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The Jet-Lagged Olympian

Chris Males

Last week, while traveling across 9 time zones to present in 2 different countries within 2 days, one of my colleagues sent me an interesting Wall Street Journal article about how some members of the US Ski Jump team were approaching this year's Winter Olympics. The article claimed that jet lag could possibly be used to the advantage of these ski jumpers as a stress and monkey mind management tool. The thinking was that brain fog that comes along with jet lag would help them switch off their sometimes overactive minds to rely more on muscle memory.

Although I love the curiosity of finding individual and contrary to popular belief approaches to optimize performance, I wondered if this approach was inadvertently setting them up to fail since research has shown that jet lag causes a reduction in power, fine motor control, balance, and overall cognitive function.

At Tignum, we work with high-level business professionals that are under constant pressure to perform where expectations are high, non-negotiable, and relentless. They cannot afford to wing it, especially when they are traveling across time zones.

For the US Ski Jump competitors, there was a clear purpose to their approach: to reduce the impact of nerves and to quiet the low performance self-talk of the brain. However, their method for reaching this outcome was a little questionable. The better approach would be to learn how to control their breathing, detach from their overwhelming emotions (mainly fear), learn to embrace their suck (that feeling in their gut that makes them want to throw up), and master reframing their inner dialogue.

Sustainable High Performers take control of their performance and preparation. They develop and master strategies to defeat external performance killers like jet lag and others' expectations. They become highly skilled at recognizing and defeating internal performance killers like fear, doubt, anxiety, and lack of confidence.

By learning, developing, and refining these skills through repetition, they give themselves permission to feel all their emotions, acknowledge any fears, and refocus their energy to the task at hand. This allows them to regain the most critical of preparation variables - control.

This Winter Olympics will no doubt have many great examples of those who have mastered their Sustainable High Performance and those who have not. I, for one, can’t wait to watch them. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

By Chris Males

Director of Performance Coaching


Jake Marx

In my previous life working with professional baseball players, the number one predictor for injury was a sudden increase in a player's stress or workload. My colleagues, who work with elite special operations soldiers, see the exact same thing. Interesting enough, it's been my observation that the same is true for executives.

In baseball, one surefire way to break down or injure a pitcher is to drastically increase the number of innings he throws year to year or the number of pitches he throws game to game without adequately planning for his recovery. For that reason, most teams have long-term training plans to gradually increase the pitcher's load and create resilience over time. The more players did on the field, the less they did in the gym, and if possible, the less they did away from the field.

This phenomenon applies equally to executives even though it's often overlooked. One reason this happens is that compared to an athlete, your load is much more difficult to quantify. You probably don't count the number of time zones you cross, the number of critical conversations you have, or how many fires you put out on a daily and weekly basis. Think about the last time you were promoted or took on a new role. Did you modify your exercise program to account for the increase in your meeting load or the number of direct reports you just inherited? You may not have thought of it, but you are most likely to get injured during these times (at least initially). Unlike professional athletes, who have a medical team to adjust their movement and recovery programs, many executives tell us that when they are under stress, they often like to train exceptionally hard to blow off steam. While this may emotionally make sense, it does not make sense from a physiological and recovery standpoint.

The right amount of movement can be an excellent way to recover, but extremely high-intensity workouts or new movements during times of increased load may only pile physical fatigue on top of the cognitive and emotional fatigue you are already experiencing. This can even cause the opposite of what you intend by causing brain fog due to the increasing amount of stress on your body. But that's not the worst possible outcome. Time and time again I hear stories from clients about getting off a long stretch of travel full of negotiations, meetings, and presentations only to jump back into their intense workout and severely injure themselves.

Don’t let this be you. Build your capacity and resilience through more difficult workouts when work is relatively slow, on weekends, or during vacation. Increase intensity gradually as you get used to higher intensity loads, and back off a little when your travel, emotional, and cognitive loads are especially high. Being strategic by putting your movement program into context with your overall load can help you show up with your best game on when it matters most to you.

As always, I'd love to hear what you think.

Jake Marx

Tignum // Performance Coach


Scott Peltin

It's that time of the year again. You're sitting on the couch or maybe lying in bed, and you ask yourself the same question you probably asked yourself last year at this time, “How can I have more energy this year?” This is a common, and very logical, question we often get when coaching our top executives and business professionals. To be honest, it may be the wrong question.

When it comes to multiplying your effectiveness, driving better results, making an impact, and being a Sustainable High Performer, the better question is, “How can I be an energy giver this year?” This may appear to be a small difference… maybe even a play on words, but it's not. The difference is huge and can affect your performance and impact throughout the year.

You will certainly be able to improve your energy if you consistently get enough sleep (enough is unique to you and to your past, present, and future demands); exercise with the right frequency, intensity, and duration for your fitness level and stress threshold; and practice clean eating by reducing/eliminating simple sugars, staying hydrated, and eating plenty of vegetables. This is undoubtedly a great starting point, but to become a consistent and sustainable energy giver, you will need to purposefully and strategically bring a Performance Mindset to your events and build a robust Performance Recovery plan that continuously and dynamically recharges your physical, cognitive, and emotional resources on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis. In many ways, creating more energy comes from your To Do list but becoming an energy giver comes from your To Be list.

As you look at your schedule today, next week, and this year, ask yourself a series of questions:

_How do I want to show up at my most important events?

_What Performance Mindset skills do I need to develop and bring to my day? Some skills you might want to consider include focus, confidence, control of emotions, sense of humor, authenticity, curiosity, ability to listen, vulnerability, concise communication, resilience, alignment to your values, presence, mental visualization, reflection, creativity, trust in self and others, and self-awareness.

_What would I look like with each of these Performance Mindset skills during my events?

_Who can I trust to give me accurate and compassionate feedback on my goal to be an energy giver?

_What Nutrition, Movement, and Recovery choices do I need to make and create habits out of to support my Performance Mindset?

_Do I have a trusted coach/mentor to help me constantly get better as an energy giver?

While you answer these questions, you'll also need to be careful that you aren't an energy sucker to your team and those around you. You can do this by being aware of your, and your team's, mindset killers. You can manage these by looking at the reality of the situation, determining what is and isn't within your control, exploring what the drama is trying to tell you, shifting your mindset from a reactionary/emotionally-driven state to a best self/problem-solving state, and reflecting on what opportunities these mindset killers and challenges actually create for you and your team.

The truth is that we are all busy. Thinking we will magically create more time or get less to do is futile. But becoming, practicing, and role modeling being an energy giver is a significant game changer.

This year we encourage you to stop talking about how busy you are, and start talking about the impact you and your team are making. As CEO and Founder of CEO Works, Sandy Ogg says, “What good is having energy if you don’t give it?”

As always, I would love to hear what you think.

By Scott Peltin

Founder/Chief Performance Officer


Scott Peltin

Here we sit again at the beginning of a new year. New dreams, new challenges, new goals, and likely some new projects await you. You took a couple of weeks off (if you were lucky), you ate some great food, you hopefully slept in a little to catch up on your sleep, and here you sit facing a new mountain wondering, "How am I going to pull this off?" You may even be thinking, "Here we go again." It feels like deja vu with a mountain of pressure to deliver on this year’s targets. Somehow, the fear or anxiety of what’s next holds you hostage and prevents you from truly developing your Sustainable High Performance habits for this upcoming year.

The key is to focus on those things that are within your control. What will you do to bring your best self to work every day? What will you do to develop your Performance Mindset (focus, control of emotions, confidence, etc.)? What will you do to build your own energy and to give energy to others? What will you do to optimize your performance every day? What will you do to bring the right effort and attitude to everything you touch? Will you remember to reflect on and learn from every experience you have? These are all within your control, and these are the things you actually want to do to create success throughout this year.

When you focus on these things, you not only feel better about what you achieve, you feel better about the person you are becoming, which is usually more impactful than a traditional New Year's resolution. When you approach your performances in this way, you build an authentic belief in yourself. This helps you start the new year with confidence and excitement instead of anxiety. This approach helps you know that whatever challenges or setbacks appear, you will have the inner will, skill, and belief to succeed. When you do this, you are not at the mercy of the external things out of your control. Instead, you become immune to the noise around you as you truly are a Sustainable High Performer.

From all of us at Tignum, we wish you a happy New Year, and we encourage you to look forward to who you will become this year. As always, I would love to hear what you think.

By Scott Peltin

Founder/Chief Performance Officer


Scott Peltin

This time of the year is one of our favorites because it provides us the opportunity to reflect on our year, the lessons we’ve learned, the trends we’ve seen, the people we’ve had the opportunity to impact, and the amazing impact so many people in this world made on their teams, brands, and customers. Many of the lessons we learn throughout the year are expressed through our Tignum Thoughts, and this year we want to share the top 5 blogs of 2017 along with the lessons we learned from them.

.01 Preparing for High Performance Presentations - While each person's preparation can be highly individualized, this blog highlights a routine that can be applied and adapted to most of your big events. This preparation plan combines small yet effective strategies in Mindset, Nutrition, Movement, and Recovery to give you control of your own performance to help you break your previous cycle of uncertainty before a presentation.

.02 Leading Through Adversity - Leading isn’t easy, and leading through adversity is even tougher. No one ever said it should be easy, but is there any better feeling than being tested in the heat of the battle and emerging successfully with your entire team/organization even better than it was before?

.03 Invisible Fatigue- Emotional fatigue can often be overlooked and invisible. Like all of our Tignum approaches to recovery, if you wait until you are suffering, it's too late because your performance is already compromised, and you're already losing impact. Sustainable High Performers front load their performance by building recovery strategies into every day, every week, and every month.

.04 Coaching Makes the Difference - Although many people have the knowledge, the application of that knowledge (even simple knowledge) and the ability to apply this knowledge to the how, the why, and the when can be challenging. Great coaches help great players with the application of their knowledge when it matters most. This coaching technique also holds true in the business world. While business schools may do an exceptional job of teaching the frameworks of business, we are seeing more and more of the best performers turn to coaches to stretch themselves and stay at the top of their game.

.05 Is Winging It Killing Your Impact - In today’s busy, highly-demanding world, the days of winging it are over. The days where teams and leaders could hang out all night and party and then come into work and wing it during a critical meeting are waning. In some ways, just making ourselves overly busy with stuff is the new hangover.

As you shut down at the end of the year, we would like you to think of this transition/celebration in three phases. Phase one is to unload from last year. This is the process of taking off your armor, dumping your backpack, and allowing yourself to be free again. Phase two is to reset. This means celebrating what you have achieved, recalibrating your adrenal/stress system, and resetting your expectations for yourself and your team. The final phase is the restart. This phase should probably start right before the new year where you get clarity around your own Sustainable High Performance, your first steps you need to take at the start of the new year, and the self-image you want to enter 2018 with.

From all of us at Tignum, we want to thank you for your support all year. Our passion is helping you become a Sustainable High Performer, and we know that this is always a work in progress. For us, 2018 is going to be our best year yet as we continue to develop our content, strategies, coaching, and our digital platforms to best support you. As always, we would love to hear what you think, what you need, and how you’re doing.

By Scott Peltin

Founder/Chief Performance Officer


Patti Milligan

Every year the US media reports that the average adult gains 7 to 10 lbs (3.2–4.5 kg) during the holiday season. While that number might be slightly exaggerated, the fact is that many of our clients tell us that they often stop their regular nutrition, forget about their usual portion sizes, and drink way too much alcohol over the holidays. I’m completely supportive of friends, family, and libations, but you don't have to forgo your High Performance Nutrition strategies this time of year.

At Tignum, we are all about easy-to-maintain strategies to help you stay on track. However, this doesn't mean you should prevent yourself from enjoying the celebration of food around the holidays (remember 80/20). Food brings generations together through traditions and large family meals. For many of us, those special meals from our childhood and passed-down recipes of yummy foods are what we look forward to all year long. I know I do! We encourage you to use food as celebration, and we also encourage you to consider how many opportunities there are to actually choose High Performance Nutrition options during this time of the year.

One strategy you may want to try during the holidays is intermittent feeding. This is where you don’t eat any food or drink any alcohol for 12 to 16 hours during a 24-hour period. This can be easier than you think because it includes the time you are sleeping, and you can eat normally the remainder of the day (be sure to stay hydrated). An easy way to do this is to simply choose to skip either breakfast or dinner. You may find yourself more in control of how you feel and what you eat by incorporating intermittent feeding during one or two days of the weekend.

This strategy can help your metabolic flexibility, give your body a chance to detox after one too many eggnogs, and support your immune system. All of these can be a huge benefit after your end-of-year push and celebration. We have also found that intermittent feeding is a great mindset tool to increase your awareness of your eating and help you gain control of your choices.

When you choose to implement High Performance Nutrition strategies, you're able to celebrate food, have more energy, support your immune system, and have more passion for enjoying the holidays. Don’t wait for the new year to revamp your nutrition; just build it into every day to help you truly enjoy this special time of year.

As always, we'd love to hear what you think.

By Patti Milligan
Tignum Director of Nutrition


Jake Marx

With the holiday season in full swing, you may be considering buying one of the latest wearable technology devices. Over the last few years, we’ve tried just about every consumer wearable device on the market. You’d be amazed at the looks people give me when I walk into a coffee shop with flashing lights coming from under my shirt thanks to all the rings, arm bands, watches, headbands, and other sensors covering my body. While some devices may be more accurate or more aesthetically pleasing than others, we've found that the most important thing is how you use the device rather than which device you get.

Wearable sensors have pretty much the same limitations and benefits regardless of the brand. Becoming knowledgeable about the limitations and benefits of these sensors can help you pick which one is right for you. Here are some of the limitations we've found through our testing:

.01 Almost every device overpromises and underdelivers. This typically manifests as either poor quality of data or overstatement of the usefulness of the parameter being measured. If you already have a device, you most likely have tried to check your heart rate or measure your sleep and knew immediately that it was inaccurate. Although sensors have come a long way in improving their data, there is still a long way to go. When talking with my colleague at Stanford about the wearable industry, he simply said, “It’s the wild west out there.”

.02 There are very few products that make the data useful to consumers. Ok, you completed your 10,000 steps. What does that mean? My sleep quality was poor... what should I do with that? In reality, the impact that these data points have on our performance is highly individualized and means very little without adding subjective feedback. There are a few products beginning to tie these data points together and create a “virtual coach” feel. However, at this stage, none of these feel truly tangible enough to keep users engaged (especially not this user), but they are getting closer.

.03 The nocebo effect. Many products are now combining sleep measures with movement and other data points to provide the user with a “readiness score.” In theory, it sounds great. I can learn how to maximize all my data points to ensure I’m ready for the day. But, what happens when I’m traveling all over the world, sleep deprived, and my readiness score is 45%? This can have a significant detrimental psychosomatic effect because you’re already starting to think you're in trouble before the day has even begun. In reality, there are times when we can actually perform well, despite a suboptimal readiness score, as long as we’re strategic and plan for High Performance Recovery afterword.

We’re not suggesting wearable devices have no utility. They can be very powerful when used correctly. In fact, we’ve found time and time again that we can multiply the power of wearable technology by combining it with the ultimate biosensor: YOU.

Many of us have been on the speed train for so long that we become numb to the impact that our habits have on us. By using a week or two of consistent data from wearable devices, you can heighten your awareness around how your movement, sleep, resting heart rate, etc. actually impact how you feel and perform. We refer to this as an awareness sprint.

Here’s how to do it:

.01 Pick one variable that your device measures reliably, and track it closely for 1-2 weeks. Let’s use movement as an example. It’s likely that most devices would track steps, intensity of movement, and frequency of movement and also give you the option to manually log activities.

.02 Reflect on how you felt and performed each day. Do you still have energy left in the tank or are you burnt out at the end of the day? How solution-oriented, creative, focused, or purposeful were you? How does your body feel? You could ask yourself any number of questions that you find important here based on which variable you're testing.

.03 Cross-reference your answers to those questions with your data each day. Do you notice any trends? Do you notice an ideal number of steps, intensity of movement, or frequency of movement that optimizes your performance? Was there a specific type of movement that made you feel great or one that really drained you?

After 1-2 weeks of analysis, you'll identify some unique trends of your own. When we do movement awareness sprints with clients, they usually find (to their surprise) the most important movement variable for their performance is actually the frequency of movement rather than making sure they hit those 10,000 steps each day.

Creating this heightened awareness around how certain habits impact your performance helps you create the context to modify or focus your current approach. No matter which wearable device you have or decide to get this holiday season, we recommend you multiply its utility with an awareness sprint. The holidays are actually the perfect time to experiment, especially if you sometimes feel like you struggle with your movement, sleep, etc. this time of year.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Jake Marx

Tignum // Performance Coach


Scott Peltin

Change is hard: it requires discipline, it takes energy, it is painful, it takes hard work, it never lasts, it is no fun..... Have you ever heard any of these? Better yet, have you ever told yourself any of these?

While it is true that the human organism loves homeostasis (a state of stability and balance), it's a total myth that change has to be hard. In fact, through our experience of coaching tens of thousands of executives, I would argue that when we make change a chore, it rarely happens and even more rarely lasts. The problem isn't in the changes you want to make; it's in the resistance and the lack of alignment that your new behaviors have with your current self-image.

As you have heard many times from us at Tignum, most human beings operate off of their default self-image. This self-image has been given to you by your parents, your culture, your societal norms, your religion, your group of friends, your... you name it... With this self-image, your brain aligns your behaviors to make this default true, even though you didn’t purposefully or consciously design it. Interestingly enough, this doesn’t take any discipline, extra work, or pain; it just happens. What if you could use this same approach, habitual pattern, and effortless thinking to actually be better? You can.

When you purposefully and consciously design your self-image, everything changes. You are no longer imprisoned by other’s views. Instead, you are empowered to grow, expand, and become who you truly want to be. When the vision of success is clear, your brain will naturally help you align your behaviors to get you to that vision. For this reason, it's critical that you create the right vision of success (self-image) for you to be your best and implement the change(s) you want.

Once the destination is clear, the next step to making effortless change is to get rid of the goals, the guilt, the shame, the accountability, and the self-talk of the discipline you don’t have or the failures you have had before. Instead, you simply ask yourself, “What choices do I need to make today to become the person that I purposefully created and want to become?” This is exactly what your brain has been doing your entire life anyway; it just might have been taking you somewhere that you didn't want to go.

Over the years, it has fascinated me how many our clients have changed their behaviors, their habits, and their impact by aligning their choices with the self-image they consciously created. Of course, creating your self-image, consistently reminding yourself of who you want to be, asking yourself what choices you want to make, and reflecting on what choices you did make requires some effort, but it's probably less than you think. Most importantly, it's actually fun effort rather than painful effort because the reward you get is the greatest reward there is for a human being - you get to be in control of creating a better you.

As always, I would love to hear what you think.

By Scott Peltin
Founder/Chief Performance Officer



Scott Peltin

Fatigue is a funny thing. Sometimes you know exactly where it comes from, like when you've been moving furniture all day, but other times it seems to come out of nowhere. The human body is complex, and many of the forces working on the human body are invisible. Things like changes in the seasons (weather and light cycles), your immune system fighting a bug, or even the impact of pollution can all drain your energy.

At the same time, as many of you have probably experienced before, there is also fatigue lag. One night you get 8 hours of perfect sleep, yet you feel tired the next day. Another night you get 4 hours sleep, and you feel great the next day. How could this be? One reason is that the way you feel today is actually the product of your last 3 to 7 days. Muscle tightness and soreness may be due to physical activity you did 3 days ago. That lack of energy you feel today is often due to your cumulative sleep over the past 5 to 7 days. Even more mysterious is the impact that emotional fatigue has on your energy levels and your ability to self-regulate your response to your emotions.

Like all fatigue, the cause, symptoms, and remedies of emotional fatigue can be very individual. This is why it is so critical that you constantly increase your awareness and proactively build your comprehensive recovery strategy. One key thing to remember when it comes to emotional fatigue is that it isn’t the event or trigger that causes the body’s response to fatigue. It's actually your perception, your current capacity and condition, your emotional history, and even your self-image that dictate the emotional cost of that event.

Common causes of emotional fatigue can include: fear, change, hard work on a project without progress or impact, negative people, drama, achievement of something you have worked long and hard on, a lack of team support, emotional roller coaster experiences, losing someone close to you, situations out of your control, caregiver responsibilities (elderly parent, sick kids, friends, etc.), and many other situations. Interestingly enough, almost every person is dealing with at least one of these situations. The problem is, in today’s highly competitive and complex world, you may be so focused on winning or driving results that you don’t even see these things around you.

While there are a plethora of symptoms of emotional fatigue, the most common ones we see are apathy, emotional outbursts (inability to control reaction to emotions), insomnia, negative ruminating thoughts, emotional flatness, and an excessive desire to sleep. The problem is that by the time you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or an array of other symptoms you may experience, you are already late to the game. Your emotional fatigue has not only been draining your energy, it's also been destroying your performance.

There are many strategies (too many to cover in one blog) to help repay your emotional debt and help you be better in your future performances, but here are a few that we have found to be particularly powerful:

.01 Reconnect with your purpose. Why are you doing what you do? How do you and others benefit from you doing what you do? How do you add meaning to other people’s lives? Who are you a role model to?

.02 Serve others. Nothing rebuilds your emotional bank account more than giving to others. This not only helps you gain perspective, it also fills you with positive emotions like kindness, gratitude, helpfulness, and love.

.03 Reflect on your successes. When you are emotionally fatigued, it is too easy to see the pain and miss the progress. When you reflect on the behaviors, actions, and choices you are making that create your success, you stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system (recovery system), you rewire your brain to the key behaviors you want to do more of, and you energize yourself to keep going.

.04 Plan for fun. In today’s busy world, we forget that most of what we do is not life or death. We also forget that, without fun, life can quickly feel like a grind. Pull out your calendar and start planning at least one thing to do each week just for pure fun. When you get this down, try planning something daily.

Emotional fatigue can often be overlooked and invisible. Like all of our Tignum approaches to recovery, if you wait until you are suffering, it's too late because your performance is already compromised and you are already losing impact. Sustainable High Performers front load their performance by building recovery strategies into every day, every week, and every month.

As you rethink your strategic performance planning and build emotional recovery strategies into your calendar, we would love to hear what you think.

By Scott Peltin
Founder/Chief Performance Officer


Chris Males

Recently, I was leading a group discussion on reframing low performance thoughts and stories into high performance thoughts and stories. At Tignum, we consider low performance thoughts and stories as those that are filled with drama, involve being a victim, make ourselves appear to be helpless, and focus on those things out of our control. I was using some common examples such as, “I am not good enough”, “I can’t handle this anymore”, and “I will never get through all of my email”. As we started to create some powerful reframes, someone raised their hand and asked, “How do you know you aren’t just lying to yourself?"

This was a great question because, if not done properly, reframing could just be an exercise of trying to fool yourself. The difference comes through in a few nuances. A high performance thought or story is one that is highly aware and true, one that identifies/focuses on those things within your control, and one that is action-oriented and moves you towards a solution. This is different than simply looking at the bright side or just staying positive. This latter type of thinking suggests that we tell ourselves things such as, “fake it until we make it” or “look at the bright side; at least it’s a beautiful day outside”, even when targets are not met, decision-making has stalled, and our team’s budget is cut.

A High Performance Mindset approach moves us forward, captures those things within our control, and brings us closer to a solution that will create a better outcome. A system we use is:

_Is this thought true? Or, am I awfulizing, dramatizing, or over-assuming? Sometimes a low performance thought can be partially true such as, “I will never get through all of my email.” While it might be true that you won't get through all your email in one sitting, the word never is a little dramatic.

_How does this thought serve me? Our brain doesn’t do anything by mistake, so even a low performance thought has a purpose. It may be to create an excuse, to make a smoke screen to cover a perceived failure, to support a poor self-image, or a legitimate call for help.

_How can I reframe my self-talk to be more high performance? This could be something like, “I won’t get through all my emails in this sitting, but I will quickly prioritize my email and answer the 3 that are most critical."

Using the above questions to quickly filter any impeding low performance thoughts, is a skill that is developed over time. It takes high awareness, quick recognition, and practice. This requires a mentally agile brain that is well nourished, fully recovered, and synchronized/energized with movement. In many ways, the actual lie is the low performance thought, and the high performance reframe is the truth. Naturally, we all have doubts and low performance self-talk, but challenging these thoughts and stories help you become more authentic and impactful.

Like all our strategies, consistent practice will make high performance reframing a habit that moves you closer to Sustainable High Performance. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

By Chris Males

Director of Performance Coaching


Scott Peltin

In today's business world there are very few guarantees, but one that I promise will come your way is that you'll hit some adversity. Whether it's a bad quarter in sales, an unexpected crisis, an unanticipated competitor, or a company-wide transition, no leader I've ever met has had a pass on leading through adversity. Over the years, I have seen this and coached so many leaders through it, so I thought I would share some lessons that I have found critical for success.

.01 Embrace the suck. The truth is that it sucks to deal with adversity. Who has the time and energy for it? Unfortunately, and to be brutally honest, you are only paid the big bucks for one reason - to foresee the adversity your team will face, to solve it, and to come out the other side as winners. I’m not saying you have to love leading through adversity, but I am encouraging you to embrace it because doing so will make you smarter, tougher, and better, allowing you to quickly move on to the next lesson you will face.

.02 Do not personalize the setback. Just because you hit some bad times does not make you a bad person. It also doesn’t make anyone else on your team a bad person. Beating yourself or anyone else on your team up will waste your time, destroy their confidence and belief, and leave you with some serious scar tissue to repair later. Get outside your own head and double down on your experience, fortitude, and High Performance Mindset because these are the things you will have to draw on during times of adversity.

.03 Avoid the drama trap. It is so easy to get overly emotional and reactive during adversity rather than to get curious, practical, logical, and precise. The drama of the situation can easily coerce you into a dramatic response of thinking you’re a victim and everyone else is a villain. This drama trap will lead you to finger pointing, table pounding, shaming others, and saying things you will later regret. This can potentially damage the foundation you need to solve the situation. While drama is normal and natural, once it does its job of waking you up, you need to squelch it and move on to real solutions.

.04 Learn, process, and move on. Great leaders move from crisis to learning to action faster than the rest. They ask smart questions, look at the problems without bias, and recognize the root of the problem rather than the low-hanging fruit. Once they recognize the true problem, they keep an open mind and stay diligent, so they can dig beneath the surface to find the true causes and true solutions. Great leaders don’t have to state the obvious or make those around them feel bad for the adversity. They quickly address the situation with conversations that make everyone feel like they are part of the solution by asking for their input. At the same time, the best leaders I have seen have the ability to process what they hear and bravely take action. They blend collaboration, empowerment, decision-making, speed, and action.

.05 Teach don’t preach. During adversity, it’s too easy to forget that these situations are the ultimate teaching opportunities. In the absence of problems, there is very little real learning. For some reason, adversity has the ability to make subpar leaders suddenly become know-it-alls. Worse yet, it somehow inspires them to stand on the table and begin preaching. Great leaders don’t preach, they teach. They realize that no leader, no matter how magical or inspired they are, can overcome adversity alone. Great leaders spend their time helping those around them learn, get better, and move forward. They share their experience and beliefs to inspire others and teach them to succeed through adversity by believing in themselves, their teammates, their leaders, and their strategy.

.06 Role model success. If there is ever a time that a leader’s Sustainable High Performance matters, it is during adversity. When a leader demonstrates trust, care, and excellence, it raises everyone’s game. It creates a team of problem solvers, and it leads to better solutions. This takes energy, resilience, and mental agility. It requires preparation because every interaction with an employee, another leader, or the public is an opportunity to either build or destroy belief. Great role modeling gives everyone energy to take action and believe in their own ability to win.

Leading isn’t easy and leading through adversity is even tougher. No one ever said it should be easy, but is there any better feeling than being tested in the heat of the battle and emerging successfully with your entire team/organization even better than it was before? As always, I'd love to hear what you think.

By Scott Peltin
Founder/Chief Performance Officer


Jake Marx

As a young strength and conditioning coach, I was taught how to design the most effective training programs for our athletes. We would begin with a thorough sport analysis that would include the types, numbers, and speeds of required movements; the specific energy systems utilized during competition; the layout of a normal game and season; and every other aspect that would help us be as specific as possible. This would lead to complex training programs that would include long-term, detailed planning of periods of high intensity, low intensity, and different types of training. Everything was designed to help each athlete peak at the time of his/her competition (peak performance). In my professional baseball days, we created an annual workout plan for the players with workouts designed down to each hour of the day.

When we work with executives, we take the exact same approach. As it turns out, the real world is a bit more complex and unpredictable than most sports. You have to be on all the time. You have to come to work at your best, and go home at your best. You need to peak for a meeting here, a presentation there, a key negotiation tomorrow, jet lag next week, and on and on and on. Physically training an executive to maximize his performance is really quite complex. When we train athletes, we get an incredible amount of data to show us how our training is working, how our athletes are recovering, and what loads they are under each day. When we work with executives, we must create the same impact with much less information.

With this in mind, we take a flexible and adaptable approach to help executives develop their movement programs and achieve their goals. First, we work with our executives to develop a high level of self-awareness to help them self-regulate their workouts. This means an awareness of their current status, short-term load, and long-term load as well as their personal needs, strengths, and limitations. Second, we want our executives to have an array of movement options to help them “stay” on their program no matter where they are, no matter how tough or easy their day is, and no matter what equipment, time, or space they have available. Finally, we try to get our executives to use their self-awareness to help them choose the best workout to get the results they need that day. We call this the audible approach (similar to an NFL quarterback calling a change of play on the line as he assesses the reality of the situation the team is facing).

To use the audible approach, here are a few (not comprehensive) key questions you can ask yourself:

_How do I feel today (bad, ok, great)? How much sleep did I get last night (too little or enough)? How much sleep did I get over the past 5 days (ideal is 35 to 45 hrs)?

_Is my tank full, 3/4 full, 1/2 full, or near empty?

_When are my peak performances (yesterday, today, tomorrow, next week, etc.)?

_What do I need from my movement today (wake myself up, build strength for the future, reduce pain and feel better, prepare my brain to be more creative, recover from previous stressors, etc.)?

These inputs will help you develop a versatile movement program that ensures you have tools at your disposal to help you be your best in any situation. For example, if you're running on empty and giving a presentation in the afternoon, you may want to refrain from doing a high intensity workout first thing in the morning. You'd likely find yourself yawning or double dosing espresso right before the presentation. On the other hand, starting your day with some light movement like Tignum Daily Prep would be a great way to wake yourself up and get you on track to prepare for the presentation. Following up your lunch with a quick walk as you set some intentions and do some visualization will raise your energy and synchronize your brain to help you give your best presentation. Not only does this allow you to be your best today, it also sets you up to put more fuel in the tank to reap the benefits of higher intensity training in the days to come. When you use this movement approach, you are strategically using movement to be a Sustainable High Performer.

Do you have your own movement algorithm? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

By Jake Marx

Tignum // Performance Coach


Scott Peltin

A saying I hear tossed around all the time is “I have your back”. It's a phrase people say to each other in both professional and personal situations, but few stop to think about what it truly means to have someone's back. When we work with our clients to develop their Performance Mindset skills, this idea of having each other’s back is often a key quality for both their individual and team mindset. When I hear this, I always dig deeper to see what it really means to the individuals of the group.

Having spent a significant portion of my life running into burning buildings with a team, I have a clear image of what "I have your back" means from an individual and team perspective. Unfortunately, when we lead team discussions about this topic, I am often surprised that the phrase is commonly used with very little clarity about what it means. In my experience, it combines elements of leadership, followership, and teamwork. When fully developed, it is one of the qualities that separates good teams from great teams, teams that work together from teams that change the world together, and teams that win a few games to teams that win a championship. However, simply saying “I have your back” doesn’t do much if the individuals of the group don’t have an understanding of how they will apply it to both themselves and their teams.

From an individual perspective, there are several things I must do to develop this "I have your back" quality. First, I must commit to excellence by creating the attitude and generating the effort necessary to achieve it. To do this, I need to do my share of the work while being open, willing, and proactive to fill gaps wherever I can. I need to display exceptional humility because my personal accolades are secondary to the greater achievements of the team. I have to keep an open mind with a commitment to learning and growth. This requires that I give and ask for great feedback. I must be accountable for my actions and take ownership of my commitments, my behaviors, and my mindset. Finally, it means that I have to prepare for the work we face, so I have the energy, resilience, mental agility, and stamina required to actually "have your back".

Great leaders “have their team’s back”. This means they protect their team from the proverbial poop running downhill and provide their team with the resources, support, vision, and energy necessary to succeed. Great followers “have their leader’s back” by doing what they say they will do, by proactively asking questions to fully understand the nuance of the work, and by paying attention to the details so the leader can focus on the bigger strategical decisions and actions. Great teammates “have each other’s back” by checking in to see how each other is doing, by helping each member take the recovery required to sustain their performance, and by proactively reaching out to support a team member even when their pride may prevent them from asking for help.

From a team perspective, having your back doesn't mean that I will cover up your mistakes or compromise my integrity to keep you out of trouble. If I truly have your back, I won’t need to make these compromises because we won’t need shortcuts or coverups; we will do the hard work to create great results. Teams who have each other’s backs show up, speak up, and create a culture where vulnerability is expected and supporting each other is the norm. On great teams, it's not extraordinary to display this "having your back" quality; it's what they do every day.

"I have your back" means I assume the best about you, and I don’t bring you down behind your back. It takes courage, effort, and Sustainable High Performance. On the flip side, there is nothing more powerful than your teammates having your back and them knowing you have their backs in return. When we truly have each other's backs, great things can happen. As always, I’d love to hear what you think.

By Scott Peltin
Founder/Chief Performance Officer


Jogi Rippel

One of my passions is to study the little differences that separate the good from the great, the amateurs from the pros, and the one-time winners from the legends. When I do this, I account for the things that are out of their control and focus on the things they habitually do to separate themselves from other competitors. I look for commonalities that cross all sectors of business, professional sports, the performing arts, and the elite military operators.

Recently, when I was watching the PGA championships, one of these difference makers jumped out at me. Why do all of these pro golfers have coaches? Aren’t they masters of their craft? Don’t they know much (if not all) of what these coaches are teaching them? Haven’t these golfers been playing this game since they were kids? What could coaches possibly offer these high performers? These questions rattled in my brain and intrigued me. After all, these pros already know the proper technique when it comes to swinging a club, which means there must be more to hiring a coach than gaining knowledge.

Maybe the problem is not a knowledge problem. Maybe it's more of problem with the application of knowledge (even simple knowledge) and the ability to apply this knowledge to the how, the why, and the when. This is exactly what great coaches do for great players. This coaching technique also holds true in the business world. While business schools may do an exceptional job of teaching the frameworks of business, we are seeing more and more of the best performers turn to coaches to stretch themselves and stay at the top of their game.

After 14 years of leading Tignum, I have definitely hit many obstacles and challenges along the way. Even as an expert in Sustainable High Performance, I have needed a coach to help me make adjustments, face the truth, rebuild my plans, and apply what I know when it matters most. When I look at our superstar clients (the ones who are true Sustainable High Performers, who maximize their impact, and push themselves further than they ever imagined both at work and at home), I notice their openness and acceptance of coaching. They realize that knowing something and being able to apply it on a consistent basis are quite different. In fact, I have met many extremely smart leaders who shook their head and acknowledged that they knew a lot about Sustainable High Performance but never applied a thing, never accepted any coaching, and, subsequently, never improved.

Whether it's a golf coach, a presentation coach, an executive coach, or a Sustainable High Performance coach, this is what I have seen great coaches do to make an impact:

_They hold your information with impeccable confidentiality to build the trust needed for you to be authentic and vulnerable.

_They bring empathy to every encounter with you because they truly care about you.

_They help you purposefully and consciously develop a self-image that will stretch you, so you can become the best you can be.

_They provide insight to you outside of your circle of comfort, which helps you see yourself accurately when it comes to your strengths, shortcomings, weaknesses, opportunities, and more.

_They recognize what you need and give it to you, whether it's a nudge, a push, a hug, or a look in the mirror.

_They meet you where you are, help you shape a clear vision of success, and efficiently help you identify how to connect these two.

_They adapt their methods and their style to what you need rather than the other way around.

_They are constantly learning and sharpening their skills to take you to even higher levels and give you unique insights.

_They help you transition from knowing to doing.

Excellence doesn’t happen by luck; it has to be a choice, and it must be developed by design. The world is complex and overwhelming at times. If you want to win, you have to stretch yourself. For this reason, beside almost every high performer is a great coach. 

As always, I’d love to hear what you think.

By Jogi Rippel

Founder & Chief Executive Officer


Patti Milligan

One of the things I love most about being a nutritionist is that the field is constantly building upon our existing knowledge of how food affects a person’s day-to-day performance. In the early days, an equal ratio of calories in to calories out was the gold standard of metabolic efficiency, and we were taught that this gold standard helped us regulate weight control. We’ve since expanded our thinking and realized this concept of metabolic efficiency isn’t so straightforward. In fact, the type of calories we consume (i.e., carbohydrate, fat, and protein), not simply the number of calories, influence our metabolic efficiency more than we ever understood in the past.

One study in particular by Dr. Shannon Casperson and her team really caught my eye because it shows how adding just one sugary drink to a meal has an immediate impact on the way the body metabolizes food. Just one sugar-sweetened drink with a meal decreased the body’s ability to metabolize fat and decreased the energy required to metabolize the meal, which resulted in a surplus of calories (about 1/3 of the meal's calories were not metabolized). Not only did this one drink affect the body immediately, it also increased cravings for salty, sweet, and savory foods hours after eating.

This study creates a unique awareness about how just one drink, such as sweetened tea, soda, etc., can affect how your body processes food both now and in the future. Instead of having that sweet drink on the side, try opting for fruit-infused water, unsweetened green tea, or ginger tea. These options not only have the flavor boost you want from a sweetened drink, they can also increase your metabolic efficiency and alleviate food cravings.

Here are a few fruit-infused water ideas to get you started (we recommend using 4 to 8 cups (1 to 2L) of water for each cup of fruits/vegetables used):

Orange and Blueberry
2 mandarin oranges cut into wedges
1 cup blueberries

Watermelon and Mint
1 cup watermelon
4-8 mint leaves, lightly crushed to release oils

Strawberry, Lime, and Cucumber
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup sliced cucumbers
2 limes, sliced
4-8 fresh mint leaves, lightly crushed to release oils

Mixed Melon
1 cup cantaloupe pieces
1 cup watermelon pieces
1 cup honeydew pieces

Pineapple and Ginger
1 cup fresh pineapple pieces (crushed for a sweeter taste)
1 inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced

At Tignum, we value the idea of combining enjoyment, awareness, and an understanding of the "why" we are eating. Dr. Shannon Casperson's study adds even more knowledge to why we might feel different after having that sugary drink with our meal. I hope this awareness adds to your ability to link what you eat, how you feel, and how you perform. As always, I'd love to hear what you think.

By Patti Milligan
Director of Nutrition


Scott Peltin

With NFL preseason games around the corner and American football teams right in the middle of training camp, it’s that time of the year again for teams to reconnect, reevaluate, and recharge. These training camps offer opportunities for the entire team to work together to develop new players, new coaches, and new strategies as well as revamp strategies and techniques with veteran coaches and players. This year, as I walk around and watch the coaches inspire and transform team members, I notice how many similarities there are between great NFL coaches and great leaders. I can't help but wonder about the opportunities annual training camps could bring to companies.

Much like a typical business structure, an American football team is made up of several smaller teams commonly called units. The three units of football represent the three phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams. Within each of these units there are multiple positions, each with specific talents and deliverables, to make the team successful as a whole. Because each position holds such a critical role within the team, there are specific position coaches. This is similar to a business unit having its own leader/coach. These position coaches are responsible for making sure their individual players are at their best when it matters most. The best position coaches are excellent communicators, teachers, and mentors. They approach each player as an individual while teaching and inspiring them to contribute to the team. They build players’ belief in themselves and in their teammates. These position coaches teach us the importance of recognizing that each player on our own team has a unique skill set that benefits our team as a whole. Communicating our vision clearly and helping each player contribute his/her skills is paramount to our team's success.

At the football team’s next level, the coordinators are responsible for one of the three units. For these leaders, it’s all about collaborating, creating the right culture for their unit, role modeling a clear vision of excellence every day, and supporting their position coaches so they can be successful. If these leaders are too overbearing and micromanage, they won't develop the full potential of their position coaches. If they are too hands off, position coaches may go in their own direction which could create chaos and disconnection on the field. These leaders are responsible for instilling trust among their coaches and players as well as developing big-picture strategies their units will use to bring their best to each game. These leaders can teach us the value of communicating a clear vision, developing and trusting our direct reports, and role modeling leadership.

The head coach of a football team, just like the CEO of a business, often has a plethora of duties on his plate. His job is to give direction, inspire excellence, give energy to the staff, and constantly paint the picture of success for the entire organization. The way head coaches treat their direct reports and their players immediately becomes the accepted norm. They must show amazing emotional control, discipline, and strategic thinking. This leader is responsible for making sure that each detail within the organization reaches the desired level of excellence, which helps build the team's belief that it's a winning team.

When coaches at each level of the team are at their best and apply their Sustainable High Performance strategies, they maximize their impact at every practice, in every interaction with other coaches and players, and on game day. When they are mentally sharp and agile, they catch more teachable moments. When they are emotionally intelligent, they communicate to their players in a way that builds the players up instead of tearing them down. When they have a growth mindset, they are constantly trying to improve, which sets up a role modeling opportunity seen by their players. When they are great problem solvers, they are always coaching forward by clearly and concisely showing the players what excellence looks like.

Professional sports are very competitive and so is business. If you want to be a Super Bowl Champion (best company to work for, industry leader, nationally recognized, internationally recognized, etc.), you have to lead and coach like a champion. This means having great self-leadership skills. This means making sure you and your team can unload, reset, and refocus after every big push. This means doing all the little things that a champion does, even when nobody is looking.

Tonight, ask yourself, "What did I do today to deserve winning my Super Bowl?" As always, I would love to hear what you think.

By Scott Peltin //

Chief Performance Officer


Scott Peltin

It's that time of year again when most of you are about to take your summer vacation. Sadly, our experience tells us that over 60% of you will get sick, over 85% of you will work on your vacation (not necessarily a bad thing if done correctly), and about 70% of you will return from vacation as tired or more tired than when you left.

Most of you will plan the days of your vacation (when), the location of your trip (where), and maybe even the things you plan to do on your vacation (what). The question is, do you know the "why" of your vacation? I know it sounds simple, but we have found that almost 3 out of every 4 of our executives fail to plan this part of their time off.


Executives often ask us, "How long does a vacation need to be in order to recharge?" Well, that depends on what you do and whether or not you connect this "what" of your vacation with a clear "why." When a person makes recharging their number one priority and plans all of the events of their vacation accordingly, they may be able to physically recharge in as little as 3 to 5 days.

Unfortunately, what often happens is people don't connect the "what" to the "why" and end up taking a week-long vacation with 15 or more planned, high intensity activities. If they have kids, they hit all the amusement parks, zoos, and museums while sprinting from line to line eating nothing but amusement park fast food. They fill their nights with even more activities and, come Sunday, they are exhausted. When we ask them what their "why" was to their time away, they pause and usually say something like: "I just wanted to relax, recover, and reconnect with my kids and spouse and also have some fun." This intention could have easily been achieved with 2 days of those high intensity activities along with some quiet family time playing games, going for walks, doing some family exercise, and hanging out together.


Once you are clear with the "why" of your vacation, the next critical step is to have a transition into and out of your vacation. Without this transition, you will bring your work self on vacation (unable to turn off, completely connected to work, somewhat detached from the family, etc.) and you will bring your vacation self (kicking back and not fully engaged, going with the flow without a plan, etc.) back to work after your vacation. This self-image trap can be avoided by creating a transition where you first ask yourself, “Who do I need to be to maximize my effectiveness?” both going into vacation and coming off vacation. You should also spend a little time visualizing yourself as that person so your brain can actually believe that you can make it happen.


One common question that comes up in our coaching is whether to work or not work during vacation. The truth is that it really depends. If you would feel better by being able to just check in and cut off any potential critical items, you may want to adapt the 60-minute work sprint in the morning during vacation (followed, of course, by 23 hours of being fully off). If, on the other hand, you can’t turn your mind off once it gets turned on during vacation, it may be better to fully delegate your responsibilities, perform a thorough handoff at least one day before leaving on vacation, and then staying shut down throughout your vacation. Both of these situations can work, but they must be designed to fit you. If you leave it to chance, you are leaving the door open for work creep and potentially creating a huge source of conflict with your family.


It's critical to plan the "why" part of your vacation because, once you do, it becomes a lot easier to align the "what" of your trip to the vacation you're really looking for. Here are a few questions to help you get what you want/need as you plan this year's summer vacation:

_Why am I taking this vacation (e.g., recharge my batteries, reconnect with friends/family, change the scenery, have fun, go somewhere I've never been, cross something off my bucket list, get back in shape, work on my golf game, finish my manuscript)?

_When I return from my vacation, how do I want to feel (e.g., relaxed, energized, pain-free, focused, passionate, creative, in love, reconnected to my family)?

_What would it look like if I felt that way? How would I stand, walk, interact with others, etc.?

_What do I need to do on this vacation to make this vision of success a reality?

Sustainable High Performance doesn't happen by luck or chance, it happens by design. Connecting the what, when, where, and why of your trip is necessary to design your best ever summer vacation. I bet your 4th quarter results will show the difference after getting what you really want and need from your break. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

By Scott Peltin //

Chief Performance Officer


Scott Peltin

The brain loves clarity - it craves black and white situations where the right and wrong answers are right in front of us. This starts from the time we were kids and our parents tried to teach us through experiences that defined the boundaries of what is right and what is wrong. While right and wrong clearly still exist, as does black and white, the world is becoming increasingly gray, which can be quite challenging to any mindset. I have seen this mindset challenge over and over again in our coaching sessions with executives.

Recently, I was with a friend and VP of HR from Unilever, Mike Clementi, when I asked him what he thought was the biggest challenge for today’s leaders. Without hesitation, he said, “Without a doubt, it is dealing with the paradoxes of today’s business world.” As he started explaining what he meant by this, I had to smile because I had been feeling the same way, but I hadn’t yet captured the exact description of the problem. As we continued to talk, several clear examples surfaced, which are becoming more and more common. These include:

_A leader sees new trends and opportunities which require investment, but they need to continue to invest against their core business. If they don't spend against their core business, it may fade, but they need to also be on trend for what is coming.

_A CEO wants to do the right thing for the shareholders and curb expenses, while, at the same time, he wants to invest in the many things that make his employees feel valued and create a highly supportive and energized culture.

_Even as parents, we want to give our kids the freedom to explore and learn, but we are concerned about monitoring their activities in this ever changing world.

The list of these paradoxes continue (we didn’t even touch the intracompany and world politics), and leading through such paradoxes requires the highest level of Sustainable High Performance. No longer is the role of a leader to set strategy and manage tradeoffs, rather it is to consciously live between the polarities. A leader who is operating in survival mode (what we describe as sinking or floating in our book, Sink, Float, or Swim) won’t be able to fight through the noise and distractions. They will lack the mental agility required to develop the best solution among a list of not-so-great options. They will become frustrated by the complexity and ambiguity that truly exists, and this frustration can quickly lead to withdrawing and missing the nuances of true leadership.

To succeed among these paradoxes, leaders need to develop and exhibit their Performance Mindset skills of empathy, listening, concise communication, openness, collaboration, purpose (driven by values and ethics), courage, emotional control, and vulnerability. They need to diligently prepare for their key interactions both internally and externally. They need to manage their energy and resilience by consistently investing in their Performance Nutrition, Performance Movement, and Performance Recovery strategies. Leading through these paradoxes requires leaders to be their best so they can bring their best to the many challenges they will face - this includes bringing their best home after work to those they love.

At Tignum, we've been able to work with many leaders. The best leaders bring calmness to chaos. They help others sift through complex issues to find the most important areas of focus. They provide, and clearly communicate, a picture of success. They stay highly aware of the many distractions while keeping everyone on track to tackle complex problems one step at a time. They give energy and optimism to everyone around them by extinguishing drama and staying focused on the small solutions in front of them. Great leaders stay grounded and authentic so they can help their teams realize that there is no perfection in a world of paradoxes, but this doesn’t have to mean that there is no hope, action, or solution.

Leading is hard, even in the best of times, and leading through a business world full of paradoxes can feel impossible. At the same time, paradoxes create many opportunities, but only if you develop your leadership and personal skills, and only with the catalyst of Sustainable High Performance. In fact, when you are proactively investing in your Performance Mindset, Performance Nutrition, Performance Movement, and Performance Recovery, you may just find that your Sustainable High Performance is one of the few things you can actually control.

As always, we would love to hear what you think.

By Scott Peltin

Founder/Chief Performance Officer