Why certain podcasts are better than others?

My introduction to podcasts happened in one of “those” days.

We all have those days…from the moment you get up (always late), seeing many emails filling up, and just realizing it is only 9 AM and my coffee machine is not working!

The day was slipping away from neatly written to-do lists from the day before…and then I saw it…  

It was an email I was hoping to receive; response from a potential client after the proposal I sent in a few weeks ago. It was the dreaded “thank you, but no thank you” message.

As somewhat of an expert(?) in handling rejections as an entrepreneur from years of running my architecture practice, I believed I was getting better at dealing with those rejections.  

However, with that one email, I realized I was wrong.

In fact, I was at exactly the same spot as I had always been; feeling crushed, getting frustrated, and wanting to scream at anyone and everyone. 

I knew my day was done!

I had to stop looking at the same email…I had to get out of the office. It had to be somewhere else where I don’t have to think about the email. With my coffee card (always), phone and headphone, I headed out.  

Making me question my belief system

With so much frustration in my head, my usual habit of listening to music while walking to the coffee shop was not working; listening to my favourite radio station of the 70s 80s 90s music was not going to save me from the frustration I felt at the moment.

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That is how the journey of podcast listening started on that fateful day.  

I knew some of my friends were die-hard fans of podcasts and wanted me to try. In the face of frustration, I was more willing than my usual stubborn ways…That is how I clicked the purple/ never used app button on my iPhone.  

The next step in my search for the right podcast started with the feeling I had at the moment: frustrations, rejections, failuresThere were many to choose from…it was clear the vast influence of negative feelings.   One of the podcasts was Tim Ferris’s show, and I knew who he was from reading his book, 4 Hour Work Week years ago, I decided to try his.

It was the podcast episode on his experience of working on one of his projects; launching the TV show based on his experimental approach to life after the huge success of his book.

It was towards the end of his episode, I had the aha moment.

When he talked about his perspective on failures, it was not the usual feel good, you can do it, just keep going advice I get typically from self-help books or even well-intentioned family members or friends. 

Rather, it was a different way of looking at the negative outcomes. 

His views towards results were intertwined with his processes; not just the outcome of the project, but he also has his own two objectives attached at the onset of the project.  

If he can accomplish even just one of his objectives, he considers the project to be successful regardless of the outcomes.  

His two objectives were simple; first, gaining skill sets he wants to achieve and meeting people he would like to. Through any projects, if he gets to accomplish even one of the objectives, then he considers them to be the project worthwhile tackling even if the result might not be the conventional successful outcomes. 

It was my why did I not think of that moment.

As a result orientated person, I have never thought about success/failures in this way. I was focusing only on the outcomes: yes or no. There were no other criteria I was measuring myself to.  

With this eye-opening perspective, I asked myself the same question about my recent experience; Did I learn anything from the proposal I submitted? Did I meet anyone with who I can keep in touch?

The answer to this question was a resounding YES. I did learn things about writing proposals and even felt that I could even be a better proposal writer the next time and also connected with several new engineers for the project.  

My initial reaction to the rejection was starting to look a little different…

Recognizing there is a community out there for me

Listening to podcasts has ways to make me I belong.

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Through the vast digital world, I learn to recognize that there is someone else out there who is going through the same exact experience.  

As all of us are experiencing many negative emotions in this crazy Covid time, learning about other people’s struggles, difficulties or lessons – especially from the famous guests on these podcasts – helped me to put less emphasis on MY gloomy thoughts and feelings.

10% Happier podcast is exactly the podcast that helped me with my newfound “sunnier” perspectives. The soothing voice of the ABC news anchor, Dan Harris and his guests talking about the trials and tribulations of their lives were not only interesting to listen to but it ALWAYS puts me in a better mood at the end.

I think the name of the podcast should be changed to 25% Happier…I always feel much better after the episode and I am pretty sure my happiness level has gone up more than 10%!

I enjoy physical exercise

This is the unexpected benefit of the podcast that I did not anticipate; love like of physical exercise.

With the new habit of going out whenever facing problems (there are many), I just put on my running shoes and headphone, I’m headed out. 

Just leaving the problems by the act of walking out does something in my head.

I switch off from the problems, and I get into an unknown space of podcast. Instead of focussing on whatever I was dealing with at the time, my attention is focused on someone else, other than me.

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Arriving at the neighbourhood running track after walking and listening to podcasts, puts me in a much better state; problems seem smaller, and ready for the workout – running.

Heading back to the office after physical and mental exercise, I am ready to start the day again.

Final Thought

My podcast listening journey started with one of those unhappy. nothing is working out moments. However, this unplanned adventure opened up the possibilities I did not foresee. 

Through the lenses of other people and their life stories, I focus less about my(?) me me me tendencies.

Maybe we need to have one of those frustrating nothing is working out days often (ok not too often) to gain in the wisdom life presents.  

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