The post-Covid world found society a little bit numb, with several unproductive habits and highly distracted after a couple of years of severe restrictions, lockdowns, and long hours of social media.
Before the pandemic, the world was slowly walking into a more digitalized version of itself, and the Covid outbreak accelerated that process; society ran straight into it. Now we work, shop, socialize, and spend most of our free time online.
We spend more time on the internet than ever. Sometimes, those hours are used to learn new things and to do activities with meaningful and measurable results; other times (most of them), we spend our time simply entertaining ourselves. But then, when the dopamine hit wears off, we feel miserable because we didn’t accomplish anything meaningful for our careers or personal life.
We get struck by guilt, anxiety, and frustration. We rehearse a radical change, sustain it for a while, and then return to the old patterns. Guilt, anxiety, and frustration hit again, harder this time.
So, is there a way to transform productive habits into a routine? Is it possible to be more productive and reach our goals without feeling depleted every night before going to bed?
In this episode, Ted interviews an authority in productivity and stress management, the renowned keynote speaker, author, podcaster, and productivity coach, Jeff Sanders. Jeff unravels the secret formula of staying focused, how to reduce unproductive habits, and how to turn significant changes into an enjoyable journey.
Plus, Jeff shares his challenges with stress, how he managed them, what it really means to be productive, why perfectionists tend to struggle with being productive, and so much more.
Jeff Sanders is a keynote speaker, productivity coach, author of The 5 AM Miracle, The Free-Time Formula, and founder of The Rockin’ Productivity Academy.
Jeff is also the host of The 5 AM Miracle Podcast, which has ranked #1 in Apple Podcasts in the Self-Improvement and Business categories, been nominated for 7 Podcast Awards, and exceeded 12 million downloads.
Connect to Jeff Sanders
- About the effects on society of living in and out of lockdown for a couple of years
- The increase in the time we spend online, its benefits and disadvantages
- What happens when we remove distractions
- How to eliminate negative habits and create productive ones
- How to tie enjoyment to hard work
- The first thing you must do if you want to start being productive
- What it really means to be productive
- Why do Type A people struggle so much with productivity
- How to recognize what’s the most important thing you have to do TODAY
- And much more…
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Go to legendarylifepodcast.com/apply and schedule your 15-min strategy call with me.
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Podcast Transcription: Optimal Performance: How To Take Your Mental And Physical Performance To The Next Level with Sean McCormick
Ted Ryce: Sean McCormick, welcome to the Legendary Life podcast. Thanks for coming on the show today, man.
Sean McCormick: Thank you, Ted. You blew my mind when you were on the podcast that I released just a couple of weeks ago. Your focus and your articulation of these important things. So, it’s pleasure to be here. I got a lot of respect for you.
Ted Ryce: Thanks so much. And I appreciate it you too and learning more about what you do in the coaching space, and with psychedelics, and I know we’re going to have an interesting conversation. So, let’s start off like we usually do. How would you describe what you do? Can you talk a little bit about yourself? And how do you describe what you do?
Sean McCormick: Yeah. So, I work with a number of individuals and companies, businesses, and startups. My bread and butter is really one-on-one coaching. And I work with executives in the C-suite at startup companies. I work in venture capital, in consulting and advising people. And I do that typically on a one-on-one basis. And I really coach on four core pillars. The first one is classic personal development. This is Tony Robbins, this is reprogramming mental narratives, goal setting, accountability. This is the real classic personal development content that I’ve been trained on and certified on and now having done this for six plus years, lots and lots of reps on this, like, who do you want to be? Let’s make a plan to go be that person.
And the second pillar is performance optimization. So, with the podcast, the Optimal Performance Podcast that I’ve done, we’ve got 395 episodes. I’ve talked to researchers and authors and scientists from all around the world. And I’ve learned all of these human optimization techniques, from stress management to deepening your memory and consciousness, to hormones, nutrition, fitness, and really, lifestyle design, because that’s how I think about personal optimization, what things are you doing, to keep your battery charged? So, that’s a whole can of worms.
And then the third category is career optimization. You’ve got to pay the bills, you got to put food in your mouth. You’ve got to find a way to climb that ladder, whatever that means for you. So sometimes I’ll help founders and CEOs navigate an exit from their company. I will help nine-to-fivers get paid more for the work that they’re already doing. I have lots of techniques to able to do that. So, what are you doing now? Is it the right thing for you? And how can we work together so that you can get paid more and work less? Which I’ve become really, really good at.
And then the fourth category, the fourth pillar of my coaching offering is spiritual development. And for a lot of people that makes them cringe a little bit, because they’re like, “Ugh, I don’t know why this White guy is talking about spirituality”.
Ted Ryce: Read your beads, man.
Sean McCormick: Right, exactly. I don’t have dreadlocks. I’ve been meditating since I was 12. I was born with some intuitive gifts that are a part of my coaching offering. I have done a hundred plus ceremonies in plant medicines. I have real experience in expanding consciousness. And the way that ties into spirituality is, regardless of who your higher power is, even if you don’t believe in a higher power, you’re agnostic, there is a mission or purpose to your life. And when you connect with that mission, that vision that you have to be of purpose and value in the world, that’s a spiritual experience, because you’re going to die one day, you’re going to be dead.
And the time that you spend here in this life can be deepened, can be made more purposeful, more focused, and more pleasurable with more joy in your life. And to me, that’s really where spirituality comes in. So, it’s really those four core pillars of what I do and how I do it. And I do a bunch of other weird stuff. But that’s really the core of the coaching offerings.
Ted Ryce: I love the way you describe yourself. And it seems like you’ve had a lot of thought about it. I want to step into this gently, because I think this spirituality is such a fascinating place to go. And I think we’re in a bit of a spiritual crisis at the moment with people not really understanding what their purpose is. I want to talk first, though, about the classical personal development. People now, and I feel like it’s the best time to be alive. If you’re living in the modernized Western society, I’m in Lisbon right now, you’re in Seattle, and our chances of getting into some violent conflict are just nonexistent. We’re in a very safe time.
At the same time though, it doesn’t feel that safe. And especially in the States, they’re a bit on edge. And then when we think about that, it’s like, everybody is doom-scrolling on social media, and talking about how the world is going in a certain direction, that’s in a negative direction. And it’s like, well, wait a minute, what are you trying to do here? My question to you is, can you talk a little bit about maybe a person you helped, who was struggling with these classical personal development challenges and how you helped them to change?
Sean McCormick: Yeah, for sure. A really good place to start is to understand what your values are. What’s most important to you in your life? Is it achievement? Is it money? Is it legacy? Is it a lifestyle? Is authenticity important to you? What are your values? And a lot of people have never thought about that. What’s the most important thing to you in your life? Are you living in alignment with the things that are most important to you? Do you say that you’re really family oriented, but you really only see your children for two and a half hours at night after you get home from work?
Ted Ryce: I work a hundred hours a week for my family.
Sean McCormick: Exactly.
Ted Ryce: Maybe come home and drink a bottle of wine, because I’m trying to relax from working so hard for my family.
Sean McCormick: Exactly right. You put a screen in front of your children when they ask you hard questions because you just don’t have the energy for it. You spend all Sunday watching football and drinking lite beers. And you say that you’re a family man. Well, bullshit, no, you’re not. Your actions and your behaviors don’t match with what you say your values are. And a lot of the values that we think that we have, are sort of gift-wrapped by culture.
I’m a big fan of Terence McKenna, who is one of the forefathers of The Psychedelic Movement from the 60s and 70s. And he says that… I do a decent Terence McKenna impression. And he says, “Culture is not your friend”. And it’s true, culture is not your friend. And if your values are spoon-fed to you by the television, Netflix or YouTube, or even podcasters, like you and I, then you’re not living authentically.
So, oftentimes understanding really early in the coaching process, what your values are, and being honest with yourself and having a coach… you know this just as well as I do, it sometimes takes someone that you hire, to bring you in, to help you really understand yourself, and values is a good place to start.
Another really good place to start is with an exercise that I call the Life Positioning System. And it takes a look at eight core categories of your life, and you score it on a scale of one to 10. So, this is money, health, fun and recreation, family, life purpose, spiritual development, romance and intimacy… there’s an eighth, I forget what it is.
And you score that on a scale of one to 10. Where are you right now with money? Where are you right now with health? Where are you right now with your family? The catch is you can’t pick seven because everybody picks seven. It’s like, “Oh, it’s pretty good. It can be better. But it’s better than a six, it’s a seven”.
So, I don’t let people choose seven because it’s a cop-out. It makes you commit to either a six or an eight. And even that personalized subjective assessment of where you are in those eight categories of your life will give you an idea of how you’re doing. I work with really highly effective people. Oftentimes money is great. Sometimes their family is great because they’re well-cared for with lots of resources.
Oftentimes, their health is not great, not sleeping very well, maybe some extra pounds. And oftentimes that same archetype, person, male or female is usually struggling with relationships, romance and intimacy is usually further down in the score because again, they’re working really hard and making lots of money.
And so when you do a subjective assessment of where, where am I right now in my world? How am I doing? And if my money and my family are eight, but my fun and recreation is a two, and my life purpose is a three, well, then maybe there’s some work to be done around those things. And that’s one of a whole binder full of different exercises that I do with people to help you understand really honestly and authentically where you are in your life.
And I’ll add a little bit more to that.
Another really valuable exercise is for people to go on what I call… I built a program around it, but it’s really like a dopamine fast. The doom-scrolling that you talked about, which everybody does in one way, shape, or form, what that does is it is signaling in your brain, I need another hit. It is just like snacking, I need a little glucose bump, I need some cheese, I need a muffin at two or three in the afternoon. I need that little hit, a little pick me up. And when you take a moment away from social media, from media in general, when you limit your screen usage by a lot, for two weeks. I built a program called The Full Moon Reset, where you have a half-sidereal cycle. Sidereal just means moon phases.
When you go from no moon – which is a new moon – no moon in the sky, to a full moon, it’s basically 15 days. And within that 15 days, you’re not getting those same dopamine hits. And so instead you’re playing cards with your family, you’re going for walks, you’re journaling, you’re playing guitar, you’re not watching Netflix, or whatever your platform of choice is. Journaling is a part of that. Cutting out sugar is a part of that. No alcohol, no cannabis, no sex, no drugs, and no rock and roll to reset your dopamine receptors.
And at the end of this two-week period, when you’ve been journaling a lot, you’ve been thinking about your life a little bit, you’ve been connecting with your family a little bit more, maybe even call your mom to check in and say hi to your mom. What that does is you get more in touch with who you really are outside of culture, outside of dopamine, outside of entertainment. That feeling that you had when you were maybe 15 or 16 and the world was exciting and interesting before alcohol played a part in your life, before you know sex and chase and tail was a big motivator for you.
So, when you get back in touch with who you were before you became an adult and bear the burdens of living in the modern day, you really understand what you do like, the music that you like, the activities that you like to do. And after that dopamine fast, then you reintroduce these things consciously, like reintroduce Instagram. I’m going to reintroduce cannabis, I’m going to reintroduce whatever.
And what that does is it’s a conscious choice, you become more conscious of the way that your attention is being pulled away rather than knowing who you are and your true self. So, that’s just a couple of different techniques that I use for different people to kick off the coaching.
Ted Ryce: I want to talk more about this dopamine fast, because we’re in a time where the focus is more important than, I think, intelligence, is more important than—maybe anything. You can have so many good ideas, you can have an IQ of 3000. And if you can’t focus, you can’t be effective. I grew up watching my dad, he was an attorney and had his own business… a little bit of a long story that I won’t go into.
But he had his own business eventually, after leaving a law practice. And I saw the beginnings of this whole culture distraction machine, where he used to read the paper, and then all of a sudden it was the 24-hour news channels. And then now right in our time, it’s Twitter, it’s Facebook, its Instagram, it’s Netflix with like, “Hey, the next episode starts in 5, 4, 3.” Well, I might as well watch a new one, right?
And Netflix’s CEO even said, their main competition is sleep. It’s not Hulu or Disney Plus, it sleeps. I like capitalism. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it as an idea. I think that human beings, we found that people have a certain type of brain that if you feed it alcohol or really tasty food, or keep it hooked with social media, you just keep on going back to it and back to it and back to it. And that becomes a pattern that you develop.
And then all of a sudden to not touch your phone becomes really tough. And I’ve even been in conversations with friends… only one friend, actually. The dude just could not… and he’s a smarter guy than me and runs his business. But he just can’t put down his phone down and he’s obese. And so how can someone so smart get caught up in these habits that are ultimately self-destructive? What do you get to say about that?
Sean McCormick: Well, you’re right. It’s created that way. The same way that Cheez-It are designed to make you eat the whole goddamn box, the same way that Tik Tok moves so quickly that you can’t help but just keep your eyes glued to the next video. It’s scary, man. I’ve seen grown men, people I love to watch, Tik Tok, sit down and watch Tik Tok for half an hour. And you can see their eyes get glossy and weird. Try to have a conversation with someone after they’ve been that distracted by Tik Tok is nearly impossible. The depth of their perception is terrible.
Ted Ryce: You’ve got to start dancing. You got to put on a show.
Sean McCormick: Yeah, put on a show. How about this? Does this get your attention when I do a dance thing? Is that what I need to do to break through to you, bro? Yeah, it’s designed that way. The same way that highly palatable foods are designed that way. And plenty of really intelligent people just get caught up in it. It’s designed in that way.
Ted Ryce: It’s designed in that way. And of course, people are just trying to have successful businesses. I’m trying to design my coaching and put out content in a way that makes people like, “Oh, I got to go hire Ted. Oh, wow, I had these amazing results with Ted.” I’m trying to do a good business too. What do you see as maybe even the deeper reason? I had Nir Eyal, author of Distracted and he’s written a couple of other books. And he was talking about the internal challenges. It’s like, why are we distracting ourselves? Do you have thoughts on that?
Sean McCormick: Yeah, we all have trauma. We have these things either. I’m a fan of Gabor Mate. And he talks about a capital “T” trauma versus a lowercase “t” trauma. We have a capital “T” trauma is like, sexual abuse, and physical abuse. A lowercase, “t” trauma is something like your needs wasn’t met, your emotional needs as a child weren’t met. And we all have that. Every single one of us experienced trauma.
And so we turn to food, we turn to media, we turn to cannabis, or sports cars, or coke or women or gambling, to feed this need to self-soothe this trauma that we experienced as children. It’s just a form of addiction to fill this hole that we have. So, that is obviously not the work that I do. I don’t help people process trauma.
That’s the work for really good therapists. And there are a lot of really bad therapists, but the really good therapists that are skilled help you process that trauma and understand yourself at a deeper level. That’s looking in the rearview mirror, right? Why am I like this way? Why do I have trouble putting the fork down?
Why do I have trouble going for a walk or making time for myself or just sitting still for a minute? Like being in a room, sitting quietly, sipping a cup of tea. Why is that so challenging? And that’s looking in the rearview mirror to understand why you are the way that you are now. The work that I do, takes where you are now and where you want to go forward. The same way that you do.
You help people transform their physiques so that they can love themselves and be their best. I help people transform their lives, so that they can love themselves and be the best versions that they can be to be productive and create value in the world. I’m almost 40. I didn’t have a cell phone in college. And I assume you’re probably pretty close to that.
Ted Ryce: I’m 45.
Sean McCormick: Yeah, so you probably had a pager late high school, early college. And that was like a big deal. Well, kids nowadays, millennials and younger, I’m like the oldest millennial here at 39, born in 1983. I didn’t have personal screens as a kid. And I benefited from that tremendously. But now, millennials and younger, are so conditioned for that dopamine hit, that I can’t sit still, I’ve got to be entertained in some way.
And that just builds and it creates these terrible habits that translate to the abuse of alcohol, that translate to overeating, or, you know, not being comfortable in your own skin. And, yeah, I think that it’s so damn common, it’s the norm that each of us or so many of us are just so used to being entertained and needing a little hit of something throughout the day just to feel complete.
And I’ve got lots of ideas on how to rewire that and how to be okay with yourself and create better habits for yourself going forward. Because if you’re not working on yourself, you’re backsliding, if you’re not aiming to get better, there’s no such thing as homeostasis, as far as our lives. Change happens.
You’re different today, Ted, than you were yesterday. So, am I, I have new experiences, I’m in this flow state with you right now, having this podcast, I’m in a different place than I was, I’m changing and evolving forward. And what those distraction mechanisms do is they prevent us from doing that work on ourselves that will make our lives better.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, that’s a really important concept there to start to become more aware of, where you’re getting distracted and thinking a little bit about why that’s happening, and also, what you said, to work with someone to help. I’m just going to say this, Sean, I have no hesitation in calling myself a world-class coach in what I do.
But if I’m honest, the accountability, where people have to pay money – and we’re not cheap – where people have to put skin in the game. For example, my client Trevor went from 17.5% to 12%, body fat in two months, and then he maintained it for six or seven months. And he’s just killing it right now. And when I asked him, what was the hardest thing in the program for you?
And he said, “You know what? It was committing to doing it, and putting skin in the game by investing financially.” And I think of that, and I think it’s the next-level trick. Like the dopamine fast you talked about, we have to almost play these games with ourselves to get the results that we want. It can’t just be, "Wow, let me just stop scrolling social media,” you can’t just use willpower. You have to play psychological games with yourself to make it happen.
And coaching can benefit everyone. I’m super biased, because not only am I a coach, but I also have coaches and it’s changed my life, changed my business, and changed so many things for me. But you have to do something, you can’t just brute force it, this isn’t a matter of discipline. This isn’t a matter of those things. What do you have to say? What do you think it’s a matter of here?
Sean McCormick: Here’s the thing, too, is that if you are a really intelligent person, you can convince yourself of anything.
Ted Ryce: Oh, yeah, I know, right where you’re going. Please continue.
Sean McCormick: You can convince yourself that one more cupcake is okay. You can convince yourself that you need to put in another three hours at the office. You can convince yourself that divorce is a good idea because you’re misaligned with your spouse. The same way that it’s harder in the opposite direction. It’s harder to convince yourself to have more discipline.
So, when you are working with highly effective, highly intelligent people, they can justify and play mind games to their own demise every day of the week. And it takes someone oftentimes to call you out on your bullshit. It takes someone who you have invested in who you are spending time in to say, you are fooling yourself.
You have convinced yourself of this narrative that keeps you looking at Tik Tok or keeps you looking at Instagram, because it’s for your business or keeps the news turned on because you have to be plugged in, you have to know what’s going on in the world, you can convince yourself of just about anything, but it’s harder to find someone who will say, “Hey, listen, your behaviors are not aligned with what you said that you want out of your life”. And that’s a hard thing to do.
So, when people develop these justifications in their minds every single day, oftentimes, it’s to justify behaviors that they actually don’t want. It’s to justify a lifestyle, that which is where they are now versus where they want to go, which is harder work, right? It’s harder work to go from 17% to 12%, body fat.
It’s harder work to be okay, around your family for three or four hours without looking at your phone. You have to develop these skills, you have to develop these tools, if that’s what you want. And it’s not for me to say it’s not a value judgment to say, you should be a family man, or you should be a CEO, whatever you want, it’s fine, but are you orienting towards it?
And coaching has been transformative for me and the same for you. If you’re a coach of any capacity, and you’ve never worked with a coach, then you have no business being a coach. A, because you haven’t invested in yourself. B, you don’t believe in it. You don’t invest in it. You’re not all in.
And so I think that for people who understand and can think about, well, who were the people that helped me get to where I am, in my professional life, or in my sporting career? I worked with people who knew things I didn’t, and held my feet to the fire, and said, “No, you can do better, let’s do better together. Here’s what we’re going to work on”.
And that’s super powerful. And like you, I have clients all over the world that oftentimes come from the podcast, because that’s just the biggest megaphone that I have. But the people who are serious about changing it, usually it comes from a place of discomfort. It’s like, I don’t want to feel this way in my body.
I don’t want the stress that I’m experiencing at work. I don’t want to feel annoyed by my family. I want to move into a better version of myself, where I have some peace and some stillness, and some quality of my life. And yeah, coaching is the fastest track.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, I want to share something here. You talked about therapy and the capital “T” traumas, and the little “t” traumas and what therapists do. And I talked about this a lot on the show. I don’t know if we had a discussion about this, we talked about so many things when I was on your show.
But my dad died in October of 2020. And I saw therapists, I actually tried seeing a few different ones to see, who was going to be the right fit for me. And what I ended up finding was the thing that got me to where I am now feeling great, and I miss my dad and everything and sometimes I’ll cry.
But I feel like I’m doing what I need to be doing. And I’m not hung up on the past was actually the business coaching, my business coach. And not because he said something so deep or said anything about what I was dealing with my dad, but it was just about something you talked about earlier, finding that purpose again.
And I feel like sometimes we get caught up in our stories, like “No, I had a rough childhood and this happened and that happened. And that’s why I’m not happy”. And sometimes I think the reason we’re not happy, not because of the story of what happened in the past but because we’re not doing the things that we feel like we need to, like you said, acting incongruence with our values right now. And for me, that was game changing, it just got me back in the zone, I felt like, fuck, this is what I really needed.
And so, to your point, sometimes it’s doing the work to deal with the past. I agree with you. I think it’s important if someone feels like they need to go there. I find however, it’s right now is the issue, you’re not happy right now, it’s not about the past, you’re not happy with, in my case, how you look right now, you’re not happy with that.
Or maybe in your case, Sean, it’s like they’re not happy with where they are in their career, or acting out of congruence with their values, or the other challenges that you help people with. And so I would say, if someone’s listening right now, that’s where you should go first, personally from my experience, before you’re talking about getting on the chair, talking about what happened when you were seven.
Sean McCormick: You’re right, you’re totally right. There’s this idea that once you can mentally understand something, then you can make the behavioral changes that are incongruent with your new point of view, and the opposite is true. Action, action is what moves the needle, right?
Ted Ryce: I agree with that. Yeah.
Sean McCormick: What are you doing today, this moment, this afternoon, what are you doing right now in this moment that’s going to move the energy toward the direction of the life that you want to have? Then your mind begins to change, right?
And there’s neurochemical explanations about dopamine receptors, and serotonin, and other neurotransmitters that really facilitate that shift in your perception. But it comes out of action. It’s like Tony Robbins talks about massive action, that’s what moves the needle.
Joda Spencer talks about it too, like, the behavior change, the action toward the goal, whatever the North Star is, maybe it’s a CEO or VP position, maybe it’s just 50,000 more dollars in salary. Maybe it’s a fulfilling romantic relationship. Maybe it’s spiritual depth. Well, what are you doing? What can you do today to help orient toward that North Star, right?
Processing trauma is important I think for a lot of people. But be about it, don’t just talk about it, don’t just think about it, be about it, you know? That’s what moves the needle for people. And that’s a tough first step, especially if you’ve been in a rut for a long time. And so many people are in a rut right now. Over the last couple of years, their lives have shifted, they don’t go out as much, they don’t see their friends as much, they maybe put on the COVID 15 or 25, because they’ve been sitting inside, and they’re not moving enough.
So many people are stuck in a place that they don’t want to be in, and have a little hard time figuring out what that first step is, but even before that, you got to identify where you want to go, like, who do you want to be when you grow up? Ask yourself that every single day. Who do you want to be when you grow up? What kind of 90-year-old do you want to be? That starts today. And it feels good thinking about that you can actually affect that change now.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, when you were talking about this, what came up for me was, I was listening to Steven Kotler’s book, Stealing Fire, I think it was, I’ve read like a few from him, but I think it was Stealing Fire. And what he was saying is like the Shaolin monks from 2000 years ago, or 2,500 years ago, they got this idea, right? That you have to train, you have to train through action, through practice, meditation, chigong, Kung Fu.
I was just hanging out with a friend of mine who teaches all this stuff by the way, so it’s very fresh in the head. I don’t do Kung Fu, but I do meditation. And I know you’ve been meditating since you were 12, right?
Sean McCormick: Yeah, yeah.
Ted Ryce: And so, these things shift our state, but I feel like the culture, at least in the US, it’s more information, more podcasts, more books, “Oh, I read a book a week last year. 52 books.” It’s like, yeah, but what did you do?
Sean McCormick: Right?
Ted Ryce: And maybe some people have done a lot, and if that’s your case, awesome. But I think you have to really ask yourself, are you in a mode where you’re just getting that, again, okay, so, you’re not watching people dance on TikTok, or like the prank videos or whatever it is. And so instead, you’ve convinced yourself—because I’ve been here with this. So, if you’re listening right now, you’re like, “Man, stop preaching, Ted.” No, I’ve been here.
Sean McCormick: We all have.
Ted Ryce: We all have, no? And it’s like, no, it’s about taking action. And I even remember, I was in my car…Have you ever read the, or listened to? I listened to it, I didn’t read it, but The Art of War by Stephen...
Sean McCormick: War of Art.
Ted Ryce: War of Art, yes, sorry, by Sun Tzu.
Sean McCormick: Yeah, right.
Ted Ryce: By, what’s his name again? I can’t…
Sean McCormick: Steven Presfield.
Ted Ryce: Boom! Steven Presfield. I knew I needed to study business ideas, because I was caught in a rut of studying biomechanics, nutritional physiology, all these things that are again, like you said, if you’re an intelligent, you can be like, no, I have to learn more, because.
But in reality, I was maybe increasing my skillset, or increasing the results of my clients, more specifically, maybe a fraction of percent, maybe 1% sometimes. What I really needed was to understand business better, to understand the customer experience better.
But I had such resistance to making the behavioral shift, I was stressed out, I was struggling financially, even though I was driving like a BMW, you know what I mean? Because I’m like, man, I’m driving up to these million-dollar places, I better look like I’m a trainer who works with people who are worth millions, right?
And I just listened to The War of Art over and over, and if you haven’t listened to it, he basically says, be a professional, sit down and do the work, sit down and do what you need to do, right? Stop procrastinating, stop putting it off, just do it. And I listened to that book over and over, and I finally was able to break through.
Sean McCormick: Yeah.
Ted Ryce: But for someone listening right now who is in a rut, their career’s going well, their relationships are, they’re taking care of business with their children, because they’re so well resourced. What’s one thing that you could say to help shift them from learning, to actually applying?
Sean McCormick: Oftentimes people who are highly effective like that, it has to be on the schedule, has to be on their calendar. In order for it to be real, it has to be planned, right? Their whole lives, yours and mine included, Ted, rely on strategic timing and scheduling of the tasks. So yes, it is a good idea. If you want to be more intimate with your spouse, you should schedule sex, you should do it, you know?
Oh, it takes away the sizzle and the spontaneity. Well, If it’s been like a month and a half since you’ve been intimate with your spouse, then that’s not working, change it up, try something else.
Ted Ryce: Right, there aren’t any sizzle there anyway, right? You need to start the spark.
Sean McCormick: Totally, and if you put that on the calendar, and you tell him or her like, hey, next Tuesday night after the kids go to bed, or I’ll come home early, or whatever, that’s exciting, it’s something to look forward to, it’s scheduled, it’s like, we’re going to do this, you have something that you are now orienting around, which you’re looking forward to?
If it’s been a month and a half, shit, if it’s been 6 months and it’s a major issue for you, it’s going to be weird at first, it’s going to be uncomfortable, you’re going to have to relearn your partner’s body, and their places to be turned on, and how to create that sizzle.
But it has to be, if it’s not working, put it on the calendar. So, that would be the first thing that I would say is, schedule meditation, schedule sex, schedule exercise, schedule walks without your phone. If that’s the only way that you can be actionable about these things that you know are going to improve your life, then you have to schedule it.
Now, if you take that one or two steps further and you say, okay, well, I want to schedule something bigger, right? I want to schedule a vacation, I need to change the way that I’m thinking, I need to expand my consciousness, schedule some sort of psychedelic ceremony, schedule some sort of plant medicine, do the research that will help you stay targeted on this thing. You like that segue, don’t you?
Ted Ryce: I like how you went there.
Sean McCormick: Yeah.
Ted Ryce: You are like, schedule sex, schedule exercise, schedule an Ayahuasca retreat, just put it on the schedule. Yeah, we can go there. I want to. Speaking of all this, I wanted to first of all, brilliant advice, schedule it. If it’s hard… I don’t schedule my workouts, because I have to stop myself from working out.
But I’ve got to schedule the things that I need to do that, like you said, if it’s not working, it needs to be scheduled. And after I did that, man, it just works, and obviously that’s why everybody lives by their schedule, and what gets scheduled gets done. But let’s talk…
Sean McCormick: Well, let me share, let me share a tool real quick.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, yeah, of course.
Sean McCormick: Because I’ve seen this work a thousand, that’s exaggerating. 70 times. If you are having trouble being effective, if you are having trouble doing the things that you know that you want to do, or that are important to you, there’s a technique called the “Six Item to Do List.” And this has transformed companies before, this has transformed personal optimization and effectiveness.
What you do is, before you close out your work day, the night before, you sit down and you put a list of six things in order of importance, one through six, as on your to-do list. For some people it’s check email, for other people it’s finish this presentation, or whatever. When you stack those six things in order of importance the night before, it creates a bookend to your workday.
It’s like okay, I’m ready for the next day, I know exactly what I’m going to focus on when it’s time for me to be effective, I can be done, I can have dinner with my family, I can do whatever. Then the next day, when you start, and you have the time to focus, you know exactly what to work on.
You don’t move from number one to number two, until number one is complete. Number one is the most important thing, it needs to be finished, and then you can move to number two, and then you can move to number three. Sometimes number one or number two take a couple of days to do, that’s fine, that’s the most important thing, focus on that thing until it’s done.
If exercise is really important to you, or you know that it’s going to be beneficial to you, schedule that in in one of the six items, and put it toward the top of the list. And then at the end of the day, at the end of the workday, reorganize that one through six, and start at number one, and don’t move on until the previous one is finished.
And what you’ll find is, there are four or five things that are consistently at like number four and number five, they stay there for weeks. Like, “I never really got to this thing.” Well, then it’s obviously not important to you, right? For me, it’s been a really effective tool for my clients to have a structure for how they go about their workday, especially if you work from home, and you’re 20 feet away from the fridge, and you’re 20 feet away from the liquor cabinet, and 10 feet away from the television.
When you create that level of structure for yourself, with the most important things at the top, it just makes you more effective. There’s more on that, but I figured I’d throw that one in there.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, no, that’s great one, that’s a great one. So write down the six things that you need to get done the next day, do that, see the patterns that emerge over time. Yeah, and even if one of those four or five that you don’t get to, it’s like exercise, for example, and you’re gaining weight, it’s like maybe that’s something that you…It’s not important enough to you in a way, but it’s also totally critical in another way. So, maybe seek out some help about it, I like that.
Let’s shift to psychedelics, right? They’re a powerful tool; I feel like maybe the most powerful tool at least that’s accessible. Maybe if you go and live in a monastery in Tibet for a month, or 6 months, or a year, maybe that will be more life changing. But in our culture where we’ve got so many responsibilities and family, and work, and doing that is not something most people can do. I’ve also seen people who’ve done it over and over and over, and their life doesn’t change at all, right? They’re like, “Oh my God, I know the secrets of the universe, and oh God, I’m back to schedule, oh man, my life is so stressful.”
It’s like, wait a minute, you just went, I talked to these people, they went to retreats at the place that I went to, I had a life changing experience there. But then I met other people, and they’re like back again.
Sean McCormick: Yeah.
Ted Ryce: And so, talk a little bit about psychedelics, you guide people through it, how do you, what are the things that people need to know? What are the things that people need to watch out for? And how do you get the most out of it? That was like eight questions, I know, but just take it away, Sean.
Sean McCormick: So, I’ll be talking for the next hour and a half on all of those. Yeah, you’ve got to have a why, right? It starts with a reason. What’s the reason, right? What is the reason? Is it addiction? Is it you just feel spiritually empty, and deep mission and purpose and meaning in your life is missing? What is the reason? What are you after? What is important to you enough that you’re going to commit to perturb your consciousness in a way that is going to be impactful? So, that’s the most important thing.
To the point of the repeat, recreational retreat goer, is just like anything, you go and you show up for the light show, it’s cool, it’s trippy, you meet interesting people, you feel deeply spiritual, but then you go back to your life that was the same as when you left it, the same triggers, the same pitfalls, the same relationships, and you just revert back to where you were before you went to Costa Rica or Peru, or whatever.
And what’s missing in that is something that I do, which is integration, right? It’s what did you learn? Okay. What impressions did you get? What do you know about yourself now that you didn’t know before? Okay. Is this important enough for you to make some changes in your life, to extend this sense of self? Did you get your ass kicked in a year in Peru, learn all this stuff, and then go back home and not activate on any of it?
What good is a spiritual awakening if you don’t do anything with it, right? Then it’s you’re just partying, right? You’re just going for this cool experience that was weird and fun and interest as a vacation…
Ted Ryce: It makes for a great cocktail story.
Sean McCormick: It does, it absolutely does, it is, right? Like, oh, man, then I saw this thing, and then this gal over here man, she went well. Like it’s cool and interesting, but you may be drawn back to doing that work as a form of entertainment, rather than a form of self-work, and spiritual growth. So, going back to the earlier part of our conversation, where if you are in the need of a major change in your life, psychedelics are the fastest way to do that.
You could go do a 10 day silent vipassana retreat, which would also be massively transformational, not speaking for 10 straight days, or making eye contact with anyone and sitting for 7, 8 hours a day in meditation, that’s going to shift your perception, and your perception of self.
Similarly, a heavy dose of DMT in your living room in a 15-minute round trip out through past the veil of the universe and back in 15 minutes, and then trying to figure out what you just saw. That will also change your consciousness, that will shift your perception.
Obviously, there’s lots of different compounds that people turn to, for folks who are lacking intimacy, or maybe don’t love themselves very much, or who are closed off personally and professionally. MDMA is a good choice. And for a lot of people, it’s a great first choice to open up, from a spiritual perspective, it opens up your heart center, right? It expands your, you remember again what love feels like, what fascination looks like, what tenderness and joy and peace there you can have in this human experience. So, for a lot of people, many of these things…
Ted Ryce: Maybe the Ayahuasca puking in the blue bucket like I did in Costa Rica, yeah, maybe MDMA.
Sean McCormick: Yeah.
Ted Ryce: Might be a better first experience.
Sean McCormick: Yeah, it very well might be more appropriate for you to expand your heart a little bit, and be feel love in a new way. Obviously, there’s tons of research happening, I mean, I’m actually heading to Wonderland. Microdose is putting on a conference in Miami in November, and I’ll be heading to Wonderland to do, I’m like doing some content support, and attending there.
There’s a ton of research happening, there’s a ton of publicly traded psychedelic companies using different compounds to help people. Ketamine has been also really effective, there’s lots of ketamine companies that are working with people who have severe depression. What ketamine is, it’s a disassociative.
So, if you are just in the muck, right? You are in the muck, you are in the doldrums, you can’t get out, disconnecting from that can be a transformative way to really change your mind, to really change the way that your brain works. So, ketamine is really effective for depression. MDMA, MDMA has been used for anxiety, for PTSD, sort of a…
Ted Ryce: PTSD, yeah.
Sean McCormick: … massive, right? Obviously, psilocybin, which is now becoming decriminalized in more and more places. I mean, you’re in Portugal right now, where all bets are off, and all drugs are essentially legal. The tides are shifting, so it’s…
Ted Ryce: I’m high right now. I’m kidding, I’m not doing anything.
Sean McCormick: So, you’re hiding it really well. The way that we look at mental health is going to continue to shift, and turn to psychedelics, and these compounds to help people move through themselves, rather than Zoloft, or Valium, or these other sort of SSRIs and Psychotropics that the studies, say are not quite as good as sunlight, fish oil, and a hug.
You know, like those are nearly as effective as these prescription drugs. Obviously, psilocybin is effective for anxiety and depression, it improves neuroplasticity, so you’re actually building your brain when you’re on these, whether it’s a five dried grams in the dark, to have between a 3 and 6 hour trip, where you face some of your stuff.
Or through micro dosing protocols, where you’re taking sort of sub perceptible amounts. In different cadences, there’s lots of different approaches to that. But really, the point is that they are powerful tools, and the tide is shifting. And if you are in need of something, or if you are in want of something that is going to quickly shift you out of your default mode, psychedelics are really powerful. So is meditation, so is float tanks. I opened float tank centers in 2012 in the Seattle area, and an edible in a float tank is also a really powerful way to totally change your person.
Ted Ryce: You mean like a THC edible?
Sean McCormick: Yeah. And you don’t have to. The best way… You can go to www.flotationlocations.com, to find the nearest float tank near you, and it’s a global aggregator resource, where you can find float tank centers. If you are really in need of just a different experience, fast for a day, and then go exercise, and then go get in a float tank, and you’re going to learn a whole bunch of interesting things. I like natural, I like legal ways for people to change their mind. But then there are lots of other opportunities within psychedelics, it just depends on what you’re after.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, I want to chime in there a few. So, I’m with you on that, and I believe in the power of psychedelics, and I also believe how you do it, and who you do it with, it’s really important as well. And I’ve had a lot of trauma, or what people would call trauma, I look at it differently these days. But they helped a lot, especially when I went on the antidepressants, and all of a sudden, I felt weird, and I had some sexual side effects, I couldn’t have an orgasm, without going into the full trauma.
I had side effects that were not pleasant at all, I felt super weird. Oh, actually, the real side effect, now that I’m remembering, which is common, is I started having some, what you might call mini suicidal ideation, I was like, “Wow, what if I was dead? What if I…?” And it’s not really my thing.
My sister committed suicide, but it’s not really my thing, but I started thinking that way, and this was in my 20s too, where my sister was still alive then, and I had thought in other ways, I was self-destructive in other ways, but that was just not something that entered my realm of thought ever.
And I started thinking that way, and it was weird, and I stopped. And I’ve never, I’ve had a lot of psychedelic experiences, most of them were like with my friends when I was 16, 17 and 18, more recently in ceremonial, or intentional experiences, but they’re powerful. And what we’ll see, like you mentioned Sean, is we’re seeing a shift where these things are going to be used more and more in particular circumstances, and they just get results if they’re used properly.
But like you said, you don’t need to go there, you can, because I’ve talked to some of my clients, and I’ve shared my Ayahuasca experience here on the podcast, and people were just like, “Whoa, that was wild, I cried a lot, it was crazy.” But people were also telling me, you know, that was too wild for me. I’m really interested in micro dosing, I was actually obviously joking, I’m high on caffeine today, truthfully. But I haven’t taken anything else. But I do want to experiment with more micro dosing.
We’re kind of at an hour right now, but I would love to talk more about this with you, and maybe have you come back on and talk about some of the micro dosing, I’m personally fascinated with it, and I want to give more of a try, but I’m new to that, I’m coming from the post, I mean, from that party scene into like okay, how can I use this to become a better person, achieve my goals? Become more creative, etc.
Sean McCormick: Yeah, we should pick up where we left off on a round two, and we can start there, and talk about what it is, how it’s done, what it’s used for, how it changes your perception, I’ll just sort of tease our part two episode, by saying that the research shows that when you engage with psilocybin, when you take psilocybin, it literally changes your brain, right? You get better, you create new connections, in those little synapses, your brain gets better, like measurably.
They show scans of people who are not on psychedelics, and they show scans of people who are on psilocybin, and there’s more lighting up, like your brain lights up in all of these incredible ways. Anxiety, depression, sleep, creativity, focus, all of these things, even specifically with micro dosing are possible, and really common with people. There’s a right way to do it, there’s a wrong way to do it, there’s lots of different, there’s a couple of different rhythms and cadences, and schedules on how to do it, how much to take, when to take it.
So, there’s a lot of little details to unpack, but yeah, I’d love to come back and share more detail, because we’re at the beginning of this, in 5 or 10 years, it’s going to be incredibly common. And talking about it like this, on a platform like this, I think really helps move the needle, and help people become aware of these powerful tools that are going to be common soon.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. Well said, Sean. Well listen, I hope you’re listening right now, and enjoyed the conversation today. It’s a little bit different, but we want to, part of health I believe is personal development, and achieving things outside of just exercise and diet. So, it’s been a pleasure to have you on Sean.
If you’re interested in learning more about Sean, make sure you go to his website, www.seanmccormick.com. That’s S-E-A-N-M-C-C-O-R-M-I-C-k.com, and I’ll have that link in the show notes. You can also look up Optimal Performance Podcast on wherever you listen to podcast, with Sean McCormick, it’ll come up with the green logo, with Sean’s wild face and perfect hair.
So, you’ll see that, the Optimal Performance Podcast with Sean McCormick. Sean, thanks so much for coming on man, I didn’t know exactly how this was going to go, but I knew it was going to be good. And it was so much fun.
Sean McCormick: Oh, it’s a pleasure. I just wanted to tell for the listeners, I always offer a free 30-to-45-minute coaching strategy session. If you heard this, and you like where I’m going with this, and you think, man, I think maybe Sean might be able to really help me, I offer it for free, you can book that on the website. But Ted, I love what you do. I’m constantly learning from you on the various platforms, and so a pleasure to be here, and I’m excited to come back and dive deeper.
Ted Ryce: Will do. Let’s do it again soon.
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