5 Questions You Must Ask Your Employees Each Day

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One of the questions our team often gets asked during interviews, particularly for other leadership positions, is, “How much time will I get to spend with Adam.” Our leadership team knows, it’s not much! But that’s okay. I spend my time pouring into the right leadership people. Let me explain.

My days are scheduled down to the minute, which doesn’t leave much time for the “drive-by conversation.” That’s not my style anyway. I like purposeful and productive interaction. The quicker and more decisive, the better. That doesn’t work for everyone and it is often an adjustment period for higher maintenance staff members who want or need constant interaction. I’m pretty (okay, very) blunt about the fact that I am more concerned with who my employees become, than being their friend. So again, very purposeful.

I actually spend quite a bit of time with my team. We have a weekly Wildy Important Goal meeting, as well as individual company meetings. I run a very autonomous organization and the people who are the right fit for our company and our culture are the ones who are able to take our decisions from the various meetings and execute throughout the week.

But there is one critical piece that makes all of this work, and that is the five daily questions  I have each of my leadership team members email me at the end of every day. They in-turn have their staff email these questions to them, and so on, throughout the organization.

Here are the 5 daily questions you must ask your employees each day:

  1. What successes did you or your team have today?
  2. What struggles did you have today?
  3. How did you overcome them?
  4. Where is your mindset on a scale of 1-10? (1 being terrible. Be honest here. I don’t care if it’s a 1, but if there is something preventing you from being at the top of your game, we need to know and fix it.)
  5. Who is your replacement? (Ultimately, there should be 5 people – inside or outside of the organization. If you don’t have anyone, use the next 30 days to start filling the gap.)
Why these questions?
Primarily because they are fast and effective for both you and your staff. As we’ve heard, it’s hard to have contact with the CEO, Director, or supervisor every day. These questions serve as a daily touch-point for the leader and employee. People often open up more on email, too, which begins to build trust. More often than not, the answers I receive to these questions have much less to do with the day to day operations of the business, and more to do with where the employee’s mindset is or what is going on in their personal life. Your employee’s personal life does bleed into their work life, even if they don’t talk about. Be aware and show that you genuinely care about what they learned, what they failed at, how they are feeling, and how they are coping with it (at home and at the office).
These questions help you keep a great pulse on the people who report to you, especially when you are traveling, in all-day trainings, or simply aren’t able to spend time walking around to feel the energy in the office. These daily questions are a system to ensure that you have a pulse on the energy of the office, even if you aren’t physically there. From there, you are able to direct the energy of your team.
The last question always gets the most questions! It’s designed to get your team to be thinking about future opportunities for their growth. If they are searching for their replacement (either inside or outside of the organization), then they are focused on their growth, the growth of the company, as well as who they are grooming and pouring into. It’s a model for internal growth.
More than anything, these questions are a tool for your team. Yes, it is a quick way to gauge your team member’s mindset, pain points, and progress, but it’s an even better tool for them to increase their self awareness. This daily reflection focuses your employees on what they learned and what they could do better tomorrow… every day. It’s a forced journaling model for them to follow and growth for them is simply inevitable! Which is exactly what I’m after as a leader.
A couple of things to note:
  • Start these questions on day one with new employees. Set the precedent that their growth is valuable to you and to the organization.
  • If you are implementing this with existing team members, please explain to them the reason behind why you are asking these questions and make sure you are replying. Take this seriously. Your employees are taking the time to answer these questions daily and you’re going to hear some very personal (and professional) business struggles. This is exactly what you want! It’s impossible for the two not to go hand-in-hand. Be prepared to respond with care and candor and allow your employee the space to be honest and vulnerable.
  • Be very specific about explaining question #5. We implement these questions immediately with new staff, so it’s no surprise. However, if you are implementing these questions after an employee has been with you for three years, they may think their job is in jeopardy. Let them know it is a growth-based question and that as they continue to grow, they will need to find others to take over pieces of their position (or their entire role!) in order for them to move into a different opportunity.
  • You are not looking for any specific answers here, but rather for patterns of behavior and problems that you need to help resolve. For example, if one of your staff members mindset is always at an 8 (they’ll never be a ten), then when you see them drop to a 5, you know something is up. Conversely, you’ll have team members who are always at a 10, so dropping to an 8 or even a 9 could be a red flag. Other questions you might ask yourself as you are reviewing their responses, are: Where they able to solve their own challenges or did they blame others? Are they taking responsiblity for missed deadlines? Are they learning and progressing each week? All of these questions (and the patterns that emerge) are simply a model to help you be a better leader.

These are powerful and valuable questions whether you travel three weeks out of the month or are in an office with just one other employee. Add these into your cadence of accountability with your team and watch your relationships grow and your team members flourish, no water cooler conversation necessary.

What questions would you add to this daily check-in?

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Are You a Wartime or a Peacetime Leader?

war time

Okay, for the past month or so it’s be quiet at the office, too quiet. People were on vacation (as they should be!) and business generally slowed down. The shift was palpable. From a constant go go go to slow slow slow. No major problems to solve, no employee crises, no deals to negotiate, no lives to transform. Alright, this may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point. Problems and challenges are my life blood!

I was listening to #askgaryvee a couple of weeks ago and Gary Vaynerchuk mentioned the same thing. He’s a wartime general. So am I.

Now, there are two different times in business – peacetime and wartime. Companies will ebb and flow and experience both over the course of their lifecycle. Peacetime is generally when a business has a competitive advantage and it’s market is growing. Wartime is when the business is facing an immediate threat from a competitor, the economic climate, or a major market shift. Peacetime sounds amazing, right? Why wouldn’t we all want to operate business in the peacetime zone? Because where is the fun in easy!? If it’s not challenging you, it’s not changing you. The market may be growing during peacetime, but is your business, is your staff, are you? You really find out what you and your team are made of during chaos and war. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Businesses are the same and I would much rather operate during wartime then peacetime. In fact, I simply operate as a wartime leader, even during peacetime. That’s just how I roll.

Here’s a really great explanation of the Peacetime CEO vs Wartime CEO from Ben Horowitz:

  • Peacetime CEO knows that proper protocol leads to winning. Wartime CEO violates protocol in order to win.
  • Peacetime CEO focuses on the big picture and empowers her people to make detailed decisions. Wartime CEO cares about a speck of dust on a gnat’s ass if it interferes with the prime directive.
  • Peacetime CEO builds scalable, high volume recruiting machines. Wartime CEO does that, but also builds HR organizations that can execute layoffs.
  • Peacetime CEO spends time defining the culture. Wartime CEO lets the war define the culture.
  • Peacetime CEO always has a contingency plan. Wartime CEO knows that sometimes you gotta roll a hard six.
  • Peacetime CEO knows what to do with a big advantage. Wartime CEO is paranoid.
  • Peacetime CEO strives not to use profanity. Wartime CEO sometimes uses profanity purposefully.
  • Peacetime CEO thinks of the competition as other ships in a big ocean that may never engage. Wartime CEO thinks the competition is sneaking into her house and trying to kidnap her children.
  • Peacetime CEO aims to expand the market. Wartime CEO aims to win the market.
  • Peacetime CEO strives to tolerate deviations from the plan when coupled with effort and creativity.  Wartime CEO is completely intolerant.
  • Peacetime CEO does not raise her voice. Wartime CEO rarely speaks in a normal tone.
  • Peacetime CEO works to minimize conflict. Wartime CEO heightens the contradictions.
  • Peacetime CEO strives for broad based buy in. Wartime CEO neither indulges consensus-building nor tolerates disagreements.
  • Peacetime CEO sets big, hairy audacious goals. Wartime CEO is too busy fighting the enemy to read management books written by consultants who have never managed a fruit stand.
  • Peacetime CEO trains her employees to ensure satisfaction and career development. Wartime CEO trains her employees so they don’t get their ass shot off in the battle.
  • Peacetime CEO has rules like “we’re going to exit all businesses where we’re not number 1 or 2.”  Wartime CEO often has no businesses that are number 1 or 2 and therefore does not have the luxury of following that rule.

Which one are you? Are you a wartime or a peacetime leader? Many of us may have qualities of both and deploy either peacetime or wartime tactics as needed, but I bet you lean to one side or the other. Neither one is better than the other; it simply comes down to self awareness. Own who you are and know that you are going to create a culture around your war or peace mentality and will likely attract people who either thrive during peace or thrive during war. Just know that when your business flips to the other side, you will need to adjust (which may mean adjusting your staff).

When I feel the pressure of battle, when I know my back is against the wall (even if it’s self-inflicted), I step-up and operate at peak performance. Believe me, just ask my team, if there isn’t enough chaos or I feel like things have slowed down, stagnated, and we’re just resting on our successes, I get in there and shake shit up! If there aren’t enough problems to solve, I disrupt our business and create problems, just so my team and I can solve them. I would rather disrupt our business, then have our competition see our weaknesses, see us getting “fat” and lazy, and attacking. So I just do it before they can. Sure, not everyone likes it, but it’s how we’re all going to grow. I refuse to stay in mediocrity. To me, that means I’m always at war.

Progress is everything. I may not win every battle (hello, failure!), but I sure as shit am going to win the war. Because I am laser focused on my goals and the life, business, and legacy that I will create. I demand of myself and I demand of my team to accept challenges, set goals, and exceed them.  I am relentless in the pursuit of progress. I am at war. It will take time. And I will win. Will you? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Lessons I Learned in 2017

goal setting 3

I don’t know about you all but I am fired up to be back at work. Why you ask? Because we are habitual creatures. We thrive on our habits to get us through the day. When those habits are interrupted we lose focus and can feel lost. Who else felt that way over the holiday break? I know I did and got myself into trouble (like buying shit I shouldn’t have, eating more than I should have and then getting sick). Awesome, right?

Okay, before we dive into 2018 goals, I always like to take a look back and reflect on the year. Here are the top 3 lessons I learned in 2017:

  1. Most of us have big, scary, amazing goals (great!), but goals (i.e. talk) is cheap unless you are willing to choose your struggle and commit to the daily habits necessary to meet your goals. This was really clear to me during my Ironman training. I had aggressive goals, but stayed focused on the daily activities that led to it. I had clear objectives and goals and clarity around exactly what I wanted to accomplish at my Ironman events, so I pushed hard each day. We must continue to create that structure for ourselves and our companies. Provide clarity for yourself and your team. I mean, get crystal clear on the goal[s] and then create a cadence of accountability in your company around the goals where you talk it, walk it, measure it, and celebrate it. DAILY. Vison? I could talk about that all day. But I hadn’t been as focused as I thought I was on the daily activities, the daily habits in my organizations. Just one of the things that I identified that I could take to another level.
  2. Your words and actions matter. It’s the honor that Ned Stark (Game of Thrones, anyone?) had and realizing that our words (which dictate our actions), our honor, and our integrity are all that we really carry with us when we die. We will be remembered by what we said, what we did, and how we made people feel. What legacy do you want to leave? Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older, but really understanding that we are all going to die and that it is not a morbid thought, but one that should inspire us to live each day full-out. Life is precious. There are no guarantees. Knowing this, what changes would you make in your life? Make those changes now! Live it now!
  3. Snowball your money and investments. Warren Buffet shared this simple business advice. We all get one snowball in life and the earlier you start rolling the snowball, the larger it gets. The better the snow, the larger the snowball gets. If you invest $100,000 and earn 20%, you snowball your money so that next year you make 20% on $120,000 (or $24,000). Year three, you invest $144,000 and you earn $28,800 and so on. But this also works in business. Invest all you can back into your people and operations and look for growth, then more growth. Keep your foot on the gas and before you know it (usually 5-7 years)… BOOM! You’ve hit your geometric curve. The snowball is built. But don’t stop snowballing! Keep doing the same process driven habits that created your success in the first place. Focus on the process that got your snowball going. And remember, the hardest part is getting dressed to go outside! Just do it.

Did you see a pattern here? Daily actions. Daily habits. This past year really opened my eyes to just how much each day matters. Now it’s time to execute. Every choice you make (no matter how small it seems at the time) is either getting you closer or further away from your goal. You are alive! Do not take anything for granted. Spend time on the most important activities (the process driven habits) and you will create a life and business without limits.

Now, how about those 2018 goals? What habit[s] are you willing to put into your life to change the outcome of 2018? Change your daily habits and you will change your trajectory, and ultimately your life.

 

 

What Pain Are You Willing to Tolerate in 2018?

do something great

There are only four days left until the new year! New year. New you. Where are your goals at? Have you updated your Future Self? Have you completed your vision board? Do you have a 2018 business plan ready to go? What are your big goals for the new year?

As you are planning and prepping to make 2018 your best year yet, I want to challenge you. Instead of asking yourself the question, “What do I want to do this year?”, instead ask yourself, “What pain am I willing to sustain over the long-haul in order to accomplish my goals?”

Yup, that’s right. What pain are you willing to tolerate? We can all put out these airy fairy goals of losing 100 pounds, increasing our revenue by $100 Million, or taking on 100 new coaching clients, but what are we going to do to get there? What are you WILLING to do to get there? You won’t achieve your goals by putting in the same effort or doing the same activities that you did last year. You’re going to have to change up your routine, take some risks, put extra time and attention on certain areas of your life and sacrifice other areas. You’re going to have to get really good at saying no and you’re going to have to 10x your daily routine so that you are working every day like you’re about to go on vacation. Most importantly, you’re going to have get uncomfortable and experience some pain in order to get there.

If you want to get into the best shape of your life, you’re going to have to push yourself and sustain a certain level of physical pain. If you want to write a book, you must be willing to suffer (sustain pain) through sitting and writing daily. If you want to get 100 new clients, you’re going to have to 10X your marketing and sales efforts, which probably means suffering through sales calls or live videos. Painful? Yes. Will it get to your goal? Hell yes!

Whatever you want to achieve, you will have to sustain the pain and suffer over a period of time. I’m not talking about a week of hard workouts. I’m talking about getting up early every day to fit a workout in (painful), running longer than you ever have before (painful), upping your weights and number of sets once you’ve hit a plateau (painful), and saying no to social obligations and having people judge you for your new lifestyle (painful). It’s not easy. But we know that nothing worth having ever is or we would all be billionaires just floating around on our yachts being served champagne and caviar. No pain, no gain.

Growth requires a bit of suffering and that is A-okay. Because even if you have to suffer for a month, a year, or 10 years, ultimately, pain is temporary. The pain of quitting or never realizing your full potential or achieving your goals? That lasts forever. So, you’ve got to choose your struggle. Do you want the pain of feeling trapped in your current job? Or do you want the pain of risking it all to start your own business? Do you want the pain of feeling uncomfortable in your own skin or do you want the pain of lunges and jumping jacks? Do you want the pain of loneliness or the pain of putting yourself out there and dating? I’ll ask you again. What pain are you willing to tolerate?

So, the next time you are about to embark on a new adventure, make sure you want to sustain that level of pain before you sign up. Because when we grow, we suffer, which leads to finding meaning in your life. Nelson Mandela suffered for over 25 years in prison, but ultimately found meaning in his suffering. We all must suffer in order to grow. We must all go through pain (psychological or physical) in order to accomplish our goals. The pain that you are willing to tolerate will determine how much you grow.

What pain are you willing to tolerate in 2018? Share in the comments below so we can support each other and hold each other accountable.

I’ll start. Here is the pain I have signed up for in 2018:

  • The pain of delaying gratification and income now, for a big pay-off later. I am willing to give up millions of dollars of profit over the next year, for a larger snowball the year’s after by rolling money into larger assets so that the snowball grows for future use (thanks for that advice, Warren Buffett!).
  • The pain of saying no to the 5 children’s birthday parties every weekend and saying yes to only a select few so that our family time isn’t hijacked by birthday parties and other obligations. I risk the pain of being judged, sure. But I’m willing to tolerate that.
  • The physical pain of taking my fitness to another level, a deeper level of pain then I’ve gone to before. I’ve actually already begun, so that I have no hangover in 2018. I’ve run the most miles I’ve ever run in a week the past two weeks before the new year (and did I mention that those were in below zero weather… on ice… at 5:30am?). That’s pain. But that’s also mental fitness.

Here’s hoping you have a splendid year of pain that will get you to your goals! Cheers!

 

 

 

How To Gain a 52 to 1 Advantage Over Your Competition

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High achievers, leaders, hustlers, goal diggers… we’re all just trying to do a little (okay a lot), disrupt industries, crush our competition (with a smile), build our companies, support our families, and show up like a boss every. damn. day. So, what’s the quickest way to come out on top (that doesn’t involve tearing everyone else down)? Personal development. Lead yourself first, grow yourself each day, become the very best you you can be. Rising tides raise all ships. It’s okay to be competitive and to get obsessed with being the best. The key is to take as many people along for the ride with you. That’s the real win.

Okay, so, we’ve got that out of the way.  Free enterprise means there will be winners and losers. And if you win big, you can help the losers out. We good there? Good. So, do you want to be on the winning team? Do you want a 52 to 1 advantage over your competition? It’s simple. Read one book every week.

The average person reads 12 books a year. But you’re not average are you? CEOs read about 60 books a year. Do the math – that’s more than one a week! Whether you’re a CEO or not, develop a CEO mindset and you’ll be steps ahead of your competition next year. And just a quick note about your “competition”. Your competition may be a fellow intern angling for the one full-time slot at that Fortune 500 company, another applicant for grad school or a board position, or another candidate for that dream job you’re looking at. Competition is competition. How are you going to set yourself apart from everyone else?

Reading (or listening) to books and pouring knowledge into yourself is one of the most effective and fastest ways to gain a competitive advantage. Get consumed with it, make it your mission and your focus… get obsessed!

I’m not saying you need to sit down for 6 hours a week and read a book. Find pockets of time throughout your day. Listen to Audible while you’re driving, working out, folding laundry, grocery shopping, or getting ready for work in the morning. Those mindless/repetitive tasks are the perfect opportunity to get in some reading. And what I think most people forget is that a lot of audio books are only 5 hours long. Some even less! It doesn’t take that long to listen to one or even two a week! And if you’re training for an Ironman or marathon, like I am, you’ll get through 3 or 4 books a week! Just one more reason everyone should train for an Ironman. Just saying.

There are a couple of ways to maximize your time and effectiveness when listening to audio books. First, listen on 1.5X or even 2X speed (depending on the natural speed of the reader). People can think at a much faster rate then they speak. For example, we can speak at about 125 words per minute, but listen at 400 words per minute! Take advantage of that and crank up your Audible speed! Better yet, have the physical copy of the book in front of you while listening at 2X. You will take in and retain even more information that way

As you’re reading or listening to one of your books, make sure you are listening/reading with action in mind. Look for concepts or models that you want to implement into your life and test out. The key here is implementation. You don’t have to go implement the entire book each week (that would become a little unreasonable), but, there are probably one or two little things you’ll pick up that you could incorporate into your life. Do that.

And, of course, the best way to learn is by teaching others. As you are reading your book a week, absorb the info as if you are going to be teaching it to someone else. Bonus points if you actually go out and teach! It doesn’t have to be complicated. Share what you learned with your partner or kids, build your social media following by sharing what you learned on a live Facebook video, do a podcast, or simply send an email to your team. If you are doing this once a week can you imagine the amount of value you are bringing to yourself through your growth and learning, and then the value you are providing to others? Hell,  you’ll be unstoppable.

January 1 is less than two weeks away. What are you going to read first? Need some recommendations? Below are my current favorites (and keep up to date with what I’m reading in real time over on Goodreads).

  1. Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown by Eric Blehm
  2. The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing by Bronnie Ware
  3. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan
  4. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink
  5. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Build a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
  6. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight
  7. The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection by Michael Singer
  8. Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens
  9. Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim S. Grover
  10. Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone
  11. The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins
  12. The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Sean Covey, Chris McChesney, and Jim Huling

Why Self Awareness is Essential to Success

self aware

While I was interviewing a CFO candidate last week he showed me a graph about self awareness to illustrate some of the communication complexities that emerge as your company grows. Later that week as I was working on developing some content for my upcoming book it really struck me just how important self awareness is to success – individual success, success as a leader, and success within an organization (whether that’s a company or a family unit). If you don’t understand yourself (your motives, your personality, your idiosyncrasies, what your want, what drives you, etc.) it is very difficult to understand others and navigate the intricacies of communicating with various people with conflicting and competing wants and needs. First understand yourself, then seek to understand others.

Below is an illustration of what happens when leaders and employees are aligned (or not) in terms of self awareness.

Self-Awareness Graphic

Let’s break this down:

  • Employee is Self Aware & Leader is Self Aware —> There is a huge opportunity for the employee and leader to succeed together in the organization.
  • Leader is Self Aware & Employee is NOT Self Aware —> There is an opportunity for the Leader to work with the Employee to develop their potential and their self awareness.
  • Leader is NOT Self-Aware & Employee is Self Aware —>There is a lot of frustration between both leader and employee, often in the form of communication and assumptions. This is also true when the Leader is self aware and the Employee is not.
  • Leader is NOT Self-Aware & Employee is NOT Self Aware —> It’s complete chaos! And the likelihood of either party being successful and providing value to the organization is limited.

We use a couple of tools to really help our team members (leaders and employees) develop self awareness: the User’s Manual and Behavior/Personality Assessments.

The User’s Manual is something we have each team member complete upon joining our company. We share these with each other, from the Executive team to any of their team members. Transparency is critical here and can mitigate so many potential issues. But the best part about this tool is being able to reflect and bring more self-awareness to yourself. There are six categories: Expectations, Values, Idiosyncrasies, Strengths, Weaknesses, Processes. Take the time to really understand where you stand with all of these for yourself and then share and discuss with your team. You will all be better for it.

While we use the behavior assessment when interviewing candidates, it’s such a critical tool to pull back out before you have a conversation with a team member or if you are trying to figure out how to better communicate with someone on the leadership team. Hell, it’s a great tool to do a gut check about why you took something personally or why you may be having communication issues with someone on your team. Review your behavior first and then take a look at someone else’s and see where there could be some issues. “It’s not you, it’s me,” actually applies here. Take ownership of your assumptions, attitude, and communication style and you’ll be one step closer to being a self-awareness master.

Beyond being able to work well with your team, without self-awareness you can be in constant conflict with yourself! Imagine if you are in a job or a relationship that you are always at odds with. It’s easy to blame your partner or your boss. But what if it’s because that career path or your girlfriend really don’t align with your core values, your personality, your wants and needs? The first step is awareness and then it’s deciding what action to take. Sometimes it’s as simple as having a conversation and making sure everyone is on the same page and hearing the other person’s perspective. Other times, it means you’ve got to take massive action: quit that job, move to the city, or break off that engagement. Intelligent individuals can adapt to any situation regardless of whether or not it is a natural fit for their behavior and personality. However, when stressed or under too much duress for too long, even that highly intelligent person can be stretched until they break. You don’t want that for yourself or for anyone in your organization. Get really focused on developing your self awareness and teach your team how to do the same. Success is just a self-awareness step away.

So, how about those 2018 goals? Use your newfound self awareness to really get clear on what you want and why. The more self aware you are, the more realistic and attainable your goals will seem. Are you really going to do the actions required to accomplish your goal? Maybe. Maybe not. How self aware you are will determine your success while goal setting and ultimately, in achieving success.

 

5 Simple Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

cheese
So, I have this friend, that whenever he sees a plate of brownies or a big ole chocolate cake, he. just. wants. one. bite. And before he knows it, he’s eaten 3/4 of a cake, one sliver at a time. You know what I’m talking about, right? And at that point, if you’re like the majority of the population, the “what the hell” effect kicks in. You’ve had a ton of cake, what the hell, might as well go for that second glass of wine. You’ve had the wine, what the hell, might as well skip your workout tomorrow and sleep in. Missed the workout? What the hell, guess I’ll order that pizza and just start my workouts again on Monday.
The what the hell effect is real. It’s a cycle when you indulge, regret what you’ve done, and then go back for more. And it’s even more intensified around the holidays. There is a family, work, or kid event almost every week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s and virtually all of them are underscored by food. And I guarantee your coworker is serving sliders, not salad.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of “I’ll start eating healthy next week, actually, the holidays are almost here, so I’ll just start that fitness routine next year.” That’s almost thirty days away people! And let’s be honest, it’s not just the new routine you need to start, it’s also managing the temptations and impulse to indulge around the holidays, because, what the hell?
The fact of the matter is, it’s not easy to stick to a plan or your goals or in general live a healthy life, especially around the holidays. Too many people are giving themselves an out and encouraging you to do the same because it makes them feel better! Be strong. The mental victory you’ll get by exercising some control and moderation is a far greater reward than eating an entire cheese plate. Now, if you want to cheat, have a treat. ONE. But don’t let that derail the rest of your day or week. It’s just not worth it in the long run. And you’ll just be regretting it come January 1.
So, what can you do to stay healthy during the holidays? Read on.
  1. Get a smaller plate. —> You all know you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. And I get that you may want to indulge a little around the holidays. The operative word being little. A great way to do that is by choosing a smaller plate. Grab an appetizer dish at a party or one of your kid’s plates when you’re going in for leftovers. Size does matter. Just reaching for a smaller plate will cut down on how much food you eat and how much better you’ll feel the next day. Bonus? Take a lap around the buffet table before you dive in, so you’re really conscious about what you’re choosing and so you only get the really good stuff (on your small plate)!
  2. Carry a water bottle with you. —> A good rule of thumb is to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces per day. A 200lb dude should be drinking about 100 ounces of water a day, more if he’s working out. With all the holiday hustle and bustle, bring a water bottle with you. It can help curb hunger, will definitely keep you hydrated, and will stop you from get that 3rd Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks. Here’s my go-to water bottle.
  3. Don’t skip meals. —> The hungrier you are, the more likely you are to go crazy at your sister-in-law’s soiree. If you know you’re going to a party later that night, eat small, frequent, and healthy meals throughout the day. Save up those calories for when you want them, but don’t starve yourself all day. That actually slows down your metabolism and can end up backfiring! Better to stick as close to a regular routine as possible  and grab that smaller plate!
  4. Bring a healthy dish. —> You are probably not the only one who is trying not to gain 20lbs over the holidays. Other guests will appreciate that you brought a healthy/gluten free/dairy free/vegan/paleo/whatever option to the party. It also cuts down on the anxiety you may get about if there will be anything there that you can eat (whether it’s due to lifestyle or an allergy).
  5. Make time to exercise. —> When life gets crazy, the first thing to go is usually something for yourself (i.e. exercise). If you’ve already got a fitness or training habit down – don’t stop! If it’s something you plan on working on in the new year – start now! It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Just move. Walk, run, or do some yoga the morning before a big party – something to wake up your metabolism. Make it a family affair. There is nothing better then going sledding before Christmas dinner or going for a long walk after New Year’s Day brunch. Do not make excuses, just make the time. 10 or 15 minutes is all you need!

Most importantly, enjoy! Enjoy time with your friends and family, be gentle with yourself, and be realistic. Do not try to lose 15 lbs or get a new PR during the holidays if you know you are also going to allow yourself some indulgences. Now, if are 110% committed to not having any sweets, not drinking any alcohol, etc. then more power to you (I support you 1000%!). But, if you do plan to do one less workout a week or add a few more drinks then usual, do not expect to have massive results. Focus instead on maintaining and staying in the moment and enjoying each experience.

What are your best tips for staying healthy during the holidays? Comment below!

Hello? Is Anyone Home? How to Stay Present When You’re Drifting

drifting

Have you ever been in a meeting or at a family gathering and you can just feel your eyes glaze over and you start thinking about your last marathon or the latest episode of Blacklist? You’re smiling and nodding at all the right spots. You’re body is there, but you are definitely not. Why is that? The meeting you’re in is probably one you requested. You love your family. You’re a great listener and a brilliant conversationalist. So why can’t you seem to stay there, in the moment?

A couple of things can be happening here and they all come down to mindset, focus, and saying no. Let’s work on this through the process of elimination.

Are you in a meeting, hanging out with friends, or conducting an interview, but you’re mind isn’t there? Well, why did you say yes in the first place? Out of obligation? FOMO? Because you’re letting someone else or something else dictate your time and priorities? Because no one else can do it as good as you can? JUST STOP. The first step is saying no and making sure you’re only doing the things and spending time with the people who are going to get you one step closer to your goals. I was listening to Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill a few weeks ago and the Devil made a solid point – business leaders take care with who they surround themselves with because negative mindset, low level conversations, and mediocrity may cause drifting. Now, the Devil was referring to the aimless drifting of an individual, one who never finds or accomplishes their definite purpose in life, but either way – surround yourself with just anybody and you will drift! It may sound brutal, but your time is precious. You’ve got industries to disrupt and lives to change. Ain’t nobody got time for mediocrity. SIDE NOTE: If you haven’t read Outwitting the Devil go read it now! Napoleon Hill was SO far ahead of his time. The book is fascinating. 

Okay, so let’s say you’ve got this part down – you’re surrounding yourself with the best people on the planet and you’re only saying yes to the critical meetings, activities, etc. that will move you forward. So why are you still not present? It’s time to do a mental and physical energy check. Have you exercised that day? Did you eat breakfast? Is it time for a snack? You could simply need to get up, move, grab some water and then you would be able to refocus immediately. Keep these things in mind. It’s why I prime my body every day with exercise and the proper nutrition. If I know I have X number of meetings that day (that I consciously said yes to), then I still need to make sure I’m 100% present in all of them, no matter if it’s 8am or 4pm.

Taking that a step further, how’s your mindset? Are you meditating, journaling regularly, taking time to think and just breathe? These should be regular parts of your routine so that the possibility of drifting away during a board meeting and missing a crucial piece of information is mitigated. But, shit happens and it’s all about how you deal with it. If you are truly not in the right frame of mind or are mentally exhausted from a massive challenge the day before, then reschedule that interview. It would be a waste of both of your time because no matter how great they were, you may not like the candidate simply because you’re not all there. It’s okay to cancel that board meeting if you know you just don’t have it in you to make one more decision. It’s just a different way of saying no. Say no to the meeting so you can say yes to taking care of you, so you are back at it full force the next day. Now, this shouldn’t happen often if you’re working on your mental, emotional and physical fitness everyday, but it does happen and you just need to be prepared. Decision fatigue is real. Anticipate it, plan for it, and do everything in your power to maintain your energy levels in order to be completely there, wherever you are, whoever you are with.

And the best way to do that is by practicing the art of being fully engaged or strategically disengaged, which is definitely not easy with all the daily distractions, Facebook alerts, and people wanting to just “pick your brain for a minute.” Protect that brain! When you’re on, be on and fully present (using some of the tactics above). If work is kicking your ass and you need to just get things done, then double down and be totally engaged at work. Then, when you get home an hour late, strategically disengage and spend time with your family. So many people may get home from work earlier than you do, but they turn on the TV (wait, there is no TV anymore, I mean Netflix), start chatting with people on Twitter, or bust out Call of Duty for 3 hours and totally miss being present with their family. And these same people have the audacity to talk shit about people who work a lot! It’s not the quantity of time, at home or at work, it’s the quality. An hour of uninterrupted, soul time (giving yourself over completely to your kids, your dog, your best friend) is much more rewarding than 4 hours of being a blob on the couch. You can accomplish far more by being full engaged at the office and strategically disengaged with your family. It’s a choice. In fact a lot of people at my company practice this strategy – work hard until family time, spend purposeful hours with them, then shift focus back to working, thinking, writing, etc. after the family is asleep!

You can employ these strategies too. Your family, friends, co-workers, and employees will thank you for it, because no matter how good you think you are at hiding the fact that you’re thinking about where to take your wife for your 10 year wedding anniversary in two years, people know when you’re not really there.

How do you stay in the moment? What keeps you grounded and present during all life’s moments?

How Leaders Can Solve Traffic Jams in Business

traffic jam

If you’re traveling (or just trying to get from one end of the town to the other) for the holidays, I wish you godspeed. People are crazy out there! Rushing around making sure to pick up a Uncle Martin’s favorite cranberry sauce, texting their wife while driving, “Where am I picking up the kids?,” speeding down the interstate to catch a flight or that must-have Black Friday special, the iRobot Roomba 614 vacuum on sale for $199 (regularly $299). It’s the most wonderful time of year, right? It can be, if you keep yourself, your family, and your team focused. But it can also be disastrous for your business if you let procrastination, distractions, temptations, and overall lack of focus and clarity get in the way.

Here’s where you come in. I want you to think of yourself as a traffic director. And what you are directing is people and their energy.  You’ve got to be clear on the destination (the goal or result) and then get to work by focusing yourself and your team on the daily activities or a specific project that will get you there. Along the way, you’ll be keeping an eye on the traffic patterns, anticipating traffic jams, removing roadblocks, and keeping the flow of traffic, well, flowing. You’ll have to reset the course when needed, find different roads, maybe even build a bridge. You need to do whatever is necessary to keep your employees and team members moving in the right direction, with their full energy and full focus so they can reach their destination. And then do it again and again. You will need to do this shifting and course-correcting and focusing throughout your day to ensure the end goal is reached. That is your job as a leader.

Sounds a lot like micro-managing, doesn’t it? But let me clarify. Micro-managing only occurs when the desired outcome is not being met, repeatedly. When you’ve gone several days with your sales team not hitting their targets or your marketing division failing to deliver on a project, you’ve got to realize there is a traffic jam and get in there and see what’s up. There is something preventing you or your team from getting shit done. It will feel a lot like micro-managing at the time, but as a leader, you have to know when to jump into the street and start managing the traffic and inspect (sometimes closely) what you expect until the flow of traffic is restored.

Just a quick note: If you are being micro-managed all the time, it might be a good time to look at your role, your contributions, your passion, your results, and evaluate whether or not the position you’re in is the right fit for you. Are you the chronic micro-manager? Then maybe it’s time to evaluate your team. If they are continually missing their goals and you constantly have to be jumping back in, then there is a disconnect. Might be the classic case of right people, wrong bus. Or could simply be the wrong people. Evaluate and move forward. 

So, the fastest way to remove roadblocks for your team is by identifying them (what can sometimes feel like micro-managing) and then asking really great, disruptive questions. You don’t need (or want) to go in there dictating all the answers, because how will your team ever learn to drive themselves? Asking great questions will lead to self-discovery and the ability for your employee to see the roadblock or pothole next time and turn the wheel in time to avoid impact.

I give my leadership team a heads-up that they’re going to feel the pressure and feel micro-managed when their goals aren’t being met. Once we are back on track (which can be as simple as a quick conversation or reviewing the numbers and bringing those numbers to the attention of the group or a few individuals), I will go back to decentralized management. Don’t be shy about it! Let your leaders know what to expect and they, in turn, can employ this strategy with their team.

Our job as leaders is to continually monitor the traffic and let our team members know when we see a traffic jam and getting so good at identifying these roadblocks that we can remove them before they are even set up. But if you do run into a roadblock or traffic jam, you better be ready to quickly bring awareness, focus, and clarity so that your team can move forward and execute! That is your job on a daily basis. That is your job as a leader.

3 Tricks to Stay Grounded When You’re Out of Control

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I know you’ve been there before. You feel like you’re speeding down a winding road, cliff on both sides, the brakes don’t work, the windshield is dirty, and you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders (hell, you’re not even in the driver’s seat!). Your business is growing and you have to make sure cash flow keeps up, your children are getting older and have more and more extracurricular commitments, your employees are counting on you for a massive vision that inspires them to follow (and, a paycheck). You feel like everyone wants a piece of you, and you don’t have any more to give. So how do you handle it all without going off the cliff? Better yet, how do you manage your life, energy, and mental fitness, so that these out of control episodes are just fleeting moments that you experience and move on from in minutes, not months? Mental fitness.

We’ve talked about mental fitness before, but can we really talk about it too much? It’s the foundation of how I’ve designed my life and built five businesses over the past ten years. It’s the core concept that I teach in all of my business and leadership courses. It’s part of who I am now and the more people I can teach about mental fitness, the better. We have to train our mind, just as often as (if not more than) we train our bodies.

Here are some great tricks for gaining control, when you are feeling out of control (tricks I’ve used while racing, but apply to all areas of life):

  1. Count to 100. When we feel like we are spiraling and are caught in an endless cycle of panic, doubt, and uncertainty, what we are looking for is stability and control. The fastest way to change our state is to control our thinking. Counting to 100 serves multiple purposes – it is a distraction from your overwhelming thoughts, it gives you something to focus on, and it puts you back in control right away. It anchors you and allows the bad thoughts or feelings to pass, clears your mind, and gets you into a mindset of clarity so you can take action.
  2. Give. Give someone a high-five, give money, hold the door open for someone, smile, give someone your undivided attention, send someone a thank you note or shoot a quick text and let someone know how awesome they are. Just give of yourself, provide value, and spread love to others. It can be simple, it can be big. The trick is when you are out of control and feeling all the negative feels, finding it in your heart to come out from behind yourself and spread joy to someone else. And you know, that no matter how hard it is in the moment, you will immediately feel in control and happy. It’s impossible to be selfless and give and be fearful at the same time. Just try it!
  3. Be Grateful. When I’m racing and the going gets really tough, I move towards gratitude. I start making a mental list of everything I’m grateful for – my fitness, my health, the volunteers, water, my breath, my family, the other racers, the weather (yes, even if it’s cold, sweltering or raining), the view, anything that can occupy my mind. Again, focusing on gratitude prevents me from focusing on the pain (or any out of control feelings) and puts my mind somewhere else until I’m back in my groove.

And then, of course, the best way to keep these out of control thoughts and feelings at bay is by creating a daily routine of meditation, gratitude, exercise, giving, etc. to prime you for the challenges ahead. You can try my tricks above or create your own go-tos. But no matter what, when challenges show up, you have to make sure you have your practiced methods of breaking free of the thoughts that are holding you back.

With practice comes calm, clarity and control. But you have to be self-aware, disciplined, and practiced, so you can call upon your mental fitness whenever you need to. What are you go-to methods for developing your mental fitness?