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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: May, 2019
May 30, 2019
A couple +1s ago, we hung out with a world-class Ferrari pit stop crew and took a moment to celebrate all the people in OUR pit stop crews while committing to stepping up our pit crew games for those we’re blessed to serve.
 
Today I want to talk about WD-40.
 
I’ve actually been meaning to talk about it for awhile and Today seems like a good day. 
 
Of course, I have no idea if pit stop crews use WD-40 (I’m pretty sure the Ferrari guys don’t—lol) but it seems like a good opportunity to slip in a fun story so here we are.
 
WD-40.
 
For those who may not be familiar with the super-lubricating product, Wikipedia tells us that WD-40 is the trademark name of a penetrating oil and water-displacing spray. The spray is manufactured by the WD-40 Company based in San Diego, California.”
 
But that’s not the point of Today’s +1.
 
I want to talk about the origin story for WD-40.
 
Pop quiz: Do you know how they came up with that name?
 
Well, on the company’s web site they tell us: “WD-40® literally stands for Water Displacement, 40th formula. That's the name straight out of the lab book used by the chemist who developed the product back in 1953. The chemist, Norm Larsen, was attempting to concoct a formula to prevent corrosion—a task which is done by displacing water.”
 
That’s a nice way to say that our chemist friend Norm Larsen failed 39 times trying to figure out how to create a solvent to prevent corrosion but then finally figured it out. On attempt #40.
 
And then they figured out thousands of ways to apply his new solvent to everyday challenges.
 
I kinda like that arc.
 
Dozens of failures. Oops.
 
Figured it out. Awesome.
 
Then figured out how to scale the new discovery to solve a ton of other challenges. Even more awesome.
 
Skipping any more unpaid product promotion (lol)… 
 
Today’s +1. 
 
Have you ever failed over and over and over again before finally succeeding? (Of course you have. Let’s celebrate that!!)
 
And… Are you, perhaps, in the middle of another series of experiments to figure out how to master something? (I hope so, heroic one!)
 
Let’s squirt a little WD-Optimizing40 on our challenges and get back to work in the laboratories of our lives as we get a little closer to a fun breakthrough origin story!
May 25, 2019
Way back in the early days of our +1 Optimizing together, we talked about the fact that our limbic systems evolved to deal with a single lion roaring at us at a time. 
 
As we said in that little chat on Lions vs. Jungles, that lion’s roar triggers a fight or flight response. We fight or we flee. And, hopefully, we live to talk about the tale later. 
 
But, the important thing to note is that the stress from that event, although extremely acute, is also extremely short-lived. We respond to the challenge and move on. Our nervous system resets itself, all good.
 
These days, we’re so bombarded with stimuli that it’s as if, to use Alberto Villoldo’s metaphor, the ENTIRE JUNGLE is roaring at us ALL DAY EVERY DAY.
 
Yikes.
 
The result? 
 
A whole lot of enervated anxiety.
 
Today I want to talk about the single best predictor of people’s fear and anxiety. 
 
Pop quiz: Can you guess what it is?
 
We’ll find the answer at the end of this little passage from Kelly McGonigal’s The Upside of Stress
 
She tells us: “Stress caused by the news, as opposed to stress caused by your life, is unique in its ability to trigger a sense of hopelessness. Watching TV news after a natural disaster or terrorist attack has consistently been shown to increase the risk of developing depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. One shocking study found that people who watched six or more hours of news about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing were more likely to develop post-traumatic stress symptoms than people who were actually at the bombing and personally affected by it. It’s not just traditional news programs that instill fear and hopelessness; stories of tragedy, trauma, and threats dominate many forms of media. In fact, a 2014 study of U.S. adults found that the single best predictor of people’s fear and anxiety was how much time they spent watching TV talk shows.”
 
There ya go.
 
“… a 2014 study of U.S. adults found that the single best predictor of people’s fear and anxiety was how much time they spent watching TV talk shows.”
 
Today’s +1.
 
Two quick questions.
  1. How’s your fear and anxiety?
  2. How much time do you spend watching TV talk shows?
Bonus questions: See any connections and/or ways to Optimize?
 
Here’s to dealing with the inevitable stressors of life without introducing unnecessary ones!!
 
+1. +1. +1. via -1. -1. -1.
May 20, 2019
In our last couple +1s, we talked about the art and science of lining up our dominoes in one neat and shiny staircase to moon-heaven. 
 
It all sounds so nice and easy when it’s mapped out like that, eh? (Hah.)
 
But… 
 
Alas, there are a few important asterisks to that little story.
 
As important as it is to have clarity on what’s important and worthy of our life force, nothing is ever quite that straightforward in real heroic living. 
 
And, of course, it’s impossible to line up ALL the dominoes and see them perfectly arrayed before you actually start the journey.
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
Embrace the mess.
 
It’s a feature of the Hero’s Journey, not a sign that something's wrong with you and your approach per se.
 
And, remember: The greater the challenge, the greater the need for a protocol to keep our emotional stamina Optimized.
 
That is all.
 
Here’s to joyfully embracing the wonderfully messy process of Optimizing and actualizing. Especially when you don’t feel like it. (Hah!)
 
High fives from me and my daimon to you and yours!
 
P.S. Let’s do this!!
May 15, 2019
The other day I headed to Google to look up the meaning of the phrase “force multiplier.” 
 
Short story: When we initially launched our Optimize Coach certification program, I said that I believed our program could be a catalytic force multiplier in helping people Optimize their lives so we can change the world together.
 
After the first couple of months working with our first class of Coaches, I am more certain of that catalytic power than ever before.
 
Enter: A quick Google search on force multiplier” so I could wrap my brain around the precise definition of that powerful phrase.
 
The best (and first) answer came from PersonalMBA.com. (Thanks, guys! And, thanks Google for connecting us!)
 
Here’s how they put it: “Force Multipliers are tools that help you Amplify your effort to produce more output. A hammer is a force multiplier. Investing in Force Multipliers means that you'll get more done with the same amount of effort.”
 
Brilliant, eh?
 
Would you rather hammer a nail in with your hand or with a hammer? 
 
Same basic swinging motion of effort. But the hammer delivers a lot more output with the same effort, eh? (While, obviously, saving your hand from the ouch! Hammer for the win!)
 
While taking a quick gander at other definitions and examples of force multipliers, I stumbled upon a brilliant blog post about some wisdom from retired four-star general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
 
Here’s how Powell puts it: “In the military, we are always looking for ways to leverage up our forces. Having greater communications and command and control over your forces than your enemy has over his is a force multiplier. Having greater logistics capability than the enemy is a force multiplier. Having better-trained commanders is a force multiplier.
 
Perpetual optimism, believing in yourself, believing in your purpose, believing you will prevail, and demonstrating passion and confidence is a force multiplier. If you believe and have prepared your followers, the followers will believe.”
 
Perpetual optimism.”
 
← Isn’t that a beautiful phrase?
 
Well, it might just be our most powerful force multiplier. 
 
Tomorrow we’ll talk about a little distinction to that wisdom. 
 
Today I’d like to do a quick check in.
 
How’s your belief in yourself? And your belief in your purpose? And your belief that you will prevail?
 
Let’s remember that our passion and confidence are force multipliers. 
 
Our “followers” (be they our kids or our colleagues or our staff or OURSELVES!) are A L W A Y S watching and taking our lead. 
 
So, let’s lead wisely. 
 
Let’s multiply our power via perpetual optimism!!
 
How can you boost your optimism just a little more Today?
May 10, 2019
In our last couple +1s, we’ve had fun exploring some wisdom gems from my recent PhilosophersNotes binge-athon.
 
Today we’re going to talk about another great Idea from another great Note. This one’s on Stephen Cope’s The Great Work of Your Life.
 
Quick context: Stephen is the director of the Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living. Kripalu is the largest yoga research institute in the Western world. (And being the director of “Extraordinary Living” may be the coolest job title ever, eh?) 
 
As the Senior Scholar in Residence at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, he has been integrating Eastern contemplative traditions and Western philosophy and psychology for years.
 
In his great book, Stephen brings the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita to life in our modern lives.
 
One of the big themes of the book is the idea of dharma.
 
He tells us: “The yoga tradition is very, very interested in the idea of an inner possibility harbored within every human soul. Yogis insist that every single human being has a unique vocation. They call this dharma. Dharma is a potent Sanskrit word that is packed tight with meaning, like one of those little sponge animals that expands to six times its original size when you add water. Dharma means, variously, ‘path,’ ‘teaching,’ or ‘law.’ For our purposes in this book it will mean primarily, ‘vocation,’ or ‘sacred duty.’ It means, most of all—and in all cases—truth. Yogis believe that our greatest responsibility in life is to this inner possibility—this dharma—and they believe that every human being’s duty is to utterly, fully, and completely embody his own idiosyncratic dharma…”
 
Dharma.
 
I just LOVE that word.
 
And, I love the idea that “every single human being has a unique vocation” and that every human being’s duty is to utterly, fully, and completely embody his own idiosyncratic dharma.”
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
What’s YOUR idiosyncratic dharma?
 
Here’s to honoring our sacred duty as we give the world all we’ve got.
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