W.I.N.

maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question.

W.I.N. Wednesday: One is done to you, the other is done by you.

Back on May 27 Seth Godin posted a short but powerful message:

Accountability vs. responsibility 

Accountability is done to you. It’s done by the industrial system, by those that want to create blame.

Responsibility is done by you. It’s voluntary. You can take as much of it as you want.

Accountability is a word we hear a lot these day. Accountability is one of the core values of some organizations. 

I see and hear a lot of people ranting about accountability and how the government, the police, big business, their bosses, and their co-workers need to be help accountable. 

The problem is that they are usually pointing the finger of blame at someone else and talking about how “they” need to be held accountable. The person we often fail to hold accountable is our self. 

What we need to talk more about is Responsibility. The conversation needs to shift to focus on each of us taking responsibility. Taking responsibility for our words, our actions, our inaction, our decisions, our attitude and our behaviors.

Accepting responsibility requires you to look in the mirror, point the finger of accountability directly at yourself and ask, “What piece of this do I own? What do I need to do to make the situation better? What do I need to accept responsibility for that I am currently blaming others for?”

It is fine to say, “We all need to be held accountable.” The best way to make that happen however, is for each of us to step up and take responsibility. 

What’s Important Now? When it comes to responsibility, be a taker. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Entitlement

"Don’t feel entitled to anything you didn’t sweat and struggle for."

Marian Wright Edelman

As you know I am a big fan of quotes. I am always on the lookout for quotes that make me think and that can help make a point, tell a story and provide guidance. When I saw this quote from Marian Edelman it caused me to pause, reflect and debate it in my head. 

Ultimately I am going to disagree with Edelman in that I am not sure it is ever good to feel entitled. I am a big fan of putting in the work and sweat to accomplish tasks. I believe struggles are a valuable part of the journey as they push us to think differently and continue to strive. My concern with entitlement is that it makes it all about me. I am somehow entitled to accolades, acknowledgement or rewards for the outcome. 

It is very rare that the journey to accomplish a task, goal or mission is a solo event. There are always others who help or contribute. Sometimes those contributions come in the way of quotes, books, podcasts or interviews. Sometimes it comes through discussion, dialogue and debate. Often there are other people directly contributing to the project in a variety of ways. 

I am an advocate of focusing on effort and process, as that is what we control. When effort and process allow us to overcome the struggles, hurdles, obstacles, objections, skeptics and cynics, it is good to feel a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment. The key then is to acknowledge those who were part of that journey and were there inspiring and guiding you or working and sweating alongside you. 

To me pride and accomplishment are very different from entitlement. 

What’s Important Now? Do the work. Focus on effort and process. Be proud that you put in the work. Remember to “Take the Blame and Give Away the Credit”. Now get back to work, as there is more to be done. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

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W.I.N. Wednesday: What have you read that I should read?

John Maxwell is one of the top leadership trainers in the world. Through his company they have trained millions of leaders around the world. He has also written around 80 books on personal development and leadership. He is also a voracious reader and learner. Every month he reaches out to someone and takes him or her to lunch so he can ask him or her a series of questions to help him learn and grow. One of the questions he asks is, “What have you read that I should read?”

I love that question and will often ask it of people in conversation. I get some great book recommendations and my list of books stacked up virtually in my Kindle app is continually growing. Some might see it as an expense to be continually buying books. I see it as an investment in my learning, my growth and my development. I read a while ago that being surrounded by unread books helps to remind you of how much you still have to learn. I love the constant reminder. 

My dad used to ask me, “Are you reading for work, or pleasure?” My answer was, “It is the same thing for me.” I read predominantly non-fiction books and derive great pleasure from my reading and from striving to connect the dots between what I am learning and what I already know. I am currently going through James Kwik’s Kwik Reader program to increase my reading speed, comprehension and retention so I can ideally make a bigger dent in the unread books in my stack.

Sport and performance psychologist Michael Gervais suggests the three areas we can seek to improve are Mind, Body and Craft. I buy books to help me in all those areas. There are times however, when my brain needs a break from the non-fiction and I have 5 or 6 go to fictions writers whose books I have on standby. 

As of the end of June I have read 22 non-fiction books and one fiction book. Of the 22 non-fiction books below are 8 that I would highly recommend.  They are in the order I read them, not in order of preference. You will notice there are two on sleep. The more I read on sleep, the more I have come to believe it is the one factor that is consistent in having the greatest impact on Mind, Body and Craft. Unfortunately, getting by on just a few hours of sleep is still talked about as a badge of honor in too many organizations and professions. 

Recommended Books:

·      Can’t Hurt Me 
by David Goggins

·      Sleep 
by Nick Littlehales

·      Mastery 

by Robert Greene

·      Mindful Responder 

by Crawford Coates

·      Tribes 
by Seth Godin

·      Why We Sleep 
by Matthew Walker

·      Never Stop Learning by Bradley Staats

·      Genius Foods 
by Max Lugavere

The fiction book was Run Away by Harlan Coben. Coben has become one of my go to fiction writers along with David Baldacci, Michael Connelly, Brad Thor, Barry Eisler, and Lee Child.

I am currently reading So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport, which will be on my recommended reading list, and Redemption by David Baldacci. 

Note: If you read just 10 minutes a day, every day of the year, you will read between 9 and 10 non-fiction books every year. 

What’s Important Now? What have you read that I should read? Send me the names and authors of one or two books you think I should read. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

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W.I.N. Wednesday: The Greatest Compliment

"The greatest compliment ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer."

Henry David Thoreau

How often have you asked someone what they thought, and then never really paid attention to the answer?

How often have you asked someone what they thought, then immediately told them why that was wrong, why it would not work or why your way is better.

How many times a day do you ask people, “How are you doing?” and actually wait for, and pay attention to the answer. 

How often has someone asked how you are doing and when you said, “Not good. I am having a tough day.” they said “That’s nice.” or “That’s too bad.” and moved on with the conversation or with their day?

We all want to be heard and want to feel like our thoughts and ideas matter.

The key with the question “What do you think?” is to start the discussion by asking it to the other person or people. Listen carefully to what they have to say. Ask follow up questions to gain clarity or deeper insights. Once you have heard from everyone else then you can offer your thoughts if necessary. Starting with your thoughts, especially if you are seen as the leader or the expert, may stifle the conversation. If you start with the question you may never need to express your thoughts because the other person or people may have already come up with the solution and now they can move forward in an engaged and invested manner. 

What’s Important Now? Pay others the compliment of asking what they think and attending to the answer. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Don't say you will if you know you won't.

One of the songs on my workout playlist is the blues song Dat Maybe by Tas Cru. While the song is about love and honesty in a relationship there are powerful life and leadership messages in the chorus: 

“Don’t say you will if you think you won’t. Don’t say you do if you know you don’t. Don’t give me that heh, don’t give that ho, don’t give me that maybe when your heart says no.”

The three key lessons:

·      Be honest.

·      Do what you say you will do. 

·      There is some great wisdom in blues lyrics.

Don't say you will if you know you won't. If you do not have the time, if the request is not in alignment with your priorities, if you are not going to be able to follow through then let the other person know that up front.  That will take a lot of stress off of you, let the other person move forward or in a different direction and will preserve, and likely enhance your relationship. If you say you will, then follow through and do what you said you would do.

Don't say you do if you know you don't. Don't say you will support that person for promotion, or that you support the project or initiative if you don't. Be honest. Be helpful. Offer guidance on what areas the person needs further experience, training or development to earn your support. 

Don't say maybe if your heart says no. If your heart says no then connect your heart to your mouth and say no there as well.

No is a hard word for many of us to say because we want to help and we want to be seen as being positive and supportive. You can say no politely and professionally. Failure to say no when you do not have the time, energy or belief however, results in being over committed, stretched too thin, stressed out and burned out. It leaves you feeling resentful and angry. It destroys trust and relationships. 

Some of my deepest frustrations and regrets are from saying yes, or maybe, when I should have said no.  

What’s Important Now? Say no more often. When you do say yes; do what you said you would do. Listen to the blues more often.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Dogma can only exist in the face of ignorance.

I was watching an interview with Dr. Michael Ruscio, the author of Healthy Gut, Healthy You, when he made a very interesting comment. He said, “Dogma can only exist in the face of ignorance.” He went on to explain that dogma (a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true) generally results in your unwillingness to look for, review, discuss or contemplate any data or evidence that contradicts your belief. You will ignore the 20 research papers, which contradict your position, and embrace the 1 that supports it. He was not suggesting you are constantly jumping on the bandwagon for every new idea. He has very clear criteria for research to be considered as valid and reliable. 

This is something we all see in many areas from teaching to learning to nutrition to exercise to leadership to medicine. It is good to have strong beliefs. The key is to hold them loosely, to be open to new information, ideas and evidence. It is important to avoid linking your identity and sense of self to those beliefs. Doing so means that you see any contradictory opinion or evidence as a personal attack. 

"We are not what we know, but what we are willing to learn."

Mary Catherine Bateson

It is important to be continually reading, asking questions, listening and learning to see if there is a better way, to see if there is new, more relevant information. If there is a strong body of research, not just one paper or one person’s opinion) that clearly reveals new information contrary to your current beliefs, you need to be willing to adapt and change. 

The world is continually evolving. New technologies allow scientists to continually gain greater insights into the brain and the body. Medicine and science have come a long way in the last 100 years. The research on learning, teaching, health, nutrition and exercise has come a long way in the last 100 years.  What we once believed to be fact in many areas has now been proven to be wrong or inaccurate through ongoing research. 

Lets be clear that there are certain things, such as your core values, which you can and should hold tightly to. If you take time to reflect on the beliefs you hold tightly to, you will see which should be held loosely, and which should be held tightly. 

What’s Important Now? Have strong beliefs, and an open mind. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Your task is not to begin in a noble place, but to end up in one.

"Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday."

John Wayne

In order not to disappoint tomorrow we need to learn something useful today. Something that will help us to grow intellectually, to connect the dots between what we are learning and what we already know, to improve our health or well being, to better serve others, to be better in some area of our personal life or to do our job better. 

In order to achieve that you need to read something that is intellectually stimulating, or listen to a non-fiction audio book, or listen to a podcast or interview someone who has experience or expertise in an area of interest, or engage in a conversation with someone who will challenge the way you think.

The key is to be intentional regarding your learning. Think of learning as an investment. An investment in your personal and professional growth and development. An investment in your health. An investment in your future.

If you invest 10 minutes a day, every day, to read a non-fiction book then over the course of 12 months you will read at least 10 non-fiction books. 

Investing an hour a day, every day, to listen audio books, podcasts or other educational material results in nine 40 hour weeks of learning every year. That is the equivalent of three semesters of University or at least 36 audio books. 

“Approach each day as if you have something new to learn. Your task is not to begin in a noble place, but to end up in one.”

Eric Greitens, Resilience

What's Important Now? Be intentional about approaching each day as if you have something new to learn and investing in your learning.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Be Patient

In today’s world it seems like everyone is looking for the hack, the shortcut to achieve their goal. No, this is not a rant about the “new generation”. I see people from every generation who are looking for the shortcut. 

"There is no royal road to anything. One thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly, endures."

Josiah Gilbert Holland

There may be short cuts, but they usually lead to short term results. If you want long-term success you have to commit to doing the work over the long-term. You need to keep reading, questioning, researching, experimenting, and adjusting in an ongoing cycle to determine what works best for you.  It still comes down to the fact that you have to be willing to do the work. 

"Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment."

Stephen Covey

If you think of the work, and it is work, as an investment it is easier to be patient and understand it is a long-term project with the interest compounding over time. The key is small incremental improvements every day in your health, your knowledge, your wisdom, and / or your relationships, whatever the areas of your life where you would like to grow and improve. 

What’s Important Now? Be patient. Do the work every day to invest in yourself.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Do what works for you. 

Read all the literature about the best time to get up, the best way to eat and the best routines to be most productive. Read about the routines of the highly successful people. Listen to the interviews with the productivity experts. 

Then, put it all through the filter of your life and determine what works best for you. You may do your most creative work early in the morning. Or, you may do your most creative work in the evening. 

You may get your best thinking and creative work done in a quiet space in your home, or while walking or sitting in nature. Or, you may get your best thinking and creative work done sitting in a coffee shop listening to music on your noise cancelling headphone, or even sitting on an airplane if you travel a lot.

You may get you best workouts in if you workout first thing in the morning when you get up. Or, you may get your best workouts in if you do it midday or on the way home from work. 

You might like to read in a quiet location, or you might like to read with music in the background. You may not like to read and instead you prefer to listen to audio books. 

There are volumes of diets and eating rituals, all which claim to be backed by research and science. Find one that works for you and your lifestyle. Find a way of eating that you can make a ritual, a way of life, not something short term. 

Be very cautious of people who tell you their way is the best way and the only way. My way is simply my way. It is what works best for me, and it may not work for you. If you are struggling with your productivity ritual because you are trying to be productive with someone else’s routine, then maybe you need to step back and figure out what works best for you. 

Make sure to read the information on sleep and ensure that the ritual you develop is not going to negatively impact the quality and quantity of the sleep you get. 

What’s Important Now? Do the research. Take the basics of eat, move, sleep, think and learn, then experiment and find what works best for you. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Two kinds of people.

"My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition."

Indira Gandhi

In last week’s W.I.N. Wednesday postI talked about striving to be Your Best, not The Best. As I read this quote from Indira Gandhi it struck me that people who do the work are striving to be their best, while those who take the credit for work others have done are caught up trying to be The Best. 

We have all seen that dynamic in groups and organizations where there is someone who wants to take the credit for work others have done, or ideas others came up with. This often creates frustration and resentment in the people who are actually doing the work, which has the potential to negatively impact the level of productivity and the quality of the work. However, as Harry S. Truman pointed out, “It is amazing what you can accomplish when you do not care who gets the credit.” 

In the Dare to Be Great leadership workshopI also share Seth Godin’s philosophy, “Take the blame and give away the credit.” Do the work. If the project is unsuccessful or there are issues with the team not meeting deadlines, stand up and take the blame. When the project, or initiative is successful, give away the credit. And give the credit in all directions - up, down, and sideways. Give credit to your boss for the courage, leadership and support to approve the proposal. Give credit to your peers who helped move the project forward, helped do the work, or provided support and resources. Give the credit to the people you lead who did the work and made the effort a success. 

What’s Important Now? Doing the work, taking the blame and giving away the credit will create, model and inspire a culture of people striving to be their best.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man.

In my Dare to Be Great leadership workshops I challenge the participants to “Be Your Best, Not The Best”.  I explain that in any group or team if you are striving to be The Best you see co-workers and teammates as competition for the title of 'The Best'. As a result you will tend to withhold information and resources from them and not give them credit for work they have done or ideas that came from them. 

If however, you are striving to be Your Best, to continually be the best version of yourself, you will see your co-workers and teammates as collaborators on your group journey to achieving excellence and you will share information, resources and praise with them so you can all achieve your mission.

In that part of the course I share the following quote from Ernest Hemmingway:

"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self."

Striving to be The Best requires continually trying to out perform others, gain more accolades and awards than others, make more money than others, have more stuff than others and gain more favor from your boss, your co-workers and your customers. If you cannot do more or achieve more then you will put others down and seek to diminish their accomplishments. People who are trying to be superior to their fellow man create a great deal of tension and discord in companies and communities. 

Striving to be Your Best requires a commitment to always be a little better tomorrow than you are today. This means that every day you need to do something in the area of personal growth and development to expand your knowledge, understanding, skills and abilities. This is a continual journey of personal and professional growth.  Part of this journey is investing in others and mentoring others who are on their own journey to being Their Best. 

What’s Important Now? Strive to continually be your best, the best version of yourself that you can be. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: You made the choice, now Act As If.

In last week’s post I talked about the fact that others can make you a target, but only you can choose to be a victim. The question that often comes up then is, “Ok. I am going to choose not to be a victim. Now what? How do I move forward?” Good questions. A good place to start is by Acting As If, which I wrote about last year.

In Principles of Psychology (published in 1890), William James, who some describe as the father of modern psychology, wrote about the importance of ‘acting as if’. James said, “If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.”

Philosopher, self help author and motivational speaker Wayne Dyer echoes these sentiments when he encouraged and challenged people with these words:

“Imagine your ideal self. Your greatest most magnificent version of yourself. Then imagine how that ideal version of you would be thinking and acting at this moment. Act as if you are that person.”

In his book The Power of Positive Deviance, Jerry Sternin reminds us that it's easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than to think your way into a new way of acting.

And in his powerful book Resilience Eric Greitens (Rhodes Scholar, humanitarian, former Navy Seal) gives his friend who is battling PTSD this advice:

“Remember these three words: Identity, Action and Feelings.

If you want to feel differently, act differently.”

Richard Wiseman, a Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, covers the wide body of research which supports this philosophy in his book The As If Principle: The Radically New Approach to Changing Your Life. 

So.

What qualities are you striving for?

Who do you want to become?

How do you want to feel?

How would the ideal version of you be thinking and acting?

What’s Important Now? Act As If and act your way into a new way of thinking and feeling.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

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W.I.N. Wednesday: It's a choice.

“Others can make you a target, only you can choose to be a victim.”

Gavin de Becker

In your life you will encounter people who will make you a target. A target of violence, hatred, injustice, discrimination, bullying and abuse. 

While being a target is not something you choose, you do get to choose whether or not you are a victim. Being a victim is a mindset. When you choose to be a victim you remain stuck. You get caught up in the blame game. You give power to the person(s) who targeted you and you allow them to continue to control you and your life.

When you choose not to play the victim you set yourself free to move forward, to live, to grow and to continue moving forward. When you choose not to play the victim you take back your power, your control and your life. You set yourself free from the person and the act. 

Is this easy? No. It takes work and it take conscious effort. 

Is it worth the work? Absolutely. 

Some of you reading this right now are thinking, “Brian, you don’t understand. In my situation I am the victim.” While I may not understand all the specifics of your situation, I do understand you have a choice and as long as you hang on to being a victim, that is your choice and you will remain stuck.

There are countless people who have been targets of torture, rape, extreme violence, racism, discrimination, bullying, abuse and other atrocities who have chosen not to be a victim. They have learned from their experience, grown from their experience and moved forward in their lives. The key for all of them was when they realized they had a choice and they chose not to be, or to no longer be a victim. If they can make this choice, so can you. 

What’s Important Now? Being a target is part of life. Being a victim in a choice. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Study, Strive, Learn, Be and Grow

Study successful people, people who have accomplished what you are striving to achieve. Study the habits and rituals they have developed to help them be productive. Study how they think, what they read, and whom they listen to. Study their work ethic and their commitment to learning. Study how they seek to be of service to others. Study how they deal with setbacks and obstacles. Study how they deal with the skeptics, cynics and critics.

Strive for more. Strive for better. Strive to be a little better every day. Strive to learn. Strive to continually be a better version of yourself. Strive to be your best, not the best. Strive to be of service to others and to a cause greater than yourself. Strive to set a positive example for others. Strive for significance.

Learn from your successes. Learn from your failures. Learn from your experiences, both good and bad. Learn from the challenges and obstacles. Learn from others. Learn from great books. Learn from self-reflection. Learn by talking less and listening more. Learn by asking more questions and better questions of yourself and others.

Be authentic. Be humble. Be a man or woman of integrity. Be of service. Be yourself. 

If you do all these things you will grow. The more you learn, the more you realize how little you do know and this will help you to continue to grow. The more you grow the better equipped you are to lead, to follow and to be of service.

What’s Important Now? Study, Strive, Learn, Be and Grow

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: I haven't put in the time.

I have become a big fan of Impact Theory (www.impacttheory.com) where every week Tom Bilyeu (the cofounder of Quest Nutrition) interviews thought leaders and people who are making an impact in the world in a variety of ways. His final question in every interview is, “What is the impact you want to have on the world?”

I strive to listen to one interview from Impact Theory or Health Theory (same website) every day as part of my personal growth and development. I like Tom Bilyeu’s interviewing style and I always learn a great deal from his guests. 

One of my go to podcasts is Finding Mastery with Sports Psychologist Michael Gervais. Like Impact Theory I really like Gervais’ interviewing style and like Impact Theory he has some amazing guests on his show. 

A while back I listened to an interview Michael Gervais did with Tom Bilyeu to get a little deeper background and insights into Tom Bilyeu. During the interview Gervais asked Bilyeu about a topic Bilyeu had an interest in. I really liked Bilyeu’s answer and explanation. He said, “I don’t know enough about it to answer the question. I haven’t put in the time to fully understand that.” He went on to explain that “I haven’t put in the time” was a shift from the thinking earlier in his life that he was “not smart enough to learn that”.

Bilyeu is a huge advocate of the Growth Mindset based on Carol Dweck’s research on Fixed and Growth mindsets and of Grit based on Angela Lee Duckworth’s research into that area. 

So, what is the point of all this? We all have a set amount of time, focus and energy. You get to decide how to use that time and where to focus your studies and energy.  Just because you have an ‘interest’ in an area does not mean you are willing, or have to be willing, to commit the time and energy to learn about that topic at a deep level, and that is perfectly fine. There is a difference between your interests and your passions and priorities.  

You need to decide what is important to you in life, and who you want to become through the way you live your life. Once you gain that clarity on your true priorities, which requires a lot of work, then you can determine where to invest your focus, time and energy. 

What’s Important Now? Determine what is truly important in your life. Determine who you want to become. Accept that you can learn if you are willing to spend the time and energy. Do the hard work.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Judge Tenderly

“Judge tenderly, if you must. There is usually a side you have not heard, a story you know nothing about, and a battle waged that you are not having to fight.”

Traci Lea LaRussa

It is easy to judge and label others. Based on one brief interaction in traffic, in a store, in the lineup at the bank or in a restaurant we judge and label people as jerks, assholes, ignorant, entitled, self centred, rude, lazy or a bad parent.

Those same people may very well be judging you based on your reaction, your attitude towards them, your body language or the scowl on your face.

What you do not know based on those brief snippets in time is the full story and the true person. You have no idea what they are dealing with at that moment, or in their life. You have no idea how much physical or emotional pain they are in, what loss they have recently suffered, the fact they are sleep deprived because they have a full time job to pay the bills and a second full time job looking after a dying spouse or child or aging parents. 

You have no idea if they have just lost their job, their life savings, their home or access to their children in an ugly divorce. You have no idea if they just lost a loved one to cancer. You have no idea if they are a first responder, medical professional or military veteran dealing with PTSD. 

I know I have judged and labeled. I know on my bad days others have judged and labelled me. 

I have heard Brene Brown and a number of others say they strive to live by the belief that people are doing the best they can. In that moment people are doing the best they can with the tools they have and the challenges they are facing. 

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If you embrace the “They are doing the best they can.” philosophy you will be willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. When you are willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, and it is not always easy, it will change the way you react and respond. That change in you may just change the entire interaction with that person. Even if it does not change the interaction it will change how you feel in the moment and how you feel as you move on with your day. Feeling empathy will impact you far differently than feeling scorn, disgust or anger.

What’s Important Now? Give people the benefit of the doubt. Believe they are doing the best they can

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: 3 Underlying Principles

There are three fundamental life principles that underlie the W.I.N.? Philosophy:

  1. Embrace the Suck.

  2. Look for the Good.

  3. Dare to Be Great.

1. Embrace the Suck

The Suck Factor is going to hit you a number of times in your life. As Jason Schecterle says, “Life is going to try to kick your ass every day.” You will have a bad boss, toxic employees, and probably at least one job you hate. You will be the target of angry and hurtful words, as well as acts of aggression, violence, and discrimination. You will lose loved ones. You will suffer physical and emotional pain. The Suck Factor is just part of life. How you respond to the Suck Factor however, is a choice. If you let the suck embrace you, you will become angry, bitter, resentful, hateful, cynical and a whining sniveling malcontent. You will embrace and play the victim role in your life. 

If you chose to Embrace the Suck, Look for the Good and Dare to be Great you can grow and be strengthened by the struggles and the journey.

2. Look for the Good

Humans are hardwired through evolution for negativity; to constantly be on the lookout for danger. At one point in evolution it kept us alive. Today it can make us angry, frustrated and depressed. The media teaches us to focus on the bad, the violence, the injustices (real and perceived), the crime, the disasters and the suffering. They play an endless loop of the same crap to make sure you get the message that the world is bad, people are bad and you should feel bad. 

You can buy into that or you can restrict the news you watch and Look for the Good. Look for the good in the challenges, the obstacle, and the people. When you look for the good you can be strengthen by challenges, difficulties hardships and suffering. Let me be clear. There are dangers and dangerous people in the world. Environmental awareness and preparation are good things. Constant negativity and paranoia are not.

3. Dare to Be Great

This is about punching mediocrity in the mouth and engaging in the pursuit of excellence. It is striving to be a little bit better today than you were yesterday. This means that every day you have to engage in personal growth activities. You need to read, listen to podcasts or audio books, watch an educational webinar, watch a TED talk, watch an interview on ImpactTheory.com, or talk to someone who will challenge the way you think. It is important to understand that greatness / mastery / excellence is a dynamic process and not an end state. As soon as you start thinking you are great or have achieved mastery you will stop doing the work and your slide to mediocrity will begin. 

What’s Important Now? Embrace the Suck, Look for the Good and Dare to Be Great.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: The Most Courageous Act

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”

Coco Chanel

Read that quote a couple of times. Mull it over, reflect on what it means to you. 

When I read it it caused me to pause and think about what it meant. 

To me it is a caution against getting caught up in “group think”. 

It is about having the courage to speak up and disagree at a meeting or in a conversation.. 

It is about speaking up for what is right when it is not what is popular.

It is about the willingness to say No, or vote No. 

It is about addressing topics in your writings, your training or your presentations that may be contrary to popular or long held beliefs or historic ways of doing things and may upset some people.

You need to always be willing to explain why you believe what you do. What experiences information, research, evidence and knowledge are guiding your thinking. 

It is about accepting the fact that not everyone will agree with you and some will get vicious in their opposition and attacks on you because of your courage to, “think for yourself. Aloud.”

In my presentations I share the definition of courage from Jack Colwell and Chip Huth. They define courage this way, “To act for what is right, at risk to self, when members of your social group do not agree with the act.” I believe the risk here is generally not a physical risk. It is the risk we will upset others, we will get labeled, we will get shunned, we will get talked about behind our backs, or others will lash out at us. 

You also need to be open minded and continually reading, listening, learning and challenging your own beliefs. You need to have the courage and humility to say, “I was wrong.” and to change your thoughts and beliefs based on solid research and evidence to the contrary. 

Be respectful of others who think for themselves aloud. If you think differently, then engage in a respectful dialogue to learn about the other person’s position and rationale. 

What’s Important Now? Be courageous. Think for yourself. Aloud. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

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Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: Time

We all have the same amount of time in a day - 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, 86,400 seconds. The question is, “How are you using that time?"

You can spend time or you can invest time. 

You can try to find the time (and usually don’t) or you can make the time. 

You can waste time and kill time or you can put your time to good use.

The reality with time is that once it is gone you can never get it back. 

What’s Important Now? Be more intentional with your time. Use it and invest it well. 

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

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Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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W.I.N. Wednesday: They got lucky.

“They got lucky.” I hear that a lot from people talking about other people’s success. For some reason they want to attribute luck as the major factor for someone else’s success in business, in sports, in their careers and in life. 

Does luck play a factor? Sure. You can never take luck out of the equation. When you study those people whose success is sustained over time, luck played a very small role in their success. 

What you don’t see is all the work that went into creating their “lucky break”. You usually only see the end result of all their efforts - the success. 

When you go to see live theatre, a concert or a movie what you see is the end product of a lot of hard work. Each of the actors or musicians has committed a significant part of their life practicing their craft so they had the opportunity just to audition. Once selected for that role they then spent hundreds of hours practicing and rehearsing for that performance. The same is true for the writers and composers, the choreographers, the directors and the people who do the sound and lighting. 

When you watch a professional sporting event you are seeing the end product of thousands of hours of purposeful and dedicated practice that was required just to create the opportunity for the athletes and coaches to make that team and then the countless hours of physical and mental practice every day to hone their craft and prepare them for that game. If you are watching it on TV you are also missing all the work that went in to preparing for the broadcast by the play by play announcer, analyst, sideline reporter and production crew. You are also not seeing all the work by the production crew during the event to bring you a high quality production. 

In his book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones James Clear says, "Until you work as hard as those you admire, don’t explain away their success as luck.”

When my mom was still alive and people used to tell her how lucky my two sons were to have successful businesses in a tough market and down economy she used to say, “You are right and the harder they work the luckier they get.”

What’s Important Now? Study those you admire and learn about their struggles, failures, processes, strategies, mindset, habits and work ethic. Then, do the work.

Take care.

Brian Willis

www.lifesmostpowerfulquestion.com

www.winningmindtraining.com

Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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