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#8 Fully Functional Physiology

Fully Functional Physiology is the level where most athletes are coached, but with some surprising omissions. In business, rarely are senior people coached on their physiology, despite the positive impact on their performance. We pretend that it’s all ok, so no one gets offended.

You rarely hear business people talking about physiology. In sport though, it’s really clear to see why people need to look after themselves physically – their nutrition, their exercise, their breathing and their sleep. In the world of business, however, we don’t tend to look at that. If you think about it, how many people in business are dehydrated, over-caffeinated, unfit, overweight or undersleeping, and what impact is that having on their performance?

We all have a need for air, water, food, exercise and sleep. These needs are what Maslow (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) would call your basic physiological needs. These needs are really important. If you’re not meeting those needs with how you’re managing your life, you’re not going to perform at a very high level.

To illustrate the distracting power of unmet basic needs, I’d like you to imagine that I was going to put my hand over your nose and mouth. How long would it take before all you could think about was breathing and nothing else? Probably just a matter of a few seconds, right? If I prevented you from drinking water, how long would it take before all you could think about was having a drink, a day at most? If I stopped you eating, how long would it take before all you could think about was how hungry you were? If I stopped you sleeping how long would it take before you could only think about sleep?

Keep reading: Embrace the present with Positive Programming »

One simple story I’d like to share with you concerns a lady who was in a group coaching program that I was running. We’d been talking about physiology and the group had accepted the challenge of drinking two litres of water every day. In the feedback circle, she said she’d completed the biggest property deal she’d ever done. It turned out that because she had been drinking more water, she felt better. Because she felt better, she felt more confident. Because she felt more confident, she’d gone after this deal, which previously she would have rejected as being too big. All that separated her from a better future was not drinking enough water!

In business, so many of us don’t sleep well. We drink way too much coffee and we don’t drink enough water. Our bodies and brains are biochemical systems that need to be hydrated to function properly. So if this is you, think about what changes you can make for your own physiology to make a difference in your performance.

One of the experiments I’ve done on myself is to improve my Fitbit sleep score. What I’ve found is that if I don’t drink alcohol in the evening then that night my sleep score improves. If I don’t drink coffee during the day my sleep score improves. If I hydrate better during the day — not in the evening because obviously what goes in needs to come out — my sleep score improves.

Now, if my sleep score improves, I’m more rested, and I’ll have more energy the following day. These are simple things that don’t cost us any money and don’t really require any expertise, but how many of us are impeding our performance because we’re not looking after our physiology?

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