Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can speak about discipline, “action thresholds” and cultivating awareness at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of this video is included below.
Full Video Transcript:
Hi and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about discipline and action thresholds. What’s the threshold for you to take action? And the examples we’re going to talk about are things like quitting smoking, going to the gym, cutting out sugar, and some other things that I’m going to get to later in the video.
So let me first tell you my experience with this because I’m 43 years old today and I smoked for 20 years. I smoked from basically when I was 15 until I was 35. I was 35 in 2006 and I quit smoking on October 3rd, 2006. And I have to tell you two things. Number one, smoking was one of the stupidest things I ever did. And I admit it, when I was a kid I thought it was cool. I thought it was cool. In my school—I grew up in Vancouver—the cool kids were in this area of the school called the Breezeway, and they used to smoke and drink coffee and I wanted to be part of the group. That’s how I started, and then after that it just kept going. And it was the biggest contradiction in my life because I’m pretty healthy. I eat pretty healthy. I go to the gym. I’m not crazy athletic but I try to stay in good shape, so smoking was always a big contradiction in my life.
So number one, it was the stupidest thing I ever did. Number two, quitting smoking October 3rd, 2006 is one of those things that I’m truly proud of. But let’s talk about how it happened. So this is my concept for the action threshold, because let’s say—I’m going to try and do this well for the video, I’m sorry if I’m obscuring my face here, but—let’s say this is the threshold to take action. If you’re above this threshold, you’re going to take action. If you’re below the threshold, you’re not going to take action. And what happened for me—this is time along here—so slowly but surely I learned more and more about how bad smoking is and how destructive it is to your health and all the things it’s correlated to in terms of sicknesses and illnesses and horrible things that happen as we age because of smoking earlier in life. So that knowledge was rising underneath here and it took years, like probably 10 years, of going through this process before it finally peaked up above that line, above that action threshold. It took, I mean, no joke, probably 10 years.
Now, I didn’t smoke a lot, by the way. I smoked like two or three cigarettes a day. I wasn’t smoking a pack a day or a half a pack a day or anything like that. But even still, it took like 10 years of my awareness of smoking and how destructive it was, it took 10 years for that to rise higher and higher until finally in my brain it peaked out above that action threshold and boom, I quit. And when I quit, it wasn’t that hard to quit because my brain had been saturated with all this negative awareness.
And what my message to you in this video is is to cultivate awareness, and there’s a variety of implications of this so keep watching a little bit because there are some angles I want to introduce in just a second. But let’s say you want to go to the gym. Let’s say you want to cut out sugar. This is happening in my life right now because sugar is evil. Sugar is the enemy. I remember back in the eighties when I was growing up—I was in high school in the eighties—and people used to think it was fat. That was the enemy. So no fat this, no fat that – that was the rage, of always buying no fat, nonfat products. Fat is not the enemy. Sugar is the enemy.
And so what am I trying to do? I’m trying again to cultivate that awareness and slowly learn more and more and more about how destructive sugar is. In terms of supplementation and vitamins, they often say that we should be taking antioxidants. Well, sugar is an oxidant. Sugar creates those evil, bad, unhealthy circumstances that antioxidants attempt to correct or balance out. Sugar is so—and there are more and more documentaries and movies about this—sugar is the enemy.
So I’m trying to cut out sugar in my life, and how am I doing it? I’m cultivating awareness. I’m saturating my brain with all the negative research about what sugar does, and I know that I’m actually kind of peaking above this line right now. I no longer have the urge to eat sugar the way I used to because I have that awareness. I know how bad it is for me. And every now and again I binge, and I have a sweet tooth—my dad had a sweet tooth, I get that from him—so every now and again…just the other day I had ice cream. I love ice cream. Of course it’s completely full of sugar. But more and more I notice that I don’t have the same urge to eat sugar as I used to because in my brain that urge, that instant gratification urge which is up here, is being balanced by this increased awareness of how bad it is for me. So I’m saturating my brain, I’m cultivating awareness. And as the awareness grows, eventually you peak out above that action threshold.
Well, you can apply this to anything. I remember when I first started flossing my teeth. It was the same thing. I didn’t floss when I was a kid. I was never even introduced to flossing. But then I learned more and more about it and I wanted to have cleaner teeth, etc. Things like that.
Here in California, we’re in a drought right now. I live in the San Francisco area and California’s in a very bad drought. And so water usage, like I’m using less water, but again, when I first knew that the drought was in place and that we needed to conserve water, it was hard for me to change my habits. But when I started to cultivate that awareness and think about it and saturate my brain about the situation that California is in with water, eventually it went up above that action threshold and I saw myself making changes in my life.
But here’s the angle I wanted to introduce, the thing I mentioned just a second ago: This same strategy is what these videos are about. It’s what so many kind of self-help or personal development material is about. So let’s say for example you’re listening to some of these motivational positive-thinking kinds of audiotapes. Like Tony Robbins has tons of this kind of stuff and Brian Tracy, and so many others over the years have created these audiotapes or CDs or MP3s that you can download today and listen to, and what that’s doing is it’s cultivating awareness. You’re saturating your brain with positive messages. We live in a world that’s saturated automatically with negative messages, with the news media and so many people in the world just naturally liking to complain. Misery loves company. It’s a very real reality in our lives and our social circles, is that people complain and a lot of times they connect with each other through those struggles and through those complaints. So we’re saturated with negative messages all the time.
But when you watch these types of videos, like what I’m trying to do with these videos is to provide constant insights and different ways of looking at things and maybe ideas that you hadn’t thought of before, but not just my videos, I’m doing just a small project, just this part of my business, but think about some of the masters like Tony Robbins and Jim Rohn and Brian Tracy and T. Harv Eker and so many others, they have these positive messages and there’s value in listening to those things. There’s value in saturating your brain with awareness of what you want. You control what goes into your brain, and right now perhaps you have a lot of negative things going into your brain. And maybe you don’t, but I know that if I don’t take control of my life, I’m saturated with these negative messages all the time.
So what do I have control over? Well, I have control over saturating my brain with the types of information that I know will benefit me, whether it’s positive psychology or motivation or even just intellectual subjects and things that…I’m super-interested about geopolitics around the world and some of the things that are happening and why people are motivated by different things and renewable energy versus oil and all these different things. So I control what I put into my brain and I encourage you to do the same thing, is to pick the topics and the messages that you want to hear and start intentionally saturating your brain with that information, whether it’s listening to tapes, whether it’s hanging out with different people in your life, whether it’s watching videos like this or so many others that are on YouTube. Take the steps and start intentionally controlling the messages that come into your brain and know it may not make a difference for years. It may not make a difference for 10 years. It took me 10 years of the anti-smoking material to finally get me above that action threshold. But when you control that information and you start saturating your brain with this type of information, you are taking control of your life long-term and it will translate into action over a period of time.
I hope that this advice can add some value to the way you run your life. I know it’s changed the way that I run mine. Thank you so much for watching this video. My name is Patrick, encouraging you as always to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences and in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.