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Leadership & Performance Playbook: Sunday Edition
October 22, 2023
😊 Hello to all of my newsletter readers! I am experimenting with a Sunday summary format and would love your feedback. Some people shared that they value the resources I share on my long-form posts, such as articles, books, podcasts, and videos. So, I wondered how to do that with a post style to share content that strengthens self-leadership, boosts work performance, and navigates change. I hope you try it and find one nugget you can take away to shape your mindset for the week ahead.
📕 I also refined the focus of this site as a “playbook of ideas, mindsets, and tools that bring out your best self and unlock high performance.” These tools include various forms of technology that can be used to perform at our true potential. Think about it as a collection of self-service resources to up your game. Everything I learn, write, and learn from others will be shared here for free. The intent is to help as many people as possible and for coachees to consume recommended content before live coaching sessions.
🌎 The site address was updated to https://playbook.coachjamesgray.com to align with this focus.
I was curious to see what images ChatGPT DALL-E3 would create from the newsletter's theme. Here is the ChatGPT rendition of me as a coach teaching these concepts. Perhaps that is a sign of the future. 🚀
Idea of the Week
As a coach, I talk to many people over a typical week. Many of these discussions relate to choosing a career path, job searching, changing direction, and gaining a deeper understanding of the present. If a theme emerged across all of these interactions this week, it was the absence of a personal vision to guide strategic decisions and a direction.
Most people have not taken the time to derive what I see as the four ingredients of a personal vision - values, beliefs, purpose, and goals. Connecting with these ingredients deeply supercharges your conviction and simplifies decision-making. I have written about the “inner quest” concept in multiple posts on this site and a recent LinkedIn article.
Articulating a personal vision gives you the agency to architect your unique path with an inspiring purpose and ambitious goals. Many of my coachees described the next step in their careers as incremental. While there can be a time and place for that, I also reflected this week that we don’t know what we are capable of until we embrace a unique purpose and set goals 10x above our current consciousness. The vision and goals should make you feel uncomfortable. Incremental thinking can have a way of making you obsolete in your craft. We must set ambitious goals that alter our mental models and influence what we start and stop doing. The same routines, people we spend time with, and ideas will not deliver on goals that bring out our best selves.
What are your goals for the next 6-12 months and 3-5 years?
How energized are you about these goals in a typical week?
What are you doing each day and week to make progress on these goals?
As I thought about this personal vision theme this week, I realized that while I have a clear set of values, beliefs, and purpose that are documented, my goals are not ambitious enough. It was incremental thinking that drafted them nine months ago, and it’s time to upgrade them with a new perspective.
“The real purpose comes from within. It is an idea, a calling, a sense of mission that we feel personally and intimately connected to.
It is our own; we may have been inspired by others, but nobody imposed it upon us and nobody can take it away.”
Laws of Human Nature by Robert Green
Everyone should have a purpose and value proposition that emanates deeply from their vision. This can be a person’s primary line of work or side hustle. This type of offering cannot be exactly copied or taken away - it’s your unique creation.
What goal will you recommit to and make deposits against this coming week?
I often read multiple books in parallel - here are a few in flight.
🌊 The Coming Wave by Mustafa Suleyman - if you are curious about the history of artificial intelligence and how AI may play out to change the world we live in radically, this book will give insights from the co-founder of Deep Mind (acquired by Google) and Inflection AI. The book's primary focus is the “containment problem” - the task of maintaining control over powerful technologies. AI is already changing the business landscape and this technology will significantly influence most professions. AI will replace jobs, others will use AI as a copilot, and new jobs will emerge. Career strategy is about evaluating the external forces and market trends that shape the demand for expertise. Learning to leverage AI tools in your field will become essential to survival.
💪 Outlive: The Science & Art of Longevity by Peter Attia, MD - I have become more obsessed recently with medical science and wellness practices to increase longevity. I like Dr. Attia’s mental model of the “Centenarian Olympics” - competing in life well into your hundreds. The key idea is to commit to physical routines in our earlier years to prepare for these Olympics. Think about your weekly routine: are you scheduling physical exercise into your day? Commit to a daily dose of exercise and strength training for yourself and your family and friends who love you and need you to be a part of their lives for as long as possible. In my experience, daily routine is the key. There will always be work demands to consume 100% of your time at the long-term expense of your longevity.
❤️ Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier by Arthur C. Brooks, Oprah Winfrey - I recently shared this post summarizing the book highlights and my nuggets. Getting happier is a conscious process that takes action to make progress. Since reading the book, I have a deeper presence and ensure I get the three macronutrients of happiness - enjoyment, satisfaction, and purpose. These ingredients influence what work we choose and commit ourselves to improving daily. A more profound presence also guides your internal decision process with actions that align with improving your happiness.
Reading is a form of learning and reflection to drive change toward who we seek to become - the next best version of ourselves.
I started integrating meditation practices into my day in early summer using the Headspace app, a recommendation from my son, who is a professional goalie. While this is a muscle I am working to develop, it has helped strengthen my clarity and productivity. I found that often, my mind would wander when executing work tasks. Meditation has helped me notice this when it occurs and return my focus to the task. My sleep has also improved using a sleep meditation that relaxes the body and clears the mind of thoughts. The Headspace and Calm apps both have free trials.
Experiment using meditation to calm and strengthen the mind - deeper awareness and presence unlock high performance.
I love learning, applying, and sharing technology that is changing the world and can be leveraged to power your purpose and goals. Watch this YouTube video if you are curious to understand the Metaverse - a virtual reality experience to engage with someone not in the same physical space.
Lex Fridman and Mark Zuckerberg talk together as digital avatars in the Metaverse. This explores concepts such as identity and fusing physical and virtual worlds. As I watched this video, I imagined a future with an AI-enabled digital avatar of myself as a coach available 24/7 to anyone in the world.
How may you use a digital avatar in the Metaverse to deliver a unique experience in your line of work?
Body - Mind - Spirit
Over the last six months, I have experienced a boost in my physical and mental spirit, including energy and endurance in my work. I have proven evidence that improving your routine, physical body, sleep, and conditioning increases job performance. Part of this transformation has been wearing a Whoop and analyzing the personalized performance data - it opened up a new world. The Whoop device automatically collects biometric data, as many devices do, but it can also collect 100+ measurements of data you can quickly key in at the beginning of the day. It builds up a vector of data to learn about your body and calculate performance. While a light alcohol drinker, I found that consuming alcohol was the most significant factor that reduced the morning recovery score. I could feel the difference in the morning when I had a drink the evening before. That insight influenced me to consume alcohol rarely.
I am so in touch with my performance data that I get more thoughtful about what knobs to turn. I knew I could improve my sleep, so I ran experiments to learn what factors influenced the sleep performance data. I started to use red night light LED bulbs that block blue light and turn these lights on an hour before bed. I was essentially preparing my body for sleep by eliminating bright light. Based on the daily recovery score, the Whoop sleep coach calculates when I should go to sleep. Tracking sleep performance and listening to a guided sleep meditation while lying in bed has enabled me to fall asleep naturally without tossing and turning. The Whoop data has helped me dial into the factors that prepare me for a productive, high-performance day.
Use journaling and tools like a Whoop to identify the factors and conditions that set you up for a high-performance day.
As a university graduate program coach, I review several resumes weekly and provide feedback to students seeking to showcase their expertise. Here is a recommended resume bullet structure to communicate the what, how, impact, and why.
While resumes are only one deliverable to market your profile, the readability to demonstrate your skills and experiences quickly is essential.
How confident do you feel that your current resume showcases your expertise quickly and accurately to a person who would scan your resume in two minutes?
I am a technology enthusiast who loves to find hardware and software tools that supercharge the execution of my purpose. Marketing your expertise to increase the visibility of who you are and what you offer is necessary for those seeking to experience their potential. AI-enabled tools are making content creation easier and quicker. I recommend exploring CapCut, a free comprehensive video editor (mobile and desktop) that easily integrates with social platforms.
I have been using the free version of Canva to create visual content for a few years and currently using the Canva Pro paid version for $15/month. Canva Pro recently released Magic Studio, which uses AI to create documents, visuals, and videos quickly. These two tools can help you expand the size of your audience and increase engagement.
Experiments with AI-enabled tools in your line of work to streamline productivity and accentuate your brand.
Please share this newsletter with people who can seek to strengthen their self-leadership and accelerate change. Good luck this coming week!
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