• Drew Knowles, The Influence Ecology Podcast, Transactional Competence, Transactionalism

Case Study: Embrace Your Naïveté

We all can observe naïveté in others, but can we identify it in ourselves? As a poster child for ambition, Drew Knowles is a case study in embracing his naïveté. This episode describes and demonstrates what we mean by the term state of mind, the state or condition of ones thinking or knowing. We address four primary states of mind, this bare, naïveté, adult, and ambitious adult and the importance of learning to acknowledge this state or condition of our own ambition. Drew Knowles is the Vice President and partner of Influence Ecology, now, responsible for sales and customer intimacy for our enterprise worldwide.

Drew Knowles: My name is Drew Knowles. I reside Auckland, New Zealand. I’m 39 years old. My history with my career and what I’ve done for my work and business activities, I started in the health and fitness industry. Actually, when I was about 18, 19 when I began my university. I was studying a degree in human movement or sports sciences, maybe more commonly known around the world and most universities. I was passionate about helping people with their health, their fitness, every aspect about that.

“Be willing to be okay with, ‘You don’t have it all together.'”

Early on, actually, I was very into studying personal development. I read Tony Robbins’ book when I was about 18 and I was already starting to get into all sorts of that stuff way back then and a little bit what seemed like alternative ways of looking at things and just — I was always, I suppose, a little bit crazy to my family, just being so ambitious, so hungry, always doing — they always used to tease me of doing fad this, fad that, and this is the next thing that Andrew is up to, as my family would call me, is my full name.

This is a transcript of Drew Knowles’s podcast episode titled: Embrace Your Naïveté. Listen to the episode by clicking the button below.

I was working with people in the health and fitness field; I started that in New Zealand. Then, when I was in my early 20s, I moved to London and was on an overseas trip with my brother and ended up staying there. I was a personal trainer and a fitness expert and doing very well, but what struck me was people wouldn’t change their habits and would continue to have the same mindset around their health.

For me, just trading dollars, time for hours — there was a limited amount of people I could help, first of all, but I also wondered, “Why do they keep putting the cake in their mouth when they know they shouldn’t? Why do they not show up on their own when they know they should? Why do they have to depend on me?” There’s nothing wrong with depending on a trainer or something, but I got very interested in the behavioral aspect, the psychological aspect, more mental performance that led me into the personal coaching domain.

It was way back, John, in about 2002, where personal coaching was just becoming a thing, and personal training was becoming very general. I got told about some different programs and things like that and did a couple of different empowerment, personal development, motivational training, taught programs and just got very passionate about it and wanted to learn to deliver that kind of program. I worked with a company, then, on and off for nine years delivering public seminars and programs and worked up to quite a high-level management position and the office of this company in Melbourne. Then, also, I went back to New Zealand because I’d moved back to Australia at that point.

“Trying to just do it by yourself or figure it out by yourself, in my view, is a lot more challenging and a little counter to being human. Human beings rely on others for help.”

John Patterson: Just for a second, in your early work and then, throughout this enterprise, through this company, then, it sounds you started to tap into why certain behaviors — why someone will keep putting a cake in their mouth as you said and you saw some ways to impact that?

Drew: That’s right. I learned to help people change their mindset, is the simplest way to say it, work them through a process of coaching or training or advising where they could go from seeing life one way to seeing life an entirely different way and that help them change their actions. The same with me, I put myself on the sword of all of that as ambitiously as one could because you can’t try and teach somebody to do that unless you’re walking that path yourself.

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I really worked on transforming myself and altering my own state of mind and my ability to take myself to new levels so I could do that with other people. The one thing that happened during that time I was working long hours and now that I’ve done much study in the practical study of Influence Ecology, I look back, and I was trading the experience of making a difference, which was incredible. There are thousands upon thousands of people that I impacted, and it was credible, and I’m so grateful for that, yet, I wasn’t taking care of my own finances. I wasn’t earning a lot of money, but the trade-off was, I experienced this huge contribution, and in some ways, it was like a currency.

That experience was a currency that I sacrificed for actual money, but I got burned out. I took some time off around 2006, and I got interested in stress and why we get stress and chronic stress, and I was dealing with a bit of that myself. What happens to your mind and your brain when you’re under chronic stress and this thing called allostatic load. Then, I went back to this company for a while and then, left in 2010 to go be an entrepreneur. That was my title that I had for, “I don’t think I know what I really want to do yet, but I’m going to run around pretending like I really do know what I want to do.”

John: [laughs]

Drew: We will get to when you got to me, John, but about a year into being an “entrepreneur”, I was doing multiple things, trying all stuff, not really in my field of expertise and I wasn’t making anywhere — not the money I imagined I could with all my enthusiasm and lots of possibilities. That’s where it started to strike me off. A lot of the training I’ve done taught me to create possibilities, create great intentions and really rush into action with that good mood and that great intention and that enthusiasm without a very well thought out or accurate plan or a pathway.

That’s really where you tapped me on the shoulder and went, “How are you doing?” I said, “Great. Amazing.” That would have been my response or something like that. Then, you probably said something like, “Great. Well, given all that you said you’re doing.” — which was 12 different things, trying to have everyone accept business ideas that were flawed — you said, “How’s your money?” That’s where the car was racing, and the wheels all just fell off all at the same time, and everything came to a standstill because I had to accept your assertion, which was, I wasn’t thinking accurately, and I was being completely naive in my state of mind and the way I was thinking.

I was probably going to do okay just because of my nut case enthusiasm and determination. That’s just who I am. I probably would have been fine, but I don’t know at what cost. You offered me an opportunity to study Transactional Competence, and the program had been going about three years then, and you were well into it. It seemed, for me, a solution to the breakdown that I had, which was a very diluted and unfocused career identity like how I was being known and perceived in the marketplace for what I offered, a lack of being able to have any pathway to my financial aims, let alone the debts that I’d built up over the many years of my naivety and just a collapse between how I was working and all of that.

John: Will stop for just a second and talk about an aspect of something that you’ve already demonstrated just in talking through this. If someone’s listening keenly, you can hear that you don’t have a lot of shame, I’ll say, around your naïveté. I think this is one of the first points there might be to make around someone’s ambition.

You’ve mentioned falling on the sword, and I was going to stop you there, but I’m going to take a moment and talk about it because it’s often when — now, coming full circle, by the way, for everybody listening, Drew is now somebody on the faculty of Influence Ecology, he’s leading programs with Influence Ecology, and we’ll find out more about that in a moment, but one thing that you say when you’re leading the Fundamentals of Transaction program is, you advise people to, in your words, fall on the sword of naïveté. In other words, accept your naïveté. In fact, I would say, my observation of you is, be hungry for where you might be clueless, right?

Drew: Absolutely.

John: Anything you want to say about that because you’re such a walking, talking example of it?

Drew: For anyone listening, it’s not always comfortable, but it’s strange, you can almost get comfortable with ferreting out your own naivety. What it, for me, John, looks like is times when I’m in action because, obviously, that’s the only time you can really see. Where you’re being naive is when you’re in action with certain things and you think you know what you’re doing or you think you know the way to satisfy whatever thing it is that you’re at work on and you even act like, talk like, walk like you know what you’re doing and maybe you don’t, or maybe there’s major gaps.

For me, in looking at things from that perspective, it sets me out to go, “Well, maybe I am naive, maybe I’m not, maybe I am. If I am, then, I can see where I am.” I don’t necessarily need to go figure out all the answers myself like, “Now, okay, I’m going to go overcome that or this,” or I don’t know what I’m doing, but it does have me go, “You know what? How about I go to John and go, in all honesty, I’m not quite sure what I’m doing here. I’m in action with this, and it’s going to be highly ineffective if I keep going so let’s stop and get a reality check,” you could say, is the way that I look at it.

John: I just find that so remarkable. As an Inventor Personality, I’m more inventor, perhaps, inventor-judge, leaning a little bit judge, that kind of personality, would rather die than look like we’re foolish, or we don’t know what we’re doing or that we’re clueless or that we need help or that I got to go ask somebody else about what they think or go find out from somebody else, where I might not have the knowledge. I should know the liability of my personality. I know that you would say, “I think this is correct that you’re a performer who may lean inventor?

Drew: Yes.

John: Would you say, in your own journey, Drew, that you found it just served you better to just claim naïveté, look for where there are holes, look for where there are flaws than pretend otherwise? How did you come about with that trait, would you say, personally?

Drew: Yes, I definitely think it serves me better to be willing to look at that and behave that way. I grew up in a family with two older brothers and always trying to be like them and act like them. I think, probably early on, I started to see that there were some things they were better at me, like my middle brother Simon is, in my view, reasonably genius in certain respects with things like math and reading. He used to tease me a little bit to get back at me, that I was dumb and he was so intellectual. That was a reaction to — I was probably more social, and we both wanted almost what each other had.

Early on, I used to have some terrible fits when I was young about when I just didn’t have what I needed, and I would sit at the computer, when it was a BBC computer back then, and just scream to mom, dad or whatever, “I need help. Help me; I don’t know how to do this.” There was aspects way back where it sounds pretty bad, but I did several times during high school, bring the teacher because my father was chairman at the board of trustees, so I had access, a little bit, to the teachers. I’d bring them if I actually needed to ask a question or didn’t know what I was doing.

I got in trouble a lot in school when I would say, “Well, I get that gravity is 9.2, whatever it is, but why? I don’t want to just add it to this formula. How did someone come up with gravity?” I would ask those sorts of questions a lot at school too. While it was painful sometimes and I used to get in trouble, and I was annoying and probably didn’t do it in a very good way, early on, if I don’t know, just get some help, ask.

It set me up; I had a lot of mentors, which is probably because I wanted it and asked for it. I had a lot of people who accepted my request for help and took me under their wing and helped me. I’m grateful for that and in some ways, I’m trying to become that person too, that would help and mentor others. I definitely think it served me all the way along.

John: For you, would you say the key to being ambitious is seeking out one’s naïveté?

Drew: Yes, absolutely.

John: Yes, I would too.

Drew: Be willing to be okay with, “You don’t have it all together.” As we study at Influence Ecology, John, we’ve got these Conditions of Life, these areas of life that we all must satisfy and take care of, whether we like it or not. If we’re not willing to look to see where we’re not at the level of satisfaction we want or we don’t have some pathway or we can’t even articulate what we want, trying to just do it by yourself or figure it out by yourself, in my view, is a slower way but also — I don’t know, just a little bit more challenging and a little counter to being human. Human beings rely on other for help.
I say it in my workshop, John. It sets this weird dichotomy because we can’t survive without the help of others unless you go to the mountaintop and you be that man or woman that just exists by doing that in the mountains and living, which the reality TV shows make that look so sexy, but I don’t, personally, think that I’d like that. If you want to function in the marketplace, you got to get tons of help, yet, strangely mostly, we’re awful, we’re terrible at asking for it or getting it or knowing even the ways to enter into exchanges or transactions, as we would call them, to get that help. Yes, you’ve got to first start with, “Maybe I am naive, maybe I don’t know.”

John: Let’s take a second and talk about the ambitious adult. At Influence Ecology, for example, we introduce in the beginning of our programs the states of mind. I’ll talk about that for a second, Drew, and then, I’m going to have you elaborate on ambitious adult. We introduce states of mind because we recognize that people approach their endeavors with a state of mind. You may approach certain endeavors with some conceit, “Oh, I know what I’m doing,” or, “I’m already good at everything,” for example, some conceit.

You may approach things with some naïveté, perhaps, leaping where you ought not leap or perhaps, thinking you understand something you really don’t. Then, there are others states of mind, and we would recognize despair as a state of mind and not to say too much about it, but it’s a sense of hopelessness even when you might be going for it. We find that quite common today, where people are going for it. They don’t expect it to turn out, but they’re still hoping/hopeless about that particular thing.

Then, there’s a state of mind that we call adult. It sounds good because it’s, you could say, the most common state of mind, it’s adult. It’s reasonably responsible for their life, and all that’s happening within it. Their tendency is to wait and respond to the countless numbers of invitations and ads and offers and things that can help them get what they need, so, they wait.

I was just talking about this yesterday, but the numbers of emails I get offering me stuff, the numbers of things that I’m sold on television. We just live in such an abundance of information, and it’d be very easy to just click and accept and say yes and say no in accordance to the move or wave or current of the day. As things, ebb and flow and we watch, “Oh, everybody is doing that now. Everybody’s cutting the cable and going for this thing. Everyone’s getting an iPhone. Everyone’s doing this, or everyone’s doing this to get ahead in business.” We watch that happening; we’ll call that adult.

Then, there’s this other thing; we call it ambitious adult. We just said that, perhaps, falling on the sword of your naïveté is one aspect of being an ambitious adult, but can you say a little bit about, in your own mind, what is an ambitious adult?

Drew: Great. I want to start with just saying a bit more about the adult that you talked about, John. If you stop for a moment and you think about what you said about TV or the Internet or driving down the street, there are billboards. I started to think recently, “I wonder if you just accepted quite a lot of those invitations and offers” — because most of the people offering them are genuine especially if they’ve got some money to put it on TV, it’s usually a reasonably good offer. Something that’s going to take care of something, your health or your money or your whatever. I thought there was a — I wonder if you just — not randomly but accepted the ones that you thought were good for you. They came along, you went, “Yes, I’ll work with you. Yes, I’ll buy that.”

I think you could probably live a pretty good life, especially in the Western World. I mean, the west — you can probably live reasonably okay life. It certainly wouldn’t be one that you forged out, and you thought accurately about and it really is the way you want to occupy your mind and your body and the kind of money you want and the kind of family you want, but there’s enough coming at you that you could live a pretty okay life.

That’s an aspect of being, we say, the adult state of mind is, you’re responsible. You’re taking care of certain needs, but if you want to have a kind of life where across many, many areas and I mean work, career, money, health, family, your intimate relationship, your social relationships, your part in society, the greater community, your education, your career in the marketplace like how you’re known and how you participate in things like aesthetics and art and beauty and then, in the environment, in politics and all the way to your own self-actualization and spirituality. Across the board, there are all these areas, and it takes something quite extraordinary, in my view, to satisfy all of them at some level.

I want to say we’re not talking about some utopic balanced life that is the epitome of the perfect life. My personal opinion is, that’s a bit flawed because satisfaction for everyone is completely different. What satisfies me in the domain of health as you know, John, is, I wake up in the morning and to do 30 minutes or so of physical activity is like brushing my teeth. That would be the minimum. I prefer more like 90 minutes or maybe a couple of times a day of some physical — I just love it. Whereas, for somebody, that would be like, “Why would you spend so much time doing that? That’s just crazy. I’m happy with five times of 30 minutes a week, and that satisfies my health, and I’m good.” It’s different for everybody.

People want different levels of money. This is about an ambitious adult state of mind, in my view, starts with, “What are your aims for all those important areas of life?” I don’t mean what you imagine, it’s part of that, but it’s grounded. What actually would satisfy me objectively? What does that look like? What’s the pathway? Once you’re clear on your aims and really grounded in them, being able to accept or decline things very quickly becomes a key part of this state of mind of being an ambitious adult or behaving, is a better way to say it, behaving as an ambitious adult.

You move to make invitations to people, make offers, make requests. In meetings or engagements with others, you don’t just go along with any judgment or assessment or assertion that comes out of someone’s mouth. Even if they’re an authority, you are willing to — It’s not to be a pain in the butt and just disrupt any engagement, but you stop for a moment, and you go, “I don’t know if I accept that assessment you just made or that judgment,” just give me a little more idea of why you said that or how come or just straight out, “You know what, John, I don’t accept that.” “Well, how come?” “I just don’t.” That’s agitating for people. “How do you mean you don’t accept it? I just don’t accept. I don’t have the knowledge myself to even know if I could accept it or not so I don’t accept or I decline.”

“I had to accept your assertion, which was, I wasn’t thinking accurately, and I was being completely naive in my state of mind and the way I was thinking.”

That’s another aspect of this ambitious adult state of mind is, you don’t just go along with anything that comes along, and another part of it is commitment. A lot about how overwhelmed that we experience these days, and as you know, John, I’m in a little bit of that in and out of overwhelmed at the moment with some things. I’m doing my best to slow down and go, “The only reason I’d be overwhelmed is because I’ve got some commitments that I’ve taken on and maybe I haven’t quite thought accurately about accepting those commitments or how they’re working.”

We’re in a dialogue, at the moment, to get that resolved really quickly, but it started with me coming to you going, “Hey, I’m just a little bit crazy right now because I can’t quite see how all these activities that I’m currently doing that I thought I was good for, implementation of it is not tuning out how I thought it would so we need to figure some stuff out here,” and you and I are in this dialogue now to get it all worked out.

It was immediate almost for me. As soon as I started to recognize the symptoms of being a little overwhelmed or a little bit stressed out, to just come straight to you and go, “I’m not going to just try and figure this out or keep going. I need to stop and work it out.” That’s another aspect of an ambitious adult, is you’re very careful about what you accept as a commitment into your calendar of activities.

John: For clarity, I heard you say, one, an ambitious adult is at work on the satisfaction of each one of those Conditions of Life and satisfaction is very different from one person to the next. What would satisfy you in health may not satisfy me in health, but you’ve got to know, first and foremost, what would satisfy you. You used the word aims; we talk often about aims. You could say that you have an aim in health. You have your long-term aims but your aim for the day is to work out 90 minutes, for example.
Going back to states of mind and just looking at the difference between an adult and an ambitious adult, are you saying, then, that adults don’t know what would satisfy them? Are you saying, then, that adults don’t have aims?

Drew: No, definitely not. I think to be human is to have aims. We’re goal-directed organisms. As we say in many of our studies, we’re object-related. We live our life through our relationship to objects and things, and we’re goal-oriented or goal-directed. It is truly in our DNA and our nature.

“We’re goal-directed organisms. As we say in many of our studies, we’re object-related. We live our life through our relationship to objects and things, and we’re goal-oriented or goal-directed. It is truly in our DNA and our nature.”

I would say, for an adult, it’s possible that the aims they have or you could say the goals they have are going to have them sacrifice other areas of life, or we say other Conditions of Life like, “I’m going to make this much money.” Okay. Well, if you want to make a million dollars a year because that’s what you want, you want to be a millionaire, just know that you’re going to have to check that against all the other aims or areas of life that you’ve got. You may find out that to satisfy one aim and one area, there’s going to be a huge trade off and you’re going to be dissatisfied in others. That’s one thing.
The other one is that, as we say, an adult state of mind, my observation is, their aims are more swept up in the current narrative of the day, or the week, or the year in any area rather than the, “What would actually satisfy me?”

I’ll give you an example. I’m saying this not from, “I’ve got any expertise in it or anything,” this is an observation and I’m watching some real experts say stuff about it. Bitcoin, just watching so many people jump into Bitcoin. I have some friends who are doing well out of it. They know what they’re doing, and they’re really smart.

I’m on a plane with a 24-year-old guy, he’s going to make all those millions through all these not just Bitcoin but all these cryptocurrencies, and that’s how he’s got his own little gardening business or something, but that’s just on the side because he’s investing in all these things. I sat there listening to him on the plane, and I didn’t have the knowledge to challenge anything, but I thought to myself, “I don’t know if you are clear that you’re going to make all your money through all these cryptocurrencies because my taxi driver is talking about making all this money out of cryptocurrencies.”

A lot of smart people I know say, “Well if your taxi driver’s talking about it, you might be five years late. So, an aim for money for that person is, “Oh, I’m going to make all my money out of cryptocurrency.” That, for me, is an adult, naive even, state of mind?

[00:30:26] John: You’re pointing to something rather important about an ambitious adult, which as an adult, primarily gets their aims from the herd, from the crowd. They look to the left; they look to the right, they see everyone doing X or Y and then, determined that they have the same aims or should and then, accept or decline accordingly.

I was trying to think of the quote. We have a habit of watching a particular little clip from The Devil Wears Prada at certain conferences and the like. The clip is where Anne Hathaway is wearing a particular blue sweater, and in the end, Meryl Streep’s character says, “You don’t know, but that color was picked out by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.” She’s pointing out the fact that she’s wearing that color wasn’t a choice made by her but it was made by an industry who, then, goes out and puts it up there and so forth and people accept.

An adult accepts what the market’s offering and an ambitious adult tends to say, “Well, maybe. Hold on. Let me think accurately about my aims, about what would satisfy me. In these particular Conditions of Life, what would, in fact, satisfy my aims for health? What would, in fact, satisfy my aims for work?” When you do that work, which isn’t easy, it’s my experience that, A, people don’t know what they want, B, it takes a while to sort through what I want and why I want that or in other words, what my aims actually are because I’ve spent most of my time accepting what the environment ecology influences me to want a want. “Well, why the heck do I want that?”

Drew: Yes.

John: I only want that because I got sold the idea from a book that happens to be popular at the moment or I happened to have been sold that idea because that movie that came out two years ago that won the Academy Award blah, blah, blah, and the commercial that everyone’s talking about, the skit that was on Saturday Night Live. We don’t observe that people are thinking accurately about the satisfaction of their own Conditions of Life and then, moving accordingly because that also takes something. I think that might even be our third point. What does it take to actually move in accordance with your aims as opposed to with the herd?

Drew: There’s a number of things I just want to comment on there, John. As you know, in my study of the Fundamentals of Transaction program, I took the background work. I’d started around stress and the brain and things and really focused on that aspect of my skill set, my identity and built consulting practice working with some business owners, executives, CEOs, really teaching them how to improve their mental performance, but how to deal with their brain and their mind and how things affect their mind and their brain.

I’ve studied, somewhat, generally, how the brain works but especially how some human beings’ minds work and what you’re pointing to and what you’re saying about the marketplace forces, way to say it, is also our fundamental biology, the most primitive part of us that’s trying to survive, which was the first part of our brain that developed, hijacks the prefrontal cortex, the executive functioning part of our brain and this is becoming quite common knowledge now to understand that. That excitement of our fundamental biology or that agitation is mostly what will lead us into action. That’s not a bad thing.

We’ve got a heuristic nature in our brain of shortcuts. We teach influence principles for that very thing to help transactions speed up by helping others use the shortcuts in their brain to get through information. You could say, the charge of an ambitious adult is to get better and better and better at recognizing when your biology, your physiology, your brain is excited or agitated and are you moving in that state, which is fine, but only if you are conscious and aware that you’re moving in that state because if you’re not, you’re likely to accept something that you shouldn’t.

The easy one to understand is the agitation or when you’re stressed or angry or upset. It’s pretty obvious don’t press, like Kirkland says, “Don’t let the lizard brain press send when you’ve written that email, just hold off.” That’s pretty easy to understand. You don’t want to ruin your own identity because you’ve got mad in a moment, but it’s not commonly taught to say, “How about you check your excitement, how about you check your inspiration or your motivation or your enthusiasm in the moment.”

I learned for many years, John, as did you, that you actually need to get yourself inspired and excited in a big, bold world of possibility before you can really take action. I’ve come full circle, you could say, to know that, actually, it’s probably better to be a little more pragmatic and go, “I am so jacked up with excitement right now,” or, “I’m so inspired after that meeting or that sermon or that sales conversation whatever it was or that session with my coach. Nothing changed in the time that I was in that environment really. I’m just feeling amazing and can take on anything right now.”

That’s, again, I think of an aspect of ambitious adult state of mind and what I’ve tried to learn as much as I can of — check that, stop. Let your biology subside before you might now go do that planning session because you can see. I often say that to the prospective customers that I engage with because I do a lot of that. I actually said, “Look, I would rather — if you’re going to consider accepting the offer of doing our six-month program, that you just really stand on the ground and go, “Am I thinking accurately? Do I have the resources to accept this commitment?” Because I want to get in business with people who have done that kind of work because I tell you, the work we get done is so much better than when the contract was made in some state of emotion or excitement and things were missed, details weren’t done, all of that can lead to a poorly constructed transaction and pain or annoyance or frustration later when you just weren’t willing to slow down a little bit. The slowing down to speed up is a mantra for us as an ambitious adult has a tendency to slow things down in the vein of actually getting way more satisfied in the long run.

“The slowing down to speed up is a mantra for us as an ambitious adult has a tendency to slow things down in the vein of actually getting way more satisfied in the long run.”

John: Absolutely.

Drew: There’s that and then, what does it take? It takes an enormous use of your brain, which is why most people don’t do it, to do the kind of work, to think accurately about these aims. A, you can’t do it in a microcosm by yourself, we can, but it’s less effective. Secondly, it takes a huge amount of the resources in your brain to do it, and our brains are designed to conserve energy so putting yourself in a structure or an environment that allows you to do that work, with a little bit of consequence if you don’t, in my view, is the best thing for most people who’ve got ambitious aims because otherwise, they’ll stop. The brain just says, “No, too hard. No, I’m good. I’m good I think I know what I want. I’m pretty clear. I’m almost there. Let’s just get into it.” They’ll be like, “What does it take?” It takes that sort of work.

John: Here we are many years later, you’ve been participating here for quite a while now leading programs. You’re now the Vice President of the Influence Ecology, a partner with Influence Ecology. You’re responsible for sales all over the world. You’re currently opening up territories in Europe, South Africa, Singapore and more. Life is very, very different life than it was 7-8 years ago because of the study and so forth and also, your ambition. As I said, I wanted to make sure that people have the opportunity to hear from you, your own take on ambition.

To wrap up and summarize, you’ve said that claiming your own naïveté is important to it. Understanding your own aims is very, very important, then, moving in accordance with your aims, that when you accept or decline in accordance with your aims for each one of those Conditions of Life, you’re more likely to satisfy those aims. Is there anything else that you would like to say and I invite you, I always invite people a little bit of a soapbox moment. Where do you find that people are simply naive to the breakdowns that are looming?

Drew: The first thing is, I don’t know why, it’s just on my mind right now, but we’re not perfect.

We’re just not perfect. I’m earning more money than I imagined I could in the short time that it feels like I’ve been at work on properly earning and making the money in building the help and resources around me that it’s actually gone slower than I imagined. I’m home with it now, but I used to be — I was so impatient. I find that if you go with the exceptions to the rule, you may make it. You may crack the code, but the best thing I’m finding now is play by the rules of life, of the marketplace.

The most recent narrative that I’m inquiring into myself, John, is, how about incremental slow growth as opposed to breakthrough results and going to a conference or going to a seminar or going to some session where you’re going to find the one word or the one sentence or the one thing that is going to take you from down here to leap up to there? I know, and I’ve seen you can have breakthrough thinking. You can go from seeing the world one way to, “Oh, my God, I see it completely differently,” but honestly, it’s like a rush of serotonin and dopamine, all these wonderful chemicals in the brain that subside. They go away. They’ve got a half-life. They’re really short lived. I would rather, now, go into a conference…

We have annual conferences and mid-year conferences, and I see people oriented around. They’re listening keenly for the bit of nugget that Kirkland’s going to say, or you’re going to say, and then, they’ll walk out of conference going, “Oh, my goodness, that one thing, that was everything.” I’m like, “What if you enter into a conference and went, “There’s these two things. If I handle these two things, I would incrementally improve on where I’m at, and it would be solid, it’d be real, it’d be measurable. In those three days, if I accomplish that, I would move myself closer towards my aims because I thought accurately about the plans towards my aim.”

That’s one thing that I think it’s had to fight against the addiction we have to dopamine or the hit of insight and excitement and everything, but it’s a really mature and counter-culture type way to behave where you notice it, you recognize it, enjoy the little hit you get, but don’t delude yourself that that now has you able to do things that prior to that moment, you couldn’t do. It’s just you going to have a little more energy and enthusiasm, but it has a half-life.

The other thing is, I said earlier, we’re not perfect. I’m still dealing with stuff. I started this study, John, in my view, way behind the eight ball when it comes to money. I hadn’t earned a lot. I had debts, and things are going so well in that area, but again, I’ve got so many entrenched habits around money, around finances, around just the way I am about it. I’m still working on, and I’m doing a good job I think of getting, you could say, the right help and not beating myself up for certain things where I’m like, “I should be there now, and I’m not.”

Kirkland said this amazing thing to me years ago; it was at a conference. He said, “How many of you are not satisfied with your money?” I raise my hand, and I was like, “Me, I’m not satisfied.” He’s like, “Okay. Well, tell me a bit more about that.” I went, “Well, I’m not earning as much as I thought I would be. It’s getting better, and I can see a pathway, and I’m doing everything I know, Kirkland, to do the right things and take the right actions to build a company, but if you were to ask me right now, “Am I satisfied?” “Well, no, I don’t — I haven’t met my financial goals and my financial aims.”

He said, “Well, what about satisfaction? What it looked like was, you’ve got the plan, you’ve got the strategy, you got the tactics, you’re doing the work and you’re taking the action to the best of your current knowledge and all the help and resources you’ve got, is there anything else you think you could be doing right now in this area?” I went, “Actually, probably not.” If it was, it would be some shortcut like, “Screw it. I’m going to go do this to make a quick buck,” but it would totally dilute me.

It really sobered me up a little. I’ve got to keep reminding myself that wherever you’d come into studying with Influence Ecology, I would say to people, “You’re going to have different levels of satisfaction across many different areas, and some people are ahead of others in some respects, and some people are stabbing way back, but this is a deliberate practice. This is habits, behaviors, and ethics that you have to develop over time. The best way to go about it is to put yourself in an environment where people around you are calling you to not change your aims but think very accurately about them and do the consistent, deliberate, recurrent work and action that doesn’t get a little boring sometimes.

It does get a little boring when you’re in that maintenance of another 5 invitations this week, another 10 this, another 12 that. “Well, I’m a bit further on my pathway to meeting my aims.” It can sound a little — it’s so much more sexy to, every week, have a new thing that you’re at to work on, but to get to the point where — I have this dear friend of mine, we started Fundamentals of Transaction together. We meet most weeks, and we were allowed to veto each other on their aims. Anything that we brought up as a new idea, we were like the independent board members for each other and for, probably, two years, this was in the early days, every week, there’d be some, “I’ve got this opportunity. I’ve got this offer.” We’d be like, “No. That is so not in line with your aims, bad idea.”

Now, when we meet up, it’s like, “Hey, how are you doing?” “Yes, good.” “How’s it all going?” “Made a number of invitations this week, did a bunch of presentations, had small contracts come for programs.” “Okay, great.” “What are you up to?” “Yes.” It’s the same thing almost every week, but they’re a little bit slightly, ever so slight incremental changes. We laugh at each other because our meetings now, for that part, last about five minutes. Then, we spend time just discussing other things. It used to be a whole hour figuring out which ideas are good ones and what are we going to take on now. So, slow and steady.

Unfortunately, for my behavior, I want it now. My nickname from my mother as a kid was ‘Instant Boy’, her little verb. She used to call me a verb. Now, I’ve come full circle to be able to actually trust in the deliberate work and action that one needs to do in any area of life to have a surplus in that area. Yes, it’s moving. It’s a great place to be.

“Now, I’ve come full circle to be able to actually trust in the deliberate work and action that one needs to do in any area of life to have a surplus in that area. Yes, it’s moving. It’s a great place to be.”

John: It’s great. Well, Drew Knowles, thank you so much for spending time with us today on the Influence Ecology Podcast. It’s been a pleasure.

Drew: Thank you, John, absolute pleasure.

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