Alex Kergall is a high performance coach who helps to take people from all walks of life to the next level.
He offers a direct, action-focused and wide-ranging approach, with a focus on heart, mind, body and spirit.
In this interview, Alex reveals some of the things he focuses on when he starts working with a new client, and he also explains why taking time to pause for thought is always a good thing.
It was great to chat to Alex, and you can find out more about him over at his official website.
For someone who’s not so familiar with your story and your journey, could you give us a bit of a background about yourself and what you do?
I would not have expected to be a coach today, because I started in my career as a finance person and I grew up in finance. I was hoping to become a CFO and then a CEO. You have this dream of progressing and making sure everything is steady.
One day a couple of years ago, one question totally changed my life. I was out having a couple of drinks with some friends and one of my good friends asked me a question – and from that simple question I felt like everything was moving apart. And that question was – who are you? And I had no answer. I was a bit lost and felt like I had been running with this idea of being safe and secure by becoming a CEO or CFO.
I was a bit lost, and from that moment I started to search. What do I really want to do? This search took me to becoming a coach.
When you first start working with someone, what are some of the first things you focus on?
The key clients I work with are executives, athletes and entrepreneurs. When I was 18 I ran quite a lot and I went to the national championships in cross country. The performance element is really important to me. When you work with these performance-driven people, it’s important that the coaching sessions are really driven and bring an impact.
So to answer your question, when I start, I would start with a full coaching session to make sure that we can connect and work together. Each coach is unique and each person has their own journey. It’s important to connect and make sure that we can set up a journey together.
You speak about breaking up your philosophy into four separate sections – heart, mind, body and spirit. Could you explain a bit about that?
Sure. Imagine that you’re a footballer and you have a big competition coming, and right before the game you get some not so great news. It’s running in your mind and it’s 8pm. Your heart starts to beat faster and your mind is getting a bit fuzzy. Your body is responding to the news and you’re thinking a lot.
As you get to sleep, your mind is running and you don’t get the sleep that you need. You wake up in the morning, you still have it in mind but you know you have the competition. You need to perform on the pitch but the ritual that you usually do is a bit different because the issue is not resolved. When you play, everything you want to do has a different shape because you’re still thinking about it.
Where I’m going with this is that everything is connected. You can’t disconnect and say I’m going to focus on just the body or just the mind. It’s all connected – mind, body, heart and spirit. And when you get all of these together, this is how you get the best out of yourself.
When you think about the mind, you think about someone who is really focused and driven. When you talk about the heart, it would be around emotions and the connections with people. The body would be your sleep, how you eat, how you exercise. And the spirit is around the direction – where do you want to go? What’s the big dream for you? How do you connect them all together?
In the gym, in the month of January, it’s packed. What happens after a couple of months? It’s connected to the spirit, because the direction that you want to take is informing how the mind is going to react.
Why do you do what you do? What’s the deep reason? That’s going to inform how precise and driven you are at what you want to do.
For people that I coach, when we start working together, often the vision is not that clear. We start to unpack things and ask where they want to go. What’s the big picture? We start to go deeper and deeper and align the mindset with the vision.
Then we start to look at how they sleep, how they eat. It’s basically everything and like being an athlete of your own life, so you can get the absolute best out of who you are. Your body is absolutely amazing.
You use biofeedback with you clients…
Biofeedback is really based on Heart Rate Variability (HRV), which is an information that you get from your body which lets you know how your mind is working.
Basically, HRV is the timing that you have between each heartbeat. When your heart is beating, it’s not always the same time in between each beat. And the difference that you have is what is measured. When you measure that, it gives you some information about your autonomic nervous system. It’s a balance that you’ve got to find.
Sometimes adrenaline is very positive but when you’ve got too much it drives you into cortisol and you’ve got too much stress, it might not be that positive.
So the biofeedback gives you the information about the coherence of your body. It’s good to take the measurement at regular times during the week.
When I work with executives, I would take the measurement before starting a session.
For someone watching this who wants to improve their mindset in some way, what are some simple tips?
Three seconds. For instance, I just took a bit of time right now just to wait and think, what am I going to say.
Sometimes we just jump in and say what the mind is going to give you by default. So taking like three seconds before you jump into the answer – it’s the time you own.
One of the hacks would be, just before you jump in and answer whatever comes, wait. Take the time.
Another one could be to just say yes, when your mind is giving you no. Start with something small. The decision is going to be yes. See what life is going to bring you by hacking the system. The system is built on past experiences. You are in the present. If you want to stay in the present, hack the system and say the opposite of what would naturally come to you. Start with very small decisions.
Maybe a third one could be that when you go to sleep at night after a rough day, just slow down. Take a bit of time, breathe, do some meditation. Just give your mind a bit of rest. Unplug. Tomorrow is a new day. You have this opportunity. You’re alive, you’re on this planet, your heart is beating. New things are going to come up.
One of the points you make on your website is teaching your clients how to feel good on their own. What do you mean by that?
You are who you are, because you decide who you want to be. If you rely too much on the external world… Everyone comes with their own story and expectations of what they want to achieve. But building yourself and being who you want to be requires you to spend some time on yourself. To develop yourself and do your own thing.
You need to have a personal appreciation of what you want to do, without having people telling you what they think. Because what they think is part of their own story.
It actually has very little to do with you. It’s a reflection of their own story and what they went through in their life. There is a bias there.
The idea is that by being alone and discovering more about you and your limits, is to actually get connected to yourself. There is so much going on that you can easily get disconnected from yourself and get connected to someone very influential around you.
Maybe you catch the vibe and the energy and want to do many things like this person. But that’s a different path. What’s your own path? Finding out what you’re capable of and what you want to do. It requires some time spent by yourself.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
The answer would be – go for it, buddy. When you’re 80, you’ll look back and think, I should have done that. You need to break your own limitations. When I was 18, I was in the Caribbean, so I’d also say to enjoy the sun!