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Self Development

Are you Practising Safe Stress?

How stressed are you? How stressed are your employees? Are you using this stress well – or is your business on the brink of disaster?

Richard Hawkey




A new company has entered your market at the same time as a flood of cheaper, foreign-made, alternatives have hit the shelves. Existing clients are down-scaling their repeat orders, blaming the ubiquitous “financial crisis”, the Greeks and head-office budget cuts. You spent 2011 pulling the cost-cut lever and your margin is now in lonely single figures.

This is a nightmarish situation that many organisations find themselves in. Thank goodness you aren’t one of them, and don’t have to try and meet 2012 targets with 58% of your employees verging on exhaustion and suffering from debilitating sleep disorders, or having to worry about when the 37% who are experiencing unexplained chest pains will be off ill for extended periods, invoke your disability insurance or worse, drop dead. At least 49% of your staff aren’t demotivated and thank goodness you don’t have to try and tackle this bear with 51% of employees so disengaged they are merely ‘living for Fridays ‘. Or do you?

The reality

These figures were taken from surveys conducted between September 2011 and January 2012 across a variety of South African companies. The survey was compiled by several doctors and is aimed at raising awareness of some common physical, cognitive, behavioural and emotional symptoms of excess negative stress. The results have been startling; some more notable ones include:

  • 25% of employees surveyed report significant difficulties in being able to concentrate;
  • almost 27% feel a debilitating loss of meaning in their lives;
  • 21% struggle to control their anger and/or other emotional outbursts such as crying;
  • 26% complain of chronic abdominal upsets, a similar number have noticed a marked increase in the number of colds and coughs they are getting, and
  • 31% hobble through the day with generalised, unexplained aches and pains.

Is this the profile of a team you want to take into battle? Are you really sure you and your team aren’t just suffering in silence?

So why should you bother to read this column or pay any attention to what I have to say? I am nobody famous and don’t hold a medical degree. And therein lie my credentials – I am Mr White collar Average, trying to stay on this crazy urban treadmill without falling off; perhaps a bit like you?

A little over a year ago I did fall off that treadmill; literally burning out and slipping into a severe clinical depression – something I arrogantly and ignorantly didn’t think happened to people like me. I took this very personally, and in my search for answers I discovered that the effects of excess negative stress are so severe and impacting so many people that it is now being widely referred to as the ‘Black Death of the 21st Century’.

Perhaps that is somewhat melodramatic, but what isn’t overstated is the empirical evidence that proves the drop in productivity, creativity and morale, coupled with the increased operational and reputational risk and higher absenteeism, presenteeism  and staff turnover that go along with high levels of negative stress.

Those are hard, bottom-line issues that warrant proper and dutiful executive attention. In many organisations the consequences of stress are given about as much sincere attention as a supermodel’s handwriting.

By giving hard facts and simple, practical advice based on my own experience as well as the input of many medical professionals, I am trying to change this; empowering individuals to build personal resilience which organisations experience as improved productivity, creativity and morale.

Over the course of the next seven columns I will expand on the concept of ‘whole life balance’ as a powerful framework for combating excess negative stress and building personal (and hence organisational) resilience. The columns will build upon one another, providing practical tools, tips and techniques – leaving you with a personalised stress management plan which I urge you to share with your teams.

In the next online column we will assist you identify how stress is manifesting itself within you, as well as provide a practical tool for identifying key stressors in your life. Self-awareness is crucial before we can move on to explaining various strategies for dealing with those stressors and providing comprehensive and holistic advice on how to build your resilience.

I look forward to your comments and insights as we side-step the potholes down Burn-out Boulevard together.

Stress busting tip #1: Breathe deeply and slowly

Most of us pant like a dog when we breathe, inhaling shallowly and making our shoulders rise and fall. Taking deep, slow breaths simply allows more oxygen to enter our bodies, lowers our heart rate and helps us think more clearly. Put a hand on your tummy and concentrate on breathing slowly and deeply, counting to three in your head while your diaphragm/tummy expands. Hold that breath for the count of three.

Repeat five or six times. This can be done during especially harrowing meetings, prior to sales calls, taxi dodging on the M! or in bed at the end of the day.

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  1. EstherI

    Mar 8, 2012 at 10:46

    It’s about time we all stopped kidding ourselves! Stress has this nasty habit of creeping up on us all, displaying signs that we explain away…I look forward to learning more about ‘practising safe stress’, building up somewhat of an immunity to the silent killer! Awesome article…I’m breathing deeply as I wait for the next one!

  2. Estelle Estelle

    May 29, 2012 at 21:53

    The “breathing thing” seems so obvious, but I realise it is a habit I need to work on. Thanks.

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Self Development

21 Inspiring Quotes About Success, Persistence And What It Means To Be An Entrepreneur

Leaders of companies big and small share the mindset it takes to achieve your dreams in the face of all obstacles.




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True, being an entrepreneur can be exhausting, lonely, frustrating and terrifying. But it’s worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears when you are pursuing your passion, turning your dream into a reality.

In an ongoing series called Real Entrepreneurs, we pick the brains of founders and leaders about what it is like to have every decision big and small rest on their shoulders and have compiled their thoughts on what it takes to succeed on the long, sometimes crazy journey of an entrepreneur.

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Self Development

The Mindset Strategy From The “Rock Star” Coach Can Turn Your Beliefs Into Results

William Badenhorst, a Director of Global Strengths shares his mindset secret to ongoing entrepreneurial success.

Dirk Coetsee




William Badenhorst, a Director of Global Strengths, is a coach to the coaches. His “Rock Star” attitude along with the deep driving desire to help others find their true selves formed the fabric of a highly interesting and entertaining interview.

The rolling thunder of his voice brought forth quote after quote, quip after quip and wisdom after wisdom. As a “peak performance coach” to professional athletes, celebrities,  entrepreneurs and corporate career orientated individuals, William believes that knowing who you truly are as an individual is the catalyst for lasting growth and useful change in business and in life in general.

His intense eyes and energetic hand gestures emphasized one of his core beliefs and that is that we all are nothing but our very own beliefs.

“Everyone is focused on Results”

Everyone is always focusing on the outcome – the results they want. But what creates results? Let’s do some reverse engineering. In order to achieve RESULTS we need to take ACTION. And in order to take ACTION we need to make a DECISION. To make a DECISION, we need to think about it – THOUGHTS.

The interesting thing about humans is that we do not create our thoughts, we can only control them. So what does create your thoughts? Your BELIEFS creates your THOUGHTS. So ultimately your BELIEFS creates your RESULTS.

“You don’t attract what you want, you attract what you are.”


It is our very own limiting beliefs, such as for example that “I am not good enough” and “I am not deserving” and “I’m not worthy ” that creates barriers to our own success in entrepreneurial ventures and in our lives. In order to reach our limitless potential we must find and remove the self-created barriers that hold us back.

Although he loves the interaction and benefits of social media he is quick to point out that it also has created a fantasy of who and what we should be. He advises to not to adopt such fantasy as your desired reality but to instead be who you really are as an individual and goes on to quote the famous Greek philosopher Socrates:

“Know thyself, Be thyself and Love thyself”

You always end up falling back on your beliefs -whether they are empowering or disempowering. The challenge with that is that a large number of your beliefs are unconscious especially when you have not put in the work to find out what your belief system truly is.

Related: Osteostrong: An Exploding Global Movement Of Positive Change

Through his vast experience as a coach he realized that a large number of people veer away from self-awareness as they are afraid of being judged for whom they truly are.

Have Faith

The conversation naturally evolved into the exploration of the true meaning of the concept of faith and William’s mind grasped at a Quote from the apostle Paul:

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”

He went on to explain that faith is evidence of true-self which creates certainty which in turn is equal to confidence. Confidence brings a certain state where everything flows. He calls it “Peak State”. He further advises to search for evidence of who you really are and gain belief in yourself.

Advice to young entrepreneurs

William’s thoughts on self-development for entrepreneurs are to get a Coach. If you are already in business and don’t have a Coach – get one!  Begin with taking extreme ownership and responsibility of everything in your life. And when you do that you win.

Stop blaming everything and everyone around you. Stop complaining about circumstances. You are in control and it is up to you to make it happen.  There are no un-resourceful people, there are only un-resourceful states. Go where you are celebrated not tolerated and love yourself unconditionally. Remove the very unrealistic expectations of what and who you should be and authentically be yourself. Believe in yourself and go all in on YOU!

Related: How To Conquer Your Fear Of Becoming an Entrepreneur By Being Disciplined

Become the best form of yourself because as an entrepreneur you are the business. Play to your strengths and manage your weaknesses. You do not need a title to lead, have massive self-belief and others will follow.

Have an attitude of constant learning:

“If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room”

And then yet another quote rolled off his tongue that put me in a self-reflective mood:

“A person that shines from within does not need a spotlight”

William Badenhorst, the father, the coach, the entrepreneur and key note speaker left the author and the reader with a question of mesmerising depth:

“What if you woke up this morning with only the things that you were grateful for last night?”

Gratitude is everything!

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Self Development

How You Can Move From Your Potential To Your Purpose

“Value isn’t in opinion, it’s in perspective” – Wes Boshoff

Wes Boshoff




Let’s face it, we all know that when wanting to achieve something different, you need to do something different. The challenge isn’t in wanting the different, it’s in doing the different!

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why”.

I love that because it highlights the importance of knowing that you have a purpose, and that you need to find it or design it, then live it, love it and look after it.

You have heard it said or said it yourself…”that person has huge potential, if only they would…”. It’s great to have potential but potential doesn’t equate to purpose. They are like elastics, just sitting there on the desk, and it’s not much good to anyone just sitting there. You see there is a gap between potential and purpose and that gap is called ‘The Stretch’.

Related: Founder of Five-Star Wes Boshoff Weighs In On Becoming An Entrepreneur

For that elastic to move from potential to purpose it needs to be stretched, and only once its stretched and put round a bunch of pens does that elastic really move into its purpose. We are a lot like elastics, we need to be stretched to move from potential to purpose. The stretch isn’t always easy because we tend to get twisted out of shape when we need to do something different. However, the stretch is not designed to change who we are, just change how we are.

Here are a few ideas to help you in The Stretch.

Think about what you think about – it’s all in your perspective

Things are achieved or not achieved depending on how we think about them. Do you focus on the obstacles or the opportunities? It’s easy to see the obstacles, the key is to choose which one you going to focus on. Obstacles will always get in the way of opportunities if you let them. So, remain attentive to the possibilities that opportunity brings.

That means you need to position yourself in the way of opportunity, get in its way – make something happen, don’t just sit there! There’s a catch to this one though, opportunity never travels alone, it always comes with responsibility. Do you have the ability to respond to the opportunity? Are you taking responsibility, often we are given it, but we don’t really take it! You need to take and own the responsibility to maximise the opportunity!

Beware of distraction

‘Dis’ – a prefix meaning reversal, or the absence of action and traction refers to grip. When you get distracted you lose grip and that’s dangerous. Imagine driving, suddenly, you’ve lost traction, you are heading in the wrong direction, you may even end up going backwards.

Make sure you stick to what you need to do, create daily productive habits that will help you achieve in the long term. Grow your capacity and increase your footprint. Gain traction by repeating what works for you, that way your practice becomes repeatable and your brand becomes reputable. Don’t stop moving, its easier to change direction while you are still moving, than it is to start moving.

Related: What Building A Mini Car Taught Me About Leadership

Things don’t always work out

Employ the “What’s Wrong – What’s Next?” philosophy. When things go wrong with people, products or plans, we can get caught up in drama. There’s no time for drama, simply define what went wrong and decide what needs to be done next to fix it. Once fixed, then deal with the doer of the wrong, but deal with them in the right way too…you still don’t need drama!

“Value isn’t in opinion, it’s in perspective” – Wes Boshoff

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