Self-esteem and valuing yourself can help you be comfortable just being yourself and avoid being pushed around. In this episode, John Livesay, aka The Pitch Whisperer, chats with Habits of Success author, TEDx speaker, and coach G. Brian Benson about following his intuition and leaving the family business to pursue a life of balance and creativity. If you’re running out of creative juices, learn how G. Brian goes out of his comfort zone and tries different sporting endeavors that lends him excitement and a sense of accomplishment. Also discover how physical and mental clutter affects your vibrational energy and how you can operate from a healthy perspective.
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Habits For Success With G. Brian Benson
Our guest is G. Brian Benson, who is an award-winning and bestselling author on self-improvement. He’s a child’s book author, he’s a filmmaker and TEDx speaker. He is a four-time IRONMAN triathlete and cross-country bicyclist. Brian knows the value of hard work and never giving up on his dreams, a message that he shares with audiences through each of his creative expressions. Brian’s brand new book, which I’m happy to say I’ve read and loved, Habits for Success: Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar, is an Amazon number one bestseller and was selected as a 2019 Book Excellence Award in the motivational category. Brian, welcome to the show.
John, thank you. It’s a pleasure.
I like to ask my guests to tell us all their own stories of origin. You can go back as far as a kid, high school, college or wherever you want. Did you start off saying, “I want to be an actor,” or “I want to be an athlete?” How did all that begin?
I grew up in Salem, Oregon and growing up, I love sports. I love history. I was independent. I did my own thing and I was creative in different unique ways. I didn’t know what I wanted to do other than to be a Portland Trail Blazer when I was in grade school but that didn’t work out because I’m only 5’8” and probably not fast enough. I went to college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do the whole time I was there and I graduated and tried to run the family business. I did that for eleven years. I felt in the back of my mind that there was something else I was supposed to do that was my mission but I had no idea what it was at the time. After eleven years of being there, I told my dad, “I’m finished. I don’t feel I’m growing anymore and I feel I needed a new challenge.” He was understanding. I ended up taking a year to be able to leave because we decided to sell it and we had to go through that whole process, which was tough because I was ready to hit the road.
Let’s talk about that. What was the family business?
We had a golf center, which was a driving range, a retail store and a nine-hole par-three course.
You also talk about in your book, Habits for Success the importance of patience, you had to experience it and then were able to run it and live it. It’s one thing to tell people and give advice, learn to be patient. You are told you don’t have to do something you’re not passionate about and then you still have to be patient for a whole year until it gets sold, how did you find the patience for that?
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Not only was I ready to get going with my life, but I also picked up a staph infection in my knee, not sure how and it was misdiagnosed. It caused a lot of problems. I had to have it drain ten different times until finally, they sent me to another doctor and he said, “You need to have an emergency surgery tomorrow to wash this out or you’re going to have a problem.” It was a nightmare in that regard as well. I sat down one day while all of this was going on, contemplating my future and I knew that I was feeling out of balance. I told myself, “Write five things that you feel will help keep you in balance at this moment.”
I did that and I put the paper in my wallet and I would refer to it occasionally and it helped, my intuition said, “Expand the list and write a book.” I had never written anything before but I did that and in about six weeks, I wrote this simple little book called Brian’s List: 26 1/2 Easy to Use Ideas on How to Live a Fun, Balanced, Healthy Life!, it gave me some direction, it was interesting. I self-published it and right at about the same time that I left the business. I moved to Reno, Nevada to be with my son who was in the Tahoe area, who was entering high school and connecting with him and helping him through that process and I started to reinvent myself.
It’s curious to know what those five things are, I see them in your book. Some of them are, “That’s good.” The secret is the combination, almost like a little mini checklist or do you have something in there that I haven’t seen but most people put in? I’m going to let you tell us what the five are.
Some of them we think about that, but it’s easy to forget. One is to drink enough water. That’s a sneaky one. I made sure I was drinking enough water. Two is to make sure that I was getting enough sleep. The third one is to make sure that I was getting some daily exercise and that was tough while I was going through the knee problem, but I needed movement and that helps me. Another one is to make sure that I was getting some alone time every day because I’m outgoing but I’m an introvert and I need time to refill my cup. The final one, make sure that I was being creative. At that time, I had not got to anything that I’m doing now. I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t doing anything like that. At that time, playing my guitar was a creative outlet.
That last one is important, you’re like, “I’m going to make time to exercise and going to make time to make sure I’m hydrated, maybe even find some time I can be alone. I can go to the sleep thing, most of the time I can do that, wait a minute, am I making time to be creative? I’m putting out fires all day at work and then I feel like I do that at home.” Especially if you’re a leader or want to grow as a person. This need, just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you’re having time to be creative. There’s a difference between alone time and creative time and I wanted to double click on that.
I learned this more in my journey, which we’ll probably tap into a little bit here going forward. Creativity is important. It’s like connecting with God, the source, the universe or whatever you want to call it and it’s a form of meditation. It’s a great way to feel good about yourself. It’s a great way to slow down and just be. You don’t have to be Van Gogh if you’re painting or you don’t have to be Walt Whitman if you’re writing, but in your own special way, it’s an outlet that is important.
You said another gem there, Brian, which is let go of thinking that what you’re creating isn’t good enough to spend time doing. Don’t have any attachments to having to produce income or winning the awards or anything else. You’re creating it for you and if nobody even sees it or hears it, that’s okay.
It’s interesting because initially, that was the case. However, as I kept going down the road and creating more stuff, then I started putting more attachment to it and held more expectations to it and that started to cause some problems for me. Even though it made a difference in a lot of ways, it probably helped solidify my foundation and keep moving forward. If it didn’t do something that I felt like it was supposed to do, I’d be depressed for a couple of weeks. I went through this roller coaster of the creative process and how I was reacting to what I was creating. Finally, a couple of years ago, after releasing my first kid’s book, it had a good release but then for some reason, I don’t know what I was expecting, I ended up with this depression. I said, “If it’s going to be like this anymore, I don’t want to do it.” From there on, I tried to truly enjoy the process of creation and trust that it will reach and affect whoever it’s supposed to and the rest is out of my control.Intuition is the language of the soul. Make time to be creative. Click To Tweet
I’m fascinated that you used the word going on a roller coaster because I talk about that all the time, helping people get off a self-esteem roller coaster of only feeling good if their numbers are up and bad if your numbers are down. As if our identity is contingent on an outcome and then we feel like, “I’m not worth anything if I’m me. I need to have all these achievements and they have to constantly be topping myself and impressing people nonstop just to get to acceptable.” As opposed to, “Who I am is enough, whether I create something or not, whether it gets accolades or not.”
Not be obsessively checking your ranking on Amazon or how many views you got or how many likes on a social media post or whatever. You can do to constantly go like, “I’m not feeling okay about myself. I feel even worse because I didn’t get a like on something that I thought was brilliant.” It will drive you crazy. I love helping people get off that self-esteem roller coaster. You are big on intuition and then you have a line in here which is, intuition is the language of the soul. Tell us a story of how you’ve let your intuition be your guide if you don’t mind.
It’s been my guidance so much. When I first got into triathlons, I was listening to it without realizing and I was listening to it until looking back. It was definitely a watershed moment for me but I had a knee injury in college. My kneecap got knocked out of place playing mud football and it sucked. I had to have surgery and I was nervous. I played a lot of sports in high school. I set a goal to do a short triathlon when I got done to have something to look forward to while I was rehabbing. I started feeling good about myself, I lost a few pounds and started to change my life. Intuitively, I felt drawn to the sport of triathlon. I wasn’t sure why, but I even wrote my first poem and it’s not good based on a person racing the IRONMAN and this was three years before I ever did one. Once I stepped to the starting line in that first short course race in 1987, I’d finished it and I felt alive and empowered. I ended up doing four more that summer and then ten the next summer and in the third season, I did my first IRONMAN. I felt destined to do that.
You talk about how intuition can communicate with us in different ways. It could be feeling restless, which is fascinating because some people don’t realize that your intuition is trying to talk to you. This concept of even a gut feeling or sometimes you become ill. If our body is not getting our attention with the other things, it’s like, “I’m going to make you slow down enough so I could maybe get your attention to listen if you’re home with a cold or something even worse.”
Sometimes we get smacked hard because we aren’t paying attention or we’re too busy in our lives to listen to it. It’s no accident that my first book, even though it was accidental, was all those different ways to stay in life balance because it taught me how to be aware of what kept me in balance and what threw me out. Which in turn, the more that I can institute balance into my life, the easier it is to let our intuition come through.
What advice do you have for someone who’s like, “I’m not in touch with my intuition and I feel out of balance.”
I’ll definitely try to get them to start thinking about what they’re doing. Start documenting your life and try to identify it and it might take the help of a coach to help be an accountability partner and to look at it with fresh eyes to see what one might be doing. With Habits for Success, habits can work both ways. You get habits going that aren’t that healthy for us and it becomes a part of our system that we forget about anything else. You have to identify it and become more self-aware of how you’re living and then you can start to eliminate and institute different ways to go about things. That’s the best place to start.
You talk about helping people get over their fear of failure and how important resilience is, any stories around your own failures and how you picked yourself back up?
For me, failing can mean a variety of things, but I’m going to jot back to what we were talking about the expectations at the ends of things. For me, I put my expectations high that when something didn’t do what it was supposed in my mind, even though it did wonderful things, I felt I was failing.
That’s an insight right there. We are mostly the ones labeling something a failure more than the outer world.
Anybody else looking from the outside and maybe the different things that are creative, they’re going, “That’s amazing,” or “How’d you do that?” I would love to have one of those things. I’m driven and I feel I know where I’m headed that it’s like I’ve got tunnel vision or I had tunnel vision. I’m trying to be patient and step back and allow things. It messed with me and it put all these undue weights on my shoulders and pressure. Failing in the traditional sense is healthy even though we can beat ourselves up and feel like failures, but it builds character. It can help us become more empathetic. It humbles us. If you’re coming with the right intentions, it can force you to dig deeper and hone something that you’re working on, maybe a blessing in disguise. It can teach us new ways to do things. Failing isn’t that bad. We make it bad, we put this stigma on it.
As opposed to, “This is feedback.”
This power of saying no to things you don’t want to do, a lot of people have trouble saying no. They feel guilty. They find themselves doing things that they don’t want to be doing and resenting doing it and not showing up all because they don’t want to say no. What advice can you give us on how we can break that habit of not saying no?
This could be a little bit deeper answer than you might’ve expected but it all stems from maybe, sometimes our own self-esteem. What I’ve learned, I’ve had to work hard at learning how to love it except myself. As we’re climbing that ladder, if we’re not valuing ourselves as much as we should, we will say yes to a lot of things that we shouldn’t and let people push us around a little bit, hypothetically speaking. The more that we can find that place of accepting ourselves for who we are and what we have to work with and finding the value in ourselves, it becomes easier. Everything else starts to fall into place and we start to do things that we want to do and we start to respect ourselves more.
This concept of play that we all have as a kid somehow goes out the window as we get older. You’re a parent so you probably have seen, “I can play with my kid.” That’s okay, but in the business world or when we get stressed out, the last thing a lot of people think about is, “Let’s go have some fun.” I can’t. I’ve got to worry about the bills or what somebody said to me or this deadline I have to meet. How can we remind ourselves of the importance of play and how that can help us reduce our stress and be productive?
For me, I try to hike almost every day and that’s a form of play. It puts my mind at ease. For some reason, nature has this vibration that helps us. Nature is perfection so whenever I step into it, I relax and my creative juices start flowing and as a form of exercise. It’s important to do that. If you’re in the office and you can’t get out to do that, maybe put a little Nerf hoop up or something in somebody’s office and if you get a ten-minute break, go in and shoot some baskets. There are many different things we can do that snap us out of that.You don't have to be Van Gogh if you're painting, but just in your own special way, you can be creative. Click To Tweet
Being a little playful, even if it’s a big meeting, there’s nothing wrong with being playful with someone so that it lightens the mood for everybody a little bit.
Figure out some little office game, pool or whatever, that gets everybody involved and that breaks the tension. What’s the point of life if we’re not getting some of that? It’s easy as a kid, but it’s even more important as an adult.
This concept, especially living in Southern California, traffic and being late and stressed out and lost, my big nightmare is being late and lost. You have a whole chapter about leave ten minutes early, tell us what that means, beyond the obvious.
In LA, it’s going to be like, “Leave a half-hour early.” Whenever we are racing to get someplace, it’s a stressful drive and not only that, you get to the place and you arrive disheveled mentally. If you can leave ten minutes early, which is not a big deal, maybe once in a while it is but switch your routine up. You can enjoy the ride over there. You go in there relaxed and everything is fine. You’re ready to go with whatever you need to do when you get there. It makes total sense to me. Especially here in LA, there’s such frenetic energy on the roads.
A lot of people feel like, “My time is not important if I’m there early waiting for someone,” or “What am I going to do?” That’s part of the weirdness for some people is, you can be alone with yourself for ten minutes and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.
It’s frenetic enough and if you’re going to someplace late, freeways here, it’s a horrible experience.
This concept of, we all want more clarity in our lives and we certainly want clarity when we’re pitching, because the confused mind always says no. One of the things I like about what you’re talking in Habits for Success is, clarity is not just a mental thing but our environment. If our environment is cluttered, then we keep looking at that clutter and it’s difficult for our brain can feel clarity. Is that what you’re insinuating here?
Absolutely. There are many different ways that we can have clutter in our lives. Your office, if your office has papers everywhere and stuff is messy, that’s subconsciously a weight on your system. I’m all about having a tidy place. If you play a lot of music, loud music or do busy stuff, if you’ve got the TV going all the time in the background, that’s mental clutter and that’s another intuition.
I’ve always been fascinated when some people turn the TV on the minute they walk into a hotel room. I’m like, “Do you need to have that background noise the whole time?”
That’s not to say it’s okay to chill a little bit while watching TV.
Let’s have the news be our wallpaper, I’m like, “Oh boy.” There needs to be a start and a stop time for that. We don’t realize the cumulative stress that provides. The news is edited and if it bleeds, it leads, it’s a constant source of, “How can I agitate you and tell you things that are scary, whether it’s a storm or some other tragedy?” We need to be our own filter and if we’re depending on an outside source to tell us how we should be feeling, the news is not going to be the place to begin. Unless you’re onto the Own Channel or something, it’s not designed for that. It’s designed to get people to go, “Let’s pay attention so we stick around to watch a commercial.”
Everything’s vibration and there’s higher vibration stuff and lower vibration stuff. Most of the stuff we’re talking about is lower vibration and it’s hard to operate from a healthy perspective when you’ve got lower vibrational energy surrounding you.
Let’s talk about your TEDx Talk and how that came about. I think that’s a fascinating story for people and tell us what the title is and how you came up with that.
The title is Be Yourself to Free Yourself (Finding Your Personal Freedom). I was aware of TEDx Talks when I was approached to do one, I have never thought about maybe doing one, but a gentleman I briefly met in Nevada rang me up when I was here in LA. He said he was curating an event and he said, “You’d be a good addition. Would you like to do it?” I didn’t know what I talked about, but I go up and said, “Yes.” I had three months to get ready and write it.
That’s not a lot of time, because the amount of work and practice that goes into that is huge.
Not only that, for some reason, the TED Talks, you know it’s going to be videotaped and they’re for posterity. It adds a whole level of pressure and I hadn’t done much speaking at that point. I’m happy how it turned out. It’s my journey since I left my family business, trying to share the story and then I weave it through five points that I learned and utilized. The first one is to listen to your intuition, be open to whatever comes your way. Number two is to step out of your comfort zone. Three was to stay in life-balance. Four is to have fun and enjoy the ride and five is there are no rules, expect the unexpected.
That’s a big one, because everyone’s brought up with tons of rules as a kid and the concept of giving people the freedom to say, “This is your life,” just because you have a family business and it’s expected, the rule is, “You will do this.” You broke that rule and you continue to break other rules and more importantly, what I see you doing, Brian, whether it’s with your coaching, your speaking or your wonderful book Habits for Success, is you’re giving people permission to break rules that aren’t working for them anymore.
Thank you. I feel I was put in this to be a living example to help give permission to people to be themselves. I’ve had to work hard at it myself and I’ve done the work and I paid attention. It all falls into the point of learning how to love and accept yourself.
The book is called Habits for Success. Is there any last thought or quote you want to leave us with?
Be yourself to free yourself.
Thanks, Brian. To follow you on social media is, G. Brian Benson. People can find you that way. What you’re doing, the energy you put out, being in your presence when we had coffee was a calming experience and it lets other people calm down and possibly listen to their own intuition. Congratulations on this wonderful book.
Thank you, John. I appreciate you.
- Habits for Success: Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar
- Brian’s List: 26 1/2 Easy to Use Ideas on How to Live a Fun, Balanced, Healthy Life!
- Be Yourself to Free Yourself (Finding Your Personal Freedom) – TEDx Talk
- Brian Benson – Facebook
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