Three Simple Things is written in the manner of old story telling. Real stories told around a campfire, where people gathered to learn from the warriors and leaders of the tribe or village. The words are intended to be read as if you and I are next to each other talking frankly without political correctness. The stories are also meant to feel urgent and necessary. I ask you to integrate each chapter into your life.
We humans make our lives painfully complex. Relationships, which are fundamentally simple, now swim with complexity. The boring simplicity of being physically tough and in shape drowns in a swamp of exciting complex and lazy actions. The pursuit of wealth evolved away from simple work and simple teamwork to a virtual devaluing of hard work into hacks and overindulging actions that have no value. The simple act of learning is now mired in politics and debt. Spiritually, we are void of meaning to the point a simple prayer or meditation signifies depression and loss of soul.
There are five areas in each of your lives that demand simplicity and abhor complexity: Spiritual, Relationship, Wealth, Physical, and Intellectual. To win, you need only do Three Simple Things in each. Success is simple, but not easy!
Achieving a 6-hour baseline during our day-to-day lives may be the most important objective we have. I have spent my adult life, as a Navy SEAL, developing and honing the only five measurable areas of life as the baseline for sustained growth: physical health, structured learning, wealth creation, meaningful relationships, and spiritual connections. Over the past 6 years, I have trained leaders and athletes and coaches in order to produce a baseline of three simple things in their lives, so that they lead teams or companies toward success. The process is rather straightforward; the various methods are definable and clear. The effort is simple, but not easy. As you learn the process and method, you will achieve measurable outcomes by just maintaining the baseline. The maintenance of the baseline is non-negotiable.
Thom Shea, 207
To my children:
Three Simple Things is for you! The older I get the more I realize the limited time I have to prepare you for life. My deepest wish is to pass on everything I have learned in my life to add some measurable value to yours. Many of my SEAL brothers did not return home from war. Many who did return are injured, many have post-traumatic stress; many have brain injuries and cannot pass on to their families the vast knowledge and experiences acquired in their lives. Read these reflections so all the combined knowledge will be useful to you. I write this as if I was sitting and talking to you with no pretenses or formality, yet with urgency.
To the readers I have never met:
I am a fan of the human experience of growth and have spent 50 years thriving in the chaos of war and the chaos of everyday life. We all have vast stores of experiences and knowledge we want to pass on to friends, family, and others. Thank you for your willingness to absorb my experiences and your desire to breakthrough your own chaos to find “Three Simple Things” in your own life.
If you are interested in sustained, high level performance in the five measurable areas of your life, called pyramids, then the processes and methods I will describe are for you? If you are only interested in comfort; only excited about one pyramid; or, only want to learn a short-term hack, then this is not for you? We humans have arrived at the most abundant time for wealth creation; the deepest pools of opportunity to achieve physical goals; the furthest capacity to learn; the most profound ways to relate to each other; and the clearest sense of spiritual connections in our evolution. When you are interested in tangible success, Three Simple Things is for you!
Any of us willing to put in to practice the fundamentals of learning, practicing, and maintaining a baseline will achieve levels of performance far beyond what we now think possible. Like all great endeavors all you need do is commit. Commit before you know the end result. Commit without the notion that you can exit when it gets chaotic. Commit because without commitment nothing measurable is possible. Once you are committed, then there is just “work” to do. During the process of working on the 6-hour baseline, don’t give up on yourself. Quitting or giving up has no place in this life. Quitting has killed more marriages, cut short more athletic endeavors, caused more business failures, and always separates each of us from divine access.
The baseline is not about balance. For some strange reason there is a movement to balance life. Balance in any sense literally means, taking bits from one and putting into another or even getting rid of those bits to have balance. Time cannot be balanced, energy cannot be balanced, and, life or passion cannot be balanced. The pursuit of balance always leads to the inevitable conclusion where you have to avoid one thing to have another; and at the extreme part of balance is the notion that stress is bad and to avoid stress. The absence of stress will destroy you. Embrace stress and stop negotiating with what matters and doesn’t matter. Instead I offer a non-negotiable life!
You can live in a bubble with no gravity, with no negative stimuli, which is where the pursuit of balance will take you. In the bubble after a short time your body will deteriorate and so will your ability to think. You will never find balance; the notion is folly and simply a sales pitch from a scared child who has quit on their life.
I offer a simple truth: do three simple things in the five pyramids of performance and carve out six, non-negotiable, hours and activity a day as the foundation for truly living life. You will not balance time to achieve the baseline; nor will you give up one category for another. You will literally create a baseline to think and grow. From the 6-hour baseline, I have seen men and women run ultra-marathons, grow their wealth by 2x in a year, turn around a failing marriage, and start a new life and thrive.
For the past 6 years of sustaining my own 6-hour baseline while training and witnessing my clients struggle through a life of not having the non-negotiable baseline, but instead overweighting one pyramid while destroying the other 4 areas of life, I am very clear the value of sharing the process and method with you. I noticed businessmen and women work a 12-hour day and produce millions while neglecting family and health. I witnessed great athletes training for 7 hours a day and produce number one status while excluding relationships and lacking the ability to find a dollar in a bank. I have seen parents spend up to 6 hours a day shuttling kids around while giving up their own health and ambitions. Negotiating with life, always adjusting to the changes without having a non-negotiable baseline causes epic long-term failures. The baseline will allow you to achieve much more in each of the five pyramids.
Shocking as that may seem to you, the conditions I just described are found everywhere in our society. The new norm as it seems always ends badly. But everyone seems to be on this railroad leading to a cliff of destruction. And, trust me, the cliff where the train falls off going full speed was happening for every successful executive, every top athlete, and seemingly every marriage.
The executives literally worked with the thought process to build a business to make money to support their family and lifestyle. Twelve-hour workdays, as I began to notice, were killing the family because there was no family time or activity. The extreme focus on work excluded health and created a horrible eating, sleeping, and activity cycles. As I continued to notice over time what was occurring in this over weighted life paradigm, the inevitable outcomes of running the train off the cliff became predictable.
At some point in time the leader would give up half of the income to the spouse. Divorce cuts income by half, let’s not quibble. After all those hours, all those years, of working a 12-hour day the money would be cut in half not to mention the exhausting process of a divorce. It was predictable. After two years of seeing all the indicators and developing a series of questions, I began to realize I could even “short the market” and bet against the companies’ success simply because the boss’s, male or female, work to family life ratio was off.
The most disturbing aspect of the over worked leader became deadly clear looking at the lack of any tangible commitment to physical health. I will describe later the details, however, neglect in physical health didn’t lead to going over a cliff, but it led straight into a brick wall. The twelve-hour normal workday eventually kills the leader. Yes, they die or get so sick they can no longer work, or, die within two years of retiring. As it were, they were losing everything at the end. Leaving a trust for the kids seemed to be the norm because most had a trust fund set up by 50 and knew they were sick and not doing well. The scary part is everyone was doing this. We all seemed to be in a rat race no one could avoid or get off of the flywheel.
The leaders and top performers had negotiated themselves out of sustainable performance in the five pyramids. More of one pyramid is alluring. Being number one is too. Yet, without a baseline, without the rest of your life being on-point none of the accumulation of stuff is sustainable. The 6-hour baseline of doing three simple, non-negotiable things in each of the five pyramids of life literally make success easier and much more sustainable. The rest of the book is stories about the detailed processes and methods to follow in order to set up and maintain a 6-hour baseline.
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