Resilience As A Secret To Successful Leadership With Paul And Dr. Nadine Sinclair

Life is never short of adversities. That is why it is beautiful to see people become resilient, bouncing back from the setbacks instead of falling over. In this episode, Dr. Diane Hamilton talks with the founders of Mind Matters, Paul Sinclair and Dr. Nadine Sinclair about resilience, how it ties to emotional intelligence, and how we can develop it. Putting it in the context of the leadership, they talk about the importance of resilience, now more than ever, among companies as they struggle with various issues—from productivity to burnout. They break down some misconceptions about resilience and how you can make it part of a company’s culture. Learn more about the buzzwords that have been going around today—resilience, agility, and tenacity—as Paul and Nadine help us understand them from the lens of neuroscience.

TTL 621 | Building Resilience


I’m so glad you joined us because we have a husband and wife team, Paul and Dr. Nadine Sinclair. He was a nuclear propulsion engineer with the British Royal Navy and she’s a trained scientist and together, they’re the Founders of Mind Matters. This is going to be so interesting.

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Resilience As A Secret To Successful Leadership With Paul And Dr. Nadine Sinclair

I am here with Paul and Nadine Sinclair, who is a husband and wife team and owners of Mind Matters, which is a boutique coaching and consulting company based in Malta. Together as a former Nuclear Propulsion Engineer with the British Royal Navy and a trained Scientist, Paul and Nadine help their clients reduce their experience of stress, overwhelm and mental fatigue through the practical application of neuroscience. I’m excited to talk to you. Welcome.

Thank you, Diane.

You’re welcome. I tease you because as nuclear propulsion engineer and trained scientists, you guys must have some pretty fascinating conversations at the dinner table.

From time to time but we’ve got very different backgrounds.

Those are very distinguished backgrounds. I’m curious how you two met and how you got together to create your company.

We met in high school and we just got from there.

I hear neuroscience and I’m all in. You do have different backgrounds. What got you together on the neuroscience aspect?

At the time, I was still in one of the big consulting companies as a strategy consultant. I was telling Paul about all the leadership training I was attending. Paul was saying, “This sounds familiar. That’s what I was doing with my guys when I was working as a counselor in rehab.” We’re comparing notes and with my background in science, I also looked into some of the science and realized in the end leadership is about leading yourself and leading others and it can be applied to different contexts. A few years down the line, we joined forces in Mind Matters.

What was interesting was what she didn’t tell you, after leaving the military, I had a few psychological problems or emotional problems actually as I’ve worked out since. That led me down the path of addiction for more than twenty years. When I met Nadine, I’d been out for rehab possibly a couple of years and when we got talking, she was talking about the training that she did at McKinsey, leadership stuff and so forth. I realized that it was a serious crossover because the stuff that I was teaching, the stuff that I’d learned to manage and try to keep myself in recovery was exactly the same stuff that they were teaching to the high-level consultants at these big firms.

What kinds of things were similar?

It is understanding how the thought process works, how the behavioral processes work and how there is a link on so many levels between what’s happened to you in the past. The filters you use, the cognitive dissonances you use and all of these things all play into how you respond or react to certain situations. It’s escapism. What turns me on about emotional intelligence is the fact that this is the fundamental root cause of all addiction, in my opinion.

The lack of emotional intelligence, do you think?

Yes, definitely. It’s this inability because when I started taking drugs, I was doing it for fun. I realized very quickly that it was a secondary purpose which was the ability to completely close down how you feel, how you can use a substance to alter your emotional state, how you can control your emotional state with substances.

The day to day life of a natural researcher is marked by setbacks and failed experiments. Click To Tweet

That’s an interesting concept to explore and I know a lot of people who have issues with drugs in my experience have had issues with emotional intelligence. It’s a recognition of your own emotions and those and others and what you do to act appropriately. If you’re numbing everything, you’re not really recognizing or dealing with anything. That makes a lot of sense. I had Daniel Goleman on the show, which was great since he wrote a very important book on emotional intelligence from 1995. It was exciting to talk to him to get his perspective. What he’s writing about now is a lot of the mindfulness and a lot of people get into that right now. Are you a big mindfulness person?

I’m seriously interested in the neuroscience behind it because for so many years, it’s been completely esoteric. There was no proof. People for thousands of years have understood that it works but they didn’t understand why it works. Now, we do. Now we are cracking that nut open.

I also had Ellen Langer on the show who’s the mother of mindfulness and she’s fascinating for a Harvard professor. You might find those shows interesting. You guys deal with something called Agile NeuroLeadership and that interests me because I deal a lot with agility, learning, curiosity, all that type of thing. What do you mean by Agile NeuroLeadership?

I’ll start with the neuroleadership which is applying the insights from neuroscience and psychology to a leadership context. That’s on the neuroleadership part. Agility has become a buzz word in the last few years I would say, especially in the corporate world, where companies are transforming anti-organizations to work as agile teams. Our whole world is becoming faster, more volatile. What’s easy to forget is even if we change the processes, the way we work in a more agile way, our brains are still operating the same way. We also need to train our brain to become light on their feet in a way and react to these changing environments. Because the brain works so much with patterns, it is something that we need to consciously build as an ability to be agile in the way our thought processes work.

If your brain works with patterns, how do you make it more agile?

The first step is recognizing them.

We always tell our clients, the first thing you need to do is you need to switch off the autopilot. You need to become aware of your patterns and the way you behave. It’s the very first step, else you cannot change it. You will always fight against your own nature.

90% of our processes are controlled by the subconscious. You think of yourself driving to work some mornings. You get in the car and the next thing you’re at work. You’ve no recollection of the journey. That is how most people operate most of the time.

We’re on autopilot and that ties in so much to what I found with curiosity because my whole thing was also recognizing the things that keep people from being curious. In any other thing, when you’re trying to improve something, it’s recognizing what’s impeding it. A lot of people skip that step. They like to talk about it, what it is and all that. Nobody’s going, what’s stopping it? Measuring that and recognizing that to me is the first step to improving anything. Now, that you’ve recognized those patterns, then what do you do?

The thing is that most of the patterns are not recognizable initially. It takes significant work. You need to dig quite deeply to uncover these things, which is one of the things that we specialize in.

What are some patterns that you see quite often?

One of the patterns we see is on a high-level, I would call it like a stress pattern. In a typical situation, we find that the client says, “I’m in this tense situation and I used to work under pressure and then I explode. I have no idea why.” That part of the pattern recognition is that people need to go quite a bit back to understand what is happening because it’s not the moment where they finally explode. It’s all the steps before that led up to this moment. Whether they were using their willpower to keep a lead on things and we help them first of all map everything back to the beginning. Knowing your pattern is the first step. The second one is then building the tools to help you change the pattern not before the explosion but when it starts building up.

It’s recognizing the first step when this pattern is initially kicking in.

Recognition is such an important factor that ties into a lot of the stuff I like to look into in perception. We live in this little reality we’ve created and as they say, your perception is reality. You don’t know what you don’t know. If you’re going in the same direction doing the same things over and over again, you’ve created this path that you sometimes can’t get out of unless somebody shakes you out of it. It sounds like you’re helping people recognize that. Am I reading it correctly?

TTL 621 | Building Resilience
Building Resilience: People underestimate how long it takes to make a change and they overestimate the amount of change, the effort you need to put in.


That ties in with addiction. It is an intense, repetitive and focused desire. It builds all these neuropathways over and over again, which is why it’s so difficult for addicts to reprogram their minds. It’s not addiction where this works, this works in all aspects of life. Habits or behaviors are repeated over and over again forming these neuropathways. That’s why it is very difficult. That’s why 90% or 95% of people that make a new year’s resolution will give up on it a week later. They’re incremental steps. They’re baby steps. It takes time to reprogram the mind.

I was a pharmaceutical rep forever and I remember we deal with the remodeling in things within the body. There are all these different aspects of trying to change things and remodel into something else is what we’re talking about.

I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions that people have. One is they underestimate how long it takes to make a change and they overestimate the amount of change, the effort you need to put in. It’s not the big step, “I want to change everything about me overnight.” It’s about keeping it up and making small incremental changes. If you do the math and say, “If I improve 1% every day,” in a year you would improve 37 times and that’s enormous. To do this big thing all at once is the stereotypical, “I’m on a diet, I’m doing this for ten days and then you eat a bit of chocolate and then all the effort is gone.”

It’s a hard thing. A lot of people give up so easily and I think it seems overwhelming. When I work as a doctoral chair, I help people to do their doctoral process and they look at the dissertation and I go, “I got to write 200 pages and they freak out.” I’ll tease them. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It’s like that with everything else. If you’re thinking about eating the entire elephant, you can’t, you got to eat it one bite at a time, which is a disgusting thing to think about. It makes a point. A lot of people have a hard time with tenacity or resilience. You guys deal a lot with resilience. What do you mean when you talk about resilience? Let’s talk about that.

In a nutshell, we mean the ability to bounce back from adversity. It’s to come back from a setback. If we dig deeper, we have a more holistic view of resilience. For us, resilience starts with having a vision or something that gives you purpose and drives you. It’s probably surprising how many people don’t have a vision. What they believe is their vision is often material milestones. “I need a new car, I need a new promotion,” but they don’t have something that gives them meaning and purpose. The second thing we see which we believe is part of resilience is composure, which is keeping your cool under pressure when things don’t go your way and responding instead of reacting to situations.

We’re back to emotional intelligence.

The third one is thinking about reasoning and what we see. When we talk about reasoning is the ability to stay resourceful, finding different ways to solve a problem even when you encounter an obstacle. There’s a part about collaboration being connected to other people, building a social network and a lot of people underestimate how important social connection is for our mental health. You mentioned that tenacity is staying with something even if things don’t look too gray, don’t go right straight away. It’s another area we focus on. Last but not least, it’s your physical health. We see a lot of our clients neglect their physical health. If things get stressful in the job, the first thing that falls off the table is the exercise. The next one is sleep and nutrition.

That’s tough. Sleep, that’s the number one for me. If I don’t sleep, that’s it. I’m toast.

You can’t perform at your best if your body is in a bad state.

It’s hard. Everybody’s got their different ways of dealing with their morning rituals. I have a lot of people to talk about that on the show. Tony Robbins gets in his ice bath in the morning, which I never do. I’m from Arizona. That’s a weird thing for me to think of because I couldn’t do it. It does something they say is supposed to be great but I think everybody’s got to find the thing that works for you. Do you guys have a morning ritual?

I do.

Not me really.

Paul does have one. He’s not aware of it. Paul’s ritual, I know it very well. The first thing he does is he goes out to the balcony, has his cigarette but he reads for the first hour of the day. He reads articles on social media and he checks sites that pique his interest. For me, I need to start my day with two nice cups of tea and a nice book in the first twenty minutes, 30 minutes of the day. That’s it for me.

I’m a bathtub person.

Resilience starts with having a vision or something that gives you purpose and drive. Click To Tweet

Get up and jump straight in the bath.

A lot of people have their meditative time. They have their journaling time. They have all that stuff they do. For me, I think the best at 4 AM or 5 AM, which is crazy for most people but I get up very early and I can think then and then I get all the bad things done first that I hate to do. At the end of the day, the stuff that you don’t have to think so much about, I save that for then. Do you guys do something that works well for you so that you make sure you get the hard stuff done?

It’s quite similar. We tried to get this stuff out of the way in the morning. The first half of the days for the hard stuff or for this stuff the way you feel a bit of internal resistance for whatever reason. That’s the first half of the day.

We were talking about resilience and agility and tenacity. All these words are all so important right now. What do you think is the big thing that companies need more than ever? We’re struggling with engagement. We’re struggling with productivity. Everybody wants to be innovative. You said agility is the buzz word. I have to agree. Curiosity has been a buzz word here. Perception is a buzz word. What do you think is the biggest thing that companies are going to be struggling with or need help with right now?

I think resilience is a big thing that will be more important than ever going forward. With burnout being officially included in the classification of diseases this year, that’s a first step of shedding light on a problem that’s probably much more profound than we currently want to admit.

Paul, you said recognition?

Recognizing that there’s a problem.

I had a nice conversation earlier with a lady. We were thinking about cooperating. What she said resonated with me. She said, “Leaders need to learn that there is a way that you can lead your organization that will promote burnout and poor mental health or you can lead in a way that will do the opposite.” The difference is often minimal when building a culture that does one or the other.

How do you build it the right way?

That’s a very good question. It sounds simple but it’s probably not easy to do. Anything that’s related to organizational culture needs to start at the top. It can’t be just lip service. Leaders need to embrace these things, that resilience is important, that mental health is important. They need to embrace it first and foremost for themselves and lead by example. That sounds simple. It sounds very straightforward but this is really where many organizations fall short.

What are their misconceptions about building resistance? Do they have some common ones?

A lot of them think they’ve already got it all worked out.

This is like a quote “We don’t struggle with resilience in our organization because all the weak people leave before.” That misconception that resilience is an innate trait is popular, that you either have or you don’t. That’s probably one of the biggest misconception here.

I hear a lot of you have it or you don’t with so many different things. Even in the courses I teach, we talk about leaders, born or made and all that stuff. A lot of people have a lot of things that are stronger than other people but a lot of it comes from the things you go through and what people do to support you and the mentoring you have. A lot of leaders don’t want to admit that because that means you got to do more work.

TTL 621 | Building Resilience
Building Resilience: If you don’t build resilience, you’ll end up with burnout, depression, anxiety, and hating your job.


The thing is, if I take myself back to my submariner days, I served on four different submarines. Three of them had amazing Captains. They are top blokes who understood the needs of their crew and did everything in their power to take the edge off the fact that we would spend three months at a time on the water. One particular submarine, I won’t name it nor the captain, but that was absolute torture not just for me but for every member of that crew. The fact is that we didn’t have an option not to be professional because everybody’s life depends on everybody else in the environment. The fact that we had a guy running the show, he wasn’t cool, let’s put it that way. He made it very difficult for everyone.

I guess three months can be quite long.

Especially if you’re claustrophobic and you can’t get off.

That’s three months underwater and we don’t surface for three months. That was when I first recognized the importance of leadership. It’s a top-down system and the way that a leader leads his company will affect everybody there.

It comes from the top. I have a lot of consultants on the show and I don’t think anybody would disagree that if the leader doesn’t buy-in, you’ve got a lot of problems. The good thing is that consultants, by the time the leaders come to them, they’ve bought into the need for change or usually they don’t go looking for help. The ones that don’t go look for help are all the ones that are going to crash and burn. I’m curious what you think of how a leader like Steve Jobs or somebody with that personality that may not represent what we consider the highest level of EQ in some instances. How do you think some of them get away with it?

They drive their teams and their people into the ground.

Without knowing that firsthand the company culture but I can see the allure of an iconic brand to work for. Having that drive inside the teams, the creativity and the team spirit where people maybe also stay besides having a challenging leader in the driver’s seat. The question I would ask is, where could these companies go if they were led differently?

A lot of people want to be in the next big unicorn too. Sometimes they put up with a lot of things. I’ve had a lot of people that work for Apple on my show and a lot of them say he was tough. A lot of them say he was two different leaders when he had a little bit of humility when he came back the second time. It takes resilience to work with somebody who’s challenging. What if you don’t build resilience? Let’s say you have a great leader and you aren’t a resilient person. What happens?

The ultimate is burnout, depression, anxiety and hating your job. What you have to take into consideration is a lot of people don’t have the choice. They can’t walk away from these jobs. It’s not necessarily a fact that they are going to be able to work into a new one. They have mortgages, they have car payments, they have kids and families. It’s not that easy.

We see quite a few clients of ours, they have their dream job, they have built their dream life but they feel like a prisoner inside their dream lives.

They’re miserable.

You guys do help people with science. Why does science matter? What do you do scientifically to work on all this?

There are several things. One, especially, we work primarily with leaders in the corporate world and if you maybe go back five after ten years, mindfulness was looked at as something that is probably a bit more woo-woo, not very credible in a way. Now, science can change that, especially people who had driven by data and facts and insights. It’s important to see the evidence of something working. That’s one part of it. We also see that emotionally people, they take comfort in knowing there is science or that other people have tried mindfulness, have done the same thing and you could see a change in their brain. They take comfort and motivation from these facts. The third part is it’s such an incredibly fast-moving field. It helps us also understand and distinguish between strategies that work because that’s how the brain works on some things work based on anecdotes.

You’re talking about building resilience. How does it work? How do you do that?

It's harder to unlearn an old pattern because so much of it is unconscious. Click To Tweet

We look at building resilience. When we work with our clients, we would draw a triangle. If you imagine a triangle and one side of it is a story. Essentially our brain works with narratives and the story that we tell ourselves about our lives, what true about our lives, about organizations determines the actions we take on a day to day basis. It also makes the difference between what you say yes to and what you say no to. The first step, what we do is we realize people often have stories and plays about what’s true about themselves but it secretly sabotaging them and going where they want to go.

Can you give an example?

The classic story that we hear a lot, especially with women. Everybody’s talking about the imposter syndrome, “I’m not good enough.”

We get that a lot in leadership in general. People are going to discover that I don’t know what everybody thinks I know.

That can be different extremes but it can be as much as maybe not bringing an idea forward because they want to collect more evidence that it’s going to work and may be missing an opportunity there or maybe not taking a promotion because they don’t feel ready yet.

I remember reading research about that, that men are more likely to say, “Yes, I can do it,” even if they don’t think they can but women are less likely until they are sure. What are the steps then?

The first step is that we help people uncover their old story and then create a new story that’s more aligned with the direction where they want to go. Our brains work on patterns and a lot of what we do each day is based on patterns like getting in the car in the morning then miraculously ending up at work while planning out the next meeting on the way. If everything you do is based on patterns, it makes sense. We’ve got some patterns that will support us as in what we want to achieve and where we want to go and others that are holding us back from getting there.

What we do in the next step is we teach people the principles of how you first build patterns that support you in what you want to do, create the future you want to create and also how you eliminate patterns that are not serving you. The image we use is that of the field. Imagine like there’s this beautiful green field and you decided to walk across the field. The first day, you bend a few bits of grass and the next day it looks as good as new. If you do this every day, after some time you can already see the path you’ve been taking. Give it a few weeks. Maybe it’s been raining, it turns into a map track. Chances are if you’ve done that often enough, you would always walk the same path and really creating a new path, consciously stepping off this old path and walking a slightly different way. Over time you create a new path. That’s in a way very similar to how we help people build and eliminate patterns because the old track over time will grow over and they’d be in a few months. You won’t see there was a path before. That’s the second part.

Is there another step?

Yes. If you think about a triangle, we’ve got the sides and the base is what we like to call maximize results. This is about how you maximize results, not just for yourself but also from the people you directly impact. For example, in your organization. What we would typically find with leaders is that they’re usually going to do one or the other but rarely both. Bringing the story and these patterns together allows us to integrate this in a way that allows him to do both, maximize results both for themselves and their organization.

As you’re talking about these patterns, is it harder to learn a new pattern or to unlearn an old pattern?

For me, it’s harder to unlearn an old pattern because so much of it is unconscious.

How long does it take to build this resilience?

Usually, like neurogenesis, we’re looking at a time period of 90 days. I don’t think that’s long enough, but that’s what the scientists are telling us.

TTL 621 | Building Resilience
Building Resilience: Making a company culture resilient does not happen in a day workshop. It’s something that you need to integrate into your culture and continues to be nurtured.


What Paul is saying to you is you got different time frames and what would like to do with our clients when we first start working with them is we send them a set of juggling bolts. We’d say, “Before we get started the first week, we want you to practice fifteen minutes a day to juggle.” If you don’t know how to, look it up. Most of them never tried that before. I would say at the end of it, set yourself a goal of what you’re able to do. They focus a lot on getting this right. The lesson in it is that this is an experiment that has been done loads of times before and that you can see structural changes in the brain after these seven days in people’s brains. That’s how fast change can happen.

You get the fast part of the change and then you get the change that takes longer to turn to take hold. This is what Paul mentioned. What we know now is that different from what we told years ago, where the mantra was the brain is fixed and then your brain cells die and they will never come back. There are parts of the brain when your new neurons are being born. The important bit is they only survive if they’re integrated into the existing networks and put to use. That time from being born as a new neuron to being fully integrated is about three months, so roughly the 90 days which people also say it’s takes 90 days to build a habit.

That’s a great idea though. Anytime people feel like they get involved in it, in the experiment to see things, I do something similar with people where I don’t know if you saw the thought experiment of about eliminating status quo thinking where they put a bell in a doctor’s office where a woman was sitting there and they would ring this bell every few minutes and people around her were actors and they would stand up and sit down. People go along with status quo thinking. They don’t question things. Sometimes putting them in an experiment like that makes them see, “This is happening. It’s not something you’re talking about.” That’s a great idea to incorporate physical exercises like that. What do you tell thought leaders who want to make resilience part of the company’s culture?

One thing we tell them is, first of all, it starts with them. You need to build resilience first. You need to not just buy into it on a theoretical level, but you need to do it first. You need to build it for yourself. The second one is it’s nothing you can build in an organization on the side. You need to make that initiative. It’s not like a day workshop you do and then your company will be resilient or you do two months project. It’s something that you need to integrate into your culture and continues to be nurtured.

You also have to have the patience to integrate. It takes time. It’s not overnight.

The good news for them as is but there have been studies that show if you do enterprise-wide initiatives like that, you get quite a good return on investment. It’s about nine to one. There’s a good business case for doing it.

You’ve got the research behind that. What I find with leaders is that they become overwhelmed with what they need to work on. I’ve talked to people who are meeting experts or I’ve had people who are engagement experts or they know they need to be more engaged. They need to have better meetings. They know they need to be resilient and build emotional intelligence and be more curious and have better perception. They have cultural quotient. They’re all freaking out of how much bandwidth they have. What do you do about that?

You can only check it one piece at a time.

You do one thing at a time, then you have to identify and buckle down on the one thing that will move what they needed the most.

How do you recognize what they need the most within a company? How do you know if it’s agility or resilience?

We’ve got a whole questionnaire and a whole store to uncover people’s stories.

Within resilience, the different domains we talked about, we use a clinically validated test to help people, for example themselves, buckle down and understand and pinpoint the area where they can make the biggest difference.

You have some great research because you were a management consultant with McKinsey & Company. You were a part of the Max Planck Institute. I got to go to that because that fascinates me. What was that like and how do you use what you learned there in what you’re doing now? 

Being a researcher, I learned a lot about science. One of the things that taught me about myself is how to deal with setbacks and how to deal with frustration. The day to day life of a natural researcher is marked by setbacks and failed experiments. It was a very tough lesson to learn that you can be excellent at what you do but your experiments might still not work.

How our thoughts and behavioral processes work is link on so many levels with what has happened to us in the past. Click To Tweet

I know a lot of my students, it wasn’t so much whether they were able to prove what they wanted to prove, it was what the learning, how to prove if it’s right or wrong and learning to research. What did you write your dissertation on? I’m curious.

It’s quite difficult to explain. I worked on a molecular machine and I’ll explain them in a minute what I mean by that. Your genes are encoded in your DNA and they serve basically as blueprints for all the proteins that are in your body and make up your body and help your body fulfill the different functions. You can imagine the DNA is like a giant library and there’s one machine that makes paper copies of genes that will then be given to the production machines to make the proteins. However, because it’s so complicated enough in higher animals and that includes also humans, genes are interrupted by sequences first need to be cut out in order to make a meaningful protein. I’m studying about the machinery that has to know where to cut and join the different pieces of their RNA copy. To give you an idea of the complexity, there is one gene in the fruit fly that has 64,000 variants depending on how you cut and join the various pieces. That machine is incredibly complex when I was studying that machine at various stages of the process.

That makes my head hurt a little bit. How many times have you tried to explain that Paul, successfully?

I just heard it once. That was enough. My eyes glazed over.

You guys have a fascinating background and I think it helps to go through what Paul’s gone through though too. Because I have had met and known so many people who have gone through addiction, you learn how to think in a whole new way from going through that process. In the United States, there’s a big group here, a very successful guy named Joe Polish, who has a big networking event here in Arizona. He gets up on stage and talks about how addicted he was and how he’s changed his life around. A lot of people who share that are brave to share it. He admits that he’s still very over into work and he puts a little bit of an addictive nature to overworking. Do you work too much? Do you have a different addiction? Have you switched you exercise nonstop or do something?

You have to be very careful, Diane. You have to be very careful with transferring your addiction. I know that I’ve worked myself through them. I’ve got a pretty laid back existence. It does get stressful from time to time but it’s strange. I read this cool book. I can’t remember the name of the guy that said addiction is not a disease.

Do you agree it’s not a disease or do you think it is?

No doubt it’s not a disease. It all goes back to the neuroscience. It’s constant, repetitive focused attention on stuff builds these neuropathways, which as an addict, you become so powerful. You let your family go, you will betray your friends and you will steal things from your grandmother. You will do anything to get your next fix and that is why it’s so powerful because these neuropathways are so strong and that is why it’s so difficult to rewire them. I was in rehab for two years. It took me two years to start. That’s a story. The doctor that I’m seeing in London in Holly Street prescribed me all sorts of madness, and found them and said, “If you don’t get him to go get treatment, he is a dead man.” They convinced me to go to South Africa.

That’s not the Eric Clapton thing, is it?

No, this is me. It’s to what I would classify these days as a retreat.

Eric Clapton has a very exclusive place for doing that.

No, this wasn’t anything. I used to work for Eric Clapton.

I saw that. That’s why I was wondering.

TTL 621 | Building Resilience
Building Resilience: Anything that you have repetition, desire, and focus will become an addiction.


They said, “You can go to this retreat in South Africa. It’s by the sea. You can go horse riding, hiking. They will give you the drugs that you need.” I was like, “I’ll go.” I was tired of London at that time and when I got there, it was a bootcamp. I got arrested at the airport. The police had a warrant to detain me indefinitely. I’m too heavy for them and they put me in a bootcamp.

Is this before or after the Navy?

This is after the Navy. I didn’t use anything until I left the military.

That’s interesting because you think a lot of people say, “Get them into the military and that’ll straighten them out. They’ll go straight in there.”

It was the opposite for me. I enjoyed it when I was sixteen. I joined the submarines when I’m seventeen and a half. I’m involved in the whole Fulton thing. I didn’t leave until I was 25, 26 or something. The thing is, it’s another thing about emotional intelligence. When I left, when I was 26 or 25, I was still sixteen years old. I never developed emotionally. You can’t develop emotionally in the military. There isn’t an emotional component to it. It’s not tolerated.

It’s almost like the Robert Downey, Jr. story. It’s a serious amount of time for him to get off, as I recall.

He was a boy.

It’s amazing though, how your life can completely change. A lot of people have that helpless, hopeless, like this is never going to change feelings. You’ve got a story of inspiration right there alone. What you guys are doing is very interesting and you’re doing it from Malta. Do you travel a lot? 

We do.

Where are most of your clients?

Some of them are in Europe but we work pretty internationally. We have a few clients in the US and Australia. It’s pretty across the globe.

It doesn’t matter where they are anymore.

You do a lot of it virtually.

For me, as long as I can look at them, I can see their eyes, then I can work with them.

I’m curious if you’ve worked with any leaders where you recognize that they’re probably addicts.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. Click To Tweet

Addiction isn’t just about drugs. It could be sex, it could be gambling, it can be work, it can be cars or it can be whatever. Anything that you have repetition and desire and focus, repeat it enough and it will become an addiction.

With work, it can be challenging for people to know when they do too much. I know for me at 5:00, I turned my phone off and that’s it. I have a cut off time and I think it’s hard for people to know when to quit. Sometimes, if I was a doctor I couldn’t do that, medical doctor or something. It depends, you’ve got to know how much you can do and how much you can’t do. A lot of what you guys are doing ties into what I like as far as the recognition of behavioral issues that make the corporate culture better. All this that you talk about, what I talk about is all meant for the bottom line to which productivity. 

It all boils down to that, whether you’re working at it through resilience or agility are all these different factors. They’re all going to help with engagement and motivation, drug and all the things that are so important. A lot of people would be interested to know how they can reach you and find out more? I know you guys have done a lot and I didn’t even mention the Agile Project Management on Amazon number one bestseller in five countries. We have to get that in because that’s amazing. Congratulations on that. How can people reach you, get your book and find out more?

The easiest way to reach us is either to find us directly on LinkedIn and reach out personally or alternatively look at our website which is That’s probably the easiest way to find out more and get in touch with us.

Thank you so much, Paul and Nadine. It was so interesting talking to you.

I was nervous. It’s been great talking to you, Diane. It’s been a pleasure.

It’s been my pleasure as well.

I want to thank Paul and Nadine for being such great guests to the show. What they talk about is so fascinating and the science behind everything is so important. They’re very humble about how smart they are but those two have quite impressive backgrounds and what they talk about in terms of resilience and agility is so critical to what the message that I was researching with my work in curiosity. We’re looking for some of the behavioral issues out there at work that you hear so much about soft skills and the importance of soft skills.

We know that people are hired for their technical knowledge and fired for their behavioral aspects. Those behavioral issues are lumped together in what we call soft skills and many of you know this. What we don’t know is a lot of the things that we’re trying to fix. What is the spark to a lot of that? In my research in curiosity, I found the spark to motivation, to drive, to engagement, to innovation and you name it. You name the issues that people are struggling within the workplace and it kept coming back to curiosity and that ties into agility. The desire to continue to learn and ask questions and explore and the more we can build that in the workplace, the more successful everybody’s going to be. We know that most of the companies, the large organizations that were around, 20, 30 years ago are gone.

The reason is we’re buying into this status quo way of doing things. The way we’ve always done things worked in the past. We all know Marshall Goldsmith let us know loud and clear and in the best way possible, that what got you here, won’t get you there. A lot of them are trying to do the things that worked in the past and that’s not getting them anywhere. That’s one of the things that we need to look at. Look in your meetings, are people asking questions? If people are not asking questions, chances are they’re buying into status quo thinking. That’s not a good thing. If everybody’s in agreement, there’s not the discussion, the debate, the discovery that should be taking place within these organizations. That’s what I work with large organizations and people around the world are working with me to determine these factors that keep people from being curious.

What we found is people are held back by their fear, their assumptions or the voice in their head, technology, their environment, the people they’ve been around, their teachers, their parents, their coworkers, their current boss, their past boss. There are so many people who can impact us in life. It’s so important to research some of these things like curiosity, agility, resilience and also perception. That’s something I’m working on right now. If you’re looking for more information about Curiosity, you can get that on my main site at If you go to the top and you can go right to the Curiosity Code Index, training and everything by typing in I am certifying people to become a Curiosity Code Index Certified, you get five hours of SHRM recertification credit and you can train others in your organization or if you’re a consultant, it makes you very relevant and it gives you a very important tool in your arsenal when you talk to them.

If you’re tired of giving DISC or Myers-Briggs or all the other assessments and you think you want something new that really can be very relevant, the CCI is hugely popular and there’s a reason it’s because it’s timing into all these important things. I wanted you to know if you’re looking for that information, you can go to my site. You can also go to the Curiosity Code information at the top. There’s a lot of information on the site. If you need information about me speaking or I’m training or any of that, it’s all there. Please check that out. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Paul and Dr. Nadine Sinclair

TTL 621 | Building ResiliencePaul and Dr. Nadine Sinclair are husband and wife team and the owners of Mind Matters, a boutique coaching and consulting company based in Malta.

Together as a former Nuclear Propulsion Engineer with the British Royal Navy and a trained Scientist, Paul and Nadine help their clients reduce their experience of stress, overwhelm and mental fatigue through the practical application of neuroscience.


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