Practicing Greatness

Likely as not, Lewis Howes will greet you with a bear hug – even if you’re a perfect stranger who’s meeting him for the first time. He may not be perfect: “I’m an entrepreneur, a New York Times bestselling author, an athlete and a human being,” he says. But he’ll have a candid conversation with you about practice.

If you’re not familiar with Lewis Howes, he is the creator of the wildly successful “The School of Greatness” podcast, and the author of the recently published book by the same name. Along the way to his present-day success, Howes has told Forbes about his ticket out of a challenging childhood – football – which ended too soon with a career-ending injury that left him laid up on his sister’s couch.

Those difficult days led to a focus on learning as much as he could about business and marketing and read “The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. It was the catalyst for Howes’ future: “I thought one day, I’m going to create a book just like this that will open up possibilities for a guy just like me.”

Howes had a flair for what he modestly describes as “adding value to influential people when I had no value to give” except his time and energy, and his LinkedIn network soon became a powerful forum for influencers to connect. That led Howes to transform his passion into his first business, a profitable digital education venture.


Recent guests on Howes’ podcast have included thought leaders, experts, athletes and celebrities from author and entrepreneur Arianna Huffington to “Top Chef” Fabio Viviani, musician Alanis Morissette, director Jon Chu, volleyball great Gabrielle Reece, and author John C. Maxwell. It’s no surprise that the podcast racks up more than 1 million downloads each month.

Yet Howes says the inspiration behind the podcast “was actually a tragedy.” The entrepreneur explains that he moved to Los Angeles for a relationship that didn’t work out. It was while he was sitting in LA traffic that he hit upon the idea of a podcast. “I love to learn and I love to grow, but I hate traditional school because I was a really bad student. I thought, let’s create a new school, an inspiring school that anyone can attend – let’s call it ‘The School of Greatness.’”

Howes acknowledges that starting something new is “challenging and uncomfortable, but that’s where we learn the most.” While it’s still difficult, Howes says, “When I stay too comfortable, I feel like I’m slowly dying.”

And he has a deliberate approach to starting anew. Howes begins with a pointed question: “Is what I’m doing every day the way I want to live my life?” When it comes to starting something new, he continues, “We might do things we love – and stop loving them. Life is about seasons – there’s a season for recovery, a season for driving, a season for maintaining.”

When a change is due, Howes advocates dreaming (without the distraction of phones and computers). “We used to do this as kids all the time, and sometimes we forget this when we grow up.” Then he suggests writing it down. “Something powerful happens when you write down your dreams; it allows you to determine if it’s possible, probable, and how much work is required.”


Howes attributes his success not only to early exposure to competition, but also to other skills and experience he acquired as a young athlete, where working with a team and coaches taught him to be “a learner.” Without those characteristics, he continues, “I wouldn’t have been able to be a student of the game of life or business.”

His most recent lesson came while writing his book. “I always thought I had to do it on my own,” he says. “Really, to be great you have to let go of control and attract an incredible team.” The idea of a great team, according to Howes, also requires awareness of your choice of people to spend time with. “It’s really important to be around people that you want to be like in the future.”

Howes calls these individuals “masterminds” and they include mentors, advisors, even peers “who are up to big things in life or in a specific industry.” But they’re not so-called masterminds for their accomplishments or aspirations: they’re individually and collectively responsible for uplifting, challenging, and pushing each other forward – literally minding one another’s progress toward their respective goals.


Those masterminds provide a periodic reckoning for one another, and that accountability can help ensure dreams get closer to reality. Howes also points out the importance of daily grounding, in every aspect of life. “It’s taking a moment to set an intention for what you want to create. We do groundings throughout the day that we may not even be aware of,” with a prayer or gratitude before a meal, or a meditation or some yoga at the start of the day.

Howes has a sequence with which he starts each day, including a reflection on his own gratitude; guided meditation; and movement (see sidebar); followed by a green juice or smoothie blend and supplements. Another important grounding practice for Howes prior to an important meeting or speaking engagement is to “ground my intention, let my fears go, and get clear on what I want to make happen in this moment,” which he does with the help of his own coach.

Fresh from his book tour for “The School of Greatness,” Howes clearly values the grounding effect of real-world interaction that complements the presence that he built on LinkedIn and continued to grow online. A rotating selection of inspiration boards decorates his home. These canvases with boldly handwritten phrases such as “Love is…” and “What’s Your Purpose….” have been completed by event guests. Their responses range from “(love is) who we are and what we are here to do,” to “(I’m grateful for) good friends, much love in life, and bacon.”

I define ‘greatness’ as cultivating and discovering your unique talents and gifts, to pursue and follow your dreams and make a maximum impact on the people around you.

Lewis Howes’ Daily Regimen

Athlete, entrepreneur and author Lewis Howes begins each day with a mind and body practice that on a given day may include a gratitude practice, inspirational reading, stretching, yoga and strength and cardio exercise. Here is the sequence he does at home as part of his daily practice. Complete 10 reps of each movement, and four sets of the sequence.

  1. Push-ups
    2. Air Squats
    3. Jumping Rope (1 minute)
    4. Forward lunges
    5. Sit-ups

Follow up with a seated meditation and a fresh green juice for a true day of greatness.