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"Hero Anxiety..."

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Written by Pat Curran

Posted on 19 January 2018

Last Updated 19 January 2018




“Got a lot of apologies to make…”


“Nothing’s been the same since New York.

You experience things and then they are over…”


“I can’t sleep. And when I do, I have nightmares…”


“Honestly, there are 100 people who want to kill me.

I hope I can protect the one thing I can’t live without…”



--Robert Downey Jr. in “Iron Man 3”

To see video, click here



This week is when my training begins to unravel. Up to about 2 weeks ago, the workouts had been difficult but achievable. But now the gaps between my physical capability and my workout goals are obvious. The fear of not being prepared on race day can easily derail my progress. If I rely on the strengths from my youth of try harder, push longer, and postpone pain, I will free-fall into the abyss of failure from injuries. If I simply cut back on the intensity of my workouts until my body feels much better, I will not be able to endure the full 70.3 mile race by September. I know there is a way forward, but it’s very difficult to see how.


Ever feel this way in other parts of your life? I call it “Hero Anxiety.” It begins when you suddenly become aware of how small you are compared to the challenges around you. Depending on circumstances, the awareness can literally drop you to your knees and fill you with regrets from some of the things you may have said or done in the past. Instead of life giving you a chance to turn things around, it’s as if it senses weakness and piles on more to break you.


Hero Anxiety happens to all of us who try to achieve great things. To get beyond it requires guts because instead of being in denial or blaming others, you have to look inward for your answers. It’s through humility and grace that we learn to accept the new reality, pick up the pieces around us, and discover new strengths for how to innovate and act.

More in the next sections… 

God Bless,



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Letters From Your Father –

“Innovate and Act!”

“Squad, Halt!


That flag means we’re only at the half way point.
First man that brings it to me,
gets a ride back with Agent Connor.
Move! Move!!

No one’s gotten that flag in 17 years.
Come on fall in… Let’s go! Fall in…


Rogers! I said fall in?!!”


Chris Evans as “Captain America”

To view video, click here



Dear Girls:


Last week, I wrote quite a bit about how to win the “Game of Money” and why it’s important. In short, it is one way to re-shape the matrix in order to amplify your humanity. This week, I want to provide you a second skill that can be even more powerful: How to innovate and act!


Innovation is the ability to re-imagine a problem and resources around you in such a way that new solutions can be generated. Most people associate innovation with science or technology, but in reality all living things must innovate continuously as a matter of survival. Primal instincts provide a raw ability to sense and adapt, but more advanced skills are required to lead through complex situations and be resilient during times of unprecedented change.


Regardless of whether you are dealing with an unexpected challenge, inventing a new product, or confronting a powerful adversary, innovation typically develops in 3 phases:

1.  Own the Reality. Solving difficult situations cannot be delegated to others. As your first step, take charge of the situation by telling yourself, “I own the reality. I own the night.” Even when you can’t clearly see what’s ahead, put your faith in your ability to work the problem and find a path forward. Assess your capabilities and resources as compared to the environment surrounding you. Partner with others who have complementary skills to see what you cannot.

2.  Generate Options. Now knowing what you know, the next question is, “What happens next if I do nothing?” With a clear mind, use your gift of 4-Dimensional thinking that allows you to see events and their impacts across time. If potential outcomes are not fully to your liking, identify key areas where the negative trends can be either disrupted or reversed in your favor. Brainstorm options and rank them based on an assessment of benefit, risk, and the range of difficulty when implementing. Use your creativity to reframe the problem and generate options that play to your strengths while minimizing dangerous threats / weaknesses.

3.  Create the future. Select an option and create a vision for how to win. When leading a group, explain what you see if we act predictably or do nothing. Provide your reasons behind your assessment, and share your vision for the new future you intend to create. Include a “road map” feel to your explanation with key milestones explained, so people can understand what progress looks like. Once you confirm their understanding, ask subordinate leaders for their opinions and challenge them to build upon the vision. Tell them, “If you see an issue, state it and recommend a solution. If there is a way to increase benefits and/or reduce risks, share your thoughts.” Lead the group discussion for optimizing your vision and agreeing on what success looks like.

The ability to innovate solutions for addressing major problems is an important part for leading through uncertainty. With that stated, it is equally important to know how to implement the innovation. Here is a high level framework for how to engage a large organization in translating your vision into a plan of action.


Every person in your organization must have general understanding of your vision for success. As your vision disseminates into each level of the organization, plans must be more concrete in order for them to master the environment they are responsible for.

Ultimately at the individual contributor level, it becomes about picking the right people, resourcing them at the right time, and ensuring they fully know what success looks like. This is why you must follow the 1/3 – 2/3 rule of planning. Calculate the total time between now and the point you want everyone in position for the first part of your plan. To plan properly, you can only use 1/3 of that time for planning at your level, then you must provide the rest of the time for the other levels of the organization to prepare. Most leaders in your position will send a general warning right away to tell the group what is coming, publish the best plan possible at the 1/3 mark, and then send updates / additional guidance as the environment changes and important questions are raised from the people you are leading.

7 Steps for Building the Plan

1.  Explain the situation in a way that everyone understands. Each leadership level should explain what is going on 2 levels above them and provide a synopsis of the environment the group is in. Also, explain how the current team will be grouped and resourced to carryout the pending mission.

2.  Clearly articulate the mission. With maximum clarity, define what the group must achieve, when, where, and why. Also explain what is in scope verses what is out of scope.

3.  Provide a concept for how the group works together. Given the instructions earlier for how the full team is grouped to carry out the mission, clearly outline their task, purpose and desired end-state for achieving the objectives of the plan. Then, vividly describe how the groups will work together to achieve the overall mission using some sort of illustration or simulation.

4.  Communicate coordinating instructions. To effectively work together, outline all the aspects for how each team supports one another through the sharing of logistics, resources, and information. Develop a shared timeline to keep the organization synchronized. This includes them coming back to you to review their details of their plan and sharing it with others they are working with. One of the challenges when leading complex organizations is that smaller groups become siloed because of their intense focus on mastering the details essential for success in their area. These techniques will help in having leaders see problems across groups, but you should pay special attention to this aspect of planning and ensure the organization sees the inter-dependences needed to achieve overall success.

5.  Conduct thoughtful logistics planning. Every organization is resource constrained. That includes your organization. As keeper of the vision and one of the few who can see the entire plan, there are scarce resources that you will need to distribute throughout the organization. Engage your next level of leadership to understand risks and timing of issues. Then, provide clear guidance on how to maximize the value of every single one of your key assets. Make sure as your plan cascades through lower levels of the organization, the resourcing plan is disseminated as it is initially intended but flexible enough to change based on feedback to those closest to the problems.

6.  Ensure clear leadership roles are assigned and agree how / how frequently everyone stays in touch. Today, information technology allows us to stay connected in ways never seen before. However, it is very easy to use it poorly and become one of those leaders who constantly “digs up the roots to see how the flowers are growing.” In short, the micromanagement of information can make a big mess of things and slow everyone down. That’s why determining which leaders have what decision rights and how / how often to stay in touch is more critical than ever. All thoughtful plans have a predicted path of where things will end up and identified decision points that will either confirm or deny assumptions. These decision points are either time or event driven. Focus your information technology and communication tools toward these decision points with the purpose of gaining meaningful knowledge affecting the plan. Be as clear as possible on how the organization senses reality so that every leader can adapt plans fast enough to achieve the vision.

7.  Remain keenly aware of the environment around you. Now that the organization is adapting to the new reality, your job is to remain fully engaged with everything going on around you. Similar to how the brain controls the nervous system, some events are like breathing and should be automatic. Other events are like touching something hot, where the organization should not require “permission” to let go. This gives you the capacity to focus on the few, unexpected events that require you to assess and adapt. To state it another way, you must spend your time on the “important” and not confuse it with the “urgent” that others can take care of for you. If you are the leader of the organization, dive deeply into all external informational sources that impact your vision of success. If you are in the middle of a larger organization, make sure you are talking with peers and senior leaders to stay aligned with the bigger plan. Communicate only relevant information to your subordinate leaders and be a heat shield for the non-operational aspects (politics) of leadership. Demand to only meet with people who have something new to tell you and can help answer important questions. Spend the rest of your available time observing / interacting with different levels of the organization to check on people’s morale, thanking them for their hard work, and ensuring they have the support they need. People are your greatest “assets.” Time is your most scarce resource. With great humility, respect and honor both when interacting with others.

You have now entered into the advanced phases of the “Hero’s Journey,” where one must be both brave and skilled to lead through uncertainty. At this point in your development, it’s not just about your courage, competence, commitment, and character. It’s also about knowing how to harness the positive energy of others to innovate, act, and win.

But what if the problem is so big that you and your closest associates can’t overcome it? I have some answers. Next week, you will learn about how to manage external relationships between enemies, allies, and confidants. Additionally, I will introduce your 4 main levers of power used to secure your freedom.


Keep going…



Love You Forever,




Video: Apple's "1984" Commercial – Break Free! Innovate and Act

Video: "Failure is Not an Option!" - From the movie “Apollo 13”

Video: "Let's Build a Filter" – From the movie “Apollo 13”

Manual: FM 101-5 – Army Planning and Orders Production

Manual: FM 3-21.10 (Chapter 2) – Army Troop Leading Procedures




This Week in Training

“I Can’t Sleep”


Tony Stark: Nothing’s been the same since New York

Pepper Potts: Oh really? Well, I didn’t notice that, at all.


Tony Stark: You experience things and then they’re over and you still can’t explain ‘em. Gods, aliens, other dimensions. I… I’m just a man in a can. The only reason I haven’t cracked up is probably because you moved in. Which is great. I love you, I’m lucky. But, honey, I can’t sleep.



Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow in “Iron Man 3”

To view the video, click here


I remember a time when the uncertainty seemed so heavy, I could not sleep. Sometimes what kept me up was worry. Other times it was frustration. The reason why was that I could not see a positive future nor did I know how to create one yet.


My advice to others in a similar place is to start over. Take a self-inventory who you are vs. who you know you are born to be. Then, focus on the one thing you care about most and create an action plan to close the gap. Use your innovative spirit and creative mindset to make small, steady progress. This will help you begin to believe how you can make a positive future happen!


You can’t be a leader (hero) until you get this right. Slow down and write a very simple self-inventory this week, even if you have to skip a workout.


Here’s this week’s workout plan:

Monday:         Swim 10 x 100m; Run 40 min

Tuesday:       Bike 60 min; Run 30 min

Wednesday: Swim 2500m; Bike 75 min

Thursday:     Swim Drills & 10 x 50m; Core strength training*

Friday:           Bike 2 hrs

Saturday:       Run 60 min

Sunday:        Pilates Stretch; Sports w/girls

*Core strength training includes chin-ups, push-ups, planks, rock wall climbing

**Stretch 30 min each day to “injury-proof” and avoid becoming “brittle”


Tip of the week: Hero Anxiety can make you hyper-sensitive to the world around you to the point where it’s difficult to get things done. If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, use it as a gift by pointing your hyper-sensitivity toward details of the swim portion of your workouts. Reframe the purpose of the 1.2 mile swim during the first leg of the 70.3 Mile Toughman to be one big, efficient “stretch” to get your body ready for the 56 mile bike ride. Obsess about techniques for cutting and gliding through the water with minimum resistance or drag. By doing this you may find that you can actually achieve faster times with less energy spent.


Click here to begin to learn how to master your swim technique and use every bit of your concentration to perfect the details. Need more than this? Click here for the Total Immersion video collection.