Mark Shayler explores why self-care matters

September 25, 2018

Today on #thebigselfcareshare we have Mark Shayler. He loves moving and thinking and the latter gets better when he does the former. He’s a thinker, speaker and author, one half of Ape – a sustainable innovation company – and Founding Partner of The DO Lectures.

Mark Shayler self care series

Tell us about yourself, Mark.

I started as a bit of a hippy, I became a corporate slave for a couple of years and am now happily hippy again. It’s 30 years since I went to university (for free – remember that), 27 years since I got married, 24 years since we had the first of our four kids, 18 years since I set up my business. I work with big companies to help them think small and small companies to help them think big. I work with individuals to remind them which way is up.

How important is self-care to you?

Everything starts with self-care. You can’t love and be loved if you don’t love yourself and totally accept yourself. This is, in my experience, the key to a happy life. It’s about being curious about who you are and why you are.

It rolls out like a wave to the mental stuff – accepting your weirdness and taking time to meditate. Then the physical – yoga, running and swimming. Then the food – eat less harm. Eat less food that harms others. Eat less food that harms you. Then focus on the relationships with people that are good for you rather than those that harm you. Then, and only then, can you begin to look at what you do with the main part of your day.

…focus on the relationships with people that are good for you rather than those that harm you.

How do you earn your money? We can all earn money in many different ways but the ones that bring us the most joy are the ones least like work. In my book ‘Do Disrupt – Change the Status Quo or Become it‘ I talk about how to find the thing that you need to do. I talk about the need to be patient with this and wait for your Kairos time rather than panicking about Chronos time. We get really het-up about what we do. It isn’t surprising really as it’s how we introduce ourselves, how we define ourselves and it’s often the first question we ask of others. This is because it is a totem for wealth. Try asking someone you’ve never met before “tell me about yourself” rather than the usual “what do you do”. Totally different question, with the opportunity for a totally different answer. Many won’t take that opportunity. Our self-applied labels are fascinating and ultimately create a set of constraining beliefs for ourselves.

How do you practice self-care?

I get up early. Around 5.30. I go for a cycle with a friend three mornings a week and often head to London on the early train the other two. My weakness is food. I eat too much and I want to start eating breakfast much later but at the moment I don’t. So I eat at around 7.30. Usually eggs from our chickens, our roasted tomatoes and spinach with toast. And a coffee. I really want to kick this out. Not because it is “bad” for me but because I lean on it. I sometimes use it as a reward for meditating. Maybe that’s how I’ll progress.

Like most people, I never do my best thinking sat down. I do it walking or running, or biking or showering.

During the day I take many breaks – I’m a big fan of the pomodoro technique of working in 25-minute blocks. Then taking some thinking time or meditation time. Like most people, I never do my best thinking sat down. I do it walking or running, or biking or showering. Our most creative brain state is reached around the hypnogogic state. I try and do yoga every day but am struggling to prioritise this now. I spend time talking to the kids as often as I can (two have moved out now and two are still at home). I go to bed earlyish – around 10. And I am really trying to not use my phone after 9. It’s hard.

Can you share a self-care tip?

I find meditation a massive benefit. I used to be really hard on myself until I came across a simple meditation technique called RAIN (Recognise, Allow, Investigate, Non-identity). I have a simple process and it really works for me.

I also listen to music, dance, do yoga and make love with my wife as often as possible. Sometimes altogether.

Thanks so much for your honesty, Mark! As someone who has twice read and benefited from ‘Do Disrupt – Change the Status Quo or Become it‘ I can wholeheartedly recommend the book.

Mark has kindly shared his process for RAIN meditation in a separate bonus blog.

You can follow Mark on social media at:


And visit his website:

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