personal development

The Art & Science of Living a Great Life

As a coach, talking to people is my job.  I talk to a lot of people in any given week between working with my clients, speaking engagements, training events, and prospecting for new business.  

 

I also have a life outside of work where, again, I talk to a lot of people.  Friends, family, and all the people in between that I interact with on a daily basis.  

 

During these interactions I’m always listening to how people relate to themselves and the world around them.  This is a practice I’ve learned to help me best serve my clients, and it’s also quite interesting to notice in social settings as well.  

 

The bottom line is that people just want to be happy.  We want to be happy with the way we spend our time and with whom we spend it.  We want to be happy with who we are and what we have.  We want a happy experience of life.  

 

Now, this is a very simple way to explain life which is a pretty complicated thing, but bare with me here.  Certainly we can agree that life is better when we feel happy and worse when we feel sad, angry or resigned.

 

Ask yourself this question: Will I be happy tomorrow?

 

Out of 100 people who are asked this question, I’d be willing to bet, 97+ of them would answer: It depends.  Depends on what?  Well, it depends on a million things.

 

Life By Design vs Dependant On Circumstances

 

What if I told you that it didn’t have to depend?  What if you could be happy because you say so?  Would that be something you might be interested in?  What would that make possible for you?

 

We’re bombarded every day with thousands of things that could potentially influence our mood.  Conversations with other people, media - marketing messages, news, television, stuff happening - sickness, hardship, and even death.  Let’s call all of these things circumstances.

 

Look, there are always things that happen that will cause us to feel some type of way other than happy.  And, what if you could be happy because you say so 90%+ of the time?  What if you could do so regardless of the circumstances around you?  Would that make a difference for you?

 

This may be a brand new thought for you and it may be the hardest work you ever do.  Just like anything else you’ve ever done that was new, you can become great at it with consistent, deliberate practice.  

 

You’re being given your first opportunity to do so right now.  Or you could choose to be a victim of circumstance like 97% of the people around you.  What do you say?

 

Choose To Generate

 

I can almost hear you asking, how in the world does one do this?  It’s a super simple answer, and again, one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.  You practice choosing to generate the experience of life you want in every moment.

 

The predictable thing about life is that stuff happens.  “Good” things happen and we feel good.  “Bad” things happen and we feel bad.  Totally normal.

 

Let’s take a sales goal for example.  When sales are coming in and it looks predictable that we’ll hit the goal, we probably feel good.  When there’s no momentum and it looks difficult or impossible to hit the goal, we probably feel bad.  Totally normal.

 

The problem with this scenario is that it’s a completely externally driven life.  In this model people are victims of the circumstances around them.  The best life ever gets is when lots of “good” things are happening.  And we all know those moments come and go.

 

The game to play is choosing to generate the feeling and experience you want to have in any given moment.  Then choose it again.  Then choose it again, and again, and again.  If you focus your attention on doing that one thing it’ll change your life forever.  Guaranteed.

 

This is art.  It’s creation.  It’s literally designing your life moment by moment, experience by experience.  If you want a symphony, you can have it.  If you want a hip hop show, you can have it.  Anything you can imagine you can create.  And if you can’t imagine it, you can’t create it.

 

Don’t take my word for it either.  If you seek, you shall find.  There are tons of books, seminars, and programs you can invest in to find out how to implement this new way of being into your life.  

 

I’ve personally chosen to be a lifelong student and practitioner of this philosophy.  I look for people who teach these principles and I consume their content voraciously.  

 

I’m not saying this to toot my own horn or to pat myself on the back.  I’m saying it with the intention of encouraging you to join me on this journey.  The journey of living a great life because we say so.  You can do this too.  Regardless of all the reasons why you think you can’t.  I promise you.

 

The Science

 

Science tells us that more than 99% of every atom is made up of energy.  The small percentage left over is consists of matter.  This obviously means we’re mostly energy surrounded by a little bit of matter.

 

Thought is what controls this energy.  There are two kinds of thought - conscious and subconscious.  

 

Conscious thought is the rational part of our minds we use to plan and make decisions.  Subconscious thought is the habitual part of our minds that control our feelings, reactions, and everything that happens unconsciously like walking and our heartbeat.

 

This conversation gets deep and I’m just scratching the surface here.  So try to think about this in the context of this article - How does one choose their own experience of life consistently?  

 

The conscious mind is the part that may be telling you right now that what I’m talking about here in this article is impossible.  The reason why it’s telling you that is because you have little to no evidence from your experience that it’s true.  This part of the mind deals with facts and figures.

 

The subconscious mind just does what it’s told.  It has no decision making capability whatsoever.  It doesn’t think about how to walk, it happens automatically.  Imagine how much energy you would need to use if you had to think about how to make your heart beat all day.  Right.  That’s why we don’t have to think about it.

 

All the familiar ways you already know you’ll react to certain situations are familiar precisely because you don’t have to think about it.  You already know you’ll react the way you normally do.  It’s habit.  

 

When “bad” things happen, you already know how you’ll feel.  What there is to do is practice consciously choosing how to respond instead of automatically reacting.  When you do this enough times, you’ll notice a new habit is formed.  

 

Then guess what?  After a while the conscious mind passes it over to the subconscious mind so you don’t have to think about it anymore.  It’s no longer necessary to use as much energy.  Instead of thinking about it, you simply start doing it.  Then you begin reliably and consistently being it.

 

Try noticing when you’re reacting to life from habit vs responding by choice.  If you don’t like how you feel and the experience you’re having of your reaction, practice choosing something more favorable instead.  

 

Once you get some facility around that then you can start choosing the experience you want in any given moment.  It’s like predicting the future except it’s completely by design.  It’s art and science combined.

The Buck Stops Here

Leadership is both an amazing gift and an unreasonable responsibility at the same time.  The reason is because the buck stops with the leader.  They’re the highest level person to turn to when there’s a problem, complaint, loss or victory.

 

I’m talking about a certain kind of leadership.  It’s rare.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s totally unfair.  It’s completely unreasonable.  

 

This kind of leadership is only found in people who make a bold choice to be a certain way.  Sometimes this choice is made consciously, sometimes it’s a subconscious choice.  Either way it takes a thick skin, a lot of patience, forgiveness and compassion.

 

These leaders relate to themselves as The One.  That means they’re the example to follow.  They’re the model of who their followers want to become.  And they do their absolute best to be the one they’d like to follow themselves.

 

This means the leader is expected to show up this way every day.  Again, completely unreasonable and totally unfair.

 

But what if I feel sick?  Sorry, my job is to show up anyway.  But what if I have a deadline and my team and I are way behind?  Sorry, my job is to show up anyway.  But what if everything around me in my life seems like it’s falling to pieces?  Sorry, my job is to show up anyway.

 

This doesn’t mean leaders aren’t allowed to be human.  It just means leaders aren’t allowed to let their humanity be an excuse to not perform.  It means leaders must show up for their teams as an example of excellence regardless of the circumstances that surround them.

 

If you’re a leader, and you’ve done what it takes to be self-aware, you’ll notice that what you do, your team will do times a thousand.  Consider for a moment what that means.

 

If you show up with a negative attitude, they will too.  Times a thousand.  If you show up being self-righteous, they will too.  Times a thousand.  If you show up blaming circumstances and other people for your results, they will too.  Times a thousand.

 

Think about what you want to see in your teammates and commit to being that way 100% of the time.  100% of the time?  Will you ever reach that level?  

 

Probably not.  This is a completely unreasonable challenge.  And, if you lower the bar, so will your team.  Times a thousand.  I’ve seen it time and time again.  If leaders think this doesn’t apply to them, they’re sadly mistaken and it shows.

 

If you want to create a culture of winning on your team, I encourage you to consider taking on the challenge.  I promise your team will be happier and more engaged, you’ll see more favorable results, and life in general will be all around better for you.

Extreme Ownership

There are many traits these rare leaders have.  I want to highlight this one because it goes along with my theme of unreasonableness.

 

One of the best sources whereby I learned about this concept is the book by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin called: Extreme Ownership.  I recommend this book to most of my clients.  It gave me a serious smack in the face and inspired me around the importance of leaders taking ownership.

 

Willink and Babin are retired Navy Seals turned leadership coaches and consultants to med-large size corporations.  They served together in the Middle East after 9/11.  This is where they learned about the importance of Extreme Ownership.  

 

If you guys ever read this, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service.  And thank you even more for helping me learn this invaluable lesson about leadership.  My life, my family, my clients, and my teams are all the beneficiaries of your work.

 

Imagine the turmoil these men were surrounded by.  Their daily circumstances were actually trying to kill them.  Ruthless enemy soldiers with bombs, machine guns, and a death wish.  They had to trust their teammates with their lives.  

 

When it came down to it, these men related to themselves as the owner of it all.  Whatever happened, there was never anyone else to blame.  It was always on them.  No matter what.

 

Yup, even when it was clearly someone else’s fault.  It didn’t matter if another soldier didn’t do their job.  It didn’t matter if there was a miscommunication.  It didn’t matter if the higher-ups made an unreasonable request.  

 

These guys learned to take responsibility for everything, all the time, no matter what.  Like they owned the joint.  Because that’s what elite leaders do.  

 

What they found was that their teammates began to follow suit.  Because, you know, teammates will do what their leaders do times a thousand.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  So we might as well give them habits to follow that work vs the other way around.

 

What would your team look like if everyone took 100% ownership regardless of circumstances?  What would your team’s results look like?  What would the energy of the team be like?

 

Do you think you’ll get more accomplished?  Do you think people will be happier and more engaged?  Do you think this concept would make life, outside of the work you do, different in a positive way?

 

Don’t take my word for it.  Go do some research.  Better yet, go practice this and see what happens for yourself.  I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Startup of 1

But what if I don’t have a team?  What if I’m all by myself?  Does any of this apply to me?

 

If you’re still reading at this point, it definitely does.  You’re here for one of two reasons.  Either because you aspire to build and lead a team in the near future or because you’re an army-of-one by choice and recognize the need for leadership development for what you’re up to in work and in life.  

 

There’s an old saying I’ve heard many times that’s contributed to who I am today.  I have no idea where I heard it so I apologize for my lack of citation to whoever made it up.  “Leader of one, leader of many.  If you can’t lead one, you can’t lead any.”

 

Who’s the one?  You are.  I am.  We all are.  Leadership has nothing to do with how big your team is or even if you have a team at all.  It’s a way of being.  A way of life.  You either choose to practice it or you don’t.

 

Another one of my favorite books is called The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday.  He likens this concept to a Startup Of One.  I think that paints a pretty clear picture of what this means.   

 

We who choose this way of being to practice are choosing to be responsible for everything.  Every moving part of a project, business, cause, family, friendship, or conversation.  All of it.  Like we own it.  Because we do.

 

A person drawn to this kind of lifestyle wouldn’t want anyone else to own their life.  And that’s exactly what we’re doing when we blame anyone or anything else for our experience.  We’re giving them the power over us.  We’ve become their slave.

 

The beautiful thing about all of this is that you get to choose.  If you’re ready to free yourself from the bonds of slavery.  If you’re ready to relate to yourself as the owner of your experience.  All you have to do is take 100% responsibility.

 

Simple, but I would never try to convince you that it’s easy.  You’ll make mistakes and you’ll probably feel bad about it.  Are you going to let that stop you?  You’ll see.

 

I recommend you treat it the same way you would a marathon.  One step at a time.  Get curious about what this all means for you, your team, your projects and your life.  Ask yourself where you would go to find some answers.  Then go there and keep going back.  You’ll get the hang of it.  

 

For me this is a lifelong journey.  I’d never ask you to do something I’m unwilling to do.  And, as you can probably tell, I love talking about this stuff.  So any time from now until forever please feel free to reach out.

 

Congratulations on your choice.  Whichever choice you made.  For choosing is what leaders do.  Blaming is what victims do.  

 

Most People's Misconception About Coaching

I wanted to share with people why I coach.  Most people have bought into a commonly believed myth about coaching.  It's not their fault.  There are tons of coaches out there that get hired based on attraction to their personality.

People think they need to follow someone who's done EXACTLY what they want to do.  This person's made millions and millions of dollars and spends  3 months out of the year on a yacht....so....they must be able to help me.  

Listen, I've had a ton of success.  But my claim to fame is that I've failed way more times than I've succeeded.  As a matter of fact all the champions out there that you can think of right now are the same way.  Ask Michael Jordan.  He'll tell you he's missed a thousand shots for every game-winning shot he's taken.  That's why his team always trusted him with the game-winning shot.

Watch the video below and learn a bit about my story.  There's even more here on other pages of my site.  It's ugly.  That's why it's here.  Because I'm about telling people the truth about who I am and where I come from.  I'm about being an example of a truly successful person.  One who's willing to tell people everything.  Not just talk about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Pun intended.  You'll see what I mean if you watch the video.