My friend and his team recently underwent a huge transition in their business, with him taking on a bigger leadership position. He was telling me about the newest obstacles on his plate: maneuvering the varying values among teammates, finding the best practices for communication, and finding bigger and better clients.
As he laid all this out I couldn’t help but think: Good for you.
As I told him this, I explained that he’s becoming a wildly better leader. He’s experiencing stress tests. No one improves by doing the same thing every day and never being challenged.
I tell the same thing to my fellow coaches all the time.
Many coaches hesitate to take action because they’re afraid of looking dumb, having an awkward conversation or encounter, or not coaching well. I’ve experienced all of these and it sucked every time.
But it was after blunders like these where I felt the most growth in my skills as a coach and as a business owner.
People think they should get better before taking action so they make fewer mistakes. That’s backwards. We must first take action and make a ton of mistakes, for that’s the only way to get better.
The next time something challenging comes up in our lives, we can sit back and think, Good.
I saw old friends I haven’t seen in years, got all dressed up (something I love to do), and danced the night away.
• DoorDashed $60 of McDonald’s at 1am and fell asleep before it arrived. • Laughed until I cried as my friend crawled (literally) into the room the morning after. • Am pumped for the five weddings I’m attending in 2022. • Feel eternally grateful for staying in people’s lives.
It’s the end of week 2 of writing my new book. Here’s an update.
The book will come out on or before my birthday, March 2, 2022. It will consist of creators and entrepreneurs who just took action and did the thing.
Yesterday I did my first interview. It was amazing.
It was with my coach and the head of my coaching program. Not only was it just pure fun, but I also got a vivid timeline of the extraordinary events of his life which led him to creating the community that has changed mine. The interview lasted an hour but I could’ve gone on for three more.
I can already tell one of the biggest challenges in writing this will be replaying these interviews and finding a clear and cohesive way to transcribe them into chapters. I’m already subconsciously asking, What can I cut out? What has to be included?How can I arrange this?
It also got me pumped to simply learn more about the awesome shit people have done and are doing. I’ve secured five other interviews, ranging from someone who runs a national jiujitsu school to someone who built an art collective in Rwanda.
What I learned this week:
1) Sometimes people are too busy to tell you about themselves, but most of the time they’re thrilled to do so. People love feeling interesting. So one of the best things we can do is be interested in people.
2) No matter what we want to create, the only thing getting in our way are the stories we tell ourselves.
3) Conditions will never be “perfect,” so we might as well take action now before we’re ready.
It’s always a refreshing realignment. His explanations are scientific, actionable, and best of all…simple. His book Atomic Habits is one I feel everyone should read.
Be it from his book, his blog, or his interviews, here are the big things I need to remind myself each month:
1) The quality of our habits tells us everything about our lives.
The number in our bank account is the sum total of our financial habits. The way our bodies look and feel is the sum total of our diet and exercise habits. The state of our living space is the sum total of our cleanliness habits.
We don’t need to “clean our room”; we need good cleanliness habits and then our rooms will always be clean.
2) We repeat what we enjoy.
Discipline and willpower will only get us so far…and most of the time they don’t get us far at all.
This is why the failure rate of fad diets is so high. Torturing ourselves into being healthy is wildly unsustainable. Statistically, the best results come from tiny, progressive changes in our daily habits.
Short exercises. Eating fewer processed foods. Drinking a glass of water.
None of these sound glamorous. That’s because they’re not. What sounds sexy (and I see this in coaching sessions all the time) is throwing five new habits on our plate at once.
• do an hour-long workout five times a week. • finish four books this month. • wake up at 5am on weekdays.
The same thing happens every time. The person, fueled by motivation, crushes the first day or two. But then when they return to their normal state, they remember they don’t enjoy the work needed to sustain any of these systems. They went from 0 to 1000 and gassed out. They ran a marathon without training for it.
It doesn’t sound as cool but the effective approach would be: “I’m gonna…”
• work out for five minutes before I shower. • read at least two pages each morning. • wake up five minutes earlier each morning.
It’s the unsexy, incremental changes which move us toward the person we want to be. But those changes have to be easy and enjoyable.
3) It takes forever to build a habit.
I don’t mean: Ugh, this is going to take forevvverrr.
In the personal development world, we often hear numbers thrown around for how long it takes our brains to feel something as habitual. I’ve heard 21, 66, and 100 days.
These are all averages so there’s no guarantee how long anything will take for anyone. It could happen this week or in eight months.
The truth is, building a habit takes a lifetime. If we stop doing the thing for any reason then we’ll have to start over.
I’ve been doing the same morning routine for almost four years now. There have been plenty of weeks where I’ve strayed or neglected to do parts of it. And each time, I have to slowly build it back into my ritual.
As James says, when people ask how long it takes to build a habit, what they’re really asking is, “How long do I have to work?” In other words, How long until I can just go on autopilot?
But our autopilot capabilities will always be tested, no matter how deeply ingrained the habit is. Changes in schedule, priorities, interests…Anything can throw us off course.
It’s up to us to steer ourselves back toward where we want to go.
Last week, I announced I was writing a book. It’s about what it takes to stop thinking and start creating what we really want to create—be it a business, a YouTube channel, a blog, whatever. It’ll consist of lessons and stories from badass creators and entrepreneurs who just did the thing.
Naturally, I’ve been reaching out to said badasses this past week and will continue to do so.
Much of my outreach has been to people in my network. A ton of “Who do you know’s.” But I’ve also been sending direct messages and emails to my favorite creators: podcasters, YouTubers, musicians.
One out of twelve of them has responded so far. And I’m thrilled with that ratio!
The woman who responded, an incredible entrepreneur, is well-known in the Indie Hackers world. She wrote one of my favorite articles of all time. She posed all the normal responses one should before committing to anything (especially with someone they don’t know):
• What exactly does this entail? • How much time will this require? • I might have to say No to protect my time/energy.
It’s vital to bring these up immediately when anyone asks us to do anything…and she did it in the most respectful and candid way. Once we’re totally on the same page, we’ll see if it’s something she’d like to do.
The first ‘set-in-stone’ call I set up was with one of the most powerful creators and entrepreneurs I’ve ever known: my coach.
He’s built a community of over 100 life coaches from six different continents and has radically changed the trajectory of my life. It’ll be an honor to sit down with him for an hour and learn more about his journey.
Aside from that, I’ve gotten in touch with several friends of friends who are doing wildly cool and impactful things: running an arts collective in Rwanda, becoming a standup comedian, running a charity which provides underprivileged kids with toiletries…
I couldn’t be more excited to continue exploring.
In just one week, here are my biggest takeaways:
1) Most ‘big time’ people will say No Thanks or won’t respond. When that happens, I’ve lost nothing. We’ve gone from zero contact to zero contact. And who knows…eventually someone will get back to me.
2) Most people are so down to help—especially if they’re getting something out of it and it’s not a huge time commitment.
3) As Byron Katie says, “You can have whatever you want in life if you’re willing to ask 1000 people for it.”
Here’s an overly-simple formula to ensure a level of fulfillment in our lives:
Step 1: Find something we like to do that’s difficult
Step 2: Do it all the time
Step 3: Get better at it
Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3
Be it an instrument, a sport, or a craft…having an activity we look forward to or something that challenges us is crucial—especially if it has nothing to do with our work.
When it comes to this, I’ve found that “Find your passion” is shitty advice.
Every now and then, someone finds something they are obsessed with immediately and that’s lovely. But for the other 99% of us, passions are developed…not found. They are grown like a plant, not discovered like pirate’s treasure.
In his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport proves that the number one factor in how passionate a person is with something is their amount of experience/skill level in it.
We’ve all felt this. As we get better at something, we have more freedom to play around and do cooler shit, which tends to make us enjoy it more.
I’ve felt this with soccer, chess, tennis, jiujitsu, and writing.
Not that I’m particularly good at any of these things…but I have gotten better at them and have subsequently felt an increase in how much I enjoy doing them.
What do you like doing? What would you love to do consistently until you get pretty damn good at it?
I got breakfast and mimosas with one of my best friends and his fiancé. I haven’t seen them in months since they’ve been up north preparing to have a baby. Today, I met that fucking baby, held her, and reached enlightenment.
Then I met my other friend to see a movie—The Green Knight—in theaters for the first time since the pandemic began. We rode scooters back to his apartment in perfect weather.
I drove straight to my mom’s house to take care of her dogs—walk, feed, and play with them.
Finally, I met up with another best friend to play chess, go out on his boat, and grab dinner. Leaving the dock, I looked back at the pink-sky sunset over the water and couldn’t believe this all happened in less than 12 hours.
I write about the lessons, struggles, and questions I explore on a daily basis. But sometimes I just need to sit back and reflect on how fucking grateful I am to have the life that I do.
My friends, my environment, my capabilities…
I’m not sure if I deserve them, but I certainly try to.
The other day I was playing chess against a friend.
The week before, I had beaten him three times in a row. Naturally, I concluded that I would ride that momentum forever and never lose to him again.
When we played next, he beat me three times in a row. I considered quitting chess altogether…
Jokes aside, I must admit there was an emotional toll those three losses took on me. My thoughts were:
• Have I gotten worse? • How has he gotten so much better? • What did I do right last week that I didn’t do this week?
Then I heard about a psychological experiment that was conducted in the Air Force. They wanted to prove which method of feedback was more effective in impacting an officer’s performance—positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement.
Generals boasted as they pointed to clear evidence that punishing pilots for mistakes almost always led to improvements on their following flight. Likewise, praise tended to lead to worse results on their next go.
But there was a glaring issue with their testing.
When they were challenged to create a control group, they found that no matter what, soldiers who did super well one week tended to do worse the next week…and soldiers who did super shitty one week tended to do much better the next.
This highlights a popular statistical phenomenon: Regression to the Mean.
Basically in everything we do, there’s a natural variation—ups and downs, push and pull, give and take.
If we have an amazing week at work, things will likely even out the following week to bring us closer to our average. But it’ll feel like we’re regressing.
The same is true for any skill or activity—chess, business, exercise…
As of writing this, my ELO (number rating) in chess is 1420. Sometimes I play like a 1600 and sometimes I play like a 1200…but 1420 is about my average.
Nothing guarantees absolute consistency. In other words, sometimes we’re awesome, sometimes we suck, and both are fine. The more we do something, the more we move toward whatever our average is. When we’re on a low, it doesn’t mean we’re getting worse…and it probably means we’re about to experience a high.
The goal is to improve our mean so we can experience higher highs.
I’ve been wearing a sleep mask for about three years now.
At first (for a few days), I hated the sensation of having something wrapped around my face. But that was short-lived.
It didn’t take long for me to start seeing the major benefit—increased melatonin.
Our body’s produce melatonin naturally to help promote sleep. It’s the chemical in our brains that goes, “It’s dark now…must be time for sleep!”
So it’s no wonder that a sleep mask—something that blocks practically all light from our eyes—helps us sleep through the night. It keeps everything dark until we take it off or until it falls off our faces as we toss and turn.
I messed up my mask this weekend and have been without it the past two nights. Holy shit. I’ve woken up several times each morning as the sun peeks through my window.
A new one is in the mail. And I recommend anyone who is hesitant to give it a shot for a week or two.
There are two people who both want to become amazing piano players.
Person 1 spends weeks researching and buys one of the nicest keyboards they could find. Person 2 buys a cheap one on Facebook Marketplace in a day.
Person 1 is amped to sit down and play, but at random times. When they practice they play for hours, but then go days without touching their keyboard. Person 2 practices for 10 minutes each day no matter what. Person 1 plays when they are motivated. Person 2 builds a system where they play no matter how they’re feeling.
Person 1 jumps around to learn all the songs they love most. Person 2 spends most of their time practicing the fundamentals—scales and chords.
Person 1 talks about playing piano a ton and posts about it on social media. Person 2 actually plays piano a ton and doesn’t talk about it much.
Person 1 takes long breaks from playing when they hit a wall or lose interest. Person 2 pushes through these ruts and improves drastically each time they do.
Person 1 is intimidated by others who are much better than they are. Person 2 finds friends and strangers alike to learn from and be inspired by.
After one year, Person 1 has spent an enormous amount of time thinking about being a great piano player…while Person 2 is actually becoming quite good.
Person 1 has built a gorgeous-looking blueprint. Person 2 got right into the muddy trenches and went to work—making mistakes every single day until things began to flow.
Whether it’s learning an instrument, starting a business, or creating anything, we all want to be more like Person 2.
In the past week, two different people have asked me why I don’t use my blog or newsletter to promote my business or try to get leads.
The answer is simple: I don’t want to. But here’s why.
1) It doesn’t work.
Not in my line of business.
Coaching is about building relationships with people through fun and powerful conversations. This is all done by reaching out, getting curious, and diving deep with individuals…not by sending a mass call to action and impersonally asking people to come to you.
Scenario 1: Someone you went to high school with posts the link to their website in a Facebook status telling everyone they’re giving free coaching sessions.
Scenario 2: Someone you went to high school with messages you asking how you’re doing. You hop on an hour-long call with them and share stories of what you both have been up to for the past decade. You discuss how you both have grown and the direction you’d like to head toward. You hear them talk about their coaching business and how passionate they are about helping people. Maybe at some point they invite you to a coaching session as a gift to see if they can help you too.
Which of these is more likely to lead to you sitting down and doing a session?
You might be thinking: neither. That’s normal. Most people don’t know what life coaching is. They’re afraid of being open and exploring vulnerabilities with someone they barely knew in high school.
But some people are totally down. So if they are, we schedule a call and explore what’s possible in their lives. But this only happens after the proper time has been taken to build that connection.
Here’s the catch…there is no catch. I love connecting with, reconnecting with, and learning more about people. So no matter what, I win. If we have a lovely hour-long chat about what they’re up to, I invite them to a coaching session, and they say no thanks, I still got everything I was hoping for.
I’m not here to “close” clients, hit my numbers, or get any sort of result. I’m here to have as many fun and powerful conversations as I possibly can. If a conversation leads to a paying client, cool! If not, cool!
Which brings me to the main reason I don’t promote my business on my blog or newsletter…
Someone told me last week that they disagreed with something I wrote a year ago on this blog.
To which I replied: “I have no doubt.”
I write one of these blogs every day (except on Sundays). It’s used more as a journal than a medium for sharing my thoughts. It would be truly impossible for 100% of people who read it to agree with 100% of what I say.
That’s not to say I’m free from criticism. Far from it. I post this for all to see. I’m thinking out loud…and it would be hypocritical if I got hurt when others thought out loud back at me. I welcome messages and challenges.
I love when people disagree with me, thinking I’m missing something, or am being unfair. It leads to fun and hopefully fruitful conversation.
Even more so, I love when I disagree with myself. Sometimes I’ll go back and read random blogs I wrote a few years ago and cringe at my preachiness and self-righteousness. But I’m grateful for that disgust because it means, hopefully, that I’m growing.
You can please some of the people some of the time…but some people will always quietly hate you.
I heard a quasi-debate the other day between friends.
The question at play: What leads to a person’s success—hard work…or luck?
On one end, we can be given all the best tools and resources necessary to live amazing lives; but if we don’t take action and actually use those tools…nothing will happen.
We need to do the work.
On the other end, we don’t choose anything about ourselves: to be born, who our parents are, where we’re born, our brain makeup, etc. If we grow up in a neighborhood where education isn’t available and drugs and violence are rampant…it would be almost impossible to develop an “I’ll just work my ass off” mentality.
We need to be lucky.
The Growth Mindset—the belief that we can improve in anything with enough time and effort put into it—is real. But it’s only real if a person believes it’s real. Hence the word mindset.
And a person can only believe it’s real if they have the luck and means to—e.g. a community which challenges them, an inner ability to pursue things, or access to the internet or to books.
As with almost every debate, my stance is that two things can exist at the same time. In order to be successful we must put in the work consistently…and we have to be lucky.