Unleash the Full Potential of Your Lifestyle—The Antidote to “Self-Help”—Part 1
On the homepage of the new PerformanceLifestyle.com, it says, “Unleash the Full Potential of Your Lifestyle.” Reduce Stress, Manage Your Energy, Elevate Your Health, Performance and Longevity”
So what does “Unleash the Full Potential of Your Lifestyle” really mean and how is it an antidote to self-help?
Is that just marketing, a play on semantics or does our “Self” need a little less help than our lifestyle actually does?
For starters in this post, when I refer to “self-help,” I am not referring to practical growth and development knowledge like one might learn in the integral life movement, which is about waking up and growing up, with emphasis on development, not general motivation; or, life situation knowledge like parenting and career knowledge, or sales, computers and business development knowledge.
I’m talking specifically about the idea of “unleashing one’s full potential;” an almost cliche statement in the motivation-based self-help movement.
Point of clarification: Self (with a capital S) refers to who you really are before the personal—brain, thought and body—and self (with a small s) refers to who you think you are—your psychological and physical development.
This is a very important distinction, arguably the most important one you, as a person, can make. It underlies everything or affects everything you will learn in Performance Lifestyle training. It’s also imperative for you to make this distinction if you want to make sense out the whole idea of unleashing your full potential and avoid depleting your life force energy, or burnout, as an achiever-type.
The word “unleash” has been used in the context of ones “full potential” (an often fluffy idea) for decades by the self-help movement, and in a confusing way too. It’s confusing because few know what unleashing the power within really means and it is, therefore, a movement largely about the psychological, not about your full potential. I address this more in the myth of motivation parts one and two.
That said, “unleashing” in the context of one’s “lifestyle,” has likely never been explained before and it needs to be for the reason that we assert is it’s only accurate use.
As you’ll discover, the reason why we think that’s true is simple; it’s only in the optimization of your lifestyle that you can truly unleash your full potential, which is not simply an increase in performance, which you’ll learn is usually a term confused with productivity), or about expanding your mind through brain (psychology-based) training. It includes that but is really about optimizing human function, and about all of performing well in life for a long time.
Foremost it’s about maximizing personal energy, for if you deplete that energy you will need a great deal of self-help and it will drive you a little bit crazy.
A quick backstory.
Having come from the human potential or “Self-help” movement early in my career, which, to date, could more accurately be labeled the movement to develop your psychological self; I witnessed first hand how a good portion of the top performers was burning out as they constantly strove to accomplish and achieve. It perplexed me at first, particularly my own fatigue, which got passed off as an undeveloped attitude or laziness at that time, a lack of this or that insight needed to keep myself going. But as I gained perspective, it became clear that most of the methods for “high performance” were, and still are, largely from the neck up; based on psychologically-driven ways to be more productive, and not sustained performance powered by a holistic and skillful lifestyle.
What passes for performance today, is really non-stop productivity in disguise at a very steep cost; to your health, sustained performance itself, and your longevity.
Performance and productivity are not synonomous, they are related but not the same thing. Productivity should be the byproduct of sustained human performance not at the cost of.
In that traditional “self-help” context, unleashing your full potential can be quite costly to your body-brain, as it’s largely divorced from who you really are, your true nature, flow, regeneration, recovery, and physicality. As stated, it’s productivity based often on a diminished human performance capacity, these days, that get’s passed off as some kind of personal shortfall; hence the need for more motivation; and not unrelated, the need for Starbucks and most people needing to run on Dunkin (stimulants) even if Dunkin Donuts is trying to divert our attention to their new running shoe.
There is no such thing as the local Starbucks anymore, one has to say “one of the local Starbucks.”
Powered by rapidly depleted energy today’s “performance” is driven largely by coffee, and psychological will (motivation) among several other external drivers, such as software and systems (iPhones and PC’s) and the overstructured schedules they promote to be more productive. This new layer of technology on top of self-help motivation drives us even more and to function nearly non-stop and it leaves us drained, or tired almost all the time, because “productivity,” rarely considers the lifestyle that’s needed to sustain our energy, and support our health and genuine human performance. Maybe it’s thought of as an inconvenient truth, hence, the reason why so many driven people burnout and trade their health for success.
We’ve all had experiences with feeling completely spent after high-performance periods (even the amazing, wholehearted experiences we can’t wait to get back to) that seem to never end because the culture we’re in seems to think we can go non-stop at peak performance levels. It thinks we can simply stimulate ourselves to keep going; beyond coffee alone, with more motivation, digging deep with more will etc, but deeper down we know it’s not so.
The fact that this author had done that for far too long, not with coffee, but extreme work ethic and the like, is the reason why PerformanceLifestyle.com exists. It’s also why it’s not called the “peak” Performance Lifestyle or “high” Performance Lifestyle.
Thinking you’re going to sustain high-performance periods all the time, without sleep, rest, recovery, relaxation, meditation and rejuvenation, fueling, activating and strengthening periods, and some degree of proficiency in the whole of human performance and lifestyle is foolhardy. Not even the best of the best can pull that off and if they think they can and do, these very people will debit their longevity just like you. It all comes at a cost.
In my coaching practice, not a week goes by that I don’t have to touch on a clients performance addiction (driven by the comparison to others) and the addiction to performance that is leading to the clients’ feeling tired all the time, burnout, and a downward spiraling health and performance capacity. More on “enlightened performance” later.
The Four Primary Domains in Life.
Notice that at the top of this post, you see pictures of various people performing well in life, as a parent, a business professional, a creative artist and as an athlete. These are the four primary domains in life. It’s life itself, what you are up to in terms of creating a family, your career or business, which may also be exclusive to or topped off by a performing art or involvement in a sport.
To sustain your performance, the levels required of you to be a fully functioning parent (one of the hardest pursuits of all) a successful business professional, a star stage performer or winning athlete; the key thing you need is not just a great diet and exercise program, you need a whole lifestyle, including but not limted to, functional nutrition and fitness to support you and what you are up to in the world; with, particular emphasis on getting enough sleep and learning to live with optimal energy levels so you can maintain an optimal performance state.
An optimal performance state is not one where we are suffering from low to high levels of fatigue, knowing we just don’t have the power to perform at the level we want, drugged up on stimulants of any kind to keep going. That has to end and it’s the primary reason (not the only reason) why we develop performance lifestyles.
Today, there is always something to do, a demand on you, and it’s easy to get worn down, so you must know how to reduce unnecessary stress across-the-board in your life, and manage your energy to elevate your health and performance. Your longevity depends on it!
And that is where the “unleashing the full potential of your lifestyle” comes in. Just tolerating today’s culture and psychologically willing your way through situations and circumstances, and the events of your life, “overcoming fatigue” (as so many motivators indiscriminately suggest you do) with stimulants from coffee to motivation sets you up for hitting the wall at an ever-increasing frequency in the short span; ultimately resulting in a shortened lifespan.
That fatigue, believe it or not, is also a big reason why the motivational industry even exists. Yes, we need inspiration, but anecdotally speaking; a good percentage of people are just trying to get through their own malaise, and the motivation is the stimulant.
We’re not saying the self-help movement has no value, it does, but it’s very often not dealing with the real problem.
In a Performance Lifestyle, we learn a whole series of skills that include understanding what’s driving you and what needs to drive you to want to move forward, but also from a position of strength. Meaning with enough of the energy that makes up what we call ” primary motivation.”
When you have lots of naturally occurring energy, aren’t you naturally more motivated?
That primary motivation is the result of us having more space and time to embrace our fatigue and allow the body to go through its natural cycles to regenerate energy. I know that sounds simple, but it’s not. To have that space and time and get comfortable with that process, believe it not, is one the greatest human challenges, particularly in modern times.
When you do this, more than anything else, you will have a higher level of potential (energy) and the capacity to deal with the overwhelm that depletes your energy and gives rise to the fatigue that distracts and holds you back while taking the grace and quality out of your life. In other words, you add these attributes back into your life by restoring your energy.
Energy equals potential, but while you do have access to unlimited energy, as a “human being,” your potential is in fact limited. It’s ultimately limited by how much energy your body/brain has been able to restore. How you can “unleash” your potential if you don’t have a surge of energy that’s ready to be unleashed. You can’t and you won’t.
Skip one night of sleep, and it won’t matter if you are professionally trained, have an MBA, Masters, Ph.D., or have been through every Tony Robbins Masters University… good luck with unleashing your “full potential.”