Laird Hamilton tow-in surfs a 100-foot wave. Alex Honnold free-solo climbs Yosemite’s Half Dome. Shane McConkey ski-base jumps off The Eiger. Tyler Bradt kayaks 189 feet off Palouse Falls, Washington.

Breakthroughs in athletic performance have been remarkable the last 20 years. While advances in technology and training method explain part of these breakthroughs, extreme athletes, brain neuroscientists and psychologists increasingly explain it by a higher frequency mental focus — the frequency of flow.

The legendary free-solo climber, base jumper and extreme slackliner, Dean Potter described flow as a momentary state of hyper-awareness. He said of slacklining: “When I’m out on…


“To be nobody but yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” — Laura Riding, from Four Unposted Letters to Catherine

If you look or listen for a moment you may notice there is always movement. Even as we sit entirely still, our hearts beat. Our blood moves. The air whirls invisible around us as we walk through a room. Seasons retreat and emerge, one into the next, in fluid time-lapse. A billion…


In order to achieve a state of deep focus where creativity and productivity expand, performance psychologists instruct us to stretch 4% above our last, best performance. They pick 4% because it’s achievable and not self-defeating. Challenge ourselves with small increases. And, over time, build up to big breakthroughs.

It works. Athletes know this. They slowly layer on stress, recover and repeat. They build week after week, period after period, race after race, year after year.

And soon they have a gold medal.

Or they are riding 100-foot waves. Dropping a 80 foot cliff on skis. Or, in the professional domain…


Transform Your Brand with Purpose-Driven Positioning

Starbucks, Patagonia, Southwest Airlines — all are remarkable, breakthrough brands. No doubt, they all have a firm grasp of their brand positioning. But what gets talked about less is the fact that each are powered significantly by a clear articulation and broad ownership of their purpose. While they honor traditional brand positioning, its their obsession with their purpose — the difference they create in the world — that empowers the brand and all of its constituents to possess and expand a market space that is original, enduring and significant.

As a baseline, they cover…


“The mountain decides what you get to do. That’s something that you really have to listen to. If you’re rushing, if you’re thinking it has to happen today, then you’re going to make bad decisions.” — Ed Veisturs (TIME Magazine, May, 2016)

Arguably the world’s most respected big mountain alpinists and guides, Veisturs once turned around just 300 feet from the summit of Mt. Everest.

In his May, 2016 conversation with TIME magazine, Veisturs shares, “Don’t try to reach the summit at all costs…A lot of people go, ‘This is my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,’ and that makes it harder for people…


10 Practices for Elite Leadership

Many people perceive that leaders are born, not made. In fact, leaders are no different than athletes. Some athletes may have some natural talent but it’s their daily commitment to working on their craft that gets them to the highest level. Some people may have innate leadership talents — perhaps higher EQ for one — but, in truth, everyone has the ability to practice the skills required to lead at the highest levels.

Although I had the opportunity to see and learn leadership while working in leadership “training-grounds,” I always struggled to find a model…

Stuart Johnson

Unleashing human potential — Writer, ultra-distance athlete, teacher, speaker, innovator and award-winning business leader

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