The real enemy to improving your performance: How you view your own mortality.

Your personality and how you view your own mortality (you are going to die and you are aware of that fact every second of every day) are either accelerants to a life of purpose…or, the superhighway to suffering and regret. The dichotomy of not knowing how long you have and wanting to live the most you can, to a great extent, determines how you are going to feel about what you ‘achieve’ in your life.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” Frank Hebert – Dune.

I love this quote. We cannot avoid fear…we can choose to run away from it, or, we can choose to face it. I have been coaching and training business people for decades and without a doubt that number one reason they do or don’t improve significantly and maintain that improvement is fear. Not systems, structure, habits, mindset, etc…just how they deal with fear.

Each and every coaching relationship I have has a discussion about mortality as early as possible. I have to find clients that are going to have a high percentage of potential success dealing with change if I want to be successful as a coach.

That’s right: coaching success is more about client selection than the ability/knowledge of the coach.

If you haven’t faced your ultimate fear (the reality that you are going to die) you aren’t optimally positioned to make sustained and significant improvement. You are being driven by fear, in most cases unconsciously, and are more likely to fail than not. You are, ultimately, your own coach and need to get yourself into position where you can deliver optimal results for yourself.

What the heck do I do now, Mike?!?

Let’s talk briefly about personality. One of my key relationships is my good friend Harry Kerr. Harry is a stone cold genius about how your behavior affects your performance, both individually and with multi-national corporations. Harry and I just finished recording a podcast about his thoughts on the subject and I will be posting it tomorrow. Follow #valuesbasedmindsetexperience and you will see the episode when it goes live.

Pushing through the fear can be dramatically enhanced by understand your personality and using that awareness to frame the context of your own mortality.

If you are highly competitive you are going to need to address your ultimate fear within that context. That drive is going to both help and hinder you if you are working unconsciously. By the same token, if you aren’t super competitive the opposite is true: that reality is both a potential strength and potential weakness. Your personality will drive you, for better or worse, towards your unique expression of humanity. Will you do so with intention?

What model/method for understanding your personality is far less important than actually using something that you believe is accurate. DISC, Myers Briggs, Caliper, etc…I don’t really care and neither should you. What is important is that you be able to understand and work through the results. Essentially, accurate and valid personality/psychological profiles can be a massive ‘self coaching’ foundation.

Note: stereotyping doesn’t work when you are evaluating other people and it is even more ineffective when you do it to yourself.

If you have read this far here is a takeaway exercise to do when you have some time to think:

  1. Spend some time just thinking about how you feel about the reality of your impending death. Seriously, you need to dig into this and experience it. Do you know when the end is? What do you think is going to happen afterwards? How much fear is there in this moment?
  2. That is the worst part…I promise! Now, let us take action. Given that you are now in the moment…what is really, really important to you? Write it all down on a list.
  3. You will notice that the list, in various ways, expresses the values that you hold about your life. Go ahead and make another list of your values (using one word to describe them: honor, discipline, etc.)
  4. Rank them. Don’t lie to yourself and say they are all equal because they aren’t.
  5. Look at your life and answer this: What path could I choose, of my own design and out of my values, that I could follow even if the outcome I desire wasn’t guaranteed (after all, it really isn’t if you understand mortality)?

If you follow that exercise you are going to be a different person in that moment. You are ready for a life of true meaning: living out your values as best you can with intention and purpose.

I am in the process of writing my second book on #referralbasedsales and if you are a #financialadvisor and are interested in #referrals please feel free to connect with me and reach out via private message. You might end up being mentioned in the book.

Here is how I help people live a life of their own design powered by their values:

Each and every day I work with the best humans I know: people driven to do the courageous and difficult job of executing a life defined and measured by their values. I do this through individual coaching with high performers that own their own businesses, group coaching with select small businesses and a private community coaching experience.

All of these relationships begin the same way: with a conversation about who you are and what your values mean to you. From there, helping you move forward on your quest to live a life of less regret is the greatest gift I can experience professionally. If I can be of help, please comment below,  or contact me at

All the best,