Days 3 through 5: Beautiful Wine Saves a Shabby Meal…

Ever have that nightmare that you’re going to the toilet and everyone is watching you? That happened to me…

The Mindful Workweek

Ever had that nightmare where you are on the toilet and you realise that people are watching you?

I have it all the time. It’s my worst nightmare.

Yesterday it happened to me.

I didn’t realise it before I sat down but the window to the outside world was clear glass… And for some reason two people outside were keenly interested in watching other people do their business!

Hostel living may not be for us!

Walking day 3: Akerrata to Pamplona

The trip from Akerreta to Pamplona was mostly pain free. It was a pretty good day with about 6 km of downhill. We had a rest day in Pamplona.

Life in Pamplona seems swell.  

Firstly, no one seams to get up before 9:30 am as virtually everything is closed.  (9 am on Pamplona streets is about as busy as 5 am in Melbourne)

Secondly, there’s siesta from 1…

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Pace Yourself

Last year on the 16th of September I took the first step of an 800km hike.

I started the Camino de Santiago Compostela.

My husband and I planned the trip for three years.  We took Spanish lessons. We walked between 20 km and 45 km every weekend for twelve weeks prior to the hike. We researched everything we could possibly think of and watched Martin Sheen in “The Way” about 100 times.

By the first day we were pumped (and very nervous). After eating chocolate croissants for breakfast (because that’s what you do in France) we headed off for the first day of our journey.

Thankful for all the training we did, we passed quite a few pilgrims on our way out of St Jean Pied de Port.

My husband worried about this and asked, “shouldn’t we pace ourselves?”

I replied, “I’d be uncomfortable if I slowed down.”

At the 13 km mark we stopped in a small village to have lunch with a lovely German couple we had just met. Which is how we explain our poor judgment when we only ended up drinking beer for lunch.

Because, that’s what you do with your new German friends…drink beer.

I looked at my watch which was tracking our distance and realised we only had 12 km to go.  Given our training I estimated that it would take a couple of hours to get there.  “This is a breeze,” I thought to myself arrogantly.

It took us eight hours to walk the remaining 12 km.

Eight hours of uphill climbing in wind and rain. It was an unmitigated disaster. We ran out of food, and worse, water.

I’m giving you the cliff notes version but the next eight hours involved altitude sickness (one of us threw up multiple times), breathing difficulties, severe cramping, lots of pain and uphill climb after uphill climb after uphill climb.

All of the people we’d passed that morning passed us over the afternoon and we got to the point where we had to stop every 25 metres for a break.

My mind kept alternating between real fear one of us would die, to trying to work out what I would do if my husband collapsed given I had no idea how to call for help as there was no mobile coverage.

Finally, 12 hours after we left St Jean Pied De Port we arrived at our destination, Roncesvalles.  There were more challenges to face that night as our accommodation had been given away, and in my exhaustion I misplaced my purse and passport while I was procuring dinner from a vending machine…

It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done including going through childbirth.

We kept moving forward.

We reached Santiago 33 days and 800 km later learning many lessons along the way.

Why am I telling you this?  (Other than finally getting the chance to brag…)

Because i’d like to pas on to you the biggest lesson we learned that day:

Pace yourself.

What we learned over the course of the Camino was that if we were kind to ourselves, paced ourselves and kept moving forward, while maintaining a positive attitude, supporting each other and learning from our mistakes we were bound to be successful.

And so are you.

There are a lot of articles and stories around at the moment telling us to “start the new year right” or “read these 100 tips on how to be productive in 2016”, and usually I’m all about productivity tips and strategies but sometimes too much of a good thing is distracting and a major source of anxiety.

Clarity, consistency, collaboration and calmness will be the keys to our success in 2016.

I’ll keep sending you weekly tips to help you along the way.

Here’s how you can take our relationship to the next level:

1.   Join Our Productivity Coaching Program

We are offering our readers a discounted rate on our Productivity Coaching Program which kicks off later in the month (i.e $1000 off).

We will work together over a six week period to help you become more efficient and effective.  After defining your goals and success measures, you’ll receive weekly coaching calls as we introduce new strategies each week to help you save one to two hours each day, achieve your goals and maintain a healthy and happy personal life.

For a free consultation about the Program email me or call +61 3 96029890.

2.   Team Programs

The value of providing productivity coaching and training to all of your team members at the same time can’t be overstated.  As well as putting everyone on the same page, it creates a shared language and new productive behavioural norms.  Each team member holds the others accountable to be productive and happy at home and at work.

You create a Productive Culture.  

We see an average profitability increase of at least 20% when coaching team members to be more efficient and effective as each person wins back an extra day of productivity each week.

Our programs are run over 6 to 12 weeks however we can also run targeted workshops for team events and conferences.

If you’d like me to diagnose your team’s productivity challenges and discuss how we can help email me or call +61 3 96029890.

3.   Executive Coaching Program

Over the last ten years we have coached several successful CEO’s and Executive Leadership teams in one-on-one and team based programs.  By working with the Executive and their Assistant, we’ve been able to ensure executives are both achieving optimal performance and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Success doesn’t have to mean that you trade in your health and happiness.  

Our goal is to help as many individuals, teams and organisations as possible improve their quality of life and focus on the things that really matter.  We want you to be productive AND happy at work and at home.

If you have discretion over how you manage your day to achieve  your results and would like to find out how we can help you achieve your goals and maintain work-life balance, call me for a free consultation at +61 3 96029890 or email me.

The Core Principle and the Aggregation of Marginal Gains

A story that I love about achieving excellence is the story of Team Sky, the British Cycling team.

In 2010, Dave Brailsford was appointed to the role of Performance Director of Great Britain’s cycling team, Team Sky. At the time the team had never won the Tour de France, and it was Brailsford’s remit to turn the team around to become champions of the sport.

Team Sky put in place two principles. The CORE Principle and the Aggregation of Marginal Gains.

The CORE Principal

Brailsford and his team introduced the CORE principle to Team Sky to address the question of how to achieve excellence as human beings.

The Core Principle looked for four things in team members: Commitment, Ownership, Responsibility and Excellence.

Commitment: The CORE Principle taught that motivation changes but commitment and attitude need to stay consistent to be successful. Commitment is about having an intrinsic drive towards achieving a goal and taking ownership of your training, development and performance.

Ownership: The CORE principle of ownership is that you take initiative and have a say in what you’re doing. Brailsford says ownership is also about having an opinion and as a leader creating an open environment for transparency. Riders were encouraged to have a say in their development and their coaching programs.

Responsibility: The CORE principle of responsibility is about being clear about accountability. What are you accountable for and what are you not accountable for? What is and isn’t expected of your attitude and performance?

Excellence: The CORE Principle of excellence is about being the best you can be. What is your standard of excellence, and the standard of excellence for what you want to achieve?

The Aggregation of Marginal Gains

The aggregation of marginal gains sounds simple. It teaches that each good habit builds upon the last and compounds to produce an exponential return.

After his appointment to Performance Director of Team Sky, Brailsford encouraged team members, coaches and other team support professionals to look for the 1% margin for improvement in everything they did.

Everyone was encouraged to get back to basics and identify where a marginal improvement could be made in every aspect of cycling. This created a mindset change across the team including mechanics, coaches, and other support team members.

The team looked at optimising everything. The pillows and bedding team members slept with when on tour, the tyres on the bikes, the way everyone washed their hands, and the way meetings were conducted.

As Brailsford said:

“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together,”

“There’s fitness and conditioning, of course, but there are other things that might seem on the periphery, like sleeping in the right position, having the same pillow when you are away and training in different places.

“Do you really know how to clean your hands? Without leaving the bits between your fingers?

“If you do things like that properly, you will get ill a little bit less.

“They’re tiny things but if you clump them together it makes a big difference.” (1)

The team constantly measured and monitored performance based on key statistics to target any observed development areas in performance.

Using this approach Brailsford promised to win the Tour de France in five years.

No-one believed Team Sky could do it. They won it in three years.

How it works

Success is a product of what you do consistently day in and day out. It’s not about one great effort that wins the tournament. It’s about everything you do leading up to the race. Consistently turning up for training, hygiene, diet, equipment, attitude etc.

By looking for the 1% improvement in everything we do, we continue to achieve sustainable improvement over time until we reach (and often exceed) our goals.

If you want to improve your performance, it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens one step at a time and by looking for an incremental improvement every day. It’s about sustainable habit change.

The aggregation of marginal gains tells us to never miss a good habit twice. If I get up this morning and decide that I just can’t make it to the gym, that’s not going to have a huge impact on my overall fitness. However, tomorrow I need to get up and go to the gym because if I don’t, I’ll be more likely to not go to the gym tomorrow, or the next day and so on.

The aggregation of marginal losses works in the same way. We do something unproductive or unhealthy today, and that’s okay as long as we don’t repeat the bad behaviour tomorrow, because if we do, it will soon become a bad habit that we repeat daily.

Our performance is the sum of our habits. The things that we do each day. If we look to continually find a 1% improvement in everything we do, and keep repeating those new habits our performance will continue to improve.

“Sport is about continuous improvement, it’s about getting better,” said Brailsford. “It’s about being better next year than you are this year. It’s a bit like Formula One. You have a car and the designers might say ‘we can’t think how we’re going to make this any better’. But ultimately you can. And that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to keep looking, researching and working – trying things. And that’s what it’s all about.”

“Everyone is back at square one. Nobody has an advantage because of what we did last year. No one gets a 10-mile start or anything. We’re all absolutely back to zero. And unless you’ve done the work – unless you’ve put in and unless you’ve done what it takes – then you’re going to suffer. There’s no hiding place in this sport.” (2)


Questions for you to reflect on:

  • What are you accountable for in your role?
  • What are you not accountable for? (This is a great question to remind us to keep our noses out of things that don’t require/benefit from our attention!!)
  • What is and isn’t expected of your attitude and performance?
  • What is your current standard of excellence?
  • What is the standard of excellence you wish to achieve?
  • What’s the 1% improvement you can make today? (Hint: Ask yourself this question each day)



Clear, J n.d., This Coach Improved Every Tiny Thing by 1 Percent and Here’s What Happened Available from: <> [31 December 2015]

Sir Dave Brailsford – CORE Principle and Marginal Gains 2015, Sam Canty, 11 March, viewed 31 December 2015, <;.

Team Sky Team Principal. Available from:

<>. [31 December 2015]

How Mindfulness Helps Your Performance

A favourite story of mine is about five blind monks and an elephant.

One day, in ancient India, there were five blind monks and an elephant.  The monks were trying to work out exactly what the elephant was.

The first blind monk felt the trunk and said “it feels like a branch of a tree.  Therefore, an elephant is a tree.”

The second blind monk felt the ear and said “it feels like a large fan.  Therefore, an elephant is a fan.”

The third blind monk felt the tusk and said “it feels like a pipe.  Therefore an elephant is a pipe.”

The fourth blind monk… you get the drift.

Of course, none of them were right. 

They were judging the situation based only on what they could sense. Instead they should have gathered evidence from multiple sources to evaluate the full picture.

This story always reminds me of the importance of mindfulness.

Sometimes we are the monks in the story. 

We react to politics, markets and situations with little evidence.

It’s rare that we ever see the whole picture in any given situation.   We see a small part and we often react without considering we may not be privy to the big picture. Ultimately we can make mistakes and burn relationships.

Other times we are the elephant in the story.

These are the times when we are judged incorrectly by others who cannot see the whole picture.  Rather than reacting to circumstance, we can empathise, and help these people gain the required evidence to make good decisions.

We may need to accept that some people will just never like us.

How can mindfulness help?  In three ways:

1. We learn to respond rather than react

When you’re triggered by an event that would usually see you “hitting the roof”, use that trigger to remind yourself to take a breath and use a technique I call “a minute of mindfulness.”

Just observe your breath for 60 seconds.  That’s all you need to catch yourself when you’re about to do something you’ll regret later.

Most of us need at least 20 minutes to calm down once we’ve become angry.  Time gives us the perspective we need to see the big picture.

Mindfulness helps you to understand this. Give yourself the time and space you need so you can respond rather than react to circumstance.

2. We learn to stay focused on what’s important without distraction

Most of us know what we need to do to be successful.  The reality of day to day work in the corporate world is that we are presented with a multitude of distractions.

Using mindful techniques helps you to keep your focus on what’s important rather than letting yourself be distracted by shiny things and annoyances.

Five minutes of meditation every day is all you need to help you hone your ability to focus.

3. We learn to pay attention to the finer details that are often ignored

Our worlds are noisy- literally and metaphorically.

Great ideas don’t get heard.

We miss the signs our employees or families are displaying to tell us they are unhappy.

We don’t notice a niggling health issue which can become a big issue.

Taking time for mindfulness helps create the mindset we need for creative and innovative ideas to arise, and encourages greater awareness of small things which can become big things.

Mindfulness isn’t just about meditation

Mindfulness is about focusing on your present state of awareness without judgement of thoughts, feelings and sensations on the body.

Some people achieve mindfulness through meditation but mediation isn’t for everyone.

Exercise can be a form of mindfulness.  If meditation isn’t for you, go for a run or go for a walk.  Some people are even breaking out colouring books to gain mindfulness.

Looking for someone to speak at your next conference or help your team achieve greater success?  Give me a call or email me.

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