What game are we playing?
Are we going through the motions or are we on the path to mastery? Philosopher Brian Johnson asks.
Are we committed to actualizing our potential or pin-balling around based on random inputs?
At the heart of Brian’s philosophy is the idea of creating masterpiece days.
It starts with this idea: today started last night. We start by getting a good night’s sleep. Next, our morning practices set us up to have a great day. Which we begin by having wins in three key areas of our lives: our energy, our work, and our love – what Brian calls “the Big 3.”
This week we will shine Brian’s “bright light” on our energy, our work, and our love as we seek to create masterpiece days.
It starts with energy. Zest is the virtue that drives all other virtues, Brian tells us. It is our life force. Our level of energy drives the other two key areas: our work and our love.
“We are only the light bulbs,” says Desmond Tutu. “And our job is just to remain screwed in!”
The seventh and final of Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people is to sharpen the saw by seeking continuous improvement and renewal professionally and personally. Our goal is up the ante and build a chain saw.
We start by asking: Who do I want to be? How do I want to show up? Then, we aim to close the gap between our best self and how we are currently showing up. When? Right now. In this moment.
In her book No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness, Linda Seger writes about the science of motivation. Linda tells us we need the right “why.”
To increase our energy level, we go to bed earlier. Why? Not to live longer or to lose weight. Instead, we go to bed earlier because it gives us more energy RIGHT NOW.
Brian tells us that 90% of our psychology is driven by our physiology. To increase our energy, we focus on the fundamentals that drive how we feel:
The best way to optimize? Remove the “kryptonites” or bad things in our lives.
For example: for eating, we can minimize sugar and other refined carbohydrates. For moving, we don’t sit at our desks all day. We stand up periodically and walk around. We do this consistently. To get a better night’s sleep, we shut off all technology at least an hour before bedtime (what Brian calls a “digital sunset).” For breathing, we take intentional, purposeful breaths. To be present? We stand up straight.
We take inventory of the energizers and enervators in our lives. We make a “stop doing” list of the behaviors that aren’t working for us. Then, we select one thing to focus on first.
Next, we use “the power of habit” to swap one behavior for another. We identify the “trigger” which precedes the behavior we want to remove. Then, we intentionally use that trigger to install a new habit in its place. When “this” happens, we do “that” instead: when I feel the urge to ______, I will do ________.
We create a rhythm for our day. Brian suggests we look at our days in 90-minute blocks. During each 90-minute period, we focus on what’s important now. 100%. All in. Then, we take a break. We intentionally build in recovery time. We go for a walk. We connect with a colleague. We do some burpees.
We are either “totally on,” focused on what’s important now, or “totally off.” Using the metaphor of a heart monitor, our day is not a flat line, but rather successive waves with periods of incredible focus and then moments of deep recovery.
Within our 90-minute blocks, we can break it down further by setting a 1,000-second timer where every 20-minutes or so, we stand up and stretch our legs.
Our goal isn’t time management. It’s energy management.
Each moment is another chance to close the gap between our best self and how we are currently showing up. In time, we develop “anti-fragile confidence.” The worse we feel, the more we are committed we our protocol.
We go all-in. We make and keep commitments. Then, we celebrate: “That’s like me!
A good place to start? Ask: what is the #1 thing I’m going to change?
Reflection: What is the #1 thing I’m going to change?
Action: Use the Power of Habit process to replace the bad behavior with a new and better behavior.