The Difference Between Good and Great Teams: The Captain

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

Today’s book is The Captain Class: A New Theory on Leadership by Sam Walker

Summary of Book:

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

Seven Traits of a Captain:

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

Relentlessly pursue goals

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

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

Think differently

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

Be great at the fundamentals

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

Uses action, and NON-verbal displays to lead 

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

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

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

Ability to manage the chaos

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

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

How to Open your Mind to the World of Possibility

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

Today’s book is The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander.

Brief Summary:

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

It is all Invented (Practice 1):

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

SITUATION HOPELESS STOP NO ONE WEARS SHOES

The other write backs triumphantly,

GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY STOP THEY HAVE NO SHOES

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

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

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

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

When you answer that ask yourself this:

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

Stepping into the World of Possibility (Practice 2):

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

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

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

Giving an A (Practice 3):

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

Being a Contribution (Practice 4):

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

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

Lead from any chair (Practice 5):

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

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

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

Rule Number 6 (Practice 6):

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

The way things are (Practice 7):

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

How this book has impacted me:

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

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

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

Leadership Lessons from Pete Carroll

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

Today’s Book is Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play like a Champion by Pete Carroll with Yogi Roth.

Brief Summary:

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

Things I learned from this book:

4 Important Leadership Lessons:

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

Pete Carroll’s Philosophy for achieving your potential

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

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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 by asking the crowd to share their philosophy in 25 or fewer words. Majority of the attendees can never do it. Could you?

Practice is everything

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

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

How this book has Impacted me:

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

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

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

 

 

It’s Day One

1 year ago on this very day one, I officially took action on a goal of mine.

I created this site. The funny thing, I had no experience building a website. I was a terrible, and I mean a terrible student when it came to writing (and to be clear I am still not that good), and I was told by multiple people that I would last a month or two before I got burnt out blogging.

But yet, here I am, 35k+ words written, 35+ posts, and close to 400 subscribers.

What amazes me most about this specific journey creating this site is the power of action vs. inaction, and the forever difference each one can have on your life.

You can believe in yourself. You can make the choice to improve and get better. But none of it will matter if you don’t take action on it and if you lack the willpower to keep going once you do.

And this is where most of us get stuck, myself included many times in my life. The crossroad between action and inaction, or as I like to put it where day 1 meets day 2.

Though one year ago today, I can proudly say I didn’t get stuck. I took action. And what helped me do that is knowing that no matter if I fail today, tomorrow when I wake up it will be day one. I might fail, I might succeed, but regardless I will learn. And I am simply grateful to get the chance to do it all over again each day. And as a human being, I can’t ask for anything more.

12 months later so much has changed, yet some things never will. It is day one. That simple thought is forever buried deep into my brain. It is what I call the day one mindset. And what lives inside that mindset is my purpose. Knowing my purpose will continue to guide me. The good thing is we all have a purpose.

Now, Wake up! It’s Day One.

Copy of my first blog post “We all have a purpose” dated November 10, 2017, is below as a reminder to what I set out to do.
Hi! My name is Jeff Brandwein and this is my first official blog post.

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

My Purpose: To help others realize and achieve their potential

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

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

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day one.

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.

Want To Learn How to Improve Yourself? Look Inward: Self – Directed Learning

In the book Primal Leadership, the authors argue that practicing and learning how to improve yourself by focusing on EQ competencies adds more long-term value to reaching your potential then studying IQ related skills.

They share with you multiple data points backing up their argument. One, in particular, is a study comparing MBA programs where one program focuses on students improving their EQ competencies and the other students focus on a typical MBA class. They have been running this study since 1990 and it has shown that the students who worked to improve their EQ competencies in the study allowed them to retain what they learned up to 5 to 7 years after graduating vs. students who did not work to improve EQ only about 1 to 2 years. Even better, they found that the students who originally worked to improve their EQ competencies didn’t just improve their EQ but improved in other areas of work faster and better than others.

Why is it that when studying things that relate to improving your IQ you forget them more quickly over time? According to Daniel Goleman, he explains that we go through a “honeymoon effect” after training and learning something new. This is the period of time after we learn something where we try to implement and use it, but slowly as time goes on we forget it.

Why does the honeymoon effect happen?

  • Majority of people truly believe they can not change. Going to a training most people immediately tell themselves they will not get anything out of this training.
  • We can’t learn something when it is forced on us. We learn when we want to learn.
  • As we become more experienced in our careers/life we start to take less feedback from others – What is widely referred to as the “CEO Disease” – we rarely choose to receive or listen to any feedback on ourselves.

What does science have to say about it?

According to science, you need to tap into your limbic brain NOT your neocortex. Most training target the neocortex which is our thinking brain. This part of our brain captures information rapidly and allows us to remember things we read or hear very quickly. On the other hand, the limbic brain is a much more slow learner as it focuses on emotions. By focusing training on the limbic brain (emotions) it takes a ton of repetition and practice whereas the neocortex can learn something after one repetition. The problem is that learning requires that you take action to implement what you have learned. This is where people fail to learn what they were taught.

So, if you want to truly learn and tap into your potential how can you do that?

The authors share with us what they call the “Self-Directed Learning” process. Learning and development come from within, and to combat the honeymoon effect you need to look inward to understand who you are and who you want to be. These exercises below can help guide you to become the best version of yourself.

  1. My Ideal Self – Who do I want to be?

This question helps lead you to who you truly want to be as a person and more importantly, a leader. By setting a future goal or end result you will stay motivated through the good times and bad times to keep going till you discover your ideal self.

  1. My Real Self – Who am I? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What are the gaps?

The toughest question of all. The moment when you truly look at yourself and reflect on how you act, how others view you and how your beliefs impact your actions. The best way to help answer this question is asking for feedback from your team, friends/family, or peers. It will be harsh, but you will uncover what you’re good at and where the gaps are to truly achieve your ultimate goal of becoming your ideal self.

  1. My Learning Agenda – What action do I need to take to make up the gap?

You know who you want to be, and what areas you need to improve to become that person. The best way to do that is building an action plan. It can be as detailed as a daily action, or it could be broader like monthly or annual goals. The only thing that matters is following through on taking the steps to improve. Easier said than done. So, it always recommended that you start small, and build on this question as you go.

  1. Experimenting – How can you take action and practice new behaviors, thoughts, and the feeling to the point of mastery?

This question lies in taking action after you built your plan. This is the hardest part for most and will be the question that makes or breaks someone. If you are truly committed to becoming a better perspn then you need to start practicing behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that will help close the gap.

  1. Relationships – Who in your life can help you make these changes possible?

No one will believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. That is the first step, and hopefully, if you are asking yourself this questions you already believe in your own abilities to improve yourself. If that is true, then you will need others in your life to help support you as you grow and evolve.

Now, Wake Up. It’s Day One! Time to start looking inward. May the choice be with you. To learn more about leadership and emotional intelligence buy the book here.

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