I Have A Secret To Tell You... | E53 | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "I Have A Secret To Tell You... | E53".


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Introduction (00:00)

I tested positive for the coronavirus, and that is why you didn't hear from me last week. I said I was going to do this podcast every single Monday. We got off to a bit of a rocky start because during last week's podcast, I actually had the virus, and I didn't know. It turns out my PA had the virus, my cameraman who's over there also had the virus. My whole team around me tested positive for the virus at the same time, and none of us knew. In terms of the experience that I had with the virus, I had one or two tricky days. There was one day in particular last week where I had mild flu symptoms, and then I started to get this really bizarre muscular pain in my back. I remember it being 3 or 4 a.m. in the morning, and I'm lying in bed thinking, "How do I stop this pain in my back?" I ordered ibuproofen, and I think painkillers on delivery, which were delivered to my door at 4 a.m. That night, I remember pulling my pillows off my bed and sleeping on the floor of my bedroom to try and straighten out my back. Weird symptoms to get, I know. That's the virus. The symptoms are so unpredictable and crazy. My assistant lost her taste and smell, which is quite a popular one. Jack had a bunch of cold symptoms and things like that as well, but thankfully, we all recovered, and that isn't always the case. A lot of people, especially people, are a little bit more vulnerable, and have pre-existing conditions aren't always that lucky. But it made me reflect. It made me reflect on the craziness of the world right now. Isn't it nuts? Isn't it absolutely bonkers what's happened over these last seven or eight months? All of the lockdowns, all of the restrictions, the travel restrictions, the redundancies, the battles, the political battles. It's absolutely crazy. It's been the most crazy seven months of my life without exception. And hard times, as much as they suck in the moment, they teach us important lessons. And there's some lessons which I've learned more starkly than others, which I wanted to talk about today. The things that I've been writing about here in my diary. And I'm going to start there this week. I'm going to share one of the key lessons that I've learned with you. So without further ado, I'm Stephen Bartlett, and this is the Dyer over CEO. I hope nobody is listening. But if you are, then please keep this to yourself. Okay, so the first thing in my diary this week is just a lesson that I've learned because of this pandemic and because of all the restrictions and the lockdowns, I've just written in my diary, learn how to contrast in the right direction.

Life Lessons And Self-Reflection

The first lesson this pandemic has taught me (02:22)

Let me explain what I mean. You know, I had this moment this week where I started really thinking about all of the things that I miss. And to be honest, I keep slipping back into these thoughts. You know, in the UK and in the US at the moment, what we're seeing is the government start to talk about further restrictions and returning to the lockdowns that we had in March. And every time I hear these stories and I go on Twitter and I see the headlines, I start to reminisce over my old life. And I miss going to the theater. I miss how fun my weekends with my friends used to be. I miss, you know, as a big Manchester United fan, I miss going to Old Trafford and watching my team play. I miss New York City, which is where I lived before all of this craziness happened and before they shut the borders and stopped me getting back in. I miss speaking on stage. I used to travel around the world, speaking to thousands of people in every corner of the globe. Being in the office with hundreds of our team members, building the business together, I miss my old life. But I'm sure, I'm sure that many of you listening to this have reminisced over your old life and the things that you miss in the last few weeks and months. Pretty, you know, unavoidably. And typically, when we do this in a more subconscious way without really thinking about it, we arrive at a place of sadness, a place of self-pity, a place of grief. At least I know I did, you know. And I almost, honestly, this is kind of embarrassing to admit, you'll understand why I think this is embarrassing now that I say it, I almost started feeling sorry for myself. And this, for the love of God, is why you have to interrogate your own thinking. And let me just interrogate exactly what I've just said to you about all of the things I miss. And let me try and refrain all of those things through another perspective. When this global pandemic happened, I was a 27-year-old guy who was able to go to the theatre, go to all traffic and watch my favourite team play, whenever I wanted to. I lived in a beautiful apartment in New York City, eating at the best restaurants in the world, travelling around the world in business class, getting paid to speak to thousands of people on stage whilst running a global business that was full of my friends. The thing that took me from that is a global pandemic which has killed over a million people. And it's devastated people's livelihoods. It stripped them of their generational family businesses and it plunged them into desperation. Right now, many people can't even pay the bills, feed their kids. Many people can't even bear the thought of their future. Meanwhile, all of my family are healthy. I have work. I have freedom. I can feed myself. Right now, there are more people than ever praying for the family, praying for the health, praying for the opportunities and praying for the life that I have right now and that you have right now. And when you start to think about it like that, it changes things. And if you think about it like that, you'll probably arrive at the conclusion that 2020 shouldn't make you feel sorry for yourself. It should make you feel so unbelievably grateful. And this is the power of contrast. When you contrast your life in the wrong direction, you can make yourself miserable like I did. You know, I was on the verge of wallowing in self-pity because I couldn't go to the theatre anymore because I couldn't go to Old Trafford and watch my... because I didn't get on business class flights and get to fly to every corner of the world. Even fucking privileged fuckers like me can make the mistake. Right? So I can't imagine how easy it is to make this mistake for everybody else. When you contrast your life up as I was doing to the life you had back in March to someone more fortunate than you, to someone that's prettier than you on Instagram or to someone that looks more successful than you from the outside, you'll quickly arrive at a place of self-pity and ungratefulness, which is the quickest way to un-happiness. But if you contrast your life down to the billions and billions of people that would do anything to be in your shoes, that would do anything to have the health of their sick parents back, to have a warm home, to have a fridge full of food, to have a secure job, then you'll arrive at Gratitude and honestly Gratitude in my life has been one of the best ways I've ever known to be happy. The world we see and how we see it is a direct result of contrast and the contrast games that you play every day. If you stroll through the corridor of a hospital and you peer into the wards and you peer in and look at the different patients, what you'll see is people sick and suffering and in some cases unfortunately dying and suddenly because of that contrast, you'll feel so grateful for your good health and I do this all the time. You know I had this problem a couple of years ago with one of my ears where I woke up one day and there was this faint ringing sound in my right ear and at first I thought it was nothing, I thought it would pass, but after two days my ear was still ringing. I'd go on Google, I'd Google it. Comes up as something called tinnitus or tinnitus, right? And I'm reading through these forums of people saying that they've had it for their entire lives, it came out of nowhere and it ruined their lives. It stopped them from sleeping, it made them depressed, it stopped them from focusing, it fundamentally changed their lives. And after 10 days of my ear just ringing non-stop, faintly I came to terms with the fact that I was going to have this for the rest of my life and I couldn't stop thinking about it because when your ears are always ringing it's hard to ignore, right? And I couldn't sleep properly and I started to worry. And in that moment after two weeks of one of my ears ringing I can't tell you how much I longed and wished for my normal hearing back, for just normal ears for that ringing to cease and it made me feel so ungrateful that it took an element where my ear would just ring constantly for me to suddenly feel grateful for my eyesight, my ears, the fact that I can walk, that I have 10 fingers, that I can think and that's the way that contrast work. The same applies for the technology in our lives. Those old Nokia brick phones were the best thing ever in a world that didn't have the iPhone in it. And your life right now in the midst of the pandemic in what month we in October is such an amazing privileged life in a world where you can't remember your old one, the one you had back in March. This year taught me that the grass will always look greener on the other side until you start watering the side that you're on right now and that's really all you can do. Contrasting up is just such a deadly sin that we all need to avoid, especially in moments like this. We all have to be aware, conscious and mindful of how we're contrasting because the world is a crazy place and there's no guarantee that it's not going to get crazy, right? And if you continue to contrast up your contrast yourself into depression and despair and misery and self-pity like I nearly did. Like I nearly did when I started reflecting on my old life and telling myself all of the things that I missed, not the things that I have. Having control of your contrast can fundamentally change the way you see the world. And if it can change the way you see the world, it can change how you feel. And if it can change how you feel, then it can change your life. Let's move on.

I have a secret to tell you (09:44)

I have a secret to tell you. And this is the second point of my diary this week. It's a secret that I only found out and started to deeply understand recently. When I say recently, I mean the last 24 months. It's a secret that I really started to understand, honestly, being completely honest with you, when I got rich. And when I got rich friends. And those rich friends pulled back a certain curtain and allowed me to see behind it. I'd always heard about this. I'd always heard that there's another curtain. I heard Joe Rogan did a podcast with Kevin Hart. And on the podcast, Kevin Hart talks about meeting Jeff Bezos and realizing that there's this other level, there's this other curtain which some people have access to. And the more wealthy that I got and the more wealthy people that started to surround me, I started to understand what Kevin Hart meant. And I started to understand what that secret is. Here is the secret. Access to information. And information itself. That is the real privilege in this world. That's the thing. If your rich parent gives you money, that's like them giving you a fish, right? But if they pull you into the family business and show you how it works, they're giving you a fishing rod. Money is efficient. Life and information is a fishing rod. And only one of those things will feed you for a lifetime. And when you get to the level that I'm at now and you have access to a new level of information, you're associating with a different level of person, you realize how much you didn't know before. And you didn't know because you don't know what you don't know. They are unknown unknowns. And so back then I was kind of naive. I just thought I knew everything. And where I'm at now, I started to wonder why no one told me this stuff, the stuff I know now about wealth and finance and about how these systems work. And you start to realize why the rich get richer and why the poor stay poor. Information and access to information. And obviously there's a ton of systemic issues which are controlling things. But for me, information and access to information is the single biggest one. When I made my first million, I started studying wealth, right? And I started studying investing in finance. And I started to get really obsessed with how I could turn the money I had into a lot more money. I started speaking to more millionaires and billionaires. I started spending more time with billionaires. And I got to see what I refer to to my close friends as money games. The games that they play and how they double, triple and quadruple their money just by having certain information. And this is information that most of us don't have. We aren't given. We aren't let in. We aren't allowed to see behind the curtain. And these are games that I never knew when I was broke. Games they didn't teach you or me in school. Games that really rich people have no incentive to teach you because they're too busy playing them. The people that sell money and those finance courses on Instagram, they aren't rich, right? They're selling you courses on Instagram. If they knew a better way to make money, they wouldn't be spending their time selling you courses on Instagram. But there's another level. There's another level of information, which is what I think Kevin Hart was referring to when he spoke about being able to peer in behind the curtain. And I'm going to really disappoint you here after what was probably one of the biggest build-ups that I've ever done on this podcast because I don't have enough time in the hour or so that we have on this podcast to teach you everything that I've come to learn. And to be honest, even if I did, I don't think that's the most valuable thing that I could give you in this hour that we have together today, just like money is a fish, right? Me telling you today's information is also a bit of a fish because things change quite quickly in the world. And even if I could tell you everything I knew now about money games, it would at some point expire. It would very quickly change. I think the most valuable important fishing rod that I could give you in this hour is in fact a change of mindset. I think if I can get you to realize that your monetary future value and how rich you'll be in your life is perhaps somewhat equal to the value of the information you have in your brain, then maybe, maybe, just maybe, you'll start to value information and learning and the pursuit of knowledge even more. And in the world we live in, we all have access to the same information pretty much. But most of us still don't understand the true value of it. One of the greatest privileges I think I could ever give to my future kids is to teach them the value of learning, gaining experience, acquiring information and self-education, which is something we can all do now because we all have Google, right? We all have the internet. We all have social media. We all have YouTube. You know, you're doing it right now. Some of you that are watching this online. I think we tend to overvalue short-term financial incentives and undervalue learning opportunities which will give us that long-term value advantage. And all of the young people and even some of the slightly old people that I get a chance to be more instrumental, this is one of the key lessons I try and teach them, is to be able to spot short-term value from long-term value. And I'm going to go off-peace just a little bit here and I'm going to tell you a bit of a personal story that happened to me actually quite recently. And this podcast is the home of the truth. So make sure you do keep this to yourself. I had a young person in their early 20s asked to come and work with me. And when I say work with me, I don't mean, you know, in the same building as me, I mean with me. And because of the lockdowns and the way the world is, all of my sort of real close team are literally working with me in my home or in, you know, in a small co-working space. And this was in my opinion a fairly unique opportunity, right? Because we're going to be sat together pretty much every day. And they were so persistent that eventually I ended up offering them a job. And I offered them a job on the same salary, the same wage that they're earning right now in their current role. And I offered them a guaranteed pay rise in 60 days time. And they effectively turned the offer down because they wanted a little bit more money now. And whatever I say from this point onwards is going to sound petty and bias and better. I have no other way of saying it. I'm just going to be honest with you, honestly, from what I know about their situation and from what I know about where they wanted to go in their career and as impartially as I could possibly be. That was a fucking stupid decision. Just purely based on the fact that if you sit next to me or someone that's fortunate enough to have the access to the level of information that I have access to, someone that is willing to give you that information and information that's probably going to help you fulfill the goals that you have. Fucker 2K pay rise. That information can quite literally make you a millionaire too. And I've seen it make people millionaires. You know, much of the reason why I'm sat here as a millionaire is because I got to sit next to people who had gone on the journey that I wanted to go on. And that's what I mean. We tend to overvalue the short term financial incentives and undervalue the learning opportunities which will give us long term value knowing how to spot the difference and knowing which is which will change your life. And sometimes you have to play a long game. You have to delay that gratification. You have to hold off on that 2K pay rise because the situation you're in is giving you real long term value. Your long term future will be better if you make long term decisions or your life will be slightly better in the short term if you make short term decisions. But then your long term future is compromised. And that's what delaying gratification is. You have to learn to do that in your careers too. I'm going to close off this point by telling you the easiest, simplest change that I've made in my life to radically, radically increase the amount of information and the amount of good quality information that I'm exposed to, one small change. But before I tell you, we're going to play a little game. Just imagine for a second that you could pick up an imaginary phone in front of you and you could just listen in to the world's smartest minds. The world's smartest minds in fitness, in business, in finance, spirituality and philosophy. Just imagine, imagine if you could be a fly on the wall as they discuss ideas, as they seek to understand the world. And as they talk about what they know and as they play their money games and enrich themselves, imagine how transformative that would be. Imagine how much that information would change your life. It would change your health, your happiness and probably your wealth. And imagine if all of that, that access to information was free. It is free. That's Twitter. That's social media. That's YouTube. You can literally watch and listen to the smartest people in the world, think, discuss and ideate. So that's big the question. You have to be honest. Why the fuck do you still follow Jenny from 10 years ago? Who you do not give an F about? She publicly complains to some customer service rep on Twitter about her team mobile data plan being expensive and slow. Or Kylie Jenner as she publicly advertises the results of her plastic surgery and demolishes your self-esteem in the process. All that clown on Facebook that tries to convince you that 5G internet, the coronavirus and Bill Gates will part of some Illuminati conspiracy theory. Why are you choosing that information? Why are you allowing junk to see pinch your mental diet? Where is that information going to take you? Information is the privilege. And you have to be the gatekeeper and the unapologetic defender of the information that you consume. I've said this before and in fact it's proven to be so important in my life that I'm going to keep saying it until I feel like you're listening to me. Who you follow online, especially if you're someone that spends hours a day on the internet and social media like I do, is the single biggest influence on your life. For the love of God, follow better and unfollow faster. My trick, which I'm going to give to you, is I basically mute everyone. 90% of the people on my Instagram are muted, probably near 95%. I just don't see their stuff. I don't see their stories. I don't see their posts. Because usually it's actually not that helpful to me. 50% of the people on my Twitter are muted and I'm muting people because just like you, there are real world consequences of unfollowing friends and people and family and things like that. So I just mute them. They're just middle ground where they don't know and they don't need to know. And if I start talking shit online, I give you permission to unfollow me to, please subscribe to this podcast. But I give you permission to unfollow me to. And this has changed my life honestly. It's the simplest thing, the simplest decision that has had the single biggest impact on my life. I'm definitely smarter, happier and more professionally capable because of it. And if there was a small thing that you can do now to really change the most important influence on your life, it's to go through your social media timelines and every time you see someone who isn't contributing towards the values or the information that you want to consume, boom, mute. But and here comes a very important caveat. You have to be careful not to unfollow or mute people just because they disagree with your opinion. A few years ago, if I saw someone on my timeline that overtly supported like a different political party or had a completely opposing opinion to mine or just like strongly disagreed with issues that I really care about, I would just unfollow them, bum, bye Felicia. And I think I did that because I didn't want to feel the frustration that I felt when I logged in and saw their posts and tweets. And also, I didn't want to keep biting and arguing and debating with them online. But when you think about that decision logically, it's a pretty terrible decision. All I'm doing by doing that is narrowing my world view and I'm building, reinforcing this echo chamber around me, which is full of people who believe everything I already believe. And the fundamental truth that we all have to have the intellectual strength to believe is that often there really is no right or wrong. Everything is really just a bunch of perspectives. That's what the world is full of. Very, very few things are a case of right or wrong. We'll probably all agree that the sky is blue. But as it relates to the way the world should be run, our political opinions, how people should be treated, there's typically quite a lot of variance. And those perspectives that perfectly agree with yours are actually the least valuable. They're not going to challenge you or broaden your perspective or teach you anything. Only the perspectives that differ from yours can do that. Whether they differ because they're a little bit more developed on your opinions or because they disagree. But it's not easy. And I'd be lying to you if I pretend that it was. I've genuinely, and this is a weekly battle, I've genuinely struggled to keep people on my social media timelines within my social media bubble that say things I really disagree with. And that support ideas that I despise. But I also think, if I'm being completely honest with myself, I'm better off because of it. Listen, I'm not going to let Ryan on Facebook tell me that 5G internet caused coronavirus. But I am going to fill my social bubble and my circle online with people who honestly disagree. People who can respectfully explain why they disagree and people who view the world differently to me. You know, I hope this is the last time that I make this point on this podcast. But it just keeps coming to the front of my mind. So if you've not cleansed your social media following, please do it now. I really, really hope this is the last time. I feel like if I can convince you to do this now, today, this week, it will be for some of you the greatest thing I was ever able to do for you. The greatest gift I can give you for listening to this podcast. Also, you know, turn all the unifications off, all of them. But we'll save that topic for another time.

Changing the shape of your brain (23:00)

Okay, so the third point of my diary is about changing the shape of your brain. You can change the shape of your brain. What a load of nonsense. Over the last couple of years, I've heard a lot of people, people that I respect a lot, including Tom Billie, who came on this podcast, tell me that you can quite literally change the shape of your brain. And at first, I'll be honest, I thought this was potentially some of that self-development fluff in nonsense that we read a lot about, you know, the hocus pocus, he nonsense bullshit. And I thought to myself, how could you possibly change the shape and composition of your brain without having some type of evasive surgery? But hold hands up, it turns out I was wrong. And I wasn't just a little bit wrong. I was really, really, really, really wrong. Over the last few months, as I've gone on the journey of writing my book, which is coming out called Happy Sexy Millionaire, The Unexpected Truth About For Film and Love and Success, which you can get right now on Amazon, I started to develop a bit of an obsession with neuroscience. And I'm not going to, I'm not going to go too deep into the science because you don't necessarily need to know that stuff. But I'm going to tell you about some of the things that I learned on that journey, and particularly one thing that changed my life. And here it is, our brains are malleable, just like Plato, and our experiences determine their shape. This process is almost best compared to physical exercise where 30 reps today isn't going to make you super muscular and big, right? But 30 reps every day for a year will. And the same is true for your brain. The science says that whatever you focus your mind upon, be it anger or self-doubt or fear, your brain will eventually literally change in shape. And I sound like I'm talking nonsense. I can hear myself saying this. It sounds like some hocus pocus magic, but I promise you, this is the truth. Listen, if you know me, you know I'm just as immune to self-development nonsense and fluff as you are. So I only share things with you that I think are fundamentally true and that are supported by some kind of evidence. Let me give you an example. If you're a compulsive warrior, the science shows that your brain will quite literally change to become a finely tuned anxiety and worry machine. Your brain will become tuned for worry. And I've looked through the research. I've looked at before and after pictures of brain scans of people who've overcome worry and addiction and negative thinking about themselves and other more serious psychological conditions and honestly blew my socks off. I've always believed that we are, you know, we are what we think. But the science shows us that we quite literally, from a neurological perspective, become what we think. You know, I've read this great piece online by this neurological expert called Brian Penny and he has this lab where they've worked on being able to predict the age of your brain just by looking at it on brain scans. And your brain age is associated with increased mortality risk, cognitive decline, increased risk of dementia and overall general poor physical functioning. They can literally see how a life change that you make, a decision you make in your life will change the shape of your brain over a number of years. They can see how a person that gives up X, Y or Z then has a completely different brain just a few years later. Just like how if you stopped going to the gym or you started going to the gym, you'd have a completely different body a few years later. And they've identified a number of methods, just simple everyday choices and cognitive tools that science suggests can positively change the shape of your brain. I'm just going to tell you about one of them today. And it's the one that fascinated me the most. It's called observation without engagement. This is basically what they call self observation, which is a pretty big part of meditation. If you've ever meditated, you'll understand this. And it really helps you do exactly that. It involves mindfully observing your thoughts and your feelings and your bodily sensations. The best example I can give you is if I asked you to observe right now how tense your body feels. Instantly, you might take a step back and start focusing on your sore toe or the tightness in your chest or that headache, which you didn't notice before. But you can only notice when you start to observe yourself. If I asked you to observe your thoughts and your feelings, you can also do that too. You might start to think about the things you're worrying about or that particular unsolved situation in your life or about your family's health because of this virus, the things that are going on subconsciously, which you didn't really notice about that big decision on your future, which you're procrastinating making. The point is you can take an observer's perspective on your anxious thoughts, on your feelings, on your bodily sensations. You don't have to try and live inside of the problem all the time. You don't have to live inside of your feelings or your emotions. And when you do this, don't try and engage. You're not supposed to try and fix it. Just observe. Let me give you another metaphor, which I think explains this best. It's called the clouds metaphor. Imagine your thoughts and feelings or bodily sensations as just clouds that are floating through the sky. And sometimes those clouds are dark. Sometimes they're angry. Sometimes it's raining and sometimes they're light and sometimes they're calm and thin. But you're not the clouds. You're the blue sky who just observes the clouds as they're passing without engaging in them. You simply observe and you let them pass you by. And as the 20-something CEO of a big company who knows that every time I look at my emails or my WhatsApp in the morning, there's going to be a ton of unpredictable yet unfortunately inevitable bullshit, not just small bullshit, severe bullshit. I'm talking ruined-your-day bullshit, bullshit that can rear its head from any corner or person in a global business of 700 people. As that guy, this mechanism has quite literally saved me. I really, really believe that. And from my conversations with Dom, who's my business partner, who's been with me this whole time, which I had on this podcast in chapter 10, where he described that running the business made him an alcoholic, made him anxious, and made him experience some pretty severe mental health problems, I genuinely believe that this technique was the fundamental difference between me and him, self-observation, which is something that for some reason I've always defaulted to. You both had the same intense, stressful experience over the last 10 years. But in his words, I survived it and he nearly didn't. He said, and this is a horrible thing for me to talk about, he said he considered jumping in front of a train and killing himself because things at one point were so almost unbearable. And the difference is here. It's in your mind. And the mechanisms you rely on to deal with your portion of unpredictable life bullshit, which is coming your way, whether you like it or not. I've said in this podcast before that I viewed the hardest moments in my life as really a video game. I naturally, and again, I don't want to take too much credit for this because it's not something that I did consciously, I naturally adopted this strange video game mindset where I would almost see the situation I was in like a game of chess, like I was removed from it. When things got really, really hard, I told myself without thinking about it that this was all just a game. Yeah, like a game of chess. And I'm not the pieces on the chessboard because they can be killed. I'm the person responsible for moving the pieces. And whatever happens, I'll be fine. Just like a game of Call of Duty. I'm not the character in the screen running with the gun, the one at danger of standing on a landmine. I'm the person holding the controller sad at home. And even if I stand on a landmine or two, that's fine. I can just restart and rejuvenate and go again. I think for me, this perspective, which is very similar to what I've described with this self observation, was the most liberating thing in my whole career. It allowed me to develop my own calm within any form of chaos. And it allowed me to think clearly without being clouded by emotion. And if you're a CEO of you're running a business, that's so incredibly important. And I genuinely also think that my business partner, Dom, was inside the game. He was the pawn on the chessboard. He was the soldier running through the battlefield in the Call of Duty. He was taking the enemy fire. So he internalized that pain. He internalized the stress and he became the conflict. And honestly, nobody can survive that. Nobody, not even me. But fortunately, for whatever reason, I was removing myself and that helped. Self observation isn't just handy for increasing your self awareness. It genuinely provides you with a sense of detachment in the most challenging situations you'll find yourself in. Instead of being controlled by the situation and the thoughts that come with the situation and all of those feelings, it gives you this ability to hold it out in front of you, to observe it and to let it come and to let it go without impacting you too much. And the brain research they've done on this topic completely supports this. They've studied the part of your brain that becomes active when you're drifting from thought to thought and overthinking and worrying. And they've seen clearly how this can have a detrimental impact on your personal well-being and over a number of years, the shape of your brain. They've then also observed how that detachment, which you can achieve from self observation and that video game mindset where you become the sky, not the clouds, can quiet that part of your brain. And there's one particular study that shows that people who meditate have reduced activity in that part of their brain versus people that don't meditate. And listen, when we talk about meditation, I was a bit of a skeptic on the whole topic. Meditation doesn't have to be sitting with your legs crossed, humming to yourself, right? It can literally just be taking a few minutes out to relax and pause. And for me, meditation is usually in the form of a massage. It's the time where I can stop, I can pause, and I can detach. And that for me is crucial, crucial, crucial for everybody. No matter what walk of life you're in, you have to find your pause. And listen, this isn't going to stop you getting anxious or worried or stressed, but learning the habit of self observation and that video game mindset and becoming the sky, as I'll call it, will allow your problems to come, go and limit the impact they have on you without having to always engage in them and therefore making them worse than they have to be, without making a mountain out of what could have just been a molehill. For the next point of my diary, I've just written less answers and more questions.

Less answers and more questions (32:49)

You know, so much of the self development career progression advice that I got when I was younger told me to speak up more, you know, make sure I'm heard and to get my point across whenever I can and I'm telling you the older I've got and the further I've travelled in the business world, the more I've learnt that that's really shitty advice. In the real world, it's impressive to know an answer, of course, but it's also impressive to admit that you don't. It's impressive to say and to have the sense of yourself to say, "I don't know," to say, "You're probably right," to say, "That's not my area of expertise," to say, "I don't know but I'm going to find out," or just to remain silent. The least impressive thing you can do is speak for the sake of speaking. We all know people like this and they typically do that because they are insecure and because they think if they have nothing to say, then they're not very valuable. We all have this contribution reputate. Let me call it a contribution score. You won't know what your contribution score is, but you'll probably know the score of the people around you, the people in your friendship groups and in your family. You'll know that person within your friendship group or a colleague at work that just seems to speak for the sake of speaking. Most of the time, when they add something to the conversation, people roll their eyes and they think to themselves, that was a really dumb thing to say. It gets to the point that before they speak, everyone in the room presumes it's going to be something dumb again or weird or unhelpful or irrelevant. I think you'll know that person. That is because their contribution score is low. That is what a contribution score is. It really, really matters because if you constantly speak for the sake of speaking or you speak when you're not informed on a topic, people will gradually stop listening to you. They will receive your ideas with a preconceived bias that you're probably going to say something that doesn't matter. Your ideas suffer even if they're good because of that preconceived bias and that preconceived opinion of what you have to say. Even when you do have something valuable to add, everybody will disregard it. They'll pre-devaluate before it's even come out of your mouth. That's because just like a credit score, we all have a contribution score. In that case, it's because you've ruined yours by always feeling the need to chime in even when you don't know what you're talking about, even when you shouldn't. If you don't know the answer to something, at least know the value of admitting that you don't or stay in quiet. As someone that's had the pleasure and sometimes displeasure of working in board rooms and in creative brainstorms and in intense investor meetings with big personalities and sometimes competitive personalities for the last decade, I've seen how someone can ruin their connection to the contribution score by constantly feeling the need to say something or add something when they don't know the answer and when this isn't their field of expertise. I've also seen the opposite. I've seen people who will sit and listen humbly and just observe and often learn. The people that walk out of the room with their respect and contribution score intact are always those that are secure enough to admit that they don't know and to, in many cases, stay quiet. The ones that lose respect are those that try and pretend they know something that isn't in their field of expertise or that they know something about, usually because they're insecure. This is why, as a general wolf for life, it's always better to have more questions than you have answers and to be able to admit when you don't have the answers. Your contribution score really, really matters and I think you come to learn that the further you go in your career. It's the thing that for me made investors believe me. This notion I think they have in their head, which is when Stephen speaks, it's probably something informed and something worth listening to. It's the things that makes employees trust you as a CEO. It's the thing that as a colleague earns respect and ultimately, if you have the humility to learn to listen in areas that are outside your expertise, it will be the thing that expands your knowledge. Again, that will change your life.

What are some of the most important questions you can ask yourself? (36:40)

This brings me to the next point of my diary. I've written in my diary, what are some of the most important questions I ask myself regularly? When I say this, I mean in all areas of my life. If it's more important to know the right question to ask than to have the answer, what are the questions that you should ask yourself every single day? The first one in my diary is which part of this situation can I control? As a CEO, but just as a human being, that's a living life like we all are, there are so many times where I encounter a situation of conflict or stress or chaos and I'm desperate to fix it. I'm not committing energy to trying to solve the problem. Usually, and this is something that I've come to learn, there's really only like three or four things that I can control in this situation. If I know what those things are, I can invest my energy in those levers, in pulling those levers and that gives me the best chance of getting out of the situation. It also is a great tool for liberating yourself from all of the stress of worrying about things that are completely outside of your control and that you can do nothing about. I've done this over the last two years in particular where I will hone in and I will sometimes even write in my diary the two or three things in the situation I'm in now that I can control. Gives me that clarity, it liberates me from stress and it focuses me on the things that will actually help me get out of the situation I'm in. The second question, which I ask myself religiously at least once a day and it is actually held as a permanent point on my to-do list is what am I avoiding right now? This is something that I dare you to try and ask yourself every day because for me, understanding what I'm avoiding helps me overcome it and as NIRIL said on this podcast, we are creatures that seek to avoid discomfort. There's nearly always a reason why I'm procrastinating or avoiding something and if I can become conscious about that thing and the psychological discomfort that's making me avoid it, it helps me to overcome it and usually the things we avoid are actually really, really important and that's part of the reason they're causing us discomfort. So that's a question that I recommend everybody asks themselves every day. Make a list of the things you want to ask yourself. The first is what part of this situation can I control and the second is what am I avoiding? The third is what would my idols think about this decision and this is a question which I religiously ask myself when I'm facing a big life choice because I think we all understand the values and the principles that our idols lived by. We study their lives, we read their books, their podcasts, whatever. We understand the way that they think but when we're in a situation, when we're facing a big decision, sometimes we kind of relapse back to our own in a fear-driven decision-making mechanisms and we lose sight of how our idols, the people we want to be like would make that decision. So every time I make a big life decision, I almost like interrogate it against what I know that my idols would do because my idols are my idols because they have values that I admire and so if I can kind of sense check my own decision making against what I think they would do which is sometimes easier than knowing the right thing to do, I tend to make a better decision. And the next question I religiously ask myself is what would future Steve think of this decision and this question is super handy to ask yourself whenever you can because future you is going to pay the price for the decisions you make today. So future you is quite a selfish person, they want to be, they want to have a six pack, they want to be super smart, they want to be rich and that is almost all of our North Star our future self and so if you ask yourself, genuinely ask yourself the question, what would future Steve that the happiest version, the best version of me think about this decision I am about to make to eat this entire double pizza to myself usually that allows you to see if this decision you are about to make is in line with your values. And the next question that I like to ask myself regularly is if I am saying yes to this thing then what am I saying no to? I think it was Steve Jobs who once said that it is only by saying no to things that you can concentrate on what is important in your life and I love this line because it really helped me to realize the potency of that question be it in our relationships or our career or in our health or in our mental health. I think it is important and I think we need to reflect on what we hold most dear now in this moment in order to live a life and to attain a future that is in line with our values and we need to become aware of how a yes decision is going to prevent us from doing other things that we also consider to be relatively important. It is a question that appreciates that you cannot do everything and be everything and that life is about prioritization, prioritizing the things that are most important. And so before I say yes to something I like to consider all of the things that I am saying no to as a consequence of that yes. It helps me to make better decisions today and it is a sign, a signal and a nod to how much I respect the limited amount of time I have. And the last question which I have written in my diary that I ask myself religiously is a much more direct question which is does this thing align with my values. People often make decisions that do not align with their values and I know that I do it every day and there are tons of reasons people do this. They binge on alcohol, they smoke 20 cigarettes a day, they have a big Mac pizza, they have big Mac burgers and dominoes pizzas religiously even though they know that their future values of health and being around to see their kids grow up and those kinds of things are in conflict with those short term detrimental actions. And often we do this because we do not stop to ask ourselves this simple question and we do not really stop to think about this simple question which is how does this short term decision align with my long term values. Next time you are doing something and it does not feel quite right and it feels a little bit naughty, ask yourself how it is serving what you value most in life. And the obsession I have now with continually cross checking the decisions I am about to make versus the person I want to be or the life I want to attain has been transformative for me. Honestly it has really changed my life. And I am going to throw in a bonus question, I did say that was the last one but I am going to give you a bonus question which I have just been thinking about. It is a little bit cliche but I promise you it has helped me overcome some of the most fearful moments of my life. The question is what is the worst that will happen if I attempt this. And I remember being really really young, 16 years old when someone first asked me to speak on stage and then 17 and then 18 and then the stage is getting bigger and the audience is getting bigger and I remember one day speaking in Barcelona in front of about 10,000 people and being stood backstage and starting to feel a little bit of anxiety which we all feel. And I for some reason just like the video game mindset which I have talked about in this podcast. I default to asking myself what is the worst thing that can happen. And I don't just ask myself that question in the cliche way that a friend might turn to you and say I genuinely run through the process of what is the worst thing that can happen. I can walk up on stage and as I am walking on stage I trip on the first step, I fall, I smash my face, my trousers come down, people see my underwear, you know my willy and I walk up on stage and then I deliver the worst speech in my life and people start walking out and throwing stuff at me and I walk off stage. And to be honest it's nearly always the case that the worst thing that can happen isn't actually as bad as you think. We tend to, you know before we confront it and rationalize it that way and look at it in that way we tend to I guess think it's death. I think we think we're going to die and everyone's going to hate us and then you ask yourself this sub question which is if the worst thing that I think could happen happens what is the long term impact of that on my life. And even if I fell on the step, hit my, you know hit my eye, walked on stage with a bleeding eye and then did the worst speech of my life, it doesn't actually have any long term impact on my life. Okay, I wouldn't get booked to speak there again but the material long term impact of my life is pretty much nil. And so it doesn't make sense to be fearful because the worst possible outcome has no long term impact on your life. And for me that's the question that I really hold dear and it's the question that I still turn to in moments of intense pressure and fear of failure. And I think it's a question that can change your life if you're a very fearful person. Those are my questions. And I think it's important to have questions and be armed with questions because as I say in life it turns out that having the questions is much more important than having all the answers. Okay, so the last point of my diary this week is just a sentence and I'm going to read that sentence to you.

Understanding Personal Validation

The thing that invalided you when you were younger, will be the thing you seek validation from as an adult (45:23)

The thing that invalidates you when you're younger will be the things you seek validation from when you're an adult. And this is something that it really took me about 30 years, the 28 years I've been alive to learn. When I was younger as a lot of you will know if you've listened to this podcast before, I came from a background and a family that didn't have a whole lot of money, right? We were pretty much bankrupt for my whole childhood or at least the last part of my time living at home. I lived in a house that was beat up, the window on the front of our house was smashed for a good decade. So you'd get the draft coming in from outside. We lived my back garden, the grass and the back garden is about six foot high and there are fridges and TV sets and all kinds of nonsense in there. In fact, the back half of my house was actually knocked down because I think at one point my mum thought we had the money to do a renovation, but we didn't have the money. So the builders just knocked the house down and just left it as a derelict house. So one of the doors, which used to go into one of the rooms, was actually would just actually take you outside and we just removed the handle so that no one could really break into our house. The front of our house was the same. The grass was a good meter and a half high at times and it was fairly embarrassing growing up as a black kid in an all white school who already felt a little bit different with my curly hair knowing that our house also looked so remarkably different and that my life was remarkably different from a financial perspective. We didn't have Christmases and birthdays by the time I was about 10, 10, 11 years old because of the financial situation we're in. I know that it created a real deep insecurity within me. I remember Christmas days sat in my brother Kevin's room on the floor as we joked about the things we were going to pretend we got for Christmas. I have to bring context to this. I know now as an adult that this was a terribly naive, selfish, immature way to think. I know now that I should have been looking at all the things I did have, which was a loving family, two parents that were together and loved me, a roof over my head, food on the table. I know now that those were the important things but back then when you're a young little kid who doesn't really understand the world, you feel sorry for yourself. You engage in self-pity and I did and I would go to school in Paris and I would go to school in LY about our financial situation and it made me insecure, invalidated me. It was one of the biggest worries or insecurities I had as a kid. At 14 years old, I started to really, really value money. Money for me just felt so important. The lack of money we had in our life was the reason that I had so much shame. It was the reason that my mom and dad would scream at each other so much about our house and about our finances and about Christmas and about all of these other things. Money was the problem. I grew up thinking and pretty obsessed with attaining money off. I went to university at 18 years old, dropped out, started a business to try and make loads of money. Then when I finally got money, set 21, 22 years old, I had a really unhealthy relationship with it and I went to nightclubs and I spent I think one year like 50, 60,000 pounds on champagne in a nightclub at 22, 23 years old just to try and impress people. Then I went out to the countryside and bought this seven bedroom mansion with a tennis court at the bottom of the garden in two living rooms and an outhouse and big gates and a 100 meter driveway just to try and impress people. This is a force in our lives which will ruin our lives if we don't understand it. The thing that I came to learn after literally like 25 years and after being a puppet, the puppet master being this thing that happened to me as a kid, after being a puppet that didn't know why he was doing what he was doing but was just buying these tables and nightclubs and buying material things and trying to show off to people, I came to learn that the thing that invalidated me when I was younger had become the thing that I sought validation from as an adult and that will be true for you no matter what it is, no matter if it's romantic affection, no matter if it's validation, no matter if it's money, no matter what it is, the thing that invalidated you when you were younger will be the thing that you seek validation from as an adult and until you understand what that thing is, it risks being the number one thing that can ruin your life. I've like gone through every like corner of my childhood to try and understand the things that made me feel invalid in order to understand some of the forces that were in play in my life right now as an adult and honestly it has liberated me. I wrote in my diary one day the reasons I'll go broke and it was pretty much this, it was because I was broke when I was a kid and because that developed a really psychological issue with money where money for me became a plaster, it became the thing that would make me feel the opposite to whatever shame is and I just think it's so important for everyone to think about the things that happened when they were young and to understand the forces that invalidated them because if you don't understand them and if you can't make them conscious and hold them out in front of you and examine them, they will control your life subconsciously somewhere and honestly, I've got to be honest, do I think I'll ever really overcome this unhealthy relationship I had with money? I don't think I'll ever truly overcome it completely because it is so deeply hard-wired into me at a time in my life when I was so impressionable and when every emotion just seemed to cut more and carve into me but that's not really my aim. My aim isn't to overcome it, my aim is to become conscious of it and if I can become conscious of it, it has less impact over me and fortunately where I'm at in my life now I don't make those stupid dumb decisions all of the time, sometimes I make dumb decisions. Like I'm not going to pretend I'm some fucking like profit that lives their life perfectly and always make decisions that are in line with their values, sometimes I do things to impress people but it's like 99% less than I used to and that's because I'm holding out my sort of psychological relationship with money in front of me and I'm able to look at it and I'm able to question myself and interrogate my decisions against this known flaw that I have in my psychology. I'm able to see why you're trying to buy Rolls Royce. You don't really like Rolls Royce's, you don't know anything about them. Because you think it's going to impress somebody. Because you think somewhere deep inside of you, that child that had nothing will feel more fulfilled if he has that Range Rover or that Rolls Royce or that mansion and whenever I go to make these big decisions now, it's the first thing I think of. So I don't think I've overcome it but I've definitely been able to understand it and if you can understand it, if you can understand the thing that invalidated you when you're a kid, that's as good as overcoming it and that will help you stop seeking validation from it as an adult and that will change your life.

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