Thursday, 26 February 2009


At a business networking function on Tuesday evening, the guest speaker spoke about a recession and us needing to open our eyes to it. I didn’t see the purpose in that.

I spoke to quite a few people at the dinner who are not feeling pessimistic. They don’t deny that globally a big shake up is taking place. They just don’t feel it is “the end of the world”. In fact one or two said “This is Africa’s time.”

We are not in a recession. Maybe we will still go into one, maybe we won’t. What do we achieve by focusing on the possibility? How does it make us feel any better or prevent it or get us out of it?

The speaker suggested that we shouldn’t be spending money on extravagant luxuries. I agree with that, if the spending means using credit and increasing your debt. As individuals the lesson we can take out of the current circumstances is that debt is a trap. Take small but continual steps to get yourself out of any debt you may already have and don’t create any additional debt without careful consideration.

It seems to me as a lay person that everything in international finance and economics is cyclical. And those cycles benefit some and hinder others. When interest rates are high those with bonds and loans cringe, but pensioners with investments rejoice. Then they come down and the response swings over. When dollars are expensive in rands the importers cry, whilst the exporters rejoice. Despite all the doom and gloom stories there are astute businessmen preparing to make a lot of money right now.

I suggest we each need to find where we can make present circumstances work for us. As an example my work with staff and managers, when embraced, results in increased efficiency and productivity. In tight economic times smart companies realize they can no longer afford to be wasteful with their human resource. They need to be more productive in order to be profitable. I need to capitalize on that. What can you capitalize on?

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

PACE your Butterflies

Heart pounding, knot in your stomach, tight chest, brain disconnected, can’t remember anything…..
Can you relate to those symptoms?
Perhaps when waiting to be introduced as a speaker? Or sitting in reception before an important job interview?

When we are under stress our bodies ready themselves either to fight or to flee and the non dominant part of our brain shuts down. This can result in any or all of the symptoms I just described.

When people talk about handling nerves they sometimes say “it’s normal to have butterflies in your stomach – you just have to keep them flying in formation”. I am going to share with you a couple of techniques to do just that. To calm your body and clear your brain - helping you to function optimally.
The educational kinesiologists call this “doing PACE”.

To help you to remember I’d like you to do them along with me.

There are four steps.
The first is to drink water
Our brains consist of 80-90% water. Without being fully hydrated the thought impulses cannot travel correctly from one brain cell to the next. We need around 1.5 – 2l a day – more if we are perspiring from exercise or nerves.

The second is brain buttons
This exercise helps improve blood flow to the brain - to "switch on" the entire brain and improve concentration skills
· Put one hand so that there is as wide a space as possible between the thumb and fingers.
· Lean forward, hunching your shoulders in.
· Place your index or second finger – whichever feels more comfortable, and thumb, into the slight indentations below the collar bone on each side of the breast bone. Massage.
· At the same time put your other hand over your tummy button. Keep massaging for at least 20s.

The third is cross crawl
This helps to integrate the right and the left sides of the brain so you get more whole brain thinking and you counteract any tendency for the non dominant side to want to shut down.
· Stand up. Start marching on the spot touching each hand alternately on the opposite knee. You are crossing right to left and top to bottom.
· Do this either sitting or standing for about a minute.

And lastly "Hook Ups"
This works very well to calm the mind and improve concentration.
· Push your chairs back to give you a bit more space.
· Cross the right leg over the left at the ankles.
· Take your right wrist and cross it over the left wrist and link up the fingers so that the right wrist is on top.
· Bend the elbows out and gently turn the fingers in towards the body until they rest in the centre of the chest. Stay in this position.
· Keep the ankles crossed and the wrists crossed and then breathe evenly and deeply for a few minutes. Good breaths right from the tummy. Deep breath out pushing the tummy flat. Deep breath in filling right down to the tummy.
· Do this for a couple of minutes.

To summarise, PACE has four steps
- Drink plenty of water
- Rub the brain buttons
- Do cross crawl
- Hook up and breath deeply

Next time you are in a situation where you want to give of your best, give this a try and “PACE your butterflies”.