As I write this, it’s March 2016, approximately 4 weeks since 1400 of us descended upon San Diego Bayside Hilton to officially hit the Brendan Burchard High Performance Academy.
(Hilton Bayside, San Diego)
It’s been just over two years since I was first fortunate enough to experience the expert Academy in London, for what I believe was Brendan’s first and only appearance at a seminar outside of the US. I had three main reasons for wanting to attend this event. Firstly I was very excited to see how Brendan performed in his native country and whether there were any particular differences in front of an American audience. Secondly I’ve been back following Brendan’s material over the last six months and I had a real feeling that to get to the next level wanted to explore how high performance could help me. And thirdly, San Diego is an excellent place to be in February.
For my readers in the UK, should you ever feel like attending this event in the future, I highly recommend taking the direct flight from Heathrow if you possibly can. The British Airways flight lands in San Diego’s little airport at around 4 PM which gives you plenty of time to go find some dinner and tackle the jetlag a little. Also the airport is literally five minutes away from the city, you could actually walk it. (In fact several days I went for a run from my hotel and was cross from the airport within about 10 minutes.)
Also the San Diego airport is very compact and easy to navigate, and as they do not have very many international flights getting through customs took very little time. It’s been about 11 years since I visited San Diego last and that was for the famous comic convention. Where I was staying was right on the waterfront and I have to say that something delightful about waking up with the sea front about 10 yards from your hotel window.
(early morning run down the marina)
So what is HPA about?
Strangely in all the years I’ve been a doctor, the basic concept of keeping mind and body as fit as possible to be able to carry out my duties activities and leisure on a day-to-day basis had never really occurred to me until now. In fact I do recall on the first morning as everyone slowly filled the ballroom at the Hilton that the energy level was fairly low at that point and I suspect a lot of people were also in a somewhat tired state.
Naturally that all disappeared when Brendan took to the stage. He has clearly lost none of his energy and soon going to everyone up and clapping out of their seats. He explained that the concept of high-performance was all about the maintenance of a consistent good energy state can be maintained throughout the day and continued with daily practice, rather than with the kind of peaks and troughs that normally occur during the day.
He took a moment to honour those in the room were travelled from outside of the US, and I was very gratified to note that I was one of about 50 delegates would come in from abroad. As fortunate to meet quite a few of these people during the weekend and there were fairly large contingents from Canada and a few from Mexico. I even met a lady from Yorkshire.
So the basic framework the Brendan covered in the morning session was regarding the key aspects of high-performance and the factors that we needed to address and get under control. These were regarding physiology psychology nutrition rest levels and purpose driven activities. It became clear that there will be lots of practical demonstrations of this throughout the weekend which was very good to know because his point quite difficult to remain concentrated and focused when suited for a long period of time, a factor should be evident to me quite some time ago as somebody who was basically office-based for a long time and that my energy levels are suffering as a result.
Was recording to the framework and has established many of our personal goals and desires for the coming months we took the usual opportunities of breaking into groups of four and five and chatting about these goals, specifically why we have chosen them and what were our passions that drove these goals. Needless to say I knew was quickly introduced to a great number of very intelligent very driven and very talkative people who came from all sorts of backgrounds. Most of them were on their first-ever seminar and you could tell that there was a lot of energy in the room.
On our first break for lunch I joined some of the locals for lunch and was impressed how most of the group were already very keen on good nutrition. In fact salads were very much the order of the day for most people although friend and eyes soon discovered the local clam chowder and demolished some of that. But we were to learn a lot about nutrition over the coming days and as a result I have made some quite significant changes in my own intake and generally do feel much better for it.
On the subject of whether the material and presentation changes slightly for an American audience I would say that is definitely the case. As we know Brendan has been working with Oprah for the last few months and I don’t think it a coincidence that some of the presentation takes on an almost evangelical tone at times. (Lots of ‘Amens’!) This works extremely well with a lot of the audience who wear their religious hearts on their sleeves. It could well be that this is how he has always presented his material in America.
I think an area where he’s become even stronger is in his storytelling abilities. I know some of you reading this also conduct seminars and give speeches professionally and I would absolutely recommend that you would benefit attending HPA just to get an idea of how to run a seminar of four days and keep audience attention throughout that period. I myself am aware of how much effort and energy goes into presentations of even 60 or 90 minutes in length, and this was a masterclass in how to use the energy of a room, how to maintain peaks and troughs of interest in a story that allows audience to remain engaged. Certainly in a room of this size I was quite amazed at how few times I heard a telephone ring. I’ve tried practising doing a seminar at his kind of energy level for just 30 minutes my hotel room and I found it to be absolutely exhausting. So when he talks about how to maintain high energy levels I was certainly paying attention.
On day one Brendan laid out his main frameworks. The first one was based upon the book “The Charge” and those of you who’ve read it will recognise the three types of life i.e. the caged, comfortable, and charged life. The key points to take away from this part was that great deal of effort and discipline is required to develop the charged life and the theme of discipline was touched upon repeatedly throughout the weekend and was certainly one of my main takeaways.
He then went into discussing his ‘6P’ framework i.e. productivity persuasion psychology and physiology, presence and purpose. These formed the cornerstone of the group discussions that we would have throughout the next few days so that we could grade our starting scores and how those scores would improve throughout the seminar as we gained more clarity. The idea of course was to get down to being very specific about our “why”, which of course is critical before moving on to the “how”. The most important point here was whether we give a damn about the result, to paraphrase, because only when we have a real desire do have any chance of achieving a result.
(Frequent quoted the weekend was from the incomparable Les Brown, “you gotta be hungry!”) Brendan also pointed out that ordinary people get diminished desire from failures whereas effective people, as we aspire to be, only get augmented desire following failure.
To get us into the mindset of maintaining activity during the day Brendan showed his routines are getting up and moving around every hour to prevent the circulation getting sluggish, as well as his considerable consumption of water. This was one of the big eye openers for me during the weekend and something I have implemented immediately into my practice.
On the second day Brendan brought out his first guest speaker to rapturous applause, none other than the author of “Change your brain, change your life” Dr Daniel amen, who has his own show on a US cable channel and is clearly a very accomplished speaker himself. He presented a one-hour talk about how the brain is the master of the body and how we should be doing everything in our power to maintain and enhance its abilities, which on the face of it seems really obvious but was quite superbly presented and a real highlight of the weekend for me.
The next speaker was the owner and inventor of the bullet-proof coffee concept, Mike Asprey. (Bullet-proof coffee is basically black coffee plus butter, you can look it up here https://www.bulletproofexec.com/.
I felt that a lot of his ideas were somewhat “out there”, but then the guy’s a millionaire and I’m not so I’m not really one to judge. He did however mention an interesting concept, when he was talking about “decision fatigue”.
This is something I became aware of earlier in the year which relates to the fact that the brain can only make a certain number of good decisions throughout the 24-hour period, following which all of the decisions are likely to be poor. Unfortunately the brain is generally unable to distinguish between small and big decisions, and uses a similar amount of energy in both cases.
Therefore, and this has been shown with brain scans, using brain energy to make lots of small decisions will tire you out very quickly. Mike then went on to point out, using obesity as an example, that overweight people and people binge eat obviously have cravings for food, which means that they are constantly making a decision whether or not to eat, therefore depleting their “decision quota” for the day very quickly and this is one the reasons that they get tired very quickly and make poor decisions. I think the takeaway of this is not that overweight people make poor decisions, but anybody who has some form of craving will exhaust their decision-making far earlier in the day than others and this makes perfect sense to me. I’m working on a solution to this.
Throughout the Saturday Brendan talked about the difference between positive thinking and positive planning and re-emphasised trusting the process rather than the destination. We also deep- dived to motivation and how while it is important how high ambition, we also need expectancy in our lives i.e. the belief that we can achieve our ambition.
It was also during the Saturday that we did a high-intensity physical exercise that shook the ballroom so much, the floor below actually thought that there was an earthquake and evacuated everyone!
We also had our third guest speaker on, gentleman by the name of Tim Adams who was responsible for training the very best NFL players. He showed us some stretching techniques which within five minutes changed our body’s physical mobility in a way that is impossible to describe but which blew the mind of pretty much everyone in the room. I had a chance to meet the gentleman later on during his Q&A, which was great!
Tim Adams at HPA
It was also during Saturday the Brendan had an epiphany live on stage, when he was discussing the software tools which speed-up productivity 10 times, and then realised that nobody in the room knew what he was talking about, so he added an extra 30 minute section the next day to discuss these particular apps (I’ve mentioned a few below, suffice to say that I can get through my emails way faster since coming back!)
We finished off our weekend on the Sunday talking about how to evaluate an opportunity, and most importantly how to say no to opportunities which do not fit our agenda. And finally, the Brendan motivation meditation which I remember before from EA 2014, but which seemed much more effective this time and had a big effect on everyone around me.
In summary, Brendan is getting even better at seminars than ever before, and I highly recommend for those of you haven’t seen him live for a long time to get onto one of his seminars either in April or towards the end of the year. I was motivated enough to sign up for his high-performance coaching, a programme which consists of coaching over the phone has several sessions followed by group coaching sessions. As I write I have completed two sessions so far, and as someone who has lacked accountability in his projects over the last year or so I found this to be very effective, and I will update you all as I go along. San Diego is a brilliant place to have a motivational weekend and the people I met have been absolutely wonderful and inspirational.
So my main takeaways from San Diego were
- I need to cut out the distractions
- I need to focus on putting healthy food and water into my body daily
- I should embrace every failure as a ‘teaching session’
- I have faith in my ability to get things done
The app resources that I am now using
And without a doubt I am way more motivated by 2016 than I was in January!
I’ll sign off with something that someone told me on Sunday,
“Go out there and live your truth everyday come what may.” Nuff said.