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Freelancing, Failure, Follow-up, Risk, Reframing and the Passionate Life: Gregg Levoy Intvw Transcript Part 2

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GL: Right, yeah.

Rob: But you use reframing as a way to help people to cross boundaries that they've created for themselves.

GL: Yeah, I think reframing is a really powerful skill. Yeah, I - again like most people, I hear a tremendous barrage of crappy self-talk in there. When I sit down to write for instance, I hear a whole brass section of fears and anxieties, just about being a writer at all, no less the mechanics of it. Constant comparison of myself with others, fears of failure, fears of rejection, doubts about my abilities, and I'm constantly having to just articulate them out loud. It's like okay Gregg, let's hear this out loud.

Rob: Okay, now we're going to stop for a second because we got to - this is the Rob Kall Bottom-Up Radio Show WNJC 1360 AM. I've been speaking with Gregg Levoy, there's going to be more to this conversation, but the broadcast part of it ends now. Check out or iTunes, look for my name Rob Kall K-A-L-L and you can hear the rest of the interview. So we've been talking about how do you deal with the thoughts in your head that tell you that you're going to have problems getting acceptance or follow-up, or - go ahead.

GL: Right yeah, well the dealing with the negative self talk thing, part of it is just really name it; hear it out loud, don't just let it wander around in the back of your head and harangue you, is say it out loud, get it out. Get what's on the inside out so that you can see - because what you can see and name you can deal with, and I think that when people start hearing the crappy self talk, I think partly what I've realized is you know, if anybody else said that to me, I would not tolerate it for a minute. If somebody kept putting me down and kept saying you're not this enough or that enough or the other thing enough, I would not put up with that; why am I putting up with it from myself? There's something about hearing it out loud that makes me realize that is utterly unacceptable. I wouldn't tolerate that from other people.

Rob: How does that apply to passions in general?

GL: Well I think it applies in the sense of the things that we tell ourselves that hold us back from acting on them. Well I can't act on that, this or that passion because I'm not good at it, I'm not educated enough, I'm not smart enough, I'm going to tip other peoples' boats if I do, you know whatever negative voices come up in terms of following our passions, I think it's important to articulate them; hear them out loud and not let them just stay underground where they can do just a tremendous amount of damage.

Rob: Now this conversation in your book follows your telling the tiger in a cage story. Can you tell that story?

GL: Oh, the tiger in the cage. Who's the author of that? Peter Levine? Trying to think what that book was, I would love to be able to share that with people.

Rob: I'll dig it up for you, I have it in my notes.

GL: Yeah because it's all about reframing. Because what the author talks about is what he calls protective frames. This is a way to get yourself to act on your passions despite the fear that you feel by setting it in a certain context, saying okay, I've got a certain set of skills that I do bring to it; that's a protective frame. A protective frame can be a community of people who support me; a protective frame can be I know that I'm competent, alright, it can be rehearsing it beforehand; a protective frame can be really good equipment that you're going to take mountain climbing or skiing. So that there are little things that frames around the activity, that help you feel more confident in moving forward. And the tiger in the cage thing was -

Rob: The author is Michael Apter in the book Dangerous Edge.

GL: That's it, Michael Apter, and I believe the tiger in the cage metaphor is, he says that a tiger without a cage is terrifying, a cage without a tiger is boring. So what you need is a little bit of both, you need the excitement, the thrill, the passion; that's the tiger. And then you need the cage, alright, so that you feel like okay I can approach it. I can approach it and I feel safe. And the cage is one of these frames that helps you move forward. Alright? Example that I actually have in this section of the book: I have been terrified of any sport my whole life that involves the experience of falling. I do not like falling, and my earliest nightmares as a child were falling dreams. And I'm on vacation with my girlfriend in Turkey and she wants to go paragliding. That involves the potential of falling in my book, and what I did as a protective frame is I sat on a beach one day watching Para gliders come off of a mountain with my binoculars and I watched them for a solid hour and the scientist in me determined this appears to be safe. Every one of them is landing and so softly it's like stepping off a curb. And I realized okay, I can do this. Yes it will be scary, yes I do have to leap off the cliff initially, but once I'm air born it's smooth sailing and a soft landing. That was a protective frame, but I applied my scientific mind to it and studied it for an hour to determine I could do that.

Rob: In the book, it's kind of, but not totally clear that you do it with a pilot.

GL: Yes, you're doing it in tandem.

Rob: So that's part of the frame too.

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