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Axios News has obtained a copy of President Trump’s private schedule and people are shocked to learn that he spends as much as 60% of his time in what his schedule refers to as “Unstructured Executive Time”. While I am in no going to make an endorsement, one way or the other about our President, I will fully endorse the idea of executive time. Here’s why:

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It’s Been Proven Effective

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There are those quick to bash President Trump because so much unstructured time is thought to be time wasted. If he has time to watch television or read a newspaper, he should be using that time to get something more important accomplished. Those same people probably don’t know that Warren Buffett who is touted by both sides of the political spectrum as a great leader, spends the majority of his time reading. In fact, a recent article from Inc.com declared that he had nothing on his calendar that week except a haircut. Effective CEO’s effective because they use unstructured time to develop and decompress.

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We Aren’t Paid For Effort   

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There’s a huge misconception that leaders must be busy at every moment of every day. This is because, we as a society have confused effort with accomplishment. With all due respect to anyone who believes any President is paid for their time, they aren’t. They’re paid for accomplishment. If you’re able to accomplish big things in a smaller window, shouldn’t you? We as leaders aren’t paid for the time we put in, we’re paid for the results we produce. Accomplishment is much more important than effort. 

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Leaders Need Space To Think

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Ideas and creativity are born out of white space. If we’re shuffling from phone call to phone call or meeting to meeting, there’s no time think and reflect on what’s going well and what we can improve. When we’re in the shit, if you’ll excuse my language, with a full calendar, all of our focus is on getting through it. We can’t schedule great ideas. All leaders need time to ponder, to read and reflect. To learn from others as well as ourselves. If you look at your calendar and find big blocks of white space, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if were using it to develop and grow. If we’re wasting it on social media, that might be another story, but using white space to ponder is where innovation comes from. 

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It Might Not Be Popular…

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As much as it may seem otherwise, this is not a defense of the President. I’ve never gotten political with this blog and I don’t intend to now, but it truly is a defense of executive time. Understanding that the most effective leaders in any given industry use their white space as tool to become better, that we’re not paid for effort but rather for accomplishment and that all leaders need space to think, can make us not only more productive, but more effective as well. Executive time might not be a popular idea in the media today, but great leaders know it’s a big key to getting things done. 

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This is a true story. I haven’t even changed the names to protect the guilty.  If you’ve poked around this blog at all, you’ve noticed that discipline is a big subject for me. In just about every post, I will somehow allude to the fact that discipline separates winners from losers. I’m a big believer in not neglecting the small daily disciplines that add up to big successes. I’m constantly telling people to sweat the small stuff.  I’m also a big believer in hard work. I even wrote a post about how my generation watched their parents preach work/life balance to the point that they forgot to work. It’s a pretty big high horse I’ve been riding around on and that’s why for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why the hell I was stuck. I, Mr. Discipline, was being lazy. I, Mr. Sweat The Small Stuff, was neglecting all of the little things that I knew were easy to do. I was embarrassed, I was ashamed, and I was depressed. 

How Could This Happen?

While I was still showing up for work every day, it had been a long time since I had been showing up in my life. It was kind of a fog and I slowly moving through it, making all kinds of good excuses, and I was good at it. In fact, I am a world class excuse maker. I blamed the fact that they fair ended. I blamed the fact that I didn’t like summer. I blamed the fact that no one was reading my blog. I blamed my diet. (There’s actually something to this one, but that’s another story.) I was blaming everyone and everything except for some reason, I couldn’t blame myself.  Let me add at this point that the two things that I despise the most are weakness and laziness. I despise them the most when I see them in myself and for the month of August, it was on full display. I wasn’t eating well. I was weak. I wasn’t going to the gym. I was lazy. I wasn’t developing content, reading, working on myself or for myself. I was being lazy and weak. 

The Big Mo

Just recently, after a really enlightening coaching call where I was called out on all of my bullshit, I was hit with a startling realization; I’m not dealing with a laziness problem, I’m dealing with a momentum problem.  If you know me at all, what you’ve read above is probably pretty surprising. I’m known for my work ethic. I’m known for my discipline. I’m known for having only one speed; wide open. I don’t take days off. I don’t take breaks and I don’t cheat on my diet. I’m pretty much an all or nothing sort of person. Moderation has never really worked well for me. And this is my problem. I’m not good at taking a break before I need it. I keep going until I’m burned out and then the laziness and weakness that I despise so much creep back in and steal my resolve. I haven’t had the discipline to rest and it’s killed my progress.   As long as I’m rolling, it’s pretty easy to keep me moving. I enjoy working and I enjoy the process. I actually enjoy the discipline. It’s once I stop, that getting me moving again become a task of monumental proportion. One day off becomes three. Three days turn into a week and then I’ve wasted an entire month making excuses. The frustrating part of all of this is that it could have been avoided if I had just forced myself to slow down. Not stop, but slow down before I needed all of my efforts again. I didn’t but wish like hell now that I had. 

What This Means

This is a longer, more personal than normal post. I’m writing it because of this realization that a really good coach helped me hit upon has lessons applicable to almost anyone. Building virtually anything is a game of momentum. It’s so much easier to keep going than it is to start over from a dead stop. In the future, I’m going to be more mindful of when I just need to slow down and find the strength that I know I have to find the discipline to rest. ]]>

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On Friday, I posted a blog titled The Recipe For A Great Life. It was a recipe shared with me by someone at an event who learned a valuable piece of wisdom for living a great life: Find someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to. Since hearing it, I’ve made it my mission in life to live this awesome advice and it’s made a real difference for me. I understand that it isn’t new or earth-shattering but to me, the power comes in its simplicity. That’s the power of simple. If it were complex, I’d be impressed but I wouldn’t remember it. If I don’t remember it, I’m not going to do it. Because it’s simple, I act on it. Even when it’s not easy.  Of the three parts to the simple recipe, finding something to do is usually that hardest. Not because there isn’t a lot to do, but because it’s easy to slip into the feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. When this happens, making it simple gets me back on track.  I’ve written posts, shared videos and even released pictures of my “simple discipline” list. It’s my list of disciplines that I know that I have to do every day in order to stay on track and be successful. It’s extremely low tech – written on a post-it stuck in my journal. It’s extremely basic – things like reading, writing my goals down, taking my ten-minute walks, and journaling. Best of all, it’s simple- 12 items listed on a piece of paper where I put a check mark next to it if I’ve done it for that day. Because it’s low tech, basic, and simple, I can always find something to do even when I don’t “feel it.” It allows me to accomplish something and that momentum can grow into something bigger.  This is especially helpful when I’m in a low energy state. When I feel like there’s no point in trying. When I feel like giving up. Having simple, written tasks gives me something to do. That’s the power of simple.  Where can you make things simple? Where can you boil down the parts of your business or career into simpler parts in order to give you something to do? We live in a complex word and deal with a lot of complex issues. That doesn’t mean that we can’t make things easier by breaking it down and making it simpler. We just have to make the effort to look. Make the effort and make your list and put the power of simple to work for you. You’ll be glad you did.   ]]>

In the blink of an eye, we’ve arrived on the 4th of July. It seems as if it were only yesterday that people (not me) were complaining about our “Endless January” but the time has come once again to celebrate our nation’s independence. Without question, my favorite part will be watching 1776 with my family in our yearly tradition and looking for the clues of a great life.  I’ve never been a musical fan, but 1776 is different; it’s the story of us. It’s the story of the struggle to declare our independence and state once and for all that, we would no longer be subjects, but a free people bound to no one. (White male property owners anyway.) The best part of the movie is the debate about whether we were ready to be independent. I say it’s the best part because it’s the same debate that I think rages in all of us. The interesting thing to me, however, is that just as our country probably wasn’t “ready” for independence, neither are most of us. Like our young country in that fateful year of 1776, we should declare our independence anyway.  I’m not suggesting that we should all quit our jobs and strike out on our own (some should). I’m suggesting that we declare our independence from fear. We should declare our independence from comfort. We should officially separate ourselves from the resistance.  I’m saying that when in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a person to dissolve themselves from personal bands of their excuses the should declare the causes for their separation. In other words, it’s time to say why we’re breaking up with our bullshit.  We all have plenty of reasons not to act on our inspirations. We have families. We’re too tired. We’re too young. We’re too old. It’s hard. My question is, what have those reasons ever done for you? My guess is nothing but hold you back from happiness. It’s time to throw them in the harbor like tea and strike a new path. It isn’t easy but it’s worth it.  Writing this post this morning was the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to go back to bed. I wanted to sleep and be comfortable. The problem with comfort though is that it’s temporary. Eventually, I’d feel let down that I didn’t use my time for something productive. I’d suffer the pain of regret which is sharper and more enduring than the pain of discipline. It’s a small but telling example of declaring independence. All of us are entitled to the pursuit of our happiness. The problem is that most of us don’t pursue it. We sit back and wait because we’re not ready. We find other excuses. We wait and we lose precious time that could be spent living instead of surviving. On this July 4 Holiday, don’t wait. Declare your independence and break up with your bullshit. Get to work on making the kind of life you want to live. You probably aren’t ready. But then again neither were the traitors who met in Philadelphia 242 years ago but their gamble seems to be paying off. I’m sure yours will too. ]]>

As we near the halfway point of this turbulent year, I have to admit that for the first half of 2018, I’ve been off to a pretty shaky start. That ended a couple of weeks ago when I overcame laziness and reclaimed my awesome. It wasn’t easy and continues to be a daily battle, but there are a couple of lessons learned that I believe are worth sharing. 

1. Laziness Creeps In

I think it would be so much easier if laziness would kick down the door and announced itself. If it did, it might be a fair fight as my ambition could rise up to meet it, but that’s now how it works. Laziness creeps into your life and whispers gently that what’s on your list today isn’t really that important and then provides you with a laundry list of reasons why you can let it slide. It’s stealthily worked its way into my life until I didn’t even realize it was there. 

2. Discipline Is A Muscle

Ambition needs all of it’s strength when fighting a battle with the evil laziness but the problem is that discipline is the first muscle laziness attacks and it atrophies with the help of laziness’ sidekick neglect. I have found that the only way to get into the game is to build the muscle of discipline daily. Now I keep a list of the promises that i’m keeping to myself everyday and when I do it, I put a checkmark on my list. When discipline is strong, it’s a fair fight. 

3. Coaching Makes A Difference

Overcoming laziness is no easy task and there’s no shame in needing some help to do it. Sometimes it only takes one more new idea to inspire us to make a change. Maybe one conversation with a super ambitious person can set us in a new direction. Maybe all we need is a new perspective offered from someone not engaged in our fight. For me, coaching made a huge difference. In person coaching, YouTube Coaching, Coaching from books, it all adds up to make a difference. 

4. The Best Defense Is A Full Calendar

A full calendar is like a fortified castle, it helps keep the laziness out. I have found that just about every time laziness creeps into my daily routine, it does so through an opening on my calendar. That’s why I think we have to fortify ourselves and keep a full calendar. Even why I don’t have meetings and events, I schedule reading time and writing time, and time to research topics that can help me. When we have something to do, laziness cant get through. 

5.  Trust In Your Process

I wrote last week about having a process. Nick Saban, coach of the Alabama Football team, constantly tells his players not to think about the game, the quarter or even the series, but to focus on the seven seconds in front of them. I have found this to be incredibly helpful because I get overwhelmed when I look at my month. Some weeks seems like they’re loaded with pitfalls but when I focus on the day in front of me, more times than not, I beat laziness back to where it belongs.  The battle with laziness is a daily fight, but by employing this knowledge it’s a fight we can win. I probably wouldn’t have believed it either until I started to win my own battle. I hope your planning to beat yours today because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that it’s coming for you and you’ve got to be ready. ]]>

Last week, I posted a blog about my experiment with my new diet creation that I’ve named The Cowboy Diet. An idea of a meal plan that consists of strong coffee, beef jerky, beef, and beans. One week in, I’m finding it a plan that I can follow.  Every morning, I start my day at 5:00 am, but I can’t bring myself to drink coffee yet. I usually drink some salt water and lime and go to the barn. When I come in after morning chores, I make 20oz of strong coffee with a little heavy cream. It’s amazing, but this keeps me satiated until at least noon.  At lunchtime, I usually have two smoked beef sticks and a couple pieces of jerky. I find this to be the most difficult part because I really like jerky. I could eat an entire bag, but I keep myself to a couple pieces. Finding the right jerky has been a challenge. My all-time favorite it Cowboy Ken’s but it’s not easily found. A close runner-up comes from a local butcher, but when I can’t get it, I settle for Old Trapper. After the beef sticks and jerky, it’s about 45 grams of protein.  My largest meal of the day is my evening meal. In preparation for the week, I made a big pot of beans and have been eating on them all week because this meal always consists of beef and beans. On Monday of this week, we had hamburgers as a family. I added my beans and felt full. That’s the great part of the beans, between the fiber and the protein they keep me full. I don’t think I’ve discovered anything new, but this week at least, it’s working for me.  As a special bonus, here’s the recipe I used for this week’s beans. They’re good so check them out and tell me what you think. 

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 can (16 ounces) butter beans, drained
  • 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pork and beans
  • 1 can (15-1/4 ounces) lima beans, rinsed and drained