Getahead festival 2019

Photo of Charlie Stapleton Written by Charlie Stapleton,   Jul 3, 2019

A week after I attended Getahead festival, my mind is still racing with all the amazingly interesting information and insights that came my way during the course of the 24-hour event. I went along to see what it was all about and how our Wellness Programme can benefit.

Getahead festival was founded by Daniel Kirby, a business owner who experienced depression following a burn out. By being proactive and using what he has coined as ‘The Getahead Mindset he has, over the last ten years, applied practical tools (mindfulness) to change his outlook and improve his life.

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The festival was created to help people get ahead without burning out, which Daniel says is the “curse of our abundant age”. In his blog, he explains that although life presents more opportunity than ever before, mental health issues are on the rise, as is the pressure to do more and achieve more than ever before. Kirby believes that you can achieve great things without the burn out and set out along with other likeminded individuals to spread that message.

Corporate Wellness Panel: 'How do we work better?'

Corporate Wellness Panel: 'How do we work better?'

Panel discussions, key speakers, meetups and classes all present around three keys areas. Mental & Physical Health, Personal & Professional Development and lastly Fun (music, comedy, friends). The key message being; work on your mental and physical health, and inevitably, your career will progress. You may even enjoy the journey along the way.

For me, there was one stand out and dare I say life-changing talk from Anna Waters, Psychologist and Director of Chimp Management. Waters works with pro athletes, business professionals, and individuals driving the Chimp Management model. During the talk, she explained how information is received and processed by 3 key areas of the brain. She describes the Chimp in our brain, that is the Limbic system which responds to events and stressors. This part of the brain is emotional and unruly; it’s responsible for creating the flight or fight response human beings have when faced with threatening situations. The trouble is that in our modern world, those responses are no longer helpful, in fact they can be completely detrimental to our personal and professional development.

The Chimp Paradox model of the brain.


In our arsenal, we also have the human part of the brain (frontal) and the computer (parietal). The computer stores memories and the human part deals with logic and reason. By recognising and managing the monkey in your brain you can allow the human part to deal with modern threats such as criticism, or unmet expectations. By settling our chimp we can quiet the storm, enabling us to assess the situation and present a strategy to move forward before we do ourselves the dis-service of overreacting in an overly emotional way.

Anna Waters of Chimp Management, discussing the model.

Anna Waters of Chimp Management, discussing the model.

Another highlight was the Panel, Preparing for Performance - a real eclectic mix of panellists including a surgeon, a former Olympic medallist, a DJ and BBC presenter.  Throw a meditation and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioner into the mix, and you end up with a melting pot of engaging conversation and debate. Visualisation was a hot topic here, with both the surgeon and the Olympic medallist using this technique to get them through tough surgeries and career making moments.

The panel ended on the fascinating topic of culture vs biology. Culture driving us forward ever faster and our biology cautioning us to slow down. Hands up if you’ve felt exhausted in the past but ignored the warning signs from your body. Are you dragging your worn out, dehydrated, undernourished body around with you while you are busy trying to conquer the world, or be the queen of social media, or run a business and keep a home with 3 kids, a dog and a hamster? How well are you actually achieving any of it?

Luke Ashworth's 'How my brain broke'.

Luke Ashworth's 'How my brain broke'.

I was blown away by Luke Ashworth and the brutally honest and passionate re-telling of his personal story ‘How My Brain Broke’. Following the loss of his son and business, Luke battled with anxiety and depression. I couldn’t help but be inspired by Luke’s ability to overcome adversity and rebuild his life. He urged the audience to stay away from social media, keep only positive people in your life, appreciate the simple things, and surround yourself with love.

The audience was an eclectic mix of those attending for personal interest and on behalf on their workplace. With so much inspiration to bring back to the office, it’s hard to know where to start. Our Wellness Champions will be bringing Chimp management to our team in the form of a workshop, in October; which is home to world mental health day. We’ll also be taking some ideas from the performance panel by practicing visualisation techniques, and really encouraging the team to use those techniques actively in their day to day.

These days we’re all suffering from ‘busyness’. We’re too busy… busy at work, busy with meetings, busy having it all, busy with renovating the guest bedroom, busy with the Mother in law, busy being busy. STOP. Go to an event like Getahead Fest. Invest in yourself by learning and practising Mindfulness techniques. Learn how to reach your goals without sacrificing your wellbeing or time with your loved ones. That’s the message of Getahead, and it’s one that we fervently agree with.

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