If you're like almost everyone else, you think you're special: smarter than average, kinder than average, more attractive, a better driver than most, ahead of the curve in your profession, and self-aware too. But chances are you're wrong. The vast majority of people think they're self-aware: they think they know themselves and how they appear to others. But the vast majority are wrong: self-awareness is a relatively rare skill. A small minority seem born with it, a slightly larger minority have learned it. But luckily, despite your likely lack of self-awareness, you too can learn it. It'll just take some effort - and some intense discomfort.

This is the subject of Tasha Eurich's recent book, Insight: The Surprising Truth About How Others See Us, How We See Ourselves, And Why The Answers Matter More Than We Think. Today on the Truth Perspective we discuss Eurich's book, the insights she shares, and some of the tools that are proven to work to help us raise our self-awareness, and thus help us succeed in our jobs and relationships.

Running Time: 01:32:15

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Here's the transcript of the show:

Harrison: I'm Harrison Koehli, this is the Truth Perspective. Joining me are Elan Martin,

Elan: Hello everyone.

Harrison: ... Corey Schenk,

Corey: Hello.

Harrison: and Adam Daniels.

Adam: Hi everyone.

Harrison: Are you self-aware? Would you consider yourself to be self-aware? Just take a few sections and ponder that, and come to the ultimate conclusion that, yes, you are self-aware. Because, chances are, that's what you would answer for yourself, given the opportunity. Apparently, according to research by Tasha Eurich. Eurich? I guess I should have realized or figured out how to pronounce her name!

95% of people when asked if they consider themselves self-aware will answer in the positive, that they are indeed self-aware. But, according to the researcher's same research, same findings, only 10 to 15 percent of people are actually self-aware. This is a similar result, a similar finding as several others, showing that, for instance, when asked if they are, asked where they place, above-average, you know, you know, top 1 percentile, or below-average. Most engineers for instance, or 95 percent of engineers, I think that's the, no, 999 out of 1000 engineers will say that they are above-average engineers. Only one would admit to being average.

94 percent of professors would rate themselves as above average, and etc, etc. In addition to that, it's often that people who are least competent that overrate their abilities the most, who actually think they are at the top of the class when they are, in fact, at the bottom. This is the problem of self-awareness, it is something that we think we all have, but very few actually do have, and that is the subject of Tasha Eurich's book, Insight: The Surprising Truth about How Others See Us, How We See Ourselves, and Why the Answers Matter More than we Think. This is a book all about self-awareness, like we talked about last week this is what we're going to be talking about today. It's all about self-awareness, the different types of self-awareness, the ways in which we are unaware but think we are aware, and the techniques to put in practice to actually become self-aware, because it is a learnable skill.

So, it's kind of like a business self-help book, but she makes an effort to make it applicable to any life situation. She's actually an organizational psychologist. She's also a researcher, New York Times best-selling author. You can find her stuff online, she's written numerous articles in big publications, she's got TED talks online, and the book itself is really good. It's only kind of annoying because she calls self-aware people unicorns {laughter}, but that was the only annoying thing I found about the book!

The information in it is actually very interesting, very eye-opening, very insightful, and very useful, it's got a lot of things to actually put into practice, to become a little bit more self-aware. Because like I said, chances are you think you're a bit more self-aware than the average person and chances are you're not, just like practically everyone else, and like I said, people who are self-aware are actually pretty rare. So I'm going to be talking about a few of the insights in this book, Insight, and just seeing where things go.

So, maybe I'll start off with one observation, just to get into some of the meat of the book, just an example. On the cover of the book there's an endorsement by Chip Heath, author of The Power of Moments and Switch, and he writes, "buy a copy for yourself and buy another to leave anonymously on your boss' desk." It's kind of tongue-in-cheek, but it is a theme in the book. At kind of various points because it's kind of like a business book, she talks about CEOs and the work she does consulting for businesses and big organizations and the kind of bosses she's worked with and some of the bad bosses she's worked with. But it's only at the last chapter where she actually gives the advice for dealing with bad bosses or bosses who aren't very self-aware, and one of the points she made is that keeping in mind that 85 to 90 percent of people aren't very self-aware, the chances of you getting a self-aware boss are going to be very little, very small.

So, she talks about the three kinds of people, the three kinds of bosses which are essentially three types of people, and she calls them the lost cause, so these are the people that are so, they cling to their delusions so strongly that you can't break them no matter what. Any feedback you give them they will reject, they say it's wrong, they are so convinced of their own perception of themselves that they are not receptive to any feedback whatsoever. Second group is the "aware but don't care". So these are the people, you point out to them their character flaws, and they'll be, yeah I'm like that, but that's the way I want to be, essentially. I know I'm like that, but it's the right way to be. I like that about me. These would be bosses who are convinced that instilling fear into their employees is the most effective way of being a good leader.

And then, of course, the third one would be the "nudgeables", so these would be the people that may not be able to see themselves, but are at least nudgeable in terms of being given feedback. When given feedback they actually will want to change and do a better job. They just weren't aware that there was a problem. Now, one of the points she makes that I think is a good one, this is what I wanted to start of with is that I've heard so many people that I know talk about their jobs and what a psychopath their boss is {laughter}, and how they're convinced that their boss is the most evil person like imaginable, and you know, he probably kills puppy dogs on the weekends, and is a serial rapist or something. Chances are that's incorrect, chances are you're just responding negatively to someone who doesn't have very much self-awareness. Like I said, that's going to be a large percentage of the population.

Now, one of the things that really was actually quite moving about this book, I actually found almost all of their case studies profoundly moving, because there are some people in there that are like total jerks. And then comes the moment when they are given the feedback, and then you kind of see their character, or what their character could be, or what their virtue could be in their response to the feedback. And so she gives some examples of some bosses. I'm sure most people who had them as a boss would say, oh my boss is such a psychopath, I hate that guy, he's such a bad boss. And then it turns out that they really just had no idea what an effect they were having on their employees.

They had no idea that they were being such a jerk. And in some cases, all it takes is that one difficult conversation, they may be a little resistant at first, but then they're like, oh wow, I'm like that? That's what people think of me? It's, oh maybe, and that explains why my relationships with my wife and my kids have been going down the tubes lately, and oh maybe that's affecting how I behave in all these different situations, they actually show some insight and then put the effort into change afterwards. Now not everyone is going to be like that, but for me it was just a kind of reminder about reserving judgment, keeping an open mind, especially when it comes to diagnosing someone {laughter} with a severe personality disorder who might not actually have one.

It was when we were talking about ponerology, so go back to that show for a similar discussion, but I'll just leave it there. There are three types, sometimes your boss may be a jerk, but it's possible that he's just internally self-aware and that he, or she, can learn to be externally self-aware. Maybe not, in which case there are strategies to deal with people who are just totally delusional, but there are also, well there are also things to do in any of those situations, and I'll leave it there. Next. {laughter}.

Elan: Well, I wanted to comment on that case example, case study, or idea that we'd have people in our lives, bosses, friends, colleagues, that show very little insight but may have the potential to when being informed of their behavior or the way they think or their actions, might because of their character, have the potential to act on the type of feedback. And one of the reasons she explains for how these things continue to perpetuate in people is a phenomena or tendency she describes as MUM, the MUM effect. Keeping mum about undesirable messages, which is just basically a tendency for people to not want to deliver the bad news or negative information or feedback to somebody, because naturally it's an uncomfortable process. We'd much rather, for obvious reasons, prefer to deliver positive news, and good feedback, and good news, it just obviously makes a better, more feel-good experience. But because of that tendency to shy away from delivering negative feedback, you can say that we tend to feed into or perpetuate those behaviors and actions and thought errors in people we are surrounded by, by not taking that step in giving them feedback.

So, I thought that was an important feature in her book, it's that we're relinquishing our responsibility to people in our lives when we don't take that uncomfortable step of giving them feedback where it's necessary, and of course the other dimension to this is, we're not always sure about what it is we're seeing, we don't want to hurt feelings, we don't know if the person is even going to be receptive to the types of things that we're seeing in them. So, naturally we want to apply all kinds of consideration to that person and where they are and whether or not some negative feedback is going to be more detrimental than it will be constructive to them. So those are other issues that she doesn't quite get into, but I think are worth considering when we feel someone does merit a little negative feedback. It's not so simple as stepping up to the plate and telling them they suck in one form or another.

Corey: Yeah, I'd just like to add that Tasha divides the types of awareness into two fundamental categories, where she talks about your internal self-awareness, where you know what your own, you know, passions, aspirations, and drives, and who you are, basically as a person, you know who you are. And then there's the external awareness that you guys are just discussing about how other people see you, and I thought it was particularly interesting that she's found, and a lot of modern researchers have found, there's really no connection between the two.

Harrison: Yeah, no correlation.

Corey: You can be a total people-pleaser, you know what everybody else thinks about you, you know what everybody else wants, but you have no idea who you are, and then you could also be, you know, self-driven, and know exactly who you are and have no idea how you come across to other people. And so if you have that degree of awareness in one or another of those fields, your still not going to be functioning at a very high level, you're still going to be just running into a brick wall, and wondering why, you know, and blaming, maybe you're blaming other people, maybe you're blaming yourself, oh I'm such a failure, you know, who am I?

Harrison: And she calls those moments, like those insight moments, she's got a few names for them, we've called them alarm clocks, or billboards falling on your head. She calls them earthquakes. So, an earthquake would be like the, a situation that really shakes you to your core, like you're told something about yourself that is very unpleasant to receive and kind of, really shakes you up, to the degree where you realize you had no idea who you were, and that's a, like that's a personality disintegration, like that's an emotionally negative experience, it actually is, like physically and emotionally uncomfortable to say the least. And then one of the other ones she has, she's got a couple of others, oh one is just the "a-ha" moment. It's just, they come out of nowhere, it might be something totally mundane, some action, some behavior that you're doing, you know, some chance encounter or even just some meditative, you know, walk through the forest, where, you realize something, and you're like, oh, you know, I didn't think about it that way before, and you get a new understanding, a new insight about yourself, that isn't earth-shaking, or soul-shaking, it's just, you know, a new insight. But one of the things about those two types of self-awareness, like you said, there's the kind of internal self-awareness about who you are, what your values and emotions are.

She's got a list of like, seven core principles, she calls them, I think, the pillars of insight. So, those internal ones are your values, your passions, your aspirations and your fit. So your fit would be like your environment where you need to be happy and organized and engaged and all those sorts of things, and the external pillars are the patterns that you have. Those are your consistent ways of thinking, feeling and behaving and your reactions. So those would be the thoughts, habits and feelings that will reveal your strengths and weaknesses, and your impact. So that's the effect you have on others. Now, the point she makes is that it is possible to have a fairly good understanding of those first pillars, those internal pillars of values and aspirations, on your own, without much feedback. It helps to have feedback from others, but you don't need it necessarily, at least, some people don't need it.

But for the external pillars, you really do need external feedback, and I think at various points she even says that categorically. That even the people who are self-aware, the only reason they're self-aware is because they get feedback from other people. It's one of those things you just can't know on your own, and there's a similar dynamic that goes on, that she points out regarding the kind of roadblocks to insight, and one of them is, there are certain myths to insight and about that self-awareness, and one of them would be that the unconscious mind, the unconscious things about yourself are mineable, basically. You can get to the root of them. If you just dig deep enough, if you engage in self-analysis or introspection, or you go to therapy like a depth psychologist or something, they can help you get to the bottom of your problems, you can come to those insights on your own. She says that that pretty much is a myth.

The unconscious is pretty much inaccessible, you can't reach it. The only way you can get an idea about these sorts of things is just by getting observations on the way you behave with others, and that really is useless and in fact more damaging to engage in the kind of navel-gazing and constantly wondering, oh why am I like this, why did I do this, maybe it's this childhood experience that I had, and this happened to me, and oh maybe you can come up with a list of reasons why you are the way you are, but the research shows that that doesn't really help at all. It makes things worse, the people who are engaged in the most introspection like that, and rumination. So introspection would be like looking for the root cause, and rumination is when you're constantly thinking about the bad things about yourself, and your negative personality traits and behaviors. Ruminators and people who are really introspective are actually like, less self-aware, and less successful.

I had that in my notes somewhere, it was chapter 5.

Elan: Just to comment on that quickly, Harrison, what makes her book so successful I think, in looking at all of these things, is she gives very nuanced answers. So she describes rumination as this kind of negative feedback loop as we would describe it. We're just stuck at why, why did it happen? why is my life like this? It's kind of steeped or rooted in an emotional identification of the problem, in the past, and not looking in the present and towards the future as a way to move forward and to be constructive and to extricate yourself from what seems to be insurmountable problems that we feel stuck in, so the way to reframe the approach or the question is, not why did that all occur, not why am I stuck in this behavior or my circumstances. But what can I do right now that would make things better. What are my future goals now that I can learn something from that experience. What, the word is what.

Adam: Which is another one that comes with stopping, it's one of the things she recommends for stopping ruminations, is asking, instead of like, why do I feel this way, it's what am I feeling, what are my thoughts right now, what am I doing?

Elan: Naming the emotions involved. Giving a name to it instead of being stuck in this nebulous morass of self-pity and confluence in how bad things are. So, this is highly constructive. I don't think a lot of the things she mentions are necessarily new to us. We've seen them in a number of other places, but she gives new terminology to the process involved. She's very much about the process, being consciously engaged in the process of gaining insight, which is valuable in and of itself. So one of the things she mentions about the unicorns. These people who have achieved a certain mastery of insight...

Adam: ...who weren't born that way.

Elan: Right, well she says for some people it comes very naturally. The people who it hadn't come naturally to, and she gives an interesting example of a military failure with George Washington early on in the book. You know, there is value in the process of gaining insight, because it is a conscious process, because it is an active and not a passive thing that we are engaging ourselves in. So, one of the things that Eurich says is that in writing the book, she has learned more from those people who have had to engage in the process, who for instance in a particular situation, didn't have insight. Who were stuck in a particular problem, but then gained insight. And so I think that all gives us a bit of hope, when we feel like we're not necessarily the most insightful, at least in some areas in our lives.

Harrison: Yeah because she says that when she initially engaged in this kind of research, she was looking for how to become self-aware, so she looked at the people who were naturally self-aware, and the problem with them was that they couldn't describe how they were self-aware, it just came naturally. So, she'd be like, well how do you do this? And they're like, oh, I don't know, I just do it, I must have just been born with it. It's so natural that they're not even aware of how they're being self-aware. So, it's only with the people who have started out unaware and learned to be self-aware that offered the kind of tools and the methods to actually do so.

So again, there are some people that are born just self-aware. From a very young age, they just seem to have that as a natural function of you know, their personality, or their consciousness, and then, others who, like the vast majority who are unaware, and then an uncertain number of those people who can then become self-aware. So, it's uncertain just how many people who are just hopeless. Maybe it's just people with personality disorders, who knows?

So, to come again to the introspection and rumination, I found these two quotes. So, she talks about analyzers, these are the people who are always asking why and looking for questions and trying to discover the deepest truths about themselves and the absolute truths about themselves. She says that analysers showed less personal growth, self-acceptance, and well-being, than those who simply re-lived happy memories. Then, she quotes G.K. Chesterton. I think we quoted Chesterton a week or two ago, interestingly enough, coincidentally. And then he quotes, happiness is a mystery like religion and should never be rationalized. In other words, you should explore the negative, but don't overthink the positive. This is something that I hadn't consciously known before. It made sense when I read it, but I hadn't read about this before. That fact that when you have a positive memory, like a good memory, it actually really taints that memory to actually analyze it. And so you say, why was that a good memory, what was going on? No, actually, if you have a good memory, all you should do is just reminisce about that good memory.

Elan: Don't screw it up! {laughter}

Harrison: Don't screw it up, just be like that was a good memory, it makes me feel good, felt good at the time, it makes me happy now thinking about it, and just leave it at that. That's all you need to do, happy memories do not need to be analyzed, in fact, you shouldn't analyze them. And, you shouldn't analyze bad memories either, but you should explore them, as she puts it, and there is a way to explore them. One of the examples she gives is the kind of Pennebaker exercises. This is one of the main things that Jordan Peterson's Future Authoring and Self Authoring programs are based one. These Pennebaker writing exercises where you're basically expressing your thoughts and feelings about the most important events and things and values to you. So you just write about that.

So she says there's a wrong way to journal. So if you're journaling every day and you're, you know, introspecting, and asking all these why questions, chances are you're doing it wrong, there's not going to be any benefit from journaling. If you journal every couple days, a few times a week, maybe twice a week, and just focus on, like important events, or important things from your past, and you just write about it expressively, you look at your emotions and what happened, what you think about it, and what you feel about it, and you place it into (like Self Authoring), a kind of narrative and you can like analyze it as you would analyze a piece of literature, you look at the themes, you look at the perspective-taking, and you kind of look at all the patterns in there, like all that is helpful.

But, to be like woe is me, and why is me, that's not going to be helpful. Just on the ruminating, she said that ruminators generally ignore or avoid feedback, lest it send them down the rabbit hole, they therefore tend just to be, they tend not just to be poor perspective-takers, but also to be more narcissistic and self-absorbed than non-ruminators. So, if you're actually worried, constantly thinking about how bad you are, you're actually being pretty narcissistic.

And the ironic thing is that most people like that, and I know I used to ruminate a lot, they don't consider themselves narcissists, they're mad at those other narcissists who are being mean and who just make life miserable. Well actually, old me and all the other ruminators out there, you're the ones who are being narcissists, and so it's time to get over yourselves.

Elan: Well, I'm guilty of that too. I mean, I was thinking about that and I was thinking, oh, Jesus, how many hours, how many thousands of hours have I spent ruminating in my life, thinking at least I'm a good person, I'm concerned about things, when in fact it just means I've been self-absorbed. But, just getting back to one of the points about narcissism. To her great credit, she has a chapter, or at least part of a chapter that she calls "The Cult of the Self", and basically she's describing narcissism, and how, especially in the West, and this has been measured in questionnaires and tests of all sorts.

There've been indicators that narcissism in Western society has never been higher. Where there've been past generations, I think she calls one the quiet generation, just people who put their nose to the grindstone, and this would've been people in Depression era USA and post-World War 2 USA, going back to the 70s or 80s. This completely changed in the 80s and 90s. Even prior to social media and a lot of the tools that we have, which we've been pointing out that have been facilitators for narcissistic behavior, to her great credit, and I think Paul Babiak of Snakes in Suits would be very happy about this observation.

She points out that part of the great problem of the lack of insight among people in this day and age is that they are steeped in the cult of the self. So, she points out that there are specific ways that we can lift ourselves from self-absorption to self-awareness, or resisting the cult of the self, and her three strategies are, becoming an informer, cultivating humility and practicing self-acceptance. So basically, for instance, if you...

Harrison: Does that mean inform on your neighbors? {laughter}

Elan: Not quite! {laughter} What it does mean is, suppose you have a facebook page and instead of posting selfies all the time about how great your vacation was, or how bad it was, or how you're getting your nails done, or some other kind of useless bit of trivia that seeks to put yourself in a good light.

Harrison: And that no one really cares about.

Elan: {laughter} Share information, be an informer, useful, uplifting, knowledge-inducing, information. And it's something that we've kind of discussed here, previously and elsewhere, certainly editing SOTT is an attempt to be an informer, the process of putting out there just generally uplifting, or if not uplifting then at least just information that people can actually make practical use of in their lives. So that was the first one, the second one was cultivating humility, and of course, you know, that's a biggie, because sometimes we don't know how we're acting egotistically, so it means...

Adam: Well, she made a very distinct, or she made the distinction between humility and self-worth, and I thought that was interesting because she said that people often confuse the two and thus label humility as undesirable even though the opposite is true, because it means appreciating our weaknesses and keeping our successes in perspective, because humility is actually a necessary ingredient for self-awareness.

Elan: Yeah, and she gives this excellent example of the myth of Icarus, who's father built him this set of artificial wings that his son could fly with, and the wings were made out of feathers and wax, so as the myth goes, you know, Icarus was advised, fly too low, and the water from the sea is going to weigh the feathers down and you'll sink. But fly too high, and the heat of the sun is going to melt the wax and disintegrate the wings. And of course, Icarus, in his lack of humility, flies too high, gets too close to the sun, and the wax melts and he falls out of the sky and perishes. So, just a wonderful little bit of mythology that she uses to kind of bring home the message. You don't have to feed your ego and fly too high, there's a middle ground, a middle way that we should kind of seek to travel in the exercise, or path of having humility.

And the third practice she has is of self-acceptance. So, let's say we have a flaw or a weakness and if we self-flagellate, or hate ourselves because we have this particular weakness or flaw that we've noticed, and we're beating the shit out of ourselves, because we're unhappy with how we are, then again, that's self-absorption, that's just a way we're going to stay stuck with whatever traits or weaknesses we have. So if we can look at ourselves with a little objective distance and compassion, and accept that, you know, this is a trait, this is a weakness, this is something I get to work with, what can I do to become stronger, who can I speak to who has maybe experienced the same weaknesses and found solutions to them. What, what is the question.

Harrison: And the tools she gives to that is to monitor one's interior dialogue, or monologue, maybe dialogue, because if you observe the words that you're using to describe yourself, the way that you talk to yourself, you can ask yourself, well, would I talk that way to someone that I love? And this is actually one of Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for Life, something like treat yourself as if you were a person you were responsible for taking care of. Something like that, and he wrote that one because, he points out in the beginning of that chapter that so many people actually don't care about themselves, don't take care of themselves, to the point where it just seems like they're almost committing slow suicide.

He talks about the people who, I think it's not a great example, but the point is still there. Like the people who get medication, but don't take their medication, even though they believe that the medication is good, so leaving aside the actual goodness and badness of the medication itself, these are people who, getting the same medication would give it to their dog, but won't take it for themselves. People who just won't take care of themselves, and it seems because they hate themselves for some reason? Well probably, in many cases, so the idea is, not to have an over-inflated sense of like self-esteem, but to just accept that you are flawed, but there is something essentially valuable about you at the same time, and that you know, you're important enough to take care of, and this is kind of a fine distinction to make, it's one of the good chapters.

One of my favorite chapters in the book because there's a lot in there. Because, the whole chapter is about the rise of self-esteem, and she makes some points like, she defines that cult of self as like the idea that you are special, unique and superior, and so starting around the 80s, a bunch of people got the idea that kids didn't have enough self-esteem, so they were going to put into practice all of these programs to increase kid's self-esteem. The problem was that there wasn't any indication that there was a lack of self-esteem. In fact, people had pretty good self-esteem anyways.

So, right from the beginning there wasn't a problem that needed to be solved, but you know, like any kind of policy like this, once a problem is identified, even if it doesn't exist, then the solution makers come in and want to re-organize society, they want to shape society in the direction they want it to go in, even if there's no problem to solve in the first place, and they only end up making things worse, and that's the point she kind of makes in this chapter, like she says that there's like a shift over the years from self-effort to self-esteem.

So there's like a shift from becoming great, to just feeling great. So, this is something that I've been encountering and thinking about in the last several months, and one was a discussion I had with some people talking about the early Americans, the people that basically settled America, and just the lives that they led, and the hardships that they went through, and the amount of work and suffering that they had to go through every day. Every day was a struggle. They didn't have adequate clothing. They'd have one shirt for a year.

Every year they'd get a new shirt, and a lot of these kids would wear just one shirt, they had their one shirt, not even any pants, it was just a long shirt that they'd wear every day, and it had to last them a year. Even in the 20th century, where there's a great amount of wealth and American society in particular got very wealthy, people were well off, relatively. There was still, even in the early part of the century, this goal to actually become great, and then in the 80s when we thought for some reason that kids were lacking self-esteem, we just encouraged them to think that they were great, to feel great. To think that you were special, unique and superior, well the results from that have actually been catastrophic.

So, I'm just going to read some of my notes from this chapter. First of all, the people with high self-esteem are actually more violent and aggressive, than people with low self-esteem, and like I said it wasn't even low in the first place. So, we're actually encouraging kids to have more self-esteem which will probably make them even less self-aware, will make them more entitled, and will make them more aggressive.

Elan: That was the word I was thinking of also, entitlement.

Harrison: So, she has this thing called the feel-good effect, and this is like seeing yourself through rose-colored glasses, and when you do this, like I quoted about the ruminators, when you do this, when you see yourself as this special, unique, superior snowflake, you actually can't deal with criticism, failure and setbacks. That's a problem a lot of kids, like college students today, can't deal with. Because they can't, they have no frame of reference for dealing with criticism or feedback, because they have become narcissists. They have great self-esteem, apparently, and they can't deal with minor failures, like minor setbacks in life, everything is this huge catastrophe, whereas previous generations look at these young kids and are, oh my god, you are such drama queens, what, you can't even stand being offended for an instant? It's like, grow up.

But the thing is that, we're encouraging these kinds of traits, as if they're a good thing, when in fact people who have this high or rose-colored opinion of themselves, who think of themselves as great people who are superior and unique and special, when you ask the people that know them, that interact with these people, they actually perceive them as deceitful, arrogant, defensive, and thin-skinned. So, you're actually encouraging people. So this is not following one of Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for Life to not let your kids do anything that makes you dislike them, in the hopes that they will grow up to be a member of society that people actually like, can get along with, and can interact with. We're actually teaching kids to grow up so that people don't like them, so that people think they're deceptive little, thin-skinned, defensive, liars. Which is not a good thing.

But she does point out that the one time that it is a good idea to see yourself in a good light is only when you need to, when you need to bounce back from constant challenges, or you need to succeed through sheer persistence. So, when you're doing something that's just so difficult, and such a long process, it's so wearing on you, you need a little break every once in a while. You need to be able to remind yourself that you're a good person. But that's the only time that it's necessary. It's only when you're dealing with a really stressful, long term slog through some big, massive, project or something like that.

Corey: Right, so there are a couple problems, I think, with the whole self-esteem hypothesis. Going back to those early Americans, if you were to ask them, what do you think, how do you feel about yourself? It would probably seem like an absolutely bizarre question, like how do you feel inside about your contributions to social justice, or how do you feel about yourself. Well, it was more practical that would have probably answered in terms of how you met the challenges of your life, whether you were able to ford a river, or whatever you're up to. So, I think that the basic premise is just flawed. There was never a problem with self-esteem, that was never an issue, and I think she points that out. But, I think a 2003 study pointed out that at least in the new millennium, nobody had any issues with self-esteem, and because of the self-esteem movement was going in the opposite direction.

But then this whole culture of self that that movement really paves the way for, or is probably the outcome of, it seems like it splits to me into at least two camps, and one of them is that excessive rumination, self-flagellation camp, where you're still self-absorbed, but you can never meet that high self-esteem standard that's been set. These people who have such good lives, they must feel so good about themselves, so popular or whatever, versus that other camp that's like I don't know what they do, but everything that they do hinges on maintaining some positive self-regard and feeling, elated about themselves. So, that whole thing spawns these two fundamentally dysfunctional attitudes towards life, whereas, a more nuanced, and less bleached psychology would look at life in terms of the challenges out there. You know, who cares about how you feel about yourself, there's so much to do!

There's an entire universe out there that exists outside, that doesn't need you, and you don't matter one speck, and to somebody who lives in the cult of self that is probably the biggest, and the nastiest thing to say to somebody, but for anybody else it's just a statement of fact, just some basic sense of humility like she advocates practicing. But I thought it was really interesting because she quotes Carl Rogers, the humanitarian psychologist who argued that people could only achieve full potential if they had "unconditional positive regard for themselves". I just think, you just really f'ed that test! {laughter} It's just, I mean, I don't know much about Carl Rogers, but just in that statement it's just really sad.

Elan: Well, the irony of people who are constantly self-promoting, is that at least some of them, or many of them actually, don't ultimately feel good about themselves, because they're constantly trying to live up to this projected image of how wonderful their lives are, and how successful they are...

Harrison: ...and they're constantly reminded that they don't actually live up to that image.

Elan: Yes. So she gives the example of one individual who is very out there in social media, who ultimately had to take a step back and put herself outside of the equation. I think this was a model who had created a presence for herself, and when she realized these things about herself, she created a website that was more about becoming an informer of certain information that was specific to, I forget what it was exactly, but she, I guess through a lot of pain and struggle, came to understand that the way she was going about her life and her sharing of her life was detrimental to her. So she, in showing a great amount of insight, turned that situation around, and there are all kinds of case studies of individuals who had, either through their own realizations, or realizations that were kind of proposed to them by others, including Eurich herself, as a consultant, had made these life turnarounds.

Harrison: Well, I wanted to read a page from the chapter on the cult of self. This is where she talks about narcissism, and the selfie syndrome and all those sorts of things. She says that we don't always realize that paradoxically, intense self-focus not only obscures our vision of those around us, it distorts our ability to see ourselves for what we really are. Indeed, research itself shows that in general, there is an inverse relationship between how special we feel, and how self-aware we are. One need not look far to find examples. The people who post the most selfies on Facebook for instance, seem to have the least awareness of how annoying this behavior is to the rest of us. Of course, this isn't to say that anyone who takes selfies or uses social media is a narcissist. Scientifically, there is no question that these things are related and there is ample evidence that narcissism is on the rise.

For example, in a study of tens of thousands of US college students, Gene Twenge and her colleagues found that between the mid 1980s and 2006, narcissism increased a full 30% as measured by statements like, "if I ruled the world, it would be a better place", and, "I always know what I'm doing", and lest you pin this trend entirely on millennials, it's not just those of us born between 1980 and 1999 who show this pattern. Another long-running study that analyzed high-schoolers responses to the question "I am an important person", found that in the 1950s, only 12 percent agreed. So, only 12 percent of high-schoolers agreed that they were an important person. But by 1989, that's when Gen Xers were in high school, that number jumped to roughly 80 percent.

And remember the study from the last chapter, where 25 percent of high school aged baby boomers, put themselves in the top 1 percent of their ability to get along with others. So, she goes into this concept of self-presentation. This is the way we present ourselves to others. And she gives the example of doing it in social media, and apparently she says that self-presentation itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, but an interesting pattern has emerged suggesting that as self-presentation increases, empathy decreases. Since the year 2000, right around the time that sites like Myspace, Friendster and other precursors to Facebook exploded, people started becoming less empathetic and more self-centered, and there's even a study that they did, back when Myspace was still a thing. One study randomly assigned participants into one of two groups, who each spent 35 minutes online. The first group spent time editing their Myspace pages, while the other plotted the route they took to school on Google Maps. When researchers measured narcissism levels in each group, participants who had spent time on Myspace scored significantly higher, suggesting that not only that social media does increase narcissism, but that it has a virtually immediate impact. So, when you're me-forming, the opposite of informing, on Facebook, chances are you're actually getting more narcissistic as you're doing it, and one of the stats that she points out is that when they were, someone was doing some study on Facebook and these types of things, and found that of the users of Facebook, 80 percent were me-formers, these are people you were talking about who post selfies, everything they post is basically about themselves, you know, how they're feeling during the day, what they're doing, what they ate, an encounter that they have of someone at work, like, their own little journal online that they are sharing with everyone. 80 percent of them are informers, me-formers, but 20 percent were informers, these are people that were informing people about things not relating to themselves, it might be the news or, you know, things they read, information, blah blah blah, but the interesting about that was that the informers actually spent more time on social media, but they weren't, they were spending more time because they were basically more engaged in this informative activity, right? They were spending more time giving information to people, and the informers actually had better personal relationships in their lives than the me-formers.

Now, I don't know if there was a correlation or not but there was this 80/20 split, and, when talking about self-aware people, there was like a 85/15 split, so, and based on what she wrote, I think probably the correlation is pretty close that the people who are actually informers on social media are probably the more self-aware people compared to the selfie posters who are all over Instagram.

Elan: Well, you didn't see this, Harrison, when you were reading, but Adam held up his phone and did a little selfie impersonation.

Corey: He couldn't help himself! {laughter}

Adam: {laughter}

Elan: {laughter}

Harrison: We might have to use that as our image when we publish the show. The selfie generation.

Elan: But you know Adam, when you did that, it reminded me of the story, like 2 years ago, there was a guy, I think on the Brooklyn Bridge who was about to jump, he was suicidal, and some woman who was kind of at a proximity to the bridge, who knew what was going on, smiled and took a selfie of herself, with this guy on the bridge in the background, and of course, stories were wrote about it, because is was such an obvious case of her being just a soulless, pathological individual, that she wouldn't have the presence of mind to realize the implications of what was happening, and just kind of put herself in the scene, and smile and you know, this is me in New York, and look at what's going on, you know.

Harrison: Look, a real suicide!

Elan: Right, and it really speaks to her lack of empathy for the individual who is feeling the way he was, and her lack of insight, external self-awareness, that she would present herself to the world in such a way. So, and that reminded me of a couple of other anecdotes that Eurich gives in regards to gaining empathy and gaining perspective in situations, in relationships with others, friendships, and marriages. She gave one example of how, when two individuals were in a marital difficulty, and one of them, by taking a step back from her own anger, her own disquiet about her husband's situation, or her behavior, how she managed to, in a writing exercise, write about what she thinks would make the situation better. For the both of them.

So, she put herself at a remove, at an objective distance, and it in fact helped the marriage, and there was a kind of a study where there was a control, and groups of people who did the same exercises, these writing exercises that put them at a distance, and had constructed a kind of a, basically put themselves in their spouses shoes, and statistically those marriages were more successful, in the long run, like a year later, and the author also mentioned how doing something similar could help with friendships, trying to address something at a remove. A point that she makes throughout the book which I think is really useful is there is no absolute truth with any of these things. Rather, the truth of the situation is coming at it from many different angles and perspectives as possible. Both from within your own ability to gain insight to your own behavior and thinking, and in looking at receiving feedback from others. So there is that synthesis that, if worked on, can really improve relationships with others, and make your life better, and, why not try something like that, why not engage in that process.

Corey: Because it's kinda scary. I think a lot of it is terrifying. No matter how good you are at getting feedback or really evaluating yourself objectively, there's always something, some aspect of it that is just categorically terrifying. But one of the values in her book, is I think in the exercises that she provides, and we've discussed some of them, like she alludes to like Pennebaker writing exercises, and there's some aspects of journaling and introspection that she advocates, as long as it's not ruminating, and it's based on what you said, Elan, what, not why, but in terms of getting external feedback, I think one of the most charming stories in her book is regarding the "Dinner of Truth" which she relates the story of a communications researcher/professor who he was designing this way of opening communication pathways and he decided to try it out on his kids at dinner one day, and so he sat down with his kids, and he sat there and he looked at them and he said, okay now, I want you to tell daddy what you find most annoying about him.

You could say whatever you wanted, it's not going to hurt my feelings and you're not going to get into any trouble, and he just waits for them to answer, and they're squirming, and...

Harrison: ...looking away.

Corey: Looking away, and he's like it's okay, you can tell me, and you won't get in any trouble. And so then, one of the children looks, and they have tears in their eyes, and they're like, "dad, I, we, it's so scary when you yell at us, it makes me want to run into my room and just cry, and I just want to cry", and pretty soon both kids are just terribly emotional and upset, and the father is, you know, the researcher is just sitting there, just absolutely in shock because he'd never realized that he'd come across this way to his own children.

Elan: Mm hmm.

Corey: And not only did this have a beneficial impact on him, but it also for them it gave them a chance to hear their own experience being articulated, and doing it even with their trembling, and they're terrified with the repercussions. It gave them the chance to articulate the truth, and to do it in a loving, communicative way, that I think that then became the model for this "Dinner of Truth" that she discusses, where basically the whole idea is that you go, and you invite someone to dinner, or out to eat, and then you basically set them down and you ask that question, what do you find the most annoying about me?

And she kind of, you know, she discusses the fact that you don't just ask anybody, you're not just going to ask your oblivious boss, some jerk who doesn't care about you, but you want, when you're getting feedback, you want to find the right person, someone who cares about you, but is at the same time willing to give the critical truth, and you want to ask the right questions, and you want them to be, you want them to have a sufficient exposure to what your problem is. Whatever problematic behavior you think you might have, or that you think they might understand. But also, you want them to know what success looks like. So you want them to be competent in that way, and then you want to go through the right process of getting that feedback. So you know, dinner of truth is one way.

And she has other exercises, there's different exercises for entire corporations, like the "360 degree" which is anonymous, you get anonymous feedback from a ton of different people.

Harrison: And the advantage, just to interject really quickly, the advantage of "360" feedback, which is anonymous, is the fact that it is anonymous, because that's a good way of eliminating the MUM effect. So, like you mentioned earlier Elan, people do not want to share their opinions of you, to your face. They'll very readily tell other people what they think about you, but they won't tell it to your face, and they'll in fact lie to you, and that's almost a rule. Like, practically, unless they're really disagreeable, or they're your boss or something, who's used to chewing you out. They will lie to you and they will do anything to avoid telling you what they really think about you. So anonymous feedback is a way of getting around that. Especially if you're their boss or you're above them in some hierarchy, people are extra unwilling to call that person out and to tell them what they really feel.

So that's why for example, the CEO disease she calls it, CEOs tend to be less self-aware, and that's because their past successes lead them to be overconfident, and it actually makes it harder for them to hear feedback because they have an inflated sense of their own self-importance and it makes others less reluctant to give it. So CEOs, bosses, people above you on the social hierarchy that you're in, are actually in a really tough spot, because they can't really find anyone to give them honest feedback because they're surrounded by yes men who are terrified of them. Continue on Corey.

Corey: I think that's a good introjection. Well, I guess you could just say, just point out the obvious fact that sometimes, the feedback you get is impossible to correct. Like sometimes you just have to admit that that's a flaw that I have, and that I'm working on it, but it's also in the just admitting of it, she has some stories of entrepreneurs, CEOs, who they know that they can't communicate well, but, and that's just not their forte, but they just say...

Harrison: Mm hmm. Maybe like Mark Zuckerberger types or something?

Corey: Yeah, they just say that I still care about this team, and these are the things that I'm going to do to show you that, and even though they still can't communicate very well, there's an awareness. And I think that's the most important thing about this book, that increase in awareness, you know. That it kind of paves the way towards, kind of has the roadmap towards this increased awareness that protects everybody involved, because where there's just all this darkness, assumptions, and you know, this person just hates me, or this person's a psychopath, and you're not voicing, you're not finding out what's, you're not testing reality.

You're not testing these hypotheses, you're just opening the way for little tiny forms of tragedy to occur, and every tragedy that we think we can prevent is probably our duty to prevent. Even if it's as painful as asking your kids, you know, what's the most annoying thing about me. It's like, ahh, you're the most terrifying person in the world! {laughter}

Elan: Well, along those same lines, I think that Eurich also says that the best kind of predictors for people to give feedback in a company are the underlings of the CEO. The same thing in the military, but they're most often the people to be least likely to be asked for feedback. So, a leader in any context has to really want the feedback to be given and have a willingness to take it in, and to act on it...

Harrison: And to really model the right climate, and she gives the example, I think it was Ford, you know the vehicle company that was going through like near bankruptcy and they brought in this big CEO guy to turn things around, and so he was telling everyone, "it's okay, I want you to be honest, it's totally okay if you tell me what the problems are", and he had this whole setup where there was a meeting every week where they had to look at all of their projects and if they were in the red, like they were not going to meet their deadline, there were problems. Or if they were yellow, which means they were in the process of solving the problem, or if they were green where everything was good.

And every week he was getting all greens, he was like, well what do I do, I've really tried to get people to be honest, and he was trying to model it, he was trying to show that he was trustworthy, he wasn't going to chew them out, but everyone was terrified of admitting their reds, of showing their reds on their presentations every week, just convinced that the first person to show a red was going to be gone the next day, or maybe worse, and so eventually this one guy, just said, screw it, I'm going to do it. He went in, there was this new line of cars they were bringing out and there was this major delay and they had to re-do this one part entirely and so they weren't going to meet their deadline so he showed his red, and the CEO guy broke out in this huge smile and he was, "oh great! Okay, let's work on this!" And everyone was like, oh, what?, wow! And so the next day they come in, and the guy that brought this red he's like chatting and smiling with the CEO guy and they're having a great time, so now all these people came in and everything's red! And he was saying, "okay, great!"

So over the weeks and months they got through all this and they turned the company around, and it created this new environment, and people stopped leaking to the press, because employees were leaking all the internal problems and controversies, and things like scandals from within the company to this journalist, so the CEO called up this journalist, well why are you running all this, where are you getting all this? And he said, "well it's your guys that are calling me because they don't feel like they can speak, like the leadership, the management will respond to this, I'm the only one they can tell.

Elan: Mm hmm.

Harrison: So, once the company got turned around, all the leaks stopped, because things were being taken care of internally, and people felt like they were in an environment where they could tell the truth. So, it just completely changed the atmosphere of the company. Now, I wanted to give one more example of the one you brought up, Corey, about situations where you just have to own a personality trait, you realize you're never going to change it, so you'll just be honest about it, and I can't remember who the guy was, but she gives the example in the book of this guy who didn't have very many good people skills, and it was really annoying to other people, and people didn't like him, until one day he just came out to everyone and said, "you know, I'm not very good at communicating with people, I'm not good at asking who your wife is, or how she's doing, and just to let you guys know, I'm still not going to do that. I'm not going to ask you how you're doing, I'm not going to care, I'm not going to" blah blah blah, and from then on, people liked him, because he was open about it, and they could joke about it. Then she gives one example where there's this one female employee, and he came up to her and he said, "Oh, that's a really nice shirt you're wearing." And she was taken aback, she was like, "oh wow, you've never given me a compliment before, why did you compliment me this time?", and he says, "oh because all the other shirts you've worn have been totally ugly, and didn't look good on you at all".

Corey: {laughter}

Harrison: ...and so she just laughs, because it's this guy's personality, right. So there are some people who have traits like that, they just cannot change. But if they're willing to put them out there and admit them, it actually makes them more endearing, and it's funny, and they can make a joke about it, well you can laugh at your own flaws, and have other people laugh at them too. That eliminates the problem, it isn't an interpersonal problem any more, because it breaks that tension, and it moves that conflict. So, I thought that was a pretty funny story too.

Now, one other kind of thread that I wanted to follow was this whole leadership thing. This next little tidbit made me think about academia in particular, but it applies to any field of expertise, because she points out that the more expertise we think we have, the more harmful knowledge blindness can be because we actually think we're better than we actually are. And this actually applies to people who know what they're doing for the most part. So I quoted at the very beginning the example of engineers where only one out of a thousand engineers thought they were average, when, you know, 50 percent of engineers are average or below average. So, what's going on there?

The more expertise you have, the more you're a celebrated professional, that's not really a good thing because it gets to your head and you're more likely to be unaware of yourself and how you're perceived by others. You're actually going to over-inflate your expertise, and so that applies to the CEO disease, too. Now, just to reiterate one of the things that you said Elan, what you said about how in the military and in the corporations, it's actually the underlings who are the only ones who are able to give an objective picture of their boss. So if you ask like all the managers to rate themselves, they're horrible.

They can't predict who will be promoted, who is more competent, but the underlings are very perceptive. They look at their managers, their bosses, they can look at those traits and say, that guy's really competent, he's got good promotability, and they'll be right. But the actual managerial class and the bosses, they can't tell. They're stuck in their own little bubble. It takes the people below you to be able to point out your flaws, and to point out your strengths. So there's connections to make to ponerology there. Corey was talking about the "Dinner of truth", it is a great exercise, I haven't tried it yet, but maybe I will one day if I get up the courage.

Elan: I wanted to comment on that as well, because you prefaced it by saying that there is a certain amount of dread involved in getting honest feedback, and I think the reason for that is because we have been so inured, we've put up our defenses for so long, we've been living in bubbles for so long to one extent or another that the whole process itself of being honest and giving strong feedback, and making an effort simultaneously to understand our own subjective and objective feelings and thoughts regarding relationship or something. We're so out of touch with that, we've been given so little training, so few words to use in describing the process that there is a fear of the unknown, and you know it reminded me, a few of us were watching an interview Jordan Peterson had with Dr. Oz recently, where Jordan Peterson describes walking down the street in, I think, a bad neighborhood in LA, and seeing this kid run out of his car towards him and saying, "oh you're Jordan Peterson, and you know, I admire your work, and it's been really helpful to me. Can you just hold on for one moment?"

So the kid runs back to his car, and comes back with his dad it ends up, and shares with Peterson that he's been applying...

Harrison: They're both just beaming smiles, right? And they're both super happy.

Elan: They're beaming smiles, and they're holding each other, but they share that, the kid admits that he was working on having a better relationship with his father, which brought tears to Peterson's eyes as he is describing this experience of getting all of this wonderful feedback about this kid who has made the effort to look at himself, look at his relationship with his father and have some kind of real authentic connection to him, and Peterson, he makes the point that, you know, that there's so little real encouragement of people in this direction, and of course it gives his life meaning to have people share their growth, which is ultimately what Eurich is talking about here.

She makes a distinction between doing well, which is kind of this outward appearance of getting it all done, and learning well, and learning well is the conscious process of learning from one's experience of not feeling bad about a failure but of seeing it as an opportunity to grow, that also makes the book so valuable. Just making these fine distinctions that we haven't had the chance to think about previously in other material.

Corey: And just to carry on with that, just with that line of thought, really quick. I think part of that fear also is the fear of the unknown, that's such a broad category. You can think about it as fear of finding out something about yourself that is so fundamentally at odds with what you believed. You can't compute it, you know that you'd have to change your entire way of relating to others, to yourself,,and the kind of disintegration process that goes along with that and discussing that interview that you were talking about with Jordan Peterson. In that interview he also brings this archetype from, embodied in this Harry Potter series, I think it's the second series,

Harrison: The second volume.

Corey: But is it the order, this highly involved and dedicatedly built order, and then underneath of it is the basilisk, the horrible beast that you have to go down and have to confront in order to bring about some new positive growth. To me that's really a really strong and good archetype for the kind you've been talking about, these bubbles that we have, this order that we have about who we are, these belief systems, and then confronting the basilisk that's at the bottom of it. The fact that you're guaranteed to be wrong. There's no way you can be right, you don't have the ability, you can't see yourself objectively. Like Eurich says in the book, our subconscious or unconscious mind is like a padlocked box that a psychoanalyst has the key for, but it's actually this hermetically sealed box that you'll never gain access to. You can't be right about who you are and so when you go down and you confront that chaos, and you do it willingly, with the awareness, that that is just a part of you, this natural process, this natural archetype that's been around for as long as humans have had consciousness, that's really what these people are doing, when you open yourself up and asked what can I do better, or what is annoying about me, or what's wrong with me? I'm sure there's nothing wrong with me!

Harrison: {laughter}

Elan: {laughter}

Adam: {laughter} That reminds me of something that Jordan Peterson has said a number of times, and he constantly tries to drive the point home. You know that you're not all that you could be, and if you could start off with that acceptance, that you're not all that you could be, and maybe there's some things that you do, that you aren't aware of, that's annoying, or maybe there are things that you do know about yourself that are annoying and just accept. That at least makes the process more approachable, and you're more able to at least start that process.

Harrison: With that said, maybe on our last mini-subject, will be another two techniques for actually getting self-awareness. One was kind of mentioned, she calls it the "right feedback model", and finding the right people, asking the right people, asking the right questions, and engaging in the right process. So the people she recommends finding, to actually give you feedback, would be a small group of what she calls honest, loving critics, who are exposed to your behavior. So loving critics are the people that are concerned about the best for you. A person that hates you, and this wouldn't be an enemy, an unloving critic, is actually someone that actually has your best interests at heart, but who also is exposed to your behavior on a regular basis.

So you can't just ask, like your grandma that lives, you know, in a different town, what she thinks of you, because chances are she's going to be a, what do you call it? Not a critic, but a loving admirer or something. She's not going to necessarily give you honest feedback because she loves you too much, and she just sees the good in you. So you want someone that is exposed to your behavior, that you actually interact with, not someone necessarily on the other side of the planet, but someone around you, who can be honest, and then you have to ask the right questions. So these would be very specific, so you basically have a hypothesis and you want to test it. You get an idea, I want to ask about this issue and she says that you get the best results if you only focus on one, or maybe two things at a time.

You don't get a full personality criticism on all of your flaws and everything you do wrong, you get one specific thing that you're doing wrong. And, or that you know, just one specific thing that you're not aware of, or that it's hampering your life in some way, or whatever.

And then the process, the right process is to then get that person to observe you for a period of time, after you ask them. Not to just get their immediate feedback and just go from there, you actually get them to keep that in mind for like the next month. Keep that one specific thing in mind, and then get more feedback from them afterwards. You have more conversations to follow up with them. Okay, what did you observe in the last month on this one particular issue, and then you can get more feedback from them as time goes on, as you work with it, as you work on this on issue, and so I think that was very important. You only focus on one or two things, because you'll get overloaded and you won't be able to do it if you're focusing on more. That's biting off more than you can chew.

That's like what Gurdjieff and Jordan Peterson talk about, it's taking those baby steps, when you're doing something, you have to be in the zone of proximal development where you have a goal that you can reach. If you're just overloaded by this grand goal, that it will be out of reach. You won't be able to get there. You have to take baby steps in order to get it. One step at a time, right? What's the book from What About Bob? Baby steps, right, yeah Baby Steps! {laughter}

Elan: Hmm.

Harrison: So, that's in chapter 7, but there are a couple of quotes from chapter seven that I thought were really good. Before I do that, I'm going to give one more technique, this is the three R model. So this is how to get feedback, basically, and to make it work. So this is called the three Rs because it's basically, Receive, Reflect and Respond. So, receiving feedback is the first part of this model. When you receive feedback, it might come out of nowhere, you might've asked for it, but however you get it, the way to approach it, is to receive it, maybe I'll read one quote first before I describe each one. Because she lays it out in this really good sentence, and she does it in a couple different ways so I kind of combined them together to give the maximum punch.

She says, receive feedback with grace, with courage, and respond to it intelligently, with purpose. So when you receive feedback, you have to do it with grace. Okay, I'm getting feedback, I've just gotten feedback, I'm not going to lash out, I'm not going to get defensive, I'm just going to sit with it for a while. And then, the way to do that is to mine it for possible truth. Well, okay, in what ways can this be true? Is it true, can it be true? What are the ways in which it could be true? You really have to look at it because you're not going to want to. You're going to have to look at it as if it might be true, and then from there when you actually reflect on it, you have to give yourself some time. So don't just immediately deal with the issue, don't immediately respond.

Reflect on it, she says for a matter of days or even weeks. So you want to really make sure that you understand the feedback first of all, that you understand what they are saying, because it might just be, "I have no idea what you're talking about". There's a small chance it could be because of a misunderstanding, or they're not seeing things correctly. But chances are, it's because they're seeing something that you're not seeing. So you really have to make sure that you understand the feedback, that you can apply what they are saying to something actually concrete that you actually do. Because, it might be something so foreign that they say something, and you're totally wondering what it means, and you can't even see the actual behavior that they're talking about, so you might apply it in different areas and in places where it doesn't match, or it doesn't apply. So you're really going to have to make sure that you understand the feedback, and give yourself some time to think about it, and then see if or how it will affect you in the long term, because there's some feedback that you get that might be true, but that you don't need to change.

This might be an example, like you get feedback from your boss, he gives one example of, I think an Indian employee. But in the culture, it was that women shouldn't be perceived as being too ambitious. So the feedback she got was that she was too ambitious, and so she thought about that, and at first she thought it was a bad thing. I'm too ambitious, that's bad, maybe I should be less ambitious. But no, she decided that's the feedback I got, it was negative from the people around me, from my bosses, but she actually said no, that's actually a good thing. I don't want to be ambitious in a cold-hearted or...

Elan: Obnoxious.

Harrison: ... obnoxious way. But this is an important part about myself, so she got a new job where she could do what she wanted to do, and she did a great job of it. So this was something that was perceived as negative by the people around her, but which she owned, and then further developed her life in a positive way because of. So, that's part of deciding if you're going to act on it, or not, because not all feedback you need to act on. It could be that you've realized a strength about yourself, or something. It all depends on context. It's your responsibility to determine if you're going to respond to that feedback, if it really applies, if you want to, it's totally up to you, and then the last one, would be to respond. So only after you've really accepted the feedback, received the feedback, really thought about it, really understood it, really decided what you were going to do, that you then decide to respond.I thought that was good advice.

Other people generally see us better than ourselves. Take that on board. And this one was interesting too. Even strangers can get an accurate read on us, as good as our friends or family. So if you just meet someone, and interact with them for five minutes or even less, like thirty seconds, someone you don't know, they can actually give you as good feedback about yourself as your friends and family. That's how transparent we are to the people around us.

Elan: Isn't that incredible?

Harrison: That was very interesting, and that's from an actual study that they did. Well, just to go back to that reflection on feedback, she writes that we should take other's opinions seriously, but that we have to evaluate it and determine how and if to act on it. This is the kind of middle ground, between what Corey described as the opposite types at the beginning of this show.

The people who totally accept everything, who are totally externally self-aware, they have a great idea of what people expect from them, and how other people see them, and they manage their entire lives around fulfilling those requirements, those external requirements, but they don't know who they are. They don't have anything authentic about themselves.

Then there are the other people who know exactly who they are but just are totally oblivious to how they treat other people or how other people see them. This is why it is up to each person as an individual to go through this process, not to just blindly accept what other people say about you, and not to just blindly think that you've got it all together and you know exactly who you are. There's this middle ground, and that's really the place for the individual, confronting the chaos of probability around you. It's always up to us to choose which option to actualize, to bring into reality.

Just to bring it back to our shows on information theory and philosophy. To kind of tie those abstract concepts into this real-life example. You get feedback, you are then presented with possibilities. Possible courses of action. Now, how you proceed, what choice you actually make, will be guided by those aspects of internal self-awareness. Who you are, what your values are, what your aspirations are, what your passions are, what your fit is, what the ideal environment for you is. So, it's always the responsibility of you, of each individual, of me, to look at the feedback, and keep that sense of individuality, keep that sense of who you are as well because otherwise, you're just another NPC. {laughter}

Corey: Just one thing that came to my mind when I was reading the book and reading about the values and all the exercises, finding your values. I kept thinking about an archeological dig, in terms of the more you learn about yourself the more you learn about who you really are, what your values really are, the more it seems that you dig, and you dig, it's not like you're introspecting or anything, it's more like you're investigating, as you go out and you investigate the world and you apply yourself, and some things work, and some things don't.

You continue to discover deeper values that sustain you and that make you want to do one thing over another, and it just kept on coming back to me as, all the things that you know, culture, society brings you up with, whether it's in the education system or early friends, or just choices that you make that are kind of random. You just continue digging, and you just continue to find new bits, there's like an entire civilization there sometimes it seems, you continue to find as you do this kind of work.

Harrison: Yeah.

Elan: This just reminded me of a little bit of a character on a TV show I've been watching called The Wire. It's a cop drama basically and there's a character, he's a very talented police detective, who is a little bit of a force of nature. But every few episodes, he's with his crew of fellow detectives, and he blurts out, "What the hell did I do?" Because he lacks the insight to realize how his behavior is affecting other people, and the politics of the larger police department that he's a part of. So he's very good at what he does at one hand, but he's always pissing other people off. In contrast to some other people, who are always very carefully navigating the system, and saying the right things at the right times, and actually getting the most positive results, so it's a funny balance, as displayed by the character Jimmy McNulty on The Wire. You know, we don't want to be that person who says, "What did I do?" We don't wanna be so clueless.

Harrison: {laughter}

Elan: With the time that's left to us in our lives, time speeding forward, hurtling forward so quickly, we want to be able to engage in growth and making ourselves larger and not just seeming great, or feeling great, but actually to the greatest extent possible being great by incorporating the points of view of the world of information. Which includes the perspective of the people that we're surrounded by, and coming to a synthesis, to the extent that that's possible, with our own understanding of how we function and our own patterns and our own quirks, and behaviors, and proclivities, and talents. So just to say again, this is a great book, Insight, in some ways I feel like it's a plain language Self Authoring program filled with suggestions, and it's come along at the right time for me. I'm glad we discussed it today. I hope people take the opportunity to give it a try and really put some effort into some of it's suggestions.

Adam: And one of the great things about it I think is she talks about earthquakes, and the various different alarm clocks, and you can wait for the universe, or your life to have a billboard drop on your head, and crush your life, and just have to try and put pieces together from absolute ruin and chaos, but it's possible. Like with this book, with the tools that are in there, it's possible to be able to go ahead and be taking steps to create a better reality where instead of blindly going and doing the things that you've always done that are pissing people off, and not making things better for anybody, you're creating a new reality where you're building stronger relationships with other people, and you're building a better life, maybe it's in your work or whatever, and that's just better for everybody.

Harrison: Mm hmm.

Corey: Amen.

Harrison: Well, if we could sum up everything in this book, in one statement. One, what's the word? Motivational statement. To sum it all up, would be, make yourself great again, by engaging in these self-awareness exercises. Make yourself great again by getting Insight, and getting the book, and putting it into practice. That said, thanks everyone for tuning in. We'll be back next week.

Elan: Take care everyone.

Corey: Bye bye.

Adam: Bye.