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Unleash the Full Potential of Your Lifestyle—The Antidote to the "Standard American Dream"—Part 1

In a, we talk alot about, “Unleashing the Full Potential of Your Lifestyle” to reduce stress, manage your energy, elevate your health, performance and longevity” and spend a great deal of time teaching people the science and art of regeneration.

We do that for a reason. Almost everyone alive today is generating (spending) more energy than they are regenerating (recuperating…) and it’s at the root of more lifestyle-induced diseases than we can list, from chronic fatigue syndrome to cancer.

To deal with that, we teach people how to “Unleash” not just their full potential, but the full potential of their lifestyle and to do so as the Standard American Dream.

Note: the Standard American Dream is a term that was coined by Shawn Phillips, lifestyle entrepreneur, performance lifestyle advisor and coach, and our associate here at Performance Lifestyle Inc. It’s a play on the SAD Standard American Diet that is a once tasty but killing you.

Well, the SAD Standards American Dream, which says something like “work hard, non-stop, until you drop or achieve your goals” may be killing you.

For starters, in this post, when I refer to the Standard American Dream as “SAD”, I am not putting down, nor do I have anything against the American Dream, achieving your goals or being a success. Performance Lifestyle is, ironically, all about that. What we are against is trading your health for that success, hence the reason this is called the Performance Lifestyle, to bridge the gap between the two.

But when we refer to the Standard American Dream as the “SAD,” we’re referring to the performance addicted nature so many of us adopt in the process where we don’t take care of ourselves, our bodies and our lives in the process, because we’re constantly staying in high-performance mode; leading, too many of us to, unfortunately, live at a very low standard despite our financial success. All while we cope with relentless stress in today’s performance culture in ways that create more stress.

Not knowing how to live better, largely because we don’t understand the impact that overstressing our nervous system is really having on us, the cause of feeling tired all the time, fatigue and chronic fatigue, and a whole downward cascade of poor lifestyle habits that follows and most people battle their whole lives; is, what makes the unfortunate result of achieving the American Dream, in the standard way most do, “the standard.”

Just look around. Why else do you think there is so much focus on adopting new lifestyle strategies these days, on new and more potent ways of dealing with stress?

It’s because of the way we are living in the process of achieving our goals, of waking up and achieving the “American Dream” is not working for us. The way we are working is not working for us.

With nearly 85-95% of disease in general, caused by “lifestyle,” and “lifestyle-induced,” what we need is not a more “self help” but rather lifestyle optimization.

What you want is not achieve the “standard” American Dream, what you want to be a healthy high achieving, that person who achieves their goals in life, business a creative pursuit or sport with your health and intact in tact; not trade your health for that success the way so many of us do.

Think about it, in the name of “unleashing our full potential,” a statement many of us have ascribed to from self-help gurus for decades, which has largely been a psychological activity, and divorced from a more functional, spiritual and physical process; we have progressively burned out our body/brain relying and relied on nutrition, and fitness (more stress) to keep us going.

The word “unleash” has been used in the context of ones “full potential” (an often fluffy idea) for decades by the self-help movement, and in a confusing way too. It’s confusing because few know what unleashing the power within really means and it is, therefore, a movement largely about the psychological, not about your full potential. I address this more in the myth of motivation parts one and two.

That said, “unleashing” in the context of one’s “lifestyle,” has likely never been explained before and it needs to be for the reason that we assert is it’s only accurate use.

As you’ll discover, the reason why we think that’s true is simple; it’s only in the optimization of your lifestyle that you can truly unleash your full potential, which is not simply an increase in performance, which you’ll learn is usually a term confused with productivity), or about expanding your mind through brain (psychology-based) training. It includes that but is really about optimizing human function, and about all of performing well in life for a long time.

Foremost it’s about maximizing personal energy, for if you deplete that energy you will need a great deal of self-help and it will drive you a little bit crazy.

A quick backstory.

Having come from the human potential or “Self-help” movement early in my career, which, to date, could more accurately be labeled the movement to develop your psychological self; I witnessed first hand how a good portion of the top performers was burning out as they constantly strove to accomplish and achieve. It perplexed me at first, particularly my own fatigue, which got passed off as an undeveloped attitude or laziness at that time, a lack of this or that insight needed to keep myself going. But as I gained perspective, it became clear that most of the methods for “high performance” were, and still are, largely from the neck up; based on psychologically-driven ways to be more productive, and not sustained performance powered by a holistic and skillful lifestyle.

What passes for performance today, is really non-stop productivity in disguise at a very steep cost; to your health, sustained performance itself, and your longevity.

Performance and productivity are not synonomous, they are related but not the same thing. Productivity should be the byproduct of sustained human performance not at the cost of.

In that traditional “self-help” context, unleashing your full potential can be quite costly to your body-brain, as it’s largely divorced from who you really are, your true nature, flow, regeneration, recovery, and physicality. As stated, it’s productivity based often on a diminished human performance capacity, these days, that get’s passed off as some kind of personal shortfall; hence the need for more motivation; and not unrelated, the need for Starbucks and most people needing to run on Dunkin (stimulants) even if Dunkin Donuts is trying to divert our attention to their new running shoe.

There is no such thing as the local Starbucks anymore, one has to say “one of the local Starbucks.”

Powered by rapidly depleted energy today’s “performance” is driven largely by coffee, and psychological will (motivation) among several other external drivers, such as software and systems (iPhones and PC’s) and the overstructured schedules they promote to be more productive. This new layer of technology on top of self-help motivation drives us even more and to function nearly non-stop and it leaves us drained, or tired almost all the time, because “productivity,” rarely considers the lifestyle that’s needed to sustain our energy, and support our health and genuine human performance. Maybe it’s thought of as an inconvenient truth, hence, the reason why so many driven people burnout and trade their health for success.

We’ve all had experiences with feeling completely spent after high-performance periods (even the amazing, wholehearted experiences we can’t wait to get back to) that seem to never end because the culture we’re in seems to think we can go non-stop at peak performance levels. It thinks we can simply stimulate ourselves to keep going; beyond coffee alone, with more motivation, digging deep with more will etc, but deeper down we know it’s not so.

The fact that this author had done that for far too long, not with coffee, but extreme work ethic and the like, is the reason why exists. It’s also why it’s not called the “peak” Performance Lifestyle or “high” Performance Lifestyle.

Thinking you’re going to sustain high-performance periods all the time, without sleep, rest, recovery, relaxation, meditation and rejuvenation, fueling, activating and strengthening periods, and some degree of proficiency in the whole of human performance and lifestyle is foolhardy. Not even the best of the best can pull that off and if they think they can and do, these very people will debit their longevity just like you. It all comes at a cost.

In my coaching practice, not a week goes by that I don’t have to touch on a clients performance addiction (driven by the comparison to others) and the addiction to performance that is leading to the clients’ feeling tired all the time, burnout, and a downward spiraling health and performance capacity. More on “enlightened performance” later.

The Four Primary Domains in Life.

Notice that at the top of this post, you see pictures of various people performing well in life, as a parent, a business professional, a creative artist and as an athlete. These are the four primary domains in life. It’s life itself, what you are up to in terms of creating a family, your career or business, which may also be exclusive to or topped off by a performing art or involvement in a sport.

To sustain your performance, the levels required of you to be a fully functioning parent (one of the hardest pursuits of all) a successful business professional, a star stage performer or winning athlete; the key thing you need is not just a great diet and exercise program, you need a whole lifestyle, including but not limted to, functional nutrition and fitness to support you and what you are up to in the world; with, particular emphasis on getting enough sleep and learning to live with optimal energy levels so you can maintain an optimal performance state.

An optimal performance state is not one where we are suffering from low to high levels of fatigue, knowing we just don’t have the power to perform at the level we want, drugged up on stimulants of any kind to keep going. That has to end and it’s the primary reason (not the only reason) why we develop performance lifestyles.

Today, there is always something to do, a demand on you, and it’s easy to get worn down, so you must know how to reduce unnecessary stress across-the-board in your life, and manage your energy to elevate your health and performance. Your longevity depends on it!

And that is where the “unleashing the full potential of your lifestyle” comes in. Just tolerating today’s culture and psychologically willing your way through situations and circumstances, and the events of your life, “overcoming fatigue” (as so many motivators indiscriminately suggest you do) with stimulants from coffee to motivation sets you up for hitting the wall at an ever-increasing frequency in the short span; ultimately resulting in a shortened lifespan.

That fatigue, believe it or not, is also a big reason why the motivational industry even exists. Yes, we need inspiration, but anecdotally speaking; a good percentage of people are just trying to get through their own malaise, and the motivation is the stimulant.

We’re not saying the self-help movement has no value, it does, but it’s very often not dealing with the real problem.

In a Performance Lifestyle, we learn a whole series of skills that include understanding what’s driving you and what needs to drive you to want to move forward, but also from a position of strength. Meaning with enough of the energy that makes up what we call ” primary motivation.”

When you have lots of naturally occurring energy, aren’t you naturally more motivated?

That primary motivation is the result of us having more space and time to embrace our fatigue and allow the body to go through its natural cycles to regenerate energy. I know that sounds simple, but it’s not. To have that space and time and get comfortable with that process, believe it not, is one the greatest human challenges, particularly in modern times.

When you do this, more than anything else, you will have a higher level of potential (energy) and the capacity to deal with the overwhelm that depletes your energy and gives rise to the fatigue that distracts and holds you back while taking the grace and quality out of your life. In other words, you add these attributes back into your life by restoring your energy.

Energy equals potential, but while you do have access to unlimited energy, as a “human being,” your potential is in fact limited. It’s ultimately limited by how much energy your body/brain has been able to restore. How you can “unleash” your potential if you don’t have a surge of energy that’s ready to be unleashed. You can’t and you won’t.

Skip one night of sleep, and it won’t matter if you are professionally trained, have an MBA, Masters, Ph.D., or have been through every Tony Robbins Masters University… good luck with unleashing your “full potential.”

Read Unleash the Full Potential of Your Lifestyle—The Antidote to “Self-Help”—Part 2 >


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