The Successful Coach

Peter Stewart

Do you always feel like there’s a lot going on in your brain? Are you having a hard time when it comes to problem-solving and decisions making?

How do you leverage your brain at work?

Our brain is always functioning and performing behind the scenes…that’s why it demands so much from your body.

We need to differentiate the decisions, changes, and choices that are important from those that aren’t. Recognize that not every activity you engage in requires the same level of brainpower.

Schedule your day from a ‘brain energy management’ perspective and not just an ‘importance’ perspective.

It is also very important to give yourself a little quiet time to mentally adjust and process before making big decisions. Let your mind connect the problems that are still unsolved and your brain will solve them behind the scene. You just need to turn off distractions to listen to some of those answers.

A bit about Peter:

Peter K. Stewart, Ph.D., is an experienced business psychologist specializing in leadership consulting, coaching, and training. As a member of the Senior Leadership Team of Stewart Leadership, Peter assists in strategic planning, firm development, management, and operational delivery. He continues to have ongoing oversight of the Stewart Leadership family of assessments, including the LEAD NOW! Self Assessment and LEAD NOW! 360° Assessment. In addition to individual leadership coaching, consulting, and delivery of training for clients, Peter also supervises assessment integration and certification for coaches within the programs for Stewart Leadership.

Over the last 15 years, with his unique blend of insightful psychological and business perspectives, Peter has helped hundreds of individuals in diverse settings and professional positions achieve success in their personal growth and leadership development. Clients have frequently commented on the ease and speed with which Peter is able to thoroughly grasp the individual and organizational challenges that people are facing. He helps them conceptualize and understand their role in complex organizational systems through clear, practical, and common-sense direction with a clear plan for action.

Peter’s formal training in personal development began with his undergraduate studies in psychology and business at Brigham Young University. He completed his graduate studies at the University of Kansas and Ohio State University by earning both a masters and doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology with emphasis in organizational systems, change, and human behavior. He also has expertise in the development, administration, and utilization of assessments, founded in relevant statistical analysis and research methodologies.

In addition to being a co-owner of a group practice for several years, Peter is an active researcher, trainer, author, and speaker. As an adjunct professor, he has taught assessment administration and interpretation in the graduate school at Washington State University. He has published many articles and studies in Forbes and peer-reviewed journals, including Clinical Psychology: Science & Practice and The Journal of Clinical Psychology, presented at national conferences and participated in the development, standardization, and psychometric analysis of multiple assessment instruments.

Peter’s unique background combined with a pragmatic, skills-focused application makes him ideal to partner with organizations and individuals to bring sustained improvement through talent management and leadership development strategies.

Where you can find them:

Where you can find them:
Website: https://stewartleadership.com/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/peter-stewart-phd/

Where you can listen to this episode:
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Peter Stewart 0:01

It's like you're adopting this new normal, where everything's kind of taking a little extra thought. It's like, "Well, what is my routine?" "What is happening?" "We're going back to the office in couples? Okay?" "Now we're not?" "Oh, we got timezone changes and meetings and schedules," and "Oh, we got homeschool kids, we got to help with homework and how the cats were walking across the keyboard" and all these things. It's different. So it's just making our brains work overtime.

Doug Holt 0:30

Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today. I have a guest, Peter Stewart. If you don't know Peter, Peter is the managing partner at Stewart Leadership and is a licensed business psychologist who has coached individuals from the playground to the C suite. Peter is also an authority on understanding people and systems to maximize functioning and heightening their potential. Now, who doesn't want some of that in their life? I mean, come on. Peter, thanks so much for being here.

Peter Stewart 1:00

My pleasure, Doug. Thanks for having me on the show. It's a pleasure to join you.

Doug Holt 1:04

Yeah, well, I'm excited because this will be a different topic that we haven't had yet. And that's really how to leverage your brain at work. And when we're recording this, we're still in the COVID pandemic, especially here in the States. I know people are of different parts of the world there have been writing into the show. But I think this is going to be interesting in how we approach this. I'd like to know Peter starting with what are some of the fundamental things we should know about our brain to best leverage them?

Peter Stewart 1:35

Sure, I think it's a great place to start. And I appreciate that you kind of had that caveat of, we're in a new context right now. Well, we've been in it for a while now. We're kind of sick of it. But what impact does that have on our brain? And so I think we can dive into that a little more. And first off, it's understanding, and even just positive, we have a brain, as all of us do. We hope we bring it with us everywhere we go. How much do we know about it? But it's controlling so much of our life. So I think there are a couple of fundamentals to keep in mind. One is aware that it is a high resource craving organ like it demands so much. Like just some little stats, like 35% of all the blood flow in your heart ends up going to your brain.

Doug Holt 2:31

Wow

Peter Stewart 2:32

To power 25% of all metabolic fuel, like everything you eat and take it, the brain uses it as a quarter. But it only weighs like, what? Two, three pounds. It's like the whiny child in the corner demanding everything from your body. Even understanding that little part helps you understand, okay, well, if it's demanding of all these resources, your brain is developed in times of scarcity. So then it's going to kind of migrate and prefer these homeostasis, these states in which we're not changing?

Doug Holt 3:15

Yeah, sure.

Peter Stewart 3:16

And that's where it's like this pull from the brain to keep you from doing things that cause a lot of extra work.

Doug Holt 3:25

Now, are these things metabolically or things just in general?

Peter Stewart 3:29

Like you can look at? It's like, have you ever been sitting there on the couch, watching Netflix, and have the thought, "I should go to the gym right now?"

Doug Holt 3:38

Of course.

Peter Stewart 3:39

Of course! And it's like, you almost have this, you think back to the old cartoons when a little angel and the devil on the shoulders?

Doug Holt 3:46

Sure.

Peter Stewart 3:46

And literally, that's the battle that's happening with your brain. The lower part of your mind says, "No, no, don't go to the gym, that's going to waste resources, it's going to make the bodywork harder. You should just stay here and rest because that's a good choice." Then the upper brain, more the cerebral cortex, especially the frontal lobe, is saying, "Wait a minute, no! It's good for you to go exercise, it's going to produce endorphins to help you feel good. And it helps keep you healthy over the long term." So literally, you have this battle going on.

Doug Holt 4:21

We all know who wins more often than not?

Peter Stewart 4:23

Yep, that we do. And I think especially when we're all dealing with these situations we're at home a lot. And there's all this change. So your brains almost kind of in hyperdrive that fight. Don't do too much because there's so much change in all of that. We're not sure what the future is going to bring. It's even harder to get ourselves motivated to do some of those things.

Doug Holt 4:47

Yes, yeah. When we think about this, many things, you know, what used to be the norm, aren't. We're now in this new norm. How does this change impact our brains?

Peter Stewart 5:01

Yeah, it's a good question to think about because we inherently are creatures of habit. Routine and even people who say "No, no, I don't, I'm not," they're still habits. I even think about the daily cycles we go through. You sleep at night for many folks unless they're shift workers or whatever. And we work during the day, whether their schedules for meals, things like that. And so we adapt and adapt kind of how we're going to view the day based on a lot of these routines. And when there's a big change in that, now we're having weight, focus and pay attention to what's happening. It's kind of like, when folks drive to work or commute, whether you're on a subway or car-bike, typically, you take the same route. Why? It might not be the most efficient route. But it's the one you know. I don't even have to think about it. Yep. So now you're it's like you're adopting this new normal, where everything's kind of taking a little extra thought. It's like, "Well, what is my routine?" "What is happening?" "We're going back to the office in couples? Okay?" "Now we're not?" "Oh, we got timezone changes and meetings and schedules," and "Oh, we got homeschool kids, we got to help with homework and how the cats are walking across the keyboard" and all these things. It's different. So it's just making our brains work overtime.

Doug Holt 6:33

Yes, yeah. Well, how do we, when we look at this? How do we leverage this current situation? To help us grow at work, right, and help our brains function better?

Peter Stewart 6:46

One of the best things we can do is, be patient with ourselves, show a little compassion for ourselves and others. I think that that kind of general kind of shared empathy goes a long way.

Doug Holt 6:58

Yes, agreed.

Peter Stewart 7:01

I think this is the right starting place. And then as we start to think, "Alright, so can I start to create? What is a new normal for me here? What does that look like?" And recognize whether you are creating a routine or not, your brain is a crazy one. It wants to know because then it can predict the cadence of "When am I going to have to expend energy?" You kind of think of it like a phone, like your smartphone. There are always apps that are running on your phone.

Doug Holt 7:36

Absolutely.

Peter Stewart 7:37

Most folks charged up at night. And so you start that day, and you're using your phone. Now, not every app pulls the same amount of battery, you might be scanning through Instagram, or Linked In, or any social media, it doesn't take a lot of battery. But you start pulling up Google Maps or something else, and it starts sucking it a lot more. It recognizes our brain works a lot the same way. Like they're always functions, it's performing kind of behind the scenes. And the more we are aware of those, and then we can shut some of those off. So it's not burning the battery over time.

Doug Holt 8:18

Famously, you've heard about Albert Einstein wearing the same outfit or Steve Jobs? So they could make decisions to better save some of that bandwidth? Is that similar to what we're talking about here?

Peter Stewart 8:30

Yeah, it's similar. Now, is that actually, is that going to be the answer for everybody? But no, it's thought that's one less decision Steve Jobs had to make every day? Did that pay off for him? Well, I think he had a pretty good track record coming up with some pretty revolutionary things.

Doug Holt 8:49

Sure.

Peter Stewart 8:50

Though Einstein, smart guy. So I think it begins to scratch that surface of recognizing what the decisions and changes are essential are? And what are the ones that are not?

Doug Holt 9:06

Okay, then, once we've recognized those decisions, is it now a process of eliminating or adding on different choices or making pivots?

Peter Stewart 9:17

Yeah, I think that's a part of it. I think it recognizes that, but it's viewing how we prioritize our day differently. It's so there's kind of a classic analogy for time management. When you have a jar, and you have next to it, you have some rocks, and pebbles and sand, and you're trying to fit all those in the jar. If you start with the sand first, you really can't fit the big rocks. Okay. So we usually think about it more as we plan our day in terms of what will be most productive or what is most urgent from an important perspective. But if you kind of turn that on its ear a little bit. And recognize, "You know what, not every activity I engage in requires the same level of brainpower, of horsepower. So what if we scheduled our day from a brain energy management perspective, and not just an important perspective?"

Doug Holt 10:21

Interesting, I've never heard this before.

Peter Stewart 10:24

That's like when, let's say you're trying to be creative, and you have to design a new presentation or develop a new strategic plan. Starting that project at 3:30 in the afternoon might not be the best time.

Doug Holt 10:40

No

Peter Stewart 10:41

For many folks, our kind of brain energies waning, the caffeine crash, or the lunch crash, it's hitting, and we're hitting that afternoon wall. So in that time, well, maybe that's the better time in which you just kind of do some monitoring, respond to emails that don't take as much active thought. But then you preserve like, maybe the morning time, that's your more creative time where you have more of the brain battery to use. So it's been more strategic in terms of how we're scheduling our day, from that kind of brain energy-based perspective.

Doug Holt 11:20

Interesting. So to summarize, if I can, is we're looking at our days, we're planning it out, instead of just going through the typical three or four most important things of the day, we're now looking at it from a decision matrix almost for an amount of time it's going to take from creativity or decision, and then scheduling those items first, and letting the rest go later.

Peter Stewart 11:41

Yeah

Doug Holt 11:41

Sounds simple enough.

Peter Stewart 11:42

It is if you have the luxury to have full control over how your schedule works out. But I think it's also paying attention to the situations that tend to be emotionally taxing and draining? And recognizing that because it's not just, "Am I generating new ideas or kind of synthesizing concepts?" Maybe there are certain people we interact with that are slightly harder; it's more challenging. So how often? Are we interacting with those people? And is there a way to maybe schedule those meetings later on? So it's not going to zap you for the rest of the day?

Doug Holt 12:21

I love that. Everybody out there has run a company with some kind of HR issue from time to time. What a great way to put that in there. What else can we do to leverage our brain?

Peter Stewart 12:35

I think one thing to do is recognize you still need to take care of it. I think that's where we can be a beneficial tool. And I don't think we often use sleep as a tool. But it is, and you can go deep into some of the sleep literature. And man, it's amazing some of the stuff they've learned. But let me highlight two things that I found kind of fascinating and help give us a little bit more of that justification of "Alright, yeah, I should get some sleep." So the first is recognizing that your brain is very, very active during sleep. And one of those things is it transfers information. A study was done at the University of Rochester, and they're doing some neural imaging watching people sleep. And they noticed that in stage two, non-REM sleep because in sleep, there are different stages, the hippocampus, which is this kind of central part of the brain, started to get active.

And it started shooting little spindles of electrical information, and they could watch from the hippocampus out into the cerebral cortex. So other parts of the brain happen every kind of hundred to 200 milliseconds. You're like, what's going on? What's happening with this. They discovered that they were watching the brain transferring information from short-term memory into long-term memory. And it's like, every day that hippocampus, it's kind of like a flash drive. Let's say it's, you know, got five gigs on it. And we go throughout the day and work accumulating information. And at night, your brain is figuring out how much of that should I actually remember and file away. And how much is this just fluff, superfluous stuff, the important stuff, it's transferred, so that when you wake up in the morning, you have an empty flash drive, the hippocampus is ready to take in the new information for the day?

Doug Holt 14:46

So what things we look at this, my understanding, are things that could affect this. I have a young baby at home, so rest is a luxury in my world. But you also talk about the things that I've read about excessive drinking, right? Does that inhibit this system?

Peter Stewart 15:05

It can inhibit the quality of sleep individuals have. And I think that's the key distinction between the quantity of sleep and qualities. And it can suppress some of these functions, like some of that memory transfer that could be happening. Because if you don't get more than six hours of sleep, you're not waking up with an empty flash drive. And he tried to tell him that. "And there are lots of legitimate situations and circumstances where you're not going to get a ton of sleep." Having a newborn in the house, going through big changes, things like that. It recognizes you do the best you can. While that's happening, because the lives of those kids, that's the most important part. And I've got four kids myself, and those days have sleepless nights. Oh, man.

Doug Holt 16:00

They're over for you—no need to brag right now.

Peter Stewart 16:04

It gets better to hang on there.

Doug Holt 16:08

As a high-performance coach yourself, right. And working with people through Stewart leadership, is sleep something you address with high performers?

Peter Stewart 16:21

You're trying to coach the whole person. We try not to get too much into the health side of things. But it often dovetails into that concept of emotional intelligence. It's the people side of our interactions. And when we're not necessarily bringing our best self to the office, or to zoom or whatever virtual interchange we're using, then that gets in the way of our ability to be an influential leader truly. So our emotional regulation, our emotional awareness, all those sorts of things. Sleep plays a role, so we will address that, especially if the EQ side is a little more challenging for that particular individual.

Doug Holt 17:11

Gotcha. This is fascinating because all of us have a brain, and all of us are working. So we all deal with this organ in our body that we don't, some of us at least don't know much about. Right? We haven't taken the time to learn. What are other things you're commonly seeing when it comes to the brain and performance or work that people are either missing or could do a little better?

Peter Stewart 17:38

I think that when you say that, what comes to my mind is recognizing. Are we operating, and can we operate in safe environments versus environments where there's a threat? It's all about perception and understanding that that side of it can make a big difference. So as you're a leader, and you're looking at how your team is functioning, and you want to get the most out of your team, you want them to be just humming along, and they're stretching themselves, they're bringing new ideas they're performing well for that to happen. You need their full brain functioning, and when they perceive that they're not in a safe environment, there is a threat or a danger, you're inhibiting part of their brain. This is why there's been kind of that movement to build more psychological safety in teams to do that, because neurologically, what happens is where we scan our environment, about five times a second, for potential threats, and what's happening all the time. Now, hopefully, when we're in a more stable situation at home where there might not be threats for some folks, then, all right, that threat levels down. Home is not necessarily a safe, stable place for some people, which there might be threats. So they're kind of always-on that state of high alert. But as we look back on that in the work setting, when you sense that there is a threat, and again, I say it's a perceived threat, whether it's actual or not, your brain starts to go into protection mode; it's got to figure out what to do with this threat. And so our frontal lobe, this front part of the brain can start to be hijacked by other parts of the brain where the focus is on, hey, we got to pull resources from that frontal lobe. And the frontal lobe does, handles some memory concentration, focus planning, kind of behavioral inhibition, all these really good things which are called executive functions, which we want. All of those start to be suppressed. Because the focus is neurological, you're pulling blood down into the large muscle groups so that you're prepared to either fight, flight, or freeze, whatever your reaction is going to be. So it's looking at from a leaders perspective, am I creating that situation where people do not perceive threats in the workplace? If I can avoid those, I'm going to make sure that the frontal lobe is fully acted.

Doug Holt 20:24

Got it.

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And so, you know a lot of our audience are also coaches. We look at the ways leaders can do this one is ourselves is identifying any threats, it could be emailed, write email could be seen as I got to get back to it, as soon as that ding comes on Outlook, and moving that either to the later the day, or having a paradigm shift and changing at an executive level or a corporate level, that paradigm shift. Do you see businesses doing that often where they're identifying major roadblocks within their company culture where people are seeing, perceiving a threat somehow, maybe it's a manager, maybe it's a communication channel, and then changing that perception?

Peter Stewart 22:08

I wished more organizations were addressing it more intentionally and more head-on. And I think I'd say broadly speaking, and we're seeing more organizations recognize that you have to pay attention to the people side of the business. You can't just be purely focused on the numbers. And so there's, we're seeing a shift in executives in senior leadership, where this kind of old regime of command and control type leadership is changing. And it's that awareness of "Alright, we do we have to take care of our people," they are our most valuable commodity and asset. So how does culture then play into it? And when you're thinking particularly about psychological safety, and I do, I perceive threats? And those are things? Typically, that's an attribute found at the team level? And less at the organizational level? Are there things that an organization can do to promote it? Sure. But it does come down to the manager, how are they leading? And what type of culture and environment are they creating for that team. So I think that's where a lot of the focus can be. And if that manager has a manager above them, who's setting that example, and it goes up into the senior leadership. Then you can start to have that organizational change. As a manager, wherever you're at, you can influence your team's culture specifically.

Doug Holt 23:47

Sure. Even as a coach and consultant, if you're coming into a situation, if you want your message to be received, or anybody communicating to your kids, you have to remove that perceived threat immediately to get it through.

Peter Stewart 24:01

Correct. I'll pull on that thread a little bit because we want managers to be asking for feedback. Like that's, that's one of these. "Okay, how's this going?" Because if we do not have that dialogue, how do we know how people are feeling? So we might say, ask that question. All right, "What is it like to work for me?" "How is this working?" but be very, very careful about how you respond to the feedback?

Doug Holt 24:34

Sure.

Peter Stewart 24:35

Because people are a lot like turtles, in some ways, our heads and our ideas only come out when we feel safe. As you watch a turtle, they stick their head out of their shell, and before they move, they're making sure things are safe. Our people are a lot like that in terms of employees, and just as humans, and know when we feel those that threaten, or we try and throw something out, and we feel like it's just, we got snapped back at, oh, we're back in our shell. And it's going to be a while before we come out and give that candid feedback again. And we can't afford to miss that time. We're losing ideas, we're losing innovation, while the competitors all around us are moving ahead.

Doug Holt 25:18

I love that. Now, would you recommend a leader take a more of a stoic approach to those responses? Or coming back? Or something else? Is it more feeling making sure the person feels validated? What do you recommend?

Peter Stewart 25:33

I think the way you respond as a leader, and you still have to be you, if you're not going to turn into somebody else that's not you, if you are more of a kind of low emotive person, you start jumping for joy when someone gives you feedback. This is going to be a little different. So you need to respond in a way that's authentic to you. But recognizing that, do you need to push yourself a little bit more, to maybe share a little bit more praise, to acknowledge verbally, "I appreciate your sharing your thoughts" because you're focusing on reinforcing the behavior of giving feedback, even more so than the actual content that was shared? And so that's where you want to be mindful of how you are coming across? If you're like, "thanks," and there's very little expression like, how are they going to interpret that? Because we're hardwired as humans to read into those micro-expressions very quickly. I mean, in milliseconds, we're reading into those. And we're hardwired to pay even closer attention to those that we perceive as in a position of power over us. As a leader, it's like a double whammy in that regard. Yes, they're reading us. And they're reading it even more intently because we do have a position of power over them.

Doug Holt 27:05

Fascinating. Peter, what else, if anything else, can the listeners do to leverage their brain and in the workplace?

Peter Stewart 27:15

I think one key thing is recognizing this whole idea of multitasking is a myth. Your brain cannot attend to any more than one thing at a time. It doesn't. So instead of multitasking, what you're doing is you're causing your brain to do rapid shifting from one thing to the next. And this is a lot more in the popular press that's come out over recent months and years on that. But I think we can all remind ourselves that having 14 different windows up on our computers is not necessarily going to be the best way to harness your brain. It's how do you find a little bit more of a singular focus? In which you're able to minimize some of the distractions? Is it okay to shut down your email for an hour? Like, is the world going to blow up? Will that be okay? Do you put on some music? If that's something that helps you tune out some of the distractions around? Can we make things a little more tangible and concrete? And that's one of the challenges with so many things that are virtual? Is it pulls on one part of our cognitive functioning more than others? So how do we get things a little bit more concrete, because anytime you're writing something down, you've now eliminated the fact that you have to recall, or you have to memorize it. Because there are five basic functions, you're always doing. Every second, you're always trying to understand something. You're deciding whether or not this is important, whether I should attend to it, you're trying to recall information because that's how you then connect information. You're memorizing new information to that ingrain it, and then you're trying to inhibit other bits of information coming through. So that's happening all the time. So anytime we can start shutting things off and honing in on it. We're going to be harnessing our brain more.

Doug Holt 29:19

Oh, yeah. I used to have four monitors on my desk; I always said I have three distractions, right? Three more distractions that you need. Bringing it down, it always looked like a good idea until you're working on things that weren't, didn't involve more space.

Peter Stewart 29:36

Yeah. And you hit a key part there. It's like, you can use those as space. Like, let's say you're integrating a bunch of concepts, and you've got a few different websites up because you do not want to flip windows back and forth. That's all with the same objective. I kind of use it as a big desk. You've got them all out, but if you're trying to work on this plan in Excel. And over here, you've got All right, here's email, or on the Oh, here's slack. And over here, we've got a zoom call coming in. Now you're, you're not focused, you're distributing that.

Doug Holt 30:17

Yep. This is so evident in this day and age of all of us being on zoom; we've all been probably guilty but certainly have witnessed people multitasking in the middle of a zoom conference or a zoom meeting. And you can see where they lose focus; they lose that steam, so to speak, in the project that's being worked on.

Peter Stewart 30:38

Yeah, you see that? And the distractions are evident. Now? Are we perfect? Do we live in an environment where we're constantly being pulled in so many different directions? Yes. So again, going back to the previous things, I said, Be compassionate toward yourself. We're doing the best we can. But it recognizes some of these little behaviors actually can pay really big dividends down the road. And when you consciously are saying, "Alright, you know what, I'm going to be not just physically present on this call, but I'm going to mentally be present as well," you'll find it will turn into a more productive interaction.

Doug Holt 31:18

Do yourself, Peter, do you set up for your talks with your clients an interview like this? Do you have a routine that you do to make sure that your distractions are minimized?

Peter Stewart 31:32

There are a few things I'll do like, so internally, we use slack for a lot of our corporate communications. And I'll shut that window down. Yeah, because there are a lot more things popping in there. And I don't want to email up as well. Because especially if I'm in a coaching conversation, it's you and me, like I am here with you. Because if we were in person, I'd be sitting right across from you. And I'm not going to have four different phones out with screens. And it's like, hold on a second, and I'm going to respond here. It's just that focus, so I shut down those distractions, and I'm even careful about where I'm placing my phone. If it's, if it's a crisis, people know how to get a hold of me. But right there, I want them to know, and they've got my attention. And I'm here for them.

Doug Holt 32:28

I love that. And then, obviously, a lot of coaches are listening or watching us now. And one thing that I often see coaches do is they'll try to stack meetings. All of us do, right? We've got so many things going on. But one thing that I've learned through many mistakes is making sure, especially with a whether it be a consulting client or a coaching client, that I have at least 10 to 15 minutes where I can get present, get centered, and be there. So I'm not constantly thinking about the last call, the last thing that came up, or even go in wrestling with my son either way. As joyous as it is, there being present and being focused.

Peter Stewart 33:09

Yeah, I think that's a key part. And it's an adjustment in a virtual setting. And I was just having some conversation with colleagues earlier, as we're recognizing, where if I were on-site, doing coaching or training, I'd be 100% focused on that client. And it would be for that day or that half-day, and you have traveled time where you're commuting there and back. Whereas here, I might have a coaching session with one person. And they're from one organization, and I might be doing virtual training with another organization shortly after that. And you're having to kind of get your head around and in three, four, or five different client contexts for a single day. And so it's important to not only give yourself a little time to kind of mentally adjust and process but to kind of give yourself mine to get in the context of Alright, what is this situation? All right, reminded, because it can be taxing as you do that day in and day out. It's a new skill to be developed.

Doug Holt 34:18

Absolutely. Dr. Hart, who is the founder of Biocyber in his research, is the one that pivoted and changed for me, he talks about that being fundamentally alpha brainwaves, and then we look at the amplitude of those alpha brainwaves. The higher amplitude you have, I might be using the wrong words here. But the higher the brainwave frequency is the alpha state, the person's ability to focus more on a state of deeper relaxation. It's a better decision state to be in as well.

Peter Stewart 34:50

Yep. But I think it's really important to you to monitor that, and yes, you can use neuroimaging biofeedback techniques to help with that, but most of us don't have that sitting around the house. So how do we know? So it's, you start to just tune in to what your body is telling you to tune into your brain, as you think, what are the times you are most productive? What was happening around you? Was it the subject matter? Was it the environment? Was it a combination at the time of day or what were those things and you start to kind of reflect on that you're going to learn about you about your brain about how that works. Like, for me, just as an example, I've learned that when I enable myself to pull away from the intense, constant focus, my brain starts making connections. So a habit I've tried to get into is in the afternoon, sometime between that kind of one and three o'clock, especially if I've been working on creating some new stuff, alternate hit outside and go on a 15, maybe 20-minute walk.

Doug Holt 36:02

I do the same.

Peter Stewart 36:03

I'm not listening to a thing. I don't have earbuds in. And I don't even go out with a plan. It's just letting my mind connect the problems that are still unsolved. And you could look up, and it was a German, I don't know if he was a physician or a psychologist. But it's called the

Zeigarnik effect. And I love learning about these little things, the

Zeigarnik effect. And what it is, is the brain tends to close loops to solve problems, even when you're not thinking about it. Not intentionally. So it's like you've woken up, or you awaken in the morning as like, "Hey, I got that idea." You're in the shower. It's like, that's the connection, you're walking along. And it's trusting that your brains are trying to solve the problem behind the scenes. You have to give it space, and then you need to be free enough from some distractions to listen to some of those answers.

Doug Holt 37:05

That's it. I've been doing that for over a decade. Sometimes I walk a little longer. I just didn't know why; I just knew it worked for me. And it just worked to produce results. And the best ideas would come out of that kinetic movement, right of what I call walking meditation going through there.

Peter Stewart 37:24

There's repetition; it's the feel of your feet, on the movement. But it's also it; you're pulling yourself away. A study said about 16% of all creative ideas come from a desk, or while you're sitting at a desk, 16%. We spent so many hours of our day there. When does it come? When you're driving, walking, in those states, when you think about those five core cognitive functions we talked about, you're not using many of them. So your processor has the bandwidth or the ram to start connecting.

Doug Holt 38:02

Fascinating. I love this. Well, Peter, you've been so gracious for your time. And I feel like we could talk for days here going through there. And the stuff that you guys are doing steward leadership is really interesting to me. There are so many resources you guys have. For those interested in learning more about what you're up to or what Stewart Leadership's up to, what are the best steps for them to take to learn more?

Peter Stewart 38:24

Well, I appreciate you asking about that, Doug. And so I think one of the best places people can go to learn more about Stewart Leadership is our website. So StewartLeadership.com. And as you go on there, you can not only understand the key areas, and we partnered with organizations from a leadership perspective, from a teaming perspective, from a change and a talent. But you also can see the resources we have, as far as we have blog articles we write regularly, webinars on-demand. And from a coaching perspective, we have a certification program for coaches interested in learning about the Lead Now, the program of leadership development, or the teaming assessments we have so they can go on there and search for certification options. And we're always looking to expand our network of certified coaches and affiliates.

Doug Holt 39:17

Fantastic. Well, you're also very active on LinkedIn; you got some great articles and blogs that are coming out. So, everybody, I encourage you to go over and follow. Peter, thank you so much again for being here.

Peter Stewart 39:28

My pleasure. Doug, thanks a lot.

Doug Holt 39:31

Thank you for joining us at The Successful Coach podcast. Please hit like and subscribe so we can bring you more great interviews like these. Until next time, have an amazing day.

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