To be great at anything in life requires consistent practice. To get to a level of mastery requires consistent practice at the edge. When I say the edge I mean focusing at your peak intensity. There’s a big difference between going through the motions and pouring your heart and soul into your craft.

When Michael Jordan would train each day he would make sure to make (not just take) 1,000 shots every day. It was a measurable result that took effort, focus and repetition at the edge. He wouldn’t stop until he hit his target. There was no debate whether or not he did it because the task was defined: make 1,000 shots.

Most people have trouble being great at something because they are more focused on the result (the glory) than they are on the process of what it takes to create it. What is the one thing that you must do over and over on a daily basis that will lead you to the result you desire to produce? That is your 1,000 shots.

What do you need to do day in and day out, over and over until you rise up above everyone else. Not because you’re a genius, but because you put in the work and you didn’t give up like everyone else. Your genius is that you put in the hard work, didn’t give up and built yourself into a skilled person that is better than anyone else.

“The genius thing that we did was, we didn’t give up.” – Jay Z

Go for the quick wins. Not to be lazy but to get momentum in your favor. Success builds on success. So the more positive reinforcement you can give yourself the more certainty you will have to go for bigger wins.

Have you ever noticed a basketball player who is not in the zone get back in the zone? What does she do? She goes for the easy baskets to get back in the zone.

Layup.

Two free throws.

Steal.

Dunk!

Rebound.

Assist.

Short jump shot.

After only a couple of small wins she is back on track and can shift the entire momentum of the game. While most players try to get the big shots in, like 3 pointers or tough jump shots, and fall further behind…she is right back in it. By doing so she now has the momentum to take and make those big shots as well!

How can you apply this to what you do?

Whatever you’re EFFORTING on and you become stuck or don’t know what to do next, ask yourself what’s the simplest thing you can do now? Do that! You don’t always need to make big hits and the truth is they don’t come along that often. The deeper truth is that the big hits come from the accumulation of the small hits.

Go for the low hanging fruit. Build momentum. That’s how you crush it!

The best way to create value and get more of what you want is to elevate the people around you. Most people try to tear people who are succeeding around them down because they feel insignificant. The best way to combat this is to cheer them on because that same capability is within you. And by celebrating it, rather than repressing it, you build it more in yourself.

Another key moment to uplift people around you is when you are with people who could use some uplifting. If you can be that person that gives energy and strength to others when they need it most you become a true leader. It sounds easier said than done. Charismatic people create value and love wherever they are. Be the change.

Repetition is the mother of skill. To become great at anything you have to put in the EFFORT day in and day out. Even if you could magically get the outcome without doing anything – that’s not what you want. What you want is to grow and become a bigger and better person. We all do, it’s part of being human. That’s why no matter how successful you become you will always want to continue to expand. The universe is always expanding and so are you if you put in the work.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

So whatever it is you are working on, make sure to remember there are steps you need to build upon over time. Nothing happens over night. And you are building in all the different areas of your life all the time. Your health, relationships, business, finances, fun, hobbies, contribution back to the world.

There’s no need to get overwhelmed by this. It should be refreshing to know that all you have to do is show up every day, be patient, put in your best effort and have faith. Whenever you start anything you are going to be bad. Even if you are a natural you are still worse than you will be in one, two, five years into it. Bad isn’t bad. Bad means you are making new connections in your brain and body to develop a new skill set. And as long as you keep on growing you will repeat the cycle of being bad to being great to being bad again.

Why? Imagine you are exploring new lands on the Earth or somewhere in outer space. You will find new frontiers, adapt to them and become great at living there. Then if you are looking to grow more you will venture to new ones and become unsure of what’s going on and have to learn the new environment until you adapt again. Same thing with a new relationship, workout or hobby.

Just like you condition your muscles when you go to the gym. You want to condition the muscles in your brain and nervous system to get stronger and better each day. The cool part is the compounding effect over time. After a while you will be immensely stronger and better at it. In the beginning it may take all your effort and you do a terrible job. Then over time you don’t even have to think about it because you have mastered it and can do what very few can do.

Train yourself to enjoy the process of conditioning whatever habits you need to implement into your life. Your life is a reflection of your rituals so go out and condition the ones that you need to create the life you desire and deserve.

The health and fitness industry is tricky to navigate. On any given topic you can find multiple experts saying completely different things. It can make you feel helpless and think there is no point in even trying. How is this possible?

A big reason for this is because people (experts included) don’t clarify their outcomes and they don’t state their underlying beliefs/assumptions behind what they are saying which absolutely has a HUGE bias on what they are saying.

When it comes to the best time of day to workout it is the same. Some experts say first thing in the morning while in a fasted state and others say at the end of the day is great. Which one is it?

If your outcomes are:

To feel great.

Have energy throughout the day.

Look great.

AND

If you’re not a professional athlete or training for a specific sport / activity …

The best time is in the MORNING!

Why is that?

Because….

You get the benefit of compounding throughout your day from your workout. Compounding works in EVERY area of your life; not just investing your money! It also works in good ways and bad ways.

Just like with ANY important habit you want to do it right away! Syntax is super important and underrated by people. If you are making your grandma’s special homemade cake though it is critical to do things in the right order. What would happen if you waited until you baked the cake and then cracked the eggs on put them on top?!

Same with fitness, your body and your mindset. It’s a super important ingredient you want to get in as soon as possible in your day. Train your brain and nervous system to do what’s most important (especially if it’s hard) NOW!

If you’ve ever worked out early in the morning you know how great it feels to go through the rest of your day with the natural high that comes with it. The hormones are pumping through your body and your metabolism is up throughout the day. Not to mention the mental, emotional and psychological benefits of feeling like a champion athlete after crushing a solid workout.

Once you get your sweat deposits in – you walk differently, you talk differently, you show up differently.

The more you do it the more it stacks in your favor and you will become an athlete. That is what you are if you want to be successful in anything. You need to treat yourself like a world class athlete and you need ENERGY to live an epic life.

Everyone wants all the amazing things that come with a great life. Family, business success, impact, financial freedom, health and vitality, contribution, etc. but few are willing to put in the sweat deposits to create the ENERGY that is required to do all these things. Having kids alone is a huge investment of energy, let alone running a business and having a social life.

The best part is you don’t have to train every morning. You can be flexible and work out whenever you want to. Just having the intention, awareness and discipline to get your workout in early in the morning (75% of the time) is going to have a HUGE impact on your day and your life.

So my suggestion would be to make it a top priority for the next 60 days to get some sort of exercise in early in the morning before 10am. It doesn’t have to be more than 15 minutes. Go for a jog, do yoga, lift weights. The cool part is once you get going you’ll feel great and can keep going if you want or stop and get on with your day in a great state!

Go get it champion!

Thank you for reading and please share with anyone you believe will find value from this!

Also, please give me feedback on Twitter.  What did you enjoy or take away from this? What do you suggest I improve upon?  Let me know! Just send a tweet to @naeemmahmood

Make today your masterpiece!

Naeem Mahmood

Meditation can be hard. But it doesn’t have to be.

Most people don’t even get started with it because they think there is a right way of meditating (there isn’t – anything can be meditation: walking, eating, talking, working out, having sex, playing the guitar).

I was one of these people. I heard about how great it was and all the amazing benefits successful people were getting from their meditation practice. I would even sit down and try it every now and then. But I would always stop because I had thoughts during my meditation such as:

  • “Am I doing this right?”
  • “Should I be thinking?”
  • “This is hard!”
  • “How do I stop thinking?”
  • “What should I eat after this?”
  • “Am I going to become enlightened like the Buddha?”
  • “This is boring.”
  • “I can’t believe I am doing this.”
  • “Is someone watching me and laughing?”

Even if I completed the session I wasn’t consistent with it on a regular basis because I didn’t think I was doing it right and it wasn’t working. I would meditate once every few days or every now and then when I felt like it. Low and behold I was a wannabe meditator.

Then one day I decided I would keep it as simple as possible. After all Einstein said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

I made an agreement with myself that I would set a timer on my phone for 5 minutes, sit down, close my eyes and think whatever thoughts I wanted.

I could do it whenever I wanted to during the day but the goal was to do it once per day. However, if I missed a day it wasn’t a big deal either. I kept it as loose and flexible as possible so I could build the habit. From there I knew if I got consistent with it and started receiving benefits I couldn’t help but want to do more and stick with it.

And that’s what happened. I have been meditating virtually every day for the past 6+ years. Not because I forced myself to do it but because my body and mind have become accustomed to the benefits they gained from my meditation practice (the same as if you have developed the habit of working out and now can’t go more than a couple of days without exercise).

Some of them are:

  • Relaxed focus
  • Calmness
  • Presence
  • Clarity
  • Energy
  • Better decision making
  • Happier state of being

Now after building my practice for over six years I’ve come to realize three simple keys that I like to use to make my meditations fun, simple and easy.

Here they are:

  1. Smile
  2. Focus on your breath
  3. Set a timer for five minutes or less.

You can think whatever thoughts come into your head and even do a terrible job – there is no standard here, set the bar as low as possible. If you just focus on doing these three things you will do great. And if you don’t you will still do great because these are just guidelines, not rules.

The reason they are helpful is because smiling will keep you playful and happy. Focusing on your breath will keep you in your body and out of your head. And setting a timer for five minutes or less will give you an intended goal and keep it short so you can get small wins to build on your success.

That’s it. Those are three simple guidelines I offer to you. You can use them or use some of them. They aren’t the answer to meditation. No guru has the answer. All gurus started off right where you are. The only thing that makes them a ‘guru’ is they stuck with it.

I hope this helps you in your meditation journey.

Please share with anyone you believe will find value from this.

Thank you for reading!

Also, please give me feedback on Twitter.  What did you enjoy or take away from this? What do you suggest I improve upon?  Let me know! Just send a tweet to @naeemmahmood

Make it an epic day!

Naeem

One of the many benefits about traveling is that you have to stay flexible as your environment is always changing which makes it challenging to stick with a consistent routine. Some would not call this a benefit haha. I’ll explain…

Routines are great to build a foundation and allow you to use your focus elsewhere because you can put many things on autopilot. Some of these things are having a gym to go to, quality healthy food source, ideal work space, transportation set up, etc. Each time you travel to a new place you have to start from scratch and figure out how get these things set up so you can continue to function at a high level.

The upside to this challenge is that it forces you to be resourceful and use what your environment offers you. It makes you much more creative which translates into other areas of your life. If you don’t have a gym; go for a run outside, do yoga in your room, do push ups, google a gym near you. If you don’t have your ideal work space; create one where you are, discover one close by, go to a local coffee shop or hotel.

What’s great is once you have this skill you are no longer limited by location. You can function anywhere with what you have which gives you the ability to move freely throughout the world.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned during my travels so far. From Italy, to Singapore, to Malaysia, Thailand and now Indonesia. I have become more attuned to them specifically because I have to be more flexible and creative with my resources as my environment is changing and I want to make sure I make the most of the places and time I have with them.

Be selective who you spend your time with.

Filter quickly who you decide to spend time with. This is true back home as well of course but especially when on the move. You make new friends and meet up with old friends. If they aren’t aligned with your purpose, values and outcome politely remove yourself and move on.

Learn from your mistakes quickly.

It is inevitable that you are going to make mistakes. Make sure you learn the lesson and don’t repeat it. The biggest mistake is dwelling on it, letting it drain your energy and not learning the lesson. If you don’t learn the lesson you are going to make the mistake again until you do.

Don’t make more mistakes just because you made one.

Just because you screwed up doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel and make five more bad decisions. The quicker you can dust the dirt off your shoulders, the less damage control. If you can correct asap, frame it as a win. You stopped the bleeding fast and are back on track.

It’s more expensive not to go all in.

Even if it’s more expensive for the option you really want to do, go for it. When you do the cheaper less exciting one you end up paying more because you don’t get the full ROI you want and still pay for it. Get the full ROI and move on to the next big goal.

It’s more expensive to think about it and procrastinate.

When booking a flight or deciding to take a jungle tour, instead of weighing out the pros and cons of time and money just decide on the one you want. The time, energy and focus that it takes away from higher ROI activities you could be doing isn’t worth the trade off.

Don’t let things build up.

If something or someone is bothering you. Communicate it to the appropriate parties. Sometimes that might be you being gut honest with yourself and simply doing something different. It saves you much time, energy and frustration vs. letting it fester until it all comes crashing down at an inconvenient time.

Set boundaries.

Not everyone can have access to you. Make sure you communicate that to people. Also make sure you set the time blocks for yourself for fun, business, friends etc. If you don’t life will take control for you.

There’s seven lessons I’ve learned and have gotten the opportunity to grow from. I hope you found value in some of them and encourage you to discover your own as you embark on adventures around this wonderful Earth we have been blessed with to call home.

Please comment below on what you think and share with anyone you believe will find value in this post. Thank you for reading!

Naeem

We make things too big so we don’t even start. When I say chunk down I don’t mean break down your goals into smaller steps. That is important but I am referring to chunking the experience you are having in your head down.

You are making it too big. It’s too much to take in at one time. Your mind gets overwhelmed, the circuit breakers switch on and you turn off.

When we aren’t doing the thing we are just locked in a mental/emotional/physical state that basically hijacks our entire nervous system and floods our biochemistry with feelings and hormones that deter us from doing the thing we want. You are making pictures, you are hearing sounds, saying things to yourself and using your body a certain way.

Start to notice these things. Notice your formula/algorithm and how you do them. There is a structure to it all. Just like Wayne Gretzky could see where the puck was going long before any other player on the ice. You can too if you learn this and practice each day. Each experience.

To keep it simple just notice when you get stuck or doing something excellent and then remember to check in on three things:

  1. What pictures/images are you making in your head? Big/small? Bright/dim? Colors/grey?
  2. What are you saying to yourself? What sounds are going on in your head? Loud/quiet? Tonality? Volume?
  3. How are you using your physical body? The micro movements. Your posture. Your breath!

Then for the stuff that is holding you back make the shifts you need to make the experience better. Make the picture bigger if it’s too small. Lower the volume on that person who is getting on your nerves. Make the basketball hoop the size of a swimming pool instead of a thimble. Pull your shoulders back and breathe into your diaphragm instead of your upper chest.

One trick is to use the things you’re doing great as examples for the ones you aren’t doing great at. If you are great at going to the gym in the morning but can’t get yourself to talk to that special person. Notice what makes you great at the gym experience but not so much at relationship. Then make the shifts the same for your relationship as for the gym. If the volume is up, turn it up! If you see yourself as superman walking into the gym, see yourself as James Bond when you are walking up to her.

The key is to be EASY on yourself and PLAY with this. You’re not going to be great at it when you start. Even stopping to notice is a WIN! Success builds on micro success. The smaller seemingly insignificant successes you can notice the better you will do!

The goal is to be able to breakdown your experiences into bits of data. Like a computer programmer with code. Like an architect with blueprints. You are already doing this without realizing it. Now it’s time to bring it to your awareness. And then you can make tiny shifts to move the experience in your favor.

That is how you can break down your goal of starting your business, approaching that person, investing more money, working out, applying for your dream job, traveling the world or giving more to charity. When you chunk down what’s going on inside psychologically you can start to take those small action steps towards your once overwhelming goals.

Burning man is one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life  The beautiful spirits in the people. The mind-blowing art. The peaceful, yet harsh environment of the desert.  The radically innovative costumes. And the 10 principles it was founded upon all combine to make it a magical place.  

Over 70,000 people are preparing to make the annual pilgrimage to Black Rock Desert and erect the city that will be HOME for Burning Man.  Then after seven days and the man burns it will disappear and leave no trace that would even make a magician wonder how anything so massive and magical could have happened there.

If you haven’t been and have any interest in checking it out I suggest you do.  If you have friends or family that recommend it I suggest you take their advice.  


You get to have once in a lifetime experiences with friends, some of whom you don’t get to see that often during the year (and some only at Burning Man) as we are all busy trying to make our impact on the world.  I’ve had some of the best times of my life in the desert with old friends and new ones. Pure magical moments with people surrounded by artistic and natural beauty you can never create again. 

It is so wonderful to be able to meet new amazing humans aligned with the 10 principles.  The fact that they have decided to show up at the desert, made the trek get into Black Rock and invested thousands of dollars to get there is a great qualifier that they are aligned with a similar value system as you and you’d most likely have a great experience with them.  You know they are most likely your type of human.   

On the flip side many people NEED to go to Burning Man.  They don’t want to miss out – they want to go because everyone else is going.  It’s the current trend, the next shiny object to keep them busy and fill much needed space in their heart and mind.  

If you feel like you NEED to go then I would suggest experimenting what it’s like not going.  Often times we get addicted to people, rituals, things and even experiences like Burning Man to give us a sense of certainty and link our identity to it.  It’s the same idea of achieving goals to be happy or needing to do a certain ritual each morning to feel ready for the day. The reverse is that you want make it so you happily achieve vs. achieve to be happy.  Whatever experience you believe you will get (or be able to give) by attending you can have (or give) right now wherever you are. And that is the true practice of a master and the true message the 10 principles teach us.  We shouldn’t have to wait all year to finally practice them for a week and then forget about them until next time. Live them now and throughout your year and your entire life.  

I really want to go again for what would be my third time.  However, if I am honest with myself it isn’t the right timing for me with what I have going on at this stage of my life.  I am traveling in Asia and building my business. As a business owner making an astute business decision I do no have the bandwidth to make it there this year.  I don’t need to go to the desert to have the transformational experience that I get at Burning Man. The true transformation you get is in the gifting to others.  And that can be done right now where you are.  

The true essence of Burning Man can be practiced anywhere on the planet.  The playa is anywhere you are.