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How do you make excellence a habit?
There will be ups and downs, good days and bad days, so develop the habit of staying on track and becoming more predictable. Using excellence attitude loops to achieve excellence will bring new awareness and dimension to your personal life and help you become Unbroken.
In this episode, we have guest speaker – Joe Templin, who is the founder of Everyday Excellence.
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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation. Hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. Very excited to be back with you with another episode with my guest, Joe Templin, who is the founder of everyday excellence. Joe, my friend, how are you today?
Joe: Michael, I've been looking forward to this forever. I'm so glad we're able to get on here today.
Michael: Yeah, man, I'm super excited about today's conversation. For those who don't know you tell us a little bit about your backstory and how you got to where you are today.
Joe: So, as we were talking, when we were getting on here. I started college when I was 13, cuz my parents said 12 was too young to begin with and went to Hopkins then went to RPI where I actually helped develop internet technology in a lot of ways, uh, ironic, then due to a family tragedy, I ended up entering the financial services world and built a million dollar round table career there, which is top 10% in the industry, eventually hitting top of the table level production, which is the top one 10th of 1% on the planet. Along the way I picked up my black belt and then ended up getting a world championship in Taekwondo, started studying behavioral psychology as well as performance psychology, had lots of injuries, lots of setbacks along the way with business and personal eventually started running marathons and ultra-marathons, and ultimately wrote the current Amazon Kindle number one, new release in professional development everyday excellent.
Michael: It's quite a few feats there, Joe. You know, one of the things I think is really funny is and having recorded tons of podcasts, being guest so many times and just consuming shows for so long people I fear hear stuff of this and they'll go, I'm turning this off. And the reason why is because as you know, like it's never as easy as it sounds. Why don't we rewind a little bit, cause I'm super curious about this, so at a super young age, you find yourself going to college, right? I cannot imagine that was easy.
Joe: It wasn't but Hopkins has a special program for the acceleration of gifted kids. You know, basically everybody there was Doogie Houser, this is the same program that Mark Zuckerberg later went through, so like one of my closest friends from those days, almost 40 years ago. Dr. Adrian Scott, he ended up like getting his PhD in mathematics and an MBA by the time we turned 21. So, I was highly intelligent, but more than that, I was curious and driven some of the people who are in this program are just like absolute geniuses. And so that was one of the good things about being the former gifted kid is being around other people who were as nerdy or even more nerdy and intelligent than I was. So, you didn't feel out of place, I was finally able to find my tribe in a lot of ways, even though, even among my friends at genius camp, as we called it, you know, I was a little bit different, cuz that's just the way I am.
Michael: Yeah. I mean, as I assume, most people are, we're all a little bit different. You know, as you're going through this and you're looking at your life and you're stepping into like big shoes at such a young age like how did you navigate that? Was it just one of those things where like, oh, I guess this is just how I am, was it uphill battle, like where was the space for you to be a kid and all that?
Joe: So, my childhood was a little weird in that. You know, I grew up in farm country and the second to six kids, but I was also severely, severely asthmatic. So, when I was 10 years old, I actually legally died, you know, lying there on the table, floating on up bright lights, the whole, you know, shebang and came on back from that bang. And so, even before then I was a hyperactive kid, it's a good thing they didn't diagnose us with ADHD in Medicaid, us back in the day. But ever since then, I've just been utterly driven as my friend’s joke, I burn the candle at both ends and in the middle with flame.
Michael: How do you navigate that and have a life though? You know, one of the things I've often thought about myself is to an extent I'm a high performer, you know, written multiple books, have the podcast speak all over the country, so on and so forth. But you know, there's a space where I think many people are high performers, many people do burn these candles and you know, to me I'm like, well, what else is a candle for? It's meant to be burned, but you know, how do you take care of yourself, your family, who you are in this whole process?
Joe: So, one of the things that I found is that I really don't shut off, but I switch gears in a major way. So, for example, what I do in terms of what I call relaxation, other people would call insanity in a lot of ways. I'm a former full contact martial artist, I've been training Taekwondo for 35 plus years. So, to me, being able to train really hard and get into that position of flow in that capacity, which is still incredibly stressful, but very different sort of stress than doing calculations or doing public speaking or any of these other things. It's a different form of stress and so I find it incredibly, incredibly rejuvenating. Same thing like, I run marathons, I run ultra-marathons, you know, the longer the distance the better, and to most people that would be brutal and to me, it is in a lot of ways too, because I'm not a talented runner, I'm not graceful in any way, shape or form in fact, I look sort of like a broken-down shambling pirate. But I'm really good at going long, long distances and it taps into different capabilities. So, even though it seems like I'm always on the go, it's because I'm doing different things, I'm using different parts of my brain using different parts of my mind and body. And so, if you look at it, I'm never redlined in any one capacity for more than a few hours at a time.
And then by shifting to stress, a different component of who I am, it allows what I just worked on to recover and I can cycle back to it throughout the day. And, you know, I'm a normal, well, somewhat normal guy in a lot of ways, I mean, I've always loved comic books, if you look on my thing, I've got, you know, like my Avengers queen jet and my thorn and all that sort of stuff, you know, I like beer and hanging out with my kids and working in the yard and all these normal sorts of things too. It's just that, because I don't wanna say paranoid cause that's the wrong word, but I'm just like unwilling to waste time, whether it's with people or projects or things that I'm pushing and doing things on a hard level, almost constantly.
Michael: You know, there's something interesting about that because on my office door, it says you are not allowed to waste time in this room. And one of the things that I often wonder is, you know, because time and the way that exists in the world, people feel like they don't have enough of it and what I'm wondering is how do you make time to do all those things? Because I think about like, man, I wanna get a black belt, like I wanna run more marathons, I wanna do all these things, it's like, okay, how do you have a family? Cuz there are people listening right now, Joe and they've been through chaotic past, they've been through these wild backgrounds and you and I like, I've obviously spoken with you before. I know about the stretches of chaos that you've had in your life. And so, what I'm curious about is like, how do you navigate time and being seemingly quote unquote normal while simultaneously hitting like this gigantic dare I say excellent milestones.
Joe: And one thing that your listeners probably need to know is I'm a special need parents, two of my three sons are on the autism spectrum and one of them is ADHD on top of it. So, I have additional layers of constraints that most people don't have in terms of their family relationships. But on your door, it says, do not waste time, I invest time and I spend time, I avoid wasting time wherever possible. So, for example, I'm driving into the office, I will either be on the phone talking to somebody Bluetooth, you know, so that I don't get in trouble with the cops obviously, or I'm listening to a podcast or psychology or I'm dictating notes or something like that. If I'm making dinner, I'm also listening to something and supervising homework, when I got ready for my CFP decades ago, I would actually go to the gym and run on the treadmill because you know, running in upstate New York in the middle of winter is not exactly the easiest thing, but I would run on the treadmill while listening to tax code on my headset so I could multitask on things like that. So, if you can get a multiplicity out of some of your time, that is a great thing. So, when I'm working out in the morning, I'm also studying simultaneously by playing audio books. And so, the 86,400 seconds that we have per day if I can double dip essentially on components of it, that means that I have essentially multiplexed and got more capacity for the day, which allows me to when I'm with my kids, I am a hundred percent with my kids, the phone is turned off or in the other room, or what have you generally, unless I'm gonna take pictures of them. So, that I can give my full attention to those kids as they deserve, if I'm going to be spending time with a friend, you know, they know that I am there having that beer with them and I am completely present with, and for them.
So, one of the things that I learned as martial artist is compartmentalization, where literally you walk into, you’re the do JAG and all your problems stay out there with your ships, they do not come on in. So, if I can completely focus on certain tasks at times that equire right. And other times multitask to be able to take care of the lower priority things, because like cutting vegetables does not require your full attention, so you can do other things simultaneously with it. And that then frees up capacity so that I have those most precious of moments that I can spend freely with the people that are important me.
Michael: Do you feel like there's a differentiation between having those moments of being present and being fully there and having singular focus as opposed to things that are, I don't wanna call cutting vegetables autonomic, but they take such a small amount of capacity that you can do something else.
Joe: Right. And so like, I mean, you're incredibly busy in high activity at times, you'll feel stuff creeping on it. You know, you'll be trying to spend time with somebody and this little thing from work is niggling at the back of your head. So, one of the things that I do is my mom taught me to use index cards while I was a kid. You know, always have one when you're reading if you don't know what some means, you write it down, you can go look it up so that way you're maximizing your learning. But at the start of my day, I sit down and I brain dump out what are the most important things that I need to do to move that day forward, whether it's recording, two videos for the YouTube channel, whether it's writing an article, whether it's researching something. And so, there'll be a handful of things outside my normal scheduled activities that end up on that list. And as I go on through, I cross them out, but because they're no longer in here rattling around that, then frees up further capacity so I can focus and be better and I can then get through these things and cross 'em off when I'm done whoop in the garbage. And literally I am mentally free from that. And so, I have a lot of friends who are juggling a ton of balls too, and they're always worried about things. So, we have an average human someplace between seven plus or minus two mental channels that we can handle at any one point. And each kid tends to take up one and poverty creates of a shortfall of decision making because it takes up a couple of those capacities, if you've got a sick relative, you know. So, these channels get filled on up and it makes it so that people can't make efficient decisions by putting things like this, by being able to say that's important, but not important now I will get to that when it's on the schedule in three hours or this afternoon, or whenever it's allocated towards, and I use general blocks of allocation for time, then it allows you to not waste energy on it, not waste emotion on it, and that allows you to pour everything that you have into what you're doing and be much more effective. So, excellence is sort of like what Marcus really talks about in meditations. Focus on the task at hand, like aroma, do this, do this in the Zen capacity with your full being and you don't get exhausted, but you actually are able to perform better on that particular thing, then you move on to the next thing that needs to be done.
Michael: That makes a lot of sense to me. I was reviewing some of Dr. Caroline Leaf's work recently and one of the big things she's a proponent of is not multitasking. Right. But instead, singular focus, especially when it comes to being in interpersonal relationships. And I've found that to be very true because the way that my brain works is like idea, idea, idea, idea, idea, and that's why I preach all the time. Like just wake up and write things down immediately cuz then you have a pathway to what's next, but let's keep it real, Joe life happens, man. Life happens and people will find themselves in habit, they'll find themselves in routine, they'll go through this process where they're like, alright, hold on a second, how do I navigate the difficulties of life? And on one hand you have what we would dare call the easy path, and on the other hand, you have what we would call the right path. And I think people get kind of caught up in trying to differentiate what they're actually supposed to be doing.
Joe: And let's come to that in a second, cuz I wanted to talk about the habits before that real quick, because one of the things that your habits should do is try and maximize early in the day, win the morning when the day is a theory that I have. So, I try and get as much done early on, partially through the habit stacks that I use in the morning, because I know that there's going to be chaos during the day that is life. So, if you know, there's going to be chaos, try and build into your day, those small cushions, you know, it's redundancy from an engineering point of view. If I know that every single day bunch of stuff happens and it ends up disrupting 20 minutes of my day, if I can get ahead of the curve early on. If I can plow through those things, if I can reach the bonus round of taking care of everything on my list early, then I know that the inevitable chaos is not going to ruin my day at or still disrupt it, or maybe even just be a slight bother.
So, if you can do that, and if you have one of those golden days where nothing goes wrong, which is rare, then you know what that extra time is complete and told bonus. It's like getting a cupcake with sprinkles. So, having that attitude of knowing is inevitable that you're going to have that, so, build in that redundancy early on.
Michael: Break that down a little bit more because I don't know that people will pick up on what you just put down.
Joe: So, we know there's gonna be crap in our day, you know, there's gonna be a delay in terms of driving into the office, because somebody like had an accident, there's gonna be rain that could disrupt things, there could be an internet disconnect, like we were struggling with earlier that was disrupting our things. So, understanding that you're going to have some of that chaotic disruption, every single day, plan for it. You know, we know, alright, I'm gonna lose 20 to 30 minutes at some point during the day. So, early on in your day, get those extra efficiencies, stack one thing versus next to another next to other things like I have a half cup of coffee, ready to go in the coffee pot prepped the night before. So, I roll outta bed, I grab my half cup of coffee, I turn on the coffee pot and I sit down and I brain dump everything out that's in my head for the day. And then I do my daily reading and then I do my 20-minute quick workout, which includes some of my basic, repetitive things I do every single day because it sets up the mindset and gets my dominoes aligned for the day, then I sit down and I write. And, you know, I know I need to do that sort of stuff. So, I know if I need to be at the office by X time, I need to put in, I need to leave 15 extra minutes, including the travel time to make sure that if something happens along the way, I have that cushion so, I'm not running into the meeting late or worse yet, you know, not jumping on the podcast with somebody like you on time and then disrupting their day.
So, I build in that cushion, you know, I get to the office, I'm sitting down immediately and I plow through those things on the list. So, I can get ahead of the day, because let's say that a client unexpectedly calls and has chaos that they have to deal with. I have to solve that problem or, you know, you get a call from school, inevitably, Hey, sick kid, or there's this issue here or all that. So, if you know, that's going to occur, if you know that life is chaos and every day, you're gonna lose a half hour of time because of things beyond your control, just accept it, build that time in, and if you have one of the lucky days where it doesn't happen, that is complete and total bonus time. You know that couple of minutes where you can walk around the building and like go outside and appreciate the sunshine for two minutes. It's like, ah, unexpected reward.
Michael: Yeah. You know, one of the things that came to mind and one of the very first things I teach clients early on is control your calendar, control your life. And I fear that, you know, a lot of people, they hear that and they're like, well, I don't wanna have schedule, I want freedom. And you know, what's fascinating to me, Joe, I've found that having an incredibly regimented schedule is actually created more freedom in my life.
Joe: I mean, Jocko Willink talks about discipline equals freedom. You know, if I have the discipline to run in the miles in the morning, I have the freedom to eat the donuts later in the day. There's an old saying within my fraternity, if you need something done, give it to a busy person because they're gonna find the most efficient, effective way, and they're gonna squeeze it in versus the person who is enjoying their freedom they leave it to the last minute and it's gonna be half-assed or they don't even get around to it because they're not used to sucking it up and going and getting it done.
Michael: So, let's play this through a little bit. So, context I don't have children, everyone who listens this show knows.
Joe: No one? I'll give you more mine.
Michael: Not at this time, thank you kindly. But what I'm wondering, because I know a lot of the people listening are our parents, they do have families, they do have kids, they do have a husband or a spouse or a wife or whatever. How do you take care of yourself in this space while trying to navigate all of that. Are you building that contingency in the calendar like how do you actually build the time for yourself? Cuz even as busy as I am, dude, I've gotta build time into my life for me.
Joe: Yeah. And so, part of it is building time around it. So, for example, for a long period, my three kids, my older two were on one schedule and the youngest one who was, is the autistic ADHD one was on a different schedule. So, I mean the younger, the older two would be out the door at 6:30, the younger one, 8:30 was when his bus would show up. So, what we would do is while he was eating breakfast, I'd take care of the food prep and things like that so I could pay attention to him and talk and everything, but then we'd be ready to get you out the door at 8:30, okay, 8:30 is when the bus would show up, but we'd build in that little bit of extra time because stuff happens, especially with an autistic kid. So, it gave us the time to be able to, uh, allocate towards that. And you're going to make a sacrifice when it comes to having kids. And I used to train taekwondo for three hours a day until I had my second kid and that went down to about 30 minutes per day, it just happens. So, what you need to do is you need to understand what am I willing to sacrifice for these kids cuz it's a tradeoff and with the time that I have for me, how am I gonna be the most efficient with it as possible? So, for example, I wasn't running as long distances at that point, but my running was more intense so instead of doing an hour, 10-kilometer run, what I would do is I'd be able to have 30 minutes and I would hammer it and get five and a quarter to five and a half kilometers in.
So, I used the time that I have and be more intense with it and simultaneously try and multitask like that. But this is one of the things where, you know, when you become a parent, you have an obligation to the kids and the kids come first, because guess what? You know, they're not gonna change their own diaper, they're not gonna feed themselves, tthey're not gonna push things off, so you need to pay even more attention to that time. And luckily the world that we've lived in in the past couple of years with zoom has become much more flexible in terms of the work from home model, the being able to multitask the accommodation of, Hey, you know, my kids in the other room sort of thing that previously was, you know, frowned upon it always.
Michael: Yeah, it's true. And I can remember moments of my own childhood of like even calling my mom at work and being like, Hey, this is like chaotic, whatever and people being, you know, upset at me, right? And so, we definitely live in this different world. I wanna go back to the original question, cuz I think it is pertinent here. So, we have folks, let's say they come through, they look at their life, they create a calendar, they get a schedule, they get on the right page, they start doing these things cuz they want to be more productive, have more time, be able to build this life which again, I do believe that controlling your calendar is the way that you get to that. But I think that there's this place though, where it's easy to negate the actual responsibility of what you need to do to get what you want in your life. And so, I wanna go in, and I wanna talk about this, because I know as someone who's done martial arts for a very long time, as someone who practices working out training, running marathon right now, as we speak, like there is no easy way to get there. And so, I really want to dive in and talk about this concept around the easy path versus the right path?
Joe: So, in every situation we have choices. The average person makes around 10 to 15,000 micro decisions every single. And being the comic book geek that I'm gonna go with a reference from Deadpool two where clauses tell Deadpool four or five moments, four or five moments is what determines whether you're a hero or Villain. But for those of us without superpowers, it's four or five micro decisions every single day that determine our, is our arrow pointing up or pointing down overall. And in every one of those micro decisions, there's basically two main types of outcomes. You can take the easy choice. It feels good now. Okay. That is smoking the cigarette, that's playing the video games instead of cracking the book for studying, that is eating the Cheetos as opposed to eating the apple, that is staying in bed instead of getting up and going for the 10-mile training run. Okay. It feels good in the moment but actions have consequences and there's always a price to pay, if you make that easy choice, your next choice is going to be more difficult because if you skip a training run, guess what? Your next runs are gonna be more difficult. If you smoke that cigarette, guess what? You're building problems with your lungs and heart for the future. If you're eating all the fatty greasy food that tastes really good in the moment, but you know, you're filling up your arteries and your pants don't fit, those are negative future consequences, and so there's more pain than there is early pleasure.
The flip side of that is you can make the hard choice. It's more difficult to get up outta bed and go running in the rain than it is to stay there in the nice warm, dry bed. It is more difficult to have that difficult discussion with your significant other or with your coworker then is to just let it slide. But if you face it up front, you invest the activation energy if we wanted to think like chemists for a moment to do the more difficult thing up front, then it leads to the easier path overall, you work out consistently your healthier, your body weights lower, your energy levels are higher, you have less cortisol in your system. So, you're less likely to get sick, you know, so doing these little harder things consistently is going to give you the easier path overall and greater resilience and strength for all the crap that does inevitably happen with sick family members, loss of jobs, all these things that are gonna happen inevitably. But if you've built up the resilience because you choose to do the hard things, when you don't have to, life becomes much, much easier.
Michael: Why are we so apt to avoid the hard things?
Joe: Because hard things suck. I mean, you're trading for a marathon there's days when you have to go on out there and crank out eight miles and you really don't want to, you're tired, you know, your body's sore, you're hungry, it's too high, it's windy, but when you doit, you tell yourself, this is gonna suck. You go on out and you do it and where you're telling you're like, I'm glad I did. So, David Goggins and Jocko Willink both talk about what's that end feeling that you want. Do you wanna feel bloated and sickly, or do you wanna feel triumphant? So, if you want that triumphant feeling which is a really good feeling, whether it's crossing the finish line, the marathon or finishing the run, or how you feel when somebody compliments you, dude, you're looking good. Okay. So, to do that, you need to make the sacrifice, so you do the hard things early, and if you just get in the habit of consistently choosing the slightly harder pass, ultimately you end up in a much better place.
Michael: I like that you used the word consistent there. One of the things I always say is to actually grow and build confidence. You have to continually do incredibly uncomfortable things consistently. Right. And that I've come to find as held true in my life and that's why I challenge myself. Often wonder if like looking at your dare, I say, resume of the accomplishments you had in your life like, I look at that and I go, this is only possible because somebody was willing to go through the hell that unfortunately it takes to be able to do it. Do you think that there's something like, actually, let me rephrase the question cause I think this would be more beneficial. How do you determine where you're gonna put that energy?
Joe: As Friedrich Nietzsche says a man was strong enough, why will overcome any how. Or the Bible says a people without a vision will perish. So, early in my business career, I had a vision of what I wanted to accomplish business-wise there were some thresholds that were industry standards that everybody knew about so, I set my sites on them and I was able to back in what sort of activity do I have to do? How many hours do I have to work? How many people do I need to see? What skill sets do I need to develop? So that's why I did. Same thing as young martial artists, we all wanna learn, I wanna be a black-belt, well, was it take to ultimately get there? And so, you start putting out, laying out the steps. You wanna build a business? I wanna do a million dollars of production this year let's say, okay, how do I get there? What capacities do I need to develop? What relationships do I need to do? How many sales calls do I need or activities? So, you back on into it.
So, find something that is exciting be hairy as Jim Collins might say big hairy, audacious goal. It doesn't even have to be that big, you know, I wanna lose 10 pounds. Okay. I wanna fit in this, you know, outfit this dress for my reunion. All right. Hang it up there and work towards it, reinforce it, make sure that that goal is constant so you're thinking about it and in the moment, you'll make better decisions in the moment as are they leading me towards achieving this or not achieving this. And sometimes those are externally developed goals like, you know, your manager might tell you sometimes it's like, okay, I need to be able to do this, to send the kids to college. And other times it's just, Hey, you know what? This is cool, I wanna be able to run a marathon or achieve X.
Michael: I hear this and my thought goes to, yeah, but I also remember being 350 pounds, smoking two packs a day, drinking myself to sleep and being like one day or starting and quitting. How do you actually get it done? Right. Because people be like, I know why, well, I wanna do it because I want to take care of my kids, get sick and die, but like that doesn't tend to hold true. Right. You see it again and again.
Joe: Because they need to be scared, they need to, you know, see somebody that is their peer go through a health scare, they need to be told by the doctor, if you don't stop smoking, you're going to die and not see your kids graduate. Sometimes you need the fear of God put in you in some capacity. Some of us can put it in ourselves and self-motivate, sometimes it comes externally. So, for example, I've got friends who, when they got divorced, you know what, that was the signal call to get into better shape or to stop drinking or to straighten out their career and start producing more. You know, it might be something like that, it might be that, you know what, if you're 350 pounds and smoking five packs of cigarettes a day, stand in front of the mirror and, you know, you have the mirror of accountability as David Goggin says, just stand there and look at yourself and determine, are you okay with what you're looking at?
You know, it might be that you need a better support structure to reinforce things. So, the first step might be to give up smoking, all right. So,one get rid of all the cigarettes in the house. Two, you know, avoid the place where you buy the cigarettes. Three, what are the triggers that make you wanna smoke, eliminate or avoid that. Okay. So, work on that and it's not gonna be an overnight thing, it might take two months to get that part taken care of because you can't work on solving all the world's problems at once, you gotta solve one sort of problem, get under control then you can move on to the next one. As you know, Zeno of Citium, the founder of stoicism says; “wellbeing is no small thing but it's made up of small steps.” You can't do everything at once, unless you're a complete and total freak there are some people like that who have life changing events, but it makes sense to build support structures around cuz I can't flap my arms and fly. Can you?
Michael: No, not recently.
Joe: Okay. So, what we do is we use airplanes and we build these technologies around us that allow us to harness the rules of the universe and apply 'em to help us out. You know, air flows over it pushes down, creates resistance, creates lift, airplane goes. So, you know what? I'm not very good with X, in terms of working out, so what am I gonna do? All right. The little things I'm gonna make sure that I have the running shoes and I'm gonna put 'em next to the bed so I trip over. Right. I'm just gonna put 'em on, I'm not even gonna, you know, try and go very far. I'm just gonna put 'em on and walk around a little bit. All right. Now I'll go around the block a little bit then, you know, I'll sign up for a 5k three months from now so I have like the dress hanging there that I can work towards. All right. I'm gonna talk to other people who are runners. I'm gonna join Facebook group, like, nerd fitness lab belonged to where we've got people who are just getting back into fitness and they're nerds like us and we support them and glorify them and reinforce them and make nerdy jokes and stuff like that, and that's what helps them. You know, it might could be something else, but find, and start moving into the little steps in the right direction. And it's not a linear progression. Okay. You're not gonna go from 350 pounds to 198 pounds and being incredibly buff in three months in this nice, easy, straight-line manner, it's gonna look like this. So just start going on it realize you don't have to be perfect, but try to be better. If you keep consistently trying to be a little bit better, you're gonna make better decisions and you'll move in the right direction overall.
Michael: I love that, and it's not linear. And, you know, I have a hypothesis I mean, it takes you as long to get healthy as it did to get unhealthy. And you know, as I go through life and I think about all these events, it's like, no, even with something like smoking, dude, I quit smoking 3000 times. You know, and it was like this process where and I see it at my clients too, where like, it's this iterative process you keep going, you keep trying, you keep learning, you're sampling, it's data, you bring it back in again and again and again, but I'll also think at some point, like we kind of hit a wall. Right? And when we hit a wall, we have to be able to go to reserves. And so, I'd love for you to break down and talk about that experience of like tapping into reserves and like what that really means.
Joe: So, one of the ways that you get reserves is by making deposits when things are good, you know, you put extra money into your investments when things are going well, you put money in the bank when things are going well, you bank trust with somebody, when your relationships strong so that you can draw from it during those tough times. You do the difficult things when you don't have to ‘cause it's easy to not put extra money into the bank for the future, knowing that there's gonna be a rainy day. Okay. It is easy to not invest the extra time with that individual in the office or the person that you care about to strengthen the relationship during the good times. Okay. So, the example values is when I was getting ready training for one of my ultras, it was like eight o'clock, you know, just getting home from work, I had already done a five mile run that morning, I needed to do another five miles, it's like, I'm tired, I'm not gonna do it now, I'm gonna do it. All right, I'll go on the treadmill in the basement, cuz you know, there's a storm come in. No, I'm not. I'm actually gonna go outside. I'm gonna run, I know it's gonna rain during this. I know this is going to suck. I'm tired, but I'm going to make that effort now, knowing that I'm tired, because if I'm tired now, what happens during the ultra-marathon? So, I go on out and I start running, starts raining, it's windy it, sucks, my feet are squashy and you know, all that grossness and I finished the five miles I'm then showering I'm like, all right, that sucked but I did it. And I could literally mentally make a deposit in the reserves for the future because the future is gonna come and there's gonna be bad things. There's gonna be a time when your parents are going through health issues and you need to be the strength for them. There's going to be a time when our parents die and we have to be the strongest person in the room, even if we wanna collapse we need to be there for our brothers and sisters and other people. There's going to be a time when something happens with work or you get divorced or during my ultra-marathon, I was 40 miles into it and I'm on my last legs physically, even though I had another dozen miles to go, I'm completely exhausted I got nothing left, I've got just a little bit of motion in the tank and what my friends calls me and she's going through then, you know, pretty stressful and she needed help. So, the reserves that I was planning on tapping into at that point, I dedicated all of 'em to her over that next three hours of doing the last 12 miles. And it didn't matter one of the things my mom always taught me was that when you're going in through bad situation, and if you're in a rough patch, if you're having trouble go help somebody else because you won't realize your own issues, you won't realize your own problems if you're focused on helping that other individual.
So, I dedicated all my energy and emotional reserves to this person to help them get through what they were getting through. And I was able to finish the rest of the marathon, not realizing how physically and emotionally damaged I was at that point.
Michael: Yeah. I think there's something to that, you know, and I often will tap into and maybe for certain people, this works and for certain people, it does not, I don't know, I can only speak for myself. I can see the benefit of tapping into what you just laid out And obviously like everything Think Unbroken is about being of service. But when I'm in these physical endeavors, I know this is gonna sound crazy, but I just go, I will die doing this if that's what it takes to complete this and it's because I recognize like the vast majority of my life, I'd just given up on myself, I had quit. And there was something about that idea of seeing it through no matter what that I believe is what builds you. And that's why I asked you that question, cuz I don't want people to quit, but I can't will that I can't make that happen and I think that, you know, sometimes you do, you have to sit here and go, all right, I'm willing to die doing this thing right now because I believe in it and I believe in myself, and sometimes it's like, that's not enough and you gotta be like, I gotta do this for the other people who can't do it. I have to be willing to step into this.
Joe: If you are doing something in service of others, the strength you can tap into is beyond anything that we actually have in terms of doing something for ourselves. This is why you hear about the mother lifting the car. This is how you hear about, you know, the father able to do these incredible work performances or Brett far of the day, his father died going out on the field and throwing for like 350 yards. You know, we do these things, not for ourselves, but for others. And because of that, we can achieve greatness or rock this greatness that we didn't realize that we had in there because it's not for us, it's in service of others and we won't always be able to outperform in that situation.
Michael: Yeah, that's really powerful. When you're in those moments and you're looking at these struggles of life and you're tapping into that. You know, to be honest with you, I don't think there's anything wrong with letting that fuel you with letting it be that ego boost in that moment to say that I'm doing something good. And I think all too often that people put themselves secondary and they go, well, you know, I shouldn't feel good about this, you know, because I'm supposed to help people and be freaking Mother Teresa. And I'm like, that's not really how life works.
Joe: Yeah. I mean, because sometimes we just need to say, you know what, this is sort of cool, I'm enjoying this. I am doing this race for me as much as for other people. You know, one of the things that after I did my first ultra-marathon like how many people actually do these things? And I realized that only about a hundred thousand people do ultra-marathons, on the entire plan of 7 billion plus. And when you get to looking at, you know, most people who do marathons do one and they never do it again, that's the reason why I did a second one to say, okay, kept going. Most people get their first degree, black belt and stop, you know, that's one of the reasons why I continued most people write one book and never publish a second so, that's one of the reasons why I published 13 at this point. So, I did my second ultra-marathon because what you need to sometimes prove it to yourself that was no fluke, you know, because anyone can be lucky and successful in business or in whatever once, but you do it a second time, you have that second goal to album. You have that second best seller. You do the hard thing not just once, but twice it shows this is who I am, I am capable of this. And it then reminds you, I have a saying that I wear my black belt on my soul, not my waist because, you know what? I can take it off, it's still in me forever. So, it doesn't matter if I'm wearing it or not, it doesn't matter if other people see it, it's there. It's part of who I am because is embedded in me. And so, doing these difficult things is like imprinting, the black belt on your soul.
Michael: Yeah, that is such a great analogy. I mean, it really truly is and for those who don't understand martial arts, like black belt is as high in ranking as you can get, because you've proven yourself for many people over a decade of time and learning to have proficiency in this skill, as you've ranked from white to blue, to brown, to purple, you know, so on and so forth. And I love that analogy because I think that's very much true of all the experiences that we go through in our life. When you push yourself, when you do that thing that you said you were gonna do, when you've come through, when you say, know what come hell or high water, I'm gonna cross this finish line metaphorically, doesn't have to be a real finish line but when you do that thing, you are building yourself.
Joe: Yeah. Think of it like the muscles in your soul. You know, you lift weights, you micro tear the muscles in your arms or your chest or whatever, and that rebuild and gets slightly bigger and you get slightly stronger. We can do that with our spirit too. We can do that with our soul. And by forcing ourselves into these difficult things that are just on the edge of our capability, we continuously expand that and growing your spirit like that is how ultimately you become unbroken.
Michael: Yeah, man, I love that. I think you're spot on. Joe, one of the questions I want to ask, break down for me, what does everyday excellence like truly mean to you?
Joe: To me everyday excellence is the idea of human Kaizen. Kaizen is the Japanese concept from engineering of continuous improvement. We can all be better. I can be a better friend. I can be a better father. I can be a better martial artist. I can be a better writer. The question is, am I willing to do it? And as we talked about earlier, if you consistently have the right mindset around it and do the little things you are going to progress and that it is over days and weeks and years of consistent focused activity with the idea of, I'm going to be better, I'm gonna be the best I can be so I can help other people, that's how you're going to unlock your everyday excellence.
Michael: Yeah. That's powerful. And I agree, I love the reference to Kaizen because that makes so much sense to my anime brain. One of the things that I think about in that as well is, you know, the only person you could, should ever compare yourself to is you because you don't know what you're capable of yet because you haven't done it and you only have the measurement of what you've done to this moment. But what you've done to this moment honestly, is negligible cuz you can't change the past but what you can do is focus on this moment that you're in right now and make a decision about who you want to be, just like you talked about your four or five decisions away, like there's truth in that you're step by step, by step away from having this incredibly different life, but you need clarity, you need to do those brain dumps, you need to follow through and execute a lot of this conversation's practical. I hope people are picking up on that, very, very practical. And I love it, Joe, because so many of these things have transpired in my life that have created change. Before I ask you my last question, my friend, can you tell everyone where they can find you?
Joe: Actually, so they can find me at my website, which is everyday-excellence.com. And I recommend they go there because six days a week, I put up little micro blogs. So, these little quick hits of insight, information, inspiration, they can also follow me on Twitter or on Facebook, those are both @EDEwithJoe for everyday excellence with Joe that's me.
Michael: Amazing. And of course, we'll put all the links in the show notes for the audience. Joe, my last question for you, my friend, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?
Joe: To be unbroken is not what people think where you're never harmed or hurt. Being unbroken is like the Japanese art of kintsugi, where broken items like a bowl are not repaired so that they look exactly how they were before, but they're repaired with gold or silver so that the flaws, the breaks can be seen so that the character and history is visible. And it is in these flaws and the recovery from them that the object or the individual is better and truly more beautiful, and that my friend is what it means to me to be unbroken.
Michael: Beautifully said my friend. Thank you so much for being here. Unbroken Nation, thank you so much for listening.
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Human Swiss Army Knife.
Ultramarathoner and special needs parent. Human Kaizen expert.
Scientist, coach, martial arts champion, worst Cub Scout Leader Ever (just ask his kids), ethics instructor: Joe Templin is flippantly inciteful and erudite simultaneously, drawing upon a breadth and depth of experiences that make him uniquely positioned to help you adopt the mindset of “Excellence, as opposed to Convenience.”