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)
In our last +1, we hung out with my two favorite Joes: Scholar of the Hero’s Journey (and Grandpa in my spiritual family tree) Joseph Campbell, and gritty heroic exemplar (and soul brother), Joe De Sena.
Today I want to spend a little more time with Joe De Sena.
Let’s open up his latest bookThe Spartan Way. Page 14.
He tells us: “Throughwork and endurance racing I have come to know many people. Some of them were unforgettable. These great ones all shared the same core qualities. I call them the Spartan Core Virtues. Combine these qualities into one person and you have the ideal boss, the valuable employee, the perfect business partner, or comrade in any endeavor. Here’s a short description of each of the Spartan Core Virtues.
Self-Awareness: Know who you are and who you are not. If you don’t, you’ll be confused daily.
Commitment: Stick to it because the world is filled with people who don’t. You’re better than
Passion: If you’re not passionate about what you do, you’re not going to be great at it. Take things seriously and learn to be passionate.
Discipline: Set your rules and stick to them. Be disciplined about it.
Prioritization: Deal with the important things—important being what you define as
Grit: Get gritty. Break out of your comfort zone. Do the hard, scary shit. Find your passion and persevere.
Courage: This is the ability to stay focused and work relentlessly with both intensity and passion through virtually anything, especially through failure.
Optimism: See the world as you want it to be, not as it is. Be ever hopeful.
Integrity: If you’re not honest with yourself and others, then what are you?
Wholeness: Live the life of a complete and whole Spartan.”
There ya go. The Ten Spartan Core Virtues.
Repetition is the essence of mastery, so let’s go through them again. This time, if you feel so inspired and didn’t already do a quick inventory on how you’re doing with each, please do.
Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness have written a couple great books together. First, they gave usPeak Performance. ThenThe Passion Paradox.
Today we’re going to talk about one of the central themes ofThe Passion Paradox. (Tomorrow we’ll chat about some goodness fromPeak Performance.)
Except when it isn’t.
Enter:The Passion Paradox.
As Brad and Steve put it:“Mindlesslyliving with a passion can be extremely harmful and destructive. Mindfully living with a passion can be the key to a life well lived.”
They tell us that psychologists differentiate two types of passion by calling the unhealthy kind “ObsessivePassion” and the healthy kind“HarmoniousPassion.”
Obsessive Passion is toxic. It has two primary facets: 1. Focusing too much on extrinsic results (like fame, wealth, achievement, etc.); 2. Being too worried about failure.
Harmonious Passion, on the other hand, gives us a deep sense of joy. Whereas the toxic passion is focused on the pursuit of extrinsic rewards, the healthy passion is focused on intrinsic drivers.
As Brad and Steve put it:“Enterharmonious passion:a feeling that emerges when you are wrapped up in something primarily for the joy of the activity, when your engagement is not merely a means to an end but rather an end in itself. Harmonious passion manifests mainly from activities that are freely chosen without contingencies; when you do something because you enjoy it, not because it offers potential rewards, and not to avoid negative repercussions.
Not every moment of harmonious passion is necessarily pleasing, but overall, it is deeply fulfilling. It aligns closely with the ancient Greek notion of eudaimonia, or a kind of happiness that results not from overwhelming pleasure but from striving to meet one’s full potential by engaging in activities that one considers meaningful.
In the 1970s, the late psychologist and humanist philosopher Erich Fromm wrote of something similar, which he called productive activity, where happiness isn’t related to the attainment of possession or rewards but rather to‘theprocess of ever growing aliveness . . . for living as fully as one can is so satisfactory that concern for what one might or might not attain has little chance to develop.’
The great paradox, however, is that although external achievement is never a primary goal of harmonious passion, when you become completely immersed in what you’re doing for the joy of the activity itself, it is often a by-product. Those who focus most on success are least likely to achieve it. Those who focus least on success, and focus on the process of engaging in their craft instead, are most likely to achieve it.”
That’s Today’s +1.
First: Shout out foreudaimonia. :)
Second: Pop quiz:How’s YOUR passion?
Here’s to the Harmonious variety in which we seek mastery and experience the joys of mindfully embracing our passion—while letting the outcomes take care of themselves.
In our last +1, we did our best Boss impersonation as we reinterpreted our sweaty palms and racing hearts as a sign we’re EXCITED and READY TO GO rather than as a sign that something’s wrong.
When I read that passage in Marie’s book, I immediately thought of some parallel wisdom from Jon Eliot’sOverachievement.
Recall that Eliot is the guy who told us that we want tokeep our V-12 engines and learn how to manage all that power rather than swap it out for a lawnmower engine. And, he told us that we want tobe more like squirrels than Einstein when we get ready to perform.
Here’s the passage I thought of as I read about the Boss’s Bossness.
Eliot tells us:“Thephysical symptoms of fight-or-flight are what the human body has learned over thousands of years to operate more efficiently and at the highest level. Anxiety is a cognitive interpretation of that physical response.”
That energy we feel when we’re about to perform?
Eliot tells us we need to remember two more things:
"1. Everything that your body does to you when the pressure is on is good for performance...
Pressure is different from anxiety; nervousness is different from worry.”
One more time: Everything is inherently empty of meaning. We get toCHOOSE the meaning we give to any and everything that’s happening to us. (Period!)
A few +1s ago, we had fun chatting about the starting and finish lines of my first business, eteamz.
I mentioned that it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows and we briefly discussed the fact that I’ve failed WAY MORE times than I’ve succeeded.
(btw. As a recovering fixed-mindset perfectionist, it was therapeutic for me to type that. Hah. Seriously.)
Today we’re going to remind ourselves to embrace the mis-takes and failures of life that INEVITABLY (and NECESSARILY!!) occur as we strive to do great things in pursuit of mastering ourselves in service to the world.
This gem is pretty epic and worth contemplating:“Themaster has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”
Then there’s Adam Grant’s wisdom fromOriginals where he quotes Randy Komisar—one of the best entrepreneurs/investors alive:“Whetheryou’re generating or evaluating new ideas the best you can do is measure success on the kind of yardstick that batters use in baseball. As Randy Komisar puts it,‘IfI’m hitting .300, I’m a genius. That’s because the future cannot be predicted. The sooner you learn it, the sooner you can be good at it.’”
And… There’s Michael Jordan’s wisdom viaCarol Dweck’sMindset (one more time!):“MichaelJordan embraced his failures. In fact, in one of his favorite ads for Nike, he says:“I’vemissed more than nine thousand shots. I’ve lost almost three hundred games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot, and missed.” You can be sure that each time, he went back and practiced the shot a hundred times.”
As we look forward to 2020 and commit to making it the best year of our lives (and the start of the best DECADE of our lives!!) let’s reframe our mis-takes and failures as foundation-building fuel for our heroic quests.
Capitalize all those mistakes. Use the data wisely.
We talk a lot about the futility of arguing with reality.
As Byron Katie so perfectly says,“WhenI argue with reality I lose. But only 100% of the time.” (Hah.)
Today we’re going to take another look at that wisdom from a slightly different angle.
We’ll invite a couple of modern Zen Masters to the party: Joko Beck and Phil Jackson.
We’ll start with legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson’s wisdom. In his bookSacred Hoops, he tells us:“InZen it is said that the gap between accepting things the way they are and wishing them to be otherwise is‘thetenth of an inch of difference between heaven and hell.’ If we can accept whatever we’ve been dealt—no matter how unwelcome—the way to proceed eventually becomes clear. This is what is meant by right action: the capacity to observe what’s happening and act appropriately, without being distracted by self-centered thoughts. If we rage and resist, our angry, fearful minds have trouble quieting down sufficiently to allow us to act in the most beneficial way for ourselves and others.”
Thank you, Phil.
Now for Joko Beck. InEveryday Zen, she tells us:“Ifwe require that life be a certain way, inevitably we suffer—since life is always the way it is, and not always fair, not always pleasant. Life is not particularly the way we want it to be, it is just the way it is. And that need not prevent our enjoyment of it, our appreciation, our gratitude.”
That’s Today’s +1.
When/if we find ourselves a little (or a lot annoyed) Today—whether that’s with our kids or our colleagues or ourselves—let’s see if we can step back and notice the gap between what’s happening in the moment and what we want to be happening in the moment.
That tenth of an inch?
Let’s close it.
-1.-1.-1. for the +1 win!
P.S. If you’re getting all crazy-ragey? Well, you just fell into a mile-long chasm between reality and your fantasy of what should be happening. Good news? Just snap your fingers, love what it is and that gap magically vanishes.