We're all pounded with the whole concept of success
We think that it means more money, more fame, more power. And yet when confronted with defining our own success, we realise there's something we haven't quite defined.
In this episode we explore why feeling like a fraud is normal; why seemingly successful people define themselves differently when the spotlight is removed; why space is so critical to creating that identity.
In this episode Sean talks about
Part 1: Why It Is Okay To Feel Like A Fraud
Part 2: How We Define Success And How It Becomes Your Identity
Part 3: The Factor Of Space And Why It Is Critical To Your Life
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Audio and Transcript—Three Obstacles To Happiness (And How To Overcome Them)
This is the Three Month Vacation. I'm Sean D'Souza.
The Cherokee elder stood before his students and he told them of two wolves that live and battle within each one of us. One of these wolves, he explained, is ill-natured. It sees the worst in people and things. It thinks only of itself. It is vengeful, jealous, arrogant. It's full of ego and false pride. The other wolf sees the best in people and things. It is kind, it is generous, it is peaceful. It is full of integrity and respect for love itself and others.
One of the students asks the chief which one of these wolves wins the battle. The elder replied, “Whichever one you feed. Whichever one you feed, that is your identity.” When I started out in marketing, it was very easy for me to get fed by a lot of stuff around me. When you're on Facebook, when you're on the internet, there is a whole lot of junk out there. That junk makes you feel small. It makes you feel insignificant, and you've got to build an identity with the situation around you. How do you do it?
In today's episode we will cover the three elements of what was my journey. Also, it's going to be your journey. The first element is one of feeling like a fraud. The second one is just one of success. What does it mean? Finally, the third one, which is one of space and why it's so important.
Part 1: Feeling Like A Fraud
When you look at January of 2001, I didn't really feel like a fraud, but by December of 2001 I was feeling more and more insecure. What happened between January and December to create all this insecurity? For many years, even as I was a kid, I used to draw. I was extremely shy, and I've been drawing my whole life. I became a cartoonist. I became a writer. That's what shy people do. As I moved into the world of marketing, that completely threw me. I didn't know that much about marketing. I didn't know how people think, what they do, how they buy, the prices that they decide on.
But I read this book by Jim Collins, which was called Good to Great. It asked what can you be the best in the world at. I thought I love the cartooning, I love the writing, but I want to do something different. The answer lay, strangely, in marketing. I was not into marketing. I just didn't understand it. In all the years that I had run the cartooning business, I had done very little organized marketing. It was a good thing, because we moved to New Zealand and the public library was accessible, which was different from India.
I stepped into the library and I picked up ten books. Then I picked up another ten books. Then eventually the librarian realized that I was picking up a lot of books so they gave me an allocation where I could take 30 books at a time. I read those books. The more I read it, the less confident I got, the more I felt like a fraud.
But because I had no choice, I went out there and I spoke with clients. I spoke at small little events. The feeling of being a fraud didn't go away. It always seemed like someone would tap me on the shoulder and say, “Okay, your time is up. You've been talking nonsense for quite a while now and it's time for me to get in here.”
Six months passed, and a year passed. That tap never came. Then I did a trip to the US and I met with other marketers and I spoke with them. An interesting thing happened. I realized that these guys don't know that much more than I do. In fact, I know quite a few things that they don't know. That's when that fraud label just slipped off and fell into the drain. It never came back again.
It never came back again for me as a marketer but it came back again in different ways. When I write a book, for instance, I just wrote the book on Dartboard Pricing, again, that whole fraud feeling came out. I have made this presentation in Chicago. I made another presentation in Denver. I've written so much about pricing. It's all on the website. It's on the blog. It's in our membership site at 5000bc. I've explained it at length.
The feeling of being a fraud comes out because you feel what else is there to say. If I write this book, people will have read all of this information. They will think wait a second, he's just rehashing everything. Then when I send out early copies of the book to clients just so that they can read and send out some testimonials, and they come back and go, “I'm so excited,” and I think what, I already said all this stuff.
It's different. They haven't experienced it from the concept of a book, a system, step by step going through the whole logic. Even though I may feel like a fraud when I'm writing the book or putting it out there, that's just a bit of my own insecurity coming in. They don't feel that at all. They feel this stuff is really cool.
This feeling keeps coming back. I remember when we were in Washington D.C. and we did a workshop on The Brain Audit. I was very nervous. I didn't sleep that night simply because when I stood in front of that audience I thought they've already read The Brain Audit. These were people who bought the first version of The Brain Audit, version two, version three. Now they're sitting in the audience and I'm going to say the very same thing. I'm going to tell them exactly what they read about.
I should have paid attention. They bought version one, version two, version three. Obviously every version was bringing them a different angle, a different perspective, and my presentation was going to bring a different perspective. That's not how I felt. I felt like a fraud. I felt like something is going to go wrong. Someone is going to tap me on the shoulder.
No one did. In fact, when we came out after the first break, everyone was going, “Wow, I didn't know The Brain Audit was like this. I perceived it to be different.” That's it. You start out in life feeling a little insecure. You change professions, you feel insecure. You change your system. You write a book. You give a presentation. It doesn't matter what happens. The moment you change midstream, it's like being in a strange city and you're not very confident. You're completely lost. Your GPS is not working, and your soul needs to be a pilot, as Sting would say.
But Sting isn't sitting in my chair, is he? I didn't feel that way, and it comes back. What you've got to understand is that part of your identity is always going to be that you're unsure, and that's great.
This takes us to the second part of today, which is the whole feeling of success. What is success, and how do you cope with it?
Part 2: The Whole Feeling of Success
When you ask people what is their definition of success, they come up with various definitions. The thing that shows up is a lot of philosophy. People get very philosophical about the fact that success is this and success is that. When you look at the books and you look at the awards, the success parameters become very claustrophobic. In New Zealand we have an award for the Fast 50. On Forbes you have maybe the top 100 companies or the top 100 CEOs. Their success is all benchmarked by how many dollars they have in the bank or how quickly they got to the top.
When you look at so many blogs, what you find is the definition of success becomes one of taking shortcuts, of things like the four-hour work week. Four hours? What kind of genius can you create in four hours in a work week? Sometimes you'll get the contrast. They will talk about quick meals and then slow cooking. Mostly success is benchmarked by money, by speed, and by shortcuts.
That becomes our identity, because it's all around us. This is how it's always been. It's not just something that showed up yesterday. When we go back 100 years, 200 years, 500 years, 1,000 years, success has always been about money, speed, and shortcuts. And power, let's not forget about power.
The point is, as human beings this makes us very happy: the money, the speed, the power. All this stuff makes us really happy. Fair enough, because we can't really do without it. But we can also change things a bit and we can set a different benchmark.
When I started out Psychotactics I didn't know how to set this benchmark, but I knew that I wanted to be different in some way. Over the years, this difference has morphed. Suddenly our books, the ebooks, are different from everybody else's ebooks. They're different because they have less information but more depth of that information. Instead of pummeling you with endless amounts of data and more data, they cluster around a few important elements.
For instance, if you read Dartboard Pricing you would find that when we deal with sequential pricing, only three points are being covered, but those three points are being covered in-depth. When you cover this in-depth, what you have is the power to empower. No, yeah, power to empower. Empowerment is really what happens there. Over time, this has become one of the more important elements of what we would define as success. It's not the ability to sell more books or courses or workshops, but to be more like a pilot that takes all the passengers across. It's very easy to start a course or a workshop or have a book and not have everyone consume it. Our goal has been different. Our goal is how do we get them to the endpoint. That becomes a benchmark for success.
On a personal scale, the Three Month Vacation becomes a benchmark for success. How can we run our business so that we can get away, that we can eat the food that we want, travel the way we want, relax, and then come back refreshed so that we can do better work. That has become a benchmark for success.
Now invariably, the money and the shortcuts and the power and all that stuff has got to sneak in, but it doesn't become the whole reason why we do stuff. When I go to events, I meet with a lot of speakers. They're all hanging around the corridor. They're not essentially speaking to anybody else but the other speakers. All of them are saying exactly the same thing. They want to be home with their munchkins and they want to spend time with them at the swimming pool. They want to go to school with them. They want to do all this stuff.
Yet when they present themselves to the world they're talking about I did three million miles. I made so much money. I spoke at so many events. They present a completely different view to the world, yet when you're backstage, when they're in the corridor, they're talking about being home, about not wanting to friendly, about being sick about getting on another plane.
What they seem to present as success is not really what they feel is success. Going to that school event, going to that pool and jumping in the pool with the kid, that's success to them. I thought that the Three Month Vacation was kind of normal. I thought that people needed breaks. Maybe not three months, but I thought that they needed breaks.
When I meet with a lot of my friends in marketing and they talk about wow, it's amazing that you're able to do this … These are people who are extremely, what we call, successful. That's when I realized that setting these benchmarks for myself, setting this identity of who I really am, is critical. This is what you've got to do as well.
What is really your identity of success, other than the money and the power and the shortcuts, which are fine. It's just that you've got to have that other identity that you know wow, I've reached this goal. Maybe that benchmark, that identity is just to get to the beach 300 days in a year and that's it, and then you know. This is measurable. I can do it and it doesn't involve that other stuff that other people are portraying.
Our identity is almost restricted to being a fraud at some point right through our career. The second thing is one of success and how we define success, and how the world defines success. The third one, and this is something that a lot of people don't talk about, is just the factor of space, how space defines who we are as human beings.
Part 3: The Factor of Space
What is this factor of space? I was on my way back home after a walk. I always listen to the podcast on the way back home. I was listening to this writer, Pico Iyer, speaking on the TED stage. He came up with a statement that I had to stop and I had to write it down, because it was so interesting. He was talking about home and movement. He said it's only by stopping movement that you can see where to go. It's only by steeping out of your life and your world that you can see what you most deeply care about, and then you can find a home.
To me that has been home, that peace, that pause, that stop for refuelling. That has been the most critical element of my life. It's what gave me identity. It's what allows me to come back refreshed and do stuff that I want to do.
This resonates with me at a different level as well. Because, several years ago I listen to philosopher Wayne Dyer. He used to say it's the silence between the notes that make the music. I heard it a dozen times and I couldn't really figure out what he was saying. Then one day I rushed out to the car and I was telling my wife, “Do you know what that means? It's the quiet. It's the quiet that makes the music, because when there's just note after note after note, we get cacophony.” She gave me that look that wives often give you, like what took you so long.
Even if you go back in time to one of the greatest masters of our time, Leonardo Da Vinci, he said you have to step away from your work to get perspective. Without space, it's hard to have an identity that you're really looking for, that you want to create. It becomes what people call the dream. They're always searching for it, but to create a real identity instead of a dream, you have to step away and you have to look at yourself from a different space. Then you come back a changed person. You're not completely changed but somewhere some of those notes have changed. That makes for beautiful music.
The Cherokee elder stood before his students and told them of the two wolves that live and battle within each of us. One of those wolves, he explained, is ill-nature. It sees the worst in people and things. It thinks only of itself. It is vengeful, and jealous, and arrogant, and full of ego and false pride. The other wolf sees the best in people and things. It is kind, it is generous, it is peaceful. It is full of integrity and respect for love itself and others.
One of the students asks the chief which one of these wolves wins the battle. The elder replied, “Whichever one you feed.” You're going to be fed with this concept of being a fraud. You're going to be fed with this concept of imaginary success, what the world defines as success, not what you define as success. The wolf that you really need to feed is the one that brings you peace, that brings that space so that you can create your own music.
That brings us to the end of this podcast, but before we go, let's see the one thing that you can do today. Personally, I think it's hard to get over that feeling of being a fraud. It comes back no matter how confident you are. Believe me, I'm a very confident person. Yes, we've got to create that space. We have to say let's not take a three month vacation right now but let's take a weekend maybe two weeks from now, just a break. No email, no phone, just a break. Definitely no Facebook.
What's the one thing you can do today?
What you can do today is to define your benchmark, your identity of success. What is it that brings you or will bring you the most happiness? That will make a huge difference. It will make a difference to who you are and where you're going to go tomorrow. That will determine which wolf you're going to feed.
I appreciate all of you who've been writing in about this podcast. If you want to reach me, I'm on Twitter@SeanD'Souza, on Facebook at Sean D'Souza, and then at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're listening to this podcast it's more than likely that you're a subscriber at psychotactics.com, but if you haven't gone there already, go to psychotactics.com and subscribe.
Yes, one very important thing: I struggle to get to iTunes and leave a review because every time I'm listening to this I'm away from my computer, but I am on my phone. If you look below your phone, there is a little I button, especially if you're on an iPhone. If you click on that I button you'll get more information and there a link to the iTunes site. If you can leave a review, that would be really, really cool.
That's me, Sean D'Souza, from the Three Month Vacation, saying thanks again and bye for now. Go feed that wolf.
You're still listening?
People often ask me: Have you ever skipped a vacation? The answer is yes. We did that once. We thought it was more important for us to work and complete some projects and stuff. We did in four months what we normally do in three. That time that we should have been spending away, we were working and getting more and more tired and frustrated.
Then eventually we just got on a plane and went off to Sydney for a week. It was terrible. Not Sydney, just the week. It was like you just did something for the sake of doing it. It wasn't planned or interesting. Then we came back and we were different but not as different as if it were planned. Yes, we have skipped it. There you have it, a little snippet from the Psychotactics archive. Bye for now.
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