7 Principles To Live By

For the last five years I have been an avid podcast fan, listening to a podcast every day. I find podcasts to be very informative and a great learning experience. Furthermore, it is very humbling and inspiring to listen to the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Matt Mullenweg, and Vince Vaughn to name a few. But the true beauty of a podcast is how it humanizes the individual. It shows us that the most successful people are just like you and I. They have fears and insecurities, but what makes them different is their ability to confront those fears.

One of my favorite podcasts, The Tim Ferriss Podcast, does just that. His goal for the show is to interview experts who excel in their field to find out what makes them so successful. His questions range from their morning routine to their favorite books. In his last podcast (HERE), he interviewed Ray Dalio, who is considered one of the greatest investors of our time. In the podcast they covered a range of topics, but the one that stood out the most was the discussion on principles. Both Tim and Ray have very strong principles and recommend that you develop a set of your own. So I decided to take the opportunity to compose my own seven principles. Enjoy.

1. Be Yourself &  Give Love To Everyone

Last week I was listening to the School of Greatness Podcast with Lewis Howes and I came across an episode with sports psychologists Dr. Michael Gervais (HERE). The episode covered a range of topics on high-performance mindset training. The two talked about the importance of meditation and having a mentor. But the thing that caught my attention the most was when Dr. Gervais talked about the importance of being yourself and how it is the key to a happy life. But he was quick to mention that it is very challenging. And I agree, it may sound easy on paper, but being yourself is one of the hardest things to do.

Dr. Gervais believes that giving love to everyone is one of the best ways to find yourself. Love is not about receiving, it is about giving. The only way to be at peace with yourself is to experience love and the only way to do this is through giving and showing empathy for others. Regardless of how they treat you, you must be the stronger person and show love. It doesn’t matter if they are rude or belittle you, he believes that we should show love no matter what. This is challenging, especially in today's world where we are inundated with information every second. This new age doesn’t allow us to become who we want to be. It persuades us to wear a mask that others like instead of the one that we want. It motivates us to impress others when we should just try to impress ourselves.

I am no stranger to this and have struggled with my own self-image. For the last twenty-four years, I have been on a journey to figure out who I am. Over the last couple of years I have gotten better, but if I am being honest, I am still lost and confused searching for answers. Nevertheless, I know I am not alone in this journey. We are all searching for the answer on how to be comfortable in our own skin regardless of our success or how we look. I know this journey is never ending, however, I believe I have gotten one step closer to figuring myself out. It starts with giving and showing love. I am not saying that this will work for everyone, but if it is working for Dr. Gervais then maybe it can work for me and you.

2. Be Grateful (Five Minute Journal) & Meditate Every Day

If my parents taught me anything, it was to be grateful for everything we had. I didn't understand this until I moved to Los Angeles and saw how others lived. In a world where we constantly compare ourselves to others, it can be easy to forget how lucky we are. To be born in America, to not be starving and have all five senses. We forget that life can always get worse and at any moment we can lose everything. For the last six months, I have started journaling with the 5-minute journal writing down three things of gratitude each morning. This simple morning routine has changed my life for the better and I can't recommend it enough. (ORDER HERE)

My morning routine also includes 20 minutes of guided meditation through headspace.com. We exercise every day, but we fail to train our mind. If the mind controls our body then shouldn't we train our mind? The mind is just like a muscle, it requires training. In order for it to become stronger it must be taught how to focus. Meditation is not about the absence of thoughts, rather it is about having the ability to focus on one thing. Meditation teaches us not to be a slave to our thoughts and emotions. It gives us the ability to be present and not distracted. For the last three years I have practiced meditation. My focus has improved and my mind has calmed down. This 10 to 20 minute practice is needed for everyone. Head to headspace.com to get started today.

3. Practice Your Purpose (Practice a Skill)

Speaking of gratitude, I am very lucky to have found a skill that I love. I have been personal training since the age of 19 and without it I don't know where I would be. When I first moved to Los Angeles I had to intern for three months without training clients. I was miserable and depressed. I lacked a purpose and didn't know what to do with myself. However, it was a valuable lesson because it taught me how much I loved and needed to be a trainer. It has taken me years to realize this, but my purpose in life is to be the best coach possible for my clients.

I view coaching as a skill, one that I am striving to master. Nevertheless, I know mastery doesn’t exist, but it does give me something to live for. I believe this type of purpose is the secret to a meaningful life. And yes, I know it is hard if you haven't found your purpose yet, but keep searching. You will become uncomfortable and suffer along the way, but in the end it is worth it. Surround yourself with good people who will motivate you not to give up and don't ever stop searching until you find what you are looking for.

4. Eat, Sleep, & Move Well

There are certain facts we must accept in this life. One of them is that our body isn’t ours, it was given to us. We had no choice in the matter and we can’t go back and change our genetics. Nevertheless, we have the ability to optimize our body and turn a bad situation into a good one.  This can only occur if you eat, sleep and move well. There is no debating this, if you don’t eat real food, sleep and exercise then you will not be performing at your best. Your lifestyle choices will impact your mood, energy, and productivity. For example, if I don’t get to bed by 9 pm or sleep for 7.5 hours I am not at 100 percent the next day. Yes, I am able to do my job and perform but I know I am not at my best. The only reason I know this is because I know what my optimal state feels like. I know how productive I am when I get to bed by 8 pm, and yes I know what you are thinking, “this guy is a grandpa!”. But I couldn’t care less what people think because I know what my body needs. The same can be said for diet and exercise. When I eat real food like grass-fed beef, avocados, eggs, and vegetables I feel better and think clearer. Exercise has the same effect. In the past, I have gone days without working out and those are the days where I am least productive. To me, training every day is non-negotiable and is needed for me to be at my best. It is therapeutic and quiets my mind. I consider exercise to be my favorite drug (next to mushrooms) and I have no idea what I would do without it.

In order for us to live a healthy life, we must grasp the concept that this body was given to us as a gift. We only get one and we can’t trade it in for a new one. I try to tell my client’s to think of their body like a car. If you don’t give it the right fuel then it won’t work properly, it is that simple. Nowadays, everyone wants to make health and fitness so complicated when in reality it is really simple, but simple isn’t always easy to follow. Simple requires discipline, but the majority of people lack discipline because when we were younger we were indestructible. We could have a terrible diet and still work 12-hour days with no sleep. This lifestyle turned into a habit and habits are hard to break. So as we get older we continue the same lifestyle but with many different results. We gain weight, become lethargic, and sacrifice our health to work longer hours. But this doesn’t have to be the case. We can slow down the aging process and improve our work productivity. But this can only occur if you are eating real food, sleeping 7-9 hours a night and lifting weights at least 2x times per week.

5. Be Stoic & Embrace Your Fears

My whole life I have been searching for a religion, a philosophy to believe in, something that I could devote my life to. Growing up as a kid I wasn't the best Christian, but I did believe in the religion and Jesus Christ. Granted, this is no longer the case, but I am no atheist. I do believe in a higher power, but that higher power is not Jesus Christ or any religion. Instead of religion, I believe in stoicism, a practical philosophy for the mind. I came across stoicism after my brother Justin told me to read Meditations by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.  The book was never meant to become a book, it was the emperor's journal. At first, I didn't understand any of it, but after going back and reading it again it began to make more sense. I soon became hooked and ordered another book on stoicism called, The Daily Stoic. The book serves as my bible and I read one page every morning.

Stoicism is a training tool that teaches you to control your emotions. I constantly tell my clients not to be a slave to our emotions. We are not our thoughts, they are just ideas and we decide if want to listen to them or not. Too many people let their mind, environment and peers control how they feel. I have always been afraid to embrace my fears because I was too egotistical. I was afraid to make mistakes and only did the things I found comfortable. But this ideology will only take you so far. Just like in the gym, if you want to grow and progress, stress and discomfort is needed. Maybe not right away, but eventually stress is needed for growth to occur. I have struggled with this my whole life. If I failed I thought everyone would think I was a failure. I never had the courage to be confident in myself to realize that I was enough. I was insecure and afraid to admit my faults. I thought that if I admitted my inadequacies no one would love me.  

Stoicism has taught me that everyone has fears and that the only way we can conquer them is through confronting them. We can't run away from them, we must embrace them. The philosophy teaches us that external events don't control us, only the internal.

Being a stoic is about giving love to everyone regardless of how they treat you. Once you realize this inner superpower then nothing can harm you. But it requires constant practice and will take a lifetime.

6. Listen More & Talk Less

Over the last year, I have done over 100 assessments on members at Equinox Downtown Los Angeles. I have been very successful at taking those members and turning them into my clients, but it was not due to my ability to talk, rather it was due to me listening. I have started to realize the power of listening and how you don’t always need to talk to get results. Usually, the person will figure it out on their own, and when they figure it out themselves it tends to stick. In a world where everyone is fighting to be heard, you can be the person who gives them that voice. Every single person in this world is craving to feel appreciated. And the only way to make them feel appreciated is through listening. So if you want to be successful in your career then listen more and talk less.

7. Follow The Rule Of 3 ( Student, Competition, Teacher)

I came across this principle when I was walking around Seattle listening to a podcast with entrepreneur Tai Lopez. On the show, he discussed the concept, The Rule Of Three. Put simply, you need to have someone below you who you can teach, someone you can compete against and most importantly a mentor to learn from. The idea seemed interesting at the time but I was too egotistical to put it into practice. I knew the competition was good, but I didn't think I needed a mentor.

Years later, while reading Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday, I came across the same principle again. I was reading the book because I was preparing myself for my upcoming internship at Equinox in Downtown Los Angeles. This was a big step in my life. The internship required 480 hours of unpaid work and I was flying across the country, leaving my friends and family behind. I was nervous, afraid and uncertain about the future. When I started the internship I did my best to apply the lessons I learned from the book. I knew how to compete and teach others, but I struggled to be a student and have a mentor. I thought I knew everything I needed to know. I looked down at the other trainers around me and thought I was better than all of them. My two bosses saw this attitude and didn't hire me because of it. So I had a decision to make, change my attitude and be a student or let my ego win and be jobless.

There were only two months left of my internship to get hired. At that moment I decided that it was time to apply the rule of three to my life and find someone to teach me. For the next two months, I went out of my way to listen to both of my bosses and co-workers. I became a sponge and applied all of their advice. I listened more and talked less. I became patient and waited for my opportunity. I learned to put others before me first and did whatever I could to help the other trainers. This wasn't just one direction though, the trainers would return the favor and help me back in return. Eventually, I was hired and brought onto the team. I owe it all to the rule of 3 and being a student to my bosses and the trainers around me. For the first time in my life, I listened and let people tell me what to do. I took the advice they gave me and applied it. Here's the funny thing, it actually worked.

Currently, I am a tier 3+ trainer at Equinox with a goal of becoming a master trainer in the next couple of months. Even though my ranking will be master, I have learned from the rule of 3 that mastery doesn't exist and that you must always be a student until you die.


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