400: Dan Millman: Seeking Excellence & the Return of the Peaceful Warrior

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Dan Millman is a former world champion athlete, university coach, martial arts instructor, and college professor.

After an intensive, twenty-year spiritual quest, Dan’s teaching found its form as the Peaceful Warrior’s Way, expressed fully in his books and lectures. His work continues to evolve over time, to meet the needs of a changing world.

Dan’s seventeen books, including Way of the Peaceful Warrior, have inspired and informed millions of readers in 29 languages worldwide. The feature film, “Peaceful Warrior,” starring Nick Nolte, was adapted from Dan’s first book, based upon incidents from his life.

Much of Dan’s time is devoted to writing and speaking. His keynotes, seminars, and workshops span the generations to influence men and women from all walks of life, including leaders in the fields of health, psychology, education, business, politics, sports, entertainment, and the arts.

Dan and his wife Joy live in Brooklyn, NY. They have three grown daughters and four grandchildren

Favorite Success Quote

“Success is making progress towards a meaningful goal”

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”

Key Points

1. Seek Excellence Not Success

One of the most common mistakes that people make in their pursuit of happiness is that they seek success instead of seeking excellence.

Let me break down what this means…

Most people, especially the kinds of people who listen to this podcast and read this blog, are future and goal oriented.

We are laser-focused on the attainment of something, on the accomplishment of something sometime in the distant future.

But what we often forget is that these accomplishments for which we are striving are made up of individual pieces.

For example, no one can “Build a Business”.

A business is built by doing hundreds, maybe even thousands of small things well.

You don’t “Build” your dream body by doing one thing once. You build your dream body by doing thousands upon thousands of reps with perfect form.

And that is where your focus should be.

Yes, you must have compelling goals that push you forward and encourage you to perform at your best.

But you must always remember that every worthy goal is comprised of thousands and thousands of micro-actions that you must take in the present moment.

They are the product of committing to excellence in the present moment and maintaining that commitment year after year after year.

Focus on doing things with excellence and success will inevitably follow.

2. The Quality of Your Moments Becomes the Quality of Your Life 

In the same way that many people mistakenly pursue success instead of pursuing excellence, many of us devote our lives to the pursuit of the “Good Life”.

We hustle, grind, and sacrifice so that, one day, we can finally be happy and enjoy a high quality of life.

We give up the things that are most important for an uncertain future that may or may not bring joy and fulfillment into our lives.

And by doing this, we forget to live our lives as they are happening.

We fail to realize that the “Good Life” is nothing more than a life filled with “Good Moments”.

If you want a good life, you must have good years. To have good years, you must have good months, weeks, and days.

And to have good days, you must have good moments.

You must learn to embrace where you are right now and enjoy the moment for all that it is.

Because the present moment is everything.

It’s all that you have.

There is no future.

There is no past.

There is only now.

So live in the now.

Cultivate those small moments of joy, happiness, and excellence. If you do this, I promise you that you will look back on your life with a smile, knowing that you lived it well.

3. Trust the Process of Your Life Unfolding 

This if the 400th interview that I’ve conducted on the Knowledge for Men podcast and, after almost 4 years of interviewing top achievers, thinkers, and performers, I’ve noticed an interesting pattern.

Success, happiness, and fulfillment almost always exist on the other side of pain.

Grant Cardone was struggling with a drug addiction, broke, and unemployed before he found his future in sales and real estate.

Ryan Blair was involved in the most dangerous L.A. gangs almost sentenced to a decade of incarceration before he fell in love with entrepreneurship.

Bedros Keulian was literally digging through dumpsters to find food before he created the 8-figure fitness empire that he now owns today.

Yet these men trusted the process (admittedy they may have done so unconsciously).

They were willing to take a leap of faith and trust the process of their life unfolding.

They were able to accept that, as Steve Jobs said, “You will never connect the dots looking forward, only looking backward. So you have to somehow trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

And you must do the same.

Trust the process of your life unfolding.

Live in the present moment.

Have faith in yourself and in the universe and realize that life is an adventure that is meant to be lived… Not avoided.

4. Anticipation is One of the Greatest Sources of Suffering 

One of the most sinister and seemingly innocuous sources of suffering is anticipation.

Think about it like this…

Imagine that there is a co-worker whom you cannot stand. The kind of person who makes your skin crawl and your stomach turn into a knot.

Imagine that later today, you have a meeting and you know that this particular co-worker will be in attendance.

In anticipation of the event, you imagine all of the possible outcomes in your head, forcing yourself to live in an unpleasant and mentally exhausting reality that hasn’t even happened yet!

You bring yourself into a state of dissatisfaction and discomfort because you are living in future pain even though the present moment is completely tranquil!

How differently could this scenario be if you simply allowed yourself to live in the moment.

To know that you will have to face your peer but… Not yet.

To give yourself permission to say “I am not in that situation in the present moment so I am going to live life now and cross that bridge when I get there.”

5. We Are All Just Humans 

At the end of the day, we are all human beings on this journey together.

We have different views, beliefs, personalities, and desires, but we are all people.

We all experience deep emotions, we all have dreams and desires, and we all have struggles to overcome.

Even the seemingly invincible characters like Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, or Bradd Pitt have problems.

We are all humans.

No one person is inherently better or worse than anyone else.

We are all in this race together.

So why can’t we start acting like it?

Instead of judging others and blaming them for their shortcomings, seek to understand and empathize with their struggles.

Instead of acting superior to your fellow man, remember the times in which you acted and behaved in unscrupulous or unsatisfactory ways.

Instead of pretending that you are on this journey alone, remember that we are all in this together.

Man, woman, black, white, gay, straight, republican, democrat… We are all in this together.

The sooner we realize this, the sooner we will unlock our specie’s true power.

Influential Books

1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

2. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

3. Constructive Living by David Reynolds

Connect with Dan Millman

peacefulwarrior.com

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