014 Mental Scripts

This is the blog post version of the (final episode of) Mike’s Notes podcast, available on iTunes, Soundcloud, and Overcast.  We’ll look at what are mental scripts, and how to optimize them.


When Auren Hoffman spoke about education, it struck a familiar chord. I went to college because it seemed like the things I should do. If you have good enough grades, want a good enough job, and have just enough money – go to college.


It was as if the game of Life only had one choice.


I’m pleased with college, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t question the scripts in our lives. Some scripts are benign, compliment someone’s new haircut or effort in sports. Others are insidious. The “not good enough” and “can’t do this scripts.” Our three characters will speak about these  internal scripts. Let’s meet them.


A. Barbara Corcoran, shark on Shark Tank, real estate mogul.
B. Felicia Day, star of numerous web series, funny person, show writer.
C. Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of Vaynermedia, social media machine, banana eater.


Barbara Corcoran calls her internal script her tape. She recalls meeting with Donald Trump to give him the bad news that his apartments weren’t as valuable as he thought. Corcoran had started to figure values on a cost-per-room basis, and Trump had gotten some bad deals.


Trump started to disagree, not-so-cordially I assume, and Corcoran doubted her numbers, then herself. She got defensive and wondered if she bit off more than she could chew. Then, she changed.
“The tape kicks in and I go, ‘oh yeah, you’re not any smarter than me. Then boom, I’m in my feet and I’m over it.”
Corcoran said she “got out of her head and back in her feet.” She knew her numbers were right. She knew the industry. No one could say that she didn’t know what she was talking about, except someone was.


She was able to change the tape that was playing because she had practiced that. Once she had that new script, she rallied


Felicia Day writes in her book, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost):
“Never put yourself down about things that you create. That mean voice inside you that says, ‘You’re not good enough’ is not your friend, okay? I used to hear that voice all the time. If I hadn’t started ignoring it, I wouldn’t be here right now. Okay?”
Day too faced the voice. She faced it when her entire career was built around a show about people who met online and was filmed in her house. On the surface that sounds terrible. Like one step – literally – removed from blogging in the basement. Day didn’t listen to that voice, with practice


Day writes that part of what helped her ignore that script was other people telling her she could. She needed support. That came at a regular accountability breakfast with her peers. It took years, but she got it and made her show.


Gary Vaynerchuk said:


“The number one thing that holds people back is self esteem. They don’t think they’re good enough, thus they can’t take the first step.”
Vaynerchuk too addresses our internal scripts, our tapes, the mean voice inside you. Don’t listen to it. Evict that voice. Get it out.


Vaynerchuk writes that his mom was a great cheerleader, always telling him he was the best at something. Often he wasn’t, but he didn’t care. His belief caused action, which led him to be pretty good.


This post sounded a little self-helpy, that’s fine. These are true stories, you need to take what you need.


But you have to get over the voice so you can start to fail, (tweet) and everyone fails at first. Facebook built a phone that failed before they built apps that dominate every phone. Apple’s first phone failed, so did Amazons. The latter moved to the Echo, a success.
You will stink at first.
For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. – Ira Glass On Storytelling
The success process looks like this: Turn off the negative tape/script/voice in your head, fail (a lot), succeed. That’s the sequence.


To get to the end, you have to get through the beginning. I hope this post helped you start.
Thanks for reading, I’m @mikedariano on Twitter.

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