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    You are smarter than you think

    One of the interesting things about humans is that we sometimes forget about the things we are really good at.

    Here’s a good way to test this yourself…

    Try reading these jumbled up sentences:

    Acocdrnig to an elgnsih unviesitry sutdy the oredr of letetrs in
    a wrod dosen’t mttaer, the olny thnig thta’s iopmrantt is that
    the frsit and lsat ltteer of eevry word is in the crorcet ptoision.
    The rset can be jmbueld and one is stlil able to raed the txet
    wiohtut dclftfuiiy.

    You should be able to read this very easily.

    Which goes to show your brain is actually very clever and can do a lot of things you didn’t realise it can do.

    Action Exercise:

    Take a few minutes this week to write down 10 things that you are really good at that you sometimes forget about.

    (When you focus on the things you are good at doing you tend to feel a lot more positive about yourself and life.)

    Here at Resilient Minds we are big fans of using science-backed strategies to help our clients become more resilient.

    And this exercise helps to develop a positive belief in yourself.

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    Mastering stress – 7 tips to make stress work for you not against you

    Surprise, surprise, stress is good for us. Yes, that’s right, despite all we’ve been told stress is good for us. The right kind in the right amounts.

    Think about it for a moment. How would our immune system develop and be able to deal with all kinds of nasties if it wasn’t subjected to lots of different stressors as we went through childhood and on into adult life?

    How does a vaccine work? We get a little bit of the virus and this prompts our immune system to develop the antibodies that will resist the full virus when it attacks us.

    Stress works in the same way – a moderate amount makes us tougher, and can help us learn more skills to take on the next challenge.

    When your heart is pounding, your breathing is fast and your muscles feel tense – that’s the adrenalin and cortisol racing through your body giving you the ability react quickly – the ‘flight or flight’ response.

    What you do next is the key to making stress work for you.

    1. See stress as helpful

    How you think about your stress response really matters.

    If you see it as helpful – that you’re getting more oxygen to the brain and your body is getting you powered up, ready to take on the challenge – this belief does two important things. Firstly, it makes you feel less anxious and more confident. Secondly, it keeps your blood vessels relaxed (rather than constricted, which, over time, can lead to a heart attack).

    2. Reach out for social support

    Connecting with other people enhances the physical benefits of the other hormone that your stress response has triggered – oxytocin.

    Just like adrenalin, oxytocin is also released when we’re stressed, and it’s designed to get us to seek social connection. Known as the ‘hug drug’, oxytocin helps heart cells regenerate and helps us recover faster from stress. So in addition to the ‘flight or flight’ response to stress, we also have this ‘tend and befriend’ response.

    If there’s no one around, give yourself a hug. Put your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right shoulder. Let your chin relax down between your crossed arms and enjoy the feeling of good long hug.

    3. Cut the stress short

    Too much cortisol and adrenalin over a long period of time can lead to anxiety, depression, headaches, weight gain, and more health problems.

    Stop imagining the worst possible outcomes. For example, imagining the customer who found a slug in their salad will write a terrible review, ruining your business (and you’ll die penniless and alone…).

    Instead, think of the best possible or most likely outcome and put your focus on doing what you can to make that happen (e.g. helping the waiter get the customer to see this in perspective – even the Queen gets slugs in her salad – and make amends with a free dessert).

    4. Breathe

    Put your hand on your heart (to focus your attention there and not on your racing mind), breathe in for a count of four and out for a count of six to get a smooth and even heart rate. This helps your brain to think more clearly by calming and regulating the signals its getting from the heart.

    5. Learn and practise meditation

    There are even free courses and apps to help you get started. The benefits of ‘quietening the mind’ kick in surprisingly quickly and increase with time, making changes to the brain that help with focus, managing emotions and reducing cortisol.

    6. Get moving

    Exercise reduces cortisol and adrenaline, and increases endorphins making us feel more positive and helping us to master stress.

    7. Smile and laugh more

    In case you were in any doubt about how useful positive emotions are to us, science shows they help us master stress by un-doing the physiological effects of anxiety and anger, and making us more creative at solving problems. Add more childlike playfulness to your life; watch funny videos, tv shows and movies; ask people to tell you the funniest joke they can remember; and savour those times when you do smile and laugh – and do it for longer.

    As a starter for 10, here’s the world’s funniest joke from the research scientist Richard Wiseman did in 2015 (read more about that fascinating study here):

    Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed.  The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services.  He gasps, “My friend is dead! What can I do?”.  The operator says “Calm down.  I can help.  First, let’s make sure he’s dead.”  There is a silence, then a shot is heard.  Back on the phone, the guy says “OK, now what?”

    Five years after the research study, Wiseman found the original source of the joke: Spike Milligan! A lovely coda to the research.

    (An earlier version of this article was first published in the December 2018 edition of the Restaurant Association’s magazine Savour)

    Carving new pathways using mindful mental toughness

    Talking with Jesse Mulligan on RNZ National, Jamie Ford explains how resilient people tend to think of bad events as a bit of a speedbump, while the less resilient think setbacks will be much more permanent.

    “What the science shows us … is that the [resilient] people are handling adversities, they’re not getting derailed, they’re not being destroyed by them,” Ford says.

    “They have this unique pattern of thinking about the way adversities occur and they also have another unique way of thinking about the good things that go on in life, the successes that occur.”

    But while some people are more inclined to resilience, he says it is nurture more so than nature that determines where we are on the spectrum.

    “It’s the environment that we’re in and the way that the people around us think, behave … the way we are told to think about things and whether we’re nurtured with hope about life.”

    And the key to developing a resilient mind is repetition.

    ”We want to shut down the old neural pathways that have developed … those eight-lane superhighways that we built in our childhoods which are quite normal and comfortable for us, and [we] need to get out the machete, carve our way through the bush, make a rough track.

    “And over time, as we keep using that pattern then we build up new neural pathways and that’s really good for our wellbeing.”

    The process begins by using a diagnostic to chart the current unhelpful thinking patterns, and from then there is coaching, practice and tools to learn the language of resilience.

    “And not waiting for emotion before we take the action, but to actually take the action and then emotion will catch up.”

    Does psychometric testing really work?

    Psychometric tests are useful tools for employers when the appropriate test is used for the right reasons. One of the most scientifically validated diagnostics, the SASQ, is highly useful for recruitment – to select the most resilient and productive talent, and for identifying learning and development needs. It provides an in-depth report on an individual’s levels of resilient and optimistic thinking patterns, which has been shown to be directly connected to performance at work, as well as in the areas of sport, academic achievement and health. Jamie Ford speaks with Liam Dann (NZ Herald Business Editor-at-Large)  about the value and use of psych. tests after the IRD found itself embroiled in unnecessary controversy by planning to use them in a redundancy and restructuring context. He suggests that a diagnostic like the SASQ would be useful to help prepare and equip people for the types of upheaval restructuring brings.

    The magic of “X Factor” thinking

    Marketing guru Graham McGregor interviews Jamie Ford on the vital mindset that underpins success – ‘Mental Toughness’ (MT).  The ideas underpinning ‘X Factor’ thinking are explained in ways that make it simple to understand and easy to use.  The improvements in performance and productivity are proven to work, backed up by 40 years of extensive research, and bring benefits across all aspects of life – work, sport, academic achievement and health and wellbeing. Learn why some people get remarkable results, while others fail miserably, given the same set of circumstances.

    Mindset matters most for businesses

    It takes more mental toughness to be a successful business owner than it does to be an All Black. Here we share insights on how mental toughness helps business owners perform better and succeed quicker, including a 5 step action plan.

    Karl had been down in the dumps and getting demotivated for more than three months.

    With the help of a business coach he had written a business plan with ambitious goals for his business two years ago, but it wasn’t happening. Now he often worried that the business would end up as ‘road kill’ like so many other owner operated businesses, rather than the success he had dreamed of.

    Unfortunately Karl’s business coach was not familiar with one vital element necessary for turning ambition into success – the requirement for ‘mental toughness’.

    Shortly after we met Karl completed a mental toughness assessment and that showed exactly where things were going wrong. He had a ‘pessimistic’ mindset and no business plan or goal-setting was going to overcome that.

    With some expert coaching in mental toughness he soon had a complete change of attitude and found it much easier doing the ‘hard yards’ needed to achieve his business goals and make a success of his business.

    Karl had fallen victim to the fallacy of assuming awesome goals automatically lead to awesome results. The facts are otherwise as many business owners will avow. A mentally tough and optimistic mindset is the absolutely vital ingredient in developing and maintaining high levels of drive, energy and motivation.

    Business owners are under huge pressures every day of every week of every year, and even many times during the course of one day. The All Blacks are under nothing like that level of constant pressure.

    Fortunately good science has now unpacked the ingredients of mental toughness and we know it is a learned skill, not a matter of being lucky when the genes get handed out at birth. Generally it doesn’t get much thought until a lack of it shows it’s face, as in Karl’s case. But anyone who applies themselves can learn to be much more mentally tough than the average Kiwi business owner.

    Being mentally tough means you will:

    • Worry less and use your energy for more constructive actions, taking your business forward.
    • Be healthier with a positive attitude and be much less likely to get down-in-the-dumps when trouble comes over the horizon with your name written on it.
    • Pick yourself up much faster from the knocks that are part and parcel of owning a business.
    • Be much more motivated to use the pressures you experience as a way of gaining new insights on how to improve the performance of your business.
    • Find you have levels of ‘drive’ to succeed that you only dreamed of previously.


    Your 5-step mental toughness action plan 

    1. Live above the line and take ownership of your thoughts, moods and emotions. Don’t pass the buck and whine about how other people have upset and demotivated you when that’s an outcome of your own thinking about what is going on.
    2. Only concern yourself with what you can control and let the other stuff slide away. This will leverage your capabilities instead of exhausting them on wild goose chases.
    3. Put yourself at risk of succeeding by seeing every failure as a stepping stone to success. Be like Thomas Edison and get comfortable with failure as a normal part of owning a business. Edison had a mentally tough mindset and it shows in this famous quote of his: “I failed my way to success”.
    4. Focus on flourishing more than ‘coping’. Coping is a weak and ineffective outcome; you have your nose above the water but the next ripple of adversity will take you under. Being mentally tough is about having a mindset that enables you to flourish even in the most adverse circumstances.
    5. Get the insights for building more mental toughness by taking an assessment, getting an action plan, and an expert mental toughness coach to work alongside you.

    First published in NZ Business Magazine, March 2017

    Why are Australians are more resilient than Kiwis?

    Jamie Ford discusses this contentious topic with Simon Pound from the SpinOff. How come the suicide rate of young Aussies is 50% less than here in NZ but not one person in the helping professions uses the Seligman Attributional Style Questionnaire to gain valuable insights into the root causes?

    We bag Australians because we say they’re so arrogant; we bag Americans because they’re so brash. But in fact what we’re reflecting on there is the fact that they’re more resilient and they’re much more optimistic. Australians and Americans tell me that the negativity in New Zealand hits them like a wall when they get off the plane.

    There is a huge amount of research that shows how learning the thinking skills of resilience can act as a ‘vaccination’ against depression.

    Read more here:



    Using resilience in the job hunt

    Jamie Ford shares 5 tips for staying resilient in the job hunt with the NZ Herald on 8 Feb 2017.
    It can be tough looking for a job, but fatigue, rejection and loss of confidence can be helped by developing a “resilient mindset”. This means perceiving that the reasons for setbacks often have limited duration, are quite restricted in their extent, and contain many factors over which we have no control.

    Resilience can be thought of as an “optimistic mindset” and involves paying attention to the language and words we use, because lots of us inadvertently use pessimistic language in the way we talk about our successes and failures.

    The power of a resilient mindset is in enabling us to tackle tasks with energy and enthusiasm by thinking about the outcome.

    It also enables us to put time into context and see that the hours invested in finding a new job are very few compared to the many years spent working over a lifetime.

    Five tips for staying resilient in the job hunt:

    1. Use optimistic language and thoughts in all aspects of the process.

    2. Remind yourself there is an employer out there looking for someone with knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are uniquely yours.

    3. Keep in mind that every time you’re declined, you’re one application closer to the job that will really engage you.

    4. Maximise your power over factors that influence your emotions. Cognitive psychology now proves Eleanor Roosevelt’s belief that, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

    5. Put yourself at risk of succeeding. Edison said, “I failed my way to success”. The resilient simply perceive failure as a temporary state of affairs on the road to success.

    How to bounce back quickly from a break-up

    The breakdown of any relationship is devastating. But, while shocking, confusing and catastrophic, surviving (and ultimately thriving) after a split is possible. Resilience is key.

    Jamie Ford shared tips to the NZ Herald on how to use resilience to not only survive but grow from a break-up.

    A resilient mindset is more than the ability to quickly bounce back from the adversities and setbacks that occur in life. It also plays an important part in keeping someone attracted to you when you’re in a relationship.

    For example, “the positive person who is not easily derailed,” Jamie says, “is much more attractive than the person who gets down in the dumps and stays there for quite some time banging on about their misfortune”.

    Aside from that, resilience can make you a better significant other by ensuring you:

    • Don’t sweat the small stuff and put unnecessary pressure on your partner and your relationship.
    •  Easily put issues behind you. You can bury the hatchet quickly and forget where you buried it.
    • Don’t have a mind-reading licence so you always assume good intentions on the part of your partner. Even if you find out otherwise, you can be forgiving more easily than the person lacking resilience.

    In the face of heartbreak, the power of a resilient attitude is priceless.

    The world we live in is one that scientists deem increasingly egotistical and self-centred. Which has lead to many of us “assuming far too much responsibility for outcomes in which we have only played a small part in”.

    A healthy dose of resilience, therefore, can put things in to perspective and make mending a broken heart more manageable by bringing to mind:

    • The many factors that led to the heartbreak and using them to get some balance alongside the tendency to over-exaggerate our part in it.
    • All of the good things we gained through the relationship which will stay with us for life.
    • The attractive, desirable qualities of the other person that help us see them as a normal person, not some evil monster.

    But, perhaps most importantly, resilience will see you getting over a bad break-up fast so you can go back to being the attractive person others want to meet and get to know.


    For a step-by-step guide to not only survive but grow from a break-up, you need to keep in mind five important points.

    1. This is temporary

    Nothing lasts forever so it won’t be long before this too shall past. Soon, you will be over it and back on the dating scene.

    2. It’s not all your fault

    For every one thing you are responsible for, try and think of another nine things contributing to the break-up that you had no control over. It takes two to tango after all.

    3. Create context

    This will help you see this temporary setback as a small portion of your life rather than all of your life. For example, if you live to 90 that means there will be 32,850 days in your lifetime. This relationship ran for nine months (273 days). That’s 0.83 per cent of your lifetime, that’s not even 1 per cent of your lifetime. So, in the grand scheme of things, perhaps it’s not worth crying/stressing over?

    4. Don’t be a sore loser

    Always speak well of the other person and make sure that in conversations your break-up is not the only thing you talk about.

    5. Take back control of your happiness

    Watch some funny movies to cheer yourself up. Remember that you have a great deal of control over your emotions by taking care of the way you think about the break-up.

    Don’t consider yourself a resilient person? You can build on that by adopting a resilient style of thinking. For instance, rather than feeling sad about being dumped, look at it like you had a lucky escape and remind yourself that there are plenty more fish in the sea.

    Also remember that while they didn’t treasure and appreciate you, this doesn’t make you any less lovable or attractive.

    Every time you find yourself thinking about how awful it is, how unfair it is, and how you will never be happy again, Ford suggests tapping your hand on something solid like a desk or table top before shouting (or saying quietly to yourself depending on the setting): “STOP! You are on the wrong track!”

    Then, hone in on the aforementioned resilient thoughts once more. This is the key to building up and maximising a resilient mind over time. Before long, you’ll find your bad mood lifting and life will become enjoyable again.

    Read the original article here:

    Out in the elements and loving it

    Jamie Ford enjoys riding a motorcycle in his down-time. His choice of bike suits his personality – the Honda 1000 Africa Twin is an adventure bike, he tells the NZ Herald Driven: “I like adventures and exploring. It takes courage to get the best from it, and that suits me”. – NZ Herald Driven 22 April 2017