Master to slave…

Here we are, together, online. We have easy access to information unprecedented in history. We don’t go to libraries and read books, we go online and consume articles – all kinda articles. Some feed our brain. Some destroy it. We know almost everything about our organs – the exception is the brain. According to modern neuroscience, we know about ten percent of what we believe there is to know about our brain. There it is again – science and belief together.

Only recently have scientists begun to believe our brains are elastic, meaning you can literally change your hard wiring. It wasn’t that awful long ago we believed intelligence was fixed. You were either born smart or not so smart. We now know neurons that “fire together, wire together.” If you want to learn something, put in the hours mastering the movement until you hardwire the new neural network. This is great news for those of us who aren’t afraid of putting in the hours toward our labor of love, our opus. Mastery is not limited to the gifted, the few, or only the fortunate. Mastery, it turns out, is more about doing the work, putting in the hours, practice, practice, and more practice. Fire and wire.

However, there is a dark side to brain plasticity. Neurons do not have a moral code. Neurons are neutral. So, if you feed your brain negative thoughts about a particular person or person group in general, your brain will learn to hardwire a negative mental model. You will get better, if you will, at believing the worst. Study prosecuting attorney’s and you will see why they lead the way in drug addiction, divorce, depression, and even suicide. They have negative neural networks that make them masters in the courtroom; at home, not so much.

Now for the darkest of the dark – porn. According to Dr. Doidge, author of the book titled The Brain that Heals Itself, “Porn viewers develop new maps in their brains, based on the photos and videos they see. Because it is a use it or lose it brain, when we develop a map area, we long to keep it activated. Porn hyper activates appetitive pleasure not the consummatory one.” Translation. Looking at porn creates an almost endless desire for something that won’t satisfy. According to Doidge most of his patients crave porn but paradoxically don’t like it. Since the brain is re-wiring its appetitive pleasure, those participating in porn are like the rat pressing the bar for more and never getting enough. Do not become a master at this practice. Historically there was the shame of the person at the “check out counter” to slow the would be porn addict. There was, historically, faith and family who taught the moral code or at a minimum preached impulse control. Today, the media and mainstream culture says there’s nothing wrong with it, who is it hurting, and if some pleasure is good why not experience more, more, more. I mean come on man, it’s your natural impulse, isn’t it?

What do you believe?

Neurons are neutral, friend. Ones that fire together wire together. Please understand this is fact. Build your CORE. Challenge your beliefs. Develop the discipline of delaying gratification. In the end, it is much more satisfying. And, if you’re a parent of young ones, prepare yourself for adding this topic to “the talk.” Don’t believe me, trust modern science. There is a problem with porn and it’s reaching epidemic proportion with our young people. Sad. True. Open your eyes, friend.

Sadly, when your brain becomes a master at porn it will soon become it’s slave. Fact, I believe. What do you believe about your brain on porn, friend?

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The most beautiful system in the world…

Today, during team practice with a team of two becoming one, we took some time to look back at our last year of building and see how much we’ve grown. Teammate one shared that teammate two has corralled him more than any other human in history. This has, in fact, made the system much healthier. Keep this up. Keep seeing each other as peers, I challenged this unequal partnership of two. We are all humans even if our titles are presidents, owners, dweebs, controllers, or countless other titles. It’s predictably irrational to assume you can’t influence the human above you in rank. Predictably irrational, friend ’cause we all know the truth is you can. You just have to learn how to do it. You have to learn how to influence those below, around, and above. Fact.

You have to learn how to do everything, remember.

I challenged both to write something they’ve  learned in BTL practice and applied in work/life. It’s 8:49. Teammate two shared he’s better at influencing people in writing vs speaking. Teammate one said he’s always had a team but it’s never been a BTL team. He’s been the boss, he shared, and created blind followers – they complied. For the first time, he’s allowed a teammate to corral him. Teammate one shared, “There is a beauty and brilliance in systems.” This was a huge declaration. You see, this teammate never liked systems and always ran by the seat of his pants, leaving bodies in his very large wake. He’s allowed teammate two to get through to him and learn to appreciate systems (the real strength of his partner). Another great practice this morning.

We ended this beauty with me asking them to tell me about the most beautiful system in the world. They both looked at me puzzled and grew silent. Finally, teammate two broke the silence – “Apple’s internal system,” he blurted out with confidence. You see, this teammate loves systems, process, control, and is enamored with how Apple seems to do it all, well, beautifully. “Not even close,” I boldly proclaimed. The most beautiful system in the world is you. No joke. You are the most beautiful system in the world. You, your neighbor, boss, brother, enemy, coworker, partner, client, and teammate.

So, friend, keep this in mind. You don’t serve meaningless men and women. You serve the most beautiful systems in the world – human beings. Keep learning, friend. Keep learning. Good.

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Practice 199 & 233…

Today, my day was bookended with a couple beautiful clients. We started the day with practice 199 with Kaufman Development. Grappy came and shredded the team of 28 with his story of unchosen suffering. The team connected and you could feel the sense of community build in the room. We looked back at when he had last been here. It was back at practice 132 in April, 2015. Time flies as we reflected back to where this team was and how far it’s come. So good.

Three great practices later, we put the final touches on a day of opus. Practice 233 with Choice Recovery was, well, another time of freakin’ magic community building with Durp and his team that makes no sense. Hopper went dark, jmo went darker, Keisha went worldview, Ari went legal, Cali went early, and it all went right where it was meant to go. As always, Durp and I talked on the way home and, of course, in our mind it went well.

Talk about distinct and deeply connected, these two teams are not normal and know it. Brett and Durp are making their mark and I’m so privileged to be with them and play a role in what they and their teams are building. What a great investment by me and them.

I’m tired as I sit down to collect my thoughts over a glass of Chardonnay while listening to my Eddie Vedder playlist. Small group is at our house in less than 90 minutes and we’ll practice building community where we live. Another day invested in those I love, doing what I love. Blessed. So, leader, don’t miss this. When you’re 90 you’ll mostly forget the titles, promotions, and positions of prominence you once went headlong after. You will remember those you went with, those you served, and those worth getting tired together. Invest more in your communities, friend. Invest more here, where it makes no cents but makes perfect sense to you. Good…

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Keep the right secrets…

Tonight during practice 50 with a team of OSU grapplers, I was blown away by the crazy amount of trust in the room. We had Olympians from here and abroad. We had new recruits and old alumni. Nobody seemed to care. Men gathered in their grappler singlets and leaned in to more discovery. It was freakin’ magic.

We finished with Tervel sharing his heart and soul. I mean this mountain of a man has no filter, no mask, no fear. I felt kinda like I was in the presence of freakin’ magic, ’cause I was. Tervel modeled transparency. Tervel answered every question of mine with words from his heart that ripped open the young grapplers down to their roots. He kept the right secrets. Tervel told his team all the stuff that most leaders try to hide. Tervel came clean about his back pain and how he’s dealing with more distraction than discipline. The place was like a sanctuary. I kept asking and he kept dealing. No fear. Just truth. Nothing to hide.

So, leader, take a cue from Tervel and this team of thoughtful grapplers. When you do something virtuous, glorious, worth noting, and above and beyond the call of duty, let it accumulate inside of you – say nothing. Let it sit. When you do something less than heroic, screw up, and make a mess of things, let it out – broadcast the hell out of it. You’ll get better as a result of both. The good will accrue. The bad will be blown away. Good. You see, for so many, the problem is we’re keeping the wrong secrets. We try to hide when we break bad, and we broadcast when something seemingly breaks our way. We rid ourselves of the good stuff and let the rot accumulate in our craw. Not good.

Reverse the equation, friend. Keep the right secrets. Good…

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Blue skies version 2.0…

What do you believe about your ability to grow and develop?

What do you believe about your performance ceiling – your capacity? Is it fixed or bent by your will and willingness to work?

Interestingly, Alfred Binet, the dead Frenchie that created the I.Q. test believed something that might surprise at least a few folks. Here’s a snippet of his that Dweck sites on page 5 of her book titled, Mindset.  “A few modern philosophers…assert that an individuals intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased. We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism. With practice, training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more intelligent than we were before.”

Do not settle. Do not believe anyone that tells you what your ceiling is. Do not stop dreaming because others around you do not see the point, lack the passion, and want nothing more than to rob you of your purpose. Do, however, listen to negative feedback. Run it through your strong CORE. Turn some of it into instruction and put it to work. Consider most of it noise and let it go.

Get to work. Embrace the struggle. Remember, flow is found In the tension of challenge and capacity. Too little challenge, the elite go out and create it. Too little capacity, the elite go out and build it. Normal folks get bored and bummed. Don’t be normal, friend. Like my friend, chitown Mike, you’re much better than you think. Put yourself in acute pain and keep reaching just beyond your capacity. Get comfortable failing in your stretch. Good. Once you’re able to grab hold of what was once beyond your grasp, pick another target. Good.

And, kinda like the 3P crazies this early am, you will soon be holding something that used to break you. Nobody, most likely will notice besides you. Over time and through adversity, you will get stronger. And, the tiny crack in your performance ceiling will soon give way to blue skies.

Blue skies…

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Do more than you think version 2.0…

Practice 5 in the Windy City. FD came along and got himself called out. Cookie kept commenting instead of staying curious. Smiley, well, kept smiling as he shared learning after learning. All in all it was another trust building practice. It was good.

As FD and I made our way back to Midway, we talked about what we observed with each other and this team from Chicago. The biggest learning from FD was around how glacier like the pace is when I run practice. We laughed. Over the years I’ve learned to slow down and slow down some more. Today was no exception. So, today, we covered three pages of content in the 8 playbook. We invested three hours on three pages. Good.

You see, we are not lecturing. We’re learning each other’s language and we’re not taking anything for granted. So, today, we invested time understanding why. We gained further clarity around why we speak and listen, BTL style. We gained further clarity around why we awaken, challenge, and together transform. We gained clarity around our capacity vs our belief about our capacity. We gained clarity about why BTL believes in building a team where everybody dreams, at least everybody is given the opportunity to do so. We gained clarity around why there are so many why questions and why we’re mostly mindless even though we’re obsessed with the word mindful. Funny, huh…

Practice 5 in the Windy City was a practice filled with learning. We’re becoming performance aggressive and leaving passive aggressive behind. Good practice, Windy City team. Practice 6 will be even better. You see, this team, like every team is capable of so much more. Trust me, I know what it looks to see a team running at capacity. Trust me and, like FD, you’re gonna come to believe you too can do more than you think. You can do more than you think. Good…

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Discover better loves…

Humans do not get better by acquiring better knowledge. Humans get better by discovering better loves. Study history and you will see how discovering better loves led human progress through the centuries. For instance, if your work is energized by your love of comfort, power, money, and prestige, you’re performance will peak once you’re comfortable, powerful, have enough dinero, and are satisfied with your perch. However, if your work is energized by your love of the craft, your love of the team, and your love of the clients you serve, you’re performance will have no data defined end. Want better? Discover better loves.

This is why our best work at BTL is helping you author OPUS – your labor of love. We love being a catalyst for this kinda clarity in work and life. We love modeling the way imperfectly, authentically, and openly. We love the aim of better loves. We love learning and acquiring better knowledge too. We’ve come to understand better loves lead to better lives; bitter, not so much. C.S. Lewis was right when he said, “We are half hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Want better lives? Don’t be so easily pleased, my friend. Discover better loves. Good…

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