Benjamin Hardy (@BenjaminPHardy) is an organizational psychologist and author of books about willpower, self-limiting beliefs, and teamwork. His latest offering (co-authored with Dan Sullivan), is The Gap and the Gain: The High Achievers’ Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success.
What We Discuss with Benjamin Hardy:
- If you measure your current self against your ideal (often chosen and defined by other people rather than yourself), you’ll never be happy because there will always be a gap. Unsuccessful people primarily focus on this (but we all wind up here sometimes).
- If you measure your current self against your previous self — and notice the gain you’ve made between yesterday and today — you’ll experience happiness, satisfaction, and confidence. The most successful people understand this.
- The difference between ideals (general, immeasurable, and constantly changing) and goals (specific, measurable, and time-bound) — and why your ideals shouldn’t be your benchmark for achievement, but merely the source from which your goals are inspired.
- How you can weed out the arbitrary reference points with which you’ve been burdened by external sources and choose ones that are actually meaningful — not just constant reminders of what you don’t have.
- How the increased confidence that comes from living in the gain allows you to set bigger and more imaginative goals to truly tailor the fabric of your own life.
- And much more…
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Many of us — particularly the high achievers among us — find our rate of progress unsatisfactory because of how we choose to gauge it. The ideal we have in mind is an ever-moving target that seems to be perpetually out of reach. When we measure ourselves against that ideal, we’re in the gap. But when we measure ourselves against our previous selves, we’re in the gain.
On this episode of the show, Dr. Benjamin Hardy rejoins us to discuss this concept as outlined in his latest book (co-authored with legendary entrepreneur coach Dan Sullivan), appropriately titled The Gap and the Gain: The High Achievers’ Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success. Here, we’ll talk about the psychological benefits of measuring our current self versus our former self, how we can use our own criteria to define progress, how to recognize the confidence-building gains we make, why our own intelligence can work against us and keep us stuck in the gap instead of focusing on these gains, and much more. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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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:
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Resources from This Episode:
- The Gap and the Gain: The High Achievers’ Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy | Amazon
- 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
- Dan Sullivan | Twitter
- Unsuccessful People Focus On “The Gap.” Here’s What Successful People Focus On. | Benjamin P. Hardy
- Hedonic Adaptation: How to Minimize Its Effects on Happiness | Verywell Mind
- There Is Nothing Noble in Being Superior to Some Other Man. The True Nobility Is in Being Superior to Your Previous Self | Quote Investigator
- The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin | Amazon
- Pacific Catch
- An Overview of Broaden and Build Theory | Verywell Mind
- Post-Traumatic Growth: Finding Meaning and Creativity in Adversity | Scientific American Blog Network
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins | Amazon
- These 5 Questions Will Change Your Life and Your Journaling Habit | Dr. Benjamin Hardy
- BJ Fogg | Tiny Habits That Change Everything | Jordan Harbinger
- Self-Determination Theory: How It Explains Motivation | Verywell Mind
575: Benjamin Hardy | Minding the Gap and the Gain
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to our sponsor Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky for the next few weeks, we're going to hear me talking about Glenfiddich and their bold new body of work. That aims to challenge the traditional notions, commonly portrayed in culture, of what it means to be wealthy and live a life of riches. Glenfiddich believes that beyond the material, a life of wealth and riches is also about family, community, values, fulfilling work. These are the values that led Glenfiddich to become the world's leading single malt scotch whisky. Today's guest Benjamin Hardy exemplifies these values and you'll find out why later on in the show. More from our partners at Glenfiddich coming up later in the show.
[00:00:33] Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:35] Benjamin Hardy: So there's a great quote from Ernest Hemingway, "There's nothing noble about being superior to other people; true nobility is about being superior to your former self." And so the only real reference point you can actually have is yourself. If I were to start trying to compare myself to you, I could probably find ways in which in my head I'm doing better than you, Jordan, if I really wanted to, and then I can find ways in which you're doing better than me. And I can do this about anything and everything. And so at some point you actually want to just remove external reference points. And so that's actually where you start living in the gain. So you're either in the gap where you're measuring yourself against something else or you can just go into the gain where you start referencing purely against where you were yesterday.
[00:01:19] 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 people at the top of their game, astronauts and entrepreneurs, spies, psychologists, even the occasional Fortune 500 CEO, legendary Hollywood director, or Russian spy. Each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical thinker.
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[00:02:10] Today, Benjamin Hardy is back on the show on the gap and the gain. Where are we focused on future outcomes as opposed to the process and path of getting the results themselves? Now, this one might seem a bit more self-helpy than usual, but I dig this topic, especially since I think high achievers and intelligent folks tend to be the ones most guilty of rushing to the outcome, as opposed to focusing on the journey.
[00:02:32] So, that is this audience for sure, right? The sort of high performer, getting stuck, focused on the outcome, and being in the gap. Of course, we've heard similar advice before, but it hasn't been from the amazing Ben Hardy. And of course, advice we get in this realm is usually non-actionable, it's motivational nonsense or pseudo advice. So I much prefer the type that we're about to hear from Benjamin Hardy here today. So if you're always seeking the next level and you're measuring yourself against others or even your own ideals, and I think that's probably most of us here, then this episode is for you.
[00:03:01] And if you're wondering how I manage to book all these great authors, thinkers, and creators 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. And by the way, most of the guests on our show, they already subscribed to the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[00:03:19] Now, here's Benjamin Hardy.
[00:03:22] Well, I enjoyed this book because I think a lot of people, especially people who are overachievers, want to be overachievers, or soon-to-be high achievers or overachievers, they live in what you call the gap, right? And the gap basically makes every experience negative. So what's going on here? What is this?
[00:03:41] Benjamin Hardy: Yes, absolutely. To give a little context, the idea was originally Dan Sullivan's and a lot of people don't know who Dan Sullivan is. He is the number one entrepreneurial coach, technically in the world. His company has been around for 40 years and he's like 77 years old. And this is an idea he came up with in early '90s. And so he coaches very high level entrepreneurs and he just noticed part of their process is just, what did you achieve in the last 90 days? And one of his clients was just talking about his achievements and then he said, "Yeah, but it really didn't matter. It doesn't really matter because this, this, and this should have happened." and so the gap is really just the idea that it's really just what you're measuring yourself against. You know, you and me, we're in different places than we were a year ago. Chances are we're in a better place than we were a year ago in many respects.
[00:04:27] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:04:27] Benjamin Hardy: But we'll feel like garbage if we're measuring ourselves against the idea we have for ourselves in our mind. That's really the key. What are you measuring yourself against? And most high achievers, because they're so driven, they're always measuring themselves against where they wish they were and that devalues what they just did in the past.
[00:04:42] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So to simplify this a little bit. Part of this is hedonic adaptation, right? And I can see this happening in my own life where I go, 10 years ago, it's like, "I just want to be able to quit my regular job and do my business," you know, 15 years ago. And then I'm like, "Okay, now I just want to be able to make half the amount of money I was making at my previous job doing my business and I'll be fine." Then it was, "I just want to match my income to what I was making before." And then it's like 10 years later, you're going, "I just want a beach house. And if I can get a nice round number of millions each year in my bank account, net, of course, then everything will be great." And so you just keep doing this until you're dead or whatever.
[00:05:20] Benjamin Hardy: Well, here's what's so funny. So I have a 13-year-old, a 12-year-old and a 10-year-old. Those are the three we adopted. We adopted these kids from complete abject poverty. These kids live in a trailer house in the middle of nowhere. They have now quite a bit of abundance, especially compared to their former selves, but even they quickly adapt to their situation. And so yesterday, literally yesterday, I let my 13-year-old son drive for the first time in a parking lot.
[00:05:47] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:05:47] Benjamin Hardy: And he's been asking me for a long time. The 10-year-old son was in the back seat and while the 13-year-old was driving, the ten-year-old said, "Dad, can I drive? Will you let me?" And I said, no. And he was immediately upset because now the standard was, "Well, Kaleb got to drive. Why can't I drive?" Whereas before, you know, so like—
[00:06:04] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:06:05] Benjamin Hardy: Literally, now he felt like he was being slighted because now he can't do it. And so it's easy to all of a sudden expect that this should be the norm.
[00:06:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, of course. Look, I've never felt more — well, this is an exaggeration, but I shouldn't use myself as an example because this part is not true. But I know people, especially when I worked in finance that were probably more miserable as multi-millionaires than they ever were as broke college students who needed like five bucks for a couple slices of pizza on a Friday night. Because in college, they were comparing themselves to their friends who were also broke, and one guy had like 10 bucks that he found on the road, or didn't spend as much at the bar or whatever it was and had enough money to do that. But now, they're comparing themselves to somebody who got a yacht and has a three-story house in Nantucket. And they're like, "Man, I just bought a two-storey ranch and my boat is smaller. And like, my life sucks." And it's completely ridiculous, but we end up doing this in all elements in our life. It's really easy to laugh at somebody who has an expensive car. That's not as nice as their neighbors and other sort of keeping up with the Jones's type ideals. But we don't realize that almost everyone's doing this at all times to ourselves because we're taught to measure ourselves against a future ideal. And that I think is an important concept. And I'd love to hear about this sort of gap treadmill.
[00:07:19] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. So the first place I think to think about is, and I talk about in the book, reference points. A reference point is the thing you measure yourself against. We go to school and the reference points that we're usually measuring ourselves against are how we're doing on tests in school against other kids. And so those reference points are always given by the teacher or the academic system, and it's always comparing us versus someone else. You know, I got a B, you got an A. And so that's kind of just the process, we're always taught to measure ourselves against external reference points. Those reference points are always given to us rather than chosen by us. And then, we now have a social media world where all of these reference points around us, the people on Instagram with like the six-pack abs and like everyone showing their yachts, you know, everything.
[00:08:03] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:08:03] Benjamin Hardy: It's very difficult. I actually did all the research and what they say social media, 90 percent of social media is for social comparison. And most people are doing upward comparisons where they're comparing themselves with people they want to be. The reference point, it's very difficult for people to develop an internal reference point where they start using themselves and their own desires and their own goals to decide what they want. And they start using themselves as their own measuring stick.
[00:08:29] And so we, as a society, train people to go into the gap and social media only compounds that. The gap is just where you keep comparing yourself with unreachable ideals, or you keep comparing yourself with someone else. And so you never actually are in touch with who you are and you aren't measuring yourself or your progress in a way, or even your experiences in a way that allows you to be happy or to be confident.
[00:08:50] Jordan Harbinger: The school example really, really hit me kind of hard because, look, school does define external reference points. I mean, we call them grades, but there's even more, right? There's even, there's like AP classes and now — I don't even know what school has now, but I guarantee you it's worse than when you and I were in it. It's probably even more like, "Oh, you're not in the whatsit phase club. Like you're never getting into college now because—" before you just had to have really good grades and a bunch of extracurriculars. Now, I can't even imagine what the bar is like. You don't have above a 4.0 GPA, you're going to live in your parents' basement forever.
[00:09:22] And these external reference points are given to us by other people by definition, they keep us in the gap and they're not really flexible. Like no one told me, "Hey, if you want to be really good in whatever, you should probably learn different languages and get international experience." They were like, "Take as many AP classes as possible. That'll get you into school." And then I applied to Michigan and they were like, wait list because you and everybody else just had the same AP classes. And then they accepted me. And when I got into Michigan law, which is a decent law school, I remember I was wait-listed there. And I was like, "Oh, thank God I got in." What really put us over the edge was you have a very diverse list of experiences and international stuff and this and that and the other thing. And I thought, all this stuff that literally everyone said was a waste of time, turned out to be kind of the only reason I was able to differentiate myself from everyone else. And it turns out they want differentiated people.
[00:10:13] And that obviously mirrors the real world. Most companies don't want to hire a bunch of people that think, do, and have the exact same background and qualifications. And yet what school does is try and force you into that sort of bottleneck, where everybody is getting hit with the exact same type of instruction. And this is a whole nother show where we sort of rag on the educational system, but social media, FOMO, right? These are all destructive reference points. Marketing keeps us in the gap too, right? Not just social media, but marketing in general is designed to be like, "Hey, look at that external reference point that you don't quite measure up to. You should feel bad about yourself, but we have the cure and it's only 49.95."
[00:10:54] Benjamin Hardy: You know, it's true. And I think there's a crucial point in a person's life. And sometimes it's young, sometimes they're old where they finally hit a point where they start questioning everything that they've been chasing for so long. And then they finally start trying to ask themselves, what do I really want? But for a lot of people's lives, they're always trying to get to that next thing. And then even for someone who's very high achieving. It doesn't matter what they've just accomplished, even if it was their dream. Now, it wasn't enough because now the dream just got way bigger. I think a big aspect of the gap is that when you're in the gap, you are fundamentally devaluing your own past. You're devaluing your own experience.
[00:11:31] A very simple example, like my kids come down to the dinner table, my wife makes a warm dinner every night. We work on the app a lot, but often they would come down and they would be immediately upset because it wasn't what they wanted. So they were measuring what was in front of them with what the idea was in their mind. Because they were measuring it against an ideal, they were immediately devaluing what was before them. And so when you go into the gap, you devalue everything about yourself. You devalue your experience. You devalue your past. And so you're not really getting much out of it. It doesn't really matter how far you've come. It's now no longer worth that much, because it could have been or should have been this or that. So, you just don't experience any joy fundamentally.
[00:12:13] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:12:13] Benjamin Hardy: But also you've kind of just wasted, wasted away a very precious thing that you wanted for so long.
[00:12:19] Jordan Harbinger: Right. There's a lot of people when I worked in finance to go back to the people who are really stuck in this. I remember people being super upset that they only got like an $80,000 bonus instead of a hundred and whatever thousand or like that somebody got a six-figure bonus and they got a five-figure. It was just like that ruined their whole Christmas and New Year. It wasn't that they didn't have enough money to buy things for their family. I mean, we're not talking about a hundred dollars bonus check versus nothing. We're talking about the size of the luxury car or the bonus check can purchase. It's a little pathetic when you think about it, but of course, they got no joy out of a check, a huge check.
[00:12:57] And we do this all the time when we look at social media. I think one of the examples, one of the sort of practical ideas that you give in the book is ask yourself how often you go on social media and compare yourselves to others. Because it's really easy to think, "I'm just sort of scrolling, because I'm going to bed." That's not really what's going on in your brain though. What's going on in your brain is you're going, "I don't go on vacations like that. I don't have cars like that. I don't have this and that, like that." You might not think you're doing it. Because I thought, oh, I don't really do that. I'm aware that some people do that, but I'm not doing that. And then I would just find myself kind of unhappy after scrolling social media. And I thought it was because I've wasted time doing it, but it turned out that these were little seeds planted in my brain, like, "Man, I do need a vacation. It has been a long time. Man, my last vacation, I didn't stay at a hotel with a view like this. I just stayed at a regular place. Why didn't I do that? I could have done that. Oh, well, I guess I'll do that next time, but I should have done it the previous time." You know, the self-talk that comes out of it, it's not coincidental that I'm living in what you call the gap. And I think it's important as well.
[00:13:58] Another practical from your book is to sort of ask yourself or journal your own reference points. You know, what are my reference points? And how did they get there? And most importantly, did I choose those reference points for myself or where they planted there? Like if we don't like the answer to where, what are our reference points and how did they get there, that's a clue that maybe we need to redo these.
[00:14:20] And I'll put these exercises in the worksheet for this episode, which is on the website.
[00:14:24] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah, go for it.
[00:14:25] Jordan Harbinger: At jordanharbinger.com. Yeah, we're going to sort of steal some of the takeaways from our episode here and put them in the worksheets. What do we do if we don't like the answer? What do we do if we don't like where we got the reference points and what the reference points are? And more importantly, how do we get new reference points? What do we even choose if I'm not choosing the size of my bank role or my stock market portfolio? Like, what do I put there instead? I can't just get rid of it, right? I've got to replace it with something else.
[00:14:50] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah, absolutely. You know, there are many levels to what we're calling the gap and the gain. I think the first one is, which we're talking about, learning to measure your own self properly and your own progress. And we can later. Turning any experience you want into a gain, which is also very powerful, but so there's a great quote from Ernest Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway, the novelist, he said there's nothing noble about being superior to other people.
[00:15:12] True nobility is about being superior to your former self. And so the only real reference point you can actually have. Is yourself. Like, that's the only thing you have to measure yourself against because no other there's no other thing that's actually comparable. Like if I were to start trying to compare myself to you, I could probably find ways in which in my head I'm doing better than you, Jordan, if I really wanted to.
[00:15:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I mean, I've done that.
[00:15:34] Benjamin Hardy: And then I can find ways in which you're doing better than me, and I can do this about anything and everything. At some point you actually want to just remove external reference points and just start referencing backwards. And so that's actually where you start living in the gain. So you're either in the gap where you're measuring yourself against something else. Or you can just go into the gain where you start referencing purely against where you were yesterday or where you were a year ago or where you were five years ago, because that's the only thing that you can actually really track yourself back against. Anything else is actually kind of an arbitrary measurement.
[00:16:04] And so when you're in the gain, you actually just measure yourself against your former self. How am I doing right now, compared to where I was before? Like one of my favorite quotes comes from Josh Waitzkin. He wrote The Art of Learning and he always asked himself: what did I believe three months ago that I no longer believe today? So he uses himself as his reference point, even like three months ago, six months ago. And if you start measuring your own progress versus comparing yourself to someone else, then you can actually start to see that you are making progress. You can start actually feeling like you're making progress.
[00:16:33] That actually starts to allow you then to stop comparing, stop competing, and then you can really start to open yourself up to, okay, well, what progress do I want to make? Not what progress do I think I need to make, or what should I do to match up to whatever else you're thinking. It really allows you to start actually getting to an intrinsic motivation place where you can say, what do I want and who cares how it measures up to anyone else?
[00:16:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I'll admit though that's harder than it sounds because I tried and I went, okay. I really don't care that much about money. I am a guy where I'm like, if I have enough, then that's good. And enough is a pretty, like low in arbitrary amount where I go, okay, my bills are handled and I don't have money stress, but then it's like, well, okay, I don't really have a whole lot else that is going to replace that. So I'm just looking at the scoreboard that exists with. Was this quarter of the business or this year of the business, more profitable than last year. And if yes, great. But then I'm like, well, wait, I shouldn't be stepping on the gas and I should be doing more.
[00:17:32] And I guess, look, it's a pandemic, so that's the other reason. It's kind of like I can't measure free time and travel and experiences as well, because that's going to get depressing really fast. Because it's like my experiences are now going to Pacific Catch for lunch on Tuesday with a mascot. You know, it's not like going to Greece and getting that bucket list item or buying a cruise from my whole family, like that's not in the cards. So I just find myself with these sort of unimaginative, possibly destructive reference points. And the only thing I find myself doing now, I guess in my defense here, is that I'm trying not to let them get destructive where I'm not obsessing over, let's say profitability. But it's like I just don't have a better idea of what to put in there. Does that make sense as reference point as a goal?
[00:18:18] Benjamin Hardy: My thought on it is this is definitely not — and by the way, I'm someone who spends a lot of my time in the gap.
[00:18:24] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:18:25] Benjamin Hardy: By the way, I write the books that I want to learn. I write the books that I want to get better at. I wouldn't call myself the master of this subject. I catch myself in the gap all the time. My kids even catch me in the gap, regularly.
[00:18:35] Jordan Harbinger: And to review that gap is focusing on what you don't have or you haven't accomplished yet. And the gain is measuring the progress you've made, what you've done, not what's left over or what's ahead, but what you've already done.
[00:18:45] Benjamin Hardy: That's level one of the gap and the gain will probably go level two as well. But yeah, level one is rather than measuring yourself against an ideal, whether it's where I wish I was. "Oh, I just published my first book. Oh but it wasn't a New York Times bestseller." Even though publishing my first book would have been, now it doesn't really matter because the yardstick kept changing because of hedonic adaptation. You know, now my kid has the expectation that he should be driving for some reason.
[00:19:07] Jordan Harbinger: Right at age 13.
[00:19:08] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. That's level one.
[00:19:10] Jordan Harbinger: It's a big screen TV phenomenon for people who don't know about hedonic adaptation. Nothing looks smaller than an 85-inch TV if you've just been watching on a 100-inch TV. Like your TV just looks like a pathetic POS at 85 inches. And if you watch a 27-inch TV, but you were just busy looking at your phone, you're like, "Oh, this is so much nicer," right?
[00:19:28] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. The gain is where you actually just compare yourself with where you were before you measure yourself backwards. And it enables you to fundamentally appreciate what you have, but also put it into context, which is where you were before. I will just say it's difficult in the beginning. It's natural to be in the gap. It's natural. I think part of it's because of our cultural society, training us with external reference points. It takes practice to connect with yourself. And this is really a deep internal practice where you just start measuring yourself backwards.
[00:19:57] But I will say if you try it, it allows you not only to have perspective, but actually to feel good and feeling good is really important. Like I break down — there's a theory called the broaden-and-build theory, which basically just shows that positive emotions lead to high performance. They lead to the right performance. They lead to positive things but just take the time to ask yourself, like, "Where am I right now versus where I was before?" You could even ask yourself, "Where was I a year ago?" Like, so you and I are talking in September of 2021. So look back at where you were in September of 2020. And you could just ask yourself, what's all the progress I've made, including great experiences, things I've learned, achievements.
[00:20:34] And if you just measure backwards against where you were before, you can usually see that you've had some progress, even if it wasn't the progress you were planning, you've certainly made progress. And then I think practicing it on a daily basis, what was some progress I made today? Just sit down and ask yourself, what did I get out of today? Because for high achievers, they may have five things on their to-do list, but if they only hit four of them, then that's the only thing that they see. "Oh, it was a bad day because I didn't hit that fifth one." And so therefore they just put that day in the gap. They just measured it against what it should have been in. So therefore that day is then framed as a negative.
[00:21:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:21:07] Benjamin Hardy: They've just devalued the whole day. And the goal of the gain is actually to radically inflate the value of everything, inflate the value of today, turn it into a gain because then that can bolster your confidence moving forward.
[00:21:21] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Benjamin Hardy. We'll be right.
[00:21:26] This episode is sponsored in part by Miro. Miro is a collaborative, white boarding online platform created to help people visualize, discuss, and share work. Basically, Miro is just like the whiteboard that hangs in every office where you and your team can write, draw, use videos, sticky notes, diagrams, or audio to conceptualize your vision. We actually used Miro to collaborate with our website designer in New Zealand and his team overseas. They were helping us improve the UI on several pages of the site. He created a Miro board to map out changes, suggestions, and ideas, using images and flow charts. It was really easy to visualize how everything would come together. So if you need a platform that organizes all the creative intricacies of your mind into one space, Miro is definitely the solution here.
[00:22:08] Jen Harbinger: Miro is creating a revolution in how we create and collaborate. So join over 20 million users today, you can sign up and use Miro today for free. Go to Miro. That's M-I-R-O.com/jordan to start your free account. Sign up today and take advantage of three free whiteboards with this exclusive offer. Go to Miro, M-I-R-O.com/jordan and start using Miro today. There's no reason to delay.
[00:22:31] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Glenfiddich. Glenfiddich Richest 25 campaign aims to challenge the historical unitary and largely misinterpreted vision of wealth and what it means to live a life of riches that is commonly displayed in culture. Richest 25 breaks from the single malt scotch whisky norm, and helps redefine what it means to be rich. The launch of the Glenfiddich Richest 25 is a curation of 25 individuals that challenged traditional notions of wealth and express an alternate idea of what it means to live a life of riches. For me, it's about fulfilling work and flexibility in my time, and nobody breathing down my neck except for you, Jen. And when there's too much breathing, I reached for my Glenfiddich 23. I want it to be old enough to have its own scotch if it wants to.
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[00:24:12] Now back to Benjamin Hardy.
[00:24:16] I'm laughing to myself because it reminds me of — a friend of a friend was telling us. He had had a pretty bad year because he loste — I'm trying not to laugh, but he's so funny. He said, "I lost a leg in Afghanistan." And then I said, "Oh, you know, sorry to hear that." And he said, "No, it's okay. I hit my weight loss goals."
[00:24:37] Benjamin Hardy: So he just turned that into a gain is what you're saying.
[00:24:41] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. He hit his weight loss goals.
[00:24:42] Benjamin Hardy: It's literally how you frame it. I mean—
[00:24:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:24:44] Benjamin Hardy: So there's a great quote, you know, and you've heard this before, "You don't see the world as it is, you see it as you are," right? Or you never actually see the outside world, you only see your reaction to it. You never actually see the thing. You only see your framing of it. So if I'm in the gap about the meal in front of me, I don't actually see the meal in front of me, I only see my reaction to it.
[00:25:04] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:25:04] Benjamin Hardy: If I see my achievement, I don't actually see it. I see my reaction to it. And so a lot of people we know, when you're in the gap about something, you devalue it and when you devalue it, then you don't feel good about yourself. And a lot of people because they're in the gap about themselves, they're just devaluing everything that they've done, because they're measuring against some arbitrary external that has nothing to do with them. Me measuring myself against you, has nothing to do with me or what I've done to this point but what we do, and this is true of someone with children, is when you put someone else in the gap, what you're doing is you're measuring them against your ideals. And so you're now making success an impossible foot for them because your ideals change all the time.
[00:25:45] Like, just as an example, recently, my 13-year-old son plays tennis. He plays a lot like four or five times a week. And it's funny because I'll go to tennis competitions, like kids are playing in tournaments and I'll just watch the other parents. And like, it doesn't matter how good their son is playing, the only thing you can tell that they're seeing is when the kid messes up and they're just like, "Ooh," you know what I mean?
[00:26:04] Jordan Harbinger: That's too bad, that's too bad.
[00:26:05] Benjamin Hardy: You know what I mean? And then, that's what they point out. And you are what you see by the way. You see the world as you are not as it is. And so if you're seeing all these gaps, it's because that's what you care about. I certainly see it, but I've gotten better at actually seeing the gains, seeing his progress and pointing it out to my son. And when I started actually pointing out his gains that he's made progress compared to where he was last week, all of a sudden his progress started to skyrocket. And if you can help him measure himself backwards so he can see his own progress, then he actually has a real measuring stick. Why should he measure himself against my ideals, which are in my head, which are imaginary and which are arbitrary? Like, why should I make that his measuring stick?
[00:26:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You wrote in the book that, I think Dan Sullivan said it actually, ideals are unhealthy as goals and ideals are by nature, not achievable. It's like a horizon line. No matter how much you walk towards it, you never actually get there. So you can't compare results even if there are results to an ideal, there's no point because like you said, it's imaginary and it doesn't exist. Otherwise, you're going to stay in the gap. You're going to see yourself as a failure, or it's easy to see yourself as a failure if you're always in the gap as well. And experiences themselves are only useful when they become a gain because you need the learning and not just the experience. Otherwise, what? I guess you just have trauma, right? You just have a negative experience without any learning at all. And that's sort of the worst of both worlds.
[00:27:33] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. I think the easiest way to put it is that you're the one who gets to do what you want with your own experiences. You and I are having a conversation here, Jordan, but you and I are having different experiences and I don't have access to your experience in this conversation. You don't have access to mine. When you're in the gap, you let your experience happen to you. You let your experience be the driver. My kids don't get the dinner they want. And so therefore they're not happy. The experience happened to them.
[00:27:59] And so being in the gap is reactive. You let, whatever occurred, be the thing. That's really how trauma does happen is something negative happens and you feel like you're worse off because that event happened and you framed it as a negative. You framed it as an invaluable experience. It was something that I shouldn't have had. And because there's no value in the experience and because it was so painful because it left you worse off, of course, it wasn't a gain, but when you're in the gain, you don't let your experiences happen to you. You actually happen to your experiences. You say, "This experience is mine. I can do whatever I want to it." And the goal is to inflate the value of it. And that's really how you create post-traumatic growth.
[00:28:37] This is really about turning experiences into gains, by the way, but it's about taking ownership of your own experience. Post-traumatic growth means you actually got something out of it. And ultimately, you get to a place where you're grateful that it happened because you are now better off because the result happened. And so you do frame it as. I think that that, as a mindset, is a healthy place to be where you can turn anything into a gain because you can squeeze juice out of your experiences and you can create enormous value.
[00:29:03] You actually value your experiences rather than devalue them. And you get stuff out of your experiences, meaning you're learning from them and becoming better through your experience. And so it doesn't matter really, what occurred in the end, you've turned it into a gain so that you can now be better as a result.
[00:29:17] Jordan Harbinger: Going back to what you mentioned earlier about always measuring backwards, I'd love to hear how you specifically implement this in practice.
[00:29:26] Benjamin Hardy: Yep.
[00:29:26] Jordan Harbinger: I do little bits. I do every day, and I say every day in quotes, because it happens when it happens. But like everyday with my wife, we do something called three amazing things. And I've mentioned this on the show before, and it's like, oh, I had a good workout today. And man, lunch was really good because we went to this new place and we found this new restaurant that we can go to for tacos. And that's great to have a new taco place. And then. oh, I got to play outside for an hour in the morning with Jayden, my son, when I thought I had a phone call because the phone call was canceled. So I spent, I got like 45 minutes of sandbox time before school. It was a great day. It sort of forces us to look for those little gratitude moments. And I kind of go barf when I hear people talk about gratitude because it's like corny and kind of overused, but we also do a more in-depth monthly roundup or it's like, what have you learned last month? What did we accomplish last month? And what do we want moving forward? What are we going to be working on? It's just sort of to get an idea so that we don't wake up in December and go, "What do we even do all year? I don't remember anything. I went to Target a lot." You know, like if that's not, what I want to hear at the end. My kid's bigger and I went to Target like 40 times. That's not a good year for me, right? I want to think about it more, but how are you measuring backwards in a way that's sort of concrete instead of just paying lip service to it, like we might on a podcast.
[00:30:40] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. So one thing that's really great about this is actually that the more measurable your past is, the more measurable your future can be as well.
[00:30:46] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:30:46] Benjamin Hardy: So having a measurable day as an example, like what were the things that actually occurred rather than, "Oh, it's just a good day. I'm going to go to bed," and then today becomes forgotten and lost. You actually now have some measurable things that happened. You actually did get to spend 45 minutes in the sandbox with your son. Like that's pretty measurable.
[00:31:02] So as far as practices go, one of the things I have in the front cover of all of my journals is I have five questions, but one of them is an entirely gain-based thing. So like the first question I ask is where am I right now? That's a list of bullets of, literally, what am I working on right now? Like I'm writing a book, I'm doing this and that. But the second question I have is what are the primary wins I've had in the last 90 days? And so I just list out like, you know, as an example, I finished this book, I took a trip to Omaha with my family. And so in the front of every one of my journals, I have, what are the wins? And I define wins as it could be progress towards goals, or it could just be positive experiences with my family, things that I just value. Every 90 days, I have that in my journal. I look at that and that just reminds me of where I was 90 days ago. And what I have found is the more I reference my gains, the more clear they become to me, which then enables me to create more clear gains in my future. Like, okay, what are the big wins I want the next 90 days.
[00:31:56] Another just simple daily practices, and we talked about this in the book, but what are the three wins that I had today? And those might not have been the three wins I was initially going to. I love the quote from Jim Collins in the book, Good to Great, where he says, "If you have more than three priorities, you have none." I frankly don't believe in having more than three things on your to-do list in a single day. Just because if you have like 10 items on your to-do list, usually that reflects a lot of decision fatigue. So I might say, you know, here are the three things I want to accomplish today, but at the end of the day, when I'm looking back, I just say, what are the three wins that I actually did have? And I just write them down. In the beginning, because people aren't very good at looking at their own progress, it can be hard. Like you can be like, "Really nothing good happened today." But if you actually sit and think about it, kind of like you just did. And it's like, "Well, I did actually get to do this or that."
[00:32:40] What I have found is once I actually do this — and I give myself less than five minutes to do it. Like I do believe in tiny habits and making it small, making it simple. So it's like five minutes, just sit down with my journal and write down what are the three wins that I had today. What I usually find happens is, when I start writing down three good things that happened that day, and it's not just about gratitude, although the research is pretty clear, and I know it is corny, but gratitude is pretty fundamental. Gratitude is essential to happiness. It does equate to happiness and better sleep and better decision-making. But this practice of measuring three wins is a gratitude practice, but it's also a confidence building practice because it actually helps you realize you did make progress and confidence is based on progress achieved.
[00:33:23] And so what I find is just by writing three wins every single day, I ended up making like a list of 10 because I'm like, "Oh, well that happened. I actually went to do that with my daughter or X, Y, and Z." But I also just think in general, it's good to reference back far, like reference back a year ago, what's all the progress I made compared to Benjamin Hardy 12 months ago? Where was Benjamin Hardy 12 months ago? In his thinking, in his goals, in what he was trying to accomplish. I'm a pretty different person than I was a year ago in large respects, and in what I'm going for, and even where I'm at in my life. And a lot of crazy stuff has happened in the last year. It's fun to track back and just be like, "What was I thinking about 12 months ago? What was I going for?" Then you could go back even five years ago, what the heck?
[00:34:01] And then you start to realize I'm like way beyond the goals of my former self. It's just fun to do that as a regular practice. And you're only measuring yourself against yourself. I think the better you get at it, the more you increase the value of each experience. The experience has actually become more measurable and you stop being on the hedonic treadmill. It doesn't mean you don't have goals and it doesn't mean you don't have ideals, but you just stop measuring yourself against them.
[00:34:22] Jordan Harbinger: But aren't high achievers sort of naturally in the gap? Isn't that sort of what causes drive a lot of the time? I mean, I know maybe that's an unhealthy way to create drive because — it seems like it's important to hang on to the drive and not mute that instinct or habit, but there has to be a balance. There's a lot of people who achieve a lot of things because they feel, I don't know, insignificant or like they can't measure up, which is great until it starts driving your whole life.
[00:34:47] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. It is true that that gap that people feel can lead to a lot of external accomplishment. And I'm certainly not against external accomplishment, but I think this conversation isn't really about that as weird as it sounds, because it really doesn't matter how much a person accomplishes externally, if on the inside they're radically empty. Like often people are driven to fill that gap because they feel like they need something in order to be worthy. They need that PhD. They need that million dollars. They need that yacht. And so they're always chasing this thing outside of them because they think that once they finally fill that gap. Then they'll finally be who they want to be, or there'll be love. They don't even really know subconsciously what gap they're trying to fill.
[00:35:34] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:35:34] Benjamin Hardy: But it goes back to the hedonic treadmill. It doesn't really matter how much they make, how many billions or whatever it ends up being. Most of them end up being unhappy because the gap was always inside of them. And so they kept trying to fill it with external accomplishment. Sure, it did lead to a lot of accomplishment, but in the end it didn't really mean anything because they never actually were who they wanted to be. They never actually became whole, and they didn't realize that happiness was an inside game. Once you actually realize that then you stop being driven by need. You stop thinking you need that thing. And then you can just be who you want to be. Interestingly, it doesn't mute ambition.
[00:36:11] I have found, and it goes even back to my son, me being in the gain about my son doesn't mute his desire to be a really great tennis player. It just allows him to actually enjoy playing tennis more and feel better about his progress and measure himself against himself rather than against the other tennis players. And ironically, it makes him a better tennis player in the long run. I feel like me just writing this book and just learning these philosophies and ideas and practicing them, I've actually accomplished enormously more in measurable terms than I have in any other year. And I'm not defined by any of those accomplishments.
[00:36:44] What it's muted is actually my worry of what other people think of me and it's muted my sense that I need anything beyond where I'm currently at to be successful or be happy. So what it really mutes is the trash that leads people to chasing things that they don't really want anyways, because they're insecure.
[00:37:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that obsessive passion versus harmonious motivation, right? Where you're just doggedly chasing approval and to fill the gap that's inside you the whole time to start to put the rainbow on it. But you're chasing this outside metric that — going back to the finance guys, I was talking about at the top of the show, right? These guys who are making millions of dollars and they're still pissed off and they're still unhappy and they're still miserable. And they bring it through everything that they do because they're trying to fill this black hole. They don't really have anything that they actually enjoy that they're pursuing. It's all about this external motivation but they're getting after it obsessively, but it's to their own sort of mental and emotional destruction. And it's really easy to fall into that.
[00:37:41] You mentioned earlier that you really won't stop the habit entirely anyway, in fact, trying to always be in the gain will keep you in the gap because being in the gain all the time, it's just another ideal, right?
[00:37:52] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. I catch myself in the gap all the time and there's nothing really wrong with that. It's pretty human nature, but the idea is just to get back to the gain as soon as possible, and being in the gain is just a more healthy connection you have with yourself. It's just a practice. I go in the gap every single day. I let my kids call me out. If I'm going in the gap, which is a, "Dad, you're in the gap." And then it's just a quick little reframe, "Oh, okay." You don't need to try to be perfect here. What this whole philosophy actually enables you to do is it allows you to leave perfection.
[00:38:22] Perfection is an ideal. And so you actually stop trying to be perfect and you only start focusing on your own progress. And that really is the healthier key, like rather than, "Oh, I wasn't perfect. I didn't hit my five metrics today." Instead you actually focus on progress, not perfection, and you say, "But I did hit those four. And what did I learn as a result?" And once you start focusing on progress, then you've increased the value of your own self and your progress. And the ironic thing is, is that it actually enables you to create better progress in the future. Not only more measurable progress, but the right progress that you actually want, rather than chasing some external that you thought you needed.
[00:39:00] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Benjamin Hardy. We'll be right back.
[00:39:05] This episode is sponsored in part by Burrow Furniture. Burrow is setting a new standard in furniture with easy to move modular designs, timeless American mid century, and contemporary Scandinavian styles and premium durable materials like responsibly forested hardwood, top grain Italian leather, and reinforced metal hardware. There's a lot of pressure when it comes to picking the right furniture for your space, whether you have an eight-floor walkup with a narrow staircase or an awkward room, Burrow has tons of options for you no matter what your space is like. Instead of warehouse stores and high pressure showrooms on Burrow's easy-to-use website, you get to create and customize your own furniture without leaving the house. Free shipping on every order no matter how small or large. And the Burrow team is always available to lend a hand from custom orders to rescheduling a delivery.
[00:39:47] Jen Harbinger: Thanks again to Burrow for sponsoring the show. Listeners can get $75 off their first order at burrow.com/jhs. That's burrow, B-U-R-R-O-W.com/jhs for $75 off, burrow.com/jhs.
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[00:42:06] And now for the rest of my conversation with Benjamin Hardy.
[00:42:11] What are some questions we can ask ourselves to see if we're in the gap? Or is it so obvious that we don't need that? Because it seems like it would be easy for me to say, well, one to be unaware of it. So other people call you out, that's always great. But is there a set of questions you ask yourself? Is there a scenario where you might be on the fence about whether you're in the gap on something or is it just so obvious that when you see it, there it is?
[00:42:33] Benjamin Hardy: Well, let me give you an example. Yesterday, I was with one of my friends and he actually happens to be reading the book.
[00:42:38] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:42:39] Benjamin Hardy: Because I let him get a pre-advanced copy, but we were talking about the book I'm writing right now, which is a different book than The Gap and the Gain. I told him, "You know, I'm way behind as I always am in writing a book on a deadline." And he's like, "You always say that," and I said, "I know I should be a lot more diligent in the beginning." He's like, "Stop sh*tting on yourself." You know what I mean? He's like, "You're in the gap." He quickly called me out even yesterday, literally, because I was like, yeah, I should be doing this. And if you think you should be doing something, then you're probably in the gap. You can do what you want to do. I could say I want to be better and more diligent when I'm writing a book so that I don't push it all off to the end. I can do that and I can then make that a goal and I can make that progress. And then I get better at measuring, how did I do on this book versus the last book? But if I think I should be doing something, I'm probably in the gap.
[00:43:26] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. So we frame challenges as something that is a gain rather than a gap, right? Because it's really easy to look at a challenge and if you're me, especially, it'd be like, "Here's all the things I'm not doing to meet that challenge," as opposed to, "Actually, it's kind of good that you're learning Chinese, you shouldn't be thinking about all the words you don't know in Chinese, or like how poorly you did this morning in the lesson during conversation. That's kind of ridiculous since you're freaking taking Chinese," right?
[00:43:51] Benjamin Hardy: Whoa, how about how long have you been taking Chinese as an example?
[00:43:53] Jordan Harbinger: Years.
[00:43:55] Benjamin Hardy: Okay. And where are you compared to where you were a year ago?
[00:43:58] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, of course it's better. A year ago from now, it's hard to say, but like two, three years ago, it's night and day, right? It's not even close.
[00:44:05] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. And I think. When you start getting mad about where you are and where you should be and how you could be doing better, you're certainly in the gap. And you're doing all of those things to other people as well.
[00:44:15] Jordan Harbinger: Guilty.
[00:44:16] Benjamin Hardy: We can all get really in certain dark headspaces about, it could be our spouse, and thinking about all the things that they could and should be doing. So when you start going into those places, you're certainly in a gap. When you're thinking about, oh, I could be doing better, should be doing better, all of these things are you going into gap about yourself or about someone else or about that leader or about the economy. You can go in the gap about America and about where America is at and about, oh, you know, this political party, that political party and all of a sudden, you're just measuring it against what you think it should be. And you could just turn all of these things into gains, all of these things into learning. And so, yeah, it's just healthy to regularly reference back.
[00:44:52] Okay, you can get better at Chinese, Jordan. We both can agree and you can improve. Go ahead, but let's go ahead and sit with where you're at right now. And let's say, what are the things you're doing right now with Chinese that you weren't doing three weeks ago? And how have you improved in Chinese over the last three weeks? That's where we're going to start. What are you doing right now versus what were you doing before? How have you progressed from there? And then if we want, we can decide where you want to go. But the only healthy place to begin is where are you at compared to where you were before? Like, let's just start there. You're learning Chinese. This is something you want to be doing.
[00:45:25] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:45:26] Benjamin Hardy: And you are making progress. If you want to make faster progress, you can do that. There's nothing wrong with wanting things. There's nothing wrong with having goals. But let's start from the healthy place of where are you right now versus where you were before and that's the place to always start.
[00:45:38] Jordan Harbinger: So it sounds like we need a plan for what'll happen or what we do if we find ourselves going into the gap, right? We need to immediately develop the tiny habits as BJ Fogg would say of sort of reframing it and going, all right, we give people permission to call us out, or we notice it ourselves. We're in the gap. And then we say, all right, so now I'm going to sit down right now and immediately reframe it, or just do this in your head. You don't need to like bust out your computer or anything to do this. You just immediately look at the gain and the upside and come and do that backwards comparison to get back into the gain. But why this is tricky though, is it seems like our brains are just evolved to forget the gain.
[00:46:13] If I'm looking at myself, I'm almost always forgetting what I've accomplished. The second it's done. I didn't go to my high school graduation, my college graduation, my law school graduation because I was like, I was done. I'm done with it now. That's not necessarily being in the gap, but that's a metaphor for my whole life. Accomplish a goal and get an award and I forget about it. I might have a beer or whatever, but I forget about it minutes after that. It's just like, what's next. I never sort of rest on my laurels, which is good, but it also kind of keeps me from enjoying a lot of things that I probably should enjoy.
[00:46:44] Benjamin Hardy: And I will say that this topic is not a conversation about how can Jordan achieve more. It's literally not. I believe you actually will achieve more if you apply this, but that's not the purpose of this conversation.
[00:46:57] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:46:57] Benjamin Hardy: You're already achieving a lot. I could give you more tactics if you really want to go and get three more X on your podcast or all the things you feel like you need to be successful but there's a million books on that subject. You can go keep achieving more, Jordan, but I think you and your audience are already achieving and you're going to keep achieving. The actual purpose of this conversation is not for you to achieve more as weird as that sounds.
[00:47:20] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:47:21] Benjamin Hardy: Even though I robotically it will help you achieve better and probably more in the long run. But the actual conversation is how can you actually find value in your achievements and be happy and it will not mute. The question you ask is the fundamental question every person like you and me asks: why would I do this? Because being in the gap is what has enabled me to be successful. Cool. Are you happy? Probably not as happy as you could. And how about former you and all of the million milestones you hit along the way, were you ever happy? What's the next one going to do for you? Is it going to eventually make you happy? Are you ever going to actually get there? And so this conversation isn't actually to help you be more successful, it's actually to help you be more happy and to value yourself more.
[00:48:06] And once you actually start to do that, then you stop needing those next achievements. You don't need them, but you can go get whatever you want. Go ahead. I still want to write more books. I'm literally writing two now.
[00:48:20] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you're crazy.
[00:48:21] Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. Two are going to come out next year.
[00:48:22] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:48:23] Benjamin Hardy: My ambition isn't muted, but I will say I'm not missing as much of life as I used to. I have six kids, you know that, and I know you've got kids and like—
[00:48:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's crazy.
[00:48:31] Benjamin Hardy: When you're in the gap, you are missing your life. You're missing the life that's right in front of you because you're always here wishing you were there. I as someone who's a high achiever, I know you're a high achiever, we're living in our heads. We're always in the future. We're never in the present. I'm a believer in having goals and being driven by my vision. But I'm also a recognizer of how much I miss, what's sitting right in front of me, and valuing what's right in front of me. And also appreciating what me and my wife have built and just actually enjoying it and enjoying it along the way and seeing my kids for who they are.
[00:49:03] If I'm in the gap about myself, I'm not actually seeing myself for who I am. I'm seeing myself for what I wish I was. And so my current self is a piece of trash. If I'm seeing my kids in the gap, I'm not seeing them for all the amazing experiences we've had or for all the progress they've made, which should be acknowledged. And I would hope they see it. I'm only seeing them for all the places that they're never measuring up.
[00:49:25] And so being in the gain is really about, I mean, from an experiential standpoint, increasing the value of what you can be and what you can do, but it's also about actually being where you are. Being here and not needing to be anywhere else. You can still have anything else you want, but you're here and you fully appreciate everything it took to bring you to this moment.
[00:49:47] Jordan Harbinger: Speaking of need versus wants, I think this is something that a lot of people struggle with. We make up stories about why we need something. And you talk about this in the book as well. We make up this sort of story about why we need something versus why we want something.
[00:50:03] Benjamin Hardy: All needs, by the way, all needs are justified. You have to justify a need, but you don't have to justify a want.
[00:50:09] Jordan Harbinger: What do you mean by that?
[00:50:10] Benjamin Hardy: What I'm saying is we have to explain all these reasons why we need something.
[00:50:14] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, sure.
[00:50:14] Benjamin Hardy: If you feel like you need something, you feel like you have to justify it.
[00:50:17] Jordan Harbinger: That's a good point. But if I want something, which is hard for me to wrap my head around, it's okay to just want something, but I don't know what it is, but is it the way that we're raised or whatever, it's like, it's not okay to just want something. You have to need it. Even if we say, "Oh, I just want my own private jet or something like." You say, "Well, no, I, it would be good because it'll get me places faster, which allows me to do better business and I won't be bothered. I can read more. I'm going to be learning more. I can do more. I can sleep better." And it's just like, "Well, okay. So what you're saying is you need it, but really, you know, you want it, but you're sort of lying to yourself and everyone else." And like you said, justifying or rationalizing and this moves the goalposts, especially financially or materially over and over and over. It's really important then to realize when we want something, just because we want it versus when we made up a story about why we need it, because otherwise it's damaging to our mental health, our emotional health, and also it just keeps us in the gap like 24/7, until we're dead, basically.
[00:51:20] Benjamin Hardy: It's very powerful to live your life based on want because then you don't need to defend what you want against anyone else. Like, I don't need to defend to you why I want to do whatever I want to do. And that's really what intrinsic motivation is all about is knowing what you want and not needing to worry about what anyone else thinks about it. You then can actually be what psychologists would call self-determined. Self-determination theory being one of the core theories of motivation in psychology but if you feel like you have to justify it, then actually you're needing to be determined by whatever the justification is. And if you just decide, I want this because I want it. I want to be on this conversation with you. And if I want to walk away, I'd walk away. Like, you know, it's nice to say I want it because I want it. Who cares what you think about it? I want it because I want it and there's nothing wrong with that. You don't need to convince me why I should want it or why I shouldn't want it, I just want it. That's when you can just live from intrinsic motivation. You don't need to justify it. You don't need to defend it or explain it. You can, in your mind, have your reasons why, which can enhance the motivation. You can be who you want and you don't need anyone's permission to do it. And you're measuring yourself accurately, that's when the internal reference system is really at play.
[00:52:29] Jordan Harbinger: Great. Well, look, I love the idea. I love the concepts. I think they're simple, but also very important. And a lot of us, myself included are going to be working on this for the years to come. So thank you very much for teaching this to us today, and we'll see you back probably next year with one or both of your new books.
[00:52:45] Benjamin Hardy: Of course, man. Happy to be with you, Jordan, always.
[00:52:49] Jordan Harbinger: If you're looking for another episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show to sink your teeth into, here's a trailer for another episode with retired astronaut, Chris Hadfield.
[00:52:57] Chris Hadfield: I watched the first two people walk on the moon and I thought, "Wow. I get to grow up to be something. Why don't I grow up to be that? That's the coolest thing ever." It is purely the direct results of all of those little minute-by-minute decisions that I've made since starting when I was a kid just turned 10.
[00:53:17] When I got the telephone call asking if I would like to be an astronaut, I was at the top of my profession. I was the top test pilot in the US Navy as a Canadian, and then to be selected as an astronaut, suddenly, I'm a guy who knows nothing. I sit in my office and I'm like, I'm a complete imposter. I have zero skills right now. Whenever anybody has offered to teach me something for free, I've always taken them up on it.
[00:53:44] How are you getting ready for the major events in your life? The things that matter to you, the things that have consequences? Are you just sort of waving your hands and go, "Oh, it probably turn okay?" Or, are you actually using the time available to get ready for it? Maybe it will turn out okay. But if the stakes are high, to me, that's just not a gamble I willingly take.
[00:54:01] If at some point like you think, you know, everything, you need to know then you're just in the process of dying. What astronauts do for a living? It's visualizing failure, figuring out the next thing that's going to kill you, and then practicing it over and over and over again, until we can beat that thing. If we know how to deal with it, then you do a much better job and a more calm and comfortable way of doing it as well. You don't miss it. You're not overwhelmed by it. It's something you could do while thinking of something else. You'll notice how beautiful it is, how magnificent it is, how much fun it is. You're not just completely overwhelmed by the demands of the moment.
[00:54:38] Jordan Harbinger: For more on how commander Chris Hadfield managed to stay focused on his dream, starting at age nine, to become the first Canadian to walk in space, check out episode 408 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:54:50] I'm really digging this concept. Normally I'm not like a self-helpy sort of cheesy kind of guy, but I think this is actionable. We have to use our own criteria to define if we are moving forward. So we don't necessarily need to compare ourselves to ideals or a specific results and certainly not other people. We're using our own criteria to decide if we are better than we were before. And so that's a very measurable and very obvious when you get the answer, instead of just, "Well, if I just had a couple more whatever's," right?
[00:55:18] And realizing your gains then builds confidence. Confidence then of course breeds success later, but the success actually comes first, not the confidence. And I think a lot of us have this backwards. We think if we were just confident, we could get to the success. Success builds the confidence in the first place. And so you have a virtuous cycle there. And you can, we can be happy where we are versus itching for the next move or the next goalpost. And that stops us from measuring up to metrics put forward by other people which are going to be pretty much by definition, unhealthy.
[00:55:48] And I said this at the top of the show, bright people really are the worst of this because their/our smart brains often stay in the gap and it leads to a losing battle that they can never really win. I've heard that smart people are often more likely to be depressed because they really are in the gap a lot. It's sort of endemic to overachieving. So I'm not saying just don't care about anything, but I am saying use your own metrics instead of ideals and metrics put forward by others, because that is a recipe for unhappiness.
[00:56:17] One useful exercise from the book was, we can always ask ourselves what if I lost the thing I'm in the gap about. For example, you're complaining about your computer being slow or the battery not holding a charge. What if I didn't even have the computer? That's what you ask yourself, right? What this does is it doesn't help you avoid or ignore an actual problem but it does help keep things in context, right? I'm grateful for the computer now. I need it even though the battery doesn't hold a charge, even though it gets too hot on my lap — which by the way, is bad for your sperm count, or a bit otherwise. These types of questions and mindsets and reframes help keep us in the right state of mind to keep moving forward versus ignoring or using sort of spiritual bypassing, which some self-help folks are doing to avoid the problem itself.
[00:56:58] Now, it's important to note, and I know we covered this on the show as well, but you won't stop this habit entirely. In fact, trying to always be in the gain will keep you in the gap, right? Because then you're just using another ideal, which is staying in the gain all the time. And then you end up in the gap and then it ends up being the cycle that you're trying to avoid in the first place. It's like a boat course line, right? You're never really on course, you're slightly to the left or slightly to the right going over it. You're just self-correcting the whole time. That's the gain. We'll never play the gain perfectly, but we can play it skillfully with awareness of where we are.
[00:57:32] And again, this is a little bit more self-helpy than usual. So if this is your first episode of the show and you're like, "What the heck?" I usually do episodes that have actionable scientific advice. I think this fell right in line. I always love having Ben on the show. So thanks for sticking. And I hope you enjoyed it as well. The book is called The Gap and the Gain. It will be linked in the show notes and @jordanharbinger.com/books.
[00:57:51] Links to all resources from the guests are always in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Please use our website links. If you buy the book, it does help support the show. Worksheets for the episodes are in the show notes. Transcripts are in the show notes. And there's a video of this interview going up on our YouTube at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. We also have our clips channel with cuts that don't make it to the show or highlights from the interviews that you can't see anywhere else. jordanharbinger.com/clips is where you can find that. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or hit me on LinkedIn. I always love connecting with you there.
[00:58:22] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using the same software, systems, and tiny habits that I use every single day. That's our Six-Minute Networking course. The course is free. It's over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig that well before you get thirsty. Most of the guests that you hear on the show subscribe and contribute to the course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company where you.
[00:58:44] 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 the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who can benefit from this type of advice, please share this episode with them. I hope you find something great in every episode. Please share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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