Are you a Mindful Leader?

Are you a Mindful Leader?

“Mindfulness is a state of being fully present, aware of oneself and other people, and sensitive to one’s reactions to stressful situations. Leaders who are mindful tend to be more effective in understanding and relating to others and motivating them toward shared goals. Hence, they become more effective in leadership roles.”

(William W. George, Harvard Business School Q&A)
Monica Mathijs | Developing People. Developing organisations

When was the last time you made a rushed decision or reacted without full information? Can you think of a time when you were short with your staff because your mind was not in the right place? Have you dealt with stressful situations in a manner which was not effective nor beneficial to those around you?

For many managers and leaders, these questions can bring back a memory of a time when they reacted in a way which was not positive and may have led to a worse situation.

Do you want to be able to change the way you deal with difficult situations or at least learn to react in a manner which is more present, thoughtful and focused?

With topics such as mindfulness, self-awareness, empathy and emotional intelligence gaining much focus and reflect upon their actions and words.

The prevalence of mindfulness as a topic with all its uses and benefits, it makes sense that mindfulness programs and techniques are being adopted in the workplace, education system to the military.

When people practice mindfulness, the experiences and benefits are unique to them. The benefits include improved sleep, a sense of calm, a change in their outlook of life, how they deal with situations all the way to realizing their calling in life.

Over the years, research and science provide the evidence to support the benefits of mindfulness. Just to name a few of the scientific findings, the brain can be re-wired, stress hormones reduce, the happy hormones increase, memory improves and more. A

How to adopt a mindfulness approach to your leadership style:

  1. Find the time to practice mindfulness – Robin Sharma talks about rising early and meditating. Morning meditation gives the mind and body with space and sets us up for the day ahead
  2. Learn some techniques to help during stressful situations or just to reconnect – simple techniques such as the 16 second breath or the listening to the sounds around you can help bring you back to the present moment and stop the over-reacting thought
  3. Observe and notice – as a leader, how your people are behaving and acting is an indicator of how they feel, whether they are too busy, content, underworked or behaving out of character, this gives you the chance to take action steps and ask how others are doing
  4. Listen with attention and practice active listening – next time you are in a meeting, learn to focus on the topic or person speaking, make eye contact, be active in what you are hearing and put down that phone. These simple steps show that this is important to you
  5. Run mindfulness programs for your staff – raise an awareness of techniques and stress management tools to equip them with the means to deal with and handle a variety of situations

The next time you are in a situation where you have the choice to react, practice a mindfulness technique and see how things change.

Monica Mahi Mathijs is the co-founder of Reach Outstanding offering leadership development programs, executive coaching and assessment centres – Developing People. Developing Organisations. 

7 Ways You’re Preventing Yourself From Getting Your Act Together

7 Ways You’re Preventing Yourself From Getting Your Act Together

Let’s be honest, most of us, at some time or another haven’t had our act together.

It’s tough. We can have a lot of commitments, whether it’s work, children, family, goals, health, fitness…

The list goes on. Having everything together isn’t always easy.

However, not having our act together can cause more stress and anxiety.

Which leads to health issues, including digestion. Leaving people needing to get their act together literally AND figuratively.

Which I, personally, learnt the hard way. The worst part of my story was that I “thought” I did have it all together. I mean I was 20, I clearly knew everything. Until I wasn’t digesting food. It was like my body became intolerant to the rubbish I was feeding it.

My work helping people get their act together didn’t start with my story.

It actually started when I was working as a nutritionist.

What I learnt from being a nutritionist is it isn’t simply changing someone’s diet, no. It’s more than that. A lot more. You’re looking at the reasons why people eat certain foods. Why they don’t want to change when they say they want to. Then breaking down all their excuses on why they can’t change. Trust me when I say this, being a nutritionist is not a simple undertaking.

Now I’m a professional Get Your Act Together-er.

Here is what I have learnt from not only getting my act together but also from helping other people get their act together.

People make excuses for why they can’t change.

So here are Seven Ways People Prevent Themselves From Getting Their Act Together.

1) Forgetting To Say No.

I genuinely believe people have hardwired their brains into thinking that saying no is physically damaging to them. I know I did it to myself.

Think about all the times you have wanted to say no. However, instead of saying no, you said yes. Usually, because you have come up with a narrative of all the bad things that will happen if you say no.

Maybe because you think Tom, Dick and Harry will curse the day you were born for saying no.

Saying yes all the time, especially when you want to say no is wasting your time.

Think about all the ways you could be getting your act together if you just said no.

2) Distractions

This is one of the biggest ones.

There are so many distractions around us. Whether it’s TV, social media, the internet, life drama etc.

There is always something to do.

Getting your act together takes time. It takes self-reflection. How are you are going to do that when there are all these shiny objects floating around.

Getting your act together isn’t comfortable. You have to look at hard truths about yourself. For a lot of people that discomfort pushes them to distract themselves. It’s as if they are trying to escape their reality.

Making it IMPOSSIBLE to get their act together.

3) Lack Of Accountability.

If there isn’t anyone around that is a good influence guiding you, then you’re screwed. You have no one to be accountable to.

Being accountable to yourself is where you want to be, however, for a lot of people, it’s tough. You have to wade through a river rubbish to be able to put it all together.

I recently wrote a blog on Why Being Responsible Is A Super Power. It really is. If you can hold yourself accountable and take responsibility, it becomes a lot easier to get your act together.

Taking accountability is uncomfortable. You have to own all your mistakes. Recognise you are your biggest hurdle and find a way to overcome.

4) You’re Future “Me-ing” It.

Do you know those times where you can see something that you need to fix? Or a job that needs to be done and you say “I’ll do it later’?

Yeah, that’s future me-ing the problem. I can guarantee that future you, strongly dislikes past you.

Not “dealing” with a problem/job/deadline/ bill whatever it is in the moment is adding more rubbish you need to get together.

Sometimes getting your act together is actually removing tasks and not adding to them.

5) The Stories We Tell Ourselves.

I see this time and time again.

People tell themselves stories about why they can’t get their act together. Whether it’s quitting a job, asking for a raise, leaving a toxic relationship or joining a gym.

The fictitious stories you tell yourself can render you inactive and prevent you from moving forward.

This one can be a tough one to overcome. Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves, we have been telling ourselves since we were kids.

Breaking that cycle can be difficult.

6) You’re Saying “I Don’t Have Time”.

Who here has visited this land? I know I have, many times. It’s where dreams go to die.

Look, I get it. We are all busy. I agree. Sometimes, on occasions, we simply don’t have times.

However, let’s quickly review number one in this article. Forgetting to say no.

If people can’t break this cycle and take an honest look at their time, then it’s going to be really hard to get their act together.

A lot of people I work with have issues with control. Anxiety can come from a lack of control. However, letting go and letting people help you to give you more time is essential.

7) You’re Living In The “When I”.

This one is so common.

I have met clients, friends, family members, acquaintances that say this all the time.

For instance:

I’ll join the gym “when I” lose a little more weight.

I’ll quit my (toxic) job “when I” reach x, y, z.

I’ll spend more time with friends “when I” have more time.

I’ll quit drinking “when I” have finalised x, y, z. ‘

You know what I told myself a lot? I’ll sort out my anxiety “when I” don’t have digestive issues. This literally prevented me from getting my act together literally and figuratively.

If you’re always waiting for the perfect moment to change, you’re wasting your time.

For more information about stress, anxiety, burnout, digestion or getting your act together, head over to my blogs and video section.

Or if you would like to get in touch, feel free to reach me here.

Stop waiting and start Getting Your Act Together.

5 Ways to Add More Positive Energy to Your Workplace

5 Ways to Add More Positive Energy to Your Workplace

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”


Many people grow up hearing that positivity is key. Unfortunately, as we grow up, it can be harder and harder to be positive. Life has many snags and issues that we all must learn to deal with. Work can be an especially stressful place, with deadlines and clients and co-workers.



Much work stress comes from deadlines that were missed and disorganization. Keep a color coded calendar of all work events, deadlines, meetings, and client updates. Being able to consult the calendar of all daily events will make work less stressful.


Most people have negative communication with one another because the communication is not effective. Send emails updating colleagues on the things that each person must be aware of and while speaking in person, genuinely listen to one another rather than being abrupt. Better communication produces positive communication and positive feelings.


Many people do not make a habit of smiling and looking cheerful at work, but looking approachable will get you much different results than looking standoffish. Practicing smiling and having a more upbeat attitude makes it likely that other workers will approach you with the same attitude. Clients also prefer working with someone who is professional, yet friendly.


Most of the time people don’t feel accomplished at work, which leads to feelings of negativity. Setting small goals that lead to larger accomplishments will help keep you focused will help keep your attitude positive and upbeat.


If you have a stressful job or a job that can be brought home, it can become easy for your life to be overwhelmed with work. If you vow to leave work at home and spend your personal time with family, friends, and your own hobbies, work will appear much less like an albatross and must more like a part of life.


Four Causes Of Burnout

Four Causes Of Burnout

Okay, so if you haven’t heard, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that burnout can be medically diagnosed.

Which is pretty crazy if you think about it, working too hard a medical diagnosis? This is where the lines could become blurred. 

Burnout is a serious condition. It completely changes the way your body functions, your mental state and the way you process emotions. It’s not something to be scoffed at. 

For people who have suffered from burnout, they will tell you it changed everything for them. The way they worked, exercised, ate, spent time with family and friends. Literally every aspect. 

I understand a lot of people look at burnout as something simple to overcome, it really isn’t that simple. 

So let’s break it down, what is burnout? 

It is complete physical, mental and emotional exhaustion from experiencing prolonged stress. 

I have mentioned in previous articles/blog posts that that stress doesn’t always start off as a negative. For some people, it can be positive. 

The WHO has suggested that you get burnout from overworking. But what are the causes? 

I think we have to look at a lot of different facets to get to the answer.

1) Expectations

Expectations can cause a lot of conflicts if not managed properly. Whether it’s between managers and employees or the expectations people put on themselves. 

Here’s my experience working with clients who have suffered burnout, they usually suffer from their own expectations. Their willing to exceed their any expectation. 

Now, I’m not saying that’s always a bad thing. However, we have to look at what cost? For a lot of top performers, burning out is their worst nightmare. They will have no choice but to slow down. 

On the other hand, what if managers or employers expectations are too high. This is something I have also seen. Where there is simply not enough time in the day to physically do the work. People can bust their butts trying to reach specific deadlines or targets, which are simply unachievable. 

I have had one client say they literally worked 20 hours straight to reach a deadline. Annnnnd did those hours multiple times. That is a clear indication that the workload was too high. 

Not only that, if you are constantly working towards an unachievable goal/deadline/target, switching off is going to be a problem.

2) The 9-5 is DEAD

What a dream that was. Coming into work at 9 am and leaving at 5 pm, what a life. 

I have to say I’ve never worked in an industry where I was able to work 9-5, but hey, it was a thing. Most people I speak to are working a lot longer than that. 

Then with the development of technology, work hours have dramatically changed. People can check their emails and receive phones calls at all times of the day. 

Technology has given people a lot of freedom. However, it has also changed the way we work. The hours we work and how much “downtime” we get. 

Not only that, people are programming their brains to react to every sound and vibration their phones make. Creating a new phenomenon where people are always “on”.

People have become incredibly reactionary to their phones. This doesn’t allow them to really switch off if they aren’t proactive about it.

3) Lack of Feeling Accomplished and Satisfied

Okay, so this is a little follow on from number one. Let’s think about this logically. If you are unable to hit your goals, targets or hit deadlines would you feel accomplished or satisfied? I’m going to take a wild guess and say no. 

This is the mental and emotional aspect of burnout. If you don’t feel satisfied, accomplished or valued continuously, you will burn out. 

A lot of employees who don’t reach their manager’s expectation (let alone their own) they won’t feel that buzz you get from succeeding. 

Can you imagine never being able to relish in any success? It’s pretty bleak if you ask me.

4) Culture

This is a HUGE one for a lot of companies. I know countless people who have left their job burnt out because of the terrible culture. 

Working in an environment that’s toxic is incredibly mentally and emotionally draining. 

Trying to hit your targets, deadlines and goal while managing a toxic work culture won’t keep any good employee. 

What we have to remember is stress has a very detrimental effect on the body. All of those areas can cause stress day in and day out. This is what causes burnout. The way responds to stress. 

Reducing those stressors is the first step. 

Are they the only causes of burnout? No, there are a lot of other areas when looking at burn out. It doesn’t always come from work. This is why people need to recognise the warning signs.  

I guess my only concerns with burnout being diagnosable now is what are doctors looking for?

The WHO has said they are looking for:

1) Depletion in energy 

2) Increase in mental distance from work 

3) Reduced professional efficacy 

They have also said they need to rule out other mental health issues. Such as anxiety, adjustment disorders and mood disorders. 

My personal concern is that anxiety can be a symptom of burnout. 

I hope the handbook on burnout from the WHO will be a little more detailed.  Those symptoms are quite generic. There also needs to be more clarification around certain areas.

What are some take-home notes?

Burnout is a complicated illness. There isn’t one solution. There isn’t one answer. 

Companies will need to take a personalised approach to how to prevent and overcome burnout for their employees.

Stress is the biggest factor when it comes to burnout. Finding solutions, investing in education and changing protocols is important. 

If you want to know The Six Stages Of Burnout, click here. 

If you want more information about stress, anxiety or burnout head over to my website. There are loads of articles, blogs and videos. 

You can also reach out to me directly here. 

Katie Maycock – Anxiety Specialist 

Contact: 07398643614 

Why you should care about the sleep problems of your employees

Why you should care about the sleep problems of your employees

Beatrix A Schmidt | Sleep coach, speaker and author of The Sleep Deep Method.
According to various recent research and survey results, in the UK alone approximately 1 in 3 people struggle with insomnia or other sleep issues.

Why should you care?

At first glance, you might think that poor sleep is an issue for the employee to address at home.

But the knock-on effect of sleep deprivation carries over into the workplace every single day, reducing productivity and decreasing employee engagement.

Mental health and the quality of a person’s sleep are very closely linked.

Lack of quality sleep is also linked to a wide range of cognitive and physiological impairments. From increased stress levels, mental health issues, decreased working memory capacity, and inability to focus on tasks, to increased risk of heart disease and elevated blood pressure – the list is ever-growing.

Sleep issues and the related tiredness during the day eventually leads to individuals failing to function well during the working day, and in their free time. It is a quite simple chain of events that happens for so many employees in today’s busy and demanding society.

The term ‘burnout’ is heard more and more around the corridors of companies everywhere.

The root of this problem stems in tiredness and manifests as a loss of motivation, resilience, and sometimes the onset of depression.

Burnout is avoidable with the right wellness strategy in place.

When loyal and hardworking employees get the support they need to balance their work with their health, they avoid more serious health concerns being triggered.

In turn, the organization experiences better talent retention rates, increased work performance, reduced absenteeism and better teamwork to name a few things.

These are results I have seen repeatedly from working on wellness strategies with organizations and individuals over the years. From CEOs and senior management to support staff; people from all walks of life benefit from healthier sleep at night.

Genuinely restorative sleep helps them with their emotional stability, intellectual capacity, occupational drive as well as their physical health.

If you would like to find out more about corporate sleep workshops and in-house sleep coaching for your employees, get in touch by sending me a LinkedIn message or an e-mail.

Have a great week


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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, When It Comes To Stress.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, When It Comes To Stress.

Katie Maycock | Anxiety and Digestive Health Specialist

There are times when stress can benefit you in the workplace. There are times when stress will limit you. There are times when stress will destroy you. 

I do a lot of corporate talks. There is always a divide whether stress is good or bad for you.

Here’s what I know.

The Good.

I’m absolutely a believer that stress can play a role in business. For instance, attending to customer needs and driving towards goals and targets. 

It can also feel great. It can drive motivation for a lot of people. It plays a role in concentration and memory. 

If stress is managed correctly, it can be used as a tool! 

Here’s how: 

1) Increasing How Alert You Are. 

True story. When you are in times of acute stress, you are more alert. Now, why is this important? Because when you are more alert, you are able to focus and concentration at higher levels. This alertness allows you to function at your mental peak. 

2) Increasing Mental Performance. 

Bear with me on this one.

I want you to think back to a time where you were studying for an exam or test. A time when you had to hit a target or deadline. That stress increases how alert you are, which increases your mental performance. Mental performance is incredibly important for success. Being able to think clearly and accurately is going to lead to more success.

3) Increase In Energy

Stress increases your energy! This increase in energy can help you work harder, faster and longer. Becoming more productive. 

However, sometimes we need that extra energy to be able to achieve our goals and targets. 

Not only can it help with increasing energy and endurance at work, but it can also help with our physical activity. This is because of the adrenaline and cortisol that is produced by during stress.

Note: For all you high achievers and Type A Professionals, continue reading. This isn’t permission to keep burning the candle at both ends.

4) Increase Memory

I know, I know, I have harped on (and will mention later in this blog) how stress limits memory. 

However, there are times when stress can increase memory. This can be hypothesised due to an increase in alertness and becoming more aware. Or even if the acute stress is changing the development of brain cells. 

However, recent studies have been able to show an increase in memory after a period of acute stress. 

Being able to tap into “good” stress and harnessing it, will definitely help you become successful. 

However, there is definitely a dark side to it.

The Bad.

Stress is not a limitless pool you can use to drive you forward every day. Like any resource, it has to be used appropriately. Otherwise, it will hinder you. 

Stress increases a sense of urgency. If used correctly, it can be a very beneficial tool.  

Put into context, if one of your clients or customers has an issue, clearly, time is of the essence. A sense of urgency can lead to a speedy resolution. Which is important! 

However, if used incorrectly, it will really limit your success. 

Here’s how.

1) Making Appropriate Decisions

We can all agree, making decisions is a part of everyday life, not just running a business. 

Making appropriate and clearly thought out decisions, just as important. Especially when you are running a business. It means you can solve problems quickly. You prevent the possibility of mistakes and it realistically it can save time in the long run. 

If you’re stressed or have a feeling of a sense of urgency, this can be difficult. You’re more likely to make to rash and knee jerk decisions. Which may lead more hassle in the long run. 

Otherwise, if you have been stressed for a while and your stress has turned into anxiety, it could potentially leave you unable to make a decision at all. 

Not making a decision is just as bad (if not worse) than making a rash decision. 

Either way, you’re limiting yourself. 

2) Making Frequent Mistakes

A lot of the time, when we are stressed, we are rushing. Whether that’s reading an email, going to a meeting or simple having a call with someone. 

If we feel rushed, we are more than likely going to miss details. 

How many times have you skim read or not proofread an email and sent it realising that there are typos? Or sent an email to the wrong person? 

Yeah, mistakes are never fun. 

Usually when we are stress and rushing our attention to detail is limited. 

There is a simple solution though. 

Slow down, read that email properly, pay attention in meetings and remain focused. Don’t think about the twenty things you need to do. Stay in the moment. 

Making mistakes is wasting your time. It could also be wasting your customers or clients time.

It also reduces credibility.

3) Damaging Relationships

I want to put this into context.

Think about a time when you felt as though someone hadn’t listened to you. 

A time when someone didn’t hear you and responded inappropriately. 

How did it make you feel? Did you feel heard? Did you feel important? 

I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say no. 

When clients, customers, manager or employees feel that way, they aren’t going to stick around. 

If employees don’t feel heard, they will feel under-valued and leave. 

If your manager feels as though you can take direction or listen, you may miss out on growth within that company. 

If your customer or clients don’t feel heard they will take their business elsewhere.

The Ugly.

There is absolutely an ugly side to stress. 

Stress is damaging to the body. It doesn’t just limit you in regards to success, it also limits you physically. 

Three significant ways it is damaging you:

1) Increasing Your Likelihood Of Burnout

I have spoken about this at lengths. However, it really does increase your likelihood of burning out. 

For a lot of people who have burnt out, a lot of them will say it started off as a positive. Which then turned into a very detrimental negative. 

Burnout isn’t easy to overcome. It takes time, its something that changes the way you work and rest. 

Preventing burnout is the best way. Seriously, don’t think it can’t happen to you. Waiting until you drop down from burnout is not very practical.

2) Increasing Digestive Issues 

Yes, you are increasing the likelihood of developing IBS, allergies, intolerances or even worse an auto-immune disease. 

Having prolonged stress has an immense effect on the way the human body digests food. It limits the blood flow to the digest tract, reducing the way we absorb nutrients and increasing inflammation in the gut. 

Fun fact: 70-80% of your immunity is linked to your gut.  

3) Increasing The Likelihood Of Lifestyle Disease

Such as diabetes, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, obesity and the list goes on. 

Stress increases inflammation throughout the body, which then increases the likelihood of disease. 

Stress can be a vicious cycle on health, if not managed. 

What can you do?

The first step is to admit that you are in fact stressed. A lot of people don’t realize they’re stressed. Or they perceive stress in a different way that leaves them living in denial. Never a good place to be. 

The second step, look at how you work. Do you constantly work under a sense of urgency or agitation? Ask yourself, is this a good time to have a sense of urgency? Become more aware of appropriate and inappropriate times to work from that space. For instance, skim reading an email or rushing through a call to get to the next task, may not be the right time to have a sense of urgency. 

The third step, start looking for tools and techniques that you can implement every day. If meditation doesn’t feel right, don’t force it. Go to the gym instead, go for a walk. Even taking a moment to step outside is beneficial. 

Not all tools and techniques are created equally. Find what works for you and utilise them. 

For more blog and videos on burnout, stress and health and wellbeing in the workplace, head over to my website. 

If you want to reach out and see how I can help you or your organisation, reach out.

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