Demonstrate Courage: Habit #6 of High Performers

Over the past five posts, I have shared with you the first five habits of high performing people, according to Brendon Burchard. Today, I share with you the last and sixth habit of high performing people: Demonstrating Courage. Though this is the last habit it might be the most powerful. Deeply rooted in this habit are practices that can help avoid inaction and allow you to chase your dreams. Most people think it takes superhuman powers to be courageous, but it’s not and I share with you Brendan’s tips below.

To start, the first thing we need to do is flip the way we think about fear. Fear is a feeling in your mind and body telling you that you can’t do something. And of course you can’t do something if you have never attempted to do that something. To overcome fear you simply just need to get more comfortable with fear itself.

So, the way to combat fear and become courageous lies in the action you choose to take. The more you take action to overcome your fear the more confident you become. Simple.
Now since we have the right mindset we can follow the practices below that high performers use to help them demonstrate courage

Practice 1: Honor the struggle

Recognize that there are only two narratives in a human story: Struggle and Progress

As a human we all have a choice. We can choose to let our struggles bring us down or we can view a challenging moment as something that will make us better and stronger. Honoring the struggle is the first step in realizing that to achieve anything in life you must be OK with knowing that you are going to have to do something that will most likely challenge you like you never been challenged before.

What is something you can do today or this week that is difficult, or challenging?

Practice 2: Share your truth and ambitions

As Brendan puts it, “the main motivation of humankind is to be free, to express our true self and pursue are dreams without restriction – to experience what may be called personal freedom”. Tell others how you feel about things, and share your goals and dreams with them. By not telling others about your true feelings and desires you are holding yourself back from becoming the person you want to be.

Practice 3: Find someone to fight for

High performers try to find one person they can fight for. It helps them center themselves to help them stay motivated and inspire them through their day-to-day challenges.

Who is someone in your life that you can fight for?

If you felt like these 6 habits were helpful feel free to purchase the book here or check out this blog, podcast, and website here for other helpful insight on living your best life. Remember, making the choice to read through the practices is the first step. The second step is putting action towards implementing them into your day.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One.

Develop Influence: Habit #5 of High Performers

So far we have discussed Brendon Burchards 4 first habits of High Performers (Seek Clarity, Generate Energy, Raise Necessity, Increase Productivity). Today, I share with you #5: Develop Influence. Before we dive into the practices of becoming a more influential person, let’s start with what it means to be influential and what makes high performers more influential than most.

According to Brendan Burchard, he states in his book that “having influence” means: the ability to shape others peoples beliefs and behaviors as you desire.

What does that look like? How do people shape beliefs and behaviors?

They just ask for what they want more

According to studies referenced in the book the most simple way to get someone to follow or buy-in to your idea is to ask them. Many studies show that people are more willing to say yes up to three times as often as people thought they would. And other studies show that people overestimate at to which point they will be judged for their ideas. So, it’s simple. The people who ask for what they want have two things in common that are highly correlated to high performance – They are clear on what they want and are willing to take a risk that will them learn and grow.

They give and do not look for anything in return

High performers have a giving mindset. They rarely give and ask for something in return. They are constantly looking to find ways to give to others.

They are a champion of the people

Appreciating people is the first step to becoming a champion of the people. The second and more difficult step for most is learning about others with whom you lead, work with, or our friends with. By understanding their passions and goals you can beyond appreciating them, and become their champion.

Now, think about the most influential person in your life? When you come up with that person ask yourself these questions:

  1. What, specifically made each person so influential to you?
  2. What was the greatest lesson each person taught you about life?
  3. What values or traits did they inspire you to embody in your own life?

You most likely will find that they share some of the same qualities discussed above. To become like that person I share with you three helpful practices that you can take action on to start to be more influential:

Practice One: Teach people how to think

No matter if you are a leader of a large organization, individual contributor, or just simply a human being, we all have the ability to teach someone how to think. The good and bad thing is that there is no right or wrong way to teach someone how to think because each one of us sees the world in our own way. This presents a challenge for trying to influence or change the way someone thinks about something. An easy way to do it is by using a phrase like the ones listed below:

  • Think of it this way
  • What do you think about
  • What would happen if we tried
  • How should we approach
  • What should we be paying attention to

By using phrases like that you are effectively teaching others how to think and influencing their behaviors by opening their perspective. To further help you think about ways to influence others, ask yourself questions like this:

  1. How do you want them to think about themselves?
  2. How do you want to them to think about other people?
  3. How do you want them to think about the world at large?

Practice Two: Challenge people to Grow

No surprise here, but high performers love a challenge. It is so deep rooted in their habits and behaviors that they easily find ways to challenge others. They typically focus in three areas when trying to challenge someone:

Character

  • By giving feedback, direction, and high expectations to live up to the best version of themselves. Here are some ways to challenge others characters in a non-direct way:
    • Ask people, Looking back, do you feel you gave it your all
    • Are you bringing the best of you to this situation?
    • What values were you trying to embody when you did that?

Connections

  • Asking people how they treat and add value to others is a way to challenge their relationship with others. High performers believe in teamwork, and treating everyone with respect. They tend to say comments like this in social settings or 1 on 1:
    • Listen to one another more
    • Show each other some respect
    • Support each other more

Contribution

  • Push people to add value whether you are having a good or bad day. This is not a one size fits all approach. Depending on the person you should tailor your conversation with them so you can help them add the most value in their own way.

Practice Three: Role Model the Way

High performers spend most of their days thinking about how to be a role model to others. They have a laser-focused intention on how they can act in a way that helps others become who they want to be, and help them achieve specific outcomes. To become a role model, you can use these thoughts and questions below:

  • If I were going to approach my relationships and career as an even better role model, the first things I would start doing are……
  • Some who really needs me to lead and be a strong role model right now is….
  • Some ideas on how I can be a role model for that person are……
  • If ten years from now, the five closest people to me in my life were to describe me as a role model, I would hope would say things like

If you felt like these were helpful feel free to purchase the book here or check out this blog, podcast, and website here for other helpful insight on living your best life. Remember, making the choice to read through the practices is the first step. The second step is putting action towards implementing them into your day.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One.

Increase Productivity: Habit #4 of High Performers

Over the past 3 weeks, I have shared the first three habits of high performing people from Brendan Burchard’s book High-Performance Habits (Seek Clarity, Generate Energy, and Raise Necessity). Today, I share with you the #4 Habit Increase Productivity.
Brendan Burchard defines the basics of productivity as this: “Productivity starts with goals”. The most productive people know where they are going, give all their energy towards the end goal, and feel as if they have no other choice but to reach it. Sound familiar? That is the first three habits of high performing people. So, this habit is all about taking action after you mastered the first three habits.

Brendan shares with us three practices that I find to be really helpful when it comes to taking action and increasing our productivity.

Practice 1 – Increase outputs that matter

High performing people focus on the outputs that matter. This is the simple idea of focusing on the fundamental things that make you better. Brendan calls this mastering your PQO (Prolific Quality Output) which is measured by seeing how much high-quality output one person puts in over the long term. Outputs are different for every person, however, the outputs typically lie within the most basic parts of your job. The type of things you typically don’t see an immediate reward with or have to repeat on a daily basis. Think about Micheal Jordan, Tiger Woods, Lebron James, Tom Brady – the greatest athletes of all time. When you research them and understand how they become who they are today, all you ever read is that they focused on the fundamental things that improved their overall physical and mental skills.

Now, how do you start to increase the outputs that matter?

Ask yourself, a few simple questions:

    1. What are the outputs that matter the most to my personal or professional career?
    2. What is distracting me from focusing on the things that matter?

Practice 2 – Chart your five moves

High performers always have a plan, and they are wired to spend more time thinking before acting. Reminds me of the famous quote by Abraham Lincoln ”Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” Charting your five moves is simply focusing on the things that actually matter and condensing them down into five things that will help you reach your goal.
As Brendan puts it, “Let’s pause here and remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” What Brendan found is that High performers know what their goal is and have charted at least 5 moves that can help them get where they want to go.

You can do the same. First, ask yourself:

  1. What is the biggest goal or dream that I want to achieve right now?
  2. The five moves that would help me progress swiftly toward accomplishing that dream are?
  3. The timeline for each of my five moves will be…
  4. Five people who have achieved that dream who I could study, seek out, interview or model are…..
  5. The less important activities or bad habits I’m going to cut out of my schedule so that I can focus more time on the five moves in the next three month includes…..

Practice 3 – Get Insanely good at key skills

You can learn anything you choose to learn. To get insanely good at the skills required for you to be a high performer you most practice what Brendan Burchard calls “progressive mastery”. In his research, he found that high performers excel because they progressively improve each day to ultimately achieve the skill needed to accomplish their goals.
Here is are the steps to progressive training:

  1. Determine a skill you want to master
  2. Set specific stretch goals on your path to developing that skill
  3. Attach high levels of emotion and meaning to your journey and your results
  4. Identify the factors critical to success, and develop your strengths in those areas
  5. Develop visualizations that clearly imagine what success and failure look like
  6. Schedule challenging practices developed by experts or through careful thought
  7. Measure your progress and get outside feedback
  8. Socialize your learning and efforts by practicing or competing with others
  9. Continuing setting higher-level goals so that you keep improving
  10. Teach others what you are learning

If you felt like these were helpful feel free to purchase the book here or check out this blog, podcast, and website here for other helpful insight on living your best life. Remember, making the choice to read through the practices is the first step. The second step is putting action towards implementing them into your day.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One.

Raise Necessity: Habit #3 of High Performers

Today, I share with you the #3 habit of High Performers: Raise Necessity from Brendon Burchard’s book High Performance Habits. This is an important habit to build on because necessity is one of the ultimate drivers of motivation and achieving excellence. While interviewing high performers, Brandon asked them “why” they worked so hard, and how they stayed so focused. Their responses:

  • It’s just who I am
  • I can’t imagine doing anything else
  • This is what I was made to do
  • People need me now, They are counting on me
  • I can’t miss this opportunity
  • If I don’t do this now, I’ll regret it forever
  • I feel a deep emotional drive and commitment to succeeding, and it consistently forces me to work hard, stay disciplined, and push myself

People who agree with the statements above scored high on every high-performance test they were given along with studies showing they showed great confidence, happiness, and most importantly success over a long period of time.

So, what does Raising Necessity mean?

It is all about feeling emotionally committed to whatever you want to do in life, and reaching a point where it becomes necessary that you will excel at all costs.

To start to build this habit your first course of action is understanding the driving force behind what makes you feel that necessity and motivation to perform at higher levels. Brandon shares with us the four forces of necessity in his book.

Four Forces of Necessity

Identity (Personal Standards of Excellence)

As we discussed in the first habit of high performers they know exactly who they are, how they want to feel, and what is meaningful to them. With all those areas so clearly defined, High Performers set very high standards for themselves.

Obsession

High Performers have high intrinsic motivation because they strive to learn about things they find interesting, enjoyable, and personally satisfying. Obsession is a strong word and often has some negative connotations around it, but high performers simply are just more curious than others about their specific primary field of interest. They get to the point where they become so passionate about something that it can feel obsessive, and they feel this need or desire to master a specific subject matter.

Duty

High performers often feel that someone else is counting on them, or that their purpose is much greater than anything they personally want to achieve. They feel a duty to someone or something beyond themselves. Brandon found that for the top 15% of high performers it is not rare to hear them use words like legacy, destiny, divine timing, God, or a moral responsibility to other generations as primary motivations for their performance.

Urgency

A survey of 1,100 high performers revealed that their underperforming counterparts get pulled into fake urgencies or deadlines three and half times more often than they do. High performers feel the necessity to get something done because it affects other people.

Three practices on how to raise necessity in your life:

1.Know who needs your A game

A simple practice can just be reminding yourself if you are giving it your all today. Brandons research found that high performers are human just like you and me, so often they can find themselves in moments of self-doubt. To get them back on track they use tricks like this below:

Keep a post-it note, or set an alarm and write down these questions:

Who needs me on my A game the most right now?

This will force you to think and ask questions like these:

What is my A game?

Am I bringing my A game today?

Think of someone else which will hold you at a higher level of accountability

2. Affirm your Why

One of the differences between a high performer and low performer is the ability to share with others and themselves their goals, secrets or “why” they do the things. By affirming something you are confirming it and you say it with confidence assuming it will happen. High performers have confidence in their goals, and they feel proud to tell you about their purpose.

High performers tend to be more open about their goals and purposes to others because it raises their accountability in getting it done. They know that by telling others, they have to follow through. One of the main reasons high performers share their goals with others is because they actually don’t believe they are always right. They do this to be open to other processes and help from others to get to where they want to go.

So, this practice is simple. Open up to people who you are close to and tell them about your goals. If you don’t, ask yourself what are you hiding? What if you need help? Do you truly care about your goal to the point that you feel it is a necessity to get done?

3. Level up your squad

This has been proven time and time again – associating yourself with the most positive and successful people in your personal or professional network can help increase your performance. First, you need to evaluate who in your life causes you frustration, negativity, and limits your ability to be the person you want to be. Then you must remove those people out of your life, and simply focus on building relationships with people who are positive and successful.

If you felt like these were helpful feel free to purchase the book here or check out this blog, podcast, and website here for other helpful insight on living your best life. Remember, making the choice to read through the practices is the first step. The second step is putting action towards implementing them into your day.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One.

Generate Energy: Habit #2 of High Performers

Last week I discussed the first habit of high performers: Seeking Clarity. Today, I share with you the second habit of high performers: Generate Energy

According to Brendan Burchard, high performers learn how to generate energy which helps them perform at a lnhigh level over a long period of time. Now, to be clear Brendan in his book defines energy as the “holistic kind that includes positive and enduring mental, physical, and emotional vibrancy. “

Why is energy so important? Well, no surprise here but low energy is highly correlated with low performing success, and high performance is tied to high energy. People with high energy achieve much more success in their primary field of interest than their peers. The great thing about energy is that it is not something that you are born with. Energy comes from transforming the way you think and feel about any given situation. To help generate energy throughout your day Brendon shares with you practices in his book. I discuss below the two practices that I found to be really helpful:

Practice One – Release Tension, Set Intention

The easiest, fastest and most effective way to help increase energy is to teach yourself how to master daily transitions according to Brendon Burchard. A few examples of daily transitions are when you wake up in the morning from sleeping to waking, when you go from commuting to walking into work, and finally, the most obvious transition is when you come out of that meeting that didn’t go as planned and you have to hop into another one. We all experience many transitions throughout the day which impact our energy levels.

To start increasing your energy levels you need to recognize how you feel throughout certain situations and how you interact with others. A good way to start would be to write down all the transitions you go through on a given day. After you do that you can ask yourself these questions to help you understand how you think and feel throughout each one.

  • Do you ever carry over any negative energy from one activity to the other?
  • Do you ever feel depleted but still plow into your next activity without a break, even though you know you should take a breather?
  • What if you could change the way you think before each transition throughout the day? What would the impact be? How would you be able to do that?

Now, since you have a good understand of the daily transitions and how you feel and interact with them you can use Brandon’s technique which he calls release tension, set intention.

Here is how it works:

  1. Before walking into the next transition of your day close your eyes for a minute or two.
  2. Now, say the release in your mind over and over again. As you do command your body to release all the tension in your shoulders, in your neck, in your face and jaw.
  3. After you have felt all the tension being released, now you can set your intention for the next transition.

Practice Two: Bring the Joy

As you know one of the greatest joys of being a human is that you have a choice, and you can choose how you feel at every moment throughout the day. High performers recognize this and choose to “bring the joy” to their day by implementing habits that allow them to focus on positive thoughts and feelings. Here are six habits high performers try to implement into their day to day according to Brendan’s research:

  1. They spend time thinking about how they want to feel in advance of a key event.
  2. They strongly believe that their actions will be rewarded.
  3. They prepare themselves for moments when things go wrong. Remember their high performers are no different then you and I. They are human.
  4. They want to interject challenge into their day.
  5. They steer social interactions into positive emotions.
  6. They reflect on how grateful they are.

What better way to practice “bringing the joy” then starting your day with simple questions:

  • What can I be excited about today?
  • What or who might trip me up or cause stress, and how can I respond in a positive way, from my highest self?
  • Who can I surprise today with a thank you, a gift, or a moment of appreciation?

If you felt like these were helpful feel free to purchase the book here or check out this blog, podcast, and website here for other helpful insight on living your best life. Remember, making the choice to read through the practices is the first step. The second step is putting action towards implementing them into your day.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One.

Seeking Clarity: #1 Habit of High Performers

A few months ago I was recommended a book called High-Performance Habits: How Extraordinary people come that way. It is written by Brendon Burchard a high-performance coach who is widely regarded as one of the best in his field. Over the past 20 years, he set out to understand three fundamental questions:

  1. Why do some individuals and teams succeed more quickly than others and sustain that success over the long-term?
  2. Of those who pull it off, why are some miserable and other happy on their journey?
  3. What motivates people to reach for higher levels of success in the first place, and what kinds of habits, training, and support help them improve faster?

These questions led him to speak with some of the highest performing athletes and business professionals the world has ever seen. He was able to uncover a ton of research and data to help him understand the answers. With all of this information, he was able to write this book.

Instead of doing my traditional review of the book, I felt like this book was really helpful and insightful to the point I wanted to break down each part to make sure you can really grasp his concepts since they can be really life-changing.

Brendon discovered that there are six habits of high performing* people. For the next six weeks I will post about each one:

  1. Seek Clarity
  2. Generate Energy
  3. Raise Necessity
  4. Increase Productivity
  5. Develop Influence
  6. Demonstrate Courage

*For the purpose of his book, high performance refers to succeeding beyond standard norms, consistently over the long-term.

Today, I will be sharing with you his first habit of high performance: Seeking Clarity

Let’s, start by answering this question: What does it mean to seek clarity?

It is remaining focused on today, and the present moment, while thinking about tomorrow and the future. Really tough to do, and balance your time between being present and thinking about what is next. Brendon’s research showed was that High Performers have figured out how to do it, and they centered their focus on the future into these core statements:

  • Who they are
  • Why they are here
  • What they wanted
  • How they were going to get there
  • What they found meaningful and fulfilling

Seems like pretty easy things to know, but you would be surprised that very few people have spent time thinking about those statements above.

To understand further into how Brendon went about his research on seeking clarity he interviewed people asking them questions like this:

  • Which things are you absolutely clear about that help you perform better than your peers?
  • What do you do when you are feeling uncertain, or undirected?
  • What aren’t you clear about, and how does that affect your performance?

By asking these questions he was able to identify how high performing people use clarity as the #1 habit for performing at levels that are so much higher than their peers.

Using all of his data and experience he lays out three simple practices for you to use to help you seek clarity in your life:

Practice 1: Envision the future four

  1. Self – You must know who you want to become. Have a vision for your future-self. An easy exercise to help you:
    • Think about yourself in daily situations with co-workers, your kids, and your wife. Is that person you want to be? If you do not like how you are, then ask yourself how would I want to be. Now, write down three aspirational words that represent how you want to be and use them as your guide
  2. Social – Understand how they want to treat other people
    • Write down each person name in your family and professional life that you see regularly
    • Imagine it is 20 years from and each person is describing why they love and respect you. If they had just three words, what would you want those words to be?
    • Next time, you are with them use that time to demonstrate those three qualities.
  3. Skill – Think about what you want your future to be like. Then understand the skills needed to get there, and obsess over obtaining those skills.
    • Think about your primary field of interest and write down three skills that make people successful
    • Under each skill, write down what you will do to develop it. Will you read, practice, get a coach, got to a training? Set up a plan to develop those skills.
    • Now think about your primary field of interest and write down three skills that you will need in order to succeed in that field five to ten years from now.
  4. Service – They care more about their service towards others than themselves.
    • For example, low performers ask themselves questions like this, “How can I get by with the least amount of effort” and high performs say, “ How can I serve with excellence”

Practice 2: Determine the feeling you are after

High performers define the feeling they are after. They know exactly what that feeling is and they do whatever it takes to there. They ask themselves, what is the primary feeling I want to “bring” to this situation and what is the primary feeling I want to “get”? As Brandon, shares from his studies he finds that underperformers shy away from the feelings they want.

Practice 3: Define what’s meaningful

High performers tend to take in four factors when describing something as meaningful.

  • They feel enthusiasm towards that project or goal. For example, most high performers wake up and ask themselves “What can I get excited or enthusiastic about today?
  • They factor in their connection and value challenges over comfort. They want to be around peers and family who challenge them not make them feel comfortable.
  • Satisfaction: High performers said they feel relate satisfaction with meaning and an equation Brandon puts together is this:

Passion + Growth + Contribution = Personal Satisfaction

  • Life Makes Sense: High performers want to know that everything happens for a reason. They want to feel like their effort is helping them or others work something greater than themselves and that their life has a purpose.

If you felt like these were helpful feel free to purchase the book here or check out this blog, podcast, and website here for other helpful insight on living your best life. Remember, making the choice to read through the practices is the first step. The second step is putting action towards implementing them into your day.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One.

Want To Learn How to Improve Yourself? Look Inward: Self – Directed Learning

In the book Primal Leadership, the authors argue that practicing and learning how to improve yourself by focusing on EQ competencies adds more long-term value to reaching your potential then studying IQ related skills.

They share with you multiple data points backing up their argument. One, in particular, is a study comparing MBA programs where one program focuses on students improving their EQ competencies and the other students focus on a typical MBA class. They have been running this study since 1990 and it has shown that the students who worked to improve their EQ competencies in the study allowed them to retain what they learned up to 5 to 7 years after graduating vs. students who did not work to improve EQ only about 1 to 2 years. Even better, they found that the students who originally worked to improve their EQ competencies didn’t just improve their EQ but improved in other areas of work faster and better than others.

Why is it that when studying things that relate to improving your IQ you forget them more quickly over time? According to Daniel Goleman, he explains that we go through a “honeymoon effect” after training and learning something new. This is the period of time after we learn something where we try to implement and use it, but slowly as time goes on we forget it.

Why does the honeymoon effect happen?

  • Majority of people truly believe they can not change. Going to a training most people immediately tell themselves they will not get anything out of this training.
  • We can’t learn something when it is forced on us. We learn when we want to learn.
  • As we become more experienced in our careers/life we start to take less feedback from others – What is widely referred to as the “CEO Disease” – we rarely choose to receive or listen to any feedback on ourselves.

What does science have to say about it?

According to science, you need to tap into your limbic brain NOT your neocortex. Most training target the neocortex which is our thinking brain. This part of our brain captures information rapidly and allows us to remember things we read or hear very quickly. On the other hand, the limbic brain is a much more slow learner as it focuses on emotions. By focusing training on the limbic brain (emotions) it takes a ton of repetition and practice whereas the neocortex can learn something after one repetition. The problem is that learning requires that you take action to implement what you have learned. This is where people fail to learn what they were taught.

So, if you want to truly learn and tap into your potential how can you do that?

The authors share with us what they call the “Self-Directed Learning” process. Learning and development come from within, and to combat the honeymoon effect you need to look inward to understand who you are and who you want to be. These exercises below can help guide you to become the best version of yourself.

  1. My Ideal Self – Who do I want to be?

This question helps lead you to who you truly want to be as a person and more importantly, a leader. By setting a future goal or end result you will stay motivated through the good times and bad times to keep going till you discover your ideal self.

  1. My Real Self – Who am I? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What are the gaps?

The toughest question of all. The moment when you truly look at yourself and reflect on how you act, how others view you and how your beliefs impact your actions. The best way to help answer this question is asking for feedback from your team, friends/family, or peers. It will be harsh, but you will uncover what you’re good at and where the gaps are to truly achieve your ultimate goal of becoming your ideal self.

  1. My Learning Agenda – What action do I need to take to make up the gap?

You know who you want to be, and what areas you need to improve to become that person. The best way to do that is building an action plan. It can be as detailed as a daily action, or it could be broader like monthly or annual goals. The only thing that matters is following through on taking the steps to improve. Easier said than done. So, it always recommended that you start small, and build on this question as you go.

  1. Experimenting – How can you take action and practice new behaviors, thoughts, and the feeling to the point of mastery?

This question lies in taking action after you built your plan. This is the hardest part for most and will be the question that makes or breaks someone. If you are truly committed to becoming a better perspn then you need to start practicing behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that will help close the gap.

  1. Relationships – Who in your life can help you make these changes possible?

No one will believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. That is the first step, and hopefully, if you are asking yourself this questions you already believe in your own abilities to improve yourself. If that is true, then you will need others in your life to help support you as you grow and evolve.

Now, Wake Up. It’s Day One! Time to start looking inward. May the choice be with you. To learn more about leadership and emotional intelligence buy the book here.

Life Lessons From A Self-Made Merchant To His Son

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself. In light of this, on Monday’s I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is Letters from a Self Made Merchant to his Son by George Horace Lorimer.

Brief Summary:

George Horace Lorimer shares with us a fictional story about letters written between a father John Graham, the head of the house of Graham and Company, Pork Packers in Chicago to his Pierrepont who around the age of 18 is going off to Harvard. The letters span out over years from Pierrponts college days to getting his first job. The book consists of only the responses by John, so we get to see his advice back to his son about the different situations his son is facing. I share with you the lessons I took away from the book below.

Lessons learned from the book

Improving your character is more important than improving your IQ

John writes to his son, “The first thing that any education ought to give a man is character, and the second thing is education. There are two parts of a college education – the part that you get in the schoolroom from the professors, and the part that you get outside it from the boys. That’s the really important part. For the first can only make you a scholar, while the second can make you a man.”
When you think back to college or high school where did you learn the most? Was it outside or inside the classroom? As John tells Pierrepont knowledge comes from all different sort of places and most of what we learn and who we become has nothing to do with what we learned in the classroom. School is not about where you went or what you learned it is about what you did while you were there. It made me think about how we might need to rethink the saying “knowledge is power”. I better way to say it would be knowledge + action = power.

Always be sweeping

John writes to his son that he is worried that his head is getting too big at Harvard, and he is being a foolish college kid wasting away his money. As Pierrepont is about to graduate John wants to make sure he understands what is going to take to be successful.
“The only sure way a man can get rich quick is to have it given to him or to inherit it. You are not going to get rich that way – at least, not until after you have proved your ability to hold a pretty important position within the firm. It doesn’t make any difference whether he is the son of the old man or the cellar boss – that place is the bottom. And the bottom in this office is a seat at the mailing desk.”

Always be learning is one of the greatest pieces of advice I have ever received. The best part about having a mindset where you are always learning is that it is a skill that everyone has the ability to do. No matter where you went to school, your title, or how “successful” you are. The one thing that separates the good from the great’s is their ability to continue to learn. While reading this book it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes:

“Training is like sweeping the floor. Just because we‘ve done it once, doesn’t mean the floor is clean forever. Every day the dust comes back. Every day we must sweep.”

If you are really smart, don’t make the same mistake twice

Johns advice to his son about learning from mistakes is a classic reminder of how powerful mistakes can be. He writes “when you make a mistake, don’t make the second one – keeping it to yourself. Own up.”
You don’t learn from what you are good at. When you are good at something you just keep being good at it. The simplicity of that is scary because it causes people to do two things: To be afraid of failure and feel ashamed to discuss them. When we shy away from mistakes or failures we stop growing and learning. No matter how good you are at something, you are not perfect. It is an important piece of advice to remember because if you truly want to reach your potential you must be ready to learn from your mistakes.

Life is about the little things

John writes to his son about how important it is to not judge a book by its cover, “Just here I want to say that while it’s all right for another fellow to be influenced by appearances, it’s all wrong for you to go on them. Backup good looks by good character yourself, and make sure the other fellow does the same. ” John teaches his son that the little things in life are the most important things and that 2/3 of success is making people think you are all right.
To me, who cares what car you drive, clothes you wear, and how big your house is. None of those things tell anyone what type of person you are. What matters it the little things. Smile and laugh with others, give to others, contribute to society, help people, and just be a good person. That is what makes people think you are all right.

How has the book impacted me

When I went to college my dad told me the exact same type of advice that John told his son Pierrepont – it doesn’t matter where you went to school, it only matters what you do when you get there. Though this is a fictional story, I will be sharing the same piece of advice to my son one day when I send him off to college.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. Please feel free to buy the book here!

10 Stoic Principles – How to live life to the fullest

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself. In light of this, on Monday’s I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is Everything Has Two Handles: The Stoic’s Guide to the Art of Living by Ronald Pies.

Brief Summary:

Ronald Pies is Professor of Psychiatry and Lecturer on Bioethics and Humanities at S.U.N.Y Upstate Medical University, N.Y. along with being Editor in Chief of the Psychiatric Times, author of several textbooks, short stories, poems.
Ronald’s book shares with us principles from the ancient Stoics. He utilizes specific quotes and stories from Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius who are three of the founding fathers of Stoicism. The writings of these three men can be difficult to understand, so Ronald does a great job of putting his own thoughts around each of the lessons taught by these men. I like to think of this book a modern-day guide to implementing stoic principles in your life. Today, I share with you the 10 principles I took away from the book.

Principles I learned from the book:

Things do not touch the soul

Think about a time when you have been upset. Ask yourself was it your opinion of those external events that caused you to be upset or the actual event itself. The Stoics would say the former. Others might disagree which is fine. It would be borderline crazy to think that we can indeed control the way we feel, but the Stoics believe that we have much more influence over our emotions then we are led to believe.
When feeling frustrated or upset follow this ancient stoic practice: Ask yourself how important is this issue going to be hundreds of years from now? The answer is probably not very likely. It is only your perception of the problem that makes you feel as if it is important. As referenced in the book Shakespeare once wrote in his play Hamlet “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Don’t be bewildered by appearances

This is the classic line “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” The ancient stoics urge us to see beyond and beneath our first impressions of anything. Be careful not to instantly make a judgment. Take a step back. Think it through, and remember that the other person might be dealing with something that might be causing you to misinterpret them.

If you once gain time for thought, you will more easily command yourself

Have you ever jumped to a conclusion about something and you realized you were wrong? Happens all the time. Sometimes it is as simple as taking a deep breath, processing the information and then deciding on what to do next.

Death creates meaning

The Stoics saw no difference in “the one who lives longest” and “the one who will die soonest.” Our society thinks in terms longevity, not depth and quality of life which leads us to believe that we have time. It is the reason you think you can start that diet tomorrow, or push that goal back a day or so. The stoics remind themselves of this: Hundreds of thousands of years from now, how big of a difference will it matter whether you lived 20 years or 100 years. People do not remember you for how much time you spent with them, but the impact you made on them. So in short, your time is valuable. Live each day like it is your last.

The art of living resembles wrestling more than dancing

Why would you want to wrestle with life vs. dance with it? Marcus Aurelius teaches that we must always be prepared for whatever comes in our way whether good or bad. As you know, life can be diffucult at times. And what can make it even more difficult is our society’s obsession to praise the winners and quickly forget about the losers. It all comes down to perception. We see the champions dancing at the end, but we never got to witness the wrestling they went through. So, if you want to live a good life follow Marcus’s advice don’t be afraid to wrestle with both the good and bad of every situation.

Focus on what you can control

“Be not disgusted, nor discouraged, nor dissatisfied, if you do not succeed in doing everything according to the right principles; but when you have failed, return back again – Marcus Aurelius

“If you work at that which is before you, following right reason seriously…calmly, without allowing anything else to distract you, but keeping your divine part pure….if you hold to this, expecting nothing, fearing nothing, but satisfied with your present activities according to nature…you will live happily” – Marcus Aurelius

Before you decide to start something, don’t think about failure. Think about everything that is in your control. If you follow through on the parts you control, then you can’t fail. You either are satisfied, or you learn where you can improve.

Live in the here and now

As the Stoics would say, You can’t change the past. You can’t control the future. But you can learn from your past and help dictate a better future by living in the now. This is what a day one mindset is all about. You get an opportunity every morning to reset your life.
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We must first achieve self-love and self-sufficiency

In our society, we tend to blur the lines between what we want and what we need. According to the ancient Stoics, to truly find happiness in life, we must realize the difference between the two. As Seneca puts it, ” What is my object in making a friend.” Do I need to have a friend, or do I want to have a friend? The difference between the two will determine how you go about a friendship with someone depending if you believe you need or want that friendship.

Remember, someone is always dealing with it worse

Straightforward practice here. When every you feel mad or upset about anything remember that someone is probably dealing with a worse situation.
“Seneca imagines nature saying to us, “ Those things you grumble about are the same for everyone. I can give no one anything any easier. But anyone who likes may make them easier for himself. How? By viewing them equanimity.”
If you can not control or fix it, then don’t worry about it.

Everything has two handles

Marcus Aurelius believed that we control two things: our attitude and behavior. In any situation bad or good you must realize that no one is stopping you from acting with kindness, gratitude, or integrity. You control what you do next. We are always faced with two choices or how the Stoics saw it: two handles. You can choose to view the situation as positive, or you can choose to view the situation as negative. You always have a choice. Its up to you to decide which handle you choose.

How has this book impacted me?

The last few years I have been on a journey to understand what truly makes someone a great leader. I have sifted through many biographies and researched a ton of past and present leaders. The most common theme I found is that they all studied or were very familiar with the ancient philosophy of stoicism. It amazed me. Some of them were natural leaders, and some learned how to be leaders. But at the end of the day they are not any different than you and I. They just simply followed principles like the ones you read above. I am sure as you read them you thought to yourself, “Wow. This is common sense.” I thought the same thing at first. Then, I thought to myself how many of these principles am I actually following on a daily basis. The answer was zero. I decided to change that and try my best to implement as many of them as I could. It has changed the way I think and live my life. I challenge you to truly try to apply one of the principles above. You will be shocked by the results.
Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick; and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so let us be thankful.” – Ronald Pies

Learn how to become a modern stoic here

All We Got Is Time

As we continue on our journey to reaching our potential, we must remember, it is not about what has happened to you, where you came from, how long you have been here or where you are at today. It’s about what happens next and what you did with what happens to you and how you deal with what you are given. No matter who you are we are all given a time limit the day we were born. We can’t hide or run from it. We must embrace it. We must be ready to take action on every opportunity we get. To help me along the way I utilize these four simple principles as a guide to keep me moving forward.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint

As human we tend to be  A and Z thinkers, we obsess over how to start, and then we dream about what the end result will be. This type of thinking naturally leads us to neglect B thru Y.  From time to time, it will be important to remember “why” you started and where you want to end up, but we must not forget reaching your end goal is always is a process of many small things completed over an extended period of time. It is vital that you give B thru y some love. How do you do this? It is simple.

Instead, break up the task at hand into small pieces. Do what you need to do right now. Accomplish that thing. Then, move on to the next thing.

Never stop moving forward

The most straightforward and easy habit to form is reminding yourself constantly of what you control. Whenever you feel the emotion of anger, frustration, or thought of giving up remind yourself you are in control.

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Look at the situation objectively. It is what it is.
  3. Ask yourself what do I control?
  4. How or what do I need to solve this?
  5. Now, move forward.

Embrace failure

Here is the thing, you can never create a plan that can prepare you for trying. You just have to do it. The amount of time you spend talking about your plan vs. actually taking action on your plan will end in you living a life full of regret. The best part about trying is that no matter what it will lead you to two outcomes:

  1. You fail. We learn the task or idea we thought was possible was not.

What action can we take:

Ask yourself: What went wrong here? What am I missing? What can be improved?

  1. You succeed. We learn that the task or idea we thought was possible was.

What action can we take:

Ask yourself: What went right here? How can I improve? How can I maintain it?

Guess What? Life goes on and no matter the outcome you learned. If you failed great. If you succeeded great. At least you know you tried. Remember, nobody ever regrets trying.

Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the tough questions

One of the ancient stoics practices is to remind yourself of this question: how important is this moment or issue hundreds of year from now? The answer is… probably not very important. Sadly, what you do today may or may not have any impact in the future. The fact is time will continue to march forward with or without you.

Depending on how you look at it you might feel the exact opposite of taking action. However,  the stoics posed this question to themselves to make them truly understand who they really were and allow themselves to fully believe in what they were supposed to do. It forced them to ask even more profound questions which can answer the most underlying reasons for why we choose to do anything in our lives: Why are you here? What is the point? What is the purpose? Why wake up today?

These questions are simple, but yet so difficult for people to answer. Why? Most of us are afraid to find the answer.

Good thing it’s day one.