Updated: Dec 18, 2021
The LOAF mindset is focused on finding and achieving optimal experience. Finding Flow.
Confidence. Courage. Mindfulness. Being Present - now of time. These are a few of the traits of LOAFers.
The momentum for LOAF - Less of a Fuck - continues to build so thanks to all of you who have become official LOAFers (Less Of A Fucker - it’s a good thing) and/or have purchased merchandise. I’ve heard from many of you and appreciate the support and feedback. During one of my conversations, we moved beyond the edge and coolness of LOAF to discuss what it means to actually Give Less of a Fuck.
What a great conversation! And it is what motivated this post. However, before I begin it might be helpful if I shared a bit about my background as it provides context for one of the reasons I launched the LOAF brand.
I spent 25+ years in higher education building and leading high performance sales teams. So, of course, human performance ( you know - achieving and exceeding sales targets) and the psychology of performance have long been a passion. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until the last 4-5 years that I was formally introduced to the theories and research in cognition, optimal performance and learning. I was fortunate to work with some of the best and brightest in these areas during my last five years in the EdTech industry. So, while LOAF is a badass, edgy brand, there is also a performance element to it.
My initial post, Origins, focused on how the LOAF acronym was created (touched on the performance aspect a bit) so I thought I’d share my vision of what it means to live the LOAF mindset. I’ll try to unpack the challenges and provide a vision of how to apply the LOAF mindset.
It ain’t easy.
Easy is saying “Fuck it”. “I don’t give a fuck”. “Fuck this”. Or even perhaps “Fuck you”. Or any of another similar thousand phrases suggesting you just don’t care any longer. Don’t misunderstand, there are absolutely times when you’ve got to just say “fuck it” or to just not care any longer about an issue, person or situation. Whatever.
But, in most cases, these feelings manifest themselves because you are emotionally invested. And ultimately, the not caring attitude is an outcome born of frustration, fear or lack of confidence or knowledge. It’s an inability to manage your Self (higher being vs the ‘self’ or ego). Your emotions. Of potentially holding on too tightly. Caring too much. Been there, done that and will likely do it again. As I said, it ain’t easy.
But giving up isn’t an option.
Marriage. Friendships. Career. Job. Politics. Pandemics. The list of things we get tied to emotionally are endless. Managing your Self is hard work. Ever been told in a relationship that you are “clingy” and your partner needs some space? Or they are leaving you? “I’m just not that into you”. No? Me neither. Yeah, right.
How about your career? If you are in sales, the angst over losing a client or deal can be unbearable. The pressure to perform, to achieve revenue targets, is immense. Your job literally depends on your performance. And it isn’t limited to sales. The pressure to perform affects everyone; whatever your career or vocation. With the exception perhaps of politicians.
In sports, the harder you “press”, the worse your performance. “White knuckle” or holding on too lightly is normal in pressure situations. The harder you swing - a golf club, baseball bat etc - the less chance of great contact. The harder you grip a baseball, the less movement it has. I know, I have whiplash still from the balls whistling out of the park.
Oh, and hey - how’d those conversations with friends, colleagues and family members go about the pandemic and politics? Have you lost friends over it? Not speaking with family members now? Or know someone who has? Perhaps you’ve been introduced to Cancel Culture - the hard way.
How do you ‘hold on loosely’ and engage the mind/body into a perfect Flow? How do you navigate these high stakes conversations without losing friends? Your job? Your career?
Managing the Self is hard.
Performing at your peak, consistently, is virtually impossible. Whether at work, play or simple interpersonal communication, trying to manage the Self is a full time job. And when you layer in the aforementioned challenges of politics, pandemics and social conflict - well, I think you get it.
LOAF was born as a mechanism to help manage the Self. Take a step back. A deep breath. Relax. Be in the Now of Time. As I mentioned in the “origins” post, it’s the .38 Special song “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go”. LOAF isn’t going to ensure peak performance; far from. But, it helps provide a mechanism to engage the Self. To appreciate the task for the task itself rather than the goal.
Put another way - being in the zone. When Michael Jordan was “in the zone’, his focus was solely on the task, performing flawlessly, rather than on the score of the game. It’s perhaps a way to experience true presence. To perhaps have more or better performances.
LOAF: Hindsight in action.
Hindsight, they say, has 20/20 vision. Clarity of thought. Action. It’s what you should have done the first time. It’s why the 2nd, meaningless, putt always drops. It’s the “damn, I should have said that'' feeling after you’ve opened your mouth and inserted your foot. It’s the Beatles song Yesterday - “Oh, I believe in yesterday”. You know, he said something wrong….
How can you channel hindsight into original action? Turn your yesterday’s into now. How can you improve your performance and manage the Self more effectively?
I think of managing the Self from two viewpoints.
Physical Performance | Mental Performance
First, let’s consider physical performance (Mind + Body) - sports, music, surgeon, automotive technician etc - it not only takes perfect practice but deliberate practice to become an expert.
Deliberate practice, simplistically defined, means identifying your weak areas in a given field and working on those until you’ve mastered them. Intentional or deliberate practice. When practicing, most people err on spending time in areas they’ve already learned or mastered. For example, the average amateur golfer spends more time on the driving range with a Driver when they should be practicing putting and chipping. The phrase “drive for show, putt for dough” isn’t hollow.
For more on deliberate practice, check out this article by Anders Ericsson et al in Harvard Business Review. The late Dr. Ericsson is considered one of the preeminent researchers in the psychology of performance and nature of expertise. The challenge with performance is that once mastered, it must be performed or executed. Ever heard "you've done that a thousand times" after failing to execute? That's the Self getting in the way. How do you get out of your own way - master the Self?
The LOAF mindset seeks the Flow state. To be free from hesitation. To be fully engaged and immersed in what you are doing. Being present. In the now of time. It’s not holding on too tightly. The lyrics “hold on loosely, but don’t let go” from .38 Special’s song “Hold On Loosely” are synonymous with LOAF. Again, the harder you hang onto something - be it a golf club, career or relationship, the less likely success is achieved.
Mental performance, managing the Self, is equally challenging. LOAF provides, at least for me, the pause or reminder to not take myself too seriously; a malady of the ego I’m all too familiar with. Pandemics. Politics. Cultural differences. They all get the best of us.
LOAF: Hindsight in action.
You know, avoiding the Beatles’ Yesterday lyrics “I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday”.
Divorce. Job loss. Cancel Culture. Managing ourselves - our Self (high Self vs the ‘self’ or ego) - is even more challenging when you consider there are complex dynamics and multiple actors in play. When we’re no longer alone in the proverbial sandbox how do we avoid the Beatles’ “Yesterday” or learn how to “hold on loosely” when we’re discussing politics? Doing this well incorporates the character traits of grit, resilience, confidence, courage, and mindfulness.
Mental and physical performance are inextricably linked. It’s all mental. The battle is with the Self.
So how does LOAF - Giving Less of a Fuck - improve or at the very least prepare you for optimal flow? For me, LOAF serves as a tangible reminder to refocus the Self when the stakes matter. You know, the birdie putt for the skin. Those unfortunate conversations about pandemics and politics which, despite our best intentions, seem to go south quickly.
Stop taking yourself so seriously. Others do not. I promise. Took me a long time to learn that lesson.
LOAF is a reminder to focus on the task. Be in the now of time. Care but perhaps not hold on quite as tightly. Don’t race down Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs so willingly and so quickly.
Yes, at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid rests Safety & Security. Land here and you begin fighting like a kitten in a bag. Your emotional IQ is, well, nonexistent. Fight or Flight. And for the majority of issues and situations we face, it just isn’t necessary.
Hold on, but loosely. It’s the connection between perfect/deliberate practice and actual performance.
Hindsight in action.
Mindset. With an Edge.
I hope you found this helpful and will take the opportunity to make LOAF part of your mindset. And your wardrobe! The merchandise is badass.
I’d love to hear about your success stories and see photos of your LOAF gear.
Here's to Living LOAF Less of a Fuck!