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Leading with Character by Jim Loehr + Personal Credo Journal + Jim Loehr on the Tim Ferriss Show

Episode 6: Book + Journal + Podcast Summary

Episode 6 breaks all the rules. This is a book + journal + podcast combo. A 3-for-1.

Jim Loehr is a performance psychologist who’s played a role in shaping the mindsets of Olympians, "Fortune 100 executives, FBI hostage rescue teams, and military special forces."

He spent the past decade crafting what became The Personal Credo Journal. It provides prompts for 10 minutes of journaling per day for 150 days, resulting in the writing of a "Personal Credo."

The Personal Credo Journal is the most influential personal exercise I’ve done in my life. If there’s a muscle for self-awareness and introspection, then this journal is the gym. Much like the gym, it encourages consistency to promote growth. No physical strain required, but prepare for soulful exertion.

This journal’s power is in its momentum. The increasingly probing questions launch a self-driven, internal investigation. The questions expose one’s “source code.” The progression is:

  • “What is my source code today?”

  • “From who and what did my source code originate?”

  • “What do I want my source code to be going forward?”

The journal does not prescribe moral guidelines. It simply prompts questions. There is no answer key. The value comes from holding up a mirror to oneself.

I completed V1 of my Personal Credo about 18 months ago. For most of my adult life, I identified with the striver that Jim describes in the podcast: advancing in the societally-defined game of extrinsic achievement, while utterly failing on the "hidden scorecard" of "treatment of others.” My lack of moral clarity and impressive ability for "moral reasoning" generated misalignment that was deeply unsettling. Hearing Jim on this podcast a couple years ago was the wake up call I needed to realize that the quality of my life was influenced more by my character than my circumstance. I used the journal to redefine how I intend to live, while giving myself a “scorecard” of whether I’m winning at my own game (for the record, I have yet to bowl a perfect game).

I am forever grateful for Jim Loehr for publishing this book + journal. The energy he invested into crafting these questions changed the quality and trajectory of my life.

Three other influential ideas:

  1. Energy as the most valuable resource

    • It’s not enough to just show up. I want to show up with energy & attention

    • Side note: this likely informs my love/hate relationship with caffeine

  2. The power of the Private Voice

    • "Is my Private Voice serving me or harming me in this situation?"

    • "Is this my voice or another’s voice?"

    • When the negative self talk takes over, I ask myself, "What would it look like if my Positive Coach had the mic?"

  3. Writing a script for an expected future challenge

    • Reminiscent of James Clear’s idea on the value of habits: “You don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.”

    • Rather than hoping that I’ll respond as my Best Self when faced with a challenging circumstance, I can fall back on my prepared script

  • Tells the story of speed skater Dan Jansen (Wikipedia)

    • Failed in multiple Olympic finals, despite being the favorite. Won gold & broke record in his final race

    • "He went out there with the intention to show everyone his gratitude for the sport of speed skating. He wanted to show gratitude for everyone who helped get him to this place and gratitude for what the sport had given him."

  • Private Voice

    • "The voice that no one else hears"

    • "The ultimate coach for all of us in life is that Private Voice. It can be brutal. It can be a detriment to you being the best you can be... It comes from the authority figures in your life. We want to be like those influences in our life, so we get all of their voices in our head"

    • What is your Private Voice saying to you right now? What is the content? What is the tone?

    • Requires awareness to assess:

      • “Is this helping me or not?”

      • "What would I say to someone I cared about in this situation?"

      • "Would I project this voice on to the Jumbotron in the arena? Am I proud of what my Private Voice is saying?"

    • Next step: handwrite a script of what I want the coach to say to me when the situation goes wrong

  • Most precious resource we have is energy

    • "We’ve been told that our most valuable resource is time. When we looked at top performers, it was more about the energy that they brought to the time they had, aligned with what the objective was."

    • "Every time you invest energy in something you spawn growth (bad or good habits). If you give a lot of energy to sarcasm or cynicism or scapegoating, then those will grow in your life. You can build the largest impatience muscle on the planet if you want."

    • This applies to the habit of how my Private Voice responds to situations

  • Performance vs. moral character

    • Performance character: focus, resilience, confidence, discipline

      • "The muscles of performance character are not linked in any way to principles of right or wrong."

    • Moral character: honesty, trustworthiness, compassion, gratitude, moral courage

    • "Performance character drives what we achieve, moral character drives how we achieve it."

  • Personal Credo Journal:

    • "The resulting 'Personal Credo' is the most precise articulation for what you believe will represent the source code for all of your moral & ethical decisions and energy investments going forward in your life"

    • Rewrite source code, rather than defaulting to inherited source code

    • Ensures that your energy is invested in a way that reflects your values

    • Example questions:

      • What chapter headings best organize your life story thus far - such as "Overcoming Early Failure," "Building Confidence Through Sports," "Marrying Early," "How Parenthood Changed My View of the World," and so on?

      • List 8 words that most accurately describe you at your best - when you are most proud of yourself.

      • What are the 6-8 words that you want inscribed on your tombstone, in order of priority?

      • What are the greatest barriers to being your best moral self? For example, what factors, situations, motivators, or character traits may get in the way?

  • The hidden scorecard

    • "We are all chasing these extrinsic achievements but there is this hidden scorecard that we are all judging ourselves on to signify a life well-lived. It’s a scorecard on how we treat others... Treatment of others is the gold standard that we always use to determine our success as human beings"

      • Our moral & ethical character

      • Connection to family

      • Loving others

      • Being kind to others

  • "Motivated reasoning": cherry-picking facts that support conclusions and beliefs that we're vested in maintaining

    • Self-rationalizing decisions

    • Form of self-deception

    • Can often look like "everyone else is doing it"

  • Aligning with one's purpose

    • "Two most important days in a person’s life is the day they are born and the day they figure out why."

    • "Purpose releases energy... Energy ignites talent"

  • Roger Federer example of losing Grand Slam title

    • Coach asked him if he wanted to cancel post-match party with friends

    • Federer response was effectively: "No, why would I cancel? Just getting here was an incredible achievement and a great opportunity. I want to celebrate with my friends and family."

    • “I have a love affair with tennis. It's an extraordinary opportunity to simply play the game”

  • Andre Agassi's autobiography: Open

    • At first, his performance was driven by his demons. Then finally discovered his life's purpose - building charter schools to give kids the support that he didn't have

    • He used his tennis success and fame to raise funds for the charter schools

    • By aligning his life with his purpose, he fueled his performance (returned to #1 in the world)

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