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
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time









All Episodes
Now displaying: Category: +1
Mar 25, 2020
In our last +1, we talked about being Efficient vs. Effective.
It’s GREAT for managing our time and completing tasks. Not so great for creating EFFECTIVE relationships with people.
We also hammered our “technology is the obstacle to presence!” theme one more time. (I promise to keep coming back to it.)
Today I want to chat about another big relationship idea I’ve been meaning to discuss.
We’re going to talk about the idea of “bids.”
I’m pretty sure I learned about this from Dan Siegel. 
Enter: Search of my Mac for “bids”…
Oh, wait. 
Actually, I learned about this from THE leading researcher on the science of effective marriages: Jon Gottman!
In his GREAT book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Gottman tells us that we need to “Turn Toward” our partners and respond to their “bids.” 
Here’s how he puts it: “Hollywood has distorted our notions of romance and what makes passion sizzle. Watching Humphrey Bogart gather teary-eyed Ingrid Bergman into his arms may make your heart pound, but real-life romance is fueled by far more humdrum scenes. It is kept alive each time you let your spouse know he or she is valued during the grind of everyday life. In marriage, couples are always making what I call ‘bids’ for each other’s attention, affection, humor, or support. Bids can be as minor as asking for a backrub or as significant as seeking help in carrying the burden when an aging parent is ill. The partner responds to each bid either by turning toward the spouse or turning away. A tendency to turn toward your partner is the basis of trust, emotional connection, passion, and a satisfying sex life. Comical as it may sound, romance is strengthened in the supermarket aisle when your partner asks, ‘Are we out of butter?’ and you answer, ‘I don’t know. Let me go get some just in case,’ instead of shrugging apathetically. It grows when you know your spouse is having a bad day at work and you take a few seconds out of your schedule to send him an encouraging text. In all of these instances, partners are making a choice to turn toward rather than away.”
“Turning toward” our partner instead of away from them. 
Gottman tells us that our partners are always making “bids” for our attention. Whether we accept their invitation to connect or not is one of the greatest predictors of the longevity of our relationship.
Get this: Gottman did a 6-year follow-up study of newlyweds. For those who were still married, the partner’s responded to each other’s bids 86% of the time.
For those who got divorced? They only responded 33% of the time. 
Today’s +1.
How’s YOUR Bid Math?
Let’s pay attention and see if we can notice some more bids and, of course, remember to TURN TOWARD our partners a little more TODAY.
Mar 20, 2020
In our last couple +1s, we flipped through my notes from session number 150-something with my Yoda/spiritual Godfather Phil Stutz.
On page one we had: Success doesn’t matter in this world, commitment does.”
On the middle of page three we had: “Real enthusiasm is passing through the worst and realizing it’s the best.”
Looking at the bottom of page three, we see: “How you react to dramatic things is good. How you react to SMALL things is GREAT! That’s where the power is.”
As I reread my messy writing, I actually remember asking Phil to hold on a second so I could write that down. (Hah. Seriously.)
I repeat: “How you react to dramatic things is good. How you react to SMALL things is GREAT! That’s where the power is.”
As we’ve discussed, Phil (and all great teachers, really) is ALL ABOUT the SMALL THINGS. 
He calls our moment-to-moment experiences (with ourselves and others) “micro transactions.” Although we tend to ignore them and think only the “big” stuff is “really” important, he flips that around and says it’s the TINY things that matter the MOST.
(Of course, by practicing with the small things, we’re well-trained to handle the “big” things when they inevitably arrive.)
One more time: “How you react to dramatic things is good. How you react to SMALL things is GREAT! That’s where the power is.”
David Allen comes to mind.
As we’ve discussed, in our interview years ago, he said that “the sublime comes through the mundane.”
That’s Today’s +1.
Let’s bring our best.
To the small things.
P.S. Fun family fact: Midway through writing this +1, I heard a ferocious banging on my office door. Like jumbo crazy loud. (Laughing.) 
My initial reaction was WTNotFantastic! (Laughing.)
Then I ran my “If… Then…” algorithm and got ready to welcome my little man.
What did I see?
Emerson in his brand-new BRIGHT GREEN (hah) helmet standing next to his sister in her helmet.
“Daddy!!! Look at my new bike!!!”
Yep. His new bike we got last night was downstairs. He cruised down, hopped on it and rode around the house. 
To think I almost ruined that TINY moment by getting upset IN THE MIDDLE of writing this +1… (Laughing yet again.)
Here’s to moving from Theory to Practice.
With the little things. 
And little ones.
Mar 15, 2020
Yes, we’ve been chatting about it quite a bit recently. 
That’s deliberate.
You know how we recently established the (scientifically-validated) Top 2 virtues as Zest + Hope?
Positive psychologists arm wrestle a bit about those top two virtues. 
While Ryan Niemiec (via The Power of Character Strengths) tells us that Zest + Hope are our Top 2, Robert Emmons tells us that Gratitude is even more predictive of well-being than Hope. 
We’ll leave the arm-wrestling debate on the precise order of those Top 2 to our academic friends but let’s shine a BRIGHT LIGHT on the Big 3 Virtues: Zest + Hope + Gratitude.
As I’ve been thinking about it, I actually like the order: Zest + Gratitude + Hope.
We’re Optimizing our Energy-Zest so we can give our best to our Work + Love. (Zest is still the undisputed #1 Virtue—although I’d say it’s technically achieved as a by-product of Wisdom + Self-Mastery/Discipline on the the fundamentals.)
Then… We practice Gratitude for the fact that we’re alive and for everything in our lives. (INCLUDING all the challenges, of course.)
Then… We practice Hope as we see a better future via a specific goal that inspires us, know we can make it happen and make a plan to make it so.
Zest + Gratitude + Hope.
(Note: Throw in Love + Curiosity for the Top 5.)
I love coming back to that and I’m constantly spinning those virtues around in my mind, trying to think about how to help us operationalize them more consistently in our lives. 
That’s not quite what I want to talk about Today.
Today I want to talk about that “What Went Well and Why?” gratitude exercise I referenced not too long ago. It’s one of Robert Emmons’ top recommended practices. 
Here’s how Martin Seligman puts it in Flourish: “Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (‘My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today’), but they can be important (‘My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy’).
Next to each positive event, answer the question ‘Why did this happen?’ For example, if you wrote that your husband picked up ice cream, write “because my husband is really thoughtful sometimes’ or ‘because I remembered to call him from work and remind him to stop by the grocery store.’ Or if you write, ‘My sister gave birth to a healthy baby boy,’ you might pick as the cause ‘God was looking out for her’ or ‘She did everything right during her pregnancy.’
Writing about why the positive events in your life happened may seem awkward at first, but please stick with it for one week. It will get easier. The odds are that you will be less depressed, happier, and addicted to this exercise six months from now.”
Today’s +1.
Here’s to celebrating many more awesome moments (and clarity on how they came about!) between here and our next +1!
+1. +1. +1. 
Mar 10, 2020
In our last couple +1s, we talked about the science of gratitude and explored some tips on Robert Emmons’ #1 practice: Gratitude Journaling.
Today I want to chat about one of the distinctions I most loved from his book Gratitude Works!
He tells us: “Think about and then write down those aspects of your life that you are prone to take for granted. Instead, take them as granted.”
I just LOVE that distinction. 
Ungrateful people tend to take things (and people!) for granted
For example, we take for granted all of the astonishing modern benefits that make our lives possible: like a warm house, a car, a smartphone, the Internet and all the other magical marvels of modern life.
Robert tells us we’d be wise to move from taking people and things FOR GRANTED to seeing them AS GRANTED.
Let’s think about that for a moment longer.
We can take the amazing people and goodness in our lives FOR GRANTED or AS GRANTED
It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a REALLY big distinction. 
Science says: We’d be wise to remember that NONE of it is guaranteed. 
Making the shift to see that it’s ALL one big GIFT is at the heart of gratitude. In fact, it’s so important that we’re going to spend another moment on it tomorrow as we talk about the #1 obstacle to gratitude.
For now…
Let’s think of three things we normally take for granted and see if we can shift to seeing them “as granted.”
Here are three things pop up immediately for me…
#1: The computer on which I’m typing this. 
It’s easy for me to take this for granted (and get frustrated when it inevitably doesn’t work perfectly). But MY GOODNESS!!! It’s a MIRACLE. 
I can type on little black pieces of plastic and somehow (!) create letters that somehow (!) show up on the screen and on a website (Dropbox Paper) that I can edit and share with our team who can share it with you and with other Optimizers around the world. MIND BOGGLING. 
I hereby commit to, for this moment, seeing all of this AS GRANTED to me (via countless people over countless iterations over countless generations…). Grateful wow.
#2: The house in which I’m typing this. 
As I looked up from the screen out my office window at the mountain I hike every morning I thought of how easy it is to take the fact that I live in a safe, climate controlled house FOR GRANTED. That’s crazy. I’m so blessed (by so many people—including YOU) that it’s not even funny. 
I shall now, for this moment, see it AS GRANTED to me. Thank you.
#3: The bottle from which I’m drinking fresh water. 
I drink from a water bottle all day every day. Of course, it’s very easy to take that FOR GRANTED. But… Again… MY GOODNESS. That’s a miracle. Countless people around the world don’t have fresh water (gah) and ALL of us used to have to trek long distances to get our daily water (when we could find it). 
I hereby, for this moment, commit to seeing this gift AS GRANTED. And, for that I am grateful.
Of course, we can go on all day every day on this. And STILL barely scratch the surface of all the benefits we receive. 
And, that’s Today’s +1.
What three things can you shift from taking FOR GRANTED to AS GRANTED?
  1. _________________________________________________________________________
  2. _________________________________________________________________________
  3. _________________________________________________________________________
Mar 5, 2020
In our last +1, we talked about how to sidestep depression and anxiety. 
I still can’t believe that scientists have identified a threshold for our step counts under which we make ourselves more vulnerable for anxiety and depression.
As Kelly McGonigal tells us in The Joy of Movement: “The average daily step count required to induce feelings of anxiety and depression and decrease satisfaction with life is 5,649. The typical American takes 4,774 steps per day. Across the globe, the average is 4,961.”
Right before those step count thresholds, she tells us: “Other experiments in the U.S. and UK have forced moderately active adults to become sedentary for a period of time, only to watch their well-being wither. Regular exercisers who replace physical activity with a sedentary activity for two weeks become more anxious, tired, and hostile. When adults are randomly assigned to reduce their daily step count, 88 percent become more depressed. Within one week of becoming more sedentary, they report a 31 percent decline in life satisfaction.”
Those stats are nuts as well.
Take a regular exerciser, force them to become more sedentary and VOILA! 
Their “well-being withers.”
88% (EIGHTY-EIGHT PERCENT!!!) become more depressed. 
Within ONE WEEK of becoming more sedentary, they report a 31% (!!!) decline in life satisfaction.
Kinda makes you want to move, eh?
It’s funny, because, having been a non-exercising and much more “anxious, tired, hostile and depressed” version of myself, I’ve often jokingly said that you couldn’t PAY me to NOT exercise. 
As it turns out, the researchers conducting studies like that often ran into challenges finding people willing to not exercise! (Apparently, I’m not alone.)
So... One more time. Back to you. 
How can you move a little more?
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. 
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. 
+1. +1. +1. 
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.
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.’”
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.
Are we measuring it?
How do we measure it? 
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.
Let’s measure it.
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?
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.
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…
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.
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?
Congrats on rocking it yesterday but… 
That epic performance is not going to win TODAY’s game.
Start again. (And again… And again…
Build the chair. Light the fire.
+1. +1. +1.
Jan 30, 2020
In our last +1, we talked about the research on the fact that The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking.
Today I want to talk about another way to make what we’re learning stick.
We’re going to consult with Barbara Oakley on this one.
Barbara taught one of the most popular classes in history. Nearly 2 million people from 200 countries have taken her Coursera class called Learning How to Learn.
She also wrote a book on how to learn called A Mind for Numbers where she tells us: “The legendary Charles Darwin would do much the same thing. When trying to explain a concept, he imagined someone had just walked into his study. He would put his pen down and try to explain the idea in the simplest terms. That helped him figure out how he would describe the concept in print. Along those lines, the website has a section called ‘Explain like I’m 5’ where anyone can make a post asking for a simple explanation of a complex topic.
You may think you really have to understand something in order to explain it. But observe what happens when you are talking to other people about what you are studying. You’ll be surprised to see how often understanding arises as a consequence of attempts to explain to others and yourself, rather than the explanation arising out of your previous understanding. This is why teachers often say that the first time they ever really understood the material was when they had to teach it.”
That’s Today’s +1.
Want to master something?
Explain it to someone.
Like they’re 5.
Jan 25, 2020
In our last couple +1s, we talked about a key (arguably the #1 key) predictor of our long-term health/morbidity: our visceral fat. 
We also discussed the Optimized WHtR (Waist-to-Height Ratio!) that gives us some insight on how we’re doing with that facet of our lives. (+1 +1 +1 for the <.5 win!)
There are, of course, a number of things we can do to Optimize our WHtR.
Eat + Move + Sleep Fundies for the win!
The #1 thing? 
At the end of the day, if we want to get our weight Optimized, we need to get our nutrition Optimized. (And, that requires us to get our metabolism/insulin Optimized.)
For the record: I’m agnostic as to whether you should go vegan or paleo or keto or carnivore or whatever strikes your fancy.
I am, however, very (!) committed to a) encouraging you to GO ALL IN on whatever path you choose while b) remaining open to experimenting as new data comes in while c) making sure whatever path you choose includes limiting/eliminating sugar and flour and ultra-processed foods while d) reminding you that the more weight you need to lose, the MORE committed you’ll need to be, the more important the margins will be, and the brighter your lines will need to be.
But that’s not quite the point of Today’s +1.
Today I want to talk about the fact that exercise, as awesome as it is, is PRIMARILY a WELL-BEING tool *not* a WEIGHT-LOSS tool.
We talk about this in our Notes on Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney’s book The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.
It’s one of their “Ten Clinical Pearls.” 
They tell us: “Exercise is a wellness tool. It is not a weight loss tool.”
They also tell us: “Exercise done by heavy people causes a lot of collateral damage. Think ankles, knees, hips, and low backs. So here’s a radical idea… let heavy people try carbohydrate restriction first, lose some weight (which most do without resorting to exercise), and then let them decide when to become more active once they are empowered, energized, and lighter of foot. Making heavy people exercise is punitive. Enabling heavy people to lose weight and then become more fit is smart.”
Exercise is unquestionably awesome for our overall well-being. It’s like that little bit of Ritalin and Prozac a la John Ratey’s Spark. And, as Sonja Lyubomirsky tells us in The How of Happiness, it’s been shown to be as effective as Zoloft in reducing depression.
But, again, remember: Exercise is NOT primarily a weight-loss tool. It’s a wellness tool.
I often think of this when I’m out on the trail and see significantly overweight people training super hard. It makes a LOT more sense to slow down and get your weight down THEN train. 
To put it in perspective, I used to carry something heavy for the first and last 5 minutes up to the start of the trail—either a 50-pound sand bag or a bucket filled with 50 pounds of gravel-rocks. (That’s like me!)
People often looked at me and asked, “What are you carrying?!” Then we’d have a sweet, Love 2.0 moment as we chat about Spartan Races, etc. 
No one ever pauses to think about the fact that running with 15 to 25 to 50+ extra pounds is AT LEAST as weird as me carrying a 50-pound bag of sand or a 50-pound bucket of rocks! 
If you’re carrying extra weight, consider putting ALL your energy into dropping it THEN hitting your higher-impact aerobic training. (Note: Carry on with the lower-impact MAF aerobic goodness and resistance training during the transition!)
One more time…
Let’s remember: “Exercise is a wellness tool. It is not a weight loss tool.”
Jan 20, 2020
In our last +1, we talked about the PM ritual Pythagoras came up with 2,500 years ago (!) that the Stoics liked to follow:

"Allow not sleep to close your wearied eyes,

Until you have reckoned up each daytime deed:


‘Where did I go wrong? What did I do? And what duty’s left undone?’

From first to last review your acts and then

Reprove yourself for wretched acts, but rejoice in those done well.”

Today we’ll step back a bit and put in an AM Intention practice to go with that PM Reflection practice.
Let’s go back to Donald Robertson’s How to Think Like a Roman Emperor.
He encourages us to follow another one of Aurelius’s practices and “Contemplate the Sage.” Specifically, he tells us that Marcus made it a practice to think about the virtues he admired in others that he aspired to put into practice in his own life.
He also tells us: “In addition to the virtues of real people, the Stoics were also known for contemplating the hypothetical character of an ideal Sage, or wise person.”
Then he shares my favorite practice: “In addition to asking ourselves what qualities the ideal wise person might have, we can ask what qualities we might hope to possess in the distant future. For instance, what sort of person would you hope to be after having trained in Stoicism for ten or twenty years?”
When I read that I immediately thought of our Carpe Diem journaling process.
In our Mastery Series, after establishing the ultimate game we’re playing (and how to play it well), we walk you through a Steven Covey-inspired eulogy exercise in which you attend your own funeral and listen to what your loved ones have to say about you.
Pause for a moment, if you feel so inspired, and imagine that scene. You’re gone. It’s your funeral. Who says what?
Specifically, what VIRTUES do you hope people use to describe you and your presence in their lives? WRITE THOSE DOWN.
We then proceed to help you get more clarity on who you are at your Optimus-best so that you can more consistently express those virtues TODAY. 
We need to move out of the abstract, “Oh, yah. That’s how I’d like to be remembered” to a VERY concrete, “Well, if I *really* think those qualities are important, then TODAY is the day to live in integrity with them.” (Right?)
Which leads us right into the next piece of wisdom Donald shares which also happens to map over nearly perfectly with what we encourage our Optimizers to do. 
He tells us to reflect on your ideal self and those virtues you intend to embody every morning. Write them down. Imagine your ideal self interacting with people Today. Who are you? How do you show up? That’s essentially what Aurelius did. 
We call our Optimize process “Carpe Diem Journaling.” We start by getting clarity on our Optimus-best selves in our Big 3 of Energy + Work + Love. Then we briefly reflect on that best-self Identity and write down the virtues that version of you embodies. Then we identify the #1 behavior we’ll engage in that day as we re-commit to being that version of ourselves TODAY.
Donald encourages us to add a PM reflection so we can go through what he calls daily “learning cycles.” At the end of each day, he tells us to ask ourselves three simple questions: 
  1. What did you do badly?
  2. What did you do well?
  3. What could you do differently?
Those three questions happen to be exactly the questions Lanny Bassham tells us to reflect on after a performance. Only, he switches #1 and #2—starting with the positive.
Shall we start that reflection process Today? 
How about RIGHT NOW?
If you feel so inspired, reflect on those three questions for your day so far today:
  1. What did you do well?                __________________________________________________
  2. What did you do badly?              __________________________________________________
  3. What could you do differently?  __________________________________________________
Imagine your life in ten to twenty years if the ONLY thing you changed was adding that simple reflection practice into your life.
Here’s to aggregating and compounding those incremental gains over an extended period of time so that BEST version of us is the one looking back at us in the mirror in ten or twenty years. 
Jan 15, 2020
In our last +1, we had fun chatting about the diploma we give to our Optimize Coaches.
It so perfectly captures the underlying purpose of all of our work together that I’d like to share it again. 
Here it is one more time:
  • Having demonstrated a commitment to areté through the mastery of ancient wisdom, modern science, and the fundamentals of Optimal living—both in their own life and in service to others—let it be known that
  • [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE] is hereby recognized as a Certified Optimize Coach and granted all privileges thereunto appertaining, for as long as they continue to demonstrate their commitment through practice.
  • In witness whereof, we hereby commit to do our best to operationalize virtue and live with areté, honoring the fundamentals and striving to be our Optimize = Optimus = Best = Eudaimōn = Hērō selves in Energy, Work, and Love.
Today I want to chat about one particular subtle little thing from this section: 
“… is hereby recognized as a Certified Optimize Coach and granted all privileges thereunto appertaining, for as long as they continue to demonstrate their commitment through practice.
I actually laughed as I bolded that.
for as long as they continue to demonstrate their commitment through practice.
Our program is 300-days long. We graduate after doing a Spartan Race together on Saturday.
Then you know what happens on Sunday?
We start again.
It’s Day 1.
Yes, after completing our program and demonstrating Mastery, our Coaches “graduate.” They’re now “certified.” 
Then, inspired in part by the the Navy SEALs who need to “earn their tridents every day,” we start again. 
And again. And again. 
It’s Day 1. 
Well, as we talk about all the time, moving from Theory to Practice to Mastery isn’t a “Check me out, I’m done!” kinda thing.
It’s a constant and never-ending process in which we strive to show up, work our always-evolving protocols and see just what we’re capable of as we make our prior best our new baseline and give the world all we've got.
If that sounds like fun, we’d love to have you join us in our 2020 Optimize Coach program.
Either way, of course, we’re ALL IN on supporting you and helping you make 2020 THE greatest year of our lives and the start of the greatest decade of our lives.
Love and let’s do this!
Jan 10, 2020
Last night as I was falling asleep, I was reflecting on the wonderful time I spent with a dear friend who came up to Ojai for a hike to chat about his next hero’s journey. 
We talked about some of the key themes of our upcoming Mastery Series/Optimize Coach program. (Fun fact: Looks like he’ll be doing the program with TWO of his kids—which makes my soul smile.)
One of the things we discussed was creating Masterpiece Days. Of course, we talked about the fact that our day starts the night before (PM counts twice!), the importance of being creative before we’re reactive and all that jazz. 
We also spent a fair amount of time talking about The Fundamentals (Eat! Move! Sleep! Breathe! Be Present! Prosper!) and how important it is to Optimize our Energy so we can show up most fully in our Work and our Love.
But what I found myself thinking about as I was falling asleep was the fact that when most people start to think about architecting their ideal days, they start with “Time Management.”
Optimizing the nuts and bolts of how we manage our time is, of course, important. But I think there’s something more important and essential than managing our time. 
As Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr put it in The Power of Full Engagement, we need to manage our ENERGY. When we prioritize Energy Management, things like our PM Bookends (with its shut-down complete and digital sunset rituals) become obvious high priorities.
Energy Management > Time Management.
There’s something FAR more important than either Energy Management or Time Management.
Virtue Management.
This is, essentially, what all (!) the great philosophers and spiritual traditions have taught us since the dawn of time. 
Live with Wisdom. And Self-Mastery. And Courage. And Love.
So we can more consistently close the gap between who we’re capable of being and who we’re actually being as we joyfully show up as the Optimus-best version of ourselves in service to our families, communities, and world.
P.S. We’d be honored to welcome you to our 2020 Mastery Series and Optimize Coach programs. You can sign up now. Based on the feedback of the 1,000+ Optimizers who participated in our inaugural class, I KNOW we can help you make 2020 THE greatest year of your life and the start of the greatest decade of your life. 
Let’s do this!!! 
Jan 5, 2020
Emily Fletcher was a Broadway performer living the dream.
Her hair was graying at 27, she was always stressed and had chronic insomnia.
One of her fellow Broadway performers was always super calm and confident. Emily asked her how she did it. The woman told her that she meditated. Emily rolled her eyes. Then she decided to give meditation a try.
After ONE day of meditation, her insomnia was gone. She was hooked. Soon after, she quit Broadway, traveled to India to study more deeply then became a meditation teacher and created something called the “Ziva Technique” which she’s taught to thousands of people.
In her book Stress Less, Accomplish More, Emily walks us through the science of WHY meditation is so powerful and then introduces us to the “3 M’s” of her Z Technique: Mindfulness, Meditation and Manifesting.
As you know if you’ve been following along, I’m a HUGE fan of meditation. I’ve missed ONE day in the last 12+ years. 
If you’ve been looking for a book that will help you get started on your meditation journey and/or take your existing practice to the next level, I think you’ll love it. It’s a great place to start. 
Today I want to chat about one of my favorite distinctions from the book.
Emily tells us: “The single most important piece of meditation advice you can hold with you as you dive in is this: Thoughts are not the enemy. Remember that the mind thinks involuntarily just like the heart beats involuntarily, so please don’t try to give your mind a command to be silent. Instead, know that thoughts are okay—they’re actually a useful part of this process and now you have your trusty anchor, one, to come back to when you notice you’ve taken a mental field trip.”
I always love it when an author prefaces some wisdom with “The single most important thing you need to know about X is...” As we’ve discussed, IF that happens, THEN I sit up a little straighter (gently pulling that thread through the head, of course) and pay even closer attention.
Sit up a little straighter and pull that thread if you feel so inspired as we note: “The single most important piece of meditation advice you can hold with you as you dive in is this: Thoughts are not the enemy.”
Have YOU “tried” to meditate but felt like a failure because you couldn’t stop thinking?
Well... Uh... 
Know this: You’re not SUPPOSED to be able to stop your brain from thinking. PERIOD.
Emily tells us that she’s NEVER (!) had a session in which she didn’t have a single thought bubble up. It’s not going to happen. EVER.
Why? Because, and I just love this line: “The mind thinks involuntarily just like the heart beats involuntarily.” <- Isn’t that a beautiful, empowering way to think about it?
The mind THINKS involuntarily just like the heart BEATS involuntarily.
Yes, you can slow your heart rate quite a bit by learning how to breathe deeply, training wisely and all that jazz. BUT... You can’t just flip the switch OFF.
We can learn how to slow our thoughts down (interestingly, via the same mechanisms we use to slow our heart rates down: deep breathing, good sleep, exercise, etc.) BUT... We can’t just flip the switch OFF. <- Isn’t that empowering?
Knowing that, when our minds inevitably move away from our anchors, we can just say “Oh, well” like Herbert Benson recommends and get back to our practice—in this case, to allowing our mantra to gently bubble up in our consciousness as we deeply relax our minds and bodies.
So… One more time: Our thoughts are not our enemies.
In fact, a meditation in which we have a LOT of thoughts bubble up is actually, potentially, one of our BEST meditations because the process of sitting and calmly bringing ourselves back to our anchor allows us to “digest”/“release” those thoughts that would otherwise have remained locked up in our minds and bodies.
As Emily says: “Thinking during meditation is actually an indicator that some stress is leaving the body. This is where the healing happens. Better out than in, right? When you feel those thoughts coming up and out, know that it is stress exiting your nervous system.”
And: “If you remember one thing from this whole book, let it be this: A deep meditation is no better for you than a shallow meditation. I’m going to say that again for dramatic effect. A deep meditation is no better for you than a shallow meditation. I am defining a deep meditation as one in which time passes quickly, you have few thoughts, and you generally enjoy the sitting. In a shallow meditation, the time may pass more slowly, you may feel like you are just sitting there having thoughts the whole time, and you may not enjoy the sitting itself. Both are beneficial for you. A deep meditation means the body is getting deep rest; a shallow meditation means the body is releasing stresses in the form of thoughts. One is not better for you than the other. Write it on your mirror, make a T-shirt, tattoo it on your forehead. I know it sounds crazy and counter to everything you have likely heard about meditation so far, but it’s true.”
Here’s to just showing up and brushing our brains.
Dec 31, 2019
This is Optimize +1 #1,000.
I don’t really know how to best start this one other than by saying: 
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Seriously. I am so honored to be a part of your life—whether that’s occasionally or every day. And I’m deeply grateful to have your support so I can do what I do.
Thank you.
Today I want to celebrate YOU.
I want to shine a special light of awesome on all of you heroically gritty Optimizers who have actually been with us for ALL 1,000 Optimize +1s. 
We’ve actually created a little virtual Hall of Fame. It’s time to induct our first wave of honorees. (If we missed you, sorry! Please let us know and we’ll retroactively add you!)
Ahem. Here we go…
charles agrusa
Kay Garkusha
Peggy Rakas
Nat Barcellini
Tricia Nelson
Jaya Chauhan
Hussein Jinnah
Jordan Bernard
Angèle Verrier
Judi Wearing
Khaled Sultan
Georgina Ingram
Hal Simonson
Angela Stokes
Gianni Bergandi
Solène Hyordey
Esther Ratsch
Abhay Gulmire
Ajay Panackal
Riccardo Gelmini
Soraia Kutby
Jason Simmonds
Bogdan Petrutescu
Matt Willcocks
Michael J Smith
Kippy Jo Berry
Candace Pollock
Sidney Hutter
Dennis Schvejda
Tony Vito
Ana Pichardo
Matt Ramsey
Steve Mortimer
Travis Thomas
Zack Feeney
Cheree Simons
Shane Starke
Deb Kronsberg
Shelly Auld
Stephen Stohler
Paulo Oliveira
Stephanie Martinez
Caron MacLane
Betsy Newlon
Dawn Hoffmann
Nancy Stahl
Candace Pollock
Mark Fischer
Kristie Kuehnast
Gieta Beckmann
Kat Bloom
Derrick Wulf
Luke Gilson
Daniel Keller
Pattie Beaven
Dennis Miller
Tim Brown
David Newman
Wendy Holt
Michael Balchan
Tara Bogdon
Dushan Bosotov
Carl Brenner
Bharat Singh
Lisa LaMont
Josée Boutin
Michele Herkimer
Katherine Long
Henry Mason
Cath Cooney
Kevin Stallmo
Ryan Phillips
Virginie Kidwell
Patrick Köhn
Jaya Chauhan
Catherine  Cullen 
Antonis Katsarakis
David Lee Jr 
Bud  Search
Brendan Malloy
Bruce Ollis
Helen Thorgalsen
Marta Ribas
Aygemang Clay
Geoff Downey
Kyle Abel
Win Callender
Arvind Gopal
Susie Berman
Jericho Robles
Lori Lang
Joe Goryl
Fernando Orta
Cheryl Wheeler
Aneesh Ghosh
João Alves
Ernest Wassmann
Stephanie Scott
Cathy Dodd
Kay Garkusha
Pam Holzapfel
Yohanse Manzanarez
Stephanie Criner
Susan  Benson
Genevieve  Jones 
Anne Dwane
Bill Turner
Andy Moriarity
Jonathan Schreter
Glen McNiel
Laurie Struck
Emmanuel Ryckeboer
Hayley  Schmidtke
Louise Soifer
Wendy Holt
Tania May
Summer  Teixeira
Randall Grayson
Blaine Hart
Jamie Erwine
Grace Christensen
Jill Young
Scott Miller
James Abney
Marie Anne Patenaude-Alexandre
Steve Medland
Tirth Pat
Alma-Jade Chanter
Julie Beck
Jeffry Myers
Ben Robins
Jason Deppen
Mark Davis
Carl Blackburn
Michael Metcalf
Mari Lynch
Laura Larsen-Strecker
Scott Miller
Mike Lange
Pamela Castillo
Diane Martin
Dec 26, 2019
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 book The Spartan Way. Page 14.
He tells us: Through work 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.
Self-Awareness + Commitment + Passion + Discipline + Prioritization + Grit + Courage + Optimism + Integrity + Wholeness.
So... What’s awesome? 
What needs work? 
What can (and will!) you start doing differently? 
Let’s remember: It’s ALL (!!!) about OPERATIONALIZING VIRTUE.
+1. +1. +1.
P.S. One of the things Joe and I joke about is that I’m his brother from Athens. (Hah.)
Embodying those Spartan virtues? 
Well… That, of course, is what Aristotle taught us when he said that the summum bonum (the highest good!) is to live with eudaimonia—to flourish by having a “good soul.” 
How do we do that? LIVE VIRTUOUSLY!! 
(Again, echo, the one-word summation of ALL of our work together? Areté. Express the best version of yourself moment to moment to moment and voila! Enter: Eudaimonia + a deep sense of flourishing.)
More on all that soon (and forever)…
Dec 21, 2019
Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness have written a couple great books together. First, they gave us Peak Performance. Then The Passion Paradox.
Today we’re going to talk about one of the central themes of The Passion Paradox. (Tomorrow we’ll chat about some goodness from Peak Performance.)
Except when it isn’t.
Enter: The Passion Paradox.
As Brad and Steve put it: “Mindlessly living 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 Obsessive Passion” and the healthy kind “Harmonious Passion.”
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: Enter harmonious 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 ‘the process 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 for eudaimonia. :)
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.
Dec 16, 2019
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’s Overachievement.
Recall that Eliot is the guy who told us that we want to keep 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 to be 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: “The physical 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...
  1. Pressure is different from anxiety; nervousness is different from worry.”
One more time: Everything is inherently empty of meaning. We get to CHOOSE the meaning we give to any and everything that’s happening to us. (Period!)
So, might as well choose the optimal response.
Excited about anything Today?
Me, too.
Let’s do this!
Dec 11, 2019
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: “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”
Then there’s Adam Grant’s wisdom from Originals where he quotes Randy Komisar—one of the best entrepreneurs/investors alive: “Whether you’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, ‘If I’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 via Carol Dweck’s Mindset (one more time!): “Michael Jordan embraced his failures. In fact, in one of his favorite ads for Nike, he says: “I’ve missed 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.
And, one more time: Give us all you’ve got.
Dec 6, 2019
We talk a lot about the futility of arguing with reality.
As Byron Katie so perfectly says, “When I 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 book Sacred Hoops, he tells us: “In Zen it is said that the gap between accepting things the way they are and wishing them to be otherwise is ‘the tenth 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. In Everyday Zen, she tells us: “If we 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.
Nov 26, 2019
In our last +1, we spent some time with Todd Herman, Batman, Dora the Explorer and YOUR most heroic self.
Today we’re going to connect all that goodness to wisdom from the classic peak-performance book The Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Gallwey.
Here’s how he puts it: “‘Asking for qualities’ describes the other kind of role-playing. When introducing this idea, I usually say something like this: ‘Imagine that I am the director of a television series. Knowing that you are an actor that plays tennis, I ask if you would like to do a bit part as a top-flight tennis player. I assure you that you needn’t worry about hitting the ball out or into the net because the camera will only be focused on you and will not follow the ball. What I’m mainly interested in is that you adopt professional mannerisms, and that you swing your racket with super self-assurance. Above all, your face must express no self-doubt. You should look as if you are hitting every ball exactly where you want to. Really get into the role, hit as hard as you like and ignore where the ball is actually going.”
“Asking for qualities.”
That’s one of Gallwey’s three practices for communicating with what he calls Self 2—which is basically your Optimus-best self that innately knows how to crush it if we’d simply get out of our own way. 
(The other two practices? Letting go of judgments and the art of creating images of the outcomes you want to see.)
Today we’re going to walk onto the set of the movie that is our lives.
You’re the star. (Go you!)
(Well, technically, we’re ALL just bit players in the game of life so perhaps we should adopt that view, eh?)
What roles are you playing these days? 
(Perhaps you can use the Big 3 Identities for Energy + Work + Love.)
How would you show up in your life if you acted like a top-flight pro in your given field, adopted professional mannerisms and did your thing with super self-assurance—with no doubt and pure confidence?
How would you walk, talk, breathe and be if you were acting like the best possible version of yourself? 
Be that.
And let’s watch our performance (and enjoyment) soar.
Nov 21, 2019
In our last +1, we revisited Ellen Langer at her “Psychology of Possibility” lab at Harvard to learn that words matter. 
As you may recall, simply priming people with words associated with old age (via a crossword puzzle!) will cause them to walk more slowly to the elevator than those who weren’t primed with those words.
*rubs eyes*
One more time: Astonishing, eh? 
One more time: WORDS MATTER. A lot.
Langer shares that study and wisdom in her book Counterclockwise in a section in which she also talks about “placebos” and other truly fascinating studies.
Here’s how she puts it: “When we see mind and body as parts of a single entity, the research on placebos takes on new meaning and suggests we can not only control much of our disease experience, but we may also be able to extend our ability to gain, recover, or enhance our health.
Placebos often come in the form of a single word that captures a richer mindset. In one study I conducted with my students, we explored the mindset most of us have regarding excellent vision air force pilots have. All participants were given a vision test. One group of participants were then encouraged to role-play ‘air force pilots.’ They dressed the part and, in uniform, sat in a flight simulator. They were asked to read the letters on the wing of a nearby plane, which were actually part of an eye chart. Those participants who adopted the ‘pilot’ mindset, primed to have excellent vision, showed improved vision over those who were simulating being in the simulator and simply asked to read an eye chart from the same distance.”
Just having people pretend that they’re air force pilots can improve their vision?
That’s Today’s +1.
What’s YOUR “single word that captures a richer mindset”?
Let’s pop that mantra-placebo word all day Today.
And, if you feel so inspired, why not even dress the part as well?
Nov 16, 2019
Geoff Colvin’s Talent Is Overrated is a great book.
It falls into the “Effort Counts Twice” / Deliberate Practice bucket of how to reach our Peak via Grit, etc.
It’s packed with great stories about, as per the sub-title of the book: “What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else.”
(Here’s a short hint to the answer: “No matter who they were, or what explanation of their performance was being advanced, it always took them many years to become excellent, and if a person achieves elite status only after many years of toil, assigning the principal role in that success to innate gifts becomes problematic, to say the least.”)
(Note: That doesn’t mean Talent Is IRRELEVANT, just OVERRATED when compared to extraordinarily hard work. Again: See Effort Counts Twice for Angela Duckworth’s math on the subject!)
Today I want to share one of my favorite stories from that book.
Here it is.
Colvin tells us: “A study of figure skaters found that sub-elite skaters spent lots of time working on the jumps they could already do, while skaters at the highest levels spent more time on the jumps they couldn’t do, the kind that ultimately win Olympic medals and that involve lots of falling down before they’re mastered.”
(Aha! Stretching out of our comfort zones into our stretch zones (but not into our panic zones!) for the win!)
Colvin then tells the story of Shizuka Arakawa, who won the gold medal in figure skating at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. 
As you may know, she rocked some crazy move called “a layback Ina Bauer” — which basically required her to bend backward “almost double with the feet pointing in opposite directions — leading into a three-jump combination.”
You can watch her gold-medal winning performance here
(Note1: The move we’re talking about occurs at the 1:45 mark.)
(Note2: If you aren’t moved to tears of joy as you watch such a beautiful expression of human excellence then…. well… I don’t know what to say other than rewatch it?!)
Now…. When most of us watch something like that it simply looks IMPOSSIBLE to do. (And, for most of us, it pretty much is.
But… As we watch that performance in AWE, we would be wise to remember that Shizuka, who won the gold at twenty-four, had been training for NINETEEN years. 
NINETEEN years!! 
Consistently pushing her edges. 
Falling down again and again and again...
In fact, Colvin calculated the number of times she probably fell and says: “Landing on your butt twenty thousand times is where great performance comes from.”
And… That’s Today’s +1.
Ineffably elegant grace?
It’s the by-product of being willing to inelegantly fall on your butt (on cold ice, no less!) 20,000 (!!) times.
Olympic cameras back on you.
Let’s cruise back into our respective metaphorical ice-skating rinks to train like world-class performers as we wear our falls like medals and remember this parting wisdom from Colvin: The evidence offers no easy assurances. It shows that the price of top-level achievement is extraordinarily high. Perhaps it’s inevitable that not many people will choose to pay it. But the evidence shows also that by understanding how a few become great, anyone can become better. Above all, what the evidence shouts most loudly is striking, liberating news: that great performance is not reserved for the pre-ordained few. It is available to you and to everyone.”
Nov 11, 2019
The other day I found myself re-reading our Notes on Christopher McDougall’s great book Natural Born Heroes.
Although we’ve talked (many times) about the fact that the ancient word for hero literally meant “protector,” I realized that (somehow!) I’ve never shared McDougall’s brilliant wisdom that catalyzed my emphasis on the whole idea of all of us becoming modern heroes.
Let’s take a quick look at how McDougall so wisely puts it.
He tells us: And what Plutarch taught them is this: Heroes care. True heroism, as the ancients understood, isn’t about strength, or boldness, or even courage. It’s about compassion.
When the Greeks created the heroic ideal, they didn’t choose a word that mean ‘Dies Trying’ or ‘Massacres Bad Guy.’ They went with hērōs—‘protector.’ Heroes aren’t perfect; with a god as one parent and a mortal as the other, they’re perpetually teetering between two destinies. What tips them toward greatness is a sidekick, a human connection who helps turn the spigot on the power of compassion. Empathy, the Greeks believed, was a source of strength, not softness; the more you recognized yourself in others and connected with their distress, the more endurance, wisdom, cunning, and determination you could tap into.”
That’s Today’s +1.
Heroes care.
It’s that simple.
As aspiring modern heroes, we demonstrate that love and compassion by building the strength for two.
For whom do YOU aspire to have strength?
How will you build just a little more strength Today?
How can you use the strength you have in service to the world just a little more Today?
Modern Hērōs unite!!
Let’s do this.
1 « Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next » 11