The Ego Killers

Destroying our Egos

The secret to any resilience program is the ability to destroy one's own ego.  The ego is responsible for a person's self esteem or self importance, according to the dictionary.  However, we all have our own definitions of our sense of ego.  Pride has something to do with it.  So does fear of failure and not looking like an idiot in front of our friends.   Have you ever had a tough time saying you were sorry to someone?  That’s your ego playing with you.   Why is it so hard to say that we are sorry to people?  Perhaps we feel like we are losing and the other party is winning?  Or perhaps we feel like we are weak of we admit that we are wrong?  Whatever the case, saying you are sorry is one of the keys to helping to destroy your ego.  


Present Moment Thinking


When we worry about things that are in the future, or regret events that happened in the past (both circumstances are beyond our control and a waste of time), we are feeding our egos with the fuel that egos need to survive, the power of thinking.  So how do we successfully suppress our egos?  By being grateful for what we have in the present and bathing in every moment that we have around us in the now.  If you feel like this is a waste of time, you are listening to your ego.  By definition, the ego cannot exist in the present moment.  That is why it wants you to worry about the future or regret the past.  Starve your ego of this and you will be more happy and successful.  


Cherish Boredom


This is not as easy as it may seem.  We have been trained for years not to be “bored” or not waste your time by “day dreaming”.  Unfortunately, that is exactly what we need to do in order to successfully destroy our egos.  We are also constantly bombarded with requirements and stimulus that force us out of the non-thinking (ego killing) blocks into the worry and anticipation blocks.  That is not to say that we should simply sit down, put on our diapers, and not do anything.  What is means is that our “set points” should be that of awareness and gratitude.  We should tune into the feelings of others and serve others.  That does not mean that we are push overs or weak.  We draw our strength from our missions and execute those missions in a systematic and objective fashion.  However, when we are not actively executing, we should strive to be in a set point of relaxation, fascination, and most importantly, happiness.  


Resilience is the art of learning from the past in order to improve our performance in the present by not over anticipating the future.  This takes work and deliberate thinking tempered with large doses of not thinking and just “being”.  Successful resilience programs teach individuals how to function together as a team and to take one difficult moment at a time by developing personal missions that lead individuals down difficult roads that help them navigate through hardships. Eat the elephant one bite at a time and don’t think of the entire elephant.  We can accomplish great things when we don’t think too much about ourselves and truly tune into other people’s needs and the environment around us.  Our egos shut down when we associate ourselves as part of a larger system and our association with our ego dissolves.  This is difficult to accomplish but worth it. 



Weekly Assignment


This week, practice this line of existence.  See how it feels.  Try and document when your mind starts to race into the future or the past.  Try to identify what caused this line of thinking to happen.  Focus on others and helping them.  Do not overthink things and definitely do not dwell in the past or future for too long.  Whenever possible, admit that you are wrong and say you are sorry.  Do not let pride take control of your life 



For true resilience to occur, we must control our ego and suppress it, even kill it.  That is the only way to true resilience, and, to a certain degree, true happiness.  


“Lean into it!”


Dr. N

Finding Balance

This week's assignment is about finding your balance.  Psychological balance is very important, but that's not what I am referring to here.  Physiological balance declines in us as we get older, but with the right application of training, we can maintain and even improve our balance as we get older.  As you know, our physical resilience, in this case our balance, is linked to other elements in our minds such as self confidence and our energy systems.  If you train yourself to sit around and lie on the couch, you will get really good at doing that.  Not saying that lying on the couch is a bad thing, but getting out and training everyday should be what we do to maintain and improve upon our human vessels that carry us around day after day.

Balance primarily boils down to three primary elements, all of which degrade with age.

1. Our balance depends on our vision, which may degrade with age.

2. Our inner ear plays a major role in our balance system, this system also degrades with age.

3. The final part of the equation is the musculoskeletal system and the proprioceptors that help us find our place in the world.  

Numbers 1 and 2 are pretty much a given as we get older.  Our bodies do not last forever, but, with training, we can work on number 3 and perhaps compensate for degradation that occurs in the first two.  And it can be fun.

Working on balance starts at a young age.  We learn to sit up, crawl, walk, and run.  All of these exercises engage all of the systems mentioned above in one way or another.  We LEARN how to balance and then we take it for granted.  Practicing and strengthening our balance is something we should do on a daily basis.  Adopt a use it or lose it mentality, because balance (along with flexibility) degrades with age and nonuse.  

Start off with basic exercises such as standing on one foot or basic yoga moves.  You can also take up a basic gymnastics class and challenge yourself.  Sports such as stand up paddleboarding challenge your balance in safe ways (you fall in the water if you lose your balance) and conditions can be very challenging in the ocean.  Last month, I raced in a paddleboard race across the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia.  This race was one of the most challenging races and my balance was put to the test for four hours!  

Balance boards are incredible ways to work on your balance.  Some are better than others and come with various challenging levels.  The ISO board by Coastal Authority (  is the one that I use, and have used it since 2015, when training for the Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard race.  This system helped me to train for conditions that I could not replicate, living in Florida, for a paddleboard race that was in Hawaii.  I also have competitions with my kids, which they win.  I think the record to stand on the board is 21 minutes!

So you see, working on your balance can be fun, rewarding, and definitely worth it when you consider that balance is something that degrades with age.  I remember having a conversation with a 70 year old retired SEAL who was still training really hard with general physical fitness exercises.  He told me that the biggest thing that he noticed as he got older was his balance going downhill.  Working on our balance now and building our balance system as you get older is another part of physical resilience.  

I am a firm believer that our minds can will us to be whatever we want to be.  Don't fall into the mentality that you are too old to take up a new sport, even if that sport requires you to fall (safely) every once in a while.  Your balance system, and your body, will thank you if you do.

"Lean into it!"

Dr. N


Extreme Failures


Let’s not sugar coat this one.  We are in a different time where political correctness reigns supreme.  Failure is something that we don’t want to experience, let alone talk about.  Everyone is a winner.  No one really fails because we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.  People don't fail, they just make poor choices.  We want to include everyone in the winner’s club and not hurt feelings.  The bottom line is that we all fail from time to time.  In fact, if you don’t fail, then perhaps you are not challenging yourself hard enough or even worse, you may have settled for the status quo.  


Settling for the status quo is equivalent to failing, even though you may not necessarily “fail” at anything.  Challenging yourself beyond your limits and failing is better than winning in your comfort zone.  By failing, and failing hard, you learn what needs to be done in the future and you develop strategies that set you up for future success.  But what if you never reach your goal?  What if your goal is something that may be out of your reach?  is this a good thing or a bad thing?  


Psychologists and happiness experts agree that setting goals too high and never attaining them can lead to frustration and dejection.  Setting incremental goals that are attainable (yet challenging) is the key to developing the right psychological stance to achieve more and more goals moving forward.  For example, when you learn how to play a musical instrument like the piano, you don’t set the goal to play one of Chopin’s Etudes in the second month of taking lessons, unless you are a savant on the piano!  The same goes for other goals.  Develop realistic, yet challenging, goals that you can attain in the near future.  Each goal will be different.

If you fail at some of your goals, fail quickly and learn from the failure so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes.  Some failures will be easier to take than others.  Keep your ego in check and try not to get emotional about it.  If it hurts, cry it out and move on.  The next goal is waiting for you, and your friends and family are counting on you to move on.  Don’t let them down (or yourself).  

So what do I do if I have an extreme failure?  Here are some tips (can you add to the list?)

  1. Fail swiftly with minimum emotional impact.
  2. Write down what went wrong and what lessons you learned.
  3. Develop a positive outlook on the failure and realize that it is only temporary and does not reflect your inner state.
  4. Even if you feel like crap about the failure, force yourself into a state of happiness by thinking of a similar event where you were successful and truly focus on that event.
  5. Go outside into nature and be grateful of what you see.  Soak it all in and reboot your brain.
  6. Before you begin the activity again, visualize success by using your lessons learned from your failure, combined with your inner sense of confidence and trust.   

Weekly assignment.

Write down the major failures in your life.   Did you learn anything from them?  Remember that each failure is an opportunity to grow and turn the failure into a positive experience by learning from the mistake and moving on.  Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t sweat if your list is long.  If your list is not long enough, perhaps you need to challenge yourself more and keep your ego in check or better yet, take your ego and throw it off a cliff.

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N

Through the Eyes of a Child

The eyes of a child are very special.  They relay information that is hidden in later years by experience.  I learn everyday from my children.  They teach me to see the world in a different, non-complicated way.  They teach me:


-True Passion


-Living in the moment

-Simple Happiness

-Boundless Energy


Discovery.  I remember a long time ago I was on a flight to Paris.  It was an Air France flight and everything was in French.  It was really neat to hear all the different sounds and I really got a kick out of it.  As I sat there, really getting into all the neat sounds I realized that the person sitting next to me (French) was getting a little annoyed or was really surprised that I truly found this otherwise common situation interesting.  The message here is to always continue to be curious about things.  Take interest and fascinate yourself.  This attitude is contagious.  I can’t tell you how many times my daughter Eva has looked at me with excited huge brown eyes at a letter in the mail box addressed to her ora frog that she has found in the backyard.  Make discovery a part of your life.

True Passion.  My kids are very dramatic.  Passion runs in my family and my wife’s family.  The kind of passion I am talking about is contagious.  You know what I mean.  The passion in the eyes of my son as he tells me “I am the fastest runner!” He then takes off (in the house) running at full steam.  This type of passion is never lost.  It lies in the deepest corners of our spirit.  Tap into it.  Let yourself really feel it!

Boundless Energy.  My uncle once told me when looking at my velociraptors (that is what I call most of my kids), “if we ran around like them we would be dead tired.”  The reason that kids have that much energy is that they don’t know any better.  Ever notice how soundly they sleep at night?  Part of it is youth but from experience I know that the energy cycle is a circular one.  The more we consciously do more active things the more energy we get.  Proper nutrition as well as plenty of rest helps as well.  If you have less energy than you want, change your lifestyle and be more active.  Maybe a series of activities throughout the day that are less intense will do the trick.

Living in the Moment.  My son wants me to build legos with him all the time.  When I tell him that I will come upstairs after I clean the kitchen he replies, “But that will be a long time!”  Kids lack the concept of time.  They know that things will occur in the future but they seem to have an unbelievable way of living in the present.  You can see it in their eyes.  Living in the moment ties to true passion.  The sense of pure excitement when eating a brownie.  The total concentration of pouring a make believe tea in a little pony cup.  You get the picture.  No external thoughts or complications.  Total concentration.  I can learn from this.  I really can.

Simple Happiness.  My kids have a lot of toys.  Not an overabundance but a lot of them.  Some of the toys have over a thousand pieces in them, like some of the lego sets.  Some of them are electronic master pieces, like the Wii.  The most fun that I ever saw my kids have was with a cardboard box from Sami’s Bakery in Tampa.  The kids immediately began playing with this box and pretended to be monsters coming out of the box.  The simple fun that they had lasted for days and days.  This simple happiness leads us to our final destination, imagination.

Imagination.  “I’m bored”, is the joke that we tell our 13 year old twins.  The reality is that you want your kids to be a little bored.  Not bored to the point that they will get themselves into trouble.  A little boredom, however, will stimulate creativity.  It will drive imagination and allow them to create and think.  Always having something to do or a place to be will create a whirlwind in a growing brain.  Stimulate imagination through periods of reflection (even my 5 year olds do it to a certain extent),  and yes, boredom!  Until next time, take care, and look into a child’s eyes. You will be surprised at what you learn.

Your assignment for the week is to foster a child like approach to things.  If you feel like you are out of your comfort zone when you do it, then you are on the right track.  What kinds of activities or approaches can you develop this week that will help you to see things the way a child sees things?

Dr. N


The Art of Gossip

The Art of Gossip

“Those who gossip with you will gossip about you…”  This quote, along with many others, relate the age old art that we have all engaged in from time to time.  So why do we do it?  Why do we feel bad after we do it?  And why do we continue to do it even though we know that it is not a good thing to do?  We gossip for many reasons.  

Feel Included

We typically see this with teenagers.  If people are not involved in a common goal, they tend to try to find one for connection.  However, this connection may not always be a healthy one, and gossiping finds its way in.  To  feel included, try and find healthy activities that involve physical and psychological components and everyone joining together for one common goal. Perhaps raise money for a cause like Night To Shine, or do a race as a team (Spartan Race) to help in feeling like you are connected. Common goals help in avoiding gossip from rearing its ugly head.  


My wife always tells the kids “Blowing out someone else's candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter.”  We all have that little green monster called envy that appears.  It happens to the best of us.  People gossip about those whose lifestyles they envy.  Any time you start to feel jealousy or envy creep in, ask yourself what steps can I take to be more like that person?  If they are a faster runner, get out there and train. Take the necessary steps to better yourself instead of putting that other person down with gossip.  Make yourself a better person, and turn that envy into self-admiration!  

The Power Trip

When someone confides with you the deepest darkest secret that you are sworn to take to the grave, you may be tempted to tell others about the situation.  Why?  Because you feel a sense of power that you know something nobody else knows about the person.  You may be craving attention from others or want to feel important. Either way, your potential to gossip goes up when you are holding a powerful secret. Take the higher road and keep your word. 

Gossip is Lying

When we lie, we deceive other people (and ourselves) for various reasons.  We lie to save face, to protect others from harm, and to make ourselves feel better about ourselves.  We may gossip for the same reasons since gossiping is a form of lying.  If we gossip about a person, and then see that same person and are nice and cordial, we are lying.  Lying can destroy our psychological states and create a situation that is detrimental known as cognitive dissonance. 
This is a state of psychological stress where you hold two beliefs about a person or situation, and this causes our brains to rapidly move from one position to another, causing anxiety.  This is the situation that occurs when we gossip.  We say something about a person behind their backs; then we see the person and do not reveal what we are truly thinking.  Gossiping, just like anything else, can become a habit where we spiral down into cynicism and sarcasm, dragging everyone else around us down with us.  What we say and how we say things have powerful implications to those around us.  The wise saying to think before you speak comes to mind.  What will be the interpretation of what you are about to say?  Will the person receiving your message interpret it as a negative message?  Are you gossiping about someone or what you are about to say something you would say to their face?

We Gossip to Feed our Ego

Our egos drive us to gossip.  Our egos feed off of pumping ourselves up by talking badly about others behind their backs.  We gossip because it makes us feel better about ourselves, in the short term.  One of the most powerful things that you can do to feed the ego is gossip.  When you gossip, you pump yourself up by talking badly about someone who is not their to defend themselves.  The ego is protected by time and space.  If the person were there to defend themselves, then your ego could be threatened or damaged.  Gossiping is the safest way to feed your ego, especially when someone is there to listen and even agree with your musings.  Feeding your ego is easy.  Starving the ego is even easier.  Switch from a position of gossip to a position of gratitude or non-thinking.  Perhaps you can write in gossiping as part of your personal creed.  You may refer back to your creed everyday in order to stop gossiping in its tracks.  I find that living in the moment and concentrating on the environment around us helps us not to gossip about others.  If you are with someone else, change the topic of the conversation or simply tell the other person that you are working on not gossiping.   

Recently, I decided to talk badly about someone behind their backs who had been pissing me off for a long time.  I don’t usually fall into the gossip trap but I did that day.  I can’t describe how badly I felt after the gossip session.  It felt like I had betrayed the other person and thought about all the good things that the person had done for me over the years.  I gossiped perhaps to feel better about myself and to feed my ego with inflating platitudes?  Gossiping is wrong and should be avoided.


Pay attention to your gossiping this week.  Notice yourself when you are about to gossip and use the tips from this article to counter the action.  I firmly believe that if you eliminate gossip from your life, you will eliminate stress and negative energy that causes you to be unhappy.  Write down in a notebook every time you feel jealousy this week.  Write down exactly why you are jealous of that person and take steps immediately to better yourself or improve your position to avoid envy and gossip from entering into your life.  Eliminating gossip is a sure recipe to happiness and attracting the positive energy of others.

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N


Sometimes, There is No Why!

Resilience is the art of not only bouncing back from adversity, but actually thriving in it.  In order to do this, in general, we often need to find the meaning behind our actions and, more specifically, the meaning behind our set backs.  By finding meaning in our set backs, we develop a new way of looking at the adverse situation and this brings us a sense of confidence, renewal, and yes, resilience.  This process, called cognitive re-training or restructuring, is the cornerstone of building a resilient life style.  For example, when a loved one dies, we flock to find out the why and are relieved to find out that the death was caused by something that was justified or even preventable.  This makes us feel better about our own life.  We say or perhaps think, "I would not have done that," or "Cancer does not run in my family."  

Children with disabilities are another example of a poor answer for why.  I remember being at the beach with a family with a son with Cerebral Palsy.  They told me that they had taken him out of all therapy and were just enjoying life.  He seemed happy to be there, and the parents seemed content enough.  I did not ask them why they thought their child had CP, but I suspect the answer would not have been substantial.  When children have disabilities, the why becomes very difficult to find. 

If anyone has ever taken my classes or listen to me speak, you know that I talk about my youngest daughter who has ASD.  She has been my why for a couple of years now because she is the only person that I know who truly knows how to live in the moment.  She has shown me how to live my life and, more importantly, has helped me to help others to better their lives.  Her why is very straightforward, and I am fortunate to have found one with her.  Sometimes, as we will see next, the why is virtually impossible to find. 

Human arrogance demands that we know the why behind everything...

My father died at the age of 62 when I was 19 of a massive heart attack.  The why was pretty simple.  He did not take the best care of himself.  He ate the wrong foods, did no exercise, and had a history of heart attacks in his family.  In my opinion, he died prematurely of a preventable disease.  This happens all the time.  We find the why and it helps us to get over the event.  Even in a life altering event like that, finding the why brings a certain level of peace and tranquility to others who survive the event, and helps them to perhaps correct behavior in their lives to prevent the same thing from happening.  Certain situations, however, require something more powerful than finding the why.  Certain events are so unimaginable that finding the why approaches the absurd.

The events of 9/11 come to mind, as well as the events of Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. When we go through these events in my cognitive re-training class, we try and find the why but it becomes very difficult, even ridiculous.  Perhaps human arrogance pre-disposes that everything needs to have a why?  Perhaps we do no understand as much as we think we do?

Not finding a why leads to Faith

I did the cognitive re-training exercise with one of my Department of Corrections classes back in 2012.  We ended up doing the Sandy Hook Elementary disaster as part of a cognitive re-training exercise to attempt to find a why.  The exercise was very emotional; people were crying in the classroom, including me.  How can one find a why in such a tragedy?  We did.  One of the Officers brought up that God had called the children home.  Even though it did not bring the children back, you could feel a sense of peace come over the class.  We find this Faith message in many disasters that occur all over the world, from terrorist attacks to natural disasters like hurricanes.  Our Faith helps us through adversity when the why is not there.   

Getting Out of Your Own Way

This weekend, I decided to go offshore and train in the open ocean for the first time in a long time.  The last time I had encountered the open ocean's energy was in 2015 during the Molokai to Oahu (M2O) World Championships of Paddleboarding.  Needless to say, I was humbled yet again by mother ocean.  We started our run at dawn and immediately had a white out from a rain squall that surprised us out of the South.  After a couple of minutes, we resumed our run in the direction of  the following seas.  The following seas were the result of Hurricane Harvey, so the ocean was very confused, powerful, and angry.  After falling in a dozen times and trying to get my rhythm, I realized that I needed to train more in the ocean than in the comfort of the less challenging bay.  Almost at the same time, I realized that this lesson was a metaphor for life. 

Many times, we create "false realities" and excuses in order to not push ourselves too hard and fail.  We hide behind our titles, our age, our cars, and other possessions that stop us from experiencing life to the fullest.  Let's take our titles for example.  How many times have you thought "I am too mature to do this" or "mothers don't do this or that."  Perhaps it was jumping into a swimming pool with a bunch of your kids at a party.  Or perhaps it was volunteering for a challenging position at work that you did not really want to do.  We tend to hide behind our own egos that prevent us from reaching our true selves.  We laugh when people ask us to do something that is out of the ordinary or think "I am not strong enough" or "that is too childish for me" or "I wouldn't do that unless..."  We tend to make excuses and realize our own self fulfilling prophecies even before we try something new or challenging.

We also tend not to do certain things because we are "waiting" for the perfect moment to arrive.  This is the equivalent of not going out into the open ocean because we need to wait on a larger board, or wait for the perfect swell with wind (we had no wind the day we went out and it made it nearly impossible to catch the 13 mph ocean runners), or even wait to get in better shape!  All these elements contribute to calcification of our actions in the form of to many "if only" statements.  

"If only I had a larger board, I would go out in the larger swells." 

"If only I made more money, I would go on a vacation." 

"If only I wore more expensive clothes, people would respect me more."

The above statements are based on fear, and help you to stagnate and not take the risks that may make your life more exciting and rewarding.  FEAR stands for False Events Appearing Real.  We tend to wallow in fear too much and not go for it.  Critically looking at my journey into the open ocean with the wrong board, under the wrong conditions, and using a different paddle than what I was used to we find this simple fact:  I learned a lot and grew as a paddler.  The lessons that I learned that day will stay with me for the rest of my life.  Did I fall?  Yes.  Did I feel like the ocean was chewing on me and spitting me out?  Yes.  Did I get back up?  Every time. 

The author on a needed break from the ocean swells.  

The author on a needed break from the ocean swells.  

Your assignment for this week is to make a list of all of the items that are on your "if only" list.  Write them all down and take a look at them.  Why are you getting in the way of accomplishing this list?  What steps can you take to begin accomplishing the items on this list?  Getting out of your own way is the first step in accomplishing these tasks.  Enjoy!

"Lean into it!"

Dr. N


For an active discussion on this topic, please visit our forum here.  

Service: The Antidote to Narcissism.

We all have been with self-centered, egotistical, and even narcissistic individuals.  Perhaps we have been that way in the past or even are that way now.  Odds are, however, that if you are reading this, you are interested in bettering yourself and not going down the road of the narcissist.  However, we all have tendencies to be selfish.  That is simply part of human nature.  

Narcissists are Insecure

At the core of a narcissist is an individual that does not think highly of himself or herself.  The sad thing is that perhaps they don't even know it.  They may simply be manifesting a fake side or front to cover a deeply rooted hatred of themselves.  Understanding this is the first step in turning those negative, destructive attitudes into more positive, self affirming ones.  

Service is the Key

When we serve others, we don't think about ourselves and concentrate on the others.  We give freely our time and energy so that others may benefit from our work.  This should be above and beyond the natural service of our jobs.  Many times a month, when individuals "thank me for my service" for being in the military, I appreciate their comments but with temperance. I realize that I was fulfilling a job or duty and think of it less as service.  Service implies a selfless act that is not associated with any type of compensation or even perhaps recognition.  When we truly serve others, we don't ask or expect anything in return.  If we expect something in return, whether that something is monetary or otherwise, we enter into a more transaction oriented relationship and less of a service oriented relationship.  

Serve Freely and Serve Often

How mush should you serve?  As often and as freely as possible.  If you find yourself even wishing for a moment for a reciprocation of your actions, then stop thinking about how you will gain from the situation.  You are not truly serving.  Remember that true service is selfless and without reciprocation.  If someone does something great for you in the future, accept it for what it is, not a "pay back."  In that respect, I don't believe or prescribe to karma.  I do prescribe to service.  If you are at home, to more than your perceived fair share of the house work without any regard for what the other person might be doing or not doing.  If you think you are doing more than your fair share, whether you are at work or at home, then stop thinking about that and just continue to accomplish your mission.

Serving Yourself is not Service

Start the week off by making a list of service oriented behavior that you do.  Now cross out the acts that you get paid to do, and then delete the actions that you expect something in return.  How many actions are left?  Don't be surprised if your list is rather small.  That is normal, especially if I have challenged your definition of service this week.  I just want you to know that your list can grow starting today.  You simply have to change the way you think about service and the way you think about your own relationship to it.  Remember that if you get something or expect something in return, you are not truly serving, at least by this definition.  Also, if you are getting monetary benefits from the service, or that it is part of your job, you are not truly serving, at least by my definition.  No need to get upset, let's challenge ourselves to truly serve this week, and nip that narcissistic side of us before it potentially takes us over.

Dr. N

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The 75% Solution

My father always told me, “The better is the enemy of the good.”  Later in my career, I heard the expression,  “Good enough for government work.”  You may also be familiar with the phrase, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  Sometimes waiting to execute perfection yields stagnation and inaction.  That does not mean that you shouldn't strive for perfection.  It means that you should take action sometimes, even if you are not 100% ready.  Because you may never be.

The 75% Solution Meets the iPhone

In my studies for my MBA, I read about companies that would beat their competition to market by having a 75% solution.  The company would not have the perfect product, but it was good enough to bring something to market and beat the competition.  We see this all the time in business.  We saw it with the iPhone 1 in 2007.  The product launched with many flaws (a lack of copy and paste if you remember) but Apple Inc. definitely beat the competition to market.  Sometimes you have to just take a risk and act, even if you are not 100% ready.

That does not mean that you should act without thought.  It just means that, as a general rule, we should not let ourselves get bogged down by indecision and second guessing when the answer may manifest itself when we make the jump, or take the risk.  Don't be afraid to make mistakes. When you make a mistake and learn from it, the mistake does not count as a mistake.  

Flourish in the Mistakes

Too often, we exist in a place where perfectionism and zero mistake tolerance is the norm.  I often think to myself that if you are not making mistakes, you are probably not trying hard enough and you are definitely not pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.  Making mistakes is how we learn.  The 75% solution is good enough for most instances.  Besides, how much work must be put into a project to attain 100%?  Often times, we will never reach the 100% solution and just waste time and resources to get there.  How many projects or activities have you never started because you were afraid of failure?  The 75% solution allows for failure so that you can learn next time.  Very similar to spiral development in the software industry, the 75% solution helps you try new things and not fear failing.  Just pick up that microphone and start singing...   


I find that the most difficult part of getting anything done is actually beginning the task.  Tasks often appear more difficult than they actually are.  This is normal especially if we do not know what to expect, or lack experience in the task, then we are less likely to want to start it.  This weekend, I procrastinated fixing my toilet because, even though I bought a kit from Home Depot on how to do it, I don't have that much experience fixing toilets so I did not want the frustration of failing.  Being afraid of failure is worse than the failure itself.  

SEAL Training=Compartmentalization

I remember in SEAL training,  I would often take one day at a time.  When the going got really rough, and believe me it did get rough most of the time, I would take the training one hour at a time, then one meal at a time.  In resilience, this is known as compartmentalization of the stress.   In business, accomplishing the project at hand may be as simple as the old Nike saying, "Just do it!” 

Leaders Don't Fear Mistakes

Concentrating on the positive of a task and not arm chair quarterbacking those who work for you will yield the best results.  Your job as a leader is to foster a can do attitude and create an atmosphere of ownership in your team.  Your members will not be afraid to make mistakes (remember they are trying if they make them) and they will be more productive even though they are making the 75% solution.  Better to attempt to solve a problem than to over think it and never act!  The better is the enemy of the good.  Thanks dad!

Dr. N

This week, think of some projects that you have not started because you fear failure.  Think of the 75% solution and start them, even though you may make mistakes.  I'll start fixing my toilet tomorrow...


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Forget Supposed To...

Resilience is a state of thriving in the unexpected and loving the challenge.  When you have too much "supposed to" in your life, you threaten your happiness, your cognitive capacity to thrive in the unknown, and perhaps even your health.   

I had a conversation with my friend the other morning and he expressed some concern about his son who was "supposed to" go to college and chose not to.  This was causing some stress since the father's expectations did not align with his son's expectations.  Have you ever experienced this situation?

Having too much "supposed to" in your life creates unnecessary stress.  

When you say that you are supposed to do something, you generally don't agree with the decision or process that you are describing.  An underlying desire exists that creates a sense of cognitive dissonance.  This cognitive dissonance creates stress (you may not even feel it) that degrades your happiness, diminishes your capacity to adapt to navigate unknown situations, and even may suppress your immune system.  

Are you following your true passion when you are "supposed to" do anything?  

Probably not.  If you were following your true passion, you would use a different phrase then "supposed to."  20 plus years ago when I went through SEAL training, I did not tell people, "I am supposed to go through SEAL training, so I am going to go do it."  That terminology never crossed my mind because I was super motivated and excited about going through the training.  I said "I am going to go to SEAL training" or "I want to go to SEAL training."  Using supposed to implies that you do not want to do the event or that somehow you are being "forced" to do it.  

Nobody can force you into doing anything.  

Using too much "supposed to" is dangerous because you go down the path of self defeatism or worse, blaming others for a decision that you truly don't want to execute.  You are in ultimate control of everything that goes on in your life, even the things that you cannot control.  You may not be able to control everything, but what you can control is how you react to the things that are beyond your control.  You can start with what you say to yourself and work from there.  For example, even if you know you have to go to work tomorrow, you can change your language from "supposed to" to want to.  You will feel better about going to work and have a better attitude.  If, however, you continue to modify your language in this way for too long, it may be time to look for a different job.  Either way, you gain control of the situation; you are always in control.

Changing your Perspective

How should we deal with the things that we must do?  Do them with enthusiasm and motivation.  Change your language from "supposed to" to "want to."  

"I am supposed to be more successful."    "I want to be more successful; how do you do it?"
"My son was supposed to go to college."  "My son did not want to go to college."
"I was supposed to be more successful by now."  "I want to be more successful; how do I do it?"
I am supposed to go to work."  "I want to go to work; if I don't, then I should change careers."

Words are powerful tools that we use.  When you use to much "supposed to" and not enough "want to," you lose control of your life.  You are relinquishing your control and giving it to your actions.  By changing your language to more want to, then you gain control of your actions and reduce your stress.  

This week, gain control of you life by forgetting your "supposed to" events.  Write down a tick mark every time you use "supposed to" or "have to" to describe something that you will accomplish or have accomplished.  

Take a mental note on how you feel at the end of the week.  Forgetting "supposed to" is the first step in gaining control of you life and increasing your resilience.

Dr. N

P.S.  If you want to join us in a discussion regarding this topic, click here.