Want over Should — AoA Series #6

The Art of Accomplishment
The Art of Accomplishment
Want over Should — AoA Series #6
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If you look at all the bad habits that you’ve been trying to stop for a decade they all have one thing in common: They are all things you’re telling yourself you SHOULD stop doing. What if thinking you “should” is what keeps you stuck? And what if getting in touch with your wants, in a deep way, is the quickest way to get you unstuck?

“The want is that very simple impulse that is moving us, that moves us to have a closer relationship with our loved ones. It is a constant pull that leads us all the way down the developmental line. If we allow it, it will take us all the way to freedom.”

If you look at all of the bad habits you have been trying to stop for a decade, you will find they all have one thing in common. They are all things you are telling yourself you should stop doing. The same is likely true for the things you tell yourself you should be doing more of, finishing a project, going to the gym, calling your mom. 

What if thinking you should is what keeps you stuck? What if getting in touch with your wants in a deep way is the quickest way to get unstuck? Let’s get to the bottom of this. 

Brett: Joe, I would think this is pretty obvious, but you usually have a unique definition of things. What exactly do you mean by should?

Joe: Should is really a mechanism of shame. It is. There’s a saying that says that shame is the locks that keep the chains of bad habits in place. Should is like a really bad management technique. Energetically, it’s oppressive. Intellectually, it’s control-based. Emotionally, it’s rigidity and neurologically, it’s a threat. If you say to somebody, “You should really do that,” there is a threat in that. 

What’s interesting is, that same energy really doesn’t happen in certain cultures. When you see, particularly, more indigenous cultures that I’ve been a part of and seeing that whole should telling people thing just doesn’t happen, at least energetically, it doesn’t happen. When I mean energetically, I don’t mean energetically in a spiritual new age way. I just literally mean the energy in which you are talking to the person. 

That’s what I think it is. You’re right. They are the things that keep your bad habits in place. Shoulds are just really ineffective. I’ll tell you the story where I learned this. I was like 26 years old and I decided I was going to be brutally honest with myself. I wrote down a list of everything about myself that I didn’t want to admit to myself. Then I folded it away and I put it away and I found it like six months, maybe a year later. I went through the list  and I was like, “How many of these things have changed?” Remarkably, most of them had. I was like, “Wow, that’s amazing. I did nothing and they just changed,” just the recognition of them changed, awareness changed them.

Then I looked through all the ones that hadn’t changed and to a tee, each single one of them had a very heavy should attached to it. That’s when I started to realize that this way of managing ourselves by telling ourselves we should do things is just really ineffective.

Brett: To keep it simple around the definition of should, we’re talking about the moment that we tell ourselves that we should do something.

Joe: Well– the voice in the head will tell you that you should do something and that’s the most obvious thing, but there’s also an energetic should that happens. It’s almost a muscular response or a neurological response to something and it doesn’t always have to have the verbal, “You should do this.” You could just reach for the double flourless chocolate cake and you’ll just feel that “er” inside of you and that is just a nonverbal should. I think it’s really important to see it as both.

Brett: What’s wrong with controlling ourselves in this way? If these shoulds are pointing us towards the things that we want or don’t want to be doing, what’s causing that to get in the way?

Joe: It’s because you’ve put an extra layer on it. If you’re just in the wants, it’s an amazing fluid thing. Then when it gets into the shoulds, it creates the threat, like I said and a rigidity. As an example, if I try to control a two-year-old and I have that energy of like “rah”, “You will do this, you should do this”. There’s one of two responses that happen in any human. If I did it to you right now, “Hey, you should speak differently on this podcast.” It immediately creates one of two things in you. Let’s do it for the audience here. “You should be listening to this podcast better. You are not paying close enough attention.”

If I’m treating you like that, there’s one of two responses. One of those responses is going to be rebellion. There’s just something innate that’s like “er”. No response. That’s not a really effective way to create anything. It’s just creating no’s. The other thing that it does is you’re like, “Oh, you’re right, I should.” It’s this submission. It’s not surrender. It’s submission. It’s like, “I am weak and I will just do what you say.” Then you’ve got a whole bunch of disempowered people and that doesn’t really help much either. Especially if you’re in a company, you want a company full of empowered people or you want a community full of empowered people, or you want yourself to feel empowered. 

Every time you’re using the should, what’s happening is that you are either creating your own internal rebellion, which is why you haven’t done the things you’ve been telling yourself you should do for decades, because you’re rebelling against it. Or you’re creating a disempowered situation inside yourself. You’re creating more of a victim mentality to this voice in your head that’s being abusive.

Brett: Interesting. What I notice about myself is, that when I think about not telling myself what I should do or shouldn’t do anymore, there becomes this fear that I’ll just become lazy or some couch potato and I just won’t do the things that I should do as I use that word.

Joe: [chuckles] Totally, exactly.

Brett: What’s your response to that? What happens if we stop doing the should, if we stop setting out a path for what we want from ourselves from a perspective of being conscious of the risks and the threats?

Joe: Great questions. This is that inherent goodness thing that we’ve spoken about before, which is basically– the idea is that you are a lazy slob, piece of shit, just going to pick your ass and live off of other people unless you tell yourself you should do something. You know what I mean? Could you imagine if you thought about somebody else that way? Unless I tell Joe that he should do a podcast, he’s just never going to fricking do it. I got to tell him he should do it. It’s a nonsensical thing to really think like, “Here I am doing this podcast. Nobody told me I should do it. I wanted to do it.” 

If you think about kids from zero to eight years old, there’s no internal should. They’re doing all sorts, they’re developing crazy amounts compared to any other time in life. They’re learning all sorts of things. It’s all just because they’re following their wants. On one level, that’s a really important thing to note. On the other hand, you actually may become a couch potato for a while, which sounds a little weird. The thing is, if you have been under threat for an extended period of time, there’s going to be a need to relax. There’s going to be a need to recover. If you’re going cold turkey on your shoulds, you might actually just need to slow down for a bit. It’s not going to be a couch potato. 

The couch potato thing happens when you burn out and then you tell yourself you shouldn’t be burning out. You should stop playing video games. You should stop laying on the couch. You should stop. You should stop. You should stop. Then you really will go into full couch potato mode. If the natural burnout happens with the should, then it looks like depression. There might be a time where you need some more rest, where you need to recover. You see this happen in schools all the time, when there’s this thing called unlearning or un-schooling or something like that, where kids are taken out of the school that have burnt out. They take like five or six months and do very little. Then all of a sudden, they learn three or four times as quickly as they were in school. There’s lots of studies on this. 

You’re basically saying, “If I don’t put myself under threat of a should, if I don’t tell myself that I’m bad if I don’t, then I won’t.” It’s just not my experience at all. My experience is that the people who are most generative in their life are people who want to do shit, not who feel like they should do.

Brett: It sounds like it takes time to shift paradigms of thinking. This reminds me a little bit of a thought experiment–

Joe: Hold on a second. That may be true. That may not be true. Don’t assume that one though, at least for people listening. For me, turning off the shoulds in the voice in my head was very quick. It didn’t take a tremendous amount of time. Once I really just understood, “Oh, this shit doesn’t work.” If you know that you have a screw gun and every time you use the screw gun it strips screws, you’re pretty much not going to use that screw gun. It’s not going to take a lot of time to figure that out. If you start telling yourself you should stop using shoulds, it could take years.

Brett: That makes sense. This reminds me of the thought experiment of having the voice in your head be a roommate. If you were to go to talk to somebody like a roommate or a friend and they were the person that’s just going to tell you what you should do, versus the kind of person that helps you find what you want, then you might either stop going to that person, because it doesn’t feel like you’re really getting helped, or you might become dependent on them telling what you should do.

Joe: Most humans would just move out. Some of us are engineered or programmed to give up our own empowerment for a person like that. That’s right. Most of us who had a boss who spoke to us like that should voice in our head, we would quit or we would be miserable. If that “should voice” in your head is really strong and really loud, there is a strong case that you’re miserable, whether you see it or not.

Brett: As we release ourselves from the oppression of these shoulds and we start listening to what we want and trusting that our wants are inherently good and healthy for us– let’s get into the wants side of this then. How would you define wants?

Joe: The want is just that impulse that moves through you, that animates your actions. That is what the want is. The should is just this egoic layer on top of it that slows the whole thing down. Let me explain. You’re sitting and you think to yourself, “I should exercise.” What’s actually happening is there’s an impulse and a want to exercise and it shows up. Instead of just like, “Oh, cool,” and doing 10 jumping jacks, you say to yourself, “I should go to the gym.” Then that just destroys your chances of actually working out or at least very much lowers your chances of working out.

The want is just that very simple impulse that’s moving us, that moves that eight-year-old, that five-year-old, that three-year-old. It moves the toddler to walk better. It moves the crawler to toddle. It moves us to speak. It moves us to have a closer relationship with our loved ones. It is a constant pull that leads us all the way down the developmental line. If we allow it, it’ll take us all the way to awakenings and freedom.

Brett: What if I’m listening to my want and my want is to have a big piece of chocolate cake?

Joe: That’s a really good question. There’s one other piece that I think is really important to explain. The thing is that wants are somatically expansive. They’re intellectually empowering. The want is very different, if you attach to it or if you don’t attach to it. If you attach to, let’s say, having that girlfriend Jennifer, then you’re in craving, which is different than want. The want is just that impulse. It’s just that empowering expansive impulse. If you look at the cake and you’re in that empowering expansive place, that’s very different, than the way most people want a cake, what they think is wanting a cake, which either this struggle, “I want it, but I don’t want it. I want it. I don’t want it. I want it. I don’t want it.” That’s not a clean want. 

There’s still some refinement that needs to go there or there’s just that unconscious shoving the cake in their mouth and calling it a want. The want is something that feels very expansive. If you look at something like a chocolate cake and it feels very expansive to sit and eat that thing, then yes, follow the want. Because the thing about the wants in general is that you have to follow them to deepen into them. What that means is you want to follow the chocolate cake because you want to have this sense of pleasure. Great, have the sense of pleasure. Then you start finding out what the deeper sense pleasures are.

You follow that want home and you find out it has seven more beautiful siblings. If the want is clean, it doesn’t matter if it’s a short-term or a long-term– healthy in your mind and your superego, it’s far more about allowing that movement, so you can find the next step. You can’t want to run unless you’ve wanted to learn how to walk. You have to actually get to the walking point to have an effective  next level of want. That’s how it works is that the wants move us. A toddler, they just want to walk and walk well. Maybe as a toddler, you want to run, but then you can want to play baseball and then you can want to play basketball and then you can want to play basketball really, really well.

It’s the same thing with our wants. When we start really getting in touch with our wants, then they really transform. For example, the want is, “I want a million dollars” and there’s some shame with that and so it’s not a clear impulse. Then we’re like, “What is that clear impulse?” It’s like, “Oh, I want to be empowered.”

Brett: That sounds very relevant to a career path as well. I heard a story recently from a friend who’s a lawyer. Halfway through their first semester, they were like, “Okay, I’m not going to do this. I don’t want to be a lawyer. This sucks.” The experience was they were like, “These are all the things that I have to do to get to where this path is supposed to put me and it doesn’t look fun at all.” This person described that they simply stopped caring about what they were supposed to be doing and they started paying attention to what they actually wanted. They were like, “Actually, there’s all things that I want to be doing that I could do if I was enabled with this law degree.”

They started just making it theirs. They took all the classes they wanted, that nobody else was taking and ended up on some trends that they were ahead of their game on or ahead of the trend on as a result of following the way they wanted to be a lawyer and they ended up really loving their career. 

Joe: That’s exactly right. If you’re doing your shoulds and you’re basically following rigidity, you’re following a tightness and you’re going to have that kind of tight life. You’re going to have a very rigid life. If you’re following your wants, your life becomes much more expansive.

Brett: I liked what you had been saying about craving as well. It sounds like craving is distinct from wants. Craving is a want that you don’t want. It feels like a want, but you really don’t want it.

Joe: [laughs] Yes, there’s a thing about the want. If you just take the want viscerally and you don’t try to get there, you don’t try to get to the end, if you just take the want viscerally, you can feel it. Let’s do this for a second. If you close your eyes and you feel a really deep want inside of you, you have a deep one, not a superficial one, but a very deep one, maybe a want for a deeper form of intimacy or a want for a more expansive consciousness, or a want for more love in your life. You feel that want and you take it in and you don’t worry about whether you can get it or not. You don’t even think about how to get it. You just feel what it is to want.

Wanting is just a feeling like anger or sadness. Just allow that feeling in your system without trying to get to the goal. That experience is really pleasant. It’s really quite lovely. To me, the way it works in my system is, it is one of the closest feelings to love, to allow a desire deeply inside of you. I think it’s why so many of the the Sufi poets, they talk about desire in this way that they just love desire. This longing– because that longing is so close to love. It’s so close to that expansive acceptance of everything. That’s what wanting is. “Now I got to get it. How do I get it? Why can’t I get it?” That’s craving and that’s painful as shit.

Brett: This reminds me of a lot of different spiritual traditions that tell us, that craving is a hindrance to freedom. For example, Buddhism’s principle of non-attachment or Christianity’s warnings about the desires of the flesh. Is that what they mean?

Joe: There’s those spiritual traditions and then there’s the tantric spiritual traditions. People think that they’re at odds, but they’re really not at odds at all. What’s happening there is that people have been beaten out of their wants and so they start turning cravings into an excuse not to want to not allow themselves to want anymore. If you’re really deeply closely looking into your own personal experience, the craving is the thing that they’re talking about and the wanting, the desire that the Sufis are talking about, the tantric people are talking about, is, there are two different things that are happening inside of your system.

Brett: It’s interesting. The exercise that we just did about the wanting– for myself, I was thinking about having a healthy body and being fit and having strength. In feeling the wanting, I was imagining moving my body and having range of motion, flexibility and strength. The moment I started trying to figure out how I was going to get there, then all of a sudden it turned into “Oh, but I’d have to work out.” Suddenly, the working out feels like a chore. The actual wanting of being healthy, the way that I was imagining that was actually working out, was the equivalent of moving and using my body.

Joe: Exactly. If you just stick with that as a daily practice, how do I want to be in my body right now? Thirty minutes of how do I want to be in my body right now would get you exactly where you want to be in your body. How much more appealing is that? I have to work out today or, “How do I want to be in my body for 30 minutes?” It seems like it’s almost no different and it’s like worlds and worlds apart.

Brett: Let’s get this into the context of business and achievement. A tremendous amount of successful executives are deeply attached to winning and succeeding and it seems to be working well for them in many regards. How would you factor that into this?

Joe: There’s people who tell themselves they should do stuff. Apparently they’re pretty successful at it or they’re deeply attached. They have a deep craving and they’re successful at getting their cravings met. For me, it’s pretty simple. There is the intention which is critical. I’m not suggesting to drop all intention in life. We have our intention, we have that want, we have the impulse and that’s a really, really important thing. It gives us a north star. It gives us a heading that we move down. To hold that intention is absolutely completely important to getting stuff done in the world of accomplishing stuff in the world. 

Being attached to succeeding is absolutely a fine way to succeed. It’s not the most efficient way to succeed. It is not the most enjoyable way to succeed, but it is absolutely a fine way to succeed. You can really, really get attached to something. You can work at it and you can get there. In fact, it’s really important to have some of that if you’re going to get anywhere in life and that’s the intention. You can have that intention without that craving, without that deep attachment. If you don’t have it, you’re lucky to get anywhere. That intention is really quite important. 

If you’re going to put attachment on top of that intention, on top of that want, then you are dragging. Then you are like throwing an anchor out and sailing across the ocean with your anchor out. It is not going to be the most effective. The real thing is that intention, like, “What is the context of it? What’s the way that you make it most enjoyable? 

Let me give you an example. If I look at every single CEO that I know who has been very, very successful, their intention wasn’t to make money. They weren’t attached to making money. What they were attached to was being the best or beating their competition, or reducing carbon in the world, or being the best at customer service. They had some intention, that was past this intention of just succeeding. Their attachment was beyond succeeding. 

Because if you’re just attached to the succeeding part, it’s a lot more difficult. If succeeding is something that you have to do to get to the part that you’re attached to, then it’s easier. The attachment isn’t the most efficient way to get to where you want to go, to have that strong attachment. It’s definitely not the most enjoyable way to get to where you want to go, but the intention, absolutely critical. Does that make sense?

Brett: Yes, totally. It seems like having the intention versus having the attachment to success, the intention makes it easier to pivot. If your intention is to build a company or build a product that reduces carbon in the world, there are many ways to do that. You could start out with one idea of doing it and discover that there’s different ways of doing it. One of them just isn’t working in the market. 

It seems like it would be easier to get out of the local optimum or maybe you just have to let go of what you are doing and start something new, which is just really common in any any business endeavor, this idea of pivoting and flowing with reality. If you’re really attached to the particular success, then you might be more resistant to make changes, that seem in the short-term to lead away from your goal of success.

Joe: That’s right. You have your intention out there. That’s where you know which way you’re going. We’ll call that like the goal or the want. That intention is what’s moving you in the direction. Then you can have different attitudes towards that goal, towards that want. The attitude could become a should, the attitude could be, “I’m scared of getting to the goal. I’m angry that I don’t haven’t gotten to the goal. I have absolute faith that I will be there.” All of those ways are different attitudes towards having that goal. 

You’re not going to get there without the goal. The most efficient attitude to get to the goal is to be in the want of it, not the should of it. It is to be in the enjoyment of it, not the rigidity of it. That’s the more efficient way to get there and to be beyond the goal itself. It’s that the goal of succeeding is really just a necessary step to get to your deeper goal.

Brett: Give me some more examples of holding an intention without the should.

Joe: You’re running a company and you have a revenue goal of $100 million. You can hold that as, “I should get to $100 million”. You can hold that goal as, “I want to get to $100 million.” You can hold that goal as, “I will get to $100 million.” You can hold that goal as, “I can’t wait until I get to $100 million.” The way you hold that goal is going to affect how much energy you have. It’s going to affect how rigid you are in it. It’s going to affect your ability to be flexible. 

Then the second level of it is choosing that goal as far as whether you’re going to make that the easy goal or the long-term goal. Are you saying, “I want to get a $100 million, just to get a $100 million?” Are you saying, “I want to get a $100 million, so that I can build a spaceship to get to Mars”? Are you saying, “I want to get a $100 million, so I can beat the competition”? All of those things are important. It’s not the intention or the goal. It is how you approach the goal, how you attach to the goal, the relationship you have with the goal. That’s the important piece for efficiency and enjoyment.

Brett: Feeling like you should be doing this prescriptive path towards the goal is controlling yourself with threat, essentially.

Joe: Correct, that’s right. It could work short-term, but it’s definitely not going to work long-term.

Brett: What makes it that we don’t see the inefficiency of our shoulds when we’re in them? If it is the case that everything that we don’t do in life that we want to do and everything that we do do that we want to stop doing is all locked in place by these shoulds, what makes it so opaque to us?

Joe: It’s a shame situation. The way that you can look at it is even if you take it up a level for a second, what’s the important thing about having the intention? What’s the important thing about having the goal? It tells you what questions to ask. If I say to you, “You need to start a company and that company needs to sell widgets to 10 people,” then you’re going to ask questions to get to that goal. But if I say, “You need to sell widgets to a hundred million people, you’re going to ask different questions.” You’re going to say, “Maybe I have to think about venture capital. Maybe I have to think about private equity. Maybe I have to think about distribution at that scale,” that you’re not going to have to think about it if you’re selling 10 widgets.

The goal is important, because it very, very much helps us determine what questions to ask. That’s why goals are so important, but what most people do is they put some shame into those goals, tell them they should reach the goals, not that they want to, not that they can, but that they should reach the goals and then all of a sudden those goals become a burden. They become like, “Oh, if I don’t do that, I’m bad.” That’s what makes it hard for us to see the shoulds is, that it makes us think that we’re bad. The should makes us think that we’re bad and if we think that we’re bad, it’s very hard to see what actually motivates us. 

It’s the same thing like in wars. If two countries are warring with each other and that whole war has to depend on people thinking the other side is bad. If people look up and say, “You know what, they’re just people. We’re just people. We’re just both trying to get along,” the war’s going to stop. To have that internal war of should means that you have to think you’re bad and that’s what makes it so hard to see through the should, to see through the war. 

What’s really strange about it is, that you can see it from a manager 10 miles away. You’re sitting there and you see a manager like “You should, you should, you should.” You’re like, “Oh my God, that’s not going to work.” That’s horribly ineffective. There’s been hundreds of management books saying, “Don’t do that because it doesn’t fricking work,” and psychological studies, but we’ll do it to ourselves all fricking day long. We will recognize it outside, but we won’t recognize it inside.

Brett: It’s as if the moment we say we should be doing something, the structure of that should is to flatten all of our wants to go do that one thing, because we’ve prioritized it. If we are routinely doing that thing where we’re suppressing our wants to do the thing we should do, then we can’t hear or feel our wants anymore.

Joe: That’s right. The wants, for many of us, are very scary. It’s a very scary thing to have a want, because we were taught at a young age not to have wants. We don’t have that want because mom won’t be happy. You don’t have that want because you won’t be codependent with that. You don’t have that want because blah, blah, blah. A lot of people are told to disassociate from their wants. They’re not taught that their wants are amazingly beautiful things, that can guide them in their entire life.

Brett: Let’s talk more about that. What makes wanting so vilified in our society?

Joe: My experience is, that there’s a pain that we feel from being rejected in our wants. It’s like a deep level of rejection. We’re all kind of school kids that got deeply rejected when we asked someone out on a date and so we’re hesitant to do it again. Because our wants are this deeply intimate thing, this very vulnerable thing. They are at the core of us. If they’ve been rejected, we don’t want to feel that rejection again. I think that’s the internal process. 

Externally, if you have a whole bunch of people who are codependent or a whole bunch of people, who were told that they were selfish as kids, which really, if you’re told that you were selfish as a kid, that really just means that you weren’t doing what your mom and dad wanted you to do. If you were told that, then having somebody own their wants is very uncomfortable for you. 

There’s this external world that is uncomfortable with people owning their wants. There’s also this external world of people who just can’t wait for that person to be owning their wants some more. It’s like rock and roll. Back in the day, rock and roll was there. There’s these people who shut up and they’re like, “I’m going to get whatever I want. I want to do this and do that.” There was this group of people were like, “Yes.” There was a group of people like, “Devil.” That’s how it works when you’re really owning your wants, especially the earlier wants. The later wants start to refine and start to become more and more beautiful. Then it’s a little bit less likely to happen. 

We all start with the early wants and to own them gets a certain level of rejection, because other people would have to feel their own wants. The thing about wants in general is that it’s our human nature to want. You can play this game with friends and after every sentence, just say what it is that you wanted to get out of that sentence.  You will find a want in every single sentence that you speak. Right now, I want to have you guys understand what I’m saying. Right now, I want you to taste the deep pleasure of wanting. There’s always this conscious want behind almost every sentence we have, it’s such a part of our human nature. We cannot get away from it. All we can do is own it or we can sublimate it. Should is just a way of sublimating it, which is why it doesn’t work as effectively.

Brett: I’m going to say something right now because I want to participate in this podcast and feel relevant.

Joe: [laughs] I want to respond so that you know that I love you and I care for you.

Brett: I want to end the pregnant pause. [both laugh] A lot of what you were saying about the societal aspect is that it’s uncomfortable for people to feel their wants. Part of what it is, is people have a problem seeing other people want what they want, because that makes them feel the pain of their own wants. The pain of our own wants seems to be linked to something we’ve discussed on some other episodes, the consequences of wanting, the potential consequence. If I want something, I might not get it, I might have to feel disappointment. I might be judged. I might break this cozy structure of this job that I’m in or this relationship that I’m in, because my wants feel incongruent with that.

Joe: The interesting thing about that in general is, that not getting our wants met is not actually as scary as we want or pop psychology would say that it is, because we all have a dozen wants that we haven’t had met. It doesn’t devastate us all the time. How many people listening to this podcast want to have $10 million more in the bank? it hasn’t happened. Didn’t devastate any of us. I think it’s the exposure, the vulnerability of showing your want and having it rejected. That’s the deeper scare.

Brett: Admitting that you want $10 million in the bank and people judging you for that, greedy.

Joe: Exactly. The amazing thing is when you totally own a want, oftentimes the want goes away almost immediately. I really want $10 million in the bank. If you fully feel that all the way and you’re just like, “Oh, yes, $10 million,” just feel that want. Oftentimes, it just starts shifting. It’s just like, “Oh, what I want is security.” Then it’s like, “Oh, what I really want is to feel empowered in every situation.” If you don’t allow yourself to have the want, it can’t move through you. It’s just like, if you don’t allow yourself to get angry, it can’t move through you. If you don’t allow yourself to get sad, it can’t move through you. It’s just another emotion that needs to move through you and is so pleasant when it does.

Brett: It sounds like on one level, you’re saying that it is an impulse and on another level, you’re saying it’s an emotion. Can you get into that distinction a little bit more?

Joe: That’s a great question. Let me feel inside for a moment and really see what the distinction is there. It seems like there’s this impulse that moves. The way it’s working in my system is, there’s this impulse to move, to say these words, to be in front of my computer right now, to answer your question. There’s this natural impulse. If that impulse meets any friction, then this emotional experience of wanting starts to occur. As this emotional experience of wanting starts to occur, that becomes the feeling. That’s the feeling that’s there.

If I fully feel the feeling, the friction starts to fade. There’s the impulse side of the wanting and then there’s also the emotional side of the wanting. It’s what distinguishes,  “I’m just going to walk to the bathroom right now” and there’s no experience of wanting in that process, because there’s no friction met. As soon as that impulse meets any level of friction, then there’s this experience of wanting. If you fully feel that experience, it turns deeply into a loving expansive experience and then that friction starts to go away.

Brett: I want to hear one more story from you, a personal story relevant to how you arrived at all of this.

Joe: I’d be happy to share a story, Brett. It’s a story of shoulds and wants. When I was earlier in my venture capital career, I had this idea that I really should be making money. It was foreign to me because it wasn’t something that was really ever important to me before. It was a combination of a feeling of indebtedness to the investors and also doing a good job and being valuable, but the shoulds started appearing in my life at that point. 

Then I was sitting in a hammock and I read this news at some point. I remember the time specifically. I read this news, that this company that was formed with almost no money sold for multi billions of dollars and it felt like just an absolute kick in my stomach, just like a whack in my stomach. I stopped and I went, “Oh, where did I feel that for the first time?” I traced it back, not intellectually, but like my entire body traced back that feeling to the first time I felt it. The first time I felt it was trying to please my father as a kid and it was like, “Oh,” and it was not pleasable at that time. To please him, at least from my point of view, wasn’t possible. 

I saw that this whole money making activity had nothing to do with actually making money and the should behind it had nothing to do with it. It was this very early should that I had of I should be pleasing my father. That was a very ingrained should. It was at that moment that I was like, “Okay, hold on a second. This doesn’t have anything to do with money and it’s a should. What do I want? What I really want to do here?” 

What I realized is, I just wanted to create great cultures for people. I want it to be a part of creating great cultures for people to work in. That changed everything. It changed my approach. It changed my ability to be effective. It just changed everything as soon as I just moved from the should that was driven by an early feeling to a want, which was very present and it was just very immediate. All of a sudden, everything started to open up and flourish in my life in a new way.

Brett: Wow, thank you. How do you want to end this?

Joe: I want to express a deep gratitude for everybody who’s listening, who’s dedicated to understanding themselves, who honors me by choosing to be here as part of this experience. My deepest want is a very deep bow to everybody who’s listening and to say that I wouldn’t be here without people who were bowing to me. I am grateful to be bowing to you. My deep hope is, that you will bow to the people who appear before you.

Brett: Joe, thank you for taking the time to help all of us build our culture internally and in our companies.

Joe: Thanks for doing the work, man. 

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