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What I learnt about rugby legend Jamie Heaslip on That Great Business Show

Real leaders mind their mental health

Every day is a school day in business. You can always learn tricks, small or large, that can make your business better and more profitable. One hugely simple idea that I learnt at a LEO Fingal event I was moderating some years ago, was that when you are at the very beginning of launching your business and you are wisely keeping costs as close to nil as possible, working from your attic (don’t we all nowadays), make sure not to advertise how small you are. Use your home address to promote your business. If your business is in services sign off your email with Suite 32, The Elms, Dublin D06F9D3. If you’re in product, sign it off as Unit 32, The Elms, Dublin D06F9D3. Why? Because it looks like you’re working in either serviced offices or in a business park. This makes your business look more substantial. Fake it till you make it, as they say. Meanwhile, from the privacy of your attic, you can plot your world domination…Add paragraph text here.

Looking after number one

A recent guest on That Great Business Show Eps. 8, Dr. Jolanta Burke, an audience favourite, shared tips on destressing and calming down. She knows that business leaders have to take care of their mental health or there will be no business. Dr. Jo, as she likes to be called, is Assistant Professor of Positive Psychology at NUI Maynooth. With more bits of paper (academic qualifications!) to her name than the Irish Times she really knows what she’s talking about.

The standout for me was the benefit of writing down your thoughts. She says, and she has the research to prove it, that this practice cleanses the mind. In my happy ignorance I was in two minds (!) about this. That was until I learnt something new about my co-host Jamie Heaslip. He told Dr. Jo that immediately after every match he played, he did a ‘brain dump’ of his emotions, sitting in the corner of the changing room, expressing his thoughts on the match he had just played. I asked him why, what was it for? He said, it was just to clear his mind of the match. Otherwise, he said, he would wake up at 4am that night and replay the match in his head. What he wrote down was only for himself, not for publishing or sharing. Just his private thoughts, kept private.

The 4am replay

The mention of the 4am action replay will resonate with the many thousands of listeners who subscribe to That Great Business Show. There’s a very special time, in the middle of the night, when it’s too early to get up and too hard to get back to sleep again, a time that all in business can identify with. It’s when you ask and ask, when it’s all looking bleak, if you should continue with this crazy journey you’ve chosen and feel you inflicted on yourself (and your family, friends, staff, colleagues….)? Alternatively, if you’ve had some welcome breakthrough, a big (too big??) contract, or good news on funding or budgets, you can stress yourself to bits wondering how you’re going to cope, where you are going to find staff, whether you’ll be too dependent on that one contract (the one you were waiting so long for…)? Does this all sound familiar? I haven’t met one, not one, business leader who hasn’t had the 4am wakeup.

Brighten up the darkest hour

But what those in business hadn’t done, that I’m aware of, is to listen to Dr. Jo and Dr. Jamie (he is a performance coach after all) and to write down those thoughts, first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I’m no psychologist but it sounds to me that it should be like the shower you have first thing in the morning. Personally, if I didn’t shower, I wouldn’t function properly that day. So maybe if you ‘shower’ your mind, by writing down your thoughts first thing (no long essays involved) that you’ll hopefully avoid the stomach-churning anxieties in the darkest hours.

Dr. Jo is a total tonic and her chat on Eps. 8 is full of many, totally practical, steps that you can take to help you concentrate on making your business a success. And then you’ll only have to worry about those orders being too big. A nice worry to have.

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Other guests on Espisode 8 include: Ken Madden of The Lismore Food Company on great biscuits, expansion and visuals for food. (21 minutes) Shift workers software platform GetTheShifts founder Hannah Wrixon on raising €600k and pivoting to a new customer group, (37 minutes) BigRedCloud's Marc O'Dwyer asks accountants to wear the Big Green Jersey, (53 minutes) University of Maynooth Psychology professor Jo Burke's proven practical tips on de-stressing

Main photo by Adolfo Félix on Unsplash

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