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Is it safe to say we have all struggled with self-doubt? Very little is more frightening than a sense of uncertainty, and when we feel like we don’t know what we’re doing, it’s easy to become paralyzed.

If you think you need to wait until you’re free of doubt and fear before you can accomplish anything… bad news: you’re not going anywhere.

The people who do things and make things have one thing in common: they start before they feel ready to start.

In this episode, Dan and Ben talk about the dangers (and inevitability) of comparison, self-doubt’s roots in your lack of skill and your abundance of ego, and the steps you can take to overcome self-doubt and build confidence in your abilities… in any area of life.

Links & Resources Mentioned
Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript of the episode was machine-generated by Descript and has not been edited for correctness. It’s provided for your convenience when searching. Please excuse any errors.

Ben: [00:00:00] The time and energy that you put into avoiding making mistakes is making you slow.

Good morning, Dan. 

Dan: [00:00:27] Good morning, Ben. 

Ben: [00:00:28] How are you feeling today? 

Dan: [00:00:31] Feeling Good Feeling ready ready to do a podcast. 

Ben: [00:00:34] Yeah. Yeah, me too. 

Dan: [00:00:37] Yeah, excellent. You don’t have any self-doubt holding you back? I 

Ben: [00:00:41] No, absolutely not. Yeah, the that is good. You know, I mean we could just jump right into it if you want to.

Dan: [00:00:52] think I just 

Ben: [00:00:52] I was going to try to make a fancy segue, but I’m not sure I’m still a little bit of like this sense of doubt. 

Dan: [00:01:01] Something I almost like something holding you 

Ben: [00:01:03] Right this terrible. I told you I told you in the pre-show. I was like is this is this going to be the show? I was just making.

these meta jokes about Self Doubt. 

Dan: [00:01:16] Yeah, I mean every show every show is the show. 

Ben: [00:01:19] And you said yeah, that’s what we’re going to do. So. So, you know that’s your cue listener to go ahead and turn this episode off. If now I’m just 

Dan: [00:01:29] No, no, 

Ben: [00:01:30] No this is going to be is going to be good. 

Dan: [00:01:32] Yes, it is going to be good because we’re going to talk about Self Doubt why it holds us back and how to well, I almost said how to get rid of it.

You know how to overcome it. It’s the sort of thing where you you don’t you don’t necessarily banish fear and self-doubt. You just learn to behave despite their presence. 

Ben: [00:01:55] Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I don’t know like I feel like that’s kind of the punchline of the whole thing. But it really is important I think to.

Get rid of this idea that you’re going to somehow at some point in your life. Get to a place where you no longer deal with self-doubt like like oh that’s just the thing of the past and I think really the valuable thing is having the ability to act. And to do things in spite of self-doubt. 

Dan: [00:02:35] Yeah, definitely it the fact is that self-doubt does lesson if we could say that confidence is kind of the opposite.

Like as confidence increases self-doubt decreases self-doubt does lesson over time but the trick is if you think you know, what I’ll do is I’ll just wait until I feel confident to do a thing. You you will never do it. You’ll never do it because the confidence and again, you know jumping ahead a little bit but the confidence comes from doing a thing over and over.

That’s how you get confident. 

Ben: [00:03:08] Alright, so, there you go. 

Dan: [00:03:10] Yeah, so then where can people go to find it? All right. 

Ben: [00:03:14] So I wanted to I wanted to kind of keep this episode mostly conversational and I had a couple of stories that I wanted to share. 

Dan: [00:03:25] What’s here? 

Ben: [00:03:28] This this first one is really something.

Very recent. I was I was telling you about this project that I was doing for podia. And when I pitched the idea it was kind of like I was halfway kidding because I was coming up with different topic ideas that I was going to make videos for and one of the topic ideas that I threw out there was.

Some number of digital product ideas. that you know, I was I was going to present to help people come up with. Okay, like what kind of digital products should I make and and then in parentheses I put in song form. Because you know like that’s my background. I love doing song writing and recording and editing in the whole thing.

So sounds like Oh They’ll that’ll get a laugh, you know, but but also maybe they’ll be like, yeah, okay, so so I put it out there. And I went over the list and and everybody was like, oh, that’s awesome. I can’t wait. So I was like, okay, here we go. and I felt immediately excited because. I love writing songs.

I love recording I love the whole process and I had I had absolutely no doubt that I was going to be able to execute that part of it. Well, you know it like it was going to be a nice clean recording. I was going to have clever lyrics everything was gonna everything was going to work and make sense.

Like I was going to make it an awesome music video for it, which at this point. I still have yet to make I’ve finished the song. But there was a part of it that I was feeling some self-doubt with and it was this idea of you know, like to do this kind of thing. It really is like you’re you’re not you’re not doing it to be serious.

Like you’re you’re sincere. but it is kind of more entertaining and funny and kind of just like. Making fun of itself a little bit kind of cheesy. Like that’s that’s kind of the approach. I was taking and in getting that kind of humor, right? In a way that people understand that it’s not meant to be taken seriously necessarily.

That’s the part that I was like, I’m not sure like I know how cheesy I am. I know how cheesy I can be. My kids know man. Did they know? 

Dan: [00:06:14] think we all know. 

Ben: [00:06:16] Yeah, so so I was like I could I could go full cheese on this but I just I’m not sure. I’m not sure how I’m not sure how it’s going to be received.

Like if I if I am completely myself with this project. T’ is it is it going to be acceptable? And I really struggled to like set aside my. my fear and and like my concern over whether or not I could execute that part of it. And I had to I had to really yeah go Laura and the in the chat said go full cheese.

Dan: [00:07:02] Full cheese, that’s right. 

Ben: [00:07:04] You can’t go halfway. And I think that’s honestly one of the most dangerous things that self-doubt does to us. Is it keeps us from going full into? Whatever we’re making you know, like it’s almost it’s almost better. I think sometimes not to do something then to do it halfway.

You know, so anyways, that was that was the concern and I’m happy to report that I didn’t I didn’t hold back. I didn’t pull any punches. I went full cheese and and we’ll see how it goes. You know, like once once I press the publish button. It’s going to be out there and we’re going to see but. But the more the more I exercise that because I have I have other opportunities like this was probably one of the more prominent ones.

But I but I have lots of opportunities to flex that muscle. And and the more I do that the more I put myself out there the more I kind of act in spite of my concern in my fear. The more comfortable I end up feeling and honestly, I think without some of the previous ways that I’ve exercised this. I don’t know that I would have been as comfortable as I was with this particular project.

So I’m just I’m just kind of like I’m honestly right now I’m just processing it out loud and trying to trying to think about it and talk about it in the context of today’s topic. 

Dan: [00:08:56] Sure, will you have. It’s interesting to note that you have a lot of experience with creating songs in particular. You also have an enormous amount of experience with Being Cheesy.

Ben: [00:09:08] Yeah. 

Dan: [00:09:10] So. despite those things despite those things you still have this self-doubt creeping in and I want to point something out. You mentioned something about being worried how people would perceive what you were doing whether they would get it right like, You were probably imagining people are going to watch this and think who’s this cheesy guy.

Whereas like you want to preemptively explain to those people. No. No, you don’t get it. I’m in on it. See I’m doing this on purpose, 

Ben: [00:09:40] Right. 

Dan: [00:09:42] And there’s a factor there that plays into the presence of Self Doubt, which is your ego. And whenever I use the word ego, I think I talked about this the last time we were on a show.

I don’t I don’t I’m not talking about like self-aggrandizement. I’m not talking about ego as in you think you’re better than everyone. In fact, it’s often quite the opposite ego is just the part of you that it’s your identity. It’s the part of you that is among other things worried about how you’re perceived.

And the the story reminded me of this. Fantastic blog post I’ll put a link to in the show notes from five years ago on a Blog called wrapped attitude and the post is called how to get yourself to do things. And there’s this part of it that I always I always remember when it comes to stuff like this.

And it goes like this. I’ll quote it. You can’t see an obligation for what it is until you’re doing it. The rising anxiety associated with a particular thing comes from a misapprehension of what it will be like to do the work work itself is made of concrete small things like phone calls forms conversations Etc.

I will add. You know recording a Cheesy song writing cheesy song lyrics but the anxiety associated with the work going back to the quotation is made of abstract big picture emotional concerns about reputation Legacy anxiety for the future self esteem comparisons to others. Here’s the punchline worries about who you are rather than what you’re doing.

And we can see that even even when you been are doing a thing at which you are skilled. You don’t really have a reason to doubt your ability to write song lyrics the self-doubt Creeps in when you start to worry about who you are. How are you going to be perceived? What is this going to say about you?

And that’s that’s a big source of self-doubt. I think that’s maybe one of the two big sources of self-doubt the other one and we can get into this later being just a lack of skill. 

Ben: [00:11:53] Yeah, so there’s there was something that you said in there that reminded me. of one of the early thoughts I had with this topic, which is.

this idea that you don’t. Really have a solid grasp on the reality of your skill. And I’m not saying that’s true in general for everyone. But I think it’s some it’s two sides of the same coin you got arrogance and you know, like overconfidence on one side. and you’ve got self-doubt on the other side and really.

I like either one of those things is. is missing the reality of what you are truly capable of. 

Dan: [00:12:53] Neither one of those is a clear-eyed. Look at your capabilities. Something is something’s getting in the way right? It’s like a like a screen in front of your eyes preventing you from seeing clearly and whether the way whether the whether the Distortion is in the direction of overconfidence or under confidence, it is still a distortion.

Ben: [00:13:15] Yeah, and each of those has its own set of consequences. And I think I think we’ll get into this a little bit later. I’m curious to know if. if you’re going to fall on one side or the other. Is is one better? And and this is this is not to say that you can’t truly know yourself. I don’t think it’s as easy though as.

as just like okay sit down and write a list of what you can do and then believe that. I don’t I don’t know that it’s necessarily even as easy as having other people kind of speak into that and help you gain a better sense. I think truly knowing what where your skill is and what that skill is worth and the kind of results you’re capable of producing.

I think that’s really hard to to know as like a picture. Of your ability. because doubt and arrogance. aren’t logical. Like they they don’t depend on logical assessments. They depend on an emotional.

Dan: [00:14:40] Well, well, well look the the it’s interesting. Let’s maybe just put people’s minds at ease for a second because emotional emotional thinking is inevitable. It’s a consequence of being a human being as opposed to being a robot. 

Ben: [00:14:57] Correct. 

Dan: [00:14:58] As at least for now eventually we can I think it might have been Conan O’Brien who said that something like a we will know AI has truly like we’ve truly broken through when we can invent a robot that looks in the mirror and hates what it sees.

Ben: [00:15:12] That’s interesting. 

Dan: [00:15:14] Yeah, but so emotional reasoning is inevitable. And so again, the the the fallacy is to think you can obliterate it. The fallacy is to think you can go. Okay, I have to do something and maybe it’s you know, maybe it’s drinking heavily. It isn’t but you know, I’ve got to do something that will make me, you know, we’ll get rid of the self-doubt will make me not feel this anymore.

That’s not how feelings work unfortunately. Or maybe fortunately, you know the but one thing to keep in mind that that maybe can as Solace is the magnitude of those emotions will change as you gain skill, right? So this is like I said, one of the two places that self-doubt is generated from one of them is just when you haven’t done something very much.

You really don’t know what you’re capable of. And your capabilities are limited by definition which makes it harder to do a logical assessment of what you’re capable of when you’ve you know, I’m trying to come up with sort of contrived examples like jumping over a canyon on a motorcycle the first time you do that you probably think I don’t know if I can make it over this Canyon the second time you do it while there is no second time.

No, I’m kidding. But you know you eventually get to the point where if you’ve done that a hundred times you come up to a canyon and you can just glance at it and go no, I can’t do this one or yeah, I can do this one. And the thing that happens then is you are much more free of the emotional reasoning because now you know that your ability is a or rather.

Your capability is a consequence of like your skills and the world not who you are. The first time you look at that Canyon you might think I’m just not the kind of person who can jump over Canyons on a motorcycle the hundredth time if you glance at a canyon and you just know nope, that one’s too big you don’t go that one’s too big.

So I’m a failure. That one’s too big. So what’s wrong with me? You just know that you can’t do it because you’ve have enough experience. That’s when you’ve shifted from emotional thinking to logical thinking. 

Ben: [00:17:26] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It’s um. I think I think that’s an important way to look at it too because you know it like in that example.

You’re talking about the kind of knowing that comes from having taken. action. from from having enough repetitions. and. And the problem the problem with trying to get rid of self-doubt before you take action. Is that your you really are putting the cart before the horse like and again, I feel like this just gets right to the punch line of this whole episode but really.

taking action is the antidote. to self doubt it is the cure but it’s but it’s also like. It’s something that you have to do in spite of and that’s. Like the one of the big questions for me is okay. So, how how do you do that? Like, how do you take action? Even when you feel self-doubt and how do you keep from you know going halfway?

How do you how do you keep from half measures when you feel that sense of Self Doubt? 

Dan: [00:18:54] That’s a good question because there. You know, maybe where you could say we’re giving away the punch line, but there’s a trick because this is one of those terrible paradoxes where you’re not taking action because you’re Paralyzed by self-doubt.

Well, the solution is to take action, but I can’t take action on Paralyzed by self-doubt. Well, you know what’ll help you taking action? Yeah, but I’m and Etc. So there’s got to be something to unlock this for you or as the influencers say. The unlock as a noun. I’m not a fan of that 

Ben: [00:19:27] Yeah. All 

Dan: [00:19:27] Ben.

But but how can we Let’s help people find the quote unlock unquote. 

Ben: [00:19:34] right, so so we’ll jump back into that. I wanted to. hash out a little bit more some of my story that I was sharing earlier. Because it gave me some of what you said gave me some insight I was thinking about. this idea of.

Doubting whether or not what I’ve put myself into will be accepted and and it’s not so so with this song. For example, this this cheesy song. It’s not as much I think that I doubt people will get that. I’m in on the joke. But they’ll get my my sense of humor or whatever, but it’s really that like I put so much of myself into this.

And and maybe the question that I really have and I don’t know. I’m not sure if this is necessarily related to Self Doubt. The question I really have is. M if I am if I am myself. And I think this can go for a lot of things as can go for. Your style of writing because maybe. maybe you seen other people.

Be successful writing and they have a certain style. They have a certain way of doing it. And you know, this is this is kind of the journey the creative journey is you you tend to emulate what you see and over time you develop your own voice. But whether it’s writing or making videos or making art or whatever it is, I think sometimes and I know this is true for me.

Sometimes I do hold back on really fully putting myself into it because I’m not sure if. people will accept that. Maybe maybe I need to you know, like instead of putting it instead of it just being me and my style and putting my whole self into it. Maybe I need to I need to curate it a little bit so that it’s palatable, you know.

Dan: [00:21:56] Now that’s that’s interesting because the first thing I thought when you said maybe I’ll hold back is there’s a there’s a kind of self sabotage there that’s similar to what we do when we procrastinate where you know, the and again, I think this comes back to your ego trying to protect itself. If you know internally that you didn’t really give it your give it your best effort.

You didn’t really like leave everything on the field of play then it’s that’s a defense mechanism because then if you put the thing out and it is not and your it’s not well received the way you’re afraid. It won’t be at least you can tell yourself. I didn’t really try. I didn’t really try as hard as I could the terrifying thing about the idea of putting everything you’ve got into something is and then what happens when it’s not good enough and if that’s when it blows back on you and now you what you think now I’m forced to identify as not good enough.

But I mean we talked about this on on I think we talked about this on the last show, or maybe it was the last show with you and Shawn talking about. Overcoming perfectionism where you’re you’re not you can’t identify with your work like you are and it’s not a value judgment of you if you do a piece of work and it’s not the greatest thing in the universe doesn’t mean you’re not good enough.

Ben: [00:23:21] Yeah, so and and and so this is something like as I’m as I’m talking through it. I’m also very aware of the ways that I need to disconnect myself. from how other people see my work even even as I pour myself into it my personality and. And so, you know, I think there’s there’s definitely a sense of freedom.

that comes from. pouring yourself into something and doing your very best work and then.

somehow somehow detaching yourself from the outcome of sharing that work, you know because people. People are going to respond to it. But what can you what can you be other than yourself? and. and if people respond badly to it, like, you know, not not like you were you were being hurtful or hateful or or.

Dan: [00:24:31] No, no, but if they just don’t like it. 

Ben: [00:24:35] yeah. 

Dan: [00:24:38] But you know what occurs to me been at what occurs to me is this is much more common when you are trying to write a song or write a story or choreograph a dance or make art in general and it is less common when you are trying to prepare a spreadsheet for the quarterly accounting.

Because it is so much about putting yourself into the thing and the the observation we can make about successful creators. And when I wasted when I say successful I’m talking about people who regularly overcome their self-doubt to put things into the world. The observation we can make about them is that they have learned to divorce their identity.

From their work probably haven’t done it perfectly but they’ve done it well enough to overcome that self-doubt. I want to mention at this point the book The War of art by Steven pressfield. 

Ben: [00:25:38] That’s a good one. 

Dan: [00:25:39] It’s a great what because everything you’re saying is reminding me of so many of the things in that book and.

There are great tips in there and he talks I like very in a very straightforward sort of way about ways to separate yourself from the work. I mean, he talks about the attitude of the professional versus the amateur or an amateur kind of over identifies with the thing they make the professional stands apart from it.

So even though the professional. Pours everything they’ve got into a piece of work once it’s done. They put it out into the world and they say well that isn’t me that’s a piece of work I made now it’s done. It’s going to Garner whatever reaction it’ll get and that’s got nothing to do with me. I’ve got to go do the next thing.

The the the other thing he says well, so I just one more thing that I think is really interesting is he talks about the idea of he calls it me incorporated? And he’s talking about that from the context of as an author despite just being one person. He he has a corporation like his illegal corporation that represents his business interests.

And he says that the other thing that does for him is it helps enforce that separation like when he produces something and puts it out in the world that is a product of Him Incorporated. That isn’t him. So if that thing gets flak if that thing is judged that is just a product of you know, the the incorporation of you that isn’t you that’s an interesting way.

I think to separate yourself from your. 

Ben: [00:27:18] Yeah, I like that and and I still though I think. I think it’s something that has to come from repetition. Because maybe maybe you can do some mental gymnastics and get yourself there. But I think until you until you do that enough and and I don’t know like I feel like it’s one of those things that you can even get yourself to a point where you’re sharing art and.

You you actually feel separate from it. You don’t feel like people’s Judgment of your artist is their judgement of you like I think you can get there and then get out of out of the practice of that. And and you know accidentally reclaim some of that identity there is a there’s a channel I subscribe to called Corridor crew on YouTube and there.

Like VFX artists and they recently had a guest. I think his name. I think his name is be people. He’s a CGI artist. 

Dan: [00:28:41] I think that the sorry just you know, you bring that up. I think that. Bull actually, his art is currently on the splash screen of adobe Premier Pro. 

Ben: [00:28:51] Wait, really? 

Dan: [00:28:52] I reckon like I recognize that name.

Yeah, we’re media encoder. It’s act. It’s on one of the Adobe apps. So whoever that is is not small potatoes. 

Ben: [00:29:01] Now and and his his stuff is weird, but he he designed something. He has as of as of two weeks ago when they posted this episode with him. He had created something every day for 12 years.

And it was interesting because they did this Challenge on the episode. I’m going to I’ll go ahead and share it because I think I think people would enjoy they believe that a lot. It’s funny. 

Dan: [00:29:34] I’m sure we’ll put a link in the show notes also to this. 

Ben: [00:29:37] Yeah, so. Okay. Well, I’ll I’ll share it in the chat at some point.

Dan: [00:29:44] Yeah, yeah. 

Ben: [00:29:45] But in this in this episode, they challenge him and and they say okay we’re going to do like 45 minutes. That’s all you get. I think they originally wanted to make it an hour and he said 45 minutes you had to create and render something using these preset assets that everybody agreed to and and actually publish it all of that needed to be done within 45 minutes.

And the whole time like, you know the cameras going around from person to person and you’re getting to see their work in progress and the whole time. People is is cursing is work and saying how terrible it is. Like he’s just like this is terrible is awful. It’s stupid. It’s you know, like. No, 

Dan: [00:30:33] Was this this was just like a hazing ritual they were putting them through like.

Ben: [00:30:36] no, they were all participating. Each of them were were designing their own thing. And people as he was sitting in front of his screen working on his thing. He was cursing his own work. He was he was just a like as he was making a he’s like, this is the worst. This is crap. This is terrible and and I you know, I can actually I can relate to that because I feel that way sometimes as I’m making something I’m like this is is awful.

I had one recently that I made Ivan as I was recording. I think Rachel was in the room with me and I was talking to the camera and I got to the end of the script and and and I even like turn to Rachel and I said that was the worst recording I’ve ever done and but but I’m like but I’ve got to have a deadline I got to edit it.

I got a ship it I’ve got to publish it and you know, like if it weren’t for that deadline. That might not have seen the light of day because I hated it. So then so then I publish it I post it and everybody’s like oh Ben, this is great and I’m like, okay. All right and in so many ways in this in this episode like he’s he’s just bad-mouthing his stuff the whole time but then he publishes it and it’s like once he hits the publish button.

He doesn’t think about it again, you know. 

Dan: [00:32:09] Yeah. 

Ben: [00:32:09] He’s been doing that every day for 12 years. 

Dan: [00:32:13] 12 you that just for the record and in case people are too lazy to multiply that’s over 4,300 things like that’s four thousand three hundred days. So that’s almost five thousand things that he’s made.

5000 that’s incredible. 

Ben: [00:32:33] But but I think it comes back to this. idea that. you weather whether it’s overcoming your self-doubt or trying to separate yourself emotionally from the. From from your identity being wrapped up in your heart like it’s something that has to come through repetition. You in and it’s you have to walk through that discomfort you can do you can do some you know, like I said, you can do some mental gymnastics like you can try to get yourself there but nothing’s as effective as actually experiencing it over and over enough that you that you get to a place where you’re like Okay, so.

So I put this thing out there and I put my whole self into it and some people loved it. And then I put this next thing out and everybody hated it and like over and over again. but I’m still okay, and there are still people who love me and accept me for who I am and I’m still making art and some of it is useful and that’s okay, you know like.

You gotta you gotta put in the Reps. 

Dan: [00:33:56] You know, it sounds so simple, but it’s true. There are many things. The world which take practice in order to get good at them just like the work itself. You know, the funny thing is if. I think we mostly sort of understand that if you want to get good at making songs or making Graphics or writing or Etc.

You got to you got to practice you have to do it over and over. Well, we should understand that. It’s the same with overcoming self-doubt like the thing. We’re talking about detaching your identity from your work. It is not enough to tell you that and then you go. Oh good. I’ll just switch the I’ll just flip the big red switch that says identity connected to work.

And then I’m fine for the rest of my life know the thing I was talking about like Steven pressfield’s book The War of art me incorporated pressfield has been collecting rejection letters for longer than either you or I have been alive. Like the reason he’s able to so effectively disassociate himself from his work as practice, you know, and it’s what it’s going to take for the rest of us to you know, the same someone telling you, you know, you need to disconnect your identity from your work is like someone telling you how to deadlift 500 pounds.

Like telling you how to deadlift 500 pounds that what they’re telling you is probably correct. That doesn’t mean you can go deadlift 500 pounds. You got to start by deadlifting like 50 pounds first and slowly work your way up to it. Same thing here. It always sounds like a simplification like, oh, it can’t be as simple as just picking up a barbell or sitting down and writing every day.

But bad news it is. 

Ben: [00:35:44] Or good news. 

Dan: [00:35:46] Well, yeah, the bad news was meant ironically, you know, because for the people that want there to be a big red switch I do I wish there were I wish there was a thing where I could just go boom. I never I never experienced self-doubt anymore, but nope. It’s not how it works.

Ben: [00:36:01] Yeah, I still feel a little bit unsatisfied with that though because. I wonder I wonder if it can’t be a little bit of both because I’m thinking about the person who. Is hearing that? and. and for some of us, maybe that’s enough. Maybe that’s like okay. It’s just going to be uncomfortable and I can do it.

But I think there are still people who need. They need you know like that.

They need the they need the push they need. The shot of adrenaline they need they need something to get them just a step closer to taking action so they can fall into that pattern. and. so I’m just wondering if there’s something there I had I did have another story that I wanted to share related to Self Doubt and it’s actually.

Has more to do with a lack of Self Doubt, and I don’t know. I don’t know if I would call this arrogance or overconfidence. You can maybe you can be the judge of that as I share the story but 

Dan: [00:37:22] Okay. 

Ben: [00:37:23] I. 

Dan: [00:37:24] I’ll judge you don’t 

Ben: [00:37:24] Great, I recorded and released a documentary. a couple of years ago. and. I had never made a documentary film before.

I knew I wanted to I wanted it to be a short film. So I did you know, I was like about 40 minutes and. And so but I had never done something at that scale before. I had never collaborated with people on a large video project. But when. When the story was presented to me. I knew that I wanted that story to be told.

I had had a lot of experience. I’ve been doing a lot of logging at had a lot of experience storytelling. In and through a video medium. I had done a lot of interview style footage with with businesses making. I’m promotional videos and that kind of thing. So like I knew I knew how to do all of the things that I would need to do in order to make.

Documentary, I just never done that specific type of video before. But I don’t remember feeling maybe with the exception of like having some uncertainty about how I was going to put the story together. I don’t remember feeling. a sense of Self Doubt. I. I remember having a lot of clarity about what I wanted the end result to look like.

I remember having a lot of clarity about what the story was going to mean to people. And and how powerful that story was going to be. I remember having a sense of clarity about the the subject of the documentary and and feeling like I really wanted to make sure that that her voice was being heard.

And so I I think I think the thing that really helped me was that I was so connected to things that were not my own ego. But it kind of distracted me from those voices that would have would have come in and said hey, do you do you even really know what you’re doing here? Because I’d honestly I didn’t I’d like.

I had no business saying yeah, I’m going to make this documentary. I’m going to direct the whole thing. I’m going to organize these people. I’m going to work with this this company and ask them for the resources that I need. I’m going to I’m going to I’m going to ask people for money to help fund it.

Like I did all of those things without thinking about like with without the thought coming into my mind of are you really up to this task? Like I didn’t I didn’t feel a sense of that at all. And I don’t know that that was arrogance as much as it was I was I was so distracted by. Other things that my ego didn’t really have a chance to offer a voice to the process.


Dan: [00:41:06] That’s a that’s a great. Okay, that’s a great story because there’s it’s very interesting to explore. I want to I want to jump right into. How we Define our terms because I want to make sure we’re real careful when we use terms like arrogance. So, let me let me be boring dictionary guy for a minute.

Arrogant adjectives having or revealing an exaggerated sense of One’s Own importance or abilities. Okay. Now is that good or bad? We’re going to come back to it. Here’s another word confidence. The feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something. Or a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of One’s Own abilities or qualities now, I’m real interested in that word an appreciation of One’s Own abilities.

Ben: [00:42:05] Yeah. 

Dan: [00:42:06] That is an accurate assessment. So. Confidence and then we talk about overconfidence we talk about, you know, I don’t usually use the term under confidence, but I think that’s you know, what self-doubt means either way. You’re mistaking your abilities, but there’s a difference when you’re in that situation.

If you were doubting yourself, you’d be thinking about what you’re capable of. But what you described you were not thinking? I’m the best documentary filmmaker that’s ever lived. I’m the next Ken Burns. And therefore I’ll make this documentary. The fact is you weren’t thinking about your capabilities at all.

It sounds like so this whole idea of you know, am I being realistic am I being arrogant? Do I have confidence? Do I not? Is almost sort of a non-issue in that case what it reminds me of is when people talk about the psychological concept of flow, you know, this this idea from like Optimal Performance wear.

And it really is about like your ego dissolving in a way like your sense of self kind of goes away for a while and you were just completely immersed in the thing you’re doing right this this magical state. People may or may not be able to relate to you know, probably have had like a taste of it at one time or another.

But that’s very different from arrogance. Okay for starters, but the other thing about but then the other thing about arrogance, you know, let’s go back to that go back to that definition. It’s like. An exaggerated sense of One’s Own importance or abilities split that down the middle an exaggerated a sense of an exaggerated sense of importance is obviously a problem because that’s going to lead you to the you know, it’s going to influence how you relate to other people.

That’s what we mean. When you say that someone’s arrogant and you mean they think they’re better than everyone else. There’s a difference between people that guy thinks he’s better at basketball than everyone. And that guy thinks he’s better than everyone those neither of those is good unless it’s like King James and then it’s probably warranted right in the one case but like one of those is a lot more damaging than the other just thinking that you’re better at like some specific task than other people is not as bad as you thinking.

You are a better person. right, so. Let’s see if we’re talking if we’re going to talk about whether you should perhaps be a little arrogant or not. Let’s first we’re discarding the definition of arrogant the means you think you’re better than other people all were talking about is how do you think about your own capabilities?

And now we get to the point where we can say is it when you’re when you’re doubting whether you can do something should you err on the side of arrogance? Or self-doubt. 

Ben: [00:45:15] Yeah and said this is this is a question. We touched on earlier in the episode and I find it really interesting because. I feel like it’s it’s a waste of time to to try to get to.

Like the the reality of your capabilities to really try to calculate that. I think his is inefficient takes away from your ability to act and. the consequences of self-doubt end up being things like you’re not taking action or if you do something you’re not putting your whole self into it people can sense your lack of confidence and that creates its own set of problems.

Dan: [00:46:09] Well, let’s let’s jump into some of those problems just quickly. Talking about things like missing opportunities people having a negative perception of you or your brand or things like that right a lack of trust 

Ben: [00:46:21] Yeah, and. and then on the side of arrogance. I wonder if. you know though there are consequences.

Like people are turned off by arrogance. Like who does who’s that person think they are.

There’s the potential that you make promises that you can’t deliver on. That’s bad. That’s a bad for business.

But but I feel like arrogance and more cases leads to action then self-doubt does and I’m not I’m not saying we should all be arrogant. But I’m saying if you’re and I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to even use the word arrogant, but. 

Dan: [00:47:20] Can I can I suggest a different word that I think captures it captures what you mean without the negative connotations?

I want to let’s go from the letter A to the letter b and talk about boldness being bold. 

Ben: [00:47:34] Yeah. 

Dan: [00:47:37] Right big it because I think we should I like I’m not saying we should all be arrogant. No sure we shouldn’t be arrogant, but I will say that we should all be bold. 

Ben: [00:47:47] Yeah, so so boldness. But is definitely more positive.

I just I see that leading to more action. And if you if you are the kind of person who struggles from self-doubt there, there’s probably also along with that some some fair amount of humility and humility is is a great thing. Because it humility gives you the ability to. to do something great. and and not to.

And it you do something great, and it doesn’t. Cause you to to be arrogant and to think that you’re better than other people it just like you it does kind of in a way detach your ego from the work that you do in a in a positive way. So if you’re if you’re bold, but also the kind of person who has humility.

Then I think you get away with. Taking action when you don’t maybe you don’t really know what you’re doing. Maybe you haven’t figured out what you need to to Merit your ability to do that. But your humble enough that when you do encounter roadblocks, you do make mistakes. You can ask for help. You can admit where you were wrong.

You can make adjustments. Like all of all of those things are things that you can do. Once you’ve taken action, you know, like you can’t you can’t change course or fix things or apologize for things that you haven’t done. And I think we’re self-doubt is really so harmful is is how much it keeps us from taking action.

And so I feel like if if you are going to land on one side or the other. I think it’s better, especially if you’re a person who struggles from self-doubt. I think it’s better to fall on the side of. Boldness when it comes to taking action, maybe you don’t feel that way. But but acting as if you’re bold acting as if.

And I said I said in my notes to you fake it till you make it. Which is which is not. Like just because it Rhymes doesn’t mean it’s right. 

Dan: [00:50:38] Is that is that the is that the case been II thought that because it Rhymes no II was. Then when he brought that phrase up that it it’s a red flag for me because this is what I think or will came coined this term which I love thought terminating cliche where it’s the kind of thing that you’re so familiar with that when someone says fake it till you make it you just find yourself smiling and nodding but you don’t really think critically about what that means but I think the bigger problem with the phrase fake it till you make it is the same with the problem of arrogance like.

There are lots of different words to describe similar things they exist for a reason and you have to be careful which ones you use because they have all different connotations. And again, like fake it till you make it can be badly interpreted to mean like defraud people so that you can become more successful than you actually are right, but that of course isn’t what we’re talking about the thing we you just described it’s a middle path between two.

Different like opposite but equal e-. courses of courses of action or ways of being like on the one hand you are arrogant and either you do things that you’re not capable of but but you know you lie cheat and steal about your abilities. Let’s say or maybe you are. Genuinely great at something but because you also have such an inflated sense of your own abilities, you turn everyone off and push them away because of the way you behave when there are lots of examples in popular culture of people like that.

However on the other hand and this is who were talking to on this episode just like what I just described as bad, but what’s equally bad is being so. Having such a Negative view of yourself having such an unrealistic lie, low opinion of your capabilities that you know, well, honestly, you might still turn people off.

I’ll come back to that in a second, but you know more realistically the people, you know, if you’re tuning in and this is resonating with you. It’s because you are you’re not you’re not doing the things you want to do. You’re not making the connections you want to make you’re not developing the relationships that you want to develop because you are just never letting yourself put things out into the world.

You know and to be honest, I know on the other side just you know, the one last kind of point because you brought up humility. I think boldness plus humility really is like the killer combination here because here’s the thing with humility humility is not self-deprecation. There’s a there’s a thing that I’ve met people.

I’ve met people who have a behavior and I don’t think it’s their fault that they behave this way, but it drives me bananas where they cannot take a compliment. 

Ben: [00:53:37] Yeah. 

Dan: [00:53:38] Did you know what I mean? And like it’s clearly a reflex like if you say anything at all nice about them. They immediately go Oh, no.

No. No, it’s not, you know, or they say something bad about themselves where they end like on the one hand on the one hand like. 

Ben: [00:53:53] This is this is something I definitely have a habit of doing. And it’s kind of this deflection. 

Dan: [00:54:05] yes. 

Ben: [00:54:06] And it’s not it doesn’t always it’s Sneaky. It doesn’t always manifest itself as self-deprecation, but.

Like like with this this song that I got to work on recently. I shared it with somebody and they said this is this is really really good. And my response to that is yeah. I had I had a lot of fun making it as if as if to say that. because it was because it was fun. It was easy for me. And and that’s the only way I can justify the the time and the effort that I put into this when when really like I worked really hard on it.

You know and and it’s and. and the thing that does. To you, I think subconsciously is it keeps you from being able to it’s because it’s again, you know, like we’re not we’re not trying to have our identity wrapped up in our work. But it is important to appreciate.

Hard work. It’s important to appreciate the skill with which you do something like you were saying earlier like this appreciation for your ability to focus appreciation for your ability to work hard at something appreciation for the skills that you’ve gained over the years in the work that you’ve done like looking at those things and saying yeah.

Like this work is a result of of all of those things that I can appreciate about myself. and and when you deflect and you and you. Sorry, you know I’m chasing this Rabbit Trail, but but when when you can’t accept praise, it’s not it’s not about your identity being wrapped up in that work, but it’s about your lack of ability.

Except that you really did work hard and appreciate those things that are true about yourself. 

Dan: [00:56:24] Yeah, you don’t need to apologize because it’s a bit of a tangent, but I think it actually ties in very nicely because you know, some people say that if you you have to be able to not ignore, but you have to be able to take both criticism and praise and not let not let yourself rely on either of them.

You know people talk about like this is something that Gary Vee talks about a lot about something like he can’t hear the Boos and he can’t hear the cheering either like he is just heat like he knows what he’s doing and people either like it or they don’t but he doesn’t let himself identify with either the hate or the praise and.

Okay, I think I think that that is that is a very good mental model for being able to produce great work because that is that’s another definition of like not identifying with the results of your work. But just like Steven pressfield like Gary Vee is clearly, you know, a level 10 Ninja at this and most of us are not right.

So it’s not enough to just hear someone say that you can’t. You got to let the the hate roll off but and you also got to look the praise roll off. The thing we’re talking about though, I think is when people they can’t accept the praise but they do accept the criticism 

Ben: [00:57:46] Mmm. 

Dan: [00:57:47] and and honestly again, like I said, it’s not like these people are bad.

I think it’s a habit. I think you get in the habit of deflecting and it might even be something you are taught when you’re young maybe like you might have voices in your life that teach you that you’re not supposed to accept. Praise. 

Ben: [00:58:03] Yeah, or it’s modeled for you in some way. 

Dan: [00:58:06] Yeah, or it’s my exactly because there are a lot of people I think who think humility means not accepting praise.

That’s not what it means like humility means. Not like humility means honestly acknowledging your limitations. So when we talk about people being bold, but humble the Bold but humble person doesn’t go guys. I don’t know. I mean, I can’t really do this the Bold but humble person goes guys, you know what I got to be honest with you.

I’ve got some real doubts about whether we can pull this off, but we’re going to do it. Like that’s an end. The thing is that’s a person you can trust. Because they’re being honest right like unit. You can tell when a person behaves that way. There’s quickly Ashley’s asking in the chat room, but isn’t a lot of that socialization as you meant.

Yes. Yeah. Exactly. Yes toy it a hundred percent is Ashley. Like I said, I think it’s a habit like we are trained and we train ourselves and I’m going to I’ll give you I’ll give you a tip because honestly I’ve done this and it’s made a big difference over the years. When people give you a compliment.

Bite back on your immediate reaction. Take a deep breath and say, thank you. period. And it does however you think or feel about the compliment do not externalize. It just say thank you, maybe even this is more advanced level say thank you. I appreciate that now. Does that sound cheesy or corny or stupid or fake?

Let’s I’m going to go right back to fake it till you make it then do it anyway, because I got to be honest with you. Having like made myself do that for a long time. It starts to make a difference in how you actually feel. Like this really is a habit thing. If you stop deflecting compliments, you will start to find it easier to internalize them again not right away.

But it makes a difference. 

Ben: [01:00:13] So what’s what’s interesting is I was actually given. That same piece of advice. I really like 10 years ago. As it as it related to like playing and Performing music because I would we would get to the end of the show and you know, like got to the tables. We’re selling our CDs and Merchants stuff like that and people would come up and tell us about how much they appreciated the concert or how much they enjoyed a song or whatever and.

and it was it was always this like I don’t know what to say and and. A fellow musician friend of mine said you just you just say thank you. And that’s it and you leave it at that because anything else is actually you trying to take away from that person’s experience. And and you’re you’re taking your.

When you when you try to deflect that and you try to you know justify it somehow you’re actually taking something away from them that you’ve given them which is weird like to say say thank you and let them hold onto but let them hold onto it. So so there are two things. You know, I was I was talking earlier about like giving somebody the nudge they need to fall into this rhythm of action, you know taking action.

The shot in the arm if you will their two things. that I that I think can work and one of them has to do with with a lot of what we were just talking about and and it is Shifting shifting your focus or just really like making yourself think purposefully think about. Your. your ability to work.

your skills and and your focus and and appreciating those things and a appreciation is not just a feeling but it is in and of itself an action and it I think it’s something purposefully you can do when you. look back at anything you’ve done. You know and instead of being proud of that thing. Shift shift your pride and your appreciation from that thing you made to the work and the skill with which you made it.

so. so instead of instead of looking at my documentary for example and saying oh it’s. It’s such a great like like having thoughts and feelings about the documentary like it doesn’t matter what I think and feel about the documentary like my my thoughts and feelings about that specific piece of work are not the the thoughts and feelings that are going to give me the confidence to make the next thing but my thoughts about.

the hours of focused time I spent editing. And the thoughtfulness with which I I put together the questions and it’s like all of those pieces I can appreciate I can I can feel proud of that. That’s not the only way those things are on display is are like is in the finished work like the only reason that thing exists is because these other things were true.

And if I can focus on those things instead of the work itself, I focus on instead of the finished project, you know, I focus on those things that are true about myself. I think that kind of gives me a shot in the arm. 

Dan: [01:04:13] That’s really good. It also, you know, it’s you’re being a lot more fair to yourself because let’s say you put a hundred or a thousand hours into this project.

If the only thing you allow yourself to have any Pride or good feelings about as the project itself then if the project didn’t turn out the way you wanted now that thousand hours is you know, now the Thousand hours is just as bad as the whole project. And if the project turned out good now the Thousand hours is good.

That’s that’s not really being fair. Right? Like the thing to focus on is you poured a thousand hours into something. 

Ben: [01:04:49] Yeah. I don’t know if it was quite a thousand. 

Dan: [01:04:54] Well, I’m not saying that you actually spent with them. But this is what I mean 

Ben: [01:04:58] Yeah, no, I know. 

Dan: [01:04:59] on the amount of work that it took you to make something is an excellent tonic for for identifying too much with the finished product.

Ben: [01:05:09] Yes. And then and then the second will so I had this the second one just real quick is. is also a shift in Focus, it’s it’s. Yeah it in the same way. It’s a shift away from the finished work and what people will think and feel about it or or maybe maybe not so much what people will think of feel but it’s a shift away from like.

How good or bad or Worthy is this thing to exist? And I’m more of a focus on what is this going to mean to people? What is it going to do thinking thinking more about so like with with the documentary? One of my major goals that like the thing that was in my head the most was this idea that I wanted.

I wanted the story to exist. And I just happened to be the person who got to do that. But like I would I would feel just as content with somebody else doing that. But I like it. I I wasn’t I wasn’t going to to feel like I could rest until the story was told and. And then, you know, like people could take that and do whatever they wanted with it.

But that was I was I was so focused on that that. and I was also thinking about like I know what this story could mean for people. I know how this story could help people, you know, so like I was thinking about those things so much that it distracted me from. Making any value judgments about whether or not I was capable of or worthy of putting something like that out there.

And so I think that’s another that’s another thing that you can do for yourself to give yourself. Some momentum is is to think about the ultimate goal of that work. And what it’s going to mean to people? What it’s what it’s actually going to do and not as much about whether or not like style-wise.

It’s going to. be cool or interesting or whatever. Like is it? Is it going to accomplish the goal? And I know that can look different for you know different types of projects. but. But that might be you know, if like for your specific thing that might be one of the ways that you can give yourself some momentum.

Dan: [01:08:06] That’s good. We were you know, we touched on the topic of risk because I think that always comes up when we talk about fear and self-doubt and I have a quote and a tactic about risk that I want to share. But first we got some good questions from the community and I think we should go through them.

How’s that sound? 

Ben: [01:08:27] Yeah, sounds great. 

Dan: [01:08:29] All right, cool. First off Laura asked often self-doubt is linked with not starting and waiting to be ready. But how do you not let it get in the way once you have started? How do you avoid rationalizing self-doubt in order to quit? 

Ben: [01:08:46] Mmm. 

Dan: [01:08:48] It’s a good good question.

Right? I mean she’s talking about okay, you have started a project but now you’re halfway through. I think we touched on this a bit when we talked about pulling your punches right where this when when you’re halfway through a project the way self-doubt rears its ugly head might be that it stops you from finishing.

He says glancing at his unedited novel manuscript on his desk, but the other but the other thing that it might do is it might cause you to hold back, right? It might cause you to maybe not give your best effort because there’s this little voice going like on this probably isn’t going to be that good.

Maybe you shouldn’t really commit to it. 

Ben: [01:09:26] Yeah, so. and it sounds it sounds like something something allowed you something got you to take action to take those first steps, but then you kind of slipped back into. Making value judgments about the work as you’re going and it’s kind of like we were talking about earlier like as you’re making it your kind of cursing it in your head like oh, this is terrible.

This is the worst and I don’t think very many of us are immune from being able to as we’re making something make value judgments about it, you know, like it’s it’s it’s really difficult to detach yourself. But hopefully I think in many cases the momentum of starting and are you know in eight? Need to finish things can carry us through but if we find ourselves stuck.

I think we have to think about it as this is something that needs to be. restarted like. Look at look at the project as a whole and then think about where you are as one of the steps along the way and think okay for this step for for whatever reason like I’m back in the same place. I was when I first started the project mentally for this next step and I need to.

Do you know whatever it is you need to do? To take the next step and restart the machine and not think about it as like, oh, I’m stuck. Now. I’ve filled this entire project or I have to discard it and start it over or. but I think I think it’s helpful to think about it as like, okay, this is an opportunity to.

restart. two. To do those do those exercises or whatever I need to do to get myself to start taking action again. There’s no there’s no wrong place in your project to do that. Because you might you might find yourself. I think think the closer you get to the end the easier it is to. See it through but certainly like even there.

You’re just one step away from the Finish Line people get stuck there, too. 

Dan: [01:12:07] People get stuck there for you. Years. 

Ben: [01:12:09] Yeah. 

Dan: [01:12:11] You know, the the thing you’re talking about is all-or-nothing thinking right? It’s such an easy trap to fall into fall into it all the time where you know, you had this model in your head of how this project was going to go and as soon as it starts to not go that way you just think well, I guess I guess that’s failed done didn’t work can’t can’t do anything.

But what you I like the idea that you brought up of like. You know getting a project done. Maybe maybe doing a project is not starting it continuing it and finishing. It may be doing a project especially a big complicated one is starting it and doing some of it and then starting again and doing some of it and then starting again and then starting again and then starting again, right like you you might always have to you might always be falling back into that mindset of can I really do this?

Ben: [01:13:05] Yeah, it’s just a collection of starts. 

Dan: [01:13:10] Collection of starts. I like that. There’s a Laura had another question, which I think we can kind of tie into this one. There’s a there’s a common theme but at that way when to self-awareness morph into self-doubt, how do you spot the difference and keep it on the healthy side and I asked her to elaborate.

These are all questions that were asked before the show started. II was saying it seems to me kind of like self-awareness is the cure to self-doubt and she said you’re right they’re inherently different but I feel that such an such assessment can get twisted when you’re not used to being self-aware maybe a better way to put it is in the pursuit of self-awareness.

How do you not be led into self-doubt? Especially when you don’t seek an outside perspective the line between what’s realistic and unrealistic isn’t very clear and. You know, I think Laura fell into into the Trap of answering her own question because this is something we haven’t talked about yet been but I know you’d made the point in our notes before the show.

You can’t stay inside your own head. The problem is if you don’t seek an outside perspective and you’re falling back into self-doubt part of the problem is not seeking an outside perspective.

Ben: [01:14:31] Yeah, and and this is this is something that we did kind of talk about is. The sun analysis of self and trying to trying to get as realistic of picture as possible. And I think I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing that work. I think I think that’s important work to do self-awareness. If you’re if you’re talking about it as an asset in your ability to do things is having.

Having an objective realistic. perspective on your abilities. which you know, we’ve talked about also comes through taking action. And so like we, you know, we could chase that around the track all day long, but. but the thing that we get hung up on is we can’t. we can’t wait that like. We can’t afford to wait to take action until we’ve arrived at what we think is.

An accurate assessment of ourselves and and while I think it’s important to do that work and you it helps a lot to get outside. Opinions and ideas. Like I think it’s I think that can be a great asset for you to have but you can’t you can’t afford to wait for that to get started and part of achieving that is the action itself.

So so I would say like the the real trap is thinking that you can’t. take action and less you. An accurate sense of self. 

Dan: [01:16:20] Yeah, you know I almost wanted to drop a period earlier in that sentence. The real trap is thinking 

Ben: [01:16:27] Yeah. 

Dan: [01:16:28] you know more more realistically overthinking which we talked about a lot because you know, we we and we end all of our friends suffer from it to an enormous degree, I think.

You know, if you reach the point where you’re worrying about self-awareness turning into self-doubt you were probably mired in self-doubt. And you’re not and you’re not taking action right there when I was talking about this Laura said in the chat. I heard the untold uh at the end of that statement and like I’m sorry Laura, but but but I got to be honest.

There are certain types of questions where the fact that you’re asking the question is kind of the answer. 

Ben: [01:17:10] Know that that makes sense and you know, it’s I think it’s I think it’s good though to. To ask those questions out loud and to have them into you know, like 

Dan: [01:17:25] I 

Ben: [01:17:26] because. 

Dan: [01:17:26] won’t ask them of other people.

That’s because that’s getting out of your head. Right? Because you could sit there worrying about whether you’re mired in self-doubt or not. And you’re just going to spin around in circles. 

Ben: [01:17:40] yeah, and and Laura says something. Really insightful just now sometimes knowing the answer isn’t the answer though.

And that’s definitely the case here like it’s this isn’t. this idea of. you can’t you can’t overthink it? Can put you into like back into your head again, like okay. Well am I overthinking it you really do just have to choose to take action. You have to move forward on something and that that becomes the way that you get out of your head.

I’ve I kept thinking about it. Like I don’t want to bring this up like bragi or whatever, but I’m really excited that I have. gotten the courage to do backflips, right like. 

Dan: [01:18:35] I think I saw that on your Instagram. It was his most impressive. 

Ben: [01:18:39] But it really is this thing like I was I was kind of practicing going off to the side and doing it that way and as you do that, you can see where you’re going and stuff but like you can’t you can’t do a backflip without just like going for it.

and you just kind of you kind of have to trust that like. You’re going to end up in the right spot. So I got I got a little bit cocky with it and I had done it a couple of times on the trampoline and I thought you know, we have this mattress outside that one of my boys has been using to practice on his own because he’s like really good at it.

And I thought you know, I think I understand the mechanics I can do it and so I went for it and. And I spooked and I bailed and I ended up landing on my shoulder. It was terrible. It was the worst. And it’s butt. honestly like. Thinking back to it. I would have made it over. I’m it may not have been a pretty Landing.

But I would have made it over. 

Dan: [01:19:56] But you kind of you pulled your punch so to 

Ben: [01:19:58] I got into my head. And that just that messes up so much like. the minute the minute we pull it back into here. We stopped moving. And and it’s just so yeah, the takeaway is don’t bail on your back flips. 

Dan: [01:20:20] Yeah, don’t don’t bail on them.

Ben: [01:20:22] or maybe or maybe don’t do them without you know, a professional like that’s. Don’t do what I’m doing. 

Dan: [01:20:30] you know, but the all-or-nothing thinking comes in again where it’s like if you if there’s a perceived risk to something, you know, the answer is not to hurl yourself blindly into the Jaws. But the answer is also not to wait an eternity until you finally feel ready.

Right like the part, you know part of the reason that stuff like this and talking about it can be so frustrating, you know, like Laura said sometimes knowing the answer isn’t the answer like. It can be very frustrating to get a bunch of of advice that like you understand is correct. And then it doesn’t make any difference in your behavior.

I can’t tell you how frustrating this is to me. I have consumed a lifetime’s worth of knowledge and advice and understanding about how to for example finish creative projects and I still have a manuscript of a novel sitting right here on my desk that I haven’t touched in weeks. That’s very.

Frustrating but the difference between now and like a decade ago is that I have practice. Like dealing with the emotions that come from that frustration and when we’re talking about stuff like self-doubt, honestly, a lot of what we’re talking about is practice dealing with emotions. You’re not going to be able to turn the emotions off.

We talked about this earlier in the show. 

Ben: [01:21:54] Right. 

Dan: [01:21:54] But practice dealing with the makes a big difference. There’s a couple more questions. I want us to touch on because they’re interesting and we’ve already been going for like six hours Mary Ali asked how do you push past self-doubt when you’re stepping into a new creative leadership role and the message you’re getting from everyone around you is that you have to prove yourself now, this is interesting because now we’re talking about some external pressures.

In addition to the internal ones. 

Ben: [01:22:24] Yeah. Yeah, it’s tough. I mean because. That’s that’s a real thing like. It’s it’s hard enough dealing with your own self criticism. But when when you’ve got that plus. What’s coming from other people? It’s almost as if they’re validating. Like like they’re saying you should doubt yourself.

Dan: [01:22:54] Yeah, there’s a real there is a real aspect to when people say, you know, like cut negativity out of your life cut those negative voices out because they have they have the effect of amplifying what’s already going on in your head, you know to put to put it another way. Thanks, but I don’t need any more criticism right like it.

Like I’ve already got all the criticism I need right here. Pointing to my skull, you know, but if you’re in this position like Mary Lee says, you know, she’s stepping stepping into I assume she’s talking about herself stepping into a leadership role and the message you’re getting from everyone around is you have to prove yourself.

You can’t you know, you don’t want to just say okay, you know, forget you guys I’m leaving. But I think I think it’s important to remind yourself. You’re not alone though. It’s not just you against this horde of antagonists. At least it probably isn’t so there’s two things to do. recruit support who were the support of voices in your life.

Hopefully you have some if you don’t have any then you know, there’s a separate discussion to be had about finding them. Among other things the questions were reading come from the Shawn West Community and that is a great place to get support but. If there’s if it’s natural to like go into a work situation and have people demand things of you who are the people in your life that will prop you up, you know, like like if you can come to those people, maybe it’s friends.

Maybe it’s family. Maybe it’s a community some other community you belong to. If you can come to them and say hi, you know what the people at work are they’re saying they want this and I got to be honest. It makes me really unsure that I can deliver. Okay? Well, it’s natural to feel that way. Now everyone around you can give you a more honest assessment of your abilities now, but there’s a second part even the people who are telling you you have to prove yourself.

Your relationship with them obviously could be a bunch of different things. But a lot of the time we overestimate. How sorry we underestimate how forgiving people are and we underestimate that like other people want us to win. So again, if you if you’re in at this, especially if this is like a job, there are plenty of really toxic environments where there are people that just like they don’t they don’t want to help you.

And you should get out of those environments but most environments aren’t like that. The fact of the matter is if the people if the message you’re getting from everyone around you is you have to prove yourself. Honestly, that’s a natural message to get if you knew somewhere, especially if you go in somewhere and everyone else they’re already has their own culture and they already know what they want to accomplish and what they’re capable of.

There is a certain period during which they need you to prove to them that you will help them with that but a that isn’t going to last forever it it’s again if it’s not a toxic situation, like eventually you will show people what you’re capable of and they will appreciate you for those capabilities.

The other part of it is again, like. In general you were probably not like a child being raised in ancient Sparta who must learn to fight or die. It is likely that the people who want you to prove yourself have relatively reasonable expectations of you probably more reasonable than what you expect of yourself.

I’ve been in this situation a lot where like, especially when I was younger and less confident when I would get jobs, you know, Someone would tell me to do something and I’d go away and it’s struggle and that struggle in its struggle and eventually I’d have to admit. You know what I just I don’t I don’t think I can do this and and they would go.

Well, hold on. I like I know like I know you can’t do that like you you graduated from University a year ago. I don’t expect you to be an expert at this and and I went oh. Because honestly I had been assuming that everyone expect I assumed that everyone had as high expectations of me as I had of myself.

Ben: [01:27:16] Ashley said something just know the harshest and the chassis. The harshest criticism is all in my own head talking about dealing with clients and and and I wonder so without knowing. some of the specifics, you know, like. another another thing I would say to is. If you were hired or something.

Then the people who made the decision to do that. In most cases wouldn’t have done that unless they believed that you could meet their expectations. It would it would you know, it would be foolish to hire somebody that you didn’t think was going to be able to meet your expectations. So. so they they probably believe that maybe so maybe it’s a situation where like somebody hired you they believe in you.

But other people are skeptical because they don’t trust this person because this person is made bad hires in the pastor. Who knows. but what’s what I think in most cases is absolutely true is you. you are probably projecting some of your own self-doubt and self-criticism. And interpreting there.

Words and actions in some way through that lens and that’s not to say that there isn’t you know, like like you said Dan legitimate toxicity in some workplaces, but. I think it’s it’s helpful to be aware of that whether you can overcome that and not feel that way. You know, like that’s another thing but it even sometimes just being aware of it.

Helps you to to say okay. I just like even though I don’t feel like what I’m doing is good enough. I’m just going to do the work. I’m just going to appreciate that I can sit down and I can do the work. I’m just going to I’m just going to you know, I’m going to show up and then I’m just going to have to trust the process.

Dan: [01:29:30] Yes, and I want to lean. I just a wrap this one up. I want to lean against that idea that you’re not alone like. It is it is difficult to over communicate. It’s more likely to under communicate than over-communicate. And the fact is if you feel like you’re you’re not sure if you’re like in a work situation or any kind of relationship if you’re not sure what the people’s expectations are ask them.

Ben: [01:30:01] Yeah. 

Dan: [01:30:02] know be honest about your insecurities like it again. It’s so easy, especially when someone you know, If it’s if it’s a job and and like your boss or your boss’s boss or someone, you know seems like they have more Authority than you and they tell you something it’s very easy to think that you’re in the military and that you have to say how high I think because they asked you to jump or something.

I can’t remember but but that’s not the case. You know, like if you are unclear about what you should be doing or what is expected of you. Ask and if someone says here’s what I expect and you’re not a hundred percent sure that you can do it. It’s okay to communicate that because again, like you don’t you’re probably projecting you’re probably assuming things about what other people want and need from you and that’s very dangerous.

It is much better to ask people to be clear about what they want and need from you that’s going to give you a much more accurate representation of. How what’s expected of you aligns with what you can do and that goes a long way to curing your self-doubt. 

Ben: [01:31:14] Yeah. That that the the communication thing is huge.

That’s huge. 

Dan: [01:31:23] And you know as Shawn says on the on the podcast whenever he gets fiery, he’s talking to his past self and similarly. This is something that this is a lesson that I need desperately to learn myself like again, it’s I can tell it to you and yet. It’s very very hard to internalize. It’s hard to overcome one’s tendency, you know to live in your head.

Ben: [01:31:46] Yeah. 

Dan: [01:31:48] There’s there’s a last question here. That’s Auntie asked. And end it bear it Bears on kind of everything that we’ve been talking about is experience and adversity the best way to learn or can we actually learn from others mistakes? on the surface that it seems kind of like an unrelated question, but.

But I don’t think it is because everything we’re talking about there is that sort of undercurrent of self-doubt is telling you I can’t I can’t do this and we’re telling you that the solution to the self-doubt is to do it. Well, okay that’s going to be hard. Right it takes practice you need experience you’re going to face adversity.

So you know what Santa is asking kind of. Kind of reads like do I have to like do we really do we have to face adversity or can we learn from others mistakes? I think I actually think you know, it’s a bit of a false dichotomy. You can absolutely learn from other people’s mistakes and arguably you should learn from other people’s mistakes as much as possible because it’s going to save you time and energy right like.

For most things you do not have to invent them from scratch and it’s never been easier to access this repository of other people’s experiences. So absolutely learn from other people’s mistakes. However, this is one of those times I deploy the phrase necessary but not sufficient. It’s not sufficient to just learn from other people’s mistakes because at some point you’re going to have to experience the things yourself and if you think that you can negate all risk and avoid all adversity because you have been a good enough student of other people.

I got some bad news for you. This touches on what we talked about in the last episode where we you know, we were talking about what would it take to actually go out there and make things and how a lot of the time gathering information feels productive, but it’s not actually productive. It’s a way of avoiding being productive.

Ben: [01:33:58] I was I was going to say the time and energy that you put into avoiding making mistakes is making you slow. 

Dan: [01:34:09] That’s good. Yeah. 

Ben: [01:34:10] People people who and I’ve when I saw that question, I was like, I don’t I don’t know really the answer that question. Like is it a personality thing because. because I feel like some people seem to go through life and do a pretty decent job of like being like Oh, yeah.

I saw what happened to that person. I’m not going to do that. And some people and I’m kind of like pointing fingers at myself seem to say well, maybe you’ll be different for me, you know and like. But but I feel like the focusing too much on that question. Keeps you ultimately just keeps you from taking action.

And I think the people who don’t concern themselves with whether or not they’re going to make. You know like yeah, we don’t want to make catastrophic mistakes. But like any kind of mistake is going to be uncomfortable to some degree and in the people who have a high tolerance for that discomfort and just go for it.

We’ll make more mistakes than the person who is very thoughtful and calculated. But in the same amount of time they’re going to be so much further down the road. And and that’s and that’s something that you I think is more painful and more uncomfortable is getting to a certain point in your life and realizing that your concern over whether or not you were going to make mistakes.

Slowed you down and kept you from reaching. Your fullest potential. I don’t like that phrase either but you know what? I mean like. 

Dan: [01:36:03] No, II know what you mean and not because I’ve been there probably a lot of us have been there can relate to that that that if you take a real clear-eyed look at the 10 years or 20 years or however long that you spent just reading books and trying to prepare yourself for the day that you would finally do your thing.

You realize that that’s an awful lot of time. You spent a not doing your thing and be not actually becoming all that prepared.

So I want to end on the note of risk. And then we could probably wrap it up and I’m going to bring in something tactical that I like a lot. 

Ben: [01:36:44] Okay. 

Dan: [01:36:45] It comes from Tim Ferriss who’s fairly well-known author. He did a Ted Talk on this the Ted Talk is called why you should Define your fears instead of your goals.

And it is a tactic that he describes. It’s in it’s in the book The 4-Hour Work week and it’s also on his blog and we’ll drop a link in the show notes. And in the chat. It’s an exercise. He calls fear setting and it is a it is a very practical and logical exercise that involves. Breaking down a thing that you would like to do, but you’re not doing it because you’re scared or you doubt yourself and writing down the worst-case scenarios.

And being real honest about it being real honest about the worst-case scenarios and then accompanying them with if this happens like what will the outcome be for me? How will I deal with it? How long will it take to deal with and so so and and this this is incredibly powerful what this does is it breaks vague nebulous fears into which you can only think about emotionally like will I be a failure or if I quit my job and travel the world which I think was kind of Tim’s original example, will I die in a ravine somewhere in the wilderness and.

Turns it into something you can think about with the logical part of your brain. And so just as an example there there’s real things in there. Like if I try to do this thing and I, you know, don’t if I try to start a business and I don’t make any money, you know it and you can you can come come up with real scenarios.

Like I might have to declare personal bankruptcy what happens if I do that? And then you can go to you can go do research because declaring bankruptcy is a real thing and you might find out that like I’m going to have these I’m going to have these problems. I’m going to have you know these limitations on like my ability to get credit.

How long is it going to last? Well there aspects of bankruptcy last about seven years. Okay. Well, what’s going to what’s my life going to look like if that happens? Okay, and then finally like what are the probabilities? Like what do I think what’s my best guess at some kind of probability that this will happen.

You know, like if you go if you go out camping in the Backwoods, you might get eaten by a bear. But what is the actual likelihood of that outcome and maybe you don’t know and then you can go. 

Ben: [01:39:20] Yeah, and and then yeah and then you and then you get to think more clearly about. The different ways that you can mitigate the risk.

Dan: [01:39:33] Yeah, exactly. 

Ben: [01:39:34] Which you can’t do in the emotional headspace. The only tools you have there are fight and flight.

Or freeze write this 

Dan: [01:39:50] those are the three. Yeah, none of them are good, though. 

Ben: [01:39:53] No those aren’t this hurt. 

Dan: [01:39:56] They’re all terrible. 

Ben: [01:39:58] Yeah, I mean, you know, so like those tools those tools work well for certain situations. But not ones that you’re likely to find yourself in and when you get into The Logical side of things you’ve got there’s so many there’s there’s so many more tools available to you there.

I like that. 

Dan: [01:40:21] Yeah, I do too. Especially the thing of turning a big nebula sphere into a. Rational fear. I mean I could do a whole episode about risk and maybe we will someday but I have a quote about risk that I’m going to use to end the show. It’s from Niccolo Machiavelli who is probably best known for writing a book called The Prince that is probably best known for having little bits of it quoted out of context by FX Traders and other such people but I really really like this quote it goes like this.

All courses of action are risky. So Prudence is not in avoiding danger, which is impossible but calculating risk and acting decisively make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth develop develop the strength to do bold things not the strength to suffer. Which which I think he kind of took our whole to our episode and summed it up in like 20 words.

So that’s why he’s still famous hundreds of years later and we are not. 

Ben: [01:41:31] That’s great. You text that to me. 

Dan: [01:41:35] I will it’s real good. Yeah, you can I and again for other people that I can’t reach by text message. I will put it in the show notes. You want to wrap things up Ben? 

Ben: [01:41:49] Dan where can people go to find Us online.

Dan: [01:41:52] That’s a good question. You can go to Sean where you will find all the great shows. I might be stealing that phrase from someone else. I hope they don’t mind but we got lots of shows there. We’ve got courses and we’ve got the community you go to Sean You can sign up for Shawn West membership, which is a great way to.

Not just hang out with us live while we record these shows. But you also get access to all of our courses which includes 30 days to better writing which we just went through as a community in October and it was epic. I think I read forty four thousand words over the course of the month. 

Ben: [01:42:28] Oh, that’s awesome.

Dan: [01:42:30] It’s I’m still my hands are still tired from typing. We’ve got 30 days to better writing. We’ve got a great course called presale profits which Sean did live earlier in the year in which currently is not for sale. It’ll be going on sale next year, but if you become a member you get access to that right now and that’s all about.

Creating your first digital product and making sure that that it will make you money before you’ve even made it. It’s a it’s an amazing course, it’s great. So go to Sean become a member. We’d love to have you in the community been where can people find you online. 

Ben: [01:43:07] You can find me at bental and I’m also at bent Olsen on all the things and what about you working?

They find you Dan? 

Dan: [01:43:15] If you like what I have to say, you can find more of it at DJ and I am at DJ Jacobson author on at least some of the things. 

Ben: [01:43:26] Good show sir. 

Dan: [01:43:27] Good show sir.

Ben: [01:44:11] All right. 

Dan: [01:44:12] I feel so. Good to have that music back. It’s not the same without it. 

Ben: [01:44:17] It really isn’t. Yeah, I and see him. I’ve got a little bit of a conundrum to. I can’t remember if I talked about this in the previous show that you and I did together, but I had set my iPad up which is where I have all of the music and sound bites and stuff like that.

I’d set it up as a separate monitor. And I was mirroring my Mac display so that I could put you into the teleprompter and I could actually talk to my camera, but see your face at the same time. So it’s like. It’s like I was looking at you but I was looking directly into my camera is going to be beautiful setup all ready to go for when we do video.

Eventually. That’s one of my goals or for the shows that you and I do together. 

Dan: [01:45:10] Yeah, 

Ben: [01:45:10] But then if I use the iPad for that, I don’t have it for the soundboard and you know, it’s like what do I do? So I’m just going to have to buy another iPad I guess. 

Dan: [01:45:19] I think that’s an easy decision actually because the said the soundboard is is key sound board is life.


Ben: [01:45:26] Yep, we’re going to have to. You and I are going to have to come up with some sound bites and stuff that we can use and and I know that you edit the show is right.

Dan: [01:45:41] do. Yes. 

Ben: [01:45:42] Yeah, and and for those of you who are listening live. Anytime you hear something that Dan or I say that you think oh, that should be a sound bite. Just you know, let us know what will make it happen. 

Dan: [01:45:57] Call it out in the chat. It’ll it’ll happen. I’ve actually started a collection since I started editing the podcast of little little sound bites that I’ve extracted and I’ve got some pretty good ones, so I don’t really know what system you and Sean use to.

Immortalize the sound bite on the iPads. You can just hit a button and hear about how you like cowboy boots and various other things. But but we got to get some new ones fresh fresh blood 

Ben: [01:46:23] Yeah, because this is all I got.