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#186 100 Questions

An Exercise to Create a Meaningful Life
In our last +1 we met our Angel’s Advocate via Michael Gelb’s great book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. Here’s another
+1s

#1 +1 or -1 = Destiny Math

What Must YOU be?
Abraham Maslow studied the greatest people of his generation. People like Eleanor Roosevelt and Albert Einstein. He told us about the
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#19 How to Build Your Grit

The 4 Key Scientific Variables
Angela Duckworth created the science of Grit. It’s fascinating. She defines it as intense passion + intense perseverance. In short,
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#6 WOOP! There It Is

The Science of Making Your Dreams a Reality
Gabriele Oettingen is a world-class researcher who has spent her career studying the science of making your dreams come to life. In her book
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#73 Identity → Behaviors → Feelings

Not the Other Way Around

Continuing our theme of feelings following behavior, let’s chat about some wisdom from the author of Resilience. He's a fascinating guy. Rhodes

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#4 Your Infinite Potential

And Where to Find It
Phil Stutz and Barry Michels wrote a great book called The Tools. There are five Tools in the book and we may chat about others later but I
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#258 You vs. Your Problems

Size Yourself Up then Step Up!
In our last +1, we talked about the fact that the law does not concern itself with trifles and we busted out some old-school Latin and
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#200 The 5 (Greek) Keys to Optimizing

Areté + Eudaimonia + en*theos + Hērōs + Euthymia
We’re hitting another exciting milestone in our +1 series today: #200. Let’s celebrate in style. We celebrated #100 with one of my
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#50 Perfectionist vs. Optimalist

Which Are You?

Speaking of perfectionism, let’s look at the essence of Tal Ben-Shahar’s great book The Pursuit of Perfect. Tal is one of the world’s leading positive psychologists.

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#23 Dominoes

Ready to Amplify Your Latent Potential by 2 Billion?
Are you familiar with the physics of dominoes? It’s fascinating. And wonderfully applicable to the power of lining up a series of
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#281 How to Learn Optimism

Enter: The 3 P’s: Permanence + Pervasiveness + Personalization
In our last +1, we talked about Martin Seligman and the science of flourishing. Quick recap: It’s all about PERMA: Positive Emotion +
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#62 "That's Like Me!"

How to Optimize Your Self-Image
Whether you’re an athlete, entrepreneur, teacher, parent, manager, or — fill in the blank here —, what percentage of your game do you
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#13 Good Bad Days

Mastering the Art of Playing Badly Well
Jack Nicklaus once said that the real key to being a great golfer was “playing badly well.” It’s one thing to play well when
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#65 Sacrifices vs. Decisions

There’s a Big Difference between the Two
George St-Pierre is one of the greatest mixed martial artists in the world. Ever. Of course, he wasn’t always one of the greatest. At one
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#72 Now What Needs to Be Done?

Remember: Feelings Follow Behavior
David Reynolds wrote what might be the best book you (and most other people) have never heard of. It’s called Constructive Living. David
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#357 Big 3: Decade View + Core Habits

Energy + Love + Work ← Yours?
In our last couple +1s we talked about taking the decade-long view of our lives. Then we chatted about how to create great days
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#87 Swimming Rats

How to Increase Your Endurance by 240x (!!!)
Although I’m not a huge fan of some of the drawbacks of animal testing, this study is astonishing and worth knowing about. Get this: In
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#1005 Thoughts + Heartbeats

Meditating? Thoughts Are NOT Your Enemy!
Emily Fletcher was a Broadway performer living the dream. Only… Her hair was graying at 27, she was always stressed and had chronic
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#7 Handy Dandy Motivational Calculator

The Science of Solving the Procrastination Equation

Piers Steel is a leading research scientist. After analyzing hundreds of studies on motivation, he came up with a little equation to

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#268 The 4 Disciplines of Execution

Here They Are: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4
Stephen Covey’s son Sean wrote a great book with some other smart guys from FranklinCovey called The 4 Disciplines of Execution. I picked
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#8 Motivation = ENERGY x (Value x Expectancy / Impulsivity x Delay)

A Modified Look at the Science of Motivation
Yesterday we talked about our motivation equation. You know: Motivation = Value x Expectancy / Impulsivity x Delay Quick re-cap: Our
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#29 The Stockdale Paradox

I’m Confident It’ll Happen AND… I Know It Will be Challenging
Vice Admiral James Stockdale was shot down during the Vietnam War. He spent seven and a half years in a brutal prison camp. He spent four of
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#27 "I'm Excited!"

What to Say to Yourself When You’re Feeling Nerves
Alison Wood Brooks is a researcher at Harvard Business School. She studies the most effective strategy for dealing with acute stress. First,
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#700 UPERSIST!

How to Be Unstoppable
In our last +1, we talked about you feasting on your Hero Bars—using memories of your past success as fuel to walk through fear doors
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#111 Self-Efficacy

The Science of Confidence
Albert Bandura is one of the most respected psychologists in the world. He studies the science of self-efficacy. Also known as: The science
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#492 Sweeping Streets with Martin Luther King

Like Shakespeare, Beethoven and Michelangelo
In our last +1, we talked about Martin Seligman’s ideas on the science of having a Job vs. a Career vs. a Calling. I proposed we aim to
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#309 The Definition of Hell

Meeting the Person You Could Have Become
In Getting Grit, Caroline Adams Miller walks us through the science of grit and then helps us apply it to our lives. One of the main lessons
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#76 Victim vs. Creator

Two Questions: "Why Me?" vs. "What Do I Want?"
David Emerald wrote a great book called The Power of TED*. In it, he makes the distinction between being a Victim vs. being a Creator. The
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#597 The Price of Success

Let’s Figure It Out and Pay It
In our last +1, we talked about paying the price to achieve our wildly important goals—whatever they may be. I shared a partial accounting
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#3 How to High Five Your Inner Daimon

My Philosophy in One Word
To the extent that there’s a gap between who you’re capable of being in any given moment and who are actually being in that moment, you
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#324 Masterpiece Day Checklist

How to Reduce Masterpiece Day Mortality Rates by 47%
In our last +1 we talked about the three reasons why we err: necessary fallibility (we’re not omniscient and some things are outside of
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#16 Relentless Solution Focus

60 Seconds of Whining and Then You're On!
Jason Selk is one of the world’s leading mental toughness coaches. He tells us that the best among us have a “relentless solution
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#496 An Indestructible Mind

The Creation Of
In our last +1, we talked about inviting the Conquering Hero to your mind-wandering party and escorting out the Suffering (Whiney) Martyr.
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#653 Want Better Habits? Start With Who

Identity = “Repeated Beingness”
Continuing our quick tour through James Clear’s Atomic Habits, let’s talk about the importance of your Identity in forming better habits
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#669 Three Forms of Discipline

Yoda Says: 1. Reactive + 2. Structural + 3. Expansive
In our last +1, we talked about the two facets of Emotional Stamina. Recall: The WORSE you feel, the MORE committed you are to your
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#201 Creative vs. Reactive

Choose One Before the Other (If You Want to Actualize Your Potential)
Creative and reactive. Two words with the same exact letters. Just a slightly different placement of that “c.” But, alas, that “c”
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+1s

#2 The #1 Key to Happiness + Flourishing

Hint: Become BFFs with your Inner Soul
Imagine your ideal self. Smiling and waving at you. See ‘em?! (Seriously. Take a deep breath/10 seconds and bring that epically awesome
Locked +1s

#78 AM + PM Bookends

How to Create Masterpiece Days: Start Here!
In The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy makes the important point that we have more control over the very beginnings of our day and the very
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#381 Seneca: The Worse a Person Is the Less He Feels It

Aurelius: Don’t Like Yourself? Why Would I Care Whether or Not You Like Me?
Continuing our good times with our Stoic friends, how about couple more gems from Seneca and Aurelius? Seneca once said, “The worse a
Locked +1s

#22 Acres of Diamonds

Got Any Priceless Gems in Your Backyard?
In our last +1 we had fun with our new mantra: “No pressure, no diamonds.” Continuing the diamond theme, let’s talk about Acres of
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#41 OMMS

The Hero’s Mantra

Ultimately, what we want to get *really* (!!!) good at alchemizing any and all challenges into fuel for the bonfire that is our

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#18 Deo Volente + Thy Will Be Done

Wisdom from Apollo, the Patron God of Philosophy
Deo volente. It’s Latin for “God willing.” The ancient Stoics told us that it’s important to have clear goals but we need to qualify
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#598 How to Use Our Optimizing Tools

Hint: Practice THE MOMENT You Need It
A little while back, we talked about the keynote talk I was getting ready to present (as part of the Pritzker Group Venture Capital’s
Locked +1s

#10 Antifragile

vs. Resilient vs. Fragile
In his great book Antifragile, Nassim Taleb walks us through the fact that there’s a big difference between being fragile, being
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#348 The Four Agreements

In Less Than Four Minutes
Don Miguel Ruiz wrote The Four Agreements. His classic little book has sold over 5 million copies in the US and has been translated into 38
+1s

#47 Quick How to on Habits

100% on ONE Keystone Daily Micro Habit
So, we’re ready to go ALL IN and make that 100% commitment with super bright lines. Fantastic. But here’s the deal. First: We need to
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#274 The Power of Micro Wins

Wisdom from the Head of Research at Harvard Biz School
Continuing our theme of spending time with some of the best productivity thinkers on the planet, let’s cruise on over to Harvard Business
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#252 Consistency over Intensity

The Secret Sauce to Awesome Sauce
After selling my first business over fifteen years ago, I had enough money to spend some time figuring out what I wanted to do when I grew
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#21 The Rise of Superyou

Introducing a New Mantra: “No Pressure, No Diamonds.”
Steven Kotler wrote a great book called The Rise of Superman. In it, he challenges some myths of mastery—telling us that it’s not so
Locked +1s

#51 Two Easies

Easy to Do. Easy Not to Do.
Jim Rohn tells us that our success in life is all about the two easies. It’s all about consistently doing the tiny (!) fundamentals that
Locked +1s

#312 5 Steps to Success

Ray Dalio’s Model for Supercrushing
Ray Dalio is one of the most successful people alive. Time magazine says he’s one of the 100 most influential people on the planet while
Locked +1s

#45 Bright Lines

How to Make Good Contracts with Yourself
I dropped out of law school before a semester was over but I do remember one Big Idea from Contracts class. Lawyers like to say that a
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+1s

#282 How to Be Charismatic

Science Says: Presence + Power + Warmth
Charisma. Most people think it’s something you either have or you don’t have. But… That’s a myth. As Olivia Fox Cabane tells us in
Locked +1s

#1004 The Cardinal Virtues

Of Stoicism + Science + Optimize
The other day we chatted about my recent staycation with my Stoic friends. (btw: Laughing as I type this but you know what I do when I’m
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#325 The Psychology of Hope

Goals + Willpower + Waypower
Rick Snyder was the founder of research into the science of hope. And, he was one of the pioneers of the positive psychology movement. In
Locked +1s

#714 Noli Timere

<- “Be Not Afraid” (= The #1 Phrase in the Bible)
In our last +1, we spent some time hanging out with my friend Katherine Collins who is, I am quite sure, the only human on the planet who
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#31 "Needs work!"

What to Say to Yourself When Things Don’t Go as Planned
What do you say to yourself when things don’t go as planned? It could be in the middle of a big game or creative project or dinner
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#656 The 4 Laws of Behavior Change

Make It: Obvious + Attractive + Easy + Satisfying
In our last number of +1s, we’ve been having fun swimming in and out of the Atomic Habits pool. Most recently, we had fun measuring
Locked +1s

#85 50 Pounds = A

How to Master the Fear of Art
Imagine this: It’s your first day of art class. You signed up for an intro class on pottery. (Nice! Go you!) The teacher does something a
Locked +1s

#192 Death Cookies

Fuel for the Journey to Your Infinite Potential
Continuing our theme of how to become Antifragile Heroes, let’s look at another way to rock it. A couple +1s ago we talked about
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#1020 Learning Cycles

And How to Optimize Them
In our last +1, we talked about the PM ritual Pythagoras came up with 2,500 years ago (!) that the Stoics liked to follow: Allow not sleep
Locked +1s

#32 Active Love

How to Get Out of a Mental Maze When Someone’s Annoying You
Here’s another really powerful tool from The Tools guys, Phil Stutz and Barry Michels. Use this tool whenever you find yourself in one of
Locked +1s

#9 Simmer vs. Boil

Let's Turn Up the Heat
Have you ever heard of “activation energy”? It’s a chemistry thing. The dictionary tells us that it’s “the minimum quantity of
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#5 3:59.4

How to Run a 4-Minute Mile and/or Do Other "Impossible" Stuff
At this point, most of us know that Roger Bannister was the first person to break the 4-minute mile. Very smart people of his era said that
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#630 Want to Be Great?

Find the Time. Find the Energy
In our last +1, we talked about LeBron James and the fact that he tries to get 11 to 12 hours of sleep per day when he’s training. (So
Locked +1s

#181 Energizers vs. Enervators

The Art & Science of How to Take a Good Break
We know it’s important to take good breaks. We want to work for a certain period of time (NASA says no more than 90 minutes or so) and
Locked +1s

#191 Infinite Optionality

The Ticket to Antifragility
Let’s talk some more about how to become Antifragile. We’ve already talked about it on a high level. Super quick recap: If you’re
Locked +1s

#97 Turning Around Glitches

What True Confidence Looks Like and How to Build It
True confidence doesn’t come from thinking everything will always go perfectly. That’s crazy. In fact, as Phil Stutz pointed out in one
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#452 The Space

Between Stimulus and Response
Viktor Frankl was a remarkable human being. He was a leading psychotherapist before suffering the horrors of Nazi concentration camps. He
Locked +1s

#106 Reverse Indicators

How to Interpret Your Encounters with Dragons
So, let’s say you’ve decided to embark on a heroic quest. It’s time for you to leave the normal, routine life and really go for
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#48 How to Avoid Habit Suicide

OK to Suck. Not OK to Skip.
Let’s say you’re building a new habit a la the Quick How to on Habits +1. We talked about the importance of picking something that fires
Locked +1s

#238 The 4.5-Hour Workday

Science Says: It's the Magic Number for Greatness
Continuing our theme of making waves and riding them to greatness, let’s learn a little more about how Tony Schwartz applies this wisdom
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#523 The Power of Solitude

Clarity + Creativity + Emotional Balance + Moral Courage
In our last +1, we talked about an exercise to get a little more clarity on the trade-offs you might be making in regard to your top
Locked +1s

#88 Hope: Leadership’s Secret Sauce

How to Increase Engagement from 1% to 69%
While we’re chatting about the science of hope, let’s focus on a key leadership stat. First, imagine yourself as a leader. (Which, of
Locked +1s

#207 Idiosyncratic Optimizing

Creating Your Own Unique Mixture of Awesome
Idiosyncratic. Isn’t that a fun word? Idiosyncratic. I just love saying it. And, I love the meaning and etymology as well. The definition
Locked +1s

#405 The Dreaded “U-Lag" on Your Heroic Quest

And How to Conquer It
Returning to our Hero’s journey theme, imagine yourself at the start of an epic journey. You’re looking out across a canyon. You can see
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#326 Napitations

Nap + Meditation = Magic
The other day I was taking a little napitation and I thought to myself, “Self, you should do a +1 on Napitations.” So, here we are. 🤓
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#356 5 Core Habits

How to Consistently Create GREAT Days
In our last +1, we talked about Matthew Kelly’s encouragement to slow down, step back, and take the decade view on our lives. Quick check
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#63 “That’s NOT Like Me!”

Part II on How to Optimize Your Self-Image
In our last +1 we had fun cultivating a strong Self-Image via “That’s like me!” imprints. Quick recap: All the elite performers agree:
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#389 The 80/20 180°

First Steps in Moving from Theory to Therapy

Today we have a Heroic +11. (Hah.) Although this one’s longer than the normal installment, I hope you find it helpful! As we discussed

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#327 1-Minute WOOP

Inhale. Exhale. W O O P!
The other day I had a coaching call with an Optimizer. It’s always super fun to have a chat with someone who’s ALL IN. In addition to
Locked +1s

#678 A Quick Trip to Hell

How to Avoid That As Frequent/Ultimate Destination
In Greatest Year Ever 2019, we kicked the party off by reminding ourselves of the ultimate game we’re playing—leaning into Aristotle’s
Locked +1s

#49 Floors and Ceilings

How to Be an Imperfectionist
Stephen Guise wrote a great little book called How to Be an Imperfectionist. As a still-recovering perfectionist, I found it very useful.
Locked +1s

#638 Yes Lives in the Land of No

Want a Big YES from Life?! Embrace the No's.
In our last +1, we talked about mastering Ownish and noticing when we slip into Victimese. (We also talked about going all in and mastering
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#219 Begin with the End in Mind

Habit #2 of Highly Effective People
In our last +1, we talked about Stephen Covey’s Habit #1: Be Proactive. How? Be response-able. Step into the gap between stimulus and
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#280 How to Flourish

Science Says: PERMA
Martin Seligman is basically the Godfather of the Positive Psychology movement. He’s written a number of seminal books on the science of
Locked +1s

#606 Parenting: 3 Tips

Lessons on How to Be a Great Dad
At the end of my recent talk I keep on talking about 😉, one of the CEOs came up and asked me how to apply the wisdom I shared to his
Locked +1s

#43 Compound Magic

The Power of Embracing the Mundane, Unsexy Pennies in Our Lives
You’ve probably heard the whole “magic of compounding interest as told through the doubling penny” story. Fantastic. It’s worth
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#11 Psychological Flexibility

A Hallmark of Happy Humans
Dan Siegel is one of the world’s leading mindfulness / neuroscience / interpersonal neurobiology experts. Dan tells us that the healthy
Locked +1s

#17 Bring Forth

How to Be a Wise Parent (for Yourself + Others)
As you might have noticed, it’s easy to stress ourselves out as we strive to step up to our heroic potential. So… We need to make sure
Locked +1s

#590 The 4-Hour Workday

The Magic Number for Greatness?
In our last +1, we talked about the fact that we need to train our recovery the same way we train our Deep Work. We want to create nice,
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#34 The Science of Self-Compassion

Three Keys: Self-Kindness + Common Humanity + Mindfulness
As we go ALL IN on Optimizing our lives, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. That’s when the science of Self-Compassion comes in. The science
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+1s

#96 Win or Learn

Three Questions to Ask after a Disappointing Performance
Lanny Bassham won a gold medal in rifle shooting in the 1976 Olympics. But he didn’t win that gold until AFTER he kinda fell apart in the
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#82 Suffering = Pain x Resistance

An Important Lesson on How to Reduce Suffering
In her great book Self-Compassion, Kristin Neff shares a little equation that can help us reduce our suffering. It goes like this: Suffering
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#349 Spiritual Economics

Your New Wealth Vocabulary
Eric Butterworth was a Unity minister in New York City. He wrote a great book called Spiritual Economics that helped me integrate my
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#109 Being Exonerated

Is NEVER Going to Happen (Sorry to Break the News!)
In our last +1, I casually mentioned the fact that our heroic reframing of challenges is something we will work on forever. Yes, I literally
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#133 The Serenity Prayer

Serenity + Courage + Wisdom = A Winning Combo
In our last +1 we talked about Byron Katie’s idea that you can be in one of three businesses: someone else’s business, God’s business
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#12 Keep Shooting

A True Story About Moving thru Some Serious Obstacles
Once upon a time (1938 to be precise) there was a pistol shooter. He was incredibly good. Hoped to be the very best, in fact. Unfortunately,
Locked +1s

#160 Presence

Expanding into Your Best Self
In our last +1, we talked about the fact that the word courage comes from the Latin word for “heart.” Just as our heart pumps blood to
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#100 Euthymia

How to Live with Energized Tranquility
First: Welcome to our 100th +1. It’s a special milestone. Kinda excited about it. 😃 Let’s celebrate it with one of my favorite words
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+1s

#68 Law of Leadership: DWYSYWD

Do *You* Do What You Say You Will Do?
Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner are two of the world’s leading academic researchers on the science of leadership. They offer us a few
Locked Philosophers Notes

Deep Work

Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Deep Work. It’s the key to how you get So Good They Can’t Ignore You—which, of course, is the title of another one of Cal’s great books. Big Ideas include Deep Work vs. Shallow Work, how to give your neurons a workout, cleaning up attention residue, the four rules of deep work, finding the routine that works for you and learning how to shut down completely.

Philosophers Notes

Atomic Habits

An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

James Clear has a super-popular website (jamesclear.com). Millions of people visit it every month and hundreds of thousands subscribe to his email newsletter. After reading this book, I can see why. He’s a great writer and distills the essence of habit formation into, well, its fundamental components—the “atomic” structure if you will—while showing us how those TINY little incremental improvements add up to MIGHTY results. I rarely say a book is a must-read but this one’s as close as it gets. Big Ideas we explore include: The math behind 1% gains compounding over a year (and a decade!), navigating the Plateau of Latent Potential (ever given up on a habit? Take note!), the importance (and etymology) of our Identity (get this: it *literally* means 'repeated being ness'), The 4 Laws of Behavior Change (remember: cue + craving + response + reward and... make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, make it satisfying), and the Sorites Paradox (can a single habit change your life?).

Philosophers Notes

The Tools

Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity

The Tools. This was easily the best book I read in 2012. It's *packed* with goodness. Stutz and Michels are two no-nonsense therapists who developed powerful tools to transform our problems into courage, confidence, and creativity. In this Note, we'll take a quick peek at how to put these powerful tools to work to create real change in our lives.

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Locked Philosophers Notes

Grit

The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Angela Duckworth is the world’s leading authority on the science of grit. In fact, she pioneered the field and, as Daniel Gilbert says on the cover: “Psychologists have spent decades searching for the secret of success, but Duckworth is the one who found it.” In this Note, we explore the two facets of grit (hint: passion + perseverance, why they’re important and how to cultivate them.

Locked Philosophers Notes

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

This classic has sold 15 million copies and was the first self-development book I read back in the day (1995 to be precise). In this Note, we'll take a quick look at all 7 Habits—from being proactive (huge!) to beginning with the end in mind, putting first things first, thinking win/win, seeking first to understand, synergizing and sharpening the saw. Lots of goodness here to help us develop our character to create our ideal lives as we most fully give ourselves to the world.

Locked Philosophers Notes

Meditations

Marcus Aurelius was the Emperor-Philosopher of the Roman Empire and one of the most enlightened leaders ever. Meditations is a collection of journal entries he wrote to himself and in this Note, we'll explore some Big Ideas of his Stoic philosophy—from the importance of never confusing ourselves with visions of a lifetime all at once, to not worrying about what others think of us and living a life of purpose and service.

Locked Philosophers Notes

Tiny Habits

The Small Changes That Change Everything

BJ Fogg founded the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University. He is one of the world’s leading authorities on the science of behavior change. In this book, he introduces us to the core elements of his Fogg Behavior Model as we learn that habit change doesn’t need to be as hard as we make it. As BJ tells us: “We are not the problem. Our approach to change is. It’s a design flaw—not a personal flaw.” Big Ideas we explore include the three elements that drive behavior (B = MAP!), the ABCs of Tiny Habits (Anchor + (Tiny) Behavior + Celebration!), the power of anchor prompts (After I (ANCHOR), I will (NEW HABIT), and the power of celebration (get your Shine on!).

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Man's Search For Meaning

An Introduction to Logotherapy

Viktor Frankl survived the horrors of the holocaust and describes his Logotherapy in this classic book. In the Note, we'll explore the fact that our attitudes determine our happiness and that *no one* can ever take away the freedom for us to choose our response to any given situation. We'll also look at the importance of having a mission in life and that as we serve something bigger than ourselves, our happiness and success will follow.

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The Daily Stoic

366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living

This book combines two of my favorite things: Stoicism + Ryan Holiday’s wisdom. Stoicism was one of the most influential philosophy of the Roman world and has continued to influence many of history’s greatest minds. As Ryan says: It’s time to bring it back as a powerful tool “in the pursuit of self-mastery, perseverance, and wisdom.” This is one of the my favorite books ever. Big Ideas we explore: the #1 thing to know about Stoicism, how to create tranquility, a good answer to “What’s the latest and greatest?!,” the 2 essential tasks in life and the art of acquiescence (aka amor fati).

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Rethinking Positive Thinking

Inside the New Science of Motivation

Gabriel Oettingen is one of the world’s leading researchers in “The New Science of Motivation.” The basic idea of the book is captured in a clever image on the cover: Rose colored glasses with one lens cracked. Oettingen walks us thru the compelling research that demonstrates the power of seeing both the positive AND the challenges. When we contrast our wishes with the obstacles to their attainment we, almost magically, catalyze an extraordinarily higher level of performance.

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Mindset

The New Psychology of Success

Carol Dweck, Ph.D is a Stanford Professor and one of the world’s leading authorities on the science of motivation. She tells us that our “mindset”—how we see the world—determines a *huge* part of our overall happiness and well-being and achievement. In this Note, we’ll explore the difference between a “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset” and some Big Ideas on why we want to learn how to live from a growth mindset. And, of course, how to do it!

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Principles

Life and Work

Ray Dalio is one of the most successful people alive. In fact, Time magazine says that he’s one of the 100 most influential people on the planet while Fortune magazine tells us his company (Bridgewater Associates) is the 5th most impactful private company in the U.S. and Forbes tells us that he’s one of the 100 wealthiest people on the planet. All of which makes Dalio, to use his words, “believable” when it comes to discussing how to get what we want in life and work. Enter: Principles. Big Ideas we explore: how to evolve, what’s most important, meet the shapers, Principles #1 (Embrace reality and deal with it) + #2 (5-Step process to getting what you want in life), and the two AI’s: Artificial Intelligence + Ancient Intelligence.

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The ONE Thing

The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

The ONE Thing. What's yours? Gary Keller (his Keller-Williams real estate is THE largest real estate company in the world--I bet that was a ONE Thing goal at some point!) shares his wisdom in this BRILLIANT book. We'll have fun exploring a few of my favorite Big Ideas: dominoes + extreme Pareto and other goodness.

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The 5 Second Rule

Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage

Mel Robbins is funny, witty and wise. Her TEDx Talk (called How to stop screwing yourself over) is one of the most popular of all time, with more than 18 million views. This book is also super popular—with over 1,000 Amazon reviews. It’s pretty awesome. Actually, the book is REALLY (!) good. In fact, Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule might just be one of THE most elegantly efficient Tools we can use to close the gap between who we’re CAPABLE of being and who we’re ACTUALLY being. (Seriously.) Big Ideas we explore include The 5 Second Rule (and how/when to rock it), how to win the game of life (hint: start, stay in, for the long game!), excitement + anxiety (and how they feel the same in the body), managing distractions (today a good day?), and changing your life with one moment of everyday courage.

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Flourish

A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being

Martin Seligman is one of the founding fathers of the Positive Psychology movement and this is the third Note we’ve done on one of his books. (Check out the Notes on his other classics: Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness for more science of happiness goodness.) In this Note, we’ll explore his shift from Authentic Happiness Theory to Well-Being Theory as we wrap our brains around PERMA, his model of well-being that consists of Positive emotions + Engagement + Relationships + Meaning + Achievement. Good times.

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The Obstacle Is the Way

The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

Ryan Holiday is brilliant. So is this book. The ancient Stoics taught us how to not only accept challenges but to thrive on them. Ryan brings their wisdom to life with compelling stories of great peeps who have rocked it in the face of adversity. In the Note we'll take a quick look at the three keys to making obstacles work for us: Perception + Action + Will.

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The Compound Effect

Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success

Darren Hardy is the Publisher of SUCCESS magazine and knows a thing or 1,000 about success. It's all boiled down into this little manifesto on The Compound Effect. The equation? Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE. In the Note, we'll check out the power of compounding and how to welcome Mr. Mo to the party and create your greatest life.

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Why We Sleep

Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

Matthew Walker is one of the world’s leading neuroscientists and sleep experts. He’s a professor at UC Berkeley (and former professor at Harvard) who has spent decades studying why we sleep and how to, as per the sub-title of this book, unlock the power of sleep and dreams. As you know if you’ve been following along, I’m a HUGE advocate of Optimizing our sleep as a fundamental practice in Optimizing our lives. This book has made me EVEN MORE bullish about the power of sleep. The consequences of chronically depriving ourselves of the sleep we need? Well, they’re astonishingly devastating—dramatically increasing the odds of having everything from mood disorders to cancer (and everything else we don’t want). Big Ideas we explore include the fact that you're more likely to get struck by lightning than have the gene that let's you get by on less than the recommended sleep, the universality of sleep (even worms sleep!!), resetting baselines, the iPad effect (did you know how much using one before sleep messes w/your melatonin?), and some tips to Optimize your sleep TONIGHT!!!

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With Winning in Mind

The Mental Management System

This is a SHOCKINGLY good book. Want to get your mind right? Lanny Bassham, an Olympic gold medalist, has been teaching the art of mental training/peak performance for decades and this book tells us just how to rock it. In the Note, we'll look at the importance of making the process primary and other fundamentals of mental mastery.

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Everything Is Figureoutable

My wife Alexandra has been a huge fan of Marie’s for a long time. I knew she was awesome. But... As I told Alexandra: “I had no idea Marie was THAT awesome!!!” My excuse: I’ve been in hermit-mode and have done nothing but read books for 5 years (no blogs/videos/etc.) so I wasn’t able to get the full sense of Marie’s heroically brilliant and grounded and HILARIOUS power until this book came out. I’ve read and created PhilosophersNotes on well over 500 books. This is one of my ABSOLUTE (!) favorites of all time. I HIGHLY (!!!) recommend it. It’s in the same league as some of my other favorites like Deep Work Atomic Habits and The 5 Second Rule. (In fact, on my chalkboard right now, I actually have “EVERYTHING IS FIGUREOUTABLE” right above “5-4-3-2-1-GO!” ← Winning combo!) The book is PACKED (!) with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share a few of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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Happy Together

Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts

Suzie and James Pawelski are two of the world's leading positive psychology experts. James cofounded the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania with Martin Seligman while Suzie is a graduate of the program and a leading freelance writer and consultant. Together they've written an incredible book on "Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts." I’ve been waiting for a very long time for the book that would make me say: “READ THIS BOOK if you want to figure out how to integrate Ancient Wisdom + Modern Science + Practical Tools to Optimize your relationship.” And, well, THIS book is it. I HIGHLY recommend it. In fact, it's not only my #1 Love book recommendation, it's also cracked the Top 10 all-time greatest list. Big Ideas we explore include The Relationship Gym (hit it!), Aristotelian Lovers (the REAL Soul Mates), SNAP (James geniuses x2), Know Thy... (self and thy partner!), and Love Is an Action Verb (let's commit to flourishing together TODAY!).

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Coming Alive

4 Tools to Defeat Your Inner Enemy, Ignite Creative Expression & Unleash Your Soul’s Potential

I’m a HUGE fan of Phil and Barry's first book, The Tools. Coming Alive is kinda like The Tools Part 2. In this book, we get four new tools to go along with the original five tools. Big Ideas we explore include how to connect to our Life Force, defeat Part X (their name for that part of each of us that gets in the way), build our confidence and learn to see problems as gifts as we live a GREAT life.

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Unbeatable Mind

Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level

I'm convinced Mark Divine is a superhero. Seriously. And in Unbeatable Mind, the former Navy SEAL gives us the handbook on mental toughness. In the Note, we'll look at the keys to cultivating our confidence, the importance of cultivating our concentration, learning how to control our breathing and other goodness that will make you unbeatable.

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Presence

Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges

Amy Cuddy is awesome. Her TED talk is the 2nd most popular ever. This book is just as good. Learn the science of cultivating your personal power to bring your boldest self to your biggest challenges. Big Ideas we explore: self-affirmation theory, priming + nudges, the magic of expanding your body to increase your power, iHunch (how’s yours?), and the boldest you.

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The Bhagavad Gita

A Classic of Indian Spirituality

The classic text of Hinduism is *packed* with wisdom. In the Note, we take a super quick look at the context for the book and then jump into some powerful wisdom—including the importance of meditation, the fact that making mistakes is an inherent part of our growth process and the uber-importance of letting go of our attachment to results.

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The 80/20 Principle

The Secret to Success by Achieving More With Less

Did you know 20% of beer drinkers drink 80% of the beer? And that 20% of streets account for 80% of the traffic? And that most peeps wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time? And that 20% of customers/products usually account for about 80% of profits? Yepperz. In this Note, we’ll explore the 80/20 principle and how we can apply its power to every aspect of our lives to "achieve more with less."

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Self-theories

Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development (Essays in Social Psychology)

Carol Dweck is one of the world’s leading researchers on the science of motivation. This book is a collection of brief essays on various aspects of “self-theories.” It’s essentially a bridge between her extensive academic research studies and her popular book Mindset. It’s amazing. Big Ideas we explore include the two frameworks (entity vs. incremental) and their two goals (performance vs. learning), attributional retraining (aka learning the best way to respond to failure!), and moving from contingent self-worth to wholehearted self-esteem.

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Philosophers Notes

The How of Happiness

A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want

People often ask me what *one* book I would recommend they read. I never had an answer I felt good about until I read this book. It's amazing. The most comprehensive and readable look at what we *scientifically know* works to boost our happiness—from gratitude and exercise to optimism and kindness. (btw: The other #1 book I'd recommend? The PhilosophersNotes workbook. How can you beat 1,000 Big Ideas from 100 great books packed into 600 pages? ;)

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So Good They Can't Ignore You

Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

Cal Newport decodes the pattern of finding work that inspires us and tells us, as per the sub-title, “Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.” The title of the book comes from comedian Steve Martin’s advice to aspiring entertainers to “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

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Letters from a Stoic

by Seneca

Seneca. He was born around the same time as Jesus and was one of the leading figures in his Roman Empire. He was also one of history's leading Stoic philosophers (along with Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus who we also profile) and has some powerful wisdom to share. In this Note, we'll explore the purpose of philosophy, the importance of focusing our attention and the mojo that comes from facing our fears.

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Peak

Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

Anders Ericsson is the world’s leading scientist studying expert performance—looking at how, precisely, the people who are the best in the world at what they do became the best. In this Note, we take a quick look at The Gift that we all have that’s the key to our potential greatness, HOW to go about tapping into the benefits of that gift via a certain type of practice (forget naive practice and go for purposeful + deliberate!), the fact that there is no such thing as a “10,000 Hour Rule,” and why we should be called Homo Exercens rather than Homo Sapiens. :)

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Motivation and Personality

Abraham Maslow tells us, "What one can be, one must be!" (OMG I love that.) He was a 20th century humanistic psychologist who came up with the hierarchy of needs and studied the most exceptional people of his era. In this Note, we'll explore some of the Big Ideas on how we can be all that we're destined to be and look at some of the characteristics of those self-actualizing human beings who're rockin' it.

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Flow

The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Flow. It's all about the science of optimal human experience. In this Note, we'll explore what the flow state is (hint: get fully engaged in an activity that matches your skills with your challenge) and we’ll look at some other Big Ideas on controlling the contents of our consciousness to get out of anxiety and boredom as we create more flow experiences in our lives. (Plus, you'll even learn how to pronounce "Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.")

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Stillness Is the Key

This is our fourth Note on one of Ryan Holiday’s books. Ryan is one of my absolute favorite writers. One of the testimonials in the front of the book perfectly captures my sentiment. Screenwriter and director Brian Koppelman (Rounders, Ocean’s Thirteen and Billions) puts it this way: “I don’t have many rules in life, but one I never break is: If Ryan Holiday writes a book, I read it as soon as I can get my hands on it.” (btw: Cal Newport’s the first testimonial. He says: “Some authors give advice. Ryan Holiday distills wisdom. This book is a must read.”) Penguin Random House sent me an advance copy of this book. As I knew it would be: It’s fantastic. Of course, the book’s packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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The 4 Disciplines of Execution

Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals

I planned to read this book since Cal Newport referenced it in Deep Work. I finally did so in preparation to teach Productivity 101. It’s fantastic. If you’re a business leader or entrepreneur I think you’ll particularly enjoy it. Big Ideas we cover include the 4DX, the whirlwind, your Wildly Important Goals, Lag vs. Lead measures, the power of keeping score, and avoiding the blackhole of the magnificently trivial.

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How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci

Seven Steps to Genius Every Day

Michael Gelb profiles the seven attributes of da Vinci's genius in his great book and in our Note we'll have fun checking out some Big Ideas including one of the most powerful exercises I've ever done called "A Hundred Questions." The exercise literally shaped my life and I trust you'll dig it as much as I have. We'll also look at the power of affirmations (did you know da Vinci used them?!) and the body of a genius (did you know da Vinci was also an exceptional athlete?!). Fun stuff.

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The Nicomachean Ethics

Aristotle's writings have been extraordinarily influential since ancient times. This treatise is named after his son and is a collection of his lecture notes--imagining attending his Lyceum and listening to him teach 2,300 years ago! Of course, it's packed with culture-changing Big Ideas. Some of my favorites we cover include the ultimate end: eudaimonic happiness (vs. "happiness" as most of us think about it!), how to achieve that eudaimonia (hint: "virtuous activity of the soul" aka areté), how to win the Olympic Games (hint: you can't just show up; you need to ACT!), the doctrine of the mean (and the vice of deficiency + excess) and the virtue of magnanimity: meet YOUR great soul.

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Extreme Ownership

How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin were two of the most senior (and decorated) SEALS on the ground in the most intense battles of Iraq. In this book they share their leadership lessons on how U.S. Navy SEALs lead and win. It’s an intense, impactful read. Big Ideas we explore include a definition of Extreme Ownership, the fact that there are no bad teams, only bad leaders, how to prioritize and execute and remembering that discipline = freedom.

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How to Win Friends and Influence People

Dale Carnegie wrote this book in 1937. The publisher originally only printed 5,000 copies. It was an immediate best seller and went on to sell over 30 million copies. I’ve always had a very strong allergy to the idea of “networking” and trying to “win friends” and/or “influence people” so this one never quite resonated but I loved it. It’s packed with Big Ideas on how to Optimize our relationships and, perhaps in the process, win some more friends and influence some people as better humans and leaders. We explore: The #1 indispensable quality you need for Optimizing, Principle #1 of How to Win Friends (Never criticize!!), how to make a great first impression, the Golden Rule (you living it), what to do when you make a mistake, and what to think when you meet people today!

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On the Shortness of Life

Life Is Long If You Know How to Use It
by Seneca

Seneca was an old-school Roman statesman and one of history’s leading Stoic philosophers. In this book he tells us that life is only short if you don’t know how to use it and also gives us some tips on how to deal with challenging times and cultivate tranquility. Big Ideas we explore include making T.O.D.A.Y. the day, how to deal with being exiled (never know when it could happen ;), and why flexibility is the virtuous road to tranquility (and how to avoid the detours).

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Happier

Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment

Tal Ben-Shahar is one of my favorite teachers. He taught one of the most popular classes in Harvard's history and this book captures the essence of his class on Positive Psychology—sharing the best of what we scientifically know about how to create happier, more fulfilled lives. We'll explore how important it is to have goals AND be in the moment (and the perils of *just* being in the moment) along with mucho más goodness.

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The Second Mountain

The Quest for a Moral Life

David Brooks is one of the nations’ leading writers and commentators. He is an op-ed columnist for the New York Times and appears regularly on PBS NewsHour and Meet the Press. I loved his book The Road to Character. I loved this one even more. David tells us there are two mountains: The first mountain? That’s what society tells us we should pursue: all the normal trappings of success. The second mountain? That’s where the magic (and joy!) exists: where we move beyond ourselves and COMMIT (important word for this book!) to giving ourselves most fully to something bigger than ourselves. David identifies four potential commitments: to our families, to our vocations, to our faith/philosophy of life and to our communities. Ultimately, the book is intended to be a guide to the ULTIMATE quest in life: “The Quest for a Moral Life.”

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The Power of Full Engagement

Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal

Loehr and Schwartz tell us we've gotta manage ENERGY not time if we wanna really optimize our lives. Their book is pure goodness. In this Note, we'll explore the four principles of full engagement, why we want to be more like sprinters rather than marathon runners, that there's a pulse of life and we need to honor it, and the power of positive rituals. And some other really Big Ideas on getting our Full Engagement on.

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The Enchiridion

Epictetus is one of three Stoic philosophers we profile (Marcus Aurelius and Seneca are the other two) and this former slave turned leading philosopher of his era is incredible. He echoes the wisdom of all the great teachers as he reminds us that, if we want to be happy, we've gotta realize the only thing we have control over is our response to a situation. We'll have fun tapping into a lot more of his vast mojo in the Note.

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The Dhammapada

The Sayings of Buddha

A core text of Buddhism, The Dhammapada literally means something along the lines of "the path of truth and righteousness" and is packed with wisdom. In this Note, we'll take a quick look at some central tenets of Buddhism (like the Four Noble Truths, nirvana, and the eightfold path) and soak up some Buddha mojo on how to rock our wisest lives.

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Digital Minimalism

Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

Cal Newport is one of my favorite thinkers. He got his Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT and is now a Professor at Georgetown. He’s also a bestselling author of a number of books. Given the fact that the fastest way to Optimize your life is to STOP doing things that are sub-optimal AND the fact that (for nearly all of us) our use of technology is the #1 thing that “Needs work!,” it’s SUPER important for us to figure out how to best use all the technology available to us WITHOUT becoming lost in a tsunami of inputs. Enter: Our new philosophy of technology use: Digital Minimalism. Enter: My SUPER strong recommendation of the book and my ALL IN commitment to helping create a movement around the ideas in the book. As you know, I rarely say a book is a must read but this book is as close as it gets. Big Ideas we explore include the fact that your soul is engaged in a lopsided arms race, a definition + overview of digital minimalism, the importance of spending time alone (and the consequences of *not* spending adequate time alone), reclaiming leisure (get active!) and joining the Attention Resistance. Here's to Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World!

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The Procrastination Equation

How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done

Did you know there’s an equation for Procrastination? Yep. Expectancy x Value / Impulsiveness x Delay = Motivation. Thank you, Piers Steel. In this great book, Piers (a leading researcher on the science of motivation/procrastination) walks us thru the power of that equation. Big Ideas we explore include: Mental Contrasting (and why it beats creative visualization), goal setting (3 scientific keys) and how to add a month of productivity to your year.

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The Willpower Instinct

How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It

Willpower. It’s huge. The Willpower Instinct by award-winning Stanford Professor Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., is a GREAT book based on “The Science of Willpower” class Kelly teaches through Stanford University’s Continuing Studies program. It’s *packed* with super practical Big Ideas on the newest scientific insights about self-control to explain how we can “break old habits and create healthy habits, conquer procrastination, find our focus, and manage stress.” In this Note, we’ll check out the #1 way to build willpower (it’s not what you’d guess), how to give ourselves willpower boosts throughout the day and other stress-relief strategies that rock.

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Gratitude Works!

A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity

I’m grateful for Robert Emmons. He’s dedicated the last three decades of his life to understanding the science of how to boost our well-being. In the process, he’s conducted ground-breaking research on the power of gratitude. In fact, he’s basically THE researcher we have to thank for understanding *just* how powerful gratitude journaling is. (He's also served as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology.) I consider myself a reasonably grateful guy but this book has opened my eyes to JUST how powerful gratitude is. And, to just how important it is to DELIBERATELY PRACTICE it. Big Ideas we explore include: How to give yourself a 25% (!!!) boost in happiness, the top gratitude practices, the #1 obstacle to gratitude (and its remedy), and using challenges for grateful fuel!

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12 Rules for Life

An Antidote to Chaos

Jordan Peterson is one of the world's leading intellectuals. He's a Canadian clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto. (Before that, he taught at Harvard.) He’s published over 100 scientific articles and he’s super-popular on YouTube. This book is wonderfully intense and equally thoughtful. Peterson’s integration of everything from evolutionary psychology, politics, religion and morality is astounding. After taking a super-quick look at all 12 Rules, Big Ideas we cover include the importance of mastering the flow or Order + Chaos (and why RULES are so important), Rule #1 (stand up straight, shoulders back! Remember lobsters...), Rule #2 (Treat yourself better! Remember pets...), Rule #6: Clean up your life (remember to start stopping...), and the fact that your Being is in your Becoming (which is connected to Rule #4...).

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Self-Reliance

Ralph Waldo Emerson. He’s the great-great-grandfather in my spiritual family tree. We named our son Emerson after this great 19th century philosopher and when I imagine the heroes whose qualities I want to emulate, he’s on the top of the list. Big Ideas we explore include: Trust thyself (every heart vibrates to that iron string!), nonconformity (and the integrity of your own mind), what must you do? (vs. what will they think?), Hobgoblins (begone), your voyage (of a thousand zigs and zags), and the Royal You (act like that now!).

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The War of Art

This book is amazing. If you’ve ever struggled with rockin’ your creativity it’s pretty much a must-read. Written in an intense, no-nonsense style, Pressfield gets to the heart of the “Resistance” that stands in our way to fully expressing ourselves as he challenges us to become true “Professionals.” In the Note, we’ll check out some of my Favorite Big Ideas—from letting the results be by-products to the importance of simply sitting down and trying day after day after day.

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The Checklist Manifesto

How to Get Things Right

Atul Gawande is a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. He’s also an extraordinary, best-selling author of a number of books. Short story: Want to get things right? Use a checklist. Sounds too silly to work but… It does. Period. Big Ideas we explore include two reasons we err (ignorance + ineptitude), what to do about it (checklists!), how to reduce your Masterpiece Day mortality rate by at least 47% (checklists!), why Van Halen doesn’t like brown M&M’s (checklists!), and your Big 3 Keystone Initiative (checklist!).

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The Oxygen Advantage

Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques to Help You Become Healthier, Slimmer, Faster, and Fitter

Patrick McKeown is one of the world’s leading teachers of the Buteyko Breathing Method which was created in the 1950s by a Russian doctor named Dr. Konstantin Buteyko. McKeown suffered from asthma for decades until he found the Buteyko Method. At which point, he reversed his asthma symptoms and then dedicated his life to helping others optimize their breathing. In this book, he extends the Buteyko Method into an approach he calls the Oxygen Advantage. Big Ideas we cover include the #1 obstacle to optimal breathing, Oxygen Delivery 101, the #1 breathing tip, and how to dial in your sleep.

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Eat Move Sleep

How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes

Eat Move Sleep. The simple, powerful keys to optimal health and well-being. We talk about these fundamentals ALL the time and this is my new favorite book on health. Big Ideas we explore include 10,008 hours and 36 minutes (the magic # of elite performance), candy for cancer cells, the power of measuring whatever it is you want to improve, how to buy willpower at the store, and a vaccine for the common cold.

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Love 2.0

Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection

Ready to upgrade your vision of love? Then you’re in for a treat with this fantastic book by Barbara Fredrickson. Barbara is one of the world’s leading positive psychologists. The book is incredibly well-written, deeply inspiring and incredibly practical as well. In fact, I just told Alexandra that this book might be the one that most positively impacts my life. Big Ideas we explore include: Love 1.0 vs. Love 2.0, taking a trip to Vagus, identifying our prevailing desire, #1 tip: create 3 loving moments today, exiting our cocoon of self-absorption via loving-kindness meditation, and Love 2.0 x 2: compassionate + celebratory love.

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Authentic Happiness

Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment

Martin Seligman is essentially the father of the Positive Psychology movement and in this Note we explore how important it is for us to use our Signature Strengths consistently throughout our day-to-day lives. We've got tips on how to discover our Strengths and how to move from a job to a career to a calling as we live a life of meaning and purpose. Good times.

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The Alter Ego Effect

The Power of Secret Identities to Transform Your Life

The Alter Ego Effect. This is one of the most fun and compelling and inspiring books I’ve read in awhile. I REALLY (!!!) enjoyed reading it, had a ton of fun constructing and playing with some potential Alter Egos and highly recommend it. I also really enjoyed how high-performance coach and mental game strategist Todd Herman describes the science behind the power of “secret identities” to transform our lives and I loved the parallels between his perspective and our Big 3 Identities > Virtues > Behaviors model. Big Ideas we explore include Superman + Clark Kent (who's who?), activating your Heroic Self (the science of), motivation and emotion (share a common Latin root), virtues as super powers (more on the science of), and Crossing the Threshold (Today the day?).

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What To Say When You Talk to Yourself

Powerful New Techniques to Program Your Potential for Success!

What do you say when you talk to yourself? Is it empowering? Or not so much? Shad Helmstetter tells us nothing matters quite as much as that. Big Ideas include why and how we need to upgrade our programming, the 5 levels of Self-Talk, and conquering our greatest challenge.

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Loving What Is

Four Questions That Can Change Your Life

Byron Katie is best known for the four questions that make up "The Work" and in this Note we’ll take a quick look at those along with some other really cool Ideas. We'll learn to love what is by seeing our suffering as a compassionate alarm clock awakening us to our possibilities and by recognizing that if we see things as "wrong" in the world, we need to start by changing our own consciousness.

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Constructive Living

Outgrow Shyness, Depression, Fear, Stress, Grief, Chronic Pain. Achieve the Goal of Constructive Living - To Do Everything Well

Dan Millman (author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior and other great books) introduced me to this book as he's been deeply influenced by David Reynolds' integration of Zen Buddhism and Western Psychotherapy. In this Note, we'll explore some Big Ideas on how to live with greater self-mastery by more effectively relating to our emotions and consistently asking ourselves: "Now what needs to be done?!"

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Ego Is the Enemy

Meet the enemy: Your ego. Our guide, Ryan Holiday, wrote one of my favorite books of 2015: The Obstacle Is the Way. Ego Is the Enemy is now one of my favorite books of 2016. It’s fantastic. Big Ideas we explore include: defining ego, becoming more than a flash in the pan, finally answering the question of whether it takes 10,000 or 20,000 hours to attain mastery, the virtue and value of staying true to your own path and making it rather than faking it.

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Willpower

Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

Willpower. It’s ESSENTIAL to optimizing our lives. In fact, in their *great* book, Willpower, Roy Baumeister (one of the world’s leading scientific researchers on self-control) and John Tierney (science writer for the New York Times) tell us that “Improving willpower is the surest way to a better life.” In this Note, we’ll learn how to eat our way to willpower (seriously), how to exercise our self-control muscles, why “precommitment” is so important and how to win the willpower game with bright lines and a great offense. :)

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A Joseph Campbell Companion

Reflections on the Art of Living

Joseph Campbell occupies the Grandfather slot in my spiritual family tree and this book is an incredible collection of some of his most inspiring wisdom. In the Note, we'll explore a range of Big Ideas from what it means to (and how to!) follow our bliss as we rock our hero's journey to learning that we've gotta be willing to break some eggs if we want to make omelets (aka, we've gotta be willing to make mistakes as we grow!).

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The Philosophy of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy

Got problems with your soul? These days, you’d see a psychotherapist. But, back in the day, it was the philosopher who’d help you optimize—they were the preferred physician of the soul. This book is about the philosophical roots of modern psychotherapy. Specifically, it outlines the connection between cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Stoicism. Big Ideas we explore include being a warrior of the mind vs. a librarian of the mind, your highest human purpose, getting on good terms with your inner daimon, practicing the reserve clause and modeling your ideal sage.

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The Tao Te Ching

by Lao Tzu

The Tao te Ching. It's the core text of Taoism and one of the top old school classics of all time. In this Note, we'll take a look at everything from making use of solitude to the fact that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step (heard that before, eh?!). We'll also learn to let go of our attachment to future results and gracefully roll with the ebbs and flows of life.

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Falling Upward

A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

Alexandra got this book for me after I told her how much I loved David Brooks’ The Second Mountain. Apparently it is recommended alongside that book on Amazon. With 1,400+ reviews, Alexandra thought I might like it. Not only did I like the book, I loved it. And, I fell in love with Richard Rohr. Father Rohr is a Franciscan priest who beautifully integrates his faith with wisdom from various perspectives. Big Ideas we explore include our main Job in life (remembering that we're light bulbs and staying screwed in!), life's two major tasks, the fact that the way UP is DOWN (hence, the title of the book: Falling Upward), the hero and the heroine and their journeys, the paradox of the ego ("You ironically need a very strong ego structure to let go of your ego"), and how to become a Serene Disciple (let God drive).

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Can’t Hurt Me

Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds

David Goggins is a former Navy SEAL (and Army Ranger) who used to hold a Guinness World Record for completing 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours. These days he’s setting records as an ultra-endurance athlete. But he wasn’t always Mr. Superhero. In this great autobiographical self-help book, David walks us through his transformation from being a 297-pound exterminator to a “Who IS this guy?!” superhero. If you’re into SUPER (!!!) intense demonstrations of how to conquer ourselves to do the seemingly impossible (and don’t mind a stream of f-bombs—lol) then I think you’ll love this book as much as I did. Big Ideas we explore include: The Accountability Mirror, bringing your best (when you feel the worst), hero callouses (let failures toughen you up!), the process (how to go from running 1/4 of a mile to 200+ nonstop), and bursting from the inside out (learn to endure!).

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Turning Pro

Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work

Turning Pro. Steven Pressfield tells us that's how we win The War of Art against our nemesis Resistance. Brilliant stuff. In this Note, we'll take a quick look at Shadow Callings (w/a look at mine!), the blissful hell of Epiphanies and more goodness on how to officially turn pro.

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The Way of the SEAL

Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed

A former U.S. Navy SEAL Commander, Mark Divine integrates the ancient warrior traditions with grounded, practical virtue and 21st century get-it-done effectiveness in a way that I find incredibly inspiring. Big Ideas we cover include the power of front-sight focus, how to DIRECT your mind, going Yoda on your commitments and creating micro goals when things are tough.

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The Four Agreements

A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

Don Miguel Ruiz's classic has inspired millions. From being impeccable with our word and not taking things personally to not making assumptions and always doing our best, we'll have fun exploring his four agreements and how we can apply them to our lives TODAY!

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Mastery

The Key to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment

Mastery. Are you a dabbler or a hacker or an obsessive or a master? We all have elements of each and we tend to fall into particular patterns in our lives. In this Note, we'll explore George Leonard’s brilliant ideas on how to live a life of mastery, in which every moment becomes an opportunity for growth and self-expression as we embrace the practice of living masterfully.

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The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

Follow Them and People Will Follow You (10th Anniversary Edition)

John Maxwell is one of the world’s leading authorities on leadership. He’s trained millions (literally) of leaders and has written over 50 (!) books that have sold over 13 million copies—this one alone has sold over 3 million copies. After a super quick look at the 21 Laws, Big Ideas we explore: The Law of Process (aka: Leaders are learners), the foundation of leadership (= trust), leaders are practical AND visionary, the law of victory (!), and your legacy—what will people say when you die? + What’s your “life sentence”?

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The Power of TED*

*The Empowerment Dynamic

David Emerald's wonderfully wise fable rocks. In this Note, we'll take a quick look at one of my favorite books as we explore the importance of stepping out of DDT (the Dreaded Drama Triangle) and stepping into TED (The Empowerment Dynamic) as we learn to more consistently live from a Creator's perspective (rather than a Victim's) and learn how to hold the tension between our ideals and our current realities by taking baby steps.

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The 10X Rule

The Only Difference Between Success and Failure

Ready to 10X your thinking and your action? Fantastic. Grant Cardone is your man. In this high intensity, LET'S DO THIS! book you'll get fired up to go out and crush it. Big Ideas we explore include how to create goals, why MASSIVE ACTION is so important, how to starve fear, why obsession is a gift not a disease and how Smokey would smoke the tortoise and the hare.

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The Power of Agency

The 7 Principles to Conquer Obstacles, Make Effective Decisions, and Create a Life on Your Own Terms

Agency. It’s one of my favorite words and psychological concepts (and a cornerstone of our Heroic Coach program). So, when I saw this book I immediately got it and read it and here we are. Paul Napper and Anthony Rao are leading consultants and clinicians (who have both held academic positions at Harvard Medical School). In their great book, they define agency as “the ability to act as an effective agent for yourself—reflecting, making creative choices, and constructing a meaningful life.” Then they provide practical, scientifically-grounded wisdom on, as per the sub-title of the book: “The 7 Principles to Conquer Obstacles, Make Effective Decisions, and Create a Life on Your Own Terms.” In this Note, we take a quick look at the 7 principles and shine a spotlight on the first 3 with a focus on how we can Optimize our agency TODAY!!

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The Undefeated Mind

On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self

How'd you like to have an undefeated mind while constructing an indestructible self? (I'll take 'em!) Alex Lickerman, MD shows us how--blending Western science with practical Eastern mysticism in this powerful book. In the Note, we'll explore how to find your mission and turn poison into medicine.

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Making Hope Happen

Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others

Did you know there's a science of hope? Yep. And Shane Lopez is the world's leading researchig studying the science of hope. This book is an inspiring look at the nuts and bolts of cultivating hope. Big Ideas we explore include differentiating hope from fantastizing and dwelling, the three keys to hope (goals + agency + pathways) , futurecasting, sirens, when/where plans and why hope is so important for leadership.

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Mini Habits

Smaller Habits, Bigger Results

How’s your habit-building process working for you? If you’ve stalled a few (hundred?) times, Stephen Guise tells us that Mini Habits might be just the thing you’re looking for! In the Note we look at what a Mini Habit is and how to go about rockin’ it exploring Big Ideas like making habits stupid small (aka “too small to fail”), embracing Newton’s 1st law, and being aware of ego depletion as you create your chain!

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The Stoic Challenge

A Philosopher's Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient

William B. Irvine is a professor of philosophy at Wright State University. He’s also a fantastic (and prolific) writer. And… Unlike many of his academic, professor-of-philosophy peers, he is a practicing Stoic philosopher. In the words of Donald Robertson (another Stoic author and practitioner; see The Philosophy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), he is both a librarian AND a warrior of the mind. We featured another one of Professor Irvine’s great books on Stoicism called A Guide to the Good Life. I enjoyed that one quite a bit but I REALLY (!) enjoyed this one. Like, jumbo loved it. In fact, I’m going to put this one right at the top of our growing collection of books on Stoicism—along with the must-read classics by Aurelius (Meditations), Seneca (Letters from a Stoic, On the Shortness of Life), and Epictetus (Discourses, Enchiridion) plus the modern classics like Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is the Way and The Daily Stoic. If you’re looking for “A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient,” I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. I HIGHLY recommend it.

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Rumi Daylight

A Day Book of Spiritual Guidance
by Rumi

Rumi's poetry is stunning. In this Note, we'll explore some inspiring wisdom from the Sufi mystic and have fun applying it to our 21st century lives—from the importance of having patience and seeing challenging times as God's way of strengthening us to working hard and going for it.

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The Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson is a hero of mine (he occupies the Great-Great+ Grandfather slot in my spiritual family tree) and his essays, although written in 19th century prose, totally fire me up. In this Note, we'll explore some Big Ideas on self-reliance (trust yourself!!!), the power of enthusiasm (did you know the word literally means "God within"?!), and how God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. Plus other goodness.

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Indistractable

How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life

Nir Eyal is a former lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. His first book was an international bestseller that’s influenced the product development of pretty much all of the leading tech companies on the planet. It was called Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. We have Nir to thank for helping make the technology we use better. And... As he says, “But there’s also a dark side. As philosopher Paul Virilio wrote, ‘When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck.’ In the case of user-friendly products and services, what makes some products engaging and easy to use can also make them distracting.” After finding HIMSELF hooked to many of the products created by designers inspired by *his* work, Eyal got himself UNHOOKED and, ultimately INDISTRACTABLE. In this great book, he gives us a practical look at *why* we’re so vulnerable to getting hooked in the first place and, most importantly, how to make ourselves Indistractable so we can control our attention and choose our lives.

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It Takes What It Takes

How to Think Neutrally and Gain Control of Your Life

Trevor Moawad is a mental conditioning coach to elite performers. He is well known for being the mental coach to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and has worked closely with prestigious NCAA football programs and coaches, the US Special Operations community, Major League Baseball, and the NBA. This book is, as per the sub-title, all about “How to Think Neutrally and Gain Control of Your Life.” I loved it and, if you’re also equally fired up by the mental toughness in sports and life genre, I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. Big Ideas we explore include neutral thinking (much better than positive or negative), goats and G.O.A.T.s, the law of substitution (focus!), the illusion of choice (if you’re REALLY ALL IN, there is no choice), and drawing a line in the dirt (and getting to it… again and again and again!).

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No Sweat

How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness

Dr. Michelle Segar is the world’s leading authority on what motivates people to choose and maintain healthy behaviors. As you’d imagine, Dr. Segar has some *really* powerful ideas on, as the sub-title suggests, “How the simple science of motivation can bring you a lifetime of fitness.” Big Ideas we explore include the importance of meaning, moving exercise from a chore to a gift and embracing a learning mindset.

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The Joy of Movement

How exercise helps us find happiness, hope, connection, and courage

I’m a big fan of Kelly McGonigal and her ability to help us apply scientific wisdom to our lives. We’ve covered two of her earlier books: The Willpower Instinct and The Upside of Stress. So... When I got this book, knew I’d enjoy it. But, I didn’t anticipate JUST how much I’d love it. We have some great Notes on Movement (Spark, Spartan Up and No Sweat among my favorites), but Kelly’s book will be our new go-to for the science of WHY exercise/movement is so essential to our well-being. It’s PHENOMENAL. Reading about the SCIENCE behind stories of transformation (and how, as per the sub-title of her book: “Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage”) also made me that much more clear on the power of what we’re doing with all of our work and the importance of focusing so much on Energy (especially with our Mastery and Coach programs). Big Ideas we explore include: Hope Molecules (and how to create them), persistence highs (and how to create them), collective effervescence (and why it's so awesome), how we endure (hint: TOGETHER!), and OMMS!!! (Obstacles (literally!) Make Me Stronger!).

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As a Man Thinketh

Although somewhat obscure, James Allen is a wise guy and his essays have deeply influenced many of today's leading teachers. In this Note, we'll explore the fact that dreams are the seedlings of our future realities and we'll learn how important it is that we strengthen the power of our minds if we want to live an extraordinary life of meaning.

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Make Your Bed

Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World

Admiral William H. McRaven is a Retired U.S. Navy SEAL who served for thirty-seven years and commanded at every level. As a Four-Star Admiral, his final assignment was as Commander of all U.S. Special Operations Forces. (During this time, he oversaw the covert mission that killed Osama bin Laden.) In 2014, he gave the commencement address to the graduates of the University of Texas at Austin. Millions of people wound up watching his speech on ten lessons he learned from his Navy SEAL training. This book takes a deeper look at those ten lessons. It’s a super-quick read—packed with simple, yet profound wisdom along with moving stories of moral exemplars. It's FANTASTIC.

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Limitless

Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life

Jim Kwik is a widely recognized world expert in memory improvement, brain optimization and accelerated learning and has “served as the brain coach to a who’s who of Hollywood’s elite, professional athletes, political leaders, and business magnates.” The best part of Jim’s story? After suffering a brain injury in kindergarten, he was described by a teacher as "the kid with a broken brain.” He struggled with learn