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
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OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time







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Now displaying: July, 2020
Jul 23, 2020
Today we’re going to revisit BJ Fogg’s Behavior Design Lab at Stanford. 
We’ve already talked about his equation: B = MAP. (Recall: Behavior happens when Motivation & Ability & Prompt converge at the same moment.”)
Professor Fogg also has some ABCs to help us master the process of Optimizing our behavior: Anchor + Behavior + Celebration.
Here’s how he describes the anatomy of Tiny Habits: 
An existing routine (like brushing your teeth) or an event that happens (like a phone ringing). The Anchor Moment reminds you to do the new Tiny Behavior.
A simple version of the new habit you want, such as flossing one tooth or doing two push-ups. You do the Tiny Behavior immediately after the Anchor Moment.
Something you do to create positive emotions, such as saying, ‘I did a good job!’ You celebrate immediately after doing the new Tiny Behavior.”
Want to install a habit? 
(Yah? Which one? Seriously. Pick one now and let’s work on it together…)
Know your ABCs: Anchor + Behavior + Celebration.
What’s the existing routine that can serve as your Prompt? (Note: James Clear and Charles Duhigg call our “Prompt” a “cue” in Atomic Habits and The Power of Habit, respectively.)
That “existing routine” is what BJ calls an ANCHOR. He tells us that “anchoring” our new behavior to something we ALREADY do is a really powerful way to Optimize the Behavior-changing process.
Now that you’ve got your Anchor, it’s time for the new behavior.
NOTE: We want that Behavior to be TINY. As in, CRAZY tiny.
One of the examples BJ uses is that after (key anchor word: “after”) he went pee while working from home, he’d do two push-ups. That’s it. TWO. Not twenty. TWO.
Now that we’ve got our Anchor and our (tiny!!) Behavior, it’s time to Celebrate.
We’ll talk about this more soon. For now, give yourself a little fist pump with a “YES!!! That’s like me!” (Or whatever it is you do when you celebrate something awesome.)
Anchor + Behavior + Celebration.
That’s Today’s +1.
If you feel so inspired, MAP out the behavior you’d like to install. 
Then ABC it.
Let’s change our lives one Tiny little Habit at a time. 
+1. +1. +1.
P.S. If you feel REALLY inspired, sing it with me: Now I know my ABCs. Next time won’t you sing with me? 
Jul 18, 2020
Admiral William H. McRaven is a Retired U.S. Navy SEAL who served for thirty-seven years and commanded at every level.
As a Four-Star Admiral, his final assignment was as Commander of all U.S. Special Operations Forces. (During this time, he oversaw the covert mission that killed Osama bin Laden.)
In 2014, he gave the commencement address to the graduates of the University of Texas at Austin. Millions of people wound up watching his speech on ten lessons he learned from his Navy SEAL training. (You can watch it on YouTube here.)
He wrote a great little book expanding on those ten lessons. It’s named after the first lesson: Make Your Bed. (Joining 5,000+ 5-star Amazon reviewers, I HIGHLY recommend it. Get a copy here.)
We’ll talk about why that’s his #1 tip soon.
Today we’re going to talk about lesson #4: “Life’s Not Fair—Drive On!” in which we get introduced to the SEAL version of a sugar cookie. 
First, the wisdom. 
McRaven tells us: “It is easy to blame your lot in life on some outside force, to stop trying because you believe fate is against you. It is easy to think that where you were raised, how your parents treated you, or what school you went to is all that determines your future. Nothing could be further from the truth. The common people and the great men and women are all defined by how they deal with life’s unfairness: Helen Keller, Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking, Malala Yousafzai, and—Moki Martin.
Sometimes no matter how hard you try, no matter how good you are, you still end up a sugar cookie. Don’t complain. Don’t blame it on your misfortune. Stand tall, look to the future, and drive on!” 
Each chapter-lesson features some wisdom gained from McRaven’s SEAL training along with some stories to bring the point home.
This lesson features a story about him becoming a sugar cookie.
In case you don’t know what a SEAL sugar cookie recipe looks like, it goes something like this: Run into the pounding surf wearing your boots and gear. Get yourself soaking wet from head to toe. Then roll in the sand until every inch of your body is covered in sand. Then go on with your day cold, wet and sandy as you enjoy that sugar cookie.
McRaven tells us about a time when he was forced to do a sugar cookie. He couldn’t figure out what standard he failed to meet that resulted in the reprimand.
Here’s the dialogue with his instructor:
“‘Mr. Mac, do you have any idea why you are a sugar cookie this morning?’ Martin said in a very calm but questioning manner.’
“‘No, Instructor Martin,’ I dutifully responded.
‘Because, Mr. Mac, life isn’t fair and the sooner you learn that the better off you will be.’”
Imagine that. 
You do everything JUST right.
Bed’s made perfectly. Uniform is nice and crisp. 
You’ve rocked all your fundies and executed your business (or energy or relationship) strategy perfectly.
And, even after doing your best... 
You FAIL. 
Then what? 
Then we remind ourselves of the fact (!) that life’s not fair as we “stand tall, look to the future, and drive on!” 
btw: McRaven’s instructor in that story was a guy named Moki Martin. He was the quintessential super-fit, perfect specimen of a SEAL. Then he got in an accident while training for a triathlon. Paralyzed from the legs down. “For the past thirty-five years, Moki has been in a wheelchair. In all those years, I never once heard him complain about his misfortune in life. Never once did I hear him ask, “Why me?’ Never once did he display an ounce of pity for himself.”
Here’s to embracing the inevitable sugar cookies life serves up as we, one more time: “stand tall, look to the future, and drive on!” 
Jul 13, 2020
Today we’re going to go back to Jim Kwik and his great book Limitless one more time.
One of the key themes of the book is that we all have a unique blend of background and passions and skills.
He echoes the wisdom we talked about in a +1 back in the day featuring wisdom from Ken Robinson in which Ken tells us that the right question isn’t “Are you intelligent?” but… “HOW are you intelligent?
Jim tells us that we’re all unique and that our challenge is to discover our special combination of awesome that makes us shine.
Then he quotes Albert Einstein who once said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it’s stupid.”
And that’s Today’s +1.
Let’s quit asking ourselves whether or not we’re intelligent.
(And so are your kids and colleagues and, well, everyone else you’ll interact with Today.)
The question is: HOW are you intelligent?
How are you intelligent?!
Think about ONE thing you do REALLY well. Perhaps SO WELL that you take it for granted.
Let’s take that gift AS granted and go double down on it.
T O D A Y.
Jul 8, 2020
In our last +1, we talked about the fact that, if we could figure out how to take 30 EXPONENTIAL steps, we’d be able to hop in a rocket and go around the Earth two DOZEN times.
Rather than get 90 feet down the street, we’d get a few BILLION steps further in our joyful jaunt around the Earth.
That’s crazy.
And, well, that’s the power of aggregating and compounding seemingly small changes that can have huge impacts on our lives as we watch the magic exponentially grow.
I LOVE all the metaphors we can use to think about the power of just showing up again and again and again.
We’ve talked about the doubling penny, collecting coins, melting ice cubes, hitting the rock, figuring out combination locks, and rocking marginal gains.
Obviously, the metaphors are just metaphors but they all make the same primary point: It’s all about CONSISTENCY.
We need to show up again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and …
Which is why I was so fired up to make a little distinction while I was preparing for our Mastery Series session on Work in our Module on Carpe Diem.
The basic theme of the class is how to create “Genius Work vs. Mediocre Work.”
(I’ll save the details on that distinction for another +1.)
As I was preparing for the class, I knew I was going to focus on the equation we’ve been talking about lately:
Astonishing Work = Time x (Energy x Focus x What’s Important Now)
or: T x (E x F x W.I.N.)
Then I had a wonderful epiphany.
I added a little C right at the end of that equation.
Like so: T x (E x F x W.I.N.)c
A choir of angels began to sing as I thought through the implications of the new, Optimized equation: Genius Work = Time x (Energy x Focus x What’s Important Now)Consistency
I quickly made some notes.
If your Energy is a 100 and your Focus is a 100 and you’re working on a 100-Level Important thing you’d get 1 million points of awesome. 
That’s 1,000 (!) times more awesome than if your Energy, Focus and WIN was at a 10.
Get this.
If we believe CONSISTENCY is an exponential force multiplier, then we’d be better off plodding along at the lower numbers but at least doing so consistently.
Get this.
Although (100 x 100 x 100) is 1,000,000 points of awesome, we’ve gotta know that if we get a ZERO in the consistency score then (100 x 100 x 100)0 = ZERO.
Whereas, although (10 x 10 x 10) is only 1,000 points of awesome, we’ve gotta know that if we get a ONE HUNDRED in the consistency score then (10 x 10 x 10)100 = a HUGE number. It almost breaks the calculator coming in at 1e+300. ← That’s a 1 followed by THREE HUNDRED Zeros.
Now, here’s the kicker.
What do you think would happen if we were able to get ALL of our variables up to a 100?
Our Energy is a 100.
Our Focus is a 100.
Our W.I.N. is a 100.
Our Consistency is a 100.
What’s 1,000,000 to the power of 100?
Can you guess?
Answer: It’s INFINITY.
And, that’s Today’s +1.
Want to have fun seeing just how Limitless you can go?
Get your Energy Optimized. Get your Focus Optimized. Get your ability to focus on What’s Important Now Optimized.
And then go do it CONSISTENTLY.
Starting Today.
+100 +100 +100 to the 100th power.
Jul 3, 2020
Continuing our brief foray through Jim Qwik’s brain and book, let’s talk about the power of getting into Flow.
Jim tells us that being able to flip the switch and drop into a powerful Flow state is one of the keys to tapping into our (Limitless!!) superpowers.
He quotes Steven Kotler in The Rise of Superman to make his point.
Here’s how Steven puts it: “To put it another way: flow is the telephone booth where Clark Kent changes clothes, the place from where Superman emerges.”
I LOVE that image of Clark Kent stepping into the phone booth of Flow and coming out as Superman.
Reminds me of this +1 on Clark Kent flipping the switch and striking a power pose to get his Superman on.
As I read this passage (and chapter from Limitless), I was reminded of our recent +1 on our new Astonishing Work Equation
Recall, if we want to REALLY crush it, we’d be wise to focus on three variables: 
Astonishing Quality Work = Time x (Energy x Focus x W.I.N.)
I made the point that, math wise, if your Energy is at a 10 and your Focus is at a 10 and you’re working on the 10 What’s Important Now task, you can work ONE hour and still get a 1,000 on the Astonishing Quality Work scale.
If your Energy is at a 1 and your Focus is at a 1 and you’re working on a 1-level What’s Important Now task, you’d have to work 1,000 (!) hours to match your Astonishing Quality Work score.
You know what? That’s actually not even accurate.
The reality is, when we’re REALLY plugged in, we can create at levels that are simply IMPOSSIBLE to create at in any non-awesome state.
As such, I think we should swap out our 1 to 10 scale for a 1 to 100 to make the point even more powerfully.
On a 1 to 100 scale, if your Energy is at a 100 and your Focus is at a 100 and you’re working on the 100 What’s Important Now task, you can work an hour and get 1 MILLION Astonishing Work points.
Drop your Energy to a 10 and your Focus to a 10 and your W.I.N. to a 10 and your 1,000 is 1/1000th of what you could have done.
That’s about right.
Today’s +1.
How’s your SuperFlow Math looking these days?
What’s working Energy + Focus + W.I.N.-wise?
What needs some work?
And what can will you do to Optimize?!
Here’s to stepping into the telephone booth of Flow and tapping into our Superpowers.