Sunday, July 5, 2020


Coming out of this strange state of ‘lockdown’, not knowing whether we’ll be ‘sent back into it again’ or able to keep moving into a more familiar state of being and living, the significance of the brain and how our past experiences have ‘wired’ us for resilience, becomes key.

As I have mentioned in Blogs before, the part of the brain often referred to as the Executive Brain, that top-heavy front part called the Pre Frontal Cortex, defines us as humans. It is gradually developed from birth up to the age of about 24, and is shaped to a great degree based on our experiences (and responses to them), and to the 'programming' we receive. This part of the brain gives us a multitude of abilities, including contributing significantly to our 
resilience and our abilities to;
  • Stay calm under pressure and manage fear
  • Manage our impulses
  • Motivate ourselves – be able to generate positive emotions under stress and stay on course, even with setbacks
  • Adapt and be flexible – be able to roll with the punches
  • Have transparency – act from our values rather than just having a trendy vision statement
  • Develop Emotional intelligence – to understand and self-regulate our emotions in order to gain the best, most insightful perspective
  • Have ‘big-picture’ insight –to be aware of the present, look backward at the past, and have a vision of the future, simultaneously (mental time-travel J)
  • Feel empathy – be able to step into someone else’s shoes and see their viewpoint without your own agenda getting in the way
  •  Become attuned to other people – ultimately making them more likely to feel trusting and loyal towards us
  • Act according to values and ethics – imagining and in-acting the greater good, above and beyond our own personal satisfaction
  • Trust intuition – be able to process gut feeling and heart-felt sense and use in an appropriate way to inform decisions

Of course we’re not necessarily automatically good at any of these – for most of us it takes a bit of effort and quite frequently, a lot of work! SO what are the most recent findings that can make all this easier, to both understand and apply?

1. First of all, your personal (and professional) growth work can change your brain! 
It can be helpful to know that neuroscience and psychology have significant overlaps with each other as well as with ancient contemplative practices – (Mindfulness being a ‘modern’ version and the most commonly quoted). When you apply techniques such as the Applied Emotional Mastery (AEM) techniques and practices, you are not only helping yourself and your actions or relationships short-term, you are also actually changing the very structure of your brain, thereby impacting your life long-term. Neuroscientists can now shows us clearly that repeated emotional and mental activity entail repetition of neural (brain) activity which builds actual neural structures. It is said that neurons that fire together, wire together. This means that the more you for example feel compassion for yourself and others, the more you will be inclined to feel compassionate in situations when you previously might have found it difficult. Conversely, the more you allow yourself to feel put upon or resentful (and justify feeling that way), the more hardwired this becomes and the more predisposed you become to feeling this way in response to a variety of situations.

2. Secondly, all humans have a bias towards negativity. (It’s not just you!) Our ancestors, trying to survive cave life, would understandably place more importance on avoiding sticks than pursuing carrots. The result is that our brains are wired to pay most attention to anything that feels even remotely threatening or disturbing. In our memory bank there is a preferential ‘coding’ that makes us learn faster from pain than pleasure and be more motivated by fear of loss than by desire for gain. (This explains a lot!)

To make positive changes that give lasting benefit and become permanent traits it is not quite enough to merely think positively. We need to download it – (think of it as just like installing or downloading a program onto your computer versus just viewing a link) – and that involves emotions. To ‘download’ or install anything positive requires both repetition and prolonged experience, allowing the integration of the ‘new’ emotional experience or perspective in your brain to become traits –the desired change to become ‘hardwired’– making increased resilience, inner strength, and other desired qualities permanent.

SO: here’s a couple of tips/reminders to help you install an increased state of well-being:

A short, 5 minute meditation integrated into your daily routine (you can find several in the Multi-media section of our website or on our YouTube channel) will activate the ‘Executive’ circuits in the brain.

To recover from too many stress-hormones and build resilience, we need to generate those hormones that give us a much-needed balance, including endorphins. We do this best by RELISHING the good feelings and experiences we have. When you are enjoying something, savour it. The longer you keep that feeling of appreciation or relishing going, the more the neurons keep firing together and the more chance there is of the neurons wiring together. For example, on your way to work and enjoying the blue sky and sunshine, keep enjoying it. Stop your wandering mind by bringing it back to how good it feels to really appreciate the sunny morning, RELISH AND ABSORB THE GOOD FEELING!  Install it!

Stay safe and well!  - and may your self-mastery increase by the day J

Sunday, February 16, 2020


I am endlessly fascinated by that playing football is considered a training ground for leadership, but raising children isn’t.” So said political analyst Dee Dee Myers and indeed, this is a fascinating observation because leadership and parenting are possibly the two roles that are most similar in requirements for success.

Take a well-known quote about parenting; “There are two lasting bequests we can give our children; one is roots and the other is wings.” Replace the word children with employees and it holds equal value. Or a quote about leadership: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. Once you’re a leader, success is all about growing others.” Replace ‘leader’ with parent’ and again, snap!

Recognising our influence on those we lead or guide is the key to both parenting and leadership – and we influence both children and employees on several levels, three in fact. First of all, with what we do and what we say.  If what we say isn’t consistent with what we do, most of us can recognise that we create confusion and incoherence. In other words, we know that the old maxim “do what I say, not what I do!” is obsolete and doesn’t work. Whatever we say, especially to anyone we have influence over –a child or an employee– needs to be followed up by action that is congruent with our spoken words. If not, the result is a loss of respect - with often dire consequences. As if this isn’t challenging enough, there is a third element to take into consideration, and that is how we feel.

When what we feel is inconsistent with either of the other two, it will influence our thinking and our behaviour, no matter how controlled we think we are! It will also be picked up by the other person, and we can never fully know just how sensitive he or she is. The result? Insecurities and a sense of in-authenticity will begin to permeate the relationship, - whether that relationship is with your child, employee or indeed with anyone.

The key to avoiding this –or resolving it if you think you are already inconsistent– is to first ensure you are fully aware of what you are feeling, of any underlying emotions, and then manage those emotions so that they either a) become consistent with your outward communication OR b) if appropriate, you find a positive way to align your actions with your true feelings.

This is obviously, for most of us, easier said than done! Personally, I found it to be a huge challenge early on in life and went through many years of searching and working on myself to gain my own emotional mastery (I’m still ‘a work in progress’!) Raising my own daughter as well as running several companies, it has never ceased to amaze me that such an important life-skill is not given us at the same time as we learn ‘please’, ‘thank-you’, and reading and writing.

As a result, I have made it my life’s mission to help others, especially those who lead, guide and raise others, to learn to identify, understand and manage emotions – their own and those they influence. And the core skills and abilities are the same for both leaders and parents!

Fortunately, I get plenty of help from the copious amounts of relatively recent research findings, from both neuroscience and decades of studies in psychology, evidence that consistently shows just how significant managing our emotions –developing our emotional intelligence– is to not only our own success, but also to our capacity for positively influencing others and for successful, healthy, sustainable relationships, be they with our children, those we lead, or anyone we wish to make a positive difference to!