The Stress of Formula 1

No, I wasn’t here for the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but I’d watched some of the preparations down at the Yas Marina, and was vividly reminded of the day I was invited by a longstanding client, called Colin, to his Corporate Hospitality event at the UK’s big Formula 1 venue, Silverstone.

I’d never taken much interest in the world of motor-racing before, but by the end of that day, I had identified it as the sport that most reflected the stress of big business. For a start, it was the only sport I’d ever watched that looked rather unhealthy. It seemed to me that a contestant would need to take regular exercise to compensate for the odd mix of physical inertia and acute mental pressure of life on the track.

The furious sense of competition seemed to me rather excessive – the idea that if you didn’t finish up there in the first three, you were more-or-less in disgrace. (It didn’t need a stress expert to note how much dangerous pressure that would set up.) The split-second overtaking and cornering techniques were obviously non-stop tension. And although you expect trophy-winners to let-off a bit of steam, I could see how those hysterical celebration rituals would increase the stress further still.

But it was the pit-stops that really concerned me. Watching those teams of men down in the bay, rushing to service the cars in that emergency atmosphere, desperate to clip seconds off their re-fuelling and tyre-changing, reminded me of every computer crash I had ever experienced – the automatic sense of crisis, the feeling that every second counts, and super-human efforts being made, just to restore the normal state of things.

Deeply troubled man

The grand reception after the race was also revealing – and also conducted in an over-heightened atmosphere, as it seemed to me. The entertainment was most generous, but somehow more lavish than necessary. I couldn’t imagine wanting to eat and drink as much as that.

Colin was an old friend of one of the contestants, Steve, who had not driven particularly well that day, and was clearly not happy about it. Behind the polite conversation, I could detect a smouldering resentment in Steve. A few minutes’ dialogue revealed that he had been trying to win this particular event for years, with no success. He had never held up that coveted trophy, to the roar of the crowd. And he wasn’t getting any younger.

Listening to Steve, and discreetly studying his body-language and general demeanour, I felt strongly that this was a man who would soon be needing his own personal ‘pit-stop repair session’.

So I wasn’t too surprised to hear from Colin, the following year, that Steve had failed his insurance medical and would not be allowed on the track. I felt that this was a deeply troubled man who ought to have stress counselling, and after some persuading, he agreed to it. I told him that he maybe he should consider making a clean break from the whole stressful atmosphere of the motor-racing world, and re-invent himself in another field altogether. He is now a part-time tourist guide in a small city that he knows well (plenty of healthy walking there), and a partner in a firm that supplies specialist equipment – not to race-tracks but to dairies. Colin tells me he’s a new man.

Key Points About the Stress of Formula 1

• Motor-racing is an unusual mix of physical inertia and mental stress

 • The traditional track-side entertainment is liable to heighten pressure

• Those who don’t feel they’re winning should break clean away from it

[Reproduced with the kind permission of Gulf News]

Book Motivational Speaker, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference, for a charismatic, high-impact presentation on proven stress management and organisational change strategies.  See Carole live http://bit.ly/TUWbX

Contact Carole  for a FREE stress consultation – Tel:  +44 (0) 20 8954 1593   or email info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk.    She is dedicated to supporting your long-term growth through talent retention rooted in effective stress management.

Or check-out our latest professional stress reduction products http://bit.ly/FjL5L and stress management services delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, UAE and worldwide at www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

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Spreading the Word on Stress

“We’re not in the market today, thank you!”

Whether you’re trying to sell a single product or a whole new concept, I guess you’ll have been hearing those depressing words regularly during this recession.

Well, this is the 10th anniversary of a national, anti-stress initiative that I launched in the UK  –  which at first met with much scepticism but is now firmly established as an annual event in the British calendar of stress management.

It was at a meeting of our professional charity, the International Stress Management Association (ISMA), that we were sitting around the table discussing ideas to keep stress high on the national agenda.

Someone vaguely mentioned ‘focus’, and suddenly I saw that the whole emphasis could be focused on a single day in the year: ‘National Stress Awareness Day’. Everyone loved this concept although nobody could suggest how to pay for it!

With sponsorship in mind, one of our colleagues introduced us to an Australian telecoms company, Telstra, who at our first meeting showed all the signs of being singularly unimpressed. However, as I never like to leave people in a negative mood, I ended my presentation by asking if they would each like to test their individual stress levels.  They all readily agreed.

I took one of our company products out of my briefcase – a small business card embedded with tiny crystals that change colour with temperature which by pressing your thumb on the pad on the front of the card, you can get an instant readout of your own stress levels.

This small demonstration impressed them, and suddenly they agreed to be our first sponsors.  And so, the first Wednesday in November every year became recognised as National Stress Awareness Day, in the UK.

Noticed by the media

You can imagine how fulfilling it was for me, on our first big day, to step aboard the red, double-decker Stress Bus, promoting ‘National Stress Awareness Day’ from its sides, as we set about touring London.

Wherever we stopped, people came pouring out of the offices to come on board the bus. Predictably, they all loved testing their stress levels, and this led on to a more formal programme of stress training, consultations and therapy sessions. As hoped, all of this was noticed by the media, who came aboard in large numbers. It’s hard to believe, but I had completed thirty BBC radio and TV interviews by 9am! By the evening, National Stress Awareness Day had been featured prominently by the Evening Standard, Bloomberg, CNN and Sky News, amongst others.

In subsequent years, we didn’t have to look far for other sponsors. One of them was the Health and Safety Executive  –  a valuable seal of approval from an important government body. Soon, National Stress Awareness Day was being celebrated well beyond London.  Members of the Association would run training initiatives up and down the country and it had become, an ‘event’.

Ten years on, my next challenge is to launch ISMA Middle East, here in the UAE. As you know, this column is equipped with a Readers’ Comments feature, so let me know your opinion, whether you are an individual, stressed-out at work; a stress management consultant or a potential, corporate sponsor.

The launch of a Middle East branch of the ISMA, will reinforce my other role here in Dubai as a motivational speaker, showing both individuals and management how to face and overcome the current challenges inherent in times of change and economic uncertainty.

Hopefully, we may soon be hearing about International Stress Awareness Day, with red double-decker buses driving around Oxford Street in London and Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai!

Key Points about National Stress Awareness Day

  • The initial proposal for a special stress-awareness day was greeted with scepticism
  • Today National Stress Awareness Day in UK is 10 years old
  • The overcoming of ‘impossible’ challenges. is a story many find inspiring

[Reproduced with the kind permission of Gulf News]

 Build a believable vision of a corporate future  –  with ‘Change is your Opportunity for Growth’  –  just one of Keynote Presenter, Carole Spiers’ presentations that have decisively changed attitudes and mindsets!  See Carole live http://bit.ly/TUWbX

Book Motivational Speaker, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference, for a charismatic, high-impact presentation on proven stress management and organisational change strategies. Tel:  +44 (0) 20 8954 1593         +44 (0) 20 8954 1593  or email info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk

Or check-out our latest professional stress reduction products http://bit.ly/FjL5L and stress management services delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, UAE and worldwide at www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

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More than a gleam of optimism in Dubai

Heading back to London, last week from Dubai, I reflected that the economic indicators for recovery in the Emirates, and of commercial confidence, are looking good.   That is confirmed by a new forecast by global HR consultants, Mercer, that salaries are predicted to rise by up to 7.5% in the next year, following a separate finding from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, showing that UAE is now firmly in recovery mode from the global downturn.

So what conclusions can be drawn from my own varied schedule of meetings with all manner of people across the corporate, retail and government sectors?

We might take note of the audience research from Naseba’s high profile Women in Leadership Forum, held last week in Dubai’s luxury Atlantis hotel, where I had the pleasure of presenting a well-attended stress management workshop. Not only did these women represent a most impressive cross-section of both national and international, executive, female talent, but  I felt a strong respect for all these highly motivated women who were succeeding in so many different areas of commerce, business and the professions. However, concerns were expressed regarding long working hours, poor communications and, sometimes, management systems that were less than efficient.  Nevertheless, I detected an abundance of confidence, along with a strong awareness of the challenges ahead and the need to adapt to the inevitable corporate change.

In denial

This corporate change has had a good deal to do with the UAE’s recent experience of its first-ever recession  –  a traumatic experience, as I can personally testify. Throughout the past twenty years, there have been a number of economic downturns in Europe, but none to match the severity of this recession. This week has reminded me of one of my old clients in Abu Dhabi, from some years back.

As he was a well-known name in the oil and gas industry of the 80’s and 90’s, I had better re-name him Ihab. He was a towering figure who had put his company firmly on the world map. In the good years, Ihab couldn’t put a foot wrong, and it seemed that he had been born to rule the industry. But this recession affected him badly  –  and revealed unsuspected weaknesses. For he had been totally unprepared for such severe setbacks, and went straight into denial. When he was advised that he must make some of his own appointees redundant, he became literally incapable of making decisions, in a way that nobody had seen him before. In other words, he was good at building-up a business during the good times, but hopeless at managing it through the difficult times. This required a whole different breed of manager. And before long, these new managers had to do the unthinkable, and make Ihab himself, redundant.

As I watched the Dubai lights twinkling below me, as I relaxed in my comfortable  Emirates Airlines jet, I remind myself that I am both an insider and an outsider, and it is this that gives me such a good perspective from which to evaluate the future of Dubai and the Emirates.

I believe that the UAE will experience continued growth as an international, commercial hub and tourist destination. There is nowhere in the world that has built such an amazing infrastructure, incorporating the very latest advances in technical design and utilising the best talent from around the globe.

Dubai already has one of the best international airlines and soon the world’s largest new airport for intercontinental travellers, and not to mention the world’s tallest building at over 800m – and the shrewd, global investments by the UAE will ensure that it is now an economic force that demands worldwide respect.

 Key Points about UAE’s first recession

  • Reliable economic surveys present a favourable outlook for the UAE
  • A businesswomen’s Forum confirmed commitment and thirst for learning
  • Management needs to be proficient in skills that can handle recession

[Reproduced with the kind permission of Gulf News]

 Build a believable vision of a corporate future  –  with ‘Change is your Opportunity for Growth’  –  just one of Keynote Presenter, Carole Spiers’ presentations that have decisively changed attitudes and mindsets!  See Carole live http://bit.ly/TUWbX

Book Motivational Speaker, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference, for a charismatic, high-impact presentation on proven stress management and organisational change strategies. Tel: +44 (0) 20 8954 1593  or email info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk

Or check-out our latest professional stress reduction products http://bit.ly/FjL5L and stress management services delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, UAE and worldwide at www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

Listen