How To Conquer Your Business “Hands Down”

What is it about fighters that captures our imaginations?

Why do people who have no relationship with martial arts or a warrior’s life still like to spend hard cash to tune into live events where adult men and women unleash unthinkable violence on each other?

A fighter is not just a badass who can beat people up. Like Ronda Rousey, Conor Mcgregor and Chris Eubank have all shown, a fighter is an entertainer.

They fight for the crowd.

Entertainers are more than highly skilled people. They are conduits for the emotional release of the community.

That’s why Dan Hardy said a fighter needs to be a poet and an artist, as well as a gifted warrior.

You are responsible for the emotional experience of thousands, if not millions of others.

It’s pretty heavy!Michael Page is a brilliant entertainer. He doesn’t just add flare to the atmosphere of a fight; his techniques, his knockouts and victories are all as equally theatrical as they are devastating to his opponents.

Brian asks Michael to explain an iconic knockout he gained over fighter Ben Dishman.

In a sweeping roundhouse kick Michael connected and sent his opponent to floor in an instant.

At the same time he swung into a composed position glaring at the photographers without even a conscious thought of what he was doing. It’s pure theatre, and must have been terrifying and thrilling for the crowd.

It is one thing to be Muhammad Ali and talk poetry to conjure interest in a fight. It is another thing to make violent outbursts of warrior energy beautiful and exciting to watch.

Michael says he feeds off the crowd, gains energy from them, and factors them into his innovations in the ring.

Like a rockstar or a performance poet, he is channeling them, using their negative or positive emotions to create a spectacle.

This must have been what the gladiators of ancient Rome were doing. They put everything on the line to exorcise the demons and primitive desires of a nation.With the whole Ido Portal thing hitting the UFC right now, it’s important to note that Michael Page came to similar ideas through his own fighting intelligence.

He gets frustrated with dogma, as he recounts from his point-fighting days. And he spends as much time thinking about what he does in the moments between direct combat, as he does thinking about actual fighting technique.

He is big on patience, controlling the pace of a fight, and being constantly alive to what happens in the moment. Fighting is a creative process for Michael, it’s an art form as well as a craft.

This same creative adaptability also applies to Michael’s business approach, and it is what makes him an essential case study for entrepreneurs.The whole “Hands Down” brand extends into everything Michael does, not just combat. It symbolises his complete freedom, his individuality, and his unorthodox mindset.

Of course, all of these are essential to successful entrepreneurship.

But there’s something else about “Hands Down”. It gives opponents a false sense of security, it invites them in, makes them cocky.

The “Hands Down” style is about making the opponent think they have domination, while at the same time conquering through surprise.

If we can harness this principle in all areas of our life, not just fighting or business, how much more could we achieve.

In life, we are constantly being pulled and pushed by the needs and desires of others. If we adopt the “Hands Down” method, maybe we can fool them into leaving us alone, and free ourselves to control the pace of our days.I don’t know – what do you think? Am I on the right track with this?

Let me know in the comments, I’m interested to hear how you can apply “Hands Down” to your life, whatever arena you battle in.

Dan Hardy on Ido Portal, Conor McGregor and psychedelics

This week’s #ThrowbackTuesday is Dan Hardy’s most recent conversation on London Real.

Whenever Brian talks about Dan Hardy, he says he is one of the most honest and raw guests to ever sit in the London Real chair.

That’s saying something from a man who has spent the last four years getting REAL with everyone who walked through the studio door.

Dan’s latest discussion with Brian about Ayahuasca and psychedelics was fascinating because Dan does not see these medicines as some kind of cool hip fashion statement.

Psychedelics are part of a wider journey Dan has been on to connect deeper with himself and manage his emotions in constantly new and more balanced ways.

He is busier now than he has ever been, and he tells Brian what it is like to spend so much time in London. I completely got it when he said his body temperature rises every time he enters the city!

The deeper the connection to himself, the less enwrapped Dan is with his emotions and his monkey mind, and this is really the paradox of psychedelics.

Dan’s understanding of himself is something I really admire. It extends even into his professional life.

Last time time Dan was on London Real, he was waiting to hear if he was going to get the UFC commentator job here in the UK.

Needless to say it all worked out. But I think what probably attracted the UFC to Dan, on top of his fight career, was the fact he pretty grounded, and knows his strengths and limitations.

Dan is not trying to be Joe Rogan. He knows what he is good at and for Dan, fight commentary is way for him to use his specialist knowledge in a new way.

He’s not going to shout and scream, and make big fireworks with his screen personality. Dan brings technical knowledge, and he understands the UK fight audience.

Again, Dan has an intuitive understanding of what makes him tick, and I think the fact he doesn’t try to be anyone else other than himself, is what London Real audiences really love about the guy.

What was really interesting was hearing Dan’s professional take on the Ido Portal style movement influence on the UFC and MMA game.

Dan has seen the sport grow for years, and he believes it has been veering towards more sophisticated movement styles for a long time.

Really, it is the journey from basic, technical approaches to fighting, to a more integrated style, where a deeper understanding of the human body, and a more intelligent way of training the mind and the body, become the foundation of the MMA fighter’s style.

A good fighter has to be spontaneous, free, and adaptable, and if you are stuck in applying technical tricks, and confined to one particular style, that freedom is always going to be limited.

If you have trained your mind through balance, flexibility and mind-body responsiveness, however, you will be less bogged down in technique, and more free to fight with whatever comes your way.

As Dan says, with Ido Portal’s work with Conor McGregor, MMA is developing a proper foundation, compared to the days when he trained, when it looked like each fighter was making it up as they went along.

Given the latest epic contest between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor, I wanted to revisit Dan’s conversation with Brian, because fights like that are going to be more common, as the UFC seems to be at a crucial stage of its evolution.

Let me know if you agree or disagree with my take on Dan Hardy, I’m sure there are more knowledgeable fight fans out there than me!

Chris Eubank On Dignity, Virtue And Boxing

The announcement that Chris Eubank will be returning to London Real for the forthcoming Summit has got everyone excited here in the studio.

The last year has been one of transition and rapid growth for London Real, and no more are these changes characterised than in the now legendary conversation with Mr Eubank.

You can safely say there was a before and and after Chris Eubank when it comes to London Real episodes.

Following his visit episodes seem to be more intimate, more focused and more loaded with transformational energy.

Chris captures so much about the show, the Academy, and the values people are trying to live up to as they seek to grow and become masters of their own careers, relationships and happiness.

Yes, he’s a warrior. Perhaps Britain’s greatest. I remember him when I was growing up, his brilliant but bizarre fashion sense, his combative but meditative interview persona.

He was both villain and people’s champion. You loved to hate him, but at the same time you felt invested in him. A part of the nation’s pride was embodied by Chris Eubank. In the conversation Chris had with Brian, you see not just a fighter, but a leader, an orator, and a gentleman.

Chris easily shifts from spiritual truth to literary insight, and he does so with the same lyrical grace shown in his fighting.

He is no more poetic than when he talks about Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot. Chris quotes a whole passage from this book, allowing the depth and power of the writing come alive in his recital.

Chris talk about how memorising passages like this, makes us more humble, more self-aware. And that’s true, but Chris is not just reciting.

He embodies the truths he speaks of. By that I mean he literally gives them body, gives them life.

You feel the images and allusions take hold of your imagination. There is something spiritually cleansing about listening to Chris speak these words and you feel as much resonances in his perfectly chosen silences, as you do in his utterances.The Pale Blue Dot is not Chris’s only recital. He also quotes the Marianne Williamson passage from A Return To Love.

Again, this is another piece of writing that captures London Real values in a powerful way. To hear a fighter like Chris speak these words seems to give them more impact, more believability.

There is a deep sense of humanity to Chris Eubank, a dignity and leadership that he wants to spread to everyone he meets.

He says the warrior exists to demonstrate superior ability to all men, to be an example of God’s creation to all that might have forgotten it.

But the supremacy is for everyone, it is the supremacy over the spirit, the conquest of our basest instincts.

I think one of the reasons this conversation remains a favourite among London Real fans, is that you feel empowered by what Chris says. He has this ability to give you hope and self-belief.

I come away from listening to Chris feeling more resolved to become the best version of myself, to carry myself with poise and dignity, and to connect with others from a place of strength rather than fear.It’s not all spirituality and good manners though. A big part of this episode is devoted to Chris’s fighting career.

A philosophical truth or life lesson is never too far out of reach however. When Chris talks about Nigel Benn, he is very honest and self-aware.

He admits that Benn terrified him. But it wasn’t just Benn’s fighting ability, or his strength and spirit that scared Chris.

It was Benn’s “pure” character, his complete disregard for money or glory. A man like that, says Chris, is truly dangerous.

When we do something not for external reward, but because it speaks of the very essence of who we are, then we are unstoppable. Our energy is too pure for our enemies to handle.

Again, this is London Real. I would hazard the guess that all of us are looking for the gold within us, the purity of heart to carry us through the hardships, disappointments and grief of life.

Not only are we seeking this energy, we are trying to harness it, put it to good use. In the Bhagavad Gita it is called Dharma. In the Christian tradition it is called duty.

In London Real terms, I suppose it is this that we call accountability.

We are accountable only to the highest resonance of our souls. No one’s opinion matters, other than the still small voice within, which guides us from fear and greed, towards dignity and wholeheartedness.

When I feel I am disconnected from that voice, I listen to London Real, and when I need a shot of human virtue, I watch the Chris Eubank episode.To be honest, I have avoided this conversation as a #ThrowbackTuesday because it is so big. Everyone has their own personal and intimate relationship with the episode, so please share your thoughts below.

I would love to hear how Chris Eubank has affected your life.

Sex, Rage And The Haters: What Gets You Out Of Bed In The Morning?

I am a graduate of the 67 Steps and if I had to sum up my overall takeaway from Tai Lopez, it would be this: do something.

Tai really helped me to push through paralysis, and start gaining momentum. Whether it is writing, gym training or playing guitar, everyday I return to this idea of just making a start.

It’s another way of saying “perfection is paralysis” but Tai emphasises that you can get a lot done by starting small.

“Make haste slowly” is his way of putting it. You can’t expect everyday to be finished in an orgasm of high achievement, but you can strive to execute small victories each day.

I love this idea, and it is why I continue to draw on Tai’s advice. Tai is very good when it comes to motivation. His ideas are grounded in an understanding of evolutionary psychology.

Basically, there is no point in beating ourselves up for being lazy or unmotivated, because we are wired for a kind of survival that doesn’t match up with our goals.

Our instinctual brains are in conflict with our personal ambitions for bettering ourselves.

The way round this, is to harness the instinctual brain and lead with reward. If we want to lose weight, pin up pictures of the kind of people we want to date.

If we want to make money, pin up pictures of all the holidays and dinners and expensive parties we can have if we are loaded.

There’s no point in being overly pious. We have to accept that our brains are wired to be selfish. So it is about tricking the brain into doing unselfish things for selfish reasons.

The bottom line with Tai is know yourself. Figure out what actually motivates you.

If I have to be honest, what motivates me is sex and anger!

I have lots of noble dreams, and my purpose here on earth is driven by passion and love for humanity.

But what gets me out of bed in the morning is hot girls and thinking about my haters.

These motivations don’t need to be in conflict with my highest goals. In fact, they are ideally suited to getting things done.

Tai helped me get rid of this idea that I need to present a Mother Teresa image to world. That is a recipe for failure.

We’re flawed, and what Tai teaches is that our “flaws” can become assets if we understand how our primitive evolutionary brain actually works.Once we find out what works for us, Tai says we often keep trying other things, veering away from our strengths.

This is a mistake. Do what works, and forget everything else. Life is too short to be all things to all men.

Double down on your skills and talents. Again this requires knowing yourself.

What Tai means by “know thyself” also has something to do with loving yourself. It is not just looking at yourself in the mirror and recognising your own face.

It is being able to accept your limitations, and having the courage to cut out all the things that don’t reflect your natural talents.

I have used this in my guitar playing. Since using the 67 Steps, I’ve stopped trying to impress people with complex musicianship.

I know my talent is as a writer, and I can create music through words. So I’ve doubled down on rhythmic accompaniment, and I’ve started to make progress.

On top of that, I don’t feel so overwhelmed. I’m much more focused in my music practice and that energy creates a manageable momentum.

This works for everything in life, from relationships to money.Another big takeaway for me listening to Tai was starting to think like an investor. Stop expecting immediate results, but put your energies into things that will bring the most long-term results.

This is a good one in terms of upgrading peer groups, by the way.

I have decided to be around people who inspire me, support me and offer real-world help towards my goals.

We can’t afford not to think like this.

This investor mentality is really what is behind Tai’s book club.

Academy member Phil Smy did a really succinct summary of the 67 Steps, saying that Tai’s big lesson is to “always be learning”.

I think this is true. If we are stuck, or lost, or struggling to know our goals, we should simply default to reading and investing in our own minds.

Tai says that a good default goal should be what Aristotle called Eudaimonia.

Eudaimonia loosely translates as “happiness”, but it is a much more textured concept than our usual idea of happiness.

It is about fulfilling your potential, fully realising yourself at the highest frequency of your soul.

In order to do that, we need more than a full belly and a good night’s sleep. We need health, wealth, love and happiness.

Let me know what your big takeaway is from Tai. He has affected so many people, so it would be great to hear how you have been impacted by the Knowledge Society!

Be Ready, But Not Tense: David Allen’s Warrior Mindset

Hey guys, this week’s #ThrowbackTuesday is author of Getting Things Done, David Allen.

I have to admit I haven’t read the book yet, but just got it on audible.

But as far as I can gather, Getting Things Done has two foundational components.

First the brain dump. Just allowing whatever is in your head to come out on paper.

Secondly, the next action step, which is identifying the most effective thing to get the ball rolling on your list of goals, ideas and chores.

The simplicity of it masks the fact we are very resistant to both these things, and I’ll get into the reasons for that later. But basically, we don’t like brain dumping because it is scary, and we are not trained to start taking action on our ideas.The ultimate end of David Allen’s methodology is to create space in our lives. To free up our minds to be fully present and express ourselves more authentically and completely.

David says the ideas for his method came partly from his experience in martial arts training. He describes martial arts as “successful overcoming”.

Like martial arts, GTD is not a compartmentalised system. It’s is a mindset for life, a “way” in the classic Taoist sense of the word.

The aim is to create clarity, flow and openness, so that we no longer live in fear, but we live from a place of expansion and preparedness.

There’s a cool quote Brian uses from Bruce Lee: “A martial artist is not tense, but ready.”

David is clear he doesn’t see his method as being analogous to the martial arts, but very much part of them.

The reason is that GTD is a way of recalibrating your mind to be able to deal with change and unforeseen events.

When we are just winging it, just hoping for the best and taking and using ideas as and when we can, then we are effective so long as there are no big surprises.

But as soon as we have a major tax bill, a death in the family or even just an insurance bill on the car, we are thrown completely out of our flow. Life becomes a state of catch up.

And let’s face it, life feels like that quite a lot.

David’s aim is to eradicate that feeling. If we “manage the flow of life’s work”, there’s no need to rely on anxiety and stress to get things done.

I think my take away from this idea is that often our next action steps are counterintuitive.

For instance, if you are a painter, and you have the ongoing masterpiece on the brain, you might feel inclined to drop everything just to get to the canvas.

David says that might not be the best way.

Sometimes paying the bills, calling your mum or doing your washing are the first action steps, because no painter can see the beauty of a blue sky in paint while they are still freaking out over life’s mundane details.

Again, it’s about creating space. Martial artists train vigorously for the sole reason that when they are faced with their enemy, they are not worried about technique.

They want to be responsive and alive to possibilities, not playing catchup with a knife coming their way.I don’t know about you guys, but I am the worst person for putting off the boring necessities of life, and I tell myself there is virtue in being disorganised.

I’d rather spend my time and energy on the life mission, the masterpiece, than worry that I have clean socks for tomorrow.

But the truth is, it is disempowering. If I have to invoice someone, or I have to pay a phone bill, the poetry and beauty of life is not allowed to flow.

But David talks about procrastination too, saying that often the most imaginative and talented people procrastinate the most.

Music to our ears right?!

The trick for these people (most of us) is to “dumb down”. Instead of freaking out about what might or might not happen, creating all these negative fantasies about a future that hasn’t happened yet, a simple next action step will neutralise the procrastination.

Let’s take cleaning socks, before we hit the canvas and the paints. A next action step would be just getting your dirty clothes together and making a pile on the bed.

You might not have done the righteous thing, but you have taken action. Your mind is now free to paint, because you are not overwhelmed.

Like David says, it’s really less about getting everything done, but about managing your tasks so that the poetry of life is allowed to come through.

This all makes a lot of sense, but why don’t we naturally do it? Why is so much of David’s method counterintuitive.

Well, he says it is because we are actually addicted to control. And this is really a game-changer for me.

Not acting on our ideas, not brain-dumping and keeping our ideas bottled up is in a very crude sense easier and safer.

We have the illusion of control, if we hide our ideas away. As soon as we get it out there on the page or the whiteboard, there is a slight terror there. We fear what it means.

But David says we are less in control if we repress our ideas, because they start to interfere with our lives. They start to control us from the subconscious.

This is so important for entrepreneurs and creatives. You might think of yourself as a brilliant ideas person, and the chances are you very much are if you want to work for yourself.

But if you are like me, and you have lots of unfinished masterpieces crowding around in your brain, then maybe you are not facing up to a bit of control freakery.

David really made me think here. I am that guy, for sure, though I would have denied it six months ago.

Ideas scare us, because ideas are the opposite of our comfort zones.

That’s writer’s’ block right there. That’s Marianne Williamson’s fear of success. It is exactly what Dan Pena means when he talks about wasted potential.

We’re addicted to the perceived control that unleashed potential gives us.

Does any of this hit a nerve for you? David Allen is so damn calm and at peace with himself that what he says has to be right.
Leave a comment and let me know your big takeaway from this great episode.

The Ego Is Underrated: Tim Ferriss On Self-Belief And Creativity

Yup, it’s #ThrowbackTuesday!

Okay, so I promise this was me trying not to focus on creative types and engage with business people and entrepreneurs.

I realise everyone who reads this is not a tortured artist or a trendy Shoreditch hipster.

I failed. It’s right up the creative alley again.

But Tim Ferriss proves the Chase Jarvis maxim that “creativity is the new literacy”.

Basically, even hedge fund managers and accountants require creativity and you don’t have to be a foppish poet to make an inventive contribution to the culture.

One of the most useful parts of this episode comes from early on when Brian asks Tim about why he is so cool with giving away the tricks of his trade.

Tim believes that cultivating an attitude of abundance is good in itself. It’s just healthy.

But he also holds to the view that even if people do steal your thunder, an open and expressive way of generating ideas is a gift that keeps on giving.

If you can have one idea, you can have a lot of them – so chill out.

Why is this important? Well, creative professionals and artists can be very paranoid about their ideas and their work.

For good reason. Ideas are at a premium in an economy like ours. But also, you get burned, people can take advantage of the vulnerability that comes with sharing and harnessing things that are dear to you.

Tim uses the analogy of Silicon Valley. Surprisingly, he says most top companies in the tech industry won’t make their partners sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs).

They trust that if it is a good enough idea, other people are probably already working on it, and if you can come up with one good idea, there’s plenty more where that came from.

So really it is the creative process that is the commodity, or the thing that marks out your identity as a KPI.

This gave me a lot of pause for thought. I’m a hoarder of my ideas, but as Tim says, being like that means you are not really convinced of the value of your work.

This strikes me as completely commonsensical. Hoarding our ideas is a form of resistance!Things get a little controversial at one point in this episode. Tim admits that his writing is unique among his other pursuits because he does it to last the ages. He’s thinking about a kind of legacy.

Is this a form of narcissism? Is the desire to make great work that will outlast us a way of playing God?

Well, even if it is, Tim believes it is a force for good as long as it is not too vocal and remains self-contained.

In order to do great things, we have to believe that we are capable of great things. In order to innovate, we have to have the necessary arrogance to assume we are capable of doing something that has never been tried in the previous ten thousand years.

That’s narcissism maybe, but it is also the fuel for culture.

I agree with Tim on this. The ego is underrated. To a very large degree, self-confidence comes out of thin air. It’s a gamble.

But I also think that he makes a good point about writing. As a tech investor, life hacker and entrepreneur, I find it really interesting that he places the most value on his books and writing – a practice that has been around for centuries.Tim is full of tricks and hacks and tips for turning your daily life into a rewarding experience.

When I hear the word ‘life hack’ I have to say it makes me sceptical, but for Tim it simply means living your life so that your energies are focused on the things you love to do, and which reap the greatest rewards.

If that’s true then Leonardo Da Vinci, James Brown, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Gandhi were all ‘life hackers’.

Time says people tend to think of him as the picture of efficiency, but it’s a misconception.

I was stunned to hear him say that he rises about 10 or 11 in the morning and uses classic pop songs for his meditation practice!

Then he does some drawing or something equally playful and unashamedly creative, and only then will he get down to tasks.

Our focus should be isolating the one task in our list that will have the most kickback, that will create its own momentum.Yes, ‘renaissance man’ is a horrible cliche, and usually it is used to describe people who do lots of different things.

Tim Ferriss accomplishes many things, but he does so through using creative tools to trick himself into focusing his energies.

The real renaissance men of the past did the same thing. They were not superhuman, they just knew that creative energy wasn’t an infinite resource, and so they took great care in how they invested their time and inspiration.

Tim is the same, and what’s really inspiring to me is the fact he doesn’t try to force his personality into a ‘good routine.’

He knows how he works, and lives his life accordingly. As a result he’s clearly a man with integrity and self-love enough to be a positive presence in the culture.

Don’t Be Nice, Be Committed! Dan Pena At The Ritz

James here, with this week’s #ThrowbackTuesday.

I have already looked back at the second conversation Brian had with Dan Pena at Guthrie Castle in Scotland. Now it is time to return to the infamous Ritz seminar that Brian and Dan organised together in London. 

Here you get a Dan with more edge and less pleasantries. He starts right up the track, calls most of the room c*nts and proceeds to detail exactly why this is the case.

Brian’s introduction is worth watching over again. It’s funny, honest and raw. It is also a detailed and powerful account of what resistance looks like.

Brian talks about his first meeting with Dan, and what was going through his mind when he travelled up to Scotland for the Castle Seminar.

For Brian, the proof was in the results. The sharp difference between who he was when he went in, and who was when he came out, was evidence enough that Pena wasn’t screwing around.As you know, Dan doesn’t do political correctness. He insists that trying to be nice all the time has nothing to do with being moral, but everything to do with having low self-esteem.

I think this is an important lesson for my generation, and younger. We have learned to equate being good, with being nice.

For people like Dan, being good means being successful, acting with integrity, meaning what you say and following through on what you say you are going to do.

Being nice means you are looking for the shortcut. You want the gratification of respect, without the hard work it takes to earn it.

This is hard to swallow. Even now, as I write this, I can hear my mind scratching around my skull for excuses.

The truth is, it is easier to be nice. It takes real work and dignity to command respect, and you can’t do that worrying about offending others.

In the end, it is about leadership. We must stop waiting around for affirmation. Just F*cking Do it.On a related note, Dan goes pretty deep about the issue of Emotional Bank Accounts.

Not only is this more important than the Financial Bank Account, there is a real-world, causal relationship.

A strong Emotional Bank Account has a direct impact on the money you make. You can’t be successful without it.

So how do we take care of this account?

The truth of the matter is Dan doesn’t give a formula. It just isn’t that simple. Dan gives some pretty heavy examples of what a strong Emotional Bank Account looks like, and talks about the qualities a person has when they possess emotional wealth.

If you have ever suffered from low self-esteem or a negative self-image, Dan’s message here can be frustrating.

You are still waiting for the magic spell, the trick that will turn you from a “p*ssy” into one of the world’s influencers.

There isn’t one. The uncomfortable truth here is that you have to make a decision, you have to simply be prepared to fake it until you make it.

Dan describes the reaction of his former teacher when he was asked if Dan had changed since being at school.

The teacher says no he hadn’t, and the only thing that changed was the fact that Dan’s achievements “caught up with his big mouth”.

Nothing outside of you can make you a stronger person. Nothing can give you the hunger and the character to be successful. If something could, it wouldn’t be called SELF-esteem.What marks out successful people from unsuccessful people?

We know it isn’t talent!

At The Ritz, Dan talked about this a lot. It comes down to commitment.

For Dan the word commitment is almost a spiritual word, it is the foundation of everything he teaches. It is Dan Pena’s religion!

We must live every minute of every day like our lives depended on it. As if we had our “backs to the wall”.

Hardly any of us do that.

Why? Because we have been taught not to, we have been raised to hide our light under a bushel, not to stand out from the crowd.

Living life with commitment means going all the way, and that comes with a price. Being successful requires taking risks, gambling with life, facing our weaknesses and standing out.

I think it goes back to that “being nice” thing. It is easier to be a doormat, to create a wall of defences around ourselves, than it is to pull the trigger, make the damn cold call, and declare yourself honestly to the world.Successful people are successful because they break through these ego defences. And ego defences can be hard to punch our way past, because they often come in the guise of the moral highground or being “good”.

Does any of this resonate with you at all? Let me know guys, because this is just my take!

The Power Of Bold Visions: Mimi Ikonn And Making Dreams A Reality

Mimi Ikonn’s interview is most definitely in my top five London Real episodes.

I think what I like about her and find most inspiring about her message is this fusion of creative vision with practical habits.

Her work is visionary and creative, you only need to look at her videos and vlogs to see that she gives a lot of thought to the artistic impact of her content.

At the same time, the style is matched by the value. I never feel like I am being preached at but I always feel I have something to take away from her videos, a core message.

I have to admit to being a bit of Mimi Ikonn junky. She is an expert at giving you the self-belief you need to keep working on your dreams, while at the same time kicking you up the ass.

Dreams are possible. But dreams are hard work. That’s the message I get, and the business she and her husband Alex have created leads by example.

It’s easy to forget that imagination and dreams and visions are not introspective things. They are the ways by which we make an impact on the world and others.

Being visionary means being a leader. Being creative means being a change-maker. If you are not making friction in the world, you’re not a dreamer, you’re a sh*t talker!The most recent Focus Group over here at London Real was inspiring in so many ways. One of my favourite parts was picking other people’s brains about their routines and rituals.

Not only do you learn a lot, it’s a great way to strike a connection with someone. Everyone here at the Academy is trying to better themselves, and I love hearing how others channel their energies through routine.

Some of Mimi’s most popular videos are the ones dedicated to morning and evening routine. She admits to Brian that she couldn’t figure out why!

Were people just being nosey? Is there something voyeuristic about seeing how other people live?

Not in this case. People look up to Mimi, because she has created something from nothing. She has built a successful, pioneering company on her own terms, and she is known for her positive attitude.

I’ve watched these videos, and I love the way both Mimi and Alex are committed to themselves. There’s something nurturing about just watching these videos.

I think that’s why routine and ritual are preoccupying me right now. The little details in our lives are the ways that we love ourselves.

We don’t love ourselves in big, grand gestures. It’s not like we get this narcotic rush of self love.

Loving yourself means investing in yourself. It takes work, it takes extra effort, and it means being ahead of the game.

As the 5 Minute Journal that Mimi and Alex launched together proves, small changes in our lives have a huge payoff.Brian also asks Mimi about how she deals with her success. A big part of being a broadcaster is dealing with the haters.

How Mimi deals with this problem is related to the self-love thing. You have to be disciplined about who you surround yourself with. You have build relationships that are positive and encouraging, that support an image of you that keeps you proactive.

This all sounds good and well, but we know how hard it is to be strict about whom we share our energies with. And not caring what others think is in my view a large part of what it means to master life!

Anyone who has achieved anything great has been able to rise above the opinions of others. As Mimi says, people’s negativity is their problem, and it is our responsibility to have the openness of mind to see that.

At the same time, as Brian points out, we have to be open to constructive criticism. Objective feedback can be valuable.

It’s a tricky one. Your mental hygiene depends on controlling the energies you expose yourself to, but how do you avoid this discipline becoming egotistical?

I think I agree with what Mimi says on this. Constructive criticism always comes from a place of positivity and love.

Those who would criticise our efforts must earn that right, by investing in us in some way. Their opinion only counts if they believe in the goodness of our dreams.

That’s not narcissistic, that’s called having a strong, grounded sense of self-esteem.

Mimi talks a lot about the importance of daydreaming, and visions. We all know and love the story of her and Alex’s gratitude walks.

But something Mimi said in passing struck me as very important. She said that the power of vision can have a negative side if it is in the wrong hands.

The people with the biggest visions are the ones that shape our reality. But if those people are negative and cruel, then our reality will reflect that.

Mimi says that’s why it is so important for us all to daydream and create bold visions for ourselves.

The bigger our dream for ourselves, the clearer those visions are, the more powerful we become, not just as individuals, but as people in the wider society.

The less controlled we are, and the less open to manipulation.

Dreaming big is not a form of escapism. It is a form of empowerment. Dreams and visions strengthen us against the slings and arrows of poisonous media and toxic relationships.

The more people we empower in this way, the less able weirdos, tyrants and maniacs get to control our lives.

This is part of the value of London Real. The show constantly exposes us to new ideas, and in doing so, our power of vision strengthens.

The more people that have command over this power, the better society will become. That’s why I think the Academy is a force for good – it empowers us to dream big and reshape the world according the boldness of our vision. The more bolder and more plentiful the visions, the healthier our culture becomes.As usual, that’s just my opinion. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my take on this. I know Mimi Ikonn is a London Real favourite so share your own takeaways from this episode below!

Creativity, Craft And Being Different

Hey guys James here, and we’re back with #ThrowbackTuesday. This week I’m going back to Chase Jarvis.

I like people who marry creative energy with analytical power. They tend to be the people that get the most done.

Without creative energy, we are doomed to repeat ourselves, the culture will never grow. But without some level of analytical or processing power, great ideas remain just that: ideas.

I imagine if you meet Chase Jarvis in person he probably gives off a vital, alpha energy. He likes extreme sports, played college football – the whole deal.

But you can’t be a world famous photographer by just being brave and in love with adrenalin, as essential as these qualities are.

You have to have a sensitivity, a vulnerability and a sense of magic.

Chase Jarvis has all of these, but they are embodied in a very practical, workmanlike attitude.

I think what I took away the most from this interview was the struggle Chase had with his own creativity, and his sense of grief at having denied that part of himself for so long. As a man, and especially a sporty personality, it can be difficult to allow yourself to access this part of your nature.

Creativity is a scary business, and as a culture we tend to be suspicious of anyone who wants to start living the creative life from scratch.

Unless you show protege-like talent from an early age, you are going to find it hard to convince yourself and others that being a full time artist is a worthwhile pursuit.

Without the external validation of the thing you dream yourself of being, getting over that inner hurdle in order to live out that destiny, can be terrifying.

Chase said he spent years trying to live everyone else’s dream for himself, before he finally took up photography.

And this is coming from a confident, proactive and grounded human being. It’s not like he was suffering from neurosis.

It’s just that our culture’s relationship with creativity is so distorted and compartmentalised, it is difficult for us to embrace the dormant artist within us, no matter who we are.

But again, Chase’s idea of an artist is not someone with their head in the clouds. Who he is as a photographer and entrepreneur totally bursts that myth.

Chase insists that craft is essential. You have to know the fundamentals of your tools and your trade, you can’t just pick up an Iphone and hope for the best.This is a big question that hangs over all artists, and there’s definitely a spectrum of technical artists and expressive artists.

Without a solid foundation in your craft, your ideas will never be able to take flight. But then again, too many artists these days seem to get too easily obsessed with technique.

If all you judge your art by is technique then you lose vision, you can’t take your chosen field to new places.

Chase says a good photo must have both “raw stopping power” and offer the audience a chance to complete the narrative.

If you complete the circle for them, then the art loses its power.This is a genius way to sum up how an artist gets inside our head. If they are just driven to demonstrate technical prowess, they won’t invite us in, they won’t have the breadth of vision to allow the onlooker to play a part.

There are millions of photographers in the world, and given the advancement of modern mobile technology, we all have access to professional tools.

But as Chase says, what marks out the great artists from the amateur creatives is their unique perspective, a point of view that is dramatically new and different.

In this day and age, being a creative professional is harder than it has ever been. You have to cut through the noise of Instagram and social media.

There will always be someone with more technical skill than you. The challenge is to find your voice, and then cultivate a way of distilling that voice into works of art that stop people in their tracks.

In the age of the image, the stakes are high. But what I got from Chase is that we need to know ourselves, to have an intimate relationship with ourselves in order to know what it is that makes us different.Chase talks about his own journey around self-knowledge. Brian asks him quite a searching question about his drive, his constant need to up his game.

And Chase is surprisingly vulnerable here, even admitting that tackling this stuff is a relatively recent challenge for him.

A regular practitioner of Transcendental Meditation, Chase is no stranger to the difficult inner work we need to do to evolve.

He doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but he does provide other artists with some kind of template for how we create a life around our work.

Chase is a businessman, an artist and great conversationalist. I found this one of the most informative episodes on London Real, and if you are feeling stuck in any part of your life, this interview might just be inspiration you need.Whether you are an artist or not, are you creatively blocked? I’d be interested to know how you have put up barriers to your own creative energies, and how letting go of them might help you up your game in building the best you.

Leave me a comment below, it would be great to get a conversation going on this issue!

This Is Why You’re Lying To Yourself

James here again, with a #ThrowbackTuesday that is perfect Christmas viewing! This week it’s Philip McKernan.

An exclusive teaser of the two-hour course that Philip gave at London Real studios is now available, so if you need more McKernan in your life click here to take a look.

Early on in the actual London Real episode, Brian and Philip get into an absorbing dialogue about the relationship between the mind and intuition.

Most of us think we belong to either the mind camp or the emotion camp. We think it’s a matter of our personality.

Philip says that the mind and the intuition are distinct things, but that we all have them equally.

It’s part of being a healthy human being to have the two integrated. Philip insists the intuition should lead us, and the mind should serve us.

I think it’s important to remember that it’s not about saying one is better than the other. The mind and the intuition are equally important.

But it’s a matter of what makes you healthy and happy. Trying to use the mind to access the deep spiritual core of who we are, is not going to work.

I love what Philip says about the soul. The soul is the unique part of us, the thing which makes us distinct. Our intuition is the soul speaking to us.

We often ignore the intuition for the sake of the mind, because it is safe. The mind gives clear answers to clear problems.

Most of us get dragged into negative cycles, however, when we start trying to use the mind to solve deeper soul issues.

For instance, I have a friend who is always trying to figure out the next step in his life. He’s a hugely talented, highly educated and experienced man, but he seems to be in a permanent state of crisis about his life’s mission.

He’s using his mind to avoid listening to what his heart tells him. There’s always a good reason for him to ignore the feeling in his gut.

The mind cannot give your life meaning. But most of us still try to get our happiness and fulfilment from the mind.

I think this is the fundamental mistake at the heart of most of the depression, anxiety and neurosis of modern living.Because of the age of enlightenment and the industrial revolution, we’ve become so impressed with the complex logic of the mind and what it can achieve, we try to apply mind-method to non-mind areas of our lives.

I think a great way to elucidate this is to look at romantic relationships.

We’ve all been in the situation where a romantic prospect has looked promising “on paper”. We might struggle to find a reason not to love them.

The trouble is we don’t love them. Weighing the pros and cons of entering into an intimate relationship with someone is a dissatisfying approach for most of us.

The prospect needs to have that “chemistry”, that mystery ingredient that makes our heart race and our imaginations run wild with excitement.

But we make this mistake all the time. More often than not, we look to the mind to give us the answers to the fundamental questions of inner peace and fulfilment. That’s not what the mind is for.

When it comes to our job, our family life, who we should hang around with, we too easily get lost in trying to “figure it out” rather than just listening to the answer we already know is there.What I like about Philip McKernan is that he doesn’t just say the nice, fluffy new-age stuff and leave it at that.

“Believe In You” is not a chirpy catchphrase he uses to make you feel better. A lot of his discussion with Brian revolves around the reasons we turn away from the heart.

Believing in ourselves is terrifying. We go to great lengths to avoid doing it.

You might protest. Maybe you think you are pretty good at following your gut, and you are quite a confident person.

I would ask you to take another look at the basic stuff in your life – your family life, your work and love relationships. Are they really ALL expressions of absolute authenticity?

As a poet and an artist, I guess I’ve prided myself on sticking to my guns. I see it as my life’s mission to stand alone and be a voice crying out in the wilderness.

But I have had a lot of failures, a lot of resistance. I’ve forced myself to work in toxic work environments and I’ve hung around unsupportive people.

I justify it by telling myself the world is not poet-friendly, that it’s all part of the struggle. I have hidden behind the moral superiority of having “a real job”, at the expense of actually achieving my artistic dreams.

After watching Philip McKernan, I have a new perspective on all this.

How many of these experiences could have been avoided? And how many of these negative situations did I create for myself as a form of resistance?

It’s much easier to put yourself in an environment that’s guaranteed to mess with your purpose, than it is to actually get out there are live that purpose.

You get to blame the evils of the world, the thoughtlessness of others, the small-mindedness of some family members.

You get to have it both ways. You tell yourself you are fighting for a meaningful life, but all the while you are sabotaging it by getting bogged down in distractions.

Being authentic is hard, and it seems to be getting harder and harder in this consumerist and technologically driven world.

It’s essential though.Philip talks about how he spoke to soldiers in the US military and tried to help them dis-identify from their uniforms.

“You are not my heroes” he told them. Some were offended. But some felt secretly liberated. Because it shows that a life of meaning is not tied up in mind-created ideas.

Philip calls it alignment. When the mind and the heart work together, that’s when start to live from a naturally positive place. Our relationships and our life’s work start to reflect an authentic person, and they become easier.

Ironically, the material stuff starts to become less of a headache. Things are still a challenge, but we approach the difficulties from a place of purpose, rather than a place of scarcity, as Philip puts it.

This is a great episode. It’s one to go back to, and I’ve found myself relaxing and calming myself as I watch it.

Philip is a straight-shooter, and he can even be harshly direct. But he’s got this warmth and compassion that means you trust what he says.

Philip allows others to be themselves. Just listening to him talk has put me in a place of self-love and alignment. One day, I hope I can be the kind of person that does that for others too.

Let me know your big takeaway from Philip’s interview, and in the comments below tell me about an area of your life where you need to listen to your gut, and not your mind.