As I work with many groups that focus on accelerating personal performance, crisis management and mental fitness, I would like to share a few key lessons on personal mastery that I have practiced and learned by getting exposed to hundreds of leaders across different disciplines from finance, entrepreneurship, environment, sports, and health. As this is a very extensive topic, I am going to focus on three areas which I believe have the highest potential for short term personal mastery. These are crisis management, wellness and longevity, and extreme performance hacks and suggestions that should be taken with criticism as none of these work for everyone and I am not a doctor.
Crisis Management: A good starting point is crisis management as we all go through risk, vulnerability and decision making that lead to failures and in a few cases to extreme pain and hardened recovery. I am going to start by arguing that a crisis is an opportunity in disguise, and we should never “waste a good crisis”. This is easier said than done but having gone through numerous crises in my life including the loss of family members when I was a child, loosing several businesses in my professional career and experiencing first hand terrorist attacks, I can share some lesson and best practices that I believe can an immediate impacts in your overall wellbeing.
- The people: I would like to start with the most fundamental element of your growth, which is surround yourself by high quality people, people you can rely on to find strength, learning, guidance, and friendship. These are going to be human elements that help you get back on track and regain confidence in yourself. These should also be the people that teach you, mentor you and love you. Also keep in mind that we become the average of the 5-6 people we spend most time with. This is a metric often used in coaching, healing, and empowerment practices.
- Control: Focus on what you have control over and let go of everything else forgiving yourself and/or anybody that have wronged you and that caused this crisis in the first place. From here, start building back a routine of actions and habits that make you happy, and strong as these are necessary for your resiliency. Ensure that you prioritize your inner growth, by learning something new day, and helping someone (even just through kindness) every day.
- Eliminate the Noise: Don’t listen to the noise, be it social media, and what other people may think of you and your choices. This is in my view the toughest one, as we are all affected by what other think, say or may think about us. The truth is, the sooner you learn not to be influenced by what other think of you, you will gain power, independence, and mental fitness. As you get rid of unnecessary noise, get busy reading, and find guidance and inspiration in great minds that have lived much worse crisis that we have.
- The time is finite: Realize that time is not renewable, and you have 1440 minutes a day that you should maximize getting better at accomplishing whatever it is that helps you build that positive incremental momentum. Once you acknowledge how much time we don’t fully live, you will become a master at saying no to things, and people that don’t bring value to your live. Early in my life about 10 years ago I started a list of people that I wanted to remove from my life. I felt bad about it, because several were acquaintance that I did not dislike, but upon better analysis, I realized they were people that only took from me and never gave anything back. Be tough on yourself as time if finite and try getting 1% better every day at time usage. The compound effect of all these 1% are going to transform you.
Wellness and Longevity: Wellness and Longevity have become the 2 buzzword and according to Mckinsey they represented about 1.5 Trillion dollar of spending in 2020. This is because more people are relying on new services that promise people to live happier and longer. I am a big fan as well, but I try to be selective in terms of what products, what wearbles device, and what personal hacks I use to ensure I become the best version of myself. Here are my favorite hacks that have generated measurable impacts in my overall well-being:
- Wearable: As I went through stressful time, I decided to test different wearable devices that helped me gain a good baseline of my physical activities, my heart rate, my sleeping pattern and my overall wellbeing. This is what I found out: a) Oura ring has been one of the easiest and more useful devices as it helps me monitor my overall wellbeing, and I could easily see how my mood and heart rate are correlated and how we should let go of unnecessary self-imposed arguments or stress, as it is not good for our health nor for our growth. Oura helped me get into breathing routine that created more mental relaxation. Overall a good device, but be aware that anything you were on a finger will also have level of inaccuracies as we move our hands a lot. The heart rate for example may not be so reliable if you are constantly moving. The biggest take away though, was that this ring showed me how good or bad my sleep was. Actionable advice coming out of this experience was; a) turn off your phone 2 hours prior to bed as it affects your sleep negatively; b) take little naps during the day, even 10 mins long as this helps restoring your strength and readiness levels. I also learned that my latency level (the speed at which we fall asleep) varies dramatically, when I was exhausted, I fell asleep in less that 5 mins (not good) and if I had watched too much television or had too much coffee it would take over 20 mins (also not good). Ideally according to Oura we should fall asleep in 10-20 minutes if we have a balanced lifestyle. Just in full disclosure, I do not represent nor work for Oura.
- Nutrition: There are many distracting trends out there, and I don’t have the magic answer either, but find the diet that fits your need and don’t over-rely on supplements. What works for me and what have transformed my performance is the following: a) Eat a lot of greens, including avocados (great fats), broccoli, arugula, zucchini, herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, basil) as they are very rich in polyphenols; b) eat organic and grass feed proteins, including eggs, cheese, chicken and read meat and wild caught fish; c) eat limited quality carbohydrate and if pasta makes you happy, eat quality pasta but not every day; d) load up on berries and pomegranate (pomegranate is one of the superfood that you should try having every day). Pomegranate help supply Urolithin A which keeps your mitochondria clean and keeps it running at its top capacity, and as a result it is supposed to keep you younger and stronger. Just to be clear, think of the mitochondria as the power plant of your cells. Things to avoid: A) You do not need sugar, particularly artificial sugar. So try getting your cravings for sugar via low sugar fruit; B) Limit to the maximum ultra-processed food including breads (particularly those produced through bleached flour), and other packaged foods; c) replace sugary snacks with raw almonds, seeds and nuts. On the nutrition side, being a big consumer of carbs, I found that using fat instead of carbs for my energy is way more efficient and creates much less free radical byproducts. If you you keep carb intake low your mitochondria will burn fat for energy, will help keep your higher level of faintness.
- Yoga: I found that practicing yoga 2-3 times a week, bring my wellness, happiness and longevity factors to a new level. I practice a mix of flow-sculpt yoga which focuses on both stretching, breathing and core built-up as this mix gives me more energy while building endurance, toned mussels as well as a peaceful overall well-being. One of the key lessons from this type of weekly practice, is that I have learned to breath from my belly, essentially lengthening my exhaling and shortening my inhaling. Long deep breathingis the number one key to activating the vagus nerve resulting in a lower heart rate. I found that practicing yoga helps me get into a meditation mode, and helps me reach the level of focus that I need to be happy, selective and impactful in my daily decision making.
Extreme performance; For those interested in achieving the highest impact in their lives and career, here following I am sharing a few of my personal hacks and simple steps that if implemented can help you achieve highest level of performance. It is a combination of the above best practices, but you should not expect to reach mastery overnight, as mastery is the result of limitless effort, focus and dedication. 1) Once again, start with what you have control, YOURSELF. Perform a complete clean up of things, people and efforts that don’t bring happiness and success to your life. The idea here, is to reduce the decision you make daily to focus on those that will yield the highest impact; 2) Write down every day (on your phone calendar or anywhere) the small achievements you have accomplished. All these small achievements will be massive when added together; 3) Find ways to strengthen your mitochondria as that is the “holy grail” of longevity and extreme performance. The mitochondria play an extraordinary role in keeping high your energy levels you should avoid at all cost fast food, poor sleep, and high stress levels. Movements and high intensity training are all mitochondrial enhancement hacks. I personally have added a few easy tricks that boost my energy level while helping mitochondria management. These are four low-regret actions: a) 1-minute cold showers done every day; 2) daily meditation of 5 minutes; 3) Soak up in the sun every day; and 4) get quality sleep.
-Limit the information that reaches your brain and seek extreme focus. When a bad thought come to mind, say out loud, NOT USEFUL as this will teach your brain not to go there
-Start with a good diet, exercise and good people around you and practice self-love every day
-Deadlines are always artificial and seldom lead to the consequences they anticipate. Approach your decision making in a more flexible way, and focus on those decision that can create incremental impacts
-Three books I highly recommend if you want to be happier, more impactful and reach a higher level of mental freedom: 1) The Obstacle is the way; 2) The Power of No; and 3) The Code of the Extraordinary Mind