Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Energize your Life! Get motivated to take charge of your energy and your life.

PictureIt’s all about energy. The reason we encourage people to improve their fitness and nutritional habits is because we believe doing so provides the foundation needed for Peak Performance.

The more fit and healthy you are the more energy you have available to engage in work and enjoy being active during your off hours. Quite simply, more energy contributes significantly to a better quality of life.

An energetic person has the intensity, the persistence and the prolonged stamina to accomplish long-term goals. This kind of energy involves an observable determination that is always present -- a constant striving to accomplish whatever it is the person is trying to achieve. It stems from a single strong belief in what the person is attempting to accomplish and a passionate commitment to do it.

To get more energy you have to produce it. If you find yourself complaining that you don’t seem to have enough energy to do your job properly, to work-out or to spend quality time having fun with your friends and family then it’s time to do something about it. You’re just putting gas on the fire if you plop yourself on the couch when you get home from work.

Your body loves to do nothing. Then it doesn’t have to work so hard. That means you don’t burn as many calories. That means you have a hard time losing weight. That means you gain body fat. That means loss of lean muscle and that means NO ENERGY.

You need to force your body out of your comfort zone. Yes, if you’re particularly low in energy it is critical for you to get off your duff and get moving. Yes, there is the initial stage of effort even to just go for a 5, 10 or 20 minute walk.

But it get easier, you must know that. Even after a few workouts, you’ll easily notice an increase in your energy levels.

Strength training makes you stronger, so you can do more tasks without undue muscle fatigue. Aerobic exercises condition your heart and lungs delivery nutrient rich blood to working muscles and organs and don’t forget sound nutrition. The right balance of nutrients, at the right times, in the right amounts gives you the fuel to function at your absolute best every day.

But high energy won’t be handed to you on a silver platter. You need to go and make it happen!

Energy is a required element for a Successful Life

I believe your attitude and frame of mind can be greatly impacted by your level of energy. Remember everything you do is contagious. If you are discouraged, pessimistic, or lacking in energy, people will feel it. Conversely, when you are upbeat, energetic, and optimistic, people also feel it. It will have an effect on your family, friends and fellow employee and help you generate the life outcomes you hope to create.

Those seeking Peak Performance don’t leave their energy level to chance. They are intentional about creating it.

Tips To Have More Positive Energy

Simplify your life. The first step in achieving more positive energy in your life is to simplify your life. Many of us are charging so hard after so many things that we tend to get negative when those things don't happen immediately. Slow down, take a look at the next experience that you want to manifest and how can you get there. Then, look to simplify your life. Get rid of the clutter, the mental things and the physical things that you're holding onto. Release the things that are holding you back. I know this can be challenging but in order to have more positive energy in your life you need to create that space. 

You can make a choice. Understand it is your choice to either be positive or negative. It is not what other people do to you; you are allowing them to make you feel a certain way. Only you can make that decision. If other people are pushing your buttons, you are allowing them to be pushed. Make the decision to be positive today, and start in this moment.

Have a self-improvement plan.  It is critical that you have a self-improvement plan. What are you working on currently that will take you to the next level? The key is to make sure you're growing and moving forward.  I would suggest that you have a few things that you're working on for pleasure or for wealth attainment that are going to help you move forward.

Learn to say no. It is important to be able to say no. This can be extremely challenging when you're at work or you’re building a business. There's nothing that will hold you back than having too many projects going on at any one time and then taking on something new when somebody asks you. Manage your project’s improvement and overall productivity by making sure you don't have too many things going on at any one time. This will keep you more positive and give you more energy. It is okay to say no.

Stay present. In order to stay positive you cannot live in the past or the future. Many people are stuck in a mindset where they are thinking about what is going to happen in the future, or they can't move past the past. The power is in this present moment. Be mindful and stay focused.

Get proper nutrition and exercise. In order to have positive energy you have to exercise and get the proper nutrition. It’s important to take time to make sure every meal is a spiritual and healthy meal. Remember using energy creates energy, that means when you move and exercise you start to feel more energy. Starting today, make sure you're on the plan to eat right and exercise.

Take physical and mental breaks. You can't run 100% all the time. You need to make sure you're taking breaks physically and mentally.

It’s important to remember you can change your life by changing your attitude - decide to be energetic. This is huge. Unless you are ill, you can be more energetic by simply acting more energetic. I am always surprised at how my emotions follow my body. If I walk faster, sit on the edge of my seat, and smile, I will eventually feel more energetic.

Your energy level will have a big impact on those people in your life who are important to you whether it’s your fellow employees, friends or family. The good news is that you can be more energetic and set a positive example by becoming more aware and intentional about developing it.

Decide today to take charge of your health and your attitude and begin living a life of energy. Become an energetic, impatient optimist and help change the world.

Energy Index – How much energy do you have available for Peak Performance?

An exciting new way of interpreting Fitness Test Results

At Peak Performance we are always on the lookout for cutting edge ideas that help you take charge of and improve your life.

We believe the foundation of a healthy lifestyle begins with an effective fitness program and always recommend starting out on your fitness journey with a fitness assessment that determines your starting point and measures the success of your fitness and nutritional programs.

However the fitness test result numbers produced by most assessments are sometimes difficult to interpret and it’s often a challenge to understand how they relate to your overall health.

That’s why we were intrigued by a new algorithm for fitness test results developed by Laturi Corporation a Finnish Company that specializes in Fitness Assessments for the corporate wellness market.

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Their approach is to provide a quick, accurate and informative fitness assessment that provides individual employees with their personal Energy Index - an estimate of the amount of hours of peak performance energy they have in their energy bank for the day.

Energy Index indicates the amount of time during which you can experience your peak energy output.

The Energy Test provides information about your health and your body’s potential performance. The overall test is comprised of easy to perform subtests that include a fitness assessment, a wellness questionnaire and biometric data. These subtests reliably estimate different health risks and provide meaningful results for people of all fitness levels.

The maximum Energy Index result is 16 hours. Of this, about eight hours is spent at work, and the remaining eight hours remains for free time. If your Energy Index Fitness Test results indicates an Energy Index of between 4 and 6 hours you will have trouble providing peak performance during your eight hours of work and most certainly have little energy left over for your free time.
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My Energy Index – 12 Hours 5 Minutes of energy available for Peak Performance

For information on the Energy Index test for you or your company feel free to shoot me an email and I will send you some information. (johnsaville21@gmail.com)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It's a New Year - Commit to Quit Wasting Time and Get in Shape!

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It’s amazing to me how many people waste time at the gym.

There’s a Rolling Stones song about having time on your side. And there are a lot of people who treat working out as though they have all the time in the world.

If you’re independently wealthy and can afford to take your time while working out because you don’t need to go to an actual job, great, but most of us are busy people. In fact, I’ve read several surveys about reasons for not working out, and No. 1 on the list always seems to be “lack of time.”

There is merit in being efficient in the gym. First off, it gives you time for other, non-gym stuff in life, and most importantly breeds greater mental intensity. You know that when you’re on a tight schedule, you need to kick some ass, so you do.

Personally, I am never in the gym for more than 60 minutes max and that includes having a shower. It’s interesting to observe people who practically live in the gym, spend several hours “working out” and yet they never seem to improve.

I get that social support is great for fitness motivation, but if you’re constantly chatting, it really distracts you from the task at hand: working out. What’s more, it’s important to time your rest breaks between sets appropriately: short breaks for endurance lifting (+12 reps), medium length breaks for hypertrophy (6-12 reps) and longer breaks for strength focused work (<6 reps). If you’re gabbing away all the time, you may end up taking longer breaks than necessary and doing less overall work in the gym.

For me, today was a leg day – Heavy Squats and hack lifts, thigh extensions, leg curls, calf raises and squat jumps followed with couple of sets of 50 kettlebell swings - very intense and done within 40 minutes. My routine is to get in, work with super intensity and get out.  I stay focused and limit any conversation to before and after the workout.

It’s a New Year so the gym was full of people starting their resolutions hoping to regain their health and fitness. As often happens I was asked by someone how I got in shape, that they’d been working out for a year and hadn’t really improved.  I told him that it was 80% diet and 20% working out and most of your working out should be hitting the iron, but the working out had to be intense and that you needed to push yourself. I told him to embrace the pain, pain isn’t your enemy; it is your call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and then spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

I told him there is no quicker way to changing your body than to build muscle and that it was quite simple really:

  • Pick up something heavy. Put it down. Do it again.
  • Don’t quit when it gets hard. That’s when it starts to get good. Keep going.
  • Sweating is good for you. As a friend of my mine once said “if you ain't sweating’ you’re just bullshitting’.” 
  •  Have fun with it. You don’t need to do the exact same routine and exact same exercises day after day. You just need to give each exercise your all.
  • Use free weights - If you can’t bench or squat your body-weight you don’t have any business playing around on machines. After you develop some strength is when you will get benefit from machines, not before.
  •  It’s all in the mind. That’s where the battle is won or lost. 

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Here’s why you should commit to making weight training the cornerstone of you fitness program:

Weight Training will make you feel strong and fit – There is a reason this is number 1, it is the most important aspect. A feeling of strength and power will give you confidence you possibly never had. We have all heard the saying a strong body is a strong mind and it is absolutely true. Strength IS confidence.

Weight Training will help to burn more fat – There is a prevailing myth that the only way to burn fat is to do cardio. Nonsense, building solid muscle mass with an adequate diet is the absolute best way to get rid of those love handles. Muscle mass raises your metabolism. Muscle mass burns fat. Build more muscle to burn more fat. If you don’t have muscle mass to begin with cardio may help you lose weight but you will not get the toned look. At best you will look skinny-fat if all you do is cardio. That’s good enough for some, but it’s not good enough for you.

Weight Training will increase your energy – It’s an invigorating feeling getting under a bar and lifting what you never thought you could lift. That energy stays with you. There is no better high than after an intense workout; no chemical substance can match the feeling of calm after a great workout. Enough of the routines, driving to work, needing cup after cup of coffee, only to be exhausted by the time you get home, enough energy to eat pizza and watch tv all night long. Turn off the TV, put down the pizza, and pick up some weights. You will thank yourself later.

Weight Training will teach you discipline and hard work – You must remember, nothing good ever came from something easy. It takes hard work, pain, and sacrifice.

Weight Training will make you healthier – After several months of weight training you will notice you get less colds, flus, and other sicknesses. That is because regular exercise improves sleep patterns.

Better sleep + regular training = stronger immune system.

Your body has become stronger from the inside out. Weight Training will also help bone strength and density, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, depression and a host of other illnesses.

Weight Training will improve poor posture – In the age of the computer, many of us sit for long periods hunched over. This is horrible for our posture. Most people have weak backs, weak abdominals and walk with a hunch. Strengthen your body, especially your back and your abs, and walk upright with a purpose, a drive. Don’t walk hunched over like you’re ready to die at any moment. Life is for the living. Hit the weights.

Weight Training will help you look good naked – A strong body signals the opposite sex that you are healthy and that is sexy.

Weight Training is FUN – After you get through the initial phase of forcing yourself to get to the gym you may realize you actually enjoy being there. There is nothing better than pushing through plateaus and lifting weights heavier than you have ever dreamed. Breaking past your previous limitations is a thrill. It gets to be damned fun.

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There’s a confidence gained in the gym that people who never train cannot understand. When someone first starts out and can barely bench 45 lbs and ups that to 225 lbs with steady, solid training the feeling of accomplishment is immense, when someone starts out deadlifting 95 lbs and ups that to 405 lbs that’s a huge boost to the ego. That’s something you can be proud of. Even if no one else in the world understands where you came from it doesn’t matter, you have accomplished what you once thought impossible and no one can take that away from you.

Discipline comes along for the ride. If you never had any before, you will after you start training. Weight training requires you eat right. You won’t even want to eat junk food anymore, your body will crave the good foods and you’ll want to eat those good foods. Heavy weight training requires you get good sleep, and you will. Weight training requires you get up off the couch and go to the gym and accomplish something. If you can manage that you will see what all the hype was about.

The real benefits of weight training have nothing to do with reducing body fat or a having a nice build. The real benefits have everything to do with relieving stress, getting out aggression, building confidence, giving you a positive mental attitude, giving you pride and developing discipline, all things which are foundational to Peak Performance and will help ensure a successful year in all aspects of your life.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Overcoming the Fear of Success


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How would you answer the question “Are you successful in life?”

I know many people who would say that they are not successful; at least they have not reached success in the areas that feel important to them.

This website is about Peak Performance not mediocrity. So let’s prepare to commit to a New Year with a winner’s attitude and consider what it means and what it takes for each of us to lead a successful life.

Most identify a fear of failure as the reason they are not successful. The fear of failure is perhaps the strongest force holding people below their potential. In a world full of uncertainty, a delicate economy, and countless misfortunes that could happen to anyone, it’s easy to see why most people are inclined to play it safe.

But playing it safe has risk as well. If you never dare to fail, your success will have a low ceiling. Most people underestimate their merit and ability to recover from failure, leading them to pass up valuable opportunities. The ability to fail big and fail often has been a mark of the spectacularly successful throughout history

However this blog is focused on those of us that are striving for Peak Performance and have started on the road to success, overcome several failures and are suddenly overcome with another fear, the fear of success. The fear of success is a common issue that arises when you are genuinely creating change and moving forward in your life. Not giving up when you start getting somewhere is often the biggest challenge we have to success. To let the Peak Performer in you out you need to stop resisting.  If it’s your fate to be great then do it!

All fears of success would be greatly reduced if we took our power back. It’s important to note that change comes from choice and we have always had that power. In fact often our deepest fear is that when we really reclaim our power and succeed, we have to face the knowledge that we have always been powerful enough to change all along and that we could have changed a year or five or 10 years ago.

Your friends and family will either support you or they won’t. The ones who resist you (the majority) are saboteurs out to stop you from real success. If you can do it and they can’t, well, sometimes that’s an uncomfortable thought for them to wrap their mind around.

Often we let the opinions of friends and families justify a mediocre existence. So how do you convince your friends and family that you will succeed and be a big success and that they should believe in you?

You don’t convince them of anything. You should never conspire with saboteurs and you should never seek approval from people who are irrelevant to your success.

Your friends and family may not be on the same wavelength as you and they are not the real enemy to success. It is not them that need to be convinced.

It is you who needs to convince yourself. You need to avoid self-sabotage, don’t be a traitor to yourself.

As Buddha once said “He is able who thinks he is able.”

The good news is, no matter how old you are and no matter how many times you have turned your back on success it is never too late. When you make the change you will only have one regret: “I should have done this sooner. My god, why did I wait so long? “. After you’re done feeling sorry for yourself from this realization, you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and say these words: I can do it, I will do it and no one will stop me.


Here are some things to keep in mind:

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·         Everyone's scared. 

  • No one has it all together. If you talk to any successful person, you'll find out that, not only were they scared to begin doing something different, they still get scared every time. It gets incrementally easier, but the fear never goes away. Professional athletes still get nervous before the game. Musicians still have butterflies in their stomachs before concerts. Authors freak out the night before their books are released. What you're feeling is no different than anyone else.

  • Embracing fear is the most important consciousness shift needed to success.

  • The more successful you are the stronger the fear becomes. People will sabotage themselves so they don’t have to feel the fear anymore. Fear stops cowards and fear powers winners

  • When you’re successful everything is on the line, all eyes are on you and they’re all waiting to see if you will fail. It’s easy to give them what they expect, another failure. When you’re a failure nothing is on the line and there is no more pressure.



  •   It’s not the absence of fear that makes you great. It’s action in the face of that fear that makes you great.

  • If you want something better for your life then that you have to fight through that feeling of fear. The New Year is a great time to commit to stopping the procrastination and excuses for 30 days. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish. Then you can extend it 30 more days, and then 30 more until it becomes an established pattern of behavior.

·         No one's paying attention to you.

  •  In reality people are often so worried about how things are going for them they don't have time to be concerned about anyone else - especially you. Consequently, people spend time worrying about other people, who really have no time to worry about anyone else because they have problems of their own. See how silly this all is? Oh, sure. There are some people who are paying attention to you. But, they're usually your spouse or family or really close friends. The kinds of people are going to be supportive of you, anyway. That's a good kind of attention.

·         You have to know where you want to go.

  • What's the old saying? “If you don't know where you're going, any road will do”, I believe is how it goes. You need to figure out what your dreams are for yourself. Once you've figured out what you want to do, you can put a plan together to achieve it.

  • I have come to believe that everyone needs to start somewhere. If you have a lot of credit card debt that you want to get paid off, that's a fine dream.  Just start dreaming and however big or small they are is good enough for now. Visualizing and accomplishing goals, however small, starts an important psychic chain reaction that lays the foundation and becomes the catalyst for success.

·         Do what makes you happy, and don't worry about others. 

  • Obviously, you have to be smart about this. I'm not saying run out on responsibilities and obligations you have set for yourself. What I'm saying is that there are very few people in this world whose approval you should be after. Your spouse and kids, maybe your extended families, if they're supportive; that's about it. If a person doesn't have a vested interest in your success, you can confidently disregard what they think about what you're choosing to do. The only way you can count your life as truly successful is if you're doing what you're meant to do, regardless of what society at large thinks of it.

 

·         Success is a Creative Dynamic

  • Whenever something is created, there's always something else that is destroyed. This is referred to as the courage to create -- because there is always that conflict. As you create something, something else is destroyed. If nothing else, ignorance is destroyed. And this very dynamic of creativity also applies to success. It'll often be followed with guilt -- feeling guilty that you've done something. That you've changed the order of things or that you've stepped outside the normal range.

  • There may even be a feeling of doubt: "Have I done the right thing? What if I'm not heading in the right direction?" It's so very strange. We hear so many people who are succeeding wonderfully well, but their fear is: "Yes, but what if this wasn't what I was meant to do? What if I was supposed to become something else? Suppose my destiny was something else? What if I've somehow managed to land in this arena of success, and I'm flying along like crazy, and one day will wake up and realize I've missed the boat?"  Doubt and the concern around that -- that's part of the creative function.

  • These fear reactions are normal. Understanding that will enable you to rebuild and restructure a whole different foundation for being successful. You can take the weight off and realize that it's not going to make you smarter or better-than or give you license. You can be prepared for the chaos, and when it comes, you can work with it. You can handle it. You don't have to freak out and run away. You can be prepared for the guilt and doubt that's going to arise in the very dynamic of creativity.

Keep Everything in Perspective


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It’s important to keep in mind that no matter how important success might seem to you, it is still important to embrace it with balance; otherwise your journey towards success will turn into an obsession that will ruin everything that you truly love in life.

I’d like to end with noting that success is not a destination, it’s a journey, and it’s important that we take each step feeling grounded and balanced. Do not forget to spend time with your loved ones, enjoy your hobby or follow your passion, take care of your health and grow spiritually. This is the meaning of true success, the one that you can achieve only in balance.

Remember it is your right and purpose in life to be successful in whatever you are doing. If you believe in that then nothing will ever stop you from living a balanced and joyous life.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Want to be a Peak Performer? Think like Leonardo Da Vinci


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When we look for examples of how we can live Peak Lives there is one individual who has set the standard throughout history – Leonardo Da Vinci.

Leonardo da Vinci was the ultimate Renaissance man: an accomplished scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician, and writer. He along with contemporaries Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei and Nicolaus Copernicus were considered Polymaths.

The concept of Polymath embodied a basic tenet of Renaissance humanism that humans are empowered and limitless in their capacity for development, and it led to the notion that people should embrace all knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible. In other words these individuals were consummate generalists.

In our rapidly changing world the importance of adaptability is paramount and we can learn some important lessons from our Renaissance ancestors. Despite the corporate world’s insistence on specialization, the workers most likely to come out on top are generalists – but not just because of their innate ability to adapt to new workplaces, job descriptions or cultural shifts. Instead, according to writer Carter Phipps, author of Evolutionaries, generalists will thrive in a culture where it’s becoming increasingly valuable to know a little bit about a lot. Meaning that where you fall on the spectrum of specialist to generalist could be one of the most important aspects of your personality – and your survival in an ever changing world. Developing your generalist capabilities will give you context. Only by understanding the work within fields to the right and left of your own can you understand the bigger picture, whether you are talking about a corporation (i.e. - Sales analyst understanding the supply chain as well as internal operations) or the world as a whole.

A great example of generalism or the ability to weave ideas into the broader fabric of life is the 2011 TedTalk of historian David Christian which presented a “Big History” of the entire universe from the Big Bang to present in 18 minutes, using principles of physics, chemistry, biology, information architecture and human psychology. Generalism at work.

7 Habits of the Renaissance Mind

Human beings are gifted with an almost unlimited potential for learning and creativity. You can uncover your own hidden abilities, sharpen your senses, and liberate your unique intelligence by following the example of the greatest genius of all time, Leonardo da Vinci.

1.       Develop Curiosity

Curiosity is an "insatiably curious approach to life and unrelenting quest for continuous learning". Great minds have one characteristic in common: they continuously ask questions throughout their lives. Leonardo's endless quest for truth and beauty clearly demonstrates this. What makes great minds different is the quality of their questions. You can increase your ability to solve problems by increasing your ability to ask good questions. Like da Vinci, you should cultivate an open mind that allows you to broaden your universe and increase your ability to explore it. Here are some ways to apply Curiosity.

Keep a journal. Bring a journal wherever you go and use it often. Write your ideas and thoughts there. Try to write several statements a day that start with "I wonder why/how..."

Observe according to a theme. Choose a theme and observe things according to the theme for a day. For example, let's say you choose "communication". For the entire day, observe every type and instance of communication you come across. You can then record your observations in your journal.

Stream of consciousness exercise -  Pick a question and write the thoughts and associations that occur to you as they are. Don't edit them. The important thing is to keep writing. This is also referred to as freewriting.

2.       Apply the Principle of Demonstration

Demonstration is "a commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistake". Wisdom comes from experience and the principle of Demonstration helps you get the most out of your experience. Here are some ways to apply Demonstration:

Check your beliefs. Do you hold any beliefs that you haven't verified through experience?

Three points of view - First, make a strong argument against your belief. Next, take a distant view of your belief (for example, as if you live in a different culture) and review it. Finally, find friends who can give you different perspectives.

Analyze the advertisements that affect you. Look at the advertisements in your favorite magazine and analyze the strategy and tactics they use. Find the advertisements that affect you most and find out why.

Find “anti-role models” to learn from. List the names of some people whose mistakes you want to avoid. Learn from them so that you won't encounter the same pitfalls.

3.       Use Your Senses

Work on the continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience. One of Leonardo's mottoes is saper vedere (knowing how to see) upon which he built his work in arts and science. Here are some ways to apply your senses.

Write detailed description of an experience. For instance, describe your experience of watching a sunrise in your journal.

Learn how to describe a smell.

Learn to draw.

Listen to different sounds around you. Learn to listen to different intensity of sounds from the softest (e.g. your breathing) to the loudest (e.g. traffic).

Live in the moment. Practice mindfulness.

4.       Embrace Ambiguity, Paradox and Uncertainty

An essential characteristic of da Vinci's genius is his ability to handle a sense of mystery. Here are two ways to apply Cryptic:

Befriend ambiguity. Not knowing something does not make it ambiguous! It is when you DO know something but its meaning is indeterminate.

Ask yourself questions that relate two opposites. For example, ask yourself how your happiest and saddest moments are related.

Practice the Socratic Method. The goal with the Socratic Method is to examine possibilities, and that is done by asking questions, not by giving answers. Socrates was known (and criticized) for asking questions to which he didn't have answers.[2] The key to using the Socratic method is to be humble. Don't assume that you or anyone knows anything for sure. Question every premise.

5.       Learn how to think with the Whole Brain

Thinking with the “whole brain” is the development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination". Mind mapping is a powerful method that can help you combine logic and imagination in your work and life. The end result of mapping should be a web-like structure of words and ideas that are somehow related in the writer's mind
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6.       Cultivate Grace, Ambidexterity, Fitness, and Poise

Leonardo had amazing physical ability that complemented his genius in science and arts. Here are some ways to develop your mind/body connection:

Develop a program for physical fitness. Your program should include three things: flexibility exercises, strength training, and aerobic conditioning.

Develop body awareness. Study anatomy. Try yoga. Dance. Do some contact juggling. Whatever strengthens the connection between body and mind, go for it.

Cultivate ambidexterity. Leonardo could work with both his right and left hand and regularly switched between them. You can cultivate ambidexterity by using your nondominant hand for relatively simple tasks like brushing your teeth or eating your breakfast. Later you can use your nondominant hand for writing.

7.       Develop a Recognition of and Appreciation for the Interconnectedness of all Things and Phenomena

This, in other words, is systems thinking. One main source of Leonardo's creativity is his ability to form new patterns through connections and combinations of different elements. Here are some examples:

Find ways to link things that seem unrelated. For example, you can try to find connections between a bear and the World Wide Web, or geology and the Mona Lisa.

Imagine dialogues. Imagine talking with a role model to gain new perspective and insight. Or you can imagine how some role models would discuss your problem.

Think about how things originate. Take an object and think about what elements are involved in its creation and how.

References:

How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day Paperback

By Michael J. Gelb

Evolutionaries

By Carter Phipps

Ted: Ideas Worth Spreading - ted.com

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Academic Peak Performance - It’s Time for a Revolutionary New Approach to Physical Education by John Saville


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Certainly a critically important place to strive for Peak Performance is in our nation’s educational system.  This blog outlines the case for an important new role for the physical educator and makes the case for more physical education and active play in our educational system.

One of the biggest challenges facing the US public school system has been its struggle to prepare students for careers in a new and highly competitive information based economy. Obviously this is a challenging issue and a source of pain for administrators as they bear the brunt of criticism from parents, politicians and the media, who often point out that the US spends more per student than any other country and ask “Why then does the US rank so poorly when compared to other countries (17th in Science and 24th in Math)”?

In addition the great recession led to significantly reduced tax revenues and has put additional pressure on an education system that is asking administrators to do more with less.

Apparently the high per student investment is not a result of teacher’s salaries as the US ranks 27th in that category. However, the unfortunate consequences of this new reality has forced administrators to make tough choices leading to a significant cutback in teachers and programming deemed non-essential to improving academic performance. Quite often physical education has become an easy target in a misplaced effort to improve a school’s academic results. This I believe is a mistake.

If physical education is to survive it must adapt to this new reality and become part of the solution.

Fortunately ongoing brain research has shown the important role of movement in brain development. Dr. Vonda Wright (The Mobility Doctor) states: “Even at a cellular level we are wired for mobility. Intense physical activity increases capillary development in the brain, enabling oxygen, glucose and a spectrum of growth hormones access to the brain. When we get our blood pumping, we release norepinephrine or adrenaline and we stimulate the end cannabinoid system in our brains. Adrenaline acts on our brain to sharpen attention, increase our arousal and motivates us to assimilate new information and learn. At the same time, serotonin is released to calm the brain’s “nerves” so you can think straight. This puts our brains in a prime environment for learning.”

It’s also important to understand that our hunter gatherer ancestors passed on the genetic coding that requires humans to make movement a critical part of their life experience and that movement is essential to brain neuroplasticity (“brain changing” AKA “LEARNING”).

From the beginning of life in the womb, movement is considered an indicator of a healthy fetus. At birth the primitive reflexes of grip, neck movement and the Moro reflex are considered key indicators of a baby’s health and brain development.

In the early years of a child’s development the actions of rolling, crawling, walking, clutching, grabbing, climbing and tactile interaction with their environment are essential foundational skills necessary for proper brain development. It is important to note that the motor control area of the brain is interconnected with the brain’s focus and attention capabilities and is critical to the learning process. It is vital that children grasp these skills to ensure they enter the education system prepared to learn.

An Exciting New Opportunity for the Physical Educator

As children enter the school system we need to make certain that teachers and their students include movement before, during and after school to help ensure students are ready to learn.

This opens up an exciting new opportunity for the physical educator as they can position themselves as the school’s expert on movement and learning and become a key resource in helping administrators and teachers improve academic performance.

Leading physical educators across the nation have worked with their administrations to blue print exciting new programs that have proven the effectiveness of this approach. 

Here’s a great segment that played on Good Morning America called “Learning on the Move” that showcases and discusses physical activity and learning process:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0YvUAcjZ4g#t=19

Another exciting development is the design of training programs and courses that help physical educators gain the knowledge and skills necessary to become their school’s specialist in creating a readiness to learn environment.

One such course was developed by Fizika Group, a Lancaster PA based company that recently partnered with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology to create a self-paced, inter-active, online certificate course to train and prepare what they call Active Learning Specialists for schools. Their target is not just physical educators but all teachers or administrators who may have an interest in Active Learning. A large part of the course focuses on helping the AL specialists learn how to form an interdisciplinary team to address active learning from multiple vantage points

Using evidence-based approaches to design, implement and evaluate active learning interventions, a certified Active Learning Specialists is informed by best practices and the latest research to help educators incorporate physical activity into the learning process — to help improve academic and health outcomes.

http://www.fizikagroup.com/active-learning/online-course.html

Redesigning the Classroom for Peak Performance - Moving Physical Education beyond the Gymnasium: Creating Activity Permissible Classrooms

As school leaders charged with promoting healthy and active lifestyles, physical education professionals who are trained as Active Learning Specialists can extend their expertise to school classrooms by helping to facilitate the creation of more active and engaging teaching and learning areas. These teaching and learning areas include such moving innovations as exercise stability balls as chairs, fixed-height stand-up desks, Steelcase Node chairs, and Steelcase buoy chairs.

Using chairs lined up in rows, the center pieces of most classrooms, creates one of the least effective environments for learning. Sitting increases fatigue and reduces concentration. Ironically, you're more tired from sitting than you would be if you had stood up and moved around. Most children - and adults, for that matter - need to move in order to learn. We wiggle, fidget, tap our toes, drum our fingers and more and it's completely normal to have trouble sitting still in school. Our bodies contain energy that needs to be used up or burned off at regular intervals. And the longer we compel kids to sit at desks and tables, the harder it is for them to learn.

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Using an active learning approach refers to making arrangements for kids to move their bodies during lessons leading to increased information retention as students become comfortable in their learning spaces.

A recent article in The New York Times outlines how small modifications made to classroom furniture can have a conversely enormous impact on learning, and even children's health.

“With multiple classrooms filled with stand-up desks, Marine Elementary (in Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota) finds itself at the leading edge of an idea that experts say continues to gain momentum in education: that furniture should be considered as seriously as instruction, particularly given the rise in childhood obesity and the decline in physical education and recess.

Dr. James A. Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, advocates what he calls 'activity-permissive' classrooms, including stand-up desks.

Having many children sit in a classroom isn't the craziest idea, but look at how children have changed,' Dr. Levine said of the sedentary lives of many. 'We also have to change, to meet their needs.

It’s important to note that movement facilitates cognition, that 85% of children are kinesthetic learner’s also known as tactile learners, an educational style in which learning takes place by the student carrying out a physical activity, by touching and doing rather than listening to a lecture or watching a demonstration.

Bring Back Recess! – The Importance of Unstructured Play

The 2009 February issue of the Journal Pediatrics shows that students who received more than 15 minutes of free play a day were better behaved than those who had no recess period. The researchers argue that these findings, along with similar findings from other studies, “support the importance of recess for student attentiveness in the classroom.”

The relationship between academics and play appears to be in constant tension, as though adding to one results in taking away from the other. Nothing could be further from the truth. It would appear that recess contributes to academic success in a variety of ways.

“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do,” writes Mark Twain in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I find myself yearning for the days of Tom Sawyer when leisure antics were the norm for children’s behavior and play was natural, spontaneous, and yes, sometimes mischievous.
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Play is the antidote for depression, isolation, and fearfulness. And it is play that holds the key to leading a happy and healthy life whether we are 1 or 100 and everywhere in-between. Recently we, adults and children alike, appear to have lost our motivation to play. With the economy spiraling downward, fear and uncertainty can manifest itself into anger and frustration. Who feels like playing in these uncertain times?

But for children, oblivious to the worlds’ angst and anxieties, let’s not forget as caregivers we can encourage children to go outdoors and play. Physical educators can become advocates of recess time for unstructured play and encourage administrative decision makers to balance the time spent indoors and out. Schools and daycare centers can bring back recess and playtime for children by scheduling a minimum of 30 minute break times in the day for fun and unadulterated play.

Get Involved – Join the PTA and Make your voices heard!

If you are a parent reading this I encourage you to support physical education,  join your local Parent Teachers Association (PTA) and stay connected and aware of what’s happening in your child’s school.

There is no better way to meet other parents and teachers to share ideas, concerns and experiences, build rapport and discuss issues that are on your mind.

Tell your school how you feel about the importance of physical education, recess, good nutrition and an active learning environment. The PTA’s nationwide network provides parents with the forum and tools to collectively influence the decisions that affect children not only at their schools, but also throughout their districts, within their states, and across the nation. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Why I Follow a Paleo/Primal Diet and Lifestyle

In February of 2012 at the age of 60 I decided to make a significant change in the way I was eating and exercising and embark on a Paleo journey that has completely transformed my health. For years I had followed the conventional wisdom regarding diet and exercise and had kept reasonably fit, but my weight had slowly crept up over the years along with my blood pressure. In addition I just didn’t seem to have the same amount of energy and was developing some painful arthritis in my shoulders. I initially gave in to the thinking that I was just getting older, that these things happen with the aging process and I was going to have to deal with it. But some research led me to a new approach to eating that has had a stunningly positive impact on my health.

Within 4 months I lost 48 lbs. and my blood pressure improved from 130/90 to 105/74. My body fat dropped to under 12% for the first time since I was in my 30s and I have great energy and a renewed zest for life. The arthritis I was suffering from every day in my shoulders has disappeared and surprisingly my seasonal allergies have vanished. In the gym I have made significant strength gains returning to the personal records of my 20s.

If you are contemplating joining me on the Paleo Journey you will need to set aside years of conventional wisdom indoctrination and think different. As an illustration let’s take a look at how many people typically eat breakfast and compare it to someone embracing a Paleo approach to eating.

Conventional Breakfast– You’d think a big bowl of cereal, tall glass of orange juice, a granola bar and some coffee would keep you full for more than an hour or two and provide you with plenty of energy, but it doesn’t.  Many people who eat this type of breakfast end up starving by mid-morning and reach for another cup of coffee and maybe a something to eat from the office bowl of snacks.

The problem with this approach is that you’re basically eating pure sugar.  There is very little fat or protein and you are trying to create lasting energy out of a fleeting, transient source of energy. Sugar burns and then you need more of it.

Paleo Breakfast – Black Coffee with steak and eggs or bacon and eggs or steak and bacon and eggs, usually with a bowl of berries

I know what you’re thinking - Man, I’d love to eat steak and eggs every morning, but my family’s got a history of heart disease and you know what they say.

I know what they say, but it’s wrong. Saturated fat is actually a benign, even healthy source of fat that’s never been conclusively linked to heart disease. It’s the most stable kind, practically impervious to the oxidative damage that’s responsible for most heart disease. As for eggs, in the vast majority of people, dietary cholesterol from eggs does not increase blood cholesterol. Heck, it even improves cholesterol in some folks, increasing “good cholesterol” more than “bad cholesterol.”

The old model of the arteries getting clogged up with cholesterol like what happens to your pipes when you dump fat down the drain is wrong. Cholesterol isn’t a monolithic entity. HDL is “good” and LDL is “bad,” but even that’s too simplistic. It’s not bad. It’s necessary for optimal health! We make important hormones like testosterone out of cholesterol, and our body uses HDL and LDL particles to deliver nutrients. In fact, when it comes to overall mortality – you know, dying and stuff – cholesterol around 180-220 looks to be ideal.

My Paleo style of diet has left me fat adapted not carb dependent; I have the metabolic flexibility to tap into my stored body fat whenever I need to. See, we store body fat because it’s a fantastic energy source. It burns clean and we can store upwards of tens of thousands of calories worth. I’m reasonably lean with fairly low body fat and I still have over 50,000 calories worth on my body. Meanwhile, I can only store about 500 grams of sugar in the form of liver and muscle glycogen. It serves its purpose to be sure, but you can’t rely on glycogen indefinitely without constant refills. That’s where your need to snack comes from. It also explains why your energy levels dip an hour or two after eating.

You may also be thinking why do I need so much protein? I mean, I’m no bodybuilder, my doctor said too much protein is bad for my kidneys, and my vegetarian buddies say it’ll destroy my bones.

Protein (especially with fat) is the most satiating macronutrient. It fills you up, especially when you eat it in the morning. As for the kidney thing, that’s been disproven. People with existing kidney issues might need to watch their protein intake, but kidney impairments aren’t caused by how much protein you eat; they’re most intimately linked to diabetes and hypertension, both of which an adequate protein intake ironically improves. The bone health claim is really silly, as protein actually works synergistically with calcium to improve bone metabolism and calcium retention.

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Grains -I often get strange looks when I mention that I don’t eat bread. It’s not just bread. It’s grains in general. Think of it like this: unlike many other organisms, grains have no way to defend themselves. They can’t run. They can’t fight. They can’t hide. So they have to defend themselves with proteins like gluten, lectins, and other anti-nutrients that punch holes in your intestinal lining, allow foreign food substances into your bloodstream to cause problems, trigger your immune response, and inhibit the absorption of nutrients. You’ve probably heard of gluten, found in wheat, rye, and barley. It’s the worst of the bunch. If it isn’t degraded entirely by your gut, it can tell the junctions keeping the contents of your stomach out of your bloodstream to open up and let things pass through to the blood, where they can increase inflammation and even trigger autoimmune diseases. Some say that only people with a diagnosed gluten allergy have to worry, but there’s compelling evidence that suggests the majority of people may have sensitivities to gluten. It’s just likely underdiagnosed. Lots of people who never thought they had issues with gluten experience huge benefits when they remove it from their diet.

 

What about carbs? – People often say –“it seems like you’re against carbs”? It’s more that I’m against unnecessary carbs in sedentary people. When you’re sedentary, you’re usually insulin resistant with higher baseline levels of insulin. This is bad because insulin inhibits the release of fat from body fat stores. When an insulin resistant person consumes carbs, they secrete more insulin than normal, which causes greater retention and storage of fat. Athletes need more carbs because they’re burning through their glycogen stores. Plus, they can handle more because their insulin resistance is so low. You don’t need to eat grains to get your carbs you can eat fruit, vegetables, tubers like sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, roots. There are tons of healthy sources of carbs that don’t come with the anti-nutrients found in grains and legumes

What about those “healthy” vegetable oils? - Remember what I told you about saturated fat? How it’s actually healthier and more stable than other fats? Polyunsaturated fats - the kind found in soybean and other seed oils like corn oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oils along with margarine – are the exact opposite: highly unstable when exposed to heat, oxygen, or light. So when we cook with them, we’re damaging them, if they haven’t already been damaged by being stored for months in a warm warehouse waiting to be shipped. Oxidized polyunsaturated fats can lead to oxidized LDL particles, which are a big risk factor for heart disease. Plus, our bodies take the polyunsaturated fats we eat and make inflammatory or anti-inflammatory signaling molecules that form part of the stress response. Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils are inflammatory precursors. We can offset this by eating more fatty fish, which contain the anti-inflammatory precursors known as polyunsaturated omega-3 fats. Use butter, coconut oil, olive oil, lard, tallow, African palm oil, macadamia oil, avocado oil, or ghee instead. Those are all more stable cooking fats. They’re also really, really delicious.

 

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Exercise
The first thing to remember is that you can’t outwork a bad diet so it’s vital to get your eating habits under control first.

I spend at most four hours a week in the gym – usually much less – and haven’t run more than three miles at a time for nearly two years. I actually find it way more effective to make my short workouts shorter and more intense and my long workouts longer and easier. When I go hard, I go hard, and when I take it easy, I really take it easy, I used to be committed to what I now call chronic cardio but I’ve actually learned to enjoy the slow pace of walking and hiking.  Running long distances at a highly elevated heart rate will help make you good at running but you run the risk of joint damage, oxidative stress, and elevated cortisol and although I have tremendous respect for all athletes, personally I prefer the bodies of the Olympic sprinters compared to those the marathoners.

What is Cortisol and why is too much of it a problem?  - Cortisol is the premier stress hormone. It’s basically what our body makes in times of acute stress, like facing down a tiger or experiencing a famine. It increases alertness and helps us deal with the stressful situation. Unfortunately, since it’s a signal of starvation and “hard times,” it also breaks down muscle tissue for energy and increases belly fat. All good when you’re actually starving and need the energy at any cost, a disaster when your body only thinks you’re in danger because you’re stressing out over a traffic jam every day or doing too much chronic cardio.

All of this may seem too radical for some of you but I suggest you try eating a Paleo style of diet for 30 days. A great way to start is outlined here - http://whole9life.com/start.

Wishing you all the best in your journey to better health!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Execution - The Vital Key to Peak Performance and Success



Get’r done!  Whatever you gotta do, don’t bitch about it, don’t complain, give a 110% and just get’r done” - Larry the Cable Guy

I am sure you have heard it repeated many times - Vision, goal setting and strategic planning all have been pointed to as the primary keys to success.  Fortunes have been made and millions have been inspired by those proclaiming the secret to success and “having it all”. 

Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret, which speaks to the law of attraction (visualize what you want, believe you can do it, take action and the universe will provide it), was in essence a modernized rebranding of Napoleon Hill’s statement that “Whatever the mind can conceive, and believe, the mind can achieve” from his famous book Think and Grow Rich. The common thread in the guidance provided from all of the self-help and success gurus can be traced back to Andrew Carnegie’s statement that “Whatever your mind feeds upon, your mind attracts to you” and “You will only be successful when you take possession of your own mind and direct it to ends of your own choice”.

I believe these statements are all true and that you will not have success until you have put in place these foundational principles.  It is also true that an equally important component of success is your ability to execute the strategy required to reach your vision and goals. 

In other words it’s you or your team’s ability to get’r done. 

There are many great visionaries that have conceived wonderful ideas that can change the world. The critical factor that separates those who are successful from those that just dream is their ability to follow through and inspire others to take action.

The late Steve Jobs was an incredible visionary who changed how the world views and uses technology. His key to success at Apple was his ability to not only visualize a product but to make them a reality, to not accept excuses, but find solutions and to inspire and at times demand that his employees push perceived boundaries, bend reality, defy conventional wisdom and “make it happen”. 

How many times have you, someone you know or your company come up with a great idea, developed a strategic vision, set goals and ended up not accomplishing what you set out to do. If you have encountered this challenge you are not alone, a recent survey revealed that over 70% of strategic initiatives are never implemented.

Whether you are working for yourself or are a leader, coach, manager or CEO of a team, organization or business, you can grab hold of performance by following the 4 Disciplines of Execution.

1.       Focus on the Wildly Important

What is so important for your business, team or organization that if it doesn’t happen there is no reason for you to be doing what you are doing?  – Identify and focus with laser clarity on what you are trying to achieve.

2.       Act on the Lead Measure

What are the lead measures or action steps that if you do them consistently you will achieve the Wildly Important Goal? They have to be measureable and you must find a way to track them fanatically.

3.       Develop a compelling Scoreboard

Whether it’s in business or in sports we all know that we play differently when the team knows what the score is. Are you winning or losing against the action steps and the Wildly Important Goal. Are your strategies and action plans working or not? Keep the scoreboard available for all to see and up-dated at least on a monthly basis.

4.       Create a Cadence of Accountability

Create accountability throughout your whole team, organization or business so you do what you say you are going to do. Hold weekly meetings with assigned groups to review the scoreboard and make sure everyone is on track. Celebrate wins or change course if necessary and challenge each other to succeed.

How to Schedule Your Day for Peak Performance

People often choose to work for themselves because of the freedom and flexibility that results form owning their own schedule and the space to bring their ideas to life. One of the biggest challenges will be structuring your time so that you fully experience the benefits of working for yourself while also being as creative and productive as possible. Eventually, organization and effectiveness challenges will pile up and you will need to give structure a try in order to get things accomplished.

Some good questions to ponder are - how can I achieve personal Peak Performance, get stuff done, take care of myself, make time from for play, and actively push myself outside my comfort zone? 

To help you in this process I highly recommend the following organizing and planning format that I recently adapted.

1. Set priorities on Sunday.

Every Sunday, I sit down and map out my week. Instead of defining the hour-by-hour of each day, I outline my weekly priorities and what I want to have accomplished by the following Sunday.

2. Map out work, play, fit, and push.

  • Work: For each day, I outline my "Top 3," meaning the three most important things I will have accomplished by the end of the day. Sometimes I'll map out the entire week on Sunday because my priorities are super clear. Other times, I'll decide on my Top 3 on a day-by-day basis.
  • Play: I've found that play enables me to self-express, reflect, and give my ideas space, which shows up positively in my work. Making time to create art, get into nature, climb a tree, go on photo walks, and read puts me in a constant state of curiosity and flow.
  • Fit: Movement keeps ideas moving forward so I aim to move my body for at least 30 minutes each day.
  • Push: Since learning and growth is important to me, I do something that scares me (almost) every day. This may be asking someone whom I deeply respect for an interview or writing about a topic that makes me feel vulnerable.

3. Batch your days.

  • Batching actions into specific days and creating time for creativity has been a huge game changer for me. Here's how I break down my schedule.
  • CREATE on Monday/Wednesday/Friday: I create holes in my schedule for thinking and creating. On these days, instead of thinking about how to spend my time in advance, I pay attention to my body and take breaks as needed.
  • CALLS and MEETINGS on Tuesday/Thursday: When possible, I avoid phone calls and meetings because I find them typically unproductive and often easy to solve via email. I set aside three hours on Tuesday and Thursday for meetings, and once these spots are filled, I say no. There are, of course, occasional exceptions.
  • "Hate you but have to do you" is saved for Wednesday morning: Things like paying bills, clearing out my email inbox, and the like, take up just one morning.
  • SPONTANEOUS Saturday: With so much structure, I make room for spontaneity. On Saturday, I let go and go where the day takes me. Balancing structure with a day of free-spiritedness makes me feel whole.
  • INTENTIONAL Sunday: Plan for the week ahead.

I wrote this blog to hopefully inspire you and provide you with some ideas that will help you achieve Peak Performance in your life, team, business or organization. 

When it comes to reaching peak performance, it's about experimenting to figure out what works best for you. 

Feel free to try out these ideas and share your experience or let us know what has worked for you in the comment section below.

And remember to develop a Get’r Done attitude!

References: 

·         4 Disciplines of Execution – Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling  
http://www.amazon.com/The-Disciplines-Execution-Achieving-Important/dp/1469265222

·         Amber Rae – Founder and CEO of The Bold Academy - www.boldacademy.com