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Surviving to Thriving – Richard Sutton, Author of The Stress Code

This must be one of the most powerful talks I have attended as part of the EQ Entrepreneur Network Durban South Africa.

Richard’s talk was filled with valuable insights and statistics on the biggest health epidemic of the 21st century: DEPRESSION.Depression-1024x373

I was amazed by this South African man who had accomplished so much. Richard’s credibility is backed up with an incredible track record where he has worked with some of the world’s best athletes and businesses.

The talk was split into two parts, the ‘cause of stress’ and ‘how to be exceptional’.The cause of stress is based on four primary drivers with fear being the biggest emotion that drives stress.

1. Lack of control 
2. Conflict
3. Lack of support
4. Injustice 

He used relevant stories of work done with athletes and businesses to help illustrate how these factors have influenced both his life and the lives of the people and teams that he has worked with.

He backed it up with solutions to help combat these causes by doing the following:

1. Rewarding positive behaviour
2. Being supportive and encouraging mutual support
3. Being happy to give people more control
4. Being fair and consistent in the treatment of others


He used a classic example of two top tennis players where one used collective collaboration and went from being seeded number 90 in the world, to number five in one year and played in two grand slam finals.  The other player wanted to do it on their own and went from being seeded number 30 in the world to 90 within the same period.

Part two was about is was relevant based on the current situation we find ourselves in South Africa. Mind shift has the ability to maximise this potential. Richard shared an interesting story about his own personal life where he had to make a choice when working with the winning Beijing Chinese Olympic team, being a catalyst for his own personal mind shift in the situation. He was telling his story to the legendary female tennis player Billy Jean King, and in the hope of getting some sympathy for his woes she turned around and said two things which he believed changed his perspective and indeed his life. She told him that:


1. Pressure is a privilege
2. Champions adapt

The opposite emotion of fear is courage, and with pressure being a privilege, he shared three steps that will help everyone to re-frame a mind shift change.

1. You must make a conscious decision
2. Acknowledge the visceral signs – your body will help you
3. Build the habit of re-framing

Change the way you are seeing things. Collaboration is key. It is often seen in our country that if you can’t do something it is a sign of weakness and we often try to hide away if this is the case in our lives. Not doing anything about it will cause stress. Watch Brene Brown’s talk on Vulnerability.  He said that it is proven that Oxytocin is released when you deal with stress, talk about stress, and be vulnerable in the process to effect change.

Some great food for thought, he is well worth listening to. We as a company like to ensure our Culture Code can assist our staff in having the right tools available to them in order to reduce their Stress and help make their jobs be more efficient and Sustainable.