Hot and wired…

Remember, leader, you need minds around you who think unlike you. Kinda like Bono said so many years ago about the power of U2 – He needs men like Edge, Larry, and Adam because they don’t agree easily. If you and your team are gonna sing a tune worth tuning in to, you’ve got to assemble an ensemble filled with distinct strengths, different minds, make each teammate do what they can, and somehow get them to think it was their own idea. Yes, leader, your job is simple but not easy.

We’ve been told we need to be like minded to become one. This is not true. We become one, not when we are like minded but when our minds are linked. Minds meld when they are all hot and wired, not cooled by only one doing all the thinking. As Danny Kahneman taught us in his book titled Thinking Fast and Slow, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” This is true individually and collectively, leader.

So today, leader, tune into teammates and encourage them to challenge your thinking with some good thinking of their own. You may think you’ll go faster on your own. You won’t. Nobody is as smart as everybody. You’ve been fooled, predictably, by the need for speed without understanding that four free thinkers are better than only one. You’ve assembled an ensemble. Seems kinda silly to only tune in and turn up one or two. Focus on four. Tune in. Turn up. Four more. Tune in. Turn up. Now you’ve got momentum. You’re building a team that is hot and wired. Simple but not easy.


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The da Vinci Pause

If you have followed Chet or any of the other Builders on this Blog site then I am sure at some point you have seen the name of Leonardo da Vinci, the genius of all time. AND the number one point that the reader is directed to, is one of the key attributes that scholars believe is what made da Vinci the Genius of all time, his Insatiable CURIOSITY!

We (BTL) have an exercise that we like to use in practices that introduces teams to the 7 da Vincian Principles that were introduced in the book, “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael J. Gelb. This exercise is always fun, interesting and it’s one small step in helping teams to look back in history and gain a little perspective. I would highly recommend this book to you to learn more about the 7 da Vincian Principles.

I have read many books about Leonardo da Vinci and had the privilege of viewing pages from his journals at one of the great Library’s of the world, the New York Library. Seeing first hand, drawings that he made in his journals over 500 years ago (Renaissance 1470) and the famous drawings of his flying machines, a design resembling a helicopter and a parachute design, was a trip I will never forget.

Recently, they announced that Walter Isaacsons new book was soon to be released and his subject was non other than Leonardo da Vinci. I wasted no time and put it on order from Amazon. I received it last week and I won’t kid you, it is a huge epic read but as only Isaacson can do, deeply researched and full of interesting facts.

Then today I was reading one of my favorite Blogs, Study Hacks, by Cal Newport and he is in the process of reading this biography, Leonardo da Vinci, and offered this exchange that took place in an interview with Walter Isaacson and I think it captures the essence of what we must cultivate in our own lives.

So how did da Vinci end up a creative genius still revered 500 years later? Here’s Isaacson’s explanation:

“What he was able to do is pause, and put things aside, and look at very ordinary things and marvel at them.”

In this observation about a past figure is a powerful suggestion for grappling with the endless information deluging our current moment. Technologies like the internet provide everyone the raw material to become a renaissance person, but to take advantage of this reality it helps to cultivate da Vinci’s ability to pause when something catches your attention, and to then give it the intense, deep concentration needed to transform a fleeting spark into something more substantial.

Thank you Cal Newport for reminding us ALL what we need more of….. time to think, time to reflect, time to plan, time to be more curious, time for what is truly important, time to listen, time for the deep work, time for a friend, time for family, time for…….The da Vinci Pause!


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Whatever. Wherever. However…

Endurance, A book titled borrowed by Astronaut Scott Kelly to remind him of Shackelton’s expedition before his, has been a mind expander for me. You see, I’ve not studied flight or space travel very much over the years. In my mind, the idea of spending a year in space, as Scott Kelly did, would be amazing, exhilirating, and monotonous. Traveling around the globe at 17,500 mph, they went from sun up to sun down in 90 minutes – talk about time flying, huh.

Astronauts may be enjoying zero gravity to some degree. May be. The reality is they work everyday and have very little control over their work. Someone on Earth is telling them what to do and how long it’s gonna take to do it. And, 250 miles above the earth, they mostly feel like they’re being micro-managed as if someone is standing over them. Right over them.

Another joy of gravity is keeping our blood flowing the way it was intended. I never thought much about how helpful gravity really is. Scott and all other space travelers know that without gravity, it really is a rush of blood to the head. According to Scott, it feels like standing on your head for hours on end. Yikes. Talk about an extended headache, huh.

Whatever. Wherever. However.

Whatever you’re currently going through – if it can be endured, as Marcus Aurelius would remind us, endure it. Wherever you find yourself – stuck, untethered, or somewhere in between – endure, friend. However you’re feeling, whether on top of the world or with the weight of the world upon you, if it can be endured, endure it. Life is hard, even for those who appear to be simply floating along, gliding through whatever life’s thrown ‘em. You and I can endure almost anything, especially when we have each other to hold on to. So, next time you sense someone struggling with whatever, wherever, or however, don’t leave them hanging. Extend a hand for them to hold on to. In the process of extending, an unintended consequence is you too become a bit more grounded. Who couldn’t benefit from feeling one of the joys of gravity, the feeling of having your feet firmly planted on the ground.

Thanks, Scott, for taking the time to write. Thanks for dealing with all the pain and suffering of being away from planet earth for a year. Thanks for enduring. I hope Amiko got you some of that La Crema Chardonnay, you requested. Sister Sue, unexpectedly brought us a bottle of your favorite last night. Very smooth. Went down easy. Nice. Who knew we shared some of your good taste. Who knew we’re all more deeply connected than we’ll ever appreciate or understand. Who knew?

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Steer into the love…

You’re driving your car, late at night, on a rain soaked road when your headlights reflect something you don’t really want to see…


The car begins to slide to the right and, instantly, you’re smack dab in the middle of a “moment of truth.”  What to do?  There’s no time to think, there’s no time to waste, there’s no time to do anything except simply react.

When I’ve asked that question to many clients, the most common response is an emphatic – “hit the brake.”  This, of course, is the natural reaction to losing control of your car.  You try to get “it” to stop the slide to the right by slowing it’s momentum in that direction. Of course, your mind is screaming you’ve got to somehow slow “it” down. However, after you’ve been trained by a professional driver you’ll discover that hitting the brakes is the absolute worst reaction. The braking takes the weight off the rear wheels and rapidly moves it to the front of the car which can’t be steered when your foot is planted in the brakes. The spin simply accelerates. You just spun your car out of control.  Yikes…

The same is true in life.  Many of Y-O-U love those close to you more than you do your cars. Makes sense. And, when Y-O-U see them “sliding on thin ice,” you feel compelled, as if without thinking, to do whatever you can to stop them.  Your attempt to jam on “their” brakes for them is met with resistance. Oftentimes, by them putting more weight behind their words and actions.  Instead of stopping them, just the opposite happens. In essence Y-O-U perpetuate and accelerate their spin out of control. You feel responsible for their action and so you re-double your effort to stop them.  You become more and more distressed by their resistance and soon you feel like you too are out of control.  And, most likely, you are. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

Let’s slow down and return to the physics of controlling a car that is beginning to slide.  What would the professional driver tell us to build into our second nature? This could be huge.  Do not miss this. The professional driver, when sliding to the right, steers into the slide.  Quickly.  Instantly. Counter-intuitively.  Once the car straightens itself out the driver counter-steers until the car’s weight and stance is returned to neutral.  Now and only now can the brakes be applied.  The professional driver does not do what comes naturally.  The professional driver understands fully the physics at play between him and his car.  He or she has practiced over and over how to recover from such a spin.  They have slowly built a better second nature. Their response is better.  They are a virtuous driver.  Make sense?

Now it’s time for Y-O-U to think.

How can Y-O-U and I “steer into it” with those we LOVE and transfer the stress and responsibility to “it’s” rightful owner? How can we steer into the love, friend?

Tell me more, my friend. Tell me more. Good…

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Full thrust…

Yesterday, practice 59 with a team of grapplers wasn’t going anywhere fast. We seemed to be stuck in mud. Suddenly everything changed. We broke into two teams and began to share stuff about our self imposed barriers.

Kevin, talked about holding back regarding his effort in the classroom. He doesn’t give his all, he shared. He’s interested in finance but isn’t going all in. Kyle shared he wants to take more chances in his personal life. His level of dialogue is amazing. Even with the Snyder’s leading the way, and Keyshawn going all in, the room was still as dead as I’ve ever felt it. So, after a few more minutes waiting for someone to get lit, I called a huddle, brought the teams back together, and proclaimed that this practice sucked and we’re gonna change it. I asked Grappy to share what he’s thinking. I had no idea where this was going but it was worth the risk. I had no idea…

Grappy cleared his voice and went, well, full thrust. Grappy shared there were some grapplers, in the recent match against ASU, that were operating below “full thrust.” You could sense he wasn’t shooting from the hip but, instead, was speaking from his heart and the place got eerily zoned in as he continued on with his rant. There are things inhibiting full thrust, many things, he exhorted. Some can be anxiety. Some can be the impulsiveness of putting too many bad calories in your system. Some may fear disappointing someone they love. What a blessing, he exclaimed, that many wrestled at less than full thrust and it was still freakin’ magic. Grappy went off about how many teams can’t break the sound barrier – this team can.

What is it that we have to do, to break through? Grappy challenged each athlete to figure it out. I jumped in and reminded the athletes and coaches that it’s on all of us to make our teammates do what they can. None of us can reach full thrust on our own. We all need another. We all need each other. We are not made to go it alone. We talked about our chief want is someone who will make us do what we can. Thank you Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Finally, as practice was winding down, Coach Tervel stepped up and went full on. He challenged each teammate with a series of questions. You could see and feel the shoot in his eyes. So good. We are so blessed to have him with us. Tervel finished ‘em off with a series of good questions worth pondering. “Is full thrust more important than your next victory, than protecting what you’ve got?” Is your full thrust worth regressing for? Is full thrust worth more than protecting what you’ve got, than protecting your ego?

Full thrust.

This team is capable of breaking all kinda barriers. With leaders like Grappy, Tervel, Bo, Nate, Kyle, Myles, Kollin, and many more, the sky is not the limit. Just like you and me, most limits are in our minds. Something tells me that many of these minds are opening up to think beyond what’s possible. It’s gonna be fun to watch a few more get lit, a few more light the afterburners, and a few blast beyond where any have gone before. Full thrust is a good reminder for us all. What, friend, is keeping you from going all in? We know it’s rooted in some kinda fear and we’ve all got more fear than we want. So, like Keyshawn shared, stop keeping it to yourself. Let’s talk. Let’s find a bit more love ‘cause we know the fear aint going anywhere. The recipe for getting lit and going full thrust is always just a little more love than fear – a little more love.

More love than fear. Full thrust. Good…

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Speak less. Say more…

Talk IS cheap.

According to Albert Mehrabian from the University of California, listeners remember very little of the words you and I speak. He’s the guy that coined 55,38,7.  This is one of the “construction zone” exercises in the 12 Essentials of Personal Excellence.  Here’s Albert’s research with a few of my thoughts on top.

55 percent of your message is your body language.  The primary source is your face and most specifically your eyes. The receiver is looking for sincerity.  

The question:  Do I believe your eyes and words align?

38 percent of your message is your voice.  Tone, quality, variation, volume, and feel. We primarily listen for tone and feel. The receiver is looking for love. We’re always looking for love, it seems…

The question:  Do I believe you love what your words are trying to tell me?

7 percent of your message is your words. The most frequently remembered words are the words captured in your stories. Enough said…

The question:  Do your words sear me?

Who knew?  Who knew that talk really is cheap?  Turns out all our wordiness makes us less believable.  The best communications recipe is a short and simple one.  Build a strong BTL core and then speak from your heart – ccd (clear, concise, and direct). Lead with your love. You will be internally aligned and fully engaged. We will believe you. And, as it turns out, we’ll remember what you said.

Today, during team practice 26, a team of leaders were seared by their leader and by each other. Tons of truth in love. Some easy and soothing to hear. Some, not so much. All of it good. Today, this team built trust as the level of dialogue broke through somewhere and it was sweet. BTL team practice breaks communications barriers, simple as that. You, friend, and your team are mostly limited by the conversations you have. Want a better team? Work on speaking less and saying more.

Speak less. Say more. Talk IS cheap. Speaking from the heart? FM, baby. Good…

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Reality is not broken…

The book titled Reality is Broken, by Jane Mcgonigal is a worthwhile read. Jane is a leading video game designer and in her book she describes why so many of our young people find such great joy in playing games, especially playing video games online. Video games, it turns out, are a lot like playing with fire – too little, you won’t get warmed up – too much, you get burned. A topic for another time…

Today, during practice 46 with Laurens Leaders, we talked about the real world. In the real world of work, friends, we don’t level up like we do when playing the video game Call of Duty. In reality, we don’t level up quickly or in a linear, up and to the right kinda way. However, many of us have grown impatient and adopted a video game mentality to our professional life. We expect to level up quickly and frequently. We want the dopamine drip and don’t want to deal with the mundane reality of long stints on the plateau.

Masters are a little more realistic, you could say. Masters, you see, marry the mundane. Masters understand the real world doesn’t work like a video game. Masters understand that the road to mastery is filled with lots of basic stuff.

Basic stuff.

During practice 46 we talked about the power of basic training being what’s made notsoyoungliz and thebearededone two of the best performers in this system. I told the story of the origination of the TRX. The SEAL who created the TRX knew that the SEAL’s needed to keep training even when away from their gymnasiums. So, he created a suspension trainer they could take on the road, so to speak. You see, friend, the SEAL’s do basic stuff over and over and over again. Basic training doesn’t end when the SEAL’s graduate from BUD’s. They keep training, keep working, and keep focusing on small, incremental gains. They keep learning basic stuff to the point of uncommon mastery. Good.

Basic stuff done well is the recipe for great food too. Master chefs have the same basic ingredients, you and I have. They just know how to put them together to make something magic and memorable. The same is true in whatever is your chosen profession, friend. What bores your coworkers is what could make you great. Marry the mundane. Find meaning in what others find boring. Reality is not broken. Reality is all we’ve got. In the real world it takes time to level up in regards to position and title. Sometimes, a long time. However, if you keep training, keep getting stronger, and keep improving your performance, nature will eventually reward you. Patience. Reality isn’t broken. Your expectations, however, may be.

Good food for thought, huh? Good…


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