AskPat 17 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey, what's up? This is Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 17 of AskPat where I answer your online business questions every single day.
Today the resource I want to share with you is The War of Art. It's a book by Steven Pressfield. The War of Art. My affiliate link, you can go through it, it's AskPat.com/war. I will let you know there is some sort of crude language in there, but it is such a powerful book. I'm going to be talking about it a little bit in my answer to today's question by Liz. Liz asks a question about something that we all feel when we're trying something new. Let's check out the question by Liz.
[Full Disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
Liz: Hi, Pat. This is Liz Brazier from the Live Your Life Now Show. My question for you is around the negative voice in your head. There's the voice that tells us that we're not good enough or who are we to be doing this. I can see from all your success that you must have some tips and tricks to share with us on how you kind of keep boosting forward and quieting down that voice in the head. For me, I tell it thanks for sharing, but I'll be interested to hear what you've got to share with the audience. Thanks for all you do. I'm recording this question from New Zealand. I'll be back in the US when it warms up there. Look forward to connecting with you wherever we are in the world. Take good care. Thanks.
Pat Flynn: Liz, thank you so much for your question. This is a really, really important topic because this sort of voice in our head that tells us we're not good enough or that we should stop, a lot of times we get that from other people too, but we get that from ourselves more often. I feel that at least. We are really our own worse enemy. I talked about in the beginning here, a resource called The War of Art. If you are really struggling with battles in your head, with going forward, and trying something new, and being creative. I really, really recommend this book, The War of Art. Again, a little bit of crude language in it, but it really gets to the point and really has had a big effect on my life.
Steven Pressfield, the author, he talks about this thing called “resistance.” That's his word for this thing that happens and shows up when we're going to do something new. It's not just within business. It's every part of life. When you're going to propose to somebody, for example, you get scared. When you're going to ask somebody out, or when you're going to interview for a new job, or any of these types of things. The resistance always appears. It always happens to everyone. First and foremost, just know that you're not alone with this. Even the most successful people, the most famous people, the people who have seen a ton of success, they feel this all the time too. I feel it all the time.
Even though I've gone through several cases of this fear, and this resistance, and doubt in my head. I still feel that when I try new things or even when I don't and I'm just . . . Those voices in your head, they can really get at you. Really what it's about is not learning how to get rid of them because they're always going to be there, but it's about learning what that voice means, and also how to control that voice, and how to sort of react from it.
The first thing I want to say about this is I feel like it's there. Why is it there? It's because it's sort of a security mechanism for humans. It's good that we're scared because if we weren't scared we might do things we shouldn't be doing. Things that are dangerous or might hurt us. It's there also . . . I feel like it's the universe's way of sort of weeding out those who aren't really, truly wanting to do the thing that they want to do. I really feel that way, like it's just the universe saying, “Hey, I'm testing you to see if this is something you really want. Are you up to the challenge? Are you going to do it?” Then from there really it's all about the mindset.
I have a quote that I want to share with you. This isn't my quote of the day, but it's a quote that relates specifically to this portion of this episode. It's a quote by Henry Ford. He says, “Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right.” Like I said, we are our own worse enemy. If we don't think we could do something, there's no way that we're going to do it. Resistance always comes into play.
There's a number of sort of tricks and things that I do when I start feeling this way. Often I get these feelings a lot. Some specific examples I can give you is when I started my online business. When I got laid off, and I discovered this world of online business, and I started writing an ebook. The whole process of just trying something new and actually writing a book. While I was writing that book, every time I saved a new file, I would just be like, “Is this something that's going to . . . is this worth it? People are going to buy this? People are going to like it?” We think the worst things possible.
Another example is when I started my YouTube channel or my podcast and when I started public speaking. I remember specifically a case, this was in 2011 in Chicago, my very first public speaking presentation. Those fears and that resistance came into play and something was trying to stop me. I would imagine the worst case scenario ever which was like getting up on stage, forgetting everything I was going to say, having a stain on my shirt, and people laughing at me. Just totally crying on stage, people throwing tomatoes, then running off stage, tripping, then running through the streets, getting hit by a car, and laying in a coma in a ditch somewhere on the side of the road. I literally thought that that could happen. How weird is that? How dumb is that scenario feel? Those are the things that we think about which is crazy. We think about crazy things. We always think about the worst case scenario.
I'm going to give you from here forward . . . even before that, I'm going to say I'm so glad I got up on stage. Of course I prepared to make sure I didn't forget my lines or nothing bad was going to happen. Even if something did happen, really what's the worst that can happen? That's really my first tip for you is to say to yourself, when you're going through these situations you're going to do something different and what may seem crazy, just ask yourself, “What's the worst thing that can happen?” When you really get realistic with that question, often times the worst thing that can happen isn't so bad. That can help push you forward and say, “Oh, well, yeah, actually. . .” For instance, a lot of people worry about sending emails to people to get them on their interviews for their podcast or emailing people who are sort of on the A-list level to have them write a guest post or something. What's the worst that can happen when you do that? Those fears come into play. Oh my gosh, I'm going to email this person. What if they say no? What if this? What if that? What's the worst that could happen? They'll not respond or they'll just say “no” and that's it. That's it. You have to do those things. That's the first tip.
The second tip I want to give you is something that I feel is the most important tip actually. That is: surround yourself with amazing like-minded people. You are the sum of the five people you hang out with the most or you converse with the most. If they are all negative and unsupportive, you yourself will be negative and you will not support your own efforts. You will constantly have these negative thoughts and then not take any action or go back to where you're comfortable. This is about getting a little bit uncomfortable.
I feel like when the resistance comes into play, that's actually a sign that whatever it is on the other end is something amazing, something awesome. That has been the case when I started my online business. Deathly afraid of that, but it's turned out to be the best thing ever. When I started my YouTube channel, I didn't want to put myself on camera, and start talking, and opening myself up to ridicule and possible laughing of my voice, and all that stuff. Same with my podcast. But I'm so glad I did those things. My traffic has exploded. I've been able to connect, and actually reach more people, and help more people out in that way. Same thing when I started public speaking. That fear came into play, but I'm so glad I did it. Now I'm getting potential book deals and I'm getting paid to speak now. It's awesome the opportunities that are available when you push yourself beyond that comfort zone just a little bit. You don't have to go crazy. You don't have to take crazy risks, but take a little bit of a risk. Without risk there is no reward.
Another tip I have for you that I always do is I celebrate the small wins. We often tackle these huge, amazing, incredible projects that seem like they can take forever and those are scary. Those are the things . . . seeing how far ahead of the future we may be working on something until it's done is really scary. That often puts doubt in our head too. We're going to be working so hard for this and we might not even see anything on the other end. You're putting these negative thoughts in your head right away. What I like to do to sort of counter that is to celebrate the small wins. I take those big goals, I chunk them up, I chop them up into little tiny milestones and every time I reach one of those milestones I literally check off a box in my sort of list of tasks within that project. It just feels so good to check that off, literally check it off with a pencil or a pen, and to just celebrate a little bit, and just be like, “Yes. I got to the next point, the next milestone. Let's move on to the next.” That helps so much.
Another thing to understand is that failure is part of the process. You ask any successful entrepreneur if they've ever failed in their life. If they're honest with you, they will absolutely say yes. Most people say, “Yeah, all the time.” That's the same with me and I know everybody who I talk to quite often, who is successful, they've gone through several failures as well. Those failures are incredibly important. We think, as a society, we're sort of trained when we're little, when we go to school, that failure is bad. You fail, you get a bad grade on your paper, you got to do it over, you got to repeat your grade, and everything's so bad. Failure's good when you're doing business. Obviously you don't want to try and fail, but failure is a part of the process of learning from your mistakes, pivoting, and adjusting, and adapting, and moving forward so you can continue toward your goal. Know that failure is going to be there. Again, it's like the universe's way of testing you. Do you really want this? I'm going to put some failures in you and let's see how bad you really want this.
Last, but not least, I tell myself, and you should tell yourself this too, “Who would I be letting down, or who may not benefit from the help that I can give, or what I have to offer if I don't proceed? Am I going to let my own fears and this resistance get in the way of me actually helping other people?” When I think about the audience, the people who are listening on the other end of this microphone, the people who are reading that blog post once it's published, or watching that video on the other side, it usually helps me proceed and realize that really I'm just being selfish. These feelings that I'm having are just my own feelings and they're getting in the way of me helping other people. Keep that in mind too. It's okay to be scared and feel this way. It's natural. It's going to happen, but how you react to it, how you deal with this resistance that will be there, that will be the difference between success and failure. As I like to say, go toward that resistance because there's something awesome on the other side and just punch it in the face. That's really what you have to do.
Liz, thank you so much for your question today. Hope everybody out there has benefited from my answer today. As always, if you have a question that you'd like to ask and have featured on the show, and also get a t-shirt sent your way if you do get featured on the show, head on over to AskPat.com. Again, you can pick up The War of Art on Amazon. That is my Amazon affiliate link. AskPat.com/war is how you get that.
I'll leave a quote with you as we end the show today. This is a quote from Steven Pressfield in The War of Art. He says, “Are you paralyzed with fear? That's a good sign. Fear is good. Like self doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb. The more scared we are of a work, or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
See you in the next episode.
A great book (note: some profanity) for the motivation you need to get started with your next creative project.
[Full Disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]