#8: When Inputs Trigger Insights
with Nicola Vetter & Peter Axtell
February 7, 2023 | 20 Minutes
On "Inside-Out Career Design" this week, hosts Nicola Vetter & Peter Axtell speak about:
If you work on your inputs, you’ll get better outputs. In this episode we’ll focus on six areas you can work on immediately: social, spiritual, psychological, physical, creative, and intellectual. Studies show that studying the mind and understanding it, affects your optimism, your effectiveness, and helps you with difficult moods and emotions triggered by disturbing inputs. And the more you understand how your mind works, the less you're bothered by the inevitable obstacles we all face.
Some questions we discuss for you to reflect on:
- Have you ever considered what is determining the movie you see?
- How can you change the internal movie you are seeing?
- What inputs are you having in these six areas: social, spiritual, psychological, physical, creative, and intellectual?
- What were What’s Next moments for you in your life?
- What can you learn from other people’s stories for your own life?
- What are the bigger questions, the difficult questions you can ask about your life?
- Try to experiment and do something new whenever possible. What could that be for you this week?
- What could you create with your hands?
- What inputs trigger insights for you?
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Connect with Nicola & Peter
Books, resources, and people mentioned in this episode
- Steven Pressfield: The War of Art - https://amzn.to/3WeKb8T
- Michael A. Singer: The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself - https://amzn.to/3izlRkl
- Dan P. McAdams: The Art and Science of Personality Development - https://amzn.to/3iBhVQ6
- Mary Hendra interview in episode 7 of our Inside-Out Career Design podcast - https://www.whatsnext.com/7
- History course by Timothy Snyder, Yale University: The Making of Ukraine - https://online.yale.edu/courses/making-modern-ukraine
- MasterClass online courses - https://www.masterclass.com/
- Steven Kotler: The Rise of Superman - https://amzn.to/3iCseTO
Drop us a note
Any topics you’d like us to cover or guests you’d like to hear? Let us know at [email protected]
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 WhatsNext.com 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 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.
Nicola Vetter 00:01
You probably didn't wake up this morning wondering about inputs. But think about this. We are all watching our own movie which forms the reality that we see through our eyes. Have you ever considered what is determining the movie you see?
Peter Axtell 00:22
Welcome to Inside-Out Career Design. In this show, we're 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? My name is Peter Axtell, and I'm here with Nicola Vetter. We're co-founders of the WhatsNext.com CareerInsights platform, and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment. Join us as we seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers. We'll share our insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talk with career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches, anyone 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?" Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are, and what you're meant to do with the time you've been given.
Peter Axtell 01:39
Are you trying to figure out what to do with your life, to figure out what to do with the precious time you've been given on this earth? Or to figure out what only you as a remarkable and unique individual can bring into this world? If you are, please join us for one of our live and completely free online workshops, where we cover different topics to help you figure out what to do with your life and career without wasting precious time, taking wild guesses, or risking it all. To save your spot in our next live and free workshop go to WhatsNext.com/workshops. We can't wait to see you there. Again, that's WhatsNext.com/workshops.
Nicola Vetter 02:32
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Inside-Out Career Design Podcast. How are you doing? I'm Nicola, and I'm here with Peter. And we are so grateful that you're spending this time with us. Today we'll talk about inputs. You probably didn't wake up this morning wondering about inputs. But think about this. We are all watching our own movie, which forms the reality that we see through our eyes. Have you ever considered what is determining the movie you see? When we watch a movie, we are seeing the final result of what the camera films. If the camera is filming a horror movie, then of course, the footage will show horror scenes and not happy comedy scenes.
Peter Axtell 03:35
Yes, we all have our own movie cameras filming all the time. Our camera is filming what we see, what we think, what we feel, what we speak, and what we do, how we act. In other words, what we input into the camera is the movie we see. So, if you don't like your personal movie, you have to change what you're putting into the camera. You have to work on your inputs, so you see more of the movie you want to see. Make sense? Let's find out how.
Nicola Vetter 04:13
There are so many different inputs out there. But we'd like to focus on six areas you can work on immediately: social, spiritual, psychological, physical, creative, and intellectual. And we'll take them one by one. So, let's start with social because loneliness is a true pandemic these days. You've all seen people in cafes with their mobiles up and texting instead of talking with each other and having a real conversation, a real connection. This really fosters loneliness. Now, last week, we've had a Christmas party here at our house and we were sitting with friends around the table. And inspired by our podcast, we were asking this question: what was one of your What's Next moments? And Stephanie spoke up and she told this incredible story that as a young girl, she was escaping the Vietnam War, in a fishing boat, together with 65 other people squeezed in tight, and they had a horrendous trip ahead of them. Now, they had only the stuff that they could grab and carry in two hands with them. But then, during the four-day trip over the ocean, the boat suddenly leaked. So, they had to throw a whole bunch of stuff overboard to make it lighter. And people were getting really hungry. She said they were nearly starving on the trip. But the worst thing was that just before they were reaching the refugee camp, they were attacked by pirates. And the pirates took all the rest off of them. But then they finally let them go. And they reached the refugee camp safely. This story was for all the others at the table so out of our own reality, out of what we could even father could happen, that it was breathtaking for us. And the way Stephanie opened up and connected with each of us and talked and shared this story, really strengthened the bond of our friendship, and the whole community, all our friends, we really felt deeply connected. It is just a huge gift, if you can learn from other stories. And if you listen deeply, because what I learned from her story is really that we can endure so much more than we think we can.
Peter Axtell 07:51
Pretty good input. I'm a big fan of psychology. And I believe that it is a worthwhile thing for anyone to become a student of the mind, to really understand why you think the way you think, what your opinions are about why you react the way you do. And the only way you can do that is to really become a student of the mind. And the studies show that studying the mind, understanding it affects your optimism, your effectiveness, and helps you with moods and emotions. So now you're probably wondering, well, how do I become a student of the mind? Well, there's many, many ways. One way is through books. And I'm going to give you a few examples that are some of my favorites. One is The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, The Art and Science of Personality Development by Dan McAdams. All of these in their own way have a different way to look at the way our minds work and the way our personalities affect us as we attempt to live in the world. So, the more you understand how your mind works, the less you're bothered by the inevitable obstacles we all face. And another benefit is it gets you out of being on automatic pilot sleepwalking through your life to a much more vibrant, rich life. And it also helps you understand why you do the things you do.
Nicola Vetter 07:54
Yep. Another input is spiritual. I remember in November 2008, I totally hit a wall. And I couldn't take it anymore. I went on a two-week Silent Retreat in Moehra, which is a small village with a population of about 600 people, and it's in the former Eastern Germany. It's in the middle of nowhere. I spent two weeks there with long winter walks in nature, all by myself, a lot of meditation in my room all by myself, and daily personal talks with a Buddhist nun, which was just awesome. Because I was able to really totally recover. I was able to connect to something that was greater than myself. And nature gave me inspiration, the walks in nature were just so calming. And I was able to contemplate on the meaning of life, of my life, and I committed to a way of living by really asking the bigger questions, the difficult questions, and not always going for the easy way out. And the most important thing for me, I think, at that time, what this retreat did for me, was that I was able to prepare for what was going to come. Five months later, my dear brother, passed at the young age of 52 totally unexpected in his sleep. And a year later, my father passed. And I had to just keep my mind together, because I was also there trying to help others to cope with the new reality, my brother's wife, his daughter, my mom. So just take a step back, take some time for yourself, and relax, reflect, be in nature, and let whatever inspiration wants to come, come.
Peter Axtell 12:11
Next input is physical. So, you've all heard of the mind-body connection, but also there's the body-mind connection. So, for example, in the morning, we try and do about 25 minutes of yoga, then we do a little weightlifting, then we take a daily walk. And during that walk, we have conversation, we get fresh air, we're out in nature, and it's very relaxing just to be outside. Now, if you're in Holland, and you ride your bike, it's more of a European way of life there because in Holland, little known fact, they have more bicycles in Holland than they do people. Hilarious. Another thing is, is a healthy diet, prepared with your own hands. And what I mean by that, that does not mean a McMuffin at the drive thru. It's something that you make with your own hands. So why is the physical thing important? Because exercise no big surprise here is good for the body and mind, and so is a healthy diet. And that results in more optimism, a better mood. And by the way, when we're walking, we discuss all kinds of ideas, we get very creative. So, this is another great input.
Nicola Vetter 13:31
Creative, that's another cue, because creative is also an input. Now, experiment, and do something new whenever possible, travel to places you have not seen yet, talk to strangers in the park.
Peter Axtell 13:49
Ah, that's not for everybody.
Nicola Vetter 13:52
Play music. It's a great creative outlet - for Peter. Choose to make something with your hands. Try working with clay, or, as Mary in episode seven of our podcast suggested, create a collage, or do some creative writing. For me, it was creating body light sculptures, and I'll add some photos in the show notes because nobody, as Peter always points out, knows what that is. It was using my hands with clay and forming body parts and illuminate them. It was highly exciting for me. So, I'll share some photos. You can also go to an art museum and look for messages or answers to questions you've been pondering. I'll never forget a visit at the Exploratorium in San Francisco in 1992 which opened my eyes to the world of the blind. I was just diving in to a completely pitch-dark room, you couldn't see your hands in front of your eyes, and I was diving in with all of my other senses that were available. It was quite an experience, you experienced something like that as well, Peter, when I took you to a dinner in the dark.
Peter Axtell 15:33
Amazing. Imagine eating food in complete darkness. It was an indescribable experience.
Nicola Vetter 15:40
And that experience actually led to a talk I gave at the International Meeting Dialogue in the Dark in 2004 in Germany. It was about a museum that I designed, that was in my mind, but it wasn't out there. But the way I spoke about it was, in a way, so inspiring for others, that they thought, oh, my goodness, I have to visit this place. What I take away from these experiences, and I hope you do too, is that you can gain more playfulness, and laughter. I mean, don't we all need some more laughter in our lives?
Peter Axtell 16:30
Nicola Vetter 16:31
And you see accomplishments outside of work, you see something that you create, and you're thinking out of the box, those parameters that you set for yourself, you can just expand your own being.
Peter Axtell 16:51
Next input is intellectual. I've been an avid reader all my life and if you want to be intellectual, and you are drawn to that kind of thing, there's all kinds of things from books to podcasts, to online classes and courses. So, for example, we just finished watching 23 episodes put on by Yale University, by the amazing historian Timothy Snyder, called The Making of Ukraine. I learned more about history in those 23 episodes, that I was completely filled with understanding. Another great place is masterclass.com. And for $15 a month, you can learn from the best and the most inspiring people. So, here's what the author Steven Kotler has to say about books. Steven Kotler says that when he writes a three-minute blog, it takes him about three days to write. A 20-minute-long form magazine article takes him four months. Wow, one of his books, I think it was The Rise of Superman, took him 15 years to write, and it takes about five hours to read. So, you've got three and a half minutes that you spend reading a blog post and someone spent three days writing it, or a book that took him 15 years you can read in five hours. Reading is the deal of the century,
Nicola Vetter 18:25
You really got to appreciate that.
Peter Axtell 18:27
But there are actually studies show that reading, it increases better long-term concentration, it lowers your stress, and improves empathy, and intelligence. I'm a big fan of books.
Nicola Vetter 18:44
Okay, and I'm a big fan of your intelligence. How about that? Okay, let's make this practical. Pick one or more of these areas to change your movie for the better. And let us know in the comments, what inputs trigger insights for you, and have fun. We could all use some more fun these days, some more laughter as I said. Fun also makes your movie better.
Peter Axtell 19:15
And if your movie isn't so great, I challenge you to ask: what have I been filming? Thanks so much for joining us here today. For show notes go to WhatsNext.com/8, where we share links and other relevant information. Again, that's WhatsNext.com/8. And leave us a comment, a question, or a topic that you'd like us to explore in a future episode. We'd love to hear from you.
Nicola Vetter 19:53
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. Thanks so much for joining us here today. We'll see you next week for another episode. Same time, same place.