Culture Change: Cultivate Your Garden

This is part of the 'Cultural Flux' series, article 1 of 3.

In this 3-part series, I will explore culture in the context of global flux both in terms of the level of change and uncertainty we face today. Furthermore, exploring what this means practically and how to cultivate the conditions for transformative emergence, where the parts add to the whole in way that is not visible to us yet. But first we must deconstruct and define culture.

What is Culture?

The word culture comes from the Latin ‘colere’ which means ‘to tend, till or cultivate.’ What do these words evoke in you? Preparing to plant, growing crops or vegetables perhaps? Whatever your associations, in this fast-paced digital world, more and more of us do not see the fruits of our labour in a physical/visceral sense. Thereby, making the need to reconnect with nature all the more important. This is true for me — someone who can easily get lost in thought and ideas and has had to learn to consciously become more embodied and grounded.

I believe reconnecting with nature is important if we are to successfully navigate and actively foster the conditions for something new to emerge. The emergence of which will likely be rooted in the lessons learnt, intersectionality of different fields and principles known to have worked in the past.

In light of this realisation, last summer we planted 35 native wildflowers seeds and three grasses at the bottom of our garden, being especially mindful of the variety of seeds that would flourish in this area— difficult to grow much because of the partial shade caused by a large overhanging tree and poor soil quality. For me this represented hope, creativity and the very act of tilling, cultivating, sowing and tending being a grounding experience. The whole process of which taught me some useful lessons that seem highly relevant here.

Imagined Realities

Imagination is our ability to conceive new ideas, concepts and images that were not previously wholly perceived in our external reality, nor present to our senses. Take my simple example of planting a wildflower area — there were many possibilities and several options we explored beforehand. The entire process was vividly imagined, conceived and then brought into reality. So too are the great feats in human progress and exploration such as sending men to the moon. Again, these are very visceral and tangible achievements but now on a cosmic level.

Similarly, Yuval Noah in his book ‘Sapiens’ describes ‘culture’ as creating and recreating imagined orders. Our ability to do so as humans gives us a unique evolutionary advantage, enabling us to cooperate effectively at scale. Over time diverse imagined realities have resulted in diverse ways of thinking, belief systems, values and behavioural norms. Just think about the stories, myths and archetypes you were told about as children and how we continue to pass these down to future generations. Yet, this is not a static process but a dynamic one.

Cultural Flux

Although conditioned from birth our beliefs and how we identify with ‘our culture’ continues to evolve and remains in constant flux. How so? Well, just consider the impact of 203 new words being added to the Oxford dictionary as part of the October 2019 update (including the Star Wars term Jedi). We shape language and in turn language shapes how we think. What fascinates me is the intersectionality between cultures, industries, ways of thinking — that’s where you can often find the growing edge — areas of our life and work we actively develop despite feeling unsure, uncomfortable, uneasy and perhaps even frightened. Another area I am personally fascinated by is how multilingual thinking shapes identity and culture. Moreover, what insights, lessons and values can we draw in this intersectional space that can help shape our current context and the need to ‘ground global flux’ so as to address the most pressing issues of our time. This impacts all of us to some extent as we borrow words from other languages and cultures such as Safari (Arabic), Guru (Sanskrit) and Cookie (Dutch).

By recognising and accepting that culture is constantly changing because as humans we are naturally driven towards exploration, evolution and growth. Culture is not something that can stay stagnant as this lack of movement causes problems both locally and increasingly at a global/planetary level. Returning to days gone by is not the answer either as those conditions no longer exist for a reason — ultimately we evolved beyond them and they no longer work for current conditions. That is not to say we need to completely disregard what came before but to ‘include and transcend’ to the next iteration, level and evolutionary cycle. We can and may regress should the conditions permit but the overarching drive is forward movement, progress and evolution.

Culture is no one thing but is made up of a myriad of elements and is increasingly interacting with many other cultures. A need is arising for an inclusive, universal and global culture to emerge, so that we can organise ourselves and cooperate at scale e.g. finding a vaccine for COVID-19. This is not only desirable but necessary if we are to successfully navigate climate change through new technologies and behaviour change, foster equitable economic, political and social norms, whilst reducing or eliminating the threat of nuclear war or conflict. This requires cooperation at a much greater level than we have seen before — a global perspective enacted locally.

Culture Word Cloud

We can draw reassurance and inspiration from arguably one of the greatest human achievement of the twentieth century — great strides in public health including sanitation, antibiotics and vaccinations against some of the deadliest diseases.


Back to my gardening project and the insights I drew from it. The whole process was a co-creative one; we prepared the soil, sowed the seeds and watered occasionally but it was not all down to us thankfully. We co-created with nature which wonderfully illustrates the interconnectedness and interdependence of our existence.

The right conditions were necessary for a thriving wildflower meadow to emerge. Only then when the time was right, did the seeds germinate and grow into an impressive display of beautiful flowers. The wider impact was to provide a habitat for a whole array of insects, butterflies, bees, spiders and birds. Culminating in our enjoyment of its beauty, an important facet of the human experience as demonstrated by art, music or any creative endeavour. This not only allows us to express ourselves but gives us hope and the fertile environment to imagine new realities.

Another important lesson was the journey being just as if not more important than the outcome. As who you become in the process and how you think and act differently impacts how you show up in the world. We need to show up differently, as our best and most evolved selves to brake free from our current level of thinking, to a level that resolves the problems we have created using former levels of thinking and being.

Beyond Cultural Relativism

It is incredibly useful to deconstruct ideas, theories and cultures themselves to understand and test the validity of the underlying beliefs and assumptions from different vantage points. However, it is equally important to rebuild on a stronger footing. There is almost always something useful to extract, a useful connection, insight or questions raised that can unlock a whole new way forward in a specific field or for a much wider human application. The difference being we are looking to evolve understanding and not just trash, criticise, create a sense of ‘other’ fostering ‘false separateness.’ Even worse dehumanise paving the path for immoral/inhumane action being perpetrated more easily and then justified. Making ‘the other’ wrong so we can be right is operating from ego consciousness (short-term gain, pleasure, violence, fear) and not a greater collective consciousness (unity, sustainability, human kind flourishing).

A great example that captures rebuilding and reclaiming from the past is the High Line in Manhattan, New York. This elevated park is 1.45 miles long and was redesigned on abandoned spur railroad tracks. As a ‘living system’ space it was created using a multi-disciplinary approach including ecology, urban design and landscape architecture.

High Line Park

High Line Park, New York

Back to our garden, despite there being the potential of 35 wildflower seeds to geminate and flourish, only several did and perhaps next year other varieties may emerge depending on the conditions. This is the very process of co-creation and
emergence — you do not know what will arise exactly yet you remain committed to the process of discovery and unfoldment.

The conditions we find ourselves in today include ‘post-truth’ — appeals to emotion disconnected from facts, polarisation that shows up most vehemently in the schism between left and right, freedom of speech and cancel culture as well as identity politics. Now more than ever, there is need to make great strides towards truth-seeking, sense- making and first principles. This will provide a firm footing to move forward in a way that allows us as human beings to organise and cooperate at scale against the many threats but also opportunities looming. The disappearing standard for objective truth is highly problematic and cannot remain so if we are to not only survive but thrive sustainably as a collective whole.

The focus of this first article has been on a more macro level but this is not to diminish the importance of the individual. There is a need to take individual responsibility for what we say and do, be willing to have those courageous but necessary conversations to move the debate forward rather than remain stuck and polarised in ‘no mans land.’ Moving towards openness and a willingness to understand others requires empathy and
compassion for ourselves and others.

So rather than just being tolerant of other people’s beliefs and values we need to actively engage and find a way to ‘transcend and include’ our current and dominant psychological paradigms. From this dialogue, a way of thinking, a system or framework can emerge that can begin creating global values and solidarity around a common interest as way to organise and cooperate effectively at a global scale. This will only emerge through committed engagement, co-creation and doing the necessary work.

Planet Earth

In summary, the work is to create the right cultural conditions for humans to flourish through the emergence of new cultural norms necessary for us to thrive. This is not a single destination but a continuous evolutionary process. In article 2, I explore how we can navigate a volatile and uncertain world using an existing framework and in article 3 what can be done more on an individual and organisational level.

If you are interested in starting conversations on how we can co-create a more transformative, cohesive and inclusive culture in the workplace and society, please send your name, contact phone number and email address to

Connect with Sobia on LinkedIn:

About the Author

Sobia Iqbal is a leadership and management transformational coach, as well as an organisational development strategist and facilitator. 

Related articles: cultural flux series

Article 2 of 3 - Spiral Dynamics: Flow Like Water

Article 3 of 3 - Culture Change: Development Levels

Culture Change: Developmental Levels

This is part of the 'Cultural Flux' series, article 3 of 3.

In Article 2, we looked at Spiral Dynamics as a framework to help understand the different levels of existence people are operating from in the world. I believe this framework has the potential to raise self-awareness and bridge the gap in understanding between competing and conflicting levels, especially seeing beyond our own level of thinking to open up to further possibilities for ourselves and humanity (developmental levels of change). I invite you to explore these possibilities with a sense of curiosity, play and sincerity.

In this article we will focus on organisational and individual change. In particular, how we can approach things differently using the frameworks, theories and approaches discussed in this series.

Before diving in I would like to make the following important distinctions:

  • Outer game —ideas, relationships and environment
  • Inner game — mind, body and emotions

The Outer Game

These are the extrinsic conditions which shape/govern our experience and decision making, such as economics, governance, law, language which includes systems (including education), resources, infrastructure for collaborative ways of working.

Internal Game

These are the intrinsic conditions and motivations that shape our inner world, which we project onto
the world around us and long to gain fulfilment from. Our unique aptitude, interests, passions, depth
of subjective experience, creative process, things we appreciate/what makes life most rich for us.

Curiosity, openness and empathy are traits we naturally embody as children, but sadly lose as we grow into adults. We feel we need to protect ourselves from a challenging and threatening world reinforced by our current systems and decision making models. However, curiosity, openness and empathy are crucial pre-requisites for understanding others and personal evolution.

Cognitive dissonance — the ability to hold conflicting values, ideas and beliefs and the resultant psychological stress if we go against one/more of these. Engaging with competing and contradictory ideas (including resolving paradoxes) is necessary for our human evolution and transformation including evolving beyond our current paradigm or ‘spiral level.’

The alternative, is our current state of polarisation, 'stuckness,’ being right and making ‘the other wrong’ reinforcing tribal and ethnocentric world views.

Developmental Levels and World view

This developmental model is premised on the notion that our level of concern and care expands as part of our evolutionary growth and development.

  • Egocentric - I care only for myself
  • Ethnocentric - I care only for my tribe, my country, my nation
  • Worldcentric - I care for all human beings, seeing their inherent value and shared commonalities
  • Kosmocentric – I care for all sentient beings

The Next Developmental Level

What does the next level look like for you in one or all of the following domains as an:

  1. Individual
    2. Family
    3. Team
    4. Organisation
    5. Society
    6. Local culture
    7. Global culture

I believe it is important to work through all of the above and integrate conflicting parts, because how we show up at home will impact what kind of employee and in turn what kind of global citizen we are.

The Spiral Dynamics framework can help us to see our current place within the collective whole. This provides much needed context and perspective, opening up new possibilities beyond our current paradigm, way thinking, perceiving and sense making the world and our place in it. A map for greater possibilities for our personal evolution, integration and healing of former levels, which is necessary for greater wellbeing and effectiveness individually and collectively.

Evolving and Integrating Blue and Orange Developmental Levels

Take the example of a blue public sector organisation who wants to become more innovative, creative and entrepreneurial in the way it operates, whilst retaining its best elements.

Spiral Dynamics Table

Table 1: Synthesis of information from Spiral Dynamics in Action: Humanity’s Master Code, Prof. Don Beck et al, 2018.

It is currently operating from the values, beliefs, identity and environment of ‘Blue.’ In order to effectively integrate with the next developmental level ‘orange’ it must effectively transcend its current level (seeing the need for orange) whilst integrating the positive attributes of ‘blue’. It must effectively synergise and resolve any conflicts, which is a co-creative and emergent discovery having engaged in the active process of change and adaptation.

It is important to note that we are not any one level, and the level we operate from may change depending on situation/context, stress/wellbeing levels etc.

Dilt’s Logical Levels of Change

Whereas Spiral Dynamics provides the macro picture of human development, we can hone in on individual change, organisational change and even cultural change using ‘The Dilt’s Logical Levels of Change.’ I believe both frameworks are compatible and complementary as illustrated below.

Dilt’s Logical Levels of Change Image

The outer game of any kind of change work may merely focus on behaviour change and environment. Dilt's Logical Levels of Change highlights the importance of working beyond just the very bottom levels of the pyramid to encompass purpose, identity, mission, values, beliefs and capabilities for more sustainable change.

When these two models/frameworks are combined, they may look something like the following:

Spiral Dynamics and Dilt's Comparison Table

Can you see the possible synergies? How about values conflicts that need to be resolved? This is why change is not so easy. It needs to be navigated and guided through a process that often is uncomfortable. Nevertheless, this is a necessary part of the process and when guided/facilitated well can be transformative.

As this series has argued culture is in constant flux evolving and adapting to the needs of the times. It follows then the values, beliefs and behaviours are also evolving. When consciously trying to evolve the culture within an organisation to meet changing needs, it then begs the following questions:

  • Is organisational culture aligned with the organisation’s mission? What spiral levels does this encompass?
  • Are the various spiral values contradicting and at odds with one another? How is this impeding what you’re looking to achieve?
  • What is the current context (actual reality) within organisations? What spiral levels and multiple paradigms (basic assumptions and ways of thinking) are employees operating from and within?
  • What conflicts need to be resolved?
  • How does thinking need to evolve?
  • What conversations are necessary? Are they happening? If not, how do we facilitate them?
  • Have we considered the inner game as well as the outer game?
  • What level have previous change programmes targeted in terms of the ‘Dilt’s Logical Levels of  Change?' How effective were they?

In summary, in this final article we looked at how we can engage with and do the work required to transcend our current level whilst integrating the levels before. The challenges we face today both individually and collectively require us to do so, now more than ever. As complex beings operating in complex systems and in complex times we need useful theories, frameworks and facilitators to help us successfully navigate these conditions. By consciously co-creating beyond our current level we can create new realities that are emergent in nature.

If you are interested in starting conversations on how we can co-create a more transformative, cohesive and inclusive culture in the workplace and society, please send your name, contact phone number and email address to

Connect with Sobia on LinkedIn:

About the Author

Sobia Iqbal is a leadership and management transformational coach, as well as an organisational development strategist and facilitator. 


Article 1 of 3 - Culture Change: Cultivate Your Garden

Article 2 of 3 - Spiral Dynamics: Flow Like Water

Spiral Dynamics: Flow Like Water

This is part of the 'Cultural Flux' series, article 2 of 3.

In Article 1, I dove deep into the notion of culture, how it shapes our current context of global uncertainty/change and lay some foundational principles for emergent thinking/ways of being. Why? So we can cooperate and organise at a global scale against some of the greatest threats and opportunities that we face today. How? I believe, we need to explore ways that we can accelerate our level of thinking and consciousness to achieve a tipping point — a moment of critical mass. This shift towards more cohesive global values and culture, can then be the vehicle for global transformation.

In this second article, we will look at a specific framework (Spiral Dynamics) that may be able to support this cultural shift and transformation. The same premise applies once again — just as culture is in constant flux so too is any theory or framework, remaining useful so long as it helps us to evolve and get to an even better theory. Culture like water is in a state of flux adapting to the conditions of its environment, culture needs to flow like water so it does not become stagnant.

As already established, we live in a VUCA World (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous), so theories and frameworks can be incredibly useful to us as we navigate through challenge. As Einstein aptly put it "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” This idea of levels is integral to one of the best frameworks that I have come across whose relevance is becoming more pressing — the work of Clare Graves, later developed into Spiral Dynamics.

Clare Graves a Psychologist undertook research in the 1950-60s that culminated in an evolutionary human development model. The central premise that humans operate from and evolve through different values levels. Graves’ work helps us to understand the different levels of existence (bio-psycho-social systems) that individuals, organisations and whole societies are operating from. He died before his work could be published. Fortunately Don Beck continued Graves’ work and Spiral Dynamics emerged.

Levels to Human Development

The eight human developmental levels that Grave observed in his research of people are listed below. For any transformation work to take place, it is incredibly important to understand the underlying beliefs in the system, which can help determine how to approach the change. These levels have been developed and colour coded by Don Beck and is better known as ‘Spiral Dynamics.’

Spiral Dynamic Summary Table
Spiral Dynamic Summary Table

Key Principles and Wider Considerations

I include some key principles of Spiral Dynamics and wider theories/approaches below to help us move beyond the current level of debate, a point I feel we are stuck at currently.

  1. Transcend and include — the importance of integrating the level that came before. Doing so allows you to ‘surf the spiral’ utilising the most important
    elements of any given level for a desired outcome
    2. Emergence of new evolving systems comes from co-creation and fostering the right conditions
    3. Importance of finding common ground, truth and nuanced discourse
    4. Shared language to support having courageous conversations
    5. Usefulness of scaffolding and a sense-making framework to help navigate this important and necessary work
    6. Organisationally, creating meaningful impact through aligning systems, cultural cohesiveness (beliefs, values, ways of thinking, norms) as well as strategy
    7. Diverse and broad skill-sets and ways of thinking are required to deal with the levels of complexity we face today
    8. Showing up with a 'Growth Mindset' as opposed to 'Fixed Mindset’
    9. Understanding and addressing our personal saboteurs so that we can have lasting and sustainable change (Positive Intelligence)
    10. Acknowledging individual and collective trauma (the historical context continues to shape our lives today)
    11. Acknowledging where we are right now as individuals, families, communities and societies. Spiral level Blue (truth force) is the current dominant level in the world

There is a pressing need to move to functional design of systems within workplaces and society at large, including addressing the socio-political-economic-cultural-technological challenges of our time. Grave’s work and Spiral Dynamics can help us do this urgent work, by providing a framework to explore these dimensions within individuals, societies, organisations and the world at large.

No one level is more important than another. We must learn to navigate each level in order, take the learnings and useful tools of this ‘operating system’ and way of looking at the world before ‘transcending and including’ onto the next level. We must learn to ‘surf the spiral’ i.e. the different levels skilfully so we can adopt the most appropriate tools for the VUCA conditions we face.

In summary, we explored a specific framework to navigate the uncertain and changing world we live in. What insights, reflections and/or questions has this raised for you? In the last article of this series, we will look at why change at the system level is so important and why behavioural interventions can be short-lived if the intervention is not geared at the right level. Spiral dynamics is also very useful in this regard because by understanding the underlying beliefs, values, norms within a given system, we can better determine how to approach the change. In article 3, I will attempt to illustrate this at both the individual
and organisational levels, incorporating additional tools where helpful.

If you are interested in starting conversations on how we can co-create a more transformative, cohesive and inclusive culture in the workplace and society, please send your name, contact phone number and email address to

Connect with Sobia on LinkedIn:


Sobia Iqbal is a leadership and management transformational coach, as well as an organisational development strategist and facilitator. 


Article 1 of 3 - Culture Change: Cultivate Your Garden

Article 3 of 3 - Culture Change: Development Levels

Health and Fitness: Why so Many Struggle

The One Mental Shift to Unlock Success!

Tried diet after diet with no long-term results? Maybe you're starving yourself and lose a few pounds just to put it all back on (and sometimes more!) as soon as you resume eating normally? Perhaps you've been focusing on exercising vigorously but the pounds are not shifting? You become frustrated, give up and then the whole cycle resumes with the next hopeful approach to health and fitness.

How different would your life be, if staying healthy and fit just became part of your lifestyle? So much so that you didn't even have to think about it.

We know we need to put the right things in our body and use it in the right way but what stops us from doing this on a consistent basis? I've discovered that your mindset and more specifically your beliefs have a profound impact on your level of health and fitness. You see, what you believe is what you become! Your beliefs are what motivate you and drive your actions. 

In this blog, we'll explore:

  • Health and fitness as a foundational element to a successful lifestyle
  • The difference between empowering and disempowering beliefs when it comes to achieving our health and fitness goals
  • Your specific beliefs and how they support/hinder your success in this area
  • The power of your imagination
  • Action steps you can can take right now to move forward with your health and fitness goals

How to Read This Blog

Just curious?

  • Feel free to skim and take in whatever you like

Looking to improve your health and fitness?

  • You don't want every detail just the 'big picture'
  • Check out the Actions to take right now 

Want to geek out on the detail?

  • Be sure to check out the highlighted 'delve deeper box' 

Not sure where to even start!

  • Pay particular attention to the end where I share how I can personally support you in achieving your desired levels of health and fitness.

Health and Fitness is Foundational

Health and Fitness is a foundational element which impacts every other aspect of your life and wellbeing. Like the foundations of a house, it supports all other structures that are built upon it e.g. career, finance, relationships etc. These life categories all add to your life - more specifically the quality of your life.


Because health and fitness is foundational, success in this area often has a positive impact on all other aspects too. It can unlock challenges in a completely different area in ways you may not have imagined. Say you want to improve your finances or get a promotion, improving your health and fitness can give you more energy, better sleep which helps with greater clarity, memory and the ability to effectively manage your emotions and stress.

Spiritual Wellbeing

  • Feeling more connected to self, nature, a higher power

Social Wellbeing

  • Being present with others — especially our most valued relationships

Emotional Wellbeing

  • Better managing emotions
  • Building mental resilience

Physical Wellbeing

  • Greater levels of energy and vitality
  • Improved sleep which is crucial for rejuvenation, memory and disease prevention

Intellectual Wellbeing

  • Ability to think clearly
  • Greater focus
  • Increased productivity
  • Better able to learn

Career Wellbeing

  • Greater energy to exert on the areas you want to focus and improve.  
  • Greater wellbeing at work
  • Building resiliency and resourcefulness
  • Positive impact on work relationships

Environmental Wellbeing

  • Having the energy and resources to create an environment that inspires and rejuvenates you in a way that is sustainable

Why Do We Struggle With Health and Fitness?

A big part of this is our beliefs. What are your beliefs and how much time have you spent reflecting upon them? A belief is something we hold to be true (with or without proof). Many of us haven't spent much time examining our beliefs. For instance, where do they come from exactly? Our beliefs tend to come from our parents, schooling, culture. How do these beliefs serve or hinder us? This questions becomes very important when we want to create a change, especially when it comes to self-improvement or striving to achieve the next level of success in a given area of our lives.

Let’s examine the idea of beliefs more closely in relation to health and fitness. Notice how some of these are empowering beliefs, that help you to achieve your goals of vibrant health and fitness. Others are disempowering beliefs which often can be self-fulfilling prophecies.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right.”
~ Henry Ford

Disempowering Health and Fitness Beliefs

Disempowering or limiting beliefs can turn us into victims - we become 'at effect' or helpless to the things that we deem to be out of our control. If we refuse to take responsibility as creators of our own experiences (or reality), then when a problem inevitably occurs - we have no power to change it. We end up in a place where we feel stuck, frustrated and disempowered.

If you believe you create your own reality, then if you don’t like your circumstances you change them!

We create our reality through both our physical and mental actions. As you think so you become. What you put your focus on you get more of it.  Do any of the following statements look familiar? You may have heard others say these or they could be deeply held beliefs of your own. 

  • I'm big boned!
  • Heart disease and diabetes run in the family
  • Nothing works for me - I've tried it all!

Empowering Health and Fitness Beliefs

Empowering beliefs help you to take back control. Beliefs are like unconscious programmes that run in the background without us consciously being aware of them. This programming influences your decisions, choices and actions. Adopting empowering beliefs and thereby running a new programme, will help you to make the right conscious choices that support your health and fitness desires. Here's some examples of empowering beliefs:

  • I take charge of my physics health and therefore my life
  • I make conscious choices when it comes to what I put into my body and what I do with it
  • My body is intelligent and knows how to heal and rejuvenate itself

Now, it's time to reflect upon (or perhaps discover) your beliefs with the action steps below.

Actions to Take Right Now

Firstly, find a quiet spot to do this exercise. Grab a piece of paper or open a new document on your device. 

  1. FINISH THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE WITH WHATEVER COMES TO MIND: 'I MUST...' Doing this will reveal your deepest held beliefs. 
  3. READ ONE OF THE STATEMENTS OUT LOUD AND THEN ASK YOURSELF: 'WHAT would happen IF I DIDN'T?' This is a really important question because it will help determine whether your belief is limiting you or empowering you. Read out loud each statement and then ask yourself the same question:  “What would happen if I didn’t?” Just keep asking the questions and writing up each reply.
  4. Understanding why your beliefs are so important 
    (1). What beliefs do you hold (or could adopt) that are empowering or serving you well and that you want to retain?
    (2). What beliefs do you hold that are limiting or disempowering you?
  5. Write down what you actually want. Knowing what you want on an intellectual level is one thing but actually writing it down is something entirely different. The process of writing down what you want makes it real, tangible and helps you to clarify your desires. 
    What is your vision for your health and fitness? Here are some examples:
    • I plan to live till at least 00 years old and have an amazing quality of life
    • I am a lean, toned, and a flexible size x
    • I get the quantity and quality of deep of sleep I need on a regular basis
  6. Why is what you want so important to you?
    Understanding the reason behind why you want what you want is key to unlocking success because this is what will motivate you. Answer the following two questions:
    (1). What pain are you currently experiencing as a result of where you are now?
    (2). What will you gain by achieving your desired outcomes?

Remember, what you believe today is not necessarily what you believed ten years ago or what you'll believe ten years from now. Beliefs evolve or change as you get more data (new information, experiences etc). Reflecting on why you hold certain beliefs is a useful way of staying open and receptive to new new ideas as you evolve as a human being.

Taking Consistent Action

One of the best ways to positively evolve and grow as a human being is the consistent habit of stretching yourself. The willingness to stretch yourself on a consistent basis will open you to new opportunities to learn and grow. We’re more than what we believe we are as humans. Stretching yourself not only helps you acquire new skills and resources but it positively impacts your beliefs by showing you that you can do things that you perhaps didn’t believe you could do once upon a time - ' If I can do that - what else can I do?' Often, our thinking is what limits us and this is underpinned by our beliefs.

Make a Commitment in the Comments Section 

Make a commitment to do something beyond your present ability. Make a public commitment in the comments section below and share it with someone who will hold you accountable and ask you about it. When it comes to improving your health and fitness, a meal plan and an exercise regime that works for you will be 80-90% of your success! There is a ton of nutritional and exercise information out there - it can be contradictory and overwhelming at times but you can do it! Commit to taking action - begin with one small step and then another and so on! This stacking effect will get you results - each step will build on the one before, creating momentum and ultimately getting you to your desired outcomes. Here's some suggestions, remember to consult your medical doctor where needed. 

  • Speaking to a nutritionist
  • Buying a highly relevant book
  • Researching online

Devise a Strategy

Once you've armoured yourself with the information you need. Decide on what strategy you're going to use to make it happen? It is important to not be disheartened as you may need to try several different strategies before you find what works for you and your body type. Treat it like an experiment, you're getting feedback on what's working and not working, making necessary tweaks along the way. It's who you become along the journey and not just about the destination - so enjoy the journey!

Create a Feedback Loop

The other key ingredient is to have a feedback loop. If there is no way of us knowing whether we're on the right track or making progress, we're likely to give up. So set measurable goals and targets. Remember you're not relying on 'will power' alone but your empowering beliefs, which is you're compelling why/purpose for taking action.

One of the most powerful tools you can use is free and enjoyable. If you want to delve deeper continue reading.

Delve Deeper Box

The Power of Your Imagination

Mentally rehearsing your goals is really motivating because it makes what we desire real and appealing to us. What we imagine, has a real impact on our body. Research shows how athletes improve their performance by mentally rehearsing even without physical practice. 

Being clear about what you want helps you to see opportunities where you might not have otherwise. I talk more about the science behind this i.e. the reticular activation system in the mind chapter of my sleep book which you can download here.

There are so many benefits to mentally rehearsing - you can anticipate potential problems and solve them beforehand. It also makes your outcomes more clear and specific - breaking it down into smaller steps and then turning it into an action plan. This process then encourages you to ask yourself: what resources do I have to achieve my outcome - money, role models, personal skills and talents?

Recognise Your Destination

How will you know when you’ve achieved your desired outcomes? What will you see, hear and feel? How will it impact those around you? What are you doing now that is serving you well that you can continue doing?

Wishing You Health and Fitness Success!

I hope you’ve gained some tangible steps to move forward with your health and fitness goals and desires. However, if you feel completely stuck or don't know where to even begin or just want to be supported through the process - read on! 

Your Health and Fitness Visioning Session

In this 60 mins session, we will:

  • Gain clarity on what a health and fitness lifestyle would look like for you
  • The biggest limiting/disempowering belief stopping you from achieving this vision
  • Leave knowing exactly what you need to do next to bring this vision to life

First, book a free discovery call to see if we're a good fit. 

Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes only and must not be construed as professional advice.

© 2018-2020 Pegasus Wellbeing Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Chronic Sleep Deprivation: What’s It Really Costing You?

3 Common Mistakes and the Long-Term 
Consequences We All Want to Avoid

Worried about your lack of sleep? Perhaps you're feeling exhausted throughout the day, can't think straight because of "brain fog" or there's niggling physical health symptoms? Occasional sleep deprivation is normal. However, when it becomes the norm (or chronic), our bodies do warn us. How loud do these warning bells need to ring, before we listen?

How different would your life be, if you experienced deep refreshing sleep night after night?

The kind of quality sleep you experience on your very best days - that gives you mental clarity, physical energy and emotional wellbeing. Sad to say, days like these may feel like a distant memory for some of us. Let's put it right.

In this blog, we'll explore:

  • The difference between sleep deprivation and insomnia
  • 3 common sleep mistakes and their long term impact on your mental and physical health
  • How much sleep do we actually need
  • Sleep quality and sleep cycles
  • Steps you can take right now to super-charge you performance and wellbeing by simply sleeping better

How to Read This Blog

If you're just curious:

  • Feel free to skim and take in whatever you like

If you want to improve the quality of your sleep:

  • You don't want every detail just the 'big picture'
  • Check out the Actions to take right now at the end of each mistake 

If you want to geek out on the detail:

  • Be sure to check out the highlighted 'delve deeper box' which explains the details and theory

If you suffer from chronic insomnia and need practical steps 

  • Pay particular attention to the resources at the end

What's the Difference Between Sleep Deprivation and Insomnia?

There are many types of sleep disorders - over a hundred in fact! We'll focus on some of the most common here.

Sleep Deprivation 

Not giving yourself the opportunity to sleep despite having the ability to sleep.

Acute Insomnia

You experience no sleep or reduced total sleep compared to usual. Typically, this lasts one or two days and the cause may be something obvious like stress, worry or social activity. Most of us will probably experience this from time to time throughout our lives.

Chronic Insomnia

You're unable to get enough sleep either in length or quality despite having the opportunity to sleep. This is more serious because it’s no longer occasional but persists over a long time. 

The Good News - Sleep Deprivation Can Easily Be Fixed

So as we've seen from the sleep explanations above, sleep deprivation is of our own doing. It's a choice we make - not giving ourselves the opportunity to sleep despite being able to sleep.

What's the trade-off we're making in terms of our health and wellbeing? Why would we want to do this to ourselves?

Here's my top 3 common mistakes and their implications.

Fortunately we can easily put these right. Are you willing? Good, let's get started.

Mistake #1 - Not Prioritising Sleep

When you're constantly juggling, trying to carve back time, it's so easy to "dip into" your sleep time.

Say for example, you on average get 5 hours of quality sleep per night - whereas, you know you need about 8 hours quality sleep to feel refreshed and energised. That adds up to 21 hours of sleep debt per week, 84 hours per month and a whopping 1000+ hours per year.

What is the true cost of this sleep debt on your life? Well, the physical health impact includes increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and even premature death. 

From a mental health point of view, sleep problems could be the culprit or a contributing factor to anxiety and depression. It can lead to cognitive decline, especially in later years, such as Alzheimer's disease. 

There is also the social and economic impact of chronic sleep deprivation and insomnia. More on this as part of mistakes #2 and #3.

Sleep is about basic survival just like breathing. Yet, our western culture and lifestyles don't always support sleep. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard people boasting about functioning on very little or no sleep. Dare I say lack of sleep is even "encouraged" or even "expected" especially in the corporate world by way of "putting in the hours". It's just not seen as important enough and this needs to change.

It's precisely this kind of short-term thinking (project deadlines etc), that leads to long-term problems (like sick leave due to stress and illness). Many corporate businesses now have Wellbeing programmes and I'm glad employee wellbeing is being recognised as important not least because of the significant impact it has on productivity and performance. Not to sound too cynical but I've seen the "how to manage stress" advice - however well intentioned, it doesn't typically go as far as to look at the underlying causes, including company culture and expectations. This may be in the form of long working hours, socialising after work , especially with alcohol, long commutes or generally travelling a lot as part of your role -  all of which are likely to have  a knock on effect on sleep.

Actions to Take Right Now

  1. Shift your mindset by adopting this belief: Sleep is very important - quality as well as quantity. Ask yourself: how much sleep on average am I getting per night? Score the quality of your sleep (1 = poor and 10 excellent). This doesn't need to be an exact science - go with your gut feel answer. It's a useful baseline to start from and make improvements.
  2. FIGURE OUT WHEN YOU NEED TO GO TO BED to get the quality of sleep you personally need. Do this by waking up at the same time everyday and gradually going to bed slightly earlier each day (10-15 mins). You'll know when you're optimal bedtime when you wake up feeling refreshed and often without the need for an alarm clock!
  3. An hour before bed, turn off all your devices, dim the lights and unwind, getting your mind and body ready for sleep. Hot baths and showers are also recommended.

Mistake #2 - Underestimating the Wider Impact of Chronic Sleep Deprivation & Insomnia

Sleep deprivation and chronic insomnia has the potential to impact every aspect of our lives- this is particularly true for our relationships!

Ever feel like you're merely "going through the motions" - that you can't fully be present in your family and friends lives. 

Feel like you're missing out? You try to find more time but never quite do.

Or you simply lack the energy to spend quality time with loved ones? How can you give to others when you yourself are feeling depleted?

I believe, the most important thing you can do is to address your underlying lack of sleep. This will give you the energy and focus needed for your relationships. Whilst you're doing this, there are some simple yet very effective steps you can take to improve and see noticeable positive effects on your relationships right away.

Actions to Take Right Now

  1. Quality not Quantity - Spending lots of time doesn't necessarily mean better relationships. Carving out quality time on a regular and consistent basis is key here. You're building up the "emotional bank account" as Stephen Covey nicely puts it. This will make your relationships more resilient, supportive and connected.
  2. Set an intention for those relationships. For example: "With my daughter I want to have more fun, be more connected and supportive."
  3. How can you live these intentions more fully in your most important relationships? Start with your core circle and then apply to your wider relationships. Put quality time in the diary, talk about the kind of quality time activities that you'd both like to do and then go do and enjoy!

Mistake #3 - Not Making the Connection Between Deep Refreshing Sleep and High Performance

We're missing a serious trick if we haven't made this connection yet. Sleep multiplies your effectiveness in business and life. Sleep helps with all of the following:

  • Better focus
  • More clarity 
  • Better memory
  • Less mistakes
  • Increased productivity
  • Better able to learn

I'm a strong believer that energy, vitality and general wellbeing are crucial ingredients for creativity, problem-solving, inspiring and leading others.

In may seem counter-intuitive but by improving the quality of your sleep along with getting the quantity of sleep you actually need - your personal effectiveness will be multiplied!

Sleep is one crucial component along with nutrition and exercise.

Actions to Take Right Now

  1. 60-90 mins burst of Productivity - After a good night's sleep, give yourself a chunk of time  - I recommend 60-90 mins to do an important task. Schedule it in your diary, make sure you're uninterrupted, turn off any distractions (notifications/phones) etc. Time yourself if that helps you to build discipline until it becomes a habit. You'll notice how much better your perform - greater clarity, focus and execution . Be sure to take a 5-10 min break doing something relaxing and then get right back to it. You'll be amazed at how simple yet effective this is!
  2. TAKE REGULAR STRETCH BREAKS - At least every hour get up from your desk to stretch your muscles (assuming you sit at a traditional desk as opposed to a standing one). This  alone will have a positive long-term impact on your health including countering the negative effects of sitting for long periods. Musculoskeletal problems (including back pain, neck and upper limb problems) are one of the biggest reasons for workplace sickness.

How Much Sleep Do I Need Anyway?

The latest research shows that most healthy adults need anywhere between 7-9 hours of sleep. Surprised? How much sleep are you getting?

If you want to delve deeper, read the contents in the highlighted box below.

Delve Deeper Box

No Sleep

Is this even possible? For a short period maybe, but not in the long term.

It's more likely that you feel like you haven't slept at all. Stage 1 of sleep (as you'll see next)  is light sleep that may only last a few minutes. If you wake after stage 1, it may feel like you haven't slept at all!

Sleep Cycle

Our bodies have lots of natural cycles, including for sleep, This is called the Circadian rhythm, which is our 24 hour sleep/wake cycle.

Scientists have discovered that whilst we sleep, our brain goes through several phases of activity.

There are 5 stages of sleep with 2 distinct parts: Non-Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep (Stages 1-4) and then the REM cycle (Stage 5).

The first sleep cycle, typically takes about 90 mins to go through all the stages (one complete cycle).  

Sleep cycles after that, average between 100 to 120 minutes. Typically, we’ll go through 4-5 sleep cycles per night.

Short summary of the 5 stages of sleep

Stage 1 - Light sleep where you can easily be woken. Eye and muscle activity slows down. Your brain produces alpha and theta waves. You might feel a sensation of falling followed by your muscles contracting. 

Stage 2 - Your eye movement stops, brain waves slow down with occasional/sudden burst of activity. Your body temperature drops and heart rate slows as your body prepares for deep sleep.

Stage 3 -  The start of deep sleep, brain produces slower delta waves, eye and muscle activity stops.

Stage 4 - Deeper sleep with brain producing more delta waves, body restores itself, growth and repair of muscles and tissues, building up energy and boosting your immune system. Most difficult stage to wake you up from.

Stage 5  - Eyes rapidly move from side to side and remain closed, lots of brain activity, dreaming stage, blood pressure and heart rate increase, shallow and fast breathing.

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) in Stage 5 is an important stage for learning and memory. Your brain consolidates and processes information from the day before to be stored in your long-term memory. It's an important stage for focus and concentration.

Sleep Quality

As we've just seen from the stages of sleep: 

  • Getting that deep refreshing sleep is key to feeling rejuvenated the next day.
  • Quality of sleep is just as important, if not more important, than quantity of sleep

Here's to You Experiencing Refreshing Deep Sleep More Consistently!

Implement the actions steps recommended above and let us know how you get on in the comments section below.

More to Sleep Than You Thought?

For me too -  especially when I first delved into this topic, which was  more out of necessity rather than curiosity. You see, I struggled with chronic insomnia on and off for about 10 years.

After a lot of trial and error, I've discovered and formulated my Deep Sleep Toolkit, which helps me to consistently get the rejuvenating quality and quantity of sleep I need to perform at my best in a sustainable way.

I've taken all that learning, research and experimentation and populated it into my ebook Tired & Tested! Expel the Gremlins Causing Your Chronic Sleep Deprivation and Insomnia, a step by step guide to consistent deep sleep. It is so much more than a sleep ebook - it is about creating the wellbeing lifestyle that propels effectiveness so you can live 'A Life On Purpose.'

Ready to Start Your Journey? Purchase Your Copy Today!


Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes only and must not be construed as professional advice.

© 2018-2019 Pegasus Wellbeing Ltd. All Rights Reserved.