Here’s the advice I’m giving my coaching clients

I recently tweeted a piece of advice that I often tell my coaching clients: If I had to feel motivated to start a workout, I would have done 23 workouts last year, not 230. If I had to feel inspired to start writing, well, there’d be hardly any writing. If you want to stop 20 minutes in, fine. But give yourself a chance.

It’s a platitude, yes. But it’s also true and not just for the concrete tasks on your to-do list. In every part of life, there are highs and lows, periods of energy and periods of exhaustion. Sometimes…

Change is inevitable, so focus on what you can control

Mother with child looking out window at twilight.
Mother with child looking out window at twilight.

We tend to live under the illusion that things are stable — and that when they aren’t, it’s a disruption from the norm. If the chaos of 2020 (and, so far, 2021) has thrown any truth into focus, it’s how much we crave a straight line. An orderly progression from point A to point B.

But really, as I tell my coaching clients, the norm is that things are always changing. There is no straight line. For better or worse, our lives move in cycles:

  • Order → disorder → reorder
  • Orientation → disorientation → reorientation
  • Integration → disintegration → reintegration

Success isn’t linear

Every year around this time, the same piece of motivation makes the rounds: If you want to do something new and you practice it regularly, you’ll get a little bit better each time. You may have heard of it as the “1% rule” — the idea that continuously improving by just 1% makes a dramatic difference over time.

It sounds great. For anything you’re attempting, the promise of steady, incremental improvement can be a powerful incentive. But it’s also often unrealistic, especially if you are already skilled to begin with. For example, try telling someone who currently deadlifts 500 pounds…

Wisdom is knowing when a helpful trait no longer serves you

Shot of a young businesswoman using her laptop while working late at the office.
Shot of a young businesswoman using her laptop while working late at the office.

Something I discuss often with my coaching clients is the importance of taking even the best advice with a grain of salt. There is no behavior, no trait, no habit, that leads to success 100% of the time — in fact, certain mindsets work well until they become the very things that get in your way.

Achieving anything meaningful in life — a big goal, a sense of well-being — requires an awareness of this paradox. When you know that even the qualities and practices we consider good, like the seven below, are not purely beneficial, you can rely on…

A new, more sane way to strive.

Everyone wants to be successful. But few people take the time and energy to define the success they want. As a result, they spend most, if not all, of their lives chasing what society superimposes on them as success. Examples include a bigger house; a faster car; a more prestigious position; greater relevance on the internet. Yet, even if someone finally attains these so-called successes, they are often left wanting.

In ancient eastern psychology there is a concept known as the hungry ghost. The hungry ghost has an endless stomach. He keeps on eating, stuffing himself sick, but he never…

The Real Secrets to Success

The secret is there is no secret. What follows are 13 rules-supported by ancient wisdom and modern science-to help you feel better and be better.

Move your body. Aim for at least 30 minutes every day. More is better. Walk. Run. Lift weights. Dance. Garden. If possible, do some of this outdoors. Whatever you do, don’t try to be a hero, lest you’ll wind up injured. Start small. Consistent effort compounds over time; inertia is real and it works in both directions.

Eat whole foods. Avoid stuff that comes wrapped in plastic. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good…

Awe deprivation is common, but it doesn’t need to be

Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell, who piloted Apollo 14 and was the sixth American to walk on the moon, once described his 1971 lunar landing mission as an “ecstasy of unity.” The experience, he said, offered “an overwhelming sense of universal connectedness.”

It’s a feeling that links him to a tiny fraction of human beings — but within this small community, it’s widespread. Many other astronauts have recalled similarly overwhelming sensations of awe seeing Earth from space. Ron Garan, who has traveled over 71,000,000 miles and orbited the Earth over 2,800 times, calls this “orbital perspective.” He says access to such…

Fascinating new research helps explain why some keep going when others quit.

Great athletes are fascinating. It’s a thrill to watch the very best of the very best. And though your natural abilities (or lack thereof) may prevent you from becoming as good as the champs, you can improve yourself by emulatingtheir behavior. And yet there’s an overlooked group that is worth your attention, too, if for a very different reason: the almost greats, those who were once good enough to play with the best of the best, but ended up in second-rate leagues.

It’s the perennial million-dollar question of nature versus nurture, sure. But the difference between the greats and the…

If you’ve ever been stuck with a crying baby you know that yelling back at it does not make matters better. It only makes them worse.

There are two skillful ways of working with a crying baby:

1) Hold it, rock it, cradle it, and show it love.

2) Let the baby cry it out; stop trying to intervene; and create a safe space for the baby to exhaust itself.

We’d be wise treat ourselves the same way we treat crying babies. When we mess up, fall short, break a good habit, give into a bad one, get caught in…

A few years ago, when I began to focus more on entrepreneurial pursuits, my mom, a former writer herself, gifted me a little book titled Passion: Every Day. It was filled with inspiring quotes like “I dare you, while there is still time, to have a magnificent obsession” and “follow your desire as long as you live.” This book is not unique. It’s part of a larger canon that portrays passion in an uber-positive light. The key to a good life, these books argue, is finding your passion and then following it wherever it leads. This is an especially prevalent…

Brad Stulberg

Bestselling author of The Practice of Groundedness ( Co-Creator of The Growth Equation. Coach to executives, entrepreneurs, and MDs.

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