The Difference Between Good and Great Teams: The Captain

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 The Captain Class: A New Theory on Leadership by Sam Walker

Summary of Book:

Sam Walker is a well-respected reporter, columnist, and today the deputy editor for the Wall Street Journal. In his book, he had one goal which was to figure out what was the greatest sports team ever assembled, and what was the common trait that made them all so elite. To do this, he set up an elaborate formula that breaks down all teams across all sports, with very specific criteria to determine which teams were the best of all time. Ultimately what he discovers is that financial health, great coaches, and having once in a generation player on your team do not catapult a team to success.  What he finds is that the one single thing they all had in common was the skills and leadership abilities of their captain. Here are the seven traits he uncovered along with my takeaways from each:

Seven Traits of a Captain:

  1. Extreme doggedness and focus on competition
  2. Aggressive play that tests the limits of the rules
  3. A willingness to do thankless jobs in the shadows
  4. A low-key practical, and democratic communication style
  5. Motivates others with passionate nonverbal displays
  6. Strong convictions and the courage to stand apart
  7. Ironclad emotional control

Relentlessly pursue goals

Through his research what Sam found is that the teams who he identified as the greatest of all time were not that way because of one sole player, but rather due to having a teammate who was not the most gifted, but no matter what relentlessly pursued the goal of winning. The very first trait of a captain is their ability ”to just keep coming” as Sam describes in the book. 

In many teams, and groups there can be a misconception about how humans accomplish a goal which is characterized as “Social Loafing.” Teams and most superstars of those teams fall into this trap and believe that they can only do a specific task on their own, and don’t need the help of others. This thought process is typically what leads to disruption on the field which results in losing. However, in his research, he discovered that a team captain, someone who cares so deeply to win at all costs, can galvanize people to come together to perform at levels they didn’t think were possible. Out of the 100+ teams he researched, he found that the top 17 greatest teams ever had a captain who no matter what gave it his/her all for the team. 

Think differently

In every sport, there are rules to allow the game to be played fair, and make sure that there is no discrepancy in who is the winner or loser. However, Sam found that captains who were on these great teams found ways to push the boundaries. In his research, Sam finds that many captains tend to intentionally push the boundaries of what is fair and what is not. Now, they rarely “broke the rules”, but they came close. At times, they acted in aggressive manners to bend the rules, and some might have felt like it was unfair. However, they used this as fuel to help motivate and push their teams. 

Be great at the fundamentals

In today’s world more than ever, we see the team captain as the “star” and they are followed by all the fame and glory. However, for the captains in the most elite teams, they shy away from the attention. They focused on roles that helped the team win, as Sam refers to “Carried the Water”. There focus was on trying to do whatever was needed to help the team, not themselves be successful. Further research found that the captains of these teams were great at building relationships with all levels of the team and nurturing those relationships to feel more relatable. So, it wasn’t about taking the last shot that was most important to them, but it was about making sure the team felt good especially in the toughest of moments.

Uses action, and NON-verbal displays to lead 

When people think of “Captains”, and great teams. They think of legendary speeches, and the star player giving one last pep talk before the team takes the field. Well, for the captains of these great teams, that is simply not the truth. What Sam found was that the captains didn’t use many words or big speeches. They simply used their actions, and non-verbal cues to help motivate their teammates. The reason this worked so well, is due to the open flow of communication. They never felt the need to be the only one who can speak in certain situations. They made sure that team communication was very democratic, and everyone had the ability to speak up when necessary. A low-key, practical and democratic communication style

It’s not about being right, but about doing the right thing

As Sam puts its a teams worst nightmare is “Locker Room Drama”. It can lead to destructive team chemistry and ultimately ruin an entire season for a team. What he found was interesting though that the Captain of these great teams tends to push the boundaries with their ideas, and thoughts. Now, what is important to note is there is a certain type of conflict that was good, and actually resulted in helping the team. But it is clearly true that the captain of the team is the one who is defiant, and always trying to test the boundaries of what is the right thing to do. 

Ability to manage the chaos

When the going gets tough, or the team seems to be shaken by a specific play or moment. The captain is the one who everyone looks to for guidance. They have this unique ability as Sam refers to it as a “Kill Switch”, that no matter what just happened, they can switch their mindset to be in complete control of their emotions. This ability is one of the most important for all captains because when everything feels like it is breaking down around them they are left standing ready to fight, and lead the team to victory.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. If you enjoyed learning about the seven traits of a Captain, I would highly recommend you read the book as it uncovers data to back up his argument. Buy the book here.

How to Open your Mind to the World of Possibility

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 The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander.

Brief Summary:

Benjamin is a conductor and teacher at the Boston Philharmonic symphony while Rosamund is a psychotherapist. Together they share with us their 12 proven practices to opening up your life to the world of possibility.  Today, I share with you 7 of the 12 practices that I found most helpful:

It is all Invented (Practice 1):

A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying,

SITUATION HOPELESS STOP NO ONE WEARS SHOES

The other write backs triumphantly,

GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY STOP THEY HAVE NO SHOES

Each of us sees things in our own unique ways, and when we do, we tell our version of the story, as did these two marketing scouts. Why? As we experience life one moment at a time our brain is processing sensations and quickly providing us with a mental map to help us assess our next move. Basically, all of our experiences help us invent our own version of the world which creates the stories we tell and the things we see. This causes us to see the world the way we want to see it, not the way it truly is. If we could see the world as it really is, we would realize that everything is just invented.

What if we could see the world in a new way and generate a new or different map in our mind, a way to flip the script that is already written for us. Benjamin and Rosamund call this the practice of remembering “It is all invented.”

They give you a helpful set of questions to ask yourself to practice this concept:

  1. What assumption am I making, that I’m not aware I’m making, that gives me what I see?

When you answer that ask yourself this:

  1. What might I now invent, that I haven’t yet invented, that would give me other choices?

Stepping into the World of Possibility (Practice 2):

We live in this “world of measurement” where everything we do is measured. We continuously think about how to survive, how we compare to others, and how we can be better than our competition which leads us to feel anxiety, self-doubt and gives us the natural instinct to look out for only ourselves. 

What if we thought about the world differently? What if the world was not about yourself but about becoming part of all being, and the focus was not on competing with others but finding joy in believing we could all succeed? Why not a world of possibility where we focus on being joyful and letting ourselves be who we truly want to be?

To practice this, ask yourself “ How are my thoughts and actions, at this moment, reflections of the measurement world?

Giving an A (Practice 3):

As a teacher, Benjamin Zander starts every student with an A to start the semester and makes them write out how they see their future selves succeeding as an A student in his class. He believes that if you think from the get-go that you are an A student, you will act as such. In his mind, you and your peers will hold you accountable to a higher standard because now you are officially an A student. You will be freed from the vicious cycle of worrying about comparing yourself to others which will allow you to find out what you need to do to achieve the desired outcome.

Being a Contribution (Practice 4):

If anything, always find a way to contribute. This mindset can help you tremendously when trying to remain positive or trying to get through a bad day. If you ask yourself the simple question each morning, or during a moment of struggle.

Today or in this moment, how can I just merely contribute?

Lead from any chair (Practice 5):

As we live in this world of measurement, we assign titles to each person, and we believe only a CEO, Manager, Teacher, Parent, or Coach can be the only leaders in the room. These titles give people false misrepresentation of what leadership really is. No matter who you are or what your claim is, remember you are a leader. Here’s why:

“Today was exceptional in that I learned leadership is not a responsibility – nobody has to lead. It’s a gift, shining silver, that reminds people huddled nearby why each shimmering moment matters. It’s in the eyes, the voice, this swelling song that warms up from the toes and tingles with endless possibilities. Things change when you care enough to grab whatever you love and give it everything.” – Quote is taken from a middle school student of Benjamin Zanders

The question to ask yourself is “How much greatness are you willing to grant people.”

Rule Number 6 (Practice 6):

Rule number 6 is simple and something you should never forget, “Don’t take yourself so god-damn seriously.”

The way things are (Practice 7):

Being present to things as the way they are is NOT the same as accepting things as they are.  Now, it doesn’t mean you should pretend you like what happens and act as if you always take the high road. It is OK to feel negative or disagree with a certain situation.  But practicing the idea of being present with the idea that things are the way they allow you to not build up any resistance to being present. The practice of being present allows you to see the situation objectively and take the best course of action.

How this book has impacted me:

After reading this book, I learned how crucial remaining objective in every situation can help guide you in the brightest and darkest moments. I try my best every day to remain as present and objective as I can to try to see the possibility in every situation I am faced with. A few months after reading this book and practicing the things I learned I came up with my own way to deal with day to day situations. It is a straightforward guide I follow, but yet it has made an enormous impact on me:

  1. Remain objective.  Focus on what really happened or caused the issue, not what I want to believe happened
  2. Ask; what do I control? I control my attitude, my next move, ability to think differently, my willpower
  3. How can we resolve the issue? Invent a new way out of the situation, don’t fall back into the same preconceived notions that this is impossible

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. Do you see a world of measurement or a world of possibility? Buy the book here!

Lessons from David Goggins: The Toughest Man Alive

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 Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins

Summary of Book:

David Goggins is a retired Navy Seal and the only member of the U.S Armed Forces ever to complete Seal Training, U.S. Army Ranger School, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training. He has competed in more than 60 Ultra-Marathons, triathlons, and ultra-triathlon, and set new course records, and finished in the top-5. He also holds the record for the completing 4,043 pull-ups in seventeen hours.

The most amazing thing about David Goggins is that he accomplished all the above with a hole in his heart along with multiple attempts at failing to complete most of his above accomplishments. He did not find this out till later in life, but miraculously survived all the strenuous activity he put on his body. Here are just a few of the things he failed at:

  1. Failed BUDS training twice trying to becoming a Navy Seal
  2. Ran a 100-mile race with three days of training which lead him to kidney failure
  3. On his first attempt to beat the world record attempt for pull-ups, he failed
  4. He was once weighed 300 pounds

The most amazing thing about David Goggins is that he used all of his failures as fuel to ultimately become what many claims as the fittest human being to ever walk this planet earth. I have to agree. Below are the eight lessons he teaches in his book:

Give your pain or challenge a shape, and flip it

No matter who you are, where you come from, how great you are, you will fail, you will feel pain, and at some point, you will face challenges that will make you question everything. It can happen early in your life, or later, but no matter you are going to be faced with an obstacle. For David, he uses a specific tactic to help flip the challenges he faces on their head, and ultimately use them as fuel to take action. The goal of this tactic is to simply acknowledge and accept the obstacles in your way and become fully aware of what is causing you pain.

  1. Buy a journal or a notebook
  2. Make a list of all the things that cause you pain and specific challenges you are faced with. Simply just write them down, and get them on a piece of paper
  3. Share with others who are close to you, it is important to acknowledge and accept it.
  4. Then, after writing start to prepare for how to overcome

Build your accountability mirror

What is the first thing you do in the morning? Look at your phone? Check your email? Lie in your bed staring at the wall? Well, what if you simply got out of bed and went straight to your bathroom mirror?

Every morning David wakes-up he stares at post-it notes on his mirror. He calls this the accountability Mirror. The mirror is filled with his goals and ambitions. Each morning he looks at himself in the mirror along with every goal he wanted to accomplish. It is a way to keep him honest, and every time he achieved his goals he would remove the post-it.

Pursue Excellence Only

Have you ever had a coach not give you playing time, or a boss not believe you could get that promotion. Instead of believing that maybe you CAN’T do it, or that maybe you are NOT good enough. You should use the anger, pain, and energy to prove them wrong.

If your coach won’t let you play in games, then dominate practice, spend extra time in the film room, and put in the extra effort. If your boss won’t give you more responsibility, then accomplish tasks before the deadline, work more hours then they do.

When it is time to deliver you need to exceed their expectations, and the only way to do that is to focus on what you control. Pursuing excellence is all about skill and effort which are two things in your control.

You are what you think – Think the worst, Think the best

Instead of focusing on things outside of your control, start visualizing everything that IS in your control. However, as David explains it’s not just about visualizing success, it is also about the challenges and potential pitfalls. You must visualize all outcomes that are possible to be fully prepared. And when you find your mind racing, and feel like you are losing control always come back to these important questions:

      1. Why are you doing this?
      2. What is driving you toward this achievement?
      3. Where does the darkness you’re using as fuel come from?

Take inventory of your cookie jar

David likes to use the term “Cookie Jar” as a way to refer to his past accomplishments and failures. The reason for this is that when he was a kid his mother would allow him to eat cookies as treats, and he struggled with weight issues at different times in his life. So, he refers to his cookie jar as his “jar full of failures, and accomplishments”, so he can always go back to remind himself of how far he has come.

From time to time, you need to schedule a time to go back to your journal from lesson #1. As you accomplish and overcome obstacles you need to add them to your list. You don’t want to discuss all the things you accomplished, but you want to write out the specific obstacles you overcame to achieve them. This will allow you to get the full story.

The 40% Rule

Life is just a huge mind game according to David, and the only person you are playing against is yourself. In our minds, we have what David refers to as the “Governer” buried deep in our mind that is intertwined with our identity. It controls how we perceive ourselves, how we believe others view us, and it makes us feel obstacles in our way cannot be beaten. David explains that he found ways to take control of the “governer” as he says we only use 40% of our maximum effort, and we always have another 60% to give. He calls this mindset the 40% rule. Just when you feel like you have had enough, know that you have only given 40% of your effort.

The best way to take command of your inner thoughts and strengthen your mind is to slowly start pushing yourself past limits. How you do this? Well, it is simply finding ways to push yourself just a little bit farther each time. A great example David uses is when you are running. Get to that point where you are in so much pain and your mind is telling you to stop. Go that extra 5 to 10 minutes. You will slowly start to find yourself pushing harder in other aspects of your life.

Be the Uncommon amongst Uncommon

Many people think once they reach a certain level or status that they should stop pushing. For David, he says greatness is not something that if you meet it once it stays with you forever. It evaporates quickly. If you truly want to be uncommon amongst uncommon you must achieve greatness for long periods of time. For him, it is a simple shift in your mindset. You must push to give everything you have and more, and continue to place obstacles in front of you to keep learning and growing. If you want to be in the 1%, than start to act like it.

Failure will and can empower you

Get out your journal again and write out all the failures you have experienced. First, start with everything that went well from your failures. What did you ultimately end up learning? Second, write down how you handled your failures. How did you prepare before you made that mistake? How did you prepare to get back up and keep fighting? Lastly, go back and find areas that you can improve and recreate them no matter if they happened years ago. It is important to be really honest with yourself and for David, he uses his failures as power and fuel to keep him highly motivated in any situation.

How This Book Has Impacted Me:

It proved to me that no matter who you have been in the past, no matter who you are today if you want to accomplish something you have the ability to do it. It is possible, you just need to make the choice to do it.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. May the choice be with you.

Leadership Lessons from Pete Carroll

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 Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play like a Champion by Pete Carroll with Yogi Roth.

Brief Summary:

This is an autobiography of Pete Carroll. He shares stories and lessons he learned while coaching in the NFL and CFB along with his philosophy: Win Forever.

Things I learned from this book:

4 Important Leadership Lessons:

  • Your #1 job as the leader is to bring energy. Whether it be practice, team meetings, or 1 on 1 conversation. You’re responsible for setting the tone.
  • Every person on your team no matter what has the opportunity to compete at any level as long as they put in the work every single day. Experience does not guarantee the best spot on the team. All players compete every day to earn and keep their role.
  • It is an extraordinary value to know your people, and it is worth a significant investment of your time. Pete is labeled as a “Players Coach,” and I hope when I retire my teams will remember me as a “Players Coach.” As does Pete, I lead people because I enjoy building a lifelong relationship to help them achieve their life goals.
  • The hardest thing for a leader to do is to NOT approach someone in a manner that may disrupt or shatter their self-confidence. It is our job as leaders to create an environment where we help grow people’s confidence not destroy it.

Pete Carroll’s Philosophy for achieving your potential

“If you want to win forever, always compete” is the philosophy of Pete Carroll. To live this philosophy each day, you must focus on two things: always try to improve and do things better than they have ever been done before.
Competition in Pete’s mind is not between two individuals or two teams, but a mentality and way to approach each day. Typically, when we think about the competition, we think of competing against others. In Pete’s mind, he views the biggest competition you face is yourself and maximizing your ability to reach your potential every single day. Pete emphasis many times throughout the book that you must understand you have no control over what others do. You only have control of your energy and focus on trying to be your best.
Breaking down Pete’s Philosophy:

27505b7319fea2d554763cb16492a2ba--life-coaching-seattle-seahawks.jpg

You must build your own philosophy to reach your potential:

To realize your potential, you must have a consistent philosophy. If you change who you are from year to year, you’re never going to be great at anything. If the goals, values, and beliefs you have laid out for yourself are true, then you will be able to stay on track when things get tough. The natural part will be building your philosophy. The tough part will be sticking to it, but if you do it will be your guide.

Whenever Pete Carroll does speaking engagements about his “Win Forever” philosophy, he starts by asking the crowd to share their philosophy in 25 or fewer words. Majority of the attendees can never do it. Could you?

Practice is everything

Preparation and training should be designed, so your team is being trained for all potential outcomes. Each person on the team should feel as if they had seen every situation before seeing it in the game. By approaching and practicing this way, you build superior trust and confidence in yourself and your team to execute at any moment.
The second piece of practice is the environment, and it should always be promoting learning and building confidence. Pete believed that creating competition between teammates was a way to create this type of situation. He called it the “Competitive Cauldron,” and he established specific training for each day of the week:

  • Tell the Truth Monday: Review last week and make sure the entire team was aware of the good and bad of last week.
  • Competition Tuesday: A day filled with individual competition between players
  • Turnover Wednesday: If the offense kept the ball away from the defense all day. They won. If the defense created a turnover. They won the day.
  • No Repeat Thursday: The goal of this practice day was to review the game plan and go over each play. The end goal is to never have to repeat any play.
  • Review Friday: Walkthrough game plan and paid strict attention to all details.

How this book has Impacted me:

Towards the end of the book, Pete shares a story when starting as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. He was asked which is better: Winning or Competing. It was a simple response to him…COMPETING.
When I read this, I knew two things instantly: Pete Carroll is my spirit animal, AND we share a similar philosophy on life and leadership. He believes no matter where you came from or what situation you find yourself in today, win or lose you can always compete and always improve. This is the exact idea of my mindset I call Day One. We all face many setbacks in life and have bad days, but it is always OK because tomorrow when we wake up, it is day one. You get the opportunity to compete again.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. Time to make a choice: Are you going to compete today or not? Buy the book here: Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play like a Champion

America’s Coach: What I learned from Herb Brooks

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, twice a month I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is America’s Coach: Life Lessons & Wisdom for Gold Medal Success: A Biographical Journey of the Late Hockey Icon Herb Brooks by Ross Bernstein

SUMMARY OF BOOK:

“America’s Coach” is a biography of Herb Brooks. Herb is best known for coaching the 1980 US Mens Olympic hockey team to a gold medal against Russia. It is claimed as the “Miracle on Ice” and arguably the biggest upset in American sports history. Ross Bernstein was a good friend of Herb Brooks and tells us the story of Herb from childhood to becoming an iconic coach. Below I share with you some of the leadership lessons I learned.

LESSONS I LEARNED FROM THIS BOOK:

People do not remember how you failed, but they remember how you respond

One of the most memorable days of Herb Brooks life was when his dad told him “Looks like coach made the right choice” referring to him being the last guy cut from the team. Sitting in his living room at the age of 21 Herb Brooks had a choice. He could wake up the next day and sulk in his sorrow about not being part of that USA gold medal team, or he could use this a tool to learn from and motivate him to achieve his life long dreams. Well, for Herb we all know what he did next. He made a choice to move forward. He ended up playing and coaching in more Olympic hockey games than any other hockey players in history.

Don’t Worry about losing, or winning. Focus on being the best version of yourself at the moment

After that moment with his father, Herb, like I mentioned, went on to finally win that gold medal he so desperately coveted. However, he explains that early on in his career he was always driven from not wanting to lose, and determined to get that gold medal. He wanted so badly to prove his father wrong. But what he ultimately learned was that what got him to finally win that gold medal was not worrying about winning or losing, it was about focusing on the moment right in front of him. Being the best version he could of himself at that moment.

Slow Down to Speed Up

Herb was a master motivator. After hearing from his players you find out that he had this incredible instinct to push the right buttons at the right time. His main philosophy for motivation though was simple, in his mind, he believes that when things were going well, he could and should push the team harder. When things were not going well, he found a way to pull back and let them ride it out. For Herb, it was a simple concept of “slowing down, to speed up”. By pushing them harder when things went well, it was his opportunity to help them push past limits. When things were not going right, it was an opportunity to reset physically and mentally.

Build your team around value systems

A common trait between Herb and many legendary coaches is their commitment to focusing on the right players, not the most talented players. Herbs main goal was to focus on kids who had a strong value system and had come from many different backgrounds. He never wanted the most talented guy, but the guys who were open-minded, and highly educated to be able to adapt to a new style of play. As a leader his philosophy was simple, there were no stars on the team. He was the coach, and that whether they won as a team, or lost as a team. They were all one group who all believe the same values and achieving the same common goal.

If you found value in today’s post and want to learn more about Herb Brooks please feel free to purchase the book here.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One.

Rethinking Your Path To Your Potential

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 impjuortant thing you can do to better yourself. In light of this, twice a month I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being by Shawn Achor.

Summary of Book:

Shawn Achor is a world-renowned speaker and author. He is most well known for his expertise on happiness and how it relates to success. A Harvard graduate, Shawn has become one of the leaders in positive psychology and outside of his book has published many studies on the subject.

In his book, Big Potential he discusses the idea that as a society we have this thought that to reach one’s potential it requires you to do it on your own. Luckily, this is not true. Based on his research, Shawn discovers that success is not accomplished by individuals alone, but together with the help of others. He lays out many research studies and shares with us practical advice on how potential is not about how smart or gifted you are, but how well you connect with others. Today, I share with you what I learned after reading his book.

Lessons I learned from this book:

The Difference between Small Potential and Big Potential

As explained in the book, there are two types of potential small and big. Shawn teaches that small potential is the limited success you can achieve alone, and big potential is the success you can achieve only in a virtuous cycle with others. We all have the ability to achieve things on our own, but when you ask for help or let others help you the potential to reach success multiplies. It’s not just you that gets a boost but everyone around you feels the impact. And so, with data to back it up, Shawn discovered that as humans we are all connected and to fully reach your big potential you need to stop focusing on yourself and focus on the power of everything around you.

Create your own Virtuous Cycle

Most people believe two things:

  1. Pursuing “success” will lead to happiness
  2. I must reach my potential first and get to the top of my field before I can help others achieve their potential

Well, as Shawn found out those two things are simply not true. Most of us think about it backwards, and we just need to flip it around. To reach your potential and achieve “happiness” you must create a positive feedback loop within your own ecosystem. Simply put we need to utilize the people around us as a force to create an environment in which we can all thrive together, not alone.

In Shawn’s, research he found in many studies that reaching your potential is about creating what he calls is a virtuous cycle. He defines this cycle as an upward spiral of potential whereby with each success, you garner more resources, which, in turn, allow you to achieve greater and greater success. Instead of trying to do it all on your own, utilize the resources around you to help you achieve success. By creating this cycle you will find that it won’t just be you fighting each day to reach your potential, but you will have others standing by your side helping you along your journey.

Survival of the Best Fit NOT the Survival of the Fittest

As laid out in many studies in the book, Shawn found that success is not about how smart you are, or what you accomplish on your own. It is about how connected you are to others, and how well you maximize your relationships with others to help you achieve your potential. So, what he discovered was that it is not about who is most fit, but who can be the most connected. How you become super-connected is by helping others reach their goals, in turn, they will help you. It becomes a never-ending cycle.

5 Stages of reaching Big Potential = SEEDS

Surround: Create a network of positive influencers in your life who will help you reach your potential

Strategy 1: Tap into the power of positive peer pressure

To reach your full potential you must surround yourself with positive people. Simple concept, but yet very difficult for people to do. In fact, the great Jim Roan, states. “We are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Could you name those five people? Write them down and then write down how they make you feel and how you both can benefit from each other. You will be surprised to see that some of them might be the reason that you are struggling to achieve your potential.

Strategy 2: Create Balance through a variety

In a Harvard Business Review study, they tested six teams to understand the cognitive diversity between them. What they found was that the team with the most cognitive diversity was the highest performing teams. This tells us that the more diverse your network of personal and professional people will help you reach your full potential. Three types of people you should be looking for:

Pillars: Those who are a rock for you in tough times

Bridges: Connectors to new people or resources outside of your existing ecosystem

Extenders: Positive Influencers who push you out of your comfort zone

Expand: Increase your power to create positive change within your network by helping others realize they can lead from any seat

Strategy 1: Develop your Elevator Pitch

As explained in the book, a elevated pitch is a quick talk track or way you can frame a conversation with people to convince them to be positive forces for change. It’s hard to change people, so similar to what they call an “Elevator Pitch” in sales you can create a 30-second pitch to a person in need of a quick positive pep talk

Strategy 2: Use Progress as fuel

When trying to accomplishing something individually or as a group a great way to motivate is to focus on the small wins or as Shawn puts it “progress”. Instead of celebrating the outcome it can be even more impactful to focus on the action or effort being put in. This will remind yourself or the group that you are making progress and will rejuvenate your energy to get the job done.

Enhance: By helpers reach their potential you ultimately help yourself reach yours

Strategy 1: Stop Comparison Praise

How many times has someone told you were the best at X? Have you ever thought about what the person is saying? It is most likely not their intention, but they basically implied that you are better than everyone else in the room and ultimately instead of praising they are simply comparing you to others. When we do this we might be thinking we are praising someone, but at the same time we are putting others down. Without realizing it you set a limit on what that person can achieve because now they believe they are the best (Why try any harder if you are told you are the best), and you created the opposite of a Virtuous Cycle.

Instead of saying, “you were the best at” or “you are the smartest”, say something like “You did a great job, or you put in an incredible amount of effort which was the reason you won”

Strategy 2: Don’t just praise the outcome, praise to an outcome

A way to enhance someone towards their potential is by helping them realize what they could achieve in the future, vs. focusing on what they accomplished in the past. By making statements like, “You’d be such a great leader here because you care so much about the company” or “If you continue to put the effort you put in every day you will be in line for that promotion next day.” allow you to help someone realize what they can strive for in the future.

Defend: We face good days and bad days, but we must build an inner fortress to help defend against the negativity that will stop us from reaching our potential

Strategy 1: Build a stronghold within your mind

  1. Daily practice of gratitude is one example of a mental stronghold
  2. Think of three good things that have happened over the past 24 hours
  3. Change the way you think about failure – Use it as a source of motivation and energy
  4. Pay attention to the way you talk about stressful things at the end of the day. Remove all the negative words and thoughts and try to replace them with positive words

Sustain: It’s not easy to constantly be helping others along with trying to help yourself, so from time to time remember WHY you are doing it

Strategy 1: Tours of Meaning

Every once and a while stop and remind yourself of “why” you do what you do. Instead of thinking about your job or life as a duty. Flip it around and think about your job and life as having a purpose. As Shawn puts it, “Meaning is that “unbalanced force” that keeps us going, especially in busy or stressful times, and “Tours of Meaning” help us sustain this momentum by connecting us – or reconnecting us – to the meaning in our work.

How this book has impacted me:

It reminded me to take a step back each day and remind yourself of how I got to where I am today. No matter what your idea of success is or how successful you have become or will become you need to remember who will and has helped you along the way. It is a fact, no single human has ever reached their potential without the help of others.

Now Wake Up! It’s Day One. Start the day by being grateful. Let someone know how much they have helped you on your journey. And if you are truly ready to take yourself to the next level buy the book here!

Leadership Lessons I Learned from Bill Walsh (Hall of Fame NFL Coach)

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, today I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership by Bill Walsh and Steve Jamison.

Brief Summary:

Bill Walsh was most famous for his tenure as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. In his time, he transformed the 49ers from a below average franchise into a NFL dynasty.

After his coaching days, he gave Steve Jamison (Author – most notably wrote a ton of books on John Wooden) an exclusive interview to learn about his principles and techniques. This book walks us through Bills entire coaching career with real life stories, practical tips, and step-by-step leadership advice directly from Bill Walsh.

Leadership Lessons I learned:

One Team = One Mind

In the very first chapter of Bill’s book, he discusses an idea that teams and organizations have a conscience. For the 49ers, Bill believed from the receptionist to players like Jerry Rice and Joe Montana everyone should think and act in the same way. No matter your role or title within in the 49ers organization you were held to the same standards. Here is a direct passage from the book:

“Beyond the mechanical elements of doing jobs correctly, I assisted coaches, players, staff, and others in assimilating the values within my standard of performance, including what I believed regarding personal accountability among the organization and its personnel. This is consistent with my conviction that an organization is not just a tool like a shovel, but an organic entity that has a code of conduct, a set of applied principles that go beyond a company mission statement that’s tacked on the wall and forgotten. In fact, we had no mission statement on the wall. My mission statement was implanted in the minds of our people through teaching.

Great teams in business, in sports, or elsewhere have a conscience. At its best, an organization – your team – speaks the values and a way of doing things that emanate from a source, that source is your – the leader. ” – Bill Walsh

Create Your Standard of Performance

When Bill took over the 49ers organization it was one of the worst franchises in sports. Within a few years he took them from the bottom of the NFL into a NFL dynasty (winning 3 super bowls and became of the most legendary coaches of all time). The great thing about his story is that he did the most simple thing from day one on the job. His very first day he set the tone and expectations of how is players were going to act and think. He let everyone know exactly what he expected, and no matter your role or title you were responsible to uphold the standards set forth by Bil. The standards became more than just guidelines to follow. They embodied what it meant to be a 49er.

Here is how he went about building out his standard of performance.

  1. Identify and list out the specific actions and attitudes that will make your team successful
  2. Be clear in communicating your expectations of effort and execution towards your the actions and attitudes you identified above
  3. Let all know that you expect them to possess the highest level of expertise in their area of responsibility
  4. Beyond standards and methodology, teach your beliefs, values, and philosphy.
  5. Teach connection and extensions. The team must work as one cohesive unit and hold eachother to the standard of performance set out by the organization or team.
  6. Make the expectations and metrics of competence that you demand in action and attidue from personnel the new reality of your organization.

Everyone Is Connected

Bill Walsh always wanted to teach his players and coaches that they were extensions of each other. When Jerry Rice (hall of fame wide receiver and star on the team) caught a touchdown pass Bill always reminded him and the team that he was not solely responsible, but that everyone from the offensive lineman, practice squad, etc were responsible in helping. This type of thought process made his players focus on the most important thing which was following the standard of performance. Bill made it clear that talent alone was not going to win the super bowl, and a sense of connection towards one common goal (following the standard of performance) was going to be the key to ultimately winning the super bowl.

Stay Focused on Improving, Not Winning

As the coach of the 49ers, Bill was determined to implement his standard of performance whether his team ever won or lost a game.

A staff member of his in his second season as head coach confronted him about how crazy he thought Bill was for not having a definitive plan on how they were going to win games, and super bowls. That staff member was fired immediately after his conversation with Bill. Bill had one goal and that was to ensure that everyone in the organization was focused on themselves and abiding by the standard of performance he put in place for the 49ers organization.

As Bill put it in his book, “I directed our focus less to the prize of victory than to the process of improving – obsessings, perhaps, about the quality of our execution and the content of our thinking: that is, our actions and attitude. I knew if I did that, winning would take care of itself.”

Be Careful Not to Push to Hard

As tough as Bill was as a coach he was very conscious of not pushing players to hard. His belief was that if the organization followed the standard of performance and solely focused on improving their actions and attitudes that in high pressure situations “trying harder” would not be the solution. The only solution would be to trust each other, and if everyone followed the standards that they practiced, the score would take care of itself.

Teaching Defines Your Leadership

Passion, expertise, communication, and persistence were the four things a coach needs to be able to teach their players according to Bill Walsh. In his book, he lays it out each trait in detail here is a summary:

  1. In order to be passionate about teaching someone you must love what you are teaching.
  2. You must obsessed over this specific topic and become as knowledgeable as anyone about the specific subject matter.
  3. The most powerful way to communicate is through showing enthusiasm and excitement about what you are trying to teach people. The goal is get the individuals or team as excited as you are. If you can’t get excited about what you are teaching than your team will follow suit. You set the tone.
  4. Key to teaching someone something is persistence. Bill would run the same drills over and over again, and say the same things over and over. The point of this is to ensure that things became automatic even in the most stressful moments.

How Has is book impacted me:

It was a fresh reminder of the importance of how by creating a set of performance expectations for yourself (a personal standard of performance) can help me stay focused on what I can control: my actions and attitudes. If you find a way to master this concept, than you know you did everything in your power to achieve your goals.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. You have the opportunity to wake up today and create your own standard of performance. May the choice be with you.

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 Brendon 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 Brendon Burchard’s book High-Performance Habits (Seek Clarity, Generate Energy, and Raise Necessity). Today, I share with you the #4 Habit Increase Productivity.
Brendon 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.

Brendon 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. Brendon 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 Brendon puts it, “Let’s pause here and remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” What Brendon 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 Brendon 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, Brendon 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. Brendon 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. Brendons 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.