Chatting to Victoria Bagnall
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Do you know or are you someone who struggles to get started on a task, gets easily distracted, is always excited by the “next exciting thing”, who is constantly late, losing things, who finds it difficult to keep their emotions controlled, does not seem to have a very flexible approach to life or does not seem to really understand themselves or how they are functioning?

It could be that they are struggling with their Executive Functions. These functions are what allow us to execute our lives, get stuff done, keep track of our things and function as efficiently as possible. They are located in the “new” part of the brain, the pre-frontal cortex, and they are vital for a calm and fulfilled life.

Victoria Bagnall is a pioneer in the field of executive function skills development and passionately believes that applying the latest developments in neuroscience is the key to unlocking the potential of the human brain. She regards poor executive functions as the bottleneck to productivity and is committed to working with people of all ages to help them overcome their executive function challenges in order to flourish.

Victoria is the Co-Founder of Connections in Mind, an organisation of highly motivated team of experts committed to supporting executive function development in both children, adolescents, education providers and adults.

In this fascinating and vitally important chat we discuss her story from dyslexic, “out of place” child to reading Geography at Cambridge while still managing some fairly troublesome challenges with her executive functions.

A small discussion on how to write an essay is followed by the question of the moment: “What are executive functions?” and why do people not know more about them. It appears no one has a perfect EF profile but for between 20 and 40% of the population are “neurodiverse” and find tasks that “neurotypical” people find easy, very hard.

This tendency to not be able to do what is seen as basic functions in life can lead to great feelings of shame as parents, teachers, bosses label these people “lazy”, “over emotional” and “stupid”. Yet, these issues are not character traits or personality flaws, they are skills like any other – learning to walk, riding a bike, driving a car… you can learn to improve them and make them work for you.

But you need to look after yourself. You need to eat well, sleep well, do the things that make you feel good so that the better you feel, the more able to are to engage that part of the brain and fight off the “old” prehistoric, instinctual brain that puts you into fight, flight or freeze mode on a daily basis.

We discuss the classroom, life at home and the workforce and how all these places could be so much less difficult if only we all understood what this all meant.

Victoria is passionate about all of this and it shines throughout her interview how much she wants people to know about this and to talk about it more. You will hear a lot more from me in this episode than in many of the others because this is something that has affected me all my life (without me knowing) and now affects my 10 year old daughter.

Victoria’s company is Connections in Mind and her website is www.connectionsinmind.com

You can get hold of her on Facebook on @connectionsinmind 

On Instagram on @connectionsinmind

Victoria is on LinkedIn as Victoria Bagnall

The survey she refers to with 10,000 people taking the EF test is here su.vc/executivefunction

To find the books she was talking about “Smart but Scattered” please look here https://www.smartbutscatteredkids.com/books/

Adele Diamond’s (leading EF researcher) brilliant article on nourishing the human spirit and Executive Functions here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4210770/

And finally, Russell Barkley’s findings on the links between ADHD and EF/self regulation are here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4210770/

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