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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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Now displaying: January, 2019
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.

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