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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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Now displaying: April, 2020
Apr 29, 2020
In our last +1, we upgraded our conception of Soul Mates to Soul Mate 2.0.
 
(At least I did!)
 
Before we jump into the wisdom for Today’s +1, how about some fun Johnson family history?!
 
Once upon a time (actually, almost exactly 13 years ago), Alexandra and I met. 
 
At the time I was running a social networking site called Zaadz that was all about connecting people who wanted to be the change and change the world together.
 
Long story short, Alexandra was introduced to the site by a friend. She checked it out, found my profile page and said, “I’m going to marry that guy.”
 
No joke! 
 
I get misty-eyed just typing that.
 
We happened to have a mutual friend who happened to introduce us and, well, skipping some fun details, the rest is history. 
 
Now…
 
One of the reasons we fell in love is that we both loved Leo Buscaglia and his book Love.
 
In fact, Alexandra was the first woman I ever met who had actually read that book. 
 
TWICE no less!
 
So…
 
Today we’re going to talk about Love. 
 
More specifically: Leo Buscaglia’s Love
 
We’ll start with this gem (that captures the thesis of our Love 101 class): “As soon as the love relationship does not lead me to me, as soon as I in a love relationship do not lead another person to himself, this love, even if it seems to be the most secure and ecstatic attachment I have ever experienced, is not true love. For real love is dedicated to continual becoming.”
 
Then there’s this lesson I’ve been blessed to learn and relearn (!): “One does not fall ‘in’ or ‘out’ of love. One grows in love.”
 
And: “It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.”
 
And, finally: “If one wishes to know love, one must live love, in action.”
 
Love.
 
Let’s live it.
 
TODAY.
Apr 25, 2020

Mark Divine is a former U.S. Navy SEAL Commander with twenty-five years of experience as an entrepreneur. He's the author of the incredible books The Way of the SEAL, Unbeatable Mind, and Staring Down the Wolf. In this conversation, we explore strategies for navigating challenges (and helping others to do the same), how to be uncommon, why anyone in a leadership position is a "Coach," why training the breath is so important, and more.

Apr 24, 2020
In our last +1, we spent some time with Carlos Castaneda and his Toltec Warrior. Today, we’re going to spend a little more time with this eccentric teacher.
 
I’ve always found one passage of his to be particularly powerful.
 
THIS one: “Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore, a warrior must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if he feels that he should not follow it, he must not stay with it under any conditions. His decision to keep on that path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. He must look at every path closely and deliberately. There is a question that a warrior has to ask, mandatorily: ‘Does this path have a heart?’”
 
  • “Does this path have a heart?”
 
← Well, that’s a powerful question, eh? 
 
How do we possibly answer that one?!
 
Enter, some more Castaneda wisdom: “’But how will I know for sure whether a path has a heart or not?’ Anybody would know that. The trouble is nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path.”
 
Yikes.
 
(Hah.)
 
That’s Today’s (confronting) +1.
 
Your path have a heart?
 
Of course, there will always be times when a path with heart doesn’t feel quite as heart-centered as it could. Those times often require some re-energizing and micro-adjustments and re-committing and all that.
 
And…
 
There are other times when we’re just not on the right path. Those times may require some zero-based thinking and Deep Work to figure out what path IS the right one for us.
 
In all situations, I believe this is why Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Trust thyself. Every heart vibrates to that iron string.”
 
Here’s to courageously walking our paths with heart with deeper and deeper authenticity.
 
TODAY.
Apr 19, 2020
In our last +1, we did some swooping and gliding and hunting with a red-tailed hawk and our bird-watching guide: Carlos Castaneda.
 
Today I want to chat about that hawk again.
 
I mentioned the fact that he’s not worried about whether or not he’ll find his prey.
 
He’s just hunting.
 
Calmly, 100% focused on the PROCESS.
 
Letting the outcomes take care of themselves.
 
He’s not up there flying around thinking to himself, “OMG. My family’s going to starve if I don’t pull it together and find a mouse soon. I’ve been flying around up here for TWO HOURS (!) already and I haven’t seen a single mouse. Where’d they go? OMG. OMG. OMG.” 
 
Enter: Castaneda and his wisdom: “Once a man worries, he clings to anything out of desperation; and once he clings he is bound to get exhausted or to exhaust whomever or whatever he is clinging to. A warrior-hunter, on the other hand, knows he will lure game into his traps over and over again, so he doesn’t worry.”
 
Now…
 
To be fair (and to state the obvious), our red-tailed hawk friend doesn’t have the prefrontal cortex to engage in any anxiety-provoking overthinking. (Or, well, any “thinking” for that matter.)
 
Which reminds me of some parallel wisdom we explored back in the day. 
 
Remember our +1 on Squirrels, Einstein and You?
 
As you may recall, that one was inspired by a pre-Trail drive. As I stopped at a stop sign right next to Byron Katie’s little chapel in Ojai, I spotted a squirrel racing across a telephone wire and thought to myself, “I wonder what that guy’s thinking?!” 
 
Then I reminded myself that he WASN’T THINKING.
 
Then I thought of some wisdom from Jon Eliot’s Overachievement.
 
He tells us: “Great performers focus on what they are doing, and nothing else... They are able to engage in a task so completely that there is no room left for self-criticism, judgment, or doubt; to stay loose and supremely, even irrationally, self-confident... They let it happen, let it go. They couldn’t care less about the results.”
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
That red-tailed hawk?
 
He’s the flying embodiment of great performers.
 
Let’s be like him a little more.
 
TODAY.
Apr 14, 2020
In our last couple +1s, we’ve been having fun spending some time with former Navy SEAL Commander and perennial wolf-tamer, Mark Divine.
 
Most recently, we named our Courage wolf, “Daimon” and our Fear wolf, “Demon.”
 
(As Dan Siegel and other mindfulness neuroscientists would say: It’s always wise to Name It to Tame It!”)
 
I mentioned the fact that I made a note on a piece of paper to make sure I included this Idea in our Mastery Series session on How to Create Antifragile Confidence, Heroic Courage and Response-Ability.
 
I had a bunch of other ideas already on that sheet of paper.
 
You know what I had written RIGHT ABOVE “The Two Wolves | Name ‘Em!”? 
 
“Learned Helplessness vs. Learned Optimism.”
 
The story I’ll tell for THAT wisdom is basically all about Martin Seligman’s research that we discuss in our Notes on Learned Optimism and in this +1 on How to Learn Optimism.
 
The weird part?
 
Recall Mark’s description of what happens when we constantly feed the fear wolf: “If you constantly feed fear by thinking about the could-haves, the should-haves, the would-haves, and the can’ts in life—if you allow negative beliefs, attitudes, and conditioned behavior from whatever drama you experienced or stories you adopted—then the fear wolf gets stronger. Eventually he gets so strong that the courage wolf is left cowering, unable to fight back.”
 
That’s almost a precise description of the “Learned Helplessness” state Seligman induces in his experiments. confused face 
 
The (very!) good news?
 
We can Learn Optimism.
 
How?
 
Well, that’s pretty much what we’re doing every day with these +1s and why we show up EVERY DAY.
 
One more time: Let’s feed the Daimon-Courage Wolf. 
 
TODAY.
Apr 9, 2020
I’m the kinda guy who goes to a movie with a pen and paper ready to take notes.
 
Well, I’m actually the kinda guy who (aside from when I’m on the Trail) pretty much ALWAYS has a pen and paper ready to take notes.
 
So…
 
The other day, I’m that guy in the movie theatre watching the most recent Star Wars installment: The Rise of Skywalker
 
Luke is chatting with Rey and drops some fantastic Optimizing wisdom that demands a little ink on paper.
 
If my notes are correct, Luke says: “Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi. Your destiny.”
 

“Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi. Your destiny.”

 
<- Isn’t that some solid wisdom? 
 
Makes you want to silently shout BRING IT ON!!, eh?! 
 
So…
 
I go to Google to do a quick search to make sure I got the quote right. 
 
And… 
 
I find this awesome blog post on a site appropriately called “Star Wars Thoughts.”
 
In it, our wise guide walks us through the role fear has played throughout the Star Wars saga. He tells us that Luke once told Yoda: “I’m not afraid!” 
 
You know what Yoda said in response? 
 
“You will be.” 
 
← That’s SO good.
 
And, that’s Today’s +1.
 
Confronting fear.
 
It’s the destiny of a Jedi. 
 
And an Optimizer.
 
It’s your destiny. 
 
And mine.
 
So…
 
Let’s step into our infinite potential as we exit our comfort zones calmly and confidently and courageously chanting BRING. IT. ON.
 
TODAY.
 
P.S. Not too long after Luke dropped his wisdom bomb on Rey, I took my notebook out again to capture some wisdom from Poe who tells us: “We’re not alone. Good people will fight if we lead them.” 
 
Amen. Let’s do this.
Apr 4, 2020
In our last +1, we talked about making a Purpose upgrade—going from a grand conception of one “big purpose” for life (Purpose 1.0) to finding micro-moments of purpose all day every day (Purpose 2.0).
 
I promised to chat about HOW to go about doing that Today.
 
So… 
 
Here we are.
 
Let’s bring Tom Rath back for some more wisdom from Life’s Great Question.
 
Tom is a senior scientist at Gallup and shares some FASCINATING research he and his colleagues in the wellbeing-at-work industry have conducted.
 
Get this.
 
Tom tells us: “You can begin by connecting your daily efforts to the way they contribute to specific people’s lives—connecting what you do with who your work serves. There are now countless examples of how connecting your work to the meaning it creates for specific people leads to better results, as well as to more enjoyment in and satisfaction from one’s work.”
 
He continues by saying: “In food service, for example, when a cook or someone preparing food can literally see the people they serve, it increases that customer’s satisfaction with the meal by 10%. If the cook and customer can both see one another, satisfaction with meal quality goes up 17% and service is 13% faster. You see a similar result across other professions.”
 
And: “When lifeguards read stories of people’s lives being saved, they are more vigilant on the job. When telephone-based fund-raisers hear from the beneficiaries of their work, they are more motivated and raise far more funds for their cause. Even when the only people you serve are internal customers or colleagues, connecting the work you do with the direct contribution it makes has tangible benefits.”
 
Plus: “In a Harvard study, field workers who harvested tomatoes watched videos of the way their contribution helped colleagues in the factory another step down the supply chain. In comparison to a control group, the workers who watched this short video experienced a 7% increase in productivity, as measured by tons of tomatoes harvested per hour.”
 
← Pause and reflect on that for a moment longer. That’s nuts! peanuts
 
Finally, he tells us: My takeaway from all this research is that people experience a far greater sense of belonging and more sustainable wellbeing when they connect their efforts in the moment with a larger influence on others.”
 
That’s Today’s +1.
 
Spotlight on YOU.
 
What do YOU do? 
 
Who do you SERVE when you do what you do?
 
Take a moment and actually identify a SPECIFIC person who you KNOW benefits from the day-to-day things you do.
 
Seriously.
 
One person.
 
Could be a colleague. A customer. Whoever.
 
ONE PERSON you *know* benefits from what you do.
 
Got it?
 
Fantastic.
 
Let’s reflect on our contributions often.
 
Remember: “People experience a far greater sense of belonging and more sustainable wellbeing when they connect their efforts in the moment with a larger influence on others.”
 
+1 micro-moments of service +1 micro-moments of service +1 micro-moments of service.
 
All day every day for the Purpose 2.0 meaning-filled life.
 
Starting TODAY.
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