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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 https://heroic.us)
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Heroic with Brian Johnson | Activate Your Best. Every Day.
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Now displaying: 2022
Nov 11, 2022

Personal Humility + Indomitable Will 

 
Jim Collins is my all-time favorite business thinker.
 
He’s written a bunch of great books including Good to Great, Built to Last, and Great by Choice.
 
But…
 
My all-time favorite business book is Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0: Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company. (Thanks again for the rec on that, Gibson. folded hands )
 
I still need to do a Note on all those books and create a series of Notes for all the business books I’ve read but have yet to distill.
 
For now…
 
I want to talk about one of Jim Collins’ Big Ideas on what he calls “Level 5 leadership.”
 
Here’s how he puts it: “Our research showed that having charismatic leadership doesn’t explain why some companies become great and others don’t. In fact, some of the most disastrous comparison cases had very strong, charismatic leadership in the very era that the companies fell or failed. Rather, our research found that the critical ingredient is Level 5 leadership. The essence of Level 5 leadership is a paradoxical combination of personal humility and indomitable will. The humility expressed at Level 5 isn’t a false humbleness; it’s a subjugation of personal ego in service to a cause beyond oneself. This humility combined with the fierce resolve to do whatever it takes (no matter how difficult) to best serve that cause. Level 5 leaders are incredibly ambitious, but they channel their ambition into building a great team or organization and accomplishing a shared mission that’s ultimately not about them.
 
First: “Personal humility.”
 
We subjugate our personal egos in service to something bigger than ourselves.
 
Second: “Indomitable will.”
 
As in… 
 
INDOMITABLE will. (Wow.)
 
We have a fierce resolve to do WHATEVER it takes (no matter how difficult!) to best serve the cause.
 
(Goosebumps.)
 
Combine personal humility and indomitable will and we have what Collins calls “Level 5 leadership.”
 
Only… 
 
You know what I thought of when I read that passage?
 
I thought…
 
If, as Joseph Campbell says: “A hero is someone who has dedicated his or her life to something bigger than oneself”…
 
Then…
 
I say…
 
Jim Collins just described HEROIC Leadership.
 
And…
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
Let’s fiercely resolve to stepping up and into our Heroic Leadership potential—combining personal humility with INDOMITABLE (!) will to do whatever it takes for however long it takes to fulfill our Missions.
 
And…
 
Let’s do that…
 
TODAY.
 
Day 1. All in.
 
LET’S GO.
 
P.S. Check out this +1 on (Heroically!) Fierce Ambition for another take on the subject, inspired by Doris Kearns Goodwin and her brilliant book Leadership in Turbulent Times.
Nov 10, 2022

I Read Archeologically (Like Twyla Tharp)

 
A couple +1s ago, I promised to tell you more about how I read a book.
 
Here’s the very short answer…
 
I read like it’s my job to find Big Ideas that can help me activate my Soul Force so I can help YOU activate YOUR Soul Force. 
 
For one simple reason. It is. 
 
Now…
 
Let’s go to one of my favorite books for a passage that best captures how I read.
 
In The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp tells us: “When I’m reading archeologically, I’m not reading for pleasure. I read the way I scratch for an idea, digging down deep so I can get something out of it and use it in my work. I read transactionally: How can I use this? It’s not enough for me to read a book. I have to ‘own’ it. I scribble in the margins. I circle sentences I like and connect them with arrows to other useful sentences. I draw stars and exclamation points on every good page, to the point where the book is almost unreadable. By writing all over the pages, I transform the author’s work into my book—and mine alone.”
 
Yep. That’s exactly how to do it.
 
Carrying on…
 
Here are some other things you might find interesting in terms of how I read a book and how I encourage you to consider approaching it.
 
First, very importantly: I DO NOT speed read. 
 
I read reasonably quickly—40-50 or so pages an hour depending on the font size and complexity of the subject and all that.
 
But… Again…
 
I DO NOT “speed read.”
 
Nor do I try to see how fast I can get through the book per se.
 
I treat reading a book like it’s my job to mine its depths for the Big Ideas that can change YOUR life as I strive to give you More Wisdom in Less Time via the PhilosophersNotes and these +1s because, again, it is.
 
I also, even more importantly and less obviously, read a book like I’m lucky enough to sit down and have a GREAT conversation with a BRILLIANT thinker who spent years (if not decades!) reflecting on the subject of their book and then spent another big chunk of time distilling that wisdom into a book they could share with us. 
 
Why in the world would I rush through THAT?
 
Nope.
 
I sit up straight. Pen in hand as I GET TO WORK searching for the Ideas that could change our lives.
 
I’ll also say that, many years ago, I was interviewing Tony Schwartz about his great book The Power of Full Engagement. He told me that, at the time, he found his brain so full with digital inputs that he had a hard time sitting down and reading more than a page of a book. And, it was at that moment that he knew he needed to significantly reduce his consumption of digital inputs.
 
Which is a REALLY important point.
 
If you want to be able to FOCUS your mind on a book (or ANYTHING that is important) for longer than 20 seconds, you need to, in my opinion, start by Conquering Your Digital Addiction and practicing your Digital Minimalism.
 
A good night of sleep and meditation practice helps as well. nerd face 
 
And…
 
That’s a little more on how I read a book and that’s Today’s +1.
 
Let’s bring Twyla Tharp back so she can send us on our way.
 
She tells us: “If I stopped reading, I’d stop thinking. It’s that simple.”
 
Yep. 
 
Books. They do a Hero good.
 
Here’s to soaking our minds in the wisdom of great thinkers.
 
And…
 
Here’s to taking that wisdom and going from Theory to Practice to Mastery Together… 
 
TODAY.
 
+open book +open book +open book 
Nov 9, 2022

Do a Gritty, Flourishing Hero Good!

 
In our last +1, we talked about how I read a book.
 
More specifically, we focused on how I choose the books I read—which, I believe, is ALWAYS the most important first step in how to read a book.
 
In short, I said that I follow Joseph Campbell’s wisdom to read the right books by the right people.
 
Campbell tells us: When you find an author who really grabs you, read everything he has done. Don’t say, ‘Oh, I want to know what So-and-so did’—and don’t bother at all with the best-seller list. Just read what this one author has to give you. And then you can go read what he had read. And the world opens up in a way that is consistent with a certain point of view. But when you go from one author to another, you may be able to tell us the date when each wrote such and such a poem—but he hasn’t said anything to you.”
 
Scientists would agree with this approach of trusting yourself and doing what really grabs you—with books and with other things in life. 
 
In fact, Tal Ben-Shahar connects the academic research on what’s called “self-concordant goals” to Joseph Campbell to make the point.
 
Here’s how Tal puts it in his great book Happier: As research on self-concordant goals illustrates, Campbell’s belief is much more than a superstition. When we follow our bliss, we not only enjoy the journey, we are also more successful.”
 
In the book, Tal walks us through the importance of goals in general and the importance of what psychologists call “self-concordant” goals in particular.
 
“Self-concordant goals” are “the goals we pursue out of deep personal conviction and/or a strong interest.”
 
As it turns out, Angela Duckworth echoes this wisdom in HER great book, Grit.
 
We talk about the four practices to build grit in this +1 on The Science of Grit.
 
Here they are: Interest + Practice + Purpose + Hope.
 
The first, MOST IMPORTANT aspect of Grit?
 
Interest.
 
If we want to cultivate the sustainable passion required to cultivate grit (whether that’s for important, long-term goals or simply getting through a book!), we need to be intrinsically drawn to what we do. It needs to be, as we just discussed, SELF-CONCORDANT.
 
All of which leads us to Today’s +1.
 
How are your goals?
 
Are they clear? Are they self-concordant? 
 
Do they fire you up?
 
Let’s not read books or do other such things because we think we “should.” 
 
As Tony Robbins would say: Let’s not should on ourselves.” And, As Rory Vaden puts it, let’s not be should-heads.” nerd face 
 
Let’s do the things that grab us.
 
With gritty joy.
 
TODAY.
Nov 8, 2022

And… How I Pick the Books I Read

 
I’m often asked how I read a book AND how I pick the books I read.
 
In fact, I was asked this question in one of our recent Heroic Coach Soul Force Forge sessions in which I have 1-on-1 coaching sessions with our Coaches in a group environment. (These sessions are among the highlights of my month!) 
 
Today I’d like to chat about that for a moment or three.
 
So…
 
In a recent Zoom, I had an opportunity to connect with Franco—an incredibly inspiring 19-year-old Argentinian Heroic optimizer who is going through our Coach certification program. 
 
Franco told me that he was getting an ARETÉ tattoo for his 20th birthday (exploding head!!) and then asked me how I read a book. 
 
I kinda went off. 
 
Here’s the video clip of our time together. 
 
And, here’s the short story…
 
The most important part of how to read a book, from my perspective, is to make sure you’re reading THE RIGHT BOOK.
 
If you’re reading a book because you think you “have to” or because everyone else is reading it but… You’re not THAT into it, then… Well… Good luck with that. It’s going to be a bit of a slog and you may find your self x pages into another book but never finishing it.
 
Of course, sometimes we need to read a book for school or for our jobs or whatever—in which case, we’d be wise to remove all ambivalence and GO ALL IN and act like that book you need to read is the most exciting book you could ever possibly read. (Seriously.)
 
Assuming we’re talking about a situation in which our reading list is not assigned to us, the first thing I do is follow Joseph Campbell’s wisdom.
 
In The Power of Myth, he tells us: Sit in a room and read—and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time. This realization of life can be a constant realization in your living. When you find an author who really grabs you, read everything he has done. Don’t say, ‘Oh, I want to know what So-and-so did’—and don’t bother at all with the best-seller list. Just read what this one author has to give you. And then you can go read what he had read. And the world opens up in a way that is consistent with a certain point of view. But when you go from one author to another, you may be able to tell us the date when each wrote such and such a poem—but he hasn’t said anything to you.”
 
Yep. 
 
That’s the way to do it.
 
And, that’s what I’ve done for the better part of the last 15-20 years now.
 
In my 20s and early 30s, I started with Dan Millman. And Paulo Coelho. And Wayne Dyer. I’ve read nearly everything those guys have written. (Check out the Notes by clicking on the link for each author.)
 
More recently, I’ve read almost everything written by Steven Pressfield, Ryan Holiday, and Cal Newport.
 
Then there’s my old coach Steve Chandler and my beloved Yoda Phil Stutz.
 
Then there’s Joseph Campbell himself. And one of my all-time favorite teachers, Eknath Easwaran—who I consider to be, in many ways, the Indian version of Campbell. In fact, I’ve created the MOST Notes on Easwaran and his great books. Nine of them so far. His translations of the Gita and Dhammapada in particular are exploding head!
 
Most recently, I followed this thread with Michael Singer.
 
Not too long ago, I read his latest book called Living Untethered. It’s INCREDIBLY good. 
 
We previously featured The Untethered Soul, which I really liked, but after reading his latest book, Singer is now one of my new favorite teachers. 
 
So…
 
After finishing that book, I immediately got three other books he’s written—including a couple he wrote nearly 50 years ago. 
 
In one of THOSE books he thanked Yogananda for being the deepest influence of his life. 
 
So what did I do?
 
I immediately got HIS classic An Autobiography of a Yogi
 
Then I learned that Steve Jobs gave An Autobiography of a Yogi to everyone who attended his memorial service as THE final gift on their way out. (Goosebumps)
 
Then I went back to Amazon and bought a half dozen more of Yogananda’s books (/booklets) all of which are exploding head!!
 
Notes on all those coming soon. 
 
All that to say…
 
That’s one powerful way I pick the books I’m going to read—which is, again, in my mind, one of the most important things to consider in terms of how to read a book.
 
In our next +1, I’ll tell you more about how I actually read the book once I’ve decided to read it.
 
For now…
 
Happy reading.
 
Here’s to that nice, mild, slow-burning rapture we get connecting with wisdom from a brilliant soul.
 
Day 1. All in. 
 
Let’s go!
 
raising hands 
Nov 7, 2022

The Place to Live to Dominate the Day

 
In our last +1, Dale Carnegie joined us to complement some Brian Cain wisdom about the importance of focusing on THIS moment (RIGHT NOW!) to crowd out any potential stress about the past or the future that might be eliciting some feelings of depression or anxiety.
 
As you may recall, and, don’t worry! I promise that I will continue to unapologetically repeat all the important themes we discuss to make sure we’re practicing one of the key tenets of Learning 101 known as spaced repetition” … nerd face 
 
Here’s how Cainer put it: “Remember, depression is obsession with the past, anxiety is obsession about the future, and optimal performance is obsession about the present.”
 
And…
 
Here’s how Carnegie put it: “George Bernard Shaw was right. He summed it all up when he said: ‘The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not.’ So don’t bother to think about it! Spit on your hands and get busy. Your blood will start circulating; your mind will start ticking—and pretty soon this whole positive upsurge of life in your body will drive worry from your mind. Get busy. Keep busy. It’s the cheapest kind of medicine there is on this earth—and one of the best.”
 
Now…
 
I ended that +1 with one of my go-to lines, encouraging you to consider putting this wisdom into practice “All day, every day. Especially… TODAY!”
 
Which makes me think of ANOTHER Big Idea from Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
 
He tells: “So let’s be content to live the only time we can possibly live: from now until bedtime. ‘Anyone can carry his burden, however hard, from now until nightfall,’ wrote Robert Louis Stevenson. ‘Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, till the sun goes down. And this is all that life really means.’"
 
And…
 
Carnegie encourages us to consider living in what he calls “Day-tight compartments.” 
 
He tells us: “Shut the iron doors on the past and the future. Live in Day-tight compartments.” 
 
Then…
 
He tells us to ask ourselves THESE questions:
 
  1. “Do I tend to put off living in the present in order to worry about the future, or to yearn for some ‘magical rose garden over the horizon’?
  2. Do I sometimes embitter the present by regretting things that happened in the past—that are over and done with?
  3. Do I get up in the morning determined to ‘Seize the day’—to get the utmost out of these twenty-four hours?
  4. Can I get more out of life by ‘living in day-tight compartments’?
  5. When shall I start to do this? Next week? ... Tomorrow? ... Today?”
 
Those are some GREAT questions.
 
And…
 
Reflecting on those is the focus of Today’s +1.
 
Let’s spend a moment doing so now…
 
  1. “Do you tend to put off living in the present in order to worry about the future, or to yearn for some ‘magical rose garden over the horizon’?
  2. Do you sometimes embitter the present by regretting things that happened in the past—that are over and done with?
  3. Do you get up in the morning determined to ‘Seize the day’—to get the utmost out of these twenty-four hours?
  4. Can you get more out of life by ‘living in day-tight compartments’?
  5. When shall you start to do this? Next week? ... Tomorrow? ... Today?”
 
Your answers?
 
btw…
 
Hint: The answer to #5 is…
 
You should start to do this… TODAY! nerd face 
 
Yep. Today’s the day to move from Theory to Practice to Mastery, Hero.
 
But only always.
 
Day 1. All in. 
 
Here’s to living in day-tight compartments.
 
LET’S GO!
Nov 6, 2022

And Its Antidote (Found in Spit!)

 
In our last +1, we spent a little more time with Brian Cain and his wisdom on the fact that depression is obsession with the past, anxiety is obsession about the future, and optimal performance is obsession about the present.” 
 
All of which begged the question: What are YOU obsessed about these days? 
 
And…
 
All of that led to my admonition to activate our Soul Force by getting our Energy to Heroic levels and Focusing it on What’s Important NOW all day every day. 
 
Today I want to revisit the topic and bring another peak performance guru to the party to share HIS wisdom on the subject.
 
We’ll go old school and invite Dale Carnegie to join us.
 
As you almost certainly know, Carnegie wrote one of the all-time best-selling personal development books How to Win Friends and Influence People. He wrote that book in 1936. It’s sold over 30 million copies. (Check out the Notes for more.)
 
What you may not know is that he wrote another great book called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. That book was written in 1948. 6 million copies of that book have been sold as well. (Check out the Notes for more.)
 
In How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Carnegie echoes Cainer’s wisdom about focusing on the PRESENT to deal with any potential depression and anxiety.
 
He tells us: “George Bernard Shaw was right. He summed it all up when he said: ‘The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not.’ So don’t bother to think about it! Spit on your hands and get busy. Your blood will start circulating; your mind will start ticking—and pretty soon this whole positive upsurge of life in your body will drive worry from your mind. Get busy. Keep busy. It’s the cheapest kind of medicine there is on this earth—and one of the best.”
 
There ya go.
 
Feeling stressed?
 
Perfect.
 
That’s part of a good, noble life. 
 
The moment you quit thinking you should be exonerated from the pain of uncertainty and the pain of hard work will be one of the most powerful, antifragile confidence-building moments of your life!
 
Now…
 
Spit on your hands and get busy doing your best at whatever is in front of you.
 
RIGHT. NOW.
 
Gremlins come back to the party a minute or three later?
 
Perfect. 
 
Repeat.
 
Get back to work.
 
Focusing your Energy on What’s Important Now.
 
Not once in a while and not only when you feel like it.
 
All day, every day.
 
Especially when?
 
TODAY.
Nov 5, 2022

Past? Future? Present? = Depression, Anxiety, Optimal Performance 

 
Not too long ago, we spent some time with my friend Brian Cain—who happens to be, in my opinion, at least tied for first as THE world’s best mental toughness coach.
 
One particular line from his 10 Pillars of Mental Performance Mastery has been popping up in my brain and I want to make sure we take a moment to chat about it.
 
Here it is.
 
Brian tells us (via Coach Kenny in his fable): “Remember, depression is obsession with the past, anxiety is obsession about the future, and optimal performance is obsession about the present.”
 
Let’s think about that for a moment…
 
Depression is obsession about the PAST. 
 
Anxiety is obsession about the FUTURE.
 
Optimal performance? That requires an obsession with the PRESENT.
 
Of course, that’s a deliberately hyperbolic oversimplification of depression and anxiety. 
 
And…
 
It’s a powerful perspective. 
 
All of which begs the question: What are YOU obsessed about these days? 
 
I repeat: “Remember, depression is obsession with the past, anxiety is obsession about the future, and optimal performance is obsession about the present.”
 
Here’s to activating our Soul Force by getting our Energy to Heroic levels and Focusing it on What’s Important NOW all day every day. 
 
Especially, as always, TODAY.
 
Anxiety and depression BEGONE.
 
Optimal performance LET’S GO!!
Nov 4, 2022

We Love You… Let’s GO!

 
In our last +1, we talked about the fact that I’m hitting 101 Heroic Targets a day so I can keep my daimon in play.
 
You try it yet? nerd face 
 
Of course, as I’ve said many times, you don’t need to be quite as crazy and ALL IN as I am to get the benefits of using the Heroic app. 
 
Early research shows that hitting as few as THREE Heroic Targets a day can boost your Energy 40%, your Productivity 20% and your Connection 15%—all in a few minutes on the app per day.
 
Why does the Heroic app work so powerfully?
 
Because there’s E X T R A O R D I N A R Y power in living our lives with a clear intention and shining the spotlight of our attention on the things that matter most. Then, of course, DOING the things that are in integrity with that vision of our best selves. 
 
Not once in a while but EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.
 
Now…
 
One of the Heroic Energy Targets I commit to every morning these days is: 
 
“Cold Plunge (2:43 after 30)”
 
That’s short-hand for: Get in the cold plunge for 2 minutes and 43 seconds after your 30 minute AM workout. ice cube cold face 
 
Why 2:43? 
 
Because we love you.
 
I actually do that twice a day—once after my AM workout and the second time an hour or two before I go to bed.
 
Why 2:43 x 2? 
 
Because 2 x 2 min and 43 seconds is about 5.51 minutes and, well, everything I do is tied back to my purpose of helping create a world in which 51% of humanity is flourishing by the year 2051. 
 
Now…
 
On to the point of Today’s +1.
 
I came up with a little 2 minute and 43 second Heroic meditation that I do every time I hop in the cold plunge. 
 
It goes like this.
 
First, I take a deep breath before I get in to the cold plunge. In through the nose, down into the belly, back out through the nose—exhale slightly longer than the inhale… Optimal Breathing 101 style. You know the drill. 
 
Before we go further…
 
To be VERY clear, I never really want to hop in the cold. Getting in 51-57 degree water is never a particularly pleasant experience. But, I do it because a) I like building the habit of doing things I don’t like to do and b) I know the benefits of cold are extraordinary (see Notes on The Wim Hof Method!) so I move through my resistance and get in.
 
I do a little 5-4-3-2-1! countdown and… I’M IN. ice cube cold face 
 
Then…
 
My 2:43 Heroic Meditation begins.
 
I start by saying each virtue.
 
Wisdom. Self-Mastery. Love. Courage. Gratitude. Hope. Curiosity. Zest.
 
Then I say an affirmation for each virtue.
 
I am Wise. 
I am Disciplined. 
I am Loving. 
I am Courageous. 
I am Grateful. 
I am Hopeful. 
I am Curious. 
I am Zesty.
 
Then I say the declaration for each virtue.
 
I know the game I’m playing and how to play it well.
I have structural, reactive, and expansive discipline.
I am connected, joyful, and encouraging.
I am willing to act in the presence of fear.
I appreciate all the blessings and gifts in my life.
I have an inspiring target, agency, and pathways.
I pay attention to what’s working and what needs work.
I dominate my fundamentals so I have Heroic Energy.
 
Then I repeat each virtue.
 
Wisdom. Self-Mastery. Love. Courage. Gratitude. Hope. Curiosity. Zest.
 
Then I think of my tattoos as I remind myself of our ultimate mission: “Hero, I see a world in which 51% of humanity is flourishing by 2051. My Soul Force is at 101 and I’m helping 1 million people get THEIR Soul Force to 101 so we can change the world together.”
 
Then I say to myself: “All in. Let’s go!!!”
 
Then I get out of the cold, dry off and get back to dominating my day.
 
That’s a 2 minute, 43 second version of a Heroic meditation.
 
All in. Day 1. Let’s go!
Nov 3, 2022

It’s Hard to Have a Bad Day When I Hit These (Yours?)

 
Every day I hit 101 Targets in the Heroic App.
 
As I joke with our team and with some friends, “101 Targets a day keeps the daimon in play!”
 
I can assure you that it’s *really* hard to have a *really* bad day when you start your day recommitting to being your best self in your Energy, Work, and Love and then do 101 things you KNOW help you stay plugged in.
 
But…
 
Don’t take my word for it. 
 
Test it! nerd face 
 
Now…
 
I recommit to over 30 Heroic Energy Targets every morning. I’ve basically breadcrumbed my day with what I KNOW I do when I’m at my best so I can make that prior best my new baseline
 
My #1 Energy Target?
 
“In Bed for 9-10 Hours” 
 
backhand index pointing up I haven’t missed that ONCE since we launched the app. Sleep is a sport for me and THAT (process!) Target is the #1 reason why my (outcome Target!) average Oura Sleep Score has been 90+ every month for nearly 2 years. 
 
For curious souls, my current Heroic Energy Top 3 includes:
 
I. In Bed for 9-10 Hours
II. AM Meditation (1%)
III. Movement (30 Min)
 
Just hitting THOSE three Targets would be enough to keep me feeling pretty darn Zesty and provide bumper rails to make sure I never got too off track.
 
But, of course, I’m not trying to keep myself on track, I’m trying to see just how Heroically I can show up and just how much Soul Force I can activate as I strive to help YOU show up with a fully-activated Soul Force of 101!
 
Which is why I also recommit to a Digital Sunset, PM Meditation (1%), my 1 Sun Salutation, 10 Pull-ups, 100 Burpees, 1,000 Meters of Rowing, 10,000 Steps and a couple dozen other targets.
 
But that’s not quite the point of this +1.
 
When I started writing it I planned to share a new 2 minute and 43 second Heroic meditation with you but I’ll save that for our next +1.
 
Today’s +1 is this…
 
What are YOUR Top 3 Heroic Energy Targets?
 
What are the THREE simple things you do when YOU are plugged in and at your most-Heroically-Energized best?
 
Seriously.
 
What are they?
 
REMEMBER!!!
 
(Yes, I’m shouting.)
 
Life doesn’t need to be so hard.
 
We just need to step back from TikTok and the latest must-see Netflix show for a moment or three, get clarity on who we are and what we do when we’re at our best and then… BE THAT best version of ourselves and DO THE THINGS that best version of ourselves does!!
 
As always…
 
Not once in a while and DEFINITELY not only when we feel like it. 
 
Nope…
 
All day, EVERY day ESPECIALLY on those days when we don’t feel like it.
 
THAT, I repeat, is how we develop the antifragile confidence to KNOW that we have what it takes to show up and respond to every challenge life throws at us while we give the world all we’ve got.
 
Of course, we architected the E N T I R E Heroic app to help you move from Theory to Practice to Mastery TODAY but whether you choose to use our tools or some other set of tools, please please please please please take the time to get clear on who you are at your best then recommit to being that version of yourself and doing the things that best version of you does TODAY.
 
We need you at your Heroic best.
 
Day 1. All in.
 
Let’s GO!!!
Nov 2, 2022

In Permanent Ink Somewhere I’ll Never Miss It direct hit 

 
Today I want to chat about how I spent last Father’s Day with the kids.
 
Hint: We went to Blindside Tattoo in Austin, Texas to add some Heroic targets to my forearm in permanent ink. nerd face 
 
Before we go there…
 
As you may recall, in our last +1, we talked about Admiral McRaven’s Hero Code and the virtue of perseverance.
 
He told us about the fact that it was PERSEVERANCE that helped many of our favorite Heroes weather the inevitable storms of their Heroic quests en route to the summit of fulfilling their Missions.
 
I think this is so good that it’s worth repeating: George Washington was defeated on the battlefield more times than he won. Abraham Lincoln lost eight elections before he won the presidency. Thomas Edison failed ten thousand times before inventing the lightbulb. Henry Ford had two failed companies before he found success. J. K. Rowling was destitute before she got the first Harry Potter book published, and Oprah Winfrey had an extremely difficult childhood before finding her way. Martin Luther King once famously said, ‘If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.’”
 
Now…
 
As I read that passage and reflected on the power of perseverance, I also thought about the fantastic ancient Sanskrit word for being a hero in the beginning: arambhashura.
 
As Eknath Easwaran tells us in Conquest of Mind: “In Sanskrit we have a word which means “heroes at the beginning”: people who take up a job with a fanfare of trumpets but soon find that their enthusiasm has tiptoed down the back stair. Those who go far in meditation are the ones who keep on plugging. They may not be very spectacular; they may never hear a trumpet. But they keep on trying day in and day out, giving their best in every situation and relationship, never giving up. Such people are bound to reach their goal.”
 
And…
 
Now, it’s time for that fun trip with the kids Father’s Day trip to Blindside Tattoo with the kids. nerd face 
 
I created my Note on The Hero Code on the Monday after Father’s Day.
 
On Father’s Day, I took Emerson and Eleanor with me to go get a tattoo. (Yes, that’s like me! Hah.)
 
As you know if you’ve been following along, I have ARETÉ” tattooed on my right forearm to remind me to practice my philosophy as I strive to close the always-present gap between who I’m capable of being and who I’m actually being in any given moment.
 
I tattooed “HEROIC” on my left forearm along with the numbers “51 | 2051” to capture the ultimate mission to which I’ve dedicated my life: playing my role as humbly yet heroically well as I can to help create a world in which 51% of humanity is flourishing by 2051.
 
On Father’s Day 2022, the kids and I went on a little adventure to add “101 | 1M” next to the “51 | 2051.” 
 
The “101” represents my commitment to doing everything in my power to get my Soul Force to 101 so I can help YOU get YOUR Soul Force (as measured in the Heroic app!) to 101. 
 
The “1M” represents the first million people I’m committed to doing everything in my power to help get to a Soul Force score of 101 so we can have a shot at that 51 | 2051.
 
As we’ve discussed, science says we increase our odds of achieving our goals by about 42% if we write them down. 
 
So…
 
I figured I’d write my most important goals somewhere I’d never miss them and let them serve as a constant reminder to PERSEVERE (just one step at a time!) through all the inevitable obstacles in a good heroic quest.
 
Every morning I start my meditation by looking at down at my arm and saying to myself, “Hero, I see a world in which 51% of humanity is flourishing by 2051. Let’s get our Soul Force to 101 and help 1M people do the same and we have a shot at fulfilling our mission.
 
101 x 1M → 51 | 2051
 
All in. Day 1. 
 
Here’s to PERSEVERING through the inevitable storms on our Heroic quests as we take JUST ONE MORE STEP…
 
Today.
 
+person walking +woman walking +man walking 
 
snow-capped mountain snow-capped mountain snow-capped mountain 
Nov 1, 2022

Did You Know That George Washington…

 
In our last couple +1s, we chatted about Admiral McRaven’s and Ryan Holiday’s take on Courage.
 
Remember: Courage is calling. All we need to do is take JUST ONE STEP.
 
Today I want to explore some more wisdom from McRaven’s great new book, The Hero Code.
 
As you may recall, The Hero Code has ten virtues: Courage. Humility. Sacrifice. Integrity. Compassion. Perseverance. Duty. Hope. Humor. Forgiveness.
 
Let’s shine a spotlight on the sixth virtue, Perseverance.
 
We’ll invite Admiral McRaven back to the party to share his wisdom on the subject.
 
He tells us: “I believe history will show that success is not just a function of brains or brawn, of talent or intellect, of skill or resourcefulness, but of perseverance. Genius without resolve is just another passing person with a bright idea. Athletic prowess without determination is just another talent wasted. The world is filled with men and women who amounted to nothing because they gave up on their dreams: because they didn’t have the guts, the determination, the willpower to keep going—no matter what. But history is equally replete with heroes who fought through the challenges, persevered, and made a difference.
 
George Washington was defeated on the battlefield more times than he won. Abraham Lincoln lost eight elections before he won the presidency. Thomas Edison failed ten thousand times before inventing the lightbulb. Henry Ford had two failed companies before he found success. J. K. Rowling was destitute before she got the first Harry Potter book published, and Oprah Winfrey had an extremely difficult childhood before finding her way. Martin Luther King once famously said, ‘If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.’”
 
Perseverance.
 
It does a noble Hero good. 
 
That first paragraph reminds me of this classic Calvin Coolidge wisdom: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
 
And, although I knew about Lincoln’s failures and J. K. Rowling’s challenges before Harry Potter success (check out our Notes on Leadership in Turbulent Times for more on Lincoln and our collection of Notes on all the Harry Potter books here), I never knew that about George Washington.
 
Isn’t it fascinating to imagine him losing more battles than he won?!
 
Thank you, George, for persevering.
 
(Seriously. Thank you, sir. I don’t take the freedom my country affords me for granted as I know that you fought for SEVEN YEARS to fulfill the Declaration of Independence. folded hands )
 
And…
 
THAT’s Today’s +1.
 
Perseverance.
 
It does a noble Hero good. 
 
Let’s take just ONE more step.
 
Today.
 
+1. +1. +1.
Oct 31, 2022

Answer the Call, Hero!

 
In our last +1, we talked about virtue #1 in Admiral McRaven’s Hero Code.
 
COURAGE.
 
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. 
 
Why? 
 
Because…
 
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.
 
And…
 
Today I’d like to talk more about Ryan Holiday’s take on the subject of courage.
 
So…
 
Let’s.
 
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.
 
TOGETHER.
 
Today.
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.
 
And…
 
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.”
 
Now…
 
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.
 
TOGETHER. (!!!)
 
Today.
 
+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.
 
So…
 
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? 
 
PERFECT. 
 
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? 
 
GREEN LIGHTS!
 
LET’S GO!
 
+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. 
 
And... 
 
I just LOVE the way he helps us do that.
 
So…
 
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.
 
TODAY.
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.”
 
And…
 
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.
 
Today.
 
+1. +1. +1.
 
LET’S GO!
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.”
 
PRACTICE. PRACTICE! PRACTICE!!
 
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?
 
Seriously. 
 
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?
 
Awesome.
 
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. 
 
And RELAX. 
 
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!
 
Now…
 
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 
 
So…
 
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. 
 
First…
 
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.”
 
Now…
 
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.
 
And…
 
It’s why I practiced it yesterday.
 
Which leads us to the two Johnson kids.
 
So…
 
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
 
Now…
 
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. 
 
So…
 
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)
 
And…
 
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.  
 
And…
 
The music stopped. 
 
And…
 
That’s when I knew I needed to create this +1. 
 
Want to hear the music of life?
 
Awesome.
 
Stay plugged in. 
 
Period. 
 
Want to more and more consistently show up as your best self?
 
Awesome. 
 
Stay plugged in. 
 
Period.
 
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. 
 
Especially…
 
TODAY. 
 
+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.
 
So…
 
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 
 
Average
 
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.
 
So…
 
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.”
 
Average.
 
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.
 
Today.
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.
 
And…
 
As you do, let’s think about some James Clear wisdom on the subject to bring the point home—because the math is CRAZY.
 
Actually…
 
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%. 
 
So…
 
LET’S GO, HERO!!!
 
Now…
 
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%. 
 
TODAY.
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.’”
 
Now…
 
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. 
 
Fast.
 
Here’s to using 1% of our days to get 1% better.
 
TODAY.
 
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!!!
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