Lewis Howes | The School of Greatness (Episode 456)

Lewis Howes (@LewisHowes) discusses his new book, The School of Greatness, and its framework for achieving real, sustainable, and repeatable success.

The Cheat Sheet:

  • What is a lifestyle entrepreneur?
  • While interviewing successful people, Lewis Howes found eight common themes that they tend to share — he calls them The Eight Principles of Greatness.
  • Greatness looks different to everyone, but it’s rare that anyone ever achieves it by accident.
  • What is your dream? Are you striving to realize it, or are you hoping it falls in your lap by sheer luck?
  • What do you do when your failures become bigger than your vision?
  • And so much more…


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In episode 456 of The Art of Charm, we talk to lifestyle entrepreneur, high performance business coach, author, and keynote speaker Lewis Howes. He’s a former professional football player and two-sport All-American, a current USA Men’s National Handball Team athlete, and he’s been recognized by The White House and President Obama as one of the top 100 entrepreneurs in the country under 30. Lewis hosts The School of Greatness podcast, which has received millions of downloads since it launched in 2013.

Lewis’ newest book, The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper and Leaving a Legacy, provides a framework for achieving real, sustainable, and repeatable success. You get the tools, knowledge, and actionable resources to take your vision and turn it into a reality.

More About This Show

The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper and Leaving a Legacy

Everyone at some point in their lives asks themselves, “Am I doing enough with my life? Is there more I could be doing to lead a full life?” In The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy, author Lewis Howes outlines the eight principles to help readers achieve their own greatness.

When a career-ending injury left Lewis — then an elite athlete and professional football player — out of work and living on his sister’s couch, he knew greatness on the gridiron was no longer a possibility. It was a crushing blow, but before long he knew he needed to make a change if he was going to bounce back. The question was: how? And to what? He started by reaching out to people he admired, searching for mentors, and applying his past coaches’ advice from sports to life off the field. The results were undeniable. Howes did more than bounce back; he built a multimillion-dollar online business and is now a sought-after high performance business coach, keynote speaker, and podcast host.

He considers himself a lifestyle entrepreneur, which is actually more than someone who brings their laptop to the beach and works until they pass out from day drinking.

“That might be for some people when they’ve put on Twitter that they’re a lifestyle entrepreneur…for me, it means really spending quality time with the people that I care about and that I love — that means my family, my friends — making sure that I attract the right people on my team for my business so that my team fulfills me as well and we have fun together. Also, it means taking care of my health. For me, it’s designing the life that I want to have on a day-to-day basis.”

In The School of Greatness, Howes shares with readers the essential tips and habits he gathered while interviewing “the greats” on his podcast of the same name, including Olympian Shawn Johnson, motivational speaking pioneer Tony Robbins, and legendary talent manager and entrepreneur Scooter Braun. Howes figured out that the masters of greatness are not successful because they got lucky or are innately more talented, but because they applied specific habits and tools to embrace and overcome adversity in their lives. Howes anchors each chapter on a specific lesson he culled from his greatness “professors” and his own personal journey.

These powerful lessons and practical exercises prove that anyone can strive for greatness in their everyday lives. The School of Greatness provides a framework for achieving real, sustainable, and repeatable success. Readers are given the tools, knowledge, and actionable resources to take their vision and turn it into a reality. Within the narrative, Howes offers practical exercises and guidelines for pursuing and attaining the building blocks to achieving greatness. The School of Greatness shows readers what they are capable of and how to harness their dreams using dedication, mindfulness, joy, and love.

The 8 Principles of Greatness

1. Create a Vision

A lot of people have given up on dreaming. But the person who tends to achieve his or her dreams of greatness doesn’t rely on dumb luck. They’ve got a plan.

“I think about the presidents of the United States,” says Lewis. “They were five or 10 years old and said, ‘One day, I want to be President of the United States.’ And it took 40 more years for it to happen. And 40 years of a game plan of taking action, of sacrificing, and following through.”

“The vision is the first key to greatness. Again, if you’re the mom who wants to have a better life with her kids or her family, you’ve got to have a clear vision of what that looks like first before you can have it.”

2. Turn Adversity into Advantage

Big dreams and the game plans we design to get us there will almost always face obstacles of some kind. Sometimes these obstacles manifest as well-meaning friends and relatives telling us to be more realistic with our goals. Other times, the unforeseen can be more physical and direct.

“Even if they have all the support in the world,” Lewis says, “athletes get injured. There are setbacks. You get traded. There’s things that don’t happen. You lose for years and years and years and you get embarrassed until you get to the moment where you can finally have a chance of getting that dream. And then there’s more heartache and more challenges.”

“So the bigger the dream, the bigger the adversity to overcome. The greatest minds in the world — the greatest leaders — will learn how to turn their adversity to their advantage. They learn how to embrace the breakdown for breakthrough.”

3. Cultivate a Champion’s Mindset

We already know that, no matter how well we plot the path toward the dreams we’re trying to realize, there will be unpredictable bumps and blocks in the road. Rather than letting these hiccups throw us in the ditch to abandon our dreams, we have to expect that the unexpected will happen and that it’s in our power to navigate around it.

Whether you believe your power comes from within or somewhere external and higher up, developing a champion’s mindset means putting faith in your power to break through any obstacle you may face.

“If you don’t have that and you’re questioning yourself at all, or you’re questioning the universe or god who’s giving you the gifts, then you’re questioning your greatness and you’re not going to be number one. You’re not going to achieve your dreams and goals.”

If you find your faith in self or a higher power wavering, building self-confidence and exercising gratefulness are two effective ways to begin cultivating the champion’s mindset that will help you overcome the unforeseen.

Another thing: don’t let the naysayers bring you down. While you should know better than to entertain unrealistic goals like building a house on Mars in five years, some people will shoot down any dreams you have — even if they’re literally more down to Earth. “You want to surround yourself with people that lift you up,” says Lewis.

4. Develop Hustle

Some people call it grit. Others call it hustle. According to Lewis, this quality is: “the thing that, in my mind, has been the difference-maker in getting to where I was in sports, but also business.”

Hustle is basically doing whatever it takes to achieve your goal. Maybe you’re the basketball player who is willing to get a few splinters diving for the ball when it can mean the difference between a point that wins or loses the game. Or maybe you’re the one at the office who’s known for doing the hard work that no one else wants to do. Maybe you have the discipline to make it to the gym, rain or shine, even on those days when you’d rather sleep in.

“This is something that a lot of people don’t do,” says Lewis. “They get comfortable in their jobs or whether it’s their own business, they get comfortable and that keeps them where they’re at — it keeps them at that plateau as opposed to constantly growing. I think unless we’re not growing, then we’re slowly dying. It doesn’t mean you have to be constantly growing in every area of your life, but that area of your life you’re not growing in is going to stay stagnant and start to go down if you don’t put energy towards it.”

Hustle should come naturally to you if you’ve got a powerful vision, because it reminds you of why you’re making the effort in the first place. If your vision fails to motivate you to hustle, then maybe your vision needs some…revision.

“If you’re not hungry enough for it,” says Lewis, “then you don’t have enough ‘why.'”

5. Master Your Body

It’s not a new concept: your body is your temple. If your health isn’t in order and you’re not comfortable in your own body, then you invite even more obstacles to obscure the path to your vision.

“If our health is not in order,” says Lewis, “and if our health is not in alignment to our vision, and we allow ourselves to just get obese and overweight and not sleep and not eat well, then our minds are not going to have the energy — our bodies are not going to have the energy and the focus to achieve our visions.”

Maybe you think you don’t have enough time to stay in shape? Lewis points out that President Obama, easily one of the busiest people in the world, makes sure to take the time every day to work out. It’s not just his life that depends on it — he’s got the lives of millions to consider.

Mastering your body doesn’t have to mean aiming for six-pack abs or being able to beat Mr. T at an arm-wrestling contest. Even just consciously taking 15 minutes per day to go for a walk or jump rope or ride your bicycle can make a dramatic difference to your energy level and overall outlook.

Figure out what works for you, and try to regularly switch up your routine to avoid burnout. Hate the idea of going to the gym every day? Integrate a few hobbies into your routine that force you to be active while having fun: playing basketball, kayaking, dancing, swimming, or joining a softball league are just a few ideas.

6. Practice Positive Habits

Most successful people practice certain daily, positive habits or rituals that keep them at the top of their game. Recognizing that their time — like everyone else’s — is limited, they commit to working out, reading, eating a specific breakfast, going for a walk, or doing any number of things to break up whatever tedium might interfere with attaining their vision.

“They schedule — they map out — their entire days,” says Lewis. “It’s not just by accident…the first hour, they know what they’re going to do. They have an itinerary for their day to achieve their vision. Then, throughout the day, they have an itinerary for what they do. They take a 30-minute break and connect with their family. They go to the gym at a certain time. Whatever it may be, they follow a routine throughout the day that sets them up to win. So they don’t have to think and use their willpower every day to create something. They already have a map laid out for them and that’s important.”

7. Build a Winning Team

“It’s impossible to be great alone,” says Lewis, “because we need people throughout our entire life. The first two years of our lives, we would not be able to survive without a winning team around us feeding us, teaching us, loving us, and showing us how to walk. We would be dead!”

“Every step along the way, there has been a team that has supported us and served us to help us grow and get to the next level and achieve our dreams and our visions. And specifically in companies, it’s hard to do anything great on your own in a company. You’ve got to be able to learn how to work with other people to support you. Even if you just had your own podcast and you were trying to get interviews, you’d still have to build a winning team of guests to come on and to believe in you to do it with you.”

Even individual athletes have support teams — from psychiatrists to trainers to coaches — that ensure they can excel at their goals and stay focused on that all-important vision.

So when you’re building the team that’s supporting you and your vision, you want to make sure it’s assembled from the best people possible. Are you surrounding yourself with people who are generally supportive and aligned with your goals, or are you suffocating your chance at greatness by pulling around the dead weight of an unproductive team? We often echo the famous Jim Rohn sentiment that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Assemble and spend time with a great “team” and it’ll reflect in your own performance.

“If you want to attract a winning team,” says Lewis, “think about all the characteristics you want from those players. I’m talking about the qualities of the people. Maybe you can’t do coding or design — that’s not what you’re looking for — but the qualities of the people you want on your winning team. And then write a list of those qualities and make sure you’re being those first. Make sure you’re living your word. Make sure you’re living in integrity. You’ve got high energy. You’re positive. You’re fun to be around. You have great ideas. Make sure you practice those first and you become those. And then it’s easier to attract those people to join your team.”

8. Be of Service to Others

In pursuing your vision, don’t be selfish and miserly with your time and attention when times are good.

When he was making the transition from football to the business world and then interviewing people on his podcast, Lewis noticed something. “The theme of giving money away constantly came up,” he says. “I think I read a book early on called The Richest Man in Babylon…it talked about the richest person in the world…it was like a fable…always gave away half of the money he brought in. He always gave it back to the community or to family or friends. He gave it back to causes that he believed in. And that’s what made him the richest man in the world is by giving back.”

“The more people I interviewed who were wealthy had that same mindset. They were like, ‘You know, I constantly give back, support causes, and give my money away.’ They’re not giving all of it away, but they’re constantly giving back. And the more and more I started to do this in my life — giving money away, giving my time away, giving my talent to serve other people — and just showing up as a positive light to people walking down the street, smiling, opening the door for people, paying for people in line at a sandwich shop or something like that, just being in service…created so much more fulfillment in my life than being selfish and it also created the deeper impact in the lives around me.”

You really can have a lot of positive impact on the world if you treat others as you wish to be treated. What goes around comes around, and giving people acknowledgement and respect on a daily basis will pay you back — with interest.


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AJ Harbinger - author of 1161 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.

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