The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, is a fixture on the global leadership calender. This year, politicians, business leaders and celebrities convene to tackle the 2018 theme – ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’.
I caught up with Jussi Räisänen, CEO of Hintsa Performance, a leading provider of high performance coaching and digital wellbeing services. The firm is well-known for its association with Formula 1 motor racing and improving driver performance. For the third year in a row, a team from Hintsa has been invited to lead a session at Davos.
Here are some of the main insights that emerged from our conversation.
There are over three million apps in one of the world’s leading app stores, many of us check our smart phones once every 6 minutes and most of us carry our digital devices for 22 hours per day. We’ve entered a new age of machine intelligence where the speed and scale of change is truly breath taking. Consider this fact: today is the slowest it will ever be in your lifetime.
The challenge is that leadership focus is suffering. We are all consumed by ‘the cult of accessibility’, and leaders are no exception. The people who need to pay attention the most, are often the most at risk of distraction. The people who need to focus are often the most fatigued. So, could this increasingly fragmented approach to life and work be contributing to our increasingly fractured world?
Attention spans are under attack. According to a recent global survey by LinkedIn, 89 percent of people say they don’t achieve their daily goals and multi-tasking eats 40% of your day. Like an F1 Driver, when you operate at such a high level of intensity for too long, you run the risk of running your mental and emotional reserves into the red. It’s like a ticking time bomb. The brain floods the body with chemicals such as cortisol and noradrenaline. Primitive instincts take over, forcing the brain into fight-flight or freeze behaviors, what the psychologist Dr. Steve Peters calls the “inner chimp”.
For an overloaded leader, this can erode focus and strategic perspective — essential qualities for success. Give rest a chance, reframe stress as a challenge, take productive pauses for renewal and follow the wisdom of the ancient Greeks, which is to think slow and act fast.
Formula 1 Focus
Formula 1 is the most fascinating laboratory for leaders who want to thrive under pressure. On the face of it Formula 1 champions such as Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel and leaders might have nothing in common, other than the fact that they do their jobs sitting down, but in reality their lives are very similar. Thriving under pressure, constant travelling, lack of exercise and sleep, and dealing with uncertainty can easily overwhelm the brains cognitive limits unless you put well-being at the core of everything you do.
What can you learn from an F1 Driver? High-speed decision-making, courage to challenge old ways of thinking, embracing trends early and an obsessive focus on tomorrow being better than today are simple rules that any leader can apply to their organisations today.
As Davos leaders convene to explore the big issues in these turbulent times, Jussi Räisänen shows that achieving your full potential is not exclusive to the world’s elite. A world in flux is creating new challenges to human health and wellbeing.
One of the biggest threats is our diminishing attention span. Psychologist Herbert A. Simon wrote presciently over thirty years ago ‘a wealth of information leads to a poverty of attention’. As a leader, the attention you give to others is probably the rarest and purest forms of generosity today. Are you ready to give it?