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.

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.

How to live your best life: My book list for 2018 and 2019

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.  As Warren Buffett put it best, “If I could have one superhuman power it would be to: “Read Faster”.  

I think about it like this: If people the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, etc…. all read fifty books a year, then there is clearly value in reading. But yet, 1% of working professionals read more than 25 books a year. This blew my mind and made me think about how maybe Bill, Warren, and Jeff are no different than me you. And the only difference between them and us is their mindset. So, if we as humans want to reach our potential, then why not follow in the footsteps of others that have not just reached their potential, but changed the world. 

Today, I am sharing with you my 2018 Book List along with my 2019 Book List. The books I read in 2018 impacted me in so many ways and I believe it can do the same for you. At the bottom, I will give you a sneak-peak into my reading list for 2019. If you don’t have time to read, NO worries-just follow my blog! Throughout the year,  I will be posting a summary and my own takeaways on each of the books below on my site.

2018 Book List with a summary of each book:

Creating competitive advantage: Give Customers a Reason to Choose You Over Your Competitors by Jaynie Smith

As a sales leader, this book can help you with positioning your product. I also found value in this book as a simple adult living a normal life because it discussed the concept of creating a competitive advantage, and I believe that as humans we all have our own competitive advantage. This book can help you discover what that is, and then put it into practice. It is easily, one of the best sales books I have ever read.

Everything has two handles by Ronald Pies

As an avid follower and believer of the stoic philosophy, this book is a modern-day guide to fully understanding the Stoic principles. Most books written on Stoic Philosophy can be hard to follow, and Ronald does a great job of bringing real-life stories into each principle he lays out in the book.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

This is a classic stoic book, and a must read if you are truly looking to follow the ways of the Stoics. To be honest, it is hard to follow, but I enjoyed it. It is a true philosophy book and it is not a book you can read once. You will find yourself coming back to it many times in your life. 

Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son by George Horace Lorimer

Recommended by Ryan Holiday from his book list, this book is a fast read that teaches you about some great life lessons. It is a fictional story written in the early 1900s about a father writing to his son while he is away at school.  It is written in a way that can be a little hard to understand in my opinion, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a ton of value in this book.

Wonder by RJ Palacio

In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out. 

High-Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard

In this book, Brendon Burchard shares with you his research of high performing people whether business professional, athletes, or executives. After years of research, he identified six habits of these individual people and gives you a step-by-step on how to implement them into your daily life. If you want a great self-help book then this is the book for you!

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

If you are looking to read a book that can teach you how to “think differently” and challenge the status quo to truly reach your potential then this is the book for you. In Originals, he again addresses the challenge of improving the world, but now from the perspective of becoming original: choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions. How can we originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all? Easily one of the best books I have read, and trying to find a spot for it on my top 10 list.

Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court by John Wooden

This is a step by step guide about how John Wooden became one of the greatest coaches of all time. He shares with you actual notes, and thoughts from his days of coaching the UCLA Bruins. Wooden is one of the staples of great leadership and if you want to actionable takeaways on how to be a better leader and human this is the book to read.

Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

It’s no wonder that The Power of Now has sold over 2 million copies worldwide and has been translated into over 30 foreign languages. Much more than simple principles and platitudes, the book takes readers on an inspiring spiritual journey to find their true and deepest self and reach the ultimate in personal growth and spirituality: the discovery of truth and light.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry

My third book read on the concept of Emotional Intelligence and it is by far the most actionable book you can read. The book is really fast and easy, and it is written in a way where you can fully understand the concept of emotional intelligence. If you want to forego the scientific understanding of EQ this book is much more practical and will give you solid takeaways to start improving your EQ today.

Education of a coach by David Halberstam

A biography on Bill Bellichek that goes beyond just Bill as a person, but allows you to understand how he became the person he is today. It goes back to his childhood and takes you through a journey to understand how he rose the ranks of the NFL to become arguably the greatest coach of all time.

The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership by Bill Walsh

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 an 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 Bill’s entire coaching career with real-life stories, practical tips, and step-by-step leadership advice directly from Bill Walsh.

Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play Like a Champion by Pete Carrol

An autobiography on Pete Carroll’s coaching experience from USC to coaching the Seahawks to a Superbowl championship. 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. A must read book for all leaders. 

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

In this perennial bestseller, embraced by organizations and industries worldwide, globally preeminent management thinkers W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne challenge everything you thought you knew about the requirements for strategic success. Recognized as one of the most iconic and impactful strategy books ever written, Blue Ocean Strategy, now updated with fresh content from the authors, argues that cutthroat competition results in nothing but a bloody red ocean of rivals fighting over a shrinking profit pool. Based on a study of 150 strategic moves (spanning more than 100 years across 30 industries), the authors argue that lasting success comes not from battling competitors but from creating “blue oceans”―untapped new market spaces ripe for growth.

Radical Candor by Kim Scott

Radical Candor is a simple idea: to be a good boss, you have to Care Personally at the same time that you Challenge Directly. When you challenge without caring its obnoxious aggression; when you care without challenging its ruinous empathy. When you do neither it’s manipulative insincerity.

This simple framework can help you build better relationships at work, and fulfill your three key responsibilities as a leader: creating a culture of feedback (praise and criticism), building a cohesive team, and achieving results you’re all proud of.

FDR by Jean Edward Smith

One of today’s premier biographers has written a modern, comprehensive, indeed ultimate book on the epic life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In this superlative volume, Jean Edward Smith combines contemporary scholarship and a broad range of primary source material to provide an engrossing narrative of one of America’s greatest presidents.

2019 Book List:

Biographies/Memoirs:

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by  Ron Chernow

Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw

Washington: A life by Ron Chernow

Eisenhower War and Peace – Jean Edward Smith

Cant Hurt Me – Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins

Personal History by Katharin Grahm

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

Leadership Books:

Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferris

Measure what Matters by John Doeer

Lead with Boundaries Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge by Henry Cloud

The Strategy Paradox: Why Committing to Success Leads to Failure (And What to do About It) by Michael Raynor

Who says elephants can’t dance by Louis. V. Gerstner

The Carpenter by Jon Gordon

True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill Sims

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough

Power of moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

You are a badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

Average is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen

The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey

Talk like TED by Caremine Gallo

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

High Output Management by Andy Grove

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

Other:

Sapien by Yuval Harari

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. Vance

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Courage Under Fire by James Stockdale

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

 

 

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!

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 our 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.

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.

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!

How to Manage Your Ego

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 Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday.

Brief Summary:

Ryan Holiday is an accomplished author, entrepreneur, and marketer. He is most recognized for his work as the head of marketing for American apparel and is very popular for his blog: ryanholiday.net.

Ryan shares with us stories from people who reached the highest level of success and how their egos either made them or destroyed them. He claims that there is three stages of your career: Aspire, Success, Failure. No matter whether you are early in your career, a super successful professional, or finding yourself failing at the moment, your ego will be there. Ryan shares with us how you can combat it at each stage of your life and turn it into one of your biggest assets.

Things I learned from this book:

Aspire – How to manage your ego while you aspire to be great

Talk Less:

How many people do you know who regularly talk about these big ideas or big goals they have? Or say I am going to do this? Or this is such a great idea? Where are those people today? Are they are actually following through on what they said? The answer for most is no. In the early stages of a career, or idea our ego makes us think that talking is more powerful, then silence and action. The issue is while you are talking up a storm telling everyone how great your idea is, the other person is working, learning, and taking action.

To be or To do:

This is a straightforward and compelling question. Do you want to BE something or do you want to DO something? Yes, there is a difference. And it’s a big one. When it is said and done, you will be remembered for what you did NOT what you said you were going to do. Pretty easy to guess which answer your ego will tell you to go with.

Become a Student:

A great way to keep your ego in check is to always be learning. I will leave you with a quote from Epictetus (Ancient Stoic) and additional thoughts from Ryan Holiday:

“It is impossible to learn what one thinks they already know” – Epictetus

“You cant learn if you think you already know. You will not find the answers if you’re too conceited and self-assured to ask the questions. You can not get better if you are convinced you are the best.” – Ryan Holiday

Have a purpose

“Passion is about. I am so passionate about X.”

“Purpose is to and for. I must do X. I was put here to accomplish X. I am willing to endure for the sake of X.”

If you believe you are truly an ambitious person, then ask yourself: Do you feel excited about what you do or do you feel like that this is what you are supposed to do?

Early Pride

Every night before he went to bed John D. Rockefeller wrote to himself in his diary. Here is one of the many entries:

“Because you have a got a start. You think you are quite a merchant, look out, or you will lose your head – go steady.”

Success – How to manage your ego when you made it

Keep learning

Success is a double edge sword. Our ego loves to feast on success whenever it gets the chance. It is so easy to fall into this trap of forgetting what made you successful. All that hard work, hours spent, and constant learning helped you reach your success, not pure talent.

When we reach success, we can go one of two ways. We will either strive to continue to learn and improve, accept harsh feedback. Or we will always assume “We know the way.”

“No matter what you have done to this point. You better be a student. If you are still not learning, you are already dying.”

What is important to you?

“According to Seneca (Ancient Stoic), the Greek word euthymia is one we should think of often: it is the sense of our own path and how to stay on it without getting distracted by all the others that intersect it. In other words, it’s not about beating the other guy. It’s not about having more than others. It’s about being what you are, and being as good as possible at it, without succumbing to all the things that draw you away from it. It’s about going where you set out to go.” – Ryan Holiday

Failure – How to manage your ego when shit hits the fan

Effort is good enough

In our society winning is everything. We only remember and celebrate the champions. This is what can make failing so difficult for so many. When we fail we feel as if it was not worth it to even try. Next time, remind your ego that if you gave your full effort that is good enough.

Maintain your own scorecard

The best part about failure is that no matter how much you succeed you will always learn the most from failing. The most celebrated minds to ever walk this planet have one secret weapon that most humans fail to utilize. Their internal scorecard. We all have one. It is simply how we perceive success through our own eyes. When you face failure, your ego will try to take over, but you always can fight back. Just turn to your internal scorecard.

Always love

You failed a test. You failed to hit your quota. Your business idea failed. You lost your job. The best response is to the find the positive in everything. I know its hard, but at least try to laugh at it all. Anger never solves anything. Life is short, don’t take everything so seriously.

Alive or Dead Time

Robert Greene who mentored Ryan Holiday taught him there are two different types of time. Alive or Dead. Dead time is when you are sitting passive, accomplishing nothing. Alive time is when you are learning, and growing. Every time we are faced with failure or self-doubt we are presented with a choice on how we spend our time. Alive or Dead. You might not control the situation, but you do control your choice on how you spend your time.

How this book has impacted me:

This book made me realize two things: We all have an ego, and your ego is a very powerful tool that can help you achieve success in life. The term ego has a negative connotation, but honestly, ego is neither good or bad. To me, your ego is simply knowing who you are, but it should never define you. There is nothing wrong with believing in yourself or feeling special. I believe that is important. You are unique, so you might as well show off your talents. Just make sure you keep it all in check.
To ensure you do remember this:

“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.”

Now Wake Up! It’s Day One. I believe that this book is one of the most important books of our generation. Please read it.