What The Symphony Orchestra Can Teach You About High Performance and Health Optimization

Recently at the symphony on an artist date, I found myself falling into a trance for two reasons:

  1. There was a beautiful woman sitting diagonally from me with a group of girls (not the ideal opportunity to run some game).
  2. Watching the maestro direct the orchestra and witnessing each member seamlessly play and integrate to form a flawless cohesive performance.

Since there's not much to expand upon concerning reason one, let's further explore reason two.

Experiencing the symphony orchestra comes with strong atmospheric effects along with conjuring up strong emotional responses—both of which inspire lofty thoughts while boosting my mood.

Moving forward, I believe there are life lessons around every corner we look at. In fact, when I wrote my first book ‘Body Architect’, nearly every principle shared in that book came from a life principle I've either lived or observed.

Attending the symphony is littered with lessons. Especially, when it comes to high performance and health optimization.

During my walk back from the performance, I jotted down five high performance and health optimization lessons that you can learn from the symphony orchestra.

1.Pay attention to your grip

One of the first keys to a successful performance lies in the hands of the maestro. Specifically, the manner in which he holds the baton. There’s power, energy, and of course, specific instructions in the baton.

Safe to say, it’s all about the grip.

Something as minor as the conductor gripping the baton too tightly or even too loosely could affect the entire performance.

If he holds it too tightly, there’s a danger that the musical score will become rigid—devoid of energy and any sort of creativity (with boredom soon to follow).

However, hold it freely with no regard and you’ll have a sloppy musical score (with terrible reviews soon to follow).

With all of this said, the key is to find balance. Not too tight, but also, not too loose. Once you strike the perfect accord, the maestro and accompanying musicians are flowing seamlessly; thus leading to a masterful performance.

What does this have to do with high performance and health optimization?

Everything.

In today’s world, it’s easy to fall into an echo chamber and cling to your ideas, methods, philosophies, and become dogmatic in your ways.

Early on in my fitness days, I trained clients one specific way and thought it was best because it had worked for me. All other ideas, methods, and philosophies were wrong because I was clinging onto my baton too tightly,

Social media has keto circles, carnivore circles, vegan circles, Paleo circles, and numerous others.

When it comes to health optimization, each of us is 99.9 percent identical, but that 0.1 percent is huge and is ultimately the deciding factor on what makes us uniquely us.

Just as the maestro has to find the right balance with his baton for that night's performance, you must find the right balance with the 0.1 percent that makes you uniquely you.

The conductor knows the right grip has arrived when there's no friction and cohesion within the team and its sound. You'll know it's the right grip when there's little-to-no friction between your daily health habits and day-to-day life.

As you look to optimize and enhance your health, ask yourself this key question:

  • Where in life am I being too rigid?
  • Also, where in life am I being too sloppy?

2.Everything has a role, responsibility, and purpose to it

There are four main families of instruments: the strings, the woodwinds, the brass, and the percussion. Even the setup of an orchestra has a purpose too it.

Everything matters. You can’t create an unmistakable listening experience if a role isn’t filled or clearly defined. If the flutes were not existing or there wasn’t appropriate time given to the cellos, the performance could be flat.

In the optimal health spectrum, everything has a role, purpose, and responsibility to it. Sleep, nutrition, exercise, breathing, relationships, work, stress mitigation—all have a role.

And within these big categories are further components that can be broken down just as the string family is further broken down into the violin, the viola, the cello, and the double (string) bass.

When all systems are addressed and taken into account, optimal health can flourish. As you look to create a thriving and flourishing human system, ask yourself some key questions:

  • Do you have the right combination of roles, knowledge, skills, ability, and experience around to help you create a thriving human system?
  • Is each component of your human system addressed, playing, and operating to the best of its ability?

3.Precision is a necessity

From the layout of the orchestra to the precise information needed to perform each of their parts, precision is a necessity for a world-class performance.

Each specific instrument and member have its very own unique personal road map to focus on. Besides that, as I've learned, there are specific times as when to play (speak up), to be quiet (listen), to move quickly (allegro) and to slow down (largo).

Optimal health and living a limitless life isn’t something that happens through guesswork or by accident. Intentionality and careful consideration are necessary.

From the way you sleep to the way you speak, train, supplement and eat—precision is needed.

What inputs will you add to your life and body? Before that, what specifically does your body need to perform at its highest level?

Knowing what makes you uniquely you (i.e. your genetic code) is step one of the process.

As you look to bring more precision to your life and health, ask yourself this question:

  • Am I clear and in alignment with my health and life goals (aka am I being congruent on a day-to-day basis with what I say I want long term)?

4.Continuous learning and practicing is a must

Being apart of the orchestra requires sacrifice and commitment.

Weekly rehearsals as a team along with individual rehearsal times are part of the equation. There is no winging it or sight-reading your parts. Or slowing down after a few years of experience.

The best musicians and composers understand that mastery doesn't happen by accident nor has an end game. It’s simply a continuous progression to the next destination.

As I remind clients along our journey of working together, their health is a continuous progression with no endpoint in sight.

There's no “that's it” or “I'll just maintain what I have.” There's only “what's next” and “how good can I get.”

Continuously learning and practicing is a must because you're either moving forward or heading backward.

As you look to adopt this mentality, ask yourself:

  • What can I do to take my health and life to the next level?
  • Alternatively, what can I remove to take my health and life to the next level?
  • What’s working well and what’s not working so well right now?

5.Celebrate and give gratitude

After the last arrangement was completed, the conductor bowed. But not to hog the spotlight, he immediately turned and invited the rest of the orchestra to stand and share the spotlight. The team celebrated their accolades together along with giving thanks to each other.

Celebrating yourself and operating from a state of gratitude is a valuable tool for optimal mental, emotional, and physical health.

Regularly expressing gratitude can change the molecular structure of your brain, keep the gray matter functioning, and make you healthier and happier.

In 2008, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, scientists began to use fMRI to study gratitude. In the study, researchers measured the brain activity of participants experiencing different emotions. They found that gratitude causes synchronized activation in multiple brain regions along with lighting up parts of the brain’s reward pathways and hypothalamus.

In short, gratitude can boost the valuable neurotransmitter serotonin while activating the brain stem to produce dopamine.

In addition to that, gratitude helps with sleep, longevity, empathy, decision making, and resiliency.

To begin to incorporate this into your life, here are some suggestions:

  • Establish some key milestones and measures of success that you'll celebrate
  • Take some time in the day to identify two to five things good in your life.

A symphony orchestra might look to see if they’re playing in harmony or if they're slightly out of tune? While you most likely aren’t conducting a symphony, your everyday life and body is its own symphony.

Is your human ecosystem playing in harmony or is it slightly out of tune?

If it’s the latter and you’re looking to create a majestic and high performing cascade of music (or at least in this case—optimal health while living the good life)—let's talk.

Send an email to julian@theartoffitnessandlife.com for a free health optimization strategy session. I don't operate in shallow waters. Therefore, expect this to be an impactful session that can range from 45min to 2 hours.

Regardless of if we decide to work together, you'll leave this call with supreme clarity and a plan to becoming superhuman.

4 Simple Tips to Reduce Jet Lag

4 Simple Tips to Reduce Jet Lag

As a busy and high-performing entrepreneur or business leader, travel is likely a necessity for creating new opportunities and growing existing ones. However, with traveling often comes poor sleep and jet lag which not only affects your health but also your bottom line.

Jet lag occurs because of a disruption to your body’s internal clock (or circadian rhythm) due to traveling across multiple time zones (think two or more). Your circadian rhythm is a natural cycle that tells your body when to rise and fall asleep among many other processes.

Typical symptoms of jet lag include difficulty sleeping at bedtime while struggling to wake up in the morning, daytime fatigue, stomach problems, and a decrease in cognitive performance.

While your smartphone automatically resets to represent the new time, your bodies internal software doesn’t operate as efficiently.

With that said, jet lag doesn’t have to equate to an automatic sentence of decreased performance and quality of life. In fact, using these four strategies, you can reduce jet lag during your next extended trip.

1. Stay hydrated

Whether you’re seeking improvement in the boardroom or the gym, it’s essential to cover the fundamentals before anything else. And when it comes to travel health, it doesn’t get any more fundamental than remembering to stay hydrated.

During a recent trip to Portugal, hydration was a top priority. While drinking water is important, there’s an often forgotten area that needs to stay hydrated and that is your skin.

You can become dehydrated on a plane due to the air circulation systems because the systems cabin pressure combined with the dry, recirculated air takes moisture from your skin.

A simple tip to avoid this situation is to pack a skin moisturizer with you.

2. Implement light therapy

Bright light exposure is one of the best methods for adjusting to a new time zone after traveling across multiple ones. However, it’s important to avoid and seek out light at specific times.

During my trip to Portugal, I was traveling eastward which meant I was advancing my clock. Therefore, seeking morning light and avoiding late afternoon light would help the adjustment process to the earlier time zone. If you’re heading west, then apply the opposite method.

For the more technology savvy crowd, you can use a device called the human charger.

This light therapy device looks like an iPod and comes with special LED light headphones which help you adjust to the new time zones. It also comes with an app where you enter your flight information and the app will tell you when to use the device to remove any guesswork.

3. Prepare a sleeping kit

Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who can sleep on planes, it’s often times not of high quality. Thus when you arrive at your destination, you’re not feeling in a high performing state.

With that said, to increase your chances of obtaining quality and quantity sleep so you’ll arrive in a better state, pack a personal sleep kit.

Inside your kit, a couple items I recommend are an eye mask, earplugs or noise-canceling headphones, something to layer up with, and a pair of blue light blocking glasses in case you plan on working or reading on a device in which you want to limit light exposure.

4. Be picky about your plane and time of arrival

Scheduling arrivals for the daytime help because it’s easier to stay awake due to bright light exposure. Also, you’re more tempted to explore the new surroundings because you have the full day ahead of you which leads to fatigue later at night.

Lastly, if possible, choose the Airbus 350 or 380. Those planes have humidification systems which help the air retain moisture preventing you from dehydrating. They also have an intricate LED lighting system producing 16.7 million shades of color helping you regulate to the time zone you’re entering because the colors simulate different times of the day.

Completely eliminating jet lag is unlikely. But with a few small and effective steps, you can arrive in a better state ready to lead and perform at your best.

This article originally appeared over at Chief Executive Magazine.

The 4 Agreements of Fitness And Life

4-agreements-of-fitness-and-life

The year is 1997 and I was a naive eleven-year-old with a serious affinity for superheroes, sports, video games, music, and red vines.

Michael Jordan was on his way out of the NBA. Allen Iverson (who was the reason why I wore number 3 in high school basketball) was beginning his massive impact on the sports world. 90’s R&B was a force even though I had no idea what these people were singing about—it sounded good.

Also in 1997, a man by the name of Don Miguel Ruiz published a small book that went on to become a massive best-seller and influence many people with ‘The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Wisdom’.

In only 153 pages, Ruiz shares “ancient Toltec wisdom” that is broken down into four concise principles for life.

These four principles can help you achieve freedom and happiness in life. But aren’t those the same things we want when it comes to our well-being?

Couldn’t we use a little more freedom and happiness when it comes to our relationship with food? Couldn’t we use a little more freedom and happiness when it comes to our relationship with our bodies? Couldn’t we use a little more freedom and happiness when it comes to the way we talk to ourselves (I know I could)? Couldn’t we use a little more freedom and happiness when it comes to the way we move our bodies?

Residing in guilt and fear when making choices about your health isn't an ideal way to live.

With all of this said, this book played a huge role in helping me get to where I currently am along with where I'm rapidly moving towards. Here are the 4 agreements of fitness and life.

1st Agreement: Be impeccable with your word

“When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself” — Don Miguel Ruiz

Being impeccable with your word isn’t using your word for self-infliction which leads to guilt, shame, and halts progression.

Instead, your word is your promises and commitments that you make to yourself. Here’s the other important tidbit, only commit to actions you intend to follow through on because each time you promise yourself something and don’t follow through, you lose confidence and respect for yourself.

With that said, on a day-to-day basis, how is the language that you use toward yourself? What kind of words do you use to describe your reality? Do you say things about yourself that you wouldn’t say to a friend?

Not using empowering language toward yourself is a discreet form of self-sabotaging. Taking control of your emotional and mental world is the first pillar to transforming yourself.

Health, learning, growing and evolving at a fast pace, dancing, impacting people, and writing is important to me. Therefore my commitments need to reflect what's important to me while empowering me to grow each day into the best version of myself. Here are some examples of language I use for my identity.

  • I desire to have great health so I can live to my highest self while looking and feeling great naked. Therefore “I’m the type of person that consistently goes to the gym and exercises 30-60 minutes and eats a variety of vegetables and nutritious foods to fuel my body and brain”.
  • I desire to have abundant energy so I can make my highest impact felt in the world. Therefore “I’m the type of person who prioritizes my sleep with no room for negotiating”.
  • I desire to live in Portugal for spurts of time and need to communicate effectively. Therefore, “I’m the type of person that consistently practices and studies my 2nd language daily”.
  •  I desire to have supreme confidence to ask any girl at the salsa club to dance with me. Therefore, “I’m the type of person that consistently heads out to salsa clubs to improve my skill level”.
  • I desire to have a best selling book that is translated into multiple languages that are at bookstores and helps millions. Therefore, “I’m the type of person who deliberately writes 1000 words a day to become better”.
  • I desire to help and inspire a million people in the next decade. Therefore, “I’m the type of person who publishes weekly, consistently seeks speaking engagements, and reaches out to at least 1 person daily so I can impact people the best I can”.

Notice on all of those that the commitment is the action itself, not the specific result because I can’t fully control when it arrives.

I can’t control when I’ll get back down to around 10 percent body fat. I can’t control when I’ll be fluent. I can’t control when I’ll be a salsa Jedi. I can’t control if my next book will be a best seller or even if I’ll get a book deal. I can’t control if my next article goes viral or if the next person I meet changes their life due to something I said.

But I can put myself in the best position for those things to happen through my intentional actions and being impeccable with my word (i.e. my commitments).

Take some time today and write out a handful of commitments to yourself so your brain can start working towards things that you really want.

2nd Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally

“When you make it a strong habit not to take anything personally, you avoid many upsets in your life. Your anger, jealousy, and envy will disappear, and even your sadness will simply disappear if you don’t take things personally.” — Don Miguel Ruiz

Whether it’s in professional settings, relationships, or judgment from your friends—you’ll inevitably experience opinions about something you do.

When I first began to workout, I experienced chatter from friends due to me passing on Friday night college parties so I could be refreshed for my Saturday workout and studying. A handful of friends and family called me “crazy” when I left the pursuit of medicine (first big internet article and more about my decision to leave in case you're curious) behind to pursue my current endeavors.

I have a one-star review on Amazon which could shoot my confidence if I didn’t equip myself with the right perspective (I actually laughed because I'm weird like that).

Odds are, someone has most likely called you crazy, dumb, or something else of similarity—probably this week. However, we must remember that it’s not about us in these situations.

What others say and do to us is nothing more than a projection of their own reality. What they choose to do and say is never about us.

When you become immune to the opinions and actions of others, their negativity and words will deflect off of you just as bullets deflect from Captain America's shield.

shield— 4-agreements-of-fitness-and-life
With a shield made out of vibranium, nothing can hurt you.

With that said, you’ll consistently be tempted around every corner as you attempt to grow and evolve.

“It’s the holidays, why are you eating only one plate.” “Why don’t you have some more drinks?” “You can relax and give it a break, why are you getting the grilled fish?” You don’t have to eat healthy all the time? Just indulge and get the burger and beer.” “Why do you want it all, just be happy with the simple things.”

When you’re trying to make healthy choices and grow, your circle will sometimes give you a hard time because you’re breaking free from the norm and familiarity. Sometimes they’re joking. And if not, still don’t take it personally. Instead, treat them with even more compassion. Remember, they don’t see the world the same as you and that’s okay.

Don’t take criticism, your friends opinion, and especially the “Facebook expert” who seems to know every subject personally. Keep your head down, stay positive, choose the good type of pain, and ruthlessly focus on where you’re going.

3rd agreement: Don’t make assumptions

“We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything. The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We could swear they are real. We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking—we take it personally—then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison with our word. That is why when we make assumptions, we’re asking for problems. We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a whole big drama for nothing.” — Don Miguel Ruiz

Assumptions leave a lot up to the imagination which leads to worse case scenario thinking. When you’re thinking about your well being, assumptions are dangerous because this can lead to dogmatic thinking when you’re approaching potential solutions for your fitness.

Perhaps you’re making assumptions about which diet will and won’t work for you. Perhaps you’re making assumptions about particular training programs and strategies not working for you. All of these assumptions are creating limiting beliefs.

With all of this said, there’s an easy solution to stop letting assumptions guide you and that is to start asking questions.

Have the courage to ask questions about whatever the situation is in front of you. This diet doesn’t work? This type of workout program doesn't work? And the excuses can go on forever.

But why? Investigate because these type of moments are when you can extract gold from the situation which leads to growing and evolving at a faster rate.

4th agreement: Always do your best

“It’s the one that allows the other three to become deeply ingrained habits. The fourth agreement is about the action of the first three: Always do your best.” “Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.” — Don Miguel Ruiz

We can’t always control the outcome to situations, but we can control our daily actions.

Abiding by a rule of one percent daily improvement is a great way to keep your sanity while attempting to do your best. Focus on continuous improvement which is achieved through consistent small steps that eventually become monumental feats.

What I’ve noticed over the years with myself and clients is that those who take the consistent but small steps are more successful long-term compared to the ones who attempt large and monumental action because they can’t sustain it long term. Slow and steady always wins.

turtle — 4 agreements of fitness and life
Don't forget the turtle always wins the race.

When you take small but important actions, the resistance isn’t as likely to stop you because while it’s out of your comfort zone, it’s not so far out that you’re feeling highly anxious and fearful.

At the end of the day, it’s a daily battle to abide by the 4 agreements of fitness and life. They are conceptually simple, but difficult in execution once you immerse yourself in the day-to-day world where temptations are abundant.