Unexpected Item in the Blogging Area

Normally I blog about Technology, Leadership, Strategy or modern working practices like Flow and DevOps etc.

But after an interview with Mark Chillingworth of Horizon Business Innovation (http://www.horizonbusinessinnovation.com/cio-interview-fin-goulding-aviva-international-cio/) he mentioned my marathon running as part of the discussion.

Then a number of people who have read the interview where surprised by the amount of marathons which I run each year and I hadn’t really thought about it….until now.

You see my job, perhaps like yours, can be quite stressful and I’ve read all manner of different methods for coping with stress at work.

I even got to meet with some Mindfulness Coaches and tried out an excellent app designed to help one relax and de-stress.

But I thought that I would share with you my three best techniques for stress management. 

1. Cooking

There, I admit it. I like cooking.

But I cook like an IT person, by following a specification (a recipe), lots of preparation (planning), gathering all the ingredients (getting resources) and serving a great meal after a number of attempts (fail fast – pivot quickly).

In all seriousness, cooking leaves very little time to think about the day to day stresses at work and it has the added benefit of having something to enjoy at the end of it.

2. Playing Music

Most of my friends and family know that I was a punk guitarist & song writer in the late 70’s & early 80’s with a Band called “Why Not!”.

I reckon that we would have been really successful but for the fact that we were naive teenagers with bigger ambitions than our capabilities could handle.

But playing in a Band is high pressure stuff, as is the modern day workplace. And playing an instrument, which in my case is playing it very loud, can actually really help one to deal with stress. Concentrating on playing the music blocks out all other thoughts.

Maybe you are thinking that you can’t play any musical instrument but it’s never too late to learn. But failing that, just listening to music helps.

3. Running

I hated running and I only started in 2010 when I lived in Buenos Aires. I joined a local running team in order to learn the language, meet friends and to stay fit (after too many Asados).

Running gives me the space to think but it also appealed to my competitive side. So I started racing short distances and began to enjoy the sport.

Then my coach convinced me to run my first marathon in October 2010 and since then I’ve run 25……did I mention my competitive side 😉

Anyway, the long distance running and the positive endorphins which come with it, greatly improved my mood, made me a happier person and really helped with the stress of my work. In fact it totally changed my outlook on life and my attitude.

Now I realise that running is not for everyone but I reckon that any form of physical exercise is the easiest of my three “de-stress” techniques to adopt and the one that has the main side benefit of making one much healthier.


And finally, I thought that I would share a conversation which I had with my CEO recently.

At work, we have a lot of ambitious plans in play, many huge complex projects on the go and truly ground-breaking business objectives to deliver.

So stress levels are high and my Boss asked how I was coping. That’s when I mentioned my three remedies to combat stress.

However, I then mentioned that I had been cooking every day for a month, got a complaint from my neighbour about my playing guitar too loud and that I had run 3 marathons (Paris, Prague & Cork) within the last 9 weeks.

I’ll let you gauge how stressed I could have been without my techniques!

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