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)
Wallace D. Wattles was an old-school Philosopher-Optimizer who wrote The Science of Getting Rich. He also wrote a little book calledThe Science of Being Great. (Both of those titles are, of course, finalists for best titles ever.)
InThe Science of Being Great he has a great line that has been tattooed on my brain since I read it.
He said:“Theworld needs demonstration more than it needs instruction.”
The world needs DEMONSTRATION more than it needs INSTRUCTION.
Isn’t that a powerful statement?!
(Kinda makes you wonder what you’re demonstrating, eh?)
For example, we know that kids don’t do what they’retold ortaught, they do what they SEE. So, it’s pretty obvious we better model the behaviors we want to see in our kids if we want them to grow up to be great humans.
All of which leads us to a little personal story—one from a couple months ago that features me in a (laughably) low moment in my parenting career.
Short story: My dad cursed like a sailor. In fact, he literally WAS a sailor. (Hah.) He enlisted in the Navy when he turned 18 and his language was justastonishingly bad. (So bad he’d literally make my devout Catholic mom cry at times. I can laugh now but it wasn’t funny then.)
Anyway… I rarely curse and I’ve been committed tonever cursing in front of the kids. So, I was particularly appalled at myself (laughing) when, on an evening when I was particularly tired and Emerson was acting particularly like a (tired) 5 year old, I got so annoyed by the meditation cushion (oh, the irony!) he dropped on my face when I wasn’t looking as I was laying on the ground playing with Eleanor that I got up, walked out of the room and mumbled in a voice considerably louder than I intended: “You’re such a little sh*t!”
What happened next?
Well, he was at the door and IMMEDIATELY said, “No! YOU’RE such a little s*it!”
Again, I can laugh as I type this as a) It’s been awhile and b) He had no idea what the word was and hasn’t repeated it since and c) I got some serious mileage on the "Needs Work!” front but…
It was a really powerful opportunity for me to remember that the world needs DEMONSTRATION more than it needs INSTRUCTION.
All of which leads us to Today’s +1.
What are you demonstrating?
Any behaviors that make you wince that you’d like to clean up and throw out?
Walking is awesome. In fact, it’s so old-school epically awesome in helping thinkers think that our ancient friends even had a Latin phrase to capture its power:Solvitur ambulando. <- "It is solved by walking.”
Nietzsche would agree. He said:“Alltruly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”
Kierkegaard would agree. He put it this way:“Ihave walked myself into my best thoughts.”
Then we have Immanuel Kant. He was so consistent with his daily walks that his neighbors could set their clocks to the time he passed their houses. (They even named a street after him called “Philosopher’s Walk.”)
Then we have Charles Darwin. For nearly FORTY years he followed his schedule with “clockwork” precision. And, you know what made it on the schedule every day? His walk. He was so committed to it that he actually leased his neighbor’s land just so he could do a complete loop on what became known as Sandwalk (although he preferred to call it his “thinking path”).
Then there’s Aristotle. He and his followers walked so much as they thought and taught and philosophized that they were known as the “peripatetics”—which literally means “walking up and down.”
Of course, modern scientists have proven just how powerful walking is for creativity. (Especially in nature!)
So, yah. Ancient and modern philosophers agree: Walking is pretty powerful.
But, pop quiz!
You know what NONE of those philosophers had on their deep-thinking walks?
Of course, none of them lived in a world with such a nonstop tsunami of digital distractions but I can assure you that no self-respecting, deep-thinking lover of wisdom would bring a device that would subject them to OTHER people’s thoughts on a walk intended to tap into THEIR own thoughts.
… How about you?
Go for a walk. (Ideally somewhere easy to get to yet beautiful.)
And leave your smartphone at home. (Or in the car/whatever.)
In our last +1, we talked about the fact that batting .300 over the course of your Major League Baseball career gets you in the Hall of Fame.
Today we’re going to continue the baseball metaphor.
Pop quiz for baseball fans: You know how many perfect games have EVER been thrown?!
(For those who may not know, a perfect game is defined by Major League Baseball (via Wikipedia) as “a game in which a pitcher (or combination of pitchers) pitches for a victory [in a game] that lasts a minimum of nine innings in which no opposing player reaches base.”)
So… Get this: According to Wikipedia, Major League Baseball has been around for 140 years. Over 210,000 (!) games have been played. And only23 (!) perfect games have ever been pitched. And… No player has ever thrown more thanone perfect game.
140 years. 210,000 (!) games. Only 23 perfect games.
And NO pitcher hasever done it twice.
Yet you and I want to have perfect lives. (Hahahahahhaha!)
I’m also reminded of John Wooden. He was all about GOING for perfection but only doing so KNOWING we’ll neveractually get it!
Here’s how he puts it:“Perfectionis what you are striving for, but perfection is an impossibility. However, strivingfor perfection is not an impossibility. Do the best you can under the conditions that exist. That is what counts.”
(Sounds a lot like our Guiding Stars and Distant Shores, eh?)
You know what else Wooden said? This:“Whenyou improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek thesmall improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens—and when it happens, it lasts.”
(Sounds a lot like our Optimize +1s, eh?)
And, one more Wooden gem (all of these are from his book calledWooden, btw):“DidI win? Did I lose? Those are the wrong questions. The correct question is: Did I make my best effort? That’s what matters. The rest of it just gets in the way.”
Let’s make our best effort.
Let’s“seekthe small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens—and when it happens, it lasts.”
In our last +1, we talked about the science of daydreaming. Quick recap: Stay out of the “poor attention control” and “guilty-dysphoric” realms and in the “positive-constructive” mode.
Here’s another way to think about it. (Thanks again to Manoush Zomorodi!)
When your mind is wandering and you’re kinda randomly thinking about your life, do you imagine yourself as the CONQUERING HERO of your own story (positive-constructive!) or the SUFFERING MARTYR (guilty-dysphoric) of the story?
It’s a big distinction.
We want to get REALLY (!) good at noticing when we’re falling into the “woe is me” helpless Victim orientation and SHIFT it into the “Let’s do this!!” Creator orientation.
Well, again, what do you think we’re doing with all these +1s?
I’m basically trying to give you a super-stocked toolshed/armory of tools and weapons and tips and tricks and hacks you can use THE MOMENT you find yourself losing your connection from the best version of yourself.
It all starts with mastering our fundamentals: eat! move! sleep!(Ever notice how the martyr shows up a LOT more when you’re TIRED? Me, too. That’s why Vince Lombardi says that“Fatiguemakes cowards of us all.”)
Let’s actually keep things simple and focus there today.
Do you know your #1 Self-Care Habit?
Is it eating well? Exercising? Sleeping? Meditating? Doing deep work? Helping others? …? …?
What’s the thing that, if you DON’T do it, pretty much guarantees a sub-optimal day? (For me it is, unquestionably, getting a good night of sleep.)
This is my #1 Self-Care Habit: ______________.
This is the #1 thing I can do to Optimize it Today: ________________.
That is all.
Here’s to doing the things that help the Conquering Hero show up more and more consistently.
And, here’s to stepping back and looking at the fundamentals whenever we get a little Whiney-Martyr wobbly!
In our last couple +1s, we’ve talked about your breathing. If you haven’t checked out the full Optimal Breathing 101 master class yet, you might dig it.
For now, how about a quick look at the THREE simple rules of optimal breathing?
Here they are:
Breathe through yournose
Andexhale slightly longer than you inhaled
1 + 2 + 3 = Magic.
How about a quick inventory then a closer look?
First, the quick inventory:
You breathing through yournose? (Most people don’t. Go look around and/or in the mirror. Do you see a mouth gaping open?)
Do you breathe deeply (yet calmly) into yourbelly? (Most people don’t—especially if you breathe through your mouth!)
And, is yourexhale slightly longer than your inhale? (This is the fastest way to relax!)
Now, for the closer look:
Rule#1. Breathe Through Your Nose(EXCLUSIVELY!)
When? All day. Every day. (Including while sleeping and training.)
Why? Well, check out the class for a full description (and/or the Notes onThe Oxygen Advantage, etc.) but here’s the basic idea.
First: Your nose filters, humidifies and conditions air in ways your mouth simply can’t.
Second: Know that we NEVER used to breathe through our mouths except forthe most extreme instances of physical exertion. (Think: Lion chasing you.)
Third: When you breathe through your mouth, you tend to “overbreathe” via short, shallow, fast breaths that disrupt the oxygen to carbon dioxide levels in your body. Although it might sound weird, it’s the CARBON DIOXIDE that actually gets the oxygen out of your red blood cells and into your tissues and organs and you need to slow down your breathing (via your nose!) to get the CO2 right and, as a result, the O2 where you want it.
Rule #2. Breathe into Your Belly
Fill up the lower part of your lungs. Flex your most underappreciated and underutilized muscle in your body. Get your diaphragm rocking!!
Note: Don’t take “big” breaths via your mouth into your chest. Take nice, mellow, quiet, DEEP breaths into your belly. Repeat. All day. Every day.
Rule #3. Exhale Slightly Longer than You Inhale.
This is the fastest way to flip the flip the vagal switch and turn on your parasympathetic nervous system and R E L A X.
Whenever you think about it: Exhale longer than you inhale. (Finish strong as we like to say at the Johnson house!)
Squeeze your diaphragm. Get all that air out. Why? Well, did you know that breathing is responsible for 70% (!!!) of your body’s detoxification? Elimination and sweat only take care of 30%. (Kinda surprising, eh?)
But, guess what? If you’re not breathing right, you’re not detoxifying fully. And, of course, you’re not fueling your cells properly.
Enter: Compromised vitality and increased potential of getting all the things you don’t want.
Therefore: Nose. Belly. Exhale.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
How about a nice, deep, calm breath. In through your nose… Down into your belly… Out through your nose with a nice, long exhale.