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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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Now displaying: October, 2018
Oct 31, 2018

We’re going to have a hard time actualizing our potential if we have a hard time getting out of bed. Energy is SUPER important. In fact, it’s the engine for our actualization. In this class, we’ll integrate a lot of the most essential aspects of eating, moving, and sleeping. But first, we’ll start by stepping back and recognizing just how important it is that we flip the switch in our minds—raising our standards and TRULY committing to being our best, most energized selves so we can change the world together, one person at a time, starting with YOU and me.

Oct 27, 2018
In our last +1, we talked about my quest to be a Spartan champion in 2025 and how that’s resulted in a lot of WINing TODAY. (How’re your goals-systems?!)
 
Today I want to talk about being a Champ Champ Champ. 
 
← I laugh as I type that. 
 
Note: This +1 is a bit ridiculous. 
 
So… 
 
Quick context: After one of the best mixed martial arts coaches in the world (Firas Zahabi, owner of Tristar gym and Georges St Pierre’s coach) became an Optimizer then sent a note telling me how much he loved the PhilosophersNotes (thanks, Firas!), I learned more about Firas and his mastery of his craft and, in the process, paid more attention to the UFC.
 
In the process, I stumbled across Conor McGregor before he was the superstar he is today. It’s cliché to say that I could see that he had a spark of something different about him but, well, he did. And, he does.
 
While embracing Maslow’s wisdom that there are no perfect human beings, I’ve enjoyed watching his entertaining, charismatic rise to superstardom.
 
Short story for those who may not know: Conor McGregor is an Irish mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter who is the first person in the premier “league” of MMA (the UFC) to win championships in TWO weight classes. It’s a pretty impressive feat. It’s especially impressive and inspiring because he went from being an apprentice plumber to a kid with a dream receiving welfare checks to winning those two world championships and making something like $100 million in his first professional boxing match against one of the all-time greats.
 
Now, in addition to being a great fighter, Conor is also a great promoter. 
 
All of which brings us closer to Today’s +1.
 
After winning the two championships, he took to calling himself “Champ Champ.” I laugh as I type that as it’s so wonderfully ridiculous. “Champ Champ.” (Hah.)
 
So…
 
As I’ve been stepping up my athlētē game, I’ve been having fun with different mantras during my meditation, during training and during everyday life. Optimus is one of my favorite ways to focus my energy on being my best. I also like “World-Class.” And, as the bar has moved up, “World-Champion” might have been getting some airtime in my head.
 
Of course, my athletic goals are really just a means to Optimize my Energy which is really just a means to Optimize my Work and my Love so I’ve been having fun playing with different ways to capture all Big 3 commitments in one mantra.
 
That’s when Champ Champ Champ” popped into my head.
 
← I laugh as I type that and I laughed when it first appeared in my head. (Which I take as a very good sign.)
 
Yep. That’s the standard. A World-Class → World-Champion Athlētē AND a World-Class → “World-Champion” Husband and Father AND a World-Class → “World-Champion” Philosopher-Teacher-Leader.
 
That’s like me.
 
Champ Champ Champ.
 
How about you?
 
What’s the best version of YOU look like Energy + Work + Love-wise?!
 
Any fun ways to bring your commitments to life?
Oct 26, 2018

Here’s a quick look at our next class: Energy 101! 

(You can get instant access to dozens of archived classes, hundreds of PhilosophersNotes and Optimize +1s and this class when we release it by becoming an Optimize member: optimize.me )

Oct 23, 2018

I created this class after my friend Matt McCall (who helps run the Pritzker Group Venture Capital fund) asked me to do a talk for 60 of their portfolio CEOs. He was thinking “Optimizing for Supheroes 101.” I loved that idea and decided it would be the perfect context to share my absolute best stuff and here we are.

In this extra-long class, we start by connecting “Optimizing” and “Hērō” to their ancient Greek philosophical roots then we proceed to walk thru how to go about integrating ancient wisdom, modern science and practical tools to harness our soul force to build strength for two such that we can create our best, most heroic lives.

 

Oct 17, 2018
We’ve been talking a lot about how champions maximize minutes—giving everything they’ve got into being the best versions of themselves.
 
Thank you, John Wooden, Vince Lombardi, and Dan Millman for your wisdom. 
 
Today we’e going to invite Gandhi to the party to establish the fact that this isn’t a SPORTS idea, it’s a SPIRITUAL ideal.
 
Here’s how Gandhi puts it: “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.”
 
Full effort is full victory. We do our best, let go of the results and then get back to doing our best. That wisdom is a central theme of Gandhi’s handbook, the Bhagavad Gita.
 
Now, for a fun twist, let’s bring the conversation back to sports.
 
Have you ever heard of The Legend of Bagger Vance? It’s an old-school movie starring Will Smith and Matt Damon. Guess what they’re doing? Playing golf. 
 
Short story: Matt Damon (playing Rannulph Junuh) has lost his mojo on the course. His caddy Will Smith (Bagger Vance) teaches him to trust his swing again.
 
The movie is based on a book written by a guy named Steven Pressfield who, in addition to being a great author, is also a master of the creative process. I consider his trilogy on the creative process must reads. (See Notes on The War of Art, Do the Work and Turning Pro.)
 
But get this: “The Legend of Bagger Vance” is really just the “Bhagavad Gita” on a golf course. (Get it? Bagger Vance Bhagavad Gita…)
 
In the Gita, we have a reluctant warrior named Arjuna (sounds a lot like Rannulph Junuh, eh?). Arjuna is counseled by the mighty Krishna who, basically, tells him to trust his swing and do what he’s here to do. 
 
Take that spiritual wisdom, put it on a golf course, throw two huge stars in there and voila, we have a sports movie delivering some pretty legit wisdom.
 
Which, of course, is why sports are so popular. The super-clearly-defined rules of a given sport give us an opportunity to see life’s bigger challenges play out in a 60-minute game.
 
For now, let’s bring all this wisdom back to our lives via a couple more sources of wisdom.
 
In The War of Art, Pressfield tells us that we need to go from being amateurs” to being “Professionals in our creative lives. One of the key attributes of the professional? 
 
Here’s how he puts it: “The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.” 
 
In other words, full effort is full victory. We do our best, let go of the results and then get back to doing our best.
 
Pressfield got that wisdom from the Gita. Flip open that classic manual on the art of living to find this gem: “The awakened sages call a person wise when all his undertakings are free from anxiety about results.”
 
In other words, full effort is full victory. We do our best, let go of the results and then get back to doing our best.
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
Remember: Full effort is full victory. 
 
Let’s do our best, let go of results and then get back to doing our best.
Oct 12, 2018
In our last +1, we continued our chat about the fact that your perfection is already there. It’s just waiting for you to follow Rule #1 and quit doing yourself harm. 
 
I said that that just requires a little more discipline from you. (And me.)
 
Which makes me think about the connection between our ego and the divine within.
 
This is part of a much longer discussion. But here’s the quick take.
 
Most people think we need to “get rid of” our ego or subdue it or tame it or otherwise maim it if we want to tap into the most divinely spiritual within us.
 
I don’t agree with that approach.
 
I prefer to think of it more like Joseph Campbell. And Ken Wilber. And Nathaniel Brandon.
 
Campbell tells us that he doesn’t understand why there’s all this talk about annihilating the ego when, in fact, it’s our egos that keep us in the game. 
 
Then Wilber tells us that it’s not “ego-minus” but “ego-plus.” We need a strong ego that’s plugged into something bigger than ourselves. THAT’s when the magic happens. 
 
Then we have Nathaniel Brandon who tells us that even if we think “letting go of” the ego is either desirable or possible (he and I don’t think it’s either), successfully letting go of your ego would, by definition, require you to have a firm grip on your ego before you could let it go. (Think about it for a second: How can you let go of something you never had hold of?)
 
All of which leads me to how I think we should think about our ego.
 
Of course, there are so many different definitions of what the “ego” is that we can get dizzy trying to keep up. I prefer to think of the ego in a classic Western psychoanalytic frame a la Freud.
 
In that model we have three components: our id,” our “superego” and our “ego.” 
 
Our id is that impulsive part of us that wants everything right.this.second. Doesn’t matter whether it’s good for us or not. Just give it to us. NOW. Say hello to all your addictions—be they digital (“Hi, smartphone!”) or chemical (“Hi sugar and flour and alcohol and…”).
 
Our superego is basically the conditioned part of us that’s constantly judging all those things your id did and wondering what in the world you were thinking. (It also really really really wants people to like us and can lock us into conformity.)
 
Then we have our ego. Our ego is that part of us that keeps our id and superego in check. We NEED a STRONG ego to make sure we don’t spin out of control alternating between a hyper-impulsive/addictive version of ourselves and a hyper-conforming/ashamed version of ourselves.
 
All of which brings us back to where we started: DISCIPLINE.
 
How do you get your ego to be strong enough to deal with the pulls of the id and the superego? You dominate your environment. You cultivate a heightened level of self-awareness to know how to make yourself proud and then you match that self-awareness with an equally high level of self-mastery such that you consciously, joyfully do the right thing moment to moment to moment.
 
You know what happens then?
 
Your golden light shines through. 
 
Your divine spiritual essence (however you want to define it) finally has a stable home in which to hang out and shine forth. 
 
So…
 
Here’s to your ego. Get it strong. 
 
Then plug it into something MUCH bigger than yourself and shine with the radiant enthusiasm only discovered when we live in integrity with what we know to be true.
Oct 7, 2018
In our last +1, we talked about the science of social comparison and reiterated the fact that it’s toxic.
 
Remember, as per Sonja Lyubomirsky: “You can’t be envious and happy at the same time. People who pay too much attention to social comparisons find themselves chronically vulnerable, threatened, and insecure.”
 
Plus: “The happier the person, the less attention she pays to how others around her are doing.”
 
Today we’re going to talk about what we can do when we inevitably find ourselves feeling the itch of envy.
 
I love how T Harv Eker puts it in The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. He says: Bless that which you want. If you see a person with a beautiful home, bless that person and bless that home. If you see a person with a beautiful car, bless that person and bless that car. If you see a person with a loving family, bless that person and bless that family. If you see a person with a beautiful body, bless that person and bless their body.”
 
There ya go.
 
That’s Today’s +1. 
 
Feel a little envious? Remember, you can’t be envious and happy at the same time.
 
Notice something you wish you had a little more of in your life? BLESS the people who are blessed to have it.
 
Then get back to living your life as well as you possibly can.
 
You’ll be considerably happier NOW and considerably more likely to experience the same blessings in the future. 
Oct 7, 2018

Alexandra joins us as a guest teacher for this class! Learn how to activate your superpowers, increase your mojo & have more fun.

Oct 2, 2018
In our last +1, we talked about my mission to become a Spartan World Champion. 
 
My heart skips a beat just typing that.
 
(Which, btw, is a good reverse indicator” as my Yoda would say. Btw2: When Phil and I chatted about my contemplations about raising my standards and going all in on the Spartan mission, he told me that I MUST go for it or the Universe will fire me from my job. Laughing.)
 
So…
 
The title of that last +1 was “Becoming a Champion.” Today’s it’s called “Being a Champion.”
 
We’re going to talk about another coach of champions: Ben Bergeron. Ever heard of him? 
 
If you don’t know who he is, have you ever heard of CrossFit? If you’re alive and into Optimizing, my hunch is that you almost certainly have. One more question: Ever watch the CrossFit Games where the world’s best CrossFit athletes get together and see who is “The Fittest on Earth”? 
 
Those world-class CrossFit Games athletes are absolute BEASTS. As in: ASTONISHINGLY strong, skilled and tough.
 
Only 40 men and 40 women (and 40 teams) make it through the regional qualifiers to the world championships. Most of the athletes who make it there are just happy to be among the world’s best. 
 
But a select few are there to win it. Those are the athletes Ben Bergeron coaches.
 
In fact, he’s coached his athletes to six world championships. In 2016 he coached BOTH the men’s champion AND the women’s champion. (Which is kinda crazy awesome when you think about it.)
 
All of that to say, Ben wrote a GREAT book called Chasing Excellence in which he shares his approach. We’ll chat about it a bit more in the next few +1s.
 
Today I want to focus on one simple point. 
 
He and his athletes never talked about being champions. They were too focused on ACTING like a Champion NOW.
 
Here’s how two-time champion Katrín Davíðsdóttir puts it: “Though I moved halfway around the world with the goal of making it back to the CrossFit Games, Ben and I never actually talked about the Games. We didn’t talk about qualifying, we didn’t talk about finishing in the top ten, and we certainly didn’t talk about winning. What we did talk about was giving full effort in every single moment of every single day, and becoming the best we could possibly be.”
 
Today’s +1. 
 
You may or may not have aspirations to be an “official” “champion” of anything in your life. Of course, that’s fine. (Although I’d encourage you to think for a moment about what you COULD be the absolute best in the world at Jim Collins Hedgehog Style.)
 
But, if you’re this far into this +1, I’m going with the assumption that you’re at least moderately committed to Optimizing. (Hah.)
 
So, reach over to the virtual stovetop in your mind, turn the heat up to 212 degrees, and think about YOU at your ABSOLUTE (!) BEST.
 
Then be that version of you Today.
 
Moment to moment to moment. 
 
Put your old identity on a permanent vacation and act like a Champion.
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