Benjamin Hardy (@BenjaminPHardy) is an organizational psychologist and author of books about willpower, self-limiting beliefs, teamwork, and the pursuit of happiness. He returns to the show to discuss his latest offering: Be Your Future Self Now: The Science of Intentional Transformation.
What We Discuss with Benjamin Hardy:
- Prospection: rather than remaining tethered to a past over which we no longer have any control, we can visualize a number of possible futures and choose the course of action that guides us toward the one we find most desirable.
- Most of us don’t guide ourselves toward our most desirable future because we’re too busy coping with the immediate concerns of daily life to clearly see the course that would take us there.
- Are you committing yourself to avoidance-driven goals (like doomscrolling through the news) that serve to distract and knock you off course instead of approach-driven goals that nudge you toward your ideal future self (like learning more about your chosen career so you can do your best work and get promoted)?
- Connecting with your long-term future self to make the decisions that speed you toward this person may require extra effort because humans are living longer than ever before and probably didn’t evolve to think far beyond immediate survival.
- Why it’s important to envision your future self as an actual different person — with different thoughts and motivations — than you are today rather than just a later iteration of your current self.
- And much more…
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You’re likely not the same person today that you were 10 years ago. Ideally, you won’t be the same person you are today in 10 years. Shouldn’t you have a say in who that person will be? And honestly, if you’re aiming to be a better version of yourself, why wait 10 years?
On this episode, Dr. Benjamin Hardy revisits the show to discuss what you can do to become the person you aspire to be today without wasting time in some kind of self-imposed limbo as outlined in his latest book, Be Your Future Self Now: The Science of Intentional Transformation. Here, we’ll discuss the challenges that may be keeping you disconnected from this future self, and what you can do to make decisions that guide you toward that person instead of away from them. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Thanks, Benjamin Hardy!
If you enjoyed this session with Benjamin Hardy, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
Click here to thank Benjamin Hardy at Twitter!
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And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Be Your Future Self Now: The Science of Intentional Transformation by Dr. Benjamin Hardy | Amazon
- Other Books by Benjamin Hardy | Amazon
- Benjamin Hardy | Minding the Gap and the Gain | Jordan Harbinger
- Benjamin Hardy | How to Break Free from Self-Limiting Beliefs | Jordan Harbinger
- Benjamin Hardy | What to Do When Willpower Doesn’t Work | Jordan Harbinger
- Benjamin Hardy | Website
- Benjamin Hardy | Medium
- Benjamin Hardy | Facebook
- Benjamin Hardy | Twitter
- Prospection | Wikipedia
- Life and Death Drive: Freud’s Thanatos and Eros Theory | Verywell Mind
- Homo Prospectus by Martin E.P. Seligman, Peter Railton, Roy F. Baumeister, and Chandra Sripada | Amazon
- The 50th Law by 50 Cent and Robert Greene | Amazon
- Teleology | Wikipedia
- Humans Aged Faster in the Past and Here Are Pics to ‘Prove’ It | Bored Panda
- Hal Hershfield: How Can We Help Our Future Selves? | TEDxEast
- Future Self-Continuity: How Conceptions of the Future Self Transform Intertemporal Choice | Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl | Amazon
- An Overview of Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy | Simply Psychology
- A Problem for Future Homer | The Simpsons
- Night Guy Always Screws Morning Guy | Seinfeld
- Dan Gilbert: The Psychology of Your Future Self | TED 2014
- Jim Rohn: You’re the Average of the Five People You Spend the Most Time With | Business Insider
- How to Make Your Future Habits Easy | James Clear
- What Is the Mere Exposure Effect in Psychology? | ThoughtCo.
- Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility by Ellen J. Langer | Amazon
- Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior by Jonah Berger | Amazon
- Pygmalion Effect | Wikipedia
- Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert | Amazon
- How the End-Of-History Illusion Prevents You from Shaping Your Future Self | Ness Labs
- Mindset: Changing the Way You Think to Fulfill Your Potential by Dr. Carol S. Dweck | Amazon
- Imagination Is More Important Than Knowledge | Quote Investigator
- Developing an Infinite Mindset with Simon Sinek | Dare to Lead with Brené Brown
- Dr. Anders Ericsson | Secrets from the New Science of Expertise | Jordan Harbinger
- Universal Tennis
- Breaking Down MrBeast’s ”Hi Me In 5 Years” Video | Benjamin Hardy
- Write a Letter to Your Future Self | FutureMe
- The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin | Amazon
- Yuto Horigome | Twitter
- Shadow Careers: Stuck, or Smart? | Psychology Today
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield | Amazon
- James Clear | Forming Atomic Habits for Astronomic Results | Jordan Harbinger
- BJ Fogg | Tiny Habits That Change Everything | Jordan Harbinger
703: Benjamin Hardy | How to Be Your Future Self Now
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:03] Benjamin Hardy: I think most of us, we're often dishonest about what we really want. We lie and we then just say, "Well, no, I want this and this and this." Those are all shadows of what we really want. And we're not being honest with ourselves and we're not being honest with anyone else.
[00:00:20] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists and entrepreneurs, spies and psychologists, even the occasional Emmy-nominated comedian, Fortune 500 CEO, war correspondent, arms dealer, or other underworld figure. And each episode turns our guest's wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better thinker.
[00:00:48] If you're new to the show, or you want to tell your friends about the show, I suggest our episode starter packs. These are collections of our favorite episodes, organized by topic. That'll help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on the show — topics like persuasion and influence, disinformation and cyber warfare, scams and conspiracy debunks, crime and cults, abnormal psychology, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or search for us in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:13] Today, my friend, Benjamin Hardy is back on the show. We'll explore the idea that you can essentially be your future self now. We can actually think further ahead to who we are in 10 years, who we want to be the person we want to become and set ourselves up so it's nearly inevitable that we get there. Now, this isn't manifestation or visualization or anything along those lines. It's not metaphysical stuff. It's pure psychology. In fact, there's a lot of psychology name drops in this one. Don't worry if you're not familiar with the source material like Viktor Frankl. You can absorb this without knowing more about those folks and their research.
[00:01:46] Now, in this episode, what took me a while here was the knowledge that in a decade we will be as different of people as we were 10 years ago. So almost a completely different person, depending on your level of growth and development and the key is to guide that development into the person that we want to be, rather than letting growth and development or lack thereof simply happen to us. There are a lot of practicals in this one about how we can jump ahead on the timeline of who we want to be in the future and how we can work backward so that we can ensure we get where we want to go and become the person that we want to be.
[00:02:20] I know that's kind of a mouthful. It's kind of a brain-full actually. Ben's episodes are always a hit. I hope this one is no exception. Now, here we go with Ben Hardy.
[00:02:32] Be your future self now, and I think a lot of people would love to do this. Some of us might be a little scared of our future selves, but the rest of us would mind it. I'm mixed. I look forward to being my future self at some point, but I also am like, "Oh gosh, it's a little uncertain. I would say before I started getting in shape. I was a little nervous about what my future self would look like. And I think that this relates to a concept we'll talk about later, which is investing in your future self, but let's start from the beginning. Prospection, what is this? And why is it important?
[00:03:01] Benjamin Hardy: Okay. So this is a really important idea of where the whole field of psychology has gone. Prospection is a relatively new idea. It fits a lot with what's going on in neuroscience these days as well. So from a neuroscience perspective, basically neuroscientists kind of at this point, agree that the brain is essentially a prediction machine. We learn things. And then basically, the brain is always predicting what's going to come next. That's actually different from prospection, but it's the idea that your brain is always coming up with predictions.
[00:03:27] Prospection is a little different and that it's the idea that as human beings, we're very different from other species, for example, plants, animals. We spend a huge amount of time thinking about our future. And we end up having infinite numbers of futures. You and I, even today, there were probably hundreds of little decisions you made with what you could do with your time, even what you opened up the fridge and what you could eat. And so prospection is mostly the idea that as human beings, we spend huge amounts of time thinking about our prospects for the future. And then ultimately we use those prospects to commit to one, and we make decisions about where we're going to go.
[00:04:02] And just one other important aspect of this and why it's kind of revolutionary is if you studied psychology from like the late 1800s to the late 1900s, most of the views would've gone along the lines of more like Freud, where the belief is that we're all driven by our past, but people like Roy Baumeister, Martin Seligman, and a lot of positive psychologists are now kind of paying attention to this whole prospection idea and realizing that actually we're being drawn forward by the future that we're most committed to, and that makes a lot more sense.
[00:04:33] Jordan Harbinger: That's interesting. Let's talk more about that. We're being drawn forward by the future that we're most committed to because a lot of people would say, "No, I'm not. I'm being tossed around like a ship in a storm and I've got this addiction or I've got these career issues. Or I just don't have much choice in where my life is going." And I get these emails a lot in my Feedback Friday inbox, where we give advice, right? People are saying things like, "I'm at the end of my rope. I don't know what to do it." They just feel a profound lack of control. Is that different than what you're talking about?
[00:05:05] Benjamin Hardy: No, I would say that that's a very common way of feeling things. I'll start with a quote that, I think I've shared with you before by Robert Greene and 50 Cent, which they wrote in The 50th Law but I think that this fits a lot. It's kind of the feeling like you're on a hamster wheel. And basically, in that book, they say, "By our nature as rational, conscious creatures, we can't help but think of the future. But most people, out of fear, limit their views of the future to a narrow range — thoughts of tomorrow, a few weeks ahead, perhaps a vague plan for the months to come. We're generally dealing with so many immediate battles that it's hard for us to lift our gaze above the moment." And then they end with, "It is a law of power, however, that the further and deeper you contemplate the future, the more you can shape it to your desires."
[00:05:43] Like prospection is based on a concept called Teleology. Teleology is the idea — and this is a deep philosophical idea, even Aristotle talked about it — that everything is done for an end. So, you know, if I'm going to get up and go to the fridge, the end is driving my behavior, maybe because I wanted to get a drink or whatnot. The problem for most people is that they're on that hamster wheel where they're just dealing with urgent battles, whether it's paying the bills, getting to work. Like they're dealing with so many urgent battles that they can't actually lift their gaze and start planning for a much bigger future. So I do think that that feels like you're out of control, but back to the idea that that is what they're committed to, even if they wouldn't admit it.
[00:06:20] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's kind of where I thought you would go with this where — and it sounds cruel to say this. So I always hesitate because people will say, "How dare you say that I'm committed to having a crippling addiction where I lost my kids?" you know or, "How dare you say or imply like that this is a white-male privilege to say that I can't choose or that I can choose where my career is going?" or something along those lines. And I am sympathetic to that in some way that some people have fewer options. But also, when it comes down to it, I still feel like, yeah, you're right. People will tend to go at least where they're committed to, even if they don't realize that they have committed to that direction.
[00:07:01] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. It really fits with the idea that whatever you're most committed to is influencing your identity, which influences your behavior. And you can kind of reverse engineer it just by simply watching your behavior, whatever you do, you are most committed to. So like for example, me being on this show, even you and I having this conversation, we can see that we are committed to this by evidence that we're having this conversation. Anyone who's hearing it can see that they were committed to this by evidence that they're listening to it. And so obviously it was a goal that they were committed to because it's being demonstrated by their behavior.
[00:07:30] And so it allows you to become a lot more honest with yourself that if you're going to work, it was because you were committed to being at work rather than doing something else. If you're chilling on Facebook, it's obvious that you were committed to that. Therefore, it was a goal of some sort. And so it allows you to have a little bit more honesty and a little bit of a litmus test that at some point before I jumped on Facebook, it became a goal, even if that goal was triggered by something, it became a goal. Therefore, I went and did it.
[00:07:55] Jordan Harbinger: So goal might not be something you put on a whiteboard in this case, but it might be my goal is to not think about other stresses in my life, so I filled my life with distraction, namely social media, which makes me feel worse, which makes me want to distract myself from my life more, which leads me to social media again.
[00:08:12] And most people are driven by fear, you wrote in the book. Tell me about this, because I think that this is related. You know, they've got these avoidance-driven goals versus approach-driven goals. Avoidance-driven, I guess is the example I just gave, right? Where, "Man, I hate thinking about how stressful my career is and the fact that I'm single or whatever it is. So I'm going to distract myself." That's an avoidance-driven goal. An approach-driven goal would be, oh, I guess the example you gave in the book is going to work because you don't want to lose your house versus going to work because you want a promotion and you enjoy your career. That's a little more clear-cut.
[00:08:45] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. So most psychologists would argue that every behavior is goal driven. So like if I get up and walk to the kitchen, then the goal was to walk to the kitchen. You know what I mean? And so like, everything is driven by an end. That's teleology. Then what psychologists have done is they've broken up goals into, you know, categories. Either goals are approach-oriented, where you're trying to approach a future that you want, or you're trying to avoid a future you don't want.
[00:09:08] And so hopping on social media could be an avoidance-driven goal where you're trying to avoid doing work, right? Like you don't want to do work. And so to avoid that, you're now doing something else. And so that could be an example of an avoidance-driven goal. So in any case, whatever you're doing, it's to either avoid a future, you don't want to happen or to seek a future. You do want to happen.
[00:09:28] And generally, yeah, most people, and even myself, like you can look at your own behavior, no one person is perfectly approach-oriented. A lot of the things I do are to avoid things I don't want to happen, but in general, if you become more of a proactive approach-oriented person where you start thinking about a future you want, and you start investing in that future, whatever, it may be some big goal. Whether it's starting a company, writing a book, having a family, you then need to start imagining what you want and start approaching that even when there is risk. And that actually is basically the psychological definition of courage, which is to approach a worthwhile goal, a personally worthwhile goal that does involve some form of risk.
[00:10:08] Jordan Harbinger: Are humans even evolved to think and plan that far in the future? I know these goals can be decades or even seconds away, but when we're talking decades or even five years, it just seems difficult, right? In the 18th century, I think human life expectancy in the United States, in America, was less than 40 years. I would be one of the oldest people around at age 42 that I'd be hanging out with Benjamin Franklin or something like that. And, they draw him, he looks old. I mean, who knows what he really looked like, but he would've been dead already. In some cases, far less than that. If you were poor and you worked in a coal mine, I mean, I would imagine by the time you hit 30, you were kind of spent. For most of human history, there's a reason we lose our baby teeth at age, what? Nine or 10, right? We're halfway through our life or at least, what would've been our life a few hundred years ago. Are our brains evolved to think, "Hey, by the way, I got to have enough money to survive after I'm 65 years old?" It just doesn't seem like we would be.
[00:11:01] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. So like your question is perfect because it really highlights where the research on future self is going and even prospection and highlights exactly the problem that, you know, you've said a lot of your listeners have, which is it can feel like you don't have a lot of control over the direction of your life. Really what that means is you're being driven by a really short-term future, which what that actually means is that you're not connected to your long-term future self.
[00:11:25] Dr. Hal Hershfield, who's a UCLA psychologist, he's been studying this concept for like 20 years and both prospection and more specifically like becoming connected to your future self. He does believe this. He believes that number one as whole humanity has not evolved to properly think that far ahead, like for a few reasons. One is, if you think back on like human evolution, thousands of years ago, these people were mostly driven by urgent goals. They were maybe planning to like get food for the week, or like avoid being eaten by tigers. Humans weren't evolved to think 30 or 40 years ahead to have like a retirement nest egg. And then what you were saying as well, humans lived twice as long as they did a year, like 150 years ago.
[00:12:05] So it's really hard for us to connect with our long-term future self and start using that future self to ultimately start making wise decisions in the present. And then you couple that with what Hershfield talks about, which is what he calls the pull of the present. Your present wins the battle, usually between your present and your future self because your present self can get the rewards immediately. Your present self can jump on social media and get the dopamine. You can grab the donut and get the dopamine. So you get present rewards. And so between the pull of the present and also our lack of evolutionary ability to plan for and execute plans in the long, long, distant run. We're kind of in that place, which you were describing, which is just kind of being driven by urgent or short-term goals.
[00:12:47] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. So the better and more connected we are to our long-term future self, maybe we'll be able to make better decisions because — I'm trying to wrap my head around this in real-time here. But if we're connected to our future self, so to speak, that would create a sense of at least future intent, maybe purpose, possibly meaning in the present. I know that's a Viktor Frankl idea or at least a mirror of one. You mentioned in the book, "Living the rest of today as if you'd already lived this life and done it wrong the first time." I think that's a useful exercise for people to try at home. Can you take us through that?
[00:13:19] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. Yeah. And then I'll talk about Hershfield's research because I mean, he's spent a long time figuring out how do you get connected to your future self, how do you have empathy for your future self, and stuff like that. But yeah, it is a useful exercise. So, like Frankl's perspective was very similar to this actually. He was in the concentration camps. And what he saw was is that once people got disconnected with some future purpose, that they all of a sudden had a loss of meaning in the present and they couldn't bear the challenges of the concentration camp. And so then there, then they became retrospective in their thinking. They only thought about the past, and then they tried to numb themselves, and ultimately they died very fast. And so what Frankl said was the prisoner who lost hope in their future became doomed. And so he also said that any attempt to combat the camp's pathological influence by therapeutic means had to help point them out to a future goal, to which they could get committed to.
[00:14:09] Everything Frankl did to help the people in the concentration camps, including himself, was for them to connect with their future selves and have a purpose that gave them a reason to survive. Like from his perspective, if your future isn't powerful enough to sustain you, then the present will overwhelm you, especially if you're in such a bad situation. And so, yeah, Frankl, one of the invitations he makes in Man's Search for Meaning is just imagined that you already lived today, how you're going to live it, which is probably the wrong way, the non-intentional. And imagine that you did live it once as badly as you're going to live it. And imagine then that you could actually come back and relive it a second time, how would that change what you're up to? So that's just kind of an invitation of if your future self could come back and relive today, knowing having experienced the negative repercussions, how would you do things differently now? It kind of just wakes you up to being a little bit more intentional.
[00:15:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I think there's a version of — maybe this is wrong, correct me if I'm wrong. But sometimes my kid will spill like I'll get him orange juice. He'll spill it two seconds later because he's being super careless or I'll get him raspberries. He'll eat one and he'll spit the rest out onto the carpet, he's two because it was too big for his mouth or something and I'm thinking, okay, my gut is, come on already, right? And that's how my dad would've reacted for sure. But then I'm like, well, all right. I don't know if that's a good reaction. I've seen that movie before. I know how that feels. He's not going to understand it. He's just going to feel bad then I'm going to feel bad. Maybe I just realize that he's two or now almost three. Pick up the dang raspberry. Not worry about the carpet. The carpet is going to get destroyed. I have two kids. They're both tiny. This carpet is going into a fire at some point, forget it, and just go on with my life and enjoy the rest of my time playing with my kid, rather than letting this bother me. And also having him be like, "Why is dad mad at me? We were playing with marbles and now suddenly he's angry. And I don't understand" right? Because that's the outcome. And that all happens in a few seconds. I've gotten better at that but I really do have my dad to thank for that because I realize he would've been like super annoyed by that and unable to control it. So almost the way that he did that with me is like, it's almost like a blueprint that says, "You can go left but you've already seen what's left. You should probably just try going right instead."
[00:16:23] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. I mean, it reminds me of the idea that your brain's a prediction machine. Like you already have had enough experience with the outcomes of going one way.
[00:16:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:16:29] Benjamin Hardy: That you can kind of reverse engineer and say, "All right, I already know where this is going to go if I go this way. So let's just rewind and go this way instead.
[00:16:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Except I don't even need to rewind, right?
[00:16:38] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah, you don't need to because you already have had enough experience going one way.
[00:16:42] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Like I still remember, you know, dad getting mad at me for this thing and I'm like, why I was so small? What was the point of that? And look, my dad and I have a great relationship. He was just really stressed out at work and his dad was probably a hundred times worse and it's not like, I think like, "Oh, I'd have a better childhood if he hadn't yelled at me about that orange." But I do see, "Okay. I can guarantee you that just made things worse for both me and him. I'm not going to do that." That's a small example, but doing that with, let's say my wife, you know, should I really say something about this mistake that she made in my opinion or it's completely irrelevant and it's just about me being right. Let me think about this. And it does become easier to see what would happen if I followed my gut or my impulse, I should say, versus trying to live that day again, or that particular moment again, having done it wrong the first time.
[00:17:32] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. I mean, this actually fits perfectly with what Dr. Hershfield says about how being connected to your future self leads to better decision-making in the present. Thinking about the consequences of your actions, like thinking about the consequences of eating donuts every day for 30 years, right? And so it's counterintuitive because a lot of people say, "Well, you just have the present. Don't think about the future." But what Hershfield's research shows is actually it's by being really connected and thoughtful about the future and even exactly what Frankl said, that it actually wakes you up to being a lot more intentional and purposeful in the present. So you're actually not just being reactive or you're not just going through habitual ways of doing things but actually, you can actually be present. That's kind of the counterintuitive aspect actually is the more connected you are to your future, the better you can actually live in the present.
[00:18:20] Jordan Harbinger: Seeing your current life through the eyes of your future self seems like a useful tool. I suppose we could probably see opportunities we were currently blind to as well. But how do we do that?
[00:18:29] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. So this connects right, exactly, with what Frankl said, like, "Think about what your future self would want you to do today?" You could think about how your future self, even five years from now looks at your current situation and, you know, from your future self's perspective, five years from now, you've got a lot of potentials. Like you've got a lot of opportunities that you may not even notice or pay attention to. Or from my perspective, your future self, how they see things is everything that they see has more weight, more significance, more meaning than you may have.
[00:18:58] Like I may take for granted when I go home that my kids are going to get older. I just think, "Oh, that's just another day. They'll be fine." But like five years goes by and I realize I probably should have gone to some more of those baseball games, you know? And so like, if you think about how would my future self see this situation. How would they want me to think about it? What value would they place on this? It allows you to start kind of seeing things from a more mature perspective, rather than going home and just hopping on your phone and scrolling social media. It's like, well, what would your future self say who's 20 years into the future who now all these kids are now out of the house and you know, they're adults now. Like if they could jump into your situation, how would they handle this situation? They'd probably really love just playing with the two-year-old, right? And having fun.
[00:19:42] So it's a good exercise at just saying, how would my future self want me to be handling this situation? Or how would they see it? Because they're far more mature. They've got far more perspective. They don't take this thing for granted.
[00:19:52] Jordan Harbinger: It seems like a reframe on this along the lines of what you're saying, it would help us to maybe stop associating pain with short-term sacrifice. The short-term sacrifice is needed to make progress, right? I started working out with a trainer, an online trainer, somewhere around, I guess now the beginning of the pandemic, I thought it would be the middle, but here we are. And I dreaded it. Every morning, I was like, "Oh, I really don't want to get up. I really don't want to go do it." And a year in, I was starting to get really good at all of the workouts. Not that they were easy, I just started to get better at it. And it wasn't like I was sore for a solid week and couldn't walk and all this stuff.
[00:20:28] So now I stopped associating the pain of the short-term sacrifice needed to get my butt out of bed, turn on the computer, get dressed, go outside workout. I started associating that with a benefit, but also I started associating pain with not making progress toward my goals. You know, I stopped even skipping Chinese lessons in the morning because I was busy or tired because I was already up at that time to work out anyway, on other days. It seems like when you can sort of flip this around you associate pain with eating donuts in the morning. Unless you go, "Tomorrow, I'm going to have a donut and it is going to be a treat and I'm looking forward to it and it's going to be awesome." And then you have two bites and you're like, "Yeah, these are kind of gross. I don't remember this." And you've set it down.
[00:21:10] The anticipation though was your treat, right? You enjoyed that. You enjoyed the first bite, maybe the second one. It seems like then you're rewiring your brain to value far less those short-term dopamine hits that people often seek. You mentioned that earlier, the dopamine hit of going on social media or the dopamine hit of eating a bunch of Cheetos, and shout out to Cheetos because that issue is so good, but like that sort of deviation from the path becomes less interesting and can actually become painful when you know, you are consciously just leaving your chosen path for almost no real return.
[00:21:47] Benjamin Hardy: I mean, it really highlights basically what psychologists would call the battle between your present and your future self. And it hits exactly with what Dr. Hershfield has found. It's basically the more connected you get with your future self, the more you start to have empathy towards your future self, as you would have empathy for another person. You also start to develop a friendship with them, such that, for example, if you really love someone, you don't necessarily get frustrated by making sacrifices for them.
[00:22:11] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:22:11] Benjamin Hardy: Like if you find out your friend got a flat tire and you got to go and drive 60 minutes, you're not going to be that upset because you're like, you're cool making, ,quote-unquote, "sacrifices" for that person because you love them. And so what Hershfield has found is when you start to really connect with and love your future self, similar to how you would a different person, or like a friend, it becomes a lot easier to, quote-unquote, "make sacrifices for your future".
[00:22:34] For example, rather than eating the donut instead you go to the gym because you're doing it for your future self and you start to get a lot of rewards for doing that. You start to feel happy about doing that. It really does connect with dopamine as well, because I think where the research on dopamine is kind of gone is that dopamine is essentially two things. One is it's immediate rewards you can get, or it's really the experience of a reward, which you can seek immediately. which those short-term rewards usually come with high costs to your future self, or it's the fuel that leads you to seeking bigger rewards in the future.
[00:23:07] And back to your idea of going to the gym, it really connects back with Frankl as well, "That without having a why, then there'd be no reason to bear the how." Like, if you don't have a future self that gives you a reason to do it and a motivation to do it, then there's no reason to go through the pain of going to the gym. But if you actually are connected with your future self and you actually get a lot of joy out of making progress and seeing the results, the how isn't that troublesome. Actually, it starts to become really enjoyable.
[00:23:33] You start to get more dopamine from making progress, whereas yeah, you start to associate pain or something to short-term rewards that you know are ultimately crippling your future self. It becomes less enjoyable to once you become more conscious to do things that you know are setting up yourself for disaster, whether setting yourself up for disaster the next morning, because you're just scrolling on social media all night or setting yourself up for disaster a year down the road or five or 10 years down the road. It starts to not be as enjoyable because you're like, "Okay, I already know where this is going. I'm kind of screwing my future self." So it does stop being as enjoyable.
[00:24:08] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Ben Hardy. We'll be right back.
[00:24:13] This episode is sponsored in part by Thuma. We used to have a really cheap bed frame we bought online. I know like, you know, who cares? It's a bed frame, the mattress counts, right? We splurge on a great mattress, but we skimped on the bed frame and then we regretted it because it was so flimsy. And we upgraded recently to The Bed by Thuma, which is sturdy and solid. And not only that, it is handcrafted from eco-friendly, super high-quality upcycled wood. It's a very modern minimalist design. I feel kind of fancy because it has Japanese joinery. So there's no tools to assemble it. It's actually kind of, I don't want to say origami, just because that's also Japanese. You just basically slide it all together. So if you're a fan of Legos, but like the easy ones that look good when you're done and you don't feel like a knucklehead because you can't follow the instructions. This is the bed for you. Jen assembled it all by herself, which took about five minutes because, you know, I don't help around the house. That's how it goes. Unpacking took a lot longer actually than assembling the bed. How's that for you? This bed will last you for a life, literally. It's also backed with a lifetime warranty. Along with the bed, Thuma offers other bedroom essentials like The Nightstand, The Side Table, and The Tray. They keep things pretty simple over there as far as branding is concerned. Plus it's great that Thuma plants a tree for every bed and nightstand sold.
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[00:27:04] Jordan Harbinger: If you're wondering how I managed to book all these amazing folks for the show, the authors, thinkers, creators, and performers that you hear every single week. It's because of my network. And I'm teaching you how to build your network for free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. The course is about improving your networking and your connection skills, helping you build your career, inspiring others to develop personal and professional relationships with you. It'll make you a better networker, a better connector. And most importantly, it'll make you a better thinker. That's all at jordanharbinger.com/course. And most of the guests you hear on this show subscribe and contribute to that same course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[00:27:41] Now back to Benjamin Hardy.
[00:27:45] It reminds me of that Homer, I don't watch a lot of Simpsons. There was a Homer Simpson quote that somebody told me about a long time ago where I don't know, maybe he's drinking or eating something. And someone says, "Hey, that's really bad for you." And he goes, "Well, that's a problem for future me and I do not envy that guy."
[00:28:01] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah, exactly.
[00:28:02] Jordan Harbinger: And it makes everyone laugh. But then again, we're all kind of doing that, right? We're laughing as we watch that on the Simpsons and we eat our fourth slice of pizza.
[00:28:10] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah.
[00:28:11] Jordan Harbinger: And we're laughing at him, but really it's like, oh, oops, there's that mirror that's being held up to me in that kind of awkward way.
[00:28:17] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. I mean, it's exactly what Seinfeld said as well. You know, Seinfeld talked about how like evening guy always screws the morning guy.
[00:28:24] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:28:24] Benjamin Hardy: That like evening guy wants to stay up and like have fun or scroll social media or just do whatever. And, you know, morning guy is just hosed because evening guy stayed up till three in the morning, and morning guy has got to get up at eight in the morning. And so whenever we're doing things that are obviously for short-term dopamine and like you said, like this isn't to say that you shouldn't enjoy the present, but at a certain extent, you have to ask like, "Is your present self winning the battle? And are you just seeking immediate rewards?" Which, you know, down the road, the Piper's going to be paid. You already know that your future self is going to regret these decisions.
[00:28:56] And that's exactly what Daniel Gilbert basically asked. Daniel Gilbert has this amazing TED Talk on the psychology of your future self. And he basically asked that question, like, why are we constantly making decisions our future selves will regret? And so being more connected with your future self, not only allows you to be more intentional about the direction you ultimately spend your day and where you can actually start building towards something big but also allows you to avoid regrets, which is essentially exactly what Hershfield's research found.
[00:29:23] Like people who are way more connected to their future self. Obviously, they're healthier. They make more healthy decisions. They've got much better financial lives because they're actually thinking about their future selves and making decisions that would benefit their future selves. But they also avoid terrible situations or as Hershfield would call it delinquent acts. You know, that's an academic term for just stupid behavior.
[00:29:41] Jordan Harbinger: You listed a number of threats in the book, and threat number three is being unaware of your environment creates random evolution. And that seems like it could be your psychological environment so that people that you spend time with, what's that quote? You're the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time or even your physical environment, "I'm really hungry. Well, do I have a bunch of healthy fruits and vegetables in the house, uh, cottage, cheese or whatever, or do I have an entire closet full of every snack food that you can imagine?" Each bag being 400 calories. That type of environment that creates that random evolution, right? You're kind of rolling the dice. "Am I going to eat a healthy snack? I don't know. I've got a lot of choices of unhealthy snacks." And you end up being pulled in whatever direction that dopamine says that it wants to go as opposed to controlling your environment.
[00:30:32] And this is for either fitness, my fitness coaches talk about this all the time. Like make sure there's not a lot of snack foods that are easily accessible. Make sure you do have healthy foods that are easily accessible. Or the James Clear idea that, "Hey, if you're watching too much TV, unplug it and then put it away so that if you want to watch some big game, you bust that thing out, but it's not your default walk in. There's the remote on the table, turn it on right away. It's an interesting idea that we can create and control our environment to cause evolution that is designed to go in a direction that we want.
[00:31:04] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. Like it reminds me of a few thoughts. One is what's called the mere exposure effect, which is basically just the idea that as people, we often like something simply because we've been exposed to it.
[00:31:12] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:31:13] Benjamin Hardy: There's a good quote from Ellen Langer as well. She's a Harvard psychologist, who's written a few books that are like, in my opinion, some of the best books I've ever read, but she talks a lot about context. And this is a pretty common psychological idea that whoever you are is pretty much based on the context you're in. But what mindfulness actually is it's the awareness of your context and how that context is impacting you. And so she talks about how the goal is to start creating your own context so that you can start creating the change you want.
[00:31:40] And so one of the reasons why environment creates a random evolution, unless you start to become aware of it. And a lot of psychologists call this the invisible influence, right? It's like, basically, if you're unaware of your environment, you don't realize that it's actually your environment that's feeding you your goals. As people were all driven by goals but if you're not aware of the impact of your environment, then it's actually your environment that's triggering your goals. Maybe it's just because you grew up in a certain town that you want to become, you know, a miner, right? But like, you know, you don't realize that that goal was actually fed to you by your environment. And so you want to start to become more mindful of your environment and how that environment is impacting you and impacting what you want.
[00:32:16] You know, maybe you didn't really want that, but it was just, you didn't know any better. And so you start to become more aware of your environment and then start to proactively shape your environment so that you can move your life in the direction you want to go. And also to all the ideas we were talking about, James Clear and stuff above, you start to remove the items from your environment that you already know would pull you in the wrong direction.
[00:32:35] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So if you don't control your environment, your environment will control you and your environment will control you actually, anyway. Actually, that's wrong, right? Your environment will control you anyway. So you should control your environment because it's going to have an effect on you. You just need to make sure that your environment isn't random. Am I getting that right?
[00:32:51] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. You are always going to be shaped by your environment, but the more thoughtful you. The more, you start to shape the environment that you know will inevitably shape you. So you start to become more conscious of the environments that you put yourself into, whether that's being more thoughtful about the types of people you proactively surround yourself with, being more thoughtful about the information you consume. Like there's that whole idea that your input shapes your outlook. And so knowing that what comes in is going to not only shape what comes out but is also going to change how you see the world. Like what comes in shapes your worldview. And so you start to think, "Well, what kind of worldview do I want to shape?"
[00:33:28] And so I'm going to stop avoiding that kind of stuff because I know whenever I consume that I'm pessimistic or I'm negative. You know, if I watch certain mainstream news, I'm going to feel trashy, right? Or if I'm around certain people, I'm going to be lazy and eat chips, right? And so you start to just become aware of the impact of the environment on you and you start to think about, "Well, what are the types of environments that would lead me to evolve into my desired future self?"
[00:33:49] Jordan Harbinger: That includes people as well, the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time, we mentioned that earlier, but also the pygmalion effect, rising and falling to the expectations of those around you.
[00:33:58] Do you remember that experiment? Where, and I don't even know if this is real, there's a teacher and they say, "Okay, you're going to pick certain kids in the class that are going to do well." Or these are the smart kids, and these are the not smart kids. And it was just randomly assigned. The kids they told the teacher were smart, got better grades, and did better in class, but it was completely random.
[00:34:16] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. So this is like a super famous study on the pygmalion effect. And the pygmalion effect is basically just that as people we rise or fall to the expectations of those around us. And there's a lot of studies on this, like, for example, I know you went to a lot of college. One question is like, did your parents go to college?
[00:34:31] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm. Yeah, they did.
[00:34:32] Benjamin Hardy: Over 90% of kids that go to college. Their parents went to college, right? And like, they talk about privilege, you know, as an example, but like, it was expected that you went to college.
[00:34:40] Jordan Harbinger: I remember my parents talking about college in kindergarten.
[00:34:44] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah.
[00:34:44] Jordan Harbinger: There was no way I wasn't going, it was just a, it was expected.
[00:34:48] Benjamin Hardy: It was the default future.
[00:34:49] Jordan Harbinger: Yes, it was the default future.
[00:34:51] Benjamin Hardy: So in this study, basically what some psychologists did is they wanted to see how a teacher's beliefs about a student would impact their performance. They pretended like they gave the students IQ tests at the beginning of the study. And then they told the teachers and the teachers didn't know it was actually randomized, but they said, "Here are your gifted students and here are your non-gifted students." And then they let the whole year pass without the teachers, knowing that actually, this was just totally randomized. And as expected, the students that were considered gifted, radically developed much faster, learned a lot more. Their IQ went up a lot more. These were like third and fourth-grade students. Whereas the ones who were considered non-gifted didn't, and then at the end of the year, the researchers told the teachers, "You know, none of these actually were real based on IQ tests. This was completely randomly selected."
[00:35:38] Jordan Harbinger: It sounds highly unethical and probably is by today's standards.
[00:35:42] Benjamin Hardy: Well, that's why it was like a 1970's study. So probably it wasn't unethical, according to our standards.
[00:35:47] Jordan Harbinger: I can't see them repeating that now in a way that isn't obviously harmful to those poor children, especially the ones where they were like, "Yeah, you're just not gifted. Sorry." "Eh, you can lose a year of education. No big deal."
[00:35:58] Benjamin Hardy: Well, think about it from a parenting standpoint though. Like I have six kids. I know you have two, but like I adopted three kids from the foster system. And so like being bluntly honest, I sometimes have to go against some of my trained thinking. Like it can be easy for me to have, quote-unquote, "lower expectations" for the kids I adopted versus my own kids, just because they came with more constraints or more baggage, right? And I realized that what I expect of that child influences how I talk to them. And so in a lot of ways, you often create what you're not wanting to because it's what you think is going to happen. And it influences how you talk to someone.
[00:36:37] So if you expect that someone's going to be successful, you're going to talk to them differently than if you expect that they're going to fail. It's like if you have a teenage kid and you're expecting them to make all sorts of mistakes, you're going to talk to them as if you expect that. And interestingly, then that then creates the self-fulfilling prophecy, just like the teachers who expected certain students to do well and certain students to not do well. It is interesting that you talk to people based on what you expect of them based on the future you see for them. And that often then drives how they respond to you.
[00:37:06] Jordan Harbinger: It makes perfect sense. It's just that as humans, we like to think that we can mitigate all that stuff, all those biases just by being aware of them and we know that that's totally untrue.
[00:37:16] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. I mean, in my case with my kids back to the idea of connecting with your future self, you want to think about like, where do you want this to go rather than where do you think it's going to go? Where do you want this to go? And you start talking to it in that direction.
[00:37:28] I like Albert Einstein's take, you know, imagination is more important than knowledge. You do have to think about what you want, be intentional about what you want, and then start directing your language in that behavior.
[00:37:38] Jordan Harbinger: You mentioned earlier that we have to see our future selves as a different person than we are today, which I guess makes sense but you mean an actual, different human. And most of us see our future selves, at least I see my future self as just an iteration of my current self. And I know that that's a mistake. Why is it important to do this?
[00:37:57] Benjamin Hardy: So this is one of the biggest insights to come into the research on future self. And in my opinion, it's one of the most important things to consider. So this goes to some of the research by Dr. Daniel Gilbert, he's at Harvard. He wrote a great book called Stumbling on Happiness, which is a little bit of some of these ideas. But one of the things that Gilbert has people do initially, and I'll get into why it's like fundamentally important to see your future self as a different person because that actually really helps decision-making. But it's super important to first off realize that your future self is a different person. They're going to be a way different person.
[00:38:29] And the way that Gilbert helps people come to this realization is he asks them to think about their past self 10 years ago. He says, "Think about who you were 10 years ago. Do you see the world the exact same way you did 10 years ago? You know, do you have exactly the same hobbies, the same friend group?" And when people really think about it, who they were 10 years ago, they realize that a lot of who they are now is quite different from their past self, a lot of their interests, their goals, even their values, how they spend their time, their habits, their mental models. I mean—
[00:38:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:38:58] Benjamin Hardy: You know, you're actually not even comparable to your past self, because think about how differently your worldview is based on all the conversations you've had, like your mental model. And so you're just not anything near your past self. And so then you start to think about your future self.
[00:39:14] So Gilbert helps people realize that their past self is totally different from their current self, but then he asks them the question, "Well, what about your future self 10 years from now? Do you think your future self's going to be much different?" And as a rule, no matter the age, most people say, "No. My future self is pretty much the same as I am today. Maybe slightly different." He even says that people underpredict their future self will change so much that 18-year-olds predict that their future self will change as much as 50-year-olds' future selves actually do. Even people in their teens don't think that they're going to change that much but the truth is you will. And 10 years from now, your future self, even without you trying is going to be a very different person.
[00:39:52] That's just a first off really important acknowledgement. You can then leverage that, which we can talk about for a growth mindset or for making better decisions and stuff like that. But it's just first off, really helpful to acknowledge your future self is going to be really different. They're going to care about different things than you. They're going to have different priorities, different values, and that's just like a good first step to acknowledge.
[00:40:10] Jordan Harbinger: I have so much trouble thinking that who I was 10 years ago is the same degree of different as who I will be in 10 years, even though you're telling me this, and there's probably tons of studies and evidence to this.
[00:40:22] Benjamin Hardy: So you tell me why. I want your take on this.
[00:40:24] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. I'm not disagreeing with you, by the way. I'm just saying that this bias is so strong in me that I can't really get around it. I can remember things in the past so much more clearly than I can imagine things in the future. And I think that's the major issue here. Remembering who I was 10 years ago, even if my memory is completely wrong, it just seems pretty clear. And yes, I was very different. But then when I try and go, okay, I'm going to be the same degree of different 10 years in the future. I just don't have a clear picture really, of what that looks like maybe. And so that's why it's difficult. I'm just not sure. I think that's the reason it's because I can remember more clearly than I can imagine and project in the future.
[00:41:02] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. I mean, that's literally almost verbatim what Gilbert said and it hits to a key point and all of this whole conversation is that most people really don't spend very much time thinking about their future self.
[00:41:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:41:12] Benjamin Hardy: We don't act — I mean, like literally we don't think about it. And so we just assume that the future's going to be like the present. Psychologists actually call this the end of history illusion, if you want to get geeky with it. And if you want to study—
[00:41:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:41:22] Benjamin Hardy: There's a lot of studies on this. Just the idea that there's no history between you and your future self. There's going to be a lot of history. There might be some serious curve balls as well. That totally changes your values or your perspective. And so what Hershfield talks about kind of pulling some of these psychologists together. Hershfield says it's very important for you to view your future self as a different person so that you can start connecting with them as a different person from an empathy perspective. You start to realize that they care about things different than you, they value different things than you.
[00:41:51] I like combining Gilbert's and Hershfield's ideas, because it really helps me to think, okay, if I look back at who I was 10 years ago. 10 years ago, I wasn't even married, right? Like now, I certainly didn't think I was going to be an entrepreneur. I mean, there's so many things that were different. I mean, if I really was to jump back in, if you had a conversation with me today versus a conversation with me 10 years ago, it'd be fundamentally totally two different conversations.
[00:42:15] So one thing I really like about this is, not only do I appreciate that my future self is different but I'm excited by the knowledge that that is the case. I'm not stuck. I'm not fixed. You know, it actually immediately eliminates a fixed mindset if you embrace it. I mean, basically what a fixed mindset is according to Carol Dweck is the belief that who you are right now is fixed and that your future self is going to be the same. That's basically a fixed mindset that your traits, your characteristics, your personality are fixed traits. And that kind of thinking obviously is a loss of imagination to Gilbert's point. But for me, I like it because it then excites me to see like, how much could I be different.
[00:42:53] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:42:53] Benjamin Hardy: You know, maybe I'm not that empathetic right now. Maybe I don't speak Spanish, but my future self could. Maybe I'm bad with money, but maybe my future self is amazing with money. And I know you and I have applied this. Like there was a time when the things that are, quote-unquote, natural abilities to you right now were completely alien to you. You can do things completely naturally and seamlessly and easily now, that your former self could never have even imagined doing.
[00:43:18] Jordan Harbinger: Sure. Yeah, languages. I was never good at languages in school. And now I can speak five of them and I can study them on my own.
[00:43:25] Benjamin Hardy: And your past self might have not even been able to imagine you being able to do that or even thinking that's possible. For you now, you that's just your norm. That's just your current state of being.
[00:43:34] Jordan Harbinger: Absolutely. I never thought I was going to be able to run a business because the only businesses that I saw people running back when I grew up in Michigan were restaurants and dry cleaning stuff. You know, I didn't know people could do creative things and make money at it. I mean, it was completely outside my reality. Of course, part of that is the Internet didn't exist for consumer use. I think the fundamental error here though is people think, we think if we can't imagine it clearly, then it's less likely to happen. But of course, that's not true at all.
[00:44:02] And that's often why we fail, I assume, why we fail at predicting huge disasters. "Oh, it can't get this bad. We can't have a nuclear war with Russia because that's never happened before." And when I was getting taken nabbed by a fake taxi in Mexico City, 20-plus years ago, I thought, "Well, I'm not getting kidnapped because—" and then I thought, "Well, am I really saying I'm not getting kidnapped, because I've never been kidnapped before."
[00:44:25] That's not really a good argument, right? And when I thought about that, then I realized how terrible and dangerous that argument really was and how many probably dead people there were, who had had that same fight with themselves. So, if something's too much to imagine, it feels unlikely. Climate change, nuclear war, giant depressions, the failure of the country you live in things like that just seem too big to occur because they're massive. And they're hard to imagine.
[00:44:53] Benjamin Hardy: I mean, that's an obvious threat to your future self is not spending time imagining about what could happen or thinking about it. You know, you may be someone who has a lot of bad habits and you can imagine that those habits will compound and take you into a bad direction, right? And so you're not even thinking about it, but also the reverse can be true where, you know, using Einstein's quote again, imagination is more important than knowledge. If you recognize and appreciate that your future self not only is going to be different and they could be wildly different, but also you have a lot of say in who that future self is. You can start to connect with that future self and start to imagine where you want to be and really stretch it out, you know?
[00:45:28] And you can use your past as a reference point that like your past self had zero perspective on how much you could have changed but now you've got five languages, you've got this big business, you've got this life. And so like you now see that, "Wow, a lot was possible and the transformation was massive." And so you can start to use that imagination to kind of stretch out how far your future self could actually go. You know, maybe to your current self, it makes no sense that you could have a ridiculously amazing financial life or a romantic life like that may be outside your current self's reality. But it's exciting to know that if you actually start to imagine it, think about it and stretch that. And then you start ultimately using that future self to reference what you do in the present to start making investments or like deliberate practice or just like learning about it, you can change pretty amazingly pretty quickly.
[00:46:18] And like, I definitely use myself as the example, like there's so many things I can do now that my past self had fixed mindsets about, you know, whether it be about money, about parenting. Even when I actually first became a foster parent of three kids. I had a lot of fixed mindsets about it. Like I really was a terrible parent and I still struggle with it a lot, but I'm seeing myself becoming a really, really empathetic, really loving parent, and learning how to actually like connect with my older kids and doing amazing things. And so I know I can develop attributes skills, abilities that my former self didn't have. It's a great perspective. And it really helps you.
[00:46:52] One other just quick thing on this is it reminds me of something that Brené Brown said. Brené Brown said, "You're either trying to be right, or you're trying to get it right. And if you're trying to be right, then you basically have a fixed mindset because you think that your current self has all the answers, but if you're just trying to get it right, then it doesn't matter how limited your current self is. Like, it doesn't matter if I'm not that great at parenting now, I know my future self could if I'm willing to learn. And so it just ultimately lends itself to a growth mindset where you just learn and then it just frees you from needing to be right. It frees you from needing to prove yourself. It frees you from being dogmatic and thinking I have all the answers now.
[00:47:28] Jordan Harbinger: When you care about your future self as well, you happily invest in that person. And I think we see the opposite sometimes when we see people destroying themselves. In many ways, yes, it's depression, it's addiction, it's all those things. But if you don't care about your future self, because things seem hopeless, you're going to not only not invest in that person, but maybe even borrow from that person like Homer Simpson, like we talked about earlier, the donuts and the beer.
[00:47:54] Benjamin Hardy: So I grew up in a massive environment of addiction. You know, my dad was an extreme drug addict. My brother still struggles with it heavily. And I see this, and I think about this with addiction, that if someone is massively destroying themselves, it's obvious that they're not connected with their future self. Yeah, and to your point, you could be so destructive that you're ultimately planning on your future self, either not existing or being massively crippled.
[00:48:20] And it's just evidence that your view of your future shapes your behavior in the present, your connection to that future shapes the quality of your behavior in the present. If you're not connected to that future or if you don't care about that future, then it really doesn't matter what you do in the present which was exactly what Frankl was arguing 50 or 60 years ago. And it also just kind of proves that we are driven by the view we have of our future. And if we don't want that future, if we don't care about it, we'll probably be pretty self-destructive in the present.
[00:48:50] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Ben Hardy. We'll be right back.
[00:48:55] This episode is sponsored in part by Squarespace. If you don't already have a website, well, you probably should. Having a personal site will set you apart from the sea of resumes while still remaining professional. It's a great strategy to showcase your work, even if you don't have a business. Sure, having a business website will build credibility, but even if you don't, it's great to have your resume on a website. It just has your personal brand cemented a little bit better than a regular social media profile or set of profiles. And it's never been easier or more affordable to create one. Service providers like Squarespace, they embody this ease of use better than any. You don't have to know how to code. You. Don't have to fidget around with spacing and all that stuff. With Squarespace, you just pick a template, a design theme. You customize by integrating your own images, copy and social media icons. Squarespace has all the tools you need to get your personal site or online business off the ground. You can even generate revenue through gated members-only content, manage your members, send email communications, leverage audience insights, all-in-one, easy-to-use platform. You can also add online booking and scheduling, which is super helpful, especially if you're a professional you're taking meetings. You can connect your social media accounts to your website, of course, create email campaigns all with Squarespace tools. There's not a billion things you get to plug in. And these examples don't even scratch the surface of what you can get done on Squarespace.
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[00:52:50] Now for the rest of my conversation with Ben Hardy.
[00:52:56] You mentioned the need to vividly visualize your future self. Look, I get it. That sounds a little hokey. Can we separate this from that manifesting bullsh*t? That's so popular right now with people who believe in this secret and all that nonsense. I want to separate it from that, because I don't want people to think, "Oh, I'm just going to meditate on all the things I want in the future. And that's what they're talking about because that's not it at all.
[00:53:18] Benjamin Hardy: No, no, no, it's not. I'll hit it in a few different directions. Let's start with first deliberate practice.
[00:53:23] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:53:23] Benjamin Hardy: So deliberate practice is basically the psychology of developing expert performance. What researchers show is it's impossible to engage in deliberate practice without a clear view of your future self. And so, as an example, you becoming a podcaster, at some point, you started to imagine yourself doing this well, and that then led you to practicing. You know, me writing books or someone becoming a tennis player. My son, as an example, he's pretty athletic, my oldest son, he's 14 years. He was playing a lot of tennis and he was getting all right, but he was always losing in his tournaments and his coach came to him and said, "Look, you actually have some potential."
[00:53:58] Then the coach explained to him, this concept called the UTR system, which is, I think called the Universal Tennis Rating system. Literally, every tennis player who engages in any form of tournament play is in this ranking system. So like Serena Williams, you could look up her UTR, you know, Nadal. And so the coach said, "If you get your UTR up to a three, you could get into this tennis academy. And if you actually get into this tennis academy, you have a shot at getting into college," you know? And so the question then for Caleb became, "Well, do you want to play tennis in college? Like, could you see yourself doing that? Would that be fun?" And before he had this UTR rating system, this measuring system, first off, he didn't even know that that was a possibility before having a coach talk to him about it, but then he didn't even know a pathway to getting there.
[00:54:40] And so now that he had this system to measure himself and he like had a goal, which was, "I want to get up to a three." Then he had a reason to ultimately start taking his practice more seriously. And then he actually started winning in his tournaments because he had a clear goal. And so I think that this is kind of an example of like, without a clear goal, without like measuring systems, it's really hard to engage in deliberate practice. It's hard to be useful and thoughtful with your time. And so yeah, you need to visualize your future self. Yeah, you need measuring systems and stuff like that, but that's not the same as the secret. It's more like, "Now, I actually have a path that I can direct my energy. Now, I have a reason now I actually see a future, I believe in." That's how I kind of see some of the differences.
[00:55:22] Jordan Harbinger: I see. So we can ask ourselves, "Hey, given my current context or situation, what are the most important things that I can achieve right now?" And then maybe we set out some milestones and some actual concrete ideas on what that might look like, as opposed to just thinking about something and hoping that it comes true because we're supposedly focused on it.
[00:55:42] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. So, it's certainly not just thinking about it. Like in simple, tangible terms, let me give an example, like even just writing a book. Like I have to actually see a book written in my head before. Before I can put it on paper. Obviously, the actual writing process is going to change, but I can't randomly write a book. I can't just like sit down and have habits. And this is actually one of the arguments that deliberate practice has against habits. In fact, deliberate practice is actually the opposite of habits. The idea that you can just do something over and over and expect it to turn into a result, doesn't work. You actually do have to have a goal.
[00:56:16] So like by visualizing your future self and getting vivid with it, you start to think about like, what does that look like? It could be, you know, back to the idea of like, we're going to go to the moon. That was a vivid future self that then led to a process. Finishing a degree, like you actually have to see that in order to like go forth and do it. And so I don't think it's that complicated. It's in a lot of ways, it's beginning with the end in mind. It's thinking about the future, getting clear about that future and then basically acting from that future or using that future to determine what you do in the present.
[00:56:47] Jordan Harbinger: Got it. So it's better to think and act from our goal as opposed to towards our goal, maybe.
[00:56:53] Benjamin Hardy: That's like literally exactly what being your future self really is.
[00:56:56] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:56:56] Benjamin Hardy: It's thinking from the end in mind and then doing what your future self would do. So it's like, if you're thinking from the goal, then you're doing what the goal would require. You're doing what your future self would do if they could jump back in your shoes and live it again.
[00:57:08] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:57:09] Benjamin Hardy: So if I see myself with an amazing family, then that should shape who I'm being now, that's being intentional. That's being your future self now. So it's really about being thoughtful. If I want to see myself with a lot of money at retirement. I think about that, I see that. And then I start being from that reality, rather than being as my current self and trying to figure it out, I start being from the future. I start using the future to shape who I'm being now.
[00:57:32] Jordan Harbinger: You've got this practical exercise in the book, writing a letter to your future self there's instructions on the site. But can you take us through this just in brief? I think it's really an interesting idea.
[00:57:42] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. So, me and my wife even did this and I use different examples in the book. Even I use Mr. Beast as an example, who's the famous YouTuber who did videos to his future self, and they're on his YouTube channel, Mr. Beast. But the idea of writing a letter to your future self, me and my wife actually did a time capsule. It's the idea of if I filmed a video of myself or even wrote a letter talking to my future self in 10 years into the future. And I just talk about where I think they'll be and what I think life will be like. It's just kind of a fun exercise, you know?
[00:58:13] And so what Mr. Beast did was he filmed multiple videos of himself back when he was 17 years old. So this was back in 2015 and these were short videos, but like he did different timeframes too. And this is kind of fun because you can use different timeframes, but like he made a video of himself talking to his future self six months in advance and he was just talking to his future self saying where he thought his future would be. And then, you know, he did it at 12 months, at five years and his five-year one recently came out. But yeah, it's just kind of fun to write a letter to your future self because it kind of gives you, number one, if you get there, it shows you how different it will be, but it can also be a reminder. There's actually a website, I think it's called future me where you can like automatically write a letter to your future self and then have that letter be returned to you five years from now.
[00:58:58] And so what me and my wife did was. When we were at our one-year anniversary, which was, you know, we got married in 2012. When we got to our one-year anniversary, we decided to make a time capsule a nine-year time capsule, which would get us to our 10-year anniversary, which ironically is in three or four months from now. We wrote letters to our future selves. We wrote like where we thought we'd be or where we wanted to be. And we also filmed videos of ourselves talking about what our lives are like but where we projected them to be. It's going to be funny because we're going to open those. But like, think about how little I could have predicted.
[00:59:26] Like at that point in time, we were living in her parents' basement. I had been rejected by 15 grad schools. I actually was thinking I was going to become a therapist instead I ended up going into organizational psychology. I didn't know I was going to go to Clemson. I didn't know we were going to have three foster kids. You know, like, I didn't know, we'd be living in Florida, so it's fun. It's useful. It's also entertaining. It's a fun way to direct yourself. You can use short-time frames or long-time frames. It's an enjoyable process. It gets you connected to your future self.
[00:59:55] I mean, that's really what happened to Mr. Beast because he thought about where he wanted to be five years into the future. And it kind of scared him a little bit. He's like, "Holy cow, I'll be out of college, probably. I really hope I'm a YouTuber." Like just the process of it allows you to start thinking, you know, back to the idea of people don't think things are going to happen because they don't think about it. This activity simply allows you to really start to think about your future self. Start to think about that future context and start to think about what do you want it to look like. It's a great activity just to get you connected at different timeframes.
[01:00:23] Jordan Harbinger: You've said trying and failing as your future self is better than succeeding as your current self. What does that mean?
[01:00:30] Benjamin Hardy: So this is really a bold way of describing the deliberate practice. So like Seth Godin talks about how, like, if I fail more than you, I win. And so the idea is, is that in life you basically get what your standards are, but if you make your future self your standard, then you're going to start failing at that standard.
[01:00:48] Failing is your future self means you're actually attempting at your future self. You're committing at your future self level. And there's going to be a growth process where you're not going to be at that level. And so obviously, you're going to be — basically it's idea that you're committing way above your current skill level or even your current confidence level. And so obviously, the process of attempting as your future self is going to lead you to a lot of failing as your future self, but it's better to be failing in a growth-oriented way than succeeding in a habitual way.
[01:01:14] And so the example I use in the book is Josh Waitzkin. He wrote like one of my favorite books called The Art of Learning, but he has a concept he calls investment in loss. Basically, how he described investment in loss. And he used himself as an example, becoming like a world-class Tai Chi practitioner, but he would always practice with people like four or five skill levels above him, whereas most people would practice with people at their own skill level. And so people, when you're practicing at your own skill level, you're not really forced to adapt to new challenges. Well, he was practicing with people way above his skill level. And so he was getting the crap kicked out of him. But by constantly doing that by putting himself in that uncomfortable position, which is essentially deliberate practice, he started to get really good, really fast.
[01:01:55] I really love skateboarding. I grew up skateboarding. And so one of my favorite skaters, he actually won the gold medal. His name is Yuto Horigome. And I love watching skateboarders when they're trying a trick that they've never done before because they literally eat it like 50 times, but they're literally failing at the level of their future self. Like they're failing until they land it, right? And they don't necessarily consider it a failure. It's just another way of saying learning. If you're not trying something beyond what you've ever done, then you're not learning. And so I just argue it's better to be failing towards your future self, or even as your future self than just being stuck as your current self. That's basically just a process of being in deliberate practice mode.
[01:02:31] Jordan Harbinger: You also wrote successes being true to your future self and nothing else. While that sounds a little harsh, I suppose what you mean here is the idea that we're always tempted by the easy road in many ways. We're kept from our goals, I think, not from obstacles in the way of those goals, but by a really obvious and clear path to something that is lesser. That's how I felt about going to law school. It was just like, what am I going to do? I don't know how to get jobs. I can't even get jobs at Best Buy retail because the competition is too strong even though I've got a college degree. I'll just go to grad school. And then when I go to grad school, I'm going to get recruited by a Wall Street firm that required me to put zero effort into actually getting the job. And here I am on Wall Street, a finance lawyer, not something I struggled and strived for. I worked hard in law school, but I just ended up here. I just followed the lazy river or maybe the not-so-lazy river and ended up in this finance job. And that was it. And I could have stayed there if the economy hadn't, it took a crash of the entire global economy to rouse me from that slumber so to speak.
[01:03:33] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah, it reminds me of just the simple Shakespeare quote, "To thine own self be true." Like we all know deep down in ourselves if we're being who we really want to be or if we're being kind of some shadow version of ourselves, you know, and they even have that whole concept of shadow career, which may have been relevant to you in the law degree world, where—
[01:03:51] Jordan Harbinger: For sure.
[01:03:51] Benjamin Hardy: —where you were doing something maybe similar, or just maybe something out of convenience, you know, it was a clear path to a lesser goal versus you actually being true to yourself.
[01:04:01] You know, and even Viktor Frankl would say, "You know what man needs is not a tensionless state, but rather than striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task." Frankl's belief was that you had to have something you believed was so worth your while that it was worth going through the rigors or the ups and downs of growth or challenge or difficulty. If you're not committing to what you ultimately want and you're ultimately accepting some lesser reality, it doesn't matter what you accomplish. You know, even people who achieve all sorts of material success, if it wasn't what they ultimately wanted, or if they had to give up what they most value to have it, you can't really consider them successful. Success isn't really about external indicators. It's really about are you being true with what you most believe and with what you most want.
[01:04:44] Jordan Harbinger: Shadow careers are, what? The idea that someone became an accountant instead of becoming a painter because becoming an accountant was easy and stable and had a clear path forward and so they just decided not to do what they wanted to do. Is that what the shadow career is?
[01:04:59] Benjamin Hardy: Shadow careers are actually even more subtle than that. A shadow career would be like someone who's an editor that wishes they were an author. You know, like it's close, but not quite there.
[01:05:08] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[01:05:08] Benjamin Hardy: You know, someone may be for example, like an accountant, because that was just where life pushed them are often, like, for example, people who grew up in certain environments, they feel like they have to become a doctor when really they wanted to be a painter. That's not really a shadow career. That is a clear path to a lesser goal. Or simply you just went to the direction that you felt you had to go. So that was more of an avoidance-oriented goal because maybe you didn't want to disappoint your parents.
[01:05:29] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:05:29] Benjamin Hardy: But a shadow career is more subtle. It's that you're doing something really close to what you really want to be doing, but it's safer. It involves less risk. You know for some reason you're doing it, but you're not quite there. It's like the matter of a few degrees. If you're one degree off, you know, that over a long enough period of time becomes a big distance far away. Even a shadow career could be like, someone is an author, but they're not even writing the types of books they ultimately want to be writing.
[01:05:53] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:05:54] Benjamin Hardy: And so you're kind of a shadow of yourself and you may feel like you're being who you want to be, but at the end of the day, you're sort of lying to yourself.
[01:06:00] Jordan Harbinger: That's interesting. The idea that you could have a shadow career that's really close to your giving career is a little more subtle and insidious. Because I think there's a lot of people who they think, "Well, I'm lucky. Look, I'm making a career in voiceover," but you really want to do animation and cartoons, and instead you're doing audiobooks and you're reading a bunch of books you don't like, but you're like, "Well, at the end of the day, I'm doing voiceover and this is what I wanted." But then in your spare time, you're watching Naruto over and over and you're imitating the voices that you hear in those, and wishing that that's what you were getting paid to do.
[01:06:30] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah, it's a harsh, but strong imitation to say, who's the future self you ultimately really want to be and would love to do. And it reminds me of what Steven Pressfield talks about in The War of Art, where he said, "The thing that your soul most calls for is often the thing you resist the most." You know what I mean? And so it takes massive courage to ultimately decide to go for what you want. You know, it often goes against the grain of either your environment or just the safety and security of a clear path to a lesser goal.
[01:06:59] It also, I think is more personal because it's what you want most. You may hold it tight to your chest. I mean, a lot of people, they don't really like to admit what they ultimately want, you know? And so they lie about what their ultimate aim is. You know, what Aristotle calls final cause, pulling the idea that everything is driven by goals. I think most of us were often dishonest about what we really want. We lie, and we then just say, "Well, no, I want this and this and this." Those are all shadows of what we really want. And we're not being honest with ourselves and we're not being honest with anyone else.
[01:07:28] Jordan Harbinger: So a good question for the listener then is what are we continuing to invest in that is taking us away from where we actually want to go? Because, of course, if I'd asked this question of myself in undergrad, I would've studied different things. If I'd asked myself in law school or before law school, I might not have even gone. If I'd asked myself in law school, I probably wouldn't have taken that finance job. I mean, there's just all these different directions and things I would've done differently had I known to ask this question and then was courageous enough to be honest with the answer.
[01:07:55] Benjamin Hardy: This kind of hits back to one of your first questions, which is like 80 percent of people are avoid-oriented, right? You're avoiding either failure or you're avoiding being rejected. You're avoiding people's opinions. And so you ultimately take some clear path to a lesser goal, or you go along a path and invest on a path that you don't ultimately want because you're avoiding whatever it is, you know, and you're living out of fear. It takes a lot of honesty, commitment, and courage to say, this is who I want to be and then start actually going for that.
[01:08:25] There's a lot of risks there, but also that's from my standpoint, the only life where you can start to really feel good about yourself and it then has nothing to do with anyone else's opinions. You are being true to your future self. You're being true to who you believe you want to be or should be. And therefore your life has a lot more meaning. Even if you come up short time and time again, at least you're doing what you wanted to do rather than doing something else out of fear or to avoid whatever it is you're trying to avoid.
[01:08:52] Jordan Harbinger: So we'll leave him with this. Ask yourself what few areas do you want to invest in so that you can see massive returns. That's basically the inverse of what you're investing in now, that's taking you away from where you want to go. What could you be investing in that would take you where you do want to go? And it seems really simple, but I think the process of figuring that out and then getting rid of the rest is probably quite a challenge. A lot of people have too many goals and the, so they never really get anywhere.
[01:09:18] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. I mean, goal conflict is a big thing. Even in a situation, you know, you may have the goal of sitting and being present with your wife at dinner, but you're also looking at your cell phone. The two competing goals that are actually thwarting what you ultimately want.
[01:09:33] I do like the idea of connecting with your future self and saying if I invested massively in some area, you know, it could be financial or it could be in a certain skill, you know? Even if in the case of Spanish. Like I actually personally do want to learn Spanish. I don't speak five languages like you. I speak just one and maybe I have a fixed mindset about my future self, but I do want my future self to have Spanish and I've got reasons why. And so the question is, am I investing in that? Or Am I still distracting myself with lesser goals? So it's a beautiful invitation to say, you know, what do you want to optimize yourself for? Which is basically another question of where do you want to target and focus your future self and start putting deliberate practice or just honestly focused effort and attention.
[01:10:12] There's a theory I've been just geeking out on lately called constraint theory. And basically what constraint theory says is, is that in any system or situation, there's a bottleneck. And unless that bottleneck is solved, you can't advance towards a goal. And the number one human constraint is our attention. Our attention is such a finite resource and frustratingly for all of us, our attention is overly spread thin. Whenever you're putting your attention into something, you're essentially investing in that thing, even if it's what you don't want. That's why, again, we are driven by the future we're most committed to.
[01:10:44] I think most of us we're often dishonest about what we really want. We lie. And we then just say, well, no, I want this and this and this. Those are all shadows of what we really want. And we're not being honest with ourselves and we're not being honest with anyone else. And then start using your attention to go in that direction and start eliminating anything that conflicts with that.
[01:11:03] Jordan Harbinger: Well, Benjamin always a fascinating conversation. I hope our future selves get to meet again soon.
[01:11:09] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah, absolutely. Super fun chatting with you, man. And thanks for another fun chat.
[01:11:15] Jordan Harbinger: I've got some thoughts on this one, but of course, before we get into that, most of us have big goals that we'd like to accomplish anything from getting in better physical shape, to quitting a lifelong vice to learning a new language, habits academy creator, James Clear shares processes and practicals we can use to incrementally change our own lives for the better. Here's a quick bite.
[01:11:34] James Clear: It's not a single one percent change that's going to transform your life, it's a thousand of them. Whenever I feel like giving up, I think about the stone cutter, who pounds a stone a hundred times without a crack showing. And then on the hundred and first blow, it splits in two.
[01:11:47] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:11:47] James Clear: And I know that it wasn't the hundred first that did it. It was all the hundred that came before. Newsworthy stories are only about outcomes. When we see outcomes all day long on social and on the news, we tend to overvalue them and overlook the process. Like you're never going to see a news story that is like, man eats salad for lunch today. Like that's just not right. It's only a story—
[01:12:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:12:07] James Clear: —six months later when the man loses a hundred pounds. The real reason habits matter is because they provide evidence for the type of beliefs that you have about yourself. And ultimately, you can reshape your sense of self, your self-image, the person that you believe that you are if you embody the identity enough. A lot of people watch too much TV or don't want to play as many video games as they do or whatever. If you walk into pretty much any living room, where do all the couches and chairs face? They all face the TV. So it's like, what is this room designed to get you to do? You could take a chair and turn it away from the television. You could also increase the friction associated with the task. So you could take batteries out of the remote so that it takes an extra five or 10 seconds to start it up each time. And maybe that's enough time for you to be like, do I really want to watch something? Or am I just doing this mindlessly?
[01:12:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:12:49] James Clear: The point here is if you want to build a good habit, you've got to make it obvious. If you want to break a bad habit, you just make it invisible. Your entire life, you are existing inside some environment. And most of the time you're existing inside environments that you don't think about, right? And in that sense, you're kind of like the victim of your environment, but you don't have to be the victim of it. You can be the architect of it.
[01:13:09] Jordan Harbinger: For more with James Clear, including what it takes to break bad habits while creating good ones, and how to leverage tiny habits for giant outcomes, check out episode 108 on The Jordan Harbinger Show with James Clear.
[01:13:23] This is a tricky one. The key here is to ask who is my future self at my next level. And when you do so think in different categories like health, business, family, et cetera. If you want to know about the threats to your future self and better ways you can do this, you can go to futureself.com and at futureself.com/threats. He's got a list of these threats to your future self things like bad habits and in more detail, of course. Things that can stop you from becoming the person that you want to be that are common that most people don't see.
[01:13:51] One problem is that many people are unwilling to start small. Nobody wants to feel like a beginner or a novice. People don't want to look bad or feel bad or experience failure. So they simply never start new practices or learning new skills. I see this all the time. For example, many people don't want to start investing 50 bucks a month, even when that's all they have, because they think, "Oh, it's too small." So they put off investing until they have, quote-unquote, enough money and it's way late in the game. The key is to build these habits and skills now. So they stack and they compound.
[01:14:21] Just like the networking stuff I've been bringing to you guys for the past three, four years now. It is actually much better, frankly, to start small. Make small investments, don't try and go all in because some Gary Vaynerchuk knockoff told you to on TikTok. It's all about small incremental steps to get you where you want to be and great habits at that.
[01:14:39] For more on investing in yourself and fostering the right habits, check out our episodes with James Clear and BJ Fogg right here in The Jordan Harbinger Show. You can find those in your podcast app on Spotify or at jordanharbinger.com.
[01:14:52] Big thanks to Benjamin Hardy. Links to all things Benjamin will be in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Books are always at jordanharbinger.com/books. And please use our website links if you buy books from any guest on the show.
[01:15:03] It does help support the show. Transcripts are in the show notes. Videos on YouTube. Advertisers, deals, and discount codes. These are the important ones. This is where we feed my kids. Those are all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please do consider supporting those who support this show. I'm also at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. I love hearing from you. You can also connect with me right there on LinkedIn.
[01:15:25] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships, using systems, software, and tiny habits, the same stuff I do every day. I've got a great network. I want to teach you how to do the same thing. It's a freaking wonder drug for your career, jordanharbinger.com/course. I'm teaching you how to dig that well before you get thirsty. Most of the guests you hear on the show are also in the course and contributing to the course. The course is free. You'll be in smart company where you belong, come join.
[01:15:50] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's trying to grow, evolve, you think they could learn from this one, share this episode with them. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with the people that you care about. And in the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on this show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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