Less Little Lies

bear2A friend asked what it has been like to step back from athletic competition. Much of what follows applied when I left jobs, peers or habits – any of which might not have fit my life anymore.

The immediate impact is usually relief and a realization of the unnecessary cost my choices where imposing. Quite often, the relief is followed by sadness at leaving old habits, even negative ones.

In terms of “what’s it like” to compete less – it’s exactly the same, just less fatigue and soreness. All my “issues” follow me wherever I go!

What is available is an opportunity to look at the impact of a competitive, or corporate, lifestyle.

I often cloak a selfish reality with talk of benefits outside myself. Shareholder value, national prestige, competing on an international stage, earning money for my children… these little lies are repeated until they become my reality.

Fooling myself isn’t necessarily a problem. I spent my teens and twenties solely focused on my personal outcome. It worked at the time.

In my 30s, I broadened my circle to help other people assist with achieving my personal outcome. It still worked for me.

That lifestyle was a form of greed – more more more.

With a spouse and kids, the lies have to increase to justify continuing the choices of my youth.

Long-term competition isn’t a problem. The problem is the thinking that results from turning away from my spouse, my kids, my family and my community.

We tell ourselves that we will change when we have X, or achieve Y, or become Z.

What I’ve done is tell myself…

I’m going to look directly at my flaws, a diseased friend, a homeless beggar, a hysterical child or a demented hospice patient.

Whatever it is that scares me. I’ll look at it.

I’m going to acknowledge that I can’t fix the situation but I’ll try to do something small to make life better.

Working towards overcoming the difficulties of my inner life is similar to the pleasure of overcoming others through competition.

The reward is just as sweet and others do not pay a price for my success.


Living The Plantpower Way

2015-05-03 18.22.19Rich Roll and Julie Piatt have a new book, The Plantpower Way.

I loved it.

The book reflects a way of life Rich & Julie are seeking to bring to their marriage and family.

At it’s heart, “The Way” is similar to what I’m seeking to offer my own family.

However, my home life doesn’t involve tranquil meals after a serene afternoon shopping at the local farmer’s market…

So, I caught myself muttering there’s no way their life’s like that

Then I started laughing.

I was laughing because their reality doesn’t matter and, like Rich, my reality is far removed from the craziness of years past.

The book is filled with proven advice:

  • Plants are a foundation of nutritional health
  • Weight management is linked to veggie consumption
  • To get your family to eat better, involve your spouse/kids in menu selection and food preparation
  • Be the (nutritional) change you want to see in the world (and your home)

If you’re already preparing meals then this is a must-have resource. The recipes are simple, quick to prepare and taste great.

If you’re not preparing meals then start by creating a habit of eating real food. After 20 years of better choices, I arrived at three basic meals. Nutritional liberation doesn’t require complexity.

If, like me, you find yourself intimidated by the thought of 100% compliance then remember weak implementation of plant-based nutrition offers strong results. 

Rich did an AMA that lays out the basics of his philosophy. His humility, tolerance and lack of dogma shine through. It’s a refreshing read.


  • Double all the recipes – Whenever I fire up the stove, I want to get four to five days worth of whatever I’m cooking. Actually, my wife’s been doing the cooking. You’ll need someone to take the lead in your home.
  • It is not about the goji berries – health benefits flow from replacing sugar/starch with veggies. You can be plantpower’d via CostCo.
  • What’s your goal? What are you seeking to achieve in your life?
    • Weight management? Focus on cranking up the veggies
    • Emotional stability? Be the good in the world
    • Fame? Focus on goodness under your own roof
    • Serenity? Focus on relentless simplification

Understand why you are motivated to make-the-change.

If you can transcend your (food) choices then you will have a roadmap to apply throughout your life. Letting go (of animal products) may be similar to releasing ourselves from other habits.

It takes courage to live an open life.

Respect to Rich & Julie.

Elder, Mentor, Adviser

foxy_ladyMy youth, my 20s and my 30s were characterized by a lack of charm.

Fortunately, I had some habits that smoothed the waves I left in my wake!

What habits smooth relationships?

  • I’m on time
  • I do what’s asked of me
  • When I can’t do something I tell you
  • I express myself clearly

If we invert those points then we arrive at a list that will ensure you move away from success…

Chronically late, inability to complete simple tasks, no/slow replies and indirect communication.


About clear communication… it takes trust to have the courage to speak clearly and directly.

It also takes emotional depth to be able to receive honest feedback.

Two things that I’m working on here:

  • Be conscious of my effect on the world
  • Stop when I am triggered and search inwards, rather than attack outwards


I was chatting with a member of my family council about the best fiduciary we know.

What makes our friend outstanding?

It’s not his capacity to execute, his technical knowledge or his connections => all of these are excellent.

He has three characteristics that are rare to find in a highly competent individual:

  1. The ability to sit, listen and observe
  2. The capacity to entertain points of view that are outside his preference and training
  3. A willingness to inconvenience himself to do the right thing.


I’ll share with you that my idea of active listening is forcing my mouth shut while I struggle to hold a list of “to do” items in my head. When a gap appears in the conversation, these pour out of me.

Like me, you might be prone to the mistaken belief that you have to fix every thing you touch.

My friend, a world-class non-executive director, is effective by listening, considering alternatives and being open to small acts of assistance.

Beyond Positive Addiction

rainbowPopular culture is filled with inspirational stories about people leaving the darkness of negative habits by shifting towards a positive addiction.

If you make the change, and awaken the giant within, then you may find a huge source of energy.

With this burst of energy, you will start to attract people as well as “what you think you need.”

This isn’t wishy-washy philosophy. It’s how the world works – positive results flow from positive actions.

Consider a charismatic leader, especially those with a dark backstory, and note their ability to attract what they want.

Students, wealthy clients, groupies, money, notoriety… all of these flowed (on a small scale, thankfully) as I tapped into my positive addictions.

At this point, there is a trap waiting for us.

The trap is thinking that embracing a positive addiction is The Way.

A more accurate description is embracing a positive addiction can be an effective way to shift self-destructive habits.

But what next?

If we’re not careful then we might become a guru of positive addiction!

Which might work, until it doesn’t work.

When life starts to fray, our addiction will remind us that we run the risk of returning to our old life. It might say… you must continue along the path of positive addiction or you’ll slide back towards obesity, sloth and alcoholism!

After 20 years of better choices, I’m starting to realize that my fears don’t fit the facts.

What to do?

Continue the path of self-improvement by releasing the grip of my positive addictions:

  • Competition
  • Vanity
  • Greed
  • External Validation
  • Emotional Pain

Allow myself to consider the alternative of gently letting go of habits that don’t seem to be working any more.

When more ceases to work, consider trying less.

A Lesson From Richard Feynman

snow_bunnyThe mistake I made was not reconsidering my involvement once the original reason for agreeing to help had been removed.

The quote is Richard Feynman’s. It refers to his role in building the nuclear weapons that killed more than 100,000 people. You’ll find the story of his involvement in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out.

One of the most dangerous biases that we’re prone to is consistency and commitment tendency.

Once we start down a path, it takes uncommon effort to get us to deviate, or change our mind. In fact, the harder outsiders try to change our minds, the more we dig in. Think politics, patriotism, corporate policy and religious dogma.

However, it is not all bad news. We can acknowledge this tendency and harness it to make positive changes in our lives.

Write down key decisions and own our errors. I force myself to do this annually.

Force ourselves to look inwards and discover the irrationality and intellectual arrogance that we see in others. My wife is an expert at gently pointing out inconsistencies!

Make a habit of micro-change. Fake it until you make it and give yourself permission to change your mind “just a little bit.”

Making significant changes in our lives is such a hassle that we nearly always wait until a crisis forces our hand.

  • Divorce
  • Health emergency
  • Large scale financial fraud
  • Ethical lapses
  • Criminal behavior
  • Addiction and abuse

These are opportunities to reassess but, in a crisis, I’m too overwhelmed to think clearly!

My solution is to schedule time to consider time.

  • Family
  • Career
  • Relationships
  • Athletics
  • Volunteering

Remembering why I started.

Did my choices today make sense?

What is your value added – Streamlining low-value busy-work

ax_valThis was a coaching question but it applies to anyone with a boss, client, student or colleague.

Novice coaches often mistake inefficiencies with dedication.

Spending hours, upon hours, on administration and busy-work that add very little value to their client, or boss.

Specifically, there is a reluctance to use templates and recycle work. In fact, they think that anything not built from scratch is cheating.

Under what conditions are templates cheating?

  • don’t work
  • not fun
  • lower compliance
  • fail to meet goals

What to do?

  • Aim towards continual efficiency improvements at what you do
  • Save your work – you have limited number of keystrokes in your life
  • Check with bosses, supervisors and clients on what they value – so you can work on the right things!
  • Pay attention to what limits your performance and enjoyment – admin will make you miserable, especially when it can be avoided
  • Notice, and keep, what works
  • The cost of (an inefficient) status quo is hidden
  • Frequently pause and ask… What is important now?

As an advisor, remember that performance is driven by behavior, not protocol – the best protocol is the one that motivates effective behavior.

Personal inefficiencies don’t motivate effective behavior in others.

What are your most effective behaviors?

Be the brand.

Keep it simple.

Navigating the Jockstrap Dilemma

khumbu_yakA buddy has a magic jockstrap that he likes to wear ALL the time.

He claims it helps his performance and recovery.

Normally, his jockstrap would not be an issue for me. However, I’m one of his advisers and he asked me what I thought.

What to do?

We often find ourselves faced with a friend, client or family member that has beliefs we find ridiculous.

Here is what I do.


I know my first response with jockstraps is likely to offend my friend or, at least, create cognitive dissonance. So it’s better to wait and consider things carefully.

Give me a bit of time, I’ll need to do a bit of research on that… 



Is the jockstrap on the critical path? Is it the difference between success and failure?

Magical clothing, and other superstitions, are rarely the difference between success and failure.



What is the jockstrap’s impact on behavior?

My pal is motivated, thinks he’s performing better and not focused on something that might screw up his performance.

There can be adverse consequences from the effective treatment of superstitions!


Can I Prove The Opposite?

I happen to think that jockstraps don’t impact performance.

Can I prove my point of view? Am I sure?

The placebo effect is real, and proven.


One Thing

What’s the one thing, if addressed, will have a material positive impact on performance?

Focus on the “one thing” together.

Don’t spend time tweaking items that have no impact.

Use influence sparingly, then strongly.

The greatest influence on the world is via my own behavior.

My buddy can easily see that I don’t wear a jockstrap.


Most importantly, after I didn’t call him out, I went for a walk and asked myself…

What’s MY jockstrap!!!


The Money Value of Time – Personal Pricing – What Am I Worth

This is a useful calculation for time management.

Print this page out, write your answers beside mine, don’t think too much!

Annually, I make the calculation at the level of Business, Family, Household and myself.

Today, I share the calculations for my consulting business.

Start with time:

  • How many weeks a year do you want to work?
  • How many days a week?
  • How many hours per day?

Weeks * Days * Hours = Billable Hours

That’s the time that you have in a year to generate revenue.

What should you charge per billable hour?

Desired Net Income + Overheads = Gross Revenue Req’d

Gross Revenue Required / Billable Hours = Rate Per Hour

A case study from my 40s to illustrate:

Screenshot 2014-12-16 09.13.06

The first column was my 2009 goal for my athletic consulting business.

  • Generate $5,000 per month net cash contribution to my family
  • One week per quarter spent training alongside the team
  • Four hours of focused work per day
  • One day off per week

The second column was reality, and it was a good life.

  • Work every day
  • Discover I can only be productive for three hours per day
  • Take two weeks off and return to 1,500 email messages – realize that I can’t “bill” for my email inefficiencies!

The third column is a goal for my 50th birthday.

My goal either seems small, or large, depending on where you’re at.

It helps that I work for people that “bill” at large multiples of my target.

  1. Understand: Your average billing rate is your new minimum
  2. Vow: I will stop doing low-value work
  3. Consider: Where can I deliver 2x my billing target in value added

Can I be 3x more efficient than a $35 per hour coach? Yes. The two-year transition was painful but I got there.

However… when I arrived at the middle column, I needed to make a decision moving left (for a little more time) or moving right (for way more time).

Increasing my value added per hour requires more than simply guiding exercise. Shifting towards far greater value added makes sense.

How much of your time is spent on what brings satisfaction to your life?

The table below came from a recent coaching clinic – I asked the coaches why they coached.


In business, family, love and parenthood…

What’s your why?

Share experiences with the people that love me.

Behavior Not Protocol

winterIn any given field, the bulk of our performance comes from choosing appropriate behaviors rather than optimizing protocol.

Take wealth, I’ve been reading a second book by Nick Murray and he makes the point that behavior is the single greatest source of wealth creation. He goes further to make the point that it has a greater impact than all other factors combined.

In reading the book, it struck me that he could easily have been describing athletic performance.

  • Balanced program
  • Frequent small contributions towards the goal
  • Most people beat themselves
  • Train yourself to overcome human bias and misjudgment

For every wealth behavior, I can find a similar fitness behavior. Works the same with common errors (selling in fear, chasing performance, not resting, fear of fatigue).

Looking forward to 2015, what behavior is required to achieve your goals? Don’t focus on more than three.

What are the most common mistakes that “everyone else” makes in seeking similar goals? Individual experience is a mirage. What are the most common errors made in my field? How best to create a system so I avoid repeating the mistakes?

Regardless of your field…

  • One small daily step – keep chipping away
  • Drive experience inwardstake all external irritations and change them in MYSELF
  • Let go of non-core – our best work requires a clear mind, a clear mind comes from letting go
  • Refuse to make predictions – pundits do worse than random – stay focused on behavior
  • Spend no more than 10% of your time on tweaking protocol – the greatest returns flow from consistent core behaviors

What are the behaviors required for a life with meaning?

Health, kindness, shared experience, close to nature.

The Freedom of Not Knowing

Flatirons‘Do you believe in aliens?’, she asked.

‘Do I really have to have an opinion?’, I replied.

‘Come on, play the game’, she said.

‘Ugh, ok’, and I gave it a shot.

When my first kid arrived, I quickly learned that insanity would be the result if I didn’t learn to let go.

I also saw that constant correction would ruin my relationship with my kids, and make me miserable.

This was a big change from my 20s, when my game was to compete on all fronts, all-the-time.

So my daughter taught me a powerful lesson for becoming more effective.

Be aware that…

  • The more opinions I need to have
  • The more memories I need to hold
  • The more things I think about fixing

…the more energy I spend thinking.

…and this thinking-energy takes away from my doing-energy.

Creating a habit of not-knowing takes practice. From our earliest memories, we’ve been rewarded for knowing, for remembering.

Like a quiet kid at the back of the class – we can be scared to admit that we don’t have the answer.

So here’s what I told her.

I’ll tell you what I know.

I know that we overstate our importance in the world.

I know that I’m prone to fooling myself about the importance of my opinions.

As for the aliens, E. O. Wilson has a section on them in his most recent book and I saved some energy by defaulting to his opinion.