Home > Articles

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Developing the Whole Person

So why does management development focus, almost solely, on the neck up, when the demands placed on you as a manager, as an executive, touch every facet of your life? My work is focused on whole person development where health and well-being are linked to executive performance. Since 2007, I have delivered an executive training program in which I aim to remind busy professionals that they have a body. As we advance through a career, we tend to increasingly live our lives on a purely mental level, with all of our emails and strategies and meetings and metrics, forgetting we have a body until something goes wrong with it! Sustaining Executive Performance—the pursuit of longevity at the highest level in an ever-demanding society—may be achieved through paying a little more attention to long-held wisdom and simple practices.

For the Ancient Greek philosopher and citizen, self-governance was achieved through a harmonious balance between body and mind. For the twenty-first century business leader, a new conception of Peter Drucker’s self-management, as we develop in this book, offers refuge from an increasingly complex, connected, and out-of-balance life. Whether the focus is on personal productivity, work-life integration, the quantified self, or executive health, a myriad of pop-tech gurus offer endless management sound bites that pique the interest of the busy professional but fail to satisfy the deeper questions that accompany their daily craft and graft.

Sustaining Executive Performance will take a bottom-up approach, deconstructing the essence of basic human needs within the enterprise and society to show that such needs are universal at the individual, enterprise, and societal level, and also timeless in their fit with established philosophy—a powerful reminder in an age where only the “new” is held up as being of consumable value. What results is a reflection on leading a sustainable, happy, and productive life that starts with the individual but can apply to organizational and societal innovation, leadership, and resilience.

If such a claim sounds ambitious (it is, but I hope not overly so!), it is merely attempted through a work of synthesis. I attempt to join the dots of the patterns I have observed during my experiences and the teaching, coaching, and academic and field research that has characterized the past 15 years of my life, from around the time I started my PhD in Glasgow after rediscovering my own athletic journey. I therefore aim to make this text personal and human. Reading dull academic texts during my PhD studies actually put me off the reading process for several years! So I will present studies and experiences from real people, both from today and through history—those who have something to say and those who have had interesting experiences. It is also personal in that I recount many of my own experiences, including some of the major milestones through university, professional career, and sport. Key topics include design, innovation management, and corporate social responsibility, developed as I lived and worked in Scotland, Spain, and the United States, traveling worldwide and teaching thousands of amazing people.

I draw content from a broad range of fields, including management science, neurology, medicine, elite sport, and business ethics, and my overriding aim is to appeal to a broad audience and make the link between previously disparate issues. I attempt to join science to popular management to philosophy for a highly pragmatic resource and guide that nevertheless legitimizes action for the most skeptical minds and provides the base for continual action and lasting change. I will switch frequently between sources, such as the Journal of Psychological Science and the Bulletproof Executive, from Harvard Business Review to Fast Company, and from Brain Pickings to the Proceedings of the National Association of Science. All are leaders in the themes I cover in this text, and those with less academic heritage are especially able to disrupt conventional wisdom and lead us to deeper insight.

The book aims to be a reference for life reengineering for the experienced manager, and a reflection on practice for management students. By life reengineering, I mean the adoption of new habits and practices that drive health and performance, and for the management student, a reflection on the practices that will drive their career as they begin to “design their life.” This, I hope, will satisfy the increasing need of the executive education market at a time when enterprises worldwide recognize the key need for lifelong learning and development of their most precious resource, and at the MBA level where the new generation of leaders are under increasing pressure to perform and mend a broken system, yet where opportunities abound. The book may also serve as an introductory text or accompaniment for classes on leadership, design and innovation, and corporate social responsibility.

There are three main parts of the book. The first five chapters establish the foundations of the text, developing the driving rationale of the Sustaining Executive Performance as well as the levers that make it work. Baron de Coubertin’s reconceptualization of the Ancient Greek virtue of body and mind, presented here, is followed in Chapter 2, “The New Lanark Mills,” by a first examination of the Triple Lens of Sustainability, looking at several historical and contemporary business cases to link the individual, organizational, and societal levels. In Chapter 3, “Design Your Life,” and Chapter 4, “Day-to-Day Reengineering,” the field of design is then shown as the lever by which we may bring a more human-based approach to workplace performance, and make that actionable on the individual routine level. The Sustaining Executive Performance (SEP) model, a design-based framework, is presented in Chapter 5, “The New Self-Management,” as a guide for the twenty-first century professional to better manage themselves (see Figure 1.1).

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1 The SEP model

Parts 2 and 3 of the book are interlinked and attempt to show the Triple Lens of Sustainability in action. Each of the five elements of the SEP framework—MOVE, RECOVER, FOCUS, FUEL, and TRAIN—has a dedicated chapter showing how individuals may improve their own awareness of the key factors necessary for health, well-being, and performance—and think about change. These five chapters make up Part 2. Each is followed by a broader treatment of the concepts on an organizational and/or societal level—a further five chapters which make up Part 3. We therefore switch among the individual, organizational, and societal, each of the three levels of the Triple Lens of Sustainability—a concept that we develop throughout the book.

Pierre de Coubertin was an incredible visionary, and like many with vision, he perhaps suffered for being ahead of his time. The arts competitions were not sustainable without his drive and doggedness. They would continue until Zatopek’s Helsinki Games of 1952 before disappearing altogether.16 Having poured so much energy, not to mention financial resources, into the Olympic movement over the greater part of his life, he would suffer from financial difficulties, ill health, and to some extent, disenfranchisement with the IOC before his death in 1938. One may only imagine his despair in observing his final Games. In 1936, Berlin was used as a political pawn, contrary to his founding aim as a vehicle of peace between nations. Then again, perhaps a flicker of optimism would have burned bright after watching how sporting performance, and in particular that of a certain Mr. Owens, would show the way—the simplicity of a sporting event showing the complexity of sport, and also the value for a better governance of oneself, to become, just like the Ancient Greeks, stronger, faster, and smarter.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020