Figure Out What's Next

#29: Rediscover Your Purpose and Thrive in Midlife

with Scott Perry
May 25, 2023 | 65 Minutes



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On "Inside-Out Career Design" this week, hosts Nicola Vetter & Peter Axtell speak with Scott Perry

Are you living all in and full out? Do you know your life’s true calling? Scott shares some insights and practical steps for identifying your unique gifts and rediscovering who you are. By embracing your sacred duty and living into your purpose, you can make a difference in the world and create a fulfilling life. Join us as we explore the power of stepping into possibility and playing your own game rather than following external expectations.

In our conversation, we talk about…

  • how to break free from negative emotions and thought patterns by focusing on objective problem solving,
  • why people reach a crisis in midlife when they realize that external achievements have not brought them happiness and fulfillment,
  • how to solve problems by using a simple three-step process to navigate life's challenges,
  • and how to implement the idea of playing your own game by rediscovering who you really are, what you’re really good at, and where you really belong.

About Scott Perry

Scott is a husband, father, teacher, musician, encore life coach, author, and Chief Difference Maker at Creative on Purpose and lives in Floyd, Virginia. 

He has pursued several vocations, navigating from a 25-year career as a professional musician into a 5-year contract as a head coach at Seth Godin’s Akimbo Workshops and now as the leader of a movement to help others reconnect with and share their unique gift. He helps people get clear about and closer to what they want in the second half of life so they can live their legacy. Scott believes you enhance your life most through endeavors that serve others.

And you can catch him on the cemetery where he goes for a run every day, and quotes Marcus Aurelius more often than he should. 

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About the Inside-Out Career Design Podcast

This podcast is obsessed with answering a single question: Is it possible to create an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career?

Join Nicola Vetter and Peter Axtell, co-founders of the Career Insights platform and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment, as they follow their obsession with answering this question by sharing their insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talking with career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches -- anyone and everyone who might hold a strategy or answer to the age-old questions of “what’s next for me?” and “what should I do with my life?”

They seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers.

Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are and what you are meant to do with the time you’ve been given.


Scott Perry  00:00

So let's deal with whatever unhealthy narrative we have about our own worthiness, our own abilities, our own, you know, our potentialities really what it boils down to.


Nicola Vetter  00:13

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Inside-Out Career Design podcast. Our guest today is Scott Perry. Scott is a husband, father, teacher, musician on call life coach, author, podcast host and chief difference maker at creative on purpose. He helps people get clear about and closer to what they want in the second half of life, so they can live their legacy.


Peter Axtell  00:46

Scott believes you enhance your life most through endeavors that serve others.


Nicola Vetter  00:52

That's why we were so excited to talk with Scott. Because we are in total alignment with that belief and wanted to dig deeper on it. And in our conversation, we talk about how to break free from negative emotions and thought patterns by focusing on objective problem solving. Why people reach a crisis in midlife when they realize that external achievements have not brought them happiness and fulfillment. How to solve problems by using a simple three step process to navigate life's challenges. And how to implement the idea of playing your own game by rediscovering who you really are, what you're really good at, and where you really belong. And now it's time to listen and learn from Scott. Welcome, Scott, a week ago, we got to know each other and here we are already for our podcast conversation. We're making a ruckus as our mutual connection Seth Godin would say. So, you've made quite a big career pivot from having been a guitar teacher for 30 years, to now being an encore life coach. You know, that we are asking for those what's next moments in your life. So please tell us what caused you to take that leap?


Scott Perry  02:35

So, first of all, thank you very much for having me. And it's a great question. I feel like I've been, um, I'm kind of wired to hear and heed the call of vocation. I did many different things through my childhood and teenage years, when school to become a teacher started off as a teacher teaching at some famous institutions that people might recognize, I decided that, you know, that I had this calling to become a musician I hated that. The calling to become an encore life coach was initiated by our mutual friend Seth Godin, I participated in the altMBA six in August of 2016. With the idea that I was going to build my online digital guitar empire. By the time I was done with the altMBA, I didn't even want to teach guitar anymore play guitar anymore, I didn't know what I was going to do next. But I knew there was something that was next for me. And I just continued to let that still small voice in the back of my head, whisper to me, and, and just micro step my way into what I'm doing now, mostly through blogging out loud and in public, to anybody that would read broadcasting out loud and in public to anyone that would listen or anyone that would join me for a conversation. And it was through those conversations with myself and with other people and paying attention to the feedback that I was getting that I you know, clarified what it was what that what's next was supposed to be, which has taken different forms at different times. But you know, this my current endeavor of you know, being an encore life coach, being the chief difference maker creative on purpose, and you know, being the guide and these communities just really feels like this is this is the path that I'm meant to be on now. So I don't know if that fully answers your question or not. But yeah, it's just I think, I think some of us are wired to just tune into that still small voice that we small voice in the back of our head it and, and follow, you know, follow the call of vocation. And I just feel really, you know, blessed and lucky that things have worked out for me the way I have.


Peter Axtell  05:13

Not to mention that you've written I think, eight books. I don't know, you may have written another one since we last talked a week ago.


Nicola Vetter  05:21

Launched in February.


Peter Axtell  05:23

Oh, okay. So it's gonna be nine. So we read two of your books, amazing, insightful, easy to digest, no fluff, great books, and one of them is called Onward: Where certainty ends possibility begins. And in that book, you point out something so beautiful and important. The context that you tell in the book is the hero or the heroine’s journey. So I'm going to paraphrase here a little bit. So you are the hero or heroine of your own story. So I understand you have responsibilities, insecurities, anxieties, and a range of reasons, you should just continue as you were. But you have a choice: Continue to let life happen to you or decide it's time you let life happen through you. What does it mean to you to let life happen through you? And how does it apply to people trying to figure out what's next for their life?


Scott Perry  06:38

Yeah, it's another great question. So the secret that's revealed at the end of onward is that the process that you've alluded to, is actually my perspective. And, you know, my approach to a to a little slice of stoic philosophy called the three disciplines, the discipline of perception, the discipline of action and the discipline of will. And so one of the things about stoic philosophy is they believe in destiny, they believe that life is causal, that things are unfolding, as they are intended to unfold. That there's this divine, animating spark that permeates not only all human life, but all life on the planet and permeates the entirety of the cosmos. Now, for some people, the idea that that that destiny is unfolding, as it is meant to unfold, will cause people to say, well, if it's going to happen, the way it's going to happen, why don't I just sit back and wait for life to happen? In stoicism, that's called the lazy argument, because you can't know what destiny has in store for you. And the stoics believe that the only thing that matters is virtue, the content of your character, not just what you believe in, but the way that you show up and the way that you engage with the people that you find yourself with. And so that's where that idea of you know, there are, there are some people, we and we probably have all been this person at various moments in our life, where we play the role of the victim life is happening to us, everything is beyond my control. You know, I wrote that book as the corona virus, the pandemic was, you know, just getting started. I wrote it in part as a as a way to help people navigate their way through the pandemic. And, yeah, there you could, you could play the victim, you could say, Well, life is just happening to me. And I'm just going to sit down and wait for this thing to pass or wait for somebody to fix it or whatever. And, you know, the call to action that I'm sharing in that book is although destiny is unfolding as it, May, you find yourself moment to moment, moment to moment and what I call faded moments. So fade is what's happening right now. And in every faded moment, you have the power to take charge of what is within your control what's within our control? Well, not much. You know, as I said, we can't control other people. We can't control events, we can't control the weather. We can't control almost anything except we can control the way that we see ourselves in our situation. And we can we control our decisions and what we decide and do next. And that by doing that. Life is now happening through you that you are an agent of your destiny and not merely the victim or the passive person. Have enough your destiny.


Peter Axtell  10:01

So doesn't this get tricky though between thinking, you know, determinism, everything is determined so I can see, will it tell me everything? I'm kind of confused about determinism that everything is happening, but it's happening through you. I think you've got to help me out here.


Scott Perry  10:23

Yeah, no, I have this conversation almost daily. And I would say, so, again, it just depends on how you want to play the game. Right. And so if you want to play, you can play the game that we're all instructed to play, you know, we go to school and our and we receive external instruction, and validation for how we're supposed to be and what we're supposed to do. And then it just gets amplified through institutionalized occupation. And, and many of us will play that game and come to a point usually in midlife, where we can't figure out why, you know, even though we have won the game, that we are not as happy, nearly as happy as we feel we should be. With the destiny and determinism and all that it's the, the best way I can frame it is it's a both and situation. So I believe that things are unfolding the way that they're meant to unfold. And I choose to be an agent in that process. And I choose to so one, one of the way that the stoics talked about it is you're like a dog that's tied to a cart, and the cart is going where the cart is going to go. You can be dragged by the cart, or you can walk alongside it. And so I decide, I'm going to walk alongside it. And, and, and influence as I can. And also, you know, I also accept that I may, this may, this point of view may be entirely wrong. I don't I can't know. I can't know. So because it's uncertain. Because there's no possibility, I choose to participate as actively and engaged as I can. And if things are unfolding the way they're meant to unfold, I'm still playing, I'm playing my game, and I'm playing my game all in, in full out and that that's where the reward is, the reward is not in what you get, or where you end up. Or where Destiny tells you you're going or where definitely puts you. The reward is in how you show up, how you play your game, how you leverage your talents and skills, and character and the content of your character, and engage with other people and engage with life's inevitable challenges and triumphs. So if I helped at all, Peter?


Peter Axtell  13:18

You're just a perfect example, just like your books are so clear. So now I really understand I can walk along the cart, so I am still a participant, I am still influencing other people because the idea of virtue, it's pretty hard to argue with virtue, who doesn't like to be around people who are virtuous. And so there is some influencing happening and the idea that we can't really know. There is a certain mystery in there that just is. Beautifully explained.


Scott Perry  13:49

Well, and I love that that word that you just use mystery because I think that that is essential that the embrace of the mystery is essential. When we are children. You all saw my my grandson Jasper just a few minutes before we went live. You know, I am bearing witness again to this, to seeing someone in experiencing all of the awe and wonder of what I consider to be the mundane. A bird flying to the bird feeder outside the window is something that is appears to be a miracle and an endless source of curiosity and wonder to Jasper. I don't think about that anymore. But when I see it through Jasper's eyes, suddenly that's this amazing thing. And so I think that a big part of thriving through life. Whether it's challenging or easy at that moment, is embracing everything that's happening with that sense of curiosity, awe, wonder and and just embracing, you know, the full end, embracing our, our perspective. And again, deciding and doing what we feel is what we need to decide to do next.


Nicola Vetter  15:16

I just want to, before you cut me off, I just want to...


Peter Axtell  15:20

No, I have one more thing to say...


Nicola Vetter  15:22

I bet. I just wanted to go back to the point when you said. So I don't know, but I can still choose, right? Because you write to change how you think and feel about yourself, and how things are you need to change the stories you're telling yourself. And I think that is a very difficult thing for many people. Choose your story. Choose your future. I think that's what you said. So this is fascinating. Please expand on the idea of the stories we tell ourselves and how someone can choose a different story and create a different future, in your view.


Scott Perry  16:12

Well, you're hitting on my favorite things to talk about. So I really appreciate that it's a great question. You know, one of the reasons why stoicism endures is because even though it got a lot of things wrong in terms of the physics of how the world works, and that sort of thing, it got a lot of the human elements, the psychology and the sociology, right. And it's, you know, stoicism is built on the premise that we are inherently social creatures. And we are inherently we are we are we have this instinct for rationality or reasonable or reason that that doesn't mean that we act reasonably or rationally. In fact, you don't have to look far to see that we don't most of the time, but we do have that capacity. And so one of the things that we know about human beings is that we have always made sense of ourselves, each other our situation, through narrative, we tell ourselves stories about who we are, who the other is, and what's going on. That's all, that's all storytelling. Now, again, we can, you know, we can find ourselves in a situation and we can tell ourselves the victim story. And none of it's our fault, and not and, and there's nothing that we can do. And we're just going to sit and wait for the perpetrator to stop messing with us, or we're gonna wait for the hero to come and save us. Or we can choose to tell ourselves a story about the fact that although a lot of this is outside of our control, I get to decide how I see this and how I'm going to approach it. One of my heroes is Viktor Frankl wrote a fantastic book called Man's Search for Meaning that I read at least every year, once a year, and, you know, he I can't remember the exact numbers. But you know, he, he spent, I think it was either seven years and four different Nazi death camps with the other way around. But regardless, he was, he experienced a lot of pain and suffering, and he witnessed an unbearable amount of pain and suffering, and his approach to navigating that situation and holding on to his humanity and his hope. And, and, you know, his faith that he would persevere, was to be as great a service as he could to his fellow inmates. And he exited that situation, not stripped of his humanity not broken, but broken open. And, you know, with this insight that he wanted to share with the world, it's called logotherapy. And it's, you know, about this idea that human beings are meaning making creatures and we can make meaning. We can forge meaning, and build identity and find a sense of flourishing in any situation or circumstances. And so when I say choose your story, choose your future It sounds simple, because it is simple. Unfortunately, most of the simple things in life are not very easy because we have all this default programming and we have our you know, old habits that are hard to break. But if we choose to, against micro step our way into a different narrative, we will find ourselves living into a very different future than we find ours. also an inadequate moment.


Nicola Vetter  20:02

I love that distinction between simple and easy. So beautifully said, Thank you so much.


Peter Axtell  20:14

When we talk about that story, are you talking about this is the story inside of our head that we're telling ourselves, our assumptions about ourselves and the stories of am I adequate or inadequate? This all that kind of stuff, right?


Scott Perry  20:31

I think that a lot of, you know, I thought a lot about, you know, having worked with, you know, hundreds of clients, in my own practice, but you know, through my role as a head coach and a couple of workshops, I've worked with literally 1000s of students and the conversations, you know, when we start to talk about things like fear, imposter syndrome, Steven Pressfield, resistance with a capital R. We are, I think, talking about our inner narrative around our own worthiness, and I think, you know, I used to say worthiness and belonging, but I think it's just, I think it starts with worthiness. Because if you if you start with belonging, you know, if that desire for belonging is, is number one, you'll find belonging in, in places where you may find yourself suffering and profoundly unhappy, it but if you trust yourself and invest in yourself, and you do that, you know, if you heed the exhortation, inscribed across the Oracle of Delphi, know thyself, if you if you really do that deep inner work of knowing yourself, embracing your inherent sufficiency and worthiness, you will find where you belong, because where you belong is with people that share your values and need your talents to enhance their lives and whose talents you need to enhance your life. And so, I really do believe, you know, that, we have to start from that, you know, most of the time, it's let's deal with whatever unhealthy narrative we have about our own worthiness, our own abilities, our own, you know, our potentialities, really what it boils down to.


Nicola Vetter  22:36

What kind of influences you have, you invite into your life, right?


Scott Perry  22:40

Yeah. Well, there's some really interesting science around this now. So we've all heard that, Jim, well, I don't think he really said it. But it's, it's attributed to him the Jim Rohn, quote, you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Turns out that that's actually not true. So maybe it's good that Jim Rohn didn't say it, or that, that we don't have direct citation. The science shows that you are the cumulative average of everyone in your direct network, and the people in each of those people's network, and the people in those people's network, and one more time. So it's not just your it's three, it's three orders of separation. The one of the things I remember from the study is like if if, if you are hanging, you don't have to hang out with smokers to be a smoker, if the people you hang out with have smokers in their network, the likelihood of you're being a smoker, has a has a measurable percentage of of increase. And so, you have to be, you know, I think, again, that's what we have to first read really try to do our best to dial in who we really are, what are my values? Am I Am I living my values? Or are they just espoused values that I like to share? Because it makes me look like a good person? What are my guiding principles? What are you know, what are the things upon which I will not equivocate? What do I let in? What do I keep out and what's my vision of the world that I have that I want to live in and co-create? And then you think about, Well, who am I going to do that with? Who am I going to do that for and you start to spend a lot more attention you pay a lot more attention to who you're associating yourself with and you have a lot more integrity, about what you do, and who you do it with and where you do it. And, you know, sometimes when I'm talking about this, people say, Well, you know, what about my family, you know, my family doesn't, has different values than me. They don't support me. I don't, I don't agree with the way they live their lives or what have you. And I am, you know, I'm not a proponent of, you know, cut yourself off from your family, or ditch all your loser friends that are bringing down your average. But you do have the ability to decide how much of your valuable time attention and energy are you giving people that you know, who are not helping you. Or not supporting and encouraging the life and the person that you're trying to become. And you can reclaim that time, attention and energy and reinvest it in people that are supporting and encouraging you and maybe walking alongside you as you're trying to find your path.


Nicola Vetter  26:13

And watch out. Because you might be connected to half of the world, right? According to what you just said, it's huge, huge, the influence that touch you every moment of your life. It's really incredible. Now, Scott, you've stated that you can't be grateful and anxious at the same time. And this is such good news. And you also say that gratitude helps you see opportunities in the obstacles before you and to find the silver lining in your situation. There's no getting around the fact that people that are trying to figure out what's next are going to encounter difficulties and obstacles, you know that. In fact, there will always be obstacles in our lives. So talk about how appreciation and gratitude helps with all that.


Scott Perry  26:36

You another great question. So that particular quote, I can't remember who said it, but it's one of it's someone that's that, that whose work I connected with through Seth. And what she says is you can't be anxious, anxious and curious at the same time, which I think is another idea worth contemplating. You know, that's tied to this idea that anxiety and excitement manifest exactly the same way, physiologically, you know, your pupils dilate, you start to break out into a sweat your heartbeats a little bit faster. And, you know, as a musician, that was good news to me, because I experienced quite a bit of anxiety, especially when I was playing, you know, with people who I really respected or who might be famous or was on a big stage. And, you know, I was not normally a person that was prone to stage fright, but whenever the stakes got raised, so I would have that, and I would use that little trick to just trick myself at being excited, rather than anxious. This idea of gratitude, you can't be you can't be thankful and anxious at the same time is, you know, grew out of that idea. Because, again, studying the, you know, the the science, the data that's out there. You know, gratitude is, I think, the two levers that we have at our disposal all the time that are cited, typically proven to reduce stress, to help us see opportunity and optionality and to reduce anxiety and increase joy and fulfillment, our gratitude and generosity. So I, you know, Marcus Aurelius is the first book of his meditations. He thanks, everybody that's touched his life for what they gave him and some of the people he's thinking are, we're not incredible role models are great people, but he found something in everyone that touched his life that provided him with a lesson and he expressed directly his gratitude for those people. And I took that idea and his you know, just the idea of journaling in general and I would I had this gratitude practice that I did for a while I still do but I it's been years And I began to experience this, you know, this sense of equanimity and seeing more possibility, and seeing a reduction and not just anxiety, but also anger, or frustration, just through this practice of gratitude. And I guess, you know, I should also credit my wife, my wife had a credit gratitude practice for years before I adopted, it was always saying you should try this gratitude things. It's really working for me and I had, you know, it took me a little while to, you know, because I'm a man. So, you know, while to get with it, but once I did, I experienced the same thing that she experienced. And here's, here's the thing that really flipped the script for me was, I went through a period of time. And this is not uncommon, you know, people, we all talk about midlife crisis, because it's a real thing. And it's a crisis that often happens, and somewhere in that 40 to 65 range. You know, I went through one of those periods where I felt like I was really broken. And because of my gratitude practice, I started leaning into well, why don't I be grateful for this catastrophe that's happening in my life. And by doing that, I began to not just see that there were ways that I could navigate myself through this situation, you know, that Robert Frost, quote, the, the way out is through, which I found to be true, but it doesn't happen until you step into. And so this idea that we can, and I think Viktor Frankl, you know, speaks to this too, by embracing the challenges, the difficulties, the catastrophes, the tragedies, the trials, expressing our gratitude for those things, because those are the moments that really test our character, forge our character, that increase that help us practice the virtues of humility, and patience, and acceptance, and it helps us become resilient and build that muscle of resilience, which I think resilience is not just returning to where you were, that resilience is, the power of resilience is that usually when we are able to practice that through a difficult situation, we emerge even stronger than before we entered even better than before we entered. And so that's all, it all begins with gratitude, we have to be able to be grateful for all of it, not just the winds, not just the moments of celebration, but for the challenges for the difficulties for the trials and the tribulations. It's, we have to embrace the whole package, and that that's what makes for a rich and meaningful and fulfilling life.


Nicola Vetter  33:16

Yeah, because it's often those things that we prefer to push away from us, that really teaches us something. And Peter and I, we have a gratitude practice that every night, before we fall asleep, we share what we are grateful for. And those can be things that didn't work out the way we really wanted them to work out but the little nuggets that are in those things that really push us forward, that help us. And it can be also things that we just take for granted each and every day. That if you look and expand your view into the world, you see that, for example, somebody sitting in a car in traffic and shouting, my goodness, I'm going to be late for work. Billions of people would give their hand and feet to sit in traffic and waiting, right? So those are the little things and the little mind shifts or thought shifts that each and every one can do and it leads to a more fulfilling and happy life I'd say.


Peter Axtell  34:43

William B. Irvine taught me a great thing and scary. He said the last time meditation. Oh, and when he said, so you're doing something, you're looking at your wife or your kid and you say, you know, this could be the last time. Wow, that just snapped me right back into gratitude and appreciation. It was such a powerful lesson. I love how you say, uncertainty nurtures consideration. And the question what if, instead of uncertainty and judgment, you practice a little more curiosity and consideration towards others, yourself and your situation? So my question is, how might that change things?


Scott Perry  35:40

Well, again, what we're talking about is navigating our way past our default programming, you know, we are wired by biology and evolution, to be quick to make value judgments about ourselves about other people about situations, you know, that's a bad person, that's this is a bad situation. And yet, we are also programmed to crave certainty, we want to know what's going to happen before it happens, we want to, we want to know that this decision is the best decision, but this decision will get us the outcome. And we are also programmed to explore the edges of our understanding and abilities. Now, we are both of these things at the same time, all the time. And of course, some of us are born with temperament and tolerance that, you know, navigates one way or the other more often than not, but when we accept that, you know, we are both and, and that, that we have the power to, to choose our story, choose our future to, you know, define, decide how we're going to see things, what we're going to decide and what we're going to do next, we have the ability to micro step our way into a new way of being right. And so Nicola was talking about this earlier, like, if you want to be different than you are right now, you're probably going to have to start seeing and being and doing things differently. And that happens through a change of habit that happens through a change in practice. And if we can boil these things down to micro steps, they're easier to commit to, and it's easier to maintain a daily discipline of practice that will help us navigate our way into this new situation. If you look at the way the world is, right now, if you were to look at media, whether it's social media or traditional media, I would assert that it appears that the people that are rewarded with fame and fortune, are the people that appear to be an act with the greatest amount of certainty. Maybe even hubris. And if you're in now, at the same time, if you look at these people that are being rewarded for their certainty with fame and fortune, I would encourage you to ask yourself, do they appear to be really happy to you? Is this the kind of person that you would want to be? In most cases, I have found that I wouldn't trade places with any of these people that you know, are getting a lot of attention for certainty, especially because there are certain about things that that are not absolute, that can't possibly you can't have certainty about them, because there's nothing certain about it. So that the antidote to all this is curiosity and consideration and having the courage to remain curious and consider it. And so this is, I think, one of the most challenging things in the world to do, because, you know, we were schooled to learn the right answers and repeat the right answers to, we were told what the right thing to do was, and then we were well rewarded for doing it. And the idea that we can open the loop and consider other perspectives, other possibilities, explore other ways of seeing and being and doing things, and that this might be the way that we can find our way to reconnecting to who we really are. are what we're really good at and where we really belong. It's, it's not the kind of journey that we see a lot, at least again, in the media, whichever media you're consuming. And we don't get a lot of training, or encouragement to think this way. But I think that has been one of the most profound things for me, because like everyone else, I spent a lot of my life passing judgment on other people passing judgment on myself passing judgment on situations, both, you know, in my experience, and outside my experience. And I don't think it was a very happy person. during all that time, I certainly didn't, I would not describe myself as experiencing a lot of equanimity or tranquility, or joy. I probably was experiencing more frequently frustration, and jealousy and anger. But the more I've been able to maintain open loops and to maintain a posture of curiosity and consideration, I have found myself experiencing more joy, fulfillment, tranquility, equanimity, all of those things. And I have found that some of the other things that we're often chasing is ends in and of themselves have happened almost naturally, organically, you know, this idea of prosperity, reputation, purpose, passion, all the things that we're usually chasing as destinations and become renewable, renewing resources that I can just continue to reinvest, as I continue this process of trying to figure out, you know, who am I what do I, what's next? What's the best way for me to navigate my way forward? So I think curiosity and consideration just there, again, they are the reward that in and of themselves, and just, you know, just by cultivating those, that kind of posture, I've found to be immensely beneficial, not just to my well-being and peace of mind, but also to my progress in all of my life's endeavors.


Nicola Vetter  42:34

That sparked a whole bunch of questions, again. Now, what I want to point out, because it really stuck with me is this: We are trained to answer questions, instead of being trained to ask the right questions, right? Or to ask questions at all. It's what we used to do as children, ask, ask ask all the time. That's how we learned so quickly when we were children. And I think that is so needed in our world today, to return to this place of asking questions, and being curious as you point out, in opposition to just searching for the answers, because searching for the answers, I feel, it's more of a thing of, it's about me, but it's not about you. And so, I love how you point that out that it is really a consideration for yourself and others and the situation. And I just need to slip in one more thing. It's never the last I know, one more thing. And that is because you're speaking about the emotions. And you do that in a very good way. We've had one of our favorite teachers from our coach training, Dan Newby on in this podcast as our very first guest. And he wrote a book about emotional literacy. I don't know whether you read that, but that is amazing. I highly recommend it. Because it really explains all the emotions we are fighting with all the time in such a great way and you can just see, well, if I'm triggered by this emotion, what might it be? What might be underneath it, you know? So that's very helpful.


Peter Axtell  44:59

I remember years ago, one of our favorite teachers who, sadly now has past, he used to say, you know, there are a lot of wagons out there that need fixing. And I'm gonna be the one to fix them. We'll be walking through the park and go, Oh, look at the color of that fence. How did they pick the trim on that house? Well, you know, we never got the call. No one ever got the call, they need that wagon fixed. But we just never got the call. All right. All right, we've got to move to we have some limited time. And so much I want to ask you about. So let's move to another one of your useful books called Trust Yourself: A simple three step decision making process to get unstuck and get going. And you include a beautiful quote from the German poet Goethe that says, As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live. Wow, those Germans, amazing. So people asking the question of what's next are often struggling with making decisions. So would you teach our audience, this three-step process, and how stoic philosophy fits with this and makes so much sense. Scott, just go as deep as you want.


Scott Perry  46:27

I appreciate that. So trust yourself is, is like the third title of that book, because it started off as a program that I created, created, really coming out of onward, called Stepping into possibility. And it was, again, I was trying to teach people this process to help them navigate their way through this difficulty that we're all experiencing all at the same time, all at once, during the pandemic AM. It I partnered with a friend of mine, who is a leader in the military spouse world. And I presented this to several groups of military spouses. Someone picked it up and invited us to come to Arlington, Virginia and present it to spouses of senior leadership. So like one to five star generals in the United States Army. And it you know, I practice teaching this so often. And it's just the trust that Gertz quote, kept coming to mind, because I heard that quote, for the first time, in the seventh grade, which was just a really pivotal time in my childhood. And I literally have chewed on that, quote, ever since because, you know, some things are true, because they can be proven to be true. And some things are true, just because they're true, just on the face of it. And that I, you know, we were talking about worthiness early earlier. And I think this is what we're really talking about is, you know, do you trust yourself, do you know, because if you have trust, and faith in yourself, that you can figure it out that you can find your way that you can forge ahead that you can, you know, thrive as you strive, then you have the ability to navigate your way through a life that will bring a lot of fulfillment, a lot of joy, a lot of equanimity, not because it doesn't have any challenges, but because it has plenty of challenges, but you have built this toolkit to make better decisions so that you can make a bigger difference. So the, the, the process is, is built off of those same three stoke disciplines that we talked about earlier. But I've reframed them into my own language. So the first thing is what's now what's happening right now. And what I encourage people to do, and there's exercises to help you is circling back to what Nikola was saying about emotions, we are emotional creatures, and we and although stoicism sometimes has this reputation of denying or suppressing emotions, it's actually not at all the case. In ancient stoic philosophy. We were taught to accept that we are emotional beings, but to not attach to negative emotions that are going to impede our ability to thrive and prosper and make progress in our lives. And the way that I've decided that this can be done is we have to articulate the problem we're experiencing, so that we are working on the problem and not allowing the problem to work on us and the problem works on us when we let our amygdala fight flight or freeze, emotional brain, take charge of the situation. And we attach ourselves to those emotions, which then bring on the feelings of anger, resentment, frustration, pity, what have you. So, what's now? How can I articulate this as plenty as plainly as possible without any adjectives or adverbs. So as I walked through this, I'll just give you a real life example. I've been a freelancer all of my life as a musician, as a coach. One of the things about being a freelancer is you're only making money when you have gigs in your calendar. And anybody that's a freelancer knows the feeling of looking at your calendar and saying, Oh, my God, I don't have enough gigs on my calendar to make enough money to pay my bills. And so what happens, your emotion, your amygdala kicks in, your emotional brain kicks in, and you say, Oh, my God, I'm not going to be able to cover my bills, I'm not going to be able to pay the mortgage, my kids are going to hate me, my wife is going to leave me, my dog is going to run away, I'm going to end up homeless and living under an underpass in a box, I'm going to become an alcoholic, and I'm going to die alone. And your brain goes to that, like in just a second. What's really happening? I don't have enough cakes on my calendar to pay my bills this month. That's it objectively, that's what's going on. Second step, what's next? Well, I have to be able to first of all, you know, have created that objective mindset where the rational brain can come in the prefrontal cortex can be invited into the conversation, so that I can look at all the possibilities, and decide and do the one that will help me close the gap between where I am and where I want to be. Now, you have to, again, practice a little restraint, and have an practice a little bit more receptivity by saying, well, let's see, I could I could I could go get myself a part time job to help cover the shortfall I could. I could go through my list of subscriptions and apps and delete all the things that I don't really need. I could, you know, Peter, you and I would never do this. But I could take all those guitars I don't play anymore and sell them on eBay and bring a little money in? Oh, no, I, you know, and on and on, I could, I could call up all those happy customers I've had in the past and ask them if they have any referrals or if they, you know, if there's anything that they need right now. So having framed all the possibilities, I can kind of go through that list. And you know, say well, there's some things on here that are just not going to happen, like I'm not going to quit being a freelancer and go get myself another straight gig. I might consider selling a couple of guitars, I might do any of these things. But the thing that probably makes the most sense as a efficient and effective step towards filling my calendar is if I reconnect with people that are already thrilled with the difference I help them make, they may need me again, they may have recommendations or referrals that they want to pass along. So I'll start there, and I can do some of these other things too. And then I can just take off the table, all the things that are not up for consideration right now. So now I've objectively framed myself in my situation. I know what the real problem is. And I'm not letting it not letting it drag me around. I am addressing the problem objectively and directly and head on a framed on my possible. Next steps I've decided to do the one, one primary one that's going to probably help has the greatest likelihood of closing the gap with the least amount of risk, the least amount of effort and the most amount of optionality going forward. And now the last step is what matters and what matters is practicing gratitude, acceptance, patience, humility, because decisions are not outcomes. I can make a really bad decision and have a good outcome. I can make a really good decision and have a really bad outcome. outcome is not up to me. The quality and integrity of my decisions and my efforts is up to me. And if I do that, enough times the law of average because it's going to start playing in my favor. And if I accept the next faded moment to circle back to the beginning of our conversation, all I've done is put myself in a situation where now I get to make The Next Best decision that I can make. So that I can try to make, you know, find a better way forward. So I just rinse and repeat that process over and over and over. And I will be stepping into possibility. I am trusting myself. And investing in my abilities, and becoming an active agent, in whatever it is that destiny has in store for me.


Peter Axtell  55:42

Just want to recap, another learning clarity point for me, this idea of stepping into possibility, otherwise, you're cutting off possibility, but that calming down and stepping right into what's happening, stepping into possibility. I just wanted to point that out.


Nicola Vetter  56:02

It's also what you say at the end of your book Onward, serve from the inside out. And that reminds me of living all in and full out, which is the theme of The Great Work of Your Life by Steven Cope, whom you interviewed on your podcast creative on purpose, which is, by the way, great, I love that interview. How can you translate that for a person looking to figure out what's next?


Scott Perry  56:36

This idea of playing your game online and fill out? Yeah, so this is the kind of the centerpiece of the work that I'm doing now, helping people live their best life in midlife and beyond. Because, again, the crisis of midlife is if we wake up and discover that we're not that the pursuit of happiness has not made us happy. We've played the game of life, by the, you know, external instruction and validation, the rules set forth by institutionalized education and occupation. We, we've got all the T shirts, we've won all the prizes, and yet we find ourselves in not feeling fulfilled, Not feeling happy. Well, you can't win if you're actually playing someone else's game. And you certainly can't win a game that you've decided you don't want to play. It should live as we say, exactly. So playing your game means, you know and with, with my clients, it's getting involved in this process of let's reconnect with or rediscover who you really are, what you're really good at where you really belong. Let's find that unique gift within you that's always been within you. And Steven copes work, you know, speaks to this too, because we're both getting it from the same source, the Bhagavad Gita that we all have the sacred duty, that if we don't embrace it, and live it, it will destroy us that quote from the Gospel of Thomas, if you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you, if you don't bring forth what is within you. What you don't bring forth will destroy you. And this is the great catastrophe that we all have to navigate is, are we living into our unique sacred gifts, our souls true calling our vocation, whatever language you want to use? That is the work that we are all meant to do. And if you can, you know, I, by taking this process of let's, let's rediscover who you really are, what you're really good at where you really belong at the intersection of that Venn diagram is the difference only you can make. And then we figure out how do we turn this into, it may be a business, it may be a cause, it may be a project doesn't matter. It's something that we can build on, and, and develop, so that now that you've defined the difference, only you can make you develop and deliver it. And it's true that developing and delivering the difference only you can make, that you're going to experience a greater sense of thriving, flourishing, what we call living your legacy. Legacy isn't the money and monuments you leave behind. It's the difference you're making right now and the difference you make right now. It's meant to be the difference only you can make. And I've lost track of your question. So I hope I answered it.


Nicola Vetter  59:55

You actually did answer it beautifully. And we are getting towards the end. This is a perfect way to end actually. But I want to give you the opportunity to say if there's anything we didn't touch on that you really want our audience to know or leave them with another, yet another pearl of wisdom of yours.


Scott Perry  1:00:22

Oh, well, I appreciate that. I mean, you all are great interviewers. I knew that from watching the episode with our mutual altMBA friend. So I think we've certainly covered plenty, I'll just, I'll leave you with the first exercise in my new book, The Art of encore living, which is based on a quote from Marcus Aurelius, who has helped me navigate my life since the seventh grade. And, and, you know, if you are in that moment of life, where you know that you're not living, your soul's true calling, you have this wee small voice in the back of your head, telling you that you can be and do more and better, but you don't know what that is. And you're seeking clarity, I think the most the, the, you know, the process is the shortcut, as they say, and a process that I have tried with a lot of clients, it's really work just based on the Marcus Aurelius, quote, think of yourself as dead, you have lived your life. Now, take what is left, and live it properly. If you take a moment, if you're really feeling lost and unsure, and uncertain about what you are meant to do, or what you should do next, project yourself to that moment, that you may or may not have the privilege of experience of having your conversation with yourself on your deathbed, and ask yourself, what are the things about my life that I celebrate and wish I had done more of? What are the things that I have done in my life, where I have the deepest regrets and wish I had done less of, and after you have that conversation with yourself, now you have the great gift of knowing more about what you really want, and maybe equally important or more important, more of what you don't want. Because now you can start to build a plan and start to construct a life that will give you more of those moments of celebration, and less of those moments of regret. And you can start, develop developing this daily discipline of taking a small step into that possibility every single day from here on out.


Nicola Vetter  1:02:50

Very, very, very nice.


Peter Axtell  1:02:55

Beautifully said.


Nicola Vetter  1:02:56

Love it. And of course, those moments are enriched by making a difference, not only in your life, but also in the life of others. So let's continue to do that. Thank you so much for being here with us, Scott and I hope, when book 9, 10, 11 comes out, we'll have another conversation.


Scott Perry  1:02:56

It is a privilege to know you both and to witness the difference that you're making and to be invited on this podcast and to have this conversation is an extraordinary gift and I couldn't be more grateful.


Peter Axtell  1:03:35

Thank you, Scott. We hope you enjoyed this interview. A big takeaway for me, was the stoic idea that the only thing that matters is virtue, the content of your character, not just what you believe in, but how you show up and how you engage with the people you find yourself with.


Nicola Vetter  1:03:58

And I really like the idea that you can't be anxious and curious at the same time.


Peter Axtell  1:04:06

That's good news, because I've rarely met anyone who's more curious than you. To learn more about Scott, head to, where we share the transcript links and more. Again, that's


Nicola Vetter  1:04:27

And if you like what you've heard, share it with someone you care about. And subscribe, rate, and review our Inside-Out Career Design podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts, so you'll never miss an episode. Or watch it on our YouTube channel @whatsnextcareer and subscribe so you'll never miss an episode. That’s where you can also leave your questions about this week’s episode or a topic, you’d like us to cover in a future episode. We’d love to hear from you. Thanks for joining us today. We'll see you next week for another episode. Same time, same place.