Formula 1 pit stop

Reset – winning our daily race

With Bahrain preparing to host this weekend’s opening race of the season, the circus sometimes known as Formula 1, is currently dusting off its covers and coming out of hibernation. Drivers are waiting for the lights to go out, team managers will be rehearsing their comments barbed with irony, anger and influence, strategists will be running all sorts of permutations through their computers, and the mechanics will be making last minute adjustments to improve the performance of their coveted machines. As the commentators implore…………Let’s Go Racing!

I am no F1 expert but I do enjoy watching the cars whizz around the track at ridiculous speeds. What is also interesting is when they stop. Apparently, an incredible amount of thought goes in to when the car pulls into the pit lane and the activity of changing tyres and other adjustments are executed with finely tuned skills. Why does the car do this? I guess the answer is that a proactive approach to performance, as opposed to continually driving around, will reap rewards for the driver and the team and give everyone a better chance of success.

If we look after cars in this way, why is it that when it comes to our world of work, we rarely think about how we could win our daily race? Could we benefit from creating a strategy that is proactive in delivering greater performance and safety at a human level?

Physical and nutritional resets are often talked about (and not so often followed through on), but it is worth considering two other forms of reset that could positively impact us:

Emotional reset – Our emotions and mood can change quickly, especially when we are stressed or fatigued, and recent advances in neuroscience are starting to unravel the reasons why. In very simple terms, this is due to an increase in the activity of structures found in the limbic system and a reduction in the functionality of the cerebral cortex.

If the limbic system is overactive, it is possible for our emotions to get the better of us. We may say things we regret or write emails that come back to haunt us; we may become louder and more extrovert or we may become quieter and withdrawn. Whatever the output is, thinking about how you reset emotionally and reactivating the cerebral cortex is beneficial.

One of the best ways to go about this is through breathing exercises. These come in many shapes and forms, but I typically use a 6:8 pattern where you breath in for 6 seconds and out for 8 seconds. Breathing is a skill, so practice and make sure the breath is controlled by your diaphragm. This muscle sits at the base of your lungs – think about breathing to inflate / deflate the region around the tummy rather than breathing at the top of your chest and tightening up around your shoulders.

Intellectual reset – At the start of the day, many people are good at thinking about what needs to be done. In fact, they are so good they may even collate these thoughts by writing out a ‘To Do List’. The trouble is that things can change. It could be a colleague is off sick, a meeting is cancelled, a contract is lost, the school has rung to say that your child is unwell and needs to be taken home. What was a priority a couple of hours ago may not be the case anymore. Creating moments to check in and ensure your actions are in line with what really needs to be done may be something that is worth doing more than just first thing in the morning, if you want to stay in control of your day rather than allowing the day to take control of you.

Whether it be for your health, your wellbeing or your ability to be resilient, working out the reset mechanisms that work for you are important and will help you ‘win the race’.