Optimize Your Masterpiece Day!

What has become more crystal clear to me in regards to my personal mission, as well as, the mission of Alliance as a whole is to help people to truly become their best.. As I have been working through Brian Johnson’s Optimize Coach program I have begun to realize just how powerful this mission can be.

It is my opinion that very few of us have reached our true potential. Most of us are certainly not at our best on a consistent moment to moment basis. I don’t want to make that seem negative but rather frame it as a positive. What I really see is an incredible opportunity for growth!! If you tell me that I have reached my ultimate potential as a human being and that I can do nothing more to become better then I would hope I would be at the end of my life. At that point, I could move on to the afterlife knowing I had lived my life well. I hope I am far from the end and if you tell me there is no more room for growth I might be a little depressed.

What I want to share in this article is some of what we have been working on in the Optimize coach program to help in the journey towards optimization. We are in the process of developing a Carpe Diem Journal. The cornerstone of that journal is creating what we are calling a  Masterpiece Day. The goal of the journal is to seize each day by organizing it in a way where you are working on becoming a little better in a systematic fashion.

One of the first things we worked on is creating AM/Pm bookends which could also be considered morning and evening rituals.These are the times of day when you are less likely to be distracted.

We actually start with the PM bookend by getting to bed early enough to get a good nights sleep. Part of that ritual includes planning for the next day focusing on three main areas :

1. Energy
2, Work
3, Love

In each of these areas you:

  1. Create you specific identity
  2. Express the virtues you wish to embody
  3. Identify the one thing you will focus on in each area

    Another part of the morning and evening ritual is a meditation practice. I have strived to incorporate box breathing into a daily practice for some time but I have never been consistent with meditation. This particular Optimus meditation incorporates several things which I have found helpful in being consistent.
    1. breathing is simply inhale and exhale
    2. it incorporates affirmations focusing on certain virtues that may resonate with you
    3. It focuses on the three main areas of Energy, Work, and Love where you contemplate your identity, virtues, and one thing to focus on in each of those areas for the day.

    Here is the guided version of the meditation.
    Optimus Meditation.

    I hope you find some of these practices helpful in your own journey.

Alliance Warrior Code: Kaizen

In this discussion of the Alliance Warrior Code, I introduce one may favorite philosophies, Kaizen.Kaizen is a Japanese word or philosophy which means continuous improvement or progress.  The term was originally used to describe the philosophy which many Japanese businesses used to rebuild after World War II.  The idea is to focus on getting a little better everyday.  Small incremental change accumulated over time will render an extraordinary transformation.

In this age of quick fixes, the value of this philosophy is often overlooked.  This philosophy can be incorporated into many areas of our lives but one where it can be helpful in particular is with fat loss.

When asked what is a good goal for fat loss, my reply is typically about one to two pounds per week.  Yet more often than not ,when a person starts a new nutrition plan and they only lose one pound the first week, they become discouraged and often begin to stray from the plan shortly thereafter.  If they were to stay on this path they would lose 4 pounds in the first month.  This may not be that impressive but at three months this would lead to 12 pounds, at six months 26 pounds, and in a year, this same one pound loss per week, would lead to a 52 pound fat loss.

Sometimes, we see people unhappy with the one pound loss decide to use more drastic approaches to fat loss and as result lose weight much faster.  This faster approach can also be effective and while some are able to maintain and keep the weight off, many end up putting a lot of the weight back on.

Precision Nutrition is a company which has been  a resource I have used for years for nutritional information.  It is the basis from which we derived the habits we teach as third phase of our four phase approach to nutrition.  Precision Nutrition teaches a program called Lean Eating from which many have gotten remarkable results.  The Lean Eating program utilizes the Kaizen philosophy.  The program is twelve months long and the gist of the program is that you change one habit every couple of weeks.  This leads to monumental change over the course of a year.

What is interesting is that in the first two weeks of the program all you do is to eat slow and until 80% full. When I purchased the program several years ago I remember thinking, “Is this all there is?”  Yet by changing one small thing at a time, building a new habit and gaining confidence as you do, you create momentum and belief.  I have made this same recommendation on many occasions through emails about nutrition, nutrition workshops, and individual consultations. I am curious to know how many people I have made this recommendation to have continued to do so on a consistent basis.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, nutrition is only one place you can you can apply the Kaizen principle.  In your physical training it might be setting a new PR (personal record) by one rep, one pound, or five seconds. This may not seem like much but again the small incremental changes add up.  In jiujitsu these changes are sometimes harder to quantify.  Moving to the next belt level or doing well in competition or the easiest ways to see improvement. Some progress faster than others but I have  never seen anyone who consistently shows up to train  with a focused mindset who does not improve. What are some areas where you can apply this principle?  Remember it is not always about making rapid change but sometimes more about making small changes consistently.  I believe this is the most effective way to have long lasting results.

To your success on the Warrior Path,


Alliance Warrior Code Revisited: Honesty

Warrior creeds have been around for many years and act as a code of conduct and inspiration.  The Warrior Ethos help define these warriors, although different words have been used by the Samurai, Spartans, Marines, and other Special Operation forces around the world.

The Navy SEALs have a code which is as follows:

The SEAL Code
Loyalty to Country, Team, and Teammate
Serve with Honor and Integrity On and Off the Battlefield
Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit
Take Responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates
Excel as Warriors through Discipline and Innovation
Train for War, Fight to Win, Defeat our Nation’s Innovation
Earn your Trident everyday

We are revisiting the code for Alliance which helps define our core values.

The first value of the Alliance Code is honesty.  This  applies to being honest with others but, just as importantly, being honest with yourself.  In the past, you may have heard me quote Bruce Lee saying, “Being truthful with yourself is one of the hardest things to do.”.  I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment.

What I have begun to realize is that we all rationalize why we do what we do.  This rationalizing is just part of human nature, hard wired in our DNA.  It is very critical for our personal growth that we are aware of this desire to rationalize.  It is also a reason setting goals and having a strong “Why” are important.  Without the direction derived from having meaningful goals and a strong “Why”, we can fall into the trap of making excuses to ourselves and others for our actions.

I am guilty of  self-deception, as much as anyone.  

For example, during Kokoro Camp, I went through a period of time when I began to rationalize why I should quit.  My hips were killing me and I was barely able to pick my feet up when trying to run.  I felt that that I was slowing everyone else down on the runs.  While going through this self-dialogue, I would never admit that I was considering quitting because it was too hard, but rather that I may need to pull out because I was diminishing the experience for others! How was that for self-rationalization. And, if my “Why” had not been strong enough, I would have given into this rationalization for quitting.

We  make these rationalizations on a daily basis.  They can sound something like this,” it won’t hurt me to eat that desert, have that drink, skip that workout, or take it easy today.”. Sometimes these statements can be true. However, what is important, is that we are aware of this tendency and that we critically look as this potential self deception to insure that we continue to move towards our goals and continue to become the person we want to be.

My challenge to you is to take a look at what you are doing on a daily basis and be honest with yourself about the decisions you make.  Ask yourself the simple question, ” Are my actions congruent with my goals and the person I want to be?”. If your answer is consistently yes, then you know you are headed in the right direction.

To your success!



Future Me Visualization

This is another exercise I learned from Mark Divine.  The “Future Self” exercise is a visualization practice to help you see yourself as you would like to be.  As the saying goes, “If your mind can conceive it, and your heart can believe it, then you can achieve it.”

This visualization can also be thought of as creating or altering your identity. Of course, this exercise assumes that you want to change, evolve, or be a better version of yourself. In the book “Atomic Habits”, James Clear discusses the importance of identity and how it relates to creating new habits or breaking old ones. He says there are three layers of behavior change.

1. The first layer is changing your outcomes.
2. The second layer is changing your process.
3. The third and deepest level is changing your identity.

In the book, he says the problem is not that one layer is more important than the other but rather the direction of change. Many people begin by focusing on what they want to achieve. An alternative approach is to focus on who you want to become.

In his book, “I Forgot to Die”,  Khalil Rafati, has a transformative moment when his sponsor finally asks him a simple question, “Who would you be without your story?” Khalil was a recovering drug addict who had come from an abusive home, dropped out of high school, and now at nearly 40 years of age was challenged by his sponsor to let go of the past and focus on the future. Kahlil is now owner of Malibu BeachYoga and Sunlife Organics a popular juice and smoothie bar with over 10 locations throughout California which making millions of dollars a year.

The “Future Self” visualization is designed to help you become your best optimized self.

Start this exercise by finding a quiet place to sit and meditate.  Then begin by box breathing taking deep breaths in the following manner.  Breathe in for five seconds, hold five seconds, exhale for five seconds, hold for five and repeat.  While doing this method of deep breathing begin to visualize yourself as if you are the person you want to be.  How do you feel?  How do you look?  How do you act?  Continue to visualize yourself as this person until it becomes very real to you.

Once you have created your future self, begin to act “as if” you are that person.  If you, at anytime, are having difficulty seeing yourself as being successful, you can come back to this exercise to recreate your “future self” again and again.  The more you practice the more real it will become and the greater your chance of turning your goal into reality.

This exercise is one that is great to start the new year. It works best if integrated with the other exercises that are part of the spiritual challenge such as eliminating the negative stories and beliefs (BOO), positively believing you can achieve it (What Wolf Are You Feeding), and of course, massive action.

BOO (Background of Obviousness)

I want to introduce a very powerful exercise that Mark Divine refers to as BOO. I have mentioned this exercise many times in the past and you may recall that BOO is an acronym for background of obviousness. In general, the exercise is a deep introspection of our beliefs. The way I am presenting it can be done in four steps over the period of a week.

Step 1: Find a quiet place where you can think without interruption.  Begin by doing some box breathing for five minutes as you set the intention of examining your beliefs without judging the beliefs as good or bad. You are simply taking inventory of what is. You can do this exercise by examining your broad beliefs about yourself and life in general or you can pick a specific area or goal and focus on your beliefs about that. You can take one to two days to perform this exercise.
Step 2: After you have your list of beliefs, go back after a day or two and revisit the list. As you examine the list identify which of these beliefs is empowering and which of these beliefs is disempowering.
Step 3:  Of those beliefs you have identified as disempowering take a look at them and examine to see if they are actually true. What you may find is that you have been operating on beliefs that are not only disempowering you but are actually not even a true. For instance, we may have been told we are a certain way by someone who we held as an authority at some point in our life that upon looking back was totally false. We could have been told that we were fat, ugly, stupid, unathletic, etc. when we 10 years old by a 12 year old.  If we bought in it to that and it became part of your identity,  you have been operating under the authority of a 12 year old. You assumed it was true but now looking back you realize that belief was planted there not by someone who new the truth but simply by a 12 year old kid. This is known as operating under a Background Of Obviousness.
Step 4: Once we have examined our background of obviousness we can either eliminate those disempowering and untrue beliefs are we can alter them to be more empowering. For instance, when being coached in this exercise in the past I identified one of my beliefs as “Hard work pays off”. I admittedly was taken back when my coach suggested I alter that belief which I thought had served me well. She suggested maybe I reframe that belief as “Smart hard work pays off”. That was and AHA moment for me.

I hope you have some AHA moments doing this exercise as well.