Most of us are stuck in a routine.  We do the same thing every morning – whether it’s waking up with our families, getting a workout in or heading straight to work – it usually doesn’t vary much. Jesse Itzler caught himself in this trap.  Itzler cofounded Marquis Jet (which sold to Warren Buffet) , helped to pioneer Zico coconut water (which sold to Coca-Cola) and currently owns the Atlanta Hawks.  In his spare time, he runs ultramarathons. He is not someone you would categorize as needing to “shake things up” or get more fit. But that’s not how he saw it.  He knew he needed a change. So, like any normal person, Itzler went down to the local gym and hired a trainer, right?  Wrong. Instead, he cold-called a former Navy SEAL – and probably the toughest man alive – David Goggins.  He asked Goggins to live with him and his family for 30 days. Wait, what? Itzler wrote about the experience in his book, “Living With A Seal.” I read it so you don’t have to. I loved it so much that I read the book in under two days.  I couldn’t put it down. Though I’m not suggesting you do the same, here are 9 ways that Itzler’s decision can help you break through to the next level.
“Most of my successes in life have come from learning how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Like I said, I just want to get better.”
Commit To Your Decisions Itzler first came across Goggins at an ultra-endurance event.  The event was a 24-hour relay race where each team runs as many miles as they can in 24-hours around a track – the goal is 100 miles.   Goggins was there but he had no team.  He hadn’t put on running shoes in over a year.  In fact, all he had for this race was a chair, 1 water bottle and a few crackers. He was 260-pounds and spent his training time powerlifting, not running.  He needed to complete the 100 miles in 24-hours in order to qualify for further races that would help him raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. He ran the first 70 miles in 13 hours.  He was ahead of pace but broken down physically.  He had broken every bone in his feet and developed shin splints and muscle tears.  He peed blood down his leg because he wasn’t physically able to make it to a toilet.   Somehow, he completed the 100-mile task.   Itzler saw this display of sheer will and decided he needed some of what Goggins had. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone Itzler has this habit of cold calling people he’s impressed with and asking to be their friend.  It’s kind of what I do with the podcast.  I find people that I’m impressed with and disguise my curiosity for their life with a 30-minute interview. Not only does he cold call Goggins, but he flies across the country to meet with him and propose his idea: he will pay Goggins to live with his family for a month and train him mentally and physically.   Goggins agrees under 1 rule: Itzler has to do WHATEVER he says, with no exceptions.   Game On. Control The Mind On day 1, Goggins and Itzler go for a run outside.  Not bad, right? Well, this took place in December 2010 in NYC.  It was one of the snowiest winters on record in the city and was marked off as hazardous just to be outside.  If you thought that would alter the plans, you don’t know Goggins. It is 14 degrees outside and Itzler, trying to get out of the run, showcases this temperature to Goggins.   Goggins responds that “the temperature is what you think it is.” The main reason Goggins can do the unthinkable is his uncanny ability to control his mind.
“Enjoy this shit. If you want it to be seventy and sunny it’s seventy and sunny.  Just run. The elements are in your mind. I don’t ever check the temperature when I run.  Who gives a fuck what the temperature on the computer says? The computer isn’t out there running, is it?”
Minimalism Goggins also showed up to Itzler’s house on day 1 with no luggage, no suitcase and is wearing no coat during the brutal winter.  In fact, he wears the same t-shirt and shorts during virtually every workout throughout the month. Itzler (and I) came to envy how Goggins didn’t rely on material objects at all in his day-to-day life. I need to make a trip to Goodwill. No Excuses As you could imagine, nothing interrupts the workouts that Goggins schedules every day (yes, they workout 2-3 times per day the entire month).  Not weather, travel or any other variables. One great (and hilarious) example of this is Goggins’ burpee test.  Pretty simple: do 100 burpees as fast as you can. The hitch: Goggins tells Itzler to do the exercise during a quick break of a big meeting he has at work.  I guess he underestimated what Goggins meant by nothing being off limits. Itzler strips to his boxers in his office and does 100 burpees as fast as he can.   No excuses. Workouts Sometimes, I think people overcomplicate fitness.  We get in our own head too much about how much weight we need to lift, miles we need to run at a certain pace, how long/short the workout should be, etc. As Billy Beck III, the trainer for Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson, says – working out isn’t about looking good.  It’s about reminding you of who you are. Goggins keeps it simple. Every morning they ran 6+ miles (in the snow obviously). Every evening they ran 3+ miles (also in the snow). In between, they did a ton of push-ups, pull-ups, burpees and sit-ups.   Enough to break down Itzler’s body to the point of destruction. There were no fancy machines or trendy exercises.   You don’t need to be fancy to be fit. Get Your Foot In The Door (And Figure It Out Later) Throughout the book, Itzler lays out a few stories of how he’s grown his businesses. When Itzler was younger, he ran a media company.  The company won a radio campaign contract with Foot Locker under the condition that Itzler could supply Grant Hill as a sponsor.  Hill had just won the NBA Rookie-of-the-Year and was a national sensation. The only issue: Itzler had never met Hill before. The Foot Locker CEO told Itzler that he had 48-hours to get Hill to sign or the deal was off. Itzler uses his limited money to fly down to Orlando to the stadium where Hill is set to play that night.  Itzler waits all day for Hill to show up. When he sees him, he claims he’s been talking to his agent all day (not true) and that it’s part of his contract to do a quick clip for Foot Locker (also not true).   Hill reluctantly agrees, the audio clip goes live the next day and Itzler saves the deal. 20+ years later, Hill and Itzler are in business together in owning the Atlanta Hawks. This story is great but what really fires me up is that Itzler has done this SAME MOVE time and time again throughout his career.   Whatever it takes.   Simplicity Is Key Itzler and his wife, Sara Blakely (Founder of Spanx and a billionaire in her own right) have an annual New Year’s Eve party with friends.  This happens to fall into the month of Goggins living with them and they cordially invite him. In stereotypical fashion, everyone goes around the circle to tout their new year’s resolution. The resolutions range from starting a business to moving to Wine Country.   When it gets to Goggins’ turn, everyone is on the edge of their seat.   His answer is simple: “I’m not looking for anything else.  I’m going to do the same shit I’ve been doing – only better.” There’s a real beauty in his simplicity. In not wanting the material items, but simply wanting to be a better version of yourself. Conclusion The book is great.  It’s funny, inspiring and tells a great story. It taught me the power of mind control, simplicity and always striving to be better.   And, when in doubt, over-commit and figure the rest out afterward.  Excuse me while I go cold-call Itzler to be my best friend…

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