Does this sound familiar?
You’ve got your headphones in listening to some type of on-demand content – a podcast, an audio book maybe…
You’ve just finished your second cup of coffee, and you’re crushing your latest blog post, email newsletter, or whatever piece of content that’s going to be “the one” to make all the difference for your business.
Then something happens – suddenly, you start to second guess your content…
Is it the right length?
What about those stutters and “ummmm’s”?
Will anybody read this and/or care about what I have to say?
Bing! – “Oh!… a Facebook notification! Maybe if I check on that, it’ll bring me the clarity I’m looking for.”
– 20 Minutes pass –
“Wait, what was I doing again?…”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are more than 840,000 side-by-side (blindspot) accidents every year.
Thing is, these accidents are easily avoidable when precautions are taken and you’re aware of what dangers surround you.
And it makes sense right?… When you’re driving, you have great visibility ahead of you and great visibility behind you, but what about everywhere else?
If we put this into a business / entrepreneurial perspective, we might say: I know what my next goal is going to be (I can clearly see ahead), and I’ve certainly learned from the mistakes I’ve made (what’s behind me), but what about the things I can’t see?
What’s in YOUR blindspot?
We all know about the importance of setting goals, “doing the work”, and learning from our mistakes, and while we can’t forget about those critical success factors, we also can’t forget about our blindspots.
Just like in the physical world of driving, not being aware of these blindspots may be limiting you (at best), and severely hindering your success (at worst).
4 Things that could be sabotaging your success
Because I know none of us want to be severely hindered by things in our blindspot, I teamed up with a Fire Nation faithful and good friend Phil Ferrante.
He put together this list of 4 things that could be sabotaging your success, and because they’re blindspots, you probably don’t even know they exist. Hence, this post :)
Here are those 4 things in review, along with 1 tip that can help you start to make each of these things a habit in your life today.
We all know that we should exercise for our physical wellbeing, but recent studies are shining a light on just how important exercise is to cognitive performance and function – something all entrepreneurs are interested in!
In one study from Shinshu University in Japan, subjects were divided into two groups and given identical tests, which measured speed and accuracy in decision making.
Upon test initiation, there was no statistical difference between the two groups during the baseline measurement.
Then, one group was put on a moderate exercise routine for 6 months, while the other group was given no guidance.
After 6 months, the group who had participated in the exercise program had measurably improved performance in both speed and accuracy.
For speed, they saw an 11.6% increase, and even more interesting, for accuracy in decision making, a 71% increase!
Another Finnish study took 1,260 people and randomized them into two groups, and cognitive tests were done to get a baseline on their performance.
One group was then administered an exercise and nutrition program over the course of 24 months, while the control group was not.
The results: “Researchers found that overall, scores measuring brain function in the group who received the programme were 25% higher than in the control group. For a part of the test called executive functioning (the brain’s ability to organise and regulate thought processes), scores in the intervention group were 83% higher.”
Mentioned during this episode
When Phil and I chatted about the topic of “move”, he brought up an excellent point: if you don’t like to run, then don’t run. If you don’t like to be on the elliptical, then don’t get on the elliptical.
Instead of hating whatever you’re currently forcing yourself to do for movement, discover something you do like doing – whether it be swimming, hiking, playing beach volleyball, or any other number of things – and start doing that!
As entrepreneurs, we’re constantly struggling with balance and where to apply the limited bandwidth / time we have. As a result, what we eat often takes a back seat to our other efforts.
This lapse may be killing your productivity without you even realizing it.
A meta analysis (a study of studies looking for patterns) of 160 studies on the topic of nutrition on cognitive performance out of UCLA found that:
“Diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. This raises the exciting possibility that changes in diet are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage and counteracting the effects of aging.”
Your body is incredibly efficient at synthesizing what it needs to survive (sugar, fats, etc).
However, there is a class of fats your body can’t manufacture, but that are essential to life. These are called essential fatty acids.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are important to the proper functioning of body tissues.
The same study highlights the following:
“Omega-3 fatty acids support synaptic plasticity and seem to positively affect the expression of several molecules related to learning and memory that are found on synapses,” Gmez-Pinilla said. “Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for normal brain function.”
Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to have a significant impact on memory and performance.
What are good sources of Omega-3?
Fatty fishes like Salmon, Tuna, Cod, Flaxseed, Chia seeds and so much more.
Mentioned during this episode
Stop eating foods that don’t make you feel good. Pretty simple, right?
Everyone’s body is different, and depending on our metabolic type, we process foods differently. So start listening to your body!
For continued benefits in the eating category, start paying more attention to the foods that make it into your shopping cart. Do you know what the ingredients are in the foods you’re buying? If not, then they probably shouldn’t be going in your body.
Let’s call out the elephant in the room: Stress.
We’d like to think as entrepreneurs that we’re bold, indestructible, and risk takers who allow stress to run off like the proverbial water on a duck’s behind.
But do you ever wonder why you start to shake a bit when you’re getting ready to talk to a big name at a conference?
How about when you’re getting ready to take the stage?
It happens to the most seasoned speaker with the highest of confidence.
If we’re honest with ourselves, then we all feel stress. That’s normal!
But when we derail ourselves is when we try and remove ALL stress from our life – it just isn’t realistic.
In fact, just the idea of trying to remove all of your stresses is – in and of itself – stressful. Instead of focusing on removing all stresses, think about stressing smarter.
To think we can actively manage stress is mistake. We’re simply wired at a primal level to react to stress so we can survive; when you experience stress (good or bad), your body releases a flood of hormones. So let you body do its thing, and then decide how you’re going to handle the situation.
Only you have control over how you handle any given situation.
Mentioned during this episode
Take a deep breath, check out the Calm app, and try a NASA nap ;)
In an atmosphere where all-nighters are actually celebrated, it’s easy to get the feeling that you’re getting more done by getting less sleep.
While you may be awake for more hours, the science is pretty clear about the detrimental impact a lack of sleep has on many functions.
In a meta-analysis of sleep deprivation (SD), studies have demonstrated impacts to Attention, Working Memory, Long-Term Memory, Motivation and concludes that:
“Both total and partial SD induce adverse changes in cognitive performance. First and foremost, total SD impairs attention and working memory, but it also affects other functions, such as long-term memory and decision-making. Partial SD is found to influence attention, especially vigilance.”
Mentioned during this episode
NASA Nap :)
Our body can only rebuild during very specific times of our sleep cycle. When we’re awake, we’re in a catabolic state: things are being broken down / nuerons are firing; and at specific times during our sleep cycle, we’re in an Anabolic state: this is when we get to rebuild.
4 Things you can try today
You can exercise as little as 2 to 3 times per week for 15-20 minutes each time using HIIT (high intensity interval training) to promote hormonal changes that will have you gain muscle and burn fat all week long.
I would also personally recommend making a daily walk a habit. Doesn’t have to be a long one – just get outside for 20-30 minutes and walk every day. This has increased my creativity BIG time, and it just straight up feels good!
Check out Krista Stryker’s 12 Minute App for a convenient HIIT workout no matter where you are!
Confused about which diet will work for you?
Here is the dirty little secret that the diet/nutrition zealots who preach that “their way of eating” is the best don’t want you to know…
You see, everybody focuses on the differences of this diet and that diet and why theirs is better than the other. Instead, focus on what all successful diets have in common: eat nutrient dense foods as close to their origin as you can; drink water; and skip anything that’s processed.
A good book to read if you want to familiarize yourself with the concept that counting calories and eating foods “low in fat” and with lots of “great whole grains” won’t do you any good is The Calorie Myth.
If you’re not practicing any type of mindfulness practice, give it shot – even just for 5 minutes a day.
There are some great apps out there for meditation, such as Calm, that will guide you through sessions.
Give the NASA nap a shot: it may be just what you need to overcome that afternoon creativity lull and allow you to focus for longer periods of time throughout the day.
Also, take an inventory of where you sleep. Electronics before bedtime can actually inhibit your natural melatonin production and reduce both the quality and duration of your sleep.
Studies show that 7 – 8.5 hours of sleep is optimal for most of us, but listen to your body and pivot accordingly.
A great book on this topic is Sleep Smarter.
This post was co-written with Phil Ferrante.