Eliminate Pressure and Noise in All Areas of Your Life
by Alex Charfen
I believe every Entrepreneurial Personality Type (EPT) has in their heart the desire to become a transformational leader. I've had the privilege of being around transformational leaders for most of my career. The quality these leaders have that stands out the most is their ability to be present. To be in the space with you today while creating the future tomorrow. While many of us have the desire to become a transformational leader, we face a challenge. We don't recognize how much pressure and noise we have in our lives, holding us back from becoming one.
See, I believe this obsession with lowering pressure and noise is intertwined into the life of almost every significant entrepreneur in history. You can see them trying to reduce pressure and noise… Albert Einstein insisted on wearing the same thing, so he wouldn't have to use decision-making capital. Steve Jobs insisted on not wearing shoes so that he would be comfortable. Richard Branson bought an island. The general public says, “Look, how cool. He's wealthy. He has an island.” No, he has a controlled destination where he can lower pressure and noise and knows precisely what will happen.
Here's the challenge for us as entrepreneurs. If your days are getting tactically harder, then you are building a house of cards. Eventually, houses of cards come tumbling down. I want to help you avoid the trap of entrepreneurship. The constant hustle, the continuous overload, the overwhelm that comes with trying to create the future, by helping you lower the pressure and lower the noise in your life.
First, what is pressure and noise? They are unique to everyone. When I explain pressure and noise, I know that we, as entrepreneurial personality types, experience more than the rest of the world. It's just a fact. See, when we go into the future and come back to the present, that time travel, that journey we must take to create what we are doing, raises pressure and noise for us.
Pressure and noise is anything in our lives that makes us experience a loss of momentum, that creates operational drag.
What are the people, the places, the things in your life that are taking away your momentum? Either they are giving you momentum, or they are taking it away from you. It's extremely binary. Pressure and noise is something we have to be very cautious with. When tactical urgency goes up for us in the short-term, our decision-making window narrows, and our ability to see the future comes closer. We have a hard time being who we are. When pressure and noise go up, this is when we can become symptomatic.
When all the attributes that create superpowers in the rest of our lives meet an increase in the pressure and noise…those same attributes become liabilities that can make us look disordered, disabled, and get diagnosed, or even worse. Anything from minor irritations to unnecessary decision-making increase pressure and noise for us. The challenge is as entrepreneurs, we accept more than most. We succumb to pressure and noise. We've all heard, “Fake it until you make it.” What that does is increase pressure and noise for us when we aren't transparent with the people around us. When we don't tell people what's going on, things just get harder.
I know there's been a time in your life where you didn't have enough. Where you had less than it would take to get to whatever it was you were trying to do. You didn't have the resources, time, effort, or energy. The cards were always stacked against you. Maybe the world conspired against you, or you conspired against yourself, and that is precisely where you leaned into that light at the end of the tunnel and created your life. That conditioning causes us to accept more noise, to accept more into our lives.
There are two ways to create momentum. One is to create the effort, energy, focus, take the time, and investment necessary to build forward momentum. The second way is to lower the pressure and noise in our lives.
This is an equation that works just like physics. When we reduce the pressure and noise, drop operational drag, and let go of the anchors that are holding us back, we automatically create momentum. For you to reach your full potential, you'll have to do both. Create forward momentum while you constantly, obsessively, and passionately lower pressure and noise in your life.
When I look at entrepreneurs, I ask a simple question. If you're not treating your body like a professional athlete, I ask why. You have the earning potential of a professional athlete. You have the affluence and influence potential of a professional athlete. If you believe you can make a million dollars in your lifetime, then you are a million-dollar racehorse. I'm sure if you owned one, you would know it was a million-dollar racehorse just by looking at it. Can you say the same of yourself? This is where we have to get away from today's silly paradigm of doing everything at once. We are constantly raising pressure and noise, white-knuckling through workouts and diets, and everything else that we do. But when you do everything at once to get the highest aesthetic result, it rarely results in long-term change.
For people like us, we have to be obsessive and think long-term about pressure and noise. There are no quick fixes. There are no short-term wins here. We have to hydrate and eat the right foods. We have to support ourselves, let our body know that there's an abundance so it will thrive, not attempt to survive. When we get into survival mode, our body shuts down, holds on to resources, stops our momentum, and prevents us from creating the outcomes we possibly could. It's not just physical. For entrepreneurs, we have to take inventory of things in our lives that are creating pressure and noise. What is taking away your momentum? When we look at the people, the places, the things we allow into our lives, we proactively allow them so we can proactively remove them to increase momentum and lower the noise for ourselves.
See, for people like us, it's routines, habits, and the daily disciplines we have that keep us out of the fight or flight syndrome. People like you and I, the evolutionary hunter, will go into it automatically. By pulling back and assessing what is really working, we set ourselves up for success today. We allow ourselves to shape the future of tomorrow. When we lower pressure and noise in our lives, our attributes become superpowers.
My friend, Sean Stephenson, is three feet tall and is confined to a wheelchair. When he was younger, and he would sneeze, his bones would break, and there was nothing they could do for him. The only solution was to try and get him not to sneeze or bump around or hit anything. He's endured more pain, vulnerability, exposure than any human being I know. However, by lowering pressure and noise in his life, finding his incredible wife Mindie who has completed him, they together have reduced pressure and noise to the point where now Sean trains other people how to go out and make presentations and create wealth and change people's lives. He's the person in the front of the room, but when anyone would look at him, they would assume that he was the person who would need help to the front of the room. He's leading the event, not attending it.
When we lower pressure and noise in our lives, it doesn't matter what deficit, disorder, issue, or challenges we're facing, we can overcome it.
That's precisely what great entrepreneurs throughout history have done. Lowering pressure and noise can be personal. I was a consultant for a long time, and I watched the incredibly successful people around me. I watched habits. I wanted to understand how they created the wealth, success, change, and the contribution that they did. I can tell you that lowering pressure and noise can look strange, but the most successful people throughout history have done it. If you want to achieve the level of success they've had, you should too.
I remember being at a hotel with my friend Howard Johnson who built Targus, the computer carrying case company. When we got to the hotel, it was the first time we had ever traveled together, and he was an essential client of mine, incredibly wealthy. Before Targus, he had started Aprica strollers. The level of respect that I had for this man was over the top. I remember getting to the hotel and him saying, “Alex, you've got to come up to my room. I want to show you something.” Honestly, I was a little nervous. I didn't know him that well, and an older man was telling me I had to come up to his room so he could show me something…
Here's what happened next. I was standing there thinking, “What is going on?” I walked into Howard's room, and he opened the bathroom door. He said, “Every time you get to a hotel, I want you to do this.” He went in, and he plugged the bathtub, turned on the shower on as hot as it would go so it would create steam, and then he stood in the door of the bathroom with a towel-waving it around like a propeller. As I stood there thinking, “What the heck,” Howard explained to me that hotel rooms are very dry, and by running the steam and waving it into the room, he was putting positive ions into the room that would make breathing easier. It would hydrate you, you wouldn't get bloody noses at night, and you would wake up feeling more rested in hotels.
He said, “Alex, I want you to make sure, from this point forward, you'll commit to me that every time you're in a hotel, you'll do this.” I remember thinking, “I'll do just about anything to get out of this room right now,” because I was having trouble reconciling what was going on. I said, “Okay, Howard, I definitely will.” Later that night, as I was going to sleep, I remembered my commitment to him. I got up. I ran the water, plugged the tub, waved the towel around looking just as crazy as he did, and I had one of the best night's sleep I've ever had in a hotel. From that day forward, for the past 15 or 20 years, I've done that every time I've stayed in a hotel.
Even minor irritations that cause us pressure and noise can be overcome when we find the strategies to do so. I know you'll probably do that every time you're in a hotel from now on. Because when we can find the hacks, the ways to create momentum, those are a game-changer for us. They move us forward. When we can find those same hacks, the ideas, the solutions that lower pressure and noise, every entrepreneur eventually understands that those move us forward just as fast. Sometimes faster.
For all of you taking inventory today, ask yourself, where is the pressure and noise coming from in your life? Where are you forcing things? Where is there something that just isn't working out?
One of the most successful men I ever worked with was a man named Tony Shalom. He owned a fantastic company in South Florida. It ended up being over a billion dollars with all the roll-ups, purchases, and everything that happened with CHS and his company, and everything that he did. I remember sitting in his office one time, and I was trying to sell him a product line that he wasn't interested in. I was trying to convince him his company needed it. He said, “Alex, I want to share with you that there's a hat for every head, and when you take the wrong hat, and you put it on the wrong head, it's not good for the hat or the head either. It just frustrates everyone. This is the wrong hat for the wrong head.” I remember thinking, “I need to stop pushing and stop trying to force it,” and he was right.
As we move towards momentum, we create forward progress. When we don't force things, we allow them to develop. After we lower the noise in our lives, we can't help but create momentum and change the world. For everyone who is reading this, here's my plea to you. Lower the pressure and noise in your life! You have a responsibility to the rest of your tribe because when you lower pressure and noise in your life, you have more energy available to help those around you. We are the small population of human beings that get up every day, challenges the status quo, asks what could be better, and make it happen and become real.
To all of you, lower the pressure and noise in your lives. Treat yourself better. Take care of yourself, hydrate, eat the right foods. Stop doing things you know will slow you down because pressure and noise are cumulative. As soon as you lower it and you move forward, you will change everything in your life. You might even change everything in mine, because we are the evolutionary hunters, that small part of the tribe that asks, “I wonder what's over there,” that goes out, envisions the future, and demands it become real. We all go forward faster together.