The Circle of Physical Excellence

The concept of Mindfulness is very rapidly becoming a new buzzword amongst business and organizational development leaders. In an age of ever-increasing information overload and diminishing returns in productivity, more and more professionals are seeking new ways to increase both energy and focus. With the aid of modern scientific and medical research, many have discovered that these concepts are in fact far more than esoteric feel-good techniques.

Additionally, thanks to the work of leaders like Dan Buettner with Blue Zones and his book Thrive, the age-old idea that longevity is a balanced strategy has begun to wed itself to the business world.

Latest amongst the new buzzwords, Harvard Business Review adds their own term…Self-care into the mix in the article below.

Source: 6 Ways to Weave Self-Care into Your Workday

All of this can be summarized under the “Circle of Physical Excellence”

Lessons From Grandpa & The Meditation Cure – WSJ

My grandparents lived in Milwaukie, OR (a suburb of Portland, OR) for over fifty years in a time before cell phones, the internet and believing that philosophies like Buddhism and mindfulness were akin to witchcraft. Yet, everyday without fail, my grandfather would make an early morning hike along the Johnson Creek for at least an hour and always alone. Occasionally he would take his overly inquisitive grandson but even as a child I intuitively knew that these walks were an abbreviated version of the morning ritual, simply to humor said grandson.

For years, the family joked in speculation as to what exactly grandpa did on these nature hikes. Did he dislike people so much that he needed ‘alone time’ daily? Did he have a stash of whiskey that he hid in the woods? Was he hunting Bigfoot (a joke only those in the Pacific Northwest would appreciate)?

As it turns out, he was intuitively practicing something that Eastern Thought has taught for millennia but the fields of Health and Psychology in the West are just now catching up to…the idea of Mindfulness or what I call, “Meditation in Motion”. Having grown up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, I never realized nor appreciated that impact that mindfulness could have. And although there are some great foothills surrounding L.A. to hike, it was only after I moved to Arizona that the practice began to take hold.

For many, still discovering both the physical as well as mental benefits of meditation, practicing a form of meditation in motion can bridge the gap and demonstrate the positive affects of mindfulness in a very tangible way. In order to be affective, however, it’s essential to strip away some of the digital age habits that so many cling to today;

Leave Technology Behind

Find a natural place to hike or walk, like mountains, lakes or streams where you can disconnect from your normal surroundings. Leave the iPod, the Fitbit and other technologies at home. I typically only bring my cellphone for emergencies and put it on silent. Resist the urge to take the selfie and the Facebook photos.

Go Alone

The whole purpose of mindfulness is to focus internally, being alone with one’s thoughts and emotions. That cannot be achieved with the chatty hiking partner who wants to obsess over the feuds at work.

Embrace The Silence

No puns intended with the several songs so named, but the sole purpose is to get meditative, focused. Get quiet, focus on the base senses around you, the sound of your breathing.

For further reading, the recent post in WSJ below creates an excellent connection between the Eastern and Western thoughts around mindfulness.

Source: The Meditation Cure – WSJ

Goodreads | The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists

ENMEI-21 is a strategy for sustaining excellence in an ever complicated world. Its “Five Rings” are metaphors of the cyclical components of this strategy and their impact on everything we do as humans. 

The “Ring of Physical Excellence” is about your personal well-being, health and longevity as well as having the energy to meet the demands of professional life. Current science and medicine is producing more evidence than ever before that these four things help sustain physical excellence;

  • DIET
  • REST

In his book, “The Case Against Sugar”, Gary Taubes makes the argument that there has been a secret killer of physical excellence in our midst for almost two centuries. He suggests that modern disease, the sky rocketing of health care costs and the dominance of the pharmaceutical industry can all be traced back to….Sugar. His evidence is compelling, it’s worth reading.


Source: Goodreads | The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists

Navy SEALs, Miyamoto Musashi & Early Risers, oh my…


Recently Business Insider published a post on the value of being an early riser from the perspective of two former Navy Seals (see below). Back in 2011, I had published a similar post as part of the Circle of Physical Excellence strategy (see also below). The idea of “early to bed, early to rise” is not new, in fact the idea goes farther back than that famous phrase written by Benjamin Franklin in the 18th Century.

Additionally, there are many common denominators of excellence, across many fields and professions though out human history. The Habits of Highly Effective People are far more extensive than the Seven that the late Stephen Covey wrote about. Studying, adopting and revisiting these habits are the key to sustaining excellence. Why Be An Early Riser? – Bryan Nann

Former Navy SEALs Jocko Wilink and Leif Babin tell you how to change your morning routine and “get up and get after it.”

Source: Former Navy SEAL commanders explain why they still wake up before dawn every day — and why you should, too

Why a Few Minutes of Exercise Can Show Results – WSJ

At the risk of sounding very cliché, the human body is a lot like a high performance engine. In order to run at peak efficiency, high performance engines require the right mix of fuels and quality maintenance. They also don’t do well when they sit for too long. So too is the human body and mind.


Sustaining excellence in your professional or personal life often requires massive amounts of physical, mental and even emotional energy. Maintaining those energy levels requires treating your body/mind like that high performance engine with the right formulas of:

  • DIET
  • REST

Like that high performance engine, the human body/mind does not like to sit for too long. Yes, meditation is sitting but I’m talking about sitting in front of desk, PC, TV, or any of a host of stresses and distractions that are a part of 21st Century life. Sedentary life styles are simply a growing reality of the digital age.

Solution? Get Action! Get out of that desk and move during those 10 minute breaks. Evidence, like the WSJ post below, is mounting about the power of even a brief workout.

How the right combination of brief workouts could be as beneficial as a straight hour lifting weights or riding a bike.

Source: Why a Few Minutes of Exercise Can Show Results – WSJ

Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

Professionals have frequently asked me the question,

“How do you manage your busy schedule, manage your time?”

My response has always been the same…“By managing my energy”. Time management tools, technology, etc are useful and definitely part of the bigger strategy. The reality, however, is that there are only so many hours in a day and try as you might, adding more time to the clock simply won’t happen. What you get done in those hours becomes a function of your energy levels.

This is at the core of what I call, Five Rings of Sustaining Excellence and the research to support this idea continues to gain momentum. Below is a recent article from Havard Business Review that substantiates this idea.


The science of stamina has advanced to the point where individuals, teams, and whole organizations can, with some straightforward interventions, significantly increase their capacity to get things done.

Source: Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

Our Internal Sleep Clocks Are Out of Sync – WSJ

Excellence of any kind requires energy and lots of it. Maintaining peak energy levels however can be a difficult proposition in today’s fast paced environment. There are several components that work in symbiosis and many people ignore, deny or simply write off this relationship as a luxury that they cannot afford in their fast paced schedule.

The irony of this can related in the analogy of “sharpen the saw”, made popular by the late Dr. Stephen Covey;

“A woodsman walks upon another woodsman that has been sawing for hours on the same tree, making little progress. The observer asks, ‘how long have you  been sawing?’. The man exhausted from sawing replies, ‘hours and I don’t seem to be getting anywhere’. The observer again asks, ‘why don’t you stop for a moment and sharpen your saw?’ The toiling woodsman replies, ‘too busy sawing to stop’.


Science and medical research of the last few decades, however, continue to provide significant evidence that this symbiosis is valid and that sustained physical vitality, longevity and energy are a balance of;

  • Balanced Diet
  • Regular Exercise
  • Proper Rest
  • Stress Management
  • Social Connection

Below is a recent Wall Street Journal article and how the internal clock and proper rest plays a role in well being.


Our Internal Sleep Clocks Are Out of Sync – WSJ.

5 Sleep Myths You Can Stop Believing Now – Business Insider



5 Sleep Myths You CanStop Believing Now – Business Insider.

Sustaining physical excellence and all that goes with it….weight control, energy levels, body chemistry balance, etc., has four essential and cyclical components. Proper rest and stress management often get little more than lip service in our fast paced, multimedia age but they are just as crucial in that circle of physical excellence. Here is a good post on proper sleep from Business Insider.

Best and Worst Foods for Diets | Fitbie

Sustained excellence of any kind requires significant and consistent energy. The way you fuel your body will ultimately determine a lot going on in your mind…focus, concentration, energy are all affected. This Harvard study adds even more evidence to support some of the foods that drive peak performance. There is one category, however, that is worth refuting…Potatoes. On their own, potatoes and in particular the small red potatoes are a quality source of complex carbohydrates needed for balanced nutrition. As the article suggests, it’s all the “stuff” that is put on them that gives them a bad rap.

Best and Worst Foods for Diets | Fitbie.

6 Weird Signs that You’re Way Too Stressed Out – Health Topics – MSN Healthy Living

You will never totally eliminate stress from your life, it’s just not realistic. How you learn to cope with it, reduce it and master the balancing of it can mean the difference in sustained excellence. High stress can and will affect your weight, organ health and your ability to be at your best professionally. If you’re experiencing any of the issues outlined in this MSN article, you’re putting your health and career in jeopardy. What will you do about it?

6 Weird Signs that You’re Way Too Stressed Out – Health Topics – MSN Healthy Living.