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.

Lessons from David Goggins: The Toughest Man Alive

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

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

Summary of Book:

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

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

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

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

Give your pain or challenge a shape, and flip it

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

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

Build your accountability mirror

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

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

Pursue Excellence Only

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take inventory of your cookie jar

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

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

The 40% Rule

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

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

Be the Uncommon amongst Uncommon

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

Failure will and can empower you

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

How This Book Has Impacted Me:

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

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

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!

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

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

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

Brief Summary:

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

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

Leadership Lessons I learned:

One Team = One Mind

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

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

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

Create Your Standard of Performance

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

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

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

Everyone Is Connected

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

Stay Focused on Improving, Not Winning

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

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

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

Be Careful Not to Push to Hard

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

Teaching Defines Your Leadership

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

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

How Has is book impacted me:

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

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

Develop Influence: Habit #5 of High Performers

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

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

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

They just ask for what they want more

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

They give and do not look for anything in return

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

They are a champion of the people

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

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

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

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

Practice One: Teach people how to think

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

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

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

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

Practice Two: Challenge people to Grow

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

Character

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

Connections

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

Contribution

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

Practice Three: Role Model the Way

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

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

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

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One.

Generate Energy: Habit #2 of High Performers

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

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

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

Practice One – Release Tension, Set Intention

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

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

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

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

Here is how it works:

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

Practice Two: Bring the Joy

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

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

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

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

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

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One.

Seeking Clarity: #1 Habit of High Performers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practice 1: Envision the future four

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

Practice 2: Determine the feeling you are after

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

Practice 3: Define what’s meaningful

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

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

Passion + Growth + Contribution = Personal Satisfaction

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

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

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One.

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