Great philosophers have done it. Modern-day creatives like Steve Jobs have done it. Many thought leaders in every area of business and endeavour do it every day. They go for a walk to think and create. Walking provides stimulation for the mind, gets the blood flowing, and activates the brain. The sedentary lifestyle that our work environments promote is one of our most significant health challenges. It is sad that when I searched for a photo for this post, so many images were of people walking and looking down at their phone. So what can be done? Set a task today and walk on it - around the streets, past the shops, around the block, to the park and back. Set one question to answer, and get after it. Go without your phone (oh, the horror!) and take a journal and pencil instead. When I asked Cal Newport, author of the best-selling book Deep Work, about his thinking process, his number one tip was “set a task and walk on it." Mark Twain said, "whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect." When everyone else is walking with their face in their phone, do you really want to be in the majority? I didn't think so.
Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge addressed the Oxford Union Society last November and gave listeners some insight into his training philosophy. Kipchoge, the winner of seven consecutive world-class marathons, said, "Only the disciplined ones are free in life. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods. You are a slave to your passions.” A lack of discipline affects every part of your life. Giving in to every distraction on your phone takes you away from loved ones. Giving in to the temptation to eat sugary junk food at meetings steals your energy, creativity and clarity of thought. Skipping a workout, sleeping in, putting things off, always running late - you know the story - are all discipline related, and they compound. They steal your mojo. Apply discipline to one small area of your day TODAY. Then pick another, and another and then that compounds in the right way.
Retired triathlete Simon Whitfield is a four-time Olympian and gold and silver medallist. When asked what he is doing now, he replied, “I’m being coached by my 80-year-old self.” I think this is such a cool concept. What sort of mental, physical and spiritual shape will you be in when you are 80? What are you doing to yourself now that you’re going to pay for when you are 80? How is your heart health, your creativity and imagination, your financial plan, the structure of your body, or even the status of your relationships as you look to 80? Chances are you don't think about these questions often, but these are essential questions to ask. Some people work themselves into the ground doing 60-70 hours a week with their face glued to the screen, trying to squeeze in a CrossFit session while living on caffeine and carbs. What would the 80-year-old you say to yourself?
The swimming coach said, “we will work on turns and then work on what to do off the turn. That’s the stuff many people don't want to do, but if you get it right, you can regain many seconds." It is as valid in life as it is in the pool. Do the hard stuff that others see as too hard. Do the boring things that others do not want to do. Surely this has to give you the edge -- the extra seconds that produce a winning margin. When I interviewed Dan Gregory from the Impossible Institute for the Mojo Radio Show, I asked Dan where does one start to create a culture of innovation in their business. Dan said, “innovate the boring." Don’t go for the shiny stuff that everyone else sees. Find systems, processes, products and services that are ignored and start there. Look at the things others overlook and take time to ponder and think what if.
For as long as I can remember, I always dreamed of representing Australia. As a kid I thought it would be in cricket, wearing a baggy green cap in a test match at the MCG. Then recently, I received a call from Vistage, a global organisation that brings together CEOs from around the world to enhance their performance. They asked if I could represent Australia on their International Speakers of the Year stage in San Diego, California. So on Sunday in front of 1000 global chairman, I finally represented Australia delivering my keynote speech, “Who Stole My MOJO?" The experience reminded me that we should never let go of our dreams. Hang on to them for dear life. They have a magical way of manifesting, sometimes in ways we never thought possible. Most of all, do not let others steal, inhibit or squash your dreams. Dreams can be fragile, so guard them well. As long as you keep the dream alive, and give it your best effort each day, your dream will come true in one way or another. The last word goes to Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Quite often I share lessons I have learnt from Bruce Lee. As an actor, martial artist, director, and founder of his own Kung Fu style (Jeet Kune Do), he had quite the long list of talents. Most incredibly, his achievements are not all in the same domain. From martial arts to film to poetry, Bruce Lee never limited himself to any one field. Bruce Lee's tremendous success was in part due to his unique personal philosophy, which was based on ancient wisdom. According to Lee, the key to success is to continually discover and learn new approaches and information while questioning the status quo that boxes us in.
He once wrote:
"Learning is definitely not mere imitation, nor is it the ability to accumulate and regurgitate fixed knowledge. Learning is a constant process of discovery, a process without end. Unfortunately, most students are conformists. Instead of learning to depend on themselves for expression, they blindly follow their instructors, no longer feeling alone, and finding security in mass imitation. The product of this imitation is a dependent mind. Independent inquiry, which is essential to genuine understanding, is sacrificed."
Read, learn, listen, and watch on a wide variety of topics that feed and illuminate your mind and creative spirit. Process it, ponder it, challenge it. Then most importantly, take your learning and produce something that is uniquely your own.
I am not a big believer in New Year's resolutions. Within weeks or even days, they disappear, only to be a vague memory of a broken promise. Instead, I choose to adopt a word for the year. Here is a story about picking your word which I first shared in The Espresso last year and is worth revisiting:
This time of year most people have made their resolutions. And generally, these promises we make to ourselves fall by the wayside. One approach that has longevity for the year ahead is to choose a word that will serve as your theme. I recently heard someone say their word was 'contribution.' It would be their year of contributing to themselves, to the planet, to their family, to their friends and the community. For me, my word last year was agility. It was my year to focus on stretching, mobility and all-round strength, wellness, endurance and balance. By focusing on a word, you can then work out the pieces that need to be pulled together to achieve that word. Gary Keller, the author of The One Thing, one of my favourite books of last year, wrote, "what's the one thing I can do, such that by doing it everything else is easier or unnecessary?" Choose your one word and put it in the front of your mind. Write it on the mirror of your bathroom, use it as a desktop screensaver, keep it on the front of your journal or post it on the dashboard of your car. Put your word somewhere where you will see it regularly. Break it down into smaller pieces and do one thing each day to move you towards your theme for the year ahead. So, what will your word be?
Well, that’s a wrap for The Espresso in 2017! I am truly grateful to each of you for taking the time to subscribe and read this publication. I am always humbled by our readership and appreciative when you write to me to comment, suggest a story or simply to send thanks. So to all, thank you and have a ripper break with your loved ones. Last year I ran my first MOJO Live and Straight Up event in Sydney, and the session sold out. I've received requests to run the event in Melbourne, so it’s happening in January 2018. It’s an opportunity for you to set your plans for the year ahead and to ensure that without question, you will have your mojo working in 2018. Spend a day with me at WeWork Melbourne and get your mojo working next year. Numbers are limited, and that’s not just a pitch!
Christmas is a special time. For me, it means being close to loved ones, sharing smiles, enjoying meals without distraction, reflecting on the year, and being grateful for what we have right now. How will your Christmas break look? If you haven’t thought about your Christmas break yet, take a moment to visualise exactly how wonderful your break will be. Regardless of what you are doing and who you are with, there is power in taking the time now to visualise what a happy Christmas is to you and those you love. Head over to a library, a bookstore or your bookshelf and make a pile of books that you will read over the Christmas break. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, you need to feed your mind and recover. Christmas is traditionally a time for indulgence, so it is best to set some rules to help limit the damage. You'll thank yourself when you're not starting the new year behind the eight ball. Above all, make this a special Christmas and be in the moment, not on your screen. Have the foresight to create your own Christmas moments as none of us know how many Christmas moments we will get. © GB
Recently I interviewed speed reading expert Abby Marks Beale, and during the interview, I mentioned that I was experimenting with listening to podcasts at 1.5 times the normal speed. I asked Abby what data existed on listening to podcasts at faster speeds and whether speed listening has the same impact as speed reading? Abby suggested that although there is no research at this point, it could well be more beneficial because at quicker speeds you have to listen more intently to stay with the conversation. I certainly have found it very helpful. It turns out that listening to podcasts at faster speeds is a thing - it’s called podfasting, and those that do it are podfasters. Neuroscientist Uri Hassan, whose Hassan Lab at Princeton studies brain responses to real-life events, examined how the brain processes sped-up speech. He points out that even at a normal speed, most people don’t catch every single word, but “if you make it one-third faster, it's almost perfect - they don't lose a lot." According to Hassan, brain responses become slower when we speak slowly and faster when we speak fast. Comprehension starts to break down around two times the normal speed, and at three times it really breaks down. There are those that can listen at ten times the normal speed, but I've never been a fan of the Chipmunks. If you are into podcasting, it may be worthwhile to experiment with podfasting. It allows you to get through more episodes and by doing so, increases your learning capacity. There are occasions, however, when immersing yourself in a wonderful conversation at the normal speed is just what the doctor ordered.
This week while delivering a keynote in Sydney, I met an attendee named Mark who just came off a 19-week training program and was set to compete in an Ironman event. Anyone who completes an Ironman has earned respect in my book. It's not just the race but the training - hundreds of hours of training. Mark was in the taper period to allow his body to recover from all the training, get strong, and prepare for the race ahead. I said to him, the work is done, now it’s a mind game. It’s funny that while talking to Mark, I thought about most corporate athletes like those reading this blog. The difference is the corporate athlete goes 52 weeks of the year and will even check emails and make calls on holiday. When is it the taper period for the corporate athlete? Where is it okay to put your feet up, not work hard, or not progress from one session to the next? When is it okay to eat well, get loads of sleep, read, and prepare for the next event? Over Christmas, it’s time to taper. Your corporate world is a 365 Ironman. We go hard at it all day long, and without a taper and recovery, we burn out. More and more people tell me they feel empty, that they lack direction, feel unmotivated, and are not sure if they can get through the next week. This Christmas, know that you have done the work and you are entirely entitled to your taper period. 2018 will be another Ironman so don’t feel guilty taking a break. That is the trap many athletes fall into - they feel guilty, so they just do a little more than they should. Rookie mistake! Make sure you’re ready to go and get it.
I changed up my morning ritual recently. For the last two weeks, I've watched a motivational video from Impact Theory each day. The videos are inspiring, beautifully presented, and full of great messages. Do you know what happened next? Within an hour of watching a video, I'd find myself grinding away at work and any lesson, inspiration or thought I took away from the video was left behind. By mid-morning, I could barely remember what I watched. We often look to these videos, podcasts, and even keynote speakers for motivation to make our lives better. I’ve come to appreciate that motivation is not the answer. Motivation is not your friend. When it comes to getting stuff done what counts the most is that you do the work that you do not want to do. Discipline, hard work, consistency, repetition, and doing the things that stretch you are your friends. Motivation goes away, but the discipline and persistence of challenging yourself each day will take you to a place where others will look to you for inspiration. Regardless of whether it’s in business, your social life, or a charitable endeavour, each hour of the day there is a way to take the easy option. Don’t. Challenge yourself all day, every day to look for opportunities, even in the smallest way, to choose the more daring option. Now that’s motivating!
This week, while travelling on the bus to the city, I noticed a guy on his phone flickering through his photos. He was searching for pictures of his family. He would stop on a photograph, enlarge it and just stare and think. Not long ago on the Mojo Radio Show, I interviewed Emily Fletcher from Ziva Meditation in New York, and she spoke of the new science that looks at the positive effect of gratitude on the brain. What occurred to me as I watched this guy reflect on his photos rather than flick through them like an Instagram feed, is that he was genuinely thinking about who he loved and who loved him. There's loads of talk about the power of gratitude journaling, and photos are undoubtedly a powerful way to stimulate the gratitude connections in your brain, transporting you to an amazingly positive moment in your personal history. Emily said that by simply thinking about what you are grateful for, you are stimulating your brain - making it healthier, stronger and creating new connections. We have those moments in our pockets at all times, and it makes us remember that Kodak was not in the photo business, they were in the memory business. So here is my suggestion, next time you find yourself with a moment to kill, and you are tempted to check your social media feed, your email, or your text messages - stop. Instead, go to your photo album and open a photo of a beautiful moment in the past where you were surrounded by the people you love and those that love you. Reflect, be grateful and take a moment - it's good for your Mojo, for your brain, and goodness knows what else. Make it a daily ritual - when you grab your cup of coffee grab a photo. When you sit on the bus, grab a photo. Before you walk in the door to greet your family after a long day, grab a photo. There is profound wisdom to be taken from the experience of the guy on the bus.
Cameron Smith is one of the greatest captains in the history of rugby -- he will go down as Australian Rugby League immortal. He's captained the record-breaking Maroons, the Melbourne Storm and is currently captaining Australia in the World Cup. Teammate Cooper Kronk has played next to Smith for well over a decade, and he recently said, 'I don’t remember him ever throwing me a bad pass.' Smith is a concrete player, someone who is consistently consistent. It's an amazing attribute to carry on and off the field since one of the most common challenges we face is that we often lack consistency. We see a video and get motivated, only to fall back into our old ways soon after. We go to a conference, walk away inspired, only to revert to old habits. Successful people in any area of life are consistently consistent. It’s finding the discipline and courage to hold yourself to the highest standard. Be a concrete player for yourself, your family, your health, your company, and your clients. Be that person they look to who holds the highest standard and is consistently consistent. © GB
Ever hear someone use that old chestnut, 'yeah, but it’s different in the real world.' The real world, in this case, is not an actual place but rather an excuse, a cop-out, a justification not to try. Those people convince themselves not to have a go on something that challenges them with the hope that if they say it with enough conviction, you will go along with it and join in their misery. Don’t listen to them. Have a go, step into uncharted territory and get uncomfortable. The only world is your world - right here, right now. Work out what matters most in your world and get after it. Leave the naysayers to wallow.
It's a delicate balance faced by most leaders to keep up with innovation and expectations while also keeping true to the integrity of their brand's history, culture, and heritage. We love the new Volkswagen Microbus which strikes this balance beautifully. Based on the photos, the Volkswagen Microbus is a super cool version of the historic Kombi. It's received an update as an electric vehicle, and rumour has it that production begins soon, with the new Microbus hitting the market in 2022. In our opinion, it pays clear homage to the iconic vehicle while updating for today's consumers. In an environment where everyone is after the next great idea, remember to look in the rearview mirror for just a second to remember where you originated and what made you stand out in the first place. What got you to where you are today? What do your raving fans love and admire about your brand? Glance back, before you charge ahead.
To kick-off to Roctober 2017 on The Mojo Radio Show, I interviewed co-founder of Spartan Race, Joe De Sena. To say kick-off, I mean he gave it a good kick in the guts! What an incredible guest to start Roctober. A listener wrote to me shortly after listening to the show to say, "Fantastic show. He's a guy that makes me feel inadequate." He then went on to highlight the lessons he learned from the show, and it got me thinking that how we read, see, and hear about success can make us feel in one of two ways. We can feel inadequate and compare ourselves to these successful people and say, "Oh, I would never be able to do something like that." Or we can look at their example and say, "What is my version of that? Where can I apply the same discipline, hunger, desire, and focus?" Joe would be the last person to say, "do what I do." Rather, he would encourage you to take the same attitude and discipline to see how much more you have to give in life. To apply that approach to YOUR passions, YOUR dreams, and YOUR purpose. As fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld said, "never compete, never compare." Take these learnings and create your desires and get after your life. To hear this fantastic interview with Joe De Sena, go to iTunes or click here.
So often we hear advice that tells us to get active wherever we can - in the gym, in the park, on the court - to work the body, lose weight, and get fit. It seems the most successful people in addition to working out their bodies, also work out their minds each day. Take for example Hollywood actor Will Smith who has a simple daily formula - run and read every day. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I love simplicity. This simple approach to do two things every day, something for your mind and something for your body, is sophisticated in its simplicity. Make a plan now, you don’t have to run, but you can move. You don’t even have to read; you can watch, listen or do. Each day, find something that stretches your mind into new areas and makes your brain more fit than it was yesterday. Books and education in whatever form are good for brain fitness, and we know from volumes of data that you can enhance the ability of your brain through learning, stretching, and nutrition. Is the focus of your attention adding value to your day? If not, start to run and read.
One of the greatest gifts of The Mojo Radio Show is having an opportunity to interview incredible leaders working in diverse fields across the globe. The most common attribute amongst great leaders is humility and authenticity. They don't believe that just because they've read a book on servant leadership, that they are suddenly an expert. Real leaders are living, breathing examples of their values. The opposite is the person who reads a book, then runs to give courses to their team, spruikes about the importance, and rattles off quotes. Their intent is, "I want this..., I think we should..., and here’s my strategy...” They can't wait to get in front of an audience to talk about their achievements. (Who are they serving apart from themselves?) Game recognises game, so before you claim to be an expert rattling off claims from the latest book or blog, make sure you have your game right, that you've done it, lost it, got it back again and have the experience to back it up.
Have you ever wondered what you’re capable of if you just sat and thought about the possibilities? In this chaotic world of multi-tasking and the need to keep in touch, this can impact on our levels of distraction. I am always curious to find out what someone could really do if they got rid of the distractions and sat quietly, thought, and dreamt.
It’s been said that we can see what's hidden from view with silence and stillness. Yet today it’s so hard to do. Those that make it a priority for themselves can unlock their own personal possibilities. See, when you just sit and think and extract yourself from the distractions, you suddenly get in touch with yourself, your true self, your own thoughts, and in some cases your negative voices. That can be a scary thought for many of us so we hide behind the world of distraction. So perhaps it is time to be brave!
Start the process today. Make a time in your diary for tomorrow to spend 5 or 10 minutes, maybe more, just sitting in silence quite still with your journal - thinking. Write down pondering words that interest you. We may just start to glimpse what’s hidden from view by our usual distractions, through sitting with silence and stillness. It may take some time to become comfortable with this exercise, so make it a daily ritual to commit at some point in your day the time to immerse yourself in stillness and silence.
The Stoics did it. Ben Franklin, Mark Twain and George Lucas did it. Linked In founder Reid Hoffman and chess prodigy, and author Josh Waitzkin do it. They all journal. Each has their own particular method and reason for journalling. It is a commonality in 9 out of 10 people that I interview on the Mojo Radio Show.
What I find curious is that many people who journal to record learnings, articulate their dreams, record brainstorming notes, or jot actions from their meeting feel like they are out of the digital technology loop by using pen and paper. This post is about telling you it’s okay. It’s okay to go old school and use pen and paper to think. You don’t have to record digitally if you lean towards pencil and paper. The great didn’t, and future greats will continue to do it.
I would say that each person should use the systems or processes that they feel work best for them. Research has shown that by using a digital device to take down notes you are ‘recording’ – as opposed to ‘comprehending’ when you use a pen and paper –ie: when you write, you are understanding the learning and taking it in with context.
It is up to you to use what works best for you, but don’t be discouraged by those who think that pen or pencil and paper are archaic. There is something magical about a beautiful pen and a stylish journal that helps you dream and learn using colour, doodles, drawings and illustrations on paper. It’s OK!
If you are looking for a journal that is a bit different, check out the Mojo journal, the world’s first thought-provoking journal, beautifully illustrated and styled. It’s a combination of a book and a journal to help you unlock your great ideas.
Whilst I was in Melbourne last week, I met an intriguing lady during a creative session. During our conversation I learned that she was an Italian soprano. Naturally curious we spent some time talking about how one becomes an Italian soprano and how that skill is used. I was fascinated. It turns out that this young lady loved drama and it wasn’t until a drama teacher, who thought she may have some talent, suggested she try some singing as a soprano. Prior to this suggestion, she had never even entertained the thought. She cleverly decided to go with the opinion of her teacher and give it a go and the rest is history.
During the week I saw a paragraph written by genius Stephen Hawkings. He said "At school, I was never more than about halfway up the class. It was a very bright class. My classwork was very untidy, and my handwriting was the despair of my teachers. But my classmates gave me the nickname Einstein, so presumably they saw signs of something better. When I was twelve, one of my friends bet another friend a bag of sweets that I would never come to anything. I don't know if this bet was ever settled, and if so, which way it was decided.”
If you’re unsure about your passion in life, ask your closest friends, teachers, family members, and confidants and undoubtedly they will see something you don’t. The trick is to listen, think about it, and if something piques your interest, take action. Our immediate default is to disregard compliments, wipe them, and move on. Instead, listen, ponder, sleep on it, and if there is any interest at all, get after it. At least get out there and give it a go.
This edition of the Espresso is coming to you from the Olsen hotel in Melbourne Australia, a hotel part of the Art Series of hotels. What’s unique about the Arts Series Hotels is that each hotel is themed on a famous Australian artist. Every room, corridor, conference room, and public area is covered in art by John Olsen. Each day I read stories published by many business experts talking about having a point of difference (mind you many of them have no POD themselves). It’s become wallpaper. What’s your unique proposition, your point of difference, what will stand you apart from the rest?
Most leaders read this, acknowledge it, but then do nothing about it. 90% of the websites you visit today have no clear point of difference articulated beneath their logo or in the first part of their copy, let alone having staff who can clearly articulate what makes their company different and/or famous. Everyone talks about it, but so few can do it.
I was setting up for my speech in the conference room of the Olsen when I said to one of the staff ‘what’s the story with this hotel?’. He told me about the arts series of hotels and I believe is one of the few hotels that clearly has a point of difference to any other hotel I have visited in Australia. It’s a clear point of difference, demonstrated in every room, and articulated in both its back story and execution.
Everyone knows you need a point of difference but sadly so few companies have a brand that stands out. Audit yourself! Go to your website - check out the front page, look at your business card, email signature or the front door of your office and ask yourself ‘Am I telling my customer why I am different? Your customer needs to know why? Why you?’
After a speech I gave recently in Sydney one of the attendees approached me and said, as of tomorrow I am going to approach my day with intention and consciousness, I feel like I just got through my day, but I did not really control it, I did what everyone else wanted me to do, in their time. I was not consciously focused on my day, my steps towards my dreams, my essential tasks to take me to the dreams and aspirations I have?
This is a common issue facing many of us. We roll into our days with a to-do list, only to have our day interrupted by other people and their agendas. We never really focus on the most important tasks in each area of our lives in and out of work, in order to realise our dreams.
Remember, to win the day, it starts the night before. Tonight, plan out tomorrow: What’s the one thing that I must get nailed in my health, community, business, family, and write them onto your page with the action you will take regarding each of those items. To roll into a day with a massive to-do list and no clear focus as to the one most important thing in each area of your day, is to live by other people’s agendas and not to live with true consciousness and intention.