Heroic with Brian Johnson | Activate Your Best. Every Day.

Heroic with Brian Johnson features the best big ideas from life-changing books and practical tools to help you move from Theory to Practice to Mastery and flourish in Energy, Work, and Love. Get more wisdom in less time so you can activate your best, every day—so that we can change the world, one person at a time, together, starting with you and me and us, today! (Learn more at
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Now displaying: October, 2022
Oct 31, 2022

Answer the Call, Hero!

In our last +1, we talked about virtue #1 in Admiral McRaven’s Hero Code.
I reminded us of the fact that Aristotle told us that courage is the most important virtue—the one that vitalizes all the other virtues. 
If we don’t have the COURAGE to take action in the presence of fear, then all of our supposed Wisdom and Self-Mastery and Love and Gratitude and Hope and Curiosity and Zest is stuck in Theory-land and is, to put it bluntly, USELESS if we don’t have the courage to put it into practice.
Churchill echoed that wisdom when he told us that: “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because it is the quality which guarantees the rest.”
Note: Churchill also EMBODIED that Heroic Courage in the face of overwhelming odds and looming catastrophe during World War II. We, arguably, have HIM (and his tenacious (!) courage) to thank most for leading in such turbulent times to help create the world we live in today.
Today I’d like to talk more about Ryan Holiday’s take on the subject of courage.
As you know if you’ve been following along, Ryan Holiday is one of my all-time favorite writers and thinkers. My respect for him and for his dedication to his craft as a writer and a practicing Stoic grows with each new book of his I read.
So far, we’ve covered The Obstacle Is the Way, The Daily Stoic, Ego Is the Enemy, and Stillness Is the Key.
They are all fantastic. 
As expected, the first book in his new virtue series on THE most essential virtue: Courage Is Calling is ALSO fantastic.
The book is packed with practical wisdom on why and HOW to embody Heroic courage.
Here’s one passage we can reflect on today…
Ryan tells us: “Courage is the management of and triumph over fear. It’s the decision—in a moment of peril, or day in and day out—to take ownership, to assert agency, over a situation, over yourself, over the fate that everyone else has resigned themselves to. We can curse the darkness, or we can light a candle. We can wait for someone else to come and save us, or we can decide to stand and deliver ourselves. Which will it be? Every hero faces this choice. Our discrimen—the critical turning point. The moment of truth. Will you be brave? Will you put yourself out there? What will you reveal your character to be? If cowardice is failure to do your duty, then courage is the decision to step up and do it. Answering the call. Overriding fear and seizing your destiny. Doing the thing you cannot do because it needs to be done . . . with fortitude and spirit, guts and grit, even if you have no idea if you’ll succeed. This will not be easy. But we cannot fear. We must, as Shakespeare said, ‘meet the time as it seeks us.’ Our destiny is here. Let’s seize it.”
That’s Today’s +1.
Courage is calling.
Let’s answer the call.
Oct 30, 2022

Take JUST ONE STEP Forward Today 

In our last +1, we spent some time with one of my heroes, Admiral William H. McRaven as we soaked our souls in wisdom from his newest book: The Hero Code.
As you may recall, McRaven’s Hero Code has ten core virtues: Courage. Humility. Sacrifice. Integrity. Compassion. Perseverance. Duty. Hope. Humor. Forgiveness.
Today I want to talk about the #1 virtue: COURAGE.
Let’s talk about one of THE most powerful ways to operationalize that virtue.
Here’s how Admiral McRaven puts it: None of us are immune from life’s pain and disappointment. But if you doubt for even a second that you have the courage necessary to confront the evil in the world or that weakness that resides deep inside all of us—you’re wrong. ...
We all have our lines in the sand, those fears that keep us from being courageous. But all you have to do to overcome those fears, those obstacles, those challenges in your life is to take one step forward. Just one. Take one step forward and get on the helicopter. Take one step forward and fight injustice. Take one step forward and challenge the bullies. Take one step forward and face your inner demons. And if you take that one step forward you will find the courage you seek, the courage necessary to overcome your fears and be the hero you long to be.”
As we’ve discussed many times, the word courage comes from the same root as heart. Just as the heart pumps blood to your arms and legs and vital organs, courage is the virtue that vitalizes all the other virtues.
The best way to cultivate our courage? 
Science agrees with McRaven’s approach. 
As we discuss in our Notes on The Courage Quotient by Robert Biswas-Diener, we need to be willing to act in the presence of fear. 
And, as we discuss in various places we need to APPROACH our challenges rather than AVOID them.
As McRaven puts it: “all you have to do to overcome those fears, those obstacles, those challenges in your life is to take one step forward.”
One of the (many!) reasons I love creating these +1s and the Notes is that I get to go back through my favorite passages and, as I type each word out, really *feel* the intention and the nuance of the author’s wisdom. 
As I typed that passage out, I was struck by the way McRaven emphasized Just one.”
“We all have our lines in the sand, those fears that keep us from being courageous. But all you have to do to overcome those fears, those obstacles, those challenges in your life is to take one step forward. Just one.
When we face the inevitable obstacles and challenges of life and feel the inevitable fears that arise in those situations, all we need to do is take JUST ONE step forward.
JUST ONE step forward in that moment when you tend to freeze or to freak out. 
JUST ONE step forward—approaching your challenges rather than avoiding them. 
JUST ONE step forward—saying “Bring it on!” rather than “Make it go away!”
That is the essence of courage. 
A willingness to act in the presence of fear, to APPROACH rather than avoid our challenges—not once in a while or when you feel like it but more and more consistently all day every day ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like it—knowing that your infinite, HEROIC potential exists just on the other side of your comfort zone as you cultivate the strength for two and give us all you’ve got.
Let’s take JUST ONE step forward today, my beloved Hero.
Just one step forward.
+1. +1. +1.
Oct 29, 2022

McRaven’s Ten Core Virtues

Admiral William H. McRaven is one of my very few living American heroes.
We’ve created Notes on three of his great books. 
We started with Make Your Bed—a short, brilliant, inspiring manual all about “Little Things That Can Change Your Life... And Maybe the World” that was inspired by the commencement address he gave at the University of Texas at Austin that went viral.
Then we featured his autobiography, Sea Stories, which is all about the wisdom he gained from his nearly four decades in special operations.
When I saw the title to his newest book, I KNEW I had to read it and I KNEW I’d love it.
The book? 
It’s called The Hero Code.
It’s a super-quick reading, incredibly inspiring look at “Lessons Learned from Lives Well Lived” in which Admiral McRaven walks us through the lives of everyday heroes who showed up and gave us all they had. I highly recommend it. (Get a copy here.)
McRaven tells us: “I came to realize that there is a hero in all of us. There is an innate code that has been there since the birth of mankind. It is written in our DNA. It is what drove the great expansion of humanity out of Africa. It summoned the explorers to cross the deserts and the seas. It helped create the great faiths. It emboldened the early scientists and philosophers. It nurtured the ill and infirm. It spoke truth to masses. It brought order to chaos and hope to the desperate. This code is not a cipher, or a cryptograph, or a puzzle to be solved. It is a moral code, an internal code of conduct that drives the human race to explore, to nurture, to comfort, to inspire, and to laugh so that societies can flourish.”
The Hero Code.
Admiral McRaven tells us that it is a moral code and, in the book, walks us through ten of the core virtues that make up the code as he shares the story of an everyday hero who embodied that particular virtue.
Each virtue has its own commitment. 
Here they are.
I will always strive to be COURAGEOUS; to take one step forward as I confront my fears.
I will work to be HUMBLE; to recognize the limits of my intellect, my understanding, and my power.
I will learn to SACRIFICE by giving a little of my time, my talent, and my treasure to those in need.
I will be a person of INTEGRITY; every decision I make and every action I take will be moral, legal, and ethical.
I will be kind and COMPASSIONATE to at least one person every single day and expect nothing in return.
I will never give up on matters that are important to me, my family, my country, my faith. I will PERSEVERE.
Whatever job I am given, whatever DUTY I am bound by, I will do it to the best of my ability.
I will use my unique talents to inspire others and give them HOPE that tomorrow will be a better day.
I will use HUMOR to comfort others, and never be afraid to laugh at myself.
No matter how great or small the offense against me, I will FORGIVE. I will be the victor, not the victim.”
To repeat. 
The Hero Code has ten core virtues: Courage. Humility. Sacrifice. Integrity. Compassion. Perseverance. Duty. Hope. Humor. Forgiveness.
How are YOU doing with each?
Anything jump out that might be working really well for you?
How about anything that might need a little (or a lot!) of work from you?
Here’s to living in integrity with our highest values, Hero.
Not someday.
But, as always, TODAY.
+1. +2. +3. +4. +5. +6. +7. +8. +9. +10. 
Oct 28, 2022

Red Lights? GREEN LIGHTS! 

We’ve been having some fun exploring Brian Cain’s wisdom on mental performance mastery.
As you know if you’ve been following along, we started by checking in to see if you’ve been punched in the face lately (astonished face), then we broke some arrows with our neck to dominate the Ability + Strategy + GOYA = Results equation, then we did some 1% math (remember: 1% is 14 minutes and 24 seconds of your day and, if you get 1% better every day, you’ll be 998,822,690,009,590 times better in a decade! astonished face ) then we questioned why we’d want to be average, then we raised the basement, and, most recently, we focused our telescopes AND our microscopes on our top goals so we can dominate the day AND the decade.
Schew. We’ve been busy!
+1% +1% +1% for the win! nerd face 
Today I want to wrap up the tour through Brian’s brain with one more Big Idea from 10 Pillars.
This one’s on how to flip the switch and go from red lights to green lights.
Here’s Brian and the characters from his little fable to bring the wisdom home…
“I felt as if I understood the difference between a red-light and green-light state. I wanted to learn how to get into a green-light state and stay there.
‘You recognize that if you are in a red-light state or a yellow-light state, you must have a release routine to get you back to green and back in control of yourself. That release routine follows a three-step process,’ Coach Kenny said. ‘You need to have (#1) a physical action that you make with an association that serves as a trigger for releasing the past and moving on to the next play or the next part of your day. You then (#2) take a deep releasing breath that you take while looking at a fixed point we call a focal point to oxygenate your brain and get back in control of yourself. And then you (#3) have a verbal trigger you say that cuts off the past and cements your commitment to the present.’
Coach Kenny then stood up, clapped his hands, took a deep breath, wiped his chest down with his hands as if he were wiping dirt off himself and said, “GOOD. What’s important now?’”
That’s from a chapter on Pillar #4: Self-Control and Discipline. 
It’s kinda like our Flip the Switch” protocol in our Mastery Series.
Here’s the quick take…
Feeling disconnected from your best self? 
Awareness is *always* the first, most important step. 
Now, flip the switch and go from red lights to green lights as you invite the best, most Heroic version of yourself back to the party.
Here’s one way to approach it: 
#1. Stand up strong. Chest up, chin down. Smile. 
#2. Take a deep breath. In through the nose. Down into your belly. Back out through your nose. Exhale slightly longer than your inhale. Ahhhh… 
#3. Say to yourself: “Close the Gap. Arete = Heroic. (Or... “What do I want? What’s important now? LET’S GO!” Or... “Calm Confidence. I’ve got this!” Or… Whatever fires YOU up!)
Today’s +1?
The VERY NEXT TIME you feel a little wobbly today, how about you flip the switch and go from red to green lights and have fun seeing just how fast you can do it?
#1. Stand up strong—chest up, chin down. Smile.
#2. Take a deep breath.
#3. Say to yourself: “Arete = Heroic. What’s important now? LET’S GO!”
Red lights? 
+vertical traffic light +vertical traffic light +vertical traffic light 
P.S. Want to see some of Brian’s elite athletes putting this wisdom in PRACTICE to create moments of peak performance? Awesome. Check out these clips!!
Oct 27, 2022

And Heroic Apps to Dominate the Day and Decade

Not too long ago, we spent some time with Brian Cain and some of his wisdom from a couple of his little fables: One Percent Better and The 10 Pillars of Mental Performance Mastery.
I want to revisit some of his wisdom.
Let’s talk about your goals.
We’ll invite Cainer back to the party to help us check them out from a couple different perspectives. 
In 10 Pillars, he tells us: “Setting big goals is great, but they have to be the right goals or they become traps. Financial goals must be secondary to family goals or you won’t have any family to set goals with. You also need to have telescope and microscope goals. Telescope goals that you can see off into the future, and then you must reverse engineer a process back to your microscope and execute on your microscopic daily goals. Telescope goals are 1, 3, 5+ years into the future and the microscope goals are what you will do in the next 24 hours to move towards your telescope goals. Remember, inch by inch, goal setting is a cinch and yard by yard, it’s hard.”
That’s from a chapter on Pillar #2 of Mental Performance Mastery—which is all about our Motivation and Commitment. 
Brian tells us (and all great peak performance teachers affirm) that one of the most important things we can do to get (and sustain!) elite levels of motivation is to set clear goals. 
I just LOVE the way he helps us do that.
Let’s bust out our Telescopes AND our Microscopes then the Heroic app and do some work.
First, the Telescope.
What are your most inspiring 1, 3, and 5+ year goals? 
(Seriously. What are they?)
If you feel so inspired, let’s do a quick inventory of your, let’s say, 5-year goals in your Big 3: Energy + Work + Love.
Remember: If we don’t prioritize our Love alongside our Work we may not have the opportunity to set and celebrate the achievement of our Work goals with the people in our lives who matter most. And... If our Energy isn’t where it needs to be, there’s no way we’ll show up powerfully in either our Work or our Love so... Big 3 for the win!
This is my #1 5-Year ENERGY Goal: ___________________________________
This is my #1 5-Year WORK Goal: ___________________________________
This is my #1 5-Year LOVE Goal: ___________________________________
(Nice work! raising hands)
Now, it’s time to bust out the Microscope.
I’m biased but... 
I think one of the easiest ways to get clarity on what you should DO TODAY to be in integrity with the best version of yourself that’s capable of ACHIEVING those goals is simple... Do some Target Practice on the Heroic app as we move from Theory to Practice to Mastery Together TODAY.
Step 0. Set up your Big 3 protocol by getting clarity on who you are at your best in your Energy + Work + Love, the virtues that version of you embodies and what, SPECIFICALLY, you will actually DO TODAY to be in integrity with that best version of yourself.
Step 1. Commit to being that best version of yourself and doing those things TODAY.
Note: As we like to say (and I promise to repeat myself!)… New Year’s Resolutions are nice and warm and fuzzy. New DAY’s Resolutions are where it’s at if you actually want to consistently perform at the highest possible levels.
Step 2. Hit your targets. ALL DAY. EVERY DAY. ESPECIALLY TODAY! And even more importantly… commit and hit them on those days when you don’t (insert whiney voice) *feel* like it.
Step 3. Repeat. Forever.
See your moonshot goals with your Telescope. 
See the next steps in your Microscope. 
Dominate the day with your Heroic app. 
And give us all you’ve got, Hero.
Oct 26, 2022

“True Surrender” = “The Art of Acquiescence” 

In our last couple +1s, we talked about Michael Singer and his practical wisdom.
As we discussed, he has quickly become one of my favorite new teachers. He clearly practices his philosophy and his philosophy is a good one.
As I was reading his latest book, I was struck by the parallels of his wisdom and Stoicism. 
Although they take different approaches to get there and describe the process in slightly different terms (as is typically the case with universal truths echoed across different cultures and times), they arrive at the same destination.
Check this out, for example. 
Here’s Michael Singer from Living Untethered: “One of the most amazing things you will ever realize is that the moment in front of you is not bothering you—you are bothering yourself about the moment in front of you.”
Here’s Marcus Aurelius from his Meditations: “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
The wisest among us learn to have the wisdom and the humility to see the bigger picture and to ACCEPT REALITY. That is what Singer would call “true surrender.”
Byron Katie calls it loving what is. Phil Stutz calls it radical acceptance.”
The Stoics called it the art of acquiescence” and their ENTIRE philosophy is basically predicated on EXACTLY what Singer is describing. 
Whatever you want to call it, let’s PRACTICE IT.
+1. +1. +1.
Oct 25, 2022

Opportunities to Practice

In our last +1, we talked about using the WEATHER as a prompt to practice our philosophy.
I shared my new favorite temperature which, as you may recall, is WHATEVER THE TEMPERATURE IS RIGHT NOW! (Hah.) (Seriously though! nerd face )
I promised we’d chat more about Michael Singer and his idea of practicing “surrendering” to reality by picking some low-hanging fruit.
Here’s some of his wisdom on the subject from his great (!) book Living Untethered.
He tells us: “The best way to let go of stored pockets of pain is to practice. Just as you practice the scales to learn the piano or practice a sport to get good at it, you practice letting go to learn how to do it. You start with simple things. We call these low-hanging fruit. There are many situations each day when you create inner disturbance for absolutely no good reason. Bothering yourself about the car in front of you does no good at all. It only makes you tense and uptight. The cost-benefit analysis is one-hundred-percent cost and zero benefit. Letting go of that tendency should be easy, but it’s not. You will find that you’re in the habit of insisting and demanding that things should be the way you want, even if it’s irrational. Things are the way they are because of the influences that made them that way. You are not going to change the weather by complaining about it. If you are wise, you will start to change your reactions to reality instead of fighting with reality. By doing so, you will change your relationship with yourself and with everything else.”
And, he says: “Start with the small things to prove to yourself that you are capable of doing this. Working with yourself at this level is practicing letting go.”
Let’s emphasize three aspects of that passage.
First, we’ll talk about the importance of PRACTICE in general. Second, we’ll talk about the fact that wasting our energy on trivial things that are out of our control is a 100% cost 0% benefit outcome. And, third, we’ll talk about the importance of finding little things to use as part of your idiosyncratic practice in particular.
Regarding practice in general… 
Just this morning, as I was exploring some of the quotes in the Heroic app as I committed to practicing (!) the virtue of Self-Mastery, I read a brilliant gem from Alex Korb’s great book The Upward Spiral—which is all about “Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.”
He tells us: “Ultimately it comes down to the most cliched but scientifically true maxim: practice, practice, practice. To create new, good habits, you have to repeat them over and over again until your brain rewires itself.”
And… As I was rowing after my AM1 Deep Work block, I thought of the fact that I needed to connect all this wisdom about practice to Daniel Coyle and his wisdom in his great book The Little Book of Talent.
He tells us: “Repetition has a bad reputation. We tend to think of it as dull and uninspiring. But this perception is titanically wrong. Repetition is the single most powerful lever we have to improve skills, because it uses the built-in mechanism for making the wires of our brains faster and more accurate.”
It’s super important.
Now let’s shine a spotlight on the fact that, arguing with reality is a 100% LOSING proposition. As Byron Katie says, we lose when we argue with reality. But only EVERY TIME.
The cost includes not only our tension and uptightness but the LOST OPPORTUNITY to have alchemized that same trigger into an opportunity to grow. 
We missed the chance to turn that -1 into a +1 and then aggregate and compound all those tiny little gains into some MASSIVE change.
Add up all those missed opportunities and… That gets expensive FAST!
Now let’s shine a spotlight on YOU and your idiosyncratic opportunities to practice.
What little things bother YOU?
Think of something that a) you have no control over that b) you know you’re wasting your energy getting all worked up about that c) you could use as a new prompt to practice your philosophy.
What is it?
Got it?
Let’s stop letting ourselves get annoyed by arguing with reality over insanely trivial things that are OBVIOUSLY totally (!) out of our control.
The next time that thing happens, let’s NOTICE how we’re getting all tense and uptight. 
Take a nice, deep breath. 
Then go on with your day.
You just plucked some low-hanging fruit. 
Let’s use that fruit as fuel to strengthen our ability to step in between a stimulus and our old response to choose the most empowered response as we get stronger in preparation for the inevitable bigger challenges life will give us.
-1 to +1. -1 to +1. -1 to +1. 
All day every day. 
Especially TODAY.
Oct 24, 2022

What’s Yours?

Emerson just walked into my office zipping up his camo winter jacket to go with his camo pants.
He told me: “It’s COLD! It’s 52 degrees out this morning!”
Fall arrived in a hurry out here in Austin and we went from the 100’s to the 90’s to, for former Californians, chilly quickly!
Emerson and I have a new joke—which is why I replied by saying, “Oh!! 52 degrees—that’s my all-time favorite temperature!”
To which he laughed and said, “Dadddddddyyyyy. EVERY temperature is your favorite temperature.”
That’s true. My favorite temperature? It’s always EXACTLY what the temperature is at that moment.
Which gets us a little closer to the point of Today’s +1.
Let’s step back for a moment and set some context.
Michael Singer has become one of my absolute favorite teachers. 
Although I very much enjoyed The Untethered Soul (check out those Notes), it wasn’t until my friend Joe Okleberry sent me a picture of him and Michael that I picked up this book. 
Now, I didn’t have to go far to pick it up as Alexandra had been raving about him for months. The book was literally on our kitchen table. With the two of them extolling his awesomeness, I decided to join the party. And, I’m very glad I did.
We’ll talk more about his wisdom soon.
For now, as you know if you’ve read his stuff, THE central Big Idea to ALL of his work is, essentially, to QUIT ARGUING WITH REALITY.
As he says: “Suffering is caused by the contrast between what you mentally decided you want and the reality unfolding in front of you. To whatever degree they don’t match, you suffer.”
In our next +1, we’ll talk about something he calls “low-hanging fruit” that will help us PRACTICE reducing our suffering by “surrendering” to reality. 
For now…
One of my favorite prompts to practice? The weather. 
Arguing with the WEATHER is one of the most ridiculous things we can do—which is why Emerson and I have that new joke. 
Here’s the origin story…
Emerson was telling me how much he loved the 80-degree-ish fall temperature here in Austin. He asked me what my favorite temperature is. 
I told him: “The temperature RIGHT NOW is ALWAYS my ABSOLUTE favorite.”
102 degrees and Austin humid? Perfect. My all-time favorite temperature. Free sauna. 
51 degree cold plunge? Perfect. My all-time favorite temperature. Rebooting the nervous system.
As the Gita beautifully says: “Reshape yourself through the power of your will... Those who have conquered themselves... live in peace, alike in cold and heat, pleasure and pain, praise and blame... To such people a clod of dirt, a stone, and gold are the same... Because they are impartial, they rise to great heights.”
Who knew the weather could be such a powerful tool for our armamentarium? nerd face 
What’s YOUR favorite temperature?
Let’s quit arguing with reality and use EVERY opportunity we can to playfully practice our philosophies.
+102degrees. +52degrees. 
And God bless those of you who live in -Xdegrees and REALLY get to practice! face with tears of joy 
Oct 23, 2022

Stoic Negative Visualization Part Deux

Not too long ago, we talked about Happy our Rooster. He wasn’t doing so well then and, I’m sorry to say, he didn’t make it. folded hands 
We talked about Happy and his crowing in the context of remembering to practice alchemizing things that might (at least on occasion!) annoy us into reminders of just how precious the little things in life are. 
As you may recall, I connected that wisdom to the master class I created for Emerson on Conquering Toilet Paper 101. toilet nerd face 
Today I want to continue the conversation and shine a brighter light on the ancient Stoic practice that the modern Stoic William B. Irvine describes as negative visualization.” 
Then I’ll tell you how I practiced that when we couldn’t find the kids for a few minutes yesterday. 
The Stoics. 
As we discussed in +1 #851, Stoic philosopher William B. Irvine wrote a great book called A Guide to the Good Life
He tells us that the Stoics “recommended that we spend time imagining that we have lost the things we value—that our wife has left us, our car was stolen, or we lost our job. Doing this, the Stoics thought, will make us value our wife, our car, and our job more than we otherwise would. This technique—let us refer to it as negative visualization—was employed by the Stoics at least as far back as Chrysippus. It is, I think, the single most valuable technique in the Stoics’ psychological tool kit.”
I pay attention when a guy I respect as much as I respect Professor Irvine tells me that something is THE SINGLE MOST VALUABLE TECHNIQUE practiced in my preferred philosophical tool kit.
Which is why I have practiced “negative visualization” since I learned of the technique years ago.
It’s why I practiced it yesterday.
Which leads us to the two Johnson kids.
As we’ve discussed, we live out in the country outside of Austin. We have a little bit of land and one of the first things we did when we moved in was carve out a little half-mile walking trail. 
I absolutely love it and I target swipe hitting the Trail 2-3+ times a day
Yesterday afternoon Alexandra came into my office and said she didn’t know where the kids were. They had been jumping around on the trampoline when she came inside for a few minutes and now she didn’t know where they were. 
She had looked in the tiny house where her mom lives and they weren’t there. She called for them using our secret loud call and they didn’t respond. 
She was more than a little nervous. 
We split up to see if we could find them. I walked one way on our trail and she took a different path to see if we could find them.
As I walked in my direction, I took a deep breath and deliberately allowed myself to imagine the worst possible outcomes to feel the pain of losing our kids. What if they had somehow fallen into our little pond and BOTH of them somehow couldn’t get out? What if someone somehow came onto our property and abducted them or something terrible happened we couldn’t imagine?
That was my internal dialogue for about 15-30 seconds. 
Then I took another deep breath as I told myself that, however unlikely, those WERE possibilities. And that any number of other tragic things could happen at ANY time to them.
Then I reminded myself that I would be wise to keep that wisdom in mind much more often as I shifted from catastrophizing to staying calm and grounded and GRATEFUL to have two beautiful, healthy, happy kids as I turned the corner on our trail.
Then who did I see?
Two beautiful kids walking toward me—one with his headphones on listening to an audiobook which explained why he didn’t respond to his mom’s call.
Safe and sound—oblivious to any potential issues. They knew they had to get some exercise in so they decided to go for a walk. And now they know to let us know when they go on a walk and not to walk with headphones on so they can hear a call.
And, well…
That’s Today’s +1.
If you feel so inspired, consider adding a “negative visualization” practice to YOUR Heroic toolkit. 
Let’s remember to not take all those gifts in our lives for granted but AS GRANTED.
Not someday. But Today.
-1 to +1. 
Day 1. Let’s go!
Oct 22, 2022

And Notice When You’re Not

This morning I was on the trail, listening to my 33-minute playlist of 11 of my favorite songs by my favorite band The Score while getting in my 30 minutes of movement and 15 minutes of MAF work.
I had just hammered out 10 pull-ups and 100 burpees and 1,000 meters of rowing. I pulled out my bat phone, which I use to hit Heroic targets when I’m training and in Deep Work mode. 
Target swipe. 
Target swipe.
Target swipe. 
That’s like me to have 51 targets hit by the time I come online en route to 101 targets for the day!! (101 Heroic Targets a day truly do keep the daimon in play, folks! nerd face)
As I was putting the ol’ bat phone back into the ol’ pocket…
I missed. 
The phone fell to the ground and my old-school, corded headphones got disconnected.  
The music stopped. 
That’s when I knew I needed to create this +1. 
Want to hear the music of life?
Stay plugged in. 
Want to more and more consistently show up as your best self?
Stay plugged in. 
And, perhaps most importantly to achieve that… Notice when you’re NOT plugged in and what you did to get disconnected. Then do whatever you need to do to get plugged back in. 
All day every day. 
+1. +1. +1. 
P.S. Desmond Tutu and Richard Rohr would agree. As they say: We are only the light bulbs, and our job is just to remain screwed in!’”
P.P.S. Here’s the playlist I’ve listened to hundreds and hundreds of times.
Oct 21, 2022

You Don’t Rise to the Occasion, You Sink to… 

Continuing our tour through Brian Cain’s mental toughness fables, let’s talk about another Big Idea from The 10 Pillars of Mental Performance Mastery.
Remember: Brian has coached an INCREDIBLE number of SUPER-ELITE athletes and coaches. Eight UFC Champions. Four Cy Young Winners. MVPs. Olympians, etc, etc., etc.
One of the things he teaches them?
The fact that, as he puts it: “You don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to your levels of training and habits.”
Here’s how his guide Coach Kenny puts it in the fable. 
He tells us: ‘The key is to make your habits so strong and your training so good that when you sink to your worst day, you sink to a level higher than anyone else on their best day,’ Coach Kenny said. ‘It’s easy to say, hard to do, and only possible if you follow the 10 pillars of mental performance mastery.’”
Then he says: “’Everyone talks about raising the roof. In reality, it’s about raising your basement so that you have good bad days and are better on your bad days than most people are on their good days—because you can focus better and have better habits and a more elite mindset. It’s really about being the best version of you that you have ever been. It’s also about not comparing yourself to anyone else but to where you were yesterday. If you can see progress—be better today than you were yesterday and better tomorrow than you are today—and just keep going baby step by baby step, you will get where you want to be.’”
That’s from a great chapter called “You Don’t Rise to the Occasion; You Sink to Your Training and Habits.” There’s a LOT of wisdom in there that we could talk about for an entire weekend workshop. 
For now, let’s focus on a few highlights and some parallel wisdom from other brilliant teachers.
First, I think of this +1 on Good Bad Days in which we talk about some wisdom from Jim Afremow’s The Champion’s Mind. Big Idea? Golfers like Jack Nicklaus and Rory McIlroy know it’s all about “playing poorly well.” You can only do that when you have an elite mind.
Then I think of Lanny Bassham and his son Troy who wrote With Winning in Mind and Attainment. In this +1 on Average vs. Elite, we talk about the fact that AVERAGE performers practice something until they can get it right. ELITE performers, on the other hand, practice until they CAN’T GET IT WRONG.
Then there’s Josh Waitzkin, the chess prodigy turned martial artist champion. In The Art of Learning, he tells us that we need to make our prior best our new baseline.
What happens when we do all that? We raise the basement. 
Our highs are higher AND (!) our LOWS are HIGHER. On our worst days, we’re often better than we used to be on our best days. 
And that’s an incredibly powerful thing.
Here’s to raising our basement as we DOMINATE THE DAY and give the world all we’ve got, Hero. 
Day 1. All in. Let’s go!
P.S. Lest you think this is just a bunch of peak performance mumbo jumbo, let’s remind ourselves of the ancient wisdom from one of the wisest of them all as we make sure we are building our lives on a solid foundation.
Oct 20, 2022

The Best of the Worst and Worst of the Best

In our last several +1s, we’ve been having fun hanging out with world-class mental toughness and peak performance coach, Brian Cain.
And, trust me.
Any time spent with Cainer is going to be fun.
He is EASILY one of the most inspiring human beings on the planet. You can’t help but feel energized just being in his presence.
Today we’re going to talk about one of the lines in his little fable on The 10 Pillars of Mental Performance Mastery that jumped out at me and tattooed itself on my consciousness.
It’s about being average.
Coach Kenny is the guide in the fable. He’s coaching a burned-out executive.
He tells him: “‘You are like most people,’ Coach Kenny said. ‘And we call that average. Like I have said, I hate the word average. It means you are the best of the worst and the worst of the best. It’s a terrible place to live.’”
Me: Oh, snap! astonished face 
It’s the best of the worst. And the worst of the best.
Stuck right there in the middle of the rugged mountain we call mediocrity
Not where we want to hang out.
Brian has Coach Kenny say: “You are giving the world your B or C game and you don’t even know it because you have never been trained on how to give your A game.”
And: “The world needs you at your best. You can’t be normal, you must be elite.”
And: “If you don’t have a plan, how are you getting better? The problem is when you stop getting better, you start getting bitter, and nobody likes being around people who are bitter all the time.”
Lest you think that wisdom is just some rah-rah, pom-pom waving goodness from an overly ambitious peak performance coach, how about this parallel wisdom from one of the twentieth century’s great spiritual teachers, Eric Butterworth?
As we’ve discussed, Butterworth was Maya Angelou’s spiritual teacher. And, apparently, Oprah considers Discover the Power Within You one of her all-time favorite books.
Here’s how Butterworth puts it in one of MY all-time favorite books, Spiritual Economics.
He tells us: “Why be an average person? All the great achievements of history have been made by strong individuals who refused to consult statistics or to listen to those who could prove convincingly that what they wanted to do, and in fact ultimately did do, was completely impossible.”
It’s the best of the worst and the worst of the best.
As Sylvester Stallone tells us his son in Rocky IV (check out this inspiring scene!): “THAT’S NOT YOU! YOU’RE BETTER THAN THAT!!”
Let’s commit to getting just a little bit better today in service to something bigger than ourselves as we remind ourselves that the process of becoming the best, most Heroic version of ourselves is SUPPOSED to be challenging and that the only antidote to mediocrity is excellence.
Remember: The MOMENT we live with Areté we ARE Heroic.
Let’s do that.
Oct 19, 2022

Want to Get 998,822,690,009,590 Times Better?

In our last +1, we talked about Brian Cain’s wisdom on The 1% Intention.
Let’s review the math. 
There are 24 hours in a day. 60 minutes per hour. That’s 1,440 minutes per day.
1% of that?
14 minutes and 24 seconds.
1% of your day.
Here’s the question: What’s the #1 thing you KNOW you could be doing that, if you spent just 1% of your day doing it, would have THE most positive impact in your life?
Seriously. What is it?
How can YOU invest just 1% of your day into getting 1% better Today?
Think about it.
As you do, let’s think about some James Clear wisdom on the subject to bring the point home—because the math is CRAZY.
Before we go there…
I have to say that I want your potential investment of 1% of your day into HEROIC to be (goosebumps) at least considered as one of the highest-leverage things you could do to improve your life 1%.
14 minutes and 24 seconds.
Choose your own adventure with how you want to split that up in the app.
Of course, you can get “more wisdom in less time” (Theory!) via these +1s, the PhilosophersNotes, 101s, Basic Training and Mastery Series to make sure you have the right strategies. 
And, if you feel so inspired, I think you’d be wise to consider a few minutes invested into the Target PRACTICE side of things as this will, in my opinion, always be THE HIGHEST LEVERAGE thing you can do as committing to being our best selves then actually doing the things that help us close the gap between who we’re capable of being and who we’re actually being is how we’ll move from Theory to PRACTICE to Mastery Together TODAY.
Again, early research shows that spending just a few minutes a day using the Heroic app to hit just 3+ Heroic Targets in your Big 3 protocol can help you boost your Energy by 40%, your Productivity by 20% and your connection by 15%. 
Back to the math…
Here’s how James puts it in his brilliant book Atomic Habits.
He tells us: “It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action. Whether it is losing weight, building a business, writing a book, winning a championship, or achieving any other goal, we put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about.
Meanwhile, improving 1 percent isn’t particularly notable—sometimes it isn’t even noticeable—but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous. It is only when looking back two, five, or perhaps ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.”
1% gains aggregated and compounded for a year equals an astonishing 37x improvement.
And... As I say in our Notes on Atomic Habits, create a spreadsheet (like this) and run that 1% daily improvement out for another year. 
Guess what? After two years, you’re not 74 times better. You’re now 1,400 (!!) times better.
Why stop there? Run it out another year. After the third year of aggregating and compounding those 1% gains, you’re now 53,405 times better. Four years? You’re 2,017,828 times better. Five years? You’re 76,240,507 times better.
Shall we run it 10 years out? OK. Let’s. 
Result: Well, on day 3,472 we hit our last normal number. We’re 998,822,690,009,590 times better. (That’s nearly a quadrillion times better by the way.) 
Then we break our Google Spreadsheet by day 3,650 when we’re at 5.87074E+15. I don’t even know what that means but I assume it’s even more zeroes. (Hah. nerd face)
All that to say: Little things matter. A lot. Especially when we compound them over time. 
Let’s use 1% of our day to +1%. 
Oct 18, 2022

Close the Gap TODAY

In our last couple +1s, we spent some time hanging out with world-class mental toughness coach Brian Cain
We broke some arrows, ate some fire and got an invitation to a big UFC event where one of his fighters made Epictetus proud by smiling as he got punched in the face. astonished face 
Today we’re going to spend some more time with Cainer. 
We’re going to talk about getting 1% better. 
Let’s head back to his little fable (appropriately called One Percent Better”) where his characters Sunny and Mr. Big are having a little chat. 
“‘Good morning, Mr. Big! It’s time to get juiced. Either we are going to dominate the day or the day will dominate us. Are you ready?’ Sunny asked this with the excitement of a kid on Christmas Day.
As we began walking the halls to the scent of bacon and breakfast, Sunny started asking me about math. ‘Mr. Big, there are 24 hours in a day and 60 minutes in each hour. How many minutes are there in a day?’
I quickly took out my phone and asked, ‘Hey, Siri. How many minutes in a day?’
‘There are 1,440 minutes in a day,’ Siri chimed back.
Then she asked, ‘What’s 1% of 1,440?’
This is where I was stumped. I wasn’t sure how to do the math. After all, I wasn’t a math teacher. ‘No idea,’ I replied.
‘1% of a day is 14 minutes and 24 seconds,’ she said emphatically. ‘Everyone wants to get 1% better but they fail to intentionally invest 1% of their day because they don’t even know that it’s a strategy for success.’”
Mr. Big is a burned-out teacher. Sunny is his mentor. She works in the cafeteria and “brings the juice!” all day every day. Her #1 lesson and the focal point of the entire book?
As Brian tells us: “The best place to start is to intentionally invest 1% of your day into yourself and become a better version of you today than you were yesterday. Then wake up tomorrow and do the same thing. Rinse and repeat. It’s actually quite simple.”
Now, let’s review the math.
There are 24 hours in a day. 60 minutes per hour. That’s 1,440 minutes per day.
1% of that?
14 minutes and 24 seconds.
1% of your day.
Here’s the question: What’s the #1 thing you KNOW you could be doing that, if you spent just 1% of your day doing it, would have THE most positive impact in your life?
Seriously. What is it?
1% of your day meditating is 14 minutes and 24 seconds of meditation.
Would that change your life?
How about 1% of your day training? Or 1% of your day with ZERO technology spent 101% focused on being present with your significant other and/or kids?
Would that change your life?
Or 1% of your day reflecting on your life purpose. Or LIVING more on purpose—doing the things you KNOW you could be doing for just 14 minutes and 24 seconds TODAY?
Would that change your life?
+1%. +1%. +1%
Tiny investments that lead to tiny gains. 
That add up. 
Here’s to using 1% of our days to get 1% better.
btw: Early research shows that spending WAY LESS than 1% of your day using the Heroic app to dominate your Big 3 protocol can help you boost your Energy by 40%, your Productivity by 20% and your connection by 15%. 
Just 3+ Heroic Targets a day keeps the daimon in play. LET’S GO!!!
Oct 17, 2022

Break Arrows with Your Neck Lately?

In our last +1, we talked about the fact that Brian Cain recently visited me and the Johnson fam out here in the country outside of Austin. 
I casually mentioned that the kids and wifey and I had fun learning how to eat fire and break an arrow with our necks and do other fun things we didn’t think we could do. 
Today I’d like to talk more about those broken arrows.
First, a little more context. 
As we discussed, Brian is one of the world’s leading mental toughness coaches. He’s also a long-time student of mine and easily tied for first as one of the most inspiring, energized human beings I know.
His client list includes four Major League Baseball Cy Young Award winners, eight UFC world champion mixed martial artists, World Series and Super Bowl Champions and MVPs, Olympic medalists, and countless other elite athletes and coaches.
When he visited, he left a couple books with me as gifts: The 10 Pillars of Mental Performance Mastery and One Percent Better.
They’re both super-quick reading, inspiring fables packed with a ton of wisdom. I read both of them in the same weekend. (That’s like me! nerd face)
Think: If Paulo Coelho wrote about mental toughness. And kinda like Robin Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari or Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior.
10 Pillars is all about the foundation of Brian’s mental performance mastery program while One Percent Better is all about, as per the sub-title, “How to Close the Gap from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.” How? By getting ONE PERCENT BETTER. When? TODAY, Hero.
In One Percent Better, Brian shares a little formula with us that will be the basis of Today’s +1.
Here it is: 
A + S + GOYA = R.
As the character in his book puts it: that acronym means Ability + Strategy + Get Off Your Anatomy and do the work = Results.
Then she says: “Ability is not something you are lacking to be the optimal version of yourself. You are simply blocking it. How we unblock our ability is by giving you the right strategy. … When you do that, you will see better results.’”
Want to become Heroic and tap into your ultimate potential?
You’re not necessarily lacking the Ability. The real issue might be that you don’t have the right STRATEGY.
This was a lesson that Brian made vividly real for me and the kids when he visited recently. How he’d do it? He showed us how to break an arrow with our neck and eat fire.
What’s breaking arrows with your neck and eating fire have to do with this idea? Everything. 
Here’s the short story.
Brian took a wooden arrow and placed one end against the wall and the other end against his neck. Then he took a deep breath, stepped forward and SNAPPED THE ARROW in half.
Then he invited us to do it. To which we were all tempted to say: “Nope! We’re good!” (Hah.) Then he told us, “You don’t lack the ABILITY to break the arrow with your neck. You just lack the STRATEGY on how to easily do it safely.”
Then he taught us how to do it. Then I did it. BOOM!
Same thing with eating fire. There’s a STRATEGY on how to do it. Once you know it, it’s EASY.
And, well, same thing with pretty much E V E R Y T H I N G in our lives.
BJ Fogg echoes this wisdom in Tiny Habits. He tells us: “We are not the problem. Our approach to change is. It’s a design flaw—not a personal flaw.”
Again, it’s a STRATEGY issue not an ABILITY issue.
Which brings us back to the equation A + S + GOYA = R.
Ability + Strategy + Get Off Your Anatomy and DO THE WORK if you want the results!!
You can’t just know what to do. You have to DO IT. 
Which is why the #1 thing we are most committed to with Heroic is helping you move from Theory to Practice to Mastery. We need to know the right strategy then we need to actually DO the things we know we could be doing. 
Not someday. TODAY.
GOYA and, as Brian Cain likes to say: Go Dominate the Day, Hero!!
Oct 16, 2022

What to Do the Next Time That Happens

Brian Cain is one of the world’s greatest mental toughness coaches. 
His client list includes four Major League Baseball Cy-Young Award winners, eight UFC world champion mixed martial artists, World Series and Super Bowl Champions and MVPs, Olympic medalists, and countless other elite athletes and coaches. 
He’s also a friend and longtime student of mine who has his clients read PhilosophersNotes to go to the next level. (Cainer: raising hands !!!)
We’re going to be talking about him and his wisdom more in the weeks and months ahead—check out the PhilosophersNotes on his books The 10 Pillars of Mental Performance Mastery and One Percent Better
Today I want to chat about one of his clients. 
Quick context. 
Brian recently visited me and the Johnson fam out here in the country outside of Austin. The kids and wifey and I had fun learning how to eat fire and break an arrow with our necks and do other fun things we didn’t think we could do. 
There was a big UFC pay-per-view event a few weekends after his visit. Brian happened to be coaching one of the fighters in ALL THREE of the top three fights (two for championship belts). He invited me to go to the event but, me being me, I told him thank you but (laughing), I’m going to be in bed hours before the championship fights so…
Although I didn’t go to watch the fights, I DID do a little research on his fighters. 
I read an article on one of the guys fighting for a title. His prior competitors talked about how much he freaked them out because he seemed to LOVE getting hit in the face. The harder they hit him the more he smiled as he asked them if that was all they had. 
Them: flushed face!!!
I share that story because, in my AM Heroic meditation, right after Epictetus tells me to practice my philosophy and to remember the Choice of Hercules, he often reminds me to remember that particular fighter—telling me that if HE can smile when he LITERALLY gets punched in the face, I can smile when *I* inevitably get metaphorically punched in the face. 
And, well, that’s Today’s +1. 
I understand the fact that the whole “martial art” metaphor thing might not be your thing but it’s been a handy philosophical teaching tool for thousands of years so…
If you feel so inspired, the next time you get metaphorically punched in the face (note: NOT “if” but WHEN!), I encourage you to remember Epictetus and his boxers and Cainer and his mixed martial artists and see if you can have fun flipping the switch and SMILING as you ask the Heroic gods if THAT is all they’ve got. 
That very next challenge you’re going to face sooner than you may like?
That’s PRECISELY what we train for. 
Day 1. All in. 
Let’s give life all we’ve got. 
boxing glove boxing glove boxing glove 
grinning face grinning face grinning face 
Oct 15, 2022

Stay in the Ring and Let’s Go!

In our last +1, we spent some time riding appropriately big waves and reminded ourselves that, when we’re wisely surfing the beautiful oceans of life, we remember to ENJOY the waves. 
Today we’re going to bring my all-time favorite teacher (Epictetus!) back to the party to hear his take on the subject. 
Before we go there…
Let’s pause for a moment and think about the great big-wave surfer, Laird Hamilton
The guy is obsessed about finding THE BIGGEST POSSIBLE WAVES HE CAN FIND! 
Because that’s how he knows he can see what he’s made of and HAVE THE MOST FUN!!
Of course. 
And that’s how he is fulfilling his idiosyncratic, Heroic destiny and inspiring all of us to do the same in our own unique ways as well. 
Side note: Have you seen Finding Joe yet? Laird tells his story in it. Along with Tony Hawk. They talk about all the FEAR they felt pursuing their big, hairy, audacious dreams. Watch the trailer here. Full movie for free here
Let’s talk about the ancient Stoic philosopher, Epictetus
Epictetus was a former slave who taught the guys who taught Marcus Aurelius. 
Every morning, I invite his presence into my consciousness during my AM Heroic meditation. 
Every morning, he tells me pretty much the same thing: “Practice your philosophy and remember the choice of Hercules!”
As we’ve discussed, Hercules was one of the ancient Greek and Stoic philosophers favorite heroes. They liked to tell the story about Hercules BEFORE he was Hercules. We talk about it in our Notes on How to Think Like a Roman Emperor and this +1 on The Choice of Hercules.
The quick recap. 
Young pre-Heroic Hercules is walking in a forest. He comes to a fork in the road, at which point two goddesses approach him. 
One goddess rushes ahead of the other. She’s overly made up and preening a bit as she tells him that, if he follows her, his life will be easy and awesome. She says her name is “Happiness” but she’s lying. Her name is really “Vice.”
The second goddess waits patiently then steps forward. She has a stern yet beautiful countenance and tells Hercules that if follows HER, his life will be full of pain and challenges AND… as he strives to overcome those challenges in service to something bigger than himself, he will earn the respect and admiration of the gods. Her name? Areté
Hercules, of course, chose wisely. 
Epictetus reminds me (EVERY MORNING!) that I need to make that Choice of Hercules EVERY DAY—especially TODAY. 
A noble life worthy of the respect and admiration of the gods (and ourselves!) is NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EASY. 
Those challenges we face? Those are the waves that give us a chance to flourish. 
Epictetus often reminds me of another thing.  
He tells me that, if I complain about the inevitable challenges of life, then I’m kinda like the boxer who enters the ring only to walk out the moment he gets punched in the face. 
That, of course, would make NO SENSE. 
What did the boxer expect? To do yin yoga with his opponent? face with tears of joy 
Let’s quote the ancient Stoic sage directly here because it’s so good. 
He tells us: “But what is philosophy? Doesn’t it simply mean preparing ourselves for what may come? Don’t you understand that really amounts to saying that if I would so prepare myself to endure, then let anything happen that will? Otherwise, it would be like the boxer exiting the ring because he took some punches. Actually, you can leave the ring without consequence, but what advantage would come from abandoning the pursuit of wisdom? So, what should each of us say to every trial we face? This is what I’ve trained for, for this my discipline!”
I repeat: When we approach our inevitable challenges with the right mindset and consistent practices, life eventually becomes a LOT “easier” and those waves and punches become a joyful part of the Heroic, eudaimonic, noble, well-lived life. 
Let’s remember that Today as we paddle out to our waves and step into the arena that is our lives. 
Love ya. Let’s go!!!
P.S. Speaking of stepping into the arena, check out this +1 on The Optimizer in the Arena for some old-school Teddy Roosevelt wisdom!
+1 boxing glove +1 boxing glove +1 boxing glove 
+1 water wave +1 water wave +1 water wave 
Oct 14, 2022

With Yoda and Laird

In our last +1, we revisited our thinking on our Targeted Thinking practice. 
As you may recall, we added a Step 0 to the protocol that involved accepting our reality COMPLETELY before we shift to figuring out how we’d like to create a better reality and what, specifically, we will do RIGHT NOW to create it. 
Today I want to chat more about acceptance. 
We’ll bring my Yoda, Phil Stutz, back to the party to tap into more of his near-infinite wisdom. 
Btw. Phil and I have been working together for nearly six years now. It’s remarkable to me just how deep we can go these days as I have fun truly practicing my and our philosophy at deeper and deeper levels. 
Btw2. The reason I’m able to practice even more deeply is because I have taken on bigger and bigger challenges—as Phil says, I’m dealing with “real bullets” now. 
And, as another dear friend and mentor (Matt McCall!) puts it: I’m officially working out in “the big boy gym.” face with tears of joy 
(Lifting Real Weights vs. Styrofoam Weights for the win, folks!!)
Phil doesn’t tell us to just *accept* reality. He tells us that we need to RADICALLY accept reality. 
One of the metaphors he likes to use is to imagine that you’re a surfer. 
When you’re surfing, you have ZERO control of when and how the waves show up. (Right?)
You have pretty much COMPLETE control over how you choose to respond to any given wave. (Right?)
That’s Part 1 of this +1. 
The wise, eudaimonic surfer embraces that fact. How? By not complaining about the waves. They are what they are. 
And, the wise life-surfer knows that the waves, when viewed properly, are what make the whole experience FUN!! No waves, no fun. 
Now for Part 2. 
Question time…
Two parts to the question. 
First, if you’re REALLY committed to becoming a REALLY great (!!!) surfer, do you go to the beaches with the tiniest waves? 
Do you find the beaches with the right-sized big waves to have the most fun challenging yourself with your current level of skill?
Note: Finding the right-size waves is an important distinction that’s part of a longer chat. We want to make sure we find our flow channel—not too little or too much stress or we’ll be bored or anxious! (Superyou for the win!)
Second, when you arrive at the beach and swim out to start catching the right-sized (appropriately big!) waves, do you COMPLAIN when a big wave approaches or do you smile and get after it, seeing just how well you can ride it while—very importantly—ENJOYING the thrill of the experience??
Of course, unless you’re crazy, you ENJOY those (appropriately) big waves. That’s the whole reason you showed up at the beach in the first place, right?!
And THAT is how we want to approach our lives and all the inherent “waves”/challenges that show up on our heroic quests. 
Got any waves in your life right now?
Surf’s up. 
Let’s go get it as we enjoy the ride!!!
+1 water wave +1 water wave +1 water wave 
Oct 13, 2022

An Update on Our Targeted Thinking Protocol

In our last +1, we continued our discussion about what to do when you’re going 0 for 12 in life and discussed the importance of doing that ONE thing that is most important RIGHT NOW.
Then, because I can’t go longer than a few +1s without referencing my tattoo that serves as the one-word summation of my entire philosophy, we brought my right forearm into the discussion and celebrated the ancient word ARETE.
(Cue Maui from Moana’s “You’re welcome!” for the incessant repetition. rolling on the floor laughing )
Today I want to chat about YET ANOTHER way to win that ultimate game of life—closing the gap between who you’re CAPABLE of being and who you’re ACTUALLY being RIGHT.THIS.SECOND!
It’s time to chat about Targeted Thinking. (Again.)
Since our last chat, I’ve refined my thinking on it. Here’s how I currently practice and teach it. (See Basic Training Objective 2, Lesson 5 for more!) 
Here’s how I framed it in that +1 from a couple of years ago. 
Step 1 of Targeted Thinking is to step out of Victimland and take a step into Heroicland by asking ourselves a simple question: WHAT DO I WANT?
Note: Victims complain about what’s not working in their lives. Creators create what they want in their lives by asking THAT question. (See Power of TED* for more.)
Then, once you’ve gotten even an inkling of clarity on what you want in any given moment, the follow-up question is simple: NOW WHAT NEEDS TO GET DONE?
In prior +1s, we brought that wisdom to life with discussions about its efficacy in dealing with chicken poop and flat tires
Today I want to hone our practice by adding a few more steps to the Targeted Thinking protocol.
Yes, knowing what you want is ESSENTIAL to the process of living Heroically and creating a better life. And, of course, taking action in pursuit of creating that ideal, is also essential.
Before we even get to asking ourselves what we want, I think we need to step back an inch or three and ACCEPT REALITY EXACTLY AS IT IS.
This is what Byron Katie describes as “Loving What Is.” Which, as we’ve discussed, is just a modern take on the ancient Stoic practice known as “The Art of Acquiescence.” (See the +1 on Suffering = Pain x Resistance and the +1 on Deo Volente + Thy Will Be Done for more.) 
Step 0 with our updated Targeted Thinking protocol is simple: Acceptance—complete and utter acceptance of EXACTLY what is happening right now. Period. 
That, of course, is much easier said than done but the wisest among us get the power of this practice.
Once we’ve stopped arguing with reality (reminding ourselves that we will ALWAYS lose when we argue with reality!) we are ready for the first step in our protocol.
Step 1. Asking ourselves: WHAT DO I WANT?
Feeling energetically sluggish? Unproductive or lacking purpose at work? Disconnected from yourself and/or your loved ones?
Perfect. Accept that. 
Now… What do you want?
To feel Heroically Energized? Heroically (and Purposefully) Productive? Heroically Connected?
Awesome. Spend THREE SECONDS (!) getting a little more clarity on that. 
Note: We’re not talking about a 3 months worth of 30-minute journaling sessions to get clarity. 
Got it? Awesome. That’s Step 1.
Step 2. Ask yourself: What can I do RIGHT NOW that would take me one step closer to getting more of what I want? 
AGAIN: We don’t need a 101-page polished strategic plan you’re going to submit to some higher authority for a grade here. 
Got it? Awesome. That’s Step 2.
Now we’re ready for Step 3. 
This is, unquestionably, the most important of all the steps but it’s useless unless you do the first ones. 
Here it is…
(Yes, that’s a lot of ALL CAPS. rolling on the floor laughing )
To recap.
Step 0. Accept your current reality. 
Step 1. Create a Target of what you want.  
Step 2. Decide what you can do RIGHT NOW to move in the direction of your desired outcome.
Step 3. Take action.
Final step? 
+1. REPEAT that process.
All day. Every day.
Day 1. All in. Let’s go!
+0. +1. +2. +3. +1.
Oct 12, 2022

To Get What You REALLY Want

Not too long ago, we chatted about MLB All-Star Sean Casey (The Mayor!) going 0 for 12 one season when he was batting nearly .400. 
As you may recall, his coach told him that he didn’t care about those numbers. What his coach cared about was whether or not he was dominating his protocol.
In that context, I asked you if YOU were going through a rough patch—perhaps feeling like you were going 0 for 12 in your Energy or your Work or your Love.
Then I gave you a couple of hugs as I playfully told you that I love ya (hugging face) and… I don’t ultimately care about the current state of those things. 
Then I said that what I DO care about is whether or not you are working your protocol. 
I asked:
Do you know who you are at your best in your Energy, your Work and your Love? Are you recommitting to being that best version of yourself every morning?
Do you know what virtues that best version of you embodies? Are you recommitting to showing up with those virtues every morning?
Do you know what specific things you DO when you’re most on fire? Are you recommitting to those things every morning and then ACTUALLY DOING those things every day?
All that’s nice and hopefully helpful even if it’s not all that warm and fuzzy (!) but…
Let’s simplify it even more.
ULTIMATELY, although it’s VERY helpful to know who you are and how you show up when you’re at your best in your Energy, Work and Love (which, of course, is why we architected the Heroic app to help you do exactly that!), we can simplify the game of life even more.
Let’s invite some more great thinkers to the party to tell us what they think…
First, the great spiritual teacher Byron Katie tells us that there’s always (!) only (!) ONE THING we need to do. 
If it’s doing the dishes, do the dishes. If it’s doing the laundry, do the laundry. If it’s taking a deep breath or going on a walk or sending that email or making that phone call or apologizing to that loved one or turning the electronics off to get a good night of sleep or … FILL-IN-THE-BLANK with whatever might be the next thing, do that FILL-IN-THE-BLANK next most important thing—however mundane or scary you may think it is. 
Repeat. Over and over and over again. Ideally, with a smile… Loving What Is as you show up as your best self.
Then we have David Reynolds. He’s a Zen therapist who wrote the great little book Constructive Living. What’s he tell us? The SAME THING. 
The question he gives us is as powerful as it is simple.
Here it is: Now what needs to be done?
Life feel overwhelming? 
Now what needs to be done?
Still feel a little wobbly?
Now what needs to be done?
Navy SEAL sage Mark Divine echoes this wisdom. The metaphor he uses comes from the battlefield of war. When chaos shines its dark light on our world, he tells us that we need to SIMPLIFY THE BATTLEFIELD and create FRONT-SIGHT FOCUS.
In other words, what’s THE next most important thing you need to do?
Over and over and over again.
Peak performance coaches say the same thing. They tell us that elite performers maintain a “task focus” in the midst of extreme pressure. They don’t think about everything that could go wrong (or right), they think about…
Over and over and over again.
So, yah. Even without thinking about who you are your best in your Energy, Work and Love, you can always win the ultimate game of life by doing one simple thing: Whatever that moment demands of you.
btw: We can simplify ALL THAT wisdom even further.
How about we distill ALL THE GREAT WISDOM across ALL THE GREAT WISDOM TRADITIONS into one simple word?
I tattooed it on my right arm.
Close the gap between who you’re capable of being and who you’re actually being. 
Not someday. 
Not some moment. 
+1. +1. +1.
All day. Every day. 
Especially TODAY.
Bonus points: Do it with a smile! 
+smiling face with smiling eyes +smiling face with smiling eyes +smiling face with smiling eyes 
Oct 11, 2022

“Why Is It on the Ground Again?!”

In our last +1, we talked about our rooster, Happy. He’s still hanging in there. folded hands 
Today I want to continue the theme we explored in that +1 and see if we can get better at using the things that currently trigger us to feel annoyed, to instead, trigger us to feel grateful.
Here’s an example from the Johnson house to help you think of things YOU might want to reframe in YOUR house. 
My son Emerson is a high-energy kid. 
Note: I was going to say my “little guy” Emerson but he’s almost 10 as I type this and he’s NO LONGER little. It’s shocking to see the speed with which he’s growing!
As we’ve joked before, when he wakes up, he kinda runs out of the room like Kramer from Seinfeld—all energy all the time. 
Except, of course, when it’s not. (Hah.)
Mundane example. 
For some strange reason, when Emerson uses the toilet paper in the bathroom, he often rips it off the little horizontal bar it rests on and the roll of toilet paper winds up unraveled and strewn across the bathroom floor
L O L.
I’m a parent AND a teacher so, of course, we’ve had some Conquering Toilet Paper 101 classes on how to gently roll the toilet paper and gently rip the amount you need from the roll while ensuring it stays in place at the end of the job. (10 Big Ideas, folks! rolling on the floor laughing)
That lesson just hasn’t stuck.
L O L.
After Emerson’s done his thing, that toilet paper roll often winds up strewn across the bathroom floor.
I can choose to use that toilet paper everywhere (again!) as either a trigger for my annoyance (and yet another lecture on the mechanics of toilet paper)….
I can use that same trigger as an opportunity to appreciate the fact that, one day WAY too soon, that toilet paper roll is going to be perfectly and permanently affixed to its resting place—never to see the floor again.
I just got tears in my eyes typing that.
I’m not ready for that day yet.
I want to fully enjoy the incredible enthusiasm of my not-so-little-boy who is becoming a wonderfully enthusiastic young man for as long as I can—knowing that, like all the other wonderful things in my life, will not last forever.
That’s Today’s +1.
Got a trigger?
Think of at least one little thing a loved one does that, if we ACTUALLY practiced our philosophy with a little more rigor, could EASILY be alchemized from annoying to charming…
Go it?
Let’s remember the fact that life is preciously short. 
Let’s use everything we can as a reminder of just how precious it is.
-1 to +1.
All day. Every day. 
rooster toilet 
Oct 10, 2022

Alchemizing Bread Crumbs, Dishes and Legos

Alexandra just walked into my office to tell me that she thinks our rooster, Happy, is dying. 
Before we talk more about that…
Yes, our rooster’s name is Happy
Emerson and Eleanor are phenomenal pet namers. We have Happy the Rooster, Lovey and Floppy and Spikey and Longbeak and Goldie the chickens
Then there’s Zap—the dog that showed up on our property one New Year’s Day a couple of years ago and adopted us. And don’t forget Wags, another awesome dog who decided he wanted to move in one day as well. 
If you’ve ever listened to one of my Zoom calls, you’ve probably heard a rooster in the background. 
Sometimes, I have to admit, I find his crow charming while other times I find it distracting—whether it’s on a Zoom or in my morning meditation when he’s doing his thing RIGHT outside my office window. 
This rooster is truly an awesome rooster. We hatched him ourselves and he does his job protecting his hens Heroically well and he’s not an ornery guy like his dad rooster was. 
When Alexandra came in and told me she thinks he’s dying (while she does her country-nurse thing with him to try to save him!), I felt a deeper sense of sadness than I’ve felt when we’ve lost some other chickens and found other dead creatures on the property. 
I always use those moments as another Stoic reminder of Memento Mori but this one hit me deeper. 
I really like this guy!!
Then I thought of a story Alexandra shared once. It was about bread crumbs. 
I forget the relationship book from which she got the wisdom but the basic idea was this…
In a significant long-term relationship with ANYONE (let alone a spouse or kids) there will INEVITABLY be things about that person that annoy you. 
Maybe they leave bread crumbs on the counter (which irritated the author of the book who told the story) or maybe they leave the dishes out or maybe they leave their Legos all over the house if they’re kids (which, in his less-than-enlightened moments can irritate the author of this +1 winking face). 
Or maybe they do any number of things people do because they’re human and none of us are perfect
It’s easy to find those little things annoying. 
What if…
One day…
Those breadcrumbs or dishes or Legos or whatever weren't there because that loved one was no longer there?
All of a sudden we’d MISS those breadcrumbs or dishes or Legos or whatever. 
That’s what I thought of when I heard Happy might not make it. He hasn’t been crowing for the last several days because he hasn’t been feeling great. I already miss him. 
And I want to make sure I don’t let those little things my kids and wife and others do that I might find annoying distract me from the fact that their presence in my life—with ALL the imperfections—is a profound GIFT. 
In fact, what I try to do these days is use those VERY things I used to find annoying as THE TRIGGER for me to appreciate just how blessed I am. 
I hope our rooster makes it so I can remind myself of this wisdom every time I hear him crow. 
Day 1. 
Let’s go. 
Oct 9, 2022

And… How to Make Yours Heroic 

In the last few +1s, we spent some time talking about how to win the game of life by focusing on WHAT’S IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW. 
I’d like to continue that discussion. And, this time, I’d like to invite my friend Sean Casey back to the party so he can share HIS insanely (!) inspiring take on the subject. 
Quick context. 
As we’ve discussed, Sean was voted the friendliest guy in baseball. They nicknamed him “The Mayor.” He’s now part of Major League Baseball’s Emmy-winning show MLB Tonight
He also has his own podcast. It’s appropriately called “The Mayor’s Office.”
Recently, he had a guy on his show who was also a fan of Heroic. They had a little chat about the app. 
Sean WENT OFF about how the app has changed his life. It’s probably the best overview of the app (especially for sports fans!) I’ve ever seen. 
It’s so good that I want to share it here now. So, let’s head to The Mayor’s Office for a special field trip. I’ll see you in less than two minutes!!
flushed face!!!
If that doesn’t fire you up, I don’t know what will!! Haha!!
That’s Today’s +1. 
Here’s to making the game of life Heroically fun!! 
As always… Not someday…
P.S. Here’s the transcript from that fire segment above! astonished face !!
I look at it this way, and Brian Johnson talks about this. If you, me and Chinch went out and played baseball right now, and we were on this open field and I pitch to Tim, Tim crushes one, Chinch goes and runs and gets it. We come back. We're like, “yeah, this is fun!”

Well, that's not as much fun as if we take the foul lines and we run 'em down each line and we put foul poles up. We put a 330’ sign in the corner, 385’, 410’. We put a fence up that says, if you hit it over this fence, you get one point. If guys are on base, you get three, four, you know, 2, 3, 4 points. 

This guy, we're gonna put a mound up with a rubber. It's gonna be 60 feet, six inches away because that seems fair. You're gonna throw it to me. We're gonna compete. We're gonna get after it. 

Holy [edited]. Here we go. This is a ton of [edited] fun. Right? 

I think of that as Heroic. 

Heroic is my foul lines…

It’s my game! It's my game of life. 

So I line up, what are my routines? What are my habits? What am I gonna do to win my morning? What am I gonna do at night to get better sleep? What time do I need to get upstairs? What book am I gonna read? How am I gonna serve my kids today? How am I gonna serve my buddies today? 

And all of a sudden at the end of the day I go, man, that was a great game today. Holy [edited]. 

You know what I mean? It's like, you start creating your own game because you've created the boundaries and that Heroic app…when you're shooting that arrow into your targets, it's a dopamine. It’s just like, man, this is so freaking awesome. 

And all of a sudden you start to realize, wow, you've created some habits and routines that is giving you the life that you've always wanted. Let's go, let's go.
Oct 8, 2022

Gandhi, the Gita, Bagger Vance, and YOU

In our last couple +1s, we’ve had fun hanging out with some world-class peak performance coaches: Harvey Dorfman and Phil Stutz. 
What did they teach us?
They tell us that it’s ALL ABOUT focusing on the PROCESS of TAKING ACTION rather than the unhealthy obsession on the OUTCOMES. 
They, of course, are not alone in this perspective. 
We talk about it in one of my all-time favorite +1s called “Did I Win? How to Sink a $1m Putt and Do Other Great Things.
Short story: Lanny Bassham worked with a golfer who hadn’t won in a while. Lanny told him to not even think about winning a tournament. Instead, they developed a protocol. His job was to EXECUTE that protocol every shot of every round he played. 
Fast forward a few tournaments. It’s the final shot on the final hole on the final day of the tournament. Our golfer steps up, executes his protocol and makes the putt.
Then his wife runs onto the green and leaps into his arms. 
His response?
“Did I win?”
I just got goosebumps typing that out. I’ve told that story COUNTLESS times. And it gets me EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Imagine stepping up for a $1 million dollar putt and being SO FOCUSED on the PROCESS that you’re OBLIVIOUS to the OUTCOME.
Boom. That’s how it’s done.
Then there’s Gandhi. 
He tells us the same thing in his own words. 
In Eknath Easwaran’s FANTASTIC biography Gandhi the Man (check out those Notes!), we learn that Gandhi liked to say: “The goal ever recedes from us. The greater the progress the greater the recognition of our unworthiness. Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.”
BOOM. That’s how it’s done.
Where’d Gandhi get that wisdom?
From his bible, the Bhagavad Gita (check out those Notes!) where we learn the fact that: “The awakened sages call a person wise when all his undertakings are free from anxiety about results.”
I could go on and on and on. I’ll leave it at that for now. 
Let’s bring it back to the 21st century and hear how Steven Pressfield puts it in The War of Art (check out THOSE Notes as well!).
He tells us: “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.”
btw: Pressfield actually wrote a book on the subject that became a movie starring Will Smith and Matt Damon. Ever heard of The Legend of Bagger Vance? Did you know that that movie is basically the Bhagavad Gita on a golf course? 
In the Gita, a wise god (Krishna) advises a reluctant warrior (Arjuna). In The Legend of Bagger Vance, a wise caddy (Bagger Vance) advises a reluctant golfer (Rannulph Junuh).
Bagger Vance” <--> “Bhagavad Gita.” Get it?
Quick check-in…
What do YOU want in your life?
More Energy? More Productivity? More Connection?
What can you do RIGHT NOW (!) to take ONE STEP toward to achieving it?
Get on that. 
Release attachment to outcomes.
All day. Every day. 
+1. +1. +1. 
Oct 7, 2022

On Action, Action, and More Action

In our last +1, we hung out with one of the friendliest guys in baseball (The Mayor Sean Casey!) and his legendary coach Harvey Dorfman. 
I want to spend a little more time with Sean and bring another legendary coach to the party—MY coach, Phil Stutz
It’s funny because when Sean told me the story shout how Harvey RUTHLESSLY focused on the process goals NOT the outcome goals, I immediately thought of Phil. 
As we’ve discussed, Phil says the same thing in his own way. 
He says that most people focus on the OUTCOMES in their lives when they should be focused on the ACTION they are taking in pursuit of their desired outcomes
The way he frames it is to imagine pearls
You can spend all your time COUNTING how many pearls you have (or don’t have!)…
You can ignore the counting and simply focus on STRINGING THE NEXT PEARL
Over and over and over again we focus on what needs to get done right now. 
What’s important RIGHT NOW?
Do it. 
String the next pearl. 
Over and over and over and over again. 
You do that enough time and you know what happens?
You get a LOT more of the outcomes you’ve been wanting. 
Somewhere along the way you learn that the REAL prize is knowing how to flip the switch and get into action—showing up as the best, most Heroic version of yourself. 
Not someday…
Let’s do that. 
+1. +1. +1. 
Let’s go!
P.S. I love pearls. I have one on my desk at all times to remind me of the wisdom from this +1 on How to Make a Pearl and this wisdom from this +1 on The Pearl in My Pocket.
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