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From the author of Make Shift Happen


Lose Weight,
Master Self-Control and
Maintain Your Results For Life

by Dean Dwyer
Design by Alison Lara

The Willpower Solution

Copyright 2013-2014 Dean Dwyer
Illustration & Cover Art Copyright 2013-2014 Alison Lara
All rights reserved.
The reproduction, transmission or utilization of this work in whole or in
part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now
know or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and
recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is
forbidden without express written permission of the author and
A Make Shift Happen Production

My story and why you need this book

To truly get the most from The Willpower Solution, its important to
know how the program came to be.
For the first 45 years of my life I had a story that was pretty similar to
most people who are overweight and trying to slim down. I had times
were I would lose weight, but in every instance I would somehow
sabotage myself and end up putting it all back on again. ALWAYS!
This went on for about 25 years. Looking back I can see that I got really
good at doing a bunch of stuff with no real rhyme or reason as to why I
was doing what I was doing. I was simply following a prescription
mindset and doing what other people told me I should be doing.
Shortly after I turned 45 I found myself staring in the mirror
embarrassed and frustrated by the soft upper body reflecting back at me.

I had no excuses. I wish I could have pinned my body fat woes on some
specific tragedy.
I would have loved to blame my troubles on some sort of genetic
mutation that made me eat like the Tasmanian Devil - you know the
one from Bugs Bunny. Sadly, I could not.
I would have loved to say I suffered from a rare genetic disorder known
as slow no metabolism. Unfortunately, my metabolism was alive and
well and doing the speed limit on most occasions.
What was really frustrating was that I was doing a lot of stuff with
little return on my investment. For instance

I worked out 3 to 5 days/week for most of those 25 years

When I worked out, it was with a high degree of intensity
I ate 4 or 5 healthy meals/snacks each day
I prepared almost all my own foods
About 80% of my meals were comprised of organic whole foods
About 40% of those foods were raw (lots of salads)
I seldom ate junk food
I ate out once in a blue moon

And what did all that get me? Well as you can see from the picture
above, not much.
It was at that point that an Einstein quote came to mind. It was
something to the effect of

You cant solve a problem with the same level of thinking that caused
the problem.
I had seen that quote many times before, but this time I finally
understood what it meant within the context of my life and specifically
with my inability to change how I looked.
I realized that trying to diet and exercise my way out of the problem
had never worked in the past and it was not going to work this time
either, if that was my plan - and it was!
It occurred to me that I did not have a doing problem. I was great at
doing stuff. What I had was a being issue. In essence, I needed to
change who I was being, otherwise I would simply get more of what I
had always gotten, which was short-term success followed by a gradual
regression back to how I always looked.
If I was going to break through this time and have success, I was going
to have to change the very fabric of how I thought.
Lots of things went in to my transformation, but my biggest mindset
shift was the decision to start choosing myself.
What did that mean exactly?
For decades I had come to rely on others to fix me. But I was the only
one who could fix me, just as you are the only one who can fix you.
So I made the decision to become the expert on me. I would toss every
idea I ever had about weight loss and behavior change and start from

scratch testing out ideas and adopting only those things that worked for
my body type.
I also studied high achievers who were able to create lasting change. It
was clear from my research that those who exhibited mastery with
willpower, whether it was around weight loss, writing daily, exercising
regularly or avoiding sugar, consistently incorporated 5 habits that
worked cohesively within the context of a framework.
I decoded the habits of these high achievers and packaged them in a
framework that I called the SCORE method.
That discovery has allowed me to finally lose that soul-crushing weight
that I have carried for so long and finally keep it off. It has now been 3+
years. And the ironic part is I do less now than I did when I was fat.

Making this work for you

"If you want to achieve your highest aspirations and overcome

your greatest challenges, identify and apply the principle or
natural law that governs the results you seek."
~Steven Covey; The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

There is nothing magical about producing remarkable results other

than the fact that few know the secret.
It boils down to 5 simple habits or natural laws as Covey suggests. Once
you know what they are and how to leverage them, truly remarkable
things will begin to happen in your life. It will change in ways so
profound that you won't recognize the old life you once lived.
I use the rest of this book to breakdown the five habits that comprise
The Willpower Solution so you can master willpower and change any
behavior you desire.

About the AutHor - Dean Dwyer

Author, Speaker, Podcaster
& Lifestyle Entrepreneur
I have had an interesting journey. I spent the better part of my first 40 years
on the planet following a prescription mindset. I did what others told me to
do whether it revolved around weight loss, employment or lifestyle.
While I wasnt unhappy, I wasnt happy either. I felt I could be doing
much more with my life, so I ditched the conventional wisdom
playbook and started developing my own theories and ideas.
I quit my teaching job of 17 years to build my own online business focused
primarily on lifestyle education. The results have been startling. I now have
complete control over how I use my day and my time. And best of all I get
to choose what I want to work on and who I want to work with.
My home base is in Toronto, Canada, but I can be found anywhere on
the planet where there is an Internet connection. To learn more about
my story and stay up to date on my latest projects, posts and podcasts
you can follow me at
Blog: A Makeshift Happen Experience
Course: The Willpower Solution
Podcast: The Make Shift Happen Show


About the Illustrator - Alison Lara

As an intuitive, creative and strategic thinker, I get to indulge my love
of learning and problem solving on a daily basis working as a Graphic
Designer, Fabric Designer and Illustrator.
I caught the entrepreneurial bug at a young age. My most recent project
revolves around my success at losing 50 lbs and keeping it off for 8
years. I am putting together a program to teach my simple techniques
to maintain weight loss so others can find the same success for
When not collaborating on my latest project, you can find me on
Ravelry (alllyooop) or pursuing my next creative adventure in the SF
Bay Area.
For more about my work and latest projects head over to:
This book has been a labor of love, I hope you enjoy it!


Table of Contents

Introduction ..............................................................................................6
Part 1: Mindset Training

BIG IDEA #1: You Can Teach Yourself Anything ..............................15

BIG IDEA #2: The Power Of Small Consistent Actions.....................24
BIG IDEA #3: Get Out Of Your Head...................................................37
Part 2: The S.c.o.r.e. Method
Habit #1: Start by deciding in advancE

BIG IDEA #4: Pinpoint The Problem...................................................53

BIG IDEA #5: Determine The Outcome ..............................................65
BIG IDEA #6: Shape Your Behavior .....................................................77
Habit #2: Create a blueprint for success

BIG IDEA #7: Identify Potential Hot Spots .........................................90

BIG IDEA #8: Adopt The Use Of Checklists .....................................101
BIG IDEA #9: Create Plays ..................................................................113
Habit #3: Optimize performance through practicE

BIG IDEA #10: Visualize Success........................................................127

BIG IDEA #11: Perform Realistic Training .......................................137
BIG IDEA #12: Focus On Specifics .....................................................149
Habit #4: Remove Obstacles to Success

BIG IDEA #13: Eliminate The Prescription Mindset .......................163

BIG IDEA #14: Avoid Extreme Solutions ..........................................173
BIG IDEA #15: Manufacture Courage ...............................................186

Habit #5: Evaluate. Learn. Grow.

BIG IDEA #16: Evaluate The Outcome .............................................199

BIG IDEA #17: Learn From Your Experience ...................................209
BIG IDEA #18: Expand Your Skill Set ................................................221
Part 3: The Pitfalls and the Possibilities

BIG IDEA #19: Common Pitfalls To Avoid ......................................233

BIG IDEA #20: The Art Of Possibility ...............................................245


Have you seen the movie Good Will Hunting? Its about a guy named
Will Hunting who was abused by his stepfather and has spent the
better part of his life as an angry young man pushing people away.
Will ends up seeing a psychiatrist played by Robin Williams. Towards
the end of the film there is a really powerful scene where Williams
character tells Will that being abused was not his fault.
Its a really powerful scene, and one that lends itself well to todays lesson.
Somehow when bad things happen blame must be assigned. Im not sure
why that is, but it seems to be a natural part of the human condition.


When things dont go the way people think they should, someone or
something has to be held accountable. Unfortunately, the blame is
usually assigned incorrectly.

I used to share a classroom with another teacher back when I was still
in the profession. I happened to be in the class doing some work one
day while this woman was conducting a parent-teacher interview.
I listened as she told a mother that her child was lazy and unmotivated
(her exact words) and that he needed to work harder if he was to
achieve success.
I must admit I was a bit saddened by what I had just heard. It was the
first time I realized that when things dont turn out as planned, we are
hardwired to lay blame.
In this case, the child was labeled with a bunch of unsavory
characteristics that would explain why he was not achieving the success
that was expected.
As the example suggests, blaming someone else is always the most
popular option.
There was a second option that was also available. The teacher could
have blamed herself for failing to find a way to connect with this child
in a way that would have improved his success.
But that option is seldom used by anyone, teacher or otherwise.


When is the last time you heard anyone accept responsibility for the fact
his or her product or service was ineffective in helping create change?
It never happens. The implied response is always something to the
effect that the program or service works for others so you must be
doing something wrong.
And thats where things turn sour for us. Even if it is not directly
implied, our failure at anything is internalized.
In our mind it is a simple equation. Others have had success with this. I
did not. Therefore there is something wrong with me. I am to blame.
Its my fault.
I am going to come back to that one in a moment.
I would like to suggest you begin to practice a seldom-used third
option. It operates on the premise that there is no one to blame. If
something didnt achieve the expected results then it simply didnt work
and new options need to be explored.
So why am I telling you all this?
Because right now, whether you realize it or not, you blame yourself
for your lack of success. You have turned all your failed attempts from
the past into character flaws. You are not disciplined enough. You have
no willpower. You lack drive and commitment. You are lazy and
Trust me I get it. I have felt that way most of my adult life.


But here is the message I want to hammer home.

The truth is you are none of those things. There is absolutely nothing
wrong with you other than the fact that you are currently using a
system (and having no system is in effect a system) that does not allow
you to produce the desired results.
You dont suffer from a series of character flaws. You suffer from
system failure that forces you to operate at the bottom of your
effectiveness threshold.

Solutions Rather Than Labels

So let me end with another story to help bring this into focus.
Lets say you have a child and you send them up to clean their room.
You go up an hour later and it looks like they have done nothing. The
room still looks like it has been hit by a tornado.
But here is the kicker. In the childs mind, he or she thinks they have
done what you asked.
How would you respond? What would you say?
There is a natural tendency to lay blame in the form of character flaws
without really attempting to get at the core of the problem.
But it helps to remember that no one plans to fail at anything they
attempt and yet it happens at a high frequency.
So perhaps when people arent getting the expected results it would be
wise to assume there is a piece to the puzzle that is missing.

So back to the child in question. The story is actually true. It was shared
at a teaching conference I attended for children with learning disabilities.
Did you know there are people who are unable to think in pictures? Its
true. Its impossible for us to imagine, but there are people who are unable
to form pictures in their head about specific concepts being discussed.
So how might this affect a child who has been told to go up and clean
their room?
Well the child has no image to draw upon to know what a clean room
looks like. So they dont do anything at all because they dont know
what done looks like.
Do you know what the solution for such kids is? Its brilliant really.
You clean the room with them and then you take pictures of the clean
room and post them on a bulletin board in the room. The next time the
child goes up to clean their room, you teach them to look at the pictures
and then make the room look like the pictures.

I realize this sounds incredible, but believe me there are many such
conditions that exist that prevent well-intentioned people from
accomplishing what they would really like to do.

What Is Your Takeaway From This Lesson?

First, I want to make it abundantly clear that the kid
in the example above ended up succeeding not because
he worked harder or persevered longer or believed he
could achieve.
He succeeded because someone had the foresight to recognize that
there was something missing that was not allowing a wellintentioned kid to succeed.
Second, the solution came in the form of a system that changed this
childs world completely.
In many ways your current story is similar.
You have been operating within a system that doesnt work for you.
And no matter how hard you try or how long you persevere, success
continues to elude you.
What I am saying is your current situation is not your fault. You are
not flawed. There is nothing wrong with you. You have been
expected to succeed with a system that is not designed for you.
But what if there was a better system out there for you? What if
there was system that allowed you to take something as intangible
as willpower and make it manageable and measurable?
Well thats exactly what I am providing in this program. This is a
system based on my own experiments and discoveries and those of
others who have found a way to consistently do the things they
must when it matters most.


What I am providing is a blueprint for your success.

Its not a magic cure however. It only works if you are willing to
work the system consistently day in and day out for weeks, then
months and then years. Nothing less will suffice.

The SCORE Method

The book is put together in 3 parts, like a well-crafted movie.
In part one, I focus on mindset and share three Big Ideas to help you get
in the right frame of mind for the journey you are about to embark on.
In part two, I reveal the secret sauceThe SCORE Method that consists
of 5 steps.
In part three, I end with pitfalls to beware of and lay out the wonderful
possibilities that exist should you make this a part of your daily life.
Each Big Idea is beautifully illustrated with the three main lessons that
are presented. I end each chapter with some suggested practices, but
feel free to move in whatever direction you would like.

Take Ownership
The last idea I would like to leave you with is this: MAKE THIS YOUR
By that I am suggesting that you take my ideas and do what you must to
make them work within the context of your own life.


You can create your own exercises to do, you can add or delete steps if
you so choose and you can provide additional supporting materials that
help you get the most out of the program.
There is no one right way to make this course material work for you.
Just be sure that you make it work for you.
Honor your learning style. Trust your gut. And be will willing to dare
greatly to achieve something you have long thought was not possible.
Just know that I believe in you!


Part 1
Mindset Training

Big Idea #1
You can teach yourself anything

It might seem a bit odd that Habit #1 is focused on mindset. Most

courses launch right into the material because frankly, that is
what most people want and expect.
But that is NOT what most people need, especially at the beginning.

Lesson #1: Money Doesnt Change Behavior

Did you know that 93% of people who buy a book never get past the
first chapter.


This seems puzzling doesnt it? Why would someone pay money for
something that they know will positively impact their life and not
actually read the material or do the exercises they suggest.
I believe it is because people think that the act of paying money for
something increases the likelihood that they will commit to the material.
Let me squash that theory right now. Spending money on a potential
solution does NOT correlate with the likelihood that someone will
actually commit to the process of changing the life they are currently living,
no matter how much pain and anguish that current life brings them.
In fact, the fitness industry profits heavily on this behavior. Its called
the dead membership. That is one where someone signs up for a oneyear membership, comes a few times never to be seen again.
Perhaps you know someone who has done such a thing?
Do they care that you arent coming? Of course not! If they did, they
would be calling you regularly to say, Get your butt in here or we will
be canceling your membership.
Do not for a second think that spending money on this program will
influence your behavior and help you build willpower. That belief sets
you up for failure.
From here on in, the mindset you adopt, the awareness that you
develop and the systems you implement and leverage are the ONLY
things that will determine whether you get through the course or not.


And dont kid yourself. Once the novelty and excitement of something
new wears off that voice of resistance will soon come calling and play
on every insecurity that you have hoping to get you to quit like it has
managed to do with every other thing you have attempted in the past.
The difference this time however is that you have an ally. Its called
awareness. The more you understand about yourself and your own
behavior and why you do what you do, the more power you have to
change who are being so you can live the life you want.

What Is Your Takeaway?

Do not rest on the false assumption that paying
money for something will change your behaviors.

Lesson #2: Eureka Moments Dont Happen Immediately

So now that you know you wont be lulled into a false sense of security
simply because you paid money for this course, let me paint a more
realistic picture of what I will be delivering and what it will mean for you.
And to do that I am going to take you back to a day in 1990 where I
learned a really powerful lesson about learning.
My university education was a bit of a joke. When I look back, there
was virtually nothing that I learned that offered any value to the life I
was living.
There was nothing there that I could not have gotten from my public
library and about $20 in late fees.


But when I was studying to become a teacher I took a course called,

The Philosophy of Education. I cannot for the life of me recall the
professors name, but he was, without question, the most influential
teachers I ever had.
I say that because the things he talked about in his classes were actually
relevant to the teaching profession that I would soon be immersed in.
I remember one class where he said, This is not going to mean
anything to you right now, but mark my words, in about two years
time, it will.
He was talking about the idea of teaching for value. He said that our
first years of teaching would consist of a lot of thrashing where our goal
was simply to survive and keep our head above water. But once we got
past that, we would realize that to have true impact we would need to
teach for value.
And sure enough two years and three months later I had my epiphany.
It was Friday afternoon and the kids had just left to start their
Christmas break.
I dragged my exhausted bum back to my office and plopped myself down
at my desk. I remember sitting there thinking, This isnt working.
And then those words I heard 2 years previous, came back to me. Teach
for value.
It was one of many Eureka moments I would have in my life, but it was
the beginning of something new. My teaching began to focus on

providing value that would extend beyond the four walls of the
So you are probably thinking, Nice story Dean, but what does this have
to do with me and willpower?
Well I am about to tell you the same thing my college professor told
me. Some of the things I am going to share may not mean much to you
right now.
You will understand what I am talking about on an intellectual level,
but some of the concepts just wont resonate at this point.
Think of it like love. Someone can explain what love means, but until
you experience that feeling for yourself, it doesnt mean much. They are
just words.
Thats how some of these concepts are going to feel for you. They may
not mean much to you right now, but they will at some point.

What Is Your Takeaway?

If you stay committed to this journey of selfawareness and personal enlightenment, then you will
have your moments where these concepts will come
to life.
It might be next week, it might be a month from now, heck it might
even be a year or two from now. But it will happen if you stay
committed to the journey and the principles.


Lesson #3: Death To The Character Flaw

So in the free training I introduced a new paradigm on how to see the
errors of your past.
What many of us think are character flaws, are nothing other than
system failure.
That has been one of the most powerful and liberating lessons I have
learned on this journey and has opened up a way of life that was not
possible for the first 45 years of my existence on the planet.
I really believe that 80 to 90% of the negative traits we label ourselves
with could be corrected and eliminated completely by simply
implementing a system.
To illustrate the point, lets talk about something that might not seem
relevant to this journey: your email inbox.
Let me ask you a question. Is your inbox currently at zero? Was it at
zero when you went to bed last night? Do you even remember when it
was last at zero?
If you are like most people who leverage the Internet, then odds are you
have an inbox that is stuffed with emails that are clamoring for your
attention. There may be ten or twenty or even one hundred sitting
there right now, some going as far back as a few months.
In fact, the scenario I just described represents my experience ever since
I started using email back in 1999. I always seemed to have anywhere
from 25 to 100 emails in my inbox at any one time.

This would go on for months until I got so frustrated that I would

apply shear force and spend 2 or 3 hours getting it down to zero
promising that it would never get that way again.
And yet, 24 hours later, I would go to bed with 10 unattended emails in
my inbox. Before I knew it, things were back to the way they once were.
Does this sound familiar?
But here is the fascinating thing. An email inbox that gets out of control
functions on the exact same principles that causes people to gain
weight, go into debt or consistently repeat the same mistakes in
While we would be tempted to attribute this to laziness, or a lack of
discipline or poor attention to detail, the truth is none of those
conclusions is correct.
What they all have in common is that they lack a solid system to
generate the results that would lead to the desired outcome.
When I looked at my email inbox as nothing other than system failure,
then it put the breaks on the self-loathing talk that typically comes with
such failures.
When I approached it from a system failure, it forced me to ask better
questions. Why does my inbox fill up immediately after getting it to zero?
It turned out that I did not have a system to deal with my email. Some
are easy. Spam is simply deleted and some are read only, but those are
not the ones that cause problems.

Some require a response that would take some time to put together.
Some required no immediate action, but I would have to do some sort
of follow up later on down the road. And sadly there were some I just
didnt know what to do with.
But when I sat down and made a list of all the possible email scenarios
and how I would deal with each, my inbox suddenly became very easy
to manage.
In fact, keeping a zero inbox is really quite simple now and all it took
was about an hour of my time to use the most powerful tool in my
toolbox: my brain.
By strategically thinking through the problem and providing creative
solutions I was able to eliminate a problem I have suffered from for 14 years.

What Is Your Takeaway?

Be willing to embrace the notion that what you have
long felt were character flaws are in fact system
failures. And systems CAN BE LEARNED.
Believe that you can teach yourself anything. That
notion that you cant teach an old dog new tricks is an urban myth
that has outlived its usefulness.
This journey to building willpower is nothing other than a class on
how to use your brain to think strategically and creatively to
generate systems that will allow you to get the results you want.
And the best part is, this model can be applied to relationship
problems, weight issues, excessive debt etc.


You just need to buy into the fact systems are your salvation.

For Your Consideration

Awareness is a powerful ally to building willpower. So lets recap some
things that you need to be extremely aware of.
Paying money for anything, no matter how much, will not make
you any more committed to completing this course or any other
solution you have paid money for.
Some ideas wont mean anything to you at this point on your
journey. But they will one day when your experience with life
changes. Be patient. You cant force understanding of a concept
that must be experienced.
You have an incredible capacity to learn new things. Do not
handicap your ability by buying into the notion that it is too late
for you. Most of my changes have come after 45 and I am just
beginning to scratch the surface.
I want you to stew on these ideas whenever you have a free moment.
And be very aware of the thoughts that come to the surface.
Just find a way to capture them so you can come back to those for
review as pieces to your puzzle begin to emerge.


The power of small
consistent actions

Do not confuse outcomes for behaviors. Behaviors are those

actions you can take immediately that push you closer to your
potential outcome.
This might be one of the most influential stories I have ever heard. It
came from a friend in Austin, Texas who consults with clients who are
looking to change how they look.
One day she got a call from a friend who, in her words, was desperate
to change her life. Her weight had spiraled out of control over the past
few years and she was now a single pound away from 300.

She pleaded for help.

When The Biggest Loser Loses

Now if you watch reality television you will see shows like The Biggest
Loser, that promote the idea that big problems like excessive weight
gain require BIG solutions.
Consequently, those chosen live on site, are assigned their own
personal trainers, and are coaxed, prodded and screamed at to perform
outrageous activities for extended periods of time that are way beyond
their current abilities. And it seems to work for some.
There is only one problem with that approach. The solution doesnt
translate in the real world.
Unless you are independently wealthy, there are few who could afford such
a solution. Worse, the approach is not a sustainable solution long-term.
While there have been no studies done on the shows long term success
rate, I would be willing to bet that less than 5% of those who lost weight
on the show have been able to maintain that loss for five years or longer.
And the reason is simple. The solutions provided are just not
sustainable for the average person. They force too much on people
too soon without a proper foundation in place to sustain such
behaviors long-term.


So What Is The Solution?

Well lets return to the story of the 299 pound woman. As I mentioned,
she was desperate and willing to do anything to change her situation.
So what happened?
Well my consultant friend did the exact opposite of what The Biggest
Loser does.
She recommended only a single change and it focused on the worst
habit this woman had.
Turns out she was a big soda lover. She would consume a couple of 2L
bottles each day.
So she was instructed to take as much time as she needed to wean
herself off that product. Once she was able to do that, she was to call
back and they would then make a decision on the next course of action.
It took about 5 weeks for this gal to completely remove soda from her
diet. She slowly cut back on the portions she consumed and eventually
substituted that drink for a far healthier one: unsweetened green tea.
Now that soda was no longer on the menu they plotted their next
action. Each week she would add 3 to 4 servings of fish to her diet,
while keeping up with the new habit of substituting unsweetened green
tea for soda.
Over the course of their collaboration this trend of substitution
continued until the 299 pound woman was down to 180 pounds.

Its easy to get hung up on the fact that this woman was able to lose
about 120 pounds over the course of twelve to eighteen months and
miss some of the hidden lessons that relate specifically to developing
incredible willpower.

Lesson #1: Focus On Behaviors, Not Outcomes

One of the big mistakes people make is they focus on the outcome,
expecting that will be powerful enough to drive the necessary behaviors
to create change.
A perfect example of outcomes is New Years resolutions. The reason
few ever complete any of their resolutions is that they mistake
outcomes for behaviors.
Lose X number of pounds
Get out of debt
Exercise regularly
The problem is that none of the resolutions mentioned above are
actionable. They point to the end result, but provide no behaviors to
adopt to actually achieve it.
And so when the year comes to an end and none of the resolutions have
been accomplished, people mistakenly assume they are the problem and
characterize themselves with some character flaw that explains why the
resolutions were not met.


Now outcomes are very important, as we will discuss in Habit #2:

Decide in Advance, but without a set of behaviors to adopt for each,
failure is pretty much inevitable.

Case Study
So let me share some results a friend of mine shared with me. He
emailed to let me know that he was using some of my ideas to create a
plan to shed some unwanted pounds he had gained.
Here is the email he sent.

Thought I would share something you helped me out with.

I reached a moment at the end of November 2012, when it was
either time to drop some weight or buy fat guy pants.
I had tried the four-hour body thing for a while, but it didn't really
work. I checked your blog. Read your stuff, read Sisson's book and
then basically started tracking my carb intake and keeping it
around 50-75 grams a day.
A smart phone and a good scale helped.
I couldn't work out at all during this time because of a slipped disc
in my back so my results make for an interesting case study.
So here is what we've got so far.
The chart is my weight (see below). The start is back in July when I
started following the four-hour body. The lowest point before the
rise is around mid September when I gave up and slipped back into
my habits.

The next high point is the end of November when I started a carbregulated diet and that has continued up to the present.
The program I use is a weight tracker, but the losses are all fat.
My lean mass has stayed the same throughout, which is proof that
Im burning fat only.
It's all been relatively easy. The energy increase more than made
up for the sacrifice of giving up beer and I managed to keep going
through the holidays and some big events.
Two months in and I'm looking forward to keeping it up.

What I find fascinating about the email is that there is no mention of

how much weight he intends to lose. He has one of course, but the
entire email is about the behaviors he adopted, of which there were
only two.

He bought himself a wireless scale so he could weigh himself. He also

downloaded the app so he could track his weight on a daily basis on his
smart phone.
The other thing he did was log his foods each day with the goal of
keeping his carb count between 50 and 75 grams.
And the result? In two months, focusing on only two behaviors, he was
able to drop 17 pounds of fat.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

Do not confuse outcomes for behaviors. Behaviors are
those actions you can take immediately, preferably on
a daily basis, that push you closer to your potential
So if you are looking to pay off your credit card, then start with a
behavior you could begin doing today. For instance you might start
tracking your spending each day to see where your money is going.
Or if you are looking to reduce your stress levels, you might want to
start by getting more sleep. And a behavior you could adopt
immediately is to start going to bed earlier each night.
Regardless of the outcome you are striving for, willpower begins to
fortify when you can consistently commit to specific behaviors that
you can take action on immediately.


Lesson #2: The Power Of Small

Conventional wisdom would have us believe that big problems require
big solutions. But if you become a student of change, you will see that
thinking is false.
Big problems are generally solved with small solutions.
In the case study above, only two things were done, neither taking
more than about five minutes each day.
I have personally found that the most powerful thing I can do to lose
weight and maintain it is to log the foods I eat on a daily basis.
Logging only requires about 5 minutes of my time daily, but the hidden
benefits are enormous.
ONE. I get confirmation each day whether I met my goal or not.
From Monday to Saturday I strive to keep my total carb count fewer
than 100g. Logging my foods each day provides instant feedback as to
whether or not I was successful.
TWO. It manufactures awareness.
I have come to discover that willpower ties directly to awareness. And
awareness is a product of collecting data. The more data I collect, the
more feedback I receive on the quality of choices I have made. This
feedback becomes the fuel for the future decisions I will make.
And THIRD. It helps me build confidence.


People dont talk about this much, but confidence is crucial in any area
of our life we are attempting to change. When I meet my goals it builds
my confidence. And when I dont meet my goals it arms me with the
information I need to make a better decision next time around. And
that is a huge confidence builder as well.

Case Study
Why do you think people fall out of love?
I believe it is because they stop performing the small loving acts that were
so prevalent at the beginning of a relationship. Little things like holding
hands and hugging slowly become extinct over the course of the
The cumulative affects of those small losses leads to relationships where
love no longer exists. In desperation, couples seek out big solutions like
counseling, but by that point the damage is hard to repair.
What if couples worked on those small acts of love each and every day?
How might that change the quality of a loving relationship?
Former tennis pro Andre Agassi does something few others do. He has
installed a chalkboard in his kitchen. Each day he writes one loving
thing to his wife. He has been doing this for years.
Now that small act might not seem like much, but imagine if that was
you receiving those messages each day? What kind of impact do you
think that would have on your self-esteem? How would that carry over


into your parenting, your work, your interactions with others and your
outlook on life?

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

Teach yourself to begin to focus on small solutions
knowing they are the driving force behind enormous

Lesson #3: Consistency Over An Extended Period Of Time

Do you know the one thing I always notice for people who had success
and are now struggling?
I see this all the time. In fact, I committed this sin myself.
So this is what happens.
People do X and achieve Y. People love Y. Then people get overconfident
and start applying faulty logic.
They think, So when I did X I got Y. And now that I have got Y I am
going to stop doing X with the expectation that I will still get Y.
There is nowhere in life in which that thinking makes any sense.
I learned that the hard way when I stopped keeping my food log.


For some reason I thought I had the food thing all figured out. I was
confident I could guesstimate and still generate outstanding results.
But here is the problem. It is scientifically documented that people are
horrible estimators. We spend more money than we think. We eat
more than we think. And we drive worse than we think.
And I was no different. I ate more than I thought; specifically I ate more
carbs than I thought and I slowly started putting weight back on.
Ironically, the moment I started my food log again, the weight started
to melt away.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #3?

First, stop with the bad math. You cant do something
to generate a result and then stop doing it and think
things wont change.
If you start logging your foods and you lose weight,
then no longer logging is going to cause you to gain weight again.
If you do a weekly date night and your relationship improves and then
you stop doing it, the relationship will take a turn for the worse.
And if you go to bed early and your anxiety levels drop and then
you start going to bed at a much later time, those anxiety levels are
going to creep back up to where they were before.
Second, willpower is nothing other than a new behavior done
consistently over an extended period of time. When I say extended,
Im talking years or decades, not weeks or months.

For Your Consideration

Is there something you have done consistently for years in another
area of your life that has afforded you tremendous success? Is there
something you do in your work or as a parent or with your
finances that brings you success and happiness?
If so, then you have a system, even if you dont realize you have a
system. Take some time to think about what that system looks like
and what it is that you do to make it work. How could you take
that idea and apply it to some of the other areas of our life that you
are struggling with.
What specific actions have you done in the past that have brought
you success that you ended up dropping after a particular period of
time? Its important to understand why you stopped? Was it too
much too fast? Was the solution a poor fit for the life you lead? Or
were you blindly doing something that someone else said you
should do?
Its not enough to say you quit doing something you knew was
working. The real benefit moving forward is digging deep to see if
you can get to the root of why you quit. Once you uncover those
reasons, you improve your ability to sustain desired habits much
more easily and effortlessly.
Choose one area of your life that is really bothering you at the
moment. What is one small behavior you could start today to
begin moving in a direction that would bring you the peace of
mind you deserve.


For instance, if your email inbox is a disaster, would it be possible

to make a list of all the email scenarios you deal with and how you
would begin to handle each?
If your room has been hit by an underwear tsunami, what could you
do to begin to bring order to it? And if you are too exhausted to cook
dinner each night, could you prepare a meal with a Crock-pot for
instance so you have something prepared when you arrive home.


Big Idea #3
Get out of your head

The system you create will be as successful as the rumble strip

you have attached to it.
I used to roll my eyes when I would hear people talk about logging their
foods. It seemed a little too child-like for my purposes. It was the same
with those who tracked their daily spending. It seemed like a desperate
act for people who clearly lacked self-control.
That arrogance no longer exists however. I have been humbled by my
own ineptitude, whether it had to do with my finances, my weight or
my personal productivity.


What I have discovered is that the most important aspects of our life
(our health, our finances, our productivity and our relationships)
CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be managed in our heads.
There is a reason that our current generation is the most in debt, obese
and unhealthy in the history of our existence.
Pick any person who suffers from any of those conditions and you will
find someone who attempts to manage the complexity of any or all
those situations in their head.
Im here to tell you its impossible to do so and be successful over the
long haul.

Lesson #1: Create Systems


Now, before you pass judgment, I want you to consider this notion.
This garage is symbolic of what is going on in your head at this very
moment and how you attempt to deal with the challenging aspects of
your life.
You dump everything into one area, a pile here for bills and debt
management, a pile there for family and spouse and children and hope
that somehow it will magically sort itself out so you get out of debt,
become more patient with your children and spend more quality time
with your spouse.
It would be like dumping a pile of stuff in that garage, closing the door
and hoping that the next time you open it the chaos has vanished and
all that remains is a beautifully organized space that will never again
look like an episode of Hoarders.
But here is the thing. You are not equipped to manage the complexity
of your life in your head. No one is.

So What Is The Fix?

Cleaning up the parts of your life that arent functioning as you want
them to is no different than what is required to get that garage in order.
You need to get out of your head and create a system that requires little
investment on your part to manage once you have spent the time
required to devise something that will work.
As you will see in the next section, what you need to create is a system
that contains a rumble strip.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

Realize that the current state of your mind in most areas
of your life is on par with garage and nothing good can
come from something in that state. The solution is to start
building systems that get you out of your head.

Lesson#2: Implement Rumble Strips

I still remember this like it was yesterday.
I was in my final year of high school when I learned that someone I
knew was killed in a car crash.
This guy was a few years older than I was and just the nicest guy you
would ever want to meet. One day while making the long trek to the
university he was attending, he lost control of his car and was killed
It was uncertain whether or not he dozed off behind the wheel, but the
car had drifted over onto the gravel shoulder and then rolled several
I havent thought about that story in quite some time, but I was
reminded recently of the improvements that have been made to
prevent such things from happening today.
The previous set up on that particular stretch of highway had a white
line that indicated where your car should be in relation to the road.
The problem however is that solution was fuzzy.


So what are fuzzy solutions? They are solutions that dont really stand
out when you need them most.
In the case of driving, if someone starts to doze off behind the wheel, a
white line will do little to alert him or her they are drifting into
dangerous territory.
What is needed in such a scenario is a bright shiny solution that will
grab their attention immediately when they start to drift onto the
And thats where the rumble strip comes in. Rumble strips, also know
as sleeper lines or audible lines, are a road safety feature that alerts
drivers to danger by causing a tactile vibration and an audible rumbling
transmitted through the wheels into the body of the car the moment
the car drifts onto the strip.
Let me tell you, I have hit the rumble strip a few times and man on
man, that solution snaps you to attention in a hurry.

Applying The Rumble Strip Theory To Your Life

The reason rumble strips are so effective is that the solution is bright
and shiny. It is immediately clear that boundaries have been breached
and an immediate course correction is in order.
But we dont operate that way in our day-to-day lives.
Most of our solutions are fuzzy.
I will eat more healthy


I am going to try harder

I will have more willpower
I am going to exercise more regularly
I will control my spending

All of those above are fuzzy in nature because they lack any clear
Lets look at the first one; I will eat healthier. It sounds like a wonderful
idea, but it is extremely fuzzy. There is no rumble strip. How will you
know when you arent eating healthy?
I keep going back to this example, but my food log is so powerful
because I have a rumble strip attached to it.
Im not just recording my foods hoping a miracle happens and I
continue to make consistent healthy choices.
My rumble strip is my daily 100 gram carbohydrate limit. By recording
my foods daily, I see what my carb totals are. And when I go over my
threshold, my rumble strip is activated.
That immediately sends reverberations to my brain saying, OK you
veered off course today. What happened and how do you fix this to get
back on track tomorrow.
This is why data collection is so important. It is the only way to activate
your rumble strip.


What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

The systems you create will be as successful as the
rumble strip you have attached to it. Make it too fuzzy
and you wont even know you have drifted off course.
Pick the right one, and you have the power to make
immediate course corrections that avert disaster and
contribute to long-term success.

Lesson #3: Reclaiming Control Of Your Life

So Habit # 1 was designed specifically to help you re-imagine who you
can be and what you are capable of accomplishing.
So that leads us back to this thing people call willpower.
We have been led to believe that willpower is a kind of mystical power
that a few fortunate individuals on the planet have been blessed with.
But willpower is anything but magical.
I have discovered it has a framework that can lead to incredible results
in all areas of life whether you are trying to become an early riser, be a
more loving spouse, have more patience with your children, resist
foods that make you fat or carve out time to pursue other things you
have always wanted to do like playing guitar, learning a new language
or writing a book.
The remainder of this course will demystify willpower to show you its
nothing other than a powerful framework.


Here is summary of what the next five habits will help you to master.

Habit #1: Start By Deciding In Advance

You NEVER show up anywhere unprepared. Thats what amateurs do
and why they fail more often than not.
You decide long before you arrive anywhere how you are going to
behave. And in order to accomplish that you need to do the following.


Step #1: Pinpoint The Problem

You have to be crystal clear what problem you are trying to solve. That
may seem obvious, but many people never take the time to pinpoint the
problem that actually derails them.

Step #2: Determine The Outcome

This is a strategy Steven Covey talks about in The 7 Habits of Highly
Effective People. Know how things are going to look at the end, so you
can reverse engineer your success in the beginning.

Step #3: Shape Your Behavior

How will you know if you have been successful? In most cases you
wont. So create a clear set of indicators to assess whether you have
been successful or not.

Habit #2: Create A Plan For Success

How you devise your willpower plan is really no different than how a
coach would prepare his or her team for a big game. This is where you
are going to come up with the Xs and Os to a successful outcome.

Step #1: Identify Potential Hotspots

Setbacks are inevitable, so the capacity to tell ourselves the right story
about problems and obstacles is particularly important when we are
betting on ourselves.


Step #2: Script The Critical Moves

You have to identify those things that are most crucial to your success.
Being crystal clear will help navigate the obstacles you encounter.

Step #3: Create A Playbook

If you have ever watched a football game you will notice that coaches all
have a copy of their playbook in their hands. It has all the plays they
want to run for all possible situations. You need to devise your own
playbook so you are ready for every situation that comes your way.

Habit #3: Optimize Behavior Through Practice

This is one area that most people never consider when it comes to
mastering the art of willpower. But it is a skill no different than archery
and requires intelligent practice to master effectively.

Step #1: Perform Realistic Training

To perform under pressure requires that one practice under pressure as
well. The best form of practice is that done in an environment that best
simulates the one you will inhabit.

Step #2: Visualize Success

Studies show that the mind cannot distinguish between an imagined
environment and a real one. Visualization is one of the most powerful
tools we have at our disposal, so much so that elite athletes use it to
achieve optimal performance. Our challenge is no less important.


Step #3: Focus On Specifics

There are a series of actions that must take place for willpower to go
according to plan. The ability to see where the plan could go wrong and
focus on specifics to prevent these situations is an art that comes with
proper practice and coaching.

Habit #4: Remove Obstacles To Success

Its easier to attain success by removing those things that block us from
getting to our destination.

Step #1: Eliminate The Prescription Mindset

People are always looking for two or three simple steps to attain
But there is no blueprint for success. Each person has their own unique
path that needs to be crafted for their specific DNA.

Step #2: Avoid Extreme Solutions

Its easy to be seduced by plans that promote dramatic results.
But the unfortunate truth is that extreme solutions are not sustainable
long-term. They are just too taxing to get lasting results.

Step #3: Manufacture Courage

It is easy to get derailed while on your journey to achieve success.
But leaning in rather than away, practicing transparency and embracing
rather than hiding from your fears does wonders to foster courage.


Habit #5: Evaluate. Learn. Grow.

Reflection and self-assessment are the cornerstones to success and a life

Step #1: Evaluate The Outcome

Regardless of whether the outcome is positive or negative or
somewhere in between, it is essential to gather data so you are always
learning, always improving.

Step #2: Learn From Your Experience

More often then not, especially at the beginning, things are not going
to go as planned.
It is imperative to learn from your experience so you can right the ship
immediately should something similar happen again--and it will!

Step #3: Expand Your Skill Set

Every time you fall you have an opportunity to get up, dust yourself off
and update your strategy so the next time you are in that particular
situation a different, potentially better outcome is possible.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #3?

This is the system that will get you out of your head
and into something that is going to begin creating
positive results in any area of your life where you are
currently struggling, whether you are want to start
writing everyday, become an early riser, or
consistently resist foods that make you fat.

If you commit to learn the system and put it to use you will discover
that things you often struggled doing will start to happen
automatically and consistently allowing you to make smart
decisions time and again without even thinking about them.
And when you get to that phase you will have achieved a level of
mastery that you once thought was impossible to attain.

For Your Consideration

Pick an area where you have really been struggling? Are the
solutions you have attempted to implement fuzzy or bright and
shiny. And FYI, if you are struggling then the solutions are fuzzy.
What ideas can you come up with to create a rumble strip of your
own that will help right the ship quickly.
The SCORE method is the path to get out of your head and start
building willpower. It is no accident I have called it SCORE. It is a
mnemonic device to help you easily navigate the steps.
Commit the steps to memory so you can trouble shoot on the fly.


The 5 Habits
Start by deciding in advance
Create a blueprint for success
Optimize performance
through practice

Remove Obstacles to Success

Evaluate. Learn. Grow.


Part 2
The S.c.o.r.e.

S .C .O .R .E
Habit #1:
Start by deciding in advance
Pinpoint the problem
Determine the outcome
Shape your behavior

Pinpoint the problem

If you have been struggling with something for a significant

period of time, then it is clear that you have not yet been able to
pinpoint the exact problem.
So before I dive into todays lesson, I would like to lay the foundation
for a habit that is crucial to building willpower: Review and reflection.
Study anyone who exhibits incredible self-control in any area of their
life, whether its time management, weight management or patience
and you will discover that they are constantly reviewing their results to
ensure they are in line with the expectations set.


This course is no different. You should not assume that because you
read or listened to the previous lessons that you now have them
mastered. Nothing could be further from the truth. Willpower operates
under the same principles as learning how to play guitar. Neither will
improve because you read a how-to book.
Mastery begins when you refer back to lessons constantly and make
time to deliberately practice what you have learned.
So Habit #1 had a very specific purpose. It was intended to send a
strong message that you have incredible power to change your reality if
you so desire.
It is not easy, but with the right efforts it is highly probable that anyone
committed to putting in the time and doing the required work on the
front end, is going to reap the tremendous rewards on the back end for
years to come.
In Big Idea #1, the message was simple. You can teach yourself anything
regardless of your past circumstances, age, educational background or
current skill set.
In fact, I used to think my age was a detriment, but I now see it as a
tremendous advantage. If I can teach myself new habits and skills after
the age of 47 then why cant someone do it at 50, 55 or 60.
In Big Idea #2, I hammer home the point that conventional wisdom is
wrong. Big changes come from small behavior changes. Making your
bed everyday may not seem like much, but the peace of mind that


comes from a neat and tidy room has a surprisingly strong impact on
every other aspect of your life.
And in Big Idea #3, I share another idea that is crucial to your success.
You need to get out of your head if you are going to effectively manage
the important areas of your life.
People who attempt to manage the complexity of their life in their
heads get beat down pretty severely in the long.
And the only way to get out of your head is to create systems.

The SCORE Method

And that led to my creating the SCORE method. I grew frustrated with
the fact that people who were successful really had little understanding
of their success. As a result, they were dishing out advice that was
Telling people to work harder or to be disciplined means nothing if you
dont teach them a system to do so. Its like telling people they have to
be organized. If they knew how to be organized then they would
already be doing it. Telling them to be organized is like speaking louder
to someone who does not understand English.
So I have spent the last couple of years learning from my own
experiences and those of others who were consistently accomplishing
amazing things.
What I will dive into over the next five modules are the key building
blocks to the SCORE method. That will be your salvation when it

comes to building incredible self-control in any area of your life that

you desire.
It is a system that will allow you to navigate the hotspots in your life.
Think of it as a checklist that you can use to ensure things go smoothly.
And if things dont go according to plan the great news from this point
onward is that you no longer will default to blaming yourself.
You will be able to instantly run through the system to see where the
leak occurred (notice I said leak and not failure), repair it and then have
the confidence to know that you will be ready to face down that
situation next time around.
So lets get to it, shall we?

Lesson #1: Can You Decide To Be More Generous?

Sasha Dichter looks like a character from the future. His head is
completely shaved. His skin color is pale and is sharply contrasted by his
tendency to shroud himself in dark clothing.
He is the director of business development at the Acumen Fund; a nonprofit Venture Capitalist for enterprises that serve the poor.
In a TED Talk he gave in 2009, Dichter talked about a moment where
he realized he was at odds with his value system.
He worked for a non-profit that was founded on the principle of
generosity and yet in his day-to-day life, he was not as generous as he
felt he should be.


Conflicted by an extremely inconsistent value system, he decided he

was going to be more generous.
Now I would like to pause for a moment to highlight a common mistake
most people make.
Few would have gone no further than the declaration of wanting to be
more generous.
In fact, it resembles something you would see on a New Years resolution
list. It sounds really impressive. Be more generous!
But remember what I mentioned previously. Resolutions fail because
they are outcome-based and outcomes are not actionable in and of
To bring an outcome to life, you need to create a specific set of
behaviors that you can act upon.
Fortunately, Dichter did just that. He decided to create a one-month
project, where he would focus solely on being more generous.
But what fascinated me the most about his experiment that I will delve
into in the next section was the fact that in order to know where he
wanted to end up, he had to identify what the real problem was to
begin with.


What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

Well there are two.
First, I wanted to point out that being generous is an
act of willpower. Its easier to say no. Its easier to walk
by someone and ignore his or her plea. Its easier to
divert eye contact as if the person asking didnt exist.
Second, I want you to remember that willpower is required
everywhere. It takes willpower to remember to put your wallet and
keys in the same place each day so you can easily find them. It takes
willpower to turn off your phone when you are driving and even
more willpower to turn it off when you are having a conversation
with other people so you are not checking it every 15 seconds.

Lesson #2: Pinpoint The Problem

So if we go back to Dichters experiment, he had to pinpoint exactly
what the problem was with his current generosity model.
Now that may seem obvious, but few people ever really take the time to
figure out what the root cause is.
Let me jump back to the garage example from Big Idea #3. It is easy to
focus on the chaos and miss the root of that problem. There is no
discernible system in place to determine what is allowed in the garage
and what isnt.
You cant stop the bleeding as they say, if you dont first stop and figure
out what is causing the problem to begin with. Failure to do so would
be like applying a band-aid to a broken leg. To the untrained eye it

looks like a solution when in reality it does nothing at all to correct the
For Dichter, the problem boiled down to the fact that he had
conditioned himself to say No to people who were asking for handouts.
That was the root of the problem. With that determined, he could now
create a system to by-pass his conditioning. And that is exactly what he did.
The new rules of his game determined that he had to say YES to anyone
who asked for money no matter who it was. He could not say no and he
was required to do this for an entire month.
So let me pause for a moment to point out another observation.
Did you happen to notice that Dichters solution is a bright shiny one
with a built-in rumble strip?
There is no ambiguity. There is no room for negotiation. There is no
wiggle room for other possible alternatives. He has to say yes if
someone asks for money.
It is like my food log. I didnt just say I wanted to eat healthier. I said
that each day I would come in under 100g of carbs. BOOM! Instant
rumble strip.


What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

If you have been struggling with something for a
significant period of time, then it is clear that you
have not yet been able to pinpoint the exact problem.
This is understandable. Many people jump to the
wrong conclusions, usually defaulting to character flaws. But as you
already know, that does not solve the problem.
What you need to begin to develop is a strategic method to comb
through your current data and pinpoint the specific problem that
needs to be addressed.

Lesson #3: How To Pinpoint A Problem?

Now most courses would have stopped with that previous section and
left you on your own to flail and thrash around trying to figure out
what to do next.
But not here my friend! Im going to give you some strategies on how to
try and pinpoint a problem by sharing a couple of personal case studies.

Case Study #1: What Is Going On Here That I Am Not

Before I jump into this, keep in mind the principle from this example
can easily apply to any area you are struggling with so dont dismiss it
because you dont have an email issue.
So when I was attempting to get my email inbox under control I made
the mistake of thinking the problem was the emails themselves.

So I would spend 3 hours emptying my inbox thinking I had the

problem solved.
But the problem would return again and again. Unfortunately, I was
about as smart as a bag of rocks back then and was not able to
strategically navigate my way through the mess.
The problem was not the emails. The problem was I did not know how
to handle certain emails. And so I would just leave them thinking I
would come back and deal with them later, which of course I never did.
But once I understood that there are really only 6 kinds of email I get
and worked through how I would deal with each, my inbox problem
went away.
What I find helpful when I am having difficulty pinpointing a problem
is to ask, What is going on here that I am not seeing?
I find that helps me wade through the superficial stuff that my mind
gravitates to by default.
It helps me focus on the other causes that are lurking just below the surface.

Case Study #2: How Do I Stop The Bleeding?

So let me ask you a question. What do you think the real problem is
with the garage example from Big Idea #3?
Most people will jump to the obvious conclusion and think the problem
is the junk inside.


That is certainly a problem that must be dealt with, but here is another
strategy to use to pin point the problem. What has to be done to stop
the bleeding?
In other words, dont focus on the stuff in the garage because that wont
stop the bleeding.
What would?
Ironically the rules for managing an inbox and a garage are virtually the
And one strategy I use to manage my inbox is that I am very deliberate
about the blogs I subscribe to. There arent many that I do, and if I
subscribe to some and find I am not reading them, then I quickly
In other words, I make decisions on things before they ever have a
chance to get to my inbox.
In the garage example, deciding what to do with something that is
already in there is too late. You need to become adept at making
decisions at the earliest stages possible.
And in order to do that, you have to be crystal clear what the purpose
for the garage is. Until that is determined, it simply acts like a big
dumping ground for anything and everything.


What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #3?

I have outlined a few strategies to help you pinpoint the
real problem in any given situation. There are definitely
others. Dont be afraid to use your creative talents to
come up with your own ways to pinpoint problems.

For Your Consideration

Willpower is contagious. Once you practice it in one area, it tends
to carryover into other parts of your life. Could you come up with
a small experiment to build willpower?
Here is a suggestion. I have been working on putting my wallet and
keys and outgoing mail in the same place each day. I put a small
wooden box by my door. I am training myself to immediately empty
my pockets upon entering the house and putting everything in the box.
What experiment could you create that is easy to set up that
would help you begin practicing willpower?
If you have a persistent problem that has lasted years or decades
then the good news is you now know you have yet to identify the
real problem. Set aside some time and start proposing additional
theories to test what the real problem may be.
Like the garage example above, people tend to attack weight gain
by focusing on the weight gained neglecting to stop the bleeding.
I recently had a problem where my toilet was overflowing do to a
plugged drain. Putting towels on the floor did not stop the water
from gushing out of the toilet. Running over and turning off the
water to the house stopped the bleeding. When that was settled
then I was able to address the mess I had.

So for example, if weight gain is an issue, what are some small

steps to begin the process of stopping the bleeding?
Feel free to extend the analogy to other areas like time management
and new skill development as well.


Determine the outcome

Its impossible to change your behavior if you dont know what

the end result is supposed to look like.
In Big Idea #4 I talked about why it is next to impossible to change an
undesirable situation if you are unable to pinpoint the root cause of the
For example, its easy to think that road rage is really about other
drivers. But that is not the root cause of road rage. There are other
underlying factors that have little to do with other people. Until that
root cause is determined the problem will continue to persist.


So before we move onto to todays Big Idea, I did want to mention two
additional things on the topic of pinpointing a problem.
First, finding the root cause of a problem can be elusive when emotions,
social pressures and evolution are at play. It is one of the reasons that
weight loss is so difficult.
Contrary to the quacks who make it sound simple, it is complicated by
the fact that success and failure elicits strong emotional responses that
drive our behaviors. We are also battling our evolution as well.
Food was not always plentiful. For thousands of years, scarcity of food
sources was common and the body would go into starvation mode to
protect itself. When we attempt to diet our way out of weight issues,
we bring that evolution into play.
That makes things extremely complicated, especially when we dont
realize such elements are actually working against us.
Also, problems that come with strong emotional ties are much more
challenging to pinpoint and will require a series of trial and error
experiments to slowly narrow down its root.
That could take weeks or many months.
Second, just because you pinpoint a problem, in no way means the
solution will be easy to do consistently. Again emotions, evolution and
social norms make this challenging.


Not overreacting to your child, who has opted to have a meltdown

because you wont get them the candy they feel they deserve, is not easy
when you are in a public space.
One time, while waiting in line at Starbucks for my daily caffeine
infusion, I watched a father handle this brilliantly when his son started
screeching because he could not have a treat.
The father calmly looked at the rest of us in line and said, Does anyone
know who this child belongs to? It was hilarious, but it was quite
impressive that he was able to model the behaviors he was trying to teach.
But parenting, like weight loss and time management is not an exact
science. Things change quickly and life sometimes gets the better of us
even when we know what to do. We will talk about this in a later Big
Idea, but knowing how to recover will be a critical skill to master on
the journey to building willpower.
So lets dig into Big Idea #5: Determine The Outcome.
Its impossible to change your behavior if you dont know what the end
result is supposed to look like.
It is great to say that you want to become more effective at managing
your time, but if you cant state what that would look like in all aspects
of your life, then it will most certainly not come to pass.
The same holds true for people who want to write a book, find their
purpose or learn a new language.


Success will continue to be sporadic until you leverage a strategy

perfected by Nobel Prize winner Mohammad Yunus, who is the
founder of the Grameen Bank and author of the bestseller, Banker to
The Poor.

Lesson #1: Get Crystal Clear On What The Final

Destination Looks Like
Mohammad Yunus is considered by many to be the founder of the
microcredit movement.
Back in 1976, Yunus started giving out micro-loans to the poor in his
city of Bangladesh. The beginnings were humble. His goal was to help a
few people pull themselves out of the cycle of poverty that they found
themselves trapped in.
As the vision began to grow, he was able to help more people get the
loans they needed to finance the business ideas they had.
But what wasnt clear was how someone would know that they pulled
themselves out of poverty?
It is one thing to say you want to reduce poverty, or lose weight, or
spend less, but its quite another to be crystal clear what that looks like
upon arrival.
And that brings up an interesting dilemma on this journey to building
willpower. How do you get clear on a destination that is fuzzy?
In Yunus case, he interviewed those who were in the early stages of
their transition out of poverty to find out what it would mean to them.

He then complied a list of 10 indicators that would be used by his

organization to help future loan borrowers get crystal clear on what
their destination would look like.
I would like to jump in for a moment to highlight a seldom used, but
powerful strategy when dealing with fuzzy outcomes: interviews.
Interviewing other people is one of the fastest ways to exponentially
increase your learning curve and help you get a clearer picture of where
it is you are trying to go.
Jason Fried over at 37 Signals has a question that he asks everyone he
meets. Where do you do your best work?
Fried has long believed that the traditional work environment does not
allow people to do their best work. The answers he has collected over
the years have been turned into a TED Talk: Why work doesnt happen
at work.
It has also shaped the way the company has designed their physical
workspace as well, with areas designated for conversation and others
designated for quiet work. The whole company functions exactly like a
As Fried explains, Everyone knows how to behave in a library. You
keep quiet or whisper. You respect peoples personal space. You dont
interrupt people who are reading or working, learning or studying.
And if you need to have a full-volume conversation, you hit a private


What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

Lots of the outcomes we are hoping to attain are often
extremely fuzzy in nature. Success is virtually
impossible with fuzzy outcomes. Some examples of
fuzzy outcomes include:

I want to be a better communicator

I want to exercise regularly
I want to be more productive
I want to be more generous

All of those sound sexy, but none of them clearly state what the
final destination looks like.
Take a page from Jason Frieds book and come up with a single
question that captures the thing you are most interested in getting a
handle on and lead with that when you meet anyone who appears to
be getting results in that area.
You will be amazed at what you will begin to discover.

Lesson #2: Dig Deep And Get Specific

Jim Green was about as unassuming a guy as you could imagine. He was
not who I expected to see when I walked into my free course I was
taking on Improving Classroom Management.
He was in his mid-fifties, wore glasses and was very soft-spoken. He
looked like he moonlighted as a librarian.


Needless to say I had no idea that I would learn something from him
that would forever change my approach to education.
It turned out Green was one of those teachers who got all the problem
kids placed in his class. Those were the kids that were characterized by
other teachers as being un-teachable, in need of a straight jacket and a
daily diet of Ritalin.
And yet, when these kids were placed in Greens class, they flourished.
How could this possibly be?
Well it turns out that Jim Green was not your typical teacher.
Building incredible willpower, as you have begun to see, is not
something that happens accidentally, even if others dont really
understand why they have been successful.
It is a very deliberate process that starts with the end in mind. You get
really clear on what the outcome will look like. Once that has come into
focus then you begin to work on the specifics of what that would look like.
And that takes us back to Jim Greens story.
As I mentioned, he was not your typical teacher. The typical teacher
(that included me at that time) had a limited arsenal of classroom
management techniques, which were fuzzy at best.
When students were ineffective in group work activities, teachers
would lecture the class on the importance of cooperation. When
instructions were not followed the students were told of the


importance of listening. And when students acted in appropriately, they

were sent to the office.
It was Greens belief that the unruly kids simply lacked the specific
social skills needed to be successful in a classroom.
So rather than assume students knew how to cooperate, listen or respect
one another, he opted to teach them the specifics of these soft skills by
breaking things down into what they looked like and sounded like.
So instead of telling his students to cooperate, he would teach a formal
lesson on cooperation. He would divide a sheet of chart paper in two.
On one side he would write, Looks like On the other he would write,
Sounds like.
He would then engage the class for suggestions. Once they the columns
were filled, he would then model the behavior for his students using the
answers they had just provided.
He would select a few volunteers to work together at a cluster of desks.
The rest of the class would gather around to watch and listen and
provide feedback on what was and wasnt working .
Each morning they would review the skill they had learned so it was
fresh in their minds. The following week he would teach them a new
skill going through the entire process again.
Green did this with every skill imaginable from being on time, to
coming prepared for class, to strategies on how to complete homework
at home.

The brilliance of Greens approach was the fact that he dug into the
specifics where others leaned on generalities. As a result, those students
who were once thought of as lost causes were able to shine.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

Most of the advice that you have been following has
been fuzzy at best. Be disciplined, exercise regularly, go
to bed early, eat healthy, be productive are all fuzzy.
You cant act on fuzzy. Fuzzy needs to be broken down
into its components. For example, what does Go to be early look
like? Well it might start with logging off your electronic devices by
9pm. That might mean the TV is off at that time as well. It could also
mean that you dim the lights in the rest of the house.
And it might mean being in your bed at 9:30pm with a book or a
journal or anything else that tickles your fancy. And it might mean
lights out at 10pm.
As you are beginning to see, getting clear on the outcome requires
you to immerse yourself in the specifics.

Lesson #3: Create Indicators

So a common resolution people like to list is to get out of debt. That, as
you know, is a very fuzzy goal that, in its current state, is not
It requires some specifics that focus on short-term actions that will
contribute to the long-term vision. So that might include things like:


consolidating all loans

getting an improved interest rate
creating a monthly budget that lets you know where your money
should be going
putting your credit card in water and placing it in the freezer so
you wont be tempted to use it on impulse buys.
All those are specifics that will help you work towards your desired
But that takes us to another issue people never really anticipate. How
will you know when you have reached your desired outcome?
And to help with the answer to that we will return to our friend
Mohammed Yunus.
You will recall that he had a similar dilemma. He wanted his borrowers
to have a very clear picture of how they would know they had pulled
themselves out of poverty.
So he came up with a set of 10 indicators based on interviews that he
Some of those indicators included things like
Having a house with a tin roof
Having sufficient income opportunities for all household members
Having access to clean drinking water


The indicators took away any doubt as to whether the goals had been
met. More important they helped create a very clear picture of what the
final outcome would look like.
You will be required to do something similar in your area of struggle.
Lets say one of your goals was to spend more quality time with your
kids. What does that outcome look like? What indicators would
suggest you have reached that desired outcome?
Indicators are important on the journey to building willpower, but keep
in mind that they are organic in nature and will evolve over time as you
grow and learn.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #3?

Leverage indicators in those areas that are troubling
you most. They are hard to determine in the beginning,
but the more time you devote to getting clear on what
they are, the more clear your journey becomes.

For Your Consideration

Consider reading Banker to The Poor. It is a wonderful story of
change and the principles Yunus discusses could be applied to any
area of your life.
Reflect on some of your relationships that arent working quite the
way you were hoping they would work. Is it possible that your
communication leans heavily on fuzzy tactics? If so, what could
you do to be more specific and clear?


Consider asking people how they know when they have achieved
success in a particular area of their life. Im fairly certain that most
wont be able to answer it immediately, but if they are able to give
it some thought, you might pick up some valuable strategies that
you can apply to the various areas of your life.


Shape your behavior

The absence of boundaries creates chaos. Once you begin to

introduce them however, you begin to see how your freedom begins
to expand.
So here is a quick recap of what we have learned so far.
In Big Idea #4: Pinpoint The Problem, I talked about the fact that
problems that persist for months, years or even decades do so because
the root cause has never been identified.
Finding a root cause for a problem can be elusive, especially when
emotions are at play. Without the root cause however, finding a
solution is near impossible.

In Big Idea #5: Determine The Outcome, I talked about the importance
of knowing what the end goal will look like. You need to be able to
generate a really clear picture in your mind or on a vision board of the
place you want to end up.
For instance, one of the destinations I have relates to my speaking
career. The pinnacle would be to speak at TED, the main event.
Rather than rely solely on my imagination, a friend helped bring the
vision to life by photoshopping my body into a TED main event image.
I refer to this often when I reflect on where I plan to be with my
speaking career.
And that leads us into Big Idea #6: Shape Your Behavior.
Before I jump into the specifics of this Big Idea, I want to make it clear
that there are a variety of ways to apply the SCORE framework.
You can apply it in a general fashion to the totality of your life. Or you
can apply it to specific problems, regardless of how big or small the
challenge may be.
For example, I will apply the framework to something that has a closed
loop. When I say closed loop, I am referring to the fact that the
problem I am working on has a timeline that will come to an end at
some clearly defined point.
When I design a course for example, it has a clearly defined start and
end date.


The bigger more challenging areas of my life that I incorporate this

framework into tend to be with things that have no expiry date. These
are considered open loop.
For instance, my weight issues are open loop. These are not going to be
fixed in a 30, 60 or 90-day window. I now understand I am in it for the
long haul.
So the loop is always open. Other areas that include open loop systems
would be:

Issues around willpower and self-control
Financial stability
Positive self-esteem

So here is an unofficial takeaway for you. When you are looking to get
control of an area of your life that isnt where you want it to be,
determine if is an open or closed loop.
Just be careful that you dont place it in the wrong category. I did that
with my food log. When I first started doing it, I thought it was a closed
loop system. I figured I would only have to do it for 3 or 4 months and
then I would magically continue to make the correct food choices
moving forward.


Once that loop closed I started putting weight back on again. It took me
another year to realize my mistake. I now understand it is an open loop
system that I cannot close if I want to continue to reap the benefits that
come with it.
Thats a great lesson for you as well.
So lets get into the nuts of bolts on how to shape your behavior.

Lesson #1: Create Boundaries

The older I get the more I recognize the importance of tightly
controlled boundaries.
That, by the way, is in direct contrast to conventional wisdom. People
are under the misconception that freedom is about having no restrictions.
But if you have children then you know just how flawed that logic is.
Kids raised without clear boundaries are, to put it bluntly, brats.
Watch any reality show where someone has to go in and try to undo
the mess some parents have created and you will see the same approach
each time.
They create structure with rules and guidelines that are strictly adhered to.
Building willpower in any area of your life is no different. The absence
of boundaries creates chaos. However, once you start introducing them
you begin to see how freedom begins to expand.
That is a hard concept to wrap your head around. I found it a bit mind
boggling myself. How can boundaries increase our freedom!?

Let me use my trusty food log to illustrate the point. Most find the idea
of a food log to be confining. I now find it to be the complete opposite.
It liberates me to make better choices.
When I dont log, I make bad choices that begin to have a cumulative
effect with each passing month. The side effect is weight gain.
And that weight gain wreaks havoc on other parts of my life, namely
my self-esteem and my confidence.
When I put on weight, I become self-conscious about how I look. I am
never comfortable in my clothes and suddenly I stop wearing things
that make me feel fat.
That impacts my confidence and how I interact with the world. I might
decline invitations for social events because deep down I not happy
about how I look. (I have done that by the way.)
If you read between the lines, you will observe that having the freedom
to eat whatever I want slowly narrows the life I live. I start living small,
even though I am not aware that is what is happening.
On the other hand, when I narrow my choices and track my foods, I
make better decisions, which in turn impacts the quality of the life I
lead. I feel great. I share my solutions online. I offer courses to help
other people. I have impact on the lives of others, who in turn have
impact of their own.
When I shrink my food choices, I end up living a BIGGER life.


What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

This is a difficult concept to grasp because it is so
counter-intuitive to anything we have been taught,
but have faith that it works. Well thought out
boundaries can serve to increase the quality of the life
you live. And the tighter and more clearly defined they
are, the bigger and more plentiful the life you live.

Lesson #2: Manufacture Awareness

This is my latest invented phrase that I have found truly invaluable on
my journey.
When I create boundaries for myself, I manufacture awareness. In fact,
it seems to be me that the key to all my success is awareness.
I truly believe that people really arent aware of many of the things they
are doing. But when you decide in advance and create boundaries to
bring a vision to life, you begin to create awareness.
Tony Wright is the founder of a web app called Rescue Time. As a
software developer, he found that most of his time was being used up in
other areas that had nothing to do with writing code.
His first attempt to manufacture awareness started with an Excel
spreadsheet. The goal was to manually log how much time he spent on
other websites, something he calls, The long tail of information porn.
What he discovered was the 2 or 3 minutes on other sites throughout
the day start to add up. A few minutes on Facebook, a few minutes on

email and a few minutes on YouTube start to accumulate over the

course of day.
In his own case, he discovered that he was spending about 2 hours and
30 minutes each day on sites that had nothing to do with his work.
So he created software to help him track his online behaviors. By doing
so, he was able to see not only how much time he was wasting each day,
but which sites were the most frequented. He was able to use the
feedback to decide how to be more efficient with those sites that were
pivotal to his life.
Rescue Time, as the name implies, shows people where they are
spending their time and how to rescue it.
That awareness allows people to create boundaries that allow for better
decisions moving forward on how to be more productive.
So that might lead to things like

No Facebook at work
Not checking email until 11am
Turning off IM devises
Turning off cell phones during certain hours

Again, all these boundaries actually begin to create freedom because

they open up more time to get work done.
And being productive allows people to live large. They can leave work
on time so they can spend more time doing the things that really inspire

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

Awareness is one of the most powerful tools to have
in your kit. People are always afraid of awareness
initially because they are afraid to have their feelings
hurt. Thats why the scale is such a dreaded device. But
awareness is invaluable to success in any area you are
looking to transform.

Lesson #3: Write A Manifesto

Gretchen Rubin loved her life. She loved her job as a writer. She loved
her husband and her two children. But she felt she could be happier.
So she decided to do a one-year happiness project where she would
focus on learning all she could about being happy.
Each month would have a theme based on her criteria for happiness.
January would focus on boosting energy. March would focus on work.
September would focus on pursing a passion.
But she also understood that there would be times she would waiver on
her project. She needed something that would anchor her when rocky
times ensued.
So she created a manifesto that encompassed 12 commandments.
These included:
Be Gretchen
Let it go
Act the way I want to feel

Do it now
Be polite and fair
Enjoy the process
Spend out
Identify the problem
Lighten up
Do what ought to be done
No calculation
There is only love

The list is not complicated, but it encompasses the various aspects of

her life.
They help shape her behavior in times of stress or unforeseen chaos.
The brilliance of a manifesto is it creates boundaries for our behavior. It
helps manufacture awareness when we need it most so we can improve
the decisions that we make.
And they can be used in a variety of areas.
Bruce Feiler wrote the New York Times bestseller, The secrets of
happy families. It turns out happy families dont happen by accident.
They too have a manifesto that shapes their behavior. Here is Feilers
family manifesto.

Dont rely solely on a family expert; talk to anyone whos an expert

in making groups run smoothly. Solutions are out thereyou just
have to go find them.





Empower the children: teach them executive skills by allowing

them to take a role in their own upbringing. Let them plan their
own time, set weekly goals, evaluate their own progress, suggest
rewards, and set appropriate punishments.
Parents arent perfect: break free from the all-knowing parent and
give everyone an equal say.
Build in flexibility: Evaluate and adaptand always remember its
okay to change.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #3?

When you start by deciding in advance, consider
creating a manifesto that will guide your behavior.
The best part of a manifesto is you have the flexibility
to create different ones for the various roles in your
life. You may have one that relates specifically to your
health. You can have one that ties into your family like Feiler has
done, or you can have on that relates to your work.
Just remember that a manifestos primary function is to create
boundaries, which in turn allows you to live a BIGGER better life.

For Your Consideration

Create your own manifesto in an area that is most troubling for you to
help shape your behavior. To help jump start your neurons; let me
share my weight loss manifesto.


Deans Weight Loss Manifesto

1. Collect Data
People who lose weight and sustain it collect tangible data that
provides immediate feedback. They log their foods, track their
weight and reflect on what is working and what isnt.

2. Have A Rumble Strip

Data collection means nothing if there are not clearly defined
boundaries to indicate when I have veered off course. Maintaining a
carb limit below 100 grams works very well for my body type.

3. Focus On Sustainable Behaviors

Dont violate the law of cause and effect. Weight loss is maintained
only as long as the behaviors are sustained. Stop the behavior (cause)
and lose the result (effect).

4. Be The Expert On Me
Every time I fail I have an opportunity to get an answer to the
question, Why do I do what I do? Never stop asking that question
or building my database of answers.

5. Recover Fast
Failure is not the problem. Failure to recover is. The quicker I accept
responsibility for veering off course, the quicker I get back on track
and reverse the damage done.

6. Customize Solutions


The solution has to fit into the context of my lifestyle. Do what I

need to do to make solutions that are catered to me.

7. Fault The System, Not The Person

95% of the time, my failure is a result of the system. Always be
troubleshooting to make it as infallible as humanly possible. Never
chalk it up to a character flaw.

8. Practice Forgiveness
Guilt is a wasted emotion. Im going to mess up. Put on my big boy
pants, accept responsibility, forgive myself and get into recovery mode.

9. Focus On Empirical Knowledge

Accept nothing as fact until I have tested an idea out on myself. Only
then can I say something works or doesnt work for my body type.
And if it doesnt, see ya!

10. Empower Others

Too many people are suffering, falsely believing they are to blame.
Share what I know and create a movement to empower people
everywhere to transform their bodies and their lives.
Keep in mind this is an organic document. It will grow and evolve over
time. Use this as your starting point.


S .C .O .R .E .
Habit #2:
Create a blueprint
for success
Identify potential hot spots
Adopt the use of checklists
Create plays


Einstein did not simply read bookshe took them apart, rigorously
analyzed them, and learned valuable lessons he could apply to his
own life. Robert Greene from his book Mastery
So if you are looking to build incredible willpower in any area of your
life, the first step is to Start by deciding what the outcome is in
Once you are clear on what the desired outcome is, the next step in the
SCORE method is to Create a blueprint for success. This may seem
obvious, but few people ever take the time to work through the process
of a difficult problem to ensure they achieve the desired outcome.

But to be fair, as far as I am aware, no one has ever taken the time to
decode what those required steps are, until now that is!

Going In Cold
So before we break down the lessons for todays Big Idea, lets first do a
quick lesson on why people fail when it comes to their willpower.
The biggest reason, hands down, is that people enter into difficult
situations cold.
When I say cold, I mean that they wander into challenging scenarios
completely unprepared, relying heavily on luck or some other higher
power to guide them to a favorable outcome.
Thats an amateur move however. A willpower professional (someone
who can consistently makes the correct choices in challenging
environments) does not rely on luck. They create their own luck by
taking a few moments to think ahead and anticipate sticky spots that
may potentially trip them up and come up with a blueprint that will
allow them to navigate the danger successfully.
The good news is that an amateur can quickly graduate to pro-status by
learning how to create a thorough blueprint with the adoption of 3
additional Big Ideas.
Identify Potential Hotspots
Script The Critical Moves
Create Plays


Over the next 3 lessons I am going to breakdown each of these

components so that you will never again enter into dicey situations
without a blueprint for success.
So lets charge head first with Big Idea #7: Identify potential hotspots.
So imagine this scenario. Its the Christmas season and you have been
invited to your best friends annual party. You love the party, but every
year that you have attended in the past, you end up indulging way more
than you should. The worst part is that party seems to set you off on
path that you are unable to recover from. Suddenly, January 1st has
arrived and those jeans are now snug as a bug. You look like a rock star
from the 1980s.
What do you do?
The first option is simply not to attend the party. I know lots of people
are in favor of avoidance when it comes to exercising willpower, but
not going causes us to begin living a very small life.
I dont know about you, but I want to live LARGE. I dont want to be
cutting down my experiences in life. I want to be increasing them and
experiencing as much as I can. I want to go to that Christmas party and
have a blast and wake up the next day proud that I did not violate any of
my principles.
So how do we do that? Well we steal a page from the Albert Einstein


Lesson #1: Tear Situations Apart

Einsteins story fascinates me because his rise to success was anything
but ordinary.
In his book, Mastery Robert Greene detailed some of the
characteristics that made Einstein extraordinary. Before I detail some of
those characteristics, keep in mind that what I am about to share are
habits you can adopt as well.
Dont dismiss them because you think Einstein was something you are
not. Einstein often downplayed his extraordinary achievements stating
they were more a result of his discipline and willpower than they were
his intellect.
He attributed much of his success to the fact that he was willing to
work much longer on a problem than most other people.
Imagine, for example, if weight loss was a challenge for you and you
adopted this mindset? What could you accomplish if you were willing
to work on that problem longer than most others? What kind of results
could you generate and where would that take you on your journey to
live life large.
The creation of this course is a perfect example of the Einstein principle
at work. I have spent the past few years unraveling the willpower code
so I could master it in my own life and then teach what I discovered so
others could do the same.


So lets circle back to Greenes discoveries on Einstein. There were

several that really stood out to me, but one of the most compelling was
the fact that Einstein did not simply read bookshe took them apart,
rigorously analyzed them, and learned valuable lessons he could apply
to his own life.
By the way, thats exactly how you need to treat this course. Its not
about reading the lessons and listening to the audio and then checking
them off your to do list.
This is about absorbing the material on a core level. Its about reading
and re-reading and connecting the dots to the parts of your life where a
light has come on. Its about internalizing the information and turning
it into something that will dramatically enhance the quality of your life.
And that same approach should be used to assess past failures. Think
back the last time you didnt eat the way you intended?
A typical person will do the following:

Feel guilty
Berate themselves for not having more willpower
Chalk it up to a character flaw
Cry themselves to sleep (OK that last one is optional)

The only part of that equation that is normal is the feeling guilty part.
We all feel guilty when we dont do what we are supposed to do.
But guilt should act as our trigger to go all Einstein on our failure and
tear it down into pieces to understand why things did fall apart.

Your salvation lies in your ability to use guilt as a trigger to reveal clues
that will lead to a potentially more favorable outcome next time.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

Steal from Einstein. Recognize that past failures are
indications of hotspots and the best time to learn from
them those is immediately after they have happened.
Leave no stone unturned to see what the triggers may be.
Was it a person? Was it something that was said? Was it lack of
There is a goldmine of information just waiting to be discovered on
why you do what you do if you are willing to tear into those hotspots
and uncover the gems.

Lesson #2: Predict The Future

It is clearly a beneficial practice to dissect past failures to uncover potential
hotspots we may not have identified previously, but experiencing
failure is not the only way to learn.
Another invaluable strategy is to try and predict the potential hotspots
you may encounter.
This is how author Steven Pressfield ends every writing session he has.
He saves his work onto his hard drive. He saves another copy on an
external hard drive just in case something should happen to his
computer and he saves a third copy on another drive that he keeps in


the glove compartment of his truck just in case his house burns down
or his items are stolen.
By predicting potential hotspots in advance, he is prepared should they
arise. If they dont come to pass, then there is no harm done. But if the
worst-case scenario should become reality, he is prepared.
Building willpower functions exactly like Pressfield saving his work. Its
about anticipating the worst-case scenarios that could happen and
having a plan in place that will help you successfully fend off anything
that is looking to derail you.
So lets revisit that Christmas party. What are all the possible hotspots
that could prevent you from eating cleanly?
Well one is alcohol. People always ask me whether they should remove
alcohol from their diet when they are attempting to lose weight.
My response is always the same. Unless you are a heavy drinker, it isnt
the calories you need to worry about. Alcohol affects your judgment
and your willpower.
Another hotspot people often overlook is other people. Will there be
people there who will adversely affect you?
Which friends dont understand, No means NO and are going to
tempt you endlessly with foods you are looking to avoid.
And will there be people there that stress you out and cause you to hit
the wine coolers or the dessert table as a coping mechanism.


And lets not forget about the food that will be available. What do you
think is going to be there that is going to cause problems and how do
you think you might deal with it?
If you are the kind of person who has a hard time saying no (and most
are) have you thought through how you are going to decline those
things you do not want?
As you can see there are a number of hotspots that can and should be
considered in advance of showing up.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

The more thorough you are with predicting all the
possible scenarios you might encounter that could
lead to a result you do not want, the more likely you
will be able to successfully put a plan in place to fend
it off and have success.

Lesson #3: Do Your Homework

Here is a question I get asked a lot. How do you eat out and still eat a
paleo diet? Its easy. I do my homework in advance.
If I am invited to a restaurant that I have never been too before I go
online and search their menu. Almost every reputable restaurant has
their menu available online.
I remember the very first time I implemented this strategy. I was
invited to dinner and the chosen destination was a pizzeria.


Right away I identified four hotspots. One. We would be having drinks

so I was going to have to decide in advance how to deal with that before
I showed up.
Two. I was pretty sure everyone else was going to be ordering pizza. I
was quite concerned because I love pizza but it makes me fat.
Three. There was going to be free bread available. I love bread but that
makes me really fat.
In the past, I was the guy who would eat all the bread at the table. It
wasnt a pretty sight to see a guy in his forties with breadcrumbs all
over his dress shirt.
Four. Im also the leftover guy. What I mean by that is I cant let food
go to waste so I will clear off the plates of everyone else. I suspect I was
a dog in another life.
By deciding what my potential hotspots were going to be in advance, I
was able to put a plan in place 24 hours before I arrived at the
restaurant. I went online and browsed the menu so that I knew what I
was going to order. I also knew how I would handle the drinks and the
baskets of bread. And I had visualized saying, No thank you to the
potential leftovers I might be tempted to devour.

So What Is Our Takeaway From Lesson #3?

Do your homework. Almost any situation that
requires willpower or discipline can be handled
successfully by doing the work ahead of time.
Reading case studies about others experiences,

visiting places in advance, calling ahead, and asking questions are all
strategies that work extremely well to identify potential hotspots
that might be tempted to knock you off stride if you were not

For Your Consideration

Pick an area in your life that seems to constantly get the better of you.
Spend some time tearing the situation apart and make a list of the
hotspots you discover.
What areas get the better of you when it comes to eating healthy?
What about relationships? How well do you handle difficult
conversations? When do you seem to lose it? When do you find
your feelings get hurt?
Because I make my living online, one real hotspot I am prepared
for is negative reviews. But a bigger one is death threats. Almost
everyone who makes any kind of name for themselves online is
going to get one unfortunately.
Thankfully, I have not received one yet, but if I do I already know
how I am going to respond.
Hotspots tend to have patterns that keep recurring.
For instance, stress elicits certain types of behavior. If you find
yourself binging for example, it may have nothing to do with the
food itself, but rather a particular situation or person or mental
queue that is setting it off.
See if you cant find a recurring pattern that might unravel a series of
troubling behaviors in other seemingly unrelated areas of your life.

Study other people

Find ways to tap into other people and how they handle situations
that you are struggling with.
I love to ask people how they use their time. One of the best answers I
ever got was from Ben Greenfield who might be the most productive
person I have ever known.
It was fascinating to learn how he works. He divides his week up into
themes. Monday is blog post day. Tuesday is podcast day. Wednesday is
guest post day etc. By seeing how other people are productive I am able
to address some of my own hotspots.
Who could you talk to or read about to help you tap into some of your


Adopt the use of checklists

People overestimate how reliable memory is. Studies show that

it is incredibly unreliable, especially in times of stress.
Peter Pronovost, a critical care specialist at John Hopkins Hospital
decided back in 2001 that he would create a doctors checklist.
While doctors and nurses do an incredible job saving lives, there were
still too many deaths or close calls that Pronovost believed were
preventable if there was a better system in place.
The challenge was to focus on only one preventable problem rather
than get pulled into a hundred different directions, which is not
difficult to do in an ICU ward.

He decided to focus on infection prevention around the administration

of a central line. For the non-doctors in the crowd, a central line is a
large catheter placed in the neck to administer medications or fluids
amongst other things.
This is obviously done for more complicated operations, so any
missteps in this procedure could be fatal.
Pronovosts goal was to come up with something that would eliminate
infections that commonly occurred when doctors were inserting the
central lines.
So on a plain sheet of paper he plotted out the five steps necessary to
avoid infection.
Doctors were supposed to:

Wash their hands with soap

Clean the patients skin with a specific kind of antiseptic
Put sterile drapes over the entire patient
Wear a mask, hat, sterile gown and gloves
Put a sterile dressing over the injection site once the lines were in

If there was a Dummies series for doctors, this would be one of the
sections in that book.
These steps were no-brainers.
Still Pronovost enlisted a group of nurses to observe doctors
performing this procedure over the next month and make note of how
often they carried out each step.

What he discovered was that in a 1/3 of the observed cases, doctors

skipped at least one step.
Now one step might not seem like a big deal, but in situations of life
and death, that could be the difference between death rather than life.
Encouraged by the possibilities, over the next year he gave nurses the
authority and backing required to stop doctors anytime they missed a step.
The results were nothing short of extraordinary. Over the course of the
year, infection line rates dropped from 11% to zero.
In one hospital that equated to forty-three fewer infections, eight saved
lives and a savings of two million dollars.
Clearly the checklist worked, but why?

Lesson #1: Do The Dumb Things

I mentioned previously that one of the myths out there that keeps
people from building willpower and achieving sustainable success in
any area of their life is this notion that big problems require big
The elegance of the example above lies in its simplicity. To prevent
infection and in extreme cases death, perform those five steps without fail.
And yet in one out of every three cases, at least one step was missed,
increasing the likelihood that infection could occur.


In other wards, forty-three additional infections, eight deaths and two

million dollars spent was the result when highly trained professionals
forgot to do the dumb things.
I want you to think about this for a moment. Highly educated and
impeccably trained professionals were forgetting to do simple things
that a person off the street could do with no formal training
So if highly trained professionals are forgetting to the dumb things that
could save lives and millions of dollars, is it not possible that willpower
could be enhanced dramatically if you were to ensure the dumb things
were being completed?
After I read that story about Dr. Pronovost, I began to reflect on my
own journey with weight loss. Was it possible that I had spent so much
time focusing on BIG solutions that I was completely overlooking the
dumb things that, if done consistently, could produce startling results?
So I started to make a list of those things that seemed like no-brainers
to me; dumb things that might have an impact on the decisions I was
making on a day-to-day basis.
Here were some of those dumb things I wrote down.

Do my dishes each day

Make my bed
Record my foods
Drink water
Look in the mirror

It is interesting that other than record my foods nothing else on that

list really has any direct application to weight loss.
But once I started focusing on those things, remarkable changes began
to happen.
So let me breakdown how these dumb things have helped me in the
weight loss department.

Do My Dishes Daily
I might be one of the few people in North America without a
dishwasher, so I have to wash my dishes by hand each day. At least that
is how it is supposed to play out in theory. But the reality was that I
could go two or three days without doing them.
But here is what I discovered when dishes start to pile up. The moment
I walk into the kitchen I feel overwhelmed by the pile I see before me.
And that overwhelm burns energy, a lot of energy that could be applied
to self-control I may need later on in other areas.
The mess also affected how I felt about my food choices as well. So
while it seemed like a dumb thing, if I kept my kitchen clean, my eating
was cleaner and more inline with my goals.

Make My Bed
Again this is a dumb one that seems to have nothing to do with weight
loss, but making my bed does three things that are important to the
greater cause.


One. It requires willpower to make my bed everyday and willpower is

contagious, so I look to leverage that little secret.
Two. A clean room creates order in my mind and that allows me to
make better choices in other areas of my life.
Three. I start my day off by immediately being able to check off one thing
I wanted to do. It is a great momentum starter for the rest of the day.
Record my foods
This was such an inconvenience when I first started doing it, because I
kept waiting for that day I would no longer have to do it.
But I now understand that dumb little three minute task I perform each
night, manufactures awareness that allows me to see how the days
choices worked out. That information arms me with the insight needed
to either self-correct or continue on the path I am on.

Drink Water
I think I might be part camel because it seems like I can go days without
drinking water. But water is such a vital component for flushing out
unwanted toxins that hinder weight loss.
Remembering to drink my water has the same effect as making my bed.
Adopting that willpower habit is contagious and positively impacts
other areas of my life.


Look In The Mirror

This might be the dumbest of all the things I do, but looking in the
mirror builds the habit of facing up to my challenges rather than hiding
from them.
When weight starts to creep back on, I go into hiding. I stop looking in
the mirror and I dress in slightly more baggie clothes to disguise the
weight gain.
Building the look in the mirror willpower habit everyday prevents me
from hiding. Hiding is what gets me in trouble because it stops me from
taking responsibility and jumping in to take corrective measures.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

If surgeons, who are some of the most highly skilled
people on the planet, are now using checklists to
remember to do the dumb things to ensure a
successful outcome, it might be time you looked to
implement a checklist to ensure you do the dumb
things in your life.

Lesson #2: Improve Your Baseline Performance

It was determined that a few fatal plane crashes that occurred in the
1970s were the result of pilots being distracted by idle chit chat that
had nothing do with the safe operation of the aircraft.
In response, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) implemented
something called The Sterile Cockpit Rule.


The rule had 3 conditions.

During take offs and landings, no member of the flight crew was
permitted to talk about anything other than what was required to
land the plane safely to ensure the plane took off safely.
No flight crew member was to engage in activities that did not
relate to the safe flying of the aircraft.
These rules were to be observed from ground level up until 10,000
feet or vise versa if the plane was preparing to land.
The Sterile Cockpit Rule continues to be in effect today and the reason
that checklist is so effective is that those three simple rules make it very
clear what is acceptable behavior and what isnt.
Putting it another way, they act to improve the overall baseline of
So if checklists are that powerful, why are we not using them more
frequently in our lives?
Well the checklist is not the BIG SEXY solution people think they need
and as a result many feel that it use is beneath them.
And because a checklist isnt a big solution it doesnt attract much
attention. When is the last time you heard the power of a checklist
being promoted for weight loss, or successful stock market investing or
to run a household?
You dont.


The other reason is that we underestimate the power of the dumb stuff.
It is so dumb that we just assume we will do it.
But the dumb stuff is the stuff that I believe messes us up more often
than not. And quite frankly, if you cant consistently perform the dumb
stuff, then there is definitely no way you are going to be able to
successfully implement the bigger stuff.

So What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

Successful implementation of a checklist improves
your baseline performance because it focuses on
another unsexy strategy: consistency.
Going back to the doctors checklist, the reason
infection rates dropped from 11% to zero was because all five steps
were done each and every time. A checklist promotes consistency.

Lesson #3: Script The Critical Moves

So hopefully I have begun to sway your opinion on the power of
I have one other argument as to why you should consider adopting one
pronto. It helps you script the critical moves that will generate
extraordinary results.
By scripting the critical moves you remove a few elements that derail
The first is forgetfulness.


People overestimate how reliable memory is. Studies show that it is

incredibly unreliable, especially in times of stress.
Thats why the airline industry is such a great organization to model
when it comes to validating the use of checklists. Their studies and
investigations have shown that in times of stress pilots forget to focus
on the important aspects at hand.
Pilots are now trained to pull out their checklists as soon as there is any
sign of trouble. It keeps them from getting distracted by things that
might endanger lives.
I mentioned that I have water on my checklist. I know water is
important to my health and yet in the past I have always forgotten to
drink enough. Now I have drink 2L of water on my daily checklist and
I dont forget any longer. I may have some nights where I have to
guzzle a liter of water before I go to bed, but the checklist ensures that I
always meet my quota.
The second reason to script the critical moves is that it helps prevent
paralysis. Its so easy to get overwhelmed by the enormity of a situation
and end up doing nothing.
A checklist helps cut through the overwhelm so you can focus on the
important aspects that need to be done.
So how do you create a sensible checklist in an area that is really
troubling you?


My suggestion is to steal from Pronovost and come up with a list of the

three to five most influential behaviors that will help generate the
results you want and let all other behaviors fall as they might.
Over time you can update your list to more accurately reflect other
changes you want to make.
As I have mentioned, weight loss has always been my greatest challenge
so let me share my daily checklist.

Record my foods using an online food tracker.

Stay below 100g of carbs each day
Drink 2L of water every day.
Do three to five high intensity workouts each week.
Eat whole foods only. Avoid anything with any kind of additives
(exception is treat day).

I work hard to ensure I do those each day.

The best part is that the carryover effect from that checklist is positively
impacting other parts of my life.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #3?

Avoid the common traps of forgetfulness and
overwhelm that most people fall into. Instead, adopt a
checklist to leverage the incredible power of doing the
dumb things consistently.


For Your Consideration

I want you to wrap your head around the notion that a checklist could
do wonders in your life. It could do wonders if you have kids and you
are looking to have the mornings be much less chaotic. It can do
wonders to improve personal productivity. And of course it can do
wonders in weight loss.
But you have to willing to embrace the idea that this dumb little tool
can have staggering positive consequences.
Try a checklist in an area where you arent emotionally tied to the
results, just to see how it would work.
For instance, try having a morning routine checklist and see how
that impacts the quality of your day and your life. Or you could
have a checklist for keeping a zero inbox. Or you could have a
checklist on dealing with house clutter to see how that might
impact your mood. The point is to invest in something small and
see if a large payoff could occur as a result.
Take some time to really think about one or two areas that have
been kicking your butt consistently. Begin to theorize on the small
dumb things that might help alleviate the problem. This will take
some time and trial and error, but once you come up with a list,
find a way to track your progress over the next 3 or 4 weeks and
see if it works. You might be amazed at just how powerful those
dumb little things can be.


Create plays

You have to be able to perform at your best in the moments

that matter.
So lets do a quick review of the second step in the SCORE method:
Create a blueprint for success.
The first Big Idea necessary to create a successful blueprint is to
Identify potential hotspots so you can begin to anticipate them in
whatever area you are looking to change. That strategy alone will have
a massively positive influence on your willpower.


For instance, lets imagine that you work at Starbucks or any other place
where you deal with customers. What do you think might be the
biggest hotspot you will have to deal with?
Without question it has to be how to deal with an unhappy customer.
If you have not identified that hotspot in advance, the probability of
handling it properly when it does occur diminishes significantly.
The second Big Idea necessary to create a successful blueprint is to
Adopt the use of checklists. A checklist helps you script the critical
moves necessary so you can successfully navigate any hotspot. Of equal
importance, it helps you remember the mundane things you tend to
overlook. Forgetting to do those mundane things is quite often the real
reason that your efforts get undermined.
And that leads us to be final Big Idea in this module for creating
successful blueprints and that is to Create plays.
To truly understand what I mean when I say create plays, it would be
best to look at a company who does this remarkably well: Starbucks.

The Starbucks Challenge

It requires a tremendous amount of willpower to work at Starbucks,
but not in the way you might imagine. You probably think that it would
take tremendous discipline to avoid fattening drinks and those tasty
treats they offer.


While that certainly does take willpower, that is not the kind of
willpower that Starbucks needs its employees to have in order to offer
exceptional customer service.
They need their employees to demonstrate self-control when they are
dealing with an irate customer.
If you work or have worked in the service industry, then you know
exactly how trying this situation is. On a daily basis, employees are
dealing with people who are unhappy about something.
Obviously, this is a major concern at Starbucks. There are always going
to be people who are going to be upset about something. Thats just a
fact of life. The problem however is that Starbucks cant have their
employees biting the heads off of everyone who has a complaint.
What Starbucks requires in those delicate moments, what can be
referred to as Moments that matter, is for its employees to exercise
restraint (an act that requires incredible willpower) and calmly and
coolly handle any objections.
But as we all know, that is far easier said than done.
So how would Starbucks get its employees to resist the urge to freak
out on people who are being rude or obnoxious?

Lesson #1: Create Your Own Luck

Everything talked about up to this point is really about the notion of
anticipating in advance what your hotspots may be in a given scenario


and preprogramming how you will respond long before you are ever
placed in that undesirable position.
I call preprogrammed responses plays because they resemble exactly
what happens in sports.

Steal From The World Of Sports

Have you ever watched an NFL football game? Even if you dont like
sports or football, when you have a chance, watch a game for a few
minutes and observe the coaches on the sidelines.
What you will see is the coach standing on the sideline with a large
laminated sheet of paper that he is holding in his hand. On that sheet, is
every play his team may need to run in every possible scenario
imaginable for that particular opponent.
If it is third down and short and they are near the opposing teams end
zone, they have specific plays. If it is third and long and they are inside
their own 30-yard line, they have plays for that as well.
And the other thing that I love is coaches are smart enough to know
they need to get out of their head. They know that memory is a terrible
thing to lean on in times of stress. Therefore their entire playbook for
that game is on that one laminated sheet of paper.
Dont get hung up on the whole sports analogy. Thats not the point of
all this. The important thing to recognize is you both share the same
goals. You are attempting to create a desirable result, and to do that you


have anticipated the possible hotspots and you have predetermined

what plays you will run if those moments should come to pass.
That is precisely how you build incredible willpower.

The Latte Method

So how does Starbucks teach its employees to offer exceptional
customer service consistently? Well they had to dig deeper to find the
real reason their employees were struggling.
Early on Starbucks had implemented some conventional strategies to
help employees build willpower with perks like providing gym
memberships and diet workshops. But what they soon discovered was
those did nothing to improve willpower in the area of customer service.
What they were seeing was that employees were failing when they
bumped up against these customer service hotspot moments.
Not always, but if they were extremely stressed out or just having a bad
day they could not be counted upon to make the right choices that
would ensure superior customer service.
So they decided to be more proactive about their methods. What
employees really needed were clear instructions on how to deal with
specific hotspot moments.
So they created their own play and called it the LATTE method? It is an
acronym for:


Listen to the customer

Acknowledge their complaint

Take action by solving the problem

Thank them
Explain why the problem occurred

When they get an unhappy or irate customer, employees have been

trained to immediately implement the Latte method.
By creating such plays, Starbucks is empowering its employees by
giving them a set of tools that they can apply immediately to
successfully navigate specific hotspot moments.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

Luck does not factor into willpower, just as luck does
not factor into Starbucks getting each employee to
successfully navigate the hotspots they encounter.
Those who exercise willpower consistently and
generate superior results do so because they have preprogrammed
their response by creating a series of plays that they call upon and
use when a hotspot moment arrives.

Lesson #2: Get Sticky With It

So the reason you create plays is so that you can pre-determine how
you will respond in dicey situations that have gotten the better of you
in the past.


But here is something few ever think about. In a moment of intense

stress, you dont have time to think. You need to be able to pull your
play up quickly and run through its steps automatically.
So how the heck do you do that?

Steal From Starbucks

One of the most effective ways to create a play is to copy what
Starbucks did with their Latte Method.
You create a series of steps that are anchored to each letter of a word
that really resonates with you.
For instance, it is no coincidence that my 5-step process for building
willpower is called the SCORE method.
Now I would like to say that I dreamed this up right from the start, but
that would be a big fat lie!
Early on in the course design I found that I could not remember the five
steps that I had created! Seriously, I created the five steps, but if I didnt
have my notebook with me I would always forget at least one.
This got me thinking about you. If I couldnt easily recall the five steps I
created for building willpower how the heck was I going to be able to
expect you to easily remember them as well?
So I started thinking of ways that I could do this. It just so happened
that around the same time the brothers Heath (Chip and Dan) who


wrote Made to Stick and Switch, had just released their latest book
As I was flipping through their book I noticed that they had created an
acronym for their four steps to making good solid decisions. They
called it WRAP and each letter of the word acted as an anchor for the
corresponding step.
It was brilliant! In fact, I realized they had used the same strategy in
their book, Switch.
So I started looking for a five-letter word that would help you (and me)
easily recall the five steps needed to build incredible willpower.
My challenge of course was to come up with a word that had relevance
to what I was trying to do.
When you look at the LATTE Method, it is anchored to a Starbucks
drink, which is brilliant.
I eventually came up with the word SCORE. The way I envisioned it,
exercising willpower in a really difficult situation has the same feeling
that someone has when they score a goal in a sport. Its amazing!
Once I had the anchor set, I carefully crafted the wording so I could
easily recall the steps in my head at a moments notice.
In case you forgot, here is the SCORE method again.
Start with the end in mind
Create a blueprint for success


Optimize behaviors through practice

Remove Obstacles to Success
Evaluate. Learn. Grow.
The best part now is I can run through those steps mentally at a
moments notice when I am troubleshooting a difficult situation.

Create Your Own Method

So lets say you have an issue with binge eating. You need a play to run to
help you in those moments of weakness. It needs to be something really
powerful that will anchor you to the outcome you are looking to create.
Now I am just thinking out loud here, but if my goal was to get LEAN,
then perhaps I create something around that word.
Honestly, the word only has to have meaning to you. You could create
the PAM method, the AIM method, the ME method or the BARRACK
method for any troubling area that has consistently prevented you from
getting the results you want.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

The most important aspect of creating a play is to
make it sticky so you can recall it instantly with little
effort in the most challenging of situations.


Lesson #3: Leverage Muscle Memory

I want to share one of the most powerful plays I have adopted to stop a
few unwanted behaviors.
In 2012 I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Its an amazing
book that I highly recommend for anyone looking to build incredible
In the book, he shared the example of a girl who was a chronic nail
biter and had been for quite some time. She had seen a number of
professionals to help her eliminate the problem, but nothing worked.
Then she saw someone who ignored all the psychological mumbo
jumbo everyone else focused on and instead gave her a simple task for
the next week.
Each time she caught herself biting her nails, she was to record it. She
had a notebook where she wrote down the days of the week and drew a
series of hand drawn boxes beside each day. She would check a box each
time she became aware she was biting her nails.
And within two months her nail biting habit had vanished.
I found that example fascinating. The more I thought about it, the more
I was convinced that the reason the method worked was because it
created immense awareness that was anchored by the checkmarks.
I decided to test the idea out myself. I had been a chronic pen chewer
for about 25 years. Every time I had a pen in my hand I would chew on


it. Actually I would bite pieces off them until they were only a few
inches long.
You cant imagine how embarrassing it was when someone would ask
to borrow a pen. I would hand them something that looked like a dog
chew toy.
The problem got so bad that I actually started chewing on my TV
remote control. I kid you not. Without even realizing it, I would chew
on it while watching television. I ended up chewing the top right off
and eventually bit into the circuit board so that it no longer worked.
My punishment was that I actually had to get up to change the channel
on my TV. Doh!
So I decided to give the checkmark idea a go. I bought a little notebook
and made my check boxes for each day of the week to start recording.
Every time I realized my pen was in my mouth I would take it out and
record a checkmark. But I didnt find the notebook practical because I
kept forgetting to bring it with me.
But I believed that the reason the activity worked for the nail-biting girl
was because the act of marking a checkmark was building muscle
memory that would help her stop chewing her nails.
So I replaced the notebook with something I always had on me: my
rubber wristband.


Each time I had the urge to bite my pen or I realized the pen was in my
mouth, I would stop, take the pen out of my mouth and then move the
wristband from one arm to the other.
I made sure to commit to the action because I really felt that was the
key to changing the behavior.
And do you know how long it took me to end my 25-year pen chewing
(and TV remote control eating) habitfive days! In five days I had
stopped completely and I have not chewed anything since, other than
my food.
This two-pronged approach has worked particularly well in a few areas
where I eliminated behaviors I had been doing for decades.
And as I suggested above, the reason I believe this is so powerful is that
I connect the habit to muscle memory as well.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #3?

Behavior change is enhanced significantly when we
combine awareness with a muscle memory activity.


For Your Consideration

Learn what SCORE stands for and be sure you can recite it from
memory in a moments notice. It will come in very handy to
quickly troubleshoot problems in a moment of crisis.
Create a play of your own. My suggestion is to start with
something easy so you can get familiar with the process. Then
come up with the steps needed to deal with it effectively. Once you
have the steps, then you can work backwards to find a name for
that play that will help you quickly and effortlessly recall it when it
matters most.
Create your own method for anchoring your play in your muscle
memory. You can steal my wristband idea if you like or come up
with something of your own. There are lots of creative ways to do
this. Just recognize that in order for it to have impact, you need to
do it without fail every time you catch yourself doing a behavior
you are attempting to rid yourself of.


Habit #3:
Visualize success
Perform realistic training
Focus on specifics


Visualize success

The logic behind a vision board is that the more clear you get on
the outcome you desire, the more likely you will create it.
So lets do a quick recap of what we have learned to this point.
There are five steps to Building Incredible Willpower, with each step
corresponding to a letter of the acronym.
Step one is to Start By Deciding In Advance. Three strategies to help
make that happen are to:
Pinpoint The Problem
Determine The Outcome


Shape Your Behavior

Step two is to Create A Blueprint For Success. And the three
strategies to help leverage the power of this are:
Identify Potential Hotspots
Implement Checklists
Create Plays
And that takes us to step three in the SCORE method, Optimize
Behavior Through Practice.
Over the course of this step we are going to dig into three more Big
Visualize Success
Perform Realistic Training
Focus On Specifics
Before I jump into Big Idea #10, I wanted to point out that while many
people clearly want to build incredible willpower, few consider practice
a necessary part of the journey.
Actually it is comical the way we have come to view willpower. People
have somehow been lead to believe that you acquire it by simply stating
you will now have more of it.
How many times have you heard someone say they were going to be
more disciplined with their spending or their eating or their negative


But just to frame this so you can see how ridiculous that statement is,
how crazy would you think someone was if they picked up a guitar for
the first time and said, I will now be a great guitar player.
We would roll our eyes and think that person was mentally ill. And yet
people make such statements involving willpower all the time.

Acquiring Willpower Vs. Learning Guitar

So as we continue to move forward on this journey, I want you to
equate willpower to learning how to play guitar. Both require
deliberate practice on a regular basis over an extended period of time to
become proficient. Mastery of both takes years.
The good news however, is that like guitar; you dont need to be a
master to generate great results with willpower.

Discovering The Power Of Visualization

I have shared this story a few times, but it is worth sharing again
because it was such a pivotal learning experience on my journey to
finally begin understanding just how complex willpower really was.
My moment of enlightenment occurred in March of 2011. I was about
five months into my journey of physical transformation, when I got an
invite to go to a friends 40th birthday party.
I remember my initial reaction. I was like, Oh crap! There was a part
of me that really wanted to go. This was a group of close friends who I
had not seen in a while. But there was another part of me that was
worried that I would be my usual self at these kinds of events.

Translation? I would stuff my face with every ounce of delicious food I

could get my hands on. Its one of the downsides to having an all-ornothing personality. There is no such thing as moderation in my world,
especially when it comes to food.
So I found myself in a bit of a quandary and seriously contemplated not
going so as not to ruin the momentum I had gathered.
But after thinking it over for a few days I decided I would attend. The
thought of locking myself away from the world made little sense to the
journey I was on. The point of changing how I looked was all about
making better decisions so I could live more fully. Locking myself away
because I would be surrounded by temptation seemed a little too
Howard Hughes to me.
But I am not ashamed to admit I was rather nervous about attending.
I really did not want to go to the event and have all my hard work
undone in a single evening.
So I started thinking about what I could do to prepare myself. In
hindsight it turned out that the preparation for that night was the birth
of the SCORE method, although it was in a rather rudimentary form at
the time.
As I thought about how to successfully navigate the evening, I realized
that I would need to decide how I was going to handle myself in
So I started exploring my known hotspots.

There would be alcohol there, so I needed to make a decision about that.

The event was going to be catered so there would be people walking
around regularly offering up appetizers. And there was going to be cake.
My biggest decision was the alcohol. Im a social drinker so volume was
not a concern, but even a single drink in my system wrecks havoc on
my willpower shields. If the Starfleet Enterprise was monitoring my
willpower after a single drink, Scotty would be hailing Captain Kirk to
say, Captain, the ship has been hit with a blast of alcohol. Willpower
shields are down to 85%. If they go any lower, bad white guy dancing is
highly probable.
I decided that I would only have a single drink.
Next was what to do with the catered food. That was definitely going to
be an issue. I did three things to prepare for that.
First, I would eat dinner about an hour before I left so I was not
showing up there on an empty stomach. Willpower is sorely tested on
an empty stomach.
Second, I would bring almonds with me as a snack if I could not find
anything suitable to snack on.
And third, I imagined myself saying No thank you to the endless offers
I would receive to try an appetizer. I would also imagine myself looking
at the dessert table and declining to have anything off that as well.
For the next few days leading up to the event I would periodically
visualize those hotspots and how I would respond to each.


And how did things turn out? Well the night want off even better than
I could have imagined. Not once was I tempted to indulge in anything I
knew I should not have.
The following day, I remember waking up and thinking, What the heck
happened last night? I was stunned as to why things went so incredibly
well. I had never before been able to exert that kind of self-control.
As I began to scribble down possible theories as to why this all worked,
I discovered that there was a whole world to willpower that I did not
know existed.
It turned out practice was vital. And one element of that which I had
unknowingly tapped into was the power of visualization.

Lesson #1: Envision The Perfect Scenario

As I continued to unravel why my night had been so successful, I
realized that I had spent considerable time visualizing myself in various
hotspots and playing out how I would handle myself in each.
This is another one of those things that I would love to be able to say
was all part of the master plan, but I stumbled on the strategy by
I didnt even realize I was visualizing my outcomes until I sat down to
reflect further on my success.
But by envisioning what the perfect scenario would look like and trying
to make that as realistic as possible, I was able to dramatically increase
the probability of that desired outcome becoming a reality.

Now I realize that the word visualization seems to sound a little too
mystical for some, but there is a particular population in the world who
uses it quite extensively: athletes.

Play The Videotape

Charles Duhigg shared an interesting story about Olympic swimming
sensation Michael Phelps. Apparently, Phelps has been using
visualization as a tool since he was seven.
His coach, Bob Bowman, taught him how to imagine every aspect of a
race in great detail from the feeling of jumping off the blocks, to feeling
his body hit the water, to the sensation of water dripping off his top lip
as he surfaced for air.
And Bowman had engrained the habit in Phelps morning and evening
routines. Every morning upon waking and every evening before falling
asleep, Phelps would play the videotape of his race in tremendous
detail in his mind.
The more he was able to imagine the desired outcome he wanted, the more
likely he was able to produce that result when it came time to perform.
It is no coincidence he is the most decorated Olympian in history.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

Think of visualization as nothing other than
YouTube of the mind. All you are doing is leveraging
the power of your imagination to create a vivid movie
of a desired outcome.


Lesson #2: Create Your Vision

I have had the opportunity to interview a number of prominent people
who have been able to instill incredible willpower in various aspects of
their life to generate incredible results.
One such person was Drew Canoli. In an interview where I specifically
talked to him about willpower, Drew revealed that one strategy he has
leveraged to help him achieve some of the goals he has set for himself
was the use of a vision board.
Now if you are not familiar with vision boards, they are basically
collages that are created around a specific outcome you are looking to
generate in your life.
If you were looking to find purpose for example, you would collect a
series of images that would best capture what you thought that would
look like when you were able to achieve it.
If you were looking to reshape your body, you would collect images
that represented not only the look you wanted, but the type of activities
you would be participating in, the kind of outlook you would possess
and the kind of person you would become.
The logic behind a vision board is that the more clear you get on the
outcome you desire, the more likely you will create it.
The other idea behind creating one is that you would refer to it
regularly. The law of attraction states the longer you hold a particular


thought in your mind, the greater the likelihood of making that

thought a reality.
This strategy can be an incredibly powerful tool on this journey to
building willpower.
It helps take visualization of a desired outcome to a whole new level by
crystallizing your desired outcome.

An Incredibly Powerful Play

I must admit that I dont leverage this strategy nearly as much as I
should. But I have come across enough stories and talked to enough
people to believe it has tremendous power.
So let me share a recent play that I have implemented in one very
specific aspect of my life where I am looking to create change.
I have mentioned previously that speaking at a TED conference is one
of the larger more ambitious goals in my life.
And like any goal that seems difficult to attain, it is easy for me to file
that away on the back burner and just hope something miraculous will
happen to bring that dream to life.
But like every other example I have talked about up this point, I believe
bringing my TED goal to life is an act of will. It wont happen by
wishful thinking alone.
I am not leaving anything to chance. I am using the SCORE method to
bring this idea to life.


Being on the TED main stage is the end result, so I have already decided
in advance where I plan to end up.
So I have created my own version of a vision board, by leveraging a
piece of real estate I see for at least 6 to 8 hours a day: my computer
The background image on my desktop is a photo-shopped image of me
speaking at TED. I see that image every time I turn my computer on
and off.
This is part of the practice I am doing to bring this goal to life.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

The clearer you get on the outcomes you desire in the
various areas of our life, the more vivid and real your
imagination dreams when it visualizes the outcome
you desire.

For Your Consideration

Purchase software that allows you to capture images that you
come across that really move you.
Turn your desktop into a your own version of a vision board. Its
just another intelligent way to leverage a space that you are already
using a lot to help you build incredible willpower.
For one week, attempt to pick a time each day where you spend no
more than 5-minutes visualizing a specific goal you have.
As it was with Michael Phelps, make it as vivid as you can. Keep
track of how it makes you feel and how it impacts your mindset.


Perform realistic training

There is a lot you can learn from comedians.

So in Big Idea #10, I talked about the power of visualization on the
journey to building willpower. I understand that some people might be
skeptical of such a strategy.
It sounds like something you might hear Paolo Coehlo, who wrote the
international bestseller The Alchemist, talk about. But it definitely has a
seat at the willpower table.
The best part about visualization is there is no barrier to entry. It has
no biases based on gender, age or education. It requires no equipment.


You cant hurt yourself doing it and it is budget friendly because its
As long as you have a mind you can practice visualization at a moments
Stopped at a red light? Visualize a desired outcome. Waiting for your
computer to boot up? Visualize a desired outcome. Performing delicate
surgery? Ah I am just checking to see if you are really reading this. I
would recommend visualizing before you perform your delicate
surgery. But you get the point.
So lets move on to Big Idea #11: Perform Realistic Training.
I mentioned this in Big Idea #10, but it is worth mentioning again.
Willpower is not ingested or assimilated or purchased over the counter,
although it could be cool if you could do that.
It is acquired exactly the same as any new skill that someone is
attempting to learn.
Think about what you would have to do to learn guitar? Would you
just buy books and read them and think you have mastered the art of
guitar playing. I hope not. But people apply that kind of logic all the
time with willpower.
Knowledge means nothing if you are not finding ways to practice what
you learned. My goal is to get you to start walking the walk. And I have
just the person for you to model: Jerry Seinfeld.


Lesson #1: Steal From Seinfeld

That just seems odd doesnt it? Steal from Seinfeld? What could we
possibly learn from Little Jerry Seinfeld that would have anything do
with Building Incredible Willpower?
Well you might be surprised to discover there is a lot you can learn
from comedians that has nothing to do with making you funnier
(although that certainly wouldnt hurt) or a better joke teller (which
also wouldnt hurt).
The real gold on your journey to building willpower is to steal the
process comedians use to building a stand up act.
And a documentary I would highly recommend watching is Jerry
Seinfelds Comedian.

After the TV show Seinfeld went off the air in 1999 (has it really been
that long?) Seinfeld, the show creator and star decided to go back on the
road and perform his stand up act.
But he opted to do something no comic had ever done before or since.
He retired all his old material electing to start over again.
The experiment would culminate in a sold out show at the Ed Sullivan
What I found most fascinating about the documentary was how
Seinfeld went about building his new show.


He knew what the end goal was. He needed to perform a one-hour stand
up act at one of the most prestigious theaters in the world. No pressure.
What he didnt do however was try to build that show in one-shot. His
first goal was to build a small 5-minute stand up act. He would write
jokes and rehearse privately until he had five minutes worth of material
and then he would head out to a small comedy club unannounced and
do a surprise show with that material.
It was fascinating to watch. This was not a polished act. He often came
out on stage with his notes in hand.
But the purpose was to find out what worked and what didnt. Because
he was filming a documentary he had the luxury to review tape of these
amateur shows to see what material worked and what didnt.
Jokes that bombed were removed and those that had potential were
continually reworked until he had it exactly where he needed it to be to
get the laugh.
This went on every night. Sometimes he would show up at two or
three clubs in a single evening to perform his act.
The goal again was to get five minutes of material that worked. Once
he achieved that, then he would write more jokes and look to create a
10-minute show, building off the five minutes of material he already had.
When he got ten minutes of solid material he then began crafting more
material for a 15-minute show. He kept doing this until he had a 60-


minute show that he could perform on one of the biggest stages

So what are the lessons you can steal from Seinfeld?
First, building willpower is very similar to building a stand up act. Both
are crafted and honed over an extended period of time.
Second, willpower strategies are like jokes. Some will work
spectacularly well and others will bomb. Dont abandon those that
bomb however.
In a New York Times article, Seinfeld talked about a cupcake joke he
knew would work, but that quite literally took him years to get the
wording and the telling of the joke down so it was perfect.
Willpower strategies are similar. With the right honing and tweaks
some can be resurrected and perfected.
Third, not all jokes and willpower strategies have global appeal. A jokes
success has a lot to do with the audience. A great joke may bomb in the
wrong audience. That doesnt mean it should be ditched. The same is
true of willpower strategies.
Some work very well in your home for example, but arent effective
when you are eating at a restaurant.
Both comedians and willpower enthusiasts learn to survey the
landscape and make quick decisions about what may or may not work
in any particular situation.


And if they discover that they have made the wrong choice they do a
quick course correction and try to find something that does work.
Fourth, building successful willpower strategies and a one-hour stand
up act, require the use of stacking.
You build a base or foundation and then you continue to build on it in
small incremental units. Seinfeld built his act in 5-minute bites. You
will build your willpower arsenal one play at a time.
Fifth, master the present before you take on new challenges. Seinfeld
worked for months to get a hilarious 5-minute act down before he
moved on to developing his 10-minute act.
Building willpower should be the same. There is a fascination with
jumping from one Big Idea to the next while mastering nothing.
Case in point, my wristband play I shared. Its an amazing play that can
be adapted for a variety of situations. Yet the mistake most people make
is they give it a half-hearted attempt. And when it doesnt work, they
run off searching for the next shiny solution that captures their
You are building a willpower show no different than Seinfeld. The
difference is you are developing willpower strategies rather than jokes.
Focus on your foundation and master those. Test them out in situations
and see how they respond. Observe the outcomes. Spend the time
needed to understand the play so you can get to a state of mastery
before moving on to the next one.


And last fail quietly.

Seinfeld tested his jokes out on small audiences at obscure clubs. He
didnt go onto Letterman and try out untested material.
Do the same. Test out your strategies in low-key settings where the
fallout is minimal.
For instance, when I was 29, I decided that drinking to excess no longer
fit into the kind of life I wanted to live. So I decided I would stop
drinking alcohol altogether. The only problem was the first time I had
to put that to the test was when a great friend got married.
I did manage to abstain, but I had zero fun because the whole night was
spent fighting off urges to have a drink.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

Steal Seinfelds methodology. He practiced his craft
quietly on the smallest stages possible so he could hone
his game to the point where he was ready for prime time.
Take the same approach with your willpower game. It
takes a lot of practice to master the skills necessary to do it well consistently.

Lesson #2: Practice Deliberately

Years ago I stumbled upon a self-help expert by the name Steve Pavlina.
Now I must admit Pavlinas stuff was a little to out-there even for
someone like myself, who is open to pretty much anything.


But one article he wrote fascinated me. He talked about how he became
an early riser.
What was most interesting is that it was unlike anything I had ever
seen before.

How Would You Become An Early Riser?

So let me ask you a question. How would you go about getting up
earlier than you currently do?
Well if you are like the rest of us, you would do the following;
Decide you will get up earlier
Set the alarm for the time you want to get up
Hug it out with yourself for a job well done
But here is the problem with that approach. It only works in theory.
So let me ask you a second question.
What actually happens the next morning when your alarm goes off at
your newly allotted time?
Thats right. You hit the snooze button baby!!!
Pavlina was no different, so he took an entirely different approach to
getting up early.
First, he broke down all the steps required to get up early.
He would turn off the alarm. He would then stretch. Then he would
swing his legs out of bed and put on his slippers. Next was his Hugh

Hefner smoking jacket (I just added that to spice up the story). Then he
would head to the washroom and wash his face with cold water. Next
he would head into the kitchen and brew some coffee.
But he didnt stop there.
The next thing he did was to practice doing all those things.
He darkened the room so it would look like it did in the morning when
he awoke (realistic practice). He then put on his PJs and got into bed.
He set the alarm so it would go off a few minutes later. Then he closed
his eyes as if we was asleep. As soon as the alarm went off, he turned it
off, stretched, swung his legs out of bed and put on his slippers. He then
put on his housecoat and went into the washroom and washed his face
with cold water and then headed into the kitchen to make some coffee
He ran through this scenario a few times each night over the next week
or so until he was able to consistently wake early without fail.
Now I realize at first glance that seems a little bizarre.
But to be honest, its absolutely brilliant because Pavlina realized that
getting up early is an act of willpower and willpower can be improved
dramatically when you perform realistic practice.

Applications In Other Areas

So what are the lessons you can steal from Pavlina?
First, recognize that many of the things you struggle to do are actually
acts of willpower. Getting up early is an act of willpower. Exercising


regularly is an act of willpower. Patience is an act of willpower. Positive

self-talk is an act of willpower. Being a great communicator is an act of
There are lots of activities that we treat like one-offs, assuming that all
that is required is a cognitive decision to actually do that thing. Thats
why we say things like, Im going to exercise more. Im going to be a
better communicator. And Im going to try harder.
We have been led to believe that is all we need to do to make those
things magically happen.
But like becoming an early riser, they are all acts of will and as such,
require deliberate practice in order to master.
Second, once you recognize that something is an act of will, you need to
break it down into its teeny tiny components.
And third, you have to practice deliberately.

So What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson#2?

Having incredible willpower is an art and like all art,
it requires deliberate practice to perfect.

Lesson #3: Keep It Real

When Tiger Woods was growing up, his father knew that he would
face a lot of adversity because of the color of his skin. As such he


figured he would be heckled and ridiculed when he was performing in

So one of the things his father Earl used to do is make all kinds of noises
and distractions when Tiger was in the middle of his swings during
practice rounds.
To the outsider, this seemed a little extreme. But what Earl Woods was
doing was teaching his son how to perform under the actual conditions
he would face in a competition.
Read any bio about top athletes and those types of stories arise time and
again. Not only did they practice a lot, but also what separated them
from their competitors was the fact they practiced under conditions
they would face in competition.
That why, when they were faced with those conditions in a game they
were prepared and they knew what to do instinctively without having
to give it much thought.
Thats precisely what building willpower is all about. Not only do you
need to practice, but also you need to practice in conditions that are
similar to those you will face in the real world.
I actually believe there should be workshops where people are
surrounded by foods they cannot have and then teach them real-time
strategies on how to successfully navigate such situations.
Imagine how many more success stories we would have if more of
those types of programs existed?


What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #3?

Make your practice as realistic as possible so when
such a situation does arise, you already know how to
navigate it successfully.

For Your Consideration

I only have one that I want you to consider taking on at some point.
On a designated treat day, buy the treat you intend to have, but
delay having it for a specific period of time.
For instance, the first few times, buy the treat, but hold off on
having it for a predetermined period of time. Start with a time
that is manageable. Observe how you feel, strategies you
implemented to stay strong etc. Over time look to extend the gaps
of time you delay gratification and observe how you handle the
situation and how you feel.
They have actually used a similar technique to help people quit smoking.
The idea is based on the fact that you cant avoid things that tempt you
forever. Avoidance theory isnt a sustainable long-term strategy and its
limiting because it forces you to live fearfully and small.
Rather than fearing certain types of foods for example, you could begin
deliberately practicing delayed gratification strategies so that when you
are out in the real world and temptation raises its ugly head, you will
know exactly what you need to do to successfully avoid it because you
have practiced it deliberately before.


Focus on specifics

Building Incredible Willpower comes down to the small stuff. It

is your diligent attention to detail and a focus on the specifics
that drives your willpower success.
We are already onto the final Big Idea for the third step in the SCORE
method: Optimize Behavior Through Practice.
So lets do a quick recap of what you have learned in this step.
The biggest takeaway without a doubt is recognizing that most dont
ever get any good at building willpower because they dont understand
it is a skill that must be nurtured through deliberate practice.


In Big Idea #10 I talked about the power of visualizing success. This is a
skill that top athletes leverage so they can excel in their chosen
While this does seem a bit out there for some, there is growing
evidence to suggest that the longer you can hold a specific thought in
your head, the greater the likelihood you can manifest that thought into
I have encountered lots of stories of people manifesting the perfect
partner into their life, the perfect job, or the perfect parking spot at just
the time it was most needed in their life.
Rather then file it under the weird and wacky stretch outside your
comfort zone and give this a try.
Keep in mind that you cant muster up more willpower by doing more
of the things you have always been doing. You already know that
doesnt work.
Transformation occurs when we embrace habits that we have never
performed before and look for ways to implement them on a consistent
basis over an extended period of time.
In Big Idea #11, I suggested you take practice to a whole new level by
making it realistic to the situation you will actually encounter.
For instance, it is not enough to simply make a mental note of the treats
you are planning to avoid at that next meeting.


Thats a mistake that amateurs consistently make and why they are
always more miss than hit.
A pro breaks down all the steps required to successfully avoid such
That might include things like bringing their own snacks and eating
those while others are stuffing their face with insulin spiking foods.
It might include visualizing themselves being in complete control of
their environment rather than vise versa.
And it might include a simple checklist of reminders they refer to just
before they head to the meeting.
That list might include things like:

Make sure I have my snack with me

Eat lunch later so I am not doing battle with an empty stomach
Sit as far away from the dessert table as possible
Karate kick any junk food offered to me out of the hands of the
person attempting to push it on me

All of these big ides fall under practice.

Today, I would like to take the concept a bit further by going deep and
focusing on the specifics.

Can Willpower Save Your Life?

In May of 1996, Mt. Everest experienced a disaster of epic proportions.
Eight people from three different climbing expeditions ended up dying

on the mountain between May 10th and May 11th. Two of those
deaths included Rob Hall and Scott Fischer. Both were experienced
guides who had made the Summit of Everest on numerous occasions in
the past.
But on this fateful expedition, both of these experienced guides died
along with six others who were attempting to summit the mountain for
the very first time.
Its a tragic story that has a bit of everything. A sudden change in
weather conditions, inexperienced climbers who should never have
been permitted to climb in the first place, poor decision making at some
crucial moments, and a lack of attention to the specifics that could have
saved lives.
That last statement is rather bold, but it is based on the experience of
another climbing team that was on the mountain the same day the
other 3-groups decided to make a push for the summit.

David Breashears And IMAX

David Breashears and his team were also on the mountain that fateful
day in 1996.
Breashears was working with IMAX to film an incredible documentary
about the mountain called Everest.
On the morning of May 10th, Breashears and his team were the first to
leave Base Camp 4 to make their push for the summit.


But a few hours into the climb Breashears took a glance down the
mountain and was horrified at what he saw. The other three climbing
expeditions were all trekking their way up the mountain to make their
push for the summit.
Breashears knew this was trouble waiting to happen. First, the weather
conditions on the mountain could change in a heartbeat. If that were
the case, it was possible that bottlenecks could occur at specific points
where only one climber could pass at a time.
Second, many of the climbers had no experience at all. In fact, some
should never have been permitted to climb the mountain to begin with.
If the conditions did change and they were stuck behind these
inexperienced climbers serious consequences could ensue.
Third, those groups were getting a late start, which meant that they
needed everything to work out perfectly in order to reach the summit.
And fourth, there were just too many people on the mountain period!
Breashears consulted with his team and even though the weather
conditions were perfect, they made the decision to turn back and wait
for a better day to summit.
That decision may have ultimately saved Breashears life and the lives of
his team members after what unfolded over the following 48-hours.
I must admit I find that decision both stunning and the greatest
example of exercising willpower that I have ever come across.


Now you might be scratching your head and wondering how that could
possibly have anything to do with willpower?

Why Willpower Fails

To answer that we need to understand why we dont do what we
should when it matters most.
And the main reason is that our emotional brain gets the best of us
during these difficult times.
There isnt anyone who is bulldozing their way through an entire
cheesecake that doesnt know what they are doing is wrong; VERY
WRONG! But they do it anyway?
Why is that?
The simple, uncomplicated answer is our emotional brain overrides our
logical brain.
There are lots of reasons why our emotional brain wants what it wants.
But it is generally motivated by all the things we desire least: greed,
selfishness, envy, jealousy, laziness etc.
Essentially it feeds off of every negative quality we are looking to control.
So lets circle back to Breashears and why I think his decision was one of
the greatest acts of willpower I have ever encountered.
As a filmmaker, the decision to turn back was going to be expensive.
Each additional day on the mountain was exacting a heavy financial toll.

It turns out the next opportunity to summit did not occur for another
three weeks. That was three weeks of additional food, oxygen canisters,
equipment rentals, and satellite feed costs etc for every member of his
I could not find specific numbers, but it would not surprise me to learn
that 3-week delay cost the production an additional million dollars.
And that is what makes Breashears decision so remarkable. He had the
willpower to make a really tough call even though it was going to cost
him big bucks.
In fact, money was a contributing reason the other expeditions didnt
turn back. To do so, would have cost them big bucks as well.
So how does one guy have the will to make a tough call while two
others couldnt and ended up paying the price with their lives? Well it
boils down to focusing on specifics.

Lesson #1: Prepare For The Unexpected

Far too often people who are attempting to create transformation
wander into difficult situations unprepared.
But if you take away nothing else from this course remember that
willpower is nothing other than a systematic approach to difficult
And part of that approach is to identify and focus on the specifics of the


Unfortunately, the average Joe or Jill, (we dont want to be sexist here)
spends little, if any time, examining the possible things that could go
wrong in any situation they are looking to navigate.
In other words, everything has to align in order for things to work out
favorably. If even the slightest mishap occurs the plans are out the
window and bad decisions result.
Jim Collins talks about this in his book, Great by Choice. In the
aftermath of the tragedy, there were some interesting things to note
about the preparation of the teams who were on the mountain that day.
In the case of the two parties where both expedition leaders died, it was
noted that they had no contingency plan in place. For instance, the
average climber will use 3 oxygen canisters to summit and descend the
mountain. It turned out that at least two of the expedition groups only
had enough canisters for a perfect summit. There were no reserves if
things didnt go according to plan.
Think about that for a moment. These groups had no wiggle should
something go wrong. Any unexpected delays could be fatal. As it turned
out, that is exactly what happened.
Contrast that with Breashears. He had projected out how long the
entire expedition would take and then brought enough supplies to stay
3X as long should they encounter any delays.
So while Breashears decision to postpone his summit 3 weeks cost him
money, he had built that into his contingency plan making it much
easier to act on the will needed to make such a difficult decision.

So lets go back to the example of the treats at the office meeting.

The amateur willpower enthusiast would attend that meeting with a
very simple plan. They will resist the treats. That is it. Thats their plan,
which is not actually a plan at all. Its wishful thinking.
But what if something unexpected happens. What if you had a blow up
with a colleague that has left your energy levels depleted? Do you have
any treats available to tide you over? What if the meeting goes twice as
long as expected?
You get my drift here. The amateur is prepared for the best-case scenario
only. The pro leaves nothing to chance.
I read a case study in a Mens Fitness magazine about 20 years ago that
profiled some ultra fit guys eating habits.
One of the things I still remember is that he ate out a lot as part of his
day job. He would always call the restaurant in advance and pre-order
his meal. And it was always something that was not on the regular
menu. This guy never left anything to chance.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

Those who excel at willpower never assume things
will go according to plan. They always prepare so if
the worst-case scenario comes to pass, they are ready
for it without having to make any compromises to
their desired outcome.


Lesson #2: Create A SMaC List

This is an acronym that Jim Collins talks about. It stands for specific,
methodical and consistent.
In his research of companies who were great, he found that they all had
one of these lists or recipes.
It was something that they would refer to that would guide their
behavior in good times and bad.
As it turns out, David Breashears had one when it came to shooting
movies at high altitudes like Everest where one false step could be fatal.
Here are a few on that list
Create a binder with individual tabs for all aspects of the
expedition. Include back up plans and back up plans to the back up
plans for everything that could possibly go wrong.
Be able to assemble the camera, mount it on the tripod, load and
thread the film, aim and shoot in five minutes flat.
Test equipment in real conditions in sub-zero freezer and simulate
trips before the actual expedition.
In selecting teams, choose people you would want to get stranded
Look at the attention to detail.
Breashears has a binder where all the essential information is kept for
easy access.


I can tell you right now that people who struggle with their weight for
instance, have no such system in place. Most people dont understand
that excellence requires a lot of work. That is another key difference
between the pros and the amateurs.
Pros keep score. They keep detailed notes. They collect and track data
that they can review so they can improve upon their performance.
Breashears practiced assembling his camera so it is ready to shoot in 5
minutes flat. You DO NOT arrive on the mountain and then hope that
happens. You practice and hone that skill regularly to ensure that is
exactly what happens when time is of the essence.
I love number three. All equipment was tested before he arrives on a
mountain. I happen to know for a fact that for the movie Everest, he
and his team came to a sub-zero freezer here in Toronto to test out
equipment and practice assembling his camera.
There are some similarities to a manifesto, but SMaC lists are the kind
of thing you can make up for various roles in your life.
For instance, for a relationship SMaC list, you might have, Never go to
bed angry. For a weight loss SMaC list you might have, Never show up
anywhere without back up snacks. For a morning routine SMaC list you
might have, Always make my own breakfast before leaving the house.


What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

There are 3 magic words for building willpower. Be
specific in what you want. Be methodical in your
approach. Be consistent in your actions.

Lesson #3: Small Stuff Matters

Im going to harp on this, but you need to unlearn this notion that big
problems require big solutions.
Building Incredible Willpower comes down to the small stuff. It is your
diligent attention to detail and a focus on the specifics that drives your
willpower success.
One recent online app I have started to use is Each day
at 8pm they send me an email where I can list what I have done for that day.
On any given day you will see things like:

Drank 2L of water
Logged my foods
Stayed under 100g of carbs
Made my bed
Did my dishes
Completed intense workout #1, 2 or 3
Ate 100% real foods

There isnt much on that list that has a high sexiness appeal. But when I
stack all those up on top of each other day after day, week after week,
month after month, amazing stuff starts to happen.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #3?

Sweat the small stuff so you never have to deal with
the big stuff.

For Your Consideration

Begin to piece together a SMaC list of your own. Many people
who take this course do so because they are trying to build more
willpower habits that will transform their appearance.
This is a great place to start for a SMaC list. Here are a few things
to consider as you compile that list.

How, where and when will you do your shopping?

How many meals will you eat each day and when?
How will you collect data; with a scale, a food log or pictures or
a combination of all of the above?
How will you deal with treats?
How will you deal with eating out and invites to dinner parties?
How will you rein yourself in during a dietary meltdown?
How will you deal with hunger?
How will you deal with meal preparation?

That should be enough to get you started.


S .C .O .R .E .
Habit #4
Eliminate the prescription mindset
Avoid extreme solutions
Manufacture courage


Eliminate the prescription mindset

When we adopt behaviors simply because others tell us we should

be doing them, we are missing our why. It is impossible to sustain
behaviors that others tell us we should have because a why cannot
come from someone else.
So lets frame this by quickly reviewing what we have learned.
The first step in the SCORE method is to start by deciding in advance.
You are basically predicting the future by deciding how you intend to
behave in any particularly troubling situation.
The second step is to create a blueprint for success. Consider it your
treasure map to a really desirable outcome.

The third step is to optimize your behavior through practice. This is

what ultimately separates those who struggle endlessly from those who
finally have significant breakthroughs after years or decades of struggle.
And that takes us to our fourth step: Retire obstacles to successful action.
This is intentionally counter-intuitive to the pop culture Nike-ism,
Just do it.
I have never been a fan of that little catch phrase. If it were as easy as
just doing it then everyone would be doing it.
Nikes oversimplification throws another wrench into the mix for
people who falsely assume that they are the problem when it appears
everyone else is just doing it when it comes to building willpower.
But the majority of people are not and I believe it has a lot to do with
the fact that a number of serious obstacles are preventing people from
traveling the path they must.
And one of those is the prescription mindset. We have morphed into a
population of followers, waiting to be told what we need to do to solve
our most pressing problems.
And while we all need guidance when it comes to successfully
navigating areas we struggle with, the real danger lies in blindly
allowing people who know nothing about us to govern our thoughts
and our actions with prescriptions that were never designed for our
unique set of circumstances.


Its Not Paint By Numbers

There is a great scene in Dead Poets Society where Robin Williams
plays a teacher at an upscale private boys school. He teaches English
composition and in his very first class, he has the students read a rather
bland piece about how to rate poetry.
Once they are finished he urges them to tear the chapter out of their
His point. Poetry is not paint by numbers. Its art and art cant be boiled
down to a simple prescription.
Dont get me wrong. There are places in our lives where prescriptions
are important. Software installation is a perfect example of that. IKEA
offers prescriptions on how to put their furniture together. McDonalds
has a very detailed prescription on how owners are expected to run
their franchise. Thats why you can go to any McDonalds in the world
and a Big Mac is a Big Mac.
But in all those cases, the prescriptions are in reference to things not
people. People are too complex. Our individual DNA is unmatched by
anyone else on the planet. As a result, no two minds think the same
even when they experience the same event and no two bodies respond
exactly the same to identical foods.
And yet we live in a society that persists in selling us prescription
solutions to people problems.


To Log Or Not To Log

So lets revisit a strategy that I have talked about previously: logging
your foods.
I have gone to great lengths to prove why that simple tactic is so
powerful for me.
But the mistake many people make is to take a program such as this
with a prescription mindset.
Are you a victim of it?
Do you now feel you are supposed to be logging your foods and looking
to consume less than 100g of carbs each day because that is what I do?
If so, that is your prescription mindset talking and that is very
problematic on this journey.

Lesson #1: Lead, Dont Follow

One of the biggest obstacles to taking action is to retire the prescription
mindset and look to forge your own path.
The whole point of this program is to help you become an independent
thinker on this path to building willpower.
And you cant do that when you simply assume that you are required to
do everything I do.
Lets go back to the food log thing for a moment. Not once have I said
that you must start a food log. Has it worked well for me? Absolutely!

But my message was not about logging foods. My message was about
why I log my foods.
Do you remember what my reason is for logging my foods?
I log because it helps me manufacture awareness. And awareness helps
me make better decisions that dramatically improve my willpower.
But I know there are people who are reading about my food logging
and thinking, Does that mean I have to log my foods as well? Do I have
to start counting carbs also?
And the answer is and emphatic, NO!
If that is what you were thinking, then recognize you are approaching
things from a prescription mindset.
I am not telling you what to do. I am trying to guide you on how to
think critically so you can decide what is best for you and what isnt.
And if you decide to log your foods, it isnt because I log mine. Its
because you see the value in manufacturing awareness and you are
curious to see if this strategy will work for you.
Thats leading. And leading is also saying, I have tried this food log
thing and it isnt generating the awareness I want so I am going to
pursue another strategy that will work for me.


What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

One of the things that trips people up, especially with
willpower, is the prescription mindset. It causes
people to be followers.
Your salvation comes when you move from follower
to leader. And a leader isnt interested in the what, they are
interested in the why.
The food log isnt the gold nugget. Manufacturing awareness is. And
there are many ways to manufacture awareness without using a
food log, if that doesnt fit your unique DNA.

Lesson #2: Steal Principles Not Prescriptions

Now this whole talk about prescriptions should hopefully have you
asking the question: Is this program a prescription?
And the answer is again, an emphatic NO!
It a framework based on a set of principles designed to help you
navigate the intellectual landscape of problem solving when it comes to
building willpower.
Lets take the first step: Start by deciding in advance.
Im not telling you what the end should be. That would be a
prescription. Im just telling you that people who regularly exercise
willpower know in advance what the end goal will look like. Thats the


The SCORE framework is a set of principles that allows you to make

better decisions and implement any strategy that you feel will generate
the results you want.
Lets look at something else I mentioned that I do. I track carbs and look
to keep them under 100g/day.
Anyone with a prescription mindset is assuming they too must track
carbs and keep them under 100g/day.
But again I need to emphasize that I have never once said, You must
track carbs and keep them under 100g.
I was intrigued by the concept of tracking carbs because it was the first
time I was able to make eating tangible by actually putting a number on
it. I was also curious to know what my carb threshold was. One
hundred seemed like a great starting point, but I didnt know if that
would work for me or not and I was prepared to experiment if it didnt
work. But it turned out that my body responds well to that threshold.
But that doesnt work for everyone. Remember I said, no two bodies
respond exactly the same.
Could some get away with a higher carb threshold? Of course! Might
some need to go lower? Absolutely! And is it possible that carb tracking
is the wrong metric for some people? Definitely.
It doesnt matter what you track as long as what you do generates
results for your unique set of circumstances.


Remember you are not installing software. You are dealing with unique
DNA that has no equal on the planet. Therefore it is logical to assume
there is an equally unique solution that works for that DNA only.
A prescription approach doesnt work when DNA is involved.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

My 100g of carbs threshold is a system that I employ
because I know from my own experience that it
generates results for my body type. If it didnt work, I
would ditch it and find another metric that did work.
When you are looking to build willpower, remember to look past
the prescription and latch onto the principle that will help you
make better decisions.

Lesson #3: Create A Really Powerful Why

In 2013 edition of Fast Companys 100 most creative people, you will
find actor Bryan Cranston at #8 for his portrayal of Walter White in
the series Breaking Bad.
You might wonder how an actor might end up on a most creative list.
Well Cranston has had a big part in creating one of the most fascinating
characters in television history.
Here is a little insight into Cranstons mindset and why he feels it is so
important to correct small mistakes in a scene.


We're in a bar. I have a huge parka and I'm making a phone call.
But they don't want me wearing the parka. Why don't we put it
over a stool and leave it there?
But then the bartender says, "What can I get for you?" If my
parka's there, he's already said that to me. Instead of "What can I
get for you?" He should say, "Ready for that drink now?" Boom, we
instantly know he's been there.
Cranston calls those little mistakes a pinch of poison. Audiences can
take one or two or three. But after that it leaves a bad taste even though
they cant articulate why the show just doesnt resonate with them.
I loved his analogy of a small pinch of poison. I bring this up because
the ability to take action successfully requires a tremendous amount of
trust in yourself to do what you say you are going to do.
Lets head back once again to the food log.
As I stated above, people taking this course might make the assumption
that I am telling them that if they want to succeed they need to log their
But when we adopt behaviors simply because others tell us we should
be doing them, we are missing our Why. It is impossible to sustain
behaviors that others tell us we should have because a Why cannot
come from someone else.
My Why for food logging comes from my discovery that it
manufactures awareness.


When I put log my foods on my to-do list, it is there because I have a

strong why attached it.
If you want to enhance your ability to take action, the challenge is to
ensure that anything on your to-do list has a strong why attached. If
not, you eventually stop keeping that commitment to yourself.
And, as Cranston would say, you give yourself a small dose of poison
that grows with each commitment you break. And that adds up over
time. Without even knowing it you are undermining your trust in
And that is the danger of the prescription mindset. You have no why. You
are doing something because you were told to do it. And that wont last.
You will eventually stop doing anything where a strong why does not exist.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #3?

If you can find a strong enough why, any how is
possible. You just need to work like crazy to find your

For Your Consideration

Become aware of your prescription mindset. It is easy to slip into it
without knowing.
What are some things you have stopped doing in your past that
you would really like to revisit? Is it possible you lacked a really
strong why? And if so, is there a way to find a really strong why
now so you can bring that behavior back into existence?


Avoid extreme solutions

We have become a society obsessed with extreme solutions to

long-term problems.
So the last Big Idea focused on eliminating the prescription mindset.
Developing incredible willpower is next to impossible when you are
attempting to implement a plan that is not designed for your unique needs.
And because so many of the solutions out there are prescription based,
it impacts your ability to take effective action long-term because you
are attempting to force someone elses solution onto your situation.


Its the square peg in a round hole conundrum. That kind of force is not
a sustainable action long-term because you burn through your willpower
reserves incredibly fast.
And there are a few reasons for that. You are working extremely hard to try
and get that square peg into the hole. You are supremely frustrated because
you have been told the peg fits and so you try harder only to discover you
cant make it fit. So you falsely assume that you are the problem and chalk it
up to just another thing you were unable to accomplish.
And the emotional toll with the prescription mindset is steep as well.
There is a lot of thrashing that goes on when you attempt to fit into
something that was never designed for you in the first place.
The solution of course is to stop following prescriptions and start
stealing the principles and applying them to a system that you have
designed for your unique set of circumstances.
When you stop following other peoples prescriptions and focus more
on your own systems and solutions, you begin to discover that your
actions have impact and are much more sustainable long term because
they are catered specifically to your needs.
So lets explore another area that has a detrimental impact on the
actions you take: extreme solutions.

Lesson #1: Beware Of The Extreme Deception

We have become a society obsessed with extreme solutions to longterm problems.

Extreme is the thing that sells right now. Programs like P90X and
Insanity have sold millions of units promoting the extreme approach to
exercise and promising to get results fast.
But here is why extreme solutions do far more harm than good and
wreak havoc on your intention to act.
They are incredibly deceptive.
First, extreme solutions are really advanced solutions that are targeted
to beginners. I own P90X and I really like it. But the program is
targeted for people who are already quite active.
When P90X began soliciting volunteers for their test groups, they were
not looking for couch potatoes. They were looking for people who
were athletic and active, but were not getting the results they wanted.
P90X was the next evolution for them.
But the infomercials dont make that distinction. They sell it as a onesize fist all, when it is really a highly advanced training program for
people who are already pretty fit.
It would be the equivalent to marketing Shakespeare to children.
Hamlet for toddlers might sound cute, but me thinks a lot of kids are
going to be rather perplexed by the complex plots and weird English.
Companies have figured out that extreme solutions can be disguised as
the perfect solution to a beginner desperate to change fast.


Second, the test group results that they trumpet are misleading. I dont
mean misleading in the sense they arent truethey are.
But think about this for a moment. How motivated would you be if you
were actually working with Tony Horton from P90X and his test
group? Who wouldnt show up for 90 days with 20 other highly
motivated people to be trained by the creator of the program.
Im pretty sure we would all be highly motivated if we had the chance
to get in on an offer like that.
But thats not how these programs work for those who buy it. They get
a DVD set that they are required to use in their own home, where there
is limited space, limited equipment and the reality that after a long
grueling day at work they will be doing the workout by themselves.
The real life conditions required to make that program work are
extraordinary and beyond what the average person is capable of doing.
Third, extreme programs (actually this is true for all programs) mislead
people with their testimonials. The reality is for every testimonial they
muster up; there are hundreds of people who never got close to getting
through the program.
What sellers of these programs understand is that testimonials are an
incredibly powerful selling tool even though they represent less than
1% of the people who are actually successful with a program.
Unfortunately, no one does the math on success rates, so people assume
the testimonial represents the norm. In reality, it represents a

minuscule portion of the population, while conveniently hiding the fact

that most people are unable to complete it.
And last, they prey on the one thing they know you cant resist: quick
results. They promise solutions to long-term problems in a short
period of time.
Extreme programs can get results fast. TV shows like The Biggest
Loser have shown that to be true. But what people dont realize is that
kind of force is only sustainable for a short period of time because it
requires a tremendous amount of willpower. When you get to the end
you have nothing left in the tank. You are absolutely depleted.
I would bet that if someone were to follow up with all the contestants
on The Biggest Loser 5 years later, they would discover that most of
those people would have gained back all the weight they lost while on
the show.
And the reason is because extreme solutions are not sustainable longterm.
Yes, you can force the body to get short-term results fast. What they
dont tell you is the likelihood of sustaining those results long-term is
next to impossible.
And the reason is that the extreme approach drains the willpower
reserves to the point where there is nothing left to draw on.


What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

Extreme solutions are set up to prey on your
vulnerabilities. They know you are desperate to
change your situation and they know you want to do
it fast, so they offer you exactly what you want.
Unfortunately, the solution is so extreme it is near impossible to
complete by the average people and for the lucky few who do get to
the end, their willpower reserves are so depleted that they have
nothing left to continue. Those people eventually end up right back
where they started minus a big chuck of their self-esteem and
Remember that extreme solutions are really advanced solutions
geared for extreme junkies. For everyone else, they are short-sited
and irresponsible and should be avoided like the plague.

Lesson #2: Leverage The Runway Effect

Paco Underhill wrote a wonderful book called, Why We Buy, which
examined shopping behaviors to determine why people buy.
As a consultant, he was hired by companies to help them increase their
selling conversions. The first thing he would do is set up a series of
cameras in the store and observe buyer behavior.
And one interesting observation he discovered was how people behave
at grocery stores.


When people walk into the store, they usually take 15 to 20 steps and
then stop and look for a basket or cart. But of course there are none
available. They are back by the door where they first entered the store.
But Underhill saw this type of behavior time and again and eventually
figured out what was going on.
When most people enter a store they are not thinking about where to
get a cart, they are thinking about what they need to buy. This would
take people 15 or 20 steps into the store to run through their mental
Once they knew what they needed, they would then stop and look for
cart or basket. Then they would end up having to walk back to the store
entrance to get one.
Underhill coined this the runaway effect. He stated that people needed
those 15 or 20 steps to figure out what they wanted before they would
then realize they needed a cart or basket.
Underhill suggested that storeowners start placing baskets at the end of
these runaways to make it easier for the consumer and the behavior
they exhibit.
The insight is brilliant and accurately captures typical grocery store
So why did I tell you that story?
Well the runway effect fits beautifully into why extreme solutions are
to be avoided.

Like poorly managed grocery stores, extreme solutions have no runway

And by that I mean, extreme solutions start abruptly and end abruptly.
There is no runaway to ease you in or out of the solution and into
something sustainable that will allow you to replenish your willpower
Instead they run you into the ground and then leave you exhausted and
mentally drained to figure out what you need to do next.

So What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson#2?

Avoid extreme solutions. They have no runway effect on
either end of the program thus leaving you completely
taxed and depleted when the program is complete. With
nothing in the tank to continue you are soon going to
find yourself right back where you once were.

Lesson #3: It Takes A Demanding Mental Toll

So here is the last thing I will say about extreme solutions. They are so
extreme that they are always on your mind.
The moment you engage in an extreme solution you basically take on
your own version of mental war games.
There is endless chatter going on in your head about what you have to
do, what you are supposed to do, what you shouldnt be doing, and
questions about when you are going to be doing what you should be
doing and how your are going to make it fit into the life you lead.

As I said, its endless and it is relentless. It never lets up.

And that takes a tremendous toll on your willpower. It burns through
your reserves before you even have a chance to do what you were
supposed to do.
Do not underestimate the mental toll such solutions take. The more
demanding the solution, the more havoc it reeks on your mental energy
Think about how you feel after a serious argument with someone. Do
you feel like going for a nice long workout? Of course not! There is a
reason you are ready for a serious nap. Your energy reserves have been
ransacked. Extreme solutions have the exact same impact.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #3?

Recognize that extreme solutions exact an extreme
amount of mental fatigue because it causes you to
engage an endless array of self-talk that is negative,
stressful and deflating.
Its like being in a serious argument, except in this instance the
argument is not with another person, but rather that voice of
resistance in your head.
Unfortunately, the result is no less toxic or destructive to you and
your desired outcome.


For Your Consideration

So I have a proposal for you that is counter-intuitive to anything that is
currently out there.
I want to suggest that you adopt something I am calling MVT, which
stands for a Minimum Viable Threshold.
Here is how it works:
When you start with extreme solutions you skew your view of what
you really need to do to get results.
So forget the extreme notion and start by trying to find out the
minimum you need to do to get results.
For instance, studies done on people who have lost 40 or more pounds
and kept it off for five years or longer found that their were three
characteristics that were common in most of them.
They made and ate breakfast every morning.
They weighed themselves everyday
They worked out from home.
Now I am not suggesting that everyone did these three things and I am
also not suggesting that this is all they did. These were the ones that
were the most common from the thousands of people they studied.
You will notice that none of the solutions are extreme. In fact, you can
see that in number three there is no mention of what kind of workout


was done, just that people who kept their weight off did something
from their home on a regular basis.
You will also recall that woman who I mentioned who went from 299
pounds to 180 pounds. She changed one habit at a time and worked her
system for well over a year.
I call that approach to finding your minimum viable threshold
Stacking is where you look to adopt behaviors that, when bundled
together will yield the greatest possible outcome with the least effort
Think of it as working smarter as opposed to harder.
So how many behaviors should you look to adopt?
To start, I would focus on only two or three until they become
effortless and provide little drain on your mental reserves.
For instance, I once advocated for not using a scale when you are trying
to lose weight, but I dont feel that way anymore. A scale manufactures
But it takes some time to get used to the emotional turmoil and
obsession that first comes with weighing yourself everyday.
I would suggest that people start with something like that and a few
other small behaviors and spend the next three to five weeks making


those a habit that expends minimal energy before looking to add to the
So let me help you get started by sharing the stack of behaviors I have
bundled together.
Think of it like a series of platforms. The first one is the base and is the
most important. I then layer the next most important on that one and
so on.
I currently stack eight behaviors. Keep in mind this is an organic list
that I continue to experiment with. There is no timeline attached to
this experiment.
My goal however is to make it effortless, automatic, and daily to reap
the maximum benefit.
So here is my stack. They are in order of most crucial to my success to
less so.

Log my foods everyday.

Be below 100g of carbs each day; six days a week.
Eat 100% whole foods (absolutely no additives of any kind)
Weigh myself everyday/look in the mirror
Three to five high intensity workouts every other day
Reflect on my progress (journal)
Drink 2L of water everyday
Allow myself two to three treats each week


Keep in mind this is my prescription. As such, I will continue to tinker

with it over time to get it exactly where it needs to be.
Then I need to get out of my own way and just work the system I have
created without fail for weeks, then months and then years.
What kind of a stack could you begin to create for yourself to start?

Final Takeaway
The key to successful behavior change is not to
apply a tremendous amount of force to change it
quickly. The key is to quietly nudge it in the right
direction and then maintain the behavior, first for
weeks, then for months, then for years and then for decades.



Manufacture courage

And transparency is a key ingredient to manufacturing

courage, which in turn plays a pivotal role in helping you build
incredible willpower.
Its no secret that if you are looking to create change then you need to
take action. Unfortunately, that is much easier said than done.
And one of the many challenges is to remove obstacles that prevent
consistent long-term action of vital behaviors that you know get
But there are some very specific things you can do to remove those

The first is to eliminate a prescription mindset, which has you

following a program that does not take your specific needs into account.
Instead, you steal principles and look to combine them into a formula
that works specifically for you.
The second is to avoid extreme solutions that are so demanding that
they completely drain you of your willpower reserves. There is not
much point getting to the end of an extreme 30, 60 or 90-day program
only to discover it is crushing you and your ability to take continued
What you will discover on this journey to building willpower is that
people who create lasting change do a few things that are completely
First, they dont try to do too much too soon. They look to adopt one or
two manageable behaviors at a time.
Second, they monitor their progress with those behaviors until they
have worked out all the bugs and the behavior is automatic.
And third, they look to stack other vital behaviors onto those they
already know generate results.
Then they work like mad to ensure they stick to those behaviors for
weeks, then months, then years and decades.
By leveraging time and consistency, these people make change seem
effortless compared to those who struggle endlessly as they jump from
one extreme solution to the next.

And that all leads into Big Idea #15: Manufacture Courage.
If you want to remove the obstacles that prevent sustainable action
then you need to learn how to manufacture courage.
My choice of wording here is deliberate. Courage is not something you
ARE and it is not something you HAVE. It is a skill that you learn so
you can access it when it is needed most, whether that is in times where
you are experiencing fear, shame, frustration or extreme vulnerability.
In my book, Make Shift Happen, I have a chapter called, Smash the
Scale. The whole point of the chapter was to encourage people not to
weigh themselves.
And the reason I wrote that was based on my own experience with the
scale. The number always managed to set me back when it was not
moving in the direction I would have liked.
But if you read between lines, what I was really saying was that I feared
the number on the scale and how it would make me think about myself
so I decided that it was smarter to hide from my reality.
I dont stand behind that position anymore. Running from my fear of
the scale simply masked the fact that I couldnt deal with the truth about
my situation. Worse, I was afraid how that would make me think about
But hiding from any reality does not make that reality go away. It only
makes us grow more fearful and insecure and frustrated. And that has a
way of leaking into other areas of our life.
So whats the solution?

Lesson #1: Observe. Embrace. Demand More.

I would like to share the story of Barry McDonough. Years ago, I
happened to stumble on a program he created called, Panic Away.
I was intrigued from a marketing perspective because the program had
sold over 60,000 units, which is really impressive.
As I did more research on the creator, I was surprised to learn that
McDonough had created the program to rid himself of his anxiety
I am always fascinated with people who create their own solutions, so I
did a bit more digging around to find out more about McDonoughs
What I discovered was that McDonough sought out the advice of
doctors who had considerable expertise in the area of anxiety.
But in every case, the solution he was being offered focused on coping
with anxiety rather than helping him cure himself of the fear that
comes with an anxiety attack.
He wasnt interested in coping because that left him in a state of
constant fear. He also wasnt interested in medications that would dull
his senses to the world around him.
So he set out on a journey to find a better solution that would not require
medication or shrink his world by having him avoid all those situations
that might activate a panic attack. Most importantly he wanted
something that would stop him from living a life of constant fear.

What he eventually developed was something so simple that he could

fit all the steps on a 3 X 5 index card.
He called it the One-move technique and it consisted of three steps.

Step 1: Observe
McDonough actually got this idea from observing nature. Nature does
not resist. Trees bend to the wind. Water flows around obstacles
blocking its path. Seasons give way to the next.
Coping mechanisms, on the other hand, teach people to resist or fight.
But resistance only amplifies the stress and conflict that resides within.
So McDonough began to teach himself to model nature and observe
when a panic attack was oncoming. Observing manufactured awareness,
which triggered a reminder for him to implement his new technique.
By becoming aware of patterns, he was able to prepare himself for an
impending panic attack.
You might recall the story of the nail biter I shared in a previous big
idea. She solved a lifetime problem in two months simply by becoming
aware of her behavior and choosing an alternate more appropriate

Step 2: Embrace
This is completely counterintuitive to everything we are ever taught
about fearful events. But he would embrace the fear as it began to wash
over him.

He would go so far as to talk to it and send it a quick message welcoming it.

The goal was not to suppress the attack in any way, but rather feel the
anxiety in its entirety. By not offering up resistance, he was reducing
the psychological friction that a typical attack would cause.
I cant help but think about those of us who are binge eaters. What
would happen if we stopped fighting the guilt and all the other
psychological friction that comes with that activity and sought instead
to embrace it?
Could that ultimately set us free from the thing that has held us captive
for so long?

Step 3: Demand More

That one kind of blew my mind. He would literally ask for more. Here
is McDonoughs rationale.
The request for more is the most empowering statement you make
when in the midst of a full-blown panic attack. It sends a clear and
strong statement that you are calling fears bluff.
You are allowing yourself to fully feel the experience as if it were a
roller coaster ride. You are a fully paid-up and willing participant, not a
victim. Youre asking it to show you more of these unusual bodily
sensations youre going through.
Now youre consciously moving 100% with the fear, not against it. By
fully moving in the same direction as the fearful experience, you end
the internal conflict or tug of war.

Demanding more places you in a new position of power. Before you

felt like a victim always having to resist and pull against the fear, but
now that you are no longer resisting, the fear has no momentum to
develop into a heightened state of anxiety.
That has to be one of the most brilliant insights I have come across.
The other reason this is so powerful is that fear feeds on fear. It cannot
survive in a vacuum. By teaching yourself to embrace fear, you rob it of
the energy source it needs to survive and thrive.
This is worth repeating again, but if you suffer from eating disorders
for example, is it possible that you have been feeding the problem (pun
intended) all these years by fighting so hard to resist them?
What if you embraced the guilt and the shame and the disappointment
and asked for more of it?
Could you actually eliminate your problem by embracing it and
demanding more?
Its an idea that is definitely worth considering. I mean, if anything I
stated above resonates then you already know that fear and shame and
guilt does nothing to get rid of the problem. Why couldnt this work?
Before we end, I did want to make it clear that McDonoughs technique
is not limited to extreme situations. It is a tool that can be applied to
any area where there is continual resistance that gets in the way of
building willpower.


Examples include:

Bouts of insomnia
Feelings of overwhelm
Feelings of insecurity
Short temperedness or lack of patience with your kids or spouse
Resistance to tracking data
Having difficult conversations
Dealing with criticism
Dealing with cravings

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

Recognize that what McDonough did was create a
play for himself that he could implement whenever
he experienced a panic attack. That play eventually
helped him eliminate the problem completely.
Is there a way that you could tweak that play to use in your life in
an area where you are currently experiencing strong resistance,
whether it manifests as fear, frustration, disappointment or anxiety?

Lesson #2: Practice Transparency

I have said this a few times in my podcasts, but I believe that
transparency is the new online currency.
You are seeing that people who are developing strong followings online
are very open about the struggles they have.


Podcaster Marc Maron comes to mind. He is the host of the very

popular podcast WTF. He has suffered from depression and alcohol
and drug abuse.
He openly talks about his past. And people love him for it.
But the real power comes from the fact that it liberates Maron from his
past. He is not a slave to it. In fact, it is just the opposite. By openly
talking about it, he has been able to release it. It is now something that
has happened. It is not something that is still happening.
And transparency is a key ingredient to manufacturing courage, which
in turn plays a pivotal role in helping you build incredible willpower.
Sharing struggles, past and present help you dissipate the negative hold
that they have over you. The more secretive your struggles, the more
control they have over you.
Brene Brown provided a wonderful example of this in her TED talk
called, The Power of Vulnerability.
In her talk, she revealed that she suffered a breakdown while doing her
research on vulnerability.
She admitted afterwards to feeling a tremendous amount of shame
around admitting that to an audience that might number in the thousands.
She was wrong however. More than 11 million people have watched
that TED talk.
But the shame that came from that admission also revealed her next
research topic: shame.

And what she discovered was that those people who are most
comfortable in their own skin are not afraid to be vulnerable,
recognizing that vulnerability plants the seeds of courage and creativity
and self-acceptance along with a whole host of other positive traits.
Transparency is important in all areas of your life, but its an integral
part of building willpower because it requires a willingness to tell your
truth without fear of judgment, obviously from others, but also from

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

Building willpower is greatly enhanced when you
have the courage to be transparent with those things
that either have gotten or are getting the better of you.
This is definitely something I have had to teach myself
how to do as I have never been a very transparent person when it
came to things I struggled with. But I now believe that I cant solve a
problem until I am willing to share a problem. Sharing it releases a lot
of the inner psychological friction that comes with it.

Lesson #3: Lean In, Dont Lean On

It is easy to confuse transparency and vulnerability with whining and
complaining and excuse making.
For instance, I knew a guy in his fifties who still blamed his parents for
the way he turned out. Thats an example of transparency where you
lean on your story to rationalize why you are the way you are.


Thats not the kind of transparency that I am talking about. I call those
tales of woe. We all know people who tell endless tales of woe. They
never move on. They live everything like it happened yesterday and
they will tell it to anyone who will listen and give them the sympathy
they feel they deserve.
I am talking about the kind of courage where you lean in and refuse to
use it as an excuse for why things are the why they are.
Im talking about the kind of transparency where you are able to talk
about your struggles without shame or blame. You talk about it as
something that simply is, but you also make it clear that it is a
temporary situation that will eventually crumble to your endless assault
to figure it out.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #3?

Building willpower comes when you lean in and not
on to those things that are tripping you up.


For Your Consideration

Remember in a previous Big Idea I talked about creating plays and I
mentioned that coaches have a playbook they keep with them at all
times so they can draw on it in times of chaos.
Consider the idea of creating your own playbook where you can
begin recording the different plays you can run for various
situations you want to be prepared for.
You might also recall that I shared a play where I use a wristband
to help me build awareness for a bad habit I am looking to break.
Thats a play you could add to your playbook along with different
scenarios where you could use it.
You could also add Barry McDonoughs play as well and again
include different scenarios where you would use the play along
with any tweaks to make it uniquely your own.
And of course add plays of your own that you already use or ones
that you have since come up with. The more you have for the
variety of situations you face, the more likely things are going to
work in your favor.


S .C .O .R .E .
Evaluate the outcome
Learn from your experience
Expand your skill set

Big Idea #16

Evaluate. Learn. Grow.

Our natural tendency around rejection is to interpret what it

means and for most people that tends to lean towards character
Evaluate. Learn. Grow is the most exciting step of the entire SCORE
method because this is where you get to learn what went well, what
failed miserably and most important of all, what you can do to change
the outcome in the future.
But before I share some of the key lessons and takeaways from Big Idea
#16: Evaluate The Outcome, lets strengthen those memory muscles by
reviewing what you now understand about the SCORE method.

However, I am going to do the review using a specific example that can

often throw me and my health plan for a loop if I am not prepared:
going away on a weekend getaway to a friends cottage.
While these are always great fun, my challenge is trying to figure out
how NOT to go bananas with the junk food.
My first step to a successful outcome is to Start By Deciding The
Outcome In Advance.
I always begin by getting a clear picture in my mind of how I want that
weekend to turn to out. Eating my main meals is not the problem. Its
the fact that other people bring up lots of tasty treats that I know are
going to be a challenge for me.
The outcome I want to see happen is that I stick to my eating plan
while not feeling I am depriving myself.
The second step to a successful outcome is to Create A Blueprint For
One thing I do is map out the number of meals I am planning on
having from the time I get there until the time I leave. I also factor in
food required for the ride up and the ride back as well.
Once I figure out the number of meals, I then look to build individual meals
around the protein source that I will have. From there I create a complete
grocery list of the foods I will bring with me including healthy snacks.
My plan also includes an email to those organizing the weekend stating
that I will be responsible for making my own meals.

I do this so often now that my friends know how this works.

The third step is to Optimize behavior with practice. I tend to use
visualization for this one and I focus on the hotspots. How am I going
to deal with junk food like chips and cakes and cookies etc. that are
going to be laid out everywhere?
Part of my visualization plan is remembering how I feel after I eat
things like chips. I usually feel sick to my stomach and I feel really
bloated. That memory has been very effective, especially of late when I
am craving junk food in general.
The fourth step is to Remove Obstacles To Success.
The biggest barrier is alcohol. As long as I only have a few drinks then I can
generally keep my wits about me so it does not affect my decision-making.
And all that would be remaining is todays fifth step. Once the event is
over it would be time to evaluate, learn and grow.
So lets get into some specifics by digging into Big Idea #16: Evaluate
The Outcome.

Lesson #1: Stop Interpreting Results

The first time I came across this idea was back in 2000 when I read a
book by Tracy Goss called, The Last Word on Power.
Goss was based in LA and had developed this idea while working with
actors, writers and producers who were looking to make their mark on
the movie industry.


There is a ton of rejection and Gosss approach was to teach them not
to attach meaning to it.
But our natural tendency around rejection is to interpret what it means
and for most people that tends to lean towards character flaws.
If you are a writer, you might interpret rejection as meaning you just
dont have what it takes to be a writer.
If you are an actor, you might interpret that as meaning you have little
acting talent.
And if it is around willpower, you might interpret that as meaning you
lack discipline and self-control.
But all of those scenarios are examples of interpretations that lean on
the negative.
Tim Ferriss got 27 rejections for his book, The 4-Hour Work Week.
And yet the 28th publisher picked it up and the book has gone on to
become an international bestseller and one of the top selling books of
How could a book that was rejected 27 times do this? Werent those 27
rejections saying that the book was a terrible idea that would never sell?
That is one interpretation.
Another is to suggest that the 27 publishers who rejected it had no idea
what they are doing.
Or you could take Gosss approach and just look at it for what it was.
Ferriss made an offer to 27 publishers and they said no. Thats it.

Listen I know what I am suggesting is hard. It is really hard. We are

hardwired to interpret events. Its second nature. We do it all the time.
But on the journey to building willpower one of the open loop systems
you will want to develop is the ability to stop interrupting results.
If you wolfed down junk food one evening then you wolfed down junk
food. It doesnt mean you lack self-control. It just means you were
unable to resist at that moment. Of course you will want to do an
autopsy to see what happened and how you can influence the result
next time around, but resist the urge to interpret it.
You wanted to avoid the junk food. You didnt avoid it that time. Thats it.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

Lets go back to the Tim Ferriss example for a
moment. Imagine if he had taken his first rejection,
interpreted that to mean he was a bad writer or the
topic was a terrible idea. We would have no idea who
he is today.
You need to view your approach with willpower much like Ferriss
approach to getting published. Your first attempt may not work.
Nor will your second or your third or fourth.
Just remember it was a result. Nothing more. Nothing less. But the
more you try the greater the likelihood that the 12th attempt or the
17th attempt or the 28th attempt is going to yield a different result.


Lesson #2: Autopsy The Results

So remember when I told you the story about going to the birthday
party and having a wildly successful outcome.
Well the smartest thing I did afterwards, by complete accident I might
add, was to evaluate what happened.
I was so perplexed by my success that I had to figure out what
happened. So I did an autopsy.
You will note that I autopsied my success. Far too many people take success
for granted and miss the opportunity to learn why they were successful.
Consequently, they generate inconsistent results and have no idea why
that is. You can learn more from your successes than you can from your
failures so be sure to submit those to the same investigative depth that
you would with your failures.
And the best way to do that is to use the SCORE method as an investigative
template for evaluation.
So let me walk you through an example of you how you might do that by
sharing how I used it to assess a LIVE coaching call I did. The call went
pretty well except for the fact that I forgot to record it as I had promised.
This might seem like a non-willpower example, but it does fit because
discipline and planning was required to ensure a successful outcome
occurred and several of the mistakes I made were from lack of
preparation, just like they are when willpower doesnt turn out as we
would have hoped.

First, I would suggest that this be done in writing if the problem has
been an ongoing issue for some time or the consequences were severe.
Just thinking about it isnt enough.
Second, use the steps of the SCORE framework to identify potential
weaknesses that need to be solidified.
So let me work through the steps with my example.

1. Start By Deciding In Advance

With regards to the live coaching call, the first step was deciding what
software I would use. Once I found the one I wanted, the next step was
to imagine how the call would play itself out.
Because I had conducted coaching calls, both individual and group in
the past via Skype, I had a clear vision of how things should go.
And because I podcast regularly, the audio set up was going to be
identical as well so I had no worries there.

2. Create A Blueprint For Success

This boiled down to two things.
First, I had to make sure I understood what I needed to do on my end
for a successful call.
I had read through all the instructions and they were all pretty
straightforward, but this is where I made my first mistake.


There were a few simple steps that were required to record the call and
I made the mistake of not writing them down. I assumed I would
remember them.
The Lesson: I should have had a checklist of all the steps I was required
to carry out the moment I was ready to initiate the call.
Second, I had to make sure my course members knew how to get on the
call. That again required that I review the instructions and pass these on.
This part went well because I included them in an email, which clearly
defined the steps needed to attend the call.

3. Optimize Behavior Through Practice

This was my second mistake. I believe I could have avoided my mistake
altogether if I had done a practice call beforehand. And I should have
because I had never used that particular software before.
I did have a practice run set up, but I had to cancel at the last minute
and never thought to reschedule.
Lesson: Never use a new software or service live without testing it first.

4. Remove Obstacles To Success

The only barrier for this activity was procrastination. It is easy to keep
delaying something like that. To get around that I put out a survey
asking which day the group preferred and went with the day that had
the most votes.


5. Evaluate. Learn. Grow.

I only discovered I had forgotten to record the call, when I sat down the
following day to do this evaluation.
And thats one of amazing benefits of doing this exercise. Even when
things go well, there is always room to improve.
By going through this process, I know exactly what I would differently
next time to ensure a better result.
The biggest lesson was again realizing that memory is horribly
unreliable. Whenever you are doing anything that requires multiple
steps (i.e. Surgery) always have a checklist of activities that must be
done and have clearly defined checkpoints where you will review it to
ensure you have done what is needed.
The other is to always do a test run with anything that you are using for
the first time to ensure you have all its nuances down pat.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

You will notice that the mistakes I made are exactly the
kinds of mistakes you make with willpower failure.
You go in cold and try to wing a new behavior. You put
too much faith on memory rather than rely on
something that is much more dependable like a checklist.
And you overestimate your ability to do the right thing when it
matters most.


By taking the time to work through the process to learn what went
well and what needs to be improved I ensured that the next time out
things will run much more smoothly.
I would strongly recommend that you adopt this approach for those
problems that have eluded a successful solution for some time now.

For Your Consideration

This is a rinse and repeat kind of exercise meaning that doing it
once wont suffice, especially when we are dealing with human
Also keep in mind that it in no way guarantees that things will go
according to plan the next time out, but the stage is for potential
success to happen.
This is an ongoing framework that will be used in any area where you
consistently fail to get the results you hoped.
Commit to the process and you will be amazed at the progress you will
begin to make in a very short period of time.


Big Idea #17

Learn from your experience

Our greatest opportunities for success can be found by

analyzing our successes. If we can unravel valuable lessons from
our bright spots then we have the opportunity to repeat them
and repeat the success.
I mentioned in the last Big Idea that this is by far the most exciting of all
the steps because this is where you get the chance to learn and actually
make changes that will have a profound impact on the quality of the life
you live.


Unfortunately, most people skip learning altogether because they get

sidetracked by those gremlins in their head that feel the need to attach
meaning to the failure.
As a result, people spend their time feeling shamed or guilty or
embarrassed or frustrated by the fact they did not do what they had
hoped they would do.
And while it is OK to grieve when things dont go according to plan, an
important part of building willpower is teaching ourselves to quickly
move beyond grief and into an immediate autopsy of the event to see
what takeaways we can acquire.
And that is exactly what we will discuss in Big Idea #17: Learning From
Your Experience.

Lesson #1: Adopt Empirical Knowledge

In his book Great by Choice, Jim Collins pointed out that one of the
key distinguishing characteristics among the CEOs of great companies
was their ability to lean on empirical evidence.
(Note: These were companies that remained great for 30+ years even when
the economy was in the toilet and their competitors were going bankrupt.)
Here is how Collins explained empirical.
By empirical, we mean relying upon direct observation, conducting
practical experiments, and/or engaging directly with evidence rather
than relying upon opinion, whim, conventional wisdom, authority or
untested ideas.

This is exactly the same mindset I am asking you to adopt for building
Im asking you to stop doing what others tell you that you should be
doing. Instead, conduct your own experiments and rely on your own
observations and conclusions no matter how controversial that may be.
That is called empirical learning. Your ability to implement this
paradigm shift in knowledge acquisition will radically change the
success you experience.

Case Study: Ridding Yourself Of Debt

Dave Ramsey has built quite an empire for himself. He was written a
number of New York Times bestsellers on getting out of debt and
managing your money. He has one of the top podcasts on the Internet,
called The Dave Ramsey Show, which deals with life and money. And
he has even started his own publishing company.
This may sound like your typical success story, but it is not.
Ramsey actually went bankrupt at the age of 30, after developing a net
worth of over $4,000,000 in real estate.
He has since recovered from that disaster and gone on to create a lucrative
career as a speaker, author and educator, helping people understand the
forces behind their financial woes and how to set things right.
One fascinating thing that Ramsey teaches people who are looking to
get out of debt is something that is completely counter-intuitive to
what most debt consultants will tell you.

Imagine you have a debt of $25,000 split over four different loans. You
have one loan for $2000 at 5% interest. You have another for $5000 at 7%.
A third that has $8000 owing at 10% and a fourth that is $10,000 at 15%.
How would you go about clearing that $25,000 debt?
The conventional wisdom is to start with the loan with the highest
interest rate. In our example, that would be the $10,000 loan with the
15% interest rate.
That is not what Ramsey teaches his students however and this was
based on what he learned on his own journey.
There are really two forces at play in this story. The first is debt
reduction. But the second, and the one nobody ever discusses, is the fact
that most people dont stick to a debt elimination plan because they get
burned out.
And one of the reasons they get burned out is that they dont see much
change in their situation.
Ramsey realizes that motivation is as important, if not more important,
then the debt reduction plan so to address this he advices people to turn
the plan upside down and start by paying off the smallest loan first.
Just think about that for a moment? In a matter of a few months, you can
now say you have three loans to pay off instead of four. Then you move
onto the next loan. Get that paid off and now you are down to two.


Yes I realize this is completely counterintuitive and quite frankly it

defies mathematical logic because in the end you might end up paying
more money that way.
But what Ramsey learned through his own methods was that he
actually paid off his loans faster, because he was leveraging the power of
His method enabled him to see light at the end of the tunnel much
quicker and sustain it much longer by flipping traditional debt
management on its head.
Thats a perfect example of empirical learning. What he teaches flies in
the face of conventional wisdom and yet it is extremely effective
because it addresses the delicate art of motivational psychology.
And he knows it works because that is what he did to get out of debt.
Now I know you might be thinking, thats great Dean, but my finances
are in order so this is of little help.
I would sharply caution you not to look at this example in the context
of finances; otherwise you will miss the principle that can be applied to
any area of your life.
The principle Ramsey addresses is the exact same reason most people
struggle to lose weight.
They focus on the big number, which in this case is the end goal of
losing 30 pounds or 50 pounds or 100 pounds .


But when you begin to understand that the bigger challenge isnt the
weight, its the motivation to stay on the path you have chosen, you
begin to connect the dots.
You realize you need to break that weight loss goal down into smaller
more manageable loans.
If I was trying to lose 50 pounds , I would break it up into five 10 pound
segments. I would then develop a plan around losing that first 10
pounds. Once that milestone was reached and sustained, I would then
take what I had learned to create a plan for the next milestone.
You catch my drift here. The empirical principle Ramsey shares has
implications in many areas of your life.
Let me share one more example from my own life which helps
demonstrate the power of empirical knowledge.
I have said my turning point on this journey came when I decided I
would be the expert on me.
I didnt have the vocabulary to express this at the time, but what I was
really saying was that I was no longer going to rely on other peoples
opinions. From that point forward, I would base all my decisions on
empirical learning.
And that decision led me to question things I had never questioned
For instance, I have discovered that I can control my cravings by
deciding in advance how many treats I am allowed to have each week.

I would allow myself three treats per week that were roughly the size of
my fist. The moment I put a number on it, I made my cravings tangible
and created clear boundaries as to what was acceptable and what wasnt.
That declaration also forced me to make decisions and come up with
coping strategies when I was jouncing for junk.
By paying attention of my own experiences, I dismissed that idea and
began to work on my own theories of how to manage my cravings.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

I would hazard to guess that if you have struggled for a
long period of time with a particular problem, odds are
you are not relying on your own empirical knowledge.
The fastest way to success is to start testing these
assumptions you thought to be true and find out once and for all
whether they work for you or not.
And if they dont, then ditch them immediately and begin devising
your own evil plan to conquer those persistent demons.

Lesson #2: Look For Bright Spots

In the world of research, they call this positive deviance.
Wikipedia defines positive deviance as an approach to behavioral and
social change based on the observation that in any community, there
are people whose uncommon but successful behaviors or strategies
enable them to find better solutions to a problem than their peers,


despite facing similar challenges and having no extra resources or

knowledge than their peers.
But I also believe this definition can be extended within the community
of your own experiences because the reality is you dont struggle with
willpower all the time.

There are times when you resist foods that you know you cannot have.
There are times when you workout when you said you would workout.
There are times where you are focused and super-productive.
And there are times when you got up as soon as the alarm went off.

But the problem is you dismiss these bright spots. That is the expected
behavior and when it happens you nod in approval but never think to
stop and figure out what contributed to things going exactly as you had
I think this is one of the gravest mistakes we make and it goes back to
something I have stated in previous Big Ideas.
I believe our greatest opportunities for success can be found by
analyzing our successes. If we can unravel valuable lessons from our
bright spots then we have the opportunity to repeat them and repeat
the success.
This is why I believe mastermind groups can be such a powerful tool to
help people build willpower, or businesses or families.


If you surround yourself with the right people, they will be able to ask
the right questions that will help you clear the fog and see something
you never knew contributed to your success.
As I write this piece, I realize I have had an incredibly productive day.
Now I could simply take that for granted and hope by some miracle that
the same thing will happen again tomorrow.
But I already know the odds of this happening are slim to none if I pass
up the opportunity to autopsy this bright spot.
What has made this day different than so many others?
Perhaps it was the quality of my sleep? Did sleeping with the window
open make a difference? Did getting eight hours make a difference? Did
it help that I got up right away and immediately launched into my
morning routine?
Did it make a difference that I did my workout immediately after my
journal session? Does that put my mind more at ease knowing the most
difficult and important task of my day is in the books? Does that free up
my mind to be more creative and at peace with myself?
Does keeping a personal commitment change how I perceive myself?
Does that impact my day positively?
My speculation is that getting the workout done in the morning after
my journal entry saves me buckets of energy that I know I burn up
through out my day as I wonder when or if I am actually going to do
the workout I said I would do.


My plan is to leverage that bright spot. Im going to pay special

attention to that subtle shift in my morning routine and see if there is a
connection that manifests in other areas of my life.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

Successes are easier to learn from because it means
whatever you did had an impact. The trick of course
is to try and figure out what that thing or
combination of things was that you could repeat so
you can duplicate your success almost at will.

Lesson #3: Look For Blind Spots

The final step to learning from your own experiences is to test the
assumptions you are making that are hindering your success.
These assumptions act as blind spots that prevent you from seeing what
is really there.
They act exactly the same as those blind spots we have when we are
Blind spots are a little more challenging to find on your own and this is
where the idea of a mastermind group can really be effective in helping
you build and master willpower.
I would not be scared to estimate that we easily have ten blind spots
that are holding us back specifically when it comes to willpower.
One big blind spot most suffer from is thinking willpower is a character
flaw rather than a system failure.

Think of how this little idea has changed how you are now seeing
things. And imagine how that will impact other areas of your life,
whether it is you email inbox management, home organization or
morning routines.

Blind Spot Example

A big blind spot I have had for some time was around the idea that it
takes 21 days to build a habit.
I always figured if I could get through the first 21 days of anything then
the habit would just flow effortlessly after that.
But the idea that it takes 21-days to build a habit is an urban myth.
It takes an instant to decide to adopt a habit and a lifetime to commit to
doing it every single day.
That little blind spot discovery has helped me put my previous habits
like food logging into perspective. I can crush a habit just as easily as I
start one, no matter how long I have been doing it.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #3?

You have many blind spots that you dont even know
exist. You have them in your closest relationships.
You have them with your annoying habits and you
have them when it comes to willpower.
Recognizing you have these blind spots now puts you in a strong
position to begin finding a way to reveal what they are.


For Your Consideration

So I only have one suggested practice for you, but it is a rather big
commitment. Consider the idea of forming your own mastermind
group so you can jumpstart your learning curve exponentially.
I realize if you are an introvert you just cringed at that idea, but
the truth is you need a trusted group of advisors who can help you
on your journey.
A mastermind group can consist of one to four people. Anymore
than five and it loses its attention to detail.
I have been involved in a mastermind with a total of five people
and I have been involved in some that had only one other person.
There are no rules on how this can be done. You just want to
surround yourself with people who you trust and have your best
interests at heart.


Big Idea #18

Expand your skill set

Willpower thrives when awareness is systemically and

continuously manufactured.
So as we enter into the final Big Idea in this step, lets lock down your
understanding of why the SCORE method was created.
I developed this model with the express purpose of providing you with
a systematic framework to work through some of the messy aspects of
your life that may have gotten the better of you over the last number of
The SCORE method was created to provide the tools necessary to sift
through the chaos and overwhelm that surrounds you in certain areas

of your life and begin putting the pieces of your unique puzzle together
into some semblance of a solution that brings you peace of mind and a
sense of control.
I would like to take a moment to show you why the puzzle analogy fits
perfectly to explain why certain issues have been so troublesome to solve.
On many occasions you have attempted to sift through the pieces of
that problem and begin putting the puzzle together.
The problem in the past however is that you didnt know what the end
result was supposed to look like. So each piece became its own little
The energy that went into trying to figure out what each little piece
might mean was exhausting on almost every level imaginable.
Eventually you burned out and gave up.
Periodically you would return, determined that this time you would
unravel your pile of pieces, and each time the result was the same as it
was previously, with one significant addition.
The frustration, overwhelm, shame and disappointment compounded
with each successive failure.
You got to the point where it seemed that this was your fate and you
would have to try and find a way to be OK with that.
But there is a difference now.


That big pile of pieces now comes with a map, called the SCORE
method, that allows you to begin sorting through the chaos to see what
you have, to see what you might keep and to see what you will
eventually discard.
And as you begin to work through the steps you will begin to see emerging
patterns that will allow you to begin instilling order into your life.
And when you can do that you get the greatest gift of all: a sense that,
for the first time in a very long time, you are once again in control of
your life.
So the final step to building on the control you now have is Big Idea
#18: Expand Your Skill Set.

Lesson #1: Keep A Log

When you evaluate the outcome of any experiment that you have
attempted, the point is to manufacture awareness of what works and
what doesnt.
Willpower thrives when awareness is systemically and continuously
But it wilts when we really on memory alone. Lessons are forgotten if
we do not find a way to catalogue and expand on what we have learned.
This is where a log of some type would be really beneficial.
I know, you just rolled your eyes again at that notion, but let me give
you the straight goods.


People who are successful find a way to capture what they learn somehow,
either in a journal, on a blog, in a book, with a camera or via audio.
To help you put this in perspective, think about your family doctor.
How likely would you stay with him or her if they simply kept a mental
file on you and your family?
You would ditch them in nanosecond. Its absolutely absurd to think a
doctor would not keep notes.
To provide the best care possible, they need to track everything: your
allergies, the meds you are on, previous conditions you have suffered
from, the results of your last exam etc.
Its ironic isnt it that we do not manage our own lives with the same
attention to detail that we expect from our health care professionals.

Act Like A Researcher

So I am going to ask you to change your reference point on how you
see you.
I want you to consider thinking of yourself as a researcher who has
been assigned a highly unusual subjectYOU! Your job is to figure out
why you do the things you do.
I realize that may sound silly, but hear me out.
This is a great play to use when you are stuck in an endless loop of
feeling like a victim of your circumstances. Remember I said previously,


that grieving is important, but it is equally important to pull yourself

out of that loop as quickly as you can.
And one way to do that is to literally imagine yourself switching roles
and becoming the researcher on you.
Once you are in your researcher mode, you can begin to ask some
penetrating questions to get at the root of the problem.
And those questions and the subsequent theories you come up with is
exactly the kind of stuff that makes for an effective log.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #1?

You are a tale of two people. There is the you who has
stumbled on this path to be the ideal you. And now
there is the researcher you. The researcher you puts
on the gear to dive into perplexing problems to see if
you can begin to unveil patterns that might lead to a
much more desirable outcome.

Lesson #2: Practice Expressive Writing

University of Texas professor James Pennebaker, who has written a
book called, Writing to Heal had this to say on the healing power of
expressive writing.
The evidence is mounting that the act of writing about traumatic
experiences for as little as fifteen to twenty minutes a day for three or
four days can produce measurable changes in physical and mental


health. Emotional writing can also affect peoples sleep habits, work
efficiency and how they connect with others.
I did want to clarify that his use of the word traumatic is in the extreme
But I also believe that there are lesser forms of trauma that are
unleashed on each of us every day when we are not experiencing the
success we desire.
Not eating the way you intend, not being as productive as you had
hoped, feeling you are no longer as sexy as you once were, feeling
inferior at work; all those are examples of events that seem small or
insignificant to most, but cause us tremendous pain.
Any kind of pain that we experience is traumatic and it has
repercussions if we dont find a way to channel it effectively.
Keeping secrets by attempting to bottle things up inside slowly warps
our character and the very essence of who we are from the inside out.
But the art of expressive writing can help tremendously as Pennebaker
And you will see that it doesnt take much to feel the impact physically,
socially, emotionally and psychologically.
Blocking out time each week to write down things you are wrestling
with and possible theories or solutions as to how to move forward on
them is a really powerful tool that starts to stack up when you do it
consistently over an extended period of time.

Journaling has done wonders for me. That daily act allows me to release
any anxiety that might be pent up by not addressing issues head on.
Let me share an actual example from my journal of something I wrote
about finding purpose.
Just know that no one other than me has ever seen this. Also keep in
mind that while this may not appear to link directly to willpower, it
most certainly does.
Every issue that I am struggling with burns a tremendous amount of
energy when left unattended. The moment I get my most pressing
thoughts down on paper, I extinguish the flame and free up my energy
reserves to be used where they matter most, whether it is directed
towards my eating, my workouts or my level of productivity.
Here is what I wrote on Wednesday, June 12th, 2013. The title of this
entry was, My Purpose.
I have been thinking about this a lot the past few weeks because it has
occurred to me I still dont know what it is I am truly committed to.
For a long while I thought it was about helping people find purpose,
but I have recently discovered that finding purpose is a by-product of
something bigger: Discovering who we really are.
Im beginning to think that we (me specifically) dont really know who
we are and whats really important. That might sound ludicrous, but I
now believe that to be true.


I think we have an ideal of who we think we are and we construct a

world around that to support our theory.
I think that is why we thrash so violently when we are in uncommon
situations. It threatens to expose a side of us that we are not prepared to
see, positive or negative.
Look at Susan Cain (She is the author of the book, Quiet: The Power
of Introverts). She mentioned that it took her ten years to discover
what it was she really wanted to do.
Most people will never make that discovery or try to address that
question because it risks turning their world upside down.
I have also discovered that my own stumbling and bumbling on this is
journey is a direct result of making the assumption that I know myself.
The truth is I know much less about me than I think I do. And I cant
truly discover who I am until I begin putting myself in situations I have
never been in before.
Every new situation I put myself in forces me to see a side of myself
that had yet to be revealed.
If I dont dare greatly, then I am only seeing a fraction of who I really am.
I would rather struggle mightily being the complete Dean than have
success being a fraction of who I was meant to be.
Let me highlight a few strategies I use when I log my thoughts.
First, I write like it is a letter to me.

Second, I just write. I dont worry about spelling or grammar or

anything else. The point is to get the idea out as quickly as possible.
Third, there is no BS. I am honest in my assessment of myself.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #2?

Do whatever research you need to do to convince
yourself of the need to begin practicing the fine art of
expressive writing.

Lesson #3: Update Your Playbook

Remember in an earlier Big Idea I mentioned the rubber wristbands I
used to eliminate my pen chewing habit?
Once I realized how powerful and effective that play was, I added it to
my playbook.
The expressive writing example I shared above is a play I use to
enhance my willpower.
Visualizing yourself as researcher to get out of your feel sorry for me
state is a play.
Bringing snacks like a Lra Bar with you to a meeting or get-together is
a play (and one I run all the time.)
The ultimate goal on this journey is to not only have a vast array of
plays that you can run at any given moment, but to update those plays
and the possible scenarios where they can be utilized.


So let me end this section by sharing a play that Brene Brown teaches
people to overcome shame.
I love Brene Brown and I think her work applies to many of us on this
journey because we all feel some level of shame for the changes we have
been unable to create for ourselves.
It might be shame relating to our lack of willpower. It might be shame
about our appearance. Or it might be shame about the fact we just dont
feel we are good enough as we currently are.
Male or female, we all suffer from some level of shame.
But there is hope my friend. Here are the four steps to developing
shame resilience, as stated by Brene in her incredible book, Daring
Understand shame triggers. Shame has biology and biography. It
elicits a physical response and it is triggered by a particular story
or message.
Practice critical awareness. Reality-check those things that are
driving your shame. Are they realistic or even attainable?
Reach out. Shame thrives in silence. Own it, but share your story
with your trusted tribe.
Speak shame. Are you talking about how you feel and asking for
what you need when you feel shame.
Those are her four steps to becoming shame resistant.
Its a really powerful play that should be added to anyones playbook.

What Is Your Takeaway From Lesson #3?

Plays are important. The more you have at your
fingertips, the more likely you will handle an
unexpected situation successfully and effortlessly.

For Your Consideration

I am going to suggest that you create an actual playbook for
yourself. My recommendation is to sit down and list all the plays
you currently have in your possession.
Its OK that some have not been used yet.
Once you come with your list, jot down a few notes beside each in
terms of how it should be used, additional tools that may be
required and possible scenarios where the play can be used.
For instance, with my wristband play, I jotted down possible uses
that range from using it to stop cursing to eliminating negative
thoughts in certain areas of my life.
Your list of plays will determine your success. The thicker the book the
more likely you will be able to handle most situations that come your


Part 3
the pitfalls And
the possibilities


Common pitfalls to avoid

Learning and action are not the same. Lots of people take how to
courses and never do anything with the knowledge they possess.
So you are now fully up to speed on the entire SCORE method and all
its subtle intricacies. But I wanted to use Big Idea #19 to let you know
that you are not done with this course.
You see, most programs would send you a congratulatory email or
maybe even a certificate saying you have successfully completed the
course, but you wont be getting any of that here.
The truth is you are not done, YOU ARE ONLY JUST BEGINNING.
Everything you have read and listened to up to this point entitles you to

stand at the START line on this journey to building willpower. Your

destiny lies ahead.
This has the potential to be one of the most exciting and productive
journeys you have ever gone on, but in order for that to happen, I need
to steer you clear of the common pitfalls that most people make that
prevent them from generating the results they desire.

Common pitfall #1
Taking no action
I came across a recent study that suggested that 72.3% of people who
sign up for an online program do not take any action. Some never
commit to the program at all, while others commit to the material in
some form, but do not end up taking any kind of action that will impact
the quality of the life they lead.
I have seen this in my own business as well. I have had people sign up
for a $100 program and never open a single email I have sent them.
While I found that perplexing at first, I understand why that happens.
First, people think that if they pay money for something they will
automatically commit to it. Unfortunately, there is no correlation between
buying something and using it. Just think of all the treadmills, stationary
bikes and rowing machines that get purchased but never get used.
The second reason is because people truly believe they can defer difficult
work until a later period of time and actually come back and do it.


Deferring action is a ploy we use to trick ourselves into thinking we are

really going to do something, when deep down we know we wont.
Deferred action, with no plan attached, almost always leads to no
The work around with this course or any program you purchase is to
use the first step in the SCORE method and decide in advance how and
when you will commit to the course work based on the life you lead.
From there, completing a course follows the same principles that John
Grisham uses to write his novels. You show up on the days and times
you said you would and do the work.

Common pitfall #2
Mistaking learning for action
This is something I recognized in my own life. Reading is really
deceptive because it gives the illusion of action, when in reality, it is
Learning and action are not the same. Lots of people take how to
courses and never do anything with the knowledge they possess.
Reading about the SCORE method and using the framework to work
through a hotspot in your life is something else entirely.
Just make sure you are fully aware that reading and listening entitle you
to be a spectator only. To get onto the playing field and be a participant
you need to ACT!

Common pitfall #3:

Adopting a one and done approach
As you now know, there is little fluff in this program. Each lesson
presents a multitude of ideas and potential options upon which to
Consequently, going through it a single time makes it nearly impossible
to grasp every concept that is presented.
In fact, the first time through can be so overwhelming that you will
forget most of what you learn.
I have read some books three or four times and I am always amazed
what I did not see the times previous.
Here is how I suggest you approach the material. Treat it as an actor
would a script. Everything is read trying to get a better grasp on their
The first read is to understand the story. This creates the foundation.
All subsequent reads are done so the actor really understands the
character they are playing and his or her motivations.
This script is no different, but for one thing. You are the main character
in this story.
The first time you read through this script, you are just trying to
understand the elements of the framework and how they connect to the
life you have lived up until this point.

This is difficult because the material will pull you in many different
directions. Resist the urge to start trying to figure everything out
An actor cannot create a complete character based on the first act alone.
It is the same with you and this course. Understand the whole story
before you attempt to develop your character.
The next step is to carefully re-read each section as often as is necessary
making special note of words, phrases or paragraphs that help you
understand how this material is going to shape you moving forward.
An actor may read a script twenty times before they feel they truly have
a complete grasp of the character.
You are going to have a similar experience, so be prepared to make a
similar commitment. I would go so far as to suggest you print the entire
script off and keep making notes in the margins until you have a
complete understanding of the character you are looking to play
moving forward.

Common pitfall #4
Getting overwhelmed with the sheer
volume of ideas and possibilities
This is common in most areas of our life. Its one reason I only
subscribe to about five blogs at any one time. Otherwise, I am exposed
too so many different competing ideas I get pulled in a million
directions and I end up doing nothing.

Much of what I suggested in pitfall #3 will help you deal with

overwhelm, but there are a few other strategies I have picked up along
the way that may prove helpful to you.
First, set the pace for your own learning. Never be at the mercy of
someone elses schedule. Adopt a pace that allows you to absorb the
information most effectively.
One trick I now use with my email is I drop interesting Fast Company
articles and TED videos into a To Read and a To Watch folder on
Evernote. When I have free time, I will head over there to get to those
articles and videos I did not have time for previously.
The other thing I would suggest is to err on the side of doing less. My
default is to go all in on things.
But I now look to rein in that little genetic bugaboo by intentionally
focusing on moderation so I avoid burn out.

Common pitfall #5
Overestimating the power of memory
People will read the SCORE method and think that they will remember
to use its strategies when it matters most.
But let me ask you this. What did you have for lunch yesterday? Odds
are you dont remember.


Thats exactly what happens with most of the important concepts we

learn. We think we will remember, but when we are caught off guard,
we draw a blank.
So if you are trying to log your foods, then dont rely on memory. Put a
daily reminder in your calendar so you will get a message telling you to
log your foods.
Are you looking to drink more water each day? Set a timer on your
phone that goes off every few hours to act as your reminder to drink
your water if you havent already done so.
Are you going out for dinner on Friday night? Put an email reminder in
your calendar to look up the menu and attach a note stating what your
goals are for that night.
Memory should never be counted on when it comes to creating
behavior change. Leverage the wonders of technology to help you do
those things you must.

Common pitfall #6
Underestimating the power of consistency
This is my own personal opinion, but I think this is the BIGGEST problem
that people suffer from when it comes to successful behavior change.
People dont stick with anything long enough to reap the rewards.
Amazing things happen when small changes are bundled together and
done consistently over an extended period of months, years and decades.

Common pitfall #7
Unable to see the bigger picture
Trying to figure out what works is really an exercise in failing our way
to success. You are going to have to try a bunch of things until you can
figure out exactly what works and what doesnt.
But most people are not schooled in the fine art of failure. We have
been taught to consider failure a bad thing. Thats why many people
who attempt an extreme detox diet quit the moment they mess up.
But think about that for a moment. Lets say you are ten days into a
thirty-day detox and on day eleven you mess up. Most people give up.
But whats stopping you from starting again on day twelve? Even if you
stumbled four other days, thats still twenty-five perfect eating days out
of the last thirty.
If you quit after day ten then you only get ten great eating days of a
possible thirty. I dont know about you, but I will take twenty-five great
eating days in a month over ten any day.

Common pitfall #8
Quitting the things that lead
to success in the first place
You cant adopt a new behavior, create change and then think you can
stop and still reap the benefits.


To illustrate the point, imagine you brush your teeth everyday but at
your latest dentist appointment you discover you have a cavity.
Your dentist tells you that you need to start flossing everyday. And you do.
And the next five visits to the dentist are perfect. No more cavities.
Now imagine that on the car ride home you say to yourself, You know I
have had so much success preventing cavities that I am going to stop
flossing and brushing and expect that I will continue to have no cavities.
Yes I realize that sounds ridiculous. No one would do that right?
But people apply silly logic like that all the time. Think about a diet
where you limit calories for two or three weeks and lose weight then go
back to your normal calorie intake and think the previous changes will
sustain themselves.
Thats helpful when it comes to deciding what things you are going to
adopt in the future. Understand that you are signing up for the long haul.

Common pitfall #9
Adopting behaviors that are not
sustainable long term
I have already talked about why I am not a fan of extreme programs.
They are not sustainable long term unless you have a serious support
system in place.


Yes you can FORCE the body to get results short term, but if it is too
much, the body will eventually fight back and say it has had enough.
Work on adopting smaller more manageable behaviors that are
sustainable long term that fit into the context of the life you lead.

Common pitfall #10

Failing to recover
I learned on my journey that failure was not the problem. It was my
inability to stop the bleeding that led to my eventual downfall.
Failure for most people mirrors that big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
back in 2010. While the spill was tragic, the real issue was the fact they
didnt know how to cap it and stop the disaster that was.
Thats a great analogy of what it is like for most people. They have a
spill, and rather than cap it to contain the damage they just let it spill
out until it is a full-blown disaster.
The faster you contain your spill, the greater the odds that a full and
immediate recovery is likely.

Common pitfall #11

Stopping the data collection process
I was definitely guilty of that one.
Listen! There are people out there who can intuitively navigate the
important data in their life and thrive doing so.

I am not one of those people and you arent either!

Data is at the core of your success. The moment you stop weighing
yourself, or logging your foods, or investigating spills is the moment
things begin to derail.
It is scientifically proven that we are horrible estimators. When you
start relying on guessing over data, then be aware that things are going
to end badly for you.
It may not happen right away, but at some point in your not so distant
future you are going to find yourself in a bad place and wonder why
you didnt see that coming sooner.
DATA IS YOUR SAVIOR. When you make it a habit of collecting it
daily, you are constantly aware of what is going on.
And as soon as you see things trending downward, you can
immediately put a plan in place to get things back where they should be.

Common pitfall #12

Trying to go this journey alone
I call this the lone wolf mentality and it is something I have suffered
from for the better of 45 years.
But we are not wired to solve complex problems on our own. We are
groupists by nature and we need other people in our lives who can help
us make sense of the things we do not see or understand.


There are ways to do this, but ultimately you need to find a safe
environment that allows you to be open, honest and vulnerable.
Masterminds are one of the most effective strategies to do this. Being
part of a carefully monitored community is another.
Listen it is no accident I teach this stuff and create communities around
it. It helps me connect with likeminded people and share and refine my
ideas. But I also learn a tremendous amount from the experiences of
others that helps me on my journey to being in control of the life I lead.

For Your Consideration

Reflect on the pitfalls above and choose a few that really resonate
with you. But dont just think about them, use a log to explore
some of the bigger underlying issues that you have never



The art of possibility

When you bundle unsexy solutions together in a pack of three, or

five, or seven and you commit to them without fail on a daily basis
over an extended period of time, amazing things start to happen.
Wow! It is hard to believe this is the last Big Idea before I set you free
so you can go forth confidently knowing you are armed with everything
you need to slay many of your greatest demons that have long held you
back from being the person you always knew you could be.
So while Big Idea number 19 was all about making you aware of the
pitfalls that derail many on this journey, I would like to use this Big Idea


to paint a picture of the possibilities that exist for your new invented

Possibility #1
Recapturing that trust in yourself
The one thing that has taken a beating over your years or decades of
struggle is the lost faith in your ability to trust yourself in the critical
moments of your life.
Every time you said you are going to do something and didnt, you
made a tiny withdrawal from your personal trust account.
You have made so many over the years that you are dangerously close
to declaring bankruptcy.
What the SCORE method does is empower you to begin making
micro-deposits of trust back into that account, by giving you a system
that helps you honor the commitments you have made to yourself.
Each time you log your foods, you make a deposit. Each time you do the
workout you said you were going to do, you make a deposit. And each
time you eat exactly the way you had planned, you make a deposit.
These may seem insignificant, but they are small steps on your 1000mile journey that begin to add up over time.
The other wonderful aspect is that your newfound trust carries over
into other aspects of your life.


Your relationships improve. Your outlook on life improves. And your

view of what is possible expands far beyond what you ever dreamed

Possibility #2
Seeing the immense power of the system
The SCORE method works. The more you work it and get results the
more you will come to trust it implicitly.
And the more you trust it, the more you will discover that its
applications are limitless.
I have presented it in the context of building willpower, but it is a
system for building incredible relationships, it is a system for building
incredible happiness and it is a system for building incredible impact.
This is worth repeating again. The more you work the system, the more
you will discover how the system will work for you in all areas of your life.

Possibility #3
Being in control of your life
When problems get the better of you, you feel like you are powerless to
do anything to change the circumstances you find yourself in.
But as you work the SCORE system, one of the unexpected benefits is
that, for the first time in a very long time, you are going to feel you are
actually in control of things.


You can probably relate to this, but I have always felt I owned a body
that I had no control over. It seemed no matter what I told it, it simply
did whatever it wanted.
It was frustrating to say the least.
But the SCORE method has given me what I feel is the greatest benefit
of all: the feeling of knowing I am now in control.
I am no longer just along for the ride. I am an active participant firmly
entrenched in the drivers seat.
Another little tip I have picked up along the way that will help you out
as well, is to begin to train yourself to become mindful of the results
you generate and how these connect to the notion of being in control.
When you can eat out without fear of gorging on desserts, you discover
you are in control of your environment regardless of where you are.
When you are able to hear peoples words while disregarding the tone,
then you learn you are in control of your emotions and you have the
ability to respond with the grace and compassion that leaves the world
a far richer place.
And when you create rules to manage your inbox and morning
checklists for your children to follow on a school day you discover that
overwhelm can be a thing of the past with a little bit of thought and the
right systems in place.
Being in control of your life gives you the strength and the courage to
begin daring more greatly as you look to venture forth and build the life
you thought was never possible.


Possibility #4
Creating incredible self-awareness
I believe you live two lives; the one before self-awareness and the one
after it.
And there is really no comparison. Your life before self-awareness was
one of desperation. You jumped from one solution to the next hoping
someone was going to be able to fix you.
The SCORE method opens your eyes to that world you have never seen
before. It gives you the gift of awareness.
And awareness comes with its own inherent set of giftsone being
immediacy. You can immediately see the impact of the bad choices you
make. This was something that may have taken months or years to
happen in your old life, if it even happened at all.
But now you have the ability to make immediate course corrections so
you can avoid impending disaster.
You now have the opportunity to live a life void of the devastating
extremes that were so commonplace in your past.
Here is an example of how that now works in my life.
When I log my foods, the goal is to come in under 100 grams of carbs
on all days except my weekly treat day.
Recently I had a day where I came in at 140 grams. I immediately
decided to make a course correction by structuring the next day so I
would only consume 60 grams of carbs.

And just like that I was back on track.

That is one of the greatest changes in my behavior now. Awareness
allows me to make changes in real time and correct tiny bugs in the
present rather than wait for months until those bugs morph into fullblown disasters.

Possibility #5
Increasing self-compassion
No one is harder on you during your struggles than you. You call
yourself names. You label yourself with every character flaw you can
find. And you talk to yourself in a way that you would never talk to
someone else who was experiencing similar struggles.
I used to have this motto that I was quite proud of, No one is harder on
me than me.
I dont see that as a badge of honor anymore. The point is not to be
hard on myself. The point is to be fair in my assessment of myself and
treat me exactly as I would treat others in a similar situation.
The SCORE method opens up to a whole new way to see you. You
begin to see you for who you are, not for whom you think should be.
The inference seems subtle, but the implication is seismic in its impact
on how you will begin to treat yourself.


You begin to shift away from this idea that you are the Biggest Loser
to something that reinforces the notion you are perfect as you are and
with the right system in place, things will only get that much better.
The added bonus of self-compassion is that it increases your
compassion for others. The more you have for yourself than the more
you will have for others.

Possibility #6
Increasing your confidence
Your confidence is the other thing that takes a beating pre-SCORE
method. You have tried so many things and failed so many times that
your armor is not just dented, it has been crushed like a pop can.
The brilliance of the SCORE method is that it helps you rebuild that
lost confidence one small success at a time.
I always shudder when I hear people say things like, You have to
believe in yourself or You have to have confidence in who you are.
You dont have confidence, you build it. And it starts knowing you
have a system in place that you trust. When you work that system, in
this case the SCORE method, you begin to create the small wins that
help rebuild and replace that mangled armor that was once
representative of your confidence.


Working the system to ensure that you stick to your eating plan at the
next dinner party you attend adds a small piece of confidence to your
Working the system to create an exercise program that fits for the life
you lead, adds a small piece of confidence to the armor.
As you continue to work the system you come to recognize that even
when you fall, you have the growing confidence to know that you will
figure things out somehow and put something in place that will allow
you to be successful the next time through.

Possibility #7
Mastering consistency
As I have stated previously, I really believe if people just stuck to their
bundle of sustainable solutions day in and day out rather than hopping
from one quick fix solution to the next they would experience
incredible success.
You have to remember that big problems are solved with small
solutions. Those solutions dont come wrapped in 4-digit price tag.
They are cheap, easily accessible and extremely unsexy.
But when you bundle those unsexy solutions together in a pack of
three, or five, or seven and you commit to them without fail on a daily
basis over an extended period of time, amazing things start to happen.

Possibility #8

Continuing to manufacture courage

Using the scale scares the heck out of people because they are afraid to
confront the truth about their situation.
They are also afraid because it screams at them when they are not
doing things right or doing the right things consistently, by showing a
number that is trending upward rather than down.
But a scale is just a device that weighs the things that are placed on it. It
doesnt offer judgment, or make snide comments or snicker at the
number presented.
Any meaning attached to the number that appears comes from you.
Avoiding the scale altogether is not the solution, just as not logging
your foods on a day when you went bananas with your eating is not the
solution either.
Its about teaching yourself to stop running from the things that scare
you. Its about turning and facing them head on even if you get beat
down severely in the beginning.
Getting on a scale and seeing that number can be horrifying at the
beginning. But as you begin to address why that is and what it all means
it becomes less so over time. And sooner than you might think, it
actually becomes what it is supposed to be: objective feedback.

A Story About Fear

Back in 1980 I changed high schools between grades nine and ten. On
the bus ride home that first day I was the last guy on.

There was only one seat remaining and it was in the second to last seat
at the back of the bus. A guy that lived on my street and had tormented
my friends and I growing up was sitting in the last seat.
I had spent the last four or five years avoiding him and my mind was
racing as I walked to take my seat at the back.
As I surveyed the situation, I realized that he was also initiating the new
students by spraying them with perfume.
I knew he was going to do the same to me. Its so funny because I
remember that day like it was yesterday and I remember exactly what
ran through my head.
I was tired of running from this guy. I decided that if he tried to spray
me with perfume I was going to turn and stop him. I occurred to me he
would probably beat the snot out of me, but I didnt care.
I would rather get beat senseless than continue to run in fear.
In anticipation of what I was sure was coming, I put my books on the
floor and waited.
And sure enough, he started spraying me with perfume. I turned and
grabbed him by the shirt collar and pushed him up against the back of
the bus.
Before anything could happen the people sitting around us got inbetween and broke things up.


As I sat back down I realized the worst was yet to come. We both got
off at the same stop, so I was pretty sure that beating was going to come
the moment we both got off.
When the bus finally pulled up to our stop, I was prepared to go down
As he stepped off the bus, he looked at me and said, No hard feelings?
I assume I said no, but I was in a bit of shock. Was that really it? Is that
all I needed to do to stop fearing that guy.
And that answer was yes. I had made this guy out to be more than he
was. By taking my stand, I ended years of fear.
Thats a long story to say the SCORE method provides you openings to
begin taking your stand.
Does the number on the scale scare you? Take a stand and begin
working through that issue to get at the real root of the problem and
the solutions you can implement.
Does failure in general scare you? Take a stand so you can learn to see it
for what it really is: feedback.
I could go on and on with my list, but you catch my drift here.
Its time to stop running. You have a framework that allows you the
ability to start manufacturing courage.

Possibility #9
Daring greatly

I want to end with an excerpt from Theodore Roosevelts speech,

Citizenship in a Republic.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the
strong man stumbles or whether the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose
face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly;
who errs, who comes up short again and again.
Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who
does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms,
the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly

For Your Consideration

I want you to remind yourself that you are that great man or woman
Roosevelt refers to.
By signing up for and completing this course, you have chosen to enter
into the arena.
Dont discount that. Thats a significant achievement.
And remember you are striving valiantly to change the circumstances
that currently surround you and even though you are giving it your
best effort you will continue to come up short again and again.
But there are two things worth noting.


First, you have a system in place now to deal with those situations
when you do come up short.
And second, you are invested in a very worthy causeYou! And
by having the courage to dare greatly you open up the possibility
to experience success in ways you never dreamed were imaginable.


That is the beauty of learning, and then sharing. You grow. You
share the lessons and help others grow. Heres the magic-they in
turn make you grow. Its a natural cycle.
~Kamal Ravikant; Author of Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It.

I love what Kamal wrote. Sharing takes on a greater act then simply
pasting a link on one of your social media channels. When it is done
with the right intentions, it can open up amazing opportunities for
personal growth and connection.
If you would like to share this book with your friends, click the link

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Additional Willpower Resources

While it is possible to get everything you need from just this book,
there are additional resources available to take your willpower training
to the next level. Those include:

A complete audio course

Success stories and how-to videos
Private Facebook group

Join today and become part of The Willpower Solution community.

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more than you can imagine.
You had me at "discount" Dean,
Im interested to learn more!