Life Lessons From A Self-Made Merchant To His Son

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

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

Brief Summary:

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

Lessons learned from the book

Improving your character is more important than improving your IQ

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

Always be sweeping

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

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

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

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

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

Life is about the little things

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

How has the book impacted me

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

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

10 Stoic Principles – How to live life to the fullest

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

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

Brief Summary:

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

Principles I learned from the book:

Things do not touch the soul

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

Don’t be bewildered by appearances

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

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

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

Death creates meaning

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

The art of living resembles wrestling more than dancing

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

Focus on what you can control

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

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

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

Live in the here and now

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

We must first achieve self-love and self-sufficiency

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

Remember, someone is always dealing with it worse

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

Everything has two handles

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

How has this book impacted me?

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

Learn how to become a modern stoic here

All We Got Is Time

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

Life is a marathon, not a sprint

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

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

Never stop moving forward

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

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

Embrace failure

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

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

What action can we take:

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

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

What action can we take:

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

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

Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the tough questions

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

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

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

Good thing it’s day one.

 

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.

From the Greens to Technology Sales: How to Stay Elite – Guest Post By Elite Caddy Brett

My Boss, and good friend, Jeff Brandwein approached me about doing a guest appearance on his Blog– Wake Up! It’s Day One. Naturally, I had no idea what I was going to write about at first. What expert am I? Why would anyone listen to me? I started thinking about what others think of me, and something people call me a lot is “Elite Caddy.” Silly, I know. They’re partially making fun of me because that’s my Instagram handle. But to be honest, it also means a great deal to me. I was an Elite Caddy at one of America’s top 100 golf courses for the better part of a decade. I was one of the best. I figured I would share the principles that made me one of the best, that made me Elite. 

If You’re Not 5 Minutes Early, You’re 10 Minutes Late

This is something my Grandfather said to me all the time, and it stuck. I hate being late to anything, especially things that are work-related. Being early shows you care, it shows that you’re willing to work harder than the others, and in return, you often reap the rewards. Simple concept, right? In my case, being early showed the head pro that I was reliable, and I was rewarded by getting assigned better groups to caddy for, and in return making more money.

Do Something Different

Yes, every Caddy can clean a golf club. Every Caddy can rake a bunker, or give yardage. But what I did differently from every other Caddy is that I knew more about the history of the golf course than everyone. Guests and members love that stuff, and this allowed me to create the best member/guest experience possible. This was another thing that allowed me to establish myself as one of the best.

Act As If Someone Is Always Watching

Think about it. You almost always act better when you know someone is watching you. Why not act like that all the time? I can remember back to a day of cleaning out the golf carts all by myself after an outing. The golf outing had been over for about an hour, the sun was setting, and every other Caddy had left by this point. But there I was, cleaning carts alone. After finishing, I was walking to my car to go home when the head pro gave me a call and told me I was working the next day for the best member. I didn’t really know why I was given this opportunity until he ended the call saying “and thanks for cleaning the carts, good work.” He had been watching the whole time.

Although I’m no longer an active Elite Caddy, I still carry these three principles with me today. I’m now in sales at a great company here in Chicago, and these are things I implement on a daily basis. So, what do you do for a living? How can you get better? How can you be Elite?

Good thing it’s Day One.

How to Go From Good to Great to Unstoppable – Lessons from Tim Grover

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 Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim S. Grover with Shari Lesser Wenk.

Brief Summary:

Tim Grover is a personal athletic trainer and founder of Attack Athletics. He is most recognized for his personal training for Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade, and Kobe Bryant among other world-class athletes. 

In his book, Tim shares with us his stories training and working with some of the greatest athletes in the world. The book centers around his most well-known clients Jordan, Kobe, and Dwade three of the most fierce and competitive athletes we have ever witnessed. He starts by explaining the fact that there are three types of people in the world: Coolers, Closers, and Cleaners. To become a cleaner, you must develop specific traits which he lays out in the book he calls them the Relentless 13.  Today, I will share with you the six I found most impactful: 

Things I learned from this book:

Three types of people Coolers, Closers, and Cleaners:

  • Coolers:
    • This type of person will do the job that they are given. They will never go above and beyond. Their desired result will be satisfactory, and they find no reason to push themselves any harder to achieve the next level.  
  • Closers:
    • Closers are a step above coolers. You can count on them to get the job done, but only in specific situations. They are really good at specific things, and will always perform well in situations they feel comfortable in.
  • Cleaners:
    • This type of person is in relentless pursuit of their end result. They know exactly where they want to go, and spend very little time thinking. Countless hours are spent preparing and training to be the best at their specific skill sets. No matter the situation, or issues that arise you can always count on them achieving their desired result. 

Traits of a Cleaner:

You keep pushing yourself harder when everyone has had enough

When it comes to exercising you most likely spend your time in the gym trying to increase your physical strength. Tim has spent most of his career training with MJ. He is very clear that the difference between MJ and everyone else was not his pure physical talents. What separates MJ was his non-stop training working his mind. Being physically gifted can make you great, but being more mentally fit then your peers is what makes you ultimately unstoppable.

Every day, you have to do something you don’t want to do. Every day. Challenge yourself to be uncomfortable, push past the apathy and laziness and fear. Otherwise, the next day you’re going to have two things you don’t want to do, then three, four, and five and pretty soon, you can’t even get back to the first thing. And then all you can do is beat yourself up for the mess you’ve created, and now you’ve got a mental barrier to go along with the physical barriers. 

– Tim Grover

You know exactly who you are

This trait is all about the practice of thinking less and just doing. It is so easy for us to get distracted by others, and worry about what they are doing. Like I mentioned in my last post, most of us live in this world of measurement constantly competing with others and measuring our abilities to see how we compare. 

Even if you practiced for hours trying to make sure you are prepared for every outcome you still ask yourself: I am doing something wrong? Was this how it is supposed to go? Did I do better than the other person? These questions race through your mind while the other person is running past you trusting that all the hard work and practice will guide them. 

You’re not intimidated by pressure, you thrive on it

When you feel pressure or stress, it makes you know that you are alive. When you are alive, you feel. And at the end of the day how you feel is everything.

Directly quoted from Tim because I could not say it any better:

Pressure can bust pipes, but it can also make diamonds. If you take the negative view, it will crush you, now you’re in an “I can’t do this” frame of mind. But the positive view is that pressure is a challenge that will define you; it gives you the opportunity to see how much you can take, how hard you can go. Everyone wants to cut back on stress because stress kills. I say bullshit. Stress is what brings you to life. Let it motivate you, make you work harder. Use it, don’t run from it. When it makes you uncomfortable, so what? The payoff is worth it. Work through the discomfort, you’ll survive. And then go back for more.

– Tim Grover

When everyone is hitting “In Case of Emergency Button” they are looking for you

The most ultimate competitor have absolutely no fear of failure. Cleaners don’t waste time thinking positively. They just keep moving forward knowing they have trust in themselves to do the right thing. All the hard work and preparation you put into your craft allows you to let go of any insecurities or fears to go full speed ahead.

You don’t compete with anyone you find your opponents weakness, and you attack

The mindset here is simple: Get on my level or get out of the way. We will win with or without you. These are the words that were said by MJ to Rodman when he joined the Bulls in the 90’s. So my advice, if you want to be like Mike, then start thinking like him.

You don’t celebrate your achievements because you always want more

Done. Next. A cleaners favorite words. I am still working every day to become a cleaner, but I share a similar thought process. If you are one of my reps, you know when you close a deal my first question is “What’s Next.” 

For some, they might believe this is what leads to burnout. To me, this means that you are always trying to learn and grow. Just because you excelled at one thing doesn’t mean you can’t stop learning how to do it better. Until you reach your end result, you should never be satisfied.

How this book has impacted me:

This book taught me that I am on the right path. I felt good about my mindset, but this book takes it to the next level. And it is a constant reminder of what I already know to be true: mental fitness is more critical than physical fitness.  I have studied Jordan’s coach, read his bio, and now studied his personal trainer. Each of them tells me the same thing: The difference between MJ and his competition was his mindset. 

That tells me everything I need to know and do. 

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day one. What’s your choice? If your choice is to be great today, then I would highly recommend reading this book: Buy it 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 they 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 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 are allows 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!

Leadership Lessons from Pete Carroll (My Spirit Animal)

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 from Pete:

  • Your #1 job as the leader is to bring the energy. Whether it be practice, team meetings, or 1 on 1 conversations. 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 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:

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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 with asking the crowd someone 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

Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson

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 Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty. If you are a 90’s bulls fan. READ THIS BOOK.

Brief Summary:

This book is a memoir of Phil Jackson’s time playing and coaching in the NBA. He shares his stories of playing with the Knicks, leading the 90’s Bulls to 6 rings and reviving his coaching career with the 2000’s Lakers to win 5 rings. Throughout the book, he ties into each story his 11 principles of leadership that he believes guided him to coaching his teams to 11 championships.

Things I learned from this book:

Lead from the inside out:

This is Phil’s first leadership principle. He believes that most leaders try to do whatever everyone else is doing, or the latest management technique. Instead, he says just lead from the heart and be authentic.
I found this as the single most important and most natural principle to master to become a great leader. Though I like to read and learn about leadership, nothing will stop me from just being me and leading with my heart. One of the things I have learned over time is that trust is an essential factor in leadership. Nobody wants to work for someone who is fake or acting like they are someone that they are not. When you lead from the heart people will trust you. It’s that simple.
When I think about the people I lead at work, I don’t view them as employees or co-workers; I see them as humans that have given me the opportunity to help them reach their potential not only in work but in life. I care about their success and work as hard as I can to make them feel that we are in this together. I hope that every rep I lead feels that we shared unique experiences and moments that will create a life-long bond.

The road to freedom is a beautiful system:

As we all know, Phil Jackson was a big believer in the triangle offense. What he loved most about it was that it gave players a system in which to operate, but also let them use their own instincts and knowledge to decide what pass or shot to take in the heat of the moment.
What I took away from Phil was that you must train the entire team to use one effective framework/system that can help them do their job in the way you believe is best. How they operate within the framework or system is up to them. As a leader, I can quickly identify each rep’s strengths and weaknesses within the system to help them be better. For example, I have a framework on how to run an effective demo. It is not a script or a word for word guide. It is a simple framework that helps guide the rep from beginning to end of a call. The rep has their own talk track that they can insert into the framework, and I believe that if they follow the process, they will be successful in the role.

Focus on the spirit, not the scoreboard:

Teams are at their strongest when they give up self-interest for the greater good of the team. Here is a story Phil shares in the book about the importance of working as a team:
“The Samurai wanted to teach his sons the power of teamwork. So he gave each of them an arrow and asked them to break it. No problem. Each son did it easily. Then the samurai gave them a bundle of three arrows bound together and asked them to repeat the process. But none of them could. “That’s your lesson,” the samurai said. If you three stick together you will never be defeated.”
This taught me that if the team wins or lose, we win or lose together. From the first day I led a group of people, I made it clear that there was no individual person (including me as the leader) who was greater than the team. It seems like a simple concept to some, but Phil made me realize that it was one of the important things I had to make clear to my team as the leader.
I also learned the best way to hold an employee accountable is to have their teammates hold them accountable. Although I am technically the leader, my title has no meaning. In my mind, we are all teammates, and I am not the only one responsible for holding each employee accountable. The entire team is.

Tribal Leadership and becoming a stage 5 team:

In the book, Phil discusses the concept of “tribal leadership” and the 5 stages that every team must achieve to eventually reach their potential. After reading it, I made stage 5 as my team’s vision statement (our end result). Below is my team’s vision statement:
We are dedicated to team pride and the overriding conviction that “we are great, not they are great, or I am great.” This team requires common beliefs and shared visions, and the bigger the challenge, the more powerful the team. Our long-term vision is to achieve a rare stage characterized in teams with a sense of innocent wonder and the strong belief that “we no longer are just great, BUT life is great.”

How has this book impacted me?

Phil made me realize that individuals can have all the talent in the world, but they will never achieve the level of success a fully cohesive team can accomplish. As a leader, your responsibility is to get a group of individuals to act as a team and believe in one common goal. If you can do that, your team will achieve success.
This was one of the first books I read when I became a sales leader, and to this day I incorporate the principles mentioned above into my day to day leadership (I only discussed 3 out of the 11 principles because they resonated with me most). I still have a lot to learn, but thanks to Phil I have the foundation of my leadership philosophy.

Now Wake up! It’s Day One. Buy Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success here

Playbook for Success – From One Millennial to Another – Guest Post by Kyle Maynard

Before I begin, I just want to thank Jeff for asking me to guest write for his blog. I’ve met a lot of people and worked with several individuals in my relatively short time on this Earth. If there is ANYONE who can motivate you to WAKE UP with a DAY ONE mentality…it’s Jeff Brandwein.

The point I want to make in this post can be summarized in two key themes. First, never trick yourself into thinking that where you come from determines where you’re going. And second, we are all capable of success, it’s your willingness to get serious and your ability to take the necessary steps that will ultimately get you there. Nothing in this post is groundbreaking by any stretch of the word; simply a set of principles and guidelines that I have applied to my life to get ahead.

Who am I?

My name is Kyle Maynard. I am a 25-year-old sales representative at a SaaS startup in Chicago. I come from a very small town called Cicero, Indiana with a population size of just under 6,000 people. Everybody knows everybody and not many people make it out of that bubble. Even though it was a very safe and comfortable place to grow up, I always knew I wanted something more. At 18, confused and eager, I graduated high school and started my collegiate career at Purdue University. Fast forward to 2015, and here I am; a young professional with not a clue what I was doing.

Since I can remember, I was told the same thing from all my elders: “do well in school, go to college, get a job, support your family, and you will be successful.” I also remember thinking to myself, “easier said than done.” These things can most definitely lead you to success, but how in the hell are you supposed to accomplish those things? And more importantly, is this even the path I want to take? This is an age-old tale and will always be a part of life we must go through.

I recently had a conversation with my brother, who is an extremely intelligent and talented 17-year-old. He has started to explore what he wants to do with his life and is struggling with finding what best suits his interests and strengths. It is a concerning time for him because he feels that the world hasn’t yet prepared him properly for what lies ahead and how to choose his path. What I tried to stress is that the world will never prepare you fully; unfortunately, you must struggle and make mistakes to figure it out. I had to figure this out the hard way, just as many of you had to. When I entered Purdue as a freshman, I learned very quickly that I was not prepared for what lied ahead. High school came so easy to me that I didn’t realize the amount of grit, preparation, and time-management that was demanded of me to succeed. Furthermore, it took me at least a year and a half to figure out what I was actually interested in pursuing as a major. This was a huge setback, as I switched majors twice. However, I finally recognized the importance of taking it seriously and laying out a game plan and took the necessary steps to get on the right path.

Here are the 5 things I have learned so far:

Find your “Somewhere”

We all have heard the phrase, “everyone’s gotta start somewhere.” This has been engraved on our brains since birth. The problem that most of us struggle with is, “where is my somewhere”? To start, you must first understand what you are chasing. Whether that is to own a three-story house, to be CEO of your own company, to become a famous athlete or musician, or to just be happy in life; you HAVE to determine what makes you get up in the morning in order to chase it.

Now sit down, take 20 minutes, and make a list of your top three goals. Don’t think intensively – just close your eyes and think of the first three things that come to mind. Write them down.

Goals vs. Commitments

Now that you have defined a few key goals or aspirations you would like to reach, it’s time to build on that. The first thing to recognize is that your goals CAN and WILL change. That is okay. However, it’s very effective to set annual goals to keep yourself on track. I prefer 3 personal and 3 professional goals. What’s crucial before laying these out is that you understand the difference between a “goal” and a “commitment.” One thing our team does at work is set a goal and/or commitment for the week. A “goal” is something that you wish to accomplish but isn’t fully under your control. A “commitment” is something that has a deadline, and you commit to accomplishing: no excuses. A great way to work towards your ultimate goal is to set 2-3 commitments that will help you reach that goal.

For example, one of my goals in 2018 is to learn to code on a basic level (HTML, CSS, JQUERY). 2 commitments I have set to accomplish this are:

1.) to schedule a half-hour block two days a week with my girlfriend (who codes and designs for a living) to work through a crash course

2.) to code and launch my own website for my music (I’m also a musician/producer in my spare time) by no later than December 31, 2018.

These two “commitments” I’ve made to myself are actionable and trackable, therefore enabling me to accomplish my “goal” of learning to code on a basic level. This principle can apply to your personal goals and is a great way to hold yourself accountable.

Small Victories are Vital

Now that you’ve laid out your goals and set your corresponding commitments, it is equally as important to celebrate those commitments as victories. Being in sales, small victories are vital. Dealing with rejection is a daily routine. To maintain a positive outlook and continue on your path to success, you must celebrate the small wins that ultimately lead you towards your goal. For example, every time we set a meeting at our company, we ring a bell. If we close a deal, we hit the gong. These things not only help with our company culture but on a personal level, allow you to celebrate the steps you’ve accomplished on the path to your ultimate goal. This can apply to anything: closing a deal, passing a test, reaching a certain body weight, finishing a painting, etc. The focus is to take time to celebrate those wins and know that you’re that much closer to your goal. Even further, instead of a gong, find a productive way to celebrate each small victory. It could be as simple as a “fist-pump” or as rewarding as a purchase you make to celebrate that victory. Regardless of the act, the outcome should provide you the confidence you need and inspire you to push on towards your goal.

Being Coachable

This may be one of the most important things I’ve learned in my life so far and one of the most valuable strengths I possess. Whether we admit it or not, we all have some sort of egotism in our DNA. We subconsciously shy away from advice or constructive feedback; whether it’s due to our fear of change, or our inability to accept when we are wrong. This is a cancerous and fixed mindset because it hinders our capability to grow as an individual. If you can swallow your pride and learn to implement advice from others who inspire you, it will change your world. For example, as a salesperson, my close percentage of meetings I conducted to deals I closed from January-March of 2017 was low. I wasn’t implementing advise I was given and therefore my performance suffered. I spoke with Jeff, who was my boss at the time, and recognized I needed to make some changes to my sales approach. After implementing these changes, my close percentage more than DOUBLED the next quarter and led to my now two promotions at my current company. If you take the advice given to you from people who have succeeded in your field, it will drastically improve your future.

Effort is Everything

Last, but definitely not least, it all comes down to EFFORT. You don’t have to be the smartest or most talented person in the room (believe me I’m not). All you must do is consistently put in the ‘incremental effort’ every single day or don’t bother getting up. If you apply these simple guidelines and make a conscious effort to use them, it WILL make a huge difference in the outcome of your future.

So the moral of the story here is: I’m not special, I came from a very small town and lived a very “normal” life. I had the same opportunities as my peers and am in no way someone who is a role model by any means. I have not cured diseases, and I am definitely not the most decorated salesperson at my company. However, instead of staying in a fixed mindset and wondering why the world hasn’t given me everything, I worked hard, accepted that I had to make some changes, and am striving every day to consistently use these principles to reach my goals in life. You don’t have to be the next Jeff Bezos or the next Elon Musk to be successful. We all have our own path, and hopefully, this helps you on your mission to find it.

Now Wakeup! It’s Day One.