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Academy Speaker Celynn Erasmus on Strategic Refueling For Mental Agility

What we put into our bodies is what we’ll get out of them. Much like a car, you need to refuel before you run out of petrol! The key to maintaining our physical energy and peak mental agility is to switch from being a ‘gorger’ to a ‘grazer’ i.e. instead of waiting till you’re absolutely ravenous and your blood sugar level’s got your hands a-jitter and a headache threatens, and then you wolf down whatever’s easiest (eg. that Snickers bar and another cuppa java from the hallway vending machine), rather ‘graze’ light meals or smart snacks at regular intervals throughout the day.

When your blood sugar level drops, the front of your brain processing ability (the pre-frontal cortex) deteriorates, robbing you of your ability to think creatively, turning your memory into a sieve, blurring your focus and making you more reactive (irritable mood/ knee-jerk thinking) as opposed to responsive (proactive, clear thinking-through, open-minded.) By eating every 2 – 3 hours, blood sugar levels are stabilized to ensure your energy remains optimised – without hitting those irritable, wolfishly hungry slumps.

Dried fruits and nuts in a heartWhy we call them ‘smart snacks’ is because , firstly, you need to get smart about looking after your energy levels: be prepared by keeping smart snacks at your desk, in your car, in your laptop bag. Secondly, your brain will stay as smart as it deserves to be when you keep your fuel tank topped up. ‘Smart snacks’ should contain 500kJ (120 kcal) and contain minimal sugar, processed flour or hydrogenated fat. eg. 1 piece of fresh fruit, an ounce of cheese, 1 tablespoon nut better, a small handful of dried fruit, a small handful of seeds, nuts or biltong, a small yoghurt. Peak performance and productivity is just a smart snack away!


Jakubowicz D, Froy O, Wainstein J, Boaz M. (2012). Meal timing and composition influence ghrelin levels, appetite scores and weight loss maintenance in overweight and obese adults. Steroids. 77 (1), 323-331.

Bantle J, Wylie-Rosett J, Albright A, Apovian C, Clark N, Franz M, Hoogwerf B, Lichtenstein A, Mayer- Davis E. (2008). Nutrition Recommendations and Interventions for Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 31 (1), 61-78.


1 minute video on this topic here:

Breaking the Rules by Sue Knight

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” Richard Branson

At the reviewing discussion of a fishbowl demonstration that I gave to the graduates of a Coaching Associations programme, one of the audience said “But you broke the rules!”

One my exemplars is Moshe Feldenkrais founder of Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement and he regularly said ‘The rule is that there no rules!’ However I recognise that many of the people in the group at this time were new to coaching and this was their first training. And maybe as such it was helpful for them to learn some rules although I would have preferred that they had referred to them as guidelines.  So what are these ‘rules’ and what happens if we break them as I will most certainly be encouraging you to do?

Never interrupt a client

Some years ago there was a documentary about a wife and mother of two small children who had gone missing at Christmas time. Her family were adamant that she would not just have left home but must have been abducted or murdered. Her husband vehemently denied his innocence although he was a prime suspect. He featured prominently in the documentary all the time telling his story. For the following year the case was not solved although the husband remained a prime suspect. At this time a new inspector was appointed to the case who, after watching videos and listening to interviews with the husband brought him back in for questioning. As soon as he started to speak the inspector interrupted him and continued to do so … so that the husband could not tell his story. Within an hour the man had confessed to his wife’s murder.  The inspector had noticed that the man’s story was always the same; there was no elaboration which led him to believe that it was created and not the truth. By interrupting that rehearsed story the man had no alternative explanation and confessed.

So what has this to do with coaching? Well we live our lives by the stories we create by the perceptions we form of our experience. Sometimes those perceptions serve us well and result in ideal or desired outcomes but sometimes they do just the opposite and provide the framework within we keep ourselves constrained. And the telling of the story compounds the situation. Continue reading →

Good Stress, Bad Stress

- By Andrew B Morris

Just like we have good and bad cholesterol, so we have good and bad stress.

Good stress will motivate, give us supreme confidence, stimulate creative thinking and enhance our decision making.

Bad stress will impact our sleep, distort our perspective and judgement, and, if left unchecked for too long, will even lead to burn-out.

So, how do we encourage good stress within ourselves? By ensuring that….

We feel in control of the situation at all times

Continue reading →

Are You Getting Enough?

- By Dr Irshaad Ebrahim

Enough sleep, that is. We spend about a third of our lives asleep. And while scientists think that sleep does something important — something vital for life- research has not yet identified specifically what that is. Nevertheless, we all know when we need to sleep — we can feel this need. We also know when sleep has done its work — we feel rested and that we have slept enough.

Sleep is an active, highly organized sequence of events and physiological conditions made up of two separate and distinctly different states: ‘non-rapid eye movement sleep’ (NREM sleep) and ‘rapid eye movement sleep’ (REM sleep) or dreaming sleep. NREM is further divided into stages 1 – 4 based on the size and speed of the brain waves generated by the sleeper.

The NREM and REM types of sleep are as different from one another as both are different from wakefulness. And while the precise function of REM sleep and dreaming is still not entirely clear, researchers have established a clear correlation between sleep-related illnesses and problems such as hypertension, stroke, congestive heart failure, depression and an overall decreased quality of life. Continue reading →

Laughing Academy

- By Kate Hull Rodgers

Humour comes from the Latin umor: to be fluid and flexible.

Humour in the Workplace is a practical ethos that encourages enjoyment in employment. Humour will increase productivity, communication, teamwork, enthusiasm, staff retention and work life balance. It will decrease stress levels, mediation, training time, and recruitment costs. Quite simply,

people who have fun get more done.

With easy to implement workplace practises, humour is more than telling jokes or forced frivolity. It is the development of a GSOH – both on an individual and organisational level.

What is a GSOH?

Good sense of humour. Every would-like-to-meet advert mentions it, and increasingly, Humour is an attribute sought during the recruitment process. Someone with a GSOH is more likely to work well with a team and less likely to respond to stress in a negative way. Continue reading →

Are You Over-Busy?

- By Pete Wilkinson

Life is very busy for most of us. That’s especially true if you’re running a business or part of an executive team. You probably have far more projects running than you can handle and I bet you also have far too many plates spinning. And with all this going on it isn’t just nice to take time out, it is absolutely essential.

Are you running at full pace and maybe still not getting the results you expected or desire? I would imagine if we were talking face to face right now you could tell me about all the things that you have to do and you would probably say there are not enough hours in the day.

The only way to manage this sort of situation is to take a little time out. It may mean getting up a little earlier or taking time out during the day or even later in the day. But it is essentialContinue reading →

Let’s Talk About The ‘S’ Word

- By Tiffany Kay

Over the years, the use of the word ‘spiritual’ in business has been largely frowned upon. Spirituality is often equated with being floaty, unrealistic or ungrounded. In a corporate world that still tends to value analysis and reasoning over intuition and instinct, we have been actively encouraged to leave any spiritual practices out of the boardroom.

We probably won’t hear many CEOs declaring their allegiance to angels or asking for advice from their guides. It’s simply not the done thing — well, certainly not out loud!

Because using the ‘s’ word has been largely deemed inappropriate, we have been forced to find more acceptable business-style language. We speak of finding our flow, being in the zone or receiving inspiration. But what is inspiration if it is not being in-spirit? Are we really saying that bringing more spirit to business is unacceptable or unwelcome? Continue reading →

Interview: Striking a Balance

Lorna Davidson is CEO of The Mothership Group, a group of entrepreneurs who are harnessing technology to incubate and launch innovation and disruptive propositions, all focussed around intelligent selling to make a noticeable change in the sector they work in. The Group has also launched a charity called The Mothership Foundation, which helps provide investment funding for individuals who would not get any otherwise.

Q: When did you become conscious that work life balance was an issue for you?

A: When I was a married, working mother with children working in the corporate world. The lack of work-life balance was the reason I made the decision to go it on my own and founded my first business, a field marketing agency called Tactical Solutions that I started in my garden shed. I needed more flexibility and balance in my life. This decision paid off and I am happy to say that I have been very fortunate and made every parent evening, school play and rugby match. Continue reading →

Pay Attention or Pay the Price

- By Simon Fletcher

As a CEO of a business in the financial services sector, I have been dealing with the introduction of auto-enrolment for our clients for some time but I can also speak from an employer’s point of view, having to go through the process ourselves.

To date we have seen circa 43,000 of the UK’s biggest employers progress through staging and despite them having both HR and payroll resources many have struggled with around 40% already reviewing what they have put in place. Now it’s time for the smaller employer and with companies with as few as 5 employees reaching their staging date from June 2015 its time for you to address this issue.

We witnessed a 600% increase in the regulators use of enforcement powers and fines in the last quarter of 2014 and fines start at £400 but then a day rate applies depending on the size of employer so can quickly escalate to a significant sum if issues aren’t addressed.

Continue reading →

10 Speaker Gems for April

  1. We should not die “of something.” We should all die healthy…….but as late as possible!” (Dorian Dugmore)
  2. Perfectionism is an illness not a quality (Robyn Pearce)
  3. Your values should be moral hills you are prepared to die on! (Humphrey Walters)
  4. When giving feedback please remember to provide light not heat (Sue Cheshire)
  5. Top achievers should be looked into, not up to (David Hyner)
  6. Keep learning. You are either green and growing or ripe and rotting! (Brian Mayne)
  7. Good feedback is like snow – the softer it falls the longer it dwells and the deeper it sinks into the mind (Jessica Richards)
  8. Challenge is not resistance – think of it as legitimate concern or loyal opposition (Simon Hazeldine)
  9. Give your people time to develop – if you plant a tree you don’t pull it up by the roots to see if it is growing (David Smith)
  10. If you were 95 years old, what advice would you give yourself in this present time? (Jessica Richards)