How to Decide What to Do in the Midst of Chaos

Picture of Chris Cooper speaking at the Two-Brain Summit

Andrew (00:02):

These are unprecedented times and the stress on entrepreneurs is very real. To get through this chaotic period, you need to cut through the noise. In this episode, Two-Brain Business founder Chris Cooper will tell you exactly how to do that. He’ll share some strategies to help you filter, avoid FOMO and find focus. What follows the audio from a live broadcast aired on June 7th, including a Q and A gym owners. And now here’s Chris Cooper on Two-Brain Business Radio.

Chris (00:28):

What I want to do first is start off with what we promised to talk about, and that is how to maintain focus before we do anything else. So guys, I’d really like to start today with a moment of silence in supportive of Black Lives Matter. There’s a lot of change happening in our world right now. And, let’s just hope this upheaval is a catalyst for lasting change. That’s all we can kind of hope. So we’re going to start off with just a moment of silence here in support of Black Lives Matter and the memory of George Floyd.

Chris (01:32):

OK, guys. Thanks. So the reason that we’re going to talk mostly about focus today is because when I’m stressed, it’s usually because of uncertainty. So the reasons that I get, you know, I have trouble making decisions, or I’m really struggling with stress, it’s usually because there’s an unknown that’s facing me, or I’m waiting for something else to happen before I can make a decision on this. So as an entrepreneur, this is something that’s gonna happen to you over and over throughout your career path and learning how to deal with this stuff is going to be really helpful to you long term. So the way that I deal with the stress of uncertainty is by taking action on something that I can control right now, even if it’s not the exact problem that I’m trying to solve. So today that’s my goal.

Chris (02:24):

We’re going to start by saying that you don’t need more information. You need more action right now, and you need to take action on the things that are available to you. If your gym hasn’t reopened yet, there are still things that you can do that will help you get through the rest of the wait to reopen. And if you’re struggling on what to do and say on social media right now, and I can totally understand that, and we can work on other things while you’re learning and listening and figuring out what you want to say. So here are the steps to gaining focus. The first is that your bandwidth is maximized right now, right? Everybody’s running like on an 11 out of 10, we’re trapped in our own heads. We’re trapped in our own houses and we’re trying to think too much and fit everything in.

Chris (03:16):

And so we kind of get scattered. We don’t have a model to follow. We don’t have a process for our day anymore. We don’t have a schedule. And so with this, you’re overwhelmed, right? There’s just too much going on. There’s just too many options to take. There’s too many ideas. There’s too many things to think about. So the first thing that I want you to do is to spend one hour this week cutting. OK. And that’s step one to taking action is cutting. I want you to unsubscribe. I want you to block out FOMO. You’re not going to miss anything. If you’re worried about like missing one good idea or one good strategy, if it’s good, it’s going to come back. That’s the first thing I want you to do guys, is create the mental bandwidth to allow the best ideas to percolate up to the top.

Chris (04:07):

And that means unsubscribing. It means quitting Facebook groups that you’re not getting positive action from. Don’t worry about missing anything. If something is a great idea, you will hear about it again. You’ll hear about it over and over and soon, it will be the only thing that people are talking about. OK. So the first step to taking action and gaining focus is to cutting out some of the overwhelm and the sources of that overwhelm. The second thing that I want you to do is when you’re attending webinars or you’re reading a book, or even if you’re on this webinar right now, or even if you’re listening to a podcast, I want you to quit after the first actionable idea that you hear. So I learned this strategy from a billionaire. He took over a lot of the operations from Blackberry when they were struggling, they shrunk their entire company down.

Chris (04:57):

It was this massive collapse. And what this guy did was onboard most of their staff into his business and took over. And he’s just basically like a call center clearing house for people who use coupons to buy stuff online. Anyway, what this guy learned is that when he’s attending a seminar summit, a webinar, anything, he plans to leave after the first good idea. So he books his flights, he books his hotel room. He takes a pad of paper with them and he listens speakers. And as soon as he’s heard one good idea, he gets up and he leaves. And then he spends the rest of the weekend taking action on that one good idea. Because it’s better to take action on one good idea than it is to learn 50 good ideas, especially if the 50 good ideas stop you from taking action on the first one.

Chris (05:49):

  1. So the steps to taking action, getting focused and beating overwhelm are first cut, and then to quit. The third, now that you’ve created this bandwidth or time in your day or space in your brain, the third is to filter. Now you have to decide what you’re going to let in which ideas am I going to do? Who am I going to listen to? Right. What process, what action will I take next? And so what I want to share with you here is a tool that I gave you a few months ago called the five filters. So I’m just going to share this here, walk through them quickly. When you’re deciding what to do or what action to take, or, you know, like what steps or what your priorities should be, there are five filters that I apply that helped me gain focus and make decisions.

Chris (06:37):

So the first is the bullshit filter, right? And I asked myself, is this an idea, or is it a proven strategy? Is this idea, you know, everybody should be on tik tok? Is it just novel? And that’s why it’s exciting? Or has somebody actually successfully built a Tik Tok account that’s built their gym and made money from it? So if it seems like a good idea, but there’s no proof to support it, or nobody can say, here’s my experience. I don’t do it. I wait. And I know that I don’t have to do it right now for it to be effective. If it’s effective, I’ll keep hearing about it. I can push it off six months and come back to it later. So that’s the first filter and that’s the most important one. The second filter is which metric am I actually going to change? And by how much, so, OK.

Chris (07:23):

This thing has been proven to work, right? It’s it got me five new members. That’s the common experience that people have had. How is that going to change my business? Which metric will change and by how much, because it could be that that metric is not your top priority. So for example, going back to the lead gen idea, you know, I use this thing and it got me five new clients. OK. Which metric does that change? It changes total revenue. Great. Is total revenue my priority right now? Or am I supposed to be fixing my retention systems? OK. If it improves total revenue, fantastic. Someday, I’m going to want that strategy, but not today. My first priority right now is to increase like the engagement. So the strategy that I should be letting into my brain and focusing on action is the strategy that will improve the length of engagement in my gym.

Chris (08:16):

So I’m going to look for the next strategy. I’m going to put this on my idea board, you know, write it on my notepad. And in six months, I’ll come back to it. All right. The third filter that I use is the time filter. And this is crazy important. One Derek Sivers wrote this book called “Anything You Want,” and it’s basically, you can do anything, but you don’t have to do everything right now. I can always come back and I can always look at this again in six months. And so what I do is I keep an ideas list, a notepad. I can share my notepad even. I don’t know if you can see it. And whenever I have a great idea, I write it on the notepad. And then I review those notes in three months. And if that idea is still like blazing with importance, then I’ll start to think about how can I fit this into my day?

Chris (09:05):

You know, do I need to do it now? That is a really important question to ask. For example, you know, the Tik Tok account example. I can’t even remember where I saw that several months ago. It was, you know, you need to be on Snapchat. And I put the Snapchat idea through my five filters and it turned out it wasn’t a proven strategy so I didn’t pursue it. But if it was a proven strategy and I looked at my time filter, I would realize like, I don’t need to do this right now. Now in the current case of what is actually happening right now, you know, do I need to publish a statement about how I feel about George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter? I do think that this passes the time filter. It’s better to do something now say something now than to wait.

Chris (09:53):

  1. The fourth filter that I use is the variables filter, which is like, what’s the next best step. And, I had such an amazing illustration of this this week when Julie Johnston did this amazing help first action. So if you don’t know, Julie, Julie owns the biggest gym in Vegas, it’s Rhino Bootcamp. She has two locations now. She was probably like the, if not the inventor of the Bootcamp idea, like the originator, the popularizer, she’s done everything. And over the last couple months, she’s had this amazing Rhino Bootcamp trailer stolen twice. It says Rhino Bootcamp right on it. And it’s a crazy expensive trailer. They put all their bootcamp equipment in it and move it around from park to park and stuff. And it’s an important part of our business. And it’s crazy expensive. Well, it got stolen and the police found it Thursday or Friday.

Chris (10:48):

And when they found it, they realized that there was an Army veteran living in this trailer. And he, and I think his wife had purchased it from the thieves. And when they brought Julie to go identify the trailer, the veteran was there. And in this amazing act, Julie said, keep it, this is your home now. And I’m giving it to you. And what she said in the interview, and I shared that interview yesterday on my personal Facebook page was that I’m always asking myself, like, what is the next right thing to do? And sometimes the next right thing to do isn’t clear, but sometimes it’s abundantly clear and you know, can Julie afford to write off this crazy expensive trailer? Maybe not, but she felt that this was the next right thing to do. And so that’s the step that she took. If you’re not sure what the next right thing to do is in your business, that’s why you have a mentor. You know, I’ve got these three things, they all seem equally important to me, what is the next right thing to do? OK. And then finally the context filter, which is this right for my specific case right now. So when you’re looking at context and you’re asking like, is this right for my specific case right now, it really helps to have an objective third eye. And that’s a mentor’s primary responsibility, like, Hey, Cooper says that I should be on Tik Tok right now, but you know, I don’t know how that works. I don’t know how to do the videos. I hate doing videos. You know, I don’t have a lot of charisma. Should I be doing that right now? OK. You don’t have to do everything. So, you know, this is basically the hierarchy of like how I take action.

Chris (12:29):

  1. This is where I gain information from. And this tells me where in my priorities that information should fall. You know, I love reading books. I read a ton of books. However, where do the books fall under the hierarchy of where I get my information and advice from? Because books are a one-way education, right? Like without taking action on them, they’re meaningless. And if you read my book review from 2019, you’ll see like there are some great books on there that I didn’t rate very highly because I didn’t take any action on them. OK. So how you consume information really matters. And as you’re trying to gain focus right now, it’s important that you notice like what’s causing overwhelm. OK. So motivational memes, you know, ideas, tips, tactics, episodes. These are just dumping ideas into your brain and actually probably causing paralysis by analysis.

Chris (13:27):

You’ve got too many ideas and that’s why you’re overwhelmed. So when you are cutting and opting out of things this week, you want to take a look at the bottom of this hierarchy. What can I opt out of? Probably quit some Facebook groups, right. I can probably unsubscribe from some email lists, you know, online groups, masterminds, chambers of commerce. If I’m not taking action, I should probably stop going to those things right now, unless I’m actually helping there, you know, books even, the lectures, videos, articles, same thing. Like I should stop consuming those things if they’re preventing me from taking action. So the next step is, you know, you’ve got to decide which filters should I apply and then prioritize exactly. Which of all these options should I take action on right now? And that’s what we really built the roadmap for.

Chris (14:14):

What you and your mentor should do is take a look at the roadmap and have a visual of what are my priorities right now. And so when you’re looking at this, if you look at like, OK, where am I really strong? Oh, my playbook is a level eight. That’s fantastic. My business expense is OK. I’m doing a pretty good job there. My team. Oh yeah. So strong. I’m doing really well, but maybe I’m still in the founder phase on digital marketing. So maybe that becomes my priority. And that’s what the roadmap is really for is to help you identify what are your biggest priorities right now. After you’ve identified those priorities with your mentor, the next thing that you can do is sprint. So I want you to go as fast as possible from one thing to the next. And that is going to help you take action and get results really fast.

Chris (15:08):

So taking action, sprinting means working with the right mentor. And I think that, you know, through the COVID crisis, what we did a lot of the times when we didn’t have specific expertise in one area, we quickly went out, found a mentor who did and brought them back in, right? You can buy that expertise and that helps you sprint ahead really fast. So that’s how we were really quick to say, like, here’s how you present leadership in a crisis because we turned to John Maxwell, purchased that expertise and taught it back to you. We were quick to say like, here’s how you deliver online programming or here’s how you pivot people or here’s how you combine offers because we went out and just bought that knowledge from the people who had it. Well, you can do the same thing and what a lot of people do less often than they should is change mentors under the Two-Brain umbrella.

Chris (15:58):

You know, we have three mentors on the team right now. You’re some of them, OK? If you go to business.com forward slash mentors, you’ll see them, when you identify exactly what you should be taking action on, the next thing you should ask is like, who has solved this problem already? Who has specific experience with solving this problem and get in contact with them. The beautiful part about being in Two-Brain Business is that if your mentor has never encountered that specific problem, or doesn’t have that specific experience, they can send you to somebody who has had that experience. And you can do a call with them, or your mentor can contact that person and say, who has solved this problem and have that conversation, and then come back to you. It’s whatever you prefer. And if you want to do a call with a different mentor next month, you just have to email sales@twobrainbusiness.com or ask your mentor to refer you.

Chris (16:52):

  1. If you scroll through that page, you’re going to see a huge variety of expertise in there. All right. So guys, I know a lot of you are eager to move on to the second part of this conversation, which is talking about CrossFit and affiliation. And, my job is really just to facilitate that conversation, not to guide you in one direction or another. And so that’s what we’re going to do. Before we do that, and before I turn off the recording here, I want to make sure that I’m answering all the questions that I can about gaining focus. So please just ask those in chat as a quick review. You don’t need more information to get results. You need to take action to take action. You need to reduce overwhelm. That means you have to follow the steps of cutting things out, quitting things that are dumping more information on you.

Chris (17:48):

Filtering the information that you do get to prioritize your action, identify your priorities, and then choose a mentor that can help you sprint toward action. OK. Hope that helps. Now by all means ask questions here. I’ve got a couple, Hey Jennifer, not Patrick. Good morning. If you have other questions, guys, by all means, just unmute yourself here and we’ll ask them live. If you don’t have questions about focus and prioritization and combating overwhelm, then just hold on until I shut off the recording and we’ll start talking about affiliation and all that good stuff.

Jennifer (18:23):

Hey Chris, it’s Jennifer. I have a question. I don’t know if you can hear me OK.

Chris (18:26):

Yeah. And you don’t even sound like Patrick.

Jennifer (18:28):

I know. Isn’t that crazy? It makes complete sense what you’re saying. Everybody’s got 9 million things. It’s hard to focus, but when I do focus, I still find myself unfocused because I end up going down a rabbit hole. Now this isn’t the perfect example, but I’ll be working on something and then something I need to accomplish it isn’t right. So then I chart off and I start fixing that and then I find something else that’s wrong, deeper than that. And then I go down that, do you know what I mean? Like that one task I’m doing ends up into 10 different lanes. Does that make sense? So then I unfocused on the way. Any advice on that?

Chris (19:14):

Yeah. I think what you need to do is like map the process as you’re doing it. So the reason like that’s naturally going to happen, you know, I think everybody can relate to that when they started writing their playbook, we gave you a simple prompt, like write that opening checklist. I get out of my car, I unlock the door. I turn on the lights. And as you’re writing through this opening checklist, you’re like, Oh, I have to tell people what radio station they should tune into for our classes and why that’s appropriate. The stressful part of this is you’re scared that you’re going to forget something, you’re going to lose your place. So what you have to do is map out your thought process. As you open up your notes, always have your notepad in front of you and just take notes as to where you are. And like, what problem has—honestly, Jennifer, if it’s more comfortable for you, use a whiteboard, draw a circle of here’s what you have to fix. And then you say, OK, before I can solve this problem, I need to solve this problem. Draw an arrow to the next problem you’re going to try and solve, write that down and then start working on that. It’s normal. I know you’re not scared of work. The stress comes in a fear of forgetting something, right. And like losing your place and you can’t multitask. Yeah. Anyway, no problem. Hope that helps. Other questions on focus guys? Go ahead. All right. That’s great. Here’s what I’m going to do, guys.

Andrew (20:48):

At this point, Chris ended the recording for a closed discussion about de-affiliation in response to CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman’s deplorable Twitter comment on George Floyd. To read more about de-affiliation and your business, visit Two-Brain Business.com and click on blog. Please remember to subscribe for more great episodes of Two-Brain Radio. Chris Cooper will be back next week.

Thanks for listening!

On Monday, Two-Brain Radio presents marketing tips and success stories. Chris Cooper delivers the best of the business world on Two-Brain Radio every Thursday. 

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