Ben Bergeron – Creating A Life Of Excellence (#295) | Modern Wisdom with Chris Williamson

Check out The Modern Wisdom Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Before committing to a path, you should figure out which path you want to pursue
    • Otherwise, you’ll let other people decide your path
    • You need to understand what makes you fulfilled
  • Curiosity is a critical trait of world-class performers
    • Being curious makes you move from competence to excellence
  • The Hierarchy of Mindset
    • 1. The victim
    • 2. The pessimist
    • 3. The optimist (most people stop here)
    • 4. The extreme realist
      • We can still thrive, despite the inevitable adversities
    • 5. The curious competitor
      • Actively seeking out difficulties and challenges
      • “You can do things that you don’t know you can do, and you won’t know that you can do them until you need to” Chris Williamson
  • One essential trait of the curious competitor is awareness
    • When something triggers you, instead of reacting you can become aware of it
    • Practicing meditation allows you to create a “mindfulness gap” between the trigger and the reaction
      • “The moment you realize you can step in your own programming, that’s the day your life changes” Chris Williamson
  • Talking about your goals is dangerous
    • “If we don’t commit to it we are just kidding ourselves” Ben Bergeron
    • You need to execute more than you plan
  • Time is not the most valuable resource we have, focus is
    • What you focus on during that time is your most valuable resource
  • Blur the line between work and play

Key Book Mentioned

Intro

New Perspectives On Chasing Excellence

  • Excellence means reaching the best of your ability
    • That’s why it’s about chasing excellence, not reaching it
    • Your maximum potential is an unknown
    • Excellence can mean different things to different people
  • Since writing Chasing Excellence in 2016, Ben evolved his perspective significantly
  • Instead of starting with chasing excellence, Ben would start with introspection
    • Before committing to a path, you should figure out which path you want to pursue
      • Otherwise, you’ll let other people decide your path
    • You need to understand what makes you fulfilled
      • Chasing excellence for something that doesn’t matter is a waste of time
  • Ben used to strongly advocate for optimism
    • But there is a case to be made for negativity
      • In certain contexts (war), pessimists live longer than optimists
      • Planning a sales pitch, thinking about negative scenarios will make you better prepared
    • Now he encourages people to be extreme realists
  • Passion is not going to get you where you want to go
    • What you need is obsession
    • That’s what sets apart world-class performers
  • Curiosity is a critical trait of world-class performers
    • Being curious makes you move from competence to excellence
    • You’re constantly curious about ways to improve yourself

Personal Values to Live by

  • Chris Williamson’s CASES
    • Curiosity
      • Learn about yourself and the World around you
    • Adventure
      • Meeting new people and having experiences
    • Selfless Development
      • Improving yourself and teaching others what you’ve learned
    • Excellence
      • Make the most of your time and fulfill your potential
    • Self-Care
      • Look after yourself first, to be the person you want to be for others
  • Ben Bergeron’s Four L’s
    • Live
      • Go out, meet people, get on adventures
    • Love
      • Putting family and the people you love first
    • Lead
      • Helping other people by leading them to grow
    • Learn
      • Be curious to learn new things
      • Curiosity is the fastest way to get in a flow state
    • He used to have a fifth L, Legacy
      • He got rid of it because it’s out of his control

The Hierarchy of Mindset

  • We need to have a common language around mindset
    • It allows us to know where we are and how to move forward
    • Ben developed a hierarchy of five different levels of mindset
  • 1. The victim
    • No control of the situation, give up responsibility
    • People tend to underestimate how much they can influence things around them
  • 2. The pessimist
    • Bring negativity to everything, performs worse than optimists
  • 3. The optimist (most people stop here)
    • Focus on opportunities, not obstacles
  • 4. The extreme realist
    • We can still thrive, despite the inevitable adversities
  • 5. The curious competitor
    • Actively seeking out difficulties and challenges
    • They know that through struggle they improve and forge their character
      • Meditation, journaling, working out, are all seen as preparation to face the challenges
    • Unless we face adversities that seem impossible to overcome we won’t know the limits of our potential
      • “You can do things that you don’t know you can do, and you won’t know that you can do them until you need to” Chris Williamson
    • “You’re rarely fearful of the future when you’re genuinely interested in what it holds” tweet by Chris Williamson

The Importance of Awareness

  • One critical trait of the curious competitor is awareness
  • When something triggers you, instead of reacting you can become aware of it
    • Our brain interprets much negative information as life-threatening and wants to immediately react
    • With awareness, you don’t have to immediately react to the trigger
    • With curiosity, you can ask yourself why that’s making you uncomfortable
      • The trigger becomes data for you to learn
  • Practicing meditation allows you to create a “mindfulness gap” between the trigger and the reaction
    • “The moment you realize you can step in your own programming, that’s the day your life changes” Chris Williamson
    • You realize you don’t have to be at the mercy of the next thought that comes to you
  • Ben put off meditation for a long time as it was mostly advertised as a way to become calmer
    • Now he recognizes the potential it has to boost performance

The Dangers of Goals and The Need for Commitment

  • Talking about your goals is dangerous
    • Your body releases dopamine, you feel good before even doing anything
    • You may lose the motivation to achieve them
  • Businesses and people like to think about their values but fail to operationalize them
    • It’s only when you put them in practice that they mean anything
    • That’s where commitment comes to play
  • “If we don’t commit to it we are just kidding ourselves” Ben Bergeron
    • You need to execute more than you plan
    • Excessive planning becomes a “masturbation by procrastination”
      • You make yourself feel good by thinking about your goals, but make no progress towards them
  • Ben has been tracking his commitment to his values every day

Maximizing Minutes and Avoiding Burnout 

  • Memento Mori is the stoic practice of reminding oneself of one’s death
    • Doing so pushes you to make the most out of your time
    • Putting in the time to practice is not enough, it is also about the intensity you bring
  • Time is not the most valuable resource we have, focus is
    • What you focus on during that time is your most valuable resource
  • Ben’s idea of maximizing minutes is ensuring that your daily actions contribute to your long-term goals
    • If we only chase pleasure, we’ll end up full of regrets
      • Feelings lie to us
      • Things that make us feel good, are not long-term good for us
    • We should seek things that make us fulfilled
  • Ben manages to avoid burnout by balancing different things (business, family, documentaries)

Living for the Remembering Self

  • We have three different perspectives of our Self
    • The past self remembers
    • The present self is experiencing life in the moment
    • The future self anticipates what will happen next
  • The past self lives for far longer than the other two
    • The present self is fleeting
    • The future self only thinks about a short window of time
    • The past self exists from the day that you’re born and it grows over time
  • We often do things to make the present self feel good
    • Binge eating and watching, social media, avoiding discomfort etc…
  • Chris is trying to live his life for his remembering self
    • He does the things that he knows he will be happy to remember
    • Even if his present self is lazy to go to salsa class, he knows his remembering self will be happy that he went
  • “We do nothing memorable with our days and then complain that life is forgotten” Chris Williamson
    • “If you want to remember the days that you spend you’ve got to do something memorable with them” Chris Williamson

Earning Confidence Through Preparation

  • You can’t create confidence
    • Confidence is a side-effect
  • Confidence is earned through preparation
    • It should not rely on the end results
      • Results are often outside of our control

Advice to Young People Struggling

  • Blur the line between work and play
    • Find something that you truly love to do
    • Ask yourself what do you want from your life
      • Ask yourself why five times
      • You’ll find out if that’s what you truly want or if it is what society or your family wants
  • Stop fearing failure
    • Ben doesn’t believe in failure
      • You do things and you learn from them
      • Some end up the way you expected and some don’t
    • Who gets to define what is success and what’s failure?
      • We don’t know the scoreboard of life
Modern Wisdom : , ,
Notes By Giorgio Parlato

More Notes on these topics

Top Insights and Tactics From

31 Best Podcasts of All Time

FREE when you join over 12,000 subscribers to the
Podcast Notes newsletter

No Thanks