Thursday 14 November 2013

The Mental Game - Spine Race Training, Hebden Bridge November 2013

Have you heard of The Spine Race? It's billed as

Britain's Most Brutal Race.

It's an ultra, ultra marathon - 268 miles of gruelling 24/7 endurance racing up the full length of the UK's Pennine Way - in January! When I was in the Low Pennines last weekend for the training we had torrential rain, snow, ice and hail - all on the same day! Believe me, it gets a lot worse in January and a lot more brutal the further North you go!

I'm fortunate enough to be the psychologist on the support team. We have a Chief Medical Officer, the brilliant Dr Anna. Her team mainly deal with feet. As a psychologist, I mainly deal with heads. On the training I gave a presentation on The Mental Game It includes hints & tips and strategies for success as an ultra runner. You will find it on the Resources page of my Cognitive Fitness website.

Many of the strategies are as relevant to the world of work as they are to the world of ultra endurance sport - isn't that what work is sometimes? A long, hard slog? Have a look and see what you think, you might find something useful.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

You might be physically fit, but are you Cognitively Fit?

Many people, possibly yourself included, take pride in looking good and in feeling great, and in being physically fit. They put a lot of work into going to the gym or the pool, running, cycling, or whatever other physical sports and activities float their boat.

But how many people put the same amount of effort into being as mentally fit as they are physically fit? .

Interestingly, not many! Why is that? Is it because we don't seem to value flexible thinking in today's society? Nope, it's not that, because we evidently DO value it. So why the flabby thinking then? .

I suspect that it's because people are taught HOW to exercise, which usually means that not only do they enjoy it, it's easy to recognise that progress is being made. 'Seeing' thinking isn't so easy! At least, not until you know what you're looking for and can recognise progress in your own thinking and flabby thinking in others. .

Cognitive Fitness is all about developing Flexibility, Agility and Strength in your thinking strategies. .

If you want to develop your Cognitive Fitness, Go to to learn more, or read some of the other blog posts .... particularly the new The Spine Race 2014 ones!

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Authentic Leadership: An Underpinning Philosophy

The journey to Authentic Leadership is a very personal one, and it's a path which I believe ALL leaders should tread, whether they are those people in positions of authority, responsibility and power within an organisation whom we automatically think of as a leader, or whether they are consultants who are gently leading their clients by the hand and acting as role models of professionalism and compassion to achieve engagement and thereby subsequent improvements in bottom-line results.

For me, the quality of relationships underpins all successful business results and all successful organizations. Authentic Leadership enables us to develop authentic relationships; with ourselves and with others. I believe that it’s going to be THE most powerful leadership model of the future and is the only way that the world is going to survive this current recession to come out of it stronger at the other end.

What IS Cognitive Fitness? - How our thinking has changed ......

Fifteen years ago we said that being ‘cognitively fit’ meant
"Being flexible enough to apply different thinking strategies and think in a variety of ways so that you can take a multi-perspective and balanced approach to any situation or context"
We suggested then that because flexible thinking strategies are employed in this approach, subsequent behavioural flexibility is much easier to achieve. All of the above is still true! However, we've now simplified the definition of Cognitive Fitness to;
"Thinking in the right ways at the right times"
Much easier! And you'll notice the plural in there - I've deliberately said 'ways' as we constantly need to parallel process or even multiple process in order to be effective thinkers and achieve everything that we now need to do in a day. If you want to find out more about how to achieve
Flexibility, Agility and Strength
in your thinking in terms of your thinking strategies and becoming more cognitively fit, then have a look at the Resources page on the Cognitive Fitness website as that's where you will find a useful one-page pdf slide which encompasses it all!

Sunday 19 June 2011

Maintain your mental well-being

Great article by David Rock for HBR.

He identifies 7 different essential mental activities that will keep us mentally healthy, provided that we get the balance right! Rather like a balanced food plate we need some of all of them but not too much of each. They are:

1. Focused Time - When we focus on goals and tasks, thinking about things and problem-solving in ways that make deep neurological connections in the brain when we are in the Beta brain wave state.

2. Play Time - When we allow ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, playfully enjoying novel experiences, which also help to make new connections in the brain, but in a different way to Focused Time.

3. Connecting Time - This is social time when we connect with other people, either in person on on the phone and it richly activates the brain's social circuitry.

4. Physical Time - When we move our bodies, aerobically if possible, which strengthens the brain in many ways.

5. Time In - When we quietly reflect internally, such as meditation, focusing on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts, in the Alpha brainwave state which helps us to heal emotionally, mentally and physically.

6. Down Time - When we are non-focused, without any specific goal, and let our mind wander or simply relax, which helps our brain relax and recharge.

7. Sleep Time - When we give the brain the rest it needs to consolidate learning and recover from the experiences of the day.

If you want to read the full article, go to

My best wishes as always,

Sunday 12 September 2010


For anyone who has an interest in Mindfulness, the UK's Royal Society of Arts had a fascinating open forum lecture on it last week.

The full video will shortly be available on the RSA's website. In the meantime, here's a link to an article about it.

Mental Fitness in the US military

I sometimes think that only my business partner and myself really 'get' what being cognitively fit means, i.e. I worry that no-one else really understands cognitive fitness or really cares about a topic that we are so passionate about!

So it was great to come across this article on the North Star Mental Fitness Blog in the US about cognitive fitness.

Here's the link

My best wishes as always,