How to Relax, Destress and Improve Your Leadership Skills

Mar 10, 2017Padraig's Insights

Doing the Ironing: An Exercise in Paying Attention


I take a long weekend every fourth weekend to try and disconnect. The aim is to clear my head so that I can come back to work fresh.

I was ironing my shirts and I had a thought that I’d like to share with you. The only act of will is the act of paying attention.

When you think of a master craftsman, what do you think of?

Typically you’ll think of somebody who does things to a really high standard.

So I asked myself: when I’m ironing my shirts, is it possible for me to actually watch the iron and pay my full attention to it?

Think about this idea of turning mundane tasks into a masterclass, and consider that the only act of will is the act of paying attention.

What you attend to and how you attend defines an awful lot of your life.

It’s a great exercise and a great opportunity to step back and experience a bit of peace.



Managing Stress


Did you ever notice the way things seem to happen together, at the same time?

I was talking to a number of clients today and they all seemed to be experiencing the same thing: Stress!

When I went through it with them to try and understand where the stress was coming from I realised that it’s coming from overwhelm.

By this I mean that they had too much on their plate, didn’t feel up to the challenge or they were unable to prioritize what was on their to-do list.

This overwhelm paralysed them and they were unable to move forward.


If you want to pick something up, you have to put something down.


It’s important to be realistic in your assessment of your capabilities and the amount of time you have.

My advice to anybody suffering from overwhelm is as follows:

Sit back and try and chunk out the time to do the priorities. Recognise when you simply don’t have time for certain things.

I was talking to a colleague of mine this afternoon and he pointed out that he often has trouble saying no.

As an act of integrity, when somebody asks you to do something, make sure you look at your diary and see if you have the space to do it.

Otherwise, you’ll take it on board but you won’t deliver effectively.

And remember, don’t pick something up unless you’re leaving something down.



The Importance of Private Space


In the spirit of democracy, there is a case to be made for working in a shared office.

In our business we work in an open plan office where we all sit at our own desks, working away at our different bits and pieces.

However for the past week or ten days I’ve been working in the boardroom.

I had to lay out a load of papers and I discovered something that I had forgotten – which is that I work better when I have a space of my own.

I don’t handle interruptions well.

If somebody comes up to me and asks me a question it breaks my concentration and I tend to get irritated – which isn’t helpful!

Think about this. When you’re working, there are times when it’s good to be in the office and there are times when it’s good to be in a separate space where you can work on something without disruption.

The last comment I want to make is that I found that chunking out the time in my diary for the various projects I wanted to get done worked really well.

I found that really helpful.

I think it’s important to respect people’s space. Sometimes it’s good to be able to work on your own.



Bend Your Mind


I was speaking with a prospect yesterday – a potential distributor for TTI Success Insights instruments.

This man is a logotherapist, and his focus is on helping people find meaning in their work.

During our conversation we talked about Viktor Frankl’s book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ and the great book ‘Do It Yourself Psychotherapy’, which is one of the best books I’ve ever read in this area.

You may have noticed that one of my pet subjects that I love to talk about is explanatory style.

I believe that the single most important thing you can do is to choose your life and decide how you’re going to explain things to yourself.

Think of something that you are anxious about right now.

Feel the fear and the angst and then reinterpret it.

Make it into something exciting and say to yourself: ‘this is an opportunity for me to learn and grow. This is a positive thing’.

See if it makes any difference to the way you interpret and manage it.

If anybody has any feedback on their experiences of this I would love to hear from you.



Improve Your Leadership Skills: The ‘Be, Do, Have’ Model


I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘The Complete Leader’ by Ron Price and Randy Lisk, as we are doing a programme on it.

I’ve learned a lot from reading the book.

I’d like to share one insight I had this morning, something that struck me quite forcefully.

Do you believe that leadership is something that you’re born with or that it’s something that can be learned?

Most of us in fact are incomplete leaders. We’re struggling to become The Complete Leader.

Are you familiar with the concept of ‘Be, Do, Have’? If you be a certain way you’ll do certain things and consequently have certain things.

People often think of it in reverse.

They think ‘if I have all the money I’ll be able to do all the things I want and I’ll be happy’. I believe that they’re missing the point.

Let me explain it in terms of leadership.

Ron says in the book that we choose who we want to be.


So, what kind of leader do you want to be?


Let’s say I choose to be an empathetic leader.

There are a number of behaviours and things that I can do that then become apparent. Wanting to be empathetic is not enough – you have to actually DO something!

For example, you have to listen for the right reasons, as opposed to listening and waiting for the gap when you can jump in with what you want to say.

You have to suspend assumptions and be present. You have to listen for the facts AND for the feelings.

Recognise that you know nothing. Ask more questions and serve others.

By doing these things you’ll then have an empathetic outlook. You have to choose to be empathetic, do the things that will make you empathetic and you’ll then have an empathetic outlook.

There’s a lovely quote in here that says that if you practice this for a while you’ll come to the conclusion that I’ve come to, which is that the differences between you and those you serve are not so great.


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