How to Win the Day

December 13, 2022
James Whittaker

Check out this episode on the Win the Day Podcast

One of the most common questions I get asked is how to win the day – and it’s the perfect time to tackle that question right now.

Whether it’s been a fun year or a tough year for you, remember that the best way to enter the New Year is with:

  • An idea of what you want to achieve; and
  • A bulletproof plan to make it happen.

That’s what we’re going to give you today…

Here are the 23 best moments from the Win the Day podcast in 2022 so you can use them as inspiration.

As we explore these lessons, channel them to think about what you want to achieve in 2023 and use them to craft your bulletproof plan.

Without further ado, here are the best moments from 2022. By the end, you'll know exactly how to Win the Day...

1. Accept what’s happening in your life.

You can’t move forward in a sustainable way without accepting where you’re at. And often, that can be an extremely daunting thing to confront.

In Episode 89, resilience expert Janine Shepherd came on the show and said:

“Acceptance is actually the first step in my 12 steps to resilience. Acceptance is so important because it’s the doorway. You've got to get to the doorway. You've got to accept whatever is happening in life.

For me, when I got home from hospital in a wheelchair, plaster body cast, as a paraplegic, I had to accept that all of the goals I had in life – going to the Olympics and all the other dreams and goals I had – were gone.

I really had to accept that before I could move on. It was almost like life was saying, let go of those things, and then I'm going to show you something better. That comes from acceptance.”

That’s your opportunity. To understand and accept where you’re at and what trajectory you’re on so you can start to focus on the steps that will get you in the right direction – to give you some momentum and start brightening your life a little more with each day.

2. Reconnect with your purpose each day.

One of the most important components of your morning routine – especially if you’re super busy or finding it hard to get balance – should be to reconnect with your purpose, to remind you of what it’s all for.

In Episode 71, Prerna Gupta, who has people like Ashton Kutcher and Jamie Foxx investing in her company, shared this:

“Back when I started my business, being a founder was not cool. When I quit my job, all of my friends were in consulting and finance. Four years into my failed startup, they were off to business school at Stanford and Harvard, and here I was with nothing to show for my decisions, and they thought I was crazy. Everyone was writing me off.

There were those days where I woke up just asking myself, what am I doing? And why am I doing this? And do I still believe in myself and in my dreams? 

Every time I asked myself that and really dug deep, the answer was, “I'm doing this because it's the only thing I can see myself doing.”

I'm not going to go back to that stable career path because it just doesn't inspire me. And what inspires me is creating these products that have the potential to bring joy into people's lives, and that was always my mission with the startups that I did. 

I honestly just almost felt like there wasn't a choice, this is what I was meant to do and the only thing that would fulfill me, and that's what kept me going.”

So tomorrow when you wake up and you take a moment to yourself, check in on whether you still believe in yourself and your dreams. When you can do that from a clear headspace, you’ll find that intuition guides you to the right decisions automatically and you’ll find a lot more meaning in every action you take throughout your day.

3. Start selfishly (and then share your expertise).

I don’t want you to misinterpret this one. The idea is that you should focus on developing some type of specialized knowledge or skill first, and then try and share those gifts with the world.

This comes from Kenny Aronoff, who’s one of the most accomplished musicians of all time. But he only got to that point by spending thousands of hours – probably tens of thousands of hours – behind closed doors, where no one could see him, mastering his craft.

That selfish and relentless focus gave him a skill – an ability to play the drums better than almost anyone else in history – and led to him selling more than 300M+ records and playing with some of the most iconic musicians on the planet.

In Episode 91, Kenny revealed a bit about that mindset: 

“In order to be the drummer I became, or I'm still trying to be, it was all about me. I’d practice eight hours a day.

But in order to be really successful and stay successful, you pivot from, "It's not about me. How do I serve the artist that I'm working with, the band? How do I become the greatest drummer I can possibly be for that guy's music, that band? How do I serve the musicians, the producer, the engineer, the record label, which will serve you, serve me, serve everybody? What can I do?”

And in music our north star is to get the song on the radio and to be a number one hit single. It's not about me. It’s to get the song on the radio, to be number one. That might mean I don't play at all.”

So don’t get frustrated that people aren’t buying into your hype just yet. It might simply mean you need to spend a little more time honing your craft, and then the world will be ready to receive you for the amazing individual you are.

4. Rise above your environment.

A lot of you reading this grew up in really difficult circumstances. In fact, you might be in one of those difficult environments right now.

But you should never let that environment dictate your destiny. After all, you are so much stronger than you know and the most important opinion is how you feel about yourself.

In Episode 73, property expert and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Ralph DiBugnara, came on the show and shared a bit about thinking bigger than his circumstances:

“Your surroundings sometimes put limitations on you — whether it's family members, your neighborhood, or maybe even where you work. If you set those limitations, then you just continue to stay where you are always. 

You continue to get pulled back in. It's like that crab in the barrel syndrome. You keep getting pulled back. 

I feel what is almost guilt. You feel guilt for leaving that stuff behind, but I want to better myself and I think other people should want to also. What people think of us isn't necessarily who we are. And as long as we realize that, then there is no limitation.

But that's how we break the cycle of generational poverty. We just show people that there is more than people and their surroundings are telling them.”

So remember, the most important thing is to take the necessary actions that enable you to become the best you can be – even if you need to leave some toxic people and situations behind.

5. Focus on progress over perfection.

This came from Kurt Seidensticker who’s a former rocket scientist and the founder of billion-dollar health brand Vital Proteins.

When you’re focused on perfection, you get stuck. What you really need is action to create momentum so you can know what needs fixing, then make those adjustments as everything gets better around you.

Here’s how Kurt explained it:

Over my career, but also with Vital, I've created these entrepreneurial mantras that I've taught everyone at the company, and you go anywhere inside of Vital and everyone can recite them, and they know them by heart.

They're things I've learned that teach us how to be successful, such as "Progress over perfection." I mentioned when I worked for NASA, it's all about perfectionism. But you don't make any progress. That was my challenge at NASA. I wanted to do more things. The 80-20 rule, right? The idea is that you can be successful and move quickly. 

I always teach the company: Move very quickly. Progress over perfection. And a lot of people want to do so well with their work, and they want to be really good, but you miss the market opportunity, because you don't get a product to market. You're spending so much time analyzing, you don't get it there. So that's one of my biggest things. 

I talked to one person this week, and it's like, “Progress over perfection. We want to wait until this is perfect.” And we said, “Remember it’s progress over perfection. Let's get it out there. We can always improve upon it, because you're going to learn things that you didn't even know, that you weren't even considering by getting it out to market or getting it out there and socializing it.”

The other one is part of that progress over perfection, is "Fail early, fail often," meaning failure is probably the biggest element of success. If you're afraid of failure, you're afraid of success, because you're not out there actually learning from your mistakes. You're not actually out there improving what you're building.

And so the idea is don't be afraid of failure, because that leads you to perfectionism, and that leads you to not making progress in stuff.”

So if you’re serious about success, abandon that perfection mentality once and for all, and start focusing on progress. 

6. Demonstrate your commitment (go the extra mile).

A lot of people talk about what they’re going to do, but at the end of the day it’s deeds – not words – that determine your character and ultimately your reputation.

In Episode 95, Wes Dening came on the show to talk about how he went from being a wannabe TV host in Brisbane, Australia, to one of the most successful TV producers in the world. It all started through a simple commitment to go the extra mile – and show the powers that be how badly he wanted it.

Here’s how Wes described that critical chapter in his life:

There was a show on Australian TV called Totally Wild. And it had been on forever, it was a legacy program. It was on 48 weeks of the year, four afternoons a week. They actually produced it out of Brisbane, which is where you and I grew up. 

After Big Brother, I was fortunate enough to meet the executive producer of the show. It was a guy called Jeff Cooper. And I met him at an event or a function and he probably shouldn't have done it, but he gave me his number or his card – one of the two. And I just started calling him up and I was like, "Jeff, I want to work on Totally Wild. Would you consider having me on to do a couple of episodes?"

He was very polite. I kept calling him and calling him, and he stopped taking my calls and soon his assistant would take the calls. "Hey, Wes. Nice to hear from you." And I probably called three or four times. Her name was Kate and she's amazing. She's still a friend. 

Eventually the call came back and they said, "Hey, we're willing to have you come in for two months. It's going to be unpaid. And we'll have you on two days a week." I said, "Done. I'm in. No problem at all."

I actually started coming in five days a week. I just came into the office every day. And if I wasn't working on a story, I'd write scripts. I'd pitch my boss. I'd try and help out. I just wanted to be part of the environment to learn.

After two months, I was offered a six month talent contract on camera. After that six months, it became a producing contract. And so when I was at Network 10 in Australia as a 21 year old, I was there for five years.

I was very, very fortunate because it's where I learned how to make TV. So every day I'd be making stories for Totally Wild, writing scripts, going in the field and shooting them with one camera, coming back to an offline machine where I'd do a paper edit, going in with the editor to make the three or four minute segment that would go into the show every night or every afternoon.

And in that time I got to do Totally Wild, which was a travel adventure show, I got to do live news. I got to do New Years Eve live telecasts. I got to do sports programming at Network 10. I got to do three different documentaries. 

Then I developed and produced a series on life in Antarctica and spent six weeks living in Antarctica. And that series did extremely well. I'm so grateful for that. I didn't make a lot of money in that time, but that's where I learned how to make TV. So it was those early years of just grit, persistence, and belief.”

So if you’re serious about a career, and want to get the ultimate foot in the door, demonstrate your commitment – and that only comes through your actions and proving how badly you want it. 

7. Hone your uniqueness into greatness.

There’s a lot of hype around greatness, but for a lot of people it’s too much of a leap to go from where we are now to being the great person that some people tell us we’re capable of, whether that’s a well-intentioned friend or an optimistic parent.

But there’s a pathway to greatness and it all comes through highlighting what’s unique about you and celebrating that instead. In Episode 111, former pro baseball player Josh Kalinowksi shared more about that philosophy:

“Unfortunately, the word ‘greatness’ paralyzes people way too much. If you talk to your kids, and say, "You got greatness in you," they’re like, "Dad, I struggle to brush my teeth." They can't relate to that.

But when we can say, "Hey, listen, you've got a uniqueness about you that you can hone, that you can practice, that you can work on, and you can turn it into your greatness," well, now we have a chance. Now we can have some direction.

Now we can say, "Okay. I get it. You're right, dad, I am unique," or "Yeah, you're right, I am unique. There's something unique about me that's just a little bit different than everybody else. I'm uniquely and wonderfully made and I can turn that into greatness." 

Baseball was that for me. I had this uniqueness about me. I was, once again, a big fish in a very small pond. Well, that was a blessing because if I would've been in California, Texas, Colorado, I wouldn't have been nearly as big and the pond would've been a lot bigger. So I was able to stand out. I was tall, I was lanky, I was lefthanded, I could throw hard, I could hit a baseball. It all made sense to me.

But what I did with relentless pursuit was I perfected that. I turned that into my greatness, and because of that, I got to chase my dream for so much longer than anybody else. I got to chase that dream not as long as I wanted to or I had envisioned, but it was still an amazing ride now that I look back on it, and I'm so grateful for that opportunity because those lessons I learned have helped me and pushed me so that I never gave up on myself.

Even though there were times or moments that I most certainly did, I never truly gave up on myself completely. I always had just this little shimmer of hope that there was something more.”

So next time you feel the need to call someone great, or you’re doubting your own abilities, lean into uniqueness to provide the confidence to get to that greatness.

8. View failure as a gift.

I mean, you know this one already. And I get it, it can be easy to say and much harder to do. But it’s one of the most important pieces to adopt if you’re serious about a growth mindset. 

In Episode 85, 3x Olympic gold medalist Leah Amico said:

The hardest thing was, you're playing with superstars. So throughout the season, you have ups and downs. You have good days and bad days. You have a weekend that's a little slump, and then you gotta come back from it. 

Normally, you're going through that in college, but now you're on the Olympic team and now everybody else being so great, it exposes and makes you feel that much worse when you go through that little rough slump. 

The biggest thing for me is that got magnetized, and I'll never forget calling my college coach before he had become my Olympic coach in my last Olympics, and just talking to him about a rough day that I was having.

He said, "You know Leah? Your ability to excel at this elite level is going to be your ability to deal with your failures in a positive way." He said, "How you deal with it is going to dictate everything." 

And isn't that true in life and everything we go through? It's how do I process it? How do I maybe use it and put it in perspective, which sometimes we got to step back for a second, and then what can I take from it, learn from it and then move forward? 

So it was really just allowing those voices to remind me, and then that's right, stay mentally strong, you could overcome this.”

So if you’re serious about the results you want, make sure you’ve mastered the ability to deal with failures in a positive way. Your life will change as a result.

9. Focus on process, not motivation.

Motivation is massively overhyped and it’s not quite as sustainable as people believe. But you know what is sustainable? Process.

In Episode 105, my good mate Ollie Ollerton – who’s former British special forces, and one of the few people to pass both SAS and SBS selection – shared this:

I understand how important process is. When I get up, I have a very strict routine. I get up very early, which in the summer can be 4:30 AM.

I get out of bed. I go downstairs. I go into my infrared sauna, I sit in there, I use YouTube for a guided meditation for about 20 minutes. I'll then come out of there, get the dog, go for a run. I put some clothes on first, by the way!

And then by the time I've got back to my home office, which is the only time I will turn my phone on, I'll take it off flight mode, I then can do probably an hour's work that would take me two hours to do later on during that day.

Now, the reason I've detailed that is because I don't want do that. At the end of the day, people go, "Oh, it's because you're an ex special forces soldier. You can do that." That's absolute rubbish, because I bleed and breathe just like everyone. I have the same things going on up here as everyone does. 

All these range of things, because your brain is wired to take that creative procrastination. It will try. Your brain says, “Go check your phone, check your email.” It's looking to try and steer you in a path that's going to avoid the unknown stress that's about to happen. 

Process is what gets me through that. I've got to switch off the emotional messages going on in my brain and just follow process. I know at that point, I wake up. I don't need an alarm clock anymore because I'm so used to getting up at that time.

So I wake up, I know straight away that I've got to get out of bed. And that's a process: “Get out of bed. Go downstairs, do the sauna.” Especially in the winter, after the sauna, what do you think my head's saying? “Stay in. The radiator's just come on. The coffee machine is there. The bean to cup coffee machine.  You worked hard yesterday, why don't you go for a run tomorrow?” All this stuff. 

But no. You follow the process. Put your trainers on, get the dog, take a step outside. As soon as you close that door, everything changes.

Now, if I have a bad day after that routine, I've won every day. I don't care how bad the day is, but if I've allowed my brain to combat me or dominate over me and I have a bad day, that day is something I prefer to forget. And you should never want to forget any days. Well, some days you've got no choice on that.

So really for me, it's about process. Process is so powerful. Don't expect to be motivated. It comes and goes. I don't care if you're an astronaut, special forces soldier, gold medalist, motivation comes and goes. It's not there all the time. 

That's where process really is important from A to B to C to D. Follow that process and you'll get there.”

So stop waiting to be motivated because that moment might never come. Instead, build your process and stick to it – come rain, hail or shine. Your discipline will reward you massively over the long term. That’s number nine: Focus on process, not motivation.

10. Use your relationship to become happier.

You’ve heard me talk a lot about how great Dr. John Gray is – and just go look at the comments on the YouTube episode we did together. The man has a way of thinking and communicating that is extremely rare.

One of the best insights he shared was the distinction between using a relationship to become happy versus using it to become happier. In Episode 101, here’s how he framed it:

“Part of a marriage is we are dependent on our partners for many things. But in a healthy relationship you're not dependent on your partner to be happy. You use your relationship to become happier. That's a healthy place.

You need to have all this stuff in your life that keeps you happy and fulfilled, like children, pets, your relationship to the earth, your work, friends, spirituality, health, education. These are all needs that we have as human beings.

But as soon as we touch into sex, it's like the brain goes, “This is it!” And we get addicted to that. From my perspective, anytime you're unhappy in a relationship, it’s because you're prioritizing your partner more than yourself and your life. 

You need to think of your partner as dessert, rather than the main course.”

So remember to use your relationship to become happier.

11. Understand the context of behavior.

In Episode 75, I asked neurologist Daniel Gallucci – who’s worked with some of the most successful athletes on the planet – what the top performers do differently. Here’s what he had to say:

“Harnessing peak performance is an obsession of mine – and there are a few things that top performers do amazingly well. One would be able to understand the context of behavior at that moment in time. It sounds simple but it's so difficult in the moment to really appreciate that.

So saying, "Listen, it's totally normal for me to be feeling this way, as I'm going to go up to bat with 60,000 people here and I've just gone zero for eight," but I can separate that and I can then still put the mental process in place to be able to say, "What are the actions that I need to perform right now that's going to enable me to increase my chances of being successful?" 

What I've seen is backing down and understanding that what my mind may be thinking could be combined of so many different things that have led me to this moment in time and, with all that stuff, I'm still going to be able to put the pieces in place to be able to focus on certain actions.

"What are the things that I need to focus on and how do I move forward?" rather than being, so reactionary like, "Oh, the pressure." Some of these people we've been able to put into the brain scan, so we can see what it looks like under the hood.

The brain is such a wonderful level of efficiency that it's insane. So one example I would give is you could take one of the best NHL hockey players on the planet and you could take another pretty good NHL hockey player that's still making $3 million or $4 million a year. When they're performing certain tasks and you ask them to visualize certain things in terms of how they do certain things on the ice and you watch this light up in real time, the guy that is making $12 million a year has this amazing ability to almost shut off. It's the ability to inhibit.

Because the brain is this amazing compressive tool. It's got 85 billion neurons and it does what it does generating 20 watts of electricity. When you have IBM Watson doing the same thing – like IBM Watson is going to go beat James in a game of Jeopardy, it takes 85,000 watts. You're powering a small city to be able to have that level of computation, "So how efficient is this person's brain?"

They've also done this with orthopedic surgeons and brain surgeons, the same thing exists. So with that high level surgeon versus a guy that's on surgical residency, that well-revered surgeon can almost act with a certain level of automaticity where his brain is just so efficient, whereas the young person is like, “Oh, am I doing this right? Should I cut this?” At the brain level, there's almost this beautiful level of efficiency which goes back to that self-organizing, interconnected, dynamic flow that's just so wonderful to see when you see it.”

So your ability to take a step back mentally to understand where you’re at and what behavior you need to deliver, will enable you to perform at your best and get the most from that situation.

12. Expose your kids to failure.

In Episode 79, I sat down with MMA fighter Owen Roddy, who is also coach of UFC superstar Conor McGregor and other champion fighters.

One thing I was really keen to ask him was his approach to parenting – and how he takes everything that he’s experienced from his career as an MMA fighter and coach – and applies that to build resilient and resourceful kids.

It all came down to a simple mentality:

“The big thing is exposing them to failure. I've got three girls. I don't particularly want them to do mixed martial arts competitively because it’s tough on the body – and it’s definitely broken up my body. But if they fell in love with martial arts, I would be behind them 100%, just as I would be behind them 100% in whatever they do.

My goal as a parent is to expose them to failure. It’s to teach them to look at the failures and the mistakes they've made, look for the solutions to those mistakes, and go straight back at the problem so they can learn to fix it.

Unfortunately, many people don’t want to see their kids upset and, as a result, keep them away from failure. But it's on the other side of those failures where all the success and all the good stuff is.

And I communicate with them. My kids do Irish football, and they're very competitive. It's very physical and they fail a lot. They lose the ball, they miskick, and I say to them, "It's okay. You're going to miskick a lot. But you know what? The more times you kick that ball, the more times you're going to be successful kicking that ball. So don't worry about it, just look at the problem and find a solution and go again." 

They're still very young, and they get upset, but it'll stand for them in the long run.”

Owen recognizes the importance of playing the long-game and how nurturing the right mindset in his children will benefit them considerably. So stop coddling your kids and expose them to failure.

13. Surround yourself with people who bring out your best.

In Episode 93, William Branum – a 26-year Navy SEAL – came on the show. He’s become a good friend and I just love his mindset.

You hear me talk all the time about the importance of relationships and making sure you’re around the right people. I asked William how he was able to do that during BUD/S training when everyone is out of their depth – quite literally – and this is what he had to say:

“I was in SEAL training for 13 months, because I went through the first phase three times. In the beginning, I was building these bonds with guys and then they would quit. I was like, "What happened? I don't understand it."

So, at some point I became pretty callous and cold. I still wanted to have bonds with guys, but if a guy wanted to quit, I’d be like, "There's the door." I would help push them along. "You're in my way right now. You're slowing me down. I want to actually win races."

In Hell Week, I saw a boat crew that was winning every race, and I knew the crew I was in was holding me back and that I needed to be with the winners. So, Monday afternoon, before dinner, we had lost so many people that they had to reshuffle the boat crews and you get in a boat crew based on your height.

I was able to get into Boat Crew 3, the one I wanted. When I got in there and I looked around, they were just average regular guys in that boat group. There were no superstars. But no matter what we were doing — if we were going to chow or we were doing an actual race — by me surrounding myself with guys who were performing better than me, that brought me up to their standard. I had to raise my own bar to their level.

Even though I would feel sorry for myself and want to slow down, I didn’t want to be the guy who would be dragging them down. So, that was part of just my desire to be there. 

It helped change my own mindset because I wasn't really surrounded by people like that growing up. There were the star athletes, the star students, and there was me. I was like, "I'm not as good as any of those people. But if I want to be with those people, I have to push myself beyond what I think my limits are."

You’ll be ready to run through a wall after listening to that episode so go check it out. And remember to surround yourself with people who bring out your best.

14. Get smarter while you sleep.

There’s a quote from Thomas Edison that’s one of my favorites, and is generally the final thought that runs through my mind before I go to sleep. It is, “Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.”

Well, when Dr. Michael Breus the Sleep Doctor came back on the show for Episode 81, I asked him if it’s possible for people to get smarter while they sleep – and, if so, how.

Here’s how he responded:

“We know that during REM sleep, you move information from your short term memory to your long term memory. Also during stage three / four sleep, there's something called the lymphatic system, which pulls all the waste out of your brain. Things like beta amyloid and tau. What it does is it cleans the whole system out, so your brain actually probably thinks a little better while you're sleeping.

Also there's not as much input. You don't have visual input because your eyes are closed. You don't have hearing input because it's quiet, hopefully. What we know is the old saying of “sleep on it,” it's actually a really good idea.

What I oftentimes tell my CEOs and my entrepreneur people is, "You don't want to be perseverating on your business problems before bed. But if you have a problem and you want to try to solve it, then instead of thinking about all the aspects of the problem, just say to yourself, 'I'd like a solution,' and just allow the data to go to the places it needs to go to in your head. You will be pleasantly surprised when you wake up."

In many cases, if you journal when you wake up in the morning – a lot of my clients like to journal in the morning time to just get stuff out of their head – the solutions will start to come. It's not going to happen immediately. Usually for a lot of my clients, it's five to seven days, but it works. It's a great tool to just say, "I'd like a solution to the problem." And that's it. 

I actually have people then do a gratitude list. To take your mind off the problem, think about the idea of gratitude. This isn't a woo woo, "Oh, hey, let's all be grateful," type of thing. There's real data here! There's data to suggest that if you're optimistic before bed, you fall asleep more quickly and you have more positive dreams.”

Amazing, right!? So tap into your brain a little more and get it to do some of the heavy lifting for you while you’re asleep. You’ll be astounded with the results.

15. Use positive emotion to unlock your potential.

In Episode 83, FBI negotiator Chris Voss – who is also the author of mega bestseller Never Split the Difference – came on the podcast and shared some fascinating insights into communication, negotiation, and high performance.

Now, we’ve all been through a lot – some people have been through a lot more than others – but we’ve all had extreme challenges in our lives from time to time that have crushed our spirit and completely destroyed our hope. 

But that doesn’t need to be a life sentence. We need to find a way of getting back to positive emotion so we can use it as fuel.

Here’s how Chris described it:

“It's a simple answer, but it's not easy. While working on a suicide hotline, I learned that to get out of grief, you have to go from grief to gratitude. “I'm devastated that I lost this loved one, I'm just devastated and I'm grateful for everything they brought into my life.” You know? So, there's a progression there.

And when I was on a suicide hotline – it was actually crisis intervention hotline, which is a lot better than being on a suicide hotline because people can be in crisis and not be suicidal. Consequently, we got a lot of grief calls and I really enjoyed my ability to help in those the most, because it was just enlightening to move them from grief to gratitude.

Now you can't tell people that. You have to help them experience it. And we weren’t trying to get anybody excited. We're just trying to help them clear their head. 

When it comes to regret, you need to learn from it. Life's got these great lessons. Sometimes they're devastating, but it was there to help you. You get better if you learn from it. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody gets hurt. It's a choice as to whether or not to live hurt.

Craig Groeschel, a spiritual leader who I follow on Instagram because I love his philosophy, put that up on one of his Instagram posts. It's inevitable to be hurt. It's a choice to live hurt. No matter how devastating it was, you're never going to get out of it until you ask yourself, "What did I learn from it?"

One of my phrases is: Everything we do prepares us for everything we will do. You're going to see this show up in a lot of other places. Does life happen to you or for you? Do you have to deal with it or do you get to deal with it? The stumbling blocks are things that are causing you problems right now, but they're the gateway to a higher level life.

If you ask yourself, "What am I supposed to learn from this?" Instead of why do I have to deal with this, what do I get to learn from dealing with this? And it's a whole just, it's a mindset shift, which is certainly easy to say, very difficult to implement. And then the reality is you're going to fall back into being fragile. You're going to fall back into despair.

So, then how do you climb out of it? It's a little bit of a rock, paper, scissors with emotions, despair, anger, elation, challenge, crisis or challenge. Anger will lift you out of despair – like in your regret of what you've done or your despair over what happened to you – anger will lift you out of that.

I intentionally use anger occasionally, because I find myself depressed or in despair or feeling a sense of loss. It's just so devastating. It feels like a hole has been ripped in me. But anger will not get you to your highest levels of performance. It's got to be a positive emotion, gratitude. It might be elation, challenge. Is this painful or is it a challenge? 

But you'll get fooled by anger because it made such a great difference in how you feel, and you won't know that the highest level of your performance as a human being has to cross into the positive mode.

Now typically gratitude rarely pulls you directly out of despair. Gratitude rarely pulls you directly out of grief. There's usually an intervening step, but you are never going to get to be the fullest expression of who you are as a human being with anger. You’re just never going to get there.”

Chris is an extraordinary individual so think about how you can apply that into your own life.

16. Achieve financial freedom.

I don’t even need to elaborate on this one. You already know  how much better you could make the world if you had more resources at your disposal, especially financial resources.

But the route to financial freedom is something people never seem to look into with much thought. Here’s how my dad, financial literacy expert, Noel Whittaker, described it:

“It's very simple. First, you must spend less than you earn. Now, there's a surplus. You invest the surplus. 

At the same time, you improve your skills by self-education. As your skills-base grows, your income grows, and you're on your way.

I do not know how to give desire to people who just don't care. 80% of people have no interest in improving their skills. 80% of people fall for ‘buy now, pay later’ credit cards. They're always behind. If you are in debt every pay day, you never get ahead of the game because you need to create the capital base.

Now, as Jeff Olson said in that wonderful book, The Slight Edge, it's the small things. Compound interest is very slow to start, but it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. 

Make sure you don’t spend everything. You must start the capital base so it'll grow faster and faster, and improve your skills at the same time.”

So ‘yes’ financial freedom is possible for you. You just need to remember that plan and execute on it consistently.

17. Replace anger with calm. 

Life has a funny way of poking us in ways that can really disrupt our day. And if you’re having a bad day, or you’ve got a lot going on, it’s easy to respond with anger.

But real power and happiness comes from harnessing that anger and replacing it with calm. In Episode 97, my good friend Denny Denholm – who has spent a lifetime in warzones as a commando and military leader – shared just how important that ability is:

“If you're angry, you're wrong. That's just it. If you're angry, you're wrong. If you're angry at your children, it's the wrong way to be teaching them. If you're angry at your husband or wife, it's the wrong way to get them to believe in your story and why you are angry. You've got to find a way of just not being angry.

With our company BreakPoint, we mainly talk to corporates, but we get a chance to speak to kids and the main focus is to let them understand the collaboration between the mind and the body. The junction between that is breathing. That’s how you move away from anger and toward calm.”

Next time you’re struggling with something, focus on calm. That way, you’ve got a much better chance of getting the result you’re after – and not escalating things further.

18. See the potential in others (even if they don’t see it in themselves). 

This is such an important concept. We all have vulnerable moments in our life, when the wrong message could be soul-crushing but the right right message could spur us on to being who we are and having the impact we want to have.

In Episode 109, psychiatrist and FBI negotiator Dr. Mark Goulston revealed the moment that completely changed the trajectory of his life:

“There's always a backstory to people's front story. One of the greatest personal accomplishments I've had is I dropped out of medical school twice and I finished. I didn't drop out to see the world. I dropped out probably for untreated depression. I was highlighting all my books, they were all yellow, and I could follow what I was reading, but I couldn't hold on to it.

So I took a leave of absence, worked in a blue collar job. I came back and then six months later it happened again. And so, I sought to take another leave of absence. I met with the dean of the school and he was worried that I would do something self-destructive – and I don't know that I would've, but I might have – when he communicated that the school wanted to kick me out. 

So, I get a call from the Dean of Students who cares about people more than finances, and he said, "You better come in here because we have a letter from the main dean." I go in there and the letter from the main dean says, "I met with Mr. Goulston. We talked about other careers and I'm advising the promotions committee that he be asked to withdraw," because I was still passing everything.

And I was at a low point. I come from a background where you're only worth what you can do. That's not that unusual with Depression-age parents, and even younger parents, you're only worth what you do, that people evaluate you on your performance. And I said, "What does that mean?" He said, "You're being kicked out." 

I'm not a religious person, but it's like I caved in and I felt something wet on my cheeks. I thought I was bleeding. I just kept looking at my hands because I just didn't know what it was. And it was tears from the body blow.

Given that I come from the background that you're only worth what you can do, imagine you're feeling that, imagine that you're feeling pretty worthless. And he said to me, "Mark, you didn't mess up because you're passing everything. But you are messed up. But if you got un-messed up, I think the school would be glad they gave you a second chance."

The tears from the body blow turn into tears of, what's he doing? He's being compassionate. And then, he said, "And even if you don't get unmessed up, even if you don't become a doctor, even if you don't do anything with the rest of your life, I'd be proud to know you."

So then, I'm just sobbing like, "What is he saying?"

Then he said, "And even if you don't do anything, the reason I'd be proud to know you is because you have some goodness in you, a kindness that the world needs. And we don't grade that in medical school, maybe we should. You won't know how much the world needs that until you're 35." 

I'm looking away. I can hardly look into your eyes as I recall this. And then he says, "Look at me." He points his finger at me, and he says, "You deserve to be on this planet and you're going to let me help you."

I think if he had said, "If I can help you, give me a call," I would have gone back to my apartment and I might not be here.

What happened is I picked up what I call the trifecta of hope. You're worthwhile even if you don't do anything. If there's something decent in you or good in you, you deserve to be here. So, he saw an unconditional value in me that I didn't have to earn or perform. He saw a future for me that I didn't see, 35 years from now, the world's going to need you. 

Third, he went to bat for me. He stood up to the medical school and said, "We're going to give this guy a second chance." And he arranged where I would meet with the promotions committee. I guess they were able to see something in me that I couldn't see.”

So think about that trifecta of hope and remember how much power you have to help improve someone else’s life, or perhaps even save someone’s life.

19. Focus on distribution first.

If you run your own business, or are thinking about starting a business, this is about the best advice you'll ever receive. In Episode 113, Shaahin Cheyene – who generated more than $1 BILLION in sales by his 20th birthday – came on the show and shared the biggest mistake people make with their business:

“So one of the things that one of my mentors taught me is always look at distribution first. The fool's way to sell something is to create a better mousetrap and hope that the world will find its way to your door. It's bullshit. Nobody cares. 

The correct way to do it is to find a market, find the distribution, and then to just give it what it needs. That's how you get rich because now you're just feeding the market what it already wants. And all you have to do is tell a better story. All you have to do is provide value, provide excellence, and you're good to go.

Educating a consumer is really the job of these big corporations with endless capital and public funds and that kind of thing. That is not the job of us as mid-level, high-level entrepreneurs. It's not our job to do that.

Our job is to make money. We do that by finding distribution, finding a market – like you said, that's hungry – and just feeding it what it wants.”

Shaahin’s got a great energy and has some incredible insights in that episode. In your business, remember to focus on distribution first.

20. Believe in yourself.

In this world, there are a LOT of things that will knock you off course. It’s why I’m so passionate about always knowing who you are and where you want to go so you can insulate yourself from the naysayers and the negative energy.

In Episode 99, Karen Dwyer spoke about how some of the clients she works with have been completely crippled by how other people had spoken to them:

“I've had clients that come to me and they'll say, oh, my neurologist said this to me. They’re like a deer in headlights because they’ve been told they’ll never be able to do an activity they love ever again.

And I've asked for neurologist phone numbers from my clients. I'm like, “Give me that phone number. They have no right to say that to you!” I've a healthy frustration with the medical world and I love them dearly – and they've done great things for me – but there's a lot of times where the bedside manner could do with an improvement.

Because what they’re saying, and what people are left with, can be really, really damaging or really, really healthy. And when somebody is in a very vulnerable state, you're like Velcro, you're really sticky to whatever your doctor says. One sentence could literally change the trajectory – as you say in the beginning of your podcast – of someone's life. 

A doctor holds immense power, so I'm always very, very conscious of somebody making a great relationship with a neurologist and actually being able to say, is that your personal opinion or is that a medical opinion? And to be able to see what has merit.”

As you hear me say all the time, the most important opinion is how you feel about yourself. It’s the key to self-belief – and you’re going to need it, especially if you’re dealing with something tough like a chronic medical condition.

21. Problems help you get better at finding solutions.

It can be so frustrating when all you want is the result but you keep getting confronted by problem after problem. But in Episode 115, Angela Sutherland – who’s the founder of kids nutrition company Yumi – mentioned that problems are simply presented to us so we can get better at finding solutions.

It’s a mindset that we need to adopt, and also to share with the next generation. Here’s how Angela described it:

My kids right now are six and eight and so it's actually a really good time to have conversations at dinnertime around a variety of concepts. We talk about resilience and optimism. We talk about not letting something bother you.

You can see it in early ages when kids get very frustrated. They can't finish an assignment. They get something wrong and they get very angry. And it's just about taking a deep breath, thinking about what to do, and focusing on how you can fix it.

We talk about how there's no such thing as a problem, it's just a way to find a solution. Nothing should stop you here. Or it's little things, like there's no losing – there's winning and learning. There's little things that we try to talk about so that way they see that life is a long journey. 

There's no moment in time. So today you might not have done as well as you thought, but you can learn from that and then you can still win.”

So the next time a problem gets in your way, be grateful for the opportunity to get better at finding solutions. It’s a huge reframe that will change your life.

22. Choose purpose over possibility.

It’s possible for you to do a whole bunch of things, but the most important thing for you to pursue is your purpose. Even if something seems impossible, go for it – if it’s something that truly means so much to you.

In Episode 103, Ben Goodwin – the founder of Olipop that is on the fasttrack to being a billion-dollar company – revealed a little bit about how he viewed the size of the challenge in front of him:

“One thing that my mentor actually said to me that I do keep close to my heart is that, "Most things that are worth doing seemed impossible at the start."

So I don't let the scale and the complexity of the challenge diffuse my observation. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing. I don't give a fuck if it seems impossible now.”

And if you’re struggling with purpose, focus on getting a clear mind and reading anything that inspires you so you can lean into what really drives you.

23. Show up to give each day everything you have.

Just reading that sentence really inspires me. And if you want something to write on your wall – apart from Win the Day, obviously – it’s probably that.

One of my favorite interviews was with Kirin Sinha who came on the show in Episode 107 to talk about the metaverse. But we spent the majority of our conversation talking about her fascinating mindset and how she’s using it to change the world.

Here’s a little refresh:

“I love Post-its so I have Post-its all over my apartment at all times! I have them with me all the time. I think they're an incredible business tool because you have to distill thoughts in a very clean and concise way.

The Post-it I currently have on my desktop screen and the quote that most inspires me right now is, "Champions don't show up to get everything they want. They show up to give everything they have." And that is something that's giving me a lot of energy right now – on your best day or your worst day, it's really a question of, did you give everything that you have? All you can do is show up every day and give everything you have.

And to me, that's regardless of the type, what happens, what you get out of that, that could be bad, that could be good, that's not always in your control. But if you show up and you give everything you have and you think about your life from that impact driven mindset, you will, I think, feel more fulfilled.

You’ll actually achieve more towards your goals than any other headspace.”

So remember to show up and give each day everything you have.

Until then, get out there and Win the Day.

Onward and upward always,

James Whittaker

PS - If you have a question and want it featured on the Win the Day podcast, email your question (in writing or as an audio message) to:

Resources / links mentioned:

🧠 Janine Shepherd (Ep 89)

📚 Prerna Gupta (Ep 71)

🥁 Kenny Aronoff (Ep 91)

🏡 Ralph DiBugnara (Ep 73)

🍏 Kurt Seidensticker (Ep 77)

🎥 Wes Dening (Ep 95)

🚴‍♂️ Josh Kalinowski (Ep 111)

🏆 Leah Amico (Ep 85)

🇬🇧 Ollie Ollerton (Ep 105)

💗 Dr. John Gray (Ep 101)

🧠 Daniel Galluci (Ep 75)

📈 Owen Roddy (Ep 79)

🏆 William Branum (Ep 93)

😴 Dr. Michael Breus (Ep 81)

🤝 Chris Voss (Ep 83)

💸 Noel Whittaker (Ep 87)

💪 Denny Denholm (Ep 97)

🧘 Dr Mark Goulston (Ep 109)

🤓 Shaahin Cheyene (Ep 113)

💫 Karen Dwyer (Ep 99)

🧒 Angela Sutherland (Ep 115)

⛑️ Ben Goodwin (Ep 103)

🌌 Kirin Sinha (Ep 107)

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🙏 Give the Win the Day podcast a 5-star rating on Spotify

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