Guest Blog – “What You Think Versus What You Know”

In addition to my regular blog post later in the week, here is a bonus guest blog from Heidi Hanna.  Heidi and I have worked together for a shared client and I trust her expertise in human performance will offer a refreshing spark: particularly, as you strive for creative customer experience solutions?  Enough of me and on to Heidi…


A few days ago I found myself having an interesting conversation…with myself. Yes, as you become more aware of your mental gymnastics throughout the day, including the stories you tell yourself, you can find yourself listening in on a conversation in your own mind as if you were an eavesdropper. Odd, I realize…but true. And I don’t mind because awareness is the first step towards using the power of your brain to create the life you want.

What I discovered in this internal dialogue was that what we think is often very different from what we know. My thoughts that morning included “I’m too tired to exercise”, “I really need to rest”, “My knee will hurt more”, “I’ll start tomorrow”, “I don’t need to do it”, and “I don’t want to do it”. But what I knew was I did need to do it, my knee was fine for moderate exercise, if I didn’t exercise my anxiety would have increased even more, and I was on the verge of a potential anxiety attack (unfortunately, something I’ve had to manage from a very young age). I know that feeling, and I know it usually happens in this exact situation – one part injury or illness, one part lack of exercise, one part stress, one part a case of the “blues” = system wide break down.

Fortunately I focused on what I knew to be true and pushed myself to go to the gym, thinking worst-case scenario I’d at least walk. I ended up getting a 45-minute workout in, chatting for a bit with a friend, and my day immediately shifted for the better. I was still in a bit of a funk, and tired, and a tad overwhelmed…but it had become manageable. And had I not exercised I am certain that things would have gotten worse.

This experience just reinforced something I wrote about in my upcoming book, The SHARP Solution (available February, 2013): our operating system consists of two fabulous leaders – our heart and our brain. While our heart provides passion, purpose, and motivation our brain controls the resources we allot to each of those things. When we’re running on empty, whether it’s physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, our brains can shift us into conservation mode, triggering thoughts that encourage us to conserve energy. What that means is that we slow down metabolism, crave foods high in calories, consume too much food, and don’t want to move more than we have to – making eating right and exercising an outright battle between what we want to do to reach our goals and what our brain thinks we need to do for survival. If we want to make healthy choices it’s critical that we fuel our system strategically, using techniques such as the Brain Recharge I talk so frequently about or other self-care practices, so that we keep our system running at its best. Try to practice awareness of how your thoughts, guided by your brain, may sometimes be trying to protect you but end up moving you in the wrong direction – away from your goals. In those moments, tune into what you know to be true, and try to listen a bit more to your heart.


About Heidi

As a performance coach and keynote speaker, Heidi has trained thousands of individuals on practical ways to incorporate nutrition, exercise, and positive psychology strategies to improve their health, productivity, and performance. Her vast coaching experience and passionate coaching style help motivate individuals and teams to develop sustainable success at both a personal and professional level. Heidi is CEO and founder of SYNERGY, a coaching and consulting company that specializes in customized health and wellness solutions for individuals and organizations. In the spring of 2011, Heidi authored her first book, SHARP: Simple Strategies to Boost Your Brainpower, and will release the follow up titles, The SHARP Solution and The SHARP Diet in 2013.

From 2003 through 2011, Heidi worked as a trainer, coach, keynote speaker and consultant for the The Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida. As an experienced speaker, Heidi has been featured at many national and global conferences, including the Fortune Magazine Most Powerful Women in Business Summit and the ESPN Women’s Leadership Summit. Heidi has fundraised, trained, and served as a mentor and nutritionist for several non-profit organizations, including the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, Livestrong Foundation, and the Challenged Athletes Foundation. She also is an advocate and volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Heidi holds a bachelors degree in communications from Penn State University, where she competed on the Big 10 softball team and received academic All-American honors. She holds a master’s degree in mental health counseling from Rollins College and a Ph.D. degree in holistic nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health. Clients have included Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Cisco, Dell, Intel, Proctor & Gamble, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch, ESPN and Starbucks, as well as professional and amateur athletes. Since 2006 Heidi has partnered with Janus Capital to deliver the Energy for Performance program, which teaches financial advisors how to better manage their personal energy, particularly during periods of stress, and the BrainWorks program, based on her SHARP book series. In 2011 Heidi was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Stress.

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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