Optimize With Brian Johnson | More Wisdom In Less Time



OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson features the best Big Ideas from the best optimal living books. More wisdom in less time to help you live your greatest life. (Learn more at optimize.me.)


  • +1: #1050 Galileo on Optimizing

    +1: #1050 Galileo on Optimizing

    19/02/2020 Duración: 04min

    In our last couple +1s, we’ve been hanging out with Emerson, playing the “I Love You!” game and taking a quick look at the story of our world.   Today we’re going to spend a little more time with Emerson and history.   First: Quick aside.   At the Optimize Coach graduation weekend, it was amazing how many of our Coaches came up to Alexandra and me and told us how much THEIR KIDS loved seeing Emerson in the +1s. (I actually got misty typing that.)   They told us that the +1s with him were a great way to share the wisdom with their kids and that their kids looked forward to more +1s with the little philosopher.   So… Here we are.   Now…   Back to The Story of the World: Volume 2: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance.   After the fall of Rome, Western Europe entered what is known as the “middle ages” or the “dark ages.” Then there was a “rebirth” or renewed interest in ancient ideals that fueled the Renaissance.   As you know, a key player in the Renaissance was a guy named G

  • +1: #1045 What’s 1 + 1?

    +1: #1045 What’s 1 + 1?

    14/02/2020 Duración: 03min

    In our last +1, we had fun with the ultimate riddles of life—from skunks and giraffes to watches and pearls.    And… The answer to pretty much all of life’s riddles?   Love.   After Emerson gave me that answer to the hero-virtue riddle, we went to visit the ladies in the bath to tell mommy about his answer.    Which, of course, led to a whole ‘nother round of riddles.    Today we’re going to talk about the riddle I got from Ellen Langer—the “mother of mindfulness” research and the creator of the “psychology of possibility.”   In our interview, she asked me this little riddle…   Ellen: “What’s 1 + 1?”   … Before we carry on, whaddya think? What’s 1 + 1? …   Got it? Awesome.    Now, back to the show…   Ellen: “What’s 1 + 1?” Me: “Uhhh…”    (The quick look inside my head in that moment: “I know the answer can’t be 2 but…” “Hmmmm…” Insert thought from Part X: “Well! At least we’re filming this so I’ll look ridiculous!” Quick reply by Optimus: “That wasn’t helpful Part X. Just have

  • Optimize Interview: Irresistible with Adam Alter

    Optimize Interview: Irresistible with Adam Alter

    13/02/2020 Duración: 36min
  • Optimize Interview: The Psychology of Possibility with Ellen Langer

    Optimize Interview: The Psychology of Possibility with Ellen Langer

    06/02/2020 Duración: 44min

    Ellen Langer is a professor of psychology at Harvard and one of the world's leading experts on the science of wellbeing, and what she refers to as the "psychology of possibility." Dr. Langer was first female professor to gain tenure in the Psychology Department at Harvard University, and is the the author of eleven books--including Mindfulness, The Power of Mindful Learning, and her Counterclockwise--and more than two hundred research articles. She has been described as the “mother of mindfulness” and through her work, Dr. Langer challenges us to overcome our mindless patterns, let go of false limits, focus on the process and notice all the wonders present in our lives.

  • +1: #1035 Yesterday’s Home Run

    +1: #1035 Yesterday’s Home Run

    04/02/2020 Duración: 02min

    In our last +1, we spent some time with John Maxwell and reflected on his wisdom on the pinnacle of leadership influence: Moral Authority.   Recall: “Moral authority is the recognition of a person’s leadership influence based on who they are more than the position they hold. It is attained by authentic living that has built trust and it is sustained by successful leadership endeavors. It is earned by a lifetime of consistency. Leaders can strive to earn moral authority by the way they live, but only others can grant them moral authority.”   Today I want to talk about another little gem from his most recent book called Leadershift.   He tells us that Babe Ruth (apparently) said: “Yesterday’s home run won’t win today’s game.”   Isn’t that AWESOME?!   “Yesterday’s home run won’t win today’s game.”   That’s Today’s +1.   Yesterday’s home run?   Well…   Congrats on rocking it yesterday but…    That epic performance is not going to win TODAY’s game.   So…   Start again. (And again… And again…)

  • +1: #1030 Want to Make It Stick?

    +1: #1030 Want to Make It Stick?

    30/01/2020 Duración: 03min

    In our last +1, we talked about the research on the fact that The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking.   Today I want to talk about another way to make what we’re learning stick.   We’re going to consult with Barbara Oakley on this one.   Barbara taught one of the most popular classes in history. Nearly 2 million people from 200 countries have taken her Coursera class called Learning How to Learn.   She also wrote a book on how to learn called A Mind for Numbers where she tells us: “The legendary Charles Darwin would do much the same thing. When trying to explain a concept, he imagined someone had just walked into his study. He would put his pen down and try to explain the idea in the simplest terms. That helped him figure out how he would describe the concept in print. Along those lines, the website Reddit.com has a section called ‘Explain like I’m 5’ where anyone can make a post asking for a simple explanation of a complex topic.   You may think

  • +1: #1025 Exercise: It’s a Well-Being Tool

    +1: #1025 Exercise: It’s a Well-Being Tool

    25/01/2020 Duración: 06min

    In our last couple +1s, we talked about a key (arguably the #1 key) predictor of our long-term health/morbidity: our visceral fat.    We also discussed the Optimized WHtR (Waist-to-Height Ratio!) that gives us some insight on how we’re doing with that facet of our lives. (+1 +1 +1 for the

  • +1: #1020 Learning Cycles

    +1: #1020 Learning Cycles

    20/01/2020 Duración: 06min

    In our last +1, we talked about the PM ritual Pythagoras came up with 2,500 years ago (!) that the Stoics liked to follow:   "Allow not sleep to close your wearied eyes, Until you have reckoned up each daytime deed:   ‘Where did I go wrong? What did I do? And what duty’s left undone?’ From first to last review your acts and then Reprove yourself for wretched acts, but rejoice in those done well.”   Today we’ll step back a bit and put in an AM Intention practice to go with that PM Reflection practice.   Let’s go back to Donald Robertson’s How to Think Like a Roman Emperor.   He encourages us to follow another one of Aurelius’s practices and “Contemplate the Sage.” Specifically, he tells us that Marcus made it a practice to think about the virtues he admired in others that he aspired to put into practice in his own life.   He also tells us: “In addition to the virtues of real people, the Stoics were also known for contemplating the hypothetical character of an ideal Sage, or wise person

  • +1: #1015 It’s Day 1

    +1: #1015 It’s Day 1

    15/01/2020 Duración: 04min

    In our last +1, we had fun chatting about the diploma we give to our Optimize Coaches.   It so perfectly captures the underlying purpose of all of our work together that I’d like to share it again.    Here it is one more time: Having demonstrated a commitment to areté through the mastery of ancient wisdom, modern science, and the fundamentals of Optimal living—both in their own life and in service to others—let it be known that [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE] is hereby recognized as a Certified Optimize Coach and granted all privileges thereunto appertaining, for as long as they continue to demonstrate their commitment through practice. In witness whereof, we hereby commit to do our best to operationalize virtue and live with areté, honoring the fundamentals and striving to be our Optimize = Optimus = Best = Eudaimōn = Hērō selves in Energy, Work, and Love.               Today I want to chat about one particular subtle little thing from this section:    “… is hereby recognized as a Certified Optimize C

  • +1: #1010 Virtue Management

    +1: #1010 Virtue Management

    10/01/2020 Duración: 04min

    Last night as I was falling asleep, I was reflecting on the wonderful time I spent with a dear friend who came up to Ojai for a hike to chat about his next hero’s journey.    We talked about some of the key themes of our upcoming Mastery Series/Optimize Coach program. (Fun fact: Looks like he’ll be doing the program with TWO of his kids—which makes my soul smile.)   So…   One of the things we discussed was creating Masterpiece Days. Of course, we talked about the fact that our day starts the night before (PM counts twice!), the importance of being creative before we’re reactive and all that jazz.    We also spent a fair amount of time talking about The Fundamentals (Eat! Move! Sleep! Breathe! Be Present! Prosper!) and how important it is to Optimize our Energy so we can show up most fully in our Work and our Love.   But what I found myself thinking about as I was falling asleep was the fact that when most people start to think about architecting their ideal days, they start with “Time Manage

  • +1: #1005 Thoughts + Heartbeats

    +1: #1005 Thoughts + Heartbeats

    05/01/2020 Duración: 07min

    Emily Fletcher was a Broadway performer living the dream.   Only…   Her hair was graying at 27, she was always stressed and had chronic insomnia.   One of her fellow Broadway performers was always super calm and confident. Emily asked her how she did it. The woman told her that she meditated. Emily rolled her eyes. Then she decided to give meditation a try.   After ONE day of meditation, her insomnia was gone. She was hooked. Soon after, she quit Broadway, traveled to India to study more deeply then became a meditation teacher and created something called the “Ziva Technique” which she’s taught to thousands of people.   In her book Stress Less, Accomplish More, Emily walks us through the science of WHY meditation is so powerful and then introduces us to the “3 M’s” of her Z Technique: Mindfulness, Meditation and Manifesting.   As you know if you’ve been following along, I’m a HUGE fan of meditation. I’ve missed ONE day in the last 12+ years.    If you’ve been looking for a book that will help you

  • +1: #1000 The Optimize +1 Hall of Fame

    +1: #1000 The Optimize +1 Hall of Fame

    31/12/2019 Duración: 06min

    This is Optimize +1 #1,000.   I don’t really know how to best start this one other than by saying:    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.   Seriously. I am so honored to be a part of your life—whether that’s occasionally or every day. And I’m deeply grateful to have your support so I can do what I do.   Thank you.   Today I want to celebrate YOU.   And…   I want to shine a special light of awesome on all of you heroically gritty Optimizers who have actually been with us for ALL 1,000 Optimize +1s.    !!!   We’ve actually created a little virtual Hall of Fame. It’s time to induct our first wave of honorees. (If we missed you, sorry! Please let us know and we’ll retroactively add you!)   Ahem. Here we go…   charles agrusa Kay Garkusha Peggy Rakas SYLVIO FERREIRA TORRES Nat Barcellini Tricia Nelson Jaya Chauhan Hussein Jinnah Jordan Bernard Angèle Verrier Judi Wearing Khaled Sultan Georgina Ingram Hal Simonson Angela Stokes Gianni Bergandi Solène Hyordey Esther Ratsch SRINIVAS BNS

  • +1: #995 10 Spartan Core Virtues

    +1: #995 10 Spartan Core Virtues

    26/12/2019 Duración: 04min

    In our last +1, we hung out with my two favorite Joes: Scholar of the Hero’s Journey (and Grandpa in my spiritual family tree) Joseph Campbell, and gritty heroic exemplar (and soul brother), Joe De Sena.   Today I want to spend a little more time with Joe De Sena.   Let’s open up his latest book The Spartan Way. Page 14.   He tells us: “Through work and endurance racing I have come to know many people. Some of them were unforgettable. These great ones all shared the same core qualities. I call them the Spartan Core Virtues. Combine these qualities into one person and you have the ideal boss, the valuable employee, the perfect business partner, or comrade in any endeavor. Here’s a short description of each of the Spartan Core Virtues.   Self-Awareness: Know who you are and who you are not. If you don’t, you’ll be confused daily.    Commitment: Stick to it because the world is filled with people who don’t. You’re better than that.   Passion: If you’re not passionate about what you do, you’re not

  • +1: #990 The Passion Paradox

    +1: #990 The Passion Paradox

    21/12/2019 Duración: 04min

    Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness have written a couple great books together. First, they gave us Peak Performance. Then The Passion Paradox.   Today we’re going to talk about one of the central themes of The Passion Paradox. (Tomorrow we’ll chat about some goodness from Peak Performance.)   So…   Passion.   It’s AWESOME!   Except when it isn’t.   Enter: The Passion Paradox.   As Brad and Steve put it: “Mindlessly living with a passion can be extremely harmful and destructive. Mindfully living with a passion can be the key to a life well lived.”   They tell us that psychologists differentiate two types of passion by calling the unhealthy kind “Obsessive Passion” and the healthy kind “Harmonious Passion.”   Obsessive Passion is toxic. It has two primary facets: 1. Focusing too much on extrinsic results (like fame, wealth, achievement, etc.); 2. Being too worried about failure.   Harmonious Passion, on the other hand, gives us a deep sense of joy. Whereas the toxic passion is focused on

  • +1: #985 Operating at the Highest Level

    +1: #985 Operating at the Highest Level

    16/12/2019 Duración: 03min

    In our last +1, we did our best Boss impersonation as we reinterpreted our sweaty palms and racing hearts as a sign we’re EXCITED and READY TO GO rather than as a sign that something’s wrong.   When I read that passage in Marie’s book, I immediately thought of some parallel wisdom from Jon Eliot’s Overachievement.   Recall that Eliot is the guy who told us that we want to keep our V-12 engines and learn how to manage all that power rather than swap it out for a lawnmower engine. And, he told us that we want to be more like squirrels than Einstein when we get ready to perform.     So…   Here’s the passage I thought of as I read about the Boss’s Bossness.   Eliot tells us: “The physical symptoms of fight-or-flight are what the human body has learned over thousands of years to operate more efficiently and at the highest level. Anxiety is a cognitive interpretation of that physical response.”   Aha!   That energy we feel when we’re about to perform?    Eliot tells us we need to remember two more t

  • +1: #980 The Master Fails More Times

    +1: #980 The Master Fails More Times

    11/12/2019 Duración: 03min

    A few +1s ago, we had fun chatting about the starting and finish lines of my first business, eteamz.    I mentioned that it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows and we briefly discussed the fact that I’ve failed WAY MORE times than I’ve succeeded.   (btw. As a recovering fixed-mindset perfectionist, it was therapeutic for me to type that. Hah. Seriously.)   Today we’re going to remind ourselves to embrace the mis-takes and failures of life that INEVITABLY (and NECESSARILY!!) occur as we strive to do great things in pursuit of mastering ourselves in service to the world.   This gem is pretty epic and worth contemplating: “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”   Then there’s Adam Grant’s wisdom from Originals where he quotes Randy Komisar—one of the best entrepreneurs/investors alive: “Whether you’re generating or evaluating new ideas the best you can do is measure success on the kind of yardstick that batters use in baseball. As Randy Komisar puts it, ‘If I’m hitting .

  • +1: #975 The Tenth of an Inch

    +1: #975 The Tenth of an Inch

    06/12/2019 Duración: 02min

    We talk a lot about the futility of arguing with reality.   As Byron Katie so perfectly says, “When I argue with reality I lose. But only 100% of the time.” (Hah.)   Today we’re going to take another look at that wisdom from a slightly different angle.   We’ll invite a couple of modern Zen Masters to the party: Joko Beck and Phil Jackson.   We’ll start with legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson’s wisdom. In his book Sacred Hoops, he tells us: “In Zen it is said that the gap between accepting things the way they are and wishing them to be otherwise is ‘the tenth of an inch of difference between heaven and hell.’ If we can accept whatever we’ve been dealt—no matter how unwelcome—the way to proceed eventually becomes clear. This is what is meant by right action: the capacity to observe what’s happening and act appropriately, without being distracted by self-centered thoughts. If we rage and resist, our angry, fearful minds have trouble quieting down sufficiently to allow us to act in the most bene

  • +1: #965 Asking for Qualities

    +1: #965 Asking for Qualities

    26/11/2019 Duración: 03min

    In our last +1, we spent some time with Todd Herman, Batman, Dora the Explorer and YOUR most heroic self.   Today we’re going to connect all that goodness to wisdom from the classic peak-performance book The Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Gallwey.   Here’s how he puts it: “‘Asking for qualities’ describes the other kind of role-playing. When introducing this idea, I usually say something like this: ‘Imagine that I am the director of a television series. Knowing that you are an actor that plays tennis, I ask if you would like to do a bit part as a top-flight tennis player. I assure you that you needn’t worry about hitting the ball out or into the net because the camera will only be focused on you and will not follow the ball. What I’m mainly interested in is that you adopt professional mannerisms, and that you swing your racket with super self-assurance. Above all, your face must express no self-doubt. You should look as if you are hitting every ball exactly where you want to. Really get into the role, h

  • +1: #960 Capturing a Richer Mindset

    +1: #960 Capturing a Richer Mindset

    21/11/2019 Duración: 03min

    In our last +1, we revisited Ellen Langer at her “Psychology of Possibility” lab at Harvard to learn that words matter.    As you may recall, simply priming people with words associated with old age (via a crossword puzzle!) will cause them to walk more slowly to the elevator than those who weren’t primed with those words.   *rubs eyes*   One more time: Astonishing, eh?    And…   One more time: WORDS MATTER. A lot.   Langer shares that study and wisdom in her book Counterclockwise in a section in which she also talks about “placebos” and other truly fascinating studies.   Here’s how she puts it: “When we see mind and body as parts of a single entity, the research on placebos takes on new meaning and suggests we can not only control much of our disease experience, but we may also be able to extend our ability to gain, recover, or enhance our health.   Placebos often come in the form of a single word that captures a richer mindset. In one study I conducted with my students, we explored the mi

  • +1: #955 Falling on Your Butt

    +1: #955 Falling on Your Butt

    16/11/2019 Duración: 05min

    Geoff Colvin’s Talent Is Overrated is a great book.   It falls into the “Effort Counts Twice” / Deliberate Practice bucket of how to reach our Peak via Grit, etc.   It’s packed with great stories about, as per the sub-title of the book: “What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else.”   (Here’s a short hint to the answer: “No matter who they were, or what explanation of their performance was being advanced, it always took them many years to become excellent, and if a person achieves elite status only after many years of toil, assigning the principal role in that success to innate gifts becomes problematic, to say the least.”)   (Note: That doesn’t mean Talent Is IRRELEVANT, just OVERRATED when compared to extraordinarily hard work. Again: See Effort Counts Twice for Angela Duckworth’s math on the subject!)   So…   Today I want to share one of my favorite stories from that book.   Here it is.   Colvin tells us: “A study of figure skaters found that sub-elite skaters spent lo

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