Author G. Brian Benson shares with S&H Staff Writer Julie Peters that the key to success is continuing to be open to self-growth and self-exploration.
G. Brian Benson is a bestselling, award-winning author, speaker, filmmaker, and triathlete. His new book Habits for Success: Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar (Mango Publishing) is a collection of 48 short chapters on everyday habits to encourage self-growth and success.
S&H: In your book, you talk about teaching what you need to learn. You originally started writing down life-balance tips in your first book as a way to ground yourself. How did your new book Habits for Success come about? What did you learn about yourself in the process of writing this book?
G. Brian Benson: I feel like it is a culmination of the journey that I have been on for the last 10 years of my life after I left my family business stepping out into the unknown. I was reminded recently by my mother that when I was really little the only word that ever came out of my mouth was “why.” Well, I brought that inquisitive little boy with me along for the ride. I have always tried to be the best version of myself. So, in a sense, I have been sitting in an observer’s perch watching and documenting my own journey of growth, self-awareness, and new beginnings over the last 10 years. I am really proud of how this book turned out. There are 48 chapters, so I feel like I cover many habits and ideas that can not only be truly life-changing for the reader but also an important part of their foundation. I feel like I was able to write and capture them in an inspiring, entertaining, and thought-provoking way.
I learned that I had a deeper level of focus inside of me than I had prior. I knew that I had a lot of fortitude inside of me because of my past experiences of training for and racing in Ironman triathlons, but this was different. I really had to be disciplined in a whole different way for those three months that I had to write this book. I was also very proud of the fact that I have accrued a lot of information and wisdom from the self-growth journey that I have been on. It was interesting and humbling piecing it all together. And I hope that others find it extremely helpful also.
There are many habits here in this book to help create a successful life. Which ones created the biggest shifts for you? Which were the hardest for you to implement?
Great question. Some of the habits that created the biggest shifts for me were learning how to listen to and trust my intuition, stepping out of my comfort zone, learning how to establish life balance, giving myself permission to just be myself, and realizing that there are no rules and it’s ok to create my own path.
As for the ones that were the hardest to implement. I would have to say be vulnerable, have faith and trust in the process, and to learn that it is ok to fail.
You refer back to meditation, mindfulness, and presence many times in the book. What role do you think meditation plays in developing these positive habits?
I think it plays a crucial role in helping us become more mindful and present. To really become self-aware and keep moving forward on our own self-growth path, we need to slow down enough so that we can pay attention and metaphorically sit in the observer’s perch of our own life. By doing this, we can see what’s working, what’s not, and where we keep getting tripped up. If we are always busy and filling ourselves with a lot of outward noise, it’s going to be much harder to gain the self-awareness that will make a real difference in your life.
And meditation shows itself to us in many different forms. One doesn’t just have to do it in the conventional way—sitting cross-legged and chanting. Looking back, when I used to race in triathlons, I would go on long training bike rides and runs. Those rides and runs were definitely a form of meditation for me. My mind got quiet and I almost went on autopilot. Listening to soft gentle music or going for a walk or hike in nature can help put us in that same place. Not only that, but as we introduce many forms of meditation into our lives, we will be able to hear our intuition come through much more powerfully. That will be life-changing if we honor what is coming through.
You talk about intuition in the book and I’ve always felt curious about how to tell the difference between useful intuition and a fear-based feeling or trigger. What are some of the signals you’ve found to help you tell the difference?
Great question and not always that easy to answer because I feel that we all potentially receive our intuitive messages and guidance a little bit differently. Right after I released my first book and really started to listen to and trust my intuition, I got a lot of intuitive hits to step out of my comfort zone to overcome my fear of speaking. I did a few community college speech classes, joined Toastmasters for a year, created an interactive workshop tied in with my book, hired someone to co-host an internet radio show with me, and took an acting class. Believe me, it wasn’t easy, but my intuition was just screaming do these things. And so, I did. It was like I had this all-systems-go feeling pulsating through me. Since then I have learned that if I feel a bit fearful yet also excited about something, it’s a very good sign that I am supposed to proceed and step into it—even if I don’t know where it might lead or how it will come to fruition.
The second part of your question is a little harder to answer. Sometimes, we may have a slight fear-based reaction from an intuitive hunch that was placed there to help us. For example, when I was invited to present a TEDx talk out of the blue, I was told I had 3 months to prepare. I just gulped and said yes. I intuitively felt that I would be able to handle the task and that it would be a great learning experience for me, so I said yes even though I didn’t know what I was going to talk about. Even though it piqued my heightened fear of public speaking, I just knew that I was supposed to proceed. And as I proceeded with the TEDx talk, as well as all of the other things I did to step out of my comfort zone earlier, doors opened up, the information that I needed came forth and synchronistic connections showed themselves.
Now in the case of having a strong negative intuitive hunch about a person you meet, whether it’s under the precept of a date, potential business partner or just a random meeting, the feelings I have are just as strong, but in a different way. Just like I had the all-systems-go feeling of moving forward with the items I described earlier, I responded in the opposite way in regards to the people I knew weren’t a good fit for me or who I believed to be inauthentic. Some people receive these feelings actually in their stomach or other parts of their body. I don’t. It’s just a heightened feeling that runs through my being.
What does success mean to you?
I think my idea of success continues to evolve. Initially, like many others, I felt that it revolved around what kind of job I had, or how much money I was making; fitting into a certain societal mode. And I felt successful for some of the eleven years that I was running my family business, which was a golf center in Salem, Oregon. But then I began to feel burned-out and like I wasn’t growing there anymore. Which eventually led me to leave the business.
I have always tried to be the best version of myself, and while working through the tail end of being at the business, I accidentally ended up writing my first book while working on some techniques to help myself find life balance during that period. After I self-published the book it ended up winning a few awards, which pointed me in this whole new direction of writing more books and creating thought-provoking, inspired content through the medium of film and video. At this point, my version of success changed. Though it wasn’t about my old model of how much money I made or what kind of job I had, I began to measure it in awards that I won or the individual success of a particular project. And that was fine until my expectations of how things were supposed to be didn’t measure up to how they turned out. And I realized that a No. 1 book-launch or more book awards didn’t add up to an authentic version of happiness for me. It was tough at first, but after becoming aware of this, I began to enjoy the journey that I was on and step into the true joy of creation instead of holding onto the weight of expectation and creating just to fill that void of happiness that I wasn’t filling myself. Since then I have come to realize that success isn’t defined by money, job status or a No. 1 or award-winning book. Success to me simply means that I am showing up and trusting the process, enjoying the journey, and continuing to be open to the self-growth process.
For more success, write about failure.