How to “Find Your Purpose”

A couple months ago I did a podcast with the mental skills coach of the Boston Red Sox, Justin Su’a.  It was one of my favorite interviews I’ve done myself as well as heard anywhere on the inter webs.

One thing we talked about was Purpose.  Justin says that when his players define their purpose for playing ball and striving for excellence, their entire game changes.  When every little drill, every practice, every meal, every chance to get some recovery, etc. is tied to their purpose they do so with more enthusiasm and effort.  The small things don’t feel like a chore anymore, but rather are just a part of them pursuing their purpose.

We’ve all heard the term “Find Your Why” or “Find Your Purpose” before, but how many of us actually make time to sit down and think deeply about it?  On the podcast, Justin gave us 3 questions to ask ourselves to help us dive in and define our purpose.

How to Find Your Purpose

1. Why do you do what you do?

2. What do you want to accomplish doing what you do?

3. What do you want to be remembered for doing what you do?

Be the best person you can be. Add value to people’s lives – Which means listen, engage, spend time with, and give in general.

This is the recipe to deep human connection.

This is the recipe to “finding your purpose.”

This is the recipe to building a successful business (financially and by the impact you have on people’s lives).

And this is the recipe to being as happy as possible.

Don’t take shortcuts and don’t make exceptions.

This is one idea that I think all people can agree on, regardless of religious/spiritual beliefs. If happiness is a goal of yours, there really is only one way.

 

Track the Right Things

On a recent podcast I heard Seth Godin talk about “tracking the wrong things.” Click HERE to listen to the podcast. This is my interpretation of his message.

Many people are stuck tracking the wrong things.

We are often too focused on the job we DIDN’T get. The way someone looks at us in a way we don’t like. How many times we’ve made a mistake on a project. The number of fights we get in with our partner. Not making enough money. Our love handles. And a million more things that aren’t good enough.

Depending on what we focus on, we can always find imperfections in our life, and we can turn them into problems.

What if we tracked the moments of deep connection with our partner? The small successes throughout the work-day where you put out a fire or move the business forward. The things we like about our bodies. How much we love the quiet time in the morning (sorry newborn parents). What if we tracked the things that made us feel happy, confident and loved?

Find Your Hideout

After my spinal fusion surgery in 2013, I decided to stop competing in Crossfit competitions. I had been an athlete my entire life, and all of a sudden I felt like I didn’t know who I was. I had identified as an athlete for so long, and I no longer felt like an athlete.

So I threw myself into my career, into learning more about mental health, into a relationship with an amazing Canadian chick, and more. The past year I have learned more than ever in my life, but I have realized I was hiding out in a big area of my life.

I have an all-or-nothing personality, so when I stopped competing in Crossfit my personal physical health was pushed into a little corner of my mind and deemed about as important as learning to sew. Not at all.

Now I didn’t “let myself go” or anything, but I certainly wasn’t progressing physically or learning anything new or exciting.

I’ve been sad that I can’t compete anymore when I’m only 26. I’ve been insecure about people thinking less of me for not being an athlete.   I’ve been afraid of trying to get fit again and failing. Whatever that means.

These thoughts and emotions have led to me hiding out in this very important aspect of myself. I have been reaching and growing in every aspect of my life, except for this one.

So after I had this same revelation for about the 5th time, I took action. I bought a bow and started doing Jiu Jitsu. Within the first week of doing both, I knew I had done something huge for myself. I came out of hiding.

I am having so much fun learning and playing. I go to Jiu Jitsu class and get my ass kicked by people half my size, and I love it. I am a student again in the physical sense, and it feels amazing.

Most, if not all, of us have at least one area that we hide out in. Could be intellect, relationships, career, physical health, mental health, social life, etc. Many of us crush it in one area, and we often rely on that one to fill our cup and keep us happy. When we hide out and neglect part of ourselves, we can’t be the best versions of ourselves and usually end up pretty unhappy, stressed, etc.

I encourage you to do some self-assessment today.

  • What areas do you feel like you are pushing your boundaries in? How does that feel?
  • What areas do you feel like you are hiding out or getting complacent? How does that feel?

I don’t ever have to be a World Champion Jiu Jitsu artist to find enjoyment and excitement in it. The simple act of learning and trying hard to grow in all areas is all that I’m after.

Wisdom vs Knowledge

How many times have you read a good book or powerful article, or seen a video that gave you a new perspective on life only to forget about it within the first couple months?

Today we have more information coming at us than we can ever fully process. If we don’t immediately practice what we learn, we will forget it.

I heard Russell Brand say recently that Wisdom is “acting on knowledge.” When you learn something you like or love, use it because knowledge without action is useless.

Thought Hacking 101

You’ve probably heard some version of the phrase “we become what we think.” I’ve heard it for years in different variations probably all starting with watching “The Law of Attraction” when I was 16. It wasn’t until last week that I was reading Self-Coaching 101 that I fully understood the meaning.

First the book shows you HOW your thoughts lead to results, and then it gives you a step-by-step guide to changing your results by changing your thoughts.

It looks like this.

  1. Circumstance
  2. Thought
  3. Feeling
  4. Action
  5. Result

 

  1. Circumstances

 

A circumstance can be anything really. You stub your toe. Your boss tells you you’re getting a raise. A homeless person spits on you. You see a bird. Your wife is late for your birthday dinner. Etc.

Let’s stay with the last one as an example. Your wife is late for your birthday dinner.

 

  1. Thought

Next, we have a thought associated with the circumstance. Once you realize that your wife is late for your birthday dinner, you might think something like “She forgot about my birthday. She never used to forget my birthday. She doesn’t love me as much as she used to, and we aren’t as close as we used to be.”

 

  1. Feeling 

Next is the feeling associated with that thought. Now first realize what just happened. Your wife being late didn’t MAKE YOU feel anything. First you had a thought about your wife being late, and that is what will make you feel something. People cannot make us feel anything. Period.

Now let’s assume that hose thoughts make you feel scared, sad, and a little angry even.

 

  1. Action 

You say “Fuck it, I’m over this birthday dinner.” When she does come home, you’ve already withdrawn. You’re passive aggressive with her and a little rude. Even though she says “I’m so sorry baby my boss brought me into a long meeting just as I was about to leave, and I couldn’t’ even call to tell you I’d be late” you stay upset because you’d already made up your mind.

 

  1. Result 

She get’s upset because she has no idea where the attitude is coming from, and after 30 minutes of you being rude and withdrawn she storms off into another part of the house.

Notice how this result only confirms your original thoughts.

Now that I’ve given you that framework, I’ll show you exactly how you can change your results by first replacing your negative thought by a positive thought you believe. I suggest writing these down. Here we go:

 

  1. Circumstance

Your wife is late for your birthday dinner.

 

  1. Thought

This is where the work is done, and it all starts with awareness. This is the moment where we do have a choice. We don’t have to believe the first thought that comes to our minds. It’s just a thought. The problem is that most of us are so unaware, that we think we are our thoughts. First, take a deep breath and realize you are not your thoughts. You have the ability to focus on whatever thoughts you want.

So create a positive thought that you can believe.

“I’m sure she just got caught up in a meeting and is very excited to celebrate my birthday with me.”

If this still doesn’t quite fit well, keep trying on different thoughts until you find one that you believe, and has no negativity tied to it.

Watch how this changes the end result.

 

  1. Feeling 

Joy, Love, and excitement to hang out with your woman.

 

  1. Action 

When she walks in the door you throw your arms around her and say how good it is to see her.

 

  1. Result

She tells you “I’m so sorry baby my boss brought me into a long meeting just as I was about to leave, and I couldn’t’ even call to tell you I’d be late.” You say “No problem that’s what I figured!” (Notice how this confirms your original thought)

You have a great meal, drink some wine, and then have hot-sweaty-passionate sex with your wife.

 

Again, it all starts with the awareness of the fact that we are not our thoughts. I highly recommend writing a few of these down. It will help you do it in your head later.

Creating a Championship Team

Building a great team is about getting the right people on the bus, putting them in the right seat, and then giving them the resources to do great work. 

The Right People on the Bus

In Daniel Pink’s book Drive he classifies people into 3 groups. A, B, and C players.

A “C” player is someone who rarely does what is expected. They are late, sloppy, lazy, and negatively affect the culture of the team. NEVER hire a “C” player.

A “B” player is someone who meets the minimum expectations and nothing else. Shows up on time, gets mediocre work done, then clocks out. “B” players are not typically internally motivated and will need you to manage them. Some positions may be ok for a “B” player, but nothing that has to do with creativity, community, or leadership.

An “A” player is someone that goes above and beyond what is expected. They don’t do this for increased pay or notoriety but because they simply do the best they can do in every arena of life. With sufficient education and direction, they are self-managing and create great work. ALWAYS hire “A” players when possible

 

Finding the Right Seat

Once you’ve got the right people on the bus, make sure they are in the right seat. In other words, make sure they are doing what they want to do as it relates to your vision. You may have an “A” player in an admin role that simply hates managing and detail-oriented work. No matter how hard he/she tries, the work simply won’t be as good as if someone passionate about admin work was doing it.

Two things to try with employees:

  1. Give them the Kolbe test (take it yourself too) to learn about their conation – their natural way of getting things done. I learned that I am almost as high as they come in quick start (idea generation, project starter, etc) and as low as they come on follow through. There is no “good” or “bad” when it comes to conation. It just is. So I learned that I have to team up with people with a higher follow through that can make sure projects get finished and we stay on task.
  2. Ask them what they want to do. A good question to ask: What kind of work do you feel you could do for hours without getting tired of it?

Someone doing mediocre work might just mean that they are in the wrong seat. If you know you’ve got an “A” player, then just keep searching for that right spot on the team for them.

 

Make sure they know the vision, then let them take the reigns 

As the leader, it’s important to constantly remind your team of the vision. With that said, we know that one of the main motivations of man (and woman) is autonomy. In other words, keep telling them where you want to go, and let them do it their way.

Some of us like lots of structure, and some of us feel suffocated by any of it. Find out how much your team member likes and give that to them. Then let them complete the rest their own way.

The ability to make our own decisions and have more “say-so” over our jobs WILL significantly improve the quality of our work.

Conscious Acts of Kindness

My parents taught me to be a kind person, and to do things for others without being asked or expecting anything in return. The lengths I’ve seen them both go for a complete stranger is inspiring.   However, it wasn’t until I was recovering from drug addiction that I realized the power of serving others.

After my last relapse in 2008, my chief concern in life was to overcome the craving for drugs and alcohol. Some days it completely consumed me, and for months later some event would trigger that craving suddenly.

I worked the steps of AA repeatedly, went to hundreds of meetings and therapy sessions, and engaged with tons of different sober friends. But the one thing I attribute most to my success in recovery – serving others.

The final step in the AA book talks about serving others, and I took this VERY seriously. I worked with dozens of other alcoholics taking them through the steps. I let 5 different homeless people live with me at various times, a few of them for months at a time to help them get clean.

I was so self-centered at the time, always feeling sorry for myself, angry at the world, and in general pretty depressed.

When I started to focus more on others my mindset started to shift. This is not at all to say I stopped thinking of myself. Just the act of doing more things for other people gave me a different perspective on life.

I started to become aware of other people’s struggles, fears, hopes, desires, dreams, etc. I learned that my problems weren’t unique, and rather than feeling alone I felt a part of.

My good friend Doug taught me how to infuse this lesson into every aspect of my life. He’d be at a restaurant, and would strike up the deepest conversation with the waiter about what his dream in life was. By the end of the conversation the waiter would be glowing. He’d do the same with a homeless person or college professor.

 

Why should you do this?

On one hand, I have the unpopular belief that we are all connected in some way. We are the same thing just living in a different meat suit, with different past experiences, looking through a different set of eyes. So in that sense I think we owe it to each other to be as loving and helpful as possible.

The more direct, empirically proven reason is that when we help others WE feel happier and better about ourselves. Feeling like you are a good person doesn’t suck.

Humans are hardwired for connection, and by helping others we feel connected to them. Some psychologists say it’s a core need up there with food and water.

So help yourself by helping others.

Productivity – How to Get More Done in Less Time

By now, many people know that multi-tasking kills productivity. The problem is most people don’t know how to prevent too much information from coming in, and they end up multi-tasking anyway. Here are a few things that have helped me tremendously.

 

Batching – This is the absolute best thing I’ve ever found for productivity. Batching is simply grouping similar tasks into one, highly productive session. You can use the following technique for any activity from answering days worth of emails at once, to writing blog articles, to cleaning your house.

  1. Set a timer between 30-90 minutes. I would suggest starting out on the lower end, as most people don’t have the attention span at first to stay focused for 90 minutes.
  1. Turn your phone on airplane, unless the batched activity is phone calls.
  1. Make sure to use the restroom, grab water, and whatever else you might need for the 30-90 minutes.
  1. Begin working, and don’t stop until your timer goes off.

I will go through periods of time of being very diligent with this, and times when I’m not. I was reminded how powerful it is the other day on a plane ride to Pensacola. I realized I had no service on my phone, which prompted me to batch some work. In 2x 60 minute batching sessions I got done what I thought was going to take two or three days.

 

Eat that frog is a Bryan Tracy book I read years ago. The book can be summed up by saying that we should do the most “mission critical” item(s) first thing in our workday.

Most people have the most mental energy and focus in the earlier part of the day.

As the day goes on many things may come up, we may get distracted, etc.

To practice the “Eat that Frog” method is anti-procrastination in action. So rather than checking email, then instagram, then facebook, then email again before starting your most important work try it the other way around.

Another huge benefit of doing the important stuff first thing in the morning is that we get this feeling of accomplishment and confidence which influences the rest of our day.

The best way to use this technique is to make a list of your top 3 (or less) most important tasks for the following day. If you wait until the day of, it’s much easier to procrastinate.

 

Turn Your Cell Phone Notifications Off

Every time we feel that little vibration in our pocket we are distracted from what we were just doing. Studies show that it takes at least 5 minutes to really focus on a task, and some people take up to an hour to focus on “deep work.” So every time we feel that little vibration in our pocket we have lose at least 5 minutes of focus. Turning off your phone notifications can save you a TON of time.

“But Mike, how will I know when @lilfitnessenthusiast801 comments on my picture of my boyfriend and I at the beach? I just can’t.”

Yes you can, and you should. This is one of the simplest and most effective ways of saving your time, attention, and energy for thing that actually matter.

“But Mike I’m an entreprenuer. If I miss a text from an employee, I could miss something important. I just can’t.”

Yes you can, and you should. If your business really does require YOU to handle every single decision, read the E-Myth, and learn to give your employees the power to make decisions for themselves.

We have 18 employees at Brute that are all allowed to think and make decisions for themselves, and I can check my phone a few times a day (rather than 50) without the business failing.

I understand that text and call notifications can be hard to let go of, but I urge you to at least turn off your social media notifications.

Try a 48 hour experiment where you turn them all off. If your life starts to fall apart, you can turn them back on.

I hope these techniques help you as much as they’ve helped me. I used to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I had to do (still do occasionally). I also used to check email and social media like they were hits off a crack pipe (still do occasionally – the email/social media not the crack). By creating rules for myself, creating space for myself to do highly focused work, and removing temptations of constant checking of my phone, I rarely have those feelings anymore.

Sensory Deprivation Tanks (Float Tanks)

Adee and I are headed to a Sensory Deprivation Tank (Float tank) this morning in Austin, and I just wanted to encourage you to try one out if you haven’t done so already.

A float tank is basically like a personal enclosed bath that is set to your body temperature and filled with salt so you float when you lay down in it. It is also pitch black, so there is literally no external sensory input. You’re stuck in your head!

The idea is that when you remove all of your physical senses, you can get into a deeply meditative state faster.  You also can physically relax like you’ve never felt before.

Float tanks are the most restorative thing (mind and body) I’ve ever experienced. I will be more relaxed and mellow for days after a float.   It feels like the equivalent of being in deep meditation.

I can’t recommend them highly enough. Most cities have them nowadays. Check it out, and please let me know your experience.