Andrew’s Blog: Always Be Ready

One of the things that I am adamant about when it comes to improving your business and personal life is the importance of always being ready. To quote the actor and musician Will Smith, “if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready”.

This quote is not only a brilliant phrase to say back to your partner when they think you’re not dressed in the morning, but you are, but it has real-life benefits, too. But I will get to those shortly.

There are several reasons why you might read this today. Maybe you are looking for some simple, positive changes that you can make to your life that will hugely impact your personal and business progression. If that’s you, I’ve got just what you need.

Maybe you are reading this because you have heard about my 10 Daily Habits, and you want to hear how they can work for you? I got that covered, too.

Whatever your reason for reading my blog, thank you.

The aim of this blog is simple, to improve your life. Honestly, I can improve your life. Like all of my work that came before this, I focus on making people’s lives better. Bold claims, I am very aware, but I can back it up.

I am a husband, father of three, former international athlete and coach, business psychologist, author of two books.
I want you to know that everything I talk about in my blog I practice every day.

I am not a “do as I say” whilst I talk down to you from my high horse because I don’t like heights or horses but because I am here with you on this journey.

In this blog, I want to talk about being ready. So. Are you ready?… No, I’m seriously asking you.

Let’s get back to those real-life benefits of always being ready that I mentioned earlier.

If, when you’re flying, you know where the emergency exits are and you listen to the safety briefing, you are statistically more likely to survive a plane crash. As a less sinister example, you’re more likely to pass an exam if you revise for an exam. And on a completely bizarre, but I believe still an essential comparison, if you make a plan for how you and your loved ones will survive a Zombie Apocalypse, you have a much higher chance of not being one of the baddies in 28 Days Later.

I will not tell you my escape plan for the Zombie Apocalypse, which is between my family and me and the man who helped me build my bunker. Today, we will discuss the importance of always being ready and how you can make a few changes to improve your work and home life dramatically.

When I always say ready, I mean prepared mentally, physically, and in any other way required to meet your obligations and any action you need to take to make progress.

Always ready refers to thinking ahead to what’s coming and making decisions that set you up for success. It means making decisions that will positively impact the “you” that has to wake up first thing in the morning and not giving in to the “you” that fancies another three episodes of Narcos even though it’s 1:30 am and you’ve got a meeting at 9 am.

So what can we do to make sure we’re always ready? I will start with the most simple but often neglected habit that I need to encourage you to get into—drinking water. 2 litres a day. Every living thing needs water to survive, yet with the incredible arrogance that is only ever found in the human race, we try and survive without it. And we do so at our peril. Our bodies are 70% water, and I am sure you know this, but the only people who are allowed to feel smug about knowing it are those who drank 2 litres of water yesterday. If you didn’t, please stop reading, get yourself a glass and fill it up at the sink, then you can feel smug because you’re wise and you’re more hydrated.

It’s also essential to make sure that you’re eating the right things that you need to stay ready. Of course, I’m aware of the challenges that come after a busy day. The one where you face a choice of cooking a nutritious meal from scratch or ordering a burger and chips to your door whilst scrolling through Facebook to see which of the people you went to school with have aged the worst.

I know the temptation of that because a burger and fries are delicious, and seeing your class bully look dreadful is satisfying, but I am urging you to invest in the person who needs to wake up and smash tomorrow, not the one feeling tired now. It’s all about breaking destructive cycles and giving ourselves the best shot at success. These changes aren’t going to kick in overnight, and they take training.

Now, I have a sports background; I played hockey and was a professional hockey coach. Training is a vital part of success. You would never expect to get the best results without practice, discipline and hard work.

You also warm up before the match, physically and mentally. You take the time to prepare your body and thoughts. You gather with your team and have one final message from the coach before going out there and trying to win. If you arrive at the match with half your gear missing, tight hamstrings and a hangover, you’re not giving yourself the best chance of playing well or being picked to start the next game. The same applies to success in business. It takes training and determination. If you want to succeed, you need to be ready, always.

When we see others succeed, it’s easy not to think about all the hard work it took them to get there. When a sprinter wins a gold medal, we only see them run that race. The reality is, they have been running to get to that point their whole lives. They have been making decisions to give themselves the best chance of winning the medal at that moment when all the lights are on them, but the hard work, the years of dedication and the blood, sweat and tears it takes to achieve victory? We don’t get to see that. One, because it sounds horrible and boring, but two, if you’re a spectator, you only want to see who the winner is, not what it took them to get there. They have been getting ready for that moment for their whole lives.

When it comes to the other side of the coin in terms of running, I think about the Marathon. Maybe you know this already, but I only found this out recently, so I’m sharing it with you. It’s called a marathon because, in 490BC, a Greek soldier and messenger ran from the battlefield in the city of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Greeks had defeated the Persians and won the battle. Tragically, he died almost immediately after. And that’s why you’ve got to train and get ready for a marathon. You might be able to achieve what you wanted to achieve but at a considerable cost.

Being always ready is a trait we’ve inherited from our ancestors that has allowed us to survive. Our ancestors were mindful; they were present because if they weren’t, they were in danger. If they weren’t concentrating when they were finding their lunch, they could have become the lunch. Luckily, the chances of your cheese ploughman’s turning the tables on you are very slim. But being mindful about what you are putting in your body and how it could affect you is still important. You need to think of your food as fuel and make the right choices always to be ready.

Being mindful is challenging. We are so used to pushing ourselves as hard as we can without adequately preparing. We can be guilty of overextending or overexerting ourselves and leaving nothing in the tank.

I’m not saying you have to constantly be in a fight or flight state of mind or have a bag packed to make a quick getaway. Still, if we bring this back to business, it is essential to be as prepared as possible and ready for anything. Give yourself the best chance at success by striving for it every day, with all the choices you make. Remember to be present, rest and recharge, eat well and stay hydrated, lift heavy things once or twice a week, so you stay strong, predict and avoid any possible mistakes, and plan for success.

I hope this has given you a bit of focus and clear, achievable goals that will help you put your best foot forward. If you’re heading in to work now, take a few moments to centre yourself, take a few deep breaths, have some water, and attack the day. If you’ve got a day off, do the same. Stay present and always be ready.

Thanks for reading my blog. How do you stay ready?

Start with my ten daily habits.

Download the 10 Daily Habits for free HERE

 

 

 

Andrew’s Blog: Do You Need a Break?

“The past 18 months have been exactly what I was expecting and what I feel I deserved,” said no one on Planet Earth recently.

Whether you are a spontaneous person or you thrive in a routine-driven and controlled fashion, 2020-2021 has been for humans what the Hindenburg was for air travel. It has, naturally, taken its toll on all of us. 

The Groundhog Day-style existence we have all lived through, and continue to live through, contains almost none of the charm and whimsy of the 1993 Bill Murrey classic. But instead left those of us who were not on the front line, privately walking a tightrope of massive guilt and huge relief whilst an invisible war raged outside, over and over again. Andie MacDowell was nowhere to be seen. 

It has been said before that during the past 18 months, we humans have faced the same storm, but in very different ships. My ship, like many of my equally privileged friends, sailed with relative comfort and ease. I shared the boat with my family, and although I have struggled, I have not indeed suffered. I, therefore, felt the pandemic had not had much of an effect on me. 

That was until last month. You see, last month, like most months recently, seemed to hold very few surprises. The weeks started the same as they had the weeks before… And then something unusual happened…

The woman I promised, in front of a select group of family and friends, to have and to hold, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, had seemingly done the unthinkable. She came to me with a suggestion so outrageous that I immediately began to rant.

“How could you possibly suggest that?! What do you take me for?! Do you honestly think I’d even consider that?!” came to my response at a rate of knots any Olympic sailing team would be proud of. 

The suggestion my wife had brought to me that caused such a reaction? It was not:

 “Would you like to adopt a seven foot crocodile and have it live in the house with us?” nor was it “Should we document our lives in a Keeping Up With The Kardashians reality-style television show?”. 

It wasn’t even “I’ve been watching Breaking Bad and have come up with an idea for a new business venture that combines our interests of science and investment..”

Nope. My wife’s suggestion that left me ranting and raving at her?.. 

“Do you think we should go on holiday?”

My reaction? Stone cold evidence that she was, as she often is, absolutely correct.  

As a father, businessman, coach, husband and writer, I very rarely stop. I often talk a good game about the importance of rest. I can enthusiastically and whole-heartedly encourage others to take a step back and take some time out. I also see the benefits of people doing that. I know it works. I know that in the same way sleep is essential for our development, a holiday is vital for us to recharge. I know this… but I am equally enthusiastic when it comes to pushing myself further than I’d advise anyone else to. I convince myself that I am different… 

There is a drive-in me, and I am sure that has led to outstanding achievements. There is also, on occasion, an urge to push me beyond my limits. It has meant that I have forgotten birthdays, missed parties and cancelled plans last minute because “something has happened at work.” The truth is, there is always something you could be doing, but sometimes you need a break. A proper, relaxing, off-grid, no-pressure break. 

I took a two week holiday with my family, and I’d like to tell you what I learnt from it…

  1. Anything served in a coconut tastes better. This is, of course, a joke, because I didn’t learn that on holiday I knew it already. 
  1. I was more present and in the moment than I had been for ages. I wasn’t distracted thinking about what was coming up or what had just happened. I was fully present with my family, and we have all benefited from that time together. 
  1. Being on holiday with my children reminded me of being a child. When I was young, I used to go away on holiday with my parents. Those holidays formed some of my best memories and some of my earliest. It was on holiday that I learnt to swim. It was the first time I remember hearing live music. I can remember playing boules on the beach and winning for the first time.* My best childhood memories are from being on holiday. Not because it was always sunny, and I got to eat ice cream every day. Still, it was a time when I remember my family being together… And that’s what it was like this time, but as a parent, I spent my time explaining why we shouldn’t have ice cream for breakfast rather than explaining why we should.
  1. A holiday is a time to nurture relationships. It is a time when you can talk to your partner about their feelings and not just ask them what they want to watch on Netflix. It is a time to taste your food properly, really soak up the atmosphere, and rest most importantly. You can rest safe knowing that although you are not at your computer, the Earth is still turning. You can relax with confirmation that even though you might have missed a company meeting, the sky above you has not fallen down. And you can sit back and enjoy that even though you have not read a single message on Slack or had a Zoom conversation, you are, in fact, happy.

I came back from the holiday with more energy than I left with. Humans like to think that we are far more advanced than most creatures because we generally look good in hats and shoes but need the same things all living things need—food, water, warmth, and rest. I have been putting off a holiday for lots of reasons. “How could we justify it? After the year we’ve all had, how on earth can we take a break? We don’t need to stop. We need to start”. All things I said to my wife when she suggested we take a holiday. All questions told I needed one more than ever. 

This holiday was also the first I have had sober for 30 years, and it was the better for it. I felt more present, more active, happier, all the things that drink companies often promise you but never deliver on. A drink won’t dramatically improve your day, but maybe not having one will. That was certainly my experience.

I want to leave you with a couple of questions. What personal or professional relationships do you want to nurture this week? Or is it time to plan a vacation and allow your mind to wander? Whether you start planning your next get-away or stay-cation, or just put on “beach sounds” into youtube while you put on a Hawaiian shirt, enjoy your break. You deserve it. 

Andrew’s Blog: Life in the Fast Lane

I have some very wealthy clients.

If I tried to keep up with their level of spending, I would go bankrupt tomorrow.

In my twenties I aspired to have all the materialistic things, I imagined having a big house, with classic cars and a yacht in San Tropez.

Whilst my clients would never force their wealth on me, I still find myself fighting the urge not to force their wealth on me.

It is very easy to get caught up in the desire for wanting more – but in many cases, my clients would give it all up for a more simple life.

I am happier when I keep my life simple with three simple ingredients:

  • Water
  • Healthy food
  • A good nights sleep

Then my business, body, relationships and mindset thrive.

Or we can make our lives complex and stressful by stretching our capacity too far. Is it worth it?

Let me know how you keep your life simple.