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.

Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – Grit

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  Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. What you will read below will not do this book justice. You must read it yourself. This is one of the most important books ever written, and it will change the way you think.

Brief Summary of Grit:

The author, Angela Duckworth, is a psychologist who has dedicated her career to studying the idea of grit. In her book, she discusses why grit is essential to achieving your potential and uses her research and interviews with people who she says are grit paragons (athletes, business leaders, etc.) to help solidify her findings.

She starts her psychology career while doing a study on West Point. She tries to understand why only 1,200 out of 14,000 are asked to enroll and how out of those 1,200 only 1 of 5 cadets make it to graduation. What she learned was that the scoring system that West Point uses does not accurately predict who the best candidates are. She finds that what predicts the best candidates is who is truly passionate and willing to persevere through the grueling task to become a cadet. Her research tells her that our potential is one thing, but what we do with it is another. She goes on to explain that what makes you successful is not about how “smart” you are, but how gritty. 

Things I learned from this book:

Effort Counts Twice

Duckworth shares an equation that is “Talent x Effort = Skill, and Skill x Effort = achievement which means effort counts twice. She shares a countless number of interviews and research studies of “Grit Paragons” who prove her equation. This equation tells you that while you can be the most skilled and talented person in the world at your craft, you can still fail because you did not put in the effort. A pretty simple concept right? How many people do you know who have all the talent, but fail? 

What is Grit and how is it measured?

Grit is not just as simple as working really hard. It is something you develop over time and actually grows with age. There are two parts to grit: Passion and Perseverance. Duckworth explains that grit is about working on something you care about so much that you are willing to stay loyal to it and strive for the same top level goal for a long period of time. 

How do you become Gritty?

You work to improve and develop the 4 physiological assets below:

Interest

The foundation for achieving your potential is rooted in what interests you. Duckworth explains that it takes time to find out what you are interested in, and most of us give up too quickly on things. She discusses the motto “Follow your passion,” and believes that we should rephrase it to “Foster your passion” because it takes time to find out what you are genuinely interested in. 

Practice

Most of us practice our craft and spend time working on our own personal or professional development, but why do we fail to achieve the highest standards in our fields? Well, Duckworth explains that the grit paragons she interviews didn’t just practice they deliberately practiced. To them, every day was a new day to improve from yesterday, and they were relentless with being better than yesterday.

Purpose

Duckworth describes purpose as a critical aspect of grittiness. To have a real passion for something you have to first be interested in what you are doing, but to deepen your passion you have to feel your work is important not to just you, but others.

Hope

To Grit paragons, hope means that if I give today all the effort I have, then I will be better off in the future. Duckworth shares a compelling statement that when I read it made me think differently:

Instead of “I have a feeling tomorrow will be better” you must say “I resolve to make tomorrow better.”

How to create a culture of Grit at work and for your kids?

1. Create your own life philosophy

This revolves around building out your core values, your vision, your purpose, your end result. Once you do you should talk about them, and live them every single day.  Every conversation you have with your kids or employees is centered around these items. 

2.  Duckworth developed a concept that she uses in her family called the “Hard Thing Rule”

  1. Everyone in the family has to do something hard
  2. You have to finish what you start
  3. No one gets to pick the hard rule for anyone else

How has this book impacted me?

This book changes the way I think about success and how I achieve it. If I make a career out of doing something I genuinely love, practice really hard every day, believe that this is my calling, and know that if I put in a full effort that I will be better off in the long run… I will achieve my own definition of success. Duckworth shared with me how simple achieving success in life can be and it has nothing to do with how smart you are.

As a parent, I have no greater responsibility than to teach and guide my son to his potential in life. I am going to use the ideas, stories, and concepts I learned in this book to be a better parent and that impact is extraordinary. As my son enters school, he will be taught that his effort is more important than getting an A, B or C on his test. Twenty to thirty years from now I believe this book will make the world a better place.

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day One. Are you ready to become a Grit Paragon? May the choice be with you. If you have decided YES, Buy the book here and also check out her non-profit Character Lab to find out how she is changing the way we educate kids.

WAKEUP! It’s Book Review Monday – The Miracle Morning

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

Today’s book is The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life Before 8 a.m. by Hal Elrod.

“Life isn’t about wishing you were somewhere or someone that you’re not. Life is about enjoying where you are, loving who you are, and consistently improving both” –

Brief Summary of The Miracle Morning:

Hal Elrod was no different than any other professional trying to make a living. At age 20, he was the #1 sales rep at his marketing company breaking every single record there was. But then that year he had a horrific accident where a drunk driver hit him head-on. He was pronounced dead for 6 minutes. Miraculously, he came back to life, though he spent 6 days in a coma and woke up to the news he would NEVER walk again.

After 11 fractured bones, permanent brain damage, and necessary rehab to walk again he used these challenges to motivate and inspire himself. He did not back down or give up. A few years later, he is walking, talking, and sharing his story with the world. He has become a keynote speaker, author, ultramarathon runner, and the creator of The Miracle Morning routine which thousands of people use every day. He shares with you the Miracle Morning routine, and how this accident changed his life for the better, and how we can all persevere through the toughest moments of our lives.

Things I learned from this book:

  • New Ideas and methods to add to my morning ritual

  • A good morning routine can be 6 minutes or 60 minutes. Both are very powerful.

  • A morning routine can change your life and be the #1 reason for being happy and successful.

  • Everything happens for a reason. You must find the deeper meaning of a situation good or bad because you can learn from every moment.

  • Be grateful for what you have in life. Reading this book re-confirmed one of my beliefs, “give it all you have every day.”

  • If you are going to try to change a habit, you must have a well thought out plan prior to trying to improve.

  • Morning rituals or routines should fit your lifestyle. It is not a one size fit all.

  • Waking up tired has nothing to do with how many hours you get to sleep. It is actually your belief of how many hours YOU NEED to feel rested. So before you go to bed, think about how many hours you truly need to be rested. The average person at age 30 needs about 6 to 7 hours.

Other learnings I took away:

The 95% Reality Check:

Step 1: Acknowledge that 95% of society will never create and live the life they really want

The challenge for most people is that they don’t want to take ownership of anything. They do not realize that to accomplish anything in life, it starts with themselves. Instead of looking at people you admire and saying, “I can’t be like them”, you need to start realizing that you can. And you need to realize YOU are in control. No one is responsible for your success, only YOU.

Step 2: Identify the Causes of Mediocrity

  1. Rearview Mirror Syndrome:

Staying present and moving the conversation forward is one of the hardest things for people to do, especially in the world we are in today. The way we were raised in school was all about pass or fail, which gives us a false perception of what success truly is. It is not always about winning or losing, it is about effort.

To review the past is ok as long as you take something away from it- regardless of success or failure. However, you must continue to look forward and not stop moving. Like I mentioned in my last post, wake up today and think different or you will never move forward towards your goals.

2. Lack of Purpose:

We all have a purpose. You need to ask yourself, “Why do I wake up every day?” Trust me, there is a reason, and that is your purpose.

3. Isolated Incidents:

We tend to believe that each choice we make only impacts us at that specific moment, but unfortunately, it all adds up. As you know, I believe every day it is day one so I am 50/50 on this point he makes here. I believe sometimes you just need to move on rather than spending unproductive time worrying about if a choice you made yesterday was wrong.

4. Lack of Accountability:

This is extremely difficult for most people, and where a lot of us fail. It starts though with you. If you can follow my methods of building a day one mindset you will start to hold yourself accountable. I do agree with Hal that the best and easiest way to hold yourself accountable is finding an “Accountability Partner”. For me, my wife and son are my accountability partners. I can’t and won’t let them down.

5. Mediocre Circle of Influence:

This is simple. Hang out with people who share your interests and inspire you. You are who you hang out with. Look around at your friends. If they are not motivated to do anything, you most likely will be the same way.

6. Lack of Personal Development:

When I interview people for my team, I always hear the standard phrases “I love learning and I want to grow”. My response to that? “Wow. That is great. So, tell me what have YOU done in the past year personally or professionally to grow your skills and develop yourself?” Easy answer here: READ BOOKS.

7. Lack of Urgency:

One of the best pieces of advice my dad has ever given me was this: “Jeff, as a salesperson all you got is time”. I have taken that and applied it not just to sales, but life. You cannot waste time doing things that will not move you towards your goal.

Step 3: Draw your line in the sand

Today is your day. It is your moment. No more BS. We are going to change who we are today. It’s that simple.

5 Step Snooze Proof Wakeup Strategy

Step 1: Set your intentions before bed

Step 2: Move your alarm across the room

Step 3: Brush your teeth

Step 4: Drink a full glass of water

Step 5: Get dressed in your workout clothes

Life S.A.V.E.R.S a morning routine for anyone to use:

  1. S – Silence
    • Meditate
  2. A – Affirmations
    • Write down how you want to live each day. Check out my affirmations here: www.wakeupitsdayone.com/day-one-ritual/
  3. V – Visualize
    • See your day ahead and visualize the success you’re going to have
  4. E – Exercise
    • Run, do sit-ups, do push-ups, running in place, lifting weights, treadmill, running outside, lifting a 5-pound dumbbell. Just do something to get your body moving.
  5. R – Reading
    • Read a book, article, blog, or anything that interests you.
  6. S – Scribing
    • Write your thoughts about anything. It is an excellent way to see your progress, capture ideas, gain clarity

How has this book impacted me?

I have been getting up early for work since I started my first job. For me, this book cemented what I had been doing for quite some time but also taught me how valuable a morning routine is. I used to get up early just because I didn’t like to work out at night. Now, I have a purpose to get up. I built out my own routine based on the strategies in this book which includes reading, reflection, and a motivational video. The result has been amazing. My colleagues have wondered why I seem to have so much energy, and I owe a lot of that to Hal’s book. I am so grateful I read it because as I get older it is harder and harder to get up which makes my morning ritual more important than ever.

Check out my step-by-step morning ritual on www.wakeupitsdayone.com/day-one-ritual/

Now, WAKEUP! It’s Day One. It’s time for you to build your morning routine! Purchase the book here!

Step 1: Believe in Yourself

“For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt of yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life” – Carol Dweck Author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Here is the thing: Life is all about perception. Plain and simple. From the instant you were born, you opened your eyes and everything you saw, heard, and experienced from then until now has shaped your view of the world. This directly correlates to how you see yourself fitting in.  You likely form these types of thoughts in your head: ‘I am not smart enough to do this’, ‘I don’t have the skill’, or ‘other people are just naturally better at it than me’.

And unfortunately, that is precisely what stops you from achieving your potential. YOU. Before we talk about making choices and taking action, we need to start with the actual stem of the problem – the way you view yourself.

The reason you might have these negative views is because of thoughts Carol Dweck says we have:

“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary” – Carol Dweck Author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

In my post on Monday, I shared with you Carol Dweck’s idea that humans have two mindsets: Fixed and Growth. People with a fixed mindset think they can’t change and they were born that way. The growth mindset believes that you can improve your skill and intelligence with hard work and effort every day.

Pretty simple concept. Right?

Well, sadly, that’s typically not the case. It is shocking how many people I hear and see not believing in themselves or saying “I was just born that way.”

Let’s look at one person who most people should know and view as superhuman: Michael Jordan.

MJ is one of the many athletes that have a mindset that put them in a class of their own. When I think about it, it’s hard for me to honestly believe he is actually human… but he is.

After reading several biographies on Jordan and his coach Phil Jackson, I learned MJ didn’t start dribbling a basketball in the delivery room on the day he was born or dunk at his first birthday party. What I read is that he outworked everyone and nobody believes more in himself than Michael Jordan. That was the difference between him and everyone else. He knew what he wanted his end result to be, and he gave all the effort he could towards it.

Now, yes he grew to 6’6 and could jump through a roof. But let’s not talk about physical attributes because there are plenty of others out there who are 6’6 and have not come even close to Jordan’s success.

The moments that make him human and that we can all relate to are these:

As a sophomore in high school, he was cut from the varsity team. He was 5’10, could not dunk and 15 other kids made varsity over him. MICHAEL JORDAN. MICHAEL F-ING JORDAN. The supposed greatest basketball player to walk this planet failed to make varsity on his first try.

In another relatable moment, in 1993, his father passed away at a young age. Michael Jordan, the most competitive athlete, the best of all time, walked away from the sport of basketball. You know why? Because as great as he was, as mentally tough as he was; he broke down. The loss of his father broke him. Your first thought: MJ can’t be broken, not possible. Look at Game 7. Highest stage in his respected field. One shot. MJ is the guy who takes it and makes it. But nope, he gave up on basketball (and then decided to play major league baseball. We all know the story.)

How many times have you doubted yourself after you failed? Or how many times have you just not even tried because you figured, ‘I don’t have what it takes’? How many times have you faced a tough moment, and just given up? The answer for me personally would be A LOT. And unless you are not human, I would assume it has happened to all of us. Even people like Michael Jordan, who we view as superhuman.

The difference between MJ and you are not his physical attributes, it’s his mindset. He failed. He gave up, but yet he bounced back every time. What he did is something that is actually extremely simple. He did what most of us are afraid to do. And until we do it, we can’t achieve our potential.

He took the first step: He believed in himself and altered his perception of his abilities

If you are rolling your eyes or thinking, “Jeff, you are crazy. MJ is a legend. He worked hard, but he was born that way. It does not matter what he thought of himself. He is Michael Jordan.”

My response is that you are the crazy one. You keep waking up viewing the world in the same way and expecting a different result. That is called INSANITY. So, you keep living your life that way. While you do that, I am going to do the opposite, and try to think differently and expect a different result. That is what I call the beginning of a Day One mindset.

If you think that is harsh, great! It’s time to wake up. Do you think MJ started on his journey to become the greatest of all time by leaning on others to tell him that they believed in him? No. He began with changing his belief in himself. It starts with you. You are in control. First, you need to believe in yourself.

Do you think that when I launched this blog I felt that I was the only blogger or motivational voice on this planet talking about mindsets? No, I am one of a million. But if I believe in myself, my purpose, my values, and my end result; and I honestly give all the effort I have into this, nothing can stop me. Before I made a choice and took action to create this site, I started with changing my view of myself and what I can accomplish in this world.

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day One. Anything is possible. It’s time to start believing in yourself.

We All Have A Purpose

Hi! My name is Jeff Brandwein and this is my first official blog post. Today, I want to share with you two things: who I am and why I created this site.
My official Day One began in Chicago on March 15, 1987. Fast forward 30 years and I am currently a Sales Manager at a software company by day and a suburban dad by night.
So, basically what I am saying is….I am just like you. I mow my lawn, I change my son’s diapers, and I pack my lunch for work. And above all, you and I are human.
We fail. We fear things. We have tough moments. We doubt ourselves. BUT yet, we are powerful. We have a voice. We have dreams. We have hope. For some, it’s hard to believe. To me, it’s just a mindset. Life at its core is actually pretty straightforward. The challenge is trying not to over complicate it.
One of the things that fascinates me the most is that as much as we have in common, we are all unique. And I firmly believe that what makes you unique is your mindset.
Your mindset is where your purpose lives; your purpose is what drives you, it’s what wakes you up every single day. Some find it early in life, some search their whole lives and never find it, and some simply give up. It’s hard, I know. But trust me. We all have a purpose, whether you believe it or not.
For me, it has been quite the journey. There has been a lot of failing and subsequently a lot of learning, but I have never given up. Through all of these life lessons, I can proudly say I finally figured out why I am here.

My Purpose: To help others realize and achieve their potential

How did I find it? Well, it is a long story (more on that later). For now, I will tell you this: think of your purpose as a massive puzzle. It takes time, it’s confusing, it makes you think, you will need others to help, and you will fail more times than you succeed trying to put all the pieces together. BUT you can solve it. When you do, it will lead you to your potential.
With my newly found purpose, I built this site. I want to share with you all the different avenues I used to help me, and I have three simple goals to help you along your journey.

  1. Share content and methods from articles, books, and people who have accomplished their dreams and reached their potential.
  2. Share my own thoughts on life, my learnings from the books I read, and of course, recommend books that have helped me on my journey.
  3. Most importantly, it is my hope that at least one person can reach their potential, find their purpose, or become a better person because of content shared here. That’s it. Just one.

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day one.