Upgrade Your Mind and Body: The Key to High Performance
Updated: Sep 7
Imagine being in the high-speed lane of Silicon Valley, working with tech giants like IBM and Yahoo. That was Reiner Kraft's life back in the 90s. But the constant pressure and relentless deadlines took a toll on him, leading to stress symptoms he couldn't ignore. This pushed Reiner to explore ways to maintain balance in his life, ultimately steering him towards mindfulness and the concept of biohacking.
A computer scientist by training, Reiner began to view the mind and body as software and hardware, respectively. He started to explore the fascinating field of epigenetics, discovering how our genes interact with our environment, dramatically affecting our mental and physical health. This revelation transformed Reiner's approach to well-being, leading him to develop specific training and coaching programs to help others upgrade their 'mind and body software.'
Upgrade your well-being & performance
In this episode of the employee engagement, culture and leadership podcast, Sticky From The Inside, I spoke with Reiner to understand how you to upgrade your well-being and performance by making intentional changes to your lifestyle and habits. In that conversation we uncovered the power of epigenetics and mindful leadership as Reiner, delved into the connection between the software of the mind and body.
Below is a transcript of our conversation which touches on:
Unlocking the mysteries of how our environment can sculpt our genotype, providing a fascinating look into the world of epigenetics and gene expression.
Understanding the power of mindful leadership, and how the development of empathy, awareness, and resilience can positively influence leadership influence and effectiveness.
Learning how strategic changes to your lifestyle and habits can function as mind-body software upgrades, enhancing both your well-being and performance.
Exploring a world where nature meets nurture, realizing how lifestyle choices contribute to genetic expression and shape who we are.
Gaining an insight into how to master the process of measuring mindful awareness through an introduction to key performance indicators that will help track and develop your progress.
You can also listen to the full conversation here:
The podcast transcript
00:00:10 - Andy Goram
Hello and welcome to Sticky From the Inside, the employee engagement podcast that looks at how to build stickier, competition-smashing, consistently successful organizations from the inside out. I'm your host, Andy Goram, and I'm on a mission to help more businesses turn the lights on behind the eyes of their employees, light the fires within them, and create tons more success for everyone. This podcast is for all those who believe that's something worth going after and would like a little help and guidance in achieving that.
Each episode, we dive into the topics that can help create what I call stickier businesses. The sort of businesses where people thrive and love to work and where more customers stay with you and recommend you to others because they love what you do and why you do it. So if you want to take the tricky out of being sticky, listen on.
Cracking The Genetic Code to High Performance
00:01:10 - Andy Goram
Okay, today we're going to look at a couple of topics that have me genuinely intrigued and eager to learn. Now, we often dive deep into the realms of employee engagement, workplace culture and leadership, but today's conversation is taking us into the world of human biology, which isn't something we spent tons of time exploring, but I think it promises to unveil a whole new dimension when we consider it alongside leadership, employee well-being, and performance. Now, let me confess, when it comes to the fascinating world of epigenetics, I'm definitely the idiot in the room. I'm far more comfortable with the topic of mindful leadership, but today we're going to combine the two and I for am really curious to see how they connect.
So who's going to be our guide on this fascinating connection? Well, I'm delighted to be joined today by Reiner Kraft. He's a seasoned expert in epigenetics and mindful leadership, and he's designed what he calls a high-performance mind program, which I'm sure we'll hear more about later. Now, with years of experience and a wealth of insights, Reiner's here to help us unravel this intriguing connection between these two domains and how they weave together to create the opportunity for transformative well-being, leadership, health and performance. Today we'll look at how the science of epigenetics, which explores how our environment shapes our genes, can work in harmony with the art of mindful leadership; a practice that cultivates greater awareness, empathy and resilience.
So what's our goal today? Well, naturally, I want to keep it simple. So by the end of this episode, I hope that you, me and everyone tuning in will not only gain a clearer understanding of how epigenetics and mindful leadership intersect, but that we'll also unearth some strategies, insights and practical tips that you can immediately apply to elevate your well-being leadership, performance prowess and foster an even more engaging, compassionate and thriving workplace culture. So pin back your ears, open up your minds, and get ready to explore a topic that may just change the way you perceive leadership and the impact it has on both your teams and organization, as we examine the synergy between epigenetics and mindful leadership. Welcome to the show, Reiner.
Introduction to Reiner Kraft Ph.D
00:03:39 - Reiner Kraft
Yeah, thanks Andy, for the introduction and having me on the show. Looking forward to our conversation.
00:03:47 - Andy Goram
Yeah, me too, because I have tried as I could to research a bit more into particularly the Epigenetic side. As I said, I'm more familiar with mindful leadership. It's a fascinating subject. I found myself though having to Google lots of terms as it start to explain more and more about it that I just didn't understand. And hopefully you're going to make all that clear today. Before we get into it, my friend, how about just giving us a bit of your background, tell us your story.
00:04:15 - Reiner Kraft
Yeah, so basically my background is in tech and I moved in the mid-nineties to the Silicon Valley in California. So I had a lot of fun there. I worked for larger and major tech companies like IBM Research, Yahoo, and then back in 2016 I moved to Germany again, Berlin, where I worked for a large fashion ecommerce platform, Solando, did a startup for Deutsche Bank. So lot of tech stuff going on here. And my background is also being a scientist, I like data, numbers and so on. But about ten years ago I basically got more and more involved into figuring out how to stay afloat, so to speak, in the tech world, because of all the pressure, the deadlines, new priorities coming up every day. I realized you have to figure something out in terms of bringing more balance into my life. At that point I didn't have really a choice because the stress already stress symptoms got me thinking about what can be done and that was not something I had experienced before. So for me, managing stress or staying healthy, all that stuff was something I didn't pay too much attention to until symptoms took over. And I seen that since I'm working in this space for a long time, I think the whole idea of mental exhaustion, or running against the limits of the body, is something very common. It's not something that just happened randomly to me, for whatever reason. And so then I thought about, well, what can I do?
In general, if you are in a high pressure environment, as an entrepreneur, as a leader or as an individual working in a high-profile position, when there is lots of stress going on, lots of stuff going on that requires this constant energy drain on your body and your mind, what can be done? And that's what got me onto this journey to really explore this and figure this out. And while I was doing that I got deep into all these topics of mindfulness and based on that also later on mindful leadership but also mind management, got deeper and deeper into neurosciences. And then eventually the body, I got more and more into a process called biohacking. But the root, the science behind it is within the space of functional medicine and epigenetics. And I also realized that all those things, they pretty much belong together. There are these synergies that are available and actually you can't really get really good results if you don't work on these different aspects together. And that's why as a scientist over in the past ten years, I'm trying to figure out, okay, so how precisely does this work and how can I really get into something what I now refer to as a high-performance mindset?
So a high-performance mind, this was, this motivation for me is a quiet mind, a calm state of mind. But it also means there are, I call it the software of the mind. The Mind operating system runs in a very effective mode. The hardware is the body, right? So on the brain, the hardware also needs to be in good shape to support the software. And so as a computer scientist, this analogy between software, the mind and hardware, the body, all that stuff makes perfect sense and bringing these together in a very systematic way, so it's not random stuff, but it's actually really based on science, based on key performance indicators, KPIs, this is what I basically explored in depth and figured out how it works. And a few years ago then I launched as a founder of the Mindful Leader, different training and coaching programs like the High Performance Mind Program, to allow everyone who is interested in a very effective way to upgrade mind and body to really do this, get it done and learn on this journey how to really take better care of themselves.
00:09:09 - Andy Goram
I love the whole analogy of the kind of brain and cognitive stuff as the software, and the body as the hardware of it all. I mean, already that now starts to make a connection for me. But this whole subject of epigenetics to me was very, very new. I might have understood maybe some pieces without the actual phraseology of it, but this software piece that you talk about, and how our experiences perhaps shape our brains, our cognitive abilities, even influences how our kind of genes work, which I found was a fascinating piece. Give us, if you can, in simple terms, an overview of what epigenetics is and how it does influence our thought patterns and reactions to stuff.
00:10:04 - Reiner Kraft
Yeah, sure. So the audience in general, listener, may know there is the DNA. And the DNA is the building block or the blueprint of how our body is basically composed of. And the DNA is fixed. It's basically it is what it is. Sometimes people saying you have good genes, bad genes, whatever, but they're just genes. It's basically a binary pattern. And the more interesting part, it's when I started researching in how does this all works, what are these genes doing? And there's a lot of science out there nowadays when it's not like there is this one gene and then based on this you're completely screwed up, or basically got something that people talked about, like cancer genes, or all that stuff, right? So it's not that there is usually this one gene that determines everything, but usually there is a combination of different genes in combination when there's variance some variants in them. And these variants, sometimes called SNIPs, S-N-Ps, these variants can alter the behaviour of some of these genes. So that means the gene expressions, how they actually translated in terms of building stuff, could be the case that they may work a little bit slower, maybe it works a little bit faster, maybe it doesn't work at all. So there's all these different behaviours that can happen if our genes have slight variations in there. And many of these variations they come from, and this is now when we go into epigenetics, they come from the environment around us, or inside of us. The environment basically can influence how these genes are being expressed.
And that's when I realized, "Hey wait a moment! What does this mean? Environment, how they get expressed?" So that means I can have these particular genes, but based on how they're being expressed and how they're basically interpreted means that there could be different results. And immediately, again, I saw this analogy as epigenetics, as being the software that runs the genes. So it's above the genes and it basically alters the behaviour. And I say, "Wow, this is kind of cool." So if let's say, I have some genes that are related to the whole detoxification process, or capabilities of my body, how it can detoxify, and we have lot of environmental toxins nowadays around us in terms of heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides and so on, list goes on, the body has capabilities to detoxify. But there is a certain few genes around it that support this process in different phases. Phase one, phase two, phase three. So those are things that you learn once you get deeper into this.
And then, if for instance, for whatever reason, the software of the Epigenetic software is not running that smoothly for whatever instance, it could be that for instance, your body needs more, let's say some minerals, cofactors like magnesium, iron, whatever it is, so it could be then because of that, that software is not running that smoothly anymore. And then of course, over time, not immediately, you may get some effects that are not pleasant, or that are not desirable. And so knowing that there is software, knowing that you can actually do something now to change the behaviour of the software, and now we have the software of the body. And before that I mentioned the software of the mind.
So there is different software for different purpose. And I think the cool stuff is the message was that, "Oh yeah, I can actually do something to make some changes to my lifestyle", certain habits to impact the software of Epigenetics, but also impact the software of the mind as well. There's synergistic effects as I mentioned earlier. And this means that I'm now like an artist that I can now based on how I want to model and form the software, I can pretty much be very creative and really start upgrade process. Which is a process, it's not something you do from today to tomorrow. But if you know where the knobs are and what the focus areas are, that you learn. And then of course you have to learn what you have to do. That's why I spent ten years on this, probably more than 10,000 hours on this topic, so I got very deep. But at the end it's not that complicated once you know what you're doing. And then the impact you're seeing can be quite substantial in a relatively short amount of time.
Impacting the Epigenetics software
00:15:14 - Andy Goram
Well, let me just try and play catch up here Reiner, because you say it's all pretty simple when you know where the knobs are and you know what to turn. I get it. But I am way behind 10,000 hours on this. So if I understand the sort of things that you're saying, we've got a DNA code, a DNA structure, within there, there are the genes that are activated. And I guess depending on our behaviours, or our actions, or what we take into our body, or the environment that we're in, will determine to what extent that gene is fully operational, or lying dormant, right? On and off switch, I guess for some of these genes that the Epigenetics code controls. So what you're saying is you can influence the expression of those genes. And to what extent, Reiner, does the whole nature vs nurture background and argument influence and play a part in the environment element of this?
00:16:15 - Reiner Kraft
Could you clarify on nurture? What do you mean nurture?
00:16:17 - Andy Goram
Yeah, so the whole bit about you are what you are. The nature. A bit like you said with the DNA, it is what it is, it's going to do what it does. But when we talk about when people grow up and their behaviour changes, there's a combination of what's naturally them, inside them through the DNA, and actually how they have been brought up. How they have been nurtured by their parents, or their surrounding also influences their behaviour. And so I'm just wondering if there's a connection between these two things in the epigenetics when you talk about environment.
00:16:50 - Reiner Kraft
Yeah, I mean that is exactly this. Exactly the environmental factor. How you've been raised, how you've been brought up, what kind of lifestyle, habits, patterns you learned and what you're doing every day, pretty much on autopilot. It could be that for instance, you eat a lot of meat, or you eat no meat at all, just as an example, right, or you're being exposed to wherever you live, a high amount of environmental toxins. So there could be all these... and of course what you drink, sport activities, whatever you do. So there is a certain environment around you and of course that shapes the environment inside of you. And a small fraction of this is of course, there is the genetic code that is given to you. That is what it is. And it could be that that code is kind of helpful and you can get away with a lot of stuff. Other people immediately get into trouble. This is the good genes. So there is some effect of this. It's not completely you would say that the genes, whatever the code is, doesn't matter. No, it matters. Obviously there is something like good genes, but the effect of that is relatively small.
The role of genes in health
When the scientists found out something like, I don't know, 10% ballpark that this is what you got, then the other 70, 80, 90% are pretty much up for the software to optimize, right? And so if you make then these changes, of course you have to make smart changes, you have to know your genes. That is the optimal way that you can really have solid data. But sometimes you get around if you say I don't really want to dig into this too much based on certain symptoms. Let's say if you have a lot of stress, or if you can't calm down, right? So then someone, an epigenetics coach, or functional medicine practitioner who's deeper into this, based on symptoms can also already figure out, "Okay, there's probably this and this, and this is not running that smoothly" and can make some, propose some ideas, suggestions. But usually the way to do this is that you do DNA analysis. There is different providers out there nowadays, quite sophisticated. You get a big report, but you work with someone who is an expert in this and you work together with your functional medicine practitioner. This is the ideal setup. And then you start making these smaller, sometimes really small changes. But it's the combination of them. This is how you rewrite the software. Because now the environment changes and that means the gene expression is going to change.
And then if you're doing good stuff for your body, you will feel this quickly. And then if the body is in better shape, that upgrades basically the software of the mind as well, right? Or I should say the resources available for the mind software is now there's more richer set of resources available. But now you can still have the problem that your mind programming is suboptimal and it's causing too much mental chatter, too much stress, and that indeed now has a negative impact again on your genes because your genes going now on a cellular level, your cells actually they are like little receivers, right? And there's a cell membrane and there's receptors in this membrane and they can actually sense the negative energy that comes from your mind. That was for me one of the big findings when I realized that oh my goodness, you think about this negative stuff and on cellular level, those cells, they can sense that. They sense there is something going on in terms of negativity and the cell is relatively easy then determines this is danger. There is danger. Danger means stress. And then the cell, what it does in terms of protection, it goes into a lockdown mode. That means nothing goes in, nothing goes out. And that of course is pretty bad if that happens for longer periods of time. So people having chronic stress as an example, at the cellular level, cells are basically in a continuous lockdown mode. That means stuff can't really get regulated optimally because important micronutrients can't go in and then waste products and toxins that are produced inside a cell as part of the metabolism, can't go out. So it's a very unhealthy state and it's all activated by your mind, right? And then eventually that boils down to if the genes are not working properly, all kind of things can manifest itself, not in days or weeks, but usually in months and years or decades. And then all of a sudden people see the symptoms and say "Oops, what do I have now? I thought I'm eating good, I'm doing some sports." And all of a sudden people are surprised that they're diagnosed with whatever disease, right? But it's something that happens way earlier, usually a few decades before these symptoms pop up.
00:22:13 - Andy Goram
I think this is the fascinating thing with all of this stuff, Reiner, is the effect on our core. On that software, as you call it. And we're talking about the hardware almost at this point in that we talk about things like stress. We talk about things like burnout and they're just things that happen to us. But actually, it's having a demonstrable effect on how our body works at a cellular level. And this is the fascinating stuff with, I think this whole topic. If I could ask you then to think about the second half. We started to touch on the mind part here. Define for me what you believe are the key principles behind mindful leadership.
The power of mindful leadership
00:22:54 - Reiner Kraft
Yeah, I think mindful leadership is a term that I came up with, I think it was 2018. At that point nobody was talking about mindful leadership. Mindfulness evolved in the years prior, especially when I was in California. It always feels like California is about seven years ahead here of Europe, when it comes to these topics. And there was a lot of mindfulness, mindfulness in the workplace and so on. But what I thought about was the effect of mindfulness, especially in the leadership scenario, we need more mindful leaders. That was my first insight, to deal with the complexity in the modern workplace. I mean, look, just in the past few years, pandemic, war, whatever going on, lot of uncertainty. So being mindful, becoming aware of your thoughts, your body, right, and living in the present moment. So this is basically being connected in the present moment. And this is so important fundamental capability for when applying this in the application space of leadership. You can apply mindfulness, of course, to other application spaces. Let's say gardening, right? You can become a mindful gardener, which is great. So I'm sure the plants and flowers will appreciate that. But in terms of the leadership aspect, the most fundamental piece is being present, being connected with the present moment. And that means you're really fully aware with everything what you're doing.
And so that's why I use this term, mindful leadership. I published mindful leadership principles already back in 2018 on my blog, themindfulleader.net. And then those principles, they became widely... somehow, it was spreading, thousands of downloads. People were looking at this and the realization was that, "Yeah, they make these leadership principles, they make a lot of sense." But when I was experimenting with them, with my own leadership team, I had a large organization at that point in Berlin, Zalando, with about 400 people in my organization, 35 leaders. And when we were working with them, the leaders said, "Oh yeah, this makes a lot of sense." But then a few months later, following up on this, they couldn't execute on them. That got me thinking, well, if these principles are so simple, intuitive, people get it, but they can't execute, what is the factor that prevents them? And that was lack of awareness, usually. This is the biggest factor, lack of awareness. That means a low level of present awareness, or LPA.
The importance of awareness
00:25:49 - Andy Goram
Is that self awareness Reiner? Is that what you're talking about? Or just general awareness?
00:25:52 - Reiner Kraft
It's general awareness. So level of present awareness is defined as basically the time you're fully connected to the present moment. Being fully there over the course of your waking time. So the day as a percentage. So let's say usually when I start working in the role of a coach, when I started working with many of these leaders, I was teaching them, okay, here, this is how you can evaluate your own level of present awareness. This is the formula. You collect your mindful minutes, you calculate a percentage over the course of the day, and there we go. And then usually an LPA of 1 or 2% means that 2% of the day you're fully present. The rest, 98%, they're in some autopilot thought behaviour, mental chatter, rehashing the past, planning the future, all this stuff, right? They're not present. They're just somewhere else, every moment, for 98% of the day. And this is the reality. And it's still that an LPA of maybe 2%, sometimes 3% is the default, what we're experiencing today in this world.
Then people say this is not much if you think about it. Yeah, but this is what it is, right? But the good news is you can train that level of present awareness, training the mind through mindfulness exercises. Of course, you can use wearable, tech, neurofeedback, all the good stuff, to further accelerate this process. And this is when awareness is increasing. And usually I target an increase of more than ten x over three months with people I work with. So when they start with 2%, I want to get them to 20% as an example. And this is a game changer. Ten x improvement is so fundamental to the way you experience life every day. And as a leader, obviously the leadership qualities has a tremendous impact in breakthroughs that you get.
That's why this awareness part is so important. And so you're applying more awareness to leadership. And the people around you, like the teams you work with, they sense this presence and it has positive effects. Big companies did studies on this and impact on mindfulness on the workplace. So this is all validated that it has a big impact, positive impact, but as a leader, it gets you to a new level of leadership quality that you didn't have before. If you work on bumping up your awareness, right? And of course this has a positive effect on your body, as I mentioned before through epigenetics because now the cells are basically in a happy mode. They're opening up, they're relaxed, they're chilling, cool. And then of course, the body can function properly. So there's lots of benefits if you bring these together.
00:28:49 - Andy Goram
I think that's really interesting. To me, there's a definite resonance around improved consciousness, improved intentionality behind what we're doing for a reason. And you talk about that, you can get somebody ten times more mindful. Can you give us an insight into some of the things that you're doing to achieve that, Reiner? What sort of activities that you do with your clients seem to have the most impact in upping their levels.
What is measurable mindfulness?
00:29:21 - Reiner Kraft
Yeah. So the methodology that I pioneered then was called measurable mindfulness. So it adds the dimension of data to mindfulness and so everything all of a sudden is more tangible. Because this was for me the biggest problem. Ten years ago, or even longer, when I started with mindfulness, this was all fuzzy and is it helping? Am I meditating right? Why am I even doing this, right? What is the effect? And so adding data, keeping things measurable, adding KPIs to the mind and to awareness was something that I was experimenting with for many years. And so then I devised these mind KPIs, like the one I just mentioned.
The level of present awareness is one, then there is the other is another example, the average number of thoughts per minute. So that is representing your current thought activity. And as an example here, if you have less than two or three thoughts per minute, this is considered a calm state of mind. But usually what I've seen is people have more than on the order of ten plus thoughts per minute on average. That is considered the busy mind. Another aspect of the basically monkey mind. And this monkey mind is little bouncing monkey and this is symbolizing this untamed, or untrained state of mind. Lots of thoughts and unfortunately many of these thoughts are going usually very easily into a negative space. Once they get negative then you have a negative feedback loop. So there is another KPI. Your level of negativity, which is usually then for some people is a big problem, for others not. It depends. But you can see there's different KPIs. And measurable mindfulness at the end of the day, all it does is gives you clear KPIs on how to measure certain things. Becoming aware of your thought activity, negativity, of your awareness level, as an example, there are more. And then the exercises that you do. You basically have to add the dimension of data.
How To Implement Mindful Practices
So I'll give you an example. A mindfulness exercise could be mindfully brushing your teeth. So you actually don't do this on autopilot, but you're actually being fully there. Feel your gum, you feel every little thing what you're doing here on your teeth, you're doing this being mindful. And you basically then experience that 2 minutes. What the dentist typically asks you to brush your teeth. You actually need that 2 minutes. Otherwise you can't brush your teeth mindfully. If you rush through this, it's not going to work, right? But if you do this in the morning, you do this in the evening, so you accumulated four mindful minutes. What you're doing is now you're doing just things that you're doing on a regular basis on autopilot, you're trying to do them now, mindfully. Eating, having lunch, taking a shower. So I'm not talking about meditation at all here. I'm just talking about simple activities like going with your, let's say go for a walk with the dog, spend some time in nature, whatever you're doing, walking, exercising, you do it mindfully. You remind yourself doing it mindfully and you keep tracking it.
So there is a tracking component. And some of these things can be tracked automatically using apps. There is something here called Oura ring that I'm using for years now that tracks for instance, your heart rate, variability, sleep and so on. But it also tracks some mindful minutes. So that way the tracking becomes easy with these apps that in the evening you can sit back, look at this and say I had 20 mindful minutes today, which is good. And 20 mindful minutes LPA, when remember the calculation percent of the waking time. So 2% out of 16 hours, a thousand minutes is roughly 20 minutes, roughly 2% LPA. And it could be that through manual tracking you did the, let's say brushing the teeth, the shower, maybe did go for some walk; maybe you brought in another 20 minutes using this way, the manual tracking way. So you have 40 minutes. Now your LPA is already 4% on that day. So there is no magic here. It's basically simple maths. It's being more present over the course of the day, tracking the progress. This is how you evolve basically. How consciousness evolves. Because now the mind gets trained. The mind become... you overall become more aware and then of course, then you become also aware of your busy thought activity. And this is then the next piece when you start into mind management, which is now actively managing the software of the mind and improving it, which I.
Epigenetics & mindfulness in harmony
00:34:19 - Andy Goram
Which I guess is where these two pieces of epigenetics and mindful leadership start to collide, or intersect and work together. How do you see them both working in harmony, Reiner?
00:34:31 - Reiner Kraft
The realization was they have to work in harmony together. And there are three aspects. There is awareness, there is the mind, the software of the mind and then there is the epigenetics software for basically optimizing, driving your genes. And so those three things, they need to be aligned. And so ideally that was the insight earlier was, well, you have to do a little bit in everything. You start with awareness, but you do a little thing, little bit in everything. And people ask me then, "Well, how do I do this effectively?" Because they usually don't want to spend time like myself, years and years of experimentation, figuring this all out. They usually ask me give me something now that works. And I said "Well, now is probably not that reasonable. But I can give you something that works over three months."
And this is when I created this high-performance mind program, which takes you from A to B, and all of these three aspects. Awareness, mind and body. And you work in an agile manner, so that every week there are some new learnings. I have a learning platform, there's some micro learnings, little things that you learn, but it's focusing on the operationalization. So that you're taking these learnings and figure out how to integrate them into your busy life. And so that you get a little bit of progress every week. And then these things, if you add a little bit more stuff for your body here, a little bit of stuff optimizing, a little bit of the mind, a little bit more awareness here; this is week by week. And then this is when you get this accumulation effect, right? And so this way, this high performance mind takes you on a journey. It's very structured and usually people who like data, who like numbers, for them this is like "Wow, why didn't I know about this before?"
Because for them, now they have a very clear way of evaluating where they are in terms of their mind, their awareness and their body, so that they can establish a baseline. And then they can do these little things, figure out what works for them. But then they see is it helping? It's going up KPIs, or is it going down? And if it's going down, well then maybe this is not for you, try something else. And this is when the breakthroughs happens. And of course then if your mind software and the body and awareness is going up, the application layer that I mentioned before, which could be leadership, has a positive impact there. So this is a side effect, so to speak.
Summarising Sticky Notes
00:37:11 - Andy Goram
Yeah, well, if we're more present with our teams, we're going to see them more, we're going to hear them more, we're going to value their contributions more, we're going to add value to them, because we understand them better, because we're there and we're present. I can absolutely sort of see the links between the two pieces of mindfulness and epigenetics and engagement and culture at work. I can see where that comes. Reiner, this is a topic that I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of, but I do understand better. And your whole analogy of the hardware of the body and the software of the mind is fascinating.
In this show to try and help everybody else summarize and understand what we've discussed and where we've got to, I have this piece called Sticky Notes, which is where I ask you to kind of like, consolidate 10,000 hours of expertise onto three little sticky notes, Reiner. And so the challenge for you is, what are the three things you want to leave the listeners with that will help them improve this epigenetic mindfulness?
00:38:24 - Reiner Kraft
Yeah, so I would say since we have three sticky notes and actually we have three areas. We have awareness, mind, and body. So it makes naturally sense to pick one sticky note for each area, so that you can get something going, right? Because just listening to this is kind of nice entertainment. But if there's no action, nothing is going to happen, right? So in the spirit of a high performance mind and a high performance mind program, I'm giving you one for each area so that you get a taste of this.
00:39:01 - Andy Goram
00:39:01 - Reiner Kraft
And this alone is sufficient. If you do this for a few weeks, you'll notice differences.
00:39:07 - Andy Goram
Tip 1: Mindful Minutes
00:39:08 - Reiner Kraft
So let's go into the first one. We start with awareness, right? And the key thing is here figuring out what your current level of present awareness, your LPA is, to basically baseline it. And since this requires some training and work, we'll keep things simple. And what I would suggest here is you pick two or three activities every day that you do anyway. So my suggestion would be the teeth brushing in the morning, in the evening, the showering, and maybe taking a meal, right? Maybe lunch or dinner. Pick one, doesn't matter. So you pick three activities that you're doing anyway, and what you're doing here is to do them fully consciously. And become aware what you're actually doing there and then have a timer to stop them, but basically accumulate them. Do this for a month and write down in the evening, reflect and see, how many minutes mindful minutes did I do today? And see where you are, right? And if you end up with, let's say, 20 minutes every day. So this is great. So this is already 2% LPA, but maybe you accumulate 30 minutes. Well, great. 3% LPA, right? Be happy about the accomplishments. But see if you can start a tracking for yourself for mindful minutes for a month. See what happens and see what changes you experience.
Tip 2: Conscious Recovery
So then we take the next one, which is the mind. And here I would encourage you to do simple exercise to become aware of your thoughts, just become aware of them. So that would be the exercise here that you do also for a few weeks. And this can happen, let's say, while you're brushing your teeth, as an example. It could be that all of a sudden you're drifting away into some La-la-land, right, where you already start to plan the next step ahead. Maybe you plan your workday while you're brushing the teeth, but now you realize, "Oh, wait! There was a thought", becoming aware of it. I was just thinking, but this is not needed now. I was trying to be aware, focusing on my teeth brushing. So you go back into the aware mode. So becoming aware, going back to awareness. This is called conscious recoveries. And I encourage you to basically practice this for months, to practice conscious recoveries. And you will be amazed what kind of if you like, you can also analyze what kind of thoughts there were, just have some fun with it, but always come back to the present moment. And this is helping with upgrading the mind software, because the effect I usually see is the more you become aware of your thoughts and then realize this is not really needed now, the mind eventually will give up and produce fewer thoughts. And fewer thoughts is a good thing because ideally you have an average thought per minute is by zero, right? No thoughts at all. This is the beauty where you want to get to. But initially, once you become aware and thought activity, over time you'll notice it decreases. This is a good thing for the mind. So this is the second one, conscious recoveries, becoming aware of what you're thinking and then going back in the present moment.
Tip 3: Vitamin D Gene Expression Booster
And now for the last thing for the body. Well, there's a variety of things that you can do, but my favourite is basically optimizing your vitamin D levels.
00:43:01 - Andy Goram
00:43:02 - Reiner Kraft
The reason for this is that vitamin D has such a profound impact on your gene expressions. So if you have a low or deficiency level in vitamin D, which 80% of the population has. Without measuring I know, based on the studies, people usually are deficient in vitamin D because they're not taking care of themselves. There is not enough sun here in this area anyhow. And even if there is some sun, usually the levels are way too low. And so then vitamin D is also a hormone. It helps you to... the purpose is regulate gene expressions and it facilitates gene expression. In a deficiency level it can regulate up to, let's say, 50 genes, maybe a few more or less, but 50, that is the number that you can remember now. And then if the vitamin D levels are optimal, optimally meaning usually between 50 and 70 nanogrammes per millilitre, it can regulate up to 2000 gene expressions. So this is a game changer when we talk about software and impact. Regulating 50, regulating 2000, where do you get more impact? It's clear, right?
And so this is a huge impact. And here I suggest working with a functional medicine practitioner, expert, or Epigenetic coach to do this properly. It's not trivial. I know from experience this is a complex topic. But now you have awareness, oh, vitamin D. And then you can start learning and you can start ideally, I suggest find an expert work just on this one thing. It usually takes about... depending on your deficiency levels, it may take two months to get it in good shape. But this is when Epigenetic kicks in, when all of a sudden there is 2000 genes that can be expressed and on a daily basis, this is when good stuff happens for your body. Right? So this is so impactful. That's why I put this as one sticky note. Vitamin D.
00:45:07 - Andy Goram
Brilliant! Three very comprehensive sticky notes there for us, Reiner. Reiner, it's been fabulous to have you on the show today. Before I let you go, just clarify, if people want to find out more about the high performance mind program, where can they go to find more information?
00:45:23 - Reiner Kraft
Basically go to themindfulleader.net and there, there's also a link there for the High Performance Mind Program and it contains all the details. And the good thing is, yeah, if it resonates with you, you can start a training like this anytime. It's very convenient. It can all be done online, basically goes over three months. You learn a lot. But most importantly, the sticky notes that I discussed today, this is what you will do in depth. This gives you a taste, but there is of course lots more, right? And then you can see these things, they have an impact. If you put these little pieces of the puzzle together, this is what's happening and then you can reap the benefits.
00:46:07 - Andy Goram
Fantastic, Reiner. We will put all of that in the show notes. Thank you so much for coming on. I really, really appreciate your time and yeah, you take care.
00:46:16 - Reiner Kraft
Very good. Thanks for having me on the show.
00:46:18 - Andy Goram
You're very welcome. Okay everyone, that was Reiner Kraft, and if you'd like to find out a bit more about him or any of the topics that we've discussed today, please check out the show notes.
00:46:31 - Andy Goram
So that concludes today's episode. I hope you've enjoyed it, found it interesting and heard something maybe that will help you become a stickier, more successful business from the inside going forward. If you have, please like comment and subscribe, it really helps. I'm Andy Goram and you've been listening to The Sticky from the inside podcast. Until next time. Thanks for listening.
Andy Goram is the owner of Bizjuicer, an employee engagement and workplace culture consultancy that's on a mission to help people have more fulfilling work lives. He's also the host of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast, which talks to experts on these topics from around the world.