Tuesday, August 11

Thanks Greg for sending over this email from Brian Johnson, who is all about optimizing your life. I'll paste the email below so you can read the whole thing. It's called “How do I do it?” vs. “Can I do It?” and it's all about how we reach our goals or make changes in our lives. I've posted about setting process oriented goals rather than outcome oriented ones and this goes hand in hand with that (which is why Greg sent it my way). When you think about the process rather than the outcome, the end goal doesn't seem so far away or unattainable. You just think of the next step to get there and you don't focus on how many steps there might be, which can be daunting.

Also, you don't focus on the outcome that others have achieved. In CrossFit, or athletics in general, it's so easy to see the superstars making really difficult things look easy and getting down about not being there yourself. When we focus on what the greats have already done we only think about the end result. We forget that it took these people years and years of training to get there. That's unfair to the person that put in the work and to ourselves for thinking we should get there sooner.

Read the full text below and think about how you can approach your next goal.


“In contrast, a process orientation . . . asks ‘How do I do it?’ instead of ‘Can I do it?’ and this directs attention toward defining the steps that are necessary on the way. This orientation can be characterized in terms of the guiding principle that there are no failures, only ineffective solutions.”

— Ellen Langer from Mindfulness

Two Big Ideas I want to dive into here.

First, notice the difference between these two questions:

“How do I do it?” vs. “Can I do it?”

One is focused on the process, the other on the outcome. Which do you think is more mindful/more helpful? :)

Let’s try it right now. Think about a challenge in your life.

Got it?

Ask yourself, “Can I do it?!”

Note your thought process.

Now ask yourself, “How do I do it?”

Note your thought process.

Which is more empowering? (Huge difference, eh?!)

Second, when we mindfully embrace the process orientation, we remember this guiding principle: “there are no failures, only ineffective solutions.”

That’s the essence of a Big Idea from the Note I created yesterday on Tal Ben-Shahar’s Choose the Life You Want (interestingly, Tal and Ellen were both professors at Harvard). Here’s what Tal has to say on the subject: “When we hear about extremely successful people, we mostly hear about their great accomplishments—not about the many mistakes they made and the failures they experienced along the way. In fact, most successful people throughout history are also those who have had the most failures. That is no coincidence. People who achieve great feats, no matter what field, understand that failure is not a stumbling block but a stepping-stone on the road to success. There is no success without risk and failure. We often fail to see this truth because the outcome is more visible than the process—we see the final success and not the many failures that led to it.

When I acknowledge that fulfilling my potential must involve some failure, I no longer run away from risks and challenges. The choice is a simple one: Learn to fail, or fail to learn.”

How’s your mindset?

Can you see that there are no failures, just ineffective solutions?

Here’s to approaching our challenges with a process-orientation and seeing results as simply data that guides us on our quest!

P.S. Remembering that every outcome is preceded by a process is a great way to navigate that process:

“A true process orientation also means being aware that every outcome is preceded by a process. Graduate students forget this all the time. They begin their dissertations with inordinate anxiety because they have seen other people’s completed and polished work and mistakenly compare it to their own first tentative steps. With their noses deep in file cards and half-baked hypotheses, they look in awe at Dr. So-and-so’s published book as if it had been born without effort or false starts, directly from brain to printed page. By investigating how someone got somewhere, we are more likely to see the achievement as hard-won and our own chances as more plausible.”


Want to stress yourself out?

Here’s a simple recipe: Negatively compare yourself to someone you admire by focusing on where they’re at today while imagining they got there effortlessly then conclude that something must be wrong with you because you’re feeling a bit incompetent and nowhere near their level.


Welcome to the limited, outcome-focused, fixed mindset.

To relieve that stress, focus on the PROCESS that everyone goes through to attain mastery. Focus on getting a little better each step of the way rather than trying to prove you’ve got it from Day 1.

That’s the growth mindset. That’s where the magic is.

As Carol Dweck tells us in her classic book Mindset (see Notes): “People with the growth mindset know that it takes time for potential to flower.”

Here’s to celebrating the time and effort involved in cultivating the flowering of our potential!

Thanks again, Greg!

Workout for Tuesday, August 11 Strict Press 3 sets of 10 reps Build Up in Weight Push Press 2 sets of 10 reps Build Up in Weight See Strength Work From 7/7/15

6 min AMRAP 4 Strict Pull Ups 8 Box Jumps (Mandatory Step Down) Rest 3 min 6 min AMRAP 8 Pull Ups (kip ok) 16 KB Swings (1.5/1)

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