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Conquering Perfectionism 101

How to Quit Being a Perfectionist and Start Being an Incremental Optimizer

High standards are great. Perfectionism? Not so much. In this class, we’ll take a look at why it’s so important to embrace the constraints of reality as we have fun incrementally optimizing–aggregating and compounding tiny improvements over time to create magic!

Locked PhilosophersNotes

The Pursuit of Perfect

How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life

It's time to quit being a perfectionist and start being an optimalist. And Tal Ben-Shahar, the former Harvard (Positive Psych) Professor shares why we should care, and how we can look to our ideals as guiding stars rather than distant shores. If you, like me, have perfectionist tendencies, you'll love the book and you'll love the Note as we explore some Big Ideas on how to embrace the constraints of life as we get our inner-optimalist on!

Locked PhilosophersNotes


The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

Kristin Neff established self-compassion as a field of study almost a decade ago—bringing the Buddhist practice of self-compassion into her labs so the benefits could be empirically validated. In this Note, we explore the three core elements of self-compassion (self-kindness + common humanity + mindfulness) and why it's so important for us to cultivate!

Locked PhilosophersNotes


The New Psychology of Success

Carol Dweck, Ph.D is a Stanford Professor and one of the world’s leading authorities on the science of motivation. She tells us that our “mindset”—how we see the world—determines a *huge* part of our overall happiness and well-being and achievement. In this Note, we’ll explore the difference between a “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset” and some Big Ideas on why we want to learn how to live from a growth mindset. And, of course, how to do it!

Locked PhilosophersNotes


Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development (Essays in Social Psychology)

Carol Dweck is one of the world’s leading researchers on the science of motivation. This book is a collection of brief essays on various aspects of “self-theories.” It’s essentially a bridge between her extensive academic research studies and her popular book Mindset. It’s amazing. Big Ideas we explore include the two frameworks (entity vs. incremental) and their two goals (performance vs. learning), attributional retraining (aka learning the best way to respond to failure!), and moving from contingent self-worth to wholehearted self-esteem.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

How to Be an Imperfectionist

The New Way to Self-Acceptance, Fearless Living, and Freedom from Perfectionism

You ever struggle with perfectionism? If so, it’s time to learn how to be an imperfectionist! Stephen Guise (author of Mini Habits), shows us the way. Big Ideas include being a poser, living within floors and ceilings, thinking vs. doing, pulling the lever, and cultivating result apathy.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect

This book is not only a golf/sports psychology classic, but a great primer on approaching life with the right mindset. If you’re into golf, you’ll love it. Big Ideas we explore include: Being an expander rather than a shrink, smaller targets leading to greater focus, the importance of your short game (in golf AND in life), fear vs. nervousness, paying a caddie to berate you and expectations: the good and the bad.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

The Gifts of Imperfection

Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

You're imperfect. (Hate to break it to you!) And that's awesome. Brene Brown, TED-talk rock star and all-around awesome human being also happens to be one of the world's shame and vulnerability researchers who stumbled upon the secrets of what she calls Wholehearted living. In this Note, we'll look at the Dos and Don'ts of rockin' it as we cultivate courage, connection and compassion to put our soul in a great mood.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Running Down a Dream

Your Roadmap to Winning Creative Battles

Tim Grahl is one of the world’s leading book-launch marketing gurus. To put it in perspective: At one point, his clients held FIVE spots on the New York Times bestseller lists. (To be clear: That’s REALLY (!!) hard to do. Like, almost impossible.) But get this: That week when he achieved the pinnacle of success? He was miserable. And this book is his inspiring, super-vulnerable story of how he moved through many dark nights of the soul as he ran down his dream—to not only create a business and body of work that he’s proud of but, much more importantly, a LIFE of sustainable meaning and mojo and joy. Big Ideas we cover include: a practice to eliminate the nonessential, the fact that everyone is pretty much always (!) editing their lives, making it all one big experiment, scraping away the plaster to reveal your already-perfect Golden Buddha essence and the true joy of running down your dream!

Locked PhilosophersNotes


The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Angela Duckworth is the world’s leading authority on the science of grit. In fact, she pioneered the field and, as Daniel Gilbert says on the cover: “Psychologists have spent decades searching for the secret of success, but Duckworth is the one who found it.” In this Note, we explore the two facets of grit (hint: passion + perseverance, why they’re important and how to cultivate them.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

The Happiness Trap

How to Stop Struggling and Start Living

ACT. That’s where it’s at. This is our second Note on Russ Harris and his great introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. (Check out the Notes on The Confidence Gap as well.) In this book, Russ walks us through how we get caught in the happiness trap and, more importantly, how to free ourselves. We’ll take a quick look at the myths of happiness, the six principles of ACT, how to deal with emotional quicksand, how NOT to visualize (and what to do instead), and writing down your values (<— science says that’s wise).

Locked PhilosophersNotes

The Paradox of Choice - Why More Is Less

Barry Schwartz tells us that some choice is obviously good but too much choice can actually stress us out! The book is packed with powerful wisdom—much of it counterintuitive. In the Note, we'll explore the difference between being a “Maximizer” vs. a “Satisficer” and why we want to shift from always needing the “absolute best” to being happy with “good enough” as we develop our gratitude and quit comparing ourselves to other peeps. Powerful.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Enough Already

The Power of Radical Contentment

How'd you like to tap into the power of radical contentment? (Sign me up!) Alan Cohen shows us the way to as he teaches us how to quit being a hardaholic and/or a precrastinator as we embrace the three facts of life and eliminate the terrorists from our minds. Enough already. It's a wonderful place to be.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Your Erroneous Zones

Escape Negative Thinking and Take Control of Your Life

How're your erroneous zones doing? Dr. Wayne Dyer's first mega-best-selling book is straight to the point, funny, and eminently practical. In this Note, we'll explore some really Big Ideas ranging from the importance of self-reliance and self-worth (vs. worrying about what others think and therefore having "other-worth") to the need to quit "musterbating."

Locked +1s

#18 Deo Volente + Thy Will Be Done

Wisdom from Apollo, the Patron God of Philosophy
Deo volente. It’s Latin for “God willing.” The ancient Stoics told us that it’s important to have clear goals but we need to qualify
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#31 "Needs work!"

What to Say to Yourself When Things Don’t Go as Planned
What do you say to yourself when things don’t go as planned? It could be in the middle of a big game or creative project or dinner
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#49 Floors and Ceilings

How to Be an Imperfectionist
Stephen Guise wrote a great little book called How to Be an Imperfectionist. As a still-recovering perfectionist, I found it very useful.
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#50 Perfectionist vs. Optimalist

Which Are You?

Speaking of perfectionism, let’s look at the essence of Tal Ben-Shahar’s great book The Pursuit of Perfect. Tal is one of the world’s leading positive psychologists.

Locked +1s

#59 Mistakes? They’re Just Mis-takes

You As the Director of Your Life
Imagine yourself as the Director of a movie. Huge budget. You have an amazing crew. Best actors in the world and an impeccable script.
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#60 Never Waste a Mis-take

It’s All Awesome Data!
Have you ever made a mistake? (Hah.) Right. (I’ve made a mistake or 3 million as well.) Here’s the deal: When we approach it with the
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#85 50 Pounds = A

How to Master the Fear of Art
Imagine this: It’s your first day of art class. You signed up for an intro class on pottery. (Nice! Go you!) The teacher does something a
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#146 There Are No Perfect People

And… Newsflash: You Will Not Be the First
Abraham Maslow studied the greatest people of his generation—extraordinary humans like Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt. These were
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#148 Metaphysical Gluttony

How to Stop OptiBinging and Have More Fun Optimizing
In a prior +1 we talked about the risk of overwhelming ourselves as we go ALL IN on Optimizing. One of the ways to deal with that tendency

#260 Strengths + Weaknesses

Lincoln, Grant, Iovine & Dr. Dre
Peter Drucker tells us that all great people have great weaknesses. Where there are peaks, there are valleys. The best among us, he says,
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#354 Musterbation

+ Shoulding on Yourself
In our last +1, we talked about a word Aristotle coined to capture that Life Force within each of us (and everything) that pushes us (and
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#369 Endlessly Evolving Process

The Essence of a Good Life
In our last +1, we talked about zero-based thinking and reflected on the powerful question of asking ourselves whether, knowing what we now
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#370 Mistake-Learner’s High

Enjoy It as You Pursue Audacious Goals and Endlessly Evolve
In our last +1, we talked about Phil Stutz’ great phrase: “Endlessly evolving process.” Phil likes to draw upward spiraling loops to
Locked +1s

#499 Batting .300

Is Hall of Fame Material (in Life + Baseball)
I don’t know about you, but I’m still kind of attached to the idea that I should never make a mistake. I mean, I get it intellectually.
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#500 Thrown a Perfect Game Lately?

210,000 Games Over 140 Years = How Many Perfect Games?
In our last +1, we talked about the fact that batting .300 over the course of your Major League Baseball career gets you in the Hall of
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#582 How to Think About Your Flaws

Hint: Alchemize Them into Marginal Gains
The other day I was working on a Note on Phil Maffetone’s book called 1:59. It’s all about how he thinks someone will run a marathon in
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#681 The Perfectly Imperfect MasterpieceYou

Michelangelo's Imperfect Marble (and Rain-Soaked Studio)
In our last couple +1s, we talked about Michelangelo and his studio. Today we’re going to step back and chat about some historical facts
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#706 The Unreachable Walls

aka: Don't Be a (Crazy) Perfectionist
We’re kinda on a roll with our Fire Walk to our ultimate potential so I say let’s keep going. But first, it’s important to make this
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#775 Embracing the Mess

A Key Feature of Your Hero’s Journey
In our last couple +1s, we talked about the art and science of lining up our dominoes in one neat and shiny staircase to moon-heaven. 🚶
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#777 Stepping Stones to Success

Daniel Amen on Mistakes
In our last +1, we enjoyed some zigs and zags with Ralph Waldo Emerson and talked about the importance of maintaining self-trust in the
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#955 Falling on Your Butt

Approximately 20,000 Times
Geoff Colvin’s Talent Is Overrated is a great book. It falls into the “Effort Counts Twice” / Deliberate Practice bucket of how to
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#988 Fail Alchemized to FAIL

Fail = Faithful Attempts In Learning!
Continuing our brief trip through Marie Forleo’s brilliant brain and equally wise book Everything Is Figureoutable, let’s redefine one
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#1026 Connection over Perfection

A Big Idea from Public Speaking 101
This morning Alexandra and I were chatting about her new Optimize +1s. First: Yay! I’m typing this with a big smile as I’m super happy
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#1088 Flashlight vs. Hammer

How Are You Using Life's Data?
Today we’re going to return to David Brooks’ great book The Second Mountain for a little more wisdom. Let’s flip open our copies of
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#1098 How to Be a Perfect Person

Hint: Embrace the Imperfections
As I typed out the title for this +1—”How to Be a Perfect Person”—I laughed. A perfect person? HAH!!! As we’ve discussed so many
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#1099 Perfection: Hold It in Contempt

It’s the LOWEST Possible Standard
In our last +1, we talked about How to Be Perfect. Wait… Can you hear the philosophical laugh track? (lol) Seriously. … I can hear the
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#1135 Be Willing to Fail

Edison, Churchill and YOU!
Continuing our little series on the science of courage, how about some more wisdom from Robert Biswas-Diener? In The Courage Quotient, he
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#1137 A New Take on Mis-takes

Using Them as Fuel for Our Antifragile Fires
In our last +1, we spent some time with an Academy Award-nominated documentarian who reminded us that we need to be willing to fail.
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#1196 Strong People

ALWAYS Have Strong Weaknesses, Too
In our last +1, we took a moment to shine a flashlight on some of our strengths that we may take for granted that we’d be wise to take AS
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#1239 E: “What Does ‘Sin’ Mean?”

Me: “To Miss the Mark.”
The other day, Emerson and I were doing some reading together. He asked me what the word “sin” meant. I paused for a moment, decided to