Game Changers: What Leaders, Innovators, and Mavericks Do to Win at Life

Game Changers: What Leaders, Innovators, and Mavericks Do to Win at Life

by Dave Asprey

Game Changers: What Leaders, Innovators, and Mavericks Do to Win at Life was birthed out of hundreds of interviews conducted by Dave Asprey on his podcast Bulletproof Radio (now called The Human Upgrade). These interviews featured many of the world’s greatest minds, highest performers, personal development leaders, and health experts—all of which are called “game changers.” This book distills the massive amount of transformative information from these empowering conversations and shares the common traits these game-changers have. By applying these high-performance practices to your life, you can finally start changing the game of your own life.

Summary Notes

Become Smarter

“Master the art of doing what matters most to you— the things that create energy, passion, and quality of life with the lowest investment of energy.”

One of the biggest commonalities among the world’s best minds, high performers, and inspirational leaders is that they have taken deliberate steps to become smarter. One critical step in this process is managing your brain’s energy expenditure. Think about it: How much mental energy do you waste each day ruminating on worries and fears, processing trivial decisions, and working on tasks that drain you or that you did not choose for yourself?

The first step in becoming smarter is to free up your brain’s energy by releasing all the energy stored and wasted on such things. To do this, you must first define your identity and values so that you can create the best version of yourself and embody these values in everyday life.

Having your values defined allows you to align each day’s tasks with your priorities and say “no” to the requests that don’t serve your values. Aside from this, it would also help to learn how to automate certain decisions, such as what to eat and what to wear, so you can free up your mental energy and not fatigue your willpower muscle.

Freeing up your brain’s energy will be a game-changer for your mental performance. However, if your brain is still running as software controlled by limiting beliefs, you will remain stuck within the model of reality created by these beliefs.

The stories we tell ourselves will always limit how much success, fulfillment, joy, gratitude, and love we experience in life. The good news is that you can change these beliefs and upgrade the software of your brain so you can live an unstuck and empowered life.

Aside from that, you can also upgrade your brain’s hardware by boosting your brain’s processing speed. Continual learning is a hallmark of high performers. You can accelerate your learning and memorization speed by modifying your study environment, engaging your visual senses in learning, using apps that boost your working memory, and learning how to speed read.

Doing the work to optimize your brain’s working capacity is essential to peak performance. But to get your brain working at the highest possible levels, consider taking nootropics or “smart drugs.” This includes nicotine and caffeine, which boost cognitive function, increasing focus and creativity.

Pharmaceuticals such as the racetam family of drugs or modafinil can deliver an unfair advantage to your mental performance. That’s why it’s important to do your research first about this kind of drug to avoid harmful consequences. Now, If you’re looking to set yourself free from limiting beliefs or other subconscious factors bringing you down, you might consider psychedelics.

Psychedelics such as ayahuasca, LSD, MDMA, and psilocybin mushrooms provide a profound level of self-awareness and have demonstrated a powerful ability to produce healing and clarity for the mind. Breathing techniques such as Holotropic Breathwork interestingly can produce effects on par with full-blown psychedelic experiences.

While all these tools can give your brain the upgrade it needs to be faster and smarter, your fear of failure may still hold you back. When we perceive something as an external threat, our nervous system responds with the fight or flight response, which in turn, saps our energy. We can change this response by learning to live in the present moment and changing our mindset around failure.

Now that we have unleashed our energy for more productive and meaningful ends, we may then find ourselves burning the candle at both ends. But this shouldn’t be the case.

Sustained peak performance requires balance, self-care, and dedicated time to rest and recharge. This includes practicing meditation and doing energy-generating activities. Every morning, allow yourself to be free from distractions and set the right tone for your day. Put yourself in your desired state through journaling, meditation, visualization, and prioritizing your goals daily.

Actions to take

Perform Faster

“Your performance—the way you show up in the world emotionally and cognitively—is a direct reflection of how well your body is doing.”

The “Game Changers” interviewed by Dave Asprey all found ways to perform “faster”— a catch-all term for hacking your biology to give you the necessary energy to show up and crush it every day.

Interestingly, sex is a topic that comes up frequently among such game-changers. Our bodies are hardwired for three evolutionary instincts: fight (or flee), feed, and another f-word related to reproduction. Your body has a whole energy system devoted to sex and reproduction.

Having conscious control of this can redirect massive energy into your goals. Today, men ages 30 and older typically have low testosterone levels. A major reason for this is having too frequent orgasms. Technically, testosterone levels will peak after seven days with no ejaculations. This means men will notice higher energy levels and overall life satisfaction if they can ejaculate less frequently due to higher T levels. Women, on the other hand, typically feel better and live longer with one to two orgasms weekly as they support healthy hormone levels.

Being on the topic of what happens in the bedroom, sleep itself is a non-negotiable when it comes to high performance. It’s often thought that waking up early is just what successful people do. While this might work for some, what works best for you will depend on your unique circadian rhythm— your body’s natural clock that controls wakefulness and sleep.

Knowing your circadian rhythm will allow you to know the best schedule for feeling rested and wide awake on a daily basis. You can support your circadian rhythm by getting natural sunlight shortly after waking up in the morning and ensuring your bedroom is completely dark at night.

If you’re worried about your body being tricked into thinking it’s daytime whenever there’s light in your room, you may consider trying blue blocker glasses at night. You can also use tools such as an Oura ring to track your sleep at night and the quality of sleep you’re getting.

Just like sleep, exercise is also an important pillar of health. Most people, however, focus so much on their idea of exercise that they forget about movement. One of the biggest problems in our modern-day lifestyles is that we’re sitting most of the day. Even some professional athletes, when asked to track their daily movement, were found to be sitting fourteen to sixteen hours a day!

To reduce the risk of experiencing muscle stiffness, aches, and pains because of sitting for long hours, walking daily and making the right choices, like getting a standing desk, is important. Moreover, learning to move properly through practices like yoga is also beneficial. It will help you increase flexibility, promote spinal health, and even detoxify the body and mind.

Performing efficient movements will ensure that exercise is more productive, as the body doesn’t have to waste energy correcting poor movement. The most bang for your buck in terms of the exercise will come from strength training rather than long-distance aerobic exercise. Exercise will boost brain health, increase longevity, and promote overall feelings of well-being.

In addition to exercise, game changers believe that eating the right foods is the most important factor in helping them kick ass. Since you’ll get out of your body what you put into it, you better make sure to put high-quality food into it.

Protein from dairy, beef, chicken, pork, fish, seafood, and nuts is important because they are high in amino acids. Plenty of vegetables is likewise a must.

Vegetables contain polyphenols which activate antioxidant genes and create antioxidant enzymes. Polyphenols are also high in blueberries, grapes, dark chocolate, coffee, and tea. Healthy fats from butter, coconut oil, MCT oil, olive oil, avocados, and meat are essential for your brain health. Taking krill oil supplements provides the body with additional omega-3 fatty acids, which are the building blocks of anti-inflammatory hormones. Omega-6 fatty acids are highly inflammatory, making vegetable oils a poor choice.

Aside from eating the right foods, taking care of your gut microbiome is also important. This is because it directly influences your brain activity, mood, energy levels, and almost all areas of your body’s health. To avoid damaging your microbiome, stay away from meat or other food products that were fed or treated with antibiotics. Load up on prebiotics and fermented foods to promote a healthy gut.

Finally, keep track of your biometrics to get a better handle on your body's state. You can track your sleep, activity, recovery levels, microbiome health, nutrient levels, hormone levels, and more. This data will allow you to know specifically what you need to do to maximize your body’s performance.

Actions to take

Be Happier

“You must focus on what makes you happy today because being happy unlocks a new level of potential in everything you do.”

At the end of the day, being a game changer is not about money and success but about fulfillment and happiness. For this reason, money should never be the end goal of your endeavors. Instead, let your passion and pursuit of happiness guide you. Game changers demonstrate that wealth is a symptom of happiness, not the other way around.

Happiness actually increases the likelihood of success, making you more engaged in your work and even increase your productivity by 31%! Thus, it’s important to pause for a moment and consider your end goals: What is it that will truly bring fulfillment to your life? Your answer to this question will enable you to trim down your life, including your possessions and how you spend your time, to the essential things that will bring you true fulfillment.

Relationships are certainly included among the essentials in finding happiness. Having social interaction positively affects our mood through the release of oxytocin, the “feel good” hormone that increases feelings of connection and empathy.

More than that, relationships also have a profound effect on who we become. Being surrounded by a community of happy and fulfilled people will have a contagious effect on your life. The opposite is likewise true.

Relationships can either empower or drain you. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your relationships with people, determine how they affect you, and intentionally seek out relationships that will help grow you into the person you want to become.

Sometimes our thought loops hold us back from experiencing happiness. Instead, they keep us bound in negativity, worry, fear, or resentment. Meditation allows us to take a step back from our normal thought patterns by simply observing our breath.

When you meditate, you should keep your focus on your breath. So when you notice that your mind has drifted into thinking about something else, simply acknowledge it without judgment and then gradually return your focus to the breath. Doing so will allow you to distance yourself healthily from your thoughts and have more conscious control over their physiological effect on you. Meditation will cause the development of new neural pathways in your brain that promote calmness, happiness, peace, and focus— instead of worry, fear, and negativity.

Aside from meditation, spending time with your external environment is also beneficial. After all, no effort in the pursuit of happiness will be complete without spending time with mother nature. Instead of living like animals in their natural habitats, we are more like animals in factory farms. Our food is unnatural. Our light is junk.

The air indoors is filled with dust and chlorofluorocarbons from our refrigerators and air conditioning. Toxins are released from our factory-produced carpet and furniture. The air in our cities is polluted; thus, we need to “rewild” ourselves.

Spending time in nature reduces stress and boosts immunity. Exposure to sunlight energizes us at the cellular level, and getting dirty (literally) promotes a healthy microbiome. Besides, we should also reduce our exposure to junk light and toxins from food and other sources and drink more clean water.

If there were a singular practice, however, to change your game and increase your happiness, it is definitely the practice of gratitude. Gratitude will rewire your brain, shape how you view the world and transform your thought patterns. It turns off fear at the cellular level and gives your nervous system safety cues.

Part of practicing gratitude is letting go of anger and resentment towards others. Forgiveness will release negative energy from your body and take your nervous system out of high-alert mode. When you begin to practice gratitude, you’ll realize that there are so many things to be grateful for, even if others may have hurt you. What’s more, you’ll also start to see how it can profoundly impact your overall state and well-being.

Gratitude allows us to rewrite the stories of self-pity, victimization, and anger that we tell ourselves in our minds. We can start living in an entirely different reality when we shift to a state-based in gratitude. Gratitude is like a muscle; the more we use it, the stronger it will become.

Actions to take

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