Total Focus by Brandon Webb and John David Mann

Amazon.com: Total Focus: Make Better Decisions Under Pressure eBook: Webb,  Brandon, Mann, John David: Kindle Store

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A former Navy SEAL sniper’s experiences in business, war, and training. Practical, real world examples. Loved how the writing acknowledged Webb’s own flaws and failures as well as his massive successes.

  • Front sight focus is that state of intense concentration in which all your resources and abilities are brought on a single intention… everything else blurs and disappears
  • Single core principle for success in business: choose one thing, focus on that one thing, and execute it to the absolute limit of your abilities.
  • Cold bore lesson – each day is a single bullet
  • Two common traits of top performers: complete and total confidence (“I will win no matter what”) combined with rigorous, consistent, meticulous mental rehearsal (“and this is exactly what it will look like and feel like”).
  • On self talk
    • You create complete and total confidence via self-talk
    • People give themselves excuses before they start and while they are performing so they can decide to quit
    • They quit because they decided to
    • We are all talking to ourselves all the time. Why not do it intentionally?
  • Failing sniper school because you wipe the sweat from your brow… A little sweat and discomfort is no reason to lose your focus
  • Stay on purpose
  • Figure out your number – the amount of money you’re aiming for. Would you pull a trigger without knowing where you’re shooting?
  • People sometimes you train like to hell to become a Navy SEAL. The truth is you you train like hell to become a SEAL, and then you start training. The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle.
  • Develop the habit of knowing more than you think you need to know.
  • Illusory superiority – everyone thinks they’re above average
  • First year in business, Brandon lived like a monk – monk mode.
  • When you hear, “this is the way things are always done”… don’t believe it. It’s always suspect
  • “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” –General George Patton
  • Velocity is speed plus direction. Not just fast action, but directed fast action
  • In business, the enemy is not the other company. It’s your own mediocrity and complacency
  • Given the choice between doing something or sitting there, SEALs always favor taking action
  • If you want to change the world, make your bed. Captain William H. McRaven
  • Action This Day. Develop The habit of doing it now. Refuse to let yourself procrastinate.
  • Confidence + open-mindedness
  • Often you gain from failures and crisis.
  • When running large scale Facebook ads… have a backup.
  • Everything is a test run (Amit)
  • Excellence means excelling. Everything everyone else does, you strive to do it better, faster, sooner, more efficiently, more effectively, more reliably, more consistently, with greater results. You take on the job at hand and do it to the limit of human possibility… and then do it better than that.
  • Want world changing success? Be excellence.
  • “Improve constantly” is a mantra that needs to be at the core of you.
  • Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.
  • The supreme art of war is subdue the enemy without fighting
  • You need to surround yourself with the right environment, whether that means building that environment around you or moving to where it already exists. If you want to perform at a certain level, you have to put yourself in that environment that exemplifies that level.
  • “Excellence matters in everything you do, not only in fitness, but in everything. The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the music you listen to. The shows and films you watch. The words and sentences you speak. The quality of your relationships. You should be a connoisseur of greatness.”
  • If you’re living a mediocre life and you get rich, all that extra money will buy is more mediocrity. Excellence isn’t a means to an end. It’s simply a way of life.
  • Simple business lesson from a restaurant owner worth taking seriously: Take care of the guests, take care of your people; growth and profits will follow.
  • “I will not quit.”
  • It’s not just about getting through hard times. It’s about welcoming them
  • A genuine commitment to excellence is impossible without a deep appreciation of pain and failure
  • When people say you can’t do that, what they’re saying is they couldn’t do it. Obstacles are there to show how bad you want it
  • “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” –Winston Churchill
  • Take it one piece at a time. If you look at everything at once, you can get overwhelmed. But breaking it down into small pieces, it becomes manageable.
  • One team, one fight. No man or woman is an island.
  • Four core values at Hurricane:
    • People First
    • Honesty and Integrity
    • No Limits
    • Give Back
  • Take the interview seriously.
  • Interview questions to ask
    • What you do if the decision maker on your biggest account asked you to lie for him?
    • Do you believe in aliens?
    • What keeps you up at night?
  • A team with average ability but great chemistry will win out ver a team with extreme talent but lousy chemistry
  • You can’t fake authentic caring
  • Learn to listen to your gut instinct, but don’t necessarily trust your first impression. People can surprise you.
  • Genuine gifts > bonus money
  • Business is about helping people.
  • You have to earn your title every day… and every day is a new opportunity to.
  • Talk to your people.
  • Figure out what your mission is.
  • “Success requires no explanation; failure permits no alibis.”
  • If you don’t define where you’re going, you’ll drift like a stick in a river and go wherever the current takes you.
  • Never confuse your own preferences for the markets.
  • A good leader isn’t one who always has (or thinks he has) the answers. A good leader is the one always asking questions and being smart about looking for the answers.
  • “I don’t understand, please explain” is not a sign of weakness, it’s a demonstration of open-mindedness, intelligence, humility, and fearless leadership
  • None of us is as smart as all of us.
  • Having an entrepreneurial spirit simply means you make something happen.
  • Personal Vision Statement
    • I live an adventurous and meaningful life. I value time as my most precious asset and use it wisely. I plan my life and live my plan.
    • I speak candidly and respect people’s views and choices. I don’t fall prey to certainty. I lead by example.
    • I stay physically fit and eat healthy. I set challenging goals and achieve them. I never give up, and I know the difference between failing and quitting.
    • I see fear and adversity as necessary opportunities to grow and learn. I am always striving to learn and improve myself as a father, friend, son, companion, and business leader to my team.
    • I am leaving the world a better place.
  • You’ll fail, probably more than once. That, too, is not only inevitable. but a positive force, guiding and propelling you forward. Failure seems to be a necessary ingredient in the humility and wisdom it takes to succeed greatly.
  • Man In The Arena
  • Further Reading
    • The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
    • The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela

Resilience by Eric Greitens Notes

Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life - Kindle ...

Link (Amazon)

This is one I will refer back to often. The incredible writing. The use of historical examples. The timeless lessons. I can’t remember the last time I annotated this much in a book. Wisdom from so many different sources. Highly, highly recommended.

On Starting

  • Serenity Prayer: God, grant the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
  • Great changes come when we make small adjustments with great convictions.
  • When we say we don’t know what to do, it’s often not information we’re lacking, but courage.
  • As long as we have enough wonder and humility, our motives don’t have to be pure.. More selfless, meaningful reasons will come if we keep on the path.
  • It hurts to realize how much time we’ve wasted. The only thing that hurts worse? Not starting.
  • Accept that you are imperfect and always will be. Your quest is not to perfect yourself, it’s to better your imperfect self.
  • Anyone doing anything worthy will have critics. Start anyway. (Mother Teresa, for example)
  • “To make the world excellent, great, and beautiful, we have to be a little irrational, a bit strange, and sometimes odd. That’s okay. Hold on to that.”
  • If every risk you take pays off, then you probably aren’t actually taking risks.
  • Begin even though you know you will suffer and fail along the way.
  • “Move and the way will open.” –Zen Proverb
  • Beginning brings fear that you won’t succeed. So what should you do when starting? Use humility. I begin with humility, I act with humility, I end with humility. Humility leads to clarity. Humility leads to an open mind and a forgiving heart. With an open mind and a forgiving heart, I see every person as superior to me in some way; with every person as my teacher, I grow in wisdom. As I grow in wisdom, humility becomes ever more my guide. I begin with humility, I act with humility, I end with humility
  • You don’t need to know what perfect looks like. You need to know what better looks like though.
  • “Culture” originally meant tending to the land. You would “cultivate” the land. Eventually, it was used to refer to yourself. Cultivating yourself.

On Happiness

  • We flourish when we grow and thrive. We flourish when we become what we are capable of becoming.
  • To create a flourishing life, we need both virtue and the conditions in which virtue can thrive.
  • Happiness of doing is often greater than the happiness of the actual destination. A mountain climber reaches for the summit, happiness meets her along the way.
  • Joy is the byproduct of an activity, not the aim.
  • “And happiness… what is it? I say it is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing or that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.” –John Butler Yeats

On Role Models

  • Find a model. Do as they do.
  • “Any fool can learn from his mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” –Otto Von Bismarck
  • “Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy. At the end of the copy, you will find yourself.” –Yohji Yamamoto
  • How do you find a model? When you find yourself reflecting on someone’s positive example to guide your thinking and your actions and you begin to imitate him, then you have a model.
  • Hunter S. Thompson once hand-copied The Great Gatsby to get in the mind of a masterpiece
  • The closer the model’s experience to yours, the more practical
  • Your story is not unique… find a model.
  • Nuance is important… we can admire Thomas Jefferson for his genius while accepting he owned other humans.
  • You can find models from unlikely places. A kid in Rwanda found the story of the Holocaust in Night and it gave him a measure of comfort. (263)

On Identity

  • Less interested in how you feel and more interested on who you want to be.
  • The way you act will shape the way you feel. You act with courage and immediately your fears start to shrink and you begin to grow. If you want to feel differently, act differently.
  • When you start to put your identity ahead of how you feel, you act in alignment with who you want to be.
  • Character precedes achievement.
  • When we look at others, we see what they’ve done, not necessarily how they did it. Often, how they did it is more important.
  • Your identity requires daily attention (like eating well or cleaning yourself)
  • Smile, breathe, exercise, serve, being grateful and gracious, act with humility and courage. Simple. Not easy.
  • You don’t want achievements, you want a way of being.

On Habits

  • To change the direction of your life, you have to reset your habits.
  • “Never cease chiseling your own statue.” –Plotinus (205-270)
  • When a habit becomes so ingrained that the actions
  • The direction of someone’s life is not shaped by a single action, but by thousands of days, each filled with small and unspectacular actions produced over and over again
  • Your life builds not by dramatic actions but by accumulation
  • People imagine they’ll rise to the occasion. In truth, you’ll fall to your level of your preparation.
  • If you’re growing, you’re likely failing. If you’re not failing, you’re likely not growing
  • Practice builds habits. Habits builds character.
  • We become what we do if we do it often enough. We act with courage, and we become courageous. We act with compassion, and we become compassionate.
  • “There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove we are as good today as we were yesterday.” –Eric Hoffer
  • You do it not once, twice, or three times. But three thousand. You make it a habit.
  • Without practice, our skills deteriorate.

On Excellence

  • A focus on happiness will not lead to excellence. A focus on excellence will, over time, lead to happiness.
  • What separates exceptional from unexceptional? A willingness to fail, and an ability to learn from the failures.
  • Self-respect isn’t something anyone can hand you. Self-respect occurs when we know we’re good.
  • Excellence is not about a single important day of decision. It’s about accumulated effort, consistent practice, and wise habit formation
  • Excellence is beautiful and temporary. One moment we are victorious. The next moment, we were victorious. An excuse endures.
  • We don’t ask “What did I intend?” We ask, “What did I do?”
  • Judge yourself based on results, not intentions.
  • If you best is not good enough, make your best better. If you tried hard and failed, then try harder, or find a new way to try until you succeed. Trying hard is trying hard. Success is success.
  • What ultimately matters is not what we intend but who we become and what we leave behind us.
  • Excellence comes wrapped in hard work. You know that the will to win is cheap and common, while the win to train is rare and noble.
  • Benjamin Franklin questions on living well: “Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means? Have you lately observed any encroachment on the just liberties of the people? Do you know of any fellow citizen who has lately done a worthy action, deserving praise and imitation? or who has committed an error proper for us to be warned against and avoid?”

On Taking Responsibility

  • The most important to build if you want to be resilient is the power of taking responsibility for your life
  • You are not responsible for everything that happens to you. You are responsible for how you react.
  • The first word out of a complainer’s mouth is “they.” Beware of “they.”
  • Responsibility is a heavy burden, but it is also offers power.
  • James Stockdale never lost faith in the end of his story. He believed he held more power over his situation than his captors did.
  • Stockdale Paradox: “You must never confuse your faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.” Maintain clarity of the situation with the hope that you will remain victorious.
  • On Purpose/Vocation
  • Purpose is not found. It is created.
  • How do you create your purpose? You take action. You try things. You fail. You pursue excellence and you endure pain.
  • What you work on, works on you.
  • “Your vocation is the place where your great joy meets the world’s great need.” –Reverend Peter Gomes
  • Almost any activity, if you pursue it with purpose and attention for its own sake, can become a vocation
  • Any work can be a miserable bore. Any work can be a source of joy if i’s pursued with passion and a love of excellence
  • Any job can be a site of service if pursued with compassion
  • Often we have no idea what someone’s real vocation is if we don’t know them. It’s a mistake to assume what someone is paid to do is the same as their life work.
  • “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how” –Nietzsche
  • “The ultimate aim of the quest must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and the power to serve others.” –Joseph Campbell
  • “Don’t say things. What you are … thunders so that iI cannot hear what you say to the contrary.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”

On Critics

  • “You have enemies? Why, is it the story of every man who has done a great deed or created a new idea. It is the cloud which thunders around everything that shines. Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats.” –Victor Hugo

On Fear

  • “How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened!”
  • Every worthy challenge will inspire some fear.

On Power

  • One of the habits of the truly powerful is to recognize the power in everyone else

On Wisdom

  • To be wise, we must recognize we only know a small fraction of what is worth knowing. To be resilient, we also have to recognize that we know only a small fraction of what is worth knowing about ourselves.
  • When we close our minds, we protect the ego but degrade our thinking.
  • “Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools.”
  • Seneca on the obvious: “People say: ‘What good does it do to point out the obvious?’ A great deal of good; for sometimes we know facts without paying attention to them. Advice… merely engages the attention and rouses us, and concentrates the memory, and keeps it from losing its grip. We miss much that is set before our eyes.”
  • The test of a philosophy is simple: does it lead people to live better lives? If not the philosophy fails. If so, it succeeds.
  • If a piece of wisdom has survived for generations, that is a sign that it works.

On Nuance

  • Have nuance. Honest people can lie. Wise people can be dumb. Compassionate people can be cruel.
  • “The sign of a first rate intelligence is to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
  • For most of history, our feet were hardened by walking on the rough ground. In our world, people wear shoes. Shoes are good. They protect our feet. But we realize that it is possible to gain something very good and still lose something very real. What most of us have lost is the ability to walk barefoot over difficult ground.
  • “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them… But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” –Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • Winston Churchill was a prisoner of war and made a 300 mile trek by himself. He also was proud about traveling alone to the French Riviera.

On Risks

  • Extreme recklessness is dangerous. Extreme caution is dangerous, too.
  • “Speak what you think today in words as hard as cannonballs, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradicts every thing you said today.” –Emerson

On Hard Work

  • “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses… in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” –Muhammad Ali
  • Get in the game, it doesn’t matter what you do. Get to work.
  • Working hard yourself makes you more appreciative of the hard work of others.
  • “We do two things here: We work hard. And we win. The reason we win is that we work hard. So really, we only do one thing here. If you don’t want to work hard, don’t waste my time.” –Ben, Oxford boxing team coach
  • The magnitude of the challenge X the intensity of your attack = your rate of growth
  • Five variables go into training or practice: frequency, intensity, duration, recovery, and reflection
  • If you aren’t failing from time to time… you are either Superman or not pushing yourself hard enough
  • “A small daily task, if it really be daily, will beat the labours of spasmodic Hercules”
  • Humans must breathe, sleep, eat, and love to do well. But we also must struggle. We need to challenges to master and problems to solve. Without struggle, a part of begins to die.

On Pain

  • Pain can make us or break us. Suffering can make us stronger. Fear can cripple us or make us more courageous. Resilience is the difference.
  • There is the pain we seek. And then there is the pain that seeks us.
  • People frequently hold on to pain because it feels comfortable. Of course pain hurts, but the pain you know can seem easier, more manageable, than the unknown pain you might encounter on a different path.
  • If there is tension in your life, if there is some deep worry about living a worthy life… then good. That tension and worry is part of a well lived life.
  • Rolling with the punches means to literally move your body as you’re getting punched… not to go through the pain
  • Push yourself, but don’t be an idiot.
  • The minute we write down what we are afraid of, we begin to gain control
  • Not everyone who’s beaten will be broken. And usually, no matter how hard the hardship… there is possibility for light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Thich Nhat Hanh writes that suffering is something we create through our attachments: what makes people suffer is not so much the physical sensation they experience but the meaning they attach to their losses.
  • Jack Dempsey story
  • We don’t know what we’re capable of until we’re tested.
  • You need a worthy adversary.
  • Make the task easier. Break it down. To the person getting out of bed… getting out of bed might be difficult. But can you move your toes? Yes. Then do it. Can you move your fingers? Yes. Then do it. can you lift your leg? Yes? Then do it. Eventually, you’re out of bed.
  • People quit when they start to think about how hard something is going to be.
  • Mental visualization, or mental rehearsal, is one of the most powerful ways to master pain, fear, and difficulty.
  • “Worry productively.” Go ahead and visualize the worst thing that can happen. But instead of wallowing in your worries, think about how you’ll respond. Practice.
  • The resilient mind imagines hardship and figures out how they’ll respond.
  • Control your breath. It won’t erase your fears or eliminate your pain. But to be resilient, you have to exercise control over what you can control. At the most basic level, you can always control how you breathe. And how you breathe shapes how you think.
  • “Gratitude is the parent of all other virtues.”
  • When you hold onto pain it is holding onto a hot coal with it in your hands. You may be aiming it at someone else but you are the one who is hurt.
  • The warrior protects others. Suicide makes that impossible. Just because you’re in pain doesn’t mean we should quit.
  • “The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” Hemingway

On Reflection

  • Science is reflection. There is no worries about being wrong. Science starts out wrong often, but through reflection, it gets closer to the truth.
  • Thinking and reflecting aren’t the same. Difference is reflections often point toward future actions.
  • The gold standard for good reflection is that it allows you to plan well. And planning leads to thoughtful action. Act. Reflect. Plan.
  • Questions to ask for reflection:
    1. Why am I here? (“Here” referring to this particular situation.)
    2. What’s going on around me?
    3. What am I going to do about it?
    4. How will my actions affect others?
  • When the Romans came in contact with the Jews, they were shocked. Every seventh day, the Jews stopped all their work. The Jews used this day to reflect.

On Friends

  • Be with people who are the way you want to be. If you want to be excellent, be with people who pursue excellence. If you want to be happy, be around people who are happy.
  • Friendships of utility bring people together who are useful to each other.
  • Friendships of pleasure are based around people we just like being around.
  • We turn to friends for big life decisions because they will question or decisions and motives. An acquaintance might say “Sounds good to me” but a real friend will go deeper.
  • As you become more powerful, you have to work harder to make sure that people correct you. More and more, you have to ask yourself, “How can I become better?” Avoid yes men.
  • Most truly elite performers are accessible, friendly, and humble because they want to make friends with more to learn more. Makes sense.
  • When you think about your own pain and how the world deals you an unfair hand, you become weaker. When you think of the needs of your team and your friends, you become stronger.

On Mentors

  • There are a lot of people who know more than you. So try to find them and listen to them.
  • What to look for in a mentor? Someone who respects their craft.
  • You can pursue any craft without a mentor, but it’s unlikely you’ll find mastery.
  • It’s easy to find people willing to give advice. It’s hard to find people with advice worth giving.
  • It’s much easier to make information complex than it is to make it simple. A good mentor makes it simple so you can learn in order to get better.
  • Novices see what it is obvious. Experts see the story and can use inferences to predict what will happen next.
  • Good mentors hear the right things.
  • If you want to become great, you need a great coach.

On Teams

  • When things don’t go right with a team, the team either snipes at each other or comes to a solution
  • “If these guys weren’t here right now, I’d probably stop.” Thought from pledging, also a thought from SEAL teams.
  • The strength of others can make us stronger.
  • We become close to the people with whom we discover the world with.
  • When we share a purpose with others, our work creates a shared connection.
  • Real success is usually a product of struggle. And struggle brings people together.
  • Some teams are tight like families. Other teams work like allies. But all resilient teams share one thing: an ability to manage interests while serving a purpose that is larger than the interests of any one person.

On Leadership

  • Never ask someone to endure more than you are willing to endure yourself.
  • Leadership’s responsibility is to work intelligently with what is given and not waste time fantasizing about a world of flawless people and perfect choices.
  • We are almost always led by those who have pushed themselves than by those who have been benefited from privilege, luck, or circumstance.
  • We cannot be victorious if we abandon those who are wounded. Robert Bly: “The wounded man knows something.”
  • Leadership is a way of being, not a set of tricks.

On Story

  • What’s a quest? It’s a journey with meaning. On a quest, we discover what we’re after by going on the journey. You figure out the purpose of your life by living your life. You give meaning to your quest by what you do and say and suffer.
  • Different people use the same circumstance to create a different story. A different story doesn’t change what happened, but it changes what happens.
  • Centuries ago, writers realized that the best stories start in medias res, in the middle of things. They realized that time in stories doesn’t run like on clocks. In a story, the real beginning comes when things start to matter in a different way.

On Death

  • Death provides urgency.
  • When do you see things most vividly? It’s when you first discover them or they’re about to be taken away.
  • “He who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.” –Montaigne
  • We honor the dead by living their values. Through our efforts, we ensure that the good things they stood for continue to stand even when they are gone. Our actions become a living memorial to their memory.

The Four Agreements Notes

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A ...

Link (Amazon)

More than 17,000 reviews on Amazon for a reason. It’s concise wisdom. Really enjoyed it and highly recommend it. A great book for anyone seeking knowledge on how to live a better life.

  • Everything in existence is a manifestation of the one living being we call God. Everything is God.
  • The real us is pure love, pure light.
  • We keep doing what others want us to do in order to get rewards. We fear being punished and fear not getting the reward, so we start to pretend we are what we are not, just to please others, just to be good enough for someone else.
  • We need a great deal of courage to challenge our own beliefs because we have agreed to these beliefs. They make us feel safe.
  • In your whole life nobody has abused you more than you have abused yourself. If someone abuses you more than you’ve abused yourself, you’ll probably walk away. But if someone abuses you less than you abuse yourself, you’ll stay in the relationship and tolerate it.
  • The agreements that come from fear require us to expend a lot of energy, but the agreements that come from love help us conserve and gain energy.

The First Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word

  • Your word is the power you have to create. Through the word, you express your creative powers. Regardless of what language you speak, your intent manifests through the word.
  • Your word is your spell (we “spell” with words, get it?)
  • Our parents/siblings gave us opinions about us without even thinking
  • A sin is anything you do that goes against yourself
  • If I love myself, I will express my love in interactions with you, because that action will produce a like reaction. This is why saying “I love myself” generates such positive results in your own life. (Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Kamal Ravikant)
  • We sometimes believe we must repress our emotions in order to be loved.
  • Every action you take matters.
  • Gossiping is wasting your word
  • Your opinion is not necessarily right, it is just your viewpoint.
  • How much you love yourself and how you feel about yourself is directly proportionate to the quality and integrity of your word.
  • Tell yourself how wonder you are, how great you are. Tell yourself how much you love yourself.

The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally

  • Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally.
  • Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind.
  • Compliments and criticism. Don’t take it personally. It’s a reflection of the other person.
  • When you feel good, everything around you is good. When everything around you is great, everything makes you happy. You are loving everything that is around you, because you are loving yourself. Because you like the way you are. Because you are content with you. Because you are happy with your life. You are happy with the movie you are producing, happy with your agreements with life. You are at peace, and you are happy. You live in that state of bliss where everything is so wonderful, and everything is so beautiful. In that state of bliss you are making love all the time with everything you perceive.
  • If someone is not treating you with love or respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you.

The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions

  • We literally dream things up in our imaginations. Because we don’t understand something, we make an assumption about the meaning, and when the truth comes out, the bubble of our dream pops and we find out it was not what we thought.
  • We have millions of questions that need answers because there are so many things the reasoning mind cannot explain. It is not important if the answer is correct; just that the answer makes us feel safe. That’s why we make assumptions.
  • Avoid assumptions by asking questions. Clear questions. Have the courage to ask questions until you are clear as you can be, and don’t assume you know everything there is no know about a situation.

The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best

  • Regardless of the quality, keep doing your best – no more and no less.
  • When you do more than your best (overdo it), you go against your body and yourself and it will take you longer to achieve your goal (true with lifting, got injured overdoing it!)
  • When you do less than your best, you subject yourself to frustrations, self-judgement, guilt and regret
  • Take action just for the sake of doing it, without expecting a reward. You will find you enjoy the actions and the rewards will come, but you are not attached to it.
  • When you are doing your best just for the pleasure of doing it, you are taking action because you enjoy the action.
  • Action is about living fully. Inaction is sitting in front of the television/phone/screen because you are afraid to take risk and express what you are.
  • The best way to say “Thank you, God” is to live in the present moment.

The Toltec Path To Freedom: Breaking Old Agreements

  • If we find a child who is two or three, perhaps four years old, we find a free human. Why is this human free? Because this human does whatever he or she wants to do. The human is completely wild!
  • The real you is still a little child who never grew up. Sometimes that little child comes out when you are having fun or playing, painting, writing, or expressing yourself in some way. These are your happiest moments of your life – when you are the real you.
  • The first step toward personal freedom is awareness. We need to be aware we are not free in order to be free. We need to be aware of what the problem is in order to solve the problem (interestingly, I said something extremely similar to David Chodosch today about social media… we need to be aware we are getting addicted before we can make a change)
  • The freedom we seek is to use our own mind and body to live life, instead of the life of the belief system
  • Forgiveness is a way to heal yourself. We must forgive those we feel who have wronged us. We do this because we love ourselves and no longer wish for pay for the injustices.

Chasing Excellence Notes

Chasing Excellence: A Story About Building the World's Fittest ...

Link (Amazon)

Written by the man who coached both the Men’s and Women’s Champions in the 2016 CrossFit Games. The book is a mix of storytelling and wisdom – and a must-read for anyone who is attempting to pursue not just competence but excellence.

Intro

  • A “bad” situation might be the best thing that ever happened to you. Reframe.
  • “It’s impossible to spend any time around Ben without becoming a better person.”
  • Mental toughness isn’t something you’re born with, it’s something you can actually improve. But you have to practice it.

Commitment

  • The only way to get better is to pound on your craft, day in and day out, doing the right thing over and over and over again. “There are no secrets, there are no tricks. If anything, it’s the opposite. Whether you are a pro athlete or a guy running a business, or driving a truck or going to school, it’s simple. Ask yourself where you are now and where you want to be instead. Ask yourself what you’re willing to do to get there. Then make a plan to get there.”
  • Working and training at the champion level is not for everyone. Too much pain, sacrifice, hours, monotony. There’s so much you have to think about and dedicate yourself to chase perfection. Not about talent, it’s about commitment.
  • Excellence is asking yourself: Am I committing everything I have to make myself the tiniest percentage better I am right now, no matter how hard I have to work, no matter what I have to give up?
  • Commitment is about a focus on each minute.
  • You’re focused not on the outcome of your dedication, but the dedication itself and the person you’re trying to become
  • Champions wake up with one goal in mind: becoming better.

Grit

  • What is grit? It’s when things get harder, you push harder; when you fail, you get back up stronger; when you don’t see results, you don’t get discouraged but you continue to pound away day after day with relentless/consistency/heart/passion.
  • What people don’t see is that behind most every talented person who has become a massive success is a daily schedule of grind, hours of suck, and a whole string of difficult, lonely moment working on the tiny details that will get them to where they want  go.
  • Talent + Grit = Unstoppable
  • “People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.” –Mozart

Positivity

  • Staying positive is hard for us because our DNA is hardwired for survival. Far more important to remember which big furry animal would kill you than that butterfly is pretty.
  • Sign in Ben’s gym: NEVER WHINE. NEVER COMPLAIN. NEVER MAKE EXCUSES.
  • Where most people see adversity and difficulty, you want to see advantage and opportunity.
  • Positivity is directly linked to improved performance. If you stay positive, you perform with greater speed and accuracy.
  • Almost two-thirds of the words in the English language convey the negative
  • Tell yourself the right story – the positive one – about what the adversity means for your own success. The obstacle is the way.
  • Your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, and your actions dictate your future.
  • Preparation, not your attitude, will dictate results. Positivity doesn’t guarantee anything, but it can lower perceived exertion, make things seem more enjoyable, and improve your chances of competing at your potential, and give you a competitive advantage

Embrace Adversity

  • Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.
  • The days when you have to do things that scare you, when you have to take risks, push against challenges and difficulties – those are the days that make you stronger, faster, better.
  • Overload Principle: you can force adaption in your body by consistently pushing past yesterday’s limit; you can make yourself stronger by showing your body what stronger feels like
  • Humans naturally fear adversity. Ironically, adversity is the only thing that makes us better. In fact, we’re certain to face adversity on Earth. It is 100% guaranteed. So when we do face it, putting ourselves through adversity will help us.
  • “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
  • Visualization is an incredibly powerful tool, but it’s not enough to simply visualize success. You need to also envision adversity and setbacks.
  • Michael Phelps set a world record in the 200m. He swam BLIND. He only knew what he could do because he visualized adversity.

Confidence

  • Confidence is about your competitive drive, your focus, positivity, perseverance and grit, and whether you can maintain those characteristics when it matters most. Can you maintain the characteristics of a champion, regardless of what life throws at you? That’s confidence.
  • Event + Response = Outcome
  • We don’t control the events of life. We only control our responses to them.
  • “Exceptional competitors understand that their primary competition is themselves. They understand the biggest struggle is always the one within, the struggle to bring out their best physical and mental self to the competition floor and maintain presence until they cross the finish line.” – Bob Rotella
  • If you win the battle in your own head, you’ve won. Regardless of the outcome
  • True confidence is being secure in the knowledge you did everything you could, even if that excellence doesn’t produce victories.
  • Be a racehorse and a bumblebee. Racehorses are incapable of focusing on anything but themselves. Bumblebees fly… contrary to everything we know about physics.
  • Tying success or failure to one single point in time, one event which you don’t even have much control over, sets you up for unavoidable failure because there’s no way anyone can win every single time.
  • What Katrin wrote – her definition of success:
    • “Success to me is giving full effort knowing that was the best I was capable of. That said, full effort means nothing if day-to-day preparation was not all I had. Success to me is giving everything I have into each and every day, each and every moment; training, recovery, family, friends, giving back, inspiring, loving what I do. Then, come game time, give full effort, knowing I am the best I am capable of becoming.”

Maximizing Minutes

  • Deliberate practice is different from normal practice. Deliberate practice is stepping outside your comfort zone and trying activities beyond your current abilities. 
  • Are you giving each minute the respect it deserves? Every minute of your day is a building block that goes toward creating your success, your measure of excellence. Every minute deserves your utmost attention and commitment.
  • Passion is the only way to commit your all. You have to love it.
  • To watch – How Great Leaders Inspire Action.
  • Story about Samuel Pierpoint Langley vs. Wright Brothers

The Process

  • Nick Saban: “Don’t think about winning the SEC Championship. Don’t think about the national championship. Think about what you need to do in this drill, on this play, in this moment. That’s the process: Let’s think about what we can do today, the task at hand.”
  • When character and process are both in place, the results will take care of themselves.
  • Ray Allen: “What makes [KG, Paul Pierce LeBron James, Dwayne Wade] champions is the boring old habits that nobody sees. They compete to see who can be the first to the gym and the last to leave.”

Control

  • Create a list of what you can control vs. what you can’t control.
  • Focus ruthlessly on what you can control. Ignore the rest.
  • Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Turn The Page

  • When you make a mistake, all you can do is turn the page. What can you do in this moment to prepare for tomorrow? Anything we do looking back can’t help us.

Humility

  • Mat Fraser, a CrossFit competing athlete, reached out to a high school coach and started practicing with high schoolers twice a week. That takes humility. Then he went from last to first in the CrossFit Games the following year.
  • When you reach a certain level, it’s easier to hide your weaknesses behind your strengths. But continually ask: what can I do better?
  • Further Reading: Teaching Smart People How To Learn
  • Single loop learners look for external reasons they’re not succeeding; double loop learners look inward for solutions

Competitive Excellence

  • “Excellence is the gradual result of always wanting to do better.” –Pat Riley
  • “I will maximize my minutes by thinking, acting, training, and competing with excellence, regardless of circumstance.”
  • If you can compete with excellence when you’re ahead, you can do it when you’re behind
  • You can’t train on autopilot and compete with purpose. In order to perform at the highest level, you have to prepare that way every single day. When Mat Fraser trains, he doesn’t do it compete. He trains like he’s possessed.
  • Excellence can only be achieved today. Not tomorrow or the following day – because they don’t exist in the present moment. The not-so-hidden secret of extraordinary success: clarify what you really want, then work as hard to get it for as long as it takes.

Clutch

  • “In any game played with the body, it’s the head that counts.” –James Kerr
  • Further Reading: Clutch by Paul Sullivan
  • Clutch is the ability to do what you can do normally under immense pressure.
  • You cannot summon what you do not have. The traits you need when the stakes are highest must be worked through in training.
  • Who you are on the competition floor is a reflection of who you are in practice – no more, no less.

Epilogue

  • “Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is a nightmare” –Chinese proverb
  • Katrín Davíðsdóttir ordered fish and veggies after winning CrossFit Games to celebrate. The process reigns.
  • The only way the process works is through action.
  • Success is a decision, not a gift. The ideas in this book are only useful if you can decide to apply them to your own life, day in and day out.
  • Further Reading: A Champion’s Mind by Jim Afremow
  • You don’t become a champion and then start acting like a champion. You start acting like a champion first.
  • It’s the manner in which you try to achieve your potential that defines you as a champion – no medals, titles, accolades. When you start acting this way… when you commit to the process fully… everything else falls in place.

Conscious Living Notes

Conscious Living: Finding Joy in the Real World: Hendricks, Gay ...

Amazon (Link)

My life changed dramatically from August 2019 to August 2020. This book helps explain why: I started to follow the principles in this book without even realizing it. Although I read this book in August 2020, it almost serves as a manual for someone wanting to change. Would highly recommend it if you have an open mind and want to create change in your life.

Introduction

  • The only way to attract the love you want is to love and embrace your self.
  • “I am made of the same stuff as everything else in the world. I am the same as the oak leaf and the earthworm and the sky beyond. It is all one thing, and I am a part of it”
  • What is creativity? Creativity is next to love. It is simply endless experimentation without judgment or criticism. In a word: play. We are at play all the time, so is everything in the universe
  • Big 3 = Love, Creativity, Intention
  • When we are scared or sad, we try to distance ourselves from the experience rather than feel it, resonate with it, love it. We do not feel what we feel. We do not try to tell the truth about our feelings to others
  • Answer two questions: (1) How do I live at peace with myself? (2) How do I live in harmony with the people around me?
  • We are at our best when we are doing what we did as a kid.
  • Every aspect of reality is sacred.
  • Fear cannot be controlled. Since it is already there, it is too late to change it. Better to flow with it – to let it be – and put your energy into figuring out what you need to do.
  • Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change those I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.
  • The secret of happiness is knowing that there are some things you can control and some things you cannot.
  • Stoic Philosophy: live in harmony with the way things are.
  • In order to change things, you must first embrace them the way they are.

Five Lessons of Conscious Living

  1. Seek your true self.
  2. Let go of the uncontrollable.
  3. We are all made up of the same thing.
  4. Life is fullest when we’re most true to ourselves.
  5. Life reaches its full potential when we bring forth our creative desires and the treasures which we have been blessed with and act on them in the world.
  • Put space between you and your thoughts.
  • You are already a spiritual being.
  • Beautiful line: “I had spent so much of my life having opinions and defending my point of view: now I realized that they were all exactly the same, just places where I glued my foot to the floor and limited my ability to dance.”
  • You are supported by so many different people. We do not often pause to acknowledge the person who makes your sandwich, the person responsible for the tire on our cars, or the person responsible for making the cup of coffee… but when we do notice them, when we do become grateful for them, life becomes better. We feel more connected to ourselves and the world around us.
  • Identify the fear in negative emotions.
  • He asked… “What is the purpose of my life?” He found his answer: to expand in love and creativity every day and to assist those who are interested to expand in their ability to be more loving and creative.
  • Knowing purpose gave him instant checkpoint for evaluating any action
  • To find your purpose, ask yourself questions like:
    • What do I most love to do?
    • What could engage me so deeply I’d never want to retire?
    • What am I really about?
    • What would be a purpose so grand that it could express itself through everything I do, from shoveling snow to making love to sitting on a bus?
  • Fear is beyond our control. So if we cannot control it, the only sane alternative is to relax into the pure acceptance of it.
  • “You are a distinct portion of the essence of God, and contain part of God in yourself.”
  • We choose how gently we get our lessons by how open we are to learning. Life teaches us with a sledgehammer if we refuse to pay attention.
  • We are shaped more by our choices than by our genes or past history.
  • At the bottom of our problems is something we’re afraid to face. In order to face our problems…
    • Look for a feeling you are not facing
    • Look anyplace you are not facing the truth
    • Look at agreements you are not keeping
  • We are either committed 100% or not committed at all.
  • If you think you are your past, you give power of your choice to do anything outside your control. The past has already happened and you cannot do anything about it. What is real is this moment, and you have the ultimate choice when you’re in it.
  • “There are fools who dance and fools who watch the dance. If I must be a fool, let me be a dancing fool.”
  • You are faced with the same question dozens of times throughout the day: do I tell the truth or not?
  • When we open our mouths to communicate something of emotional significance, we speak with one of two intentions:  the intention to be (1) right or (2) in harmony.
  • Start a conversation with, “Isn’t it great how easy our lives become once we take responsibility for them?”
  • 85% of our messages to children are negative – “Don’t!” “Stop!” “How could you?” When we shift to love, our messages come through much deeper.
  • Paradox of self esteem: We can only give to others effectively when we love ourselves deeply. We can only love ourselves deeply only when we contribute to others fully. It’s like breathing: if you breathe all the way in, you can breathe all the way out.
  • Ask yourself: “Can I love myself unconditionally? If I can love myself, I open the possibility of loving others the same way. If I cannot love myself, there is no possibility of loving others.”
  • “Love is the antidote to fear. Fear pulls us into contraction but love allows us to expand again. When we don’t know how to love ourselves, we live in that state of contraction permanently. Fear is not only a fist around stomachs; it grips out hearts as well. Loving ourselves is the only way out of the grip of fear.”
  • “When I stopped lying to myself and other people, the music started again inside of me.”
  • If you wake up in the morning and you do not feel good about yourself, look for where you are out of integrity. Look for where you’re not being honest with yourself or someone else. Look for agreements you haven’t kept. Fix these however you can and notice the positive feelings return to yourself.
  • When you were a child, you learned a personality to get your needs met. To survive and prosper in a family, you adopted the social masks that worked in that particular time and place.
  • Many of our self-esteem problems are not about us personally.
  • Each time we take an action, we strengthen the motivating force behind the action. For example, it is easier to work out the 20th time than the first.
  • Each time you go through a big transition in your life, you break through into the unknown. You are outside your normal box. When these expansions happen, self-esteem issues come to the surface. Part of you wants to break through into the unknown, into a higher version of yourself. Part of you wants to stay in the comfort zone, the zone of the known.
  • “Fear is excitement without the breath” –Fritz Perls
  • The ultimate healing move is to love your fear conditionally.
  • You can love yourself for hating yourself.
  • If you are expressing your creative potential, you get to feel good about yourself. If you are not, you don’t. “If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.” (!!)
  • People working to express their creativity feel good about themselves whether they are rich or poor.
  • Do some creative work every day to keep the pipes oiled
  • Throughout a two hour lunch, Picasso’s hands were never idle. He doodled, sketched, and drew. Keep creativity flowing, don’t worry about the outcome. 
  • Put serious focus into a few projects
  • Questions to ask yourself:
    • “What are the top four or five goals in your life?”
    • From a future perspective, “Is this what I really wished I had done?”
  • If you really want to feel intimate with someone, say something authentic about your feelings when you feel them – speak the truth of fear and anger as well as hurt.
  • “Polite” / PC culture makes so many people sad because we have been brainwashed to overlook the obvious signs of feelings, to pretend they are not there.
  • Questions to ask when you’re not feeling good:
    • Where am I out of integrity?
    • What feelings am I denying?
    • What truths am I hiding?
  • To be “in alignment” means feeling and handling our fear, expressing the creativity that is within us
  • You’ve got to go all in if you wish to succeed because without total commitment, you are fooling yourself.
  • You are already getting what you’re committed to.
  • When the room lights are off, how much inner light is still on?
  • Be a Leveler – someone who knows that having a good time and helping others have a good time is what life’s all about. Levelers choose love over creating melodramas based on fear.
  • You’re either in one of two camps: “What Can I Get?” or “What Can I Do To Help?”
  • Trying to get other people to love us – when we don’t think we’re loveable – is like a dog chasing its own tail.
  • Don’t know how to love yourself? Love yourself for not knowing exactly how to love yourself.
  • If you are authentic with yourself, you’ll stay in a naturally good mood as you walk around the world. If you tell the authentic truth, you’ll have clear relationships with others. If you don’t, things will get out of control quickly.
  • Under all major messes is a truth that didn’t get told, a truth that would have taken about 10 seconds to tell.
  • If you lead with appreciation – actually start conversations off with appreciations throughout the day – you’ll create a field of positive energy around you wherever you go.
  • On listening: Breathe while other people are speaking. Pause briefly after they finish before you rush in with your point of view. People like it when you give them an informal summary of what they’ve just said.
    • “If I understand what you’re saying, you…”
    • “Let me see if I’ve got what you mean…”
  • Simple rule to follow: do what you say you’re going to do. Don’t do what you say you’re not going to do.
  • Say something authentic every hour
  • Speak an appreciation once an hour
  • “When you reach out to touch another person, you are touching the whole universe. You are the universe touching itself. The universe is a whole, and it also has individual parts. Although we may think of ourselves as individual parts, we are always in relationship to the wholeness of ourselves, others, and the world around us.”
  • When we think of “the world,” we are really just thinking of our relationships
  • The only hope for genuine growth comes from taking responsibility for everything we’ve previously claimed victimhood for.
  • We create the exact situations we complain about most
  • Gay’s belief: monogamy is the only path that works. Everything else is complicated and requires so much time to process. Impossible to be in integrity with all parties involved. Little energy after for creativity.
  • We lose sexual interest in people whom we lie. As long as we speak the truth, we are contributing to a healthy sexual environment as well as a healthy environment in general
  • There is only one intention that brings ultimate sexual fulfillment: to celebrate the essence of your partner and yourself through lovemaking
  • William James (founder of Psychology) believes his greatest discovery: one can change the outer circumstances of one’s life by changing one’s thoughts
  • When we are expanding our consciousness in love and awareness and gratitude, our goals seem to manifest quickly, as if by magic (explains why so many synchronicities happened in San Diego from Sept-Dec 2019)
  • Few minutes of visualization every day better than once a week for an hour (same as exercise and meditation)
  • The moment you love things the way they are, they are not the way they were any longer. Now they’ve been bathed in love
  • If we are equal with all that is, we support the universe and the universe supports us. When we relax into the support that is happening all around us, we can be carried faster to our destination