Resilience is a key part of peak performance, but even beyond resilience is antifragility – the ability to get stronger with every blow. It is something that individuals and organizations need to develop, especially during this unprecedented time of adversity. Joining Rodney Flowers to walk us through this much-needed human quality is Eric Partaker, an executive coach who has had the distinction of being named CEO of the Year at the BEF 2019 Awards. Eric talks about achieving anti-fragility and reframing stress as the keys to performing at a peak state. The beauty about these secrets to peak performance is that they can be learned. It just takes the right amount of willingness and intentionality. Eric also talks about his book, The 3 Alarms, which is available for free on his website, plus some incredible routines that will make your life better and more productive.
Listen to the podcast here:
Beyond Resilience: Unlocking The Secrets To Peak Performance With Eric Partaker
I’m excited about our show. We’re going to talk about peak performance. How many of you would love to perform at a peak state as much as possible? I don’t think performing at a peak state is attainable 100% of the time. We’re going to find out now because I have an expert here who is an author and CEO. He helps leadership teams and former US Special Forces operatives scale up themselves, their teams, and their companies while also improving their well-being. We have Eric Partaker with me. Without further delay. Let’s join me in welcoming Eric. Welcome to the show, brother.
Thank you so much, Rodney. A big thank you to all your readers for giving up their time. Hopefully, we’ll be able to share some valuable nuggets and maybe a couple of diamonds in the rough. I hope so. We shall see.
I hope so as well. I’m almost certain that we will, just given your background. There’s no better time than now to focus on what it takes to perform at a peak state. It’s something that we should give attention to all the time. Now is the time that we want to hone in on that with so much change and certainty going on around us. Being able to perform at a peak state is going to be the difference between people who thrive in this type of environment and those that merely survive. I’m interested in what you have to say about peak performance and I’m sure the readers as well because it’s such a hot topic. Everyone wants to perform at a peak state. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t, but not everyone does. I’m delighted to get into the conversation but before we do, I want to ask you, how are you with everything that’s going on? How are you in your own well-being? How are things going for you?
2020 has been an incredible test. 2020 is the most unexpected of all years in my lifetime. I’ve never came across a year like this before. I’m sure that it’s echoed by everyone. It’s been a year to put to use all of the principles that I’ve gathered over the last couple of decades to perform at a peak level. It’s worth defining though to what we mean by peak performance. Peak performance is not about trying to turn people into Ferrari’s because a race car can only go around the track many times before it needs the tires changed. It needs a pit stop. It’s not about revving the engine constantly at all costs. Peak performance is about how do we realize our full potential in business and in life. That for me is living in a peak state and experiencing peak performance.
Peak performance has to always be a combination of growth and recovery. It’s that nice balance between the two at all times. I want to make sure that we’re all on the same page with what we mean by peak performance because it is something for me that I believe when defined that way is attainable or that you can pursue all the time trying to operate at your best. You will always do it, but you can always pursue it. 2020 has put me to the test. I completed a massive restructuring exercise with one of my companies, a chain of restaurants that I had built in the UK. It was a painful exercise, but it had to be done to make the company a bit more resilient to some of the changes that we’re experiencing in the sector and to change the profile of our debt, and all that in the company.
A few months after completing that whole exercise, it ended up being all for now because the company was then forced into bankruptcy as a result of the lockdown. 2020 has seen me say goodbye to one business, the restaurant chain as a result of the pandemic. At the same time, it helped the peak performance business blossom in a way because there isn’t a better time for people to be trying to realize their highest potential, resist and become stronger as a result of everything that’s going on than right now.
We begin with resilience because resilience is a large part of peak performance, the rest and recovery. How can we bounce back? That’s what resilience is all about. It’s about bouncing back. It’s not endurance. It’s being able to take a hit and then get back on the horse and back in the game. That’s a good place to start. You seem to have taken a pivot and that has allowed you to stay in the game. A lot of people have pivoted. They’ve lost businesses and a ton of other things. They seem to continue because there’s something else that takes its place, but then there are people that are not resilient.Adversities are nothing more than the dumbbells in the gym of life. Each repetition makes you stronger. Click To Tweet
Maybe they don’t have that thing to pivot towards or they’re too afraid to take that step because, “I put much into this thing and it’s gone in an instant, and now here I am again with that opportunity. I’m not sure if I’m going to put that sweat equity in that again.” I can relate to that. As you were talking about what it was for you, if I could share what it feels like to me. This is the only thing in life so far that I can relate to my accident. You’re going and chugging along, and then all of a sudden you get hit, and then everything changes.
Nothing is the same in an instant and now you’re looking at a new landscape, new ways of being, new ways of doing business and relating to people. For a lot of people, it is devastating. Bouncing back from something like death, all of your norms are gone. Nothing is normal anymore. You’re looking for a sense of normalcy. It seems like there’s nothing to grab and hold to. When you do, it’s slippery. For a lot of people, it’s getting a footing on something solid that they could trust in and rested, to be in a place to be resilient. To bounce back, stand up again and say, “I’m willing to put weight on this leg again, even though it got blown out. I think I can run my plays. I can play it and pivot in the game without the feet.” What are your thoughts on helping people get back to that level of confidence?
I love the subject of resilience. The great Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius and his meditations. He wrote that he must expect to continuously be knocked down in life. He didn’t meant just on the battlefield. He meant in the day-to-day as well. He said, “It wasn’t about avoiding the hits or not being hit.” That wasn’t where the game was played. The game is played in how quickly you stand back up. The hits are inevitable. Sometimes they’ll be huge and major. Sometimes they’ll be minor, but they will come. The game that he played was how quickly he could stand back up. The faster he would do that, the stronger he would get. Where I’d like to start with resilience is, I’d like to push readers to think even beyond resilience.
There’s a great book, Antifragile by Nassim Taleb. Let’s say we’re going to turn a person into a box, and on the side of the box, they get to choose their label. For some people, their label might be fragile. They get kicked a couple of times and the box breaks. Some people might say robust or resilient, thinking of the opposite of fragile. Robust means they’re stronger. It can take a few more hits, but they’re still going to break. Resilient slightly past robust. They can take hits and they keep returning to the same state. Antifragile, that’s the opposite of fragile whereby the more I kicked that box, the stronger the box becomes. That’s a bit mind-blowing when you think about it that way. You realize, “There’s something beyond even resilience on this spectrum.”
What I encourage people to do when I’m doing Peak Performance coaching with CEOs, entrepreneurs, and leaders. A lot of times when people hear this they go, “That’s a great idea but that doesn’t exist, antifragile.” I say, “It does. It exists.” There are dosages of it where you get past a certain breaking point and the equation doesn’t work, but if you stress a muscle, it causes it to grow. You expose the body to bacteria and germs, it builds the immune system. Small doses of UV radiation generate vitamin D and regenerate tissues. The body is already a temple of anti-fragility whereby stress builds strength. The more hits you take, the stronger you become.
It’s not always in the same way. You might take hits physically and become stronger mentally. You might take hits mentally and become stronger physically. You can become strong. What I always start with is getting people to realize that the anti-fragility is already going on in your body. That’s happening. We’ve got to get it up here into the head whereby stress builds strength. The second thing I go into is getting people to reframe stress. Kelly McGonigal wrote a great book called The Upside of Stress. In that book, she talks about three groups of people. The first group of people live a relatively stress-free life. The second group experiences moderate to high amounts of stress but views it positively. Group three, moderate to high amounts of stress but views it negatively.
Which group is the longest? It ends up being the second group. They outlived the people sipping piña coladas hanging out in the yacht. With that in mind, when people go to the gym, they think about the physical body and a specific location. They go there and they train a certain muscle group. I’m like, “No, you’ve got to think of life as this one big mental gym. On a day-to-day basis, every moment of adversity, challenge, change, the person who cuts you off or says something that pisses you off, all of these are nothing more than dumbbells in the gym of life. They’re being presented to you. You can complete the repetition and strengthen that bicep or you can choose to step away from the rack and walk out of the gym. Which is going to make you stronger?
I love that analogy and I can still relate to it. If I can share something with you, this whole Game Changer Mentality brand is built on the fact that life is a field of adversity. That’s what we’re playing on. We have the responsibility and privilege to score, but we have to deal with the resistance, the challenges and adversity that’s within the landscape. You don’t want those to go away. They’re there to serve you. They’re difficult, challenging, and they can hurt you. They can knock you out of the game. I’m a witness to that. Yet, you can still bounce back, get back in the game and play. You may have to play a different position. You may have to view the field in a different way, but you can get back in the game and you could still play well and score.
Just because you’ve gotten hit and knock you out of the game before, it doesn’t mean when you go back in, you’re exempt from resistance. It’s still going to show up. What did you learn from getting hit and knock out of the game allows you to play better now that you’re back in the game. I feel the challenges, struggles and opposition. It’s the other side of the coin. Life is a coin. You can get things, accomplishments, greatness, reward, goodness and everything that comes with that. On the other side, it’s challenges, difficulty, and stress. It’s all of those things but you can’t have one without the other. It’s like night and day. Life wouldn’t be the same if it was sunshine all the time.
I don’t think that’s the definition of life, sunshine every day. Neither is it dark every day. It’s managing both sides of the coin realizing there are going to be rainy days and sunny days. What are we going to get out of that? How can we manage that to our benefit to do what we want to do in life, which is winning? By definition, whatever that means to you in terms of goals, contribution, self-development, family, financial.
Each time you are in a position to experience the stress and the opposition is an opportunity for growth. If you take that away, there is no growth. If you stop growing, there’s only a certain amount of scoring and winning you can do. Like you said, “Stress the muscle and it grows,” but if you start stressing it, it will start growing. The other side of that is atrophy. If you don’t ever stress it, it’s going to atrophy, which mean it’s going to go in the opposite direction. If you’re not growing, then you’re not learning. You’re either growing or you’re not growing. If you’re not growing, you’re depleting, disintegrating, and going away. That’s my soapbox.
I’m 100% in agreement. Atrophy is the perfect word that’s why that second group of people outlives the first group who has no stress because that group is experiencing atrophy in their life. They’re becoming weaker as every day goes on because they don’t have the stress to build the strength. It starts with reframing stress so that people stop stressing themselves out by trying to pursue a stress-free life and instead say, “Bring it on.” I’ll step towards this discomfort, not away from it because it’s the same thing in the gym. That’s what builds the strength and that’s what the gym of life is all around us on a day-to-day basis. One of the most powerful techniques I found to complete these repetitions in the gym of life if something happens to you that pisses you off or didn’t go your way or you’re unhappy. It’s simply the art of the pause.
What I mean is that when something triggers us, we respond right away. That response is suboptimal in that it’s not the best version of you that you would get. It’s not like a 95-year-old version of you responding. It’s like the five-year-old version of you responding. That’s not an antifragile response. That’s not a response that’s going to build you into a stronger person as a result of stress. If we learn to pause through a deep breath, walking out of the room, and in a couple of seconds, we can shut off the emotional response pattern and turn on the prefrontal cortex. The part of our brain that makes us human and gives ourselves a chance to choose, “What is the best response to this?” If you’re in an argument with your partner, your husband or wife, you can blurt out something back or you can pause and ask yourself, “How would the best version of me respond to this?”
Within all of us, we don’t need a book to tell us this. We don’t need counsel to guide us on this. The wisdom is within you. If you create that sense of quiet and pause, that optimal response pattern will be presented to you. It will come to light whatever it is, no matter what’s the situation. If somebody cuts you off, you yell back, drive in front of them, slam your brakes, and do all that stupid crap or you take a deep breath and go, “How would the best version of me respond to this?” Often, it’s just letting it go or saying, “I appreciate that point of view. Thank you,” and moving on. I encourage people, no matter what’s triggering you, practice that art of the pause and create a tiny bit of space between the stimulus and the response, and you can choose your optimal response.Your identity is whatever you are repeatedly being. Act as if you already are and you will become. Click To Tweet
I’m a firm believer that the first step to resilience is self-regulation, self-control. That fight-flight-freeze mentality kicks in when something happens and it’s an unconscious reaction. It has no thought like a reptilian type of reaction. When you can put self-control to it, then the conscious mind can apply reason. That’s what the reaction is. It’s behavior without reason. I always tell my clients, “Ask yourself, ‘Who am I going to be in this?’” This is an experience. I’m not speaking from something I’ve read or no type of certification. It’s being on a gurney in the hospital after receiving a diagnosis and asking myself, “Who am I going to be in this?”
That’s intentionality that you’re bringing into the equation. Who am I going to be? What does that new version of me look like and behave? How does that version of me show up in the world? What are the qualities? How does that version of me behave? What does that version of me value? Intentionality is another big piece of deciding who you’re going to be. It’s another big piece of my work as well. It’s my new book, The 3 Alarms. It’s about three simple phone alarms that I use to transform my health, wealth and relationships. I think of wealth as work. Your work is your wealth creation. I use it more in a work sense, health, wealth and relationships.
Few years ago, I set three different alarms and created the best self-identity per each of those segments, health, wealth and relationships. I then had that identity go off on my phone at the right time of day so that best self would be powering the most relevant section of my day. At 6:30 AM, the first alarm goes off and it says, “World fitness champion.” I’m not a world fitness champion. I never will be but it queues that’s the health identity. That’s the version of me who’s going to go and complete my exercise because that version of me doesn’t need to feel like exercising. It takes action, whether it feels like it or not because it knows that amateurs need feeling to precede action. Whereas pros know that action generates feeling. A world fitness champion is a person who goes to the gym or if I’m working out at home. When I’m on the eighth repetition of an exercise and I feel like, “Maybe I’m not going to make it to the tenth.” “What? We’re fitness champions. Of course, you are.” I do 9, 10, 11, and 12 because champions do more. That set first, I did.
If anybody is reading, go into your phone and set an alarm for tomorrow as you would to wake up. You’ll notice when you go to set an alarm, there’s a field that says either name or label or something like that. You can click on it. It can get the alarm a name. Pick a phrase that means something for you in the health department to bring intentionality into health. It could be a phrase like, “World fitness champion.” Maybe you like swimming, so you become Michael Phelps when you hit the pool or something. It’s a name or phrase. At 6:30 AM, it’s world fitness champion. The next one for me at 9:00 AM is world’s best coach. I’m not the world’s best coach. There are loads of better coaches out there than me, but I try my damnedest.
That’s the mentality I get in at the start of my day. How would that version of me show up, behave and act for his clients? At 6:30 PM, the most powerful alarm of all for me goes off and it says, “World’s best husband and father,” to prompt the question, how would the world’s best husband and father walk through that door right now? I am with you about deciding who you want to be. I do that across those three dimensions, health, wealth and relationships. It gives me something to shoot for, day in and day out.
Why is identity so important in this exercise? You’re relating your behavior to an identity and the alarm wakes up the identity in you. Can you explain that identity relationship?
First of all, identity drives behavior. You could argue that it’s the other way around. Think back to when you were a kid. I’ll take my seven-year-old. If I put a Spider-Man costume on him, what does he turn into? Spider-Man. You then said, “What do you mean he turns into Spider-Man?” He starts behaving like Spider-Man. He’s jumping around the sofa. He’s shooting make-believe webs out of his wrist. If I put a Superman costume on him, what does he do? He starts behaving like Superman. It’s in us from when we’re born that when we assume that identity, it instinctively makes us take on a set of behaviors that we associate with that identity.
If you look at the etymology of the word identity, it’s based on two words from Latin, which together mean repeated beingness. It is quite beautiful when you think about it because that means that our identity is whatever we are repeatedly being. If we assume an identity and then start acting and behaving like that, as we behave more and more like that identity, it’s this virtuous cycle. We become more and more like that person. It’s that whole thing, “Act as if you already are and you will become.”
I hope the audience is getting this. I want to park here to highlight the importance of what you are saying. I was in a conversation with someone and we were talking about the inner critic, the inner voice, and how to not so much shut out the noise of the inner critic but separate from what the inner critic is saying. One of the critical elements to completing that is having a strong identity. Understanding who you are, your relationship to the creator, the abilities you have with the words that you speak, and the way that you think. It’s not so much your name or where you’re from. It’s more so with your being. We understood that there were some challenges for people with getting clear on identity because of the programming in life, whether that teaches you who you are. It can give you a name. You associate it with where you’re from, your background and race. People take those things and that shapes their identity. Identity is what’s necessary of you at any given moment.
If a moment to moment you’re choosing who you are going to be, that’s your identity. As you stay with those three alarms in the morning, you may need to be, “I am a world champion.” That’s the identity that I’m taking. That’s who I am at this moment. If your kids step in the room, automatically, that identity shifts because you still have to be that champion, even though you’ve set the time to be there for him at a certain time for you, he needs that right now, so we have to adapt to that identity. What comes with that is understanding the core values. This is open to discussion. This isn’t definitive. This is based on the conversation and where we’re going here. These are core values we have around how we show up in the world.
That is associated with our contribution, and understanding our contribution to the world. One of the things I want to get into a conversation with you about is the ownership that we are taking on in the world. Ownership and responsibility. I know that’s the major thing for Special Forces and the Marines to take extreme ownership of everything. I can’t say that we do that as civilians as often as we probably should, but it’s a great practice. I want to hone in on the fact that there’s a challenge with people and identity. It’s understanding who they are. Who do you want to be from moment to moment? In the moment that you’re in. You’re going back to that question you ask yourself, how would the best version of me respond? Do you want the best version of you to respond? Is that your core value? Is that your goal? Is that meaningful to you?
The Greeks had a word for this, Arete, the idea of the moment to moment trying to live with virtue and trying to close that gap between whoever you are in the moment and whoever you’re most capable of being. Those tests, the hit and rebound opportunities come nonstop throughout the day. None of this is saying, “I know you don’t believe as I don’t either.” This is not about living perfectly and that you’re your best. We’re saying, “Take a moment to define what does the best look like for you?” Otherwise, when you’re going to the shooting range, you might as well go blindfolded and hoping you’re going to hit a target.
If you define what best looks like, now, you’re going and you got a target. You can at least shoot for it. You may still miss and you may do something that you’re not proud of. You may stop at that eighth repetition and give up. There may be that day when you don’t go to the gym, but because you had the target, you become more painfully aware of those moments, and then you ask yourself, “What could I do differently next time around from moment to moment such that I make a better decision?” Over time, your highs become higher and your lows become even higher than your previous highs, but it’s still like a jagged curve. It’s not even linear. It’s going up over time. It’s about that whole idea of how we can choose an identity of who we want to be in the different domains of life that matter most, and over time, get 1% closer to that day in and day out. Some days we might shoot up 4%. The next day, we dropped down 7%. Now, we go up 5%. That’s the game.
It’s not a straight line, folks. Self-development is hills and valleys. There are pluses and minuses in your climb. Some days you go up 4 feet, tomorrow you may go around 5. That landscape is what you have to travel on to improve and increase. I love sports but there is something that I don’t like about sports. In sports when there is a champion, there’s judgment. That judgment is they are the champion above everyone else. When you think about that season, they’re number one. That is based on a series of a tournament or structure. As a result of being able to navigate that structure, now they are considered a champion.Stress builds strength. Click To Tweet
What I don’t like about it is how we adapt this philosophy in society and it gets imposed on us as individuals. What we consider is the best is, when you have dominated everyone else and you are on the pedestal, having co-navigated a structure. That’s the best and now you’re classified as the best. That’s not what the best is. For me, best is the moment to moment. You can take the same team. If they kept playing beyond the championship, eventually, the team will lose. It doesn’t mean they’re not a good team. It’s just the nature. Some days you’re on your game and some days you’re not. That doesn’t mean you’re not a great team, but when you’re not, that still is your best for that day, for that environment and for that moment.
That should be celebrated, but because it’s not as good enough, no one wants to play in that space. We won’t value those moments where, “You don’t get a trophy for this, but I think there is still something to be said about even when you’re subpar. The level of effort that you can give to get to reach a goal, complete a mission, and to be the best husband, wife or whatever it is that you’re after. If you’re given it your best, that’s worth recognition. We don’t give credit for that because this is how we are in society. We don’t value those days where you took three steps back. We devalued those days. If you remove that from the equation, there’s no growth.
The two words that are critical for people to zero in on from what you just said is your best. I’m not going to be a world fitness champion. I never was. I was never great at sports. That’s a phrase for me to cue me doing my best when it comes to working out. The best my body is capable of doing and it’s similarly with work and the home front. We all have different lives and constraints. It’s about doing your best in the context of your reality, with your makeup and your skills. That doesn’t mean that you can’t break free from where you are and hop onto a different track. That’s still possible too.
It’s not about number one versus everyone. It’s about number one with yourself. It’s your best. I read this book, Elite Minds and this has been so beautiful for me so far in October. At one point in the book, the author says, “Perfect isn’t the goal.” What is? It’s simply to do your best. At the end of every single day, if you did your best in the context of that day, in the context of whatever challenges that day throughout for you, give yourself a W for the day. If you didn’t do your best, give yourself an L for loss.
I’ve changed that on my board. I have it as an L, for learn. You either win or you learn on a day. The game I play on a monthly basis, I got a calendar for each month. I either have a blue W in the day or a red L. The game is six or less Ls in the month, which is about an 80% hit rate, and never two Ls in a row. If you have a down day, it means tomorrow is game on. It needs to be a rebound day. That helps you from getting into that downward spiral. It still allows for it. You can do it six times a month, but you can’t let it gain any momentum because you’re breaking them.
You look back over the months. Where’s the value? If you’re writing down L which would be learn, what did you learn? That’s where the juice is. You can go back and look over to September. If you had six Ls, at the most, you’re going to learn six things. Some of those were duplicates. You had to learn it more than once. That’s what you carry into the next month. What you wouldn’t want is you’re learning the same thing in September that you learned in August. You learned the same thing in October that you learned in August.
It’s a few things. One, I love seeing the scoreboard up there and the sea of blue Ws, and then the few Ls here and there. It taps into my competitive spirit with myself to do my best. That’s one piece of value. Two is what you said. With the Ls, I’m thinking, “What did I do? Why did I get an L?” On October 20th, 2020, I got an L there. I know what happened that day. My workday went perfectly. I got to the end of the day and ended up having a discussion with my wife about a fairly sore subject. I didn’t exercise that emotional control. I was yelling or anything like that. I got all heated up and I was cutting her off. It was not me at my best.
I had a choice at the end of the day, I could have said, “You did well. You went to the gym and you did well on a workfront.” You cut yourself some slack but that would ruin my integrity. I had to hold true to the system and I said, “That’s an L.” The third piece of value is that as those Ls build-up, and you remember why you got an L, I’ve noticed that as I’m going to the day, you get these moment to moment decision points. I start thinking, “No, I better not do that. That’s going to be an L. I better do this because that’s going to be a W.” It’s valuable in a few different ways.
I want to make this full circle to trying to bounce back. We talked footing and certainty, being able to stand and plant their foot on an injured leg. They are ready to get back in the game. Based on all the things that we’ve talked about, what advice would you give to help them get to that space of confidence?
Make your life better through IPA, not the beer. This is better for you. Identity is to decide who you want to be and step into being your best to the power of identity. The next is productivity. We didn’t talk much about productivity, but one tip I’d give people is to minimize distraction by closing down your browsers, getting your phone out of sight, and trying to work on a single task in a manner on things so that you’re far more productive, and then antifragility. It’s Identify, Productivity and Antifragility, IPA. Focus on these three. With the antifragility piece, reframe stress. Stress builds strength.
Get what’s going on already in your body, back up into your head where it needs to belong, and start treating those moments of adversity as repetitions in the gym of life. Take a pause when something is triggering you so that you can respond with reason. Shut off that emotional connection and instead choose as the human being you are, the optimal response with the help of your inner wisdom. The more you do that, the more you’ll groove that new neural pattern and the more natural it will become. We can all become extraordinary and reach our full potential. It’s never too late to start. Identity, productivity and antifragility is great place to begin.
How can people connect with you if they wanted to learn more about you?
I’m offering everyone who’s reading a free digital copy of my new book, The 3 Alarms. All you have to do is head over to my website at EricPartaker.com. You’ll see a little button there for the book. If you grab that free digital copy, you’re also going to get a three-part free video training that will help you further embed some of the concepts we’ve discussed and that I go into the book as well.
Thank you for doing that. I want to talk about productivity. The thing about productivity that I want to discuss is distractions. I think everyone is productive. It’s like you get an A or 100, but there are distractions and they start eating your life. They start chipping away at your level of productivity. How do we maintain that? It’s easy to say, “Get rid of your cell phones. You cannot have a cell phone or a computer.” You could be having the intention to focus on this one test, but then your mind starts thinking about what you’ve got to do an hour from now. For some reason, your butt is uncomfortable in the seat. You can’t sit there for whatever reason. How can we block out these distractions and stay 100% focused?Design productivity into your day instead of using it as a whip to constantly hit yourself with. Click To Tweet
I’ve got three simple things that I would encourage everyone to try to install. They’re all routine. An evening routine, a morning routine and a working routine. We designed productivity into our day rather than viewing it as this whip that we constantly need to be hitting ourselves with. Evening routine, I’d like people to think of the acronym SD8 or the word sedate. It’s a creative pronunciation of the acronym SD8. I want you to sedate yourself, not with a glass of wine, but with SD8. The S for shutdown. You need a static appointment in your calendar that says shutdown, where you’re going to shut down your day 30 minutes before you’d like your day to end every single day. You respect that appointment as you would with someone else.
You do your final email check, update your to-do lists, and review your calendar for the next day. Here’s where it’s critical. You choose your top three things you’re going to do the next day. Step five, you drop those top three things into the white space of your following day as appointments. You’re shutting down your day, knowing what your top three things are going to be that you’re going to do and when you’re going to do them. The D is a digital sunset. Both the shutdown and the digital sunset provide the 8, the eight hours of sleep, which is what we need to be productive. Digital sunset is simple. One hour before bed, shut off your electronics because the artificial light that comes from your electronics one hour before bedtime will reduce your brain’s melatonin production by 50%.
Without enough melatonin in your brain, you won’t sleep deeply. If you don’t sleep deeply, you’ll be prone to distraction the next day. You won’t get your full eight hours. If someone thinks, “I don’t need eight hours. I haven’t been taking eight hours for years.” That is BS. You can survive on less than eight hours but we’re not talking about surviving. We’re talking about thriving. The chance of you having the gene that allows you to thrive, not survive. A lot of us can survive in less than eight. That allows you to thrive in less than eight hours of sleep. The chance of you having that gene is equivalent to your chance of being struck by lightning. You do not have the gene. You need your eight hours to sleep.
That’s the biggest takeaway from all of this.
That’s my routine, shutdown, digital sunset, and eight hours of sleep. Sedate yourself. Morning routine, I encourage people to try to get your exercise, activity, moving that body, moving your muscles in the morning. That will boost your energy for the rest of the day. The mood boost that you get from exercising is a twelve-hour mood boost, which is equivalent in strength to taking an antidepressant. I ask people all the time, when would you like to take your antidepressant? Right before you go to bed or at the start of the day to keep that mood up for the whole day? Why does this relate to productivity? Because if we have energy and we’re in a good mood, we’re showing to be more productive. Start the day off with some exercise, and then be creative before reactive. It’s the other part of the morning routine. Don’t set your day in your inbox, Slack, on social media and going through what did Trump say today. Instead, start working on one of those top three things. Be creative before reacting to other people’s stuff.
One of the top three things that you decided the day before as part of your shutdown ritual. The last thing is the working routine. For the working routine to remain productive, it goes back to that single-tasking point. The average worker loses 28% of their workday to jumping around from one thing to the next. 9:00 AM starts, you’re working on a presentation. At 9:13, phone notification, “What’s going on here on LinkedIn or Facebook?” At 9:17 you go, “My coffee is cold. I’m going to reheat that.” At 9:23, it’s back on the presentation. I’ve worked five minutes on that. I’m suddenly doing a bit of Google research because something popped into my head, “This won’t take long.” An hour is gone and I’m off to my next meeting. I look back and I go, “I was supposed to work an hour in that presentation. I only worked seventeen minutes or something.” That’s because we’re jumping around from one thing to the next.
Close down the browsers, get your phone out of the room, and reclaim that 28% by choosing to only work on one thing for huge blocks of time, resisting the temptation to switch back and forth from one thing to the next. That could be a 30-minute or 60-minute block. I want to say this last thing here is a way to add back thirteen weeks to your life every year. If we take a 28% loss of a day, you might think, “It’s just a day,” but this is happening every day on average. If we take 52 weeks in a year, let’s be generous and take off six weeks for vacation. You’ve got the most amazing vacation policy in the world.
Forty-six weeks times the 28% loss of the day to jump in around instead of single-tasking. The average person is losing thirteen weeks a year. That’s a whole quarter. You’re playing the game with only three quarters. If this is a basketball game and we’re playing against each other. We get to the end of the third quarter and you say to me, “You have to sit out the fourth quarter. Me and my team get to keep playing and score against you,” do I have a chance of winning?
Not against me and my team. We’re going to take that full quarter all the way.
Master the habit of single-tasking. You’ll reclaim an entire calendar quarter each year, which over a professional career, a 40-year career, that’s reclaiming a decade. I asked people reading, what could you do with an extra decade?
Some of the most successful people, they plan their life decades at a time.
You can get two careers in a decade.
I’m not even going to ask you, what’s the game-changer mentality question of the day. That’s it right there. That’s a game-changer.
Thank you for having me on the show and I want to thank everyone. I appreciate the valuable time that you trusted me, and I hope you got something useful.
I want to get you back on the show because we only talked about resilience. I know there’s much more to peak performance than resilience. It’s appropriate to spend time talking about resilience. I want to get into some other things too with you about the mindset prep and other things that we can talk about when it comes to peak performance. There’s one thing to bounce back but there’s endurance. There’s so much you can discuss. Let’s think about a time to get you back on so we can inform the audience. Thank you for coming on the show. It’s been a pleasure.
Thank you, Rodney. I appreciate it.
That’s another successful episode. This is another one you may want to repeat. You want to read it again and again, especially when it comes to routines. We’re always looking for a way. We spend thousands of dollars on coaches, self-development programs, and all kinds of things trying to get an edge. You learned three routines that you can put into your day that will help you. You’re talking about getting a decade of time back. You’re talking about a whole quarter that you may be losing in the game. As we were speaking, one thing I thought about that I want to share is that practicing peak performance isn’t sexy. Being in a peak performance state, that’s sexy. You have to practice. You can’t be in a peak performance state without the practice. If you want to be sexy, it’s like going to the gym. If you want to be healthy, you’ve got to eat right. It’s not sexy all the time, but when you’re healthy, it’s sexy. Until next time. Peace and love.
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