Nurturing Curiosity and Building Resilience

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Time to explore 

For this post I’d like to discuss the original intention of the Functional Dad concept and how this correlates with the philosophies of my podcast guest, Dylan Stansfield the Director of First Class Football Training.

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Post interview with Dylan Stansfield

Dylan was a high performing sportsman (football) and like most kids, grew up with aspirations of playing in the English Premier League and representing his country. Although Dylan got closer than most by representing his country at the age group levels, he didn’t manage to progress beyond this and unfortunately experienced the bitter disappointment of rejection and the crushing reality that his aspiration wasn’t going to be met. Now, as a full-time football coach, he uses his role to prepare his athletes, not necessarily for the realities of high performance sport but for the various challenges and set backs life throws at you. Dylan focuses on the emotional and mental component of his athlete’s performance. Ensuring his players know that success requires personal investment, effort and importantly, the ability to receive feedback in a positive manner. Where certain athletes give up when faced with set-backs, Dylan is hoping to build resilience in his athletes so they view this process as part of the journey and natural path to reach their goals.

http://thefunctionaldad.libsyn.com/dylan-standsfield-maximising-performance

As a new parent I was naturally learning new things, learning to adjust to a new way of life and at the same time, considering what values and morals we as parents were looking to model and nurture. Like most parents we were trying to get educated and were considering various parental philosophies (there are literally thousands of parental styles!) which would ultimately shape the premise of The Functional Dad. The theme of the Functional Dad would be based on the learning process. Firstly to showcase to the little one that learning is enduring and to master something takes time. Secondly, by creating a learning environment, we could normalize the process and learn to enjoy the journey and even learn to value it. Subsequently, we can create a culture that promotes curiosity, critical thinking and ultimately build resilience by developing effective coping strategies to deal with setbacks and barriers. It’s these values, along with kindness and tolerance, that we are hoping to promote. Furthermore, proving that success takes time and to get there you need effort and an openness to feedback. This enables the little one to maintain control of his behaviors and actions because he can focus on effort and his response to set-backs. This goes a long way to reframing failure and recognizing the important ingredients to become successful, being content and reaching self actualization.

The TED Talk explains this well, and the ability to delay gratification.

Don’t eat the Marshmallow.

In addition, there’s a trend in society to respond to information based on beliefs and opinion instead of evidence and facts. Therefore, promoting critical thinking and emotional intelligence is probably more important than ever. This is explained well by Nathan Wallis who talks about society and how parents can build healthy relationship with their kids.

I acknowledge this was a tasty post and the next edition will be a little lighter by discussing our little eco mission to reduce our waste, plastic and one-use items. This will include the various challenges and dilemmas we face, particularly when considering convenience and time versus ethical decisions.

The Podcast Journey

The intention of the Functional Dad was to create a learning environment, firstly to nurture curiosity and a sense of adventure in the little one and secondly, to grow and develop as a new parent. The first challenges were themed around sustainability and learning about ethical choices; this included learning how to knit and to make homemade products such as soaps.

Other challenges had physical themes like the hand stand challenge, which is still ongoing due to some injury set-backs.

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Giving podcasting a nudge with the bare essentials.

One of the most interesting challenges was setting up a podcast station. If I’m honest, I genuinely felt podcasting would be fairly straight forward given that I love a chat – buy some basic equipment and set up some interviews seemed easy enough, right? After hearing my first few attempts it was clear I’d need some work on a couple of areas: sound quality and interview techniques.

The Sound Quality

“What is that echo?”

“What is that humming?”

“Why does it sound like you are underwater?”

This line of questioning was a recurring trend to the interview feedback.

So, let’s unpack this.
I suppose like most hobbies the cost and standard of equipment can escalate quickly. I was recording my interviews on location which didn’t lend itself to award winning studio standards and in addition, I only had one microphone. Compliment this with my limited understanding of acoustic performance and editing prowess, it was safe to say I was up against it. These were attributing factors to interviews with awesome people that were unfortunately discarded (they may be salvaged at a later stage by an editing pro.) It’s a real shame but the poor quality interfered with good content.

 

Interview Techniques
Preparation! I think you could tell when I wasn’t fully prepared to bridge the discussion and pitch clear questions. This was obvious in one interview where the guest had to ask a couple of times what the general theme of my question was. Although I thought I could be authentic and promote a natural conversation, the inability to create a fluid discussion allowed the conversion to digress into irrelevancies and unnerve me a little that prevented my true personality shining through.

So, want I learned…
Lean on experts. I joined the podcast group on Facebook who were incredibly supportive and offered great advice. I also approached the local Rock Shop to learn more about sound quality and tips to maximise the basic equipment I have. Finally, relax and enjoy it. I got to meet some incredible people with great stories and journeys and like I mentioned, the podcast community Facebook group were incredibly passionate and supportive. A great comment from a ‘fellow podcaster’:

“Go for it and do the best you can with what you’ve got”

It’s been a little journey but I’m excited to launch my first podcast episode where I interview Dr Darryl Bonetti. Darryl is a physiologist and works within the high performance environment. He has worked with high performance athletes completing at the National level and the Royal New Zealand Air Force working with their aircrew to refine the various human factors that prevent them working at their optimum level. Darryl is immersed in his craft which means he continually reviews the science and evidence around human performance. These studies extend into his personal life where he practices what preaches to ensure he is offering the best service that is accurate, current and relevant.

The main theme of the interview was to discuss his studies into our sleeping habits and the damaging effects of our modern lives on our long term health. Which seems pretty topical for me considering we, as new parents were working hard to establish good sleeping habits for the family.

http://thefunctionaldad.libsyn.com/dr-darryl-bonetti-talks-about-sleeping-habits

https://thefunctionaldad.libsyn.com/rss

 

I hope you enjoy the podcast, it’s worth mentioning that the interview location wasn’t conducive to audio quality which has affected the sound quality of the interview.

For what it’s worth, I would like to apologise to those who took time to chat with me but will unlikely feature on the series due to the poor sound quality. Hopefully we can revisit the interview at a later stage.

Make sure you keep an eye out for the next podcast and blog, hopefully it will coincide with my next challenge – a side hustle.

Busy being a good Dad?

Having been away from social media and any form of cyber interaction for a while, I was considering what my first blog edition back could be.

Before my break I was feeling overloaded and had an endless amount of things ‘to do’. So after taking on board some advice from close friends and reviewing some of my previous blogs,  I decided to step back from social media and any Functional Dad work to consider where my focus and attention was required.

At the time, the little one wasn’t sleeping consistently and it was starting to consume us.  In addition, work was going through a particular high tempo period. It was clear my focus had to be concentrated on my ‘important few’ and be busy being a good Dad. So I therefore, put a pin on the Functional Dad, with the intention to return fresher and more invested than before.

Were there any benefits? You bet…..

We, as a family were able to enjoy so many ‘first’ and key milestones without distractions,

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Starting to crawl, stand, climb and clap
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An early visit from the tooth fairy after the little one took a tumble and knocked his first tooth out!
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Prepped for his first overseas holiday
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May have overlooked the extra components of travelling with an infant!
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The little traveler

These experiences were made so much more enjoyable because we were all getting our lives back. This may seem dramatic but as I mentioned, the little one wasn’t sleeping much and it was starting to affect us.  The days were starting to feel like a grind. Luckily, we invested in a baby sleep consultant (www.babysleepconsultant.co.nz) who provided a comprehensive sleep routine, complete with advice and guidance to ensure the little one got into a solid sleep pattern. Thankfully, the results were instant and we’ll be forever grateful for the decision to get help.

Also, the time out has given me an opportunity to review the direction of the Functional Dad. So watch this space for some exciting projects on the horizon….

 Busy being a good Dad? !

Running on Fumes

There’s certainly a link between the delay on this latest blog and my physical state over this last month. The accumulation of sleep deficit, work, long commutes and poor health choices regarding nutrition took its toll and manifested in getting sick. I’m sure most parents can relate to this. My wife as usual was awesome, but frustratingly I was unable to support her and invest time into the little one whilst I was man down. However, it was a good opportunity to review my daily routines and consider their value. If you read my last blog, you would be aware I was investing in my morning routine which starts at 5am, so you may be forgiven to question if this early start is worth pursuing. I am however, getting a lot out of my day due to this practice and I’m focused on making other adjustments to ensure I can maintain this period.

“Win the morning – win the day.” Tim Ferris.

I was mentioning this dilemma to a friend of mine who just happens to be a Doctor in physiology. He questioned my sleeping habits and suggested reducing training bouts or exploring avenues to claim back sleep (easier said than done???). He argued that sleep was the most important element to health and wellness and an aspect typically overlooked by most health practitioners who instead focus on promoting physical activity and healthy eating awareness. It’s worth noting he didn’t dismiss these aspects, just highlighted the limited education surrounding sleeping habits.

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I was listening to a recent podcast from Joe Rogan interviewing neuroscientist Matthew Walker. Matthew confirms my friend’s theory regarding the damaging effects of sleep deficiency. I have attached their feature and recommend watching this clip, it’s genuinely concerning to consider the amount of damage being done through lack of sleep and importantly, the continuous trend towards poor sleeping habits.

Who gets seven to eight hours a day? This is considered to be a necessity, yet statistically the average is only six and alarmingly, I’m in that statistic.

Obviously, there are a variety of reasons why certain people do not get enough sleep. According to the National Sleeping Foundation, in the USA alone 40 million Americans suffer from different sleep disorders, many of these problems go undiagnosed as well as untreated. In addition, more than 69% of children consistently experience daytime sleepiness.

What happens when we sleep?

When we sleep, essential mental processes as well as physical processes are carried out.

When we follow proper sleep patterns, our bodies rest as well as conserve energy. This decreases blood pressure, breathing, heart rate and body temperature. In addition to this, our brain remains active; restoring daytime mental functioning, which promotes physical growth. In addition, sleep is important for the following processes:

• Restores your memory.

• Safeguards your immune system

• Plays a vital role in keeping the functioning of heart as well as blood vessels healthy.

• Repairs tissues as well as stimulates growth in children

• Plays an important role in weight control

• Controls your body temperature as well as reduces energy use

• Controls your brain function

If full sleep cycles including deep periods of REM (rapid eye movement) are not completed, it will interrupt the normal functioning of your body. Evidently the lack of sleep or sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes and stroke.

Although I knew about of the importance of sleep, the extent of long term damage of sustained sleep deficit didn’t really register until recently. Maybe it is linked to longevity and the desire to be available to my little one for as long as possible? Either way it is timely to review my sleeping practices and consider measures to claim back quality sleep. I thought my friend’s message around sleep deficit was a valuable discussion to have and therefore, I interviewed him in an upcoming podcast – keep an eye out for the launch.

 

 

 

 

Time is Currency – Part 2

I heard an interesting comment the other day made by Debbie Millman, entrepreneur and international fashion designer, who suggested that being ‘busy’ is a choice,  and a new form of posturing or a badge we wear to make excuses.

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“I haven’t got time for that – I’m so busy”, or, “Sorry we couldn’t catch up, I’ve been so busy.”

Millman argues that being ‘too busy’ actually lets you off the hook from doing the things you need to do. I feel this view links well to my previous blog about maximising our time, and to really consider what we are busy doing. Are we building memories with our friends and family, or doing things we love doing like playing sport, arts and crafts, or maintaining our health? Debatable. I have certainly been guilty of saying these statements and haven’t necessarily been productive.

What Millman recommends is actually reframing these ‘too busy’ statements to: “it isn’t a priority” and see how that sounds when it involves our family or friends.

Like every new parent, I have a greater appreciation of time and tend to value it more since I’ve become a dad. These first few months have been hectic and I know I was falling into the ‘too busy’ trap and sacrificing important elements of my life. So, reviewing the advice from my favourite life coaches, experts and role models I decided to invest more time into my morning routine. And subsequently, I’m feeling the benefits by being fully prepped for my day and being able to fully focus on family time.

Lewis Howes is a well-known personality and a regular on my podcast list. He has developed his morning routine by studying the optimal health approach to include physical activity, nutrition and meditation training. They all serve him, but what he recommends is that we select habits that truly serve you; experiment with your habits until you discover the one habit which works effectively. Lewis Howes wakes at 5.45 AM and he starts his day at 6.30 AM.

The following are examples of morning routines conducted by some of my favourite role models:

 

Tony Robbins is a popular business and life coach who designed an effective morning routine. His morning routine consists of workouts, sauna-to-cold-plunge combo, meditation and nutritional supplement. The overall morning routine is completed in 30 minutes. Even though the time period is limited, it delivers intense results. Robbins developed a ten minute daily exercise named Priming which is based on a few techniques found in Buddhist and yoga mindfulness meditation. He is not only performing his breathing exercises for one minute but also spends three minutes on three things he is grateful for. After that, he experiences the connection for three minutes.

Gary Vaynerchuk has a three hour long routine for getting prepared for the day. This involves reading many different postings from the news to Twitter. But he also spends time calling his father, mother or sister on his way to the office.

Tim Ferriss is a life hacker who has a unique philosophy. When Ferriss gets up, he immediately meditates, annotates in his journals and makes mushroom tea (I need to explore this tea further…). One of his journals is a freestyle journal named Morning Pages. He spends five minutes laying out his overall feelings and thoughts. The intention of this practice is to get everything out of his head and prevent them distacting him for the rest of the day.  He also writes a Five Minute Journal that has many inspirational questions and quotes to ensure he remains focused.

Based on this research, I have adopted a morning routine as follows:

5.00am – Rise
5.05am – Hydrate (500mls of water) and Coffee to go.
5.10am – Set off to work (Listen to a podcast)
6.00am – Workout (Mobility, strength and own body weight)

6.35am – Meditation and Gratitude reflection

6.40am – Shower

6.55am – Write my task list
7.00am – Start work

I’m loving it! I am still in the ‘test and adjust’ phase and feel further work is required on nourishment and maximisng my workout…and without a doubt I need to try that mushroom tea!

Time is Currency – Part 1

I recently went to a seminar hosted by The Minimalists. Their whole philosophy is based on adding value to your life by having less, which contradicts the cultural norms which suggest bigger is better. For example, they explore ways to save money on material items and trade that money back for time. More time to spend on relationships, hobbies etc. This will make more sense when listening to their podcasts and reading their blogs.
(On a side note, I wish I had labelled my previous little hobo lifestyle as ‘minimalist’ and blogged about it – it could have been fairly lucrative!  Always learning).

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Anyway, being minimalist has always been a lifestyle that I’ve tried to pursue and the prospect of accumulating ‘things’ would firstly make me feel claustrophobic and secondly, dramatically impact my little hobo lifestyle.
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“If everything doesn’t pack into my car I’ve got too much stuff.”
                                                                                Pre- Functional Dad

Now obviously things have changed with the little one and I have to work hard to embrace this shift and remain practical about the ‘stuff’ we have.  My key take away from the seminar wasn’t necessarily the minimalist movement, but how they manage to remain present with their children and de-clutter their minds despite the constant need to be creative and generate new ideas.
“We trade time for money.”
                                                                                                 Daniel Sivers
Their desire to maximise time, which they view as currency, seemed to be their main theme.  Ruthless prioritisation and focus during key moments of the day were instrumental in achieving this, with particular investment into morning routines.  This requires waking up earlier than normally scheduled but allows them to tick off important tasks during this stable and uninterrupted period.  This provides more time to focus on the most important aspects of their life later in the day, whether it’s their business or family time.
The gem however, was provided by Derick Sivers, the author of ‘Anything You Want’.  His phrase (which I’m officially claiming) “I’m busy being a great Dad” means he completely switches off from social media and any outside influences, and responds to those people trying to divert his attention with that phrase.

If I’m honest, switching off and slowing down has always proved to be a particular challenge for me (luckily my wife is an all-star), and I have to work hard to stay present.  However, being present is obviously important to me because I want to maximise my time with the little one.
So for the last week, I’ve been researching and learning more about morning routines, with a particular focus on the habits of who we consider to be successful people. It’s interesting to learn that a lot of people are reviewing their morning routines to ensure they maximise their day.  This certainly consolidates what Josh and Ryan (the Minimalists), and Derick were suggesting.
In Time is currency – Part 2, I discuss the trends I noticed with morning routines and how I am managing to implement my own.

 

The Sustainable Dad – Part 1

The whole premise of the Functional Dad is to learn, whether this is through developing practical skills or enhancing my understanding of issues, philosophies or concepts. This extends into wealth, health, social and environmental matters. My own personal growth is an obvious benefit, but the intention is to normalise this behaviour to my little one so he grows to enjoy and value the learning process. And hopefully, promote a sense of adventure, exploration and innovation.
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One of the first things I noticed as a new parent was the amount of waste and single-use items we were accumulating. So based on this, I challenged myself to learn more about sustainable practices and to explore realistic adjustments within the family’s daily routines. With a view to either Make it, Fix it, Re-use it or Re-cycle it.
This journey is uncovering some concerning statistics regarding our impact on the environment and the long-term effects of our unsustainable behaviours which will ultimately affect my little one’s generation.
For example:
  •  Billions of plastic bags are made each year. Of these bags, one hundred billion are thrown away according to Worldwatch Institute, with less than one percent finding their way into a recycle bin. The end result of this is around one billion birds and mammals dying each year by the ingestion of plastic. This is discussed further in the attached trailers for the Plastic Ocean and The War on Waste. 
  • 500 million straws are used and discarded each day in the United States alone. That’s 175 billion a year filtering into landfills (environment) and littering our waterways and oceans.
  • It is estimated that one takeaway cup creates 10 kilos of waste,  and in the UK alone they discard 7 million takeaway cups a day.
A small adjustment in my daily practices was the purchase of my Keep Cup. I acknowledge that these discoveries won’t be a surprise to some, but I genuinely classed myself as being environmentally conscious, yet I didn’t realise how my substantial cofee habit (which is manifesting due to sleep deprivation) was contributing to the throw-away society.

 

 

 

 The flip side of this however, is that there are incredible movements being initiated to promote sustainability and ethical practices. These are being spearheaded by some impressive groups of people and communities who are trying to shape and influence people’s attitudes to become more environmentally conscious.
I’ve attached a clip featuring a town in Japan who are adhering to a zero waste policy, and Molly Steers’ ‘Straw No More’ campaign. A great example of a small adjustments making a huge impact.
Ultimately, this journey has revealed a whole sustainable community of people who are making their own clothes, minimising their consumption, growing their own food and exploring sustainable products to reduce plastic and waste.  This certainly inspires and encourages others to consider their own small sustainable adjustments. If you have made small adjustments in your daily practices in order to be more sustainable, please feel free to share them in the comments below.
If you have been following me on Instagram @the_functional_dad, you’ll be aware that I’ve been learning how to make homemade soap.  I intend to continue expanding my Dad Skill tool box by exploring the  homemade product movement and consider practical adjustments in the hope of reducing the families rate of consumption.
In the meantime…..
“No straw please” 
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Lastly, I’m pretty excited to be hosting my first Functional Dad podcast with local entrepreneur Dylan Stansfield, Director of First Class Football Training
@firstclassfootballtraining. Stay tuned to hear about his exposure to high performance sport and how he mentors his players based on the lessons he learned from this period.