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OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time

OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson features the best Big Ideas from the best optimal living books. More wisdom in less time to help you live your greatest life. (Learn more at optimize.me.)
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OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time
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Mar 23, 2019
A few +1s ago, we spent some time in your Genius Zone. Today I want to revisit that wonderful spot and talk a little more about how to spend more time there.
 
But, first, let’s rename it.
 
Genius Zone is, of course, very cool. That’s what the Romans would have called it.
 
But, you know what the Greeks would have called it? Your Daimon Zone.
 
Daimon. Genius. 
 
As we’ve discussed, they basically mean the same thing.
 
Both the Greeks and the Romans believed we had a little (shall we say!) invisible mini-me that guides us all day every day. As we discuss ALL.THE.TIME, the whole point of life (and of all our work together) is, basically, to LISTEN to that inner guide. (High five that inner soul, yo!)
 
So…
 
How about a new name for that zone when we’re at our best: Daimon Zone.
 
We want to spend a LOT more time there than in our other Zones. 
 
Let’s draw a little square with four quadrants so we can picture it a little more clearly.
 
Today’s +1.
 
If you feel so inspired, do a quick inventory of where you spend your time. 
 
How much time do you spend doing stuff you’re not that great at? That you’re OK at? That you’re pretty good at? 
 
And… How much time do you spend doing the stuff that allows you to be UNIQUELY AWESOME?!!
 
Of course, this will mean different things for all of us and, IMPORTANT NOTE: We’re never going to spend 100% of our time in any of those Zones.
 
But… How can you more consciously spend just a little more time in your Daimon Zone?
 
… Today!!!
Mar 21, 2019
Continuing our time with my dear friend Katherine Collins, let’s talk about another micro-moment of Divine wisdom from our recent chat.
 
Quick context.
 
As you know if you’ve been following along, I’ve spent half of the last 20 years in Founder/CEO mode and the other half in Philosopher/Lover-of-Wisdom mode.
 
Although I’m not really into astrological signs (lol), I happen to be a Gemini and that myth happens to describe one of my primary challenges pretty well.
 
I often feel a pull to be one OR the other. 
 
A CEO or a Philosopher.
 
Which recently made me think of the word ambivalence.
 
Which led to a trip to my 2,084-page American Heritage dictionary.
 
I flip to page 56. Here’s the definition: “the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.”
 
Alright. Got it. 
 
But what I’m really interested in is the etymology of the word.
 
Get this: ambi means “on both sides of” and valence comes from the same root as valor and valence—it basically means “strength.”
 
So, I reflect on the idea that ambi-valence basically means to be on both sides of strength and that, from my perspective at the time, the result of that is WEAKNESS. 
 
Now, let’s head back to my chat with Katherine. I share that little distinction with her.
 
To which she replies by saying something along the lines of: “Well… We could look at it that way. Or… We could say that you have TWO simultaneously STRONG channels through which you can express your gifts.”
 
To which I say, “God Bless you, Katherine.” (Hah. Seriously.)
 
Which leads us to Today’s +1.
 
Do you feel any ambi-valence in your life?
 
What if we could reframe that “ambi-valence” into HEROIC-valence”?! 
 
I wonder… How can we take you and your multi-faceted awesome and channel ALL that awesome into heroic strength?
 
Seriously.
 
How?
 
Get on that. We need you and ALL your gifts.
 
One more time: Be not afraid. Give us all you’ve got.
 
(Pretty please.)
Mar 16, 2019
In our last couple +1s, we talked about the 11 virtues that show up on our shiny new Optimus medallions and make an appearance in our Optimus meditation.
 
Wisdom + Arete + Confidence + Purpose + Self-Awareness + Telos + Energy + Presence + Courage + Love + en*theos
 
I’ve been playing around with those virtues in my formal meditation practice and while I’m rowing and while I’m training and before I fall asleep and after I wake up and, well, a lot. (Laughing. “That’s like me!”)
 
I’ll either go through the meditation we walked through in our last +1 (with the I Am [Insert Virtue] on the inhale followed by the power-statement on the exhale) or just pull a virtue out that I think would be useful in the moment and repeat it in my mind—feeling its power flowing through me.
 
Which makes me think of mantras.
 
And makes me surprised we’ve done over 700 (!) +1s so far (go us!) and we haven’t talked about one of the most powerful tools to train our mind.
 
I mean…
 
Do you know what the word mantra literally means?
 
It’s a Sanskrit word.
 
Basically: The man part means “mind” and the tra part means “tool.”
 
So… A mantra is literally a “tool of the mind.”
 
Today’s +1.
 
Want to Optimize your mind?
 
Mantras are a good place to start.
 
Pick a word. Or a collection of words. (Virtues perhaps?) 
 
And get to work on your mind.
Mar 11, 2019
Continuing our exploration of how to endure the pain of walking over burning (psychological) coals in pursuit of the upper limits of our potential, let’s talk about one of Matt Fitzgerald’s recommended “coping strategies” to Optimize our perception of effort and get closer to that wall of our potential.
 
Today we’re going to talk about The Psychology of Pain. (Cue weird music?)
 
Short story: Researchers have studied how different people deal with pain and have discovered that some people are MUCH better at dealing with it (and, as a result, perform at a much higher level in the midst of experiencing pain).
 
Get this: There are basically two ways you can deal with the prospect of experiencing pain. You can accept it. Or you can try to suppress it.
 
(Which one do you think is more effective?)
 
Here’s how Matt puts it: “Research on the psychology of pain has produced similar findings. A number of studies have compared the effects of two contrasting anticipatory attitudes—acceptance and suppression— on pain perception. Some people have a natural tendency to look ahead to the repetition of a familiar pain stimulus with acceptance. They tell themselves, ‘This is going to hurt, but no worse than before.’ Other people try to cope with the same situation through suppression, a form of denial. They tell themselves, in effect, ‘I really hope this doesn’t hurt as much as it did the last time.’ Psychologists have generally found that, compared to suppression, acceptance reduces the unpleasantness of pain without reducing the pain itself. For this reason, it is a more effective coping skill. ... In common language, this attitude of acceptance toward an impending disagreeable experience is called ‘bracing yourself.’”
 
Today’s +1.
 
How do YOU deal with prospective pain?
 
Here’s to bracing ourselves, K N O W I N G pain is inevitable on our hero’s journeys and then #OMMSing our way to awesome.
 
+1. +1. +1.
 
P.S. Check out our +1 on Kristin Neff’s pain equation for more. Remember: Suffering = Pain x Resistance. 
Mar 6, 2019
In our last +1, we talked about you feasting on your Hero Bars—using memories of your past success as fuel to walk through fear doors today.
 
(You grab three for Today?)
 
All of those Cookies and Hero Bars remind me of an idea from former Navy SEAL Alden Mills’ great book Be Unstoppable
 
I read it years ago and recently re-read it with Emerson.
 
It’s a fantastic parable about a young captain who meets a wise, older mentor-captain who teaches him how to Optimize and actualize his potential to become a “Master and Commander.”
 
Emerson and I loved it.
 
The Master Captain (who goes by Persistent Pete), has eight actions he teaches his young protégé. (One of which reminds me of the Hero Bars! We’ll talk about it tomorrow.) 
 
The Actions form the acronym UPERSIST.
 
Emerson can rattle them off.
 
In fact, let’s invite him in so he can share!
 
Action #1: Understand Your Why
Action #2: Plan
Action #3: Energize to Execute (Alden may go with “Exercise” to Execute but we expanded it to “Energize” so we can include our other fundies of eating and sleeping!)
Action #4: Recognize Your Reason to Believe in Yourself
Action #5: Survey Your Habits
Action #6: Improvise to Overcome Obstacles
Action #7: Seek Expert Advice
Action #8: Team Up!
 
Today’s +1.
 
Do UPERSIST?!
 
Let’s do a quick run through:
 
First: What’s your #1 goal these days? (Seriously. What is it?!)
 
What’s your why?
How’s your plan?
You energized?
What reasons do you have to believe in yourself? (← Hint: Those are our Hero Bars!)
How are your habits?
You improvising to overcome (inevitable!) obstacles #OMMS style?!
Need to seek advice from any experts?
And… How can you team up a little more today?
 
There ya go. A super-quick take on how to Be Unstoppable
 
WEPERSIST!!
Mar 1, 2019
In our last +1, we talked about the wonderful little book-gift I received from Cal Newport and we reflected on a particular passage from that book (Leadership: In Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin) that really jumped out and grabbed me.
 
The essence of that passage?
 
Our presidential luminaries differed in many ways. But they ALL shared a fierce ambition.”
 
Of the heroic kind.
 
Today I’d like to talk about another passage from the book. This one’s from page 106. I actually STARTED reading the book on this page because, in his thoughtful gift note, Cal told me that the wisdom on that particular page made him think of me and of our recent chats.
 
Here’s how page 106 starts: “What fired in Lincoln this furious and fertile time of self-improvement? The answer lay in his readiness to gaze in the mirror and soberly scrutinize himself. Taking stock, he found himself wanting. From the beginning, young Lincoln aspired to nothing less than to inscribe his name into the book of communal memory. To fulfill what he believed to be his destiny, a different kind of sustained effort and discipline was required, a willingness to confront weakness and imperfection, reflect upon failure, and examine the kind of leader he wanted to be.
 
The passage continues: “The diligence and studiousness he exhibited during this period of introspection would have been remarkable in a young student; in a man of forty, it was astounding.”
 
Um. Yah. 
 
That’s powerful.
 
(btw: Self-efficacy 101 style, this is one of the reasons reading biographies of great humans is such a wise thing to do—we gain strength in other people’s examples!!)
 
That passage is from Part II of the book in which we learn about all the EXTRAORDINARY (!) challenges our heroes faced in their quests to fulfill their destinies. 
 
(Lincoln’s was dramatic. He was so depressed after letting down his constituents in Illinois after his tenure as a state legislator that his friends feared for his life and removed every sharp object from his house.)
 
Fierce ambition.
 
Equally huge failure.
 
Then what?
 
Then our hero doesn’t feel like a hero.
 
Then what?
 
Then he (or she) gets to work. 
 
As we’ve discussed countless times, this isn’t supposed to be easy. (And, thinking that it should be easy is probably the biggest challenge we face.) 
 
Echo: We’re not sidestepping lizards en route to our destiny. We’re battling dragons. 
 
As such, building our heroic strength for two demands a FIERCE commitment to self-improvement (Optimizing!!) to match that fierce ambition to make a difference.
 
As Lincoln said, I must die or be better.”
 
Today’s +1.
 
How about YOU?
 
How’s your fierce ambition?
 
And… 
 
How’s your strength-building going?
 
Here’s to having the audacity to dream big and the heroic humility and self-mastery to do the work we need to do so we can most fully give ourselves to the world.
 
Starting Today.
 
Continuing forever. 
 
+1. +1. +1. 
Feb 24, 2019
Continuing our theme of seeking/conquering fear, let’s have some fun with Jon Eliot and his wisdom from Overachievement.
 
Here’s how he (brilliantly!) puts it: “Working on techniques to manage stress is a bit like trying to win the Indy 500 by putting a governor on the engine of your race car or swapping out a powerful V-12 for a V-4 because it offers a ‘quieter ride.’ You wouldn’t do that. Not if you were after the checkered flag. Not if you were racing star Jeff Gordon. No superstar is about to give his opponents an edge. Nor should you by trying to relax when the pressure’s on.”
 
So…
 
Important question.
 
Do you want to win the race of life?
 
Or…
 
Would you simply prefer to have a “quieter” ride?
 
(I say “YES!!!” to both, please! lol)
 
Ideally, we show up with THE most powerful engine possible AND we have fun learning how to handle that Beast as we drive at record-shattering speeds, eh?
 
Let’s do that.
 
But let’s agree not to get so overwhelmed by the sensations of fear that we swap out our race car engine for a lawnmower engine, eh?
 
P.S. More wisdom from Jon Eliot: “I have discovered that I cannot enhance anybody’s performance without getting them not only to live with the butterflies that come with high-pressure jobs, but to embrace that kind of physical response, enjoy it, get into it. That’s the real first ticket to being a performer who thinks exceptionally.”
 
P.P.S. Another John comes to mind here. JFK once said: “Don't pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men [and women].”
Feb 19, 2019
Gary Taubes wrote a great book called The Case Against Sugar.
 
Basic idea: If you were a detective in charge of figuring out a series of crimes and you noticed a common pattern among those crimes, you’d be smart to put the pieces together and see if you could narrow your search down to a single suspect.
 
Right?
 
Well… That’s what Taubes does in his book.
 
The crimes? All the chronic diseases wreaking havoc on our society—from diabetes and obesity to heart disease and cancer.
 
Short story: All those chronic diseases are associated with metabolic dysfunction.
 
And the fastest way to make your metabolism dysfunctional? Sugar.
 
Enter: The case against it. 
 
Remember our Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn? She discovered telomerase—the stuff that replenishes telomeres. 
 
Here’s how she puts it in The Telomere Effect: “When we want to spot the parties responsible for metabolic disease, we point a finger at the highly processed, sugary foods and sweetened drinks. (We’re looking at you, packaged cakes, candies, cookies, and sodas.) These are the foods and drinks most associated with compulsive eating. They light up the reward system in your brain. They are almost immediately absorbed into the blood, and they trick the brain into thinking we are starving and need more food. While we used to think all nutrients had similar effects on weight and metabolism — a ‘calorie is a calorie’ — this is wrong. Simply reducing sugars, even if you eat the same number of calories, can lead to metabolic improvements. Simple carbs wreak more havoc on metabolism and control over appetite than other types of foods.”
 
Blackburn is at UCSF. She references her colleague Robert Lustig when she makes the point above. As we discussed in our last +1, Lustig is one of the world’s leading research endocrinologists. You know what he says about sugar?
 
He tells us that sugar is the “Darth Vader” of the nutrition world.
 
This little statistic might be THE most powerful one we’ll ever read regarding just how dangerous sugar is. (I repeated it half a dozen times in Optimal Weight 101).
 
“If you had any residual doubt about ‘a calorie is not a calorie,’ this analysis should remove it. Every additional 150 calories per person per day barely raised diabetes prevalence. But if those 150 calories were instead from a can of soda, increase in diabetes rose sevenfold. Sugar is more dangerous than its calories. Sugar is a toxin. Plain and simple.”
 
I repeat:
 
“If you had any residual doubt about ‘a calorie is not a calorie,’ this analysis should remove it. Every additional 150 calories per person per day barely raised diabetes prevalence. But if those 150 calories were instead from a can of soda, increase in diabetes rose sevenfold. Sugar is more dangerous than its calories. Sugar is a toxin. Plain and simple.”
 
That’s crazy.
 
150 additional calories from any source? No big deal.
 
150 additional calories from a CAN OF SODA? DIABETES GOES UP SEVENFOLD.
 
Know this: “Sugar is more dangerous than its calories. Sugar is a toxin. Plain and simple.”
 
Please tattoo that on your consciousness. (Right after throwing away your sodas!)
 
And… To be clear: This isn’t just about risk for diabetes. It’s a metabolic issue—which is all about how every cell in our bodies produce Energy—which means it affects EVERYTHING.
 
Today’s +1.
 
If you feel so inspired, go throw away all the sodas in your house. (Hah. Seriously.)
 
The Case Against Sugar is REALLY solid.
If we’re serious about Optimizing our Energy and well-being (for ourselves and for our kids), reducing/eliminating it should be a top priority.
 
#caseclosed
Feb 14, 2019
In our last +1, we took a quick trip to Michelangelo’s studio and saw the Optimus You sitting there in the uncarved marble. Then we did a little chiseling at some behaviors that might be getting in the way.
 
Today’s +1 is another super-quick one.
 
Pop quiz: You know what moment Michelangelo decided to capture when he carved David? 
 
Hint: It wasn’t his moment of celebration right after he “officially” became a hero by defeating Goliath. 
 
It was his moment of DECISION.
 
It was the moment he DECIDED to step up and do his best to serve profoundly and, ultimately, heroically.
 
That (and I have goosebumps as I type this) was what Michelangelo (rightly) considered the most heroic moment of David’s life—the moment he DECIDED to step up and strive to be a hero. 
 
Guess what?
 
(Echo!!)
 
We get to make those micro-decisions all day every day.
 
Here’s to choosing wisely, David.
Feb 9, 2019
In our last +1, we met Joe De Sena’s kettlebell named Leo. (I laugh as I type that.)
 
As you may recall, little Leonidas goes everywhere Joe goes. Traveling around the world? Mr. Leo gets checked in. Heading to the office in the morning. Leo’s going, too. 
 
All day every day. Joe and his 44-pound cast-iron little Leo are BFFs.
 
Now, as I was preparing for Greatest Year Ever 2019, I was reflecting on that epic love story and thinking about the importance of having symbols to capture our most important intentions. 
 
For Joe, that kettlebell represents his commitment to obstacle immunity and to honoring the pledge he’s made to help 100 million people Optimize their lives via his Spartan Races—which I find to be SUPER inspiring.
 
I wondered: What symbol can I create for myself that will capture my commitment to stepping up and into the next-best version of myself as a social entrepreneur and leader—doing my part to help 100 million (!!) people Optimize their lives by combining the power of Wisdom + Community + Virtue?
 
For about 5 seconds, I considered taking Joe’s lead and carrying around my own 44-pound kettlebell. But, a) that’s crazy (even by my standards—lol) and b) that’s Joe’s thing. 
 
So… I scratched that idea and simply placed my 44-pound kettlebell a few feet from my wall calendar so I nearly trip over it every time I capture a micro “That’s like me!!” WIN.
 
Then it hit me.
 
I’ll wear the little Spartan sweatband you get when you do a Spartan Race with the competitive folks. Yep. That’s it. I used to keep it on the corner of my desk as a reminder but I picked it up and put it on.
 
Obnoxiously obvious = perfect.
 
So…
 
I hereby formally introduce you to my own little Leo. You met my Suunto Spartan Ultra watch not too long ago. Well, here’s his pal. He prefers to go by his full name: Leonidas.
 
Every time I glance down at him I think of the ancient Spartan King and of my commitment to be Spartan (and Athenian! lol) strong as I strive to cultivate my virtue and give the world all I’ve got.
 
All of which leads us to Today’s +1.
 
How about YOU?
 
What are you most committed to in this precious life of yours?
 
What symbol can you create to capture that commitment?
 
Note: If you’re feeling particularly iconoclastically feisty: The more obnoxiously obvious (for you and everyone around you) the better.
Feb 5, 2019

Cal Newport joins us as a guest teacher for this class! He is one of my favorite thinkers. He got his Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT and is now a Professor at Georgetown. He’s also a bestselling author of a number of books. Given the fact that the fastest way to Optimize your life is to STOP doing things that are sub-optimal AND the fact that (for nearly all of us) our use of technology is the #1 thing that “Needs work!,” it’s SUPER important for us to figure out how to best use all the technology available to us WITHOUT becoming lost in a tsunami of inputs. Enter: Our new philosophy of technology use: Digital Minimalism.

Feb 4, 2019
Meditation.
 
At this point, most of us are pretty aware of the fact that it’s been proven to be pretty epic for our well-being. 
 
Congrats, high fives, curtsies, etc. if you’re rockin’ a meditation practice already.
 
If you’re not investing a few minutes of your day into meditation yet, what’re you waiting for?!
 
Perhaps you’re telling yourself you don’t have the time?
 
Well, we know that’s a pretty flimsy excuse (hah!) but if you’re not meditating and you have a tough time falling asleep at night, here’s some fun little data from Arianna Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution that will help us quantify the IMMEDIATE time-ROI you’ll get by meditating.
 
Arianna tells us: “A 2009 Stanford study found that a six-week mindfulness meditation course helped people who have trouble sleeping fall asleep twice as quickly, in fifteen minutes instead of thirty-three minutes.”
 
Recap: If you have trouble falling asleep, learning to meditate (and doing so consistently) can help you fall asleep twice as quickly—in FIFTEEN minutes rather than THIRTY.
 
That 15 minutes you invest this morning in meditation?
 
You’ll get it back tonight.
 
And…
 
You’ll get all the other benefits of meditation as well.
 
Check out Meditation 101 for more.
 
For now, how about a one-minute meditation to get your practice going starting today?
 
Sit up nice and straight. With “dignity” as Jon Kabat-Zinn would say. Pull that thread your head. Chest up. Chin down. Relax. Smile. Breathe in through your nose, down into your belly. Exhale slowly through your nose. 
 
Repeat. Five times. 
 
Congrats! 
 
You’re a meditator!
 
Here’s to your calm confidence and energized tranquility today AND tonight—as we remember the instant ROI from a simple meditation practice.
Jan 30, 2019
In our last +1, we talked about the Optimize Master’s program (aka Optimize Coach!) and had fun with some wisdom on moving from theory to practice—reminding ourselves that the theory (although important!) is just the rudimentary stuff. The ADVANCED work is the actual PRACTICE.
 
Here’s what was kinda weird.
 
As I was drafting that +1, I was doing some quick key word searches on my Mac to find the quotes I wanted to pull. I grabbed one from Ernest Holmes’s Creative Mind and Success and one from Vernon Howard’s The Power of Your Supermind
 
But before I found the right quote from Holmes, I opened up another one of our Notes on another one of his great books The Art of Life
 
(Fun note: I went through a phase where I was REALLY into understanding what all the old-school New Thought guys thought and read basically all their stuff.)
 
Anyway… 
 
As I did that little searching and opened up a few PDFs, I noticed that the first Big Idea from both The Art of Life and from The Power of Your Supermind (books written by two different teachers fifty years apart), said almost EXACTLY the same thing.
 
Big Idea #1 in our Notes on The Art of Life by Ernest Holmes: “You are using the Law of Life every time you think. No matter how long you may have been using It wrongly in your ignorance, the very day, that hour, yes the very moment, you begin to use this Power rightly, the effect of having used It wrongly will pass from your experience. Does it make any difference how long a room has been dark when you introduce a light; how long the earth has been parched when refreshing rain comes to bring new life, a new seed time and a new harvest to the fields?”
 
Big Idea #1 in our Notes on The Power of Your Supermind by Vernon Howard: “It is a mistake for anyone to think he has lived too long in his old, unsatisfactory ways to make the great change. If you switch on the light in a dark room, it makes no difference how long it was dark because the light will still shine. Be teachable. That is the whole secret.”
 
So…
 
There ya go. That’s Today’s +1.
 
Flip on the light.
 
When? 
 
Today.
 
(Then reflip it every time it goes off, of course!!)
Jan 25, 2019
In our last +1, we talked about our inaugural Optimize Coach program (there’s still a little more time to sign up and join hundreds of other passionate Optimizers in making this the greatest year of our lives while helping others in our lives do the same, btw).
 
Specifically, we discussed the very first email we send out with the very first micro-exercise to invite Optimus Us to the party.
 
It goes like this: 
 
Stand up. Expand. Relax. Pull the thread thru your head. Take a deep breath (in thru the nose, down into the belly, etc.). Chest up. Chin down. Relax a little more. Expand a little more. Smile.
 
“Hi, Optimus!!”
 
We’re going to start (and end) every single one of our 43 weekly sessions together with that exercise. CONSTANTLY remembering to physically flip the switch from the not-quite-Optimus version of ourselves to the “Let’s do this!!!” Optimus version of Us.
 
As I wrapped my brain around the importance of this little exercise and how to integrate it in our lives, I was thinking that it’s kinda like our Presence phone booth—the one Clark Kent pops into to change from his meek self into his Heroic Superman identity.
 
Which led me to Google.
 
Google: “I’d like some love on ‘Clark Kent to Superman transformation,’ please.”
 
You’ll notice that he goes from a hunched over, apologetic, squeaky-voiced sub-Optimus version of himself to, well, Superman. 
 
It’s almost as if the script said:
 
“Stand up. Expand. Relax. Pull the thread thru your head. Take a deep breath (in thru the nose, down into the belly, etc.). Chest up. Chin down. Relax a little more. Expand a little more. Smile.”
 
(Side note: At 45 seconds you may notice some room for coaching with that mouth breathing. “Love it, Clark! Well done on standing up nice and tall, expanding while relaxing and smiling knowing you’ve got it going on. Tiny little thing: Let’s keep that breath coming in (and out) through the nose. Nice, light, deep into the diaphragm, slightly longer exhale with a smile! Yep. That’s it. SUPERMAN’s in the house!!” lol)
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
Let’s remember Amy Cuddy’s wisdom on the power of Presence and Richard Wiseman’s wisdom on The As If Principle as we practice flipping (and reflipping/ducktaping!) the superhero identity switch—living as the new version of you 24/7/365… sending the old you on permanent vacation.
 
One more time…
 
“Stand up. Expand. Relax. Pull the thread thru your head. Take a deep breath (in thru the nose, down into the belly, etc.). Chest up. Chin down. Relax a little more. Expand a little more. Smile.”
 
 “Hi, Optimus!!”
Jan 20, 2019
In our last +1, we took a nice stroll down Brian’s Biographical Byway—exploring the power of flipping Identity switches. (You make any distinctions? Flip any switches?)
 
btw: That Seneca quote with which we wrapped up that +1 always knocks my socks off: It is not because things are difficult that you do not dare. It is because you do not dare that things are difficult.” 
 
Today I want to go back to Atomic Habits and explore an Idea that didn’t make it into the Note. 
 
It has to do with Michael Phelps. And his genes. And how they impacted his pants inseam length. And how that affected his Olympic greatness.
 
Get this: At this stage, we all know that Phelps is one of the greatest athletes of ALL TIME. He’s won more gold medals (23!!) than anyone in the history of the Olympics. 
 
He’s a case study in grit. In his autobiography No Limits, he shares the key character traits he believes led to his astonishing success.
 
But…
 
One of the things he doesn’t mention is the fact that his body just so happens to be near-perfectly architected for absolute dominance in his chosen sport.
 
He’s 6’4. Perfect. 
 
His wingspan is considerable longer that his height. Awesome.
 
And… His torso is crazy long. Like CRAZY long. (lol) 
 
A “normal” 6 foot 4 inch guy has a 34-inch inseam. Phelps? His inseam is 30 inches. (Which, Google says, would hover around the “petite” to “small” range if he were shopping for women’s pants.)
 
The Swimming Gods have blessed that man!! 
 
And…
 
Of course, Effort Counts Twice and that guy put in the effort of 10 Olympians—squeezing every drop of potential out of his uniquely shaped body and dominating his sport for a very long time.
 
But that’s not quite the point of this +1.
 
This is: James Clear tells us that if we want to achieve greatness in our lives, we need to make sure we’re focusing our precious life force in a domain in which our talents and passion are a good fit.
 
If Phelps had tried to be a runner he would have failed miserably. His dimensions are precisely the opposite of what’s required there. He needed to be in a pool for us to see him shine.
 
Today’s +1.
 
What “pool” do you belong in? Are you in it?
 
Go take your hedgehog out for a swim or a walk or a run or whatever it is you love to do.
 
Match your strengths to the domain in which you’re building the habits to most fully express your life force.
 
Show us what you’ve got. All of it. 
 
(Pretty please and thank you!)
Jan 15, 2019
In our last +1, we talked about how to make yourself a quadrillion (!!!) times better. The recap there: Just let the magic of compounding 1% gains work for you. Every day. 10 years. Boom!
 
Of course the fine print includes the fact that, although inspiring, that’s (obviously) pretty much impossible as NO ONE, not even the best among us, are perfect (thanks, Maslow!) and we won’t be the first. But contemplating the sheer potential force of compounding tiny gains is pretty inspiring.
 
Now, as I wrapped my brain around that power and imagined each of us stepping into that next-best version of ourselves (then repeating the spiraling up again and again!), Ralph Waldo Emerson came to mind.  
 
In Self-Reliance, he has a great line about the fact that great human beings have an aura about them. He says that it’s almost as if they have a bunch of angels escorting them. 
 
As he puts it: The force of character is cumulative. All the foregone days of virtue work their health into this. What makes the majesty of the heroes of the senate and the field, which so fills the imagination? The consciousness of a train of great days and victories behind. They shed an united light on the advancing actor. He is attended as by a visible escort of angels.”
 
That sounds about right.
 
And you know what “angel” is leading the rest of the angels?
 
Our proud daimons.
 
High fives to you and yours!
Jan 10, 2019
In our last +1, we talked about how the Peak Performance guys recommend we craft our optimal work-to-rest ratio. 
 
Pop quiz: You recall the ratio? 
 
Pop answer: 50 to 90 minutes ON. 7 to 20 minutes OFF. Making nice rhythmic waves…
 
(More importantly: You practice it yesterday?)
 
Today, as promised, I want to talk about the importance of creating boundaries lest we teeter into the realm of burnout and/or never leave the realm of sub-awesome performance.
 
First, let’s talk about the boundaries required to get into true, 100% ON mode. 
 
Guess what… All that multi-tasking? Flitting back and forth from one thing to another? That’s NOT awesome. (Cap’n Obvious here with a friendly public service announcement.) 
 
We need to create bright-line boundaries and focus on ONE Thing—the most important thing—if we want to have a shot at operating in our upper threshold of productive performance. 
 
We all know that. (Right?)
 
Yet… 
 
Do you still paper cut your attention and never really go deep because you’re too busy multitasking? Well, as the Peak Performance guys put it: “For 99 percent of us, effective multitasking is nothing more than effective delusional thinking.”
 
So, to be ALL IN ON, we need to eliminate distractions and truly go ALL IN for our 50 to 90 minutes of peak performance work. Got it.
 
Then what?
 
Then we need to truly recover during that 7 to 20 minutes OFF phase. Go for a walk, meditate, take a nap. (If you’re a nut like me, go throw some spears in your backyard.)
 
But, whatever you do, don’t go online and read the news and/or catch up on your social feeds or anything else that’s going to blow up your brain (and nervous system and neurotransmitters) and not offer you a true recovery period.
 
Again, boundaries. 
 
100% On. 100% Off. Repeat.
 
But only if you like sustainable peak performance.
 
Remember: Boundaries or burnout.
 
Oh! And this is even more important at the end of the day. Remember our chat about “Shut-down complete!”? Well, that’s a really good boundary to make sure you properly recover via some epic sleep while also ensuring some solid Deep Love time. 
 
Boundaries = Awesome.
Jan 5, 2019
Continuing (and concluding) our trip through Steve Chandler’s wise brain (and great book, Reinventing Yourself), let’s talk about campfires.
 
Campfires? Yep. Campfires. 
 
So… You’re out camping. It’s night time. You light a fire. It keeps you warm. You wake up the next morning. The fire is out. You’ll need to light another fire tonight to get warm again.
 
Now, do you complain about the fact that you need to create another fire? Or, do you just accept that that’s how it is?
 
Unless you pretty much exclusively speak Victimese, you accept that reality and simply make another fire, right?
 
Well… Steve tells us that the “human spirit” is JUST like that campfire. You need to re-light it EVERY SINGLE DAY.
 
Most people don’t like that fact. They want their fire to burn all day every day from the moment they wake up until the moment they fall asleep (with pleasant dreams included as well)—with as little effort as possible.
 
That’s called entitlement. You can also call it wanting to be exonerated from all future effort.
 
As it turns out, Phil Stutz says almost exactly the same thing. Only the metaphor he uses in our chats is that of a chair. He says that when you build a chair on the physical or material plane of life, it’s there the next day. 
 
BUT… (And this is another big “but”!!)
 
On the spiritual plane, that chair you built today WON’T be there tomorrow. You need to get back to work RE-BUILDING it. Every day. Whether you like it or not. 
 
Kinda like the campfire of the human spirit.
 
Today’s +1.
 
At the end of the day today, use the wood from the chair you built to fuel the campfire you need to build every night—knowing that you’ll need to build both again tomorrow morning.
 
And… 
 
Know that when we really get this, we’re nearly invincible. Why? Well, we stop complaining when we inevitably feel a little off and simply get to work doing the things we KNOW will help us feel great.
 
THAT is the source of ultimate confidence. And it’s ours.
 
Here’s to your comfie chairs that act as kindling for your warm fires!
Jan 4, 2019

Arianna Huffington (CEO of Thrive and co-founder + editor in chief of The Huffington Post) went from being a sleep-deprived executive to a sleep evangelist after passing out and banging her head following years of a grueling work! In this book, she brilliantly walks us through the crisis we’re facing, the history of sleep, the science of sleep and, most importantly, what we can do to Optimize our sleep. I highly recommend it. Big Ideas we explore include the fact that sleep is the #1 most underrated health habit, how to master sleeping well, the #1 tip (and #2-4), how much sleep the wealthiest human on the planet gets (hint: target: 8!), how athletes train their sleep (guess what time Tom Brady goes to sleep!), and why you should set a WORK-DOWN alarm so you don't need a WAKE-UP alarm.

Dec 28, 2018

Ready to make 2019 the Greatest Year of Your Life? Me, too. It’s time to Operationalize Virtue—getting (even more) clarity on what our Optimus selves look like and getting even better at consistently showing up AS that best version of ourselves. In this class, we review why we do what we do together, take a quick trip to hell (yikes!) then to Michelangelo’s studio (yay!) then we get to work sculpting our Energy, Work and Love—taking the time to wrap our souls around our Identity + Virtues + Soul Goals + Algorithms that will drive our Masterpiece Days as we Dare to step thru Fear Doors into all we’re destined to be. Hope you love it and looking forward to LITERALLY making this year the greatest year of your life in an unending string of such awesome years!

Dec 27, 2018

Dr. Mercola is a super-popular alternative health physician who runs the equally popular site Mercola.com. In this book, we get a look at his “Mitochondrial Metabolic Therapy” program. MMT for short. As you could probably guess, this is a high-fat (+ “adequate” protein + low-carb) diet. If that approach fires you up, I think you’ll love the book. If not, well… :) Big Ideas we explore include: meeting our mitochondria (the key to health), why “adequate” protein is where it’s at (not low or moderate or high but “adequate”!), mTOR (the cancer switch), good fats (vs. bad ones), peak fasting, and how to win the urge war.

Dec 26, 2018
In our last +1, we talked about LeBron James and the fact that he tries to get 11 to 12 hours of sleep per day when he’s training. (So does Roger Federer. And, Tom Brady is in bed at 8:30.
 
Let’s talk about LeBron a little more today. 
 
Renowned mental toughness coach Bob Rotella kicks off his book How Champions Think with a story about how LeBron thinks. 
 
It goes something like this.
 
Once upon a time early in LeBron’s career, Rotella spent some time working with LeBron. He knew the basics. Six-eight. A chiseled two hundred fifty pounds with explosive speed. A proven superstar. But it wasn’t until they sat down and chatted that he REALLY got LeBron’s power.
 
Rotella asked him about his goals. LeBron told him: “I want to be the greatest basketball player in history.” 
 
Rotella thought: “Beautiful. This is a truly talented guy.” 
 
He tells us what he was MOST impressed by: “It was not that he had physical gifts. It was LeBron’s mind.” 
 
Specifically, it was the way he saw himself that most moved Rotella: “The vital importance of that sort of attitude is the foremost thing I have learned about exceptionalism in my decades of work with people striving to be great.”
 
That’s worth repeating. Rotella has worked with THE top performers for DECADES. The “foremost thing” he has learned about exceptionalism and people striving to be great? The vital importance of seeing themselves and their potential with such audacious (!) clarity.
 
Which begs the question: How do YOU see yourself
 
Now, continuing our story… After LeBron told Rotella he wanted to be the greatest basketball player in history (!!!), Rotella asked him where he thought he stood in relation to that goal. LeBron told him he thought he was doing pretty well but that he wasn’t going to be the greatest if his teams didn’t win championships and they weren’t going to do that unless he became a better three-point shooter.
 
Long story short: Rotella told him to create a video montage of him nailing threes from every spot on the court. Set it to music. Watch it every night. FEEL it. Program his subconscious mind.
 
And, he told him to hire a shooting coach, work with him every day and make two hundred three-point shots off the dribble every day while imagining the best defender guarding him. Then make another two hundred catch-and-shoot three-pointers. “I told him I didn’t care how many shots it took to make those four hundred three-pointers, or how long it took. If he wanted to be great, he would find the time and find the energy.”
 
Rotella continues: “The actual number of shots I suggested was not as important, in my mind, as the idea that LeBron would set a practice goal for himself, commit to achieving it every day, and wait patiently for the results.”
 
Fast-forward. LeBron went from being a 29% three-point shooter in his rookie season to a 40% beast—collecting a few championships en route to his quest to be the greatest player ever.
 
Of course, this Idea has nothing to do with LeBron James and his three-pointers. 
 
It has to do with YOU. 
 
In what domain are you committed to being exceptional
 
Where do you think you stand in relation to that goal? 
 
And what do you think you need to do every day (!!) to have a shot at being your exceptional best?
 
Find the time. Find the energy. Be an exception. Be exceptional.
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