Dr Duff Watkins

Dr Duff Watkins – Never Engage in Civil War

Hot off the press is this weeks interview with Dr Duff Watkins. In this episode we discuss the value of self awareness, the importance of telling your self the truth and how not to engage in a civil war.

Dr Duff Watkins is Director, ExecSearch International – Australia, with more than 25 years’
experience in conducting searches across Australia, New Zealand, US and UK.

In addition to executive search, Duff conducts Executive Development Programmes for senior executives to enhance their skills, while on-the-job, through a specific and personal plan of action.

Duff obtained his – BA at Centre College of Kentucky – Master’s Degree at Yale University and – Doctorate at the University of South Africa (in group psychotherapy).

Duff Watkins is a former group psychotherapist. He’s past President of the Yale Club in Australia, a long-time Governor of the American Chamber of Commerce in
Australia. He hosted the international podcast “How Business Really Works” and is a founder of this podcast, 10 Lessons It Took Me 50 Years to Learn.

Episode Notes 

Lesson 1: Life’s a persuasion 03m 15s

Lesson 2: Style is not to be despised 06m 44s

Lesson 3: Don’t cling 09m 40s

Lesson 4: Most people can’t support themselves emotionally. Let alone you 14m 46s

Lesson 5: Husband your attention 17m 09s

Lesson 6: Every person is a foreign country.26m 48s

Lesson 7: Just tell yourself the truth 30m13s

Lesson 8: Never engage in civil war 34m30s

Lesson 9: Above all else, do not panic 38m30s

Lesson 10: You deserve happiness as much as any person on this planet 42m34s


Robert Hossary: [00:00:00] Hello, welcome to the 10 lessons into 50 years to learn where we dispense wisdom, not just information or facts, but we dispense wisdom to an international audience of rising leaders. My name is Robert Hossary, and I am your host today. This podcast is sponsored by the Professional Development Forum which helps diverse young professionals of any age accelerate their performance in a modern workplace on this podcast you’ll hear honest, practical advice that you can’t learn from a textbook because it took us 50 years to learn this stuff.

Today’s guest is Dr. Duff Watkins. He’s a former group psychotherapist who’s run an executive search firm for many years. He’s the past president of the Yale club in Australia and a long-time governor of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia. He also was the host of the international podcast How Business Really Works.

And he is the founder of this podcast 10 Lessons it Took Me 50 Years to Learn.  Duff, welcome to the show. And thanks for making the time to speak with us today.

Duff Watkins: [00:01:10] Yeah. Hi Rob. I’m one of the founders. You’re one of the founders and there’s two other guys as well, but it’s nice to be here as always on this side of the microphone.

Robert Hossary: [00:01:19] So we’ve already produced a pilot episode, so the listeners know what we’re all about, but what I want to start with you is. I want to ask you what we ask all our guests and that’s what was the very first lesson? That you’ve learned. Now we can be a business lesson, a life lesson, but what was the first significant lesson that you can remember?

Duff Watkins: [00:01:44] I remember it vividly. It was my, I think it was my second or first day. I was working for a large human resource consulting company, and it’s really my first corporate job, because as you mentioned, I’d been working in psychiatric hospitals as a group psychotherapist and we ran, we ran a training seminar on a weekend.

It was my first day at this company. It was a Saturday and a Sunday, and I was one of the presenters. I was like the third presenter for this training program. And the senior director was. He, he gave the most, the lengthiest presentations and my boss, my direct manager, she gave the second most. So, it’s based on seniority.

And yet I had the most experience presenting publicly. And so, I, you know, I did. Okay. But afterwards the senior director. Wanted some feedback and all the consultants rushed up to him and plied him with gratuitous exaggerated, complementary fatuous …

Robert Hossary: [00:02:42] You were fantastic. You were great.

Duff Watkins: [00:02:45] Yeah. And I, and I stood there thinking, well, he was all right. You know what I mean? Nothing special, but clearly, he hadn’t done it much is what I was thinking privately. And so, my first business lesson was you can go far, fast and high simply by telling people what they want to hear. No, that lesson has been reaffirmed many times.

Robert Hossary: [00:03:07] That’s well, that’s actually a good lesson to learn. Okay, let’s start off with lesson number one. Life is a persuasion. What are you? Persuading?

Duff Watkins: [00:03:18] Life’s a persuasion. Life’s in negotiation. And here’s some proof. If you go to the old Testament Genesis, that’s the first book chapter 18. You know this story, Sodom and Gomorrah.

God says, I want to wipe out Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham says, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. What if there’s some good righteous people down there? And God says you find 50 people for me. I won’t wipe it out. Abraham says, well, 50, 45 30, I mean, what’s number, right? God says, are I make a 30? Then Abraham keeps negotiation 2015, 10 Abraham finally negotiates it down to one.

God says, right. You find me one righteous person. I won’t wipe out Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham is unsuccessful however, and so Sodom and Gomorrah gets wiped out. That’s not the point of the story. The point is this. If divine justice is negotiable, if you have to negotiate and can negotiate with God. Then you can imagine pretty much everything else in your life is negotiable and will require some persuading and convincing. And just this morning, actually, I was thinking, you see my bookcase, I’ve got six books on negotiation there that I haven’t read yet. I’m not counting the ones that I have read over the course of the years.

That’s how important negotiating is, and not just business, but in life. So being able to negotiate adequately, clearly, that’s a very important skill. And I remember it at university. I had to lobby my professors to get the grades that I thought I deserved. For example, I learned pretty quickly that, well no, on my fourth year, I learned just because a professor gives you a B plus doesn’t mean it’s not really a being an A. Now I want to say I was not persuasive on every occasion, but sometimes when my negotiation of this week transformed into a result a week or a month later. So, it’s really about understanding the nature and limitations of authority.

So, I say ingest, accept, authoritative decrees critically.  Which leads me to a joke. All my life I’ve struggled to fight against authority and now I am one so it’s sort of ironic.

Robert Hossary: [00:05:24] Well, what do you, what do you mean by, by that last statement? Being critical.

Duff Watkins: [00:05:29] Just because an authority says it doesn’t mean it’s true, just because you read it on the internet, just because somebody you think is important, says something doesn’t mean it’s true.

You always have to exercise critical thinking. So many so-called experts and there’s heaps of evidence about this. So many so-called experts are simply in error. In fact, that’s the name of a book then I can refer to you. It’s called Wrong. And it’s not that experts are lying to you. Not that they’re deceiving to you. They’re just as human as you are and we’re all prone to confirmation biases and looking for evidence that we want to…

Robert Hossary: [00:06:06] Oh, without a doubt. Absolutely without a doubt. Your point, life is a persuasion, makes me think about my career as a sales professional.

Duff Watkins: [00:06:16] Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Robert Hossary: [00:06:18] That’s all a salesperson does, is persuade. That is the nub of your whole point, right?

Duff Watkins: [00:06:25] Sales is exactly what I’m thinking of too. You and I both been in sales for a long time and to persuade and convince somebody that’s what a sale is.

Robert Hossary: [00:06:32] Yep. Absolutely. All right. Well, let’s move on to point number two, which is something that I would expect from. Dr. Duff Watkins style is not to be despised now, while I expect that from you, I don’t understand it. What do you mean by that?

Duff Watkins: [00:06:49] Yeah. Well, I’m glad you expect it, because there was a time in life when you would not have expected it. I will illustrate it for you. Style is not to be despised. I mean, what it means is this, it means you drink wine from a wine glass. You don’t drink it from a plastic cup. You see, this is design created to contain disperse wine and this is not, you drink wine from a wine glass. This is a plastic cup. I drink protein from this. That’s what it’s designed for. And that’s the point. Most things in life have a purpose, have a function, have a raison d’être, a reason for being, and if you look closely enough, you’ll find it. So, learning to appreciate the purpose, the role, the function of something is your task.

Our task and traveling on the road of style is as fun. And it’s as much fun as arriving can now have a true, sad story for you. When I graduated from university, I wore the gown and the cap, and I traipsed across the stage accepting my diploma. I was wearing flip-flops because I was a fool style less fool.

Robert Hossary: [00:07:56] Well, I will say Duff, I cannot even imagine you even now wearing, that kind of footwear.

Duff Watkins: [00:08:02] Yeah, nowadays I wear cashmere socks. A big difference. Yeah. okay, so, so what is the purpose of style anyway? Well, style is like a signature. It says unique as your signature is. And when you use things for the proper purpose, you are the beneficiary. You personally, psychologically. Emotionally benefit. Now you’re have to take my word for it. You know, when you drink wine tonight, whenever you know, drink from a plastic cup, see how it tastes different than when you drink from a wine glass.

Robert Hossary: [00:08:38] I get the point and it comes across for me very vividly. I remember clearly, and, and you’ve, you’ve actually experienced this with me. We, you and I have met. Prime Ministers, Vice Presidents, Governors, important, influential people.

Duff Watkins: [00:08:56] Senators, Congressmen, too many CEOs to mention.

Robert Hossary: [00:09:00] Correct. And what you are talking about to me resonates as, as the way I presented myself to them.

I changed like your anecdote of wearing the flip flops. I went from presenting casually to presenting professionally. To these people. And I would say that is also style.

Duff Watkins: [00:09:21] Yes, it is. It’s part, you adopt a different persona. persona the word I use. We’re coming to that. We’re coming to your personas. Don’t you worry about that I’m not letting you off the hook.

Robert Hossary: [00:09:30] Okay. Well, let’s move on to your next point because I I’m interested in this. You have put in point number three. Don’t cling.

Duff Watkins: [00:09:40] this is a straight up Buddhist lesson. Don’t cling, don’t cling to book, CDs, DVDs, beliefs, opinions, prejudices suffering, slights real, or imaginary trophies relationships, people anything really? Don’t, don’t cling because they’re just souvenirs of life and souvenirs slow you down. Everything comes stamped with a best used by date. Now, sometimes you can see it. Sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you look for it. A lot of times you don’t, but everything expires. Over time. And so, there’s no point in clinging to things that are past their use by date, for example, here’s a physical example before buying new clothes before acquiring a new wardrobe first empty your closets because that creates room. Oh, here’s another example. I just you’ve heard of Marie Kondo. I just read her book. I will give you the correct title called the Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up and that’s a, that’s a, that’s a bold title. That’s a big promise right there. Yeah. And so, I read this book and it’s filled as you would expect, but lots of practical advice about decluttering tidying up how to buy things, how to store things that was not surprising, the real surprise. And this is the punchline. It’s actually a book about philosophy and it urges you suggest to you that you examine your relationship to earthly material goods. Therein lies the power of the book.

And one of her hidden messages that I take away from it is by not clinging and getting rid of things that have past their use by date, you create space in your life, and you need that space to live. Otherwise, your life gets cluttered. You don’t want that.

Robert Hossary: [00:11:35] No, you don’t want that. I have two things I would like to discuss with you on this. This particular point reminds me of my experience in the U S when I left Australia to go to the U S to run an international IT company. I didn’t take anything with me, all my stuff, my stuff remained here. And I went over there basically with, you know, just a, a few suits and some clothes, and I didn’t accumulate any stuff while I was there, and I didn’t miss it. That’s what surprised me that I didn’t miss my stuff, which is what you’re talking about. I let go. I wasn’t clinging to things that were supposedly important at the time. So that’s for stuff. But you mentioned something else, which is not stuff.

Duff Watkins: [00:12:27] What you’re describing though, is what we all learned sooner or later is that stuff is ephemeral when you travel overseas it’s you know, this is an ongoing process and it is an ongoing process, you, you learn, you don’t need as much as you, as you think you do now, you can actually travel pretty light.

Robert Hossary: [00:12:44] Yep. Yep. And those of us that have travelled for work extensively realize that. We realized that we can travel very light indeed. But you mentioned another point. I just want to move to another point that you made about not clinging. Don’t clean to slights. Real or imaginary now that I want to stop there, because that is incredibly important.

Duff Watkins: [00:13:08] Yeah. I mean, you know, you think about how often you have been slighted in life and how many times are those were imaginary and really when you examine it, it was really. Not the other person being hostile or rude or, or dismissive, but you are being precious about it. I’m talking about me. Maybe not you, I’m not about me.

Robert Hossary: [00:13:28] You’re talking about all of us Duff and carrying a grudge.

Duff Watkins: [00:13:32] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just carry it around. Just clinging to it way too long. When you know, that also has used by dates on it.

Robert Hossary: [00:13:40] If you can learn to let go of no, not let go, but not cling to the slights. Not, not let them fester. You become clear, as you said, you become clearheaded. You can do more.

Duff Watkins: [00:13:54] Yeah. You are clearheaded because it creates space inside your mind. Okay. You’re married. I’m there. You know, you think all the dumb ass things that. You know, she said to you, and you said to her, I mean, if those were etched in stone instead of sand, I mean, where would we be?

Single is single as the answer. That’s where we’d be.

Robert Hossary: [00:14:14] I think maybe we should move on before we are single Duff. Okay. Not too cling. Excellent point. And it’s a piece of wisdom that you really don’t understand when you’re younger, when you’re just starting out. All right. Lesson four,  I’m finding it a little difficult to understand this, though. I’m really glad that you’re here to explain it. Most people can’t support themselves emotionally. Let alone you.

Duff Watkins: [00:14:46] Yeah, that sounds kind of heavy. It is. It is. As you know, I used to work in psychiatric hospitals, running psychotherapy groups. The hospitals I worked in, two of them were the major ones were the sickest of the sick of our society went. They were the most ill also worked in some other hospitals on the psychiatric units. So, I had high level patients. High-level functioning patients, low level functioning, patients being a psychotherapist. It’s a bit like being a plumber. You serve an apprenticeship. You know, you work your way, you start at zero and you work your way up.

And, you’re also in therapy yourself. That is part of my training was to be in therapy as the patient, rather than a group and individually. And as you know, I, I did my doctorate in group psychotherapy while I was working as a group psychotherapist, all that’s a big preface for saying I’ve had a bit of exposure and a bit of experience to people and their psychological needs.

And I deduced that most people are so flat out busy, occupied, trying to get their own psychological interpersonal needs met that they simply become less aware of yours. That is to say, people are so busy trying to support themselves emotionally, psychologically, spiritually that they just don’t have the time, the capacity to the energy, or maybe even the desire. Even if they do have the desire to support you, there’s only so much they can do now. Learning that accepting that, understanding that that’s, I think that’s a milestone in a person’s maturation.  In the real world, for example, some of our people are younger people out there. You know, when you enter the workforce, it’s a business, you know, it’s a company, it’s a corporation, it’s a job.

And a lot of young people seem to expect a certain amount of emotional support. From a company and a company is simply not built to provide that support. And it’s not part of the manager’s job description and doesn’t matter how good the boss is. I mean, you know, you kind of laugh because we know this, but you know, we didn’t, we weren’t born knowing this week experienced it.

I’m guessing you learned it the hard way. Pretty much as I did, they had a certain tolerance for my individuality up to a certain point. Absolutely. At which point they were no longer interested in me as an individual.

Robert Hossary: [00:17:02] You and I have both been to the vernacular bosses.

Duff Watkins: [00:17:07] We’ve both been fired too, which is more to the point.

Robert Hossary: [00:17:11] But we’ve both fired people for, for this type of stuff, they, they almost broke two of your, your lessons here. One is they require the emotional support and two, they clung onto the, what their perceived slight was when they didn’t receive it. And so they just got worse and worse and worse.

Duff Watkins: [00:17:32] As I say, it is a psychological milestone and people pass, you know, when they, they need to, I suppose you could say it’s about learning the lesson of responsibility for myself. Now, I don’t want to sound like when I was in American gurus, it’s all up to you and all that, blah, blah, blah, because so much in this world so much in this life happens that is completely utterly beyond your control. A lot of things will happen to you in life that you got nothing to do with.

I mean, you could get fired tomorrow because somebody in London made a decision to close down the operation where you are and, you know, I’ve seen it happen. I’ve been in the boardrooms where it happens, and it has nothing to do with you. And it’s foolish to think that it does. And it’s, let’s just wrong. However, you still have the responsibility of dealing with that processing it, of reacting to it and you have a heap of choice there. So, you’re still responsible for your reaction to what happens to you, even if you’re not responsible for what happens to you.

Robert Hossary: [00:18:35] I get that. Let me ask you for a bit of a clarification. I mean, you and I understand this, but I want to make sure that it is crystal clear. What do you mean by support? That word means a lot of things to a lot of different people, but in this instance, what do you mean by most people can’t support themselves emotionally, let alone. You.

Duff Watkins: [00:18:58] Yeah, that’s probably the right question. So let’s see if I can clarify support comes in the form of a kind word and understanding boss, a sympathetic ear, a tolerance for an acceptance of your certain neediness. Correct me if I’m wrong, but major multinational companies are not designed to accommodate that.

They’re pretty much, you know, what have you done for me? And by the way, how sales budget look like. And so are you on target or not? I mean, it’s.

Robert Hossary: [00:19:27] I laugh because it’s so true. True. But today’s management gurus are telling you the empathetic leadership style is the way to go.

Duff Watkins: [00:19:37] Yeah. And it’s true. I mean I would agree with that, but we’ll see, you know, we’ll see how, how the research goes. I mean, all I know is that I look at the military or I look at sports teams. It Takes rigor to be extremely successful. Rigor and luck and discipline. It takes a lot of things and being soft ain’t one of them. You know, sometimes young people are called derisively snowflakes because they’re, they go to work and they’re so precious now that that’s probably a mischaracterization, but you do hear it. And, and sometimes they simply haven’t experienced enough vicissitudes in life or in the business world. And so they’re, they’re surprised by, you know, their surprise when they, the boss is demanding or insist that they do the job.

Robert Hossary: [00:20:28] I’ve experienced I would like to consider myself an empathetic and modern-day leader. I’d like to consider myself as a type of leader who will help the people, I work with achieve their goals and, and expand themselves. And I have had the experience where I have gone out of my way and protected, someone I worked with, only to have that person turn on me because they didn’t like the way I insisted, as you said, for her to do a job, the result was not good enough. It was not up to scratch, not after the years that we’ve been working together. That’s not the standard. It needs to be this standard. They took a personally and that decried to me, a low level of emotional intelligence.

Duff Watkins: [00:21:17] That person was young. I’m guessing.

Robert Hossary: [00:21:19] Well, yeah, that person was young.

Duff Watkins: [00:21:21] Well, it could, of course it can happen to anybody at any age, but, but that’s right.

I mean, you know, insisting that it’s personal insisting that it’s, it’s just another form of saying it’s about me. It’s about me. Of course. It’s not, it’s not about you.

Robert Hossary: [00:21:34] All right. Lesson number five, this is actually a very, very deep bit of wisdom in, in my mind. And I liked the way you phrased it, husband, your attention. So, can you explain to our audience exactly what you mean by that?

Duff Watkins: [00:21:48] Husband your attention. I know you make fun of that word.

Robert Hossary: [00:21:51] Oh no. You, you have made a very clear to me Duff, you have made it very clear.

Duff Watkins: [00:21:56] Let me make it clear to you one more time, because I know what it’s like for you to husband is a verb. It means to you. Your resources, prudently or economically. So, and attention is a perishable resource. You, it requires replenishment because you deplete it. Think of it like money. Once you spend your money, it’s gone that money gone. Now you can replenish it. You get more hope you do, but the money that you spent it’s gone. It’s not coming back. It’s the same with attention. So, you want to avoid frittering it away. You want to guard it. You want to invest it wisely because how you marshal your attention, how you spend it is a testament to your intelligence. And that’s when you know, that’s why you don’t want to fritter it away on the internet you know, watching porn or YouTube clips of kittens playing drums.

Robert Hossary: [00:22:50] Come on, everyone loves kittens, playing drums.

Duff Watkins: [00:22:53] Okay. Maybe that’s an exception. You know what I mean? I’ll do it. I’m no exception. I know. I don’t watch kittens, playing drums. Don’t watch porn past all that, but the point is how you, we consciously fritter away our attention, doing things that do not give us a benefit at all.

The problem is there are entire industries, multinational corporations that exist precisely for them of leeching your attention away from what you want to think about to what they want you to think about. Honest to God, man. I can’t even go to the urinal in my gym without there’s advertising plaster there you talk about a captive audience. I’ve been on planes overseas. You sit down on the chair posted on the back of the seat in front of me is advertising in a language. I don’t even understand, but they’re still trying to hammer me to divert, to distract me. And so, we need to inoculate ourselves against this, the anthropologist Edward Hall, he said, intelligence is paying attention to the right thing. And my version of that is. Watch who you let near your mind. And the significance of that is because they, those, those advertising, whatever, they’re literally trying to take your mind away from you. They want you to think about, instead of whatever you’re thinking about, they want you to think about what they wish you to think about for their commercial purposes not for you benefit.

Robert Hossary: [00:24:23] Correct. And it’s difficult. Difficult thing to do today to focus or not be distracted, not have your attention taken because everything, as you’ve pointed out, everything is in today’s society is designed to do that from electronic billboards on the road, as you drive or, you know, or on the train as you, you go by everything and the myriad of apps on your phone, that all of a sudden decide to wake up and go ding and then you have to look at it, then, you know, the fear of missing out the fear of not knowing all of these, these are real issues. So, I couldn’t stress enough that the husband, your attention lesson is a vitally important thing for people to learn. I will say though that if I was told that in my twenties, I would say, yeah, I know what I’m doing, but had I actually been told that and followed it in my twenties, then I might be a hell of a lot more successful than I am today.

Duff Watkins: [00:25:26] Well, it’s a lesson that everybody learns.

Robert Hossary: [00:25:28] But it takes them a long time to learn it though. That’s the whole point of this podcast.

Duff Watkins: [00:25:32] Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. That’s why they’re listening to this podcast. I think the point is for you to decide you, me, everybody, our listeners decide what you want to attend to and whatever you decide is fine.

Certainly, fine by me. Including kittens playing drums. You know, I’ll give you an example. You just made me think of this. According to the research by a famous psychologist, Chix Mahoya. Do you know what the number one leisure activity world is?

Robert Hossary: [00:26:00] No, I don’t.

Duff Watkins: [00:26:01] Watching television.

Robert Hossary: [00:26:02] Still today?

Duff Watkins: [00:26:03] Yeah, well, yeah, it was when this research came out, but now here’s the second question.

You know what, the number one, most dissatisfying leisure activity is?

Robert Hossary: [00:26:12] No.

Duff Watkins: [00:26:13] Watching television.

So you see the buying that we put ourselves in. Have you ever caught yourself watching television or watching a show and thinking that this is stupid on what am I wasting my time? Yeah. And you sit there, and you watch it and, or it could be a movie.

It could be, you know, and you think, and then it finishes finally in your relieved. And then you wonder why don’t I sit there and watch that?

Robert Hossary: [00:26:37] Yeah. Okay. So, lesson number six, every person is a foreign country. What do you mean by that Duff?

Duff Watkins: [00:26:44] Well, people differ. Have you noticed?

Robert Hossary: [00:26:47] But they’re not countries Duff. They’re people.

Duff Watkins: [00:26:50] Yeah. Well, you travel around the world. You know, they speak English in Alaska, Australia, America, South Africa, Singapore, New Zealand. Nova Scotia. You go to a lot of places around the world and English is the native language. You can go to a lot of places and a lot of people speak English quite fluently even if it’s not their native language and what you realize though is that those people are very different from you. They experience the world very differently than you speak the same language, but they see the world very differently than you. And in that sense, every person is a foreign country. Now, the reason you visit foreign countries, Is precisely because it’s different.

The reason you associate with different people than you is precisely because they’re different than you, that creates the novelty and the stimulation. And oddly enough, this fact is frequently forgotten. I suppose, you know, somebody who’s been to a foreign country and complained because it wasn’t like where they came from back home and you think, well, what are you doing here, man?

You know, it’s like, you know, it’s, it’s a different country. That’s, it’s supposed to be different here that clarify.

So, my understanding is that we should all understand and I’m not going to use the word tolerate because that’s not what you’re saying. We should all embrace the fact that we have this diversity of people that we know within our circles. And we should embrace that, and we should learn from them. We should get more involved in that diversity within our circles.

No. My wife is Brazilian. My wife is from Brazil. My wife speaks her native language is Portuguese. She speaks English, but she was raised in a military dictatorship in Brazil when she was a child. And her view and experience of the world is different than mine. Very different. I happen to know that your wife is American and they I’m sure when you talk to her, you find out there are things differently going on in there than what you’re used to.

And every person is like that. And that since every person is foreign, they do things differently in there. And. That’s a good thing. That’s the bottom line. It’s a good thing. The psychiatrist Scott Peck wrote in his book, the Road Less Travelled. He did a lot of marriage counselling and he said, he always thought it was a good sign when a married couple. It didn’t matter how long you’ve been married, but in the course of the therapy, one would turn to another and say, I didn’t know, you felt that way. Or I didn’t know you thought that and Dr. Peck thought it was great because that meant there was still novelty in the relationship.

They will, there were still experiencing new things about each other. And that’s the point? The point is the discovery. The joy comes in the discovery. You go to foreign countries and you discover how things are different there and that creates the sense of enjoyment within us.

Robert Hossary: [00:29:42] There you go. All right. Well, Let’s move on to lesson number seven and lesson number seven is just tell yourself the truth. Now that seems pretty self-evident Duff.

Duff Watkins: [00:29:54] I wish it were. I wish it were. Here. This is the cheapest, fastest bestest psychotherapy session you can have. Just tell yourself the truth. Five little words.

Just tell yourself the truth. I mean it to literally tell yourself literally aloud. You want to get really. Intense about it. Sit down and look at yourself in a mirror. Just tell yourself the truth. Now the only truth you’ll ever really know is how you feel in any particular moment about something. So really that’s all you have to say.

Now. Sometimes that’s remarkably easy to do. Sometimes it’s very, very difficult to find out how you truly feel about something. So, I’ll give you a hint to help. You’ll probably either feel mad, bad, sad, or glad. About something, start with that and then continue to speak aloud how you feel about something.

And if you can’t remember mad, bad, sad, glad. I’ll give you one, just sit down and ask yourself, what am I afraid of? Because fear is the underlying emotion or sensation to all other feelings neuropsychologically so that we’ll cut to the chase. And this will clarify things for you. This will clarify how you really feel, and it will lead to what you need to do, what you want to do. What is the appropriate thing to do? And that’s really, that’s really all you need.

Robert Hossary: [00:31:16] And if it’s that simple, why is it so difficult to do?

Duff Watkins: [00:31:19] Just telling yourself the truth. Those five little words. It’s the antidote to self-deception, but a lot of people prefer self-deception.

I mean, there was a Nigerian proverb that I remember as a kid, the truth is very bitter, many cannot eat it. Or I’d say, you know, it might be an acquired taste. Nobody likes to admit that they’re a dickhead, especially when they are, no one wants to admit being a jackass, especially when their process of being a jackass.

So, I mean, it takes a bit of maturation. It takes courage really, but not as much as you think, you know, and then once you face the, come on. Okay. Well, what, you’ll see what you’ll experience when you tell yourself the truth is things, clarify things dissipate and the way forward becomes clear. 

Robert Hossary: [00:32:06] Well, I, will have to say that I have done this myself and it is liberating. It actually fits in with almost everything else you’ve said, because it’s part of that. Once you tell yourself the truth, this is what I have found. This is a personal, once you tell yourself the truth, then you’re able to let go of things and not cling to them. And be honest, you then get to be clear-headed about your decisions, about what you do, about who you associate with and why you associate with, at least that’s what I found. I can’t remember the last time I sat down though just to your point and looked in the mirror and said, this is my truth today. You can’t just do it once and you can’t just do it once and forget about it.  You need to do this, and you need to repeat it as a required.

Duff Watkins: [00:32:55] Well, there’s, it’s called Pennebaker, he writes, I mean, he advocates writing and that’s equally good, I think. And he talks, I think his protocol is 15 minutes a day. And I write every day I process every day. What I’m thinking, feeling emotionally, it is the beginning of self-acceptance and self-acceptance is really. The basis of all personal growth in my mind, when we continue to, to delude ourselves and deceive ourselves and, and that’s something the Dalai Lama said, by the way, he said, it’s not the truth that we don’t know. It’s not ignorance. You know, you don’t know something. You don’t know anything about astrophysics, read five books about astrophysics you’ll know more than 80% of the people on this planet easily and is it’s not ignorance.

It’s the truth that we hide from ourselves. That’s what stuffs us up. That’s what causes the problem, how we deceive ourselves.

Robert Hossary: [00:33:57] Well, that almost works straight into lesson number 8, which is never engaged in a civil war.

Duff Watkins: [00:34:04] Civil war is in countries today. There is one faction literally takes up arms against another faction within the same country.

I was raised in the U S the civil war was one of the Seminole events in the history of the country and the repercussions of it. A civil war course was North versus South. It was an economic issue about manifesting and slavery. And the repercussions of that are being felt today day and the year 2021. And the war ended in 1860.

So just, just do the math there, right? Yep. Civil war ended 1860 repercussions still being felt in 2021. The cost of a civil war is very. Very high. And long-lasting now you, every listener out there you are a universe of selves. I mean, there, there are many personas within us. Okay. We’ll use you as an example, Rob.

Your, I know that you’re a husband, you’re a boss. You’re an employee. You’re a. A friend, you’re a father times three, you’re a podcast producer, you know, it goes on and on and on and on. And there’s a universe of selves in there and they’re not identical. They have different wants and priorities and needs.

And sometimes they clash there is that part of you that wants to sit there and watch that shitty TV show. Then there’s the dormant intelligent part that says, what the hell are we doing here? Yeah. Okay. Yep. So, and I’m Paul Bloom, a psychologist of Yale. He told a funny story. He said, you know, it makes the, it makes a coffee at night, and then he he’s sitting there and doing the dishes.

Do I clean the coffee machine now or do I leave it in the morning? That’s the night self the next morning he gets up and he goes out in the coffee, machine’s dirty. And it’s the morning self says, why are you lazy bastard why didn’t you clean this thing? So, I could use it today. And I, I always remember that story cause I’m the same way with my teapot, you know, do I leave it in the morning, or do I clean it up for the next guy who comes in the morning?

That’s the way we all are. We have this universe of competing selves. And so, they have different priorities and sometimes they clash. And so, you want to refrain from commencing hostilities within yourself with yourselves because you cannot win a war within you. Can’t win a civil war. So, you do what you would do with anybody else you negotiate, you treaty with yourself, you sue for peace, if you must, but you avoid belligerents and abstained from combat at all costs. And I’m serious about negotiating, you know, point number one, the first entity you need to negotiate, persuade and convince is yourself. One of yourselves, it’s an ongoing process because as I say, they have competing priorities, different needs.

Robert Hossary: [00:37:01] Well, if we, if we look at the previous point telling yourself your truth, if you’re not telling yourself the truth, that contributes to your internal civil war.

Duff Watkins: [00:37:11] Yeah. Yeah. You’ll still spend a lot of time and resources trying to maintain the live, maintain the ruse and you know, eventually it comes on done anyway.

Well, I suppose you could die deluded, but you know who you’re fooling is you. I will say psychologically, you may die everybody. We have these psychological defences for one reason only we need them. Yeah know, because, you know, we think we believe falsely, by the way, we believe that the truth is so harsh that we won’t be able to cope.

The truth of the matter is when I found that then I’m a dickhead or a jackass or whatever the case may be. You know, it’s not so bad. And after a while you sort of get used to it, you know, it’s just yeah. In fact, you, you, you begin to realize, you know, Oh, I was wrong again. Okay. That’s good. I’m happy about that. I’ve learned something I’m progressing.

Robert Hossary: [00:38:00] Okay. Let’s move on to lesson number eight above all else do not panic. And this resonated with me simply because I remember many times in my career. And in my private life where I did panic about a lot of things and they were eventually unwarranted, but still that was, it took a while to learn not to panic. But what do you mean by that?

Duff Watkins: [00:38:25] Yeah. Well, it’s kind of obvious. This is lesson number nine, by the way, you know, panic never helps it often harms and it’s seldom warranted just, just as you’re saying now, of course we’re all human. We all have the same thoughts, feelings, emotions, we all pretty much the same.

And so, we do get anxious. Of course, we get agitated humans don’t cope well with uncertainty and we do find it stressful. That’s just normal. That’s just part of life, but panic is when your attention narrows, it constrains you, you literally freeze and that’s never helpful. And it usually is because you’re misunderstanding or misinterpreting what’s going on.

But let’s say, let’s say you’re in a very dangerous situation. I’m thinking the way they train commandos and Navy seals. And they really put them in some stressful situations. You know, they take you down your underwater, they take you down, you know, 50 meters, they handcuff you, then they cut your hose, your air hose.

They do stuff like that to those guys and those guys; they have to learn how to handle the stress of it and cope effectively and efficiently. But they do not panic because panic is not going to help. So Well, hopefully we won’t have stressful situations like that, but basically sooner or later, everybody learns panic doesn’t help. So, avoid it.

Robert Hossary: [00:39:44] It’s easier said than done, especially when you’ve never been in that situation. And I’ve, as I said, been there several times in my career where I would sit in my office, head in hands, unable to operate, unable to think unable to do anything. Because it was overwhelming and I panicked, it took that to learn how to get over it. And it is, I suppose, the technique to not panic is to realize that things are going to work out.

Duff Watkins: [00:40:16] Yeah, reframe it, reframe it. And there is a sentence, a phrase from a psychologist. And, and I think about this regularly, his phrase it’s on a tape. And you haven’t done a tape. It’s so old. That’s how old is cassette, because I still have the cassette and the phrase is life has a way always working out. If you think about it, in retrospect, you review your life and you say, Yeah, it’s true. It pretty much worked out. Yeah. And I can, I can just give you so many examples, personal examples in my life where, you know, disasters in pending, but you know, life has a way of always working out. I’m still here and all the doom than I thought was going to befall me didn’t happen.

You know, it’s just like getting fired. I mean, that’s a big shock to a person’s ego can be. But, you know, life as a way of always working out. People get a job, they go onto something else. They change careers. They find new lives, new love, new whatever, you know, because life has a way of always working out.

Robert Hossary: [00:41:20] And that’s the point, isn’t it? I mean, you know, it might not work out the way that you had planned it in your head, but it will work out and, you know, going through all of this and everything, you’ve just said everything, everything you’ve said. Links into itself, persuasion, not clinging, focusing your attention, everything, not lying to yourself and not engaging in that civil war and not panicking.

They all lead into each other. They all assist you in being able to execute the next lesson. We’re up to lesson number 10. And this is by far the biggest lesson that you sent to us. So I’m not going to say any more, other than read, less than leave it up to you. You deserve happiness as much as any person on the planet. Yes, I do. Duff Yes, I do.

Duff Watkins: [00:42:14] Well, I’ll see what I could do to make that happen for you, Hoss. Yes. This is the takeaway. I mean, if there’s one lesson I want people to take away, it would be this one. You deserve happiness as much as anybody on this planet. Not more. Not less, just as much as anybody on this planet. Not more because that would mean you’re a victim.

Oh, dear me. I deserve happiness. I only got this much when I deserve more. No, don’t give me that. That’s not, you don’t deserve. Less happiness than anybody. Oh, I’m just a martyr. I’m so blessed as the American say, I’m so blessed, and other people are less fortunate than me and I don’t get me that no, you deserve happiness just as much as anybody else on this planet. Not more, not less. And that’s all going back to the very first lesson to go full circle. I wish people could persuade themselves of that. And had that inner conversation and I reckon they’d all, we’d all be better off because of that.

Robert Hossary: [00:43:15] You’re probably right but I suppose the unasked question here is what is happiness?

Duff Watkins: [00:43:20] Well, that’s pretty personal. Nothing more personal I can think of.

Robert Hossary: [00:43:22] Very personal.  Yeah. It’s a very personal question. So how do I know if I’m happy Duff? How do I know if I’m happy?

Duff Watkins: [00:43:32] You know, on the surface, that seems like a really stupid question, but it’s not, I mean, because there are heaps of psychological asserts that indicate that honest to God, people that we us, we don’t know when we’re happy.  Martin Seligman gives the, the, and I used to do this. He said, before you go to bed at night, they got a pen and paper and write down. Three, the three times when you were happy today. And I would do this, and you know, sometimes it would come off quite easily. Now, the point is when you felt happy, when you felt happy, physiologically in your gut, and other times I was sit there thinking God, something good must have happened today.

Ah, but it’s not what you thought made you happy. It’s not what you wanted to make you happy. It’s not what you believe made you happy. What felt, what you felt that made you happy. And so, there were, you know, I might, I might write business success now it’s scratched through that and I didn’t really feel anything about that.

And the things that made me happy were I went for a walk today and I saw blue tongue lizard. Now I don’t see, I can’t explain why made me feel good, but it did. And that’s all there is to it. Yeah. And identifying when you actually felt something good and it can be minute, it can be big, it could be small, it could be personal, it can be public, it could be private, but actually cultivating that sense of appreciation is useful because as you just said, well, I mean, humans are notoriously bad at assessing their own feeling states. And I know it sounds weird, but humans just don’t know when they’re happy and that’s, that’s unfortunate.

Robert Hossary: [00:45:11] That’s very true. That is very true. That is very unfortunate. Duff. We’ve come to the end of our time, but I have one last question for you. But before we get to that, thank you for, for these, I would advise any of our listeners to definitely listened to this podcast again, because there’s a lot in what Duff has just said and shared with us. And you may have to listen to it twice to actually get the full impact. So, Duff, before we sign off one last question, we ask all of our guests, what have you unlearned recently? So, something, a truth that you have held onto and now discovered that it was erroneous or you’ve changed your mind or you’ve gone in another direction?

Duff Watkins: [00:45:53] No, I’m continually amazed at how stupid I was two weeks ago, and it is too many, too many small things, but. I think it occurred several years ago, 2016, my new life motto became don’t be so sure because so many things that I sort of took as iron clad rock-solid truths were not. And, and every day, a lot of psychological studies are being disproved. Sometimes they’re being disproven. Sometimes they’re being shown not to be replicated or replicable. So, a lot of the basis of knowledge is being questioned. And I don’t mean we’re throwing it out. I mean, it’s being pioneered or rediscovered or being upgraded upgrade is probably the best way of putting it.

And so, I’m continually trying to upgrade my beliefs.

Robert Hossary: [00:46:44] Well, it sounds like you’ve, you’ve got many things that you have unlearned of over the course of your life.

Duff Watkins: [00:46:52] I’m still shedding beliefs.

Robert Hossary: [00:46:55] Okay, well with that, I would like to thank you again for your time.

Duff Watkins: [00:47:01] My pleasure.


Robert Hossary: [00:47:02] You’ve been listening to 10 lessons it Took Me 50 Years to Learn our guest today was Dr. Duff Watkins. This episode was sponsored by the professional development forum. PDF provides webinars, social media discussions, podcasts, parties, you name it, they’ll provide it and you can find them at professional development, forum.org. And the best thing of all is it’s free. It’s all free. If you’d like to contact us, please send us an email@podcastattenlessonslearned.com. That’s one zero lessons learned.com. So, if you enjoyed this podcast, remember to hit the subscribe button so that you won’t miss the next episode. Thank you for listening. And we’ll see you on the next episode of 10 lessons it took me 50 years to learn.


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