Gabriel Mizrahi (@GabeMizrahi) takes a deep dive with us into one of life’s scariest constants: instability. We’ll discuss why it’s crucial for personal growth and how to embrace what it has to offer rather than trying to outrun its transient discomforts.
“Instability isn’t just a thing we need to deal with in life — it is life.” -Gabriel Mizrahi
What We Discuss in This Deep Dive:
- No matter how stable life might seem at any given moment, we should always count on one constant: instability. Change — whether big or small — is inevitable.
- Rather than trying to avoid or expel the uncertainty we experience in moments of instability, we should be taking notes and learning from it.
- At its core, uncertainty is really a function of how much information we have versus how much information we want.
- Uncertainty makes unpleasant events more unpleasant, but it also makes pleasant events more pleasant.
- Why you should trust that uncertainty exists to serve you.
- And much more…
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“If I knew then what I know now” is one of the most common things we say when we think back on times in our lives that didn’t go according to plan. With the clarity of hindsight, we bemoan the missteps of our past selves and wish we could spare them whatever unpleasantness they’re about to endure along the path that leads to us. But the real lesson we should take from this is that instability — while momentarily uncomfortable and disorienting — is crucial in order for us to grow.
Longtime friend and sagely screenwriter Gabriel Mizrahi joins us for this deep dive on The Jordan Harbinger Show to explain how we can embrace and learn from the instability that life inevitably throws our way rather than trying to hide from or banish it in favor of a more comfortable, predictable, and — let’s face it — stagnant existence. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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More About This Show
Life is full of surprises.
Longtime listeners of the podcast Jordan did for 11 years are slowly making their way over to this one as they learn about its existence. Subscribed to the old podcast, they were left wondering what happened when a show that had been running like clockwork for over a decade suddenly stopped without warning.
In fact, the abrupt migration was one of life’s aforementioned surprises not only to the audience, but to Jordan himself.
And while countless friends and colleagues insist that he’s going to look back on this time as “the best thing that ever happened” to him as he builds this podcast from the ground up, Jordan acknowledges he’s going through a lot of uncertainty while dealing with the instability of the situation.
“In my brain, and I know in the brains of anyone listening who’s ever been through a scary situation — whether it’s a health scare or a business scare — it doesn’t make you feel any better, damn it!” says Jordan.
But just because instability doesn’t always feel great while it’s happening, trying to extricate ourselves from the discomfort isn’t only ill-advised — it’s likely impossible.
The question we ask ourselves during times like this shouldn’t be “How do I get rid of or reduce instability?” Better: “What can I do with the uncertainty this instability presents?” or “How do I become better at dealing with the instability?”
What Is Instability?
The economist Frank H. Knight defined instability in terms of information — the uncertainty we feel when confronted with instability comes about because we don’t have enough information about the situation at hand.
“It’s really a function of how much information we get to have at this moment versus how much information we wish we had to make the decisions we want to make,” says Gabriel. “The gap between those two is where instability and the feelings of instability actually arise.”
If we think of information as food that our brain craves and consumes, it makes sense that we feel uncomfortable when we’re not getting enough information to chew on. So if we can resist being assaulted by the emotions that accompany such deprivation and recognize that what we’re feeling is a function of how much information we have versus how much information we want, we have a place to begin managing our response to instability.
The Uncertainty Intensification Hypothesis
The uncertainty we feel in response to instability stresses us out. But how does the anticipation we feel in response to something we view as a more benign instability — like going on a vacation or getting married — make us feel?
It turns out there’s a scientific explanation. Yoav Bar-Anan, Timothy D. Wilson, and Daniel T. Gilbert proposed the uncertainty intensification hypothesis in a 2009 paper based on studies suggesting that while uncertainty makes unpleasant events more unpleasant, it also makes pleasant events more pleasant.
In other words, uncertainty isn’t itself a problem — it merely amplifies our current circumstances, good or bad.
When you’re feeling uncertain in a situation of instability, try this exercise (with a journal if possible).
First, realize that this uncertainty is born because your information-hungry brain wants all the data. But since you can’t get all the data, your brain is just doing what it’s evolved to do. Accept the uncertainty.
Second, while accepting that you’re probably not going to get all the information your brain craves, evaluate the frame of your current circumstance. The uncertainty is amplifying certain feelings about the circumstance, but it’s not the circumstance itself.
What We Learned About Coping with Instability and Uncertainty
Here’s a recap of what we learned in this conversation. If you want some helpful reminders of what you can do to cope with instability and uncertainty, jot these down in a journal or print out this page and stick it to your fridge with a magnet.
- Believing that we’re above uncertainty or that we’ve evolved past it is the first mistake. So realize that instability isn’t just a thing we need to deal with in life — it is life.
- Recognize uncertainty as a function of the information gap that happens when the brain wants more information than it can actually get. Remember that the brain doesn’t care if that information is additive or correct or necessary for what we need to do right now — it just craves information for information’s sake.
- It’s not uncertainty itself that’s bad — it’s the conditions uncertainty creates that amplify the good or the bad.
- The journey we’re on isn’t necessarily one of recreating past times of stability, but adapting to the current instability in a way that creates a life we might not have even imagined.
“We might as well embrace it and come along for the ride.” says Gabriel. “Because at the end of the day, the biggest mental shift we can make…is this idea that we can call it uncertainty or instability — or we can think of it as possibility.
“Most of us are trying to chase after happiness because we think happiness is stability, but I think what we’re really after…is meaning and significance. That is a lot more interesting in the long run.”
THANKS, GABRIEL MIZRAHI!
If you enjoyed this deep dive with Gabriel Mizrahi, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
Click here to thank Gabriel Mizrahi 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 email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit by Frank H. Knight
- The Feeling of Uncertainty Intensifies Affective Reactions (The Uncertainty Intensification Hypothesis) by Yoav Bar-Anan, Timothy D. Wilson, and Daniel T. Gilbert
- Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas by Paul Graham
Transcript for Learning How to Cope with Instability | Deep Dive (Episode 4)
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:00:00] Instability is this state that throws our brains into this chaotic mode where we start stressing and hankering after information, but it’s also, as we know, uncertainty and stability, change is where we grow and flourish the most.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:16] Welcome to the Jordan Harbinger Show. I’m Jordan Harbinger as always, I’m here with my producer Jason DeFillippo, and on this episode we’re talking with my friend Gabriel Mizrahi. He’s the head of editorial here on the Jordan Harbinger Show. He’s been my friend for years and years, but he’s also a subject matter expert in a lot of different areas because that’s what we try and make him do around here. Today we’re talking about managing instability, learning to cope with instability, capitalizing on it, and turning it into an advantage. Now, Gabriel has just brought some brilliant insights today on what we might call the change paradox or the instability conundrum. As humans, we’re wired to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and do so as early as possible, but that turns us into these stability seeking machines, which means that uncertainty and stress can really make a mess out of us.
[00:01:06] A really big mess depending on how big the instability in situation really is. Of course though we only seem to really evolve when there’s change, when there’s instability. These are our opportunities to evolve. So we’re going to be discussing that paradox — how to turn this into an advantage instead of just something that causes you to lose sleep and we’ll explore some of the emotional and brain processes, neuroscience. Why we hate instability when it arises? How we solve the paradox? There’s a lot of practicals in here for something that a lot of us face and maybe don’t think about consciously or something that we do think about consciously that keeps us up all night, every night and that’s what we want to avoid here. I’m going through some of this right now. I wanted to share it with you and I wanted to do it in a way that gave you something to use straight out of the box as we always do here on the Jordan Harbinger Show. So here we go with Gabriel Mizrahi. So Gabriel, thanks for coming back, man. I know that you are a subject matter expert in a ton of different subject matter areas because that’s what we foist upon you here.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:02:06] It’s my pleasure. I’m happy to be back and it’s one of my favorite topics we’re talking about today and I think it’s universal. Every single person I know has dealt with it, so I’m happy to be talking about it with you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:16] So long-time listeners know about this particular situation about me, but if you’re new to the show, the brief overview is that I’m no longer with this company that I was with for 11 years that I co-founded and now we’re doing the Jordan Harbinger Show, as you know, by listening to this. But it’s a rather sudden, and we’re kind of starting from “scratch.” What this means for me in a nutshell here is that there is uncertainty, instability in a situation that I never thought I would be in my whole life, kind of even in my wildest dreams. And yet here we are and it’s creating all of these questions. Can I do this? Do I have what it takes? Still, can I rebuild? How long is it going to take? And it’s causing all these sort of, to put it dramatically, existential questions, right?
[00:03:09] Or I’m just like, can this happen in a way that leaves me more stable? Is this going to be good for me? Because of course what all my friends are saying when I call and tell them these situations and fellow entrepreneurs are like, this is going to be the best thing that ever happened to you. This seems scary now, but it’s going to be so great. But in my brain, and I know in the brains of anyone listening who’s ever been through a scary situation, whether it’s a health scare or a business scare, it doesn’t feel, that doesn’t make you feel any better. Dammit, you know, I’m going to look back on this in a year and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. That’s not helpful. So I want to talk about instability and uncertainty with you because you’ve researched the crap out of this and I want to help people who’ve either been through this, are going through this right now or what, which is inevitable going through this in the future. Does that make sense?
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:03:55] 100 percent and I feel like every single person who has either made a life change or has had a life change foisted upon them by circumstance or whatever knows what it’s like to not understand or know fully what the future is going to be and what kind of anxiety that brings up. It’s funny because like what you talking about is this very human desire to like create stability and to count on the way life is right now. And what is so interesting about life is that it always surprises us. We constantly are reminded that no matter how stable or certain things seem they’re going to change. Sometimes they change in small ways and sometimes they change in these huge dramatic ways and often very quickly. So it’s funny because I think a lot of the self-help content out there, and I’m sure you’ve seen this when you like if you Google how to manage uncertainty or how to deal with instability, you find all of these blog posts and video podcasts about how to like cope with it or reduce it, reduce is a big word that you hear a lot. Like how do I get rid of this feeling? But the real answer is that you can’t get rid of that feeling because that is life. So the question becomes what do we do about it? The question isn’t how do we get rid of uncertainty? It’s what do we do within that uncertainty? How do we become better within the instability?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:12] Exactly. And then of course in traditional Jordan Harbinger Show fashion, what we’re doing here is we’re going to give you practical tools to deal with this. Not just ways to make yourself feel better. There’ll be some of that, but mostly practical tools on how to make this into an advantage, which is kind of the name of the game here on the show, giving you something practical and actionable that you can use right now or give to somebody else who needs it. But by way of background, I want to dive into this a little bit because again, a lot of new show fans, but even for old hats who’ve been listening to me for a decade, I don’t want to gloss over the idea that this is something that I should be used to by now, which is another reason why I think it’s surprising me so much. Instability has been a major theme in my life by choice in many ways. It’s been one of the constants. I’ve made a lot of unusual, risky, unorthodox choices in the past. I’ve gone on a bunch of personal and professional adventures. As a result, when I was in high school, I ended up in the former East Germany as an exchange student. I worked for a nonprofit in Mexico. I traveled and worked in Serbia. I’ve been to North Korea with you actually a couple of times, even.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:06:18] Definitely among the most unstable choices we’ve made. I think.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:22] That was literally unstable. I look back on that and I kind of go, what? You know, who was that person? Of course building this show or the previous show over 11 years, that was something that was not a normal choice for a lawyer. And I’m saying all this because I’m still having so much trouble with the instability and the uncertainty in that. It’s just creating so many feelings in me and so much this uncertainty sort of breeds itself, right? It just continues. And I’ve had people say, “Well, you’d spend a lot of time in East Germany. Oh, you went to North Korea.” If this isn’t as bad as getting kidnapped in Mexico or Serbia, then you know, you’re just complaining, you know, that kind of thing. And I’m thinking, actually, no. You know what? No matter how much you go through, this still is something that you have to deal with. I don’t think there’s anybody out there that’s like, you know, this situation’s really tough for me. But I was in Vietnam so I can do anything. In the moment your past trials, they may have given you skills, they may give you confidence, but it’s sort of cold comfort in the face of something else.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:07:23] They never totally prepare you for how to deal with it, which is interesting. And there’s also, it’s worth noting that there’s instability that you choose, which is like for example, leaving a comfortable job to go start your own company or going to North Korea for example, you chose to go and then there’s instability that you have to reckon with, you have to deal with because something changed that was outside of your control and that probably brings up a lot more anxiety than your typical uncertainty.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:49] Sure. One is called an adventure and the other one is called “what the hell am I going to do right now?”
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:07:54] Exactly. And when things get tough, when you chose the uncertainty, at least you can be like, well I chose to do this. I sort of knew I might get into this situation. It’s very different when those things change. I think it’s worth talking for a second, Jordan about like what exactly is uncertainty? I mean we know what the experience of it is. We can all identify with that generalized anxiety or stress or fear. But it was really interesting when we were preparing for this episode to go back to some of the leading studies on this topic and there are scientists who have really done a wonderful job of unpacking this very vague concept of instability. And one of the most interesting ones that we found was this study a paper and a position by Frank Knight who was one of the leading economists in the last century or so.
[00:08:37] And he defined instability in terms of information like uncertainty is the state of a human being or an organism that doesn’t have enough information. And that information about whether something is going to happen or where it’s going to happen or how it’ll play out or why or when. In other words, when we talk about instability, it’s like really a function of how much information we get to have at this moment versus how much information we wish we had to make the decisions we want to make. The gap? The gap between those two is where instability and the feelings of instability actually arise and when you think of it this way, it’s really interesting because in a way like information is sort of the food of the brain, like where our brains are wired to consume it, so it makes sense. Yeah. Everyone listening to this knows what it feels like to want more information than you have. That is a much more specific and practical way to understand uncertainty. It’s not like, “Oh my God! My life is out of control. I don’t know what tomorrow is going to look like.” Right? That’s something that you can’t deal with because it’s sort of assaulting you as a feeling, but recognizing that it’s really just a function of information, how much we have versus how much we want gives us a place to begin in terms of how to manage it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:48] That makes a lot of sense. I love the concept of my brain thinking, I want this much information, which is like this huge circle, right on the sort of Venn diagrams. I love Venn diagrams, people. People got to know this.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:10:04] Let’s go back to sixth grade science. Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:07] Exactly. I remember getting those as homework and going, I can crush this one. Diagrams intersecting circles. Yes, and I can draw a circle and I can color it in, that much I’m certain of. The sort of Venn diagram of how much information I have is this little fist size dot versus how much my brain actually wants and I thought about this particular conundrum when you and I were discussing this pre-show. Unfortunately, the amount of information that my brain wants, it’s not just a big green circle that’s bigger than the circle that represents how much my brain actually has in terms of information. It’s not only is it the entire paper, it spills out across the universe. My brain is never going to be satisfied with the amount of information that it has. I could be the world’s foremost expert on just about any topic in the entire planet, right?
[00:10:59] It could be something that’s not even quantum physics in nature. I can know everything about ants. But the problem is my brain would still want to know more and I realized I’m not alone in this particular type of information seeking. Our brains do this and so that gap where the uncertainty is born that you mentioned that’s there no matter what, it’s just that our level of uncertainty is lower when we think we have everything on lock. We can sort of compartmentalize things. We can block things out. We can say we know enough about something, but we’re secretly still going to be a little bit worried about the next sort of project or detail. The problem arises when your brain wants all of this information that doesn’t exist yet, right? I can’t just research, Is it possible for me to rebuild this entire business?[00:11:42] I have never done that before. So if it’s about something that you’ve never done that you have no experience with, all you can kind of do is talk to other people about their experience and then just pray that yours is similar in a positive way or better. And that is what is driving my brain crazy now. And that’s what I think drives people insane when it comes to uncertainty is. It’s fine if you don’t know where you’re going to go to lunch today. It’s not fine if you don’t know how you’re going to actually obtain food.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:12:13] Totally. That’s a really good way to think of it. And I think everyone can feel that has had that experience of like uncertainty is inherently uncomfortable. Like instability is stressful because instability by its very nature stresses us out. And I kind of felt that way until we began to dive into the research and we found all of the studies that one of the, you know, we’ve just talked about one of the most important ones, but there was this other one, I don’t know if you remember this, Jordan, by a few scientists, you’re off bar none and Timothy Wilson and Daniel Gilbert. These guys propose this idea. They called it the uncertainty intensification hypothesis and basically what they say is that uncertainty isn’t this thing that’s inherently bad. It’s not like instability makes us unhappy because instability is uncomfortable. What they pointed out was that uncertainty actually makes unpleasant events more unpleasant, but it also makes pleasant events more pleasant.
[00:13:08] In other words, it’s not that instability itself is an issue. It just amplifies your circumstances. It amplifies what’s happening within that uncertainty, good or bad, which gets us one step closer to how to manage it. Because if we don’t treat the state of instability itself is bad and we can think of our lives as these series of events or conversations or decisions that happen within uncertainty. Then we can manage those things as opposed to trying to get rid of the general state of uncertainty that gives us so much anxiety. Because uncertainty in that way can actually serve us if the things happening within it are good or exciting or promising.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:43] And our brains automatically know that we as a culture, we know this because we have a different word for uncertainty that brings us good things, and that word is anticipation, right? We anticipate something. We anticipate going on an amazing vacation. We anticipate meeting somebody special or going on a date or our wedding day or something like that. We anticipate a fun time with our friends, but we don’t say that’s uncertain. “Oh my gosh! What’s going happen at the water park?”
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:14:10] My first date was so uncertain. It was terrible. It’s like, well, if it went terribly than it was. It was not pleasant, whatever. It was really exciting. It was all the more exciting, like, I like to think of it as sort of like rain or weather, right? Like the pouring rain is usually this thing where like, “Oh! It’s raining outside, it’s pouring. It’s going to be gross and wet outside.” But it’s actually about what happens within that rain. Like if you’re caught in the storm with this first date and then you start making out in the rain, then it’s super romantic. But if you’re caught in a storm without an umbrella and you’re late for a job interview, it’s a disaster. So that is a really helpful metaphor and it’s actually, I think more than a metaphor, it might actually be the way uncertainty actually operates. We just forget that it’s more like weather than a generalized psychological state.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:52] Great! So if we’re feeling instability or uncertainty, one thing we might want to do, one thing, your actions should be this, I mean to say one thing we might want to do. Your actions should be this. First of all, realize even if you have to write this down in a journal or something, realize that this uncertainty is born because you want all of the information and since you can’t get all of the information, your brain is just doing this thing it’s been evolved to do. And we can talk about why that’s in our DNA later on. But the second thing that you should do is realize, “Okay, the reason that this uncertainty is there is because I’m lacking information that I want and I’ll never have complete information,” but also that since I sort of assumed that this event is going to be unpleasant or since the event that is happening is actually unpleasant such as a business or health event or something like that, you can then realize and be very cognizant of this, and again, write this down in your journal or on paper if you have to, that it’s about the frame of the events. And I know that might seem like cold comfort where you’re like, “Great! So I’m going to write down that this uncertainty sucks because I’m worried about my relative.”
[00:15:57] Yes, you should actually do that because you have to realize that the uncertainty is amplifying certain feelings and circumstances. It is not the actual circumstance itself. I think that was a huge realization for me because it was easy for me to say, “I don’t have complete information. Oh my gosh! I need to have a sleepless night about this.” Now that I’m aware of this, I can go, I will never have complete information and since this is an unpleasant situation for me, what I can do is realize this and also realize that this uncertainty is amplifying this particular situation. So me trying to seek information, which I can’t get that just amplifies this unpleasant event. Your brain starts to realize that it’s futile. It’s really not worth the computational power because since I sort of know why this is happening, my brain is doing this automatically. I don’t feel this feeling like I’m unique in the universe and that this crappy thing is happening to me right now.
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Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:19:17] I think it’s also worth noting that the brain, in its hunger for information, doesn’t really care about whether that additional information that I want so badly, whether that information is true or useful or even like relevant at this moment. It just wants more. So it’s totally possible that getting more information wouldn’t even be helpful or would be marginally helpful and it’s more than enough information you have at this moment to make the decision you need to make. And seeing that very clearly really reduces a lot of that anxiety. It’s exactly what you just described, but we have to be aware of how our brain operates, which is really a form of mindfulness. What you’re describing is a kind of very simple practical meditation just to notice that the brain does this funny thing and then accept that, “Oh! It’s just doing what it’s wired to do. It’s this funny programming. I have that hungers after information. Do I need it? Probably not. Great. Let’s move on and embrace the fact that it’s uncertainty functioning as information that I actually don’t really need.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:13] Yes, exactly. When I was researching this, and I know when you were researching this, you came across studies about why the brain does this. Basically the brain wants to predict our environment. It wants to control our environment. It goes back to not getting eaten by predators and stuff like that. So these mental models, these maps we use to literally survive or have used in the past to literally survive. They require the continual reduction of uncertainty. So information gathering is this survival level process, which is why when people feel anxiety and stuff like that, about an event that they have uncertainty over or instability about, you can’t just say, “Oh! Everything’s going to be fine.” It’s like, well, my brain doesn’t know that because it doesn’t know all the facts. So my fight or flight is kicking in because in a primitive, a more primitive time, I would be running around trying to figure out this situation so that I can survive.
[00:21:07] So in other words, the less certain the environment, the more unstable these mental maps, these mental processes become. And the less we control the world around us, which is why I think a lot of people who have anxiety or instability over a certain event they do. We can develop some weird stuff, right? Where we try to hyper control other things because it’s the only thing we feel like we have a handle on. And the unfortunate part is we then avoid new information, which if you’re in a business or personal situation, you might actually need to get more information that is relevant. And here our brain is sort of protecting us by saying, “No, you want all the information but you’re just going to feel terrible for the time being.” And then we say, “You know what? I just got to block everything out and relax.” And that’s also a form of avoidance because our brains are hungry for this. From our brains perspective, there’s never enough information. It’s never going to stop feeling uncertain and we can’t behave as if it’s going to eventually leave us alone.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:22:03] The irony of all of that is that instability is this state that throws our brains into this chaotic mode where we start stressing and hankering after information. But it’s also as we know, uncertainty, instability, change is where we grow and flourish the most. And that is kind of the paradox I think of being human. Like where you are. We have evolved to control as many variables as possible so that we can predict the environment to your point so that we don’t die by getting eaten by some crazy predator or that we, you know, build a home in the summers that we have a place to live in the winter. All of those things are really advanced, evolved capabilities, but they are not the circumstances that make us great. I mean if you look anywhere in life, you always come back to the principle that it’s in the change where the growth happens, right?
[00:22:50] Like if you go to the gym for example, and you want to get stronger, you want to get more centered, you want to get more grounded, the first thing a trainer is going to do is put you on one of those yoga stability balls or a Bosu ball or a stand on one foot while you do bicep curls, right? Like in the most simple, in the simplest terms, your body has to be uncertain of itself in space in order to become strong. And you can take that metaphor to any aspect of your life. I think that’s where we get caught because we want to be, if you talk to anybody at any given moment, I would say, Jordan, tell me if you agree with this. But right now, like given the way the world is, how quickly things are changing politically, technologically. All these ways, the world has never been more unstable.[00:23:29] It’s never been more unpredictable. The economy alone is something that people think about every single day. So most people, I’d say including us, like we want to be stable. We don’t want to be going up and down. We don’t want to be dealing with situations where we don’t have all the information, but there’s absolutely no reason to get better or change if we’re not in those circumstances. And I feel like that paradox is the reason we read and listen to self-help in the first place and it’s the reason we’re doing this course right now because resolving it is the only way we’re actually going to be able to move forward and also be happy. Those two things can sometimes feel like trade-offs.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:06] Yeah, I agree with you on that feeling like a trade-off. What I will say though is I don’t actually know if the world in the economy and everything is more unstable. I feel like everyone thinks that, but I wonder that if we look at history, even some really simple examples like World War II, which wasn’t that long, I mean, it wasn’t even a full century ago that things were much — the Cold War, I think was even much more unstable than it is right now. I think we’re probably living in a really good time. This actually strikes me as a decent example. We’re living in a pretty good time. If you personally feel unstable or insecure or uncertain, it doesn’t matter if the times we’re living in are really good.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:24:46] That’s right. I was totally thinking that when you were talking, I was like, you know, objectively speaking, it could be less or more stable, but if your life or your experience of your life is unstable, then it’s unstable for you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:57] Exactly. That’s why we all look back in our childhood and we think those were simpler times. Our parents are probably like, “What? No, it wasn’t. I had a little kid. You, all you did was eat, sleep and poop and cry and ask for expensive stuff. And I was taking care of you and your father had gotten laid off and we lived in this dump and the block was dangerous and I couldn’t go out at night.” And you’re like, but I jumped in the bouncy house and you’re like, “Yeah,” your mom’s thinking, “so I took you to Chuck E. cheese twice so you think your childhood was this paradise.” Meanwhile they might remember it as the toughest time in their life and it just doesn’t matter because it’s all about our personal circumstances which brings me to another point. I know we’ve talked about instability a bunch over the years and I think it’s an exciting topic, but any change always comes with fear and apprehension.
[00:25:42] And we do the catastrophizing, right where we think of these worst case scenarios and we go down these rabbit holes sometimes at four o’clock in the morning. And even when things are kind of exciting, even when it means things can go well, right? Where everyone’s saying, “Jordan, this is going to be the best thing that ever happened to you. You’re going to get to rebuild and you’re going to get to do it your way.” There’s still a part of us and of me that’s like, “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I wasn’t ready for this. I’m anxious. Instability stinks. Why do things have to change?” And then you sort of realize, well, it had to happen at some time. And it’s like, but why now? Right? We all know we can’t avoid it. The smartest and most responsible people realize at some point or another that we can’t control everything.[00:26:20] And even the things that we think we are controlling have a way of changing on us. It just without warning. So we can’t avoid instability. We can’t avoid uncertainty. It’s impossible. I want to make sure that people understand that because again, we were kind of seeking to reduce insecurity. And so we gave people a tool on what to do when they start to feel it. I know we’ve sort of covered why humans are of these stability seeking machines, but I’d love to do our deep dive into specific strategies for becoming friendly with uncertainty. We learned a little bit of a strategy about what to do, how to cut this off when it starts to happen. But for me, I’ve got all kinds of questions running through my brain about comparing myself to where I was before and looking at the business in a different way and really seeking out, again, trying to reduce insecurity, but it is an impossible task. It’s like trying to reach the sky.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:27:10] Yeah. I remember we were talking on the phone two weeks ago, Jordan, and you said something really interesting. You were like, you know, everything in a matter of a week or two just changed and now everything’s sort of in flux and I’m not sure exactly what the next step is or what the next three steps are. I’m not sure where like what the first move for the show is and all of that. And you said, “I thought I was kind of past that phase.” And that’s a very normal reaction when something surprising happens, right? You’re sort of like, “Well, I sort of mentally prepared for my twenties to be this time of instability, uncertainty, experimentation, trying different things, seeing what happens and then building maybe in late twenties, thirties,” which is traditionally how we think of it. Of course, when you talk to people all across the spectrum, successful, less successful in any part of the world, in any circumstance, they all tell you like, “It didn’t happen that linearly.
[00:27:59] My life stages were not so clean where it was like my twenties were this, my thirties were that, my forties are that, right? Change is happening at different points. But that instinct, that reflexive idea of like I thought I was done with that is something that we can control. Because in a way, when we think we’re exempt from change, when we think we’re sort of above having to be unstable, we’ve already chosen to fight it in our minds. And in a way that’s a kind of privileged to say like, “Oh, you know, I shouldn’t have to deal with that.” Like it’s just like an exemption that nobody really gave you. And once you talk to people who are willing to be honest, and that’s another thing a lot of people don’t really like to open up about how uncertain or difficult their lives were.[00:28:42] Especially when they’re successful as we know, right? It’s not in their interest to be like, you have no idea how difficult for those five years where I almost failed. I was not totally, I was not on top of it. I didn’t know what was happening. I made a lot of mistakes. You’re not going to hear that kind of thing, but when you dig deep you end up finding that people really, almost every single person, whether they chose to or whether it was thrust upon them had to deal with instability. For me, that changed a lot because if you stop believing that you shouldn’t deal with it, then you’re there dealing with it, right? You’re just accepting that that’s part of what’s going to happen. Now is that something you can like open up to page 98 of our book and like figure, you know, it’s not a strategy that you can put hang your hat on. It’s a mental shift that you have to make again and again and again. Every single time that little thought pops up that says — this shouldn’t be happening, I shouldn’t be dealing with it. And when you see that very clearly, I think it makes it a lot easier to, in fact deal with it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:36] Yeah, of course. I mean this is kind of like denial ain’t just a river in Atlanta, right? So I personally have this feeling where it’s like, all right, I went on hundreds of other shows to promote what we’re doing here. I’m going on a hundred different shows. Again, I’m reaching out to my network, I’m having people help me out, but there’s a part of me that says, “Well, I already did this. Why am I doing this again?” And I realize that part is ego, but you still have to set it aside and it’s still a manual process. And then there’s another side, which actually is a little bit deeper than the first thing I mentioned here, which I think underlies some of the ego is, “Oh crap, do I still have what it takes?” You know, I built this show and I built the other company in my twenties and early thirties that was 11 years ago.
[00:30:26] Do I still have the hustle and the grind? The answer of course is yes. That’s why we’re here right now still doing this. And I’m not crying in my bedroom somewhere. But this question still arises and you still go, “Holy crap! I’m looking up at a mountain right now.” And you have to answer those questions in the affirmative in a very conscious way. Because before I was just kind of burying this, you know, I was like, “Oh yeah, you know, I’m going to have this plan and I’m going to do it.” And then I started going, “Well, you know, tonight I need to do this other thing and tomorrow I need to do this other thing.” And I was walking with my wife Jen earlier today and I said, “Hey, we need to buckle down and do this.” And she goes, “Don’t worry, I’m helping you do this but you’re right, we need to get to work.”[00:31:04] Because I realized there is this part of my brain that was almost procrastinating. And it’s understandable now that I look at it, because of course I didn’t, nobody likes reaching out to their friends and saying, “Hey, this really crappy thing happened to me where I’m between a rock and a hard place and I really need all the help I can get to get back on my feet and rebuild the show audience here. Do you have any ideas and can you help me?” That is not a super pleasant activity and I have to do it hundreds of times over the course of the rest of 2018 if we’re going to save the show, save the business, keep a producer Jason and Bob and everybody else fed and housed. And that’s a scary thought. So it’s easier for me to go, “You know what? Maybe I’m just going to read a little bit more or do some research instead of just feet on the ground running.[00:31:47] And our brains view stability in this weird way as well. So for example, I, a month ago, was doing a show that had 4 million downloads a month. Now I’m starting a show that’s fresh, brand new essentially. My brain made a weird comparison that was not serving me, that I had to discard. And I think if you’re going through this right now or you know someone else that is, you have to consciously figure out what your brain is thinking and discard things that aren’t serving you. So here’s what wasn’t serving me and you should write this down. Your action should be get out of book and write down some of these things. Some of these fears you might have even if you’re not sure. One of mine, which was a real eye opener for me that I had just this morning or maybe the other day starting to blur together was I was really at the top 4 million downloads a month.[00:32:31] Now I’m starting fresh. My brain was comparing where I am right now to where I was last month. That’s not helpful because I’m not thinking realistically about this. I wasn’t anyway. I was thinking I have to get back there before I’m stable and before I’m a whole person again before I’m Jordan Harbinger again. That’s terrifying, but that’s not really what’s true. What’s true for me is that you’ve got to get back on your feet. You’ve got to get shows going. You’ve got to get interviews going. You’ve got to continue using the skills and reaching out to your network. That’s the true part and that’s doable. I can do that over the course of the next weeks and months and then mission accomplished as far as moving the ball forward. But if I’m comparing, if you’re a CEO of a company and you get released by the board, you might be thinking, “Oh crap! Until I’m the CEO of another Fortune 500 company.[00:33:20] I’m nothing. I’m screwed. I’m a loser.” That’s not serving you, but it’s a subconscious process and you should write it down so that you can look at it and go, “Oh yeah, that’s not true.” Because otherwise it’s operating in your brain and it’s going to screw you up, man. I spend a lot of sleepless nights over the past month going, “Oh my gosh! It’s going to take me so long to get back to where I was.” And then I think it might’ve been you or Jen, somebody was like, you don’t have to get back to where you were. And if you do, it doesn’t have to be in a month or even this year. You can go in a totally different direction. And I realized, “Oh yeah! I was almost like I can’t rest until I’m back on top.” Why? Because that’s what my brain wants me to do because that’s where it felt safe. Well, tell your brain, feel safe somewhere else, buddy. Because if you’re waiting on that, you’re in trouble. And that writing that down and being conscious of that really helped me out a lot.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:34:11] That’s huge. That is huge. Yeah. And I think, I wonder actually I’m dying to ask you because I didn’t fully understand like what the psychology of that was. Is that the brain, your brain, going back to the last time it felt as stable as it had ever felt or is that the brain going, well my life has been disrupted. I want to get back to a place that was interesting and that’s my latest point of reference. That’s what I think I need to be. Because it sounds like you’re also opening up to the possibility that your life and your career might look different. That it might not be about rearranging the pieces to get back to exactly where you were. But that in putting together the pieces you might find yourself with a totally different life.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:52] Okay, that’s a really good point. And I want to dive into that to.
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Jordan Harbinger: 00:36:34 Yes, the psychology behind this was interesting because in order to face… this is kind of weird, it’s like opening up a different box here, but I think this is really important. I don’t know exactly why my brain went back to, but last month I was doing this and this and this and this and that’s where I last felt safe. Sure. Maybe that’s what my brain was doing upon 2020 hindsight probably. That was where I felt really good about everything and I was excited last and my brain wants me to go back there because it’s comfortable. However, on the other side of this, which was, “Hey, you don’t have to get back there right away. In fact you don’t have to get back there at all. You should be looking at this as possibility instead of just instability.” And that was a big realization for me.
[00:37:13] Everyone else is like, you should be so excited. You get to start your own show. You get to do your own thing. Finally, blah, blah, blah. Yes, I should be excited, but I’m the last person who’s getting that memo. I’m more focused on the instability because it’s happening to me. However, in order to wrap my head around the fact that I don’t have to get back to where I was with the Art of Charm, but can be somewhere else with the Jordan Harbinger Show, that required me to wrap my mind around a whole different level of uncertainty and instability. Again, because it’s easier enough. It’s easier I should say for your brain to go, “Okay, I’ve got to take the following steps to get back on top.” But really that’s not the right question. The question isn’t what can I do to get back to where I was?[00:37:53] The question is where do I want to go and does that involve some stability? Does that involve me being excited about it? But the problem is thinking about doing something new is even more uncertain than thinking about how to get back to where you were before, even if it was something that you weren’t really in love with. Does that make sense? It’s kind of like losing your job and trying really freaking hard to get the same job with another company and then you do and you go, “Shit! I hated working in this job. Why did I do that?” And then you’re like, well at least I’m stable now. But in order to think about doing a different, embarking on a different career, for example, Holy crap, you have to open up the possibility that there’s even more uncertainty and instability in your future and your brain just does not want to do that.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:38:37] Right. And I think your brain didn’t, and nobody’s brain I think is wired to do that. I think you just stumbled across the next key strategy and it’s a simple reframing, which is that we don’t have to think of uncertainty as uncertainty. We can think of it as a possibility. But to your point, the person going through that possibility, that uncertainty is not going to experience it as automatically as exciting or promising or totally, you know, inspired and open, right? Because you’re the one going through it. The stakes of it are yours. You have to worry about your family, your house, your career, your future, all of that. But from the outside, somebody might look at what you’re going through. And I’ve done this to you and we’ve actually talked about it, right? Where you tell me, “Oh my God, I’m facing all these decisions. I’m building from scratch.
[00:39:21] I have to do all these things. It’s, you know, I didn’t think I would have to do that.” And I’m sitting there thinking, well, this is actually really exciting. I mean, I’m picturing you in a year and where the show is going to be and that you’re building something new and on your own terms and it’s going to be different and it’s going to be very cool. And you’re like, “Well, yeah, I mean I can take a moment and imagine that possibility, but I’m the one going through it, right? I’m the one who has to go through it.” And then the uncertainty to your point compounds, the instability just gets deeper. So it’s a funny thing and I wonder, my question is, is there a way to hack that strange feature where like you can only think of your own life in a certain way because you’re the one living it. But if you were looking at your life from the third person perspective, you might view it in a much more charitable or exciting way. And I wonder how we can do that for ourselves when things get really unstable.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:13] I would love to go through that because I think that that’s something, not only am I going through that now, but I know lots of other people have asked me for advice on this. So I’ll touch on this once again and we’ll just dispense with it. The information gap, right? Our brain doesn’t care about the type of information, whether it’s true, useful, important, it doesn’t matter. It just wants more. And so we end up not feeling comfortable every step of the way, but we end up operating in our life generally without knowing the full story that happens in every aspect of our lives. The problem is when we feel like that information gap is big enough, we seek to close it instead of moving forward. And that I think is dangerous, especially for people running a business or working in a business because you can start playing defense so much that you become a non-productive frankly.
[00:41:02] So we need to notice our brain chasing after more information, especially when there’s just no more to be found. And write this down. Your action should be to write this down. Ask yourself if you need more or if your brain just wants to consume more. Because if you start writing that down, the next time you wake up at 2:30 in the morning and you’re like, “But what if this weird thing happens?” You can just go back and go, “Oh yeah! My brain just wants to know more about this situation and that information is not available. So I should just freaking relax.”
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:41:31] Totally. I would even go a step further and ask, is that information that I want so badly going to be 100 percent reliable? Is it going to even be correct and do I need it right now? Like if someone came along and gave you the answer to what the next six months would look like, it might be interesting to you and it might change the way you behave, but is that absolutely necessary for you to read the book that you need to read for an interview to record the next show, to reach out to those people? It’s kind of funny when you think about it when you get down to like the nitty gritty of what executing any project really looks like, it’s kinda crazy how little of that information you really need despite the fact that our brains are like, “I need it right now!”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:14] I agree with you there. I think our brains often seek out all information and weave. The next action step here is to only seek out information that is accessible and useful. This is easier said than done because basically what I’m sort of asking you to do here is decide what information you can get and then of course, decide what information is actually important. The problem is your brain doesn’t freaking know that if you did, you would’ve gone for that in the first place. But sometimes we really do need more information. For me, in this particular situation, it was like I want to know the next 10 moves of what the new company’s doing and I want to jump on strategy calls with people so they can start executing this stuff. And I’ll jump on these calls to other team members like Jason, Rob, you know, my wife is there and I’ll stop myself in the middle, or more likely producer Jason or Rob or somebody else will stop me and go, “You know, that’s a little bit of a ways off. Let’s go back and focus on ABC.” And that’s when I realized, “Oh, yeah, I’m trying to game out the next like two years of the business when really what’s important to me is, “Hey, you’ve got an interview with these great people later this week. You need to get down to brass tacks, focus on the quality of the show, focus on the prep.” ‘Cause my brain just wants data. So it’s like, “But what’s going to happen after the summer promotional schedule finishes? I’ve got a hundred shows. What am I going to do after the hundred shows?” and Jenny’s like, “Why? It doesn’t matter right now. What you’re going to do after the hundredth show appearance that you do, you’re not going to be seated where you are right now. So there’s no point in trying to plan that out.” If you say, “Then we’ll go on vacation,” great. That sounds like a plan.
[00:43:53] Don’t plan the entire thing. Don’t plan on what lunch you’re going to sit on at the beach, right? It doesn’t matter. It’s a waste of time. So you have to ask yourself these questions, can I actually get this information and do I actually need to know this information right now? So if you’re up at 4:00 a.m. and you’re freaking out about something, ask yourself, can I actually get this information and do I actually need to know this information right now? You probably don’t need to look up people who can get on a call with you and discuss audience migration of podcasts. You know, or how does radio convert for advertisers? You don’t need that information right now. And even though your brain kind of wants it, what your brain really wants of course is sleep and stability. So I was just amazed at how often my brain hungers for information that it cannot get in any way and to answer questions that don’t even need to be asked. My brain is a freaking machine for this and I guarantee you that anybody going through a hard time is going through the same thing. They’re asking themselves all kinds of crazy things that are totally irrelevant at that point in time.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:44:57] Totally. Absolutely. And it’s interesting you see that a lot with people who are a little more cognitive or a little headier as opposed to more intuitive or more instinctive because you know they tend to probably lead with their brains. They value their brains, they tend to be smart, they tend to be, you know, very cerebral and the brain is an incredible device. But to your point it also has these funny little nuances to it that don’t always serve us. You know, I was just thinking when you were talking a second ago about um, how uncertainty can actually lead to a much more interesting journey than you anticipated cause you were talking about ignoring these downstream decisions or data points that you think you want. Like where am I going to have lunch on my vacation? Or you know, whose podcast am I going to do after the 50th guest appearance? Or whatever that is.
[00:45:41] But the bigger theme here is that this instability that feels so bad when it’s happening is creating the circumstances for you to have an experience, to have a journey that you didn’t even anticipate. Like you might not end up on that lawn chair because you end up talking to this person in the cafe who ends up being one of the people who changes your life or whatever. You know, you encounter these people or these moments that you wouldn’t have otherwise encountered and then you come out the other side as a very different person. It reminds me a lot of this essay by Paul Graham, and I don’t think he’s the only person to talk about this, but I remember he was talking about startups and how when you start a startup, you really want to know what the strategy is. Like first we’re going to launch this product, then we’re going to market it to these people.[00:46:26] Then it’s going to catch on in this country. Then we’re going to go to these five countries. Then it’s going to be these a hundred accounts. You know you have like this, this roadmap that you subscribe to, even if it’s only in your head of exactly how this thing is going to play out and what he said, which really stuck with me was better to be like Columbus, like Christopher Columbus set out for India, right? Like that’s his thing. It’s like I’m going to go to India and then end up stumbling across America. Now, to be very clear, let’s just put aside the colonial and accuracies of this metaphor, right? We all know what really happened, but I think the deeper meaning is really relevant for what you were just talking about, which is that if you think that the journey of your life is to decide how it’s going to go and then to try to make sure that your life conforms to that idea of the journey as closely as possible.[00:47:12] The reason of course, is that anything other than that would create instability and a ton of stress and fear and chaos. But we all know that the more interesting journeys and every single person listening to this has had some moment or several moments in their lives that played out this way where you had the plan, you had the vision, you had the idea, and then life had a totally different direction and it was better. Or even if it didn’t feel better, it ended up being a lot more interesting or meaningful and the meaning of it is a lot more important in the long run than the feelings of instability that we try to avoid so much by controlling everything. And so that was totally on my mind when you were talking about the podcast and where it’s going to go because when I look at you from the outside, it’s like, “Well, yeah, all of this uncertainty is going to take you somewhere. You can’t even imagine, how cool is that?” But to mentally reframe that, it’s tough, but when you do it, it really pays off.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:03] Yeah. Because my answer to that question, how cool is that is, “It’s not cool, man! I’m freaking out here! What am I going to do?? And then I have to step back and think about, okay, can I get the information that I need? Do I need to know the information right now? What are the situations that I find myself in and can they be managed? And usually with this perspective, I’m just free to stop obsessing over minutiae and free to start focusing only on the information that can actually serve you right now. And that this is kind of like what generals and stuff have to do in the war room, right? Like it’s just, they’re sitting there and they’re looking at all these things happen and you can just sort of tell them when we interviewed General McChrystal, and we’ve had a couple of generals on the show, Admiral McRaven as well in the past.
[00:48:48] These guys have to be so steely in a lot of ways because they can’t really focus on everything all at once. They have to focus on what’s right in front of them, but also the next few steps of course as well. So you have to stop obsessing about all of these little details and accept that you’ll never completely eliminate uncertainty. And especially right now with everything moving so quickly and unpredictably, or at least according to our perceptions, moving so quickly and unpredictably, I think that it’s important for all of us, especially if you run a business or you know what, even no matter what, for all of us. Fife can surprise you even when you’ve worked to arrange it perfectly. And that I think is very important. A lot of us spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to avoid this. They’re like, “Oh! I’m glad I have diversified income streams and I’ve got this and I’ve got that and I’ve got this.”[00:49:34] It doesn’t matter. You can have $1 million in your checking account. You can have $100 million in Bitcoin, you can be living off of the interest in your house in The Bahamas, and then you can find out that you’ve got some health scare, God forbid, or that there’s a freaking hurricane coming and it’s going to blow your house down and you’ve got to deal with that, right? It doesn’t matter who you are, there’s going to be some point in your life that’s going to surprise you and come out of totally left field. How the F do we deal with that? And the strategy here is to realize that it’s going to happen. Focus on the information that you can obtain in that you need, just as we talked about above from practical terms and also to find meaning in it. Extract lessons in the instability. And this isn’t just getting philosophical about it, it might sound like it, but this is actually useful for processing this.[00:50:26] You have to realize that everything changes. I know it’s a cliche, but life just continually will do this to stability is not some sort of purpose, right? And it seems like stability is our purpose as humans. We have to realize that it’s a myth. If we don’t realize it’s a myth, then every time this happens, and I’m thinking about this right now, every time something like this happens, I’m going to immediately crumble up into a little ball on the floor and we can’t do that. We have to realize that with every unexpected blow, it’s basically the world trying to say, “Hey, remember you are not standing at the top of the podium forever. You have to pay attention.” So I love to wrap with a brief overview of the strategies and I know that look, this seems really scary and it is really scary and it’s supposed to be, and it’s the way that life reminds you that you’re alive in a way.[00:51:19] And it also gives you the ability to change and create different changes in your life, which are actually good things, even if in the moment they suck. So it’s important to realize that instability doesn’t mean bad. It means change. And also that this uncertainty exists to serve you. Because let’s be real candid here, we’ve talked in the past about how this is all exciting and productive and it’s really great and everyone’s telling me this is going to be the best thing that’s ever happened, but now that it’s happening — it’s scary, it’s stressful, it’s difficult. But we also know from the past that it makes us better. So how, how can we, how can we hang onto this, Gabriel? Give us a brief recap of the strategies and a little bit of a light at the end of the tunnel here.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:52:01] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, first of all, I think you hit the first and most important principle right on the head, which is that believing that we’re above uncertainty or that we’ve evolved past instability is the first mistake. And we get taught very quickly that that’s not the case. The moment things change on us, the moment we decide to make a change or the moment life decides to throw our change our way. So realizing that instability is not just a thing we need to deal with in life, but it is life. Like it is so woven into the fabric of what we experience and it’s going to hit us at some point or another is absolutely the first step. And then after that, the next important thing to do is to recognize uncertainty as a function of that information gap. You are talking about so much in this episode, right? Where the brain wants more information than it can actually get.
[00:52:49] And it wants information just because it’s information, not because it will actually be additive or correct or necessary for what we need to do at this moment. Once you realize that, you can kind of notice your brain during this funny thing that might not and probably isn’t serving you when really what you need to do is just act on the next thing that’s in front of you. Then after that, I think we have to come back to that uncertainty intensification hypothesis we talked about at the top where it’s not uncertainty itself that’s bad. It’s the conditions uncertainty creates that either amplifies the good or the bad. So if your life suddenly becomes unstable, if there’s a big change thrown your way, it feels like the anxiety that that creates is what’s bad. But it’s actually what is taking place within those conditions of uncertainty.[00:53:37] So it can be exciting, it can be promising, it can be inspiring or it can be really, really unpleasant. But it’s not the uncertainty doing it, it’s what’s happening within it. And that I think is also a really important thing to separate out. Then the last thing, Jordan, that you talked about is this idea that the journey that we’re on is not one of trying to recreate stability over and over and over again, but adapting to the instability in a way that creates a life we might not have even imagined from the beginning, right? Something totally new. And that’s usually how it plays out whether we want it or not. So we might as well embrace that and come along for the ride. Because at the end of the day, the biggest mental shift I think we can make, and I’ve really learned this from talking to you about it today, is this idea that like we can call it uncertainty or instability or we can think of it as possibility. Most of us are trying to chase after happiness because we think happiness is stability. But I think what we’re really after, what you’re after, what I really got from this episode is that we’re not after happiness as this concept that comes from everything remaining the same. We’re actually working on meaning and significance. And that is a lot more meaningful and interesting in the long run.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:46] Yeah, I agree. And I also empathize with people that are dealing with this in the moment. And I think we have to realize of course, that if we shrink from instability, we treat it as an enemy, we’re going to feel worse. If we do embrace it and we take it as an opportunity to grow, you will feel stronger. I know that sounds cliche, but I am literally using this in my life right now and I can promise you that’s the case and it’s not this uncertainty. This is a big realization for me, and I’ll leave everyone with this. It’s not the uncertainty that’s dictating the mood, it’s how I am operating, how we operate during the uncertainty that dictates the mood, right? Remember, anticipation of something exciting is also uncertainty versus the uncertainty of instability being a negative thing. It is how we operate during the uncertainty.
[00:55:34] My brain and probably many others’, especially entrepreneurs who faced serious instability is gravitating towards the negative because that’s what I’m trying to avoid and trying to control. But everyone else, and I mean that literally from my parents to my closest friends, to people that barely know me are thinking, this is super exciting. Even Jason, Jason, you’re excited for the future and you’re always like so happy and positive when I talk to you and everyone’s kind of wondering like, “Jordan, what’s your problem? You’re being such a downer. This is such a great opportunity for you.” But I’m like, “Weh?” And even Jason, Mr. Grumpy Old Geek himself is like, “Dude, get over it. Keep your head up. This is a great thing.” What do you think, Jason?
Jason DeFillippo: [00:56:12] Look, I have my own issues with uncertainty in this and I’m losing sleep over it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s exciting and I don’t think it’s a great thing for us. It’s just you have to work through it, but you have to look for the bigger picture. You get through them because
[00:56:23] uncertainty is good for you because then you have change in the future. And I think for us, I only see the bright side because if I look at the downside, how am I going to get out of bed in the morning? That makes no sense.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:35] So it’s a self-awareness essentially that says, “Hey, by the way, you can either think about this in a negative way or you can really focus on what the opportunity is,” and you feel that’s been a choice that you’ve been able to make quite readily once becoming aware of it. Whereas before I wasn’t even aware of it, right? I didn’t feel like there was a choice in how to feel about this.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:56:56] Yeah. We’re in the boat headed to Normandy and we’re going to land on the beach in about five minutes. That’s a certainty. So our certainty right now is we don’t have a show tomorrow. Let’s go get one because we don’t have the luxury of a bad outcome. This is what we have to do. So you step up and you do it. That’s how I get through it. There’s not an option here. We’re going to do it. Yes, there is uncertainty. You have to take that out of your head and just buckle down and put your big boy pants on like I told you, and let’s get to work and make something happen.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:24] It’s not just Jason saying, “You’ve just got to suck it up and do it!” Because that just sounds like someone’s dad saying this.
Jason DeFillippo: Sure, you’re a terror sometimes.
Jordan Harbinger: [0:57:29] Right, but what the other side of the coin is, we’re going to get up and do it, but it’s not just you going to grind through it. You got to walk through this sewer full of crap. This is actually exciting and once you can kind of wrap your head around the possibility behind the uncertainty, that is the fuel that keeps you going through it. It’s not just a slog. In fact, it should be the opposite of a slog in many ways. It might seem like a slog for the first few minutes, but once you get those waiters on those big boy pants, Jason, as you said, or your big girl pants, depending on where you’re at with this, it becomes exciting and fun if you let it.
[00:58:08] If you are trying to get all the information and control everything, you’re going to make yourself miserable. But if you allow yourself to see the possibility and the uncertainty, that’s been the key for me and for us, and that’s the lesson — one of the big lessons that we’re trying to deliver here in this Deep Dive. So thank you so much, Gabriel, for joining us today with this.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [0:58:25] My pleasure. Thank you for having me on, it’s so much fun to talk about it.
Jordan Harbinger: [0:58:28] So I opened up the kimono a little bit here and I’m trying Jason to take this balance where I’m not just talking about all these stuff that’s going on with me, but giving it to people in a way that they can actually use. I’d never really understood the type of situation that people feel, the type of emotions that people feel with this radical instability.
[00:58:49] So I feel like I’m in a very unique place because with all the skills and with all the help, with all the support we have from our network and with all of the thinking that, you know, I do about everything, especially problems, we’re in a really kind of a cruel opportunity. We have a unique opportunity because we’re in this place where we have to put all this brainpower on the problem of insecurity, instability, change. And it’s very uncomfortable frankly, but I wanted to make sure that this was useful. And Gabriel, of course, comes through in a collage as he always does.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:59:17] Of course, it’s always fantastic to talk to Gabriel because he’s just such a smart guy. But yeah, this entire situation has, I think, opened your eyes to things like extreme anxiety, which you’ve never really, I think had this level before and which is caused by the uncertainty. So yes, we are in a unique opportunity right now to learn from this and teach what we’re going through. And I think it’s fantastic that we can bring this to the listeners.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:41] Yeah, I’m very happy about this one. Not the situation of course, but the ability to share it is in a way, that sounds so cheesy, I kind of want to smack myself, Jason, and you know why. This almost feels like a gift, right? I’m going through this thing, I’m able to share it. It’s making me a better communicator, a better interviewer, a better coach. And I think that alone has been very insightful for me. Even if I wouldn’t have chosen this for myself. If you enjoyed this one, don’t forget to thank Gabriel on Twitter. I’m no longer at my original Twitter, so if you’re used to tweeting at me there, you’re not going to find me there for now. You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org I’m also on Instagram @jordanharbinger. That’ll all be linked up in the show notes for the episode, which can also be found at jordanharbinger.com.
[01:00:25] This episode of the Jordan Harbinger Show was produced and edited by Jason DeFillippo. Show notes are by Robert Fogarty, booking back office and last-minute miracles as always by Jen Harbinger. And I’m your host, Jordan Harbinger. Guys, this is a new show. I need you all to share it. If you’re a fan of what we do here, please share with anyone and everyone, frankly. Give us an iTunes sub, rate the show because this is what we need to sort of start rebuilding here and it’s a long path, but we need you to help us along in this journey. So share the show with those you love. Even those you don’t. We’ve got lots more in the pipeline, very excited about the possibilities in the future here despite all of the anxiety of getting through this particular slog. But 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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