in: Advice, Character, Podcast

• Last updated: September 28, 2021

Podcast #152: The School of Greatness

As many Ohio-born boys do, Lewis Howes had dreams of playing professional football. After setting records in high school and college, he took the next step in reaching his goal by playing in the Arena League. But during his first season, he suffered a career ending injury. Broke, dejected, and homeless, he found himself sleeping on his sister’s couch for a year and completely depressed. But then a spark lit in Lewis and he began to look for ways to improve his life. With small steps, he started and sold a million dollar company and has gone on to create others.

In his new book, The School of Greatness, Lewis shares what has helped him in his life’s journey as well as insights from some of the 200 high-performing individuals he’s interviewed on his podcast.

Show Highlights

  • How envisioning your perfect day can help you create a vision for your life
  • How to avoid “miswanting” when crafting a vision for yourself
  • How to turn adversity into victories
  • The fears that hold people back from hustling
  • The habits of high performers
  • Why service is the capstone to living a truly great life
  • And much more!

School of greatness, by lewis howes book cover.

School of Greatness is filled with great actionable advice along with insights on living a fulfilling life from successful people in a variety of fields. And if you haven’t already, check out Lewis’ School of Greatness podcast. He interviewed yours truly a while back.


Brett McKay: Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. There’s a guy who’s named Lewis Howes, some of you probably have listened to his podcast, but he’s got an interesting story. He had aspirations to be a professional football player and he was making it happen for himself, starting off with the Canadian Football League and some minor league football teams here in the states. Then he had an injury that ended his career and he ended up on his sister’s couch for a year, broke, no money, and just completely in a funk. Then he started somehow a business online and it was a big success. Then he went on to other things and started a podcast where his goal was just to interview influencers, thinkers, who had insights on how to live a more flourishing life. It’s called “The School of Greatness,” and recently Lewis just released a book by the same title, “School of Greatness,” where he talks about some of the insights he’s gleaned over the two years of doing his podcast.

Today on the podcast, Lewis and I discuss “The School of Greatness” and what it means to live a flourishing life and how to do it.

All right, Lewis Howes, welcome to the show.

Lewis Howes: Thanks, Brett. Appreciate it, man.

Brett McKay: Before we get started, let’s get a little background on you. You have a podcast, “School of Greatness,” I know there’s a couple … A lot of our readers listen to it. Got a book coming out, “School of Greatness,” as well. What did you do before you had a podcast where you interview influencers and people who are doing awesome things? What were you doing before with your life?

Lewis Howes: In my early adulthood I was chasing my dream to be a pro athlete. I played arena football for a season down in Alabama and in Columbus, Ohio, as well. Got injured during the season, had to have a surgery on my wrist, where I broke my wrist, and then was in a full arm cast for six months. It was at that time where it was a huge transition point in my life. My whole childhood I grew up thinking I was going to be this pro athlete and now it’s all I’m going to do, I had no backup plan. I wasn’t really good in school so I put my energy into after school activities like sports.

I was sleeping on my sister’s couch after I had this surgery because I didn’t have any money, I didn’t have anywhere to stay. I was there for about a year-and-a-half, sleeping on her couch recovering, and it was a six month cast recovery time. It was extremely depressing. It was just a lot of uncertainty at this point in my life. I was around 23, 24, and I had no clue what was next.

Luckily I read a book over Christmas break in 2007, that changed my life. It was “The Four Hour Work Week,” which I know you know Tim. I remember reading this book thinking I had no clue this stuff was even possible, that you could do this stuff online, that you could build a business. I didn’t know anything about entrepreneurship. It opened me up to a whole world of possibilities.

For the next four, five years, I worked like a man on a mission to figure this stuff out and figure out how to build something and marketing and branding and networking and public speaking. I took classes on everything and ended up building an online business where I was creating educational courses, originally about LinkedIn and then other social media trainings. Sold that company and was in another transition phase in my life trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and that’s how “The School of Greatness” was born.

Brett McKay: Awesome, yeah. I first heard about you with the LinkedIn thing, I just knew you as the LinkedIn guy.

Lewis Howes: Yup, that was it. I was hustling hard on that.

Brett McKay: You were hustling hard at it before it was really big.

Lewis Howes: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brett McKay: Yeah, got in there.

Lewis Howes: Yup.

Brett McKay: Let’s talk about this “School of Greatness” thing. All right, it’s called “The School of Greatness,” that … Greatness gets thrown around a lot.

Lewis Howes: Yeah.

Brett McKay: People are talking about I’m going to live a great life, here’s your great life now, blah blah blah. How do you define greatness in your book and in your podcast?

Lewis Howes: Yeah, it’s interesting because I’m curious what other people think it means to them and their definition, that’s why I ask at the end of every episode.

Brett McKay: Yeah, you asked me that question.

Lewis Howes: Yeah. It’s great to see the responses. It’s a wide range of responses. I think greatness is different for all of us, but for me, right now, greatness is discovering and making the most of the gifts and the talents you were born with to pursue whatever dreams you have in your life. Then with that, making the biggest impact on the maximum amount of people in the world through living your dreams.

Brett McKay: Nice. That sounds a lot like the Greek concept of eudaimonia.

Lewis Howes: What’s that?

Brett McKay: It means flourishing. A lot of people translate it as happiness, but I like flourishing as a better translation. It’s living your best life possible.

Lewis Howes: Yes, that’s it.

Brett McKay: Right okay, I like that.

Lewis Howes: That’s it.

Brett McKay: Greatness is eudaimonia.

Lewis Howes: Yeah, there you go. It’s different for everyone. For the mom who’s got two kids, it may just be I want to live a great family life and support my husband and also build something on the side. Then for the college kid it may be I want to build a billion dollar company and change the world. It’s different for everyone but it doesn’t have to look the same.

Brett McKay: Doesn’t have to look the same, all right. In your book, you lay out steps to developing … We’ll say greatness or eudaimonia. Your first step was having a vision for your life.

Lewis Howes: Yes.

Brett McKay: I’m a big believer in having a life plan and all those things, but what is the process that you use to create a vision for your life and your business, et cetera?

Lewis Howes: I think it starts off in the most basic way. It starts off with doing the things we used to do when we were five, six, seven years old, which is literally playing in the playground dreaming of what we want to do when we grow up. It may sound lame or …

Brett McKay: Cliché.

Lewis Howes: Yeah, it may sound weird but literally I don’t think we dream enough as adults. I don’t think we take the time to go sit in nature alone with no computer, no laptop, or phone or anything, and literally lay there and dream what a perfect day could look like for us if we could have anything and do anything. I truly believe we are the authors of our life if we want to be. What do we want to create? What’s the story we want to tell? We don’t do that enough in general. The people that I’m connected to, they’re always busy-minded as opposed to calm and dreaming-minded.

What I tell people is to do an exercise that I have, it’s called the Perfect Day Exercise. With this, literally go in nature for an hour. It may be one of the hardest things you ever do because you’re so connected to your phone and thinking of the things you want to do. Go into nature for an hour, no one else, take a piece of paper or a notepad and a pen, and sit there and dream about all the things that you desire. All the things you desire for your relationships, your health, your life, the impact you want to have, your family, the type of things you want to be working on, where you want to be traveling. Then I want you to write down, like a creative writing exercise, the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed what a perfect day could look like for you. It’s just about dreaming and visualizing it so you can actually see it in your mind. Write it down.

It could be I wake up in the morning in my king-sized bed looking over the ocean, smiling because I’m sleeping next to the woman of my dreams and I can’t believe she’s with me. It could start off like that. Then walk through the rest of your day. What are you doing? Where are you going? What are you experiencing? What are you feeling? Everything. From there, you’ve got a map, a mind map, of how you want to live your life if it was the ultimate life you could have, to start seeing yourself living it.

After that there’s a second part of this exercise, where I have people take out another piece of paper, and when I was … Did you play football back in high school or college?

Brett McKay: Of course, I grew up in Oklahoma, it’s a religion here.

Lewis Howes: There you go.

Brett McKay: Yeah.

Lewis Howes: I don’t know if they had this in your high school, but for me, when I went to college, they really incorporated this. Every day I would go to practice, I would show up and my locker would have a piece of paper just hanging in my locker that was the itinerary for the day, the day’s practice. It was so structured, down to every minute, of when we were drinking water to what warmups were going to be to the drills we were running. It told us everything we were going to do that day. The coaches didn’t just say, “Okay guys, show up at the field at 3:30 and we’ll see what we create today.” It wasn’t like that. It was very structured and organized. In order for us to get everything done we needed to achieve our vision for that game coming up, that season, whatever it may be.

I want you to create an itinerary for your day from the moment you wake up at 8:00 a.m., 8:30, 9:00, whatever it may be, all the way until 11:00 or midnight, whenever you go to sleep. Write down all the steps you’re going to take actions towards that fit into that dream you have. Create an itinerary for yourself. Now your perfect day, if it was the same thing every day, it would get old, it would be boring. It’s going to shift and evolve and change, but you want to start creating it now so you can start living that and start being in it.

If we went out to play sports and just said, “Okay guys, let’s just show up and see what we can create.” It would probably be a lot more chaotic and it wouldn’t be as purposeful or intentional. I want you to do that first exercise because I think it could be very powerful for you.

Brett McKay: Yeah. I remember doing that in sports. My coaches would have … They didn’t give us the schedule but I know they had their schedule.

Lewis Howes: Right.

Brett McKay: It was just we’re moving on to defense now or moving on to special teams. There was no dilly dallies. Okay, this is what we’re doing now.

Lewis Howes: Yes.

Brett McKay: Speaking of the itinerary, one thing that I did, this helped me out immensely when I was in law school actually. My goal was I wanted to be the best in my class.

Lewis Howes: Yes.

Brett McKay: I created this schedule for me and it was a spreadsheet in Excel, it was the same thing every day, it was an itinerary down to the minute. I followed it for three years and it was a drag, it was a grind sometimes, but it worked.

Lewis Howes: It does, man.

Brett McKay: It worked.

Lewis Howes: I’ll tell you what, I just interviewed a guy named John Maxwell who’s a big leadership author.

Brett McKay: Yeah, John C. Maxwell.

Lewis Howes: Yeah, John C. Maxwell, sold 25 million copies of his book, speaks to millions of people around the world. He was like, “People ask me the key to success in business or life or whatever it may be.” He said, “You don’t have to be perfect every day, you just have to give your best and be really good every single day and do it for years consistently.” He said, “The compounding effect over time is unbelievable and if you do just a good job every single day and give your best, over years you’re going to be really successful if you continue to be consistent.”

Brett McKay: Yeah.

Lewis Howes: That’s where it’s at. You were consistent for three years, it was a grind, you probably weren’t perfect but you showed up every day and did your best.

Brett McKay: Yeah, the same with fitness too. A lot of guys … Why am I not seeing any progress? If you stuck to the same program and the same diet for more than two months.

Lewis Howes: If you take four cheat days this week.

Brett McKay: Yeah.

Lewis Howes: Expect to be the same.

Brett McKay: A carbo reload.

Lewis Howes: Exactly.

Brett McKay: Here’s a question I have about vision, because I’m a big proponent on this but I’ve run into this problem, it’s this, how do you avoid what some cognitive psychologists call miswanting? You think you know you want something and you work really hard years to get it, and then you get it and you end up like I don’t like this, this is terrible. Here’s a perfect example, law school. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer since I was in high school, so I busted my chops to get into law school, work really hard in law school, and then I come to find … I started interning at firms, actually doing law work, I was like this sucks, I don’t want to … I don’t like this.

Lewis Howes: Yeah.

Brett McKay: How do you avoid that though when you’re creating a vision? With visions you’re supposed to get very specific and create these very visceral things, but how do you know you will like something if you don’t have it yet?

Lewis Howes: I think when you figure out what you want to experience in your life, the feelings you want to have, the people you want to spend your time with, the places you want to travel to, the smells, the tastes, when I think of a vision I think of that. How do I want to feel every single day? Then does training for eight hours a day and then to go work for a law firm, does that fulfill the desires of the feelings I want to have every single day? If so, cool, then I’m going to continue to pursue it until it doesn’t.

I think sometimes we need to go through things that we desire or we want until we realize we don’t want them. Otherwise we might always be thinking I really want that thing or I should have gone after that or what could have happened if I went after it. Now you know you don’t want to be a lawyer anymore. I think it’s about figuring out the feelings that you want to have every day and then going towards whatever you want to create, the job, the career, the business you want to have, that fits into those feelings.

Brett McKay: Yeah, but then be willing to adjust.

Lewis Howes: Be willing to adjust. Listen, when I was in high school, all I wanted was a girlfriend and to get into college to play college football. That was my vision. Then when I was in college my only vision was to be a pro athlete. Then when I was a pro athlete, and got injured, I was like I don’t know what my vision is. It’s a constant change, evolution.

I look at life like a sport. There’s seasons in sports, you can’t just play in the playoffs in the NFL every single week nonstop and not have a break, you’ll die. You’ve got to have seasons. People retire after a season because they’re like okay, I don’t want this anymore. This was my dream my whole life, I played in the NFL for 10 years, I’m beat up, I want a different thing in my life, I’m in a different season of life.

It’s okay if something you work on for years is not what you want anymore. I’m sure you had that with sports as well. I used to love baseball, I played since I was five years old playing teeball.

Brett McKay: Yeah.

Lewis Howes: Then my senior year I was just like I’m burnt out, I had hurt my arm and I was just like this sucks, it’s not as fun anymore, it’s not inspiring. It’s okay if my dream has shifted into something new.

Brett McKay: The thing is, a lot of people discount this, you learn stuff in the process.

Lewis Howes: Of course.

Brett McKay: Of achieving that one thing. I get a lot of emails or letters from guys who are young, they’re in their twenties, they’re like I don’t know what to do with my life. They’re in that moment where they want to make sure … They think they have to get it right from the start. I’m like no, just pick something, have a vision and go for it.

Lewis Howes: Exactly.

Brett McKay: You might not end up doing that thing but you’re going to acquire skills, you’re going to meet people, new opportunities will open up because you have taken action towards that one goal. Then you can feel free to change the story.

Lewis Howes: Exactly. Brett, would you say that even though you realized you hated law or it wasn’t for you or whatever … Wouldn’t you say that you’re glad you took on the law and you did that for years, you went to school, you practiced, and … You learned a ton about how to run a business probably and how to be efficient and how to be consistent and research.

Brett McKay: Writing.

Lewis Howes: Writing.

Brett McKay: That’s where I learned how to write was in law school.

Lewis Howes: Would you say you’d have a successful blog as it is today without having years of training writing?

Brett McKay: No, of course not.

Lewis Howes: You got to look at that as okay, this was tools that I learned to make me efficient in my new dream.

Brett McKay: Exactly.

Lewis Howes: This isn’t going to last forever. At some point it’s going to end.

Brett McKay: It is going to end at some point.

Lewis Howes: Some point, whether you sell it, you die in 100 years, whatever, it’s going to end, something is going to change, and you’re going to move on to something else. You’re going to be like I’m tired of writing about men. I’ve written everything I can about what men can do to be manly, now I want to write about girly things, I don’t know.

Brett McKay: Let’s talk about this, segues nicely to the next question, adversity.

Lewis Howes: Yes.

Brett McKay: It’s an important aspect of living the School of Greatness. Why is embracing adversity such an important aspect of living a flourishing life?

Lewis Howes: It’s going to happen no matter what. We weren’t born and we couldn’t just talk and walk right away. We had to stumble and every day is a stumble towards growing into the person we want to become. The greatest minds, the greatest athletes, the greatest businessmen, they all faced some type of adversity along the way. The bigger the dream, the bigger the challenges, road blocks, and adversity you’re going to face. If you can’t learn to embrace it and say, “Okay, this is a challenge, this is in the way. All it’s telling me is that I need to learn something new in order to overcome it or I need to grow into someone or I need to attract a better team to help me evolve past this adversity.”

It’s when the people who see the adversity and then they say, “It’s too much for me to handle, I’m not going to take it on. I’m going to stay where I’m at in my comfort zone.” Those are the ones that aren’t able to push past and grow as fast as everyone else because they’re stuck in that adversity fear.

Brett McKay: You have highlight a bunch of people in your book that you interviewed and that you’ve come into contact with your business. Are there any people that stick out in your … Top of mind that they overcame adversity that allowed them to do something even greater before the adversity?

Lewis Howes: Yeah. I think of Kyle Maynard as a great example. Do you know Kyle?

Brett McKay: I don’t.

Lewis Howes: He’s a guy who was born without arms and legs. He’s got one of the most incredible stories. He’s climbed Mount Kilimanjaro on his elbows, army crawling up the mountain, it took him 12 days to do it. He’s fought in an MMA octagon fight against a guy with arms and legs, who he always wanted the dream of fighting in the UFC and he did a fight. He was a high school wrestler against people with arms and legs and was a champion wrestler. He does crossfit. It’s just amazing how he lives his life, he lives alone, and it’s incredible. The adversity and the challenges he faces in a world that does not support people without arms and legs, how he can continue to be happy and go after his dreams and inspire other people along the way. I think it’s a great example.

I always think of him whenever I’m struggling or feeling sore or not happy about something happening in my life. I’m like man, I have arms and frickin’ legs. I have no excuse to do what I want to do. Here’s a guy who doesn’t have half the body literally and he still does it. There’s no excuse. For me he’s a great example of someone who just constantly overcomes adversity every day and is happy.

Brett McKay: That’s awesome, really cool. You also talk in the book about the importance of hustling. I’m a big believer, I wrote a post several years ago called “The World Belongs to Those Who Hustle.”

Lewis Howes: Yes.

Brett McKay: I think it’s true, it’s based off an Abraham Lincoln quote.

Lewis Howes: Yup.

Brett McKay: You argue that there are fears that hold people back from hustling. What are those fears and how do you overcome them?

Lewis Howes: I think the fear is success and failure. I think people are afraid to succeed because of what will come from that, what responsibilities, the platform they have, they may not feel comfortable having that type of acknowledge, they’re afraid of that. They’re also afraid of looking bad, they’re afraid of people judging them when they do succeed, or if they fail people saying, “I told you so.” I think people get stuck in that, the fear of success and failure.

For me it’s a shame because I believe we’re born to step into the greatness that we have and the gifts we have and make the most of them. It’s just a shame. I wish people would hustle more.

Brett McKay: What I think other people are afraid of, a lot of people afraid of with hustling, is they don’t want to look like they’re trying too hard.

Lewis Howes: I don’t understand that. Maybe you don’t need to look like you’re dying when you’re doing it but I think people appreciate others who work hard after their dreams and go for it and do whatever it takes. The coach in a basketball team doesn’t just say, “You didn’t chase for that ball, it’s okay.” He will put on the starting five the player that dives on the court constantly to get to loose balls because he knows that’s going to be the difference maker potentially at the end of the game between winning by a couple points or losing. Those that are willing to sacrifice their body, their energy, for the greater good of the vision and hustle. I’m talking about diving for the loose balls of life.

Brett McKay: You got to be like Larry Bird.

Lewis Howes: Exactly. Most people don’t dive for the loose balls in life because whatever, they don’t want to look bad or they don’t want to look stupid or like they’re trying too hard. Tell me, when you watch someone diving on the court … Who was the guy for the Cavs last playoffs? Dellavedova or whatever his name is. I don’t know if you watched the NBA playoffs last year.

Brett McKay: No.

Lewis Howes: There’s a guy who should not have been on the court, I feel like I could beat him in a one-on-one game, but I tell you what, he scored 20 points a game and he was diving all over the place, getting kneed in the head, diving into the stands, saving loose balls everywhere. Everyone loved this guy, on the team and in the stands, because they saw someone who was hustling and giving his all for his dream. For me that’s what’s inspiring, when people do hustle and dive around on the court of life. Not when people are just trying to play it cool and act like they have it all figured out and just don’t care. That doesn’t inspire me.

Brett McKay: Like the try hards, I like that. Here’s a related question is I know a lot of people who are really great at hustling, they know how to work hard and smart, but the thing is they still seem not to get anywhere in life because they don’t have any self initiative. They’re good if someone tells them exactly what they need to do.

Lewis Howes: Right.

Brett McKay: When they’re left on their own they just can’t get going, they can’t self start. Any advice for the people out there who are struggling with being a self starter?

Lewis Howes: I think know your weaknesses. If you’re not a self starter then hire a coach and have them stay on you every single week. If that’s how you operate, we all operate differently. I feel like I’m a great self starter, I know you are, but I also know that no matter how much passion and commitment I have and how great of a person I am when I work out, I can work out with the best of them, and I can work on my business with the best of them. I’ll tell you what, when I have a coach who’s in the gym with me, I’m always going to push a little bit harder, I’m always going to have a little bit better form, I’m always going to be a little bit more intensified in my workouts, and I’m going to get a better result because I have a coach. No matter if I am great on my own, but nine times out of 10, that one time, I might take it easy or take a longer break or leave early because I’m tired, because I’m like I did enough.

I recommend having that coach to keep you on track constantly. I have a coach in a lot of areas of my life, my business, my health, my relationships. I rely on those to keep me in track, give me the feedback. It doesn’t mean I’m not doing all the work on my own still, but I rely for feedback to make sure I’m on the path to achieving my vision currently.

Brett McKay: How does that work? I’ve always been curious about that because I’ve never done that. I know a lot of people uses coaches.

Lewis Howes: Dude, you would crush it.

Brett McKay: What do you do with a business coach or with a career coach?

Lewis Howes: You would crush it, man. You’re dominating so much right now. I just know if you had a coach once a week that you talked to on the phone for 15 minutes, for your business let’s say, you would tell them okay, here’s my goals, here’s my game plan, here’s my vision, here’s what I want. Then the right coach would really guide you to helping you keep on track and accelerate it faster than when you wanted to achieve it. I think it would happen extremely well for you and you would love it. I recommend checking it out and trying it for a few months. Finding someone that you’re really inspired by in business who’s a great coach and either hiring them or seeing what arrangement you can have. It would be an interesting experiment and it would be a great blog post to say why men should hire coaches or not hire coaches.

Brett McKay: Or not do it. All right, getting back on track with our Greek theme here, eudaimonia, I like that. School of greatness, school of eudaimonia. Aristotle said that we are what we repeatedly do or excellence is a habit. You have a chapter in your book about habits. You’ve talked to a lot of successful people, you’ve done a lot of research in success. Are there any habits that you’ve seen that a lot of highly successful people have in their life?

Lewis Howes: Yeah, Brian Tracy also said successful people are simply those with successful habits. We can have … A lot of us have bad habits but the most successful people, the wealthiest people in the world, the people who have the biggest businesses, they do things differently, they have different habits. Some of them … Just for the richest people in the world, when I was doing research on this, they maintain a to-do list. They wake up three hours before they start working to set themselves up for the day and they have rituals before they start the day. They don’t just open up the phone right away in bed and start emailing, they follow a process first.

They also educate themselves constantly. They’re reading books, they’re listening to audiobooks, they’re learning constantly, they have a learner’s mind. They are networking five hours each month at a minimum. They’re connecting with people, new people, to build new relationships. They read 30-plus minutes a day, they exercise four days a week. I recommend five days a week myself. They eat minimal junk food, they watch one hour less of TV a day than the average person, they teach good daily success habits to their children. There’s lots of things that they do. They write down their goals, they focus on accomplishing a specific goal. They believe in lifelong educational self-improvement. These are a lot of those things.

Brett McKay: Awesome. What is your daily morning routine looking like right now?

Lewis Howes: I spend about … When I wake up … Right now I’m trying to wake up at 7:00 a.m. every morning, it depends on travel and everything, but the goal is 7:00 a.m. I wake up. Then I do a process where I write down what I’m grateful for or I write in my journal for what I’m grateful for and what I want to create today, my intention for the day, how I want to feel, what I want to create.

Then I do a 13-minute guided visualization. This is something I started doing back in college. I started it the month before I broke the world record for the most receiving yards in a single football game. It was the best season of my life and I just decided to continue doing it because there’s something to this grounding, what I like to call. It’s a grounding … Where you really connect to what you want to create. I do a 13-minute guided visualization, it’s just an audio with some music that a guy, this yogi, is talking and guiding you through what you want to create for the day. I do that.

Then I go and make my bed. I wake up and I make my bed to the best of my ability.

Brett McKay: Why is that? Why did you decide to start making your bed?

Lewis Howes: I didn’t do this until about two-and-a-half years ago. I didn’t start making my bed. Maybe once in a while I’d make it but it really just …

Brett McKay: When you had company coming over?

Lewis Howes: Yeah, exactly. I’d throw the sheet over or something. When I started making my bed … I’m going to challenge every man and woman listening, if you don’t make your bed, I want to challenge you to make your bed every day for the next seven days. Right after you wake up, the first thing you do, make your bed and take a photo of it and tweet me @lewishowes or tag me and Brett on Instagram with a photo of your made bed. I want you to tell me how it feels after one week by doing it.

Why I do it, it’s for a couple of reasons. One, it creates momentum in the day, it creates a completion action in the day. I’m completing something, I’m getting a task done, and that builds momentum. As opposed to just being lethargic and walking into the next thing and reacting. It’s activating the day by completion. The second thing it does is it clears the energy. When I come back into the room and I see a messy bed I’m having a cluttered mind just by that happening. I clean the bed, make it nice, I pick up the room. If I have clothes on the couch or whatever I put that away so that when my … I know my bed is complete, my room is complete, it’s clean. Our moms were right, we should make our bed and clean our room every single day and I should have listened to her because it’s had incredible effects in the clarity for the rest of my day.

When I do it over time it just gets better and better. The momentum builds over time when you do it. You’re going to start to feel those effects. I recommend making your bed.

Then I go for my workout. Almost every morning I’ll do some type of workout. Right now I’m in an off season, I’m not training heavily with the USA National Handball Team. My workout is more crosstraining and lifting, running, playing pickup basketball, different things to keep me maintaining. Then I come back, I’ll do some light stretching on my floor, take a shower, have a green juice, green smoothie as well. Then I kickstart and go into whatever the first meeting is.

Brett McKay: Working, okay.

Lewis Howes: Yeah.

Brett McKay: Interesting. I like listening about other people’s morning routines, it’s awesome.

Lewis Howes: Yeah.

Brett McKay: There’s this myth in America that’s really popular, and I’m drawn to it as well, it’s this idea that there’s the self-made man.

Lewis Howes: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brett McKay: There are a few examples. I think one of the best examples of an actual self-made man was Frederick Douglass, he started off as a slave, ended up being this publishing magnate basically. For the most part there isn’t self-made men. Usually a great success has a team supporting them.

Lewis Howes: Yes.

Brett McKay: You have a chapter dedicated in your book about developing a team around you.

Lewis Howes: Yes.

Brett McKay: What sort of people should a man have on their team to be successful in life? I’m not just talking about business, I’m talking about just all aspects. Is it having a team of friends? Having family? Is it having an accountant? What is it? What’s a team that a man should have in his life?

Lewis Howes: It’s different for each man based on their visions and their goals I believe. I don’t think there’s any self-made man, we were born needing support of other people. Based on the support that we had from our parents, our siblings, originally, we grew up a certain way based on that team. Then, from school, we grew based on that team of teachers, of peers, of staff. Then from our sports teams as well, from those coaches. We grew with teams, with armies of people supporting us whether we knew it or not. I think it’s important that we are very specific about who we want to spend our time with.

I think Jim Rome or someone said we are the average of the five people we spend our time with. I believe it’s completely true. For me, I’m always looking to find and attract quality people on my team. That means friends who are going to inspire me and lift me up, that means mentors, that means coaches, that means people on my specific business. I’m always looking to add great people to increase the business, to add new talents and new skills.

I think it depends where we’re at currently in our emotional and physical development on who we attract and what we see we need. It’s all about the team. I had that Scooter Braun, who is Justin Bieber’s manager, who discovered Justin Bieber on YouTube, built this amazing empire around him. He was just like you cannot achieve greatness on your own, it’s impossible. Your team may never do it the way you want to do it as well, they may never do the things you really want to do, the way you plan on it, but you can’t do it without them. You can’t go to the next step without other people supporting you.

You couldn’t do all the video, all the writing, all the design, all the coding, all the email marketing, the social media, and the content creation all on your own and be where you’re at right now. It’s taken a team of people to support you to get there. Maybe those people don’t do everything you want them to do the way you’d like it, but they get it done and sometimes it’s even better. We just have to be aware of that and embrace the part of the process.

I think of individual athletes who may be tennis players or golfers who you think they are self-made or they train on their own. They have probably teams of 50 people from the trainers to the coaches to their families to their training partners, the sports psychologist. Everyone plays into their success. If you don’t have the right people on the team it might hold you back.

Brett McKay: How do you go about developing this? All right, I’m going to ask you, you’re the expert networker, you’re the LinkedIn guy.

Lewis Howes: Yeah.

Brett McKay: How do you network and meet these new people in your … To be able to find these people you can bring into your team.

Lewis Howes: For me it’s always been who inspires me, who am I attracted to, who’s doing things in the world that I want to do, that I want to be like, that I want to embody and embrace. From there it’s developing those relationships, it’s going out and making them happen. We can all do it in a different way. I do it through my podcast, you do it through your blog and podcast, where you’re attracting people to you but you’re also … I created the podcast so that I can have a platform to interview people like you and people like John Maxwell and people like Tony Robbins. I wanted to build relationships with these inspiring individuals and learn from them and create partnerships long term. We can all do it different ways.

Early on I just did it through emailing people on LinkedIn and going to networking events and adding value to these individuals. I think when you ask them for help it’s a big turnoff. I know you probably get a few hundred emails a day from people asking for advice. It’s a turnoff sometimes. When we come to people saying I want to add value to you, here’s how I can support you, and it’s going to take none of your time and I don’t want anything in return, that’s a much better way of building a relationship with someone.

Brett McKay: Yeah, for sure. I think trying to add value to someone’s life … We had John Corcoran on the podcast, he’s written some pieces for us as well, and that’s his big thing, just find ways to improve people’s lives, make their lives easier. It can be as simple as if you know someone is in a particular industry, maybe it’s your boss or some coworker at your office, shoot them a link to an article that might help them with a problem they’ve been working on. Just I thought this would help.

Lewis Howes: That’s it.

Brett McKay: Don’t ask for anything, there it is.

Lewis Howes: Don’t ask for anything. The more you do that … I did this with Tim Ferriss for about three years. When I read his book I would email him every four to six months because I really wanted to build a relationship with him. I would email him whenever he would have a new book or something he wanted to promote, I would promote it as hard as I could, and show him and be like hey man, I just shared this everywhere, I emailed it to my list, let me know how else I can serve you. I would do that for years until eventually we became friends, we met in person, and then he invited me to come speak at his conference. The relationship has grown from there. That’s what I do.

It might take years to build a relationship with someone you want to be on your team or have just connection with. It’s going to take giving and giving and giving for years potentially in order for that to happen.

Brett McKay: All right. That sounds like some great solid advice there. You end the book talking about how service is the capstone … The capstone class in the school of greatness. Why is … How do you take this idea of being great personally and transferring that to being great fro the wider community?

Lewis Howes: I’ll share a story with you. My dream as a kid was to be an all-American athlete and then to be a pro athlete. I remember working so hard to be an all-American decathlete. I was an all-American decathlete and then all-American football player. I remember my mission was to do that. Right when I achieved all-American decathlete, I was up on the podium in front of the whole stadium at the track and field national championships, and I got my award. I was happy for about 15 minutes and then I was depressed and nasty the rest of the night around my teammates, around my coach, around my family. I didn’t want them around, I was miserable. I was the same way after football when I got that and the same way after pro football. I was just nasty. When I would achieve my goals I wasn’t happy.

Later in life I really discovered that the reason I wasn’t happy or fulfilled was because I was going after my dreams from a place of proving people wrong. I was like I’m going to show you why I’m great, I’m going to show you why you’re wrong, and whatever you say about me isn’t true, and I’m going to do this in spite of you. I was driven by anger and this fuel of resentment as opposed to serving and inspiring other people and inspiring myself. When I started to shift that, and realized that I need to come … If I want to achieve my dreams it must come from a place of serving me, inspiring me, and impacting people around me. Otherwise I’m going to always feel unfulfilled because it’s coming from a place of proving others wrong or only self-serving. That took a while and a lot of pain and frustration for me to figure that lesson out.

All the people that I interview who are at the top of their game, they have some type of mission that is bigger than them, they have some type service or some type of charity that they’re connected to or committed to in their business. It’s not just about making lots of money, they have a deeper mission of why they want to make money or why they want to achieve their dreams or why they want to be a great athlete. That continues to fuel them in a positive way.

I look at living a life of service as something we all must embody on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean we’re trying to cure cancer every single day. What it means is we open the door for someone at a restaurant, we smile at each person when we walk down the street, we say hello, we give an extra second longer hug. We do those little things every day that are going to lead into bigger moments for people’s lives as well. We figure out how can we impact people and serve other people in our businesses, in our community, in our relationships. By doing that we’re going to be much more fulfilled and it’s going to be sustaining our life a lot longer.

Brett McKay: Yeah. My experience has been this, that whenever you have a service mindset it actually … You get better because of it.

Lewis Howes: Of course.

Brett McKay: When you’re working for something other than yourself. I think that’s what a lot of personal development blogs and books are missing. It’s all about you got to look … You got to exercise and you have to do all these things. For what? Okay, I look ripped, I look shredded, I’ve got lots of money, I’m living the location-independent lifestyle. Now what?

Lewis Howes: Exactly.

Brett McKay: You have that moment of I don’t know, you have an existential crisis. In my life, and in my experience, I look back at my life … When I’ve been at my peak performance it’s always when I’m working for something bigger …

Lewis Howes: Yes.

Brett McKay: Not just me. Football is a perfect example. I trained so hard and I threw my body on the line so hard, not for me, I wanted to help my team out.

Lewis Howes: Yup.

Brett McKay: I wanted to help the team get to state, that was the goal. Now when I’m exercising, I have to come up with some sort of other reason beyond state. It has to be…Yeah, than just a six-pack.

Lewis Howes: That won’t last.

Brett McKay: Exactly.

Lewis Howes: The doughnut will look so good and you’ll be like I want the doughnut.

Brett McKay: Want the doughnut. I exercise because it helps my mental game, helps me be strong for my family, be of service. I want to be useful, et cetera. Yeah, I feel like having that service mindset can actually help you catapult your own personal development.

Lewis Howes: Exactly. There are so many stories that I know you hear and I hear from people who are 40 years old that made all the money, that got the boats and the houses and the cars, and then they’re like what am I doing. They actually change their whole lifestyle around because they’re like this doesn’t feel good anymore. I went after this stupid stuff and that’s not serving me. Then they find out the meaning of life, which is to give more meaning to other people, and then they switch it around. I think if we can create a lifestyle where we’re making … I think money’s great, I love money, and I love experiences. I don’t really buy a lot of things, I don’t care about material things, I like to have access and experiences and a nice lifestyle. I want to make more money to serve more people and that’s why I’m creating my business the way I am.

Brett McKay: Awesome. Hey Lewis, it’s been a great conversation. Before we go though, where can people learn more about your work?

Lewis Howes: They can go to or my podcast “School of Greatness.”

Brett McKay: Awesome. Lewis Howes, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.

Lewis Howes: I appreciate it.

Brett McKay: My guest today was Lewis Howes, he’s the author of book “The School of Greatness,” you can find that on and bookstores everywhere. You can also check out Lewis’s content at and you can also check out his podcast “The School of Greatness,” on iTunes or Stitcher or whatever it is you listen to your podcasts.

That wraps up another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. For more manly tips and advice make sure to check out the Art of Manliness website at Again, if you enjoy this show and you get something out of it, I’d really appreciate it if you could give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, whatever it is you use to listen to the podcast. I’d really appreciate it. Thank you for your continued support and until next time this is Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.

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