Professors can’t dance – mind/body rocks

January is usually one long blaze of Summer sunshine and strawberries and as much swimming as can be managed. Holidays are probably the best time of the year physically for many of us as we make the most of daylight saving and family.

And then we try to tune back into the work mode which can be a struggle.

It can take a few days to reconnect with the work vibe and the mental demands of our usual work patterns. Fairly soon, the pendulum of exercise and sun swings back to days of mild chair wrestling while we slowly tip from too much exercise to way too much sitting , if you are anything like me.

I was watching the Ken Robinson TED presentation on “Do schools kill creativity? again recently and I really liked his word picture of professors at the annual conference dance.

He tells the story much better but to paraphrase..Professors are the epitome of academic education but they can’t dance.

Somehow we have targeted so much of our learning from the waist up that legs are what we use to get to meetings when there is clearly more fun available.

I was reminded of this story when Jamie Wheal wrote this in a recent ChangeThis manifesto called Free Your Ass and Your Mind Will Follow: Embodied Leadership

“Between commutes, office time and T.V., we spend up to 90% of our daysfolded into seats. Our great evolutionary accomplishment was walking on two feet, not slumping on two cheeks.

But, in today’s vaunted information society, we seem to have forgotten entirely that these heads of ours rest on bodies that make all of that nifty thinking possible.”

Stands to reason we need to work on our mid/body connection much more than we usually do. Jamie continues

“Devoting ever-increasing effort to the next Big Idea, while ignoring our actual physical ability to process it, is like running an Intel Itanium Dual Core processor while still on dial up—it works, but not early as well as it’s supposed to.

So the first step in pursuing Embodied Leadership must focus on strengthening our weakest links—the hardware of our body-brain connection, and the software of our mental models and maps.”

and later

“It is the thesis of this essay that in order to propel growth into those upper reaches and rewire ourselves for the challenges ahead, we need to train all aspects of ourselves, including the physical and cognitive.”

It is a thesis well worth reading and freely available on ChangeThis for download. Jamie has much more to say, for example about Getting Things Done and other approaches. He then goes on to suggest some tools that may help. Finally

Thirty-odd years ago, master of Funk music George Clinton and his band Parliament beseeched us all with the refrain “Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow.”

In that ostrich feather and glitter world, it seemed a self evident truth that expanding your consciousness would inexorably lead to joyful self expression.

Today, we might do well to consider the opposite. If we are to truly free ourselves, perhaps it is as useful to begin with our asses (and the rest of our bodies), with the intention of freeing our Minds.

Where else to look.?

In Auckland – MindWarriors offers a training programme called Jolt.

“Mind Warriors is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people around the world by unleashing the power of their mind.

Mind Warriors mantra is to provide simple and effective systems that create positive changes in people’s lives.

Mind Warriors have tested their Mind/Body Integration research and theories in corporates, schools and community organisations over the last 8 years with much success.”

The leaders behind this programme are Steve Hill and Wade Jackson who have a long and successful track record with Improv Solutions which “design and deliver experiential training sessions specialising in Organisational Creativity and Storytelling”.

For those readers in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland, Christchurch and Toronto there is also the Resilience Institute. To quote from their site “Resilience is the ability to remain fully engaged in our life and work – energised, positive, focused, and committed – regardless of what we encounter”.

Happy New Year everyone and do enjoy your work – but don’t neglect those mind/ body connections. I also reckon that more fishing / gardening / swimming might also help ease me back into the work zone!

Footnote 1: a great summer post by Graham Reid over here.

Footnote 2: from Total Immersion Swimming

“In his influential book, Tao of Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee wrote that 10 minutes of practice with mind and body fully integrated was worth more than 10 hours of going through the motions. It’s well known that most humans operate at only a tiny fraction of their true potential and that the key to realizing more of that potential is mental, not physical.”

Must go swimming again today!