Playing Poorly Well

This week we’ve been exploring how to architect what philosopher Brian Johnson calls “masterpiece days.” 

We think of our day like a canvas.  We focus first on the parts of the day where we have maximum control: the PM bookend and the AM bookend.  Next, we take action to optimize our energy, our work, and our love.  

We then bridge the gap between our current level and our ideal.  

Except some days we won’t.

Oops are going to happen.  And this is where it gets interesting. Because the best optimizers know how to “play poorly well.”

We don’t beat ourselves up.  We don’t shame ourselves.

Instead we ask:  

What was awesome?

What needs work?

What will I do differently next time?

We get good at turnarounds.  We reset.  We rebound.  One bad day does not create a bad week.

As optimizers, we focus on the process, not the outcome.  We know the game we are playing and we play it well. 

It’s about progress, not perfection.  In time, our worst days become rebound days, another step on our journey to the next best version of ourselves. 

We master the growth cycle:  We set a goal.  We fail.  We learn.  We improve.  We set a higher goal.

We master the death cycle:  We let it die and are re-born to the next best version of ourselves.

This mindset requires emotional stamina.  We stick to our protocols.  No matter what.  The worse we feel, the more we stick to protocols.  

According to Brian, we can go through life being fragile (handle with care), resilient (our ability to bounce back), or antifragile, which means the more life kicks us around, the stronger we get.  When we become antifragile everything becomes fuel for our growth. 

In time we develop confidence, a deep trust that can handle whatever life throws at us.

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Reflection:  When have I been at my absolute best?  How specifically did I show up?

Action:  Play to my strengths today.  Close the gap between my best self and how I’m showing up right now.

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