Prerequisite for High Performance

We strive for high performance.

And when things are going well, we feel indestructible. 

But tough times are inevitable. And for every peak climbed, there’s a valley—a dip in clarity, energy, focus, mood, and productivity.

When we’re in those low points, it can feel like we’re failing as men.

But what if, instead of being overwhelmed and thrown off balance by these changes, you could harness them to reach new heights? 

Join our tribe of productive men and learn what it takes to transform life’s inevitable difficulties into opportunities to reach new levels of performance, productivity, and potential.

See you on the other side.

A New Performance Paradigm: Part 1

Knowledge is power.

And guys like us—seeking high performance, productivity, and personal growth—have a deep hunger for more (even in this age of information overload).

After all, experience has demonstrated the power of just one new insight, perspective, or framework to massively upgrade your life. Upgrades that have helped you get where you are today. 

And even though you’ve managed to make great progress from where you started—you still struggle more often than you’d like to admit. Frequently losing momentum, lacking clarity, and feeling overwhelmed, distracted, and stuck.

It’s frustrating as hell, because you know you’re capable of so much more. 

I know exactly how you feel because that was my reality for decadesNot that everything is always easy now, but the way I relate to life’s challenges has changed.

There’s something I know for sure about you: You’re struggling and suffering much more than you need to. 

That’s why I want to share a simple framework with you to help shift your mindset around performance and productivity. It’s not going to solve all your problems, but my hope is to open some new possibilities for you.

Everything I share here is a synthesis of ideas coming out of 23 years of study, training, and experience in topics ranging from martial arts, Chinese Medicine, qigong, holistic nutrition, philosophy, Certified High Performance Coaching™, Massage Therapy, and Natural Movement, to name a few.

My framework includes some fun characters like Zombies, Seekers, and Surfers (My money is on you being The Seeker—but we’ll get into that shortly). These characters exist on a spectrum and represent certain mindsets and behaviors. 

We’ll start by exploring the end of the spectrum that most people exist on: Zombies!

The Cultural Trance

Ever look around—on your commute, in line at the store, at work—and wonder if you’re in a zombie flick?

You know what I’m talking about—the distracted and disengaged masses.

Back in 2009, I was studying Chinese Medicine and meditation from an old kung fu master. He called these folks “the walking dead” (not sure if he’s ever seen the show or read the comic).

I think you’ll agree this is an apt analogy for the frame of mind that many of our fellow citizens stumble through life with, and we’ll build on this concept going forward.

Don’t get me wrong. My intent is not to rip on or malign our fellow men (we have far too much of that already). 

We’re simply using the Zombie as shorthand for a collection of qualities, behaviors, and attitudes—an archetype.

The truth is, they’re under the spell of what that old Daoist mystic called the Cultural Trance—a collective delusion that we all participate in to some degree.

In a nutshell, these folks are sleepwalking through life. Going through the motions. Checked out. Consuming. Avoiding discomfort. Surviving. Maintaining the status quo.

They are cogs in the machine. Passive spectators of life, easily falling prey to addiction, distraction, and manipulation. Shopping, eating, scrolling—anything to stay busy so they don’t have to face the existential fallout from their misaligned lives.

They spend their days complaining about those who seem to control their fate, all while failing to take responsibility for the state of their own lives.

The good news?

If you’re here reading this, then you’re probably not a Zombie. More likely you’re the Seeker (our second archetype). 

You despise mediocrity and can’t stand the status quo.

We’ll get more into the details of the Seeker shortly. We’re not quite done with the Zombies yet.

You should understand that, although many people are all Zombie all the time, even those who are predominately Seekers can function like Zombies at different times in their lives and under certain circumstances (context influences consciousness). 

That’s why it’s good to understand Zombies, even though you probably identify as a Seeker. Plus, most of the people you interact with on a daily basis spend the majority of their existence on this end of the spectrum. 

Let’s unpack this idea a little more.

If these archetypes are constellations of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors all existing along a spectrum, then the Zombie state of mind is a fear based mode of survival, characterized by a low capacity to cope with whatever internal or external forces are making life feel uncomfortable. 

Zombies use up most of their bandwidth trying to avoid or move away from what they fear or find uncomfortable.

Here’s an example:

I have a Seeker buddy who is always working to improve his character, mindset, and behavior (he’s been at it for years).

But…

When he visits his relatives (from what I hear, it’s a zombie apocalypse over there), he drinks a lot and puts up walls. He isn’t his normal, conversational and lively self. He’s there, but not really there.

Why?

There’s so much going on—history, relationship dynamics, trauma, a misalignment of values. He and his family are on different wavelengths. 

It feels easier (although he’s totally exhausted afterwards) for him to numb out—to just disengage—then to deal with all of the bullshit. He avoids his feelings so he can be around them.

Then he returns to his regular life where he rarely drinks and becomes himself again. He doesn’t love this about himself, but he’s okay with it. It’s just the way he chooses to deal with it for now.

Of course numbing our brains with alcohol isn’t the only way to “go Zombie.”

We can self-medicate and distract with just about anything—drugs, sex, social media, exercise, TV, work, drama, video games, food. Anything to drown out that storm of uncomfortable feelings swirling below the surface. Whatever it takes (no matter the price) to stay in the comfort zone.

Not that it’s always bad to use TV to periodically escape from the stress and struggles of life or to crack open a cold one after a hard week (or whatever your particular poison is).

This isn’t some black and white moral prescription, and we’re not trying to be high holy saints over here (I had the displeasure of going to Catholic school from 4th – 7th grade—don’t worry, we won’t be taking any guilt trips today). 

Think about your life. When do you power down the ol’ prefrontal cortex and go into mindless mode? 

That mindlessness is the hallmark of the Zombie.

We all do it. Sometimes more than we’d like (often way beyond what is productive or even fun).

But why?