High-Performance Secrets From the Best of the Best

Well, I’ve got a really special guest for you today. You know, we always think about how can we better ourselves or improve ourselves? How can we be the best at what we do? Whether we’re C-level executives, we run a small business, we run a large business, maybe we’re real estate investors, but at the end of the day, we’re always trying to improve ourselves. We believe in personal development, we believe in bettering our craft and being more aware of who we are and how we can learn more and apply that knowledge. So really the question is how do you raise your game? How do you become the best and how do you become the best of the best? These are the things that my guests and I will talk about today. You know, it may come down to routines and rituals who knows we’ll find out.

So stick around. And by the way, by the end of this interview, I’m hoping that you pick up my guest’s book because I’m telling you it is a great read. It is so chock full of information, and he summarizes every chapter at the end, which I thought was brilliant because he gives you the nuggets and the takeaways, which makes it so easy to digest.

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So with that, I want to bring on my friend, new friend, Alan Stein, Jr. And let me tell you a little bit about them and then I’ll let him fill in the blanks. Alan is a successful business owner and a veteran basketball performance coach. He spent 15 years working with the highest performing athletes on the planet, including NBA superstars, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, and the list goes on. Alan teaches proven strategies for improving organizational performance, creating effective leadership, increasing team cohesion and collaboration and developing winning mindsets. Now, these are all big terms and we’re going to break this down because it really applies to you as an individual, not just in corporations and companies. And I’ll just conclude by saying that some of our clients are pretty amazing. They’ve included American Express, Pepsi, Starbucks, Charles Schwab’s, Penn State football. I mean, the list goes on and on, and he’s of course the author of Raise Your Game: High-Performance Secrets from the Best of the Best. And with that, Alan, welcome to the show.

Oh, Marco, it’s so great to be with you. My friend, I’ve been looking forward to this since we put it on the calendar several weeks ago.

Well, I’ve been looking forward to it too, and I apologize that we had to cancel one time. Anyway, we got you on.

Yeah. You know, I feel blessed to have met you last year. You know, I’ve known you for a little while now, and I’ve heard you speak and present a couple of times and you know, we’ve chatted on and off here and there. And you’re really an interesting guy and I’ve heard your story multiple times and it’s just fascinating how you have become what you’ve become and how you kind of grew through the ranks. And I love the story. Maybe let’s start off by sharing your journey to becoming a performance coach. And you may want to start off by just defining what is a performance coach. Cause some people might be scratching their head it’s, you know, what is a performance coach?

Uh, most certainly will. Let me say the feeling is very mutual. Marco. You never, since we met, you know, you, you have a very magnetic energy about you that I was drawn to immediately, and you have a, a really fun curiosity and you ask really insightful questions. Uh, so I knew that this would be a fun chat, a performance coach, as it pertains to my life in basketball was I was responsible for everything except for the actual skills of the game. So I didn’t teach shooting, passing, rebounding or defending, but I taught mindset. I taught how to improve from a physical standpoint. So improve athleticism from, uh, injury reduction, you know, ways they can Bulletproof their body to become as big, strong as explosive on the court as possible. So I did that for close to 20 years and I specialized mostly at the high school level, but I was able to work at the elite high school level and work at two different high school programs here in the Washington DC area, uh, that have produced dozens of players that are currently playing in the NBA guys like Kevin Duran and Victor Ola depo and Mark Foltz.

So I had an opportunity to work with some really high level kids when they were young, you know, as they were kind of climbing that proverbial mountain. And I got to a peak behind the curtain of what it takes to become the best at your craft. And that actually led to some work with Nike basketball and Jordan brand and USA basketball. And I had an opportunity to work events for guys like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Stephan Curry, Kyrie Irving. So I got a chance to see guys that were already at the top of that mountain top, and I got to see what it took for them to sustain and continue to level up their excellence in their greatness. So I’ve been able to see both the before and the after picture of what it takes for us to be great at what we do. And, and I now take those routines and disciplines and principles and strategies, and I show folks in the business world and the corporate world, how they can apply those to their lives and their businesses.

That’s awesome. And I know there was a lot more to that story than what you actually shared. You’ve gone through an amazing journey, you know, especially working with high school kids and then branching out. And that just led to another thing and another thing, but you’re kind of at a, I don’t know if I should use the word peak of your game right now because there’s always room for improvement. I believe, you know, you know, constantly never-ending improvement as Tony Robbins talks about, but you’re at this amazing place and space right now, which I just love. One thing that struck me when you were talking, Allen was how you started off by putting emphasis on the basics, never getting bored with the basics and how fundamental that is to not only becoming good at what you do, but continually improving because when you fall off the rails and you’re off track, you always have to bring it back. So can you talk about that? Because as basic as it sounds, no pun intended, those basics are critically important. And I know you talked about it for quite a while. So talk about, you know, getting back to the basics.

Well, one of the most pivotal moments in my life and I’ve been on this planet for 45 years was the first time that I met the late great Kobe Bryant. And he was the one that actually said that to me. I had a chance to watch one of his early morning workouts and was actually very surprised as a young coach, that here are the best player in the world at the time was doing such basic exercises and footwork and an offensive moves. And when I asked him later that day, why he was doing such basic stuff, he basically said that was the secret to his success was that he never gets bored with the basics. And it really reframed in my mind how important the fundamentals are in basketball. The fundamentals are shooting, passing, rebounding, defending, and handling the ball. That’s kind of the foundation to which the rest of the house is built as a basketball player.

And I’ve since applied that mindset and that approach to every area of my life, whether it’s speaking, whether it’s writing, whether it’s business or finances or relationships, I’m constantly asking myself, what are the fundamental building blocks to excellence in this specific area. And then I want to make sure that I’m working on those and, and working towards mastery of those during the unseen hours, primarily every single day. And I’m a huge believer in the compound effect of consistency and that if you spend just 15 to 20 minutes working on these fundamentals, but you do it every single day, that they will continue to add up in a crew and you will build an incredibly broad and strong foundation to which at that point you can level up. You know, I’m not opposed to more advanced techniques and you know, more advanced ways of doing things, but I don’t want folks to ever leave the basics. And I know in my own life, anytime, you know, the things get a little foggy or I need a little bit more focused, or I don’t feel like I’m performing at a level that I’m capable of. It’s usually because I’m not paying homage to the basics. So I’m a big believer in mastering the fundamentals to start building that foundation to success.

Do you ever get a reaction from people that they say that’s too simplistic or oversimplistic, it’s too fundamental? You know, it can’t be that simple. Do you ever get that reaction?

I do often. And what I do is I explain to them that there’s a difference between basic and easy or simple and easy. That just because something’s basic, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. People make the mistake of often using those words interchangeably, but they’re not synonyms what it takes to be successful in any area of life. Even in real estate investing is very basic in principle, but as all of your listeners know, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to execute or easy to be successful in. So part of it is just being able to differentiate between those two words. And that’s one of the reasons that I bring up a player like Kobe Bryant, who even if you don’t follow basketball or like basketball, you’ve most likely heard of him. And at least having respect for what he was able to accomplish in his specific craft.

I never bring these high-performing names up as a form of name dropping. I do it because it actually garners more and more credibility to the principles. I’m trying to teach that when I tell someone even to any of your listeners, Hey, if you want to be the Kobe Bryant of real estate investing, then you need to make sure that you are constantly working on the basics and you’re doing so every single day. And usually the combination of sharing the difference between basic and easy and explaining that that was the foundation to Kobe. Success is usually enough to get someone to buy it again, believe in, but then the real proof is in the pudding. And once you start working on those basics and you become much, much better at them, and you raise your acumen at them, you will see your performance increase and you will see yourself start to accomplish things that you had never accomplished before. And progress is arguably the best motivator of all time.

Yeah, absolutely. So I guess what you’re saying is if you need to improve or your company needs to improve, or your investments need to improve, you need to improve. It really comes down to working on yourself.

Absolutely. That was an old Jim cronyism. You know, Jim Rohn always would say that, Hey, if you want more than become more, you know, if you want the team to get better, then you need to get better. And one other just quick side note on the concept of the basics, you know, I’m a casual NFL fan. I’m not a diehard. Like a lot of people are. And inevitably every single football season after a team loses two or three games in the NFL, the head coach will say, during the post game press conference, you know, Hey, we’re on a little bit of a skid, we’ve lost three in a row on a Monday at practice, we are going to get back to the basics. And of course, in a game of football, you’re talking about blocking and tackling and throwing and catching, and they say, we are going to get back to the basics.

And that always makes me chuckle. Not because I think I’m smarter or a better leader than these NFL head coaches. These guys are absolutely brilliant, but I chuckle because if your answer to the problem is to get back to the basics and the fundamentals. Then of course, that leads the question. Why did you ever leave them in the first place? If you believe the solution is to practice blocking and tackling and throwing and catching, then why wouldn’t you practice that every single day, make that a part of the fabric of your practice plan. And when you look at some of the programs that have traditionally been successful year in and year out in athletics in particular, or even in business, you’ll notice that practicing the basics and the fundamentals are always a part of their secret recipe.

Yeah, it makes complete sense. So that’s a good segue to what you talk about in terms of the keys to higher performance. And I believe there’s three of them. The first one is awareness or what you might call self-awareness. And interestingly enough, I have your book here right next to me, and you start your book off chapter one talking about self-awareness. So obviously this is very key and fundamental. So I think that has to do with where you’re spending your time in part, but why don’t you talk about the importance of awareness or at least self-awareness.

I know that the analogy of a GPS is getting a tad bit cliche and the self-development and professional development world, but it’s still incredibly accurate. And I do to speak in analogies because I think it helps paint the picture for folks, anyone that’s ever used. The GPS, which at this point in time has probably every single human being on the planet. That’s old enough to drive a GPS only needs two coordinates. It needs to know where you are at the moment. And it needs to know where you’re trying to go. It needs to know literally where you are in time and space right now, and it needs the final destination or the address that you’re trying to go. And, and somewhat in theory, those are two coordinates that each of us, as human beings should know. We need to know where we are and we need to know where it is that we’re trying to go in life or in this world or in business.

The key is making sure that we have the awareness to know where we are. Now. One of the interesting parts about GPS is GPS doesn’t care where you were two weeks ago or care where you were even 10 minutes ago, the GPS only needs to know where you are right now and in doing so, it will be able to give you the best route or the most efficient directions to get where you want to go. And I believe the same thing is true with us. From a self-awareness standpoint, it’s very important that we take the inventory of ourselves and that we have the humility and vulnerability to not only know what it is that we do well, you know, where our natural talents and our strengths and our dreams and our goals and our ambitions. Most people have a pretty firm grasp of that, but it’s also having the courage to look on the other side of the curtain and to ask yourself, where are my biggest opportunities for growth, my weaknesses, if you will, what are my insecurities?

What are some of my deepest fears? What are some of the things that keep me up at night? And that’s harder work. Nobody wants to sit around dwelling on the areas where we’re not as good as we’d like to be, but it’s so important to have an understanding of both so that we really have a firm grasp of where we are from an awareness standpoint. And the key to self-awareness is making sure that we can evaluate ourselves accurately to the tune. That it’s the same way the rest of the world sees us. So a perfect example would be if I asked you Marco, if you’re a good listener, you know, I’m a huge believer that being a good listener is a quality of excellent leaders. So if I ask you if you’re a good leader and you say, Oh, yes, Alan. Yes, yes. I’m an excellent leader.

Excellent listener. And then I asked the five or six people that know you the best in this world. And they all say, Oh boy, no, Marco is an awful listener. He’s like talking to a brick wall. Yeah. That would mean you have very low self-awareness that you view yourself very differently than the way the rest of the world sees you. Now it’s comical as it may sound. If I asked you if you were a good listener and you said, Alan, you know what? This is actually one of my main opportunities for growth listening is something that I know that I need to improve on, to become more connected in my relationships and to become a more influential leader. And then I ask the five or six people that know you the best. And they say, yeah, Marco really needs to improve as a listener.

That would actually mean you have very high self-awareness. You are aware of the fact that listening is an area that you need to improve. And that’s the part that’s so important. Self-awareness is not about just knowing what it is that we do well, but it’s knowing the areas that we need to improve and having the vulnerability and courage to seek others, to help us see some of the blind spots that we know we have. So this is not about pandering for someone’s affection or adoration. No, it’s simply about saying is the way that I grade myself in alignment with the way the rest of the world would be.

Yeah. I think most people have a hard time with that because they take what people say as personally when it’s actually constructive criticism. And this is very true, probably for best friends and spouses, but I think it’s important to embrace those people that are your worst critics, because they may be giving you feedback that is incredibly constructive for you.

That’s one of the oldest coaching axioms is that, that a good coach will tell you the things that you need to hear, not only the things that you want to hear, right? We’ll all insulate ourselves with the people that are going to tell us things. We want to hear, you know, the people that are always patting us on the back and saying great job. And there’s nothing wrong with having those people in your life, but you want to balance it out with the people that care enough to tell you the truth. Now, obviously that is the truth as the way that they see it, but you want to have people that care enough. And that’s the way that I choose to frame it is when someone’s going to give me some constructive feedback, I take a deep breath because the natural human defense mechanism is to deflect or defend yourself or to try to prove them wrong.

And I’ve gotten to a point of hopefully maturity in my life where I no longer do that, that I can take a nice deep breath and say, you know what? The reason Marco is sharing this feedback with me is because he cares about me and he cares about my development and he wants to see me improve. So I want to receive it with the same love and warmth that he’s actually sending it my way. And, and I found the Def real improvement in performance, but it’s actually helped me deepen my relationships and connections with other human beings. Because when they’re sharing things with me, I’m now letting them know, Hey, that door is open. And when you do that, then they’ll tend to do that more often, which is a good thing. You know, high performers, crave feedback, the best performers in any walk of life, in any industry have multiple coaches and multiple people that can give them the type of feedback that they need because they know feedback is the spark to improvement. And without feedback, we’re going to stay relatively safe. 

Yeah. I never was big on coaches, but in the last three years, I’ve actually hired two or three coaches. I’m not working with them now, but I’ve literally hired, you know, and worked with a presentation slash stage coach. I’ve hired a voice coach, one of the best in the country. And, you know, I worked with different people and it really is helpful. It’s constructive. It gives you a fresh set of eyes looking in on you from the outside. So it’s very good. It’s very powerful. So here we are Allen. We’re on the road to higher performance where now we have the self-awareness okay. We’re open to receiving outside criticism and feedback. Now there’s a next step where you talk about understanding or the impact of what you’re doing. Can you break that down now?

Yeah. Once we have the awareness, we need to have an understanding of the habits and the mindsets and the way that we’re looking at the world and our perspective. How is that having an effect on the results that we’re getting? We need to make sure that we can connect the dots and have that understanding. You know, one of the things I talk about all the time is the importance of habits and habits are things we do unconsciously. And we do consistently. And as human beings, we are creatures of habit. Uh, there was a Duke university study that found that 42% of everything we do in our waking hours is habitual. So that means almost half of everything we do every single day of our lives is on some level on autopilot. So clearly we want to fill our buckets with as many positive habits and as many habits that serve us as possible.

You know, I know the type of people that listen to your show and that follow you. So I’m going to make the assumption that anyone listening to this right now is a high performer. But my question for you is, are you a high performer because of your habits or are you a high performer in spite of your habits, you know, are the habits you have adding value and reducing friction to you being the best of the best, or are they actually limiting you and negating you and adding friction and hampering you from being the best of the best? You know, that’s one of the, the, sometimes the Achilles heel of people that are just born with tons of talent is they’re able to get by, on talent alone for long stretches of time. Lots of people that were born with natural talent, you know, whether it’s, it’s athleticism on a basketball court or charisma in the business and sports world, many times they use that as a crutch and they’ll actually coast on talent alone.

And sometime they actually reach certain levels of success just on their talent. And that good is good enough, but that’s a big mistake. You know, the only litmus test we should ever use is are we doing as well as we are capable of doing, and it should never be, how am I doing versus how is Marco doing it should be, how am I doing versus how I’m capable of doing or performing? So a lot of this comes down to habits. So we have to have an understanding of our habits and of our mindset and the way that we approach things and ask ourselves are these mindsets and these habits serving me, are they taking me closer to where I want to go? Or are they actually hindering me and taking me further away? And once you have an understanding of that, then you’ll know which things need to be tweaked in which things need to be leveled up.

Okay. Interesting. Okay. So let’s just assume we’ve got control. We have the awareness, we have control of our habits. We’re working on that. The third component I never was completely clear on and you called it change. And these are the, you know, the keys to higher performance. So you got awareness understanding and change. I never really grasped the change component. So maybe you can help me with this one.

Absolutely. Well, well to unpack. So first of all, we’ll never make a change in our life of something we’re unaware of. So why awareness is number one, we have to be aware that something needs to change in the first place. And then in order to make that sticky and compelling enough for us to make a change, we have to have an understanding of how it’s impacting our life. I need to know that there’s one thing I’m doing every single morning is really hampering my ability to perform at the level I’m capable of. So that’s why that’s step one and two. But then the third piece is we actually have to make a change. You know, knowing is not enough just having awareness and just understanding is not enough. We actually have to make a change. You know, there’s two quotes and I do often speak in quotes because I love quotes.

And, and I’ve been a bonafide quote nerds since my high school days. And the two quotes that really resonate with me are if nothing changes, well, then nothing changes. So if you want some type of change in your output, some type of change in your results, then you have to make a change. And that leads me to my other favorite quote, which is, if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you will keep getting what you’ve been getting. If you don’t like what you’ve been getting, you need to change what you’ve been doing. And of course, both of those things sound like common sense. And we’ll even revert back to when we talked earlier about Coby and the basics, both of those are incredibly basic principles. I don’t think I confused any of your listeners with either one of those quotes, but implementing them is not easy.

Change is not easy for any of us, you know, but we’ve many of us, especially depending on age, have spent decades, grooving, certain patterns of behavior and grooving certain habits that we’ve become accustomed to them. That’s why we’re able to perform them on autopilot. So in order to change those things, it is going to make us uncomfortable. Well, this is where I’m very thankful that I came from the basketball training space because in the basketball training space, we crave discomfort. My goal was to take every player to the brink of massive discomfort, every single workout, because that’s what would actually spark growth. But most human beings have been conditioned to try to resist and avoid and fight off discomfort at all costs because no one likes being uncomfortable. But if you can accept that discomfort is usually a prerequisite to making improvement than you’re willing to make that temporary sacrifice. And I do believe that the temporary sacrifice you’ll make of discomfort will lead to a permanent change. That will take you closer to where you’re trying to go.

Yeah. That’s a really important point because I’ve heard it said many times that we actually seek more to avoid pain and to seek pleasure, you know? And so that change for many can be painful or maybe it’s perceived to be painful. And it really isn’t, but it’s just, it’s changed and people just are not accustomed to change. So, you know, you got to break through that barrier

And I’ve also found that for whatever reason, human beings tend to often predict the worst case scenario, or they tend to view things in somewhat of a negative light. And most people, even just the change can induce certain feelings of anxiety. And you know, a little bit of worry that if your boss calls you in and says, Hey, you know, Marco, we need to make a change that most of the time, your mental space, that will project into something negative. You know, if your significant other or spouse says, honey, we need to sit down. We need to make a change. Very rarely does our mind go to the positive and say, Oh, I bet this is going to be a really fun, refreshing conversation. So part of it is we just have to change our relationship and perspective of the word change and of change.

And just think that, Hey, what I’ve been doing has gotten me to this point, but I want to level up, I want to keep scaling this mountain and keep leveling up. So I have to come to the appreciation and the realization that, and I believe this is the title of a book by Marshall Goldsmith. What got me here, won’t get me there. And it’s important that we recognize that. So while certain behaviors and patterns may have been good enough to get us to a certain level, we have to be prepared to make some changes in order to take ourselves to an entirely new level.

Okay. So that was great. Now I’m thinking of two new things here, which is essentially a segue of what we were just talking about. I remember you talking about, and I don’t want to steal any of your thunder here. I remember you talking about the difference between what we know and what we do. And you got me thinking about this because of the whole topic of change, right? So we know what we need to do. You know, most of us actually know that we should quit smoking or exercise or eat better or whatever it is. Okay. I’m just taking some very simple examples that everyone can relate with, but what we know and what we do creates a gap. And when it comes to performance, you know what I’m talking about here? Why don’t you talk about this? Because this applies to everybody, whether you’re a professional or a C-level executive and entrepreneur and investor or a cook, right? We talk about this, we’re talking about this thing you refer to as the performance gap. So I love this. Why don’t you talk about that?

Absolutely. I knew this would be such a fun conversation because you are a great listener and you do ask such insightful questions and I’m glad you went in this direction. Yeah. A performance gap is the gap between what we know we’re supposed to do and what we actually do every single day. And one of the very first steps to improving our performance is closing that gap is start making sure that we do the things that we know we’re supposed to do. And, and again, going back to the beginning of our conversation, many of these things are very basic. I mean, they are the fundamentals, but for whatever reason, we’re not executing or doing them. And we want to make sure that we close that gap. You know, I tell folks all the time, you know, you’ve been kind enough to mention my book and I say, Hey, you know, reading, my book is not going to do anything to help you.

And people always kind of look at me with the crooked eye. And I say, now reading my book and actually putting those things, implementing them and putting the principles into action. Well, that can change your life. But just reading the book is not going to do a thing if you don’t change your behavior. So we always want to make sure that we close that gap between knowing and doing, and you know, the best example and you started to tee it up perfectly is just even in health and wellness. You know, now with your vast listenership, you know, if we were to do a poll and ask all of your listeners to make a list of the healthiest foods they know of, I know every single one of your listeners would come up with a pretty robust list very quickly. They’d be many of the same foods that we all put on our list.

If I ask your listeners, you know, how many hours of sleep are you supposed to get every night, they would all type in an answer immediately. And most of them would type in the same answer. And then if I asked your listeners, Hey, can you kind of X out what a weekly fitness program should look like an exercise or workout program? You know, you don’t need to submit it to men’s or women’s health, but just kind of how many days a week should you move your body? How long should workouts be and what are some activities that you can do? I have zero doubt that your listeners would be able to do all three of those things at a very high level. But now, if I were to sit down toe to toe shoulder, to shoulder with each of your listeners and ask them, are you doing these three things?

Is that list the food? Is that the things that I’ll find in your refrigerator and pantry right now is that the amount of sleep that you got last night and are these the types of workouts that you do on a very regular basis? The answer is either going to be yes or no. Now, if the answer is, yes, those are the foods I eat. That’s the sleep I get in these, the workouts I do that means when it comes to health and fitness and wellness, that specific person has a very narrow performance gap. They know what they’re supposed to do, and they do it. If many of your listeners would answer, no, I don’t eat those foods. I can’t remember the last time I got that much sleep and I haven’t done one of those workouts in weeks. I don’t say that to make them feel bad.

And I definitely don’t say it to call them out. I say it simply to shine the light on the fact that they know what they’re supposed to do, but there’s something getting in the way and keeping them from doing it. And that’s ultimately the first step to high-performance is removing that thorn from their Paul and getting them to do the things that they need to do. You know, very similar to you. You and I are both voracious learners. You know, I know you’re in several mastermind groups. I know you’re a voracious reader. I know you listen to podcasts. You know, we’re always trying to take in new information and I think that’s important and I won’t speak for you, but I’ll speak for myself. If I were to not take in any new information, if I were to not learn one new thing, let’s say for the next six months.

But I, all of a sudden magically started doing everything that I already know I’m supposed to do. My performance will skyrocket. And this is coming from someone that teaches this stuff and lives and breathes this stuff. So I’m not immune to having performance gaps myself. I mean, I know that there are certain areas, certain silos, uh, whether it’s relationships or whether it’s finances, that I’m not quite doing everything that I know I’m supposed to do. Now, I say that with a smile with humility, because we’re both works in progress and I’ll never be finished. And I don’t think any of us as human beings will ever close every single performance gap in every area of our life. But so the goal is simply progress. And I’m very proud to say that I have fewer performance gaps today than I had a year ago and way fewer than I had 10 years ago. So I’m moving in the right direction, which for me is certainly motivation enough. That’s one of the major keys to not only high performance, but it’s also self-confidence and self-belief and happiness and fulfillment is doing the things that we know we’re supposed.

Yeah. I think one thing that holds people back from actually achieving what they can be achieving based on what they already know, not that they need to learn new things, because there are people who’ve been listening to my podcast for over five years, they already understand the principles and the fundamentals. It’s just now a matter of taking action. I mean, they were prepared long ago. It’s not that they need to keep preparing. That’s the same as a, you know, getting ready, aiming, and never firing the gun. Right. But you know, one of the things you taught me, which I just love is to actually be inspired by the progress you make and not being a perfectionist. And I think a lot of people hold themselves back and they’re their own worst enemies because they are focused on making it as perfect as possible. And you can’t do that because I was that person.

And to some degree, I’m still a perfectionist today, but I realized that I should focus more on excellence, not so much on perfectionism. So that was really a huge thing that I took away. Here’s a great takeaway for everybody listening and something else I got from you. And that is to detach yourself from the outcome and consider that the bonus, but just learn to like the process, if you can somehow take the process, which is the pain point for so many people, you know, like exercise, yeah. I want a big, you know, muscular body or I want to have, you know, incredible health. Well, that’s the goal, that’s the outcome. But, you know, consider that the bonus, but learn to like the process. And if you learn to like the process, then you will look forward to doing that every single day and make it a habit. Is that pretty much true?

Boy? That is absolutely perfect. You summarize that brilliantly and we can even go back to my originally overplayed cliche GPS analogy that think about it for the most part, when you’re getting ready to take a trip, once you punch that address in the final destination and the GPS, very rarely do we spend much time thinking about it, what we now pay attention to is the GPS actually telling us, take this right, take this left, get off on this exit, make a U-turn here. We actually start paying attention to the process. And we’ve learned that if we actually follow the step by step process, we greatly increase the chance that we’re going to make it to the destination that we set originally. And it’s the same thing. There is nothing wrong with having a North star and having a goal or having a desired outcome that you’d like to see happen.

But once you’ve actually set that, then I want you to shift your gears to pay much more attention to the process. What are the micro steps that I need to increase the chance of getting that desired outcome? And the reason we don’t want to be attached to outcomes is we don’t control them. We don’t control outcomes. And I know to some people that may sound a bit foreign, but if you control outcomes, then you would always get everything that you want. You know, it’s one of the things I talked to basketball players about very early, when I start working with them is, do you think you control whether or not the ball goes in the basket? And many of them initially say yes. And then I say, well then how have you ever missed a shot? If you’re in full control of the ball going in the basket, then you should be shooting a hundred percent and they recognize that they’re not.

But I say, here’s what you can do to increase the chance that the ball goes in. You can make sure that you have good footwork. You can make sure that you’re on balance. You can make sure that you use proper shooting technique. You can make sure that you’re open. You can make sure that you’re in your range. There’s a series of things they can do that increase the chance that the ball will go in, but they don’t have full ownership on whether or not the ball goes in. And very similarly with the outcomes that we want, like you can’t guarantee that you’re going to make this sale or guarantee that you’re going to be able to flip this house at a certain price, but there’s certain things you can do to increase the chance that that happens. And the reason we want to detach from the outcome is if we align our self-confidence and our self-belief and self-worth with outcomes, then we’re going to be on a roller coaster of life.

And we don’t want to do that. Not to be a high performer, we want to be consistent. So we detach ourselves from the outcome so that we can say, look, I’m going to have my best attitude, give my best effort. I’m going to put everything into my preparation. And I’m going to love the process so much. That that is where I get the enjoyment. And if I happen to get the outcome, I was aiming for, that’s a wonderful bonus. And if I don’t, I’m going to learn from it and take something away from that. So that maybe next time I’ll get a different outcome, but I’m going to derive my confidence in myself, belief in myself, worth in the work that I’m putting in and in the process, not from something outside of my control.

Right? Beautiful, Alan, as we wind things down, I’m going to ask you two quick things, or we’re going to just talk about or touch on two more quick things, and then, you know, it’ll bring it to a nice close. There’s just really so much to unpack here. We could literally, I know you could talk for days, let alone hours but days, cause I’ve heard you speak for hours on end and your book is so great. I don’t want to, you know, continually pitch it, but I really would love people to pick up a copy because there so much good in there at every level of professional and personal that I think it’s one of those fundamental books you should have on your bookshelf. But one of the acronyms you have is when, and you know, we live in this world, that’s so full of distractions. I mean, we’ve got 10,000 channels on TV and, and you know, on our mobile devices and whatnot, we’ve got all these, you know, I-pads, I-phones you name it, whatever it is, we’re surrounded in a world of distraction. And now, you know, we’ve got, you know, the attention span of a goldfish because of social media. But you know, the question is how do you stay focused? And you’ve got this brilliant acronym. It’s WIN,  I think that’s one of those things we should share or talk about.

Oh, most certainly. And in full disclosure, I didn’t come up with the acronym and I don’t know who did, or I would give them proper attribution. It’s been kind of floating around the coaching world for a good portion of my career, but when w I N stands for what’s important now, and I find that’s a really helpful tool in our constant battle to refocus. And I do use the word re very specifically, because it’s really hard for the reasons you just mentioned for us to go long periods of time with uninterrupted sustained focus. So what I think is a more realistic approach is making sure that we have the ability to quickly refocus that. I know that if I’m in a great conversation with you, but I noticed my mind is wandering on something else, whether it’s what I’m going to eat for dinner, or, you know, when I’m going to pick my kids up after school, that I can notice that my mind’s wandering and I can refocus and be back dialed in so that you and I can truly connect.

So when the acronym what’s important now is just a great, reflective question that we should ask ourselves rhetorically several times throughout the day, you know, at any given moment during the day, just ask, what’s the most important thing that deserves my attention right now. I’m a huge believer that our attention in the present moment is the most valuable gift we can give somebody else. It’s the most valuable gift that we can pour into a project or whatever it is that we’re working on. That our attention in the present moment is an incredibly valuable currency. So we always want to make sure that we’re investing it in the best thing possible. And sometimes what’s most important now is blocking out all distractions and having a nice dinner with my children. Sometimes what’s most important now, which happens to be true at this very moment is being fully engaged with you and delivering as much value to your listeners as I’m capable of.

I’m not checking my email. I’m not folding laundry. I’m not looking at anything else. In fact, I have systems in place to make sure that my phone is off and that everything else that could potentially distract me is not going to be an issue so that I can stay completely dialed in with you and your listeners. So we want to ask ourselves constantly, what’s most important now, uh, and many times if you get in the habit of this, you’ll start to catch yourself being distracted by things. And this will allow you to course correct. So I may find myself scrolling through Facebook at two in the afternoon. And if I ask myself, is this the best thing to put my attention on right now? The answer to that is usually no. So then I can make sure that I course correct. If you’ll allow me one more overplayed, uh, GPS analogy to bring this full circle.

Here’s one of the things I love about GPS. If I’m following directions and I happen to miss a turn, the GPS simply says rerouting, and it says it in a very monotone sterile voice. It doesn’t say, Hey, moron, you missed the turn. It doesn’t say, Alan, I can’t even believe are you even paying attention? What’s wrong with you? It just simply says rerouting. And I try to view myself that way throughout the day that if I do find myself somewhat distracted, I don’t self low that I don’t beat myself up. I just say, okay, I don’t need to be on Facebook right now. Let me put my attention where it matters most, which might be a proposal for a client or rehearsing for an upcoming keynote, or preparing some notes to speak with my friend Marco, but whatever it is, it’s just a gentle reminder to put my focus on. What’s the most important thing at time. I don’t judge myself. You know, it’s not about beating myself up, you know, even with a GPS, I still miss turns all of the time, which is almost comical because the thing tells you when you’re supposed to turn, but that just happens and mistakes happen just like they do in any area of life. So I just simply move to the next play. And for me that the constantly focusing or refocusing on what’s most important now has been really helpful for me.

That’s a great question to be asking yourself consistently throughout the day, you know, just win what’s important now, you know, and if you answer that, you’ll always know that you’re doing the most important thing. You’re applying yourself to the highest and best use of your time at that point in time. And you’ll have probably an incredibly productive day, right?

And you’ll deepen your connections. Cause I can’t stress enough. I would imagine that so many people that listen to your show are very hard driving, ambitious, go getters. So I’m not implying that what’s most important now is always work-related or as another task to check off the list. Yeah. Sometimes what’s most important now is just enjoying some stillness or some meditation or go for a quiet walk or have dinner with one of your children. So it’s just a matter of what deserves my attention right now. And then

Yeah, absolutely. And that could be sleep, you know, it could be rest and sleep is so important, right? Here’s the other thing that’s tied to that. And then we’ll just close it and bring it to an end. Cause we can go on forever here, but you know, the whole concept of what’s important now it means you’re focused on one thing, you know, emphasis on the word one thing, but being in a world of distraction and so many things coming at you, especially, you know, opportunities, you know, when you’re a business owner or an entrepreneur or even a real estate investor, you’re always looking at all the possibilities, right? If your eyes are open to opportunity and sometimes you fall into this trap of saying yes to too many things and all of a sudden now you’ve taken on and I’m super guilty of this because you know, it’s the shiny object syndrome. I’m constantly seeing new opportunities and new ideas. And I just can’t shut it off, but where, or how do we draw the line on that? Because we often find ourselves saying yes to so many things and often it’s not bringing us closer to our goals. You know, we’re just now distracting ourselves because we’re taking on too much.

Oh, so insightful. And yes, the discernment between what to say yes and what to say no to is critical in our ability to maximize our performance and just to keep our sanity and our, and our happiness. And I know this again is something where I still have plenty of room for growth, but I have made some market improvement over the last few years. And we have to figure that out for me. And this also piggybacks on something that you said earlier when we were talking about kind of debt, Jim Rohn, quote, you know, for me, I’m not as fixated on tangible goals of things that I want to achieve for me, it’s much more of who is it that I’m trying become, you know, who is it that I want to be and these different areas of my life. So for me, I have a pretty crystallized idea of the man that I want to become 20 years from now.

So I’m 45 years old. I’ve got pretty good clarity on who I want the 65 year old Alan to be without getting too granular. I want the 65 year old Allen to be physically, mentally and emotionally fit. I want the 65 year old Allen to have a very deep connection with his children and his family and his friends and his loved ones. I want the 65 year old Allen at that time to be doing work. He considers meaningful and impactful to other people to be of service to others. So those are kind of my big pillars. That’s the man that I want to become. So the number one thing I do when it comes to saying yes or no, is I run it through a binary filter of is saying yes to this, going to take me closer to becoming that guy, or is it going to take me further away?

You know, is it going to inch me a little closer to becoming physically, mentally and emotionally fit? Or is it going to inch me closer to having a deeper connection with someone that’s important to me, is it going to inch me closer to doing meaningful, impactful work that is in service of others? And if the answer to that initial question is yes, then I absolutely entertain it. And I consider saying yes, if the answer to that is no, then I don’t entertain it any further. It’s an immediate no. And one thing that I’ve been able to change over time was kind of my self narrative. For some reason, I had unconsciously programmed myself to think that saying no was rude, was inconsiderate. And it’s not. We can say no in a very tactful, classy and professional way. You know, if you ask me for something and it’s simply not a good fit for where I’m trying to go, you know, uh, Marco, thank you so much for thinking of me with this opportunity.

I appreciate you reaching out, but it’s not a great fit for me, but I’ll certainly let you know if something changes. And I find that if you’re just honest and straightforward and you put a little bit of tax to it, that people are fine with that, that was a self-imposed hurdle and limitation that I had to get over. You know, I was saying yes to things simply because I felt bad about saying no, but now I’m at a point where, why would I ever feel bad about negating something that’s going to hinder me from becoming the man that I want to become. I own myself. And I owe that to the people that are closest to me. So I’ve been able to reframe that in my life. And I now have much less of a problem saying no to people. And I do aim to do it with as much tact and courtesy and professionalism as possible.

Yeah. And I think you should feel good about it because I never looked at it this way before. But if you say no in a very polite and professional way as I do now with emails that I get literally every day for people who are a, wanting to come on the show as a guest, or be wanting to post an article on our website in the blog, you know, it’s like, literally I get these emails every day and it’s now it’s just very professional. Hey, thanks for reaching out. I appreciate your interest, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately, you know, we only are taking curated guests on the show or whatever it may be. It’s very clean professional. But look at the end of the day, I’ve just saved myself some time and grief and aggravation. And I’ve saved you some time because I’m not leading you down a road that is just taking up time. That will ultimately get to a no anyway. So, you know, I think that’s just very important and it just saves everybody time.

And I’ll tell you what, one other thing with that, that I hope puts a really nice bow tie on this and combine some of the other things that we talked about. If I did reach out to you and you politely declined very similar to the concept of detaching from outcomes, I’ve also learned how to handle receiving no in a much more graceful way. I used to personalize it and feel like I was being rejected or, well, Marco must not think I’m good enough, or he must not think my content is good enough to put on his show and that’s making a massive assumption. So I’ve now learned instead of looking at things as right or wrong or good or bad, I choose to view everything on just whether or not it’s a good fit. And I have to respect that in this scenario, Marco doesn’t believe my contents, the right fit for his show and that’s okay. I have no problem with that. I don’t look at that as I’m bad or I’m unworthy or I’m not good enough. I just look at it as Marco needs to protect his show. He doesn’t feel I’m the right fit. No problem.

Exactly. Well, I think a good place to wrap this up is with one of your quotes actually, and that is, uh, I’ll read it right off my screen. Cause I wrote it down before his success as a result of what you do all the time. And that is just such a, I mean, I don’t even know what to call it. It’s such a truism. It really is. I mean, you know, what you spend your time on is ultimately what’s going to determine where you go and what you become. Right?

Absolutely. Which goes back to those habits and really puts a nice summary on everything that we’ve talked about. So yeah, so, uh, this was such a pleasure, man. I really appreciate an opportunity to share with you and your listeners appreciate our growing friendship.

I want you to share some things with the audience here. First of all, you know, this is my copy of your book and then got dogeared, a few pages and whatnot, but great book, pick it up, raise your game. High-performance secrets from the best of the best. So share with our audience where they can find out more about what you do and what you speak about and who you cater to your websites. And I know you have a habit tracker or something like that. So the floor is yours to share whatever you’d like to share. Allen.

Absolutely. Well, I have two main websites. My speaking website is alansteinjr.com. And that covers all of the both virtual and in-person keynotes and workshops and all of the variety of programs and topics that I cover. I also have a performance website called strongerteam.com where I offer one-on-one coaching. I have an online course and folks can get the book either an individual copy, or if they want to buy it in bulk for their team. I do have a facilitator guide and a team member workbook that aligned with the book because I’ve had lots of organizations that want to do a formal book study with their team and they get their whole team to read one chapter a week for 15 weeks. And the facilitator guide helps walk everyone through that. This is only for folks in the continental United States, but if they text the word bonus to six, six, eight, six, six, you’ll get a few free goodies.

One of which you just mentioned is a free daily planner and habit tracker. They’ll also get the key themes to my keynotes in my workshops. And they’ll also get a book list of the 13 books that I recommend. Every leader reads. So simply text the word bonus to six, six, eight, six, six. Again, only for those in the continental us. It won’t work if it’s international. Yeah. And then I’m just at Alan Stein Jr. On LinkedIn, on Instagram, on most of the social platforms and, and love interacting with folks there. And then the last thing I’ll say, I also have a podcast called the Raise your Game Show, which very much is in alignment with the principles and teachings of the book.

Cool. Actually, I didn’t know you had a podcast.

Yes, sir. When I open it up and get some new guests on, I’ll make sure I’m reaching out to you, but feel free to say no, if it’s not a good fit.

I have to learn how to process that first. That’s great. I appreciate that, Alan. Well, listen, thank you for being on the show. You have been a great guest and you are so full of amazing, helpful, and actionable knowledge. I think it’s great. And you’ve done a great job summarizing it in your book here. So hang tight. You Alan. Thanks for coming on for everybody else. Remember to subscribe. We come out with a new episode every week. Sometimes I do an extra bonus episode where I just do an Ask Marco episode because you guys are constantly sending in your questions about investing in real estate and everything else, economics, whatever. In the meantime, download my free report. The ultimate guide to passive real estate investing. It is a quick primer on everything we talk about when it comes to real estate investing. And don’t forget if you’re on the fence or just thinking about real estate investing, just get your free strategy session with my team here. We’ve got nine investment counselors to help you. So let us just provide that service for you. There is no cost, no-obligation, and we never charge you a dime. That’s it for today. Thank you for listening. And we will see you all on our next episode.

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