Gaignard had originally planned on breaking down another idea during this podcast, but thanks to a Twitter response about a previous episode, he spends this one talking about who we are, and how we choose to be that person.
The first eight minutes or so are mostly thanks and self-promotion, including the quote “attention is the new currency.” (2:20) Jayson, if that’s the case then drop all this stuff to the back end of the show and give us the content. It’s too bad it takes so long – especially for new listeners – because once he gets into the good stuff, it is good.
The catalyst for this episode came from him saying that who you surround yourself with matters, and his example was a Harvard study that reported fat people have fat friends. Weight being the semi-sensitive subject that it is, he got a retort that he was fat shaming. Not knowing what this meant, he looked it up and his first response was to edit the previous episode and take it down.
He chose to face this criticism and see what the roots of it might have been, because as he says leaders, “speak the truth, they see things as they are and not worse than they are.” (10:40) Truth is an key idea from the podcast, and finding it in our lives can be hard because it can be at odds with how we live. I think what Gaignard is getting at with this comment is that we can cloud our views with what we want to see, rather than what actually is to be seen.
Gaignard says, “Growth comes at the end of your comfort zone.” (11:20) This echoes what Jill Taylor writes about in her story, My Stroke of Insight. Taylor, a brain scientist who suffered a stroke writes, “Essentially I had to completely inhibit the level of ability that I could achieve, before it was time to take the next step. In order to attain a new ability, I had to be able to repeat that effort with grace and control before taking the next step.” Cal Newport promotes the same idea in an example about a friend who learned to play guitar, “While practicing, the strain on his face and the gasping nature of his breaths can be uncomfortable to watch.” It’s easy to forget, that it’s hard to stretch ourselves.
Once we square the truths in our lives and start to push our boundaries, Gaignard suggests we be mindful of our focus. “What you focus on is how you’ll feel, and how you’ll feel becomes your reality”. (11:50) Taylor puts it in more scientific terms, sharing that we can choose the neural circuits we want to run. Her analogy makes it seem as easy as choosing ice cream flavors but in a way that’s what it’s like.
When I first took my kids to Chipotle, I had no idea how their children’s menu worked. I didn’t know what sides came with an order and what choices they would like best. Now that we’ve been a few times, it’s easy to order. Taylor says that our brains are like that, except instead of streamlining our burrito orders, we fasttrack our thoughts. When we fire the same neural loops, those loops run better and become closer to our default. If we can choose to focus on thoughts we want, then those are the thoughts we get.
WAIT! You say, I can literally feel myself get mad, the chemicals stream through my body like bubbles of carbonation in a shaken can of soda. That’s true, but according to Jill, it’s only for 90 seconds. Your body’s physiological response is limited to 90 seconds and anything after that is how we are choosing to act.
According to Gaignard, controlling this internal world is what successful leaders do.
If you look at anyone who is a leader, whether it is a mom leading a family or an entrepreneur leading a business, the thing that makes them different than everyone else is they understand that there are two worlds. The external world they can influence, and the internal world which they can control. And that internal world is the world that you have to master yourself and most people won’t do that because it’s too hard. (15:50)
How do you master that internal world? Gaignard has four steps. (19:30)
Step 1: Turn to the truth. Are you losing money, why? Is it lattes or late work? This part might be painful because it’s going to require change.
Step 2: Remember that you are in full control of your business. It’s not the markets or the customers – it’s you.
Step 3: Ask better questions and make better decisions. What are your performance markers? Is it the number of emails you go through? No, it’s the number of steps for the next project.
Step 4: Take action. “If there is no action the you haven’t truly decided.” Are you waiting for an invocation to begin? Here it is.
The episode concludes with a great talk from Suli Breaks, about the two types of people in this world.
*It looks like the episode I listened to isn’t available now, I’ll update the links when it is.