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OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time

OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson features the best Big Ideas from the best optimal living books. More wisdom in less time to help you live your greatest life. (Learn more at optimize.me.)
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OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time
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Now displaying: February, 2020
Feb 29, 2020
In our last +1, we left Zeno the leopard gecko in his terrarium and hung out with Zeno the founder of Stoicism.
 
As we discussed, Zeno was a wealthy merchant who arrived in Athens via shipwreck, discovered philosophy and then told his students that “he had come to value wisdom more than wealth or reputation.” 
 
He valued wisdom so much that he used to say: “My most profitable journey began on the day I was shipwrecked and lost my entire fortune.” 
 
Today I want to talk about another Stoic practice we can use to get a firm grip on reality so we can alchemize our apparent misfortune into our greatest fortune.
 
Stepping back for a moment, let’s remind ourselves of the fact that the Stoics took the whole idea of living with wisdom VERY seriously.
 
They were ALL IN on playing the eudaimonia game and believed that living with virtue was THE means by which to win that game. 
 
Therefore…
 
When a “disaster” struck, they stepped back (right there in between stimulus and response) and asked themselves, “What virtue can I put to work on this challenge?”
 
Perhaps a little Wisdom to remind myself that setbacks are an inherent part of life?
 
Perhaps a little Self-Mastery to actually practice my philosophy in the moment it matters?
 
Perhaps a little Courage to step forward into growth and do needs to get done whether I feel like it or not?
 
Or, perhaps I can practice the ultimate virtue of Love and bring kindness and presence and magnanimity to the moment?
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
Facing any challenges?
 
What =Virtue(s) can YOU apply to those challenges?
 
Let’s move from Theory to Practice en route to Mastery. 
 
TODAY!!!
 
+1. +1. +1. 
Feb 27, 2020

The Alter Ego Effect. This is one of the most fun and compelling and inspiring books I’ve read in a while. I REALLY (!!!) enjoyed reading it, had a ton of fun constructing and playing with some potential Alter Egos and highly recommend it. I also really enjoyed how high-performance coach and mental game strategist Todd Herman describes the science behind the power of “secret identities” to transform our lives and I loved the parallels between his perspective and our Big 3 Identities Virtues Behaviors model. Big Ideas we explore include Superman + Clark Kent (who's who?), activating your Heroic Self (the science of), motivation and emotion (share a common Latin root), virtues as superpowers (more on the science of), and Crossing the Threshold (Today the day?).

Feb 19, 2020
In our last couple +1s, we’ve been hanging out with Emerson, playing the “I Love You!” game and taking a quick look at the story of our world.
 
Today we’re going to spend a little more time with Emerson and history.
 
First: Quick aside.
 
At the Optimize Coach graduation weekend, it was amazing how many of our Coaches came up to Alexandra and me and told us how much THEIR KIDS loved seeing Emerson in the +1s. (I actually got misty typing that.)
 
They told us that the +1s with him were a great way to share the wisdom with their kids and that their kids looked forward to more +1s with the little philosopher.
 
So… Here we are.
 
Now…
 
Back to The Story of the World: Volume 2: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance.
 
After the fall of Rome, Western Europe entered what is known as the “middle ages” or the “dark ages.” Then there was a “rebirth” or renewed interest in ancient ideals that fueled the Renaissance.
 
As you know, a key player in the Renaissance was a guy named Galileo.
 
(In addition to his creation of a super-powerful telescope that let him view the moons of Jupiter that strengthened his belief in Copernicus’s theory that Earth revolved around the sun, did you know that Galileo also invented the thermometer? Might want to give ol’ G a virtual fistbump of gratitude every time you check the temperature Today!)
 
Which leads us to page 339 of The Story of the World Volume II and to the point of Today’s +1.
 
Here’s the passage: “Galileo was one of the first modern scientists, because he used the experimental method to find out how the world worked. Rather than trying to decide whether or not his ideas lined up with philosophy, Galileo made theories about the world and then tested them through doing experiments. ‘Measure what is measurable,’ he once said, ‘and if something cannot be measured, figure out how it can be.’”
 
Now… 
 
I LOVE (!) the idea of running Optimizing experiments (but only all day every day) (N = 1!), but it’s that last part that got me to fold the page over.
 
Measure what is measurable.” … “And if something cannot be measured, figure out how it can be.’”
 
When I read that, I immediately thought of virtue. 
 
If we believe all the ancient wisdom traditions (and modern science!), virtue is THE #1 thing that’s driving our sense of flourishing and well-being.
 
But…
 
Are we measuring it?
 
And…
 
How do we measure it? 
 
Hmmm…
 
Of course, there are an infinite number of ways to attempt to measure virtue, but I think the most important thing to do is to simply step back long enough from the hustle and bustle of daily living and all the “time management” we do and think about virtue management” long enough to appreciate just how important it is.
 
Which is why we encourage you (and require our Coaches!) to reflect on your virtues EVERY SINGLE MORNING—identifying who you are at your best, articulating the virtues THAT version of you embodies, and then committing to BEING that Optimus-best version of yourself TODAY.
 
Then, for the super-serious-Optimizing scientists among us, we check in at the end of the day (channeling our inner Pythagoras) to see how we did so we can get a little better tomorrow.
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
Virtue.
 
Let’s measure it.
 
TODAY.
Feb 14, 2020
In our last +1, we had fun with the ultimate riddles of life—from skunks and giraffes to watches and pearls. 
 
And… The answer to pretty much all of life’s riddles?
 
Love.
 
After Emerson gave me that answer to the hero-virtue riddle, we went to visit the ladies in the bath to tell mommy about his answer. 
 
Which, of course, led to a whole ‘nother round of riddles. 
 
Today we’re going to talk about the riddle I got from Ellen Langer—the “mother of mindfulness” research and the creator of the “psychology of possibility.”
 
In our interview, she asked me this little riddle…
 
Ellen: “What’s 1 + 1?”
 
… Before we carry on, whaddya think? What’s 1 + 1? …
 
Got it? Awesome. 
 
Now, back to the show…
 
Ellen: “What’s 1 + 1?”
Me: “Uhhh…” 
 
(The quick look inside my head in that moment: “I know the answer can’t be 2 but…” “Hmmmm…” Insert thought from Part X: “Well! At least we’re filming this so I’ll look ridiculous!” Quick reply by Optimus: “That wasn’t helpful Part X. Just have fun and answer the question, B.” ← Yes, all of that happened in the span of a couple seconds. lol) 
 
Me: “Uhh… 2?”
Ellen: "Nope. The right answer is ‘It depends.’”
 
Then Ellen (in full Professor Langer mode) proceeded to school me on the importance of mindfully approaching life and its challenges.
 
If you’re adding two of the Arabic numeral “1”s together, she explained, the answer is 2.
 
But…
 
If you’re putting two pieces of gum together, the answer is 1. 
 
And, as we discussed in the Joov-light powered bathroom the other night, if you’re putting two “1”s right next to each other, the answer is “11.” Put a sperm and an egg together and you get one baby (or maybe two!).
 
You get the idea…
 
And…
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
If you feel so inspired, have fun riddling your friends and family as we remember to approach life a little more mindfully.
 
Today.
Feb 13, 2020

Irresistible. That’s the perfect word to describe the growing array of addictive technologies that are capturing so much of our attention these days. And, it’s the perfect name for Adam Alter's latest book. Alter is an associate professor of marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business, and a leading expert on, as the sub-title suggests, “The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.” In this conversation, we explore how to create a healthier relationship with our technology so . we can Optimize our lives and actualize our potential.

Feb 6, 2020

Ellen Langer is a professor of psychology at Harvard and one of the world's leading experts on the science of wellbeing, and what she refers to as the "psychology of possibility." Dr. Langer was first female professor to gain tenure in the Psychology Department at Harvard University, and is the the author of eleven books--including Mindfulness, The Power of Mindful Learning, and her Counterclockwise--and more than two hundred research articles. She has been described as the “mother of mindfulness” and through her work, Dr. Langer challenges us to overcome our mindless patterns, let go of false limits, focus on the process and notice all the wonders present in our lives.

Feb 4, 2020
In our last +1, we spent some time with John Maxwell and reflected on his wisdom on the pinnacle of leadership influence: Moral Authority.
 
Recall: “Moral authority is the recognition of a person’s leadership influence based on who they are more than the position they hold. It is attained by authentic living that has built trust and it is sustained by successful leadership endeavors. It is earned by a lifetime of consistency. Leaders can strive to earn moral authority by the way they live, but only others can grant them moral authority.”
 
Today I want to talk about another little gem from his most recent book called Leadershift.
 
He tells us that Babe Ruth (apparently) said: “Yesterday’s home run won’t win today’s game.”
 
Isn’t that AWESOME?!
 
“Yesterday’s home run won’t win today’s game.”
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
Yesterday’s home run?
 
Well…
 
Congrats on rocking it yesterday but… 
 
That epic performance is not going to win TODAY’s game.
 
So…
 
Start again. (And again… And again…
 
Build the chair. Light the fire.
 
TODAY.
 
+1. +1. +1.
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