If you and I were to sit down and have a coffee, and you were to ask me what I did, my answer would be simple:

“I enable people to take specific actions.”

I do this in two ways.

First, I enable my clients’ businesses. From funnels that influence to words that make the phone ring, I enable my clients’ customers to take actions that put money in the bank.

Secondly, I enable my clients. The strategy and tactics we discuss aren’t limited to the making of money. Often, they focus on crushing mental blocks and limiting beliefs to enable those all important profitable actions to take place.

And of those actions, few are as important as knowing how to act when burn out is on the horizon.

Dear You, This Is Your Job

Let’s get one thing straight.

Your job is to keep the world spinning. To take the risks, make things happen and get shit done.

You are an entrepreneur. A commander. A leader.

Without you, and the people like you, the world will cease to spin and the shit will hit the fan as consumption outweighs production.

And just like your peers, you can’t let the dip in the curve hold you back.

The Crash Is Real, And They’ve Been There Too

Before you read the rest of this, let me give you some background.

If you have ever felt like you were crashing, burning, failing or falling, you are not alone.

Every week, without fail, I speak with between 20 and 30 entrepreneurs. Every week, we talk about developing your business, and developing your psychology.

And every week, at least one person is going through a burn out.

This is by no means a startling revelation in the entrepreneurial community. It has been written about more than a handful of times.

But it’s a problem that doesn’t go away, and can be insulated against with the right frameworks.

This Story Begins With Four Men And A Low Lit Room

Recently, while sitting with a group of four entrepreneurs, the conversation turned to inner game and mindset.

Despite having one of his most successful weeks in some time, one of the four had found himself hitting rock bottom. He was angry, upset, depressed and down.

“I set my goals and refined them earlier this week, and was really juiced off them. Now, I just feel absolutely bummed and empty.”

He’d gone from massive high to massive low. And none of us could pull him out of it in that moment.

This wasn’t because of his mood and mindset, or a lack of insight from the other three people in the room.

It was because of where he’d found himself on the roller coaster.

The Roller Coaster Has Started, And You Will Never Get Off

Acknowledge the following as infallible truth:

You are on a roller coaster of emotion. Unless you are a psychopath by definition, this is unavoidable. 

Accept this. Otherwise, the more you try to avoid it, control it, or destroy it, the more it will bite you on the arse.

Admittedly, this puts you in a tough position.

As an entrepreneur, a commander for your troops, you probably have a desire to be invincible. Maybe you think you are.

And whenever you feel down, off or lacking, you try to hide it.

Keeping a strong face is good. Not dealing with reality is bad.

To deal with reality, it is important that you come to peace with the fact that the roller coaster is unavoidable. Some parts will be great. Some parts will suck.

In the same way, you must acknowledge that you are going to die. In 1,000 years, the mountains will be here and you will not.

You are not invincible — in fact, you are little more than flesh and blood with the luck of a good birthplace and a handful of strong decisions. Your life is what it is, and you will see that in reality, it is not all roses.

And like a roller coaster, your only real choice is to go ride it between the ups and downs, to the neutral points.

This It Isn’t About Being Happy. It’s About Being Neutral.

Life is a constant battle between inertia and momentum.

Your emotions, the fuel for the decisions you make, are as affected by this as any other element of your human make up.

And when you’re scraping rock bottom, on the most terrifying part of the roller coaster, you can’t just ‘buck up’ and smile. Because when you’re down, before you can be up, you must reach the mid point.

The easiest framework to view this through is Neuro Linguistic Programming’s concept of ‘State’:

When you’re down, you’re in an unresourceful state.

When you’re up, you’re in a resourceful state.

And whenever you transition from one to the other, you must first reach a neutral state.

Before Anything, Know The Way

“I’m not waving. I’m drowning.”

— Stevie Smith. Not Waving But Drowning.

transition-curve-slide

The Entrepreneurial Transition Curve by Cameron Herold (@)

This diagram has become somewhat of a map for life for many individuals. You might already recognise it.

Personally, I first came across it a few weeks before my 22nd birthday.

A good early birthday present, I’ve used it to identify where I am on the cycle ever since.

And if you’re feeling a burn out, chances are you can identify where you are in the process in seconds by looking at this curve.

As you take stock of your current situation, ask yourself — what’s that feeling?

Is it informed pessimism? A crisis of meaning? Are you crashing and burning?

As you narrow in, and realise where you are on the curve, you will no doubt have two questions:

How do I handle this? Do I have to?

The answer to both questions are best found in a modern take on an Ancient classic:

getting-right-with-the-tao

Getting Right With The Tao, By Ron Hogan (@)

Before you can conquer your states, and truly appreciate the roller coaster and your own growth, you must accept that there is no perfect way.

There is not one path to success.

There is not one way to a happy relationship.

There is not one way to never ending happiness (nor does it exist).

There is simply Tao.

But what does this have to do with beating burn out, and eliminating fall out?

These two resources are your initial primers.

They give you the base level foundation for you to build a philosophy of resilience, self understanding and acceptance on. They put you in the neutral state, preparing you to be resourceful.

Know Thyself, Competitive Beast

“The real benefit of competition is not winning—it is improved performance.”

— Top Dog: The Science of Winning And Losing
Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

Competition is an important part of your journey.

Unfortunately, most people do not understand how to compete in a way that gives them an advantage.

Once you have reached a neutral state, your next step in understanding your journey along the transition curve is to develop your understanding of your own competitive nature: are you a warrior, or a worrier?

The answer to this question inside your body’s genetic makeup, thanks to the 1957, Nobel Prize winning discovery of Julius Axelrod.

The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme.

COMT is the enzyme responsible for maintaing the balance between being alert under pressure, and melting down under pressure — a precarious position that you are no doubt used to being in.

But here’s the kicker.

Some people have fast, hard-working COMT enzymes. Other people have lazy, slow-working COMT enzymes. And yours affects how will you perform under stress and pressure.

This is deeply encoded in your genetics, and you cannot change it. Instead, you must learn whether you are a warrior or a worrier and play to your strengths.

And that is where Top Dog comes in.

TopDog

Top Dog, By Po Bronson (@) & Ashely Merryman (@)

In modern culture, there is a ‘one size fits all’ approach to competitive drive:  you either have ‘it’ or you don’t.

This, however, is a lie. We all compete in our own Way.

When you understand how you perform — right down to a genetic level — your ability to move through the stages of the Transition Curve will be smoother.

Yes, you will have obstacles.

Yes, you will have loss.

Yes, you will fail.

But the deeper your understanding of your genetic drivers, the better equipped you are for dealing with the curve in line with your Way and accepting the pain.

The Wisdom Of The Ancients, Part Two: What Most Successful Individuals Know About Failure That Mere Mortals Don’t

taylor_pearson-ian_borders-derek_sivers

Taylor Pearson (@), COO of Valet Up,
Ian Borders (@), Founder of MergePay and Derek Sivers (@)

talking philosophy, life and business at DCBKK 2012

Over the last few years, I’ve been lucky to have developed friendships with, and gained insights into the minds of, very successful businessmen and women.

Through these relationships, I’ve been able to discover how they deal with potential and real ‘failures’ that most people don’t ever have to even consider: failed multi-million dollar investments, public humiliation, and the risk of losing an empire that employs 200 people.

From CEOs of Financial Publishing companies, to successful independent musicians, the philosophy is shared — life is suffering, but the pain is optional.

Read that again.

Life is suffering, but the pain is optional.

When you accept this notion, the transition curve once again becomes easier to handle. You accept the roller coaster for what it is — pain included.

And then you start imagining how bad things could be.

This is not your standard, run of the mill ‘pessimist attitude’, however.

Using negative visualisation — a staple of the stoics — you enable yourself to quit taking for granted how incredibly lucky you are (remember, most of your battles were one through pure luck at birth).

And as a result, you begin to appreciate each friend — who could die suddenly, or disappear from your life instantly — and each moment you share. It’s a gratitude practice by proxy.

And this is where you should begin:

a-guide-to-the-good-life

A Guide To The Good Life, By William Irvine

With the early wins under your belt of knowing your position on the Transition Curve, The Way, and an understanding of your competitive nature, the next step to handling the burn out is your philosophical primer.

Life happens. People die. You are not invincible.

We’ve covered this before. But as you begin to take on the stoic principles and attitudes, as well as practices, you will ingrain in yourself a new sense of neutrality, and then gratitude.

At this point, you have navigated your way north of burn out territory and embraced reality from a multitude of perspectives.

And now, as you continue your journey along the never ending roller coaster that carries you to the grave, you have a system for operating with the ups, and downs.

As I Walk Through The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death, I Fear No Evil…

“…for I am the baddest motherfucker in the valley.”

— Jarhead

“Courage is acting in spite of fear” is a quote you’ll see attributed to many authors. 

It’s also a quote you should endeavour to live your life by.

Over the past 1,500+ words, you’ve been given a framework for handling the lower half of the Transition Curve:

  1. Acceptance Of The Curve
  2. Understanding Of The Way
  3. Understanding Of The Self
  4. Acceptance Of Suffering, Rejection Of Pain

The burn out will happen. The downsides will happen. The suffering is inevitable.

But the pain will always remain optional.

What will enhance your ability to accept these and move with them, to handle the challenges thrown at you, is your mindset and your mental frameworks.

Your job is to keep the world spinning and to make things happen. To take the risks, make things happen and get shit done.

Without you, and the people like you, the world will cease to spin and the shit will hit the fan as consumption outweighs production.

Don’t let the dip in the curve hold you back.

The Final Action Plan

To create a 2,000 word piece of this nature without an action plan would be unfair to you.

So if you’ve enjoyed reading about these concepts (and want to learn more about how you can navigate the Transition Curve), here’s what you need to do next:

  1. Read The Transition Curve (and thank Cameron Herold for creating it)
  2. Buy and read Getting Right With The Tao by Ron Hogan to discover The Way
  3. Buy and read Top Dog by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman to discover your competitive nature
  4. Buy and read A Guide To The Good Life by William Irvine to prime yourself on stoicism

This will cost you under $50, and give you untold value as you read through each piece.

And once you’ve finished reading, act accordingly.

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February 26, 2014

On Learning (And Re-Learning) The Rules

by Rob Hanly

“The wise are not wise because they make no mistakes.

They are wise because they correct their mistakes as soon as they recognize them.”

— Xenocide

“I should know better than this”

“I’ve made this mistake before”

“You’re better than this”

— Every one on the planet (at least once)

 

Beating yourself up is just picking on an easy target.

You never fight back, and you just sit there and take it.

None the less, the fight continues. You throw combinations. You throw hooks. You put yourself on the mat.

Depressed, destroyed and disgusted with yourself, you learn to pick yourself up.

Until you slip up again, and the cycle continues.

You Are Going To Learn Every Lesson More Than Once

Like most people, I have lost count of how many times I have burned myself.

The method doesn’t matter. Matches, stove tops, hot plates out of the microwave, pizza on the roof of my mouth.

The outcome is always the same:

Something hot plus something that doesn’t deal well with heat equals burn.

We know this rule as a fact of life. But, none the less, we all manage to break it time and time again.

And we learn the lesson over, and over, and over again.

You’ll find this happen in every area of your life.

You’ll date the crazy ones (again). Your friends will roll their eyes and tell you they’ve stopped trying to dissuade you.

You’ll do a knee jerk business move. Your gut will hate you, and you’ll beat yourself up as you try to fall asleep that night.

You’ll over-commit to an idea, and burn out. Your friends will try to help you, you’ll finally get balance back in your life, and then you’ll throw it all away again.

Re-Learning A Lesson Is Not The End Of The World

In the end, you will die.

Take that as your ticket to do as much – or little – as you want. You’re in charge of deriving meaning.

But it’s also a ticket to stop messing yourself up so much. You’ve got a pretty face, a pretty brain, and 95% of the time you are a high quality machine and producing at the highest level you can.

95% of the time, you are the definition of fire.

But everyone has a 5%.

A 5% where they repeat a mistake they made a year ago.

A 5% where they stumble on something they should’ve masterd.

A 5% where they look back and wonder what they’re doing.

Accept this as inevitable, and work with the flow.

Few things are irrecoverable.

Going Through The Motions: Self Correcting Behaviour

Coming to accept that you are not perfect, and that your 5% will knock the wind out of you is the first step.

Only once you’ve done this can you begin to look out for the red flags — indications that your behaviour is not producing the results you want to see. These will act as your trigger.

The moment you get the indication that what you are doing is not producing the result you want, you must not immediately try to recover what you’ve lost. The damage has been done.

Instead, your goal when you recognise these indicators is to re-assess the situation.

What is recoverable? How will you recover it? What plan of action should you deploy?

In some cases, a simple apology will suffice. Other times, you’ll need to enact a gesture of good will.

And other times, you will need to grit your teeth and bide your time.

Resisting the temptation to act make be challenging, but it can buy you an advantage.

The advantage of time for recovery. The advantage of time for perspective. The advantage of time for planning.

Self correcting behaviour will dampen the blow of the 5%.

The Impact Of The 95%: Insulating Yourself Proactively

Gambling the farm, as sexy as it sounds, is not a repeatable strategy for success.

Yes, it will work on occasion. But it’s the equivalent of playing Russian Roulette with five bullets instead of one.

As you realise the inevitability of the 5%, and the devastation it can unleash, your goal should be to minimise the impact that your 5% has.

Build up good will with others. It will reduce the cost of your 5%.

Create a buffer of savings. You will be able to walk away from the fall out of bad deals without desperation.

Look after your health. The impact of getting sick will be lessened when your body is well rested and well cared for.

Always insulate yourself proactively.

This way, when that the inevitable storm of the 5% occurs (and it will), you will not lose everything.

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On Why Studying Philosophy Is A Waste Of Time

January 31, 2014

We ducked off the street, through the low doorway, and into the warmly lit restaurant. There were 20 people in the wooden walled room, tucked away in the heart of the city. We sat on low chairs at the bar table, and the conversation flowed. Business. Relationships. Death. Life. The intimate parts of life. Our […]

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On Why You Need To De-Sexify Reality

November 19, 2013

“Life the way you people want to live it is very difficult, Mr. Wade. You want ‘less difficult’? Move to my country, study Hinduism. Meditate. Cultivate serenity. Much ‘less difficult’. You want to buy atomic bombs… I’m afraid that is a more difficult way of life.” — ‘Short Scientist’, The Losers When I was younger, I wanted to be a Special Forces […]

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On Your Inevitable Death And Making The Most Of It

September 27, 2013

You are going to die. It is inevitable. Somewhere along the line, whether it’s in a week or in 200 years thanks to advances in medical science, you will cease to exist. This means that at the end — whenever that may be — nothing will have mattered. Your body will disintegrate and return to […]

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On Married Life After The Game: Two People. One Couple.

September 5, 2013

My marriage was a bit of a surprise to me. As was the relationship it came from. The truth is, by the time the relationship had started, I’d long resigned myself to never getting married. I didn’t want or need anyone to fill that role in my life, and was content with the decision. But […]

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If You Want To Learn, Do (or Why Talking About Cooking Rice Doesn’t Cook Rice)

August 28, 2013

Richard Feynman, American Physicist, on Knowing I don’t like theory without application. It’s cheap. If you can recite the core elements and principles of Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile to me, congratulations. You’ve proved that you have an impressive memory. But if you can take those concepts, apply them to your life and understand the nuances that can’t […]

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On The Frame Game

August 26, 2013

After driving in monsoonal rain for 15 minutes, not an inch of us was dry. As we’d driven from the restaurant to the stadium, rain had navigated it’s way into every nook and cranny. We’d left behind a group of 10 friends. Friends who’d smartly opted-out of driving through a monsoon rain storm to watch […]

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On Assets and Practical Exploitation

July 20, 2013

By the time she* arrived, our group had largely disbanded. Originally there was eight of us crowded in the corner. But the heavy rain had let up, and the sour ending to the game hung in the air. Nobody likes to be beaten. When she and her partner had truly settled in, our original group […]

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On The Two Frames That Could Change Your Life

July 12, 2013

Since I was first responsible for the money I earned (a paper boy route I inherited from a friend), I’ve always looked to get the most possible out of what I was doing. But to be fair, I wasn’t always very good at it. I missed plenty of ‘easy’ wins in the first few years […]

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