope everyone’s 2019 has started well. We’ve been enjoying family time in Jindabyne for a triathlon camp with the wonderful Energylink Coaching community.

Some quiet moments in between training and hanging out with the boys has provided me with some reflection time to look back on 2018 and set some short and long term goals moving into 2019 using my goal digger journal.

I used one of these journals last year and found it really helped keep me on track with goals and good habits. This included a daily meditation practice which made me feel calmer and more centred as the year went on. Each week you state what you’re grateful for, your habits, goals and things to do.

I bought one of these for my god daughter who thought I’d originally said ‘gold digger journal’ and after googling gold digger was wondering why I was going to coach her to become one 😀

Part of the pre planning stage includes thinking about ’10 things I want to see, do and experience in 2019′. What would yours be? Mine include, seeing and feeling snow, a mountain cycle in Cyprus, climbing the York walls and running over warden hills when back in the UK and taking in a WA sunset. I’m grateful for having ticked off one item already, climbing up to Thredbo from Jindabyne on the bike and enjoying the thrill of the descent.

Looking back to 2018, a highlight included some r&r in December with my mum at Billabong Retreat. We enjoyed a couple of night’s away without the kids, mobile reception and wifi with twice daily yoga, meditation and delicious wholesome foods.

The theme of our retreat was yoga and in a workshop, we learnt about the eight limbs of yoga* which I thought other’s might find of interest.

I hadn’t quite appreciated the deep philosophy of a yogi lifestyle before this and was very intrigued.

Here are the first two limbs of yoga we learnt which I thought were a lovely set of ideals to live by if not already. We did an exercise, reflecting on how we can introduce these practices into your life in 2019.

Yamas (Limb 1)

  • Ahimsa – Non violence – to live in a way that is gentle, loving and kind (thought / action)
  • Satya – Truthfulness – only repeat things you know to be true
  • Asteya – Non-stealing – to give more
  • Brahmarcharya – Right use of energy
  • Aparigraha – Non-possessiveness (physical and emotional)

Niyamas (Limb 2)

  • Saucha – Cleanliness – food, mind, speech, action
  • Santosha – Contentment – choice
  • Tapas – Discipline
  • Svadyaya – Self study
  • Ishvara Pranidhana – Surrender

The remaining limbs were:

  • Asana – Yoga postures (Iyengar, Hatha, Vinyasa)
  • Pranayama – Breath control, controlling the vital energy
  • Pratyahara – Withdrawal of senses (stage one of meditation)
  • Dharana – Connection with an object (stage two of meditation)
  • Dhyana – Sustained concentration (stage three of meditation)
  • Samadhi Enlightenment/ complete union

* I understand the eight limbs of yoga are just one interpretation and there is a plethora of thought, material and reading out there. Intrigued, I bought a book containing a summary of the yoga sutras to learn more. This will form one of the 52 books I’m planning to read in 2019 with my book a week buddy Myza (you can follow our reads via this google doc here if of interest). As brain coach Jim Kwik says ‘Leaders are Readers’ and what a cost effective way to develop yourself and also switch off with fiction before bed each night 🙂

To commit to a more regular personal yoga practice in 2019 I have ordered one the beautiful beach themed Yoga everywhere mats to inspire me (thanks mum and dad for the Christmas gift!)

What are your intentions for 2019? I would to hear some of your goals to support each other. Haven’t set any goals yet and struggling where to start? Have a think about some focus areas, for example: Health and Fitness – Learning and Career – Family and Friends. Try and make them SMART too – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely

The Goal Digger journal I have quotes “People with written goals are 42% more likely to achieve them than people without written goals. Telling a friend increases this rate to 78%”. It also states, goals:

  1. Gives you direction
  2. Helps you focus on the important things
  3. Helps you build self-belief
  4. Increases your odds of success
  5. Motivates you to be your best self

To finish with a wrap up thought from our wonderful Billabong Retreat instructor Sarah:

Enjoy your life, look after your body, help others

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and productive 2019 ahead.

Be the change you want to see in the world

This blog entry shares a post I recently published on LinkedIn titled “Individual steps to help safeguard our planet for humanity’s future”.

I thought this topic may be of interest to my personal blog followers on the important and timely topic of sustainability of our beautiful planet and individual steps we can take to make a collective difference.

Some of these ideas were summed up and brought to life recently in an Oprah Super Soul conversation with Kathy Freston ‘The 8 Pillars of Wellness”.

Oprah opens sharing Gandhi’s attributed quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” and her and Kathy discuss how we can all have courage of our own conviction, lean in to upgrade our ways and turn into what makes us feel dark which I do in this post ….

As many of you may have been, I was shaken when I read a summary of the latest Climate Change report on the damage to our beautiful planet that’s been done. In this BBC article ‘Final call to save the world from ‘climate catastrophe’ it outlines the most extensive warning yet on the risks of rising global temperatures and how off track we are keep that rise under 1.5 degrees.

Articles such as these are becoming more common sharing the extent of our consumption over the last 50 years in particular and its adverse effect on our planet. I found this article published recently by the Guardian particularly harrowing ‘Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds’ :

“We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff” said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF. “If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”

“This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” he said. “This is actually now jeopardising the future of people. Nature is not a ‘nice to have’ – it is our life-support system.”

“We are rapidly running out of time,” said Prof Johan Rockström, a global sustainability expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “Only by addressing both ecosystems and climate do we stand a chance of safeguarding a stable planet for humanity’s future on Earth.”

I’ve had growing awareness around this issue and now am inspired to make some compassionate changes. I feel I can’t read these articles and do nothing. As a mum of two young boys I have felt a real awakening about the impact for future generations and am keen to take steps to help the big global effort of making a difference.

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So where to start?

It’s easy to think our individual efforts don’t make much difference, but as my good family friend Myza says, “If we shift the mindset of “but what can I do? One person can’t make a difference” to “What can I do? Because I can make a difference” then it becomes the voice of one to a voice of a collective”

A recent David Attenborough Blue Planet 2 episode shared him saying “The actions of any one of us may seem trivial and to have no effect, but the knowledge that there are thousands, hundreds of thousands of people who are doing the same thing, that really does have an effect.”

In a recent Oprah Super Soul Conversations with Julia Roberts ‘Daring and Vulnerable Part 2’ they discuss tackling big world problems like the family border separation in the US. Julia shares she tries not to get caught up with where to start as that can be paralysing, she says “Every little tiny bit makes a difference, every conversation makes a difference”.And that with all the places she gets to go and people she gets to meet she can start a conversation and see what other people think / are doing.

Here’s a list the BBC article I referenced before shared on what we can do as individuals:

  • buy less meat, milk, cheese and butter and more locally sourced seasonal food – and throw less of it away
  • drive electric cars but walk or cycle short distances (great to see examples like this Bosch subsidiary Coup e-scooter sharing system in Berlin)
  • take trains and buses instead of planes
  • use videoconferencing instead of business travel
  • use a washing line instead of a tumble dryer
  • insulate homes
  • demand low carbon in every consumer product

To make our individual contributions, my husband and I have committed to go meat free, reduce dairy consumption and be even more mindful of walking short distances, using public transport versus the car and drying washing on the line versus using the tumble dryer.

The more voices on this crucial subject I think the better. It’s great to see a lot of high profile business men and women continuing / ramping up their quests to help save the planet.

Vegan meat investor Bill Gates recently said ““If all the cattle in the world joined together to start their own country, they would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases,” – read more here

In May this year, women leaders came together to fight against climate change led by Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change – read more here

Sir Richard Branson who was recently in Sydney has been leading a Virgin Atlantic initiate to remove ingredients deemed unsustainable such as beef, unsustainable palm oil and soy from in-flight menus on flights the UK, North America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia as part of a partnership with the non-profit organisation the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) Read more here

More locally, a lot of leaders in our International CEO Forum too are helping lead their corporations global sustainability and corporate responsibility programs and we’re looking to create a forum to share initiatives on our program next year to create a supportive environment for those with a shared vision for our future.

As an optimist, I’m inspired by the individual changes I’m seeing happen around us and am empowered to take some individual accountability. As my husband says ‘don’t bring me a problem, bring me solutions’. Let’s accept the situation we’re in and craft solutions together.

Would love to hear what others are doing and any thoughts / reflections on this big topic where individual’s actions are required to make a collective difference.

Image citation: http://www.organicsoul.com/25-ways-in-which-you-can-easily-help-to-save-our-planet/

Dani

Compassion for a Cockroach

A few weeks ago I witnessed a beautiful encounter of compassion between our three year old Ethan, 20 month old Huw and a cockroach that I thought others may enjoy hearing.

On Friday morning, Ethan and Huw had woken up and we were taking the usual walk down a few stairs into the lounge when we saw a cockroach upside on the floor.

My natural instinct was to scoop it up and put it in the bin. Ethan and Huw however were very concerned that the cockroach wasn’t moving and Ethan said “Let’s make him happy again mummy’. How could I resist not trying to now save the cockroach?!

We scooped the coackroach up carefully (or bug as Huw was saying) and placed him / her on the side away from the floor. There was a bit of movement (which showed me the roach wasn’t dead) and then stillness again. Ethan then took a sultana left over from a snack the night before and put it next to the cockroach as he said the bug might be hungry.

Huw was chanting “happy bug, happy bug” when my husband Owain came home from his gym session. We then moved the cockroach outside to see if there was enough strength for it to run into the wild. There was not much movement and Ethan wanted to put his blanket over the cockroach as it was cold and share his toy cars. Eventually the bug managed to move away back into the wild.

I was very touched by this natural act of compassion from the boys and it made me think how I’d really like to cultivate this as they grow and develop further.

Some people may wonder the difference between compassion and empathy. I like the distinction that empathy is walking in other’s shoes and then compassion is empathy into action.

This example of the boys and the cockroach made me realise that small daily acts of compassion in any facet of our lives can help inspire others to be more compassionate.

Earlier in the week I’d ironically listened to an Oprah Soulful Conversation (thanks for the recommendation Simone!) with Jeff Weiner, CEO of Linked In on the theme of compassionate leadership. Oprah shared she thinks Jeff is the leader to inspire compassion to be taught as mainstream in schools which I think would be fantastic. I know mindfulness practice in schools is now getting a lot of traction globally. It was great recently to see yoga postures being encouraged at Ethan’s daycare and breathing exercises. My sister who is a primary school shared how a quiet minute can make wonders to settle the children down too. How great for compassion to be an extension of this.

In the podcast interview which I highly recommend for anyone interested in this area, Jeff talks about leading compassionately and his journey to being a better human through meeting his wife.

He shared some thoughts on happiness from advice he received from his mentor Ray Chambers, a Wall Street giant who later walked away from financial success to study happiness and pursue a life of philanthropy.

Ray’s five principles of happiness that Jeff relayed were:

  1. Being in the moment
  2. It’s better to be loving than to be right.
  3. Be a spectator to your own thoughts, especially when you become emotional, which is fundamental to compassion.
  4. Be grateful for at least one thing every day.
  5. Be of service to others, to help others every chance you get.

I thought this was a beautiful packaging of life lessons linking in compassion and a good way to finish this post.

Love to any thoughts and compassion stories from others.

Road to the Gold Coast World Triathlon Champs as a Mum

I recently represented team Australia in the ITU Age Group World Triathlon Championship Sprint distance event. I was happy to finish 37th in my age group in a time of 1hr16mins21sec.

Having emigrated to Australia back in 2011 this is something I wouldn’t have pictured, not knowing how to swim freestyle when I first arrived. Fast forward seven years and anything is possible!

This has been my first major championship event since becoming a Mum which has been a different experience with two little munchkins following my every move.

How this campaign began…

When I returned to racing after having Huw in late 2017 I hadn’t initially thought of this event as a goal. I was happy to just get some fitness back and get back out there. I was then inspired however by some friends racing the qualification circuit and I thought I’d have a go as it would be nice to have a race goal again. I managed to qualify and started training properly for the sprint distance event in late June after a trip back to the UK.

Lessons learnt racing as a mum

I’ve previously written about lessons learnt from completing an Ironman distance triathlon (prior to kids) and thought it would a good chance to reflect on the journey this time round as a mum. Here are some thoughts:

Acceptance and laughter – Along the way I had to accept that with little ones there can always be unpredictabilities. The week of the race for example, Huw developed conjunctivitis and wasn’t sleeping properly. The night before the race we discovered headlice had returned to Ethan’s blonde Afro (it was inevitable!). I went straight from the opening ceremony parade to the chemist to delice him before the big day! This is a frequent piece of adaptation that parents will be used to. I’ve learnt you have to laugh where appropriate and keep perspective.

Perspective is paramount – Being a mum this time round in a build up to a big race helped me keep a good sense of perspective. Sometimes as any athlete knows you have a bad training session and can feel disheartened. Seeing the boys for mummy cuddles afterwards always made me realise perspective. On race day Ethan was running around in my husband Owain’s race helmet which made me laugh and loosen up the nerves.

Patience is a virtue – With the reality of having a 3 and 1 year old, a solid job and a husband who coaches and races at a top level, I knew I realistically I wasn’t going to be able to fit in two sessions a day. I had to accept that a lot of my competitors would be training more and just focus on what I could do and not worry about anyone else. A saying I heard which rang true is ‘comparison is the evil of all joy’. I just kept my head down and ticked off what I could do and kept improving against myself. I believe no one has exactly the same composition or circumstances as you do so it’s hard to directly compare yourself to others. If you focus on developing your own personal bests that’s something you can track. Comparing myself to myself in a growth mindset approach, I raced a lot better in the Gold Coast than in 2012 when I raced at the world age group tri champs in NZ and came 72nd in my AG.

Teamwork makes the dream work – With Owain and I both competing at this event in separate races we had to create a schedule that would work. Owain (coach Waino) crafted this and was a great support to me. Some days I’d get home from a big day at work and once the boys had gone to bed felt like I had no energy to train. He’d always encourage me and I’d feel better for ticking off the session afterwards. The team was extended for this event with our wonderful babysitters Kya and Bri who enabled us to get the key training sessions in together on a Thursday evening and Saturday morning.

Community is key – I believe our local triathlon club, Balmoral tri had the largest amount of representatives for the world’s this year. There was a wonderful spirit of comradeship and support in the build up to the event. My favourite weekly session was our Saturday morning team brick at the beach. I really believe a sense of community is one of the big keys to happiness.

Enjoy the journey – not just the destination – From my previous experience at the World Triathlon I recalled the actual event flashed by so remembered it’s important to enjoy the journey as much or if not more than the main event. I think this is a good metaphor for life too. Instead of dreading the drive up to the Gold Coast with two little ones we decided to make it an adventure and had a great family road trip.

Back yourself – There were some comments early on around how can you fit this in and I’m sure some judgements along the way. I’ve learnt what other people think of you is none of your business, everyone is welcome to their opinions. As one of my mentors said “For me it’s about what you do and not what you say. What you do- role models to your kids – anything is possible if you back yourself…. the habit is the outcome.” I think you know what works and what is right for your family and you have to trust that and back yourself even if others don’t always think it’s the right thing to do.

Watching Ethan put on my medal while he ate his weetbix the next few days after the race morning endorsed this has been a worthwhile journey and I look forward to some more racing and family goals. Ethan started his own swimming lessons this morning inspired by watching mummy and daddy swim.

I feel grateful for an incredible experience. What I’ve learnt is, whether you’re a Mum or not, if you put your mind to something, create a plan, focus, be consistent, have an awesome support network and keep perspective then anything is possible. Go chase your dreams!

After the sprint distance race, it was very inspiring watching my husband race in the Olympic distance event and win the 35-39 year old age group coming 5th overall. You can read his race report here.

Now we’ve been celebrating success and look forward to the next adventure.

Congratulations to all the athletes that raced and wishing those chasing a dream all the very best xxx

The podcast revolution

As an avid lover of learning I’ve really enjoyed embracing the current podcast revolution.

Whether it’s on a run home from work, the bus commute, cooking dinner or a quick walk pushing the pram I love that you can learn and listen on the go from so many wisdom inspirations.

I enjoy having conversations with others around what they’re listening to and thought it may be useful to share ten podcast recommendations that I’ve found valuable.

#1 The Tim Ferriss Show

This was the first podcast I listened to and is perhaps my favourite podcast to return to. I admire the way Tim thinks and his network brings along some awesome guests.

Episode I recommend – Adam Robinson – Outflanking and Outsmarting the Competition – Note some great words of wisdom to university students.

#2 Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman

Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn interviews great masters of scale including Airbnb’s Brian Chesky which I recommend listening to here.

#3 Making Positive Psychology Work with Michelle McQuaid

I was a fan of Michelle’s work before her podcast and really enjoy her creative format including the lightning round at the end. A recent favourite episode was ‘Are you Curious Enough?’ With Diana Whitney

#4 Ladies We Need To Talk – ABC Radio

A refreshing podcast with smart women talking about issues not normally tackled on air, caution not for the faint hearted! Time to name (and shame) the mental load gave me an interesting reflection on the mental load of lots of daily items that build up over time.

#5 The Rich Roll Podcast

Rich Roll discusses all things wellness with lots of forward thinking minds.

His interview of John McAvoy, criminal turned professional athlete really gave me a fresh perspective.

#6 Don’t Stop Us Now with Claire Hatton and Greta Thomas

This was a podcast I came across more recently and loved the openness of the presenters. Recommend this episode exploring the topic of purpose.

#7 Coffee Pods with Holly Ransom

I heard Holly speak at our Emerging Leaders in Multinationals event this year and was inspired by her words around embracing our courage zones. Holly asks some great questions and has a lot of episodes related to supporting entrepreneurs, check out this recent episode with Vicki Saunders, Founder of SheEO.

#8 Deep Listening ‘Impact Beyond Words’ with Oscar Trimboli

Oscar is a dear friend and mentor and his thoughtful podcast delves into deep insights on listening with professional listeners including anthropologist Michelle Barry.

I’m inspired by Oscar’s mission to create 100 million deep listeners in the world.

# 9 TED Talks Daily

Short podcasts for flashes of inspiration from the team at TED. Next on my list is this episode- ‘Don’t Fear Superintelligent AI’

#10 Optimal Daily Living

Justin Malik narrates blogs on areas such as personal development, minimalism, finance and health.

This episode looking at decision making was impactful for me.

I hope you may find a podcast that resonates for you and provides an insight and action to help you on your life long learning journey.

Would love to hear any thoughts on these or other recommendations to spread the podcast love. Thanks to those of you who have recommended me to these, paying forward the learning.

Image citation – http://theelearningcoach.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/podcasts-for-learning.png