What You Can Learn About High Performance From A Junior High School Teacher

Dave Brodkey teaches shop class to sixth to eighth graders at New Brighton Middle School near Santa Cruz, CA. Eleven and twelve year olds are typically not known for their sustained attention at school so when Brodkey told me his students consistently get into a state of flow — or what he calls the “quality zone” — in his classes, I had to learn more. Indeed, it turns out he’s intuitively and brilliantly incorporated all the key components that encourage flow states. […]

The Iceberg Illusion of Success: Don’t Be Fooled Because You Can’t See The Failures

During one of my piano lessons at The Juilliard School, my teacher told me I “played like a mouse” and asked me if I had considered going to law school. At my taekwon-do black belt test, I failed to pass the first time round because I didn’t break the boards (and it took another 12 months until I did). At business school, surrounded by “quant jocks” while I didn’t even know how to use Excel, I finished the first semester at […]

The Real Difference Between Top Performers and Everyone Else

Growing up as a budding world famous concert pianist, I practiced the piano four to six hours a day. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it. The thing is, I didn’t really know “how” to practice. One day, when I was about ten and tired of aimless repetition, I came up with the clever idea to read a book at the same time, propping it up against the keyboard with my left hand while I played with my right. When my mom, no doubt […]

How To Stop Being A People-Pleaser (and Take Back Your Power)

“This feels too nice and polite to come from a ‘mental toughness coach,’” was my coach’s feedback when I asked him to review an email I had sent introducing myself to a high-profile entrepreneur.   “Well, yes,” I thought. “I am asking for his time and attention, I want to be respectful.” In fact, I was reaching out with an offer to be of service. In the process, I was tripped up by what Jean Tang describes in “Sorry, Not Sorry,” as women’s […]

How To Avoid the Main Pitfall of Success

Roger Federer, the great tennis champion, has been playing tennis for 30 years, since he was four years old. In a practice session before the US Open, he was tired. Federer wanted, as Michael Terry tells the story, to cut practice short. ”That’s when I started to run in and hit returns,” he said later. “I hit a couple for a winner. They were, like, ridiculous.” He tried it again in the next two practice sessions, to see if it actually would […]

How To Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

The Navy SEALs have a saying: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” Sounds like an oxymoron but, of course, if we want to grow, we need to get used to being outside our comfort zone. The thing is, our modern lives are all about ease and instant gratification. We don’t like the discomfort of a slow Internet connection, much less voluntarily exposing ourselves to potential rejection or failure. But that’s not where the magic – the growth, the learning – happens. So […]

How To Master the Silver Lining

I’m up in the Boston area this week for meetings, and visiting my dad in Concord. Today, around 5:30 pm — rush hour — we were driving toward the city to pick up my sister at the airport. There had been quite a bit of discussion beforehand about what time we should leave to take into account the traffic and as we headed in, sure enough, there were lines of cars in every direction. “Look at all the traffic!” I kept exclaiming […]

Crush It At the Holiday Party: Six Ways to Network Like A Navy SEAL

Ah, the holiday season. In addition to the usual networking events and industry conferences, there’s the year-end cocktails and company parties chockful of opportunities to socialize, re-connect and talk shop. Most people will take a casual approach and flit through the season’s festivities, chugging eggnog and scarfing down hors d’oeuvres. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to capitalize on this goldmine of opportunity to connect and bond with the people who could be important catalysts for your […]