How to Achieve the Ultimate State of Wellness

How to Achieve the Ultimate State of Wellness

How to Achieve the Ultimate State of Wellness

how to achieve the ultimate state of wellness

Grant Ian Gamble

Grant Ian Gamble is an international business strategy and growth consultant, best-selling mindful leadership author and speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth. He has over 35 years of experience in the health and wellness sectors.

That title should raise some red flags for you immediately.

I mean, who can predict what it would take to achieve the ultimate state of wellness for any individual?

There are commonly held beliefs, a great deal of science and a plethora of information available on the achievement of aspects of wellness, but “The Ultimate State of Wellness”? That’s a very individual and ethereal thing.

There are also a lot of claims around products, diets, lifestyles, philosophies and tools that can supposedly extend the quality and quantity of one’s life, but much of the evidence is anecdotal and at best may help some and have little to no effect on others. 

Therein rests the true intention of this article: To highlight the very personal nature of wellness and reflect on some of the meaningful ways you might explore it for yourself.

I have been a member of the wellness community for over 35 years now. Graduating from flop socks and spandex in the Australian fitness industry, to building wellness campuses up and down the Atlantic Coast of the U.S.

On that journey, I have worked on wellness initiatives ranging from kids’ wellness programming through to geriatric rehabilitation efforts. As my contributions became less granular and I was able to view more population-based programming, my perspective broadened, and I’ll share some of those observations herein.

Wellness has many aspects. Fitness is certainly a part of it, but equally mental health is an incredibly important component. Nutrition is really important, but that can’t overshadow the need for stress reduction and mindfulness practices.

Zig Ziglar, an esteemed author and motivational speaker, had a great infographic I used a lot in the early days of my management career and that was the “Wheel of Life”. 

This wheel illustrated seven aspects of our lives that are meant to contribute to balanced success.

Those elements were: Mental, Spiritual, Physical, Family, Financial, Personal and Career.

What I love about this concept is the balanced nature of it. As I remember Zig explaining, if you rate yourself really well on some of these spokes but not on others, your life is going to be out of balance. He had you imagine your wheel rolling down the road of life with some short spokes and some long spokes, and what a wonky ride it would be! A more literal example would be if you have a strong focus on Career, but don’t take care of your Physical or Mental health, you may not get to enjoy the benefits of the financial gains that come with career advancement.

It’s a pretty simple philosophy with significant implications.

Life coaches have adapted this wheel in many forms and the best known includes: Emotional, Intellectual, Physical, Social, Environmental, Financial, and Spiritual elements.

As much as I love all these elements and feel this is pretty comprehensive, I think it misses some components  that I see as fundamental to achieving ultimate wellness for you as an individual.

Here are the elements I think need to be included in a holistic view of wellness:

  • Sense of Purpose
  • Strong Community
  • Spiritual Center
  • Emotional Balance
  • Healthy Relationships
  • Healthful Nutrition, Hydration and Sleep
  • Cognitive Function
  • Conscious Movement
  • Balanced Environment
  • Creative Expression and Play
  • Career Satisfaction
  • Financial Wellness

Zig suggested that balance is at the center of success. I believe it is equally true in the pursuit of wellness. When we place the individual spokes on our wheel of wellness, we are seeking to have each one of them be as long and strong as possible, but not to the detriment of other elements.

So here are the elements I believe go into a balanced wellness profile for anyone:

♦ Sense of Purpose

An incredibly big element of wellness is purpose. When we have purpose, or a reason for being, this can be incredibly fulfilling and healthful. Ikigai, a Japanese word that literally means reason for being, provides a way to help define this incredibly important thread in our lives. The infographic below illustrates Ikigai in a very simple and relatable way.

Ikigai, or this sense of purpose, is a central theme in the Blue Zone community of Okinawa. If you haven’t heard that term before, Blue Zone communities are regions of the

world where an above average number of people live healthier and longer lives than usual.

The term first appeared in a National Geographic cover story in 2005 by Dan Buettner and has been followed by extensive research and initiatives funded by National Geographic to explore this phenomenon.

One of the key findings of Buettner’s work, which was founded on research by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, was the determination that the single most important influence on the longevity of the Okinawans is community. In fact, central to every Blue Zones longevity was exactly that – community.

So it seems intuitive that we look at our community relationships, connections, affiliations and contributions when we consider our state of wellness. This is picked up in the Social element of both the Ziglar and the Wellness diagrams, but I feel it needs to be emphasized in our search for our Ultimate State of Wellness.

Strong Community

This is the other side of the social component I’d like to break out and discuss independently.  

In Okinawa, they use the term “Moai” to describe a community group that forms around the individual to provide support ranging from health to spiritual counseling.

The concept of Moai was originally designed to pool the village’s financial resources so if someone needed capital for a project or an emergency, or the village needed some public works completed, they had the resources to help. This concept expanded to become more of a support network, and a cultural tradition for establishing companionship.

In neighborhoods across Okinawa, friends regularly gather to gossip, share advice and experiences, support each other and even provide financial assistance when necessary. They call these groups their Moai

Buettner determined in his research around the Blue Zones that institutions such as the Moai provide social connectedness that help reduce stress, add to people’s happiness and help community members ultimately live longer and stronger lives. Okinawans have their Moais, Sardinians meet with friends for regular happy hours and Adventists in California host weekly meals with their congregation.

Regardless of the location of the Blue Zone, community is the strongest common thread that runs through every Blue Zone Dan Buettner studied. In a recent study of social connectedness and longevity by Harvard Professor Lisa Berkman, she determined that whether it was familial, a tight-knit group of friends, through volunteerism, or some other form of regular social connection, the bond that the group shared was all that mattered in creating greater health and longevity.

community

When we distil the benefits of being a part of a healthy community, the benefits go well beyond longevity. People with a solid support network feel less stressed and generally happier. They are far less likely to develop chronic disease or depression. In general, having strong community ties provides significant benefits for all the participant members.

I encourage you to seek and embrace a community wherever you can. Whether it is building connections through volunteerism, through an interest group, or simply by reaching out to your neighbors, enhanced community connections bring many benefits and wellness follows.

♦ Spiritual Center

Spiritual wellness can be defined as being connected to something greater than yourself and/or having a set of beliefs, morals, principles, and values at your center that provide a sense of purpose and meaning to life. This is particularly true when we use those principles to guide our actions.

It is natural that your spiritual center will usually fluctuate throughout your life. It is also logical that many aspects of overall wellness will contribute to your spiritual wellness, e.g. practicing self-care, being positive and optimistic, volunteering, social connections, and having a sense of belonging.

spiritual center

By growing our spiritual wellness, we gain the power and capacity to make decisions and choices more easily; it provides a foundation during periods of change; and enhances the resilience, grace and inner peace with which we face adversity. 

Having a spiritual foundation in our lives can help us heal when suffering from a physical or mental challenge.

Some measures of spiritual wellness can include having a basis for hope and a place to find comfort during the tough times, having meaning and purpose in your life, being tolerant of other people’s views, making time for personal reflection, and having guiding principles that help direct your actions and decisions.

Some of the ways to enhance your spiritual wellness include practicing meditation or yoga, praying or taking part in organized religion, taking time each day to contemplate life, journaling, spending time in nature, breathing practices and more.

Regardless of the path, finding your spiritual center is a journey and not a destination so don’t forget to stop and smell the roses along the way.

♦ Emotional Balance

Emotional wellness was defined by the Wellness Center of Vanderbilt University as “the awareness of feelings and their expression in a healthy manner with stability of mood, sense of self, positive attitude toward others, and the ability to cope with stress”.

emotional balance

There is no doubt that emotions have a strong influence on your mood, thoughts, attitudes, resilience, decisions and interests throughout your life. 

Your sense of self and in turn your attitude toward others underpins the quality of the relationships you develop.

As we’ve explored previously, if we have healthy and positive relationships with others and a sense of community as a result of these relationships, emotional wellness usually follows. 

One of the biggest components in emotional wellness is balance.

As with all things in balance, different elements counter each other and for example during times of heightened stress, having confidence that this too shall pass will help you navigate those tough times. 

Also, accepting others and forgiving mistakes they may have made allows you to move forward and maintain healthy relationships.  Equally, you need to accept the mistakes that litter your past and move on with a determination to learn and ultimately benefit from these mistakes.

Having a positive mental attitude can contribute greatly to your ability to find the good in people, mistakes and events that may otherwise derail your emotional wellness.

positive mindset

Being aware of and expressing your feelings in healthy ways also reflects your own self-confidence and can create trust in your relationships. Expressing your feelings may limit potential outbursts that come with contained emotions spilling over.

Very few people go through life with complete equanimity, but if we seek ways to positively manage our stress and maintain healthy relationships, levelling out our moods will be a healthy byproduct.

♦ Healthy Relationships

Healthy relationships underpin wellness on so many levels. This often falls under the social category on wellness wheels, but I feel it deserves its own space. Healthy relationships nurture us, complement us, grow us and challenge us, all of which is incredibly beneficial to our overall wellness.

But how do you gauge your relationships? I don’t think volume gives perspective to the wellness benefits we glean from our relationships. The introvert may treasure fewer relationships whereas the gregarious extrovert may see more friends as their happy place.

know thyself

I think the measure of healthy relationships is complex, but regardless of the components, malleability is a key element that relationships demand and exercise in us. We are constantly morphing as humans based on a myriad of influences, both physical and psychological, and both parties need to adapt regularly to keep the rhythm of the relationship flowing.

Other facets of healthy relationships include communication, trust, interdependence (not codependence), respect and support of each other.

I speak to a number of these facets in my book, “The Affinity Principle”. This book is about mindful leadership, which if distilled down, is about building and nurturing healthy relationships with your team and other parties with whom you work.

In essence, maintaining healthy relationships demands flexibility and adaptability.

It demands that we are present and attentive. Maintaining strong healthy relationships is rarely seamless and does require effort, but the benefits of healthy friendships and partnerships far outweigh any efforts we make to meet in the middle.

healthy relationships
♦ Healthful Nutrition and Hydration

Again, I am intentional in choosing the word “nutrition” over “diet” or such. What our body needs is nutrition, not diet. Yes, diet is common vernacular for what we eat, but the term diet also has a lot of negative connotations, especially for those of us who have gone on diets and failed to maintain or succeed in terms of the diet goals.

I also chose “hydration”, because we may drink a lot of fluids and yet may not be functionally hydrating our body. Drinks like coffee, tea, alcohol, and soda can have a diuretic effect on your body so even though you’re drinking fluids you may not be effectively hydrating your body, in fact in some cases you may actually be dehydrating your body.

Let’s look at nutrition first. Nutrition provides fuel for our body to move and perform its countless functions. That fuel converts to energy and even though the body needs a complex mix of vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and carbohydrates, varied and healthful nutritional choices can provide those components pretty readily.

What is deemed to be healthful nutritional choices will always raise a lot of competing opinions and thoughts, but there are a couple of simple rules of thumb to help steer you in the right direction.

1. Eat low on the food chain. This is a simple way to differentiate between food and foodlike substances. Foodlike substances have been heavily processed and contain a lot of ingredients of which many are unrecognizable to the average person reading the ingredient label.

healthy nutrition and hydration

In fact, the more ingredients a food product has, the less likely it is going to be great for your body. Food in its simplest state is more likely to be good for you than food that has a lot of additives and has  gone through a lot of processing and refinement. Our bodies typically love vegetables, fruits, whole foods and foods rich in fiber. Most of us are aware of what foods are healthy and making more healthy choices over time will pay great dividends.

2. Eat a variety of foods. Diets that promote one food to lose weight are not sustainable and are unlikely to succeed. At the simplest level, your body will not get the requisite vitamins, minerals and components needed for balanced nutrition when you consume a very limited array of foods.

3.  Eat smaller portions. What I mean by this is to spread your nutritional input out and avoid big meals where possible.

I believe eating too much in a sitting, especially at night, is tough on your body so I recommend eating small meals throughout the day.

4. Try and keep your input balanced against your output. Meaning, if you exercise a lot, eat more. If you don’t do a lot of exercise, eat less. Your body will seek balance and if you listen to it, you can usually feel when you’re out of balance.

5. That leads me to my last point on nutrition. Avoid the scales. Judging your state of health or wellness by the scales is fraught with peril. I suggested in the previous point to listen to your body. Too often we ignore our body’s many signals and sometimes warnings because we don’t listen to how we feel. Those are hard things to grasp when we’ve ignored our body’s many cries and too often listened to its cravings. Simple examples of listening to your body would be if you feel energetic, that’s a good sign. If you feel lethargic, that’s probably a bad sign.

hydration

Speaking of lethargy, very often we can feel lethargic when we are dehydrated.

Hydration is critical to all bodily functions and when we are well hydrated, our sleep, cognitive function and mood can all improve.

Hydration of the body is crucial for many reasons. It helps regulate our body temperature, deliver nutrients to cells, provide joint lubrication, and allows our organs to function effectively.

All these things can help improve our energy, promote healthy weight loss, improve skin tone, remove toxins from our system, and help keep us regular.

When it comes to choosing what to drink water is the stand out. Obviously water is in many drinks, but other components in those drinks, such as sugar, caffeine and alcohol can offset the hydration benefits of the water by itself. 

There are also a lot of mixed opinions about sports drinks. When we dehydrate we also lose electrolytes, especially sodium.

Even though many sports drinks have sodium and other electrolytes added, they can also contain sugar, artificial colors, flavors and additives. Mineral water usually contains sodium and can be a refreshing drink as well as replace some of the sodium lost during activity. Pure coconut water is also a great alternative electrolyte drink that doesn’t contain any unwanted ingredients.

The level of your activity and many other factors influence the amount of water you need, but if you feel lethargic, have a headache, or dry mouth, then you should try drinking more water. Instead of defaulting to a cup of coffee when you’re feeling tired, maybe try a glass of water and see if you feel the difference.

Essentially, we should drink plenty of water each day, and that may constitute 8-10 glasses or so. 

Your body is an incredibly powerful system that will work very well, given the right ingredients.

When you’re thoughtful about your food and water intake, you’ll notice a positive difference in many aspects of your life.

cognitive function
♦ Cognitive Function

I have chosen cognition over intellectual, or mental, or other possibly more recognizable terms. I’ve done this because I think “intellectual” is a term often used to refer to someone who has above average intelligence, and “mental” comes with its own set of connotations. 

Whereas cognitive function covers the processes I think we should be attributing to the proper functioning of our brain, including gaining knowledge and comprehension.

Things like thinking, knowing, memory, judgment and problem solving are critical cognitive functions. Language, creativity, perception and planning are all higher-level cognitive functions that are essential in our wellness equation.

We should be treasuring and nurturing these processes by challenging and stimulating our mind constantly.

For me, reading and writing are great ways for me to improve my language and in turn express my thoughts. Just as our food choices impact our bodily functions, what we read matters, too.

Ultimately, what we feed into our mental furnace will determine the quality of the output. 

Equally, when we challenge our mind with new ideas, synthesizing information and integrating this with new knowledge, our brains fire up in positive and fruitful ways. Much like our muscles, when we exercise our brain, it gets stronger.

The retention of this knowledge and learning is also critical. With memory impairment at epidemic levels, we must consciously exercise this cognitive function and give our brain the nutrients and environmental stimulation necessary to maintain optimal memory where possible, especially in our later years.

be present

Additionally, using our senses fully to perceive information and interact with our environment are both cognitive functions.

So often, our senses become dulled and limited by lack of use.

When we consider how people with an impaired sense attune their other senses to bridge the gap, we realize the potential each sense has to provide invaluable feedback about the world around us.

One cognitive function that appears to be waning at a cataclysmic rate is that of attention, or focus.

I have struggled on some level with ADHD my entire life. When I was a kid, I was seen as full of energy and hard to contain, or inattentive.

Knowing now that I have an attention deficit, I have worked diligently to exercise focus and improve my ability to be present.

With the onslaught of attention-grabbing bites of information swirling past us at incredible rates, it is no wonder that attention deficit has risen to epidemic proportions.

Avoiding or slowing this cacophony of tantalizing tidbits is tough and so exercising our ability to focus on a conversation, a task, or even a thought process is critical. Becoming aware of this challenge was the first step for me. Exercising my attention muscle remains challenging, but fulfilling when I can minimize the number of intermissions my brain takes in any given process.

sleep

One other process I feel we need to nurture for cognitive wellness is thought.

Thought is critical to decision making, creativity, problem solving, reasoning, visioning and more. Be a thought leader in your own right. Stretch your imagination, build your problem-solving prowess, engage in cerebral ruminations and welcome discussions and debates with friends, family and colleagues as intellectual pursuits that will help all involved build their cognitive wellness.

Last, but not least, I want to touch on the strongest factor in nurturing healthy cognitive function – sleep.

Quality, rhythmic sleep is critical to rejuvenate and maintain good cognitive wellness.

I have worked with people who were incredibly sleep deprived and witnessed the debilitating effect lack of sleep can have even on highly functioning individuals.

Yet, getting good sleep has become more and more elusive for many people. Given that we often spend more time sleeping than any other single activity we need to give it due reverence.

When we sleep, we heal.

When we sleep, we rejuvenate. When we sleep, our bodies and our minds renew and rebuild. To me, good sleep is one of the non-negotiables for health and ultimate wellness. To this end, I have written a separate article on sleep, which dives deeper into this critical part of wellness. 

conscious movement
♦ Conscious Movement

I choose the word “movement”, because exercise and fitness activities bring up negative connotations for many people. I’m not trying to disguise exercise, but do want to reframe it.

Our bodies are designed to move and every time we get up, sit down, go up a set of steps, or walk to the corner store, we are moving and in turn exercising.

Being conscious and taking advantage of these inherent opportunities to move during our everyday activities is hugely beneficial. The worst thing we can do for our overall wellness is to stop moving. Often, when an elderly person has an accident and for example breaks a hip, this can be a death knell for them, simply because they stop moving for an extended period of time and their body suffers.

When I began in the fitness industry, aerobic exercise was in vogue and the more you did and more intense the exercise was, the better.

Much research and learning has transpired between then and now and we now know that exercise can be beneficial in small amounts and light doses.

My strong recommendation is simply to move regularly, choose to walk where you have the choice, choose to take the steps and not the elevator, find ways to incorporate movement throughout your day and you will benefit from these small changes in how you approach movement.

If you choose to move more by finding a form of exercise to do, choose something that is as enjoyable as possible for you.

If you can’t find any form of exercise that you find palatable, then find a reason to motivate movement in spite of your reticence.

movement

An example would be getting a dog. If you need to walk the dog multiple times a day so that it can do its business and get some exercise, this can be a formidable addition to your daily movement patterns.

A few of tips I would add to moving as much as possible:

1. Aim for some variety in the movement you choose. This is good for your body and for your mind. As they say: “Variety is the spice of life”.

2. If you’re just starting out, start out slowly. Be kind to yourself and your body by building your movement over time. Going too hard, too soon, often leads to unnecessary soreness and fatigue.

3. Try and put some movement options in your mix that are not weather dependent. This offers a better opportunity to maintain some movement during inclement weather.

4. If you like keeping score, track your movement. Whether you use an app or device to track your steps, record your miles on the bike, or simply journal your movement activities, if this helps motivate you, just do it.

5. Lastly, I really recommend finding an exercise partner, group, or option where you may add a social component to your exercise. This can also help motivate you on the tough days and may help you add to your community.

SIDE NOTE: As much as moving often is incredibly beneficial, having restful sleep is complementary to movement. In fact, moving more will improve the quality of your sleep and enjoying  good sleep will benefit your desire and ability to move.  

THE DONUT ECONOMICS MODEL

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | Simple Management Practice to Elevate Your Leadership | MBWA

Source: Kate Raworth

♦ Balanced Environment

What we surround ourselves with, where we choose to live, the conditions we create or that we are ensconced in, extending from our home out to the planet at large, describes the environment in which we live.

When considering that very broad definition, I have found that the

Donut Economics Model provides a great template for reviewing and balancing human and planetary environmental factors.  

Kate Raworth, the author of “Donut Economics”, describes these planetary environmental boundaries thus:

“The environmental ceiling consists of nine planetary boundaries (climate change, ocean acidification, stratospheric ozone depletion, disruption of the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, global freshwater use, land use changes, biodiversity loss, aerosol loading in the atmosphere, and chemical pollution), as set out by Rockstrom et al, beyond which lie unacceptable environmental degradation and potential tipping points in Earth systems.”

Raworth added the human wellbeing dimensions, drawing on the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world, which are derived from internationally agreed upon minimum social standards.

environmental balance

Raworth’s 12 dimensions included quality food, clean water and sanitation, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic development, social equity, quality housing, social network, peace and justice, and political voice.

She concluded that:

“Between social and planetary boundaries lies an environmentally safe and socially just space in which humanity can thrive.”

This seems most apt as a way to encapsulate our own sense of what a balanced environment should look like for us. 

When considering our environment we obviously must start in our own backyard, but our awareness and actions must extend out to the planetary boundaries Raworth drew upon for her model.

Our environmental wellness is tenuous at best when we ignore our impact on the planet that we live on.

creativity
♦ Creative Expression and Play

One of the differentiating characteristics of humans from other species is our ability to be incredibly creative.

I believe that in order to thrive, each of us must seek an outlet for creative expression in our lives. 

Many of us feel that we don’t innately possess the creative gene, but in truth we all have creativity wired into us. As humans, we are hardwired to solve problems and that in its simplest form involves creativity. From a very early age, we are curious and creative. We constantly solve the mysteries of the world around us and are not afraid of making mistakes.

Over time, this  creative drive is whittled away by external forces; 

fear often replaces wonder and we end up pigeonholing creativity as the domain of the artist or musician.

Yet, in its simplest form we are actually being creative every day when we choose the clothes we’re going to wear, the route we’ll take to work and even what we’ll cook for dinner. From a neuroplasticity standpoint the more we vary these things, for example our route to get to work, the more we stimulate the creative elements of our brain.

Being open to new possibilities, remaining curious about the world around us, and being willing to make mistakes and accept that they are the ultimate learning tool are all prerequisites to igniting creativity within. If we embrace these attributes, creativity and its many benefits will follow.

jana gamble art studio

In the next section on Career Satisfaction, I mention Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and the state of “Flow”. This state is a wonderful byproduct of the creative journey. Flow is achieved when we are immersed in an activity and time and distractions disappear. Most often, this state is one that is achieved when we are being creative. 

Csikszentmihalyi wrote extensively about Flow and in one of his works,  “Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention,” he defines creativity as,

“ . . . a central source of meaning in our lives . . .  most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity . . .  [and] when we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.”

This sums it up pretty well. Whether you’re tinkering in your garage fixing an old piece of equipment, molding some clay, drawing, gardening, or even building a sandcastle on the beach, when creativity is flowing, so are you.

SIDE NOTE: A few years ago, my wife, Jana, was encouraged to explore her creativity in order to help heal from a chronic pain condition. She was a creative professional, but wasn’t creatively expressing herself outside of her work. She began tinkering with paint and canvases and seeking a medium through which to express herself. The number of cast aside canvases and attempts at new creative mediums mounted and so did her creative juices.

Amazing works of art started flowing from her and we ended up building an art studio to allow her to continue to create. Now, she has commissioned works, shows in galleries, and sells (and gives away) many pieces.

But the journey was not about selling her art, it was about creativity. For her, it proved to be a very powerful healing tool. She demonstrated what I am encouraging you to do.

Be willing to make mistakes, explore without fear, play with abandon and many wonderful things will ensue.

flow state
♦ Career Satisfaction

This topic is partially included in the element of Purpose, but deserves some specific focus as it may account for a significant part of your life.

As we explored in the infographic for Ikigai,

balancing what you are good at and love doing with the ability to earn money and cover your needs is a delicate dance. 

Very often, we find ourselves out of balance when we’re not making enough money to be relatively free of stress (even if we’re doing something we love), or alternately making a lot of money but with no joy attached to that pursuit.

Some people are blessed with finding their life’s purpose in a career that bears fruit, whereas others wander many paths without unraveling this mystery over the course of their lifetime.

Choosing the career path that will bring the most fulfilment for you is not easy.

Occasionally, you will meet people who always knew what they wanted to be, but more often people struggle to find that sweet spot that gives them career satisfaction and financial fulfilment.

Most importantly, know thyself. If you can make a difference doing something that you are gifted to do, or have a particular forte in, work can become easier and more fulfilling.

In my book, “The Affinity Principle,” I talk about a concept called flow.

The flow state was defined by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi as a state of complete immersion in an activity.

While in this mental state, people are completely involved and focused on what they are doing. When this occurs in our chosen career, it is an incredible gift. 

You can chase the perks, status and salary, but if what you do doesn’t resonate within you, finding that Zen state of flow will likely be an elusive goal.

financial wellness
♦ Financial Wellness

Wellness in any realm requires balance and a holistic approach. Financial wellness is no different and as with the other elements, one size does not fit all. Wealth does not directly correlate to financial wellness. When measuring your financial wellness, you need to consider factors such as:

  • Are you suffering from, or relatively free of financial stress?
  • Are you making improvements to your financial wellness by saving more, reducing debt, and/or budgeting?
  • Do you have, or are you building, financial knowledge that helps guide your financial behaviors?
  • Do you have a financial plan to reach your desired state of financial wellness? 
  • What is your overall level of personal satisfaction with your current finances?

These are some simple guides you can use to review your financial wellness. Most importantly, keep your financial wellness in perspective. It is not directly proportionate to your net worth; it is directly proportionate to your overall level of personal satisfaction with your current finances.

SIDE NOTE: In studies, it has been determined that the level of happiness a person experiences elevates with income up to a certain point. Researchers have found that happiness doesn’t change much once that threshold of income has been reached. Andrew T. Jebb, the lead author on a study that defined these thresholds across the world said,

“There’s a certain point where money seems to bring no more benefits to well-being in terms of both feelings and your evaluation.”

financial wellness
♦ Conclusion

When we focus on these fundamental elements and consciously try and advance those areas where we lack balance or struggle in our day to day, these efforts will also be rewarded in other areas of our lives.

When we move more, inevitably we tend to feel better about ourselves. Often, with movement, improved nutrition will follow. If we consciously nurture our relationships, community may build behind these enhanced connections, and so forth.

Simply taking stock and applying some of this knowing can begin to shift the momentum in our lives.

Change will come incrementally at first, and grow on these foundations of self-awareness. 

When we approach this process knowing that it is a process, small changes build on each other and can create substantial positive change over time. Setbacks are inevitable, but by maintaining a positive mindset around the change you seek, momentum will grow. As you build and balance these elements, unanticipated rewards will follow. 

Related:

“How to Improve Your Quality of Life by 33% Today”

“What Does a Healthy Community Look Like Beyond COVID?”

“Wellness Real Estate Return On Wellness (ROW) = Return On Investment (ROI)”

“Does Our Built Environment Affect Our Relationships?”

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Red Oceans, Blue Zones, and You!

Simple strategies for leaders to care for self and others during turbulent times and always.

The business environment is roiling; stress is at an all-time high; and yet some leaders seem to swim those troubled waters with equanimity and ease. After 35 plus years as a leader and senior executive in the healthcare, fitness, and wellness industries, I have learned one indisputable truth: one size does not fit all when it comes to a healthy lifestyle and self-care. What works for one person may not work for another. This is not another exercise more and eat less lecture. It is a simple set of lifestyle options for leaders that can enhance the quality of your life, your leadership, and positively impact those around you. I will take you through a series of unique learnings from my personal journey through the wellness and healthcare community and groundbreaking research that has definitively illustrated simple ways to incorporate taking better care of yourself into your daily routine, without adding a bunch of things onto your daily To-Do List. In turn, the simple changes you incorporate into your self-care will positively influence those people you care about within your family and community. If you’ve ever struggled to maintain an exercise program or incorporate the latest diet into your life, this is the session for you. No rigorous exercise routines, unrealistic diets, or magic pills. Just simple ways to transition your lifestyle from struggle, frustration, and guilt to seamless integration into your every day.

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The Affinity Principle™ by Grant Gamble presents a formula for business success through a people-centric, mindful leadership approach.

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The Unique Value of Executive Coaching

The Unique Value of Executive Coaching

The Unique Value of Executive Coaching

Grant Ian GambleBy Grant Ian Gamble | June 23, 2020

Grant Ian Gamble is a business growth consultant, executive coach, author, and keynote speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth.

In a recent study by Stanford’s Center for Leadership Development and Research, nearly 100% of CEO’s surveyed said they enjoy the process of receiving coaching and leadership advice. Yet only one-third of those same leaders receive any formal coaching.

Of those CEO’s receiving coaching, 78% said it was their own idea to embark on the coaching journey. 21% said the catalyst came from the Board.

When asked what the key areas they were most seeking improvement in were, the cohort suggested the following:

o   Sharing leadership and delegation

o   Conflict management 

o   Team building 

o   Mentoring

Executive Coaching | Grant Ian Gamble | Author, Speaker, Business Coach | Blog | The Unique Value of Executive Coaching

From a Board perspective, talent development, mentoring, and succession planning were critical skills for their leadership to develop. They also saw sharing leadership and delegation skills at paramount for their leadership team.

It is obvious from this study that leaders and organizations worldwide are recognizing the power and value of executive coaching. 

It is also apparent that as executive coaching becomes more commonplace, it is no longer limited to the CEO’s of massive organizations. 

More and more leaders and entrepreneurs are turning to coaching, even in the early stages of a company’s journey. That’s not surprising, given how effective executive coaching can be in leadership development and how critical those high growth times are in a company’s lifecycle. 
Executive Coaching | Grant Ian Gamble | Author, Speaker, Business Coach | Blog | The Unique Value of Executive Coaching

A trusted and confidential relationship with a coach creates a unique opportunity for leaders to reduce the isolation they often feel and to positively transform behaviors, beliefs, habits, and mindset. This ultimately amplifies and enhances the leader’s performance and the company’s viability. 

When done well, executive coaching can be an excellent leadership development investment. 

When you decide to embark on the coaching journey, there is a lot to consider. Finding a great coach that resonates with you is critical. Equally critical is your coachability. No matter how good a coach is, if you don’t check your ego at the door and be open and vulnerable, the quality of the coach is irrelevant.

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If you are considering embarking on this journey, here are some of the key benefits you might expect from executive coaching:

1. An Independent Sounding Board

 If your coach is really doing their job, they will be honest and forthright with you. You will be able to talk with them about personal and professional challenges and opportunities and in return receive open and honest feedback and support. This can reduce feelings of isolation and provide much-needed insights that are hard to gather without trusted third parties. The ability of the coach to be a truth-teller is critical and this rests in the fact that they are not relying on you for their income, nor are they a family member. This gives your coach the freedom to drop truth bombs when needed.

2. Self-Awareness

Research has shown that self-awareness in leaders is highly correlated with organizational effectiveness and profitability. Team members prefer to follow leaders who see themselves clearly and are willing to be vulnerable and transparent with the team. When you begin the coaching journey, your coach will want to gather feedback from your peers and team to get a sense of how you are perceived presently. 

Many coaches use behavioral assessment tools to complement the data they receive from their peers and team. Throughout the coaching engagement, your coach will share those perceptions of you based on observations, interactions with others, and any other tools they employ. This compilation of data points helps your coach provide effective feedback and coaching to help you build a clearer awareness of where you’re strong and where growth opportunities exist. 

NOTE: When I am working with senior executives, I rely on a Behavioral Strategy for Accomplishment instrument which provides an in-depth description of your behavioral patterns, and helps you be aware of and understand your behavioral style. I do this in conjunction with Tom Perrin, a Ph.D. in Psychology, who spends a total of three hours, one-on-one with you to help further clarify your key strengths and opportunities for growth. 

3. Leverage Your UVP’s

Everyone has Unique Value Propositions and as a leader, it is critical to recognize and leverage these strengths within your organization. A perceptive and supportive coach can help you see the uniqueness and value of these capabilities and to help you lean into them to enhance your impact on your team and your company. 

4. Help Define and Refine Your Goals

We all have goals and dreams, but often over time clarity fades and focus gets distorted around what is inherently important to you. An executive coach helps you bring focus to your goals and offers support in their achievement. As a consistent resource to you, your coach can bring those goals back into focus when needed and can also help you re-define and refine them as necessary. Your coach can also help equip you to develop focus around the goals and priorities within your company.

5. Processes

A skilled coach will have processes for helping define key issues and challenges. These tools and questions help you focus and prioritize the core challenges and opportunities that you face at any point in time. Sometimes, simply prioritizing what you tackle next and keeping a focus on that task is enough to positively impact your trajectory. The coach should also have tools to help you in processing these key focus areas.  

6. Skills and Knowledge

A talented coach will provide insights and knowledge that augments or complements that which you bring to the table. They will also help you develop or enhance skills that are necessary for you to succeed in your environment. The goal of the coach is to ultimately amplify your leadership and management skills and potential, and operational wherewithal.

7. Adapt Responses and Priorities

As your company grows and morphs, it will go through fundamental changes that require you to grow and adapt your responses and priorities. Your coach provides insights and counsel to help you navigate these many phases of change and growth.  As you move from working hard “in your business” to working hard “on your business,” your executive coach will help and support you in these transitions. At times, this may mean bringing in complementary team members to expand your ultimate potential. The consummate executive coach can be a powerful resource to help define and divine healthy transitions and additions to your team.

8. Clarity of Team

As your company grows and your team expands, your ability to keep team members in perspective can get distorted by familiarity, distance, and/or time. It is critical for you, as the leader, to keep perspective on the capabilities and deficits existing in your key team members. As you make critical executive decisions around promotions, changing roles and responsibilities, disciplinary actions, and even dismissals, a perceptive coach can offer insights and reflections on those important aspects of your team as an independent resource and an outside perspective. Often, talking through thoughts and concerns around team members with an independent and confidential resource can help give you clarity.

9. Embrace Diversity

We tend to attract and hire people like ourselves. While that feels good at the time, the need to attract complementary and diverse team members is critical. A talented coach can help you see any of these monochromatic threads, if they exist, and help you expand your ability to attract and retain a diverse pool of talent. 

Diversity in your team does not only relate to demographics, it also relates to work style and behavioral tendencies such as assertiveness, sociability, consistency, detail orientation, and self-confidence. An experienced and intuitive coach can help you build a diverse, yet homogeneous team that is well rounded, collaborative, and effective.

10. Self-Care

Bookending self-awareness is self-care! Often, we’re busy taking care of everyone else but ourselves. The coach can help you review your habits and behaviors around self-care and attune you to ways to build positive momentum in your quest for good health and life balance.

11. Confidentiality

Confidentiality is sacrosanct in the coach/client relationship. Any coaching agreement should detail the confidentiality that is also implicit in the relationship. Being able to speak frankly and in confidence with your coach provides the ability to explore areas that you may not be able to discuss with team members, stakeholders, or your family.

12. Results

The ultimate upside of engaging a talented coach is the results. An effective coach is going to help you gain clarity around personal and professional objectives and opportunities. They can help you leverage and build on your strengths. Your coach can be that resource that helps you move to the next level organizationally and personally. 

 

When it comes to picking a coach, it is much like hiring any team member. You are looking for someone who exemplifies the values you see as important. Someone who doesn’t just talk the talk, but they also walk the walk. 

I have worked in the consulting and coaching realm for many years and have seen consultants and coaches who represented themselves as subject matter experts, having never truly experienced or delivered the results they were purporting they could get their clients to achieve. 

I’ve seen people enter the coaching and consulting realm because they couldn’t make it in the areas they were positioning themselves to consult in. That is obviously a recipe for disaster if that coach or consultant expounds the philosophies that have caused them to exit that very same sector.

Grant Ian Gamble | Author, Speaker, Business Coach | Blog | The Unique Value of Executive Coaching | Expert

If you want a coach who can help you grow in the areas in which you need help and support, you want a coach that has truly succeeded and mastered those areas themselves. If you know the coach, have seen them over time, and you know them to be subject matter experts in the areas in which you need help, that is ideal. If you don’t know a coach that is accomplished in the areas you need help, then you need to go through an interview and hiring process, as you would with any other role you need to be filled within your organization.

There is one other critical element to this coaching puzzle, and that is you!

You need to have a willingness to not only invest the money, but the determining element of a coaching relationship is the coachability of the leader. So, what does a coachable leader look like? 

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Here are a few things you should ascertain about your coachability before committing to an executive coaching relationship:

1. A Willingness to Learn

Just by embarking on the journey of finding an executive coach, you’re expressing a willingness to learn. That willingness needs to be underwritten by a thirst to engage in the exercises and embrace the learnings your coach is bringing to the table. That may involve reading books or articles, completing exercises, seeking other resources, and actively pursuing learning on an ongoing basis.

2.   Personal Accountability

It is critical for the leader to take responsibility and be accountable in the process. As the coach gets a clearer and clearer picture of you and your business, as a trusted third party, they will likely bring some things to the table that could make you feel uncomfortable. Owning those issues or behaviors is tough. As the leader, it is unlikely that many, if any, of your team members will be perfectly frank with you about any issues or behaviors that they feel are negative or destructive to your organization. If your coach brings some things to light you don’t want to hear, you need to be able to process those observations and own them when appropriate. 

3. Making the Time

Allocating and prioritizing time for coaching is critical. Coaching is professional development and needs to be a part of the leader’s allotment of their time. Much of what coaching is doing is helping you work on yourself and on your business. Too often our time as leaders is eaten up working in the business. When we commit and adhere to the commitment of time for coaching, this creates leverage, and many of the things that were repeatedly challenging you as a leader get resolved and disappear from your every day, actually lightening your load. Equally important is making the time to do the homework. At times, your coach will ask you to complete a task or assignment and taking the time to complete these activities on the timeline agreed to is imperative in the coaching journey.

4. Vulnerability, Transparency, and Trust

It’s hard to share some of the most challenging aspects of our work and our personal lives. These admissions are often uncomfortable and confronting. When you’re working with a coach, the very nature of the relationship demands a degree of vulnerability and transparency that allows the coach to guide you through the process toward real and systemic growth and change.

As a result of the confidentiality and intentionality of the coach working through these issues and challenges with you, a relationship of trust will grow. This trust will be underwritten by the authenticity, logic, and empathy of the coach and this is the basis of the Triangle of Trust. 

More and more, leaders are acknowledging the power of coaching in their personal and professional development. If you feel you are ready to embark on a coaching journey or are not getting everything out of the journey you’re already on, use this guide to determine your level of readiness and to help find the executive coach that best fits your needs and sensibilities. 

The investment will be well worth your time!

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Red Oceans, Blue Zones and You!

The business environment is roiling; stress is at an all-time high; and yet some leaders seem to swim those troubled waters with equanimity and ease. After 35 plus years as a leader and senior executive in the healthcare, fitness, and wellness industries, I have learned one indisputable truth: one size does not fit all when it comes to a healthy lifestyle and self-care. What works for one person may not work for another. This is not another exercise more and eat less lecture. It is a simple set of lifestyle options for leaders that can enhance the quality of your life, your leadership, and positively impact those around you.

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Send an email via the form below or call to set up a free consultation. LET US KNOW IF YOU'D like to collaborate with us. MINDFUL LEADERSHIP PODCAST COMING SOON, BE OUR GUEST!

Or call 434.996.5510

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Business Consultant | Coach |The Affinity Principle | Best Seller Logo

The Affinity Principle™ by Grant Gamble presents a formula for business success through a people-centric, mindful leadership approach.

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4 Tips to Proactively Address the Stress of COVID-19

4 Tips to Proactively Address the Stress of COVID-19

4 Tips to Proactively Address the Stress of COVID-19

Grant Ian GambleBy Grant Ian Gamble | June 3, 2020

Grant Ian Gamble is a business growth consultant, author and keynote speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth.

A good friend of mine expressed how overwhelmed she felt amid all the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many of us, I feel her pain.

Stress levels across the globe are rising to epidemic proportions and long after COVID-19’s debris is trailing in our wake, there’ll be residual side effects of COVID-19 from stress itself.

Well after the dust from 9/11 had settled in the Financial District of NYC, stress continued to take its toll on people affected by this event, directly and indirectly. Health officials have struggled to quantify the exact impact of stress and PTSD post 9/11, but it is a given that it’s in the hundreds of thousands of people.

When we look at the all-pervasive nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that the global residual effect from stress and PTSD will be in the millions, if not the hundreds of millions. Everyone from health care workers through to the now unemployed are under unprecedented stress.

Until we find our ‘new norm,’ the impact of stress from the pandemic will continue to climb and manifest in various forms, ranging from anxiety to PTSD.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | The Affinity Formula | 4 Tips to Proactively Address the Stress of COVID-19 | Business People

We do have a choice though.

How you choose to view the potential impact of stress on your health has a synergistic relationship with the actual impact you may see from stress-related illness.

In other words, your perception of how stress will affect your health is a more reliable predictor of the actual manifestation of health-related issues from stress.

This assertion was documented in a study by the National Center for Health Statistics of almost 29,000 respondents. The survey examined levels of stress and respondents’ perception of how that stress impacted their health.

In this study, those respondents that reported a lot of stress, AND perceived that stress had a major impact on their health had a 43% increased risk of premature death. Whereas, those respondents that reported a lot of stress, BUT perceived that stress did not have a major impact on their health had similar premature death rates to those reporting low stress levels.

Based on this study, having a positive belief in your ability to control your health outcomes and taking proactive steps to reduce the impact of stress, is far more likely to lead to better health outcomes.

So, what are some of the things you can do to re-frame and reduce the stress you’re feeling around this ground shaking, mind altering, upside down universe we live in at present?

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4 Tips to Proactively Address the Stress of COVID-19

1. GO OUTSIDE

I spoke in a previous blog about getting outside, in the fresh air. That’s a great start! Get out in the woods, out on the beach, up in the mountains, down and dirty in the garden, or in your local green space. Take your shoes off and do a Richard Gere (see “Pretty Woman” – park scene). It will do you and your immune system a world of good!

2. PRACTICE MINDFUL BREATHING

I have also spoken about breathing and as critical as that is for obvious reasons, mindful breathing has been clinically proven to be able to reduce stress wherever you are. Whether it’s the Wim Hof Method, or the Navy SEAL’s Box breathing technique, breath work can have a significant and immediate impact on the Autonomic Nervous System which controls your response to stress.

3. PRACTICE MEDITATION OR TAKE QUIET TIME

Maybe take some quiet time to contemplate nothing, AKA meditation. The science around the positive impact of this ancient tradition on stress abounds. If that’s not your bag, why not take some quiet time to contemplate good things. Positive things in your life, things to be grateful for, things to look forward to. Either way, when you step back from the pressures of this abnormal state we find ourselves in, we may pull back far enough to look down on all the fuss and realize that it too shall pass.

4. PRACTICE HAVING A POSITIVE MINDSET

Based on this study, probably the most important thing we can do is to be positive about how this will ultimately impact our health. And this positive mental attitude can be underwritten by positive actions that we take, like eating well, exercising and taking good care of ourselves and our loved ones.

For most of us, the silver lining in all of this stress-induced tension is that we’re around close friends and family more than many of us have experienced in a long time.

Get out those rose-colored glasses and see these opportunities to spend time together for what they are: opportunities. 

And while you’re at it, marvel at how your body defends itself; how it heals and rejuvenates itself; how resilient your body can be in the face of all this turmoil and upheaval.

The very knowledge that we can actually dictate the course that stress will take in our lives gives us the ability to step back, take a calming breath and realize that we are ultimately in control of our destiny, and always have been.

Let's Connect!

COURSES & WORKSHOPS | SPEAKING | EVENTS | COACHING

Send an email via the form below or call to set up a free consultation. LET US KNOW IF YOU'D like to collaborate with us. MINDFUL LEADERSHIP PODCAST COMING SOON, BE OUR GUEST!

Or call 434.996.5510

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Business Consultant | Coach |The Affinity Principle | Best Seller Logo

The Affinity Principle™ by Grant Gamble presents a formula for business success through a people-centric, mindful leadership approach.

PEOPLE FIRST, ALWAYS™

5 Steps to Re-Imagine Your Business Post COVID-19

5 Steps to Re-Imagine Your Business Post COVID-19

5 Steps to Re-Imagine Your Business Post COVID-19

(Custom Organizational Visioning Implementation Design)

Grant Ian GambleBy Grant Ian Gamble | June 1, 2020

Grant Ian Gamble is a business growth consultant, author and keynote speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth.

Every one of our clients has one thing in common: they’re all in un-chartered waters.

As we work through the many intricacies and conundrums created by the COVID-19 crisis, we are beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

Our strategy sessions are shifting from crisis management to re-imagining what the future may look like for businesses as restrictions ease, but many unknowns remain.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | The Affinity Formula | 5 Steps to Re-Imagine Your Business Post COVID-19

When we work with a company to plan their next steps, we find that we’re not just helping with strategy, planning and decision making.

We’re now helping with aspects of team re-engagement and self-care, challenges of customer re-acquisition, and the critical elements of how to lead and manage the inevitable re-engineering of their very business.

During this re-engineering phase, we fall back on a five-step process we usually use to onboard clients. This simple process helps us apply our expertise to clients’ unique circumstances in these uncertain times.

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5 Steps to Re-Imagine Your Business Post COVID-19

Step 1: DISCOVER

It’s amazing what we unearth at times. Very often during the discovery phase, issues or challenges that the leaders have, or have not been aware of come up. We appraise the leadership of fundamental issues and opportunities that exist within the company. In this time of ultimate upheaval, this is a great time to re-imagine your business leveraging some of these opportunities or releasing itself from some of these legacies and holdovers.

Step 2: STRATEGIZE

The fluid nature of this current set of circumstances works well with our approach to strategy. We help our clients look out to the horizon while we place singular focus on the near to mid-term needs. In an evolving situation such as we face at present, making plans for 12 months from now is fraught with peril. We work on a rolling three-month plan, which allows for constant course corrections.

Step 3: PLAN

We feel it’s important to separate planning from strategy. Strategy drives the plan, but this is where we take the strategy and put the detail to it. We work with our clients to allocate resources and responsibilities to get the strategy executed. We consider potential issues and put failsafes in place where necessary.

Step 4: IMPLEMENT

This is where the rubber hits the road. Many times consultants step away at this point, but this is where we step up. There are inevitable gaps and hurdles that come up in the implementation process and our goal is to be a resource to ensure maximum traction for the leaders and their team during this critical phase.

Step 5: RE-ASSESS

This part of the process allows us to help monitor progress and determine if the plan is gaining traction. We feel this is a critical part of our responsibilities to help ensure that things are on course and that we realign the plan, as needed, in real-time.

In truth, our clients do not need us to define this process for them.

Where we offer unique value is by bringing external perspectives and experience to the process.

Our team works in a wide variety of industries ranging from manufacturing to professional sports, and this broad portfolio helps us inform our clients in ways that help them re-imagine their business beyond the normal constraints of their particular industry.

Whether you engage consultants to assist you in re-imagining your business or not, this simple five-step process is a very practical way to think about how to reboot your business.

Taking the time to envision your business in the coming months and years will pay dividends as the new world order unfolds.

Let's Connect!

COURSES & WORKSHOPS | SPEAKING | EVENTS | COACHING

Send an email via the form below or call to set up a free consultation. LET US KNOW IF YOU'D like to collaborate with us. MINDFUL LEADERSHIP PODCAST COMING SOON, BE OUR GUEST!

Or call 434.996.5510

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Business Consultant | Coach |The Affinity Principle | Best Seller Logo

The Affinity Principle™ by Grant Gamble presents a formula for business success through a people-centric, mindful leadership approach.

PEOPLE FIRST, ALWAYS™

Increase Your Productivity – Gain Traction Amid Endless Distractions

Increase Your Productivity – Gain Traction Amid Endless Distractions

POWERFUL TECHNIQUE:

Raise Your Productivity & Decrease Your Stress – Gain Traction Amid Endless Distractions

Grant Ian GambleBy Grant Ian Gamble | May 12, 2020

Grant Ian Gamble is a business growth consultant, executive coach, author and keynote speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth.

Many of us are working from home for the first time and it’s amazing the distractions that occur throughout the day. Everything from those chores that nag at us through to kids needing help with their online studies. It can often feel like you’re trying to get a lot of things done and none of them seem to get completed as efficiently as you’d like. As we’ve personally watched our kids tackle online school, it’s been fascinating to witness the same thing happening with them.

Our kids are teenagers and they’re rarely detached from their smartphones. In fact, more often than not, they combine this attention distraction device with their laptop or a TV screen. They would argue that they’re absorbing the content while Snapping and chatting with friends simultaneously, but our observation over time is that they’re definitely paying a price for dividing their attention.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Blog | Raise Your Productivity - Get Traction Away From Distraction | Multitasking

Even though “multimedia-ing” is the new norm, over time splitting your attention between multiple sources of stimulation, combined with the rapid change of pace that these formats provide, deteriorates your ability to carry out more sustained tasks. 

Researchers have proven that comprehension decreases and switching between tasks comes with additional costs, including loss of speed (up to 40%), decreased efficiency (as much as 4x less efficient at completing tasks), and learning does not take place while you’re multitasking. Researchers have also proven conclusively that a higher incidence of errors occurs when we’re dividing our attention between two or more tasks.

As much as we might rail against the notion that we can’t do multiple tasks simultaneously, neuroscientists have made it abundantly clear that the brain cannot process multiple comprehension tasks simultaneously. Rather, the brain switches (just like an on and off button) between tasks. Even when we’re doing very ‘different’ tasks like driving and talking on the phone, performance is impaired significantly. 

Beyond compromised performance, there are many other prices to pay for trying to do multiple tasks at once.

THE DOWNSIDES OF MULTITASKING

1. Negative impact on your short-term memory

Your brain’s “Scratchpad” is used to manage and focus on key information and when you’re multitasking and switching between tasks this short term information storage area becomes garbled and impacts your working memory.

2.  Increased stress and anxiety

Neuroscientists say that multitasking causes you to lose focus and become more anxious. This in turn drains your physical and mental resources.

3. Inhibited creative thinking

When you lose focus and become stressed, you lose your ability to think creatively. You’re taking away the opportunity for your brain to digest or come up with new ideas.

4. Stops you from getting into the flow

Flow is a state where you’re absorbed by the task you’re focusing on. Time becomes irrelevant, stress levels decrease, and productivity increases exponentially.

5. More mistakes and less productivity

Even simple tasks take longer when you’re constantly switching from one activity to another. Mistakes occur and you get less of the things you need to do done.

The key is to accept the fundamental fact that the mind can only do one thing at a time.

And ditch the device when you’re trying to complete a task or be in the moment.

Certainly, this is easier said than done. Brain research indicates that our addiction to texts, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter, Google and email has a physiological cause–the body’s emission of the chemical dopamine (known as the “pleasure seeking molecule”). Our brain gets pleasure when we seek and find new information, so it chemically encourages this behavior (enter dopamine).

If you want to get tasks done at a higher quality level and in less time, it pays dividends to focus on one activity at a time. This is called Single Tasking and there are some real benefits to this concept.

THE UPSIDES TO SINGLE TASKING

1. Single tasking decreases stress levels

When you expend more energy trying to multitask, you end up exhausted and behind on work. When you focus on one thing at a time, you’re more likely to actually finish what you wanted to, and in turn lower stress levels.

2. Single-tasking helps you focus on what you have to do and not all the tempting distractions

Choosing something to focus your attention on for a set period of time means saying no to other distractions. This helps you focus on the important stuff you need to get done and will rebuild your ability to focus.

3. Creativity increases when you single-task

Single-tasking actually frees up brain resources to think more creatively. This helps with idea generation and coming up with solutions to problems.

So how do we change the habit of multi-tasking to a more productive and creative single-tasking process? Here are some tips:

TIPS FOR CHANGING THE HABIT OF MULTITASKING TO MORE PRODUCTIVE AND CREATIVE SINGLE TASKING

1. To break this constant stimulation from your devices, experts say turn off the audio and visual notifications built into your devices that alert you to the presence of more information. But mostly, just draw a line in the sand and commit to one thing at a time.

2.  Another solution is to set a timer for 25 minutes and aim to work continuously for that time. Knowing that you only have to focus for that block of time will help to focus your mind. After 25 minutes, set a timer for a five or ten-minute break. Rinse and repeat. Just like building muscles you can build up the blocks of time and stay focused longer.

NOTE: When you take a break, grab a drink or a snack, get some fresh air and stretch, check your SnapChat or whatever it is you follow or like, but don’t get bogged down in another task – this is meant to be a break where your mind can wander. When your break timer goes off then come back to the task you were working on before. These breaks are important, because mental performance drops if you don’t take breaks. Decision making slows, attention levels drop, and creativity decreases.

We actually did this exercise with our 15-year-old son and his ability to complete assignments and finish work that he’d been struggling to complete went through the roof. In fact, he started completing a day’s work in just two or three single-tasking blocks of 25 minutes each.

3. One other solution is changing brain states through mindfulness meditation. This can reduce dependence on various forms of multitasking and help improve focus. 

Research has shown how mindfulness meditation improves brain function within 1 ½ to 2 months of practice

A simple breath meditation can be done anytime and anywhere. This is especially helpful if you’re stressed or frustrated. Here’s the basics: 

  1.     Take one DEEP breath in. 
  2.     One SLOW breath out. 

Start with 10 breaths to start with. The longer breath out induces the parasympathetic nervous system. This means you’re changing from a stressed state to a more relaxed and composed state. Use this whenever you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Blog | Raise Your Productivity - Get Traction Away From Distraction | Productivity

Getting focused and productive is much like fitness. You can build your performance and endurance over time. It is critical to reward yourself as you progress and not feel like the ultimate achievement is 100% productivity. Getting to a point where you can complete projects and tasks with a minimum of distractions is a powerful achievement. Remember that the rest-breaks and distractions we mindfully engage in will actually improve your productivity over time. 

The real benefit is that being present and engaged in one activity at a time will enhance your memory, decrease your stress levels, enhance your creativity and improve your efficiency and productivity.

It’s amazing what you can achieve when you can consciously focus your attention. The rewards are enormous.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Blog | Raise Your Productivity - Get Traction Away From Distraction

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