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THOUGHTS

THE ULTIMATE BIOSENSOR

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

EFFORTLESS CHANGE

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

 

INVISIBLE FATIGUE

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

ISN'T REFRAMING JUST LYING TO YOURSELF?

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

HOW TO CREATE YOUR MOVEMENT AUDIBLE

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

"I GOT YOUR BACK" - REALLY?

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

COACHING MAKES THE DIFFERENCE

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

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DRINK WITH THAT?

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

WHAT EVERY LEADER CAN LEARN FROM AN NFL COACH

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

FOUR KEYS TO A HIGH PERFORMANCE VACATION

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.

CONNECTING THE "WHY" OF YOUR VACATION //


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.

TRANSITIONING INTO AND OUT OF VACATION MODE //

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.

WORKING ON VACATION //

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.

TOOLS TO PLAN //

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

LEADING THROUGH PARADOX

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

THE FAMILY STYLE HIGH PERFORMANCE EATING APPROACH

Patti Milligan

I love food. I love what it does for people’s bodies and brains. I love its role in culture and relationship building. Unfortunately, as a registered dietician and a nutritionist, I realize that I am constantly consternated by the typical gut (no pun intended) reaction people get when they hear the words, “nutrition talk”. I realize this can be expected since the all too common approach when speaking about nutrition is that of deprivation, guilt, pain, and the overall absence of pleasure.


This is why, when we first started designing our Tignum Performance Nutrition approach 14 years ago, I wanted to make it clear that we had to embrace the pleasure that we as humans get from eating. It had to be founded on the idea that when we combine enjoyment, awareness, and an understanding of the “why” we are eating, that beautiful things will occur. It had to provide tangible, practical, and pragmatic strategies to help our clients make effortless change.

Recently, while in Philadelphia with a company who is leading the way in Sustainable High Performance, Franklin Square Investments, I was reminded of one of my favorite ways to eat - as a family. Growing up in the midwest of the US, mealtime was always a special time. To me it was special because it was a time of sharing. We shared in the cooking, the setting of the table, and my favorite - the passing and enjoyment of the food. This experience was probably the foundation of many of our Tignum Performance Nutrition principles such as: eat a variety of colored vegetables, feed your gut bacteria (a concept we didn’t know the science of but our ancestors had figured out), eat smaller portions, eat slowly, and enjoy every bite.

One common challenge that many of our executives share is the challenge of following these principles when they have to eat out, attend a business dinner, or even attend a family function. A great solution is to employ family style dining. Rather than ordering an entry for each person, order 3 entrees for 5 people. Add some variety, order a few salads, and maybe share just one appetizer. When the food comes, pass it around, take a small portion, and pass it on. Before you know it, you are discussing the food, you are trying foods you may never have tried, you are eating less, and you are enjoying your meal more. You have combined the big three of family style eating: connection, awareness, and pleasure. Additionally, you've avoided overeating and you've avoided throwing away a bunch of wasted food.

The next time you are eating out, think: order less, share more, and enjoy every minute. Before you know it, you may just learn to love food as much as your Tignum nutritionist. As always, I would love to hear what you think.

By Patti Milligan

Tignum Director of Nutrition

NERVES DO NOT EQUAL LOW PERFORMANCE

Chris Males

Have you ever been ready to give a super important presentation and suddenly felt your heart pounding in your chest? More than likely, you branded this feeling as anxiety tied to your fear of failure or, at a minimum, your fear of looking foolish. What if you were wrong? What if the anxiety you were feeling was actually a hyper-excitement to the anticipation of a great, successful presentation?

The truth is, nervousness is neither good nor bad. In fact, many high performers admit to feeling “nerves”, sometimes to the extent of being physically ill before their biggest and most successful events. This has been studied extensively by a colleague of ours, sports psychologist Dr. Debbie Crews from Arizona State University. While her initial research around this phenomenon was focused on professional golfers who choked, her findings can apply to anyone looking to perform at their best.

In Dr. Crew’s research, she noticed that it isn’t whether you feel anxiety or not, but actually whether your brain shifts to an “approach” mindset or an “avoid” mindset. Her research revealed that when you are looking forward to the challenge of the upcoming event (approach mindset), your brain activity becomes more synchronized (a balanced state between right and left hemispheres, front and back regions). While most people think you need to calm all nerves and reach some kind of zen state in order to perform your best, Dr. Crews suggests that it’s actually the synchronizing of different parts of the brain, and not just a lowering of brainwave activity, that often leads to optimal performance.

She also found that often the best performers weren’t in a meditative zen state, but were actually operating with high levels of arousal across the entire brain. In simple terms, the technical and analytical parts of their brains were being balanced by their creative, intuitive, and appreciative parts of the brain.

These findings correlate nicely with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s findings about performing in the state of flow. The flow state doesn’t happen by avoiding stress or eliminating anxiety. It happens by mastering the stress and anxiety, and enjoying the thrill of the challenge. In other words, using the high stress situation combined with an approach mindset to create high performance.

The next time you are feeling really nervous before a big presentation or meeting, you may want to try the following to help you shift into an approach mindset:

_Set some clear intentions about how you want to be perceived in this event.

_Perform some equal breathing with an inhalation on a count of four and an exhalation on a count of four (this can be very useful to balance the excitement of the event without becoming overly anxious).

_Visualize yourself delivering the performance that creates the perceptions where you are excited at the opportunity to impact the crowd.

With the right preparation, you can turn your nervousness into high performance.

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

Chris Males

Director of Performance Coaching

MASTERING THE RESET

Scott Peltin

Have you ever been working on your computer and notice it is sluggish and difficult to work with? And every time you try to do something, the spinning wheel (or your OS version of this) just pops up and says, "I'm thinking!" What do you do? You hit the restart button to reboot the operating system and start fresh.

Recently, I was watching a match between Coco Vandeweghe and Lucie Safarova at the BNP Paribas tennis tournament. Coco won the first set 6-4 and was up in the second set, appearing to be in position to claim her win. Suddenly, Lucie started stringing points together, Coco came unglued, and Lucie won the second set 6-4. Coco erupted in anger at letting the set slip away and started smashing her racquet against the ground as she stormed back to her chair. In the next set, Coco was unable to let go of her anger and frustration (a situation Lucie was happy to exploit) and she went on to lose the final set 6-1 and ultimately lose the match. I thought - she really needs a reset button.

Have you ever felt this way? Maybe it was a day at work where something got under your skin and you just couldn't shake it or something at home that you couldn't let go of and it ruined the rest of your evening. Having played a lot of tennis and golf, as well as having been under the influence of fatigue and travel at work, I know I have felt that way and wished I had a racquet to destroy. So what is the answer? The key in these situations is to have a reset strategy that reboots your brain so you can start fresh with a new perspective.

There are three critical steps to mastering this reboot:

1. Awareness - The first step is to be aware when you are starting to lose it. What do you feel when suddenly you can't change your perspective? Do you know on a 1-10 scale at what number you no longer can use your normal calming strategies to regain control? Do you recognize the precursors that set you up for this position of no control (fatigue, pain, frustration, hypoglycemia, busy schedule with no breaks, etc.)?

2. Stop Strategy - Once you have noticed that your wheel is spinning, indicating your self-control and ability to master your focus (purposeful placement of attention) are slipping away, you need to have a peaceful, non-aggressive (smashing racquets in the office or your kitchen are a bad idea) way to disconnect. This may be literally stepping outside and going for a short walk, it may be going to the bathroom and splashing cold water on your face, it may be stepping into a stairwell and sprinting up a flight of stairs, it may be taking a huge inhalation and then performing 10 forceful exhalations until all your air is gone, or it may be as simple as using an anchor like a rubber band on your wrist that you snap to quickly alert your brain that it is time to quickly reboot. The key is to have a couple of options that you can use in different settings.

3. Start Strategy - This is the most important step and the one that almost everyone misses. In this step, you need to have a very clear image of who you are, what you look like, and what you feel like when you are rebooted back to your best self. If you don't have this clear self-image, your brain will simply keep returning to where you just were. Remember, the brain doesn't do anything by mistake and, therefore, for some habitual reason it thought that melting down was the right answer.

Whether it's playing a game like golf or tennis, performing your best when your day is turning sideways, or making sure that you are not thrown off-track by a moody teenager at home, the key is to have a really good reboot plan and to practice it. If an anchor like the rubber band on your wrist or a special photo on your desk helps, you may want to use this. The key is, when you feel your wheel starting to spin, and you may be getting off-track, be sure to master your reboot.

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

By Scott Peltin

Founder/Chief Performance Officer

Shhhh - What Do You Hear?

Scott Peltin

Every time we work with a high-performing team and we help them define the skills they want in their High Performance Mindset, two skills that typically show up are self-awareness and listening. To us at Tignum, these two skills are intricately linked because turning your listening skills inward is critical to developing your self-awareness.
Many years ago I attended a mindfulness class in Big Sur where one of our exercises was to sit outside in total stillness and listen to nature for an hour. At first I thought this would not only be simple, but to be honest, I thought it would be a waste of time. To my surprise, this exercise was extremely difficult and less about what I would hear in nature but more about what I would hear in my own mind. Over the years, I have often thought about this exercise and how difficult it is to listen to ourselves in our busy, constantly distracted, and outward-looking day-to-day grind.

When I look at our most successful executives, one of the commonalities is their passion for improving their self-awareness by expanding their listening skills. Here are some of the questions they ask to do this:

_What do others say about me (my commitment, my authenticity, my compassion, my openness to feedback, my pursuit of excellence)?

_What are my thoughts telling me? (Are they optimistic or pessimistic? Are they full of anger or frustration? Are they solution-oriented or full of drama?)

_What are my stories saying about me? (Are they about how busy I am or are they about my impact? Are they about personal growth or status quo? Are they about hanging on to the past or about creating a great future?)

_What are my gut and heart telling me? (What drives me? What do I care about? What makes me uncomfortable? What makes me sad? What makes me happy? What fulfills me? What scares me?

In our busy lives, making the time to listen to ourselves is not always easy but I've grown to really appreciate the many benefits it provides. Listening is a performance skill and as with all skills, the more you practice the more efficient and effective you get at it. At the same time, as you learn to pay attention to what you hear, the more you will expand your impact and potential.

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

By Scott Peltin

Founder/Chief Performance Officer