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For over a decade, David Tian, Ph.D. — a uniquely qualified therapist, life coach, and former university professor — has coached tens of thousands of people from over 87 countries to achieve happiness and success in their relationships, dating, psychology, and lifestyle.
Dr. Tian has been featured in international media, as well as co-hosting a radio show on national radio and a weekly dating advice column in a national newspaper in Singapore.
The show, “Man Up: Masculinity for the Intelligent Man” (https://www.davidtianphd.com/blog/), is David’s way of helping as many people as possible enjoy empowering and fulfilling lives, while contributing to the global understanding of masculinity in modern times. In the show, he takes your questions posed in the Man Up private Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/manupcommunity/) and answers based on his experience coaching tens of thousands of students around the world for over a decade.
Connect with David Tian here:
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A Message For Achievers
David Tian Ph.D. tells us the issue that achievers commonly face.
David Tian Ph.D gets to the root of why achievers aren’t happy despite their accomplishments.
In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D. shares three things that achievers must do to find fulfillment, love and joy in life.
Boom! Stop. I’m David Tian, Ph.D, and this video is a message for achievers.
Masculinity for the Intelligent Man. I’m David Tian, Ph.D. and this is Man Up!
Yo, this is David Tian, Ph.D. and over the past 10 years, actually 11 years, I’ve been helping over a hundred thousand people in over 87 countries attain success, happiness, and fulfillment in life and love. Welcome to the Man Up show. This is episode — probably around 227, not exactly sure. We are at the balcony club of my favorite mall, which is kind of weird to say this is a mall. It’s next to the Park Hyatt which you can see in the other direction.
Anyway, I got a question here from the Man Up Facebook group. Actually, it was private messaged to me because it was a forwarded screenshot that the person took. I don’t normally answer private message questions, but this one was well-put. He said:
“What do you think of this Instagram post? Because it really captures well how I feel right now.”
So, I looked at the post and I thought, “Okay, this is a good way to go.” So, for the first time ever, I’m going to be answering a question that somebody else sent me that’s somebody else’s question. Anyway, it’s a second order question. Let’s get into it.
The post goes like this:
“It’s not all sunshine and fairy tales. I get really down on myself at times. I compare myself to others. I lose my temper and I lose my patience.”
By the way, I’m holding this because it’s kind of loud in the background, but I thought the background is nice. So, anyway, here we go.
“For me, it stems from my desire and ambition to have more and be more. It’s a blessing and a curse.”
Instead of just reading it all and giving you my analysis, I’m going to do it along the way before I forget. So it says:
“It stems from my desire and ambition to have more and be more.” That sounds really good, to have and be more. It sounds really good. Desire and ambition to have and be more is treading that fine line. You’ll see some more of this as it comes up.
“I think every high-achieving man knows where I’m coming from on this” and we do. A lot of the work I do, a lot of the new podcasts — I got this cool new shirt we designed — and the podcast we’ll pick it up by the way, there’s a new podcast group for men and women because our topics in the podcast are a lot higher level, you could say, than the Man Up group.
One of the problems about the Man Up show is that what I cover is basically framed by the questions that I get, so I have to go to where the questions are. Whereas the podcast is about where I want to go and where my guests want to talk about. It’s a lot higher-level in that sense. The issues and topics are for both men and women. Anyway, in the podcast, I’ve been talking a lot about high achievers. The podcast is aimed at achievers, and a lot of my courses like Invincible, like Lifestyle Mastery, Masculine Mastery. It’s a gin and tonic. [INAUDIBLE 00:03:07] earl grey gin and tonic.
Anyway, there’s a section that begins all of those courses that basically — it’s a 20-minute audio for achievers. And there’s something that achievers have that is a good thing and it’s a curse. Like he says, it’s a blessing and a curse. But if you don’t address the curse and you just think, “Oh, it’s just a downside but we got to keep going”, then you’ll never actually achieve satisfaction and fulfillment. Nothing lasting.
The achiever’s curse is that he will never be fulfilled for very long and will never be satisfied for very long. This post that this person forwarded to me is a great illustration of that, of the curse, and of why, even if you get the thing that you’re working so hard for, you still won’t be happy. Let’s get into it.
“Every high-achieving man knows where I’m coming from. Every high-achieving woman also. The results can’t seem to come fast enough, and although I know I’m putting in the effort and building the foundation for future success, I WANT IT ALL AND I WANT IT ALL RIGHT NOW.” So, this is the problem.
What does he want? He’s only going to feel good about himself, this desire for more and more and ambition for more and more, he’s only going to feel good about himself when he gets the thing that he’s aiming for. Whether it’s more money — often, these are monetary goals but it could be other. Fitness goals. It could be girl goals or getting attraction from the opposite sex goals. Whatever your fucking goal is, these achievers will only feel happy when they get the A on the grade or the A on the test or the paper. They’ll only get satisfaction and allow themselves to feel good when they get that goal.
But if you’ve been an achiever for any length of time, you know that when you get the A, you’re still not very happy for very long. Like, you can bask in the glory of the A or of the achievement for an hour or a day, maybe a week, but a real achiever sitting on the beach for more than a couple of days is going to start getting really antsy. Like, I’ve just got a little beard trim and it went longer than expected because the guy had upselled me on a razor trim.
Anyway, I was being suffocated by this brilliantly fragrant towel over my face. And the whole time, my legs were going [NOISE] because I hadn’t gone squats and deadlifts in a while and I was like, “I’m really ready to go! I want to go and kick something!” and that’s part of the achiever’s curse. We can never really just relax. We have that problem of not being able to just let go. We want to achieve. We want to do more.
And that can be a good thing when a few conditions are met, but this dissatisfaction that this person in this post is talking about is the downside of it, is the bad part of it, which is that he wants it all and wants it all right now. Well, why aren’t you, sir, having it right now — The first thing I would say is you haven’t lost yourself in the process yet. When you’re impatient to have desire and ambition, to be more, but you’re not enjoying the process right the fuck now, there’s something wrong. There’s always going to be stuff that you don’t enjoy as much as there are other things you enjoy.
When you excel, you have to do these things that may be aren’t that fun. Maybe you’re going to have to do some boring reps or whatever it is. You’re going to have to put in the work just beyond the part where you’re tired and wish you could sleep a little bit right now. But too bad, you got to get this extra couple hours done. That’s always going to be there.
But if you’re not enjoying that process of — even enjoying the process of, “Alright, I’m putting in the overtime now” and enjoying that, even enjoying the exhaustion of it, it’s sort of like my wife just started running, like long-distance running, training from a marathon eventually, and I’m not a runner at all. I’ve never been a runner, long-distance runner since we started running in grade 5. I’ve been a sprinter. I enjoy the 100m, the 50m, the 200m. And about the 300m mark, I stop enjoying it.
I know what that is like, like the 300m mark, you do the 400m, your legs are burning. You’re now moving into a different feeling: so like lifting heavy versus a longer cardio workout. So, a different type of burn. And even like on a 15 rep for like bodybuilder types, I guess weightlifters, 15 reps feels really different from three reps. It’s a different type of pain. But you can get to the point where you enjoy whichever type of pain you didn’t enjoy before, because it’s all part of the process. It’s part of the journey.
Even waking up early wherever the fuck it is that you need to do to get that thing done, you embrace the process. You can enjoy it. And the key to enjoying life as an achiever is that you learn to enjoy it now, not when you get that goal 10 years later. When you think big, hairy, audacious goals, you’re thinking like 10 years down the road. If they’re really that big, if they’re really that audacious, they’re not going to be covered, you’re not going to be able to obtain them in a short period of time. So if you really put off your enjoyment of life, of you, of how you think about yourself, of your satisfaction with life right now until you get that goal, you’re fucked and that’s the achiever’s curse.
I wish I could tell this person who posted this, and I did tell the person who sent me the private message, that it’s about the process: enjoying the process. Here we go. Okay. First, number one, enjoy the process. Number two, gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.
This lesson first came home to me after the umpteenth Tony Robbins event. Tony Robbins is a good case study of this because he’s constantly priming in you dissatisfaction with your current financial state, with your current physical state, whatever it is. He needs to upsell you on the next thing, like Master University, or Platinum — whatever it is. He has to put some dissatisfaction in you, this is just straight up marketing and advertising, in order for you to take the next step. If you don’t see the bigger picture, you think that sucks, that’s unethical, that’s not good. But there is a bigger picture, which is, he always primes you with gratitude first.
Yes, it’s good to want the next thing, but you shouldn’t push yourself to the next thing. That’s something we’ve been talking about in the podcast. Henry Chong and I, for a long time, push versus pull motivation. We actually stole that terminology from Tony Robbins. He probably stole it from someone else. I don’t even remember, but it’s a nice way to think about it. This person in this post is talking a lot about pushing. He’s trying to push himself forward.
This is a common military thing. When you don’t want to do it, it’s not that you really love to do the thing that you’re slogging through, it’s that you’re forcing yourself to go through it for delayed gratification, for something way, way down the road. That’s a horrible life. That’s the achiever’s life and I’ve lived that for decades. That’s not a very satisfactory life.
From the outside, it looks great. But from the inside, it’s just okay. And so, if you want to have a great inside life and a great outside life, you’ve got to learn how to be a great achiever intrinsically. In other words, that means lose yourself in that process, enjoy the process. And secondly, the gratitude, being grateful for the right now, being grateful for that ability to grind, even the ability and the freedom to have all of these things that you’re enjoying, and that you’re willingly putting yourself through all of these paces to get this goal. That’s something you can actually do, and that’s an amazing —
There’s so many things that people who are watching this right now can be grateful for. Even if they haven’t received or achieved that goal, that big, hairy audacious goal really far down the road, but being just grateful for even the little things: your health, the well-being of your loved ones, etc. Lose yourself in the process and gratitude is number two.
I’m going to keep going here.
“It keeps me pointed in the right direction and my eyes fixed on the prize. I have shitty days like everyone else. It just means I care. I care about my process. I care about my success. I care about my results. When I’m feeling down and impatient with myself, I stay focused and don’t let this feeling stir me. I use it as a fuel to keep charging through it all.”
Okay, it sounds really high falutin, i don’t know what the right word is. High falutin, “But it just means I care. I care about MY process. I care about MY success. I care about MY results.” No, you care too much.
A friend of mine wrote a wonderfully titled book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson. I think he’s sold a lot of books just on the strength of that title which he tested ahead of time in an article. I think it’s a great title and I think a lot of achievers need to stop giving a fuck so much. The achiever’s curse is that he needs to achieve in order to feel significant. That’s a really important thing. We achievers need to achieve in order to feel significance.
The problem with that is, if significance is the driving force in your life or one of the driving forces in your life, one of the top driving forces in your life, you will never find happiness. You will never find lasting happiness. You will never find fulfillment. You will never find real satisfaction and enjoyment of life. You’ve got to learn to be satisfied and feel significant in yourself.
You don’t feel significant just because you got the fucking A on the test, or the grade, or whatever the fuck the A means for you. You can’t wait until you get that to feel significant. You can feel worthy and significant just in who you are and give that as a gift to yourself, and look for a goal that pulls you forward, that you don’t have to push and beat yourself up to get to. That’s a really important thing.
And a lot of achievers, when they stop and ask themselves, “Why do I have this obsessive need to achieve in order to feel significant?” They’ll find out when they go through the psychotherapy that they actually have those needs jammed into their fucking heads by their parents, by their school, by somebody in their childhood who told them they weren’t good enough or they’d only get rewarded if they got the A.
Once you free yourself from that, when you’re free from the shackles of the shoulds, when you’re free from the tyranny of having to achieve in order to feel significant, then you’ll find that your life priorities has really changed and you’ll finally see the way, the path, the journey forward to your real fulfilment and love and joy in life. So, I’ll give you those three things. I’m going to sum it up. I’ve got to get better at summing up things.
One, lose yourself in the process. Stop focusing on the goal as much. Stop delaying your own happiness and satisfaction until you reach the goal. Process. Process. Process.
Number two, be grateful for right now. One of the things you’ll be grateful for right now is not going to make you complacent. In fact, the gratitude is going to become fuel for your achievement.
Number three, look for a better way, a healthier way, a more sustainable way, and a way that’s in your control to meet the need that you have for significance. You cannot let your life be led by that need for significance.
I’ll leave you with those three things. Henry Chong and I talk about that a lot, talk about all these issues a lot in the DTPHD podcast. If you haven’t gotten on the podcast, get on the podcast. It’s all over our webpage, davidtianphd.com. It’s in our YouTube channel, it’s wherever. It’s all over. Also, if you’re in the Man Up Facebook group, you automatically are able to join the DTPHD podcast group. Go ahead and take advantage of that and join the group before we start closing down that privilege.
Join the DTPHD podcast group. Also, we’re going to be doing a reading challenge in the DTPHD podcast group. So, join the group to get on that reading challenge. Anyway, I’ll see you inside the groups. Until then, David Tian, signing out. Man Up!