Thane Marcus Ringler | The Self-Awareness Gap

The very best professional athletes are famous for their focus. In business, focus is a key to success but not the way you’d assume, says Thane Marcus Ringler.

One element is take what our mentors and teachers have taught us and take it to the next level. Thane shares how you can make that leap and propel forward progress by being… simplistic.

He says the key is a way of thinking – a mental model – too many people neglect, especially in our always-connected world.

We explore that in-depth, as well as…

  • How a Plan B can sabotage your success
  • The one thing that will teach you the most about your business
  • What unlocks true creativity
  • 3 Steps to mastery – and what mastery really is
  • And more

Mentioned in this episode:

Timeline:

00:00 Interview with Thane Marcus Ringler.

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Thane Marcus Ringler. Thane is a former pro golfer turned writer, speaker, and coach. Thane brings his professional athlete mentality to his work in coaching.

01:38 Thane tells us his background, how he got into golf, and how golf’s singular competitive nature appealed to him.

05:14 Thane tells us how an injury led to him to have a plan B.

10:49 Thane talks about the “dip” we have in business and how to overcome it by defining what failure is.

14:46 Thane explains his views on fear of failure.

16:06 Steve hates failure but understands the value of it.

17:33 Thane explains how failure is like going to the gym.

20:38 Thane tells us about his book and how to pursue mastery.

24:41 Thane explains to us the key of self awareness.

27:48 Thane tells us about the three-fold process to achieving mastery.

30:17 Steve and Thane tells us how getting time to yourself without distraction can be the most productive time you can have.

34:36 Steve and Thane tells us that there is no substitute for persistent effort and work with one direction. “Say no to the moment to say yes to the future.”

41:15 Thane reminds that “forward progress is not a finished process.”

42:47 Thane tells us how best to get in contact with him

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Transcript

Steve Gordon: Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast. I’m your host, Steve Gordon, and in today’s interview I’m really excited to be talking with Thane Marcus Ringler. Thane, he’s got just a really neat background and I think we’re going to learn a lot from him today.

Just to give you a little bit of that background, he’s a former pro golfer, turned writer, speaker, coach and entrepreneur, living out in Los Angeles. He competed for nearly four years on the professional golf tour. I know that we’re going to learn a lot today. I played golf for a long time. Not nearly at that level but I know the kind of education that you get through the game and I know that he’s going to be able to share a lot with us. Now he works alongside freelancers and business owners and entrepreneurs to help them by taking the professional athlete’s mindset and bringing that down to their everyday lives. He’s really passionate about speaking to the journey from growing through some of the challenges that you run into in life.

Thane, I’m really excited for you to be here. Thanks for joining us on The Unstoppable CEO.

Thane Marcus Ringler: Thanks for having me, Steve. It’s going to be a fun conversation. Just excited to dive into some of these ideas and stories with you today.

Steve Gordon: Yeah, it’s going to be fun.

Tell us a little bit about you and your background, just beyond what we learned in the bio.

Thane Marcus Ringler: The origins, started in Kansas of all places, so middle America, in the heartland you could say. Grew up most of my life there, awesome place to be born and raised. I ended up living about a mile away from one of the greatest golf courses in America, Prairie Dunes Country Club. That was such a sweet place to grow up and really kind of training grounds for the future golf career.

I played golf starting at three or four years old, at a very young age. My dad got a club in my hands. It was a great thing to go outside and do with him. I was very active and competitive. I loved all things sports and all things competing. Definitely got some strong competitive juices from parents. But as I kind of grew up through childhood, I really gravitated towards golf. Looking back on it now it’s interesting to me to see that a large reason why I gravitated towards golf was because of that competitive nature. I wanted a sport where I had 100% ownership of the results, because I didn’t want to have to worry about other teammates or people not pulling their weight or their slack. Which was kind of the young, naïve and ignorant mindset, because the flip side of 100% ownership is all failures and lack of results go on your own shoulders. It’s definitely like you said, a really great arena for personal development at the very least.

I ended up going to college out here in California, at The Master’s University. I played four years of golf there. As I continued to progress, it became clear that it could be a good option to pursue golf professionally.

My senior year, I put together a business plan and pitched it to dozens of people in my community and that I knew, and other people that I was connected with and God blessed with 10 to 11 sponsors and investors to really embark upon this journey.

Once I graduated college in 2014 I was able to take the leap and jump right in into the professional golf world and play, like you said, for three and a half years on different developmental tours, and then overseas on the one Asia tour for a bit, in 2015. I had a lot of amazing opportunities. Unfortunately it didn’t turn into the career that I thought it would be, and that led to really me pivoting this last year at the end of 2017, the beginning of 2018, into all the work I am doing today. It’s been quite the journey, and I have definitely learned a lot along the way as we all do in life.

Steve Gordon: You went down this path, and I imagine at the outset you thought, “Well, this is going to be the career for me.” I’m impressed by the fact that you actually put a business plan together. I had no idea that would be the approach to pursue golf as a career. But you’ve gone down this path, you’ve invested three and a half years. At some point you look around and decide, “This isn’t going the way I want to go.” What prompted that decision? What moment did that kind of come clear in your mind that you needed to go a different direction?

Thane Marcus Ringler: It was a really hard place to get to. A big catalyst for it was an injury that I faced. The second half of my professional career I ended up facing a muscle strain in my back, my left rhomboid which is directly tied to the golf swing. This muscle strain kind of turned into a year and a half battle with it that repeated five different times over that year and a half, and it really left me very uncertain about whether or not obviously I’d be able to make a career or a living off of this game if I can’t even compete consistently. Really, even on a deeper level, whether or not I’d be able to play pain-free golf again. That was even a question mark.

It was a really trying time and it really halted all momentum that I was making in my career. The average time it takes for guys to get to the PGA tour, which is the goal that the best tour in the world, it takes guys seven to ten years to get there usually. It’s not an overnight journey. It takes a lot of grinding and a lot of learning through failure to get there.

I knew I was on that path and only two years in and having this injury pop up really threw kind of a wrench in my plans. The interesting thing about that though is it took me six months to probably a year to be fully committed to professional golf once I had started. I think it’s important to note that any of us, when we’re trying to do something challenge outside of our comfort zone or basically with a high degree or likelihood of failure, it’s really hard for us to be fully committed. I really experienced this. I remember my college coach, he was telling me that if you asked anybody on the PGA tour what they would do if they weren’t playing golf, none of them can give you an answer. They have no idea, because they’re 100% committed to this journey, to this endeavor with no plan B.

For me, I had heard that from coach and I knew that to be true, but it’s a lot safer to still have some type of contingency in the back of your mind. I didn’t have a plan B but I had a plan A.5 for probably the first six months. That plan A.5 was really holding me back from being 100% committed and leaving the door open for doubts and fears and failures to creep in and it just limited my ability. It took me probably six months plus to get that full commitment, no plan B, no plan A.5, to be really sold out. Once I got to that place, only a year or so later, that’s when the injuries started.

It was a really hard time, because I didn’t have a plan B at that point. This was the option. I think through that time, I’m just really evaluating. I was thankful it was a year and a half because it gave enough time to really start considering, “Okay, if I can’t play golf, what would it be? What could I do?” And in that time, I started a podcast called the Up and Comers Show. Really, I had this idea of, “How can I repay my investors and sponsors if I can’t repay them financially? What could I do to give them to say thanks?” That’s where this idea for a book came from.

During one of the injury recovery times I actually felt like I was given the space to really start and dive in. I took three months to just puke out this first draft and get it on paper and get the ball moving. That led a year and a half later to the book coming out this last November, and a lot of the work I’m doing today. It’s been definitely a process, and it wasn’t an overnight decision by any means.

Steve Gordon: I can imagine that, knowing what little know about golf as a profession, I’ve known a couple of pros in the past, it does take that complete focus. You talk a lot about the idea of mastery, and when I think about that career path, one of the reasons I think that sports in general and golf in particular are such good teachers is that to get good, you have to kind of persist through that struggle to master all of the moves and all of the skills, and the thinking, and the mindset and all of that. I can see that just having that little bit of seed of a doubt could create problems.

I think that actually happens in business a lot with business owners. Particularly new business owners, if they’ve come out of the safety of a job that provides a paycheck every two weeks and into the results economy where you’re now only as good as the last sale that you made. It can be really difficult to sustain that if there’s always in the back of your mind an option B to go back to that world. Yeah, I can totally see that.

Thane Marcus Ringler: Just to make one comment too on that, I think a great resource for anybody that is in that place or struggle with that like all do is Seth Godin’s book “The Dip”. It’s all about that place we reach in any endeavor, whether it be a business or a career or sport, you name it. It’s about that place where we reach that low point, that dip of, “Should I stick it out or should I quit?” He really kind of fleshes that out and breaks out the concepts within it. It’s super helpful but you’re right. It’s true across the board in any endeavor, and that includes business owners. The sneaky plan A.5 is going to be there for most people, but if it is truly something worth doing, we got to be fully committed to do it.

I think the thing that really helps us do that is understanding. Having a realistic or right view of failure, because a lot of times we look at failure as defining who we are versus describing something that we’re learning from. A failure is really just learning what not to do so we can learn what to do. When it’s something that we’re fully committed to, the fear of that failure is a fear that we’re going to hit a dead and we’re going to have to go to the start line all over again and that’s not ever true.

Just like me and professional … I’ve played golf for over 20 years. It turned out to be a dead end for me. It didn’t reach the goal of playing on a PGA tour. But the point is, I didn’t have to go all the way to the beginning and start over again. I got to take a few steps back and take all the experience that I’d gained up to that point, pivot, and pick a new trajectory and start moving forward with all that experience.

I think the same is true for any of us in a business endeavor, entrepreneurship, or performance or athletics, is that if we’re fully committed to what we’re doing, whether or not it ends up being the success we want it to be or the outcome that we thought it might be, it will prepare us for next back, whether or not it’s in this field or a different field. We just have to do it faithfully. I think that kind of understanding, that perspective really helps us be fully committed. Also, the fruit of that full commitment is it unlocked our truest and best ability within that pursuit.

Steve Gordon: Yeah. I think you’re absolutely on to something there. That’s always the fear that, if something fails that somehow it’s this colossal dead end. More often than not, it’s really just an intersection where you get an opportunity to make a turn to the right or the left and follow a different path.

It’s funny, I’ve interviewed so many people through the podcast. I think we’re up to 108, 109 interviews at this stage, and in the conversations that I have with the guests before and after, we get talking about something and invariably this idea of failure and scars comes up. If you do anything for very … forget career-wise, if you’re just on the planet for very long, you’ve got scars. Everybody has had times when things didn’t go as well as they thought they would and they’re carrying around the wound from that. It affects some people more than others and some people carry it for longer than others. I think that it’s so important to recognize that, “Yeah, I’ve been up to this point. The path I was on isn’t going to be viable anymore, but look at all this great stuff that I gained.”

Thane Marcus Ringler: Yeah, and there’s couple great quotes on it. One of them that I love is from George Eliot who said that, “Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure.” I think that’s just beautiful because if we can persevere and persist long enough, and it ends up being a failure, that’s actually way better than having no pursuit of ours to be called a failure, right? That’s keeping us in mediocrity versus really our full potential. John Wooden also said that, “Failure isn’t fatal but failure to change might be.”

It’s a universal thing, like you said. I think again, it really harks back to identity. If we can really just fight and strive for having our identity found in who we are and not what we do, that’s really the key to unlocking our freedom from this fear of failure. Because the fear of failure is like saying, “What I do is who I am,” and those aren’t true. Who you are as a human being, that’s something that’s a god given thing that no one can take away. No one’s going to be able to change that. Our identity that gets placed on top of that is prescribed from culture, from others, from rules, and that important. That describes what we do, but it never defines who we are.

Steve Gordon: I think this is such an important topic that most people don’t think about it, I think, deeply enough. As they’re going through life, they see something as a failure and a dead end and they don’t really take stock of the value that it can bring. Not that I’m a big fan of failure. I personally don’t enjoy the experience. That said, every time I’ve been through one of those times in life, and it’s happened a number of times where you feel like, “Okay, we hit the dead end, we’re going in a different direction.” At the moment if feels like a dire situation, but as then you look back, after you’ve made that pivot, made that change then you look back, it always gives me greater confidence. Like, “I can do this so much more quickly than I did the first time. I can go from this setback now back into positive progress easier than I did the last time I had to go through it.”

I think that’s an important thing to pay attention to, because you begin to then look at this challenges as like, “Okay, I’m going through this learning experience, but remember how fast I did it last time. I got right back to where I wanted to be.”

Thane Marcus Ringler: Yeah. I think you made a really good point there. Failure’s not something to glorify or deify. We’re not praising failure. It’s not to say, “I want to fail!” No, that’s not the point. The point is you will fail if you’re doing something hard. That’s a part of doing things that are challenging and really reaching into your full potential. It’s a necessary part of the journey. It’s not about glorifying but it’s also not about avoiding it. It’s about using it as our tutor and our friend and ally in helpings us be who we’re called to be, who we’re created to be, and the work that we’re called to do.

It’s like lifting. It’s like lifting in the gym. That failure on that tenth rep is a good thing, because that’s making you stronger. Saying, “Okay, this is the limit of my strength right now. But in that failure I’m actually getting stronger os that next time I can get that tenth rep up.” I think it shows that it’s cumulative. Like you were saying, it adds up over time. It’s what we learn the most from.

When I look back on my life, the things that I learned the absolute most from are my greatest failures. Always. It is a cumulative thing, it adds up, and can actually give us momentum when we start embracing it because like you said you can start failing fast. It’s really teaching you quicker and quicker what you really need to be focusing on and what you shouldn’t be focusing on, or how to do the right thing versus the wrong thing in your work or in different avenues. I think you hit on some really good points there.

Steve Gordon: I want to take a quick break here, Thane, and I want to come back and I want to come back and talk about your book and the work that you’re doing. In particular, I want to talk about this idea of mastery that you talk about, because I think that’s such a critical thing for everybody listening to wrap their heads around what that really means. We’ll be right back with more from Thane Marcus Ringler.

Hey everybody, welcome back, this is Steve Gordon. We’re continuing our conversation with Thane Marcus Ringler who has, I think, just given us some great insight in how to persevere and move beyond challenges that you come across.

Thane, you’ve got a new book out. It’s called, “From Here to There: A Quarter-Life Perspective On The Path To Mastery”. I’d love for you tell us a little bit about the book, and I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this idea of mastery, what that means to you.

Thane Marcus Ringler: Like I’d mentioned before, the book really stemmed from wanting to give my investors and sponsors a gift back. As I wrote it, I initially thought it would be a book about how golf teaches you about life and makes you a better person in life, but as I wrote it, it really turned into a book about how to pursue excellence in any field. Pursuing individual mastery and the mental model of frameworks for doing that.

It was interesting now, looking back on it, is really what I guess has happened is that lifelong pursuit of playing golf, then 7 to 10 years of really diving into in college and then professionally how to develop into the best possible golfer possible using those experience to really then go into the mind and start forming these frameworks and mental models from those lived experiences. To say, “Okay, what does this look like in real life in a principle or idea basis?”

From that, this book has been such a joy to kind of now share, and to share both in written form but also in verbal form because it’s based on this phrase about mastery. It says that mastery is simplicity on the far side of complexity, which is a really captivating phrase. It actually really caught my attention a couple years ago and stuck in my subconscious. What that phrase is showing us is that this mastery, this thing this personal mastery that we’re pursuing, it can be defined in a 50,000 foot perspective equation I guess you could say, or process. That is simplicity, complexity, simplicity, and that’s the path to mastery. Saying it goes through those three phases, and that far side simplicity is that pursuit, that reaching onto that personal mastery.

From that, I just break down each section into some further mental models, things to think about in each phase of the journey. I think this is really, it’s been a cool tool to share with others, to empower them, because it’s talking about things we’re all going to face in life. Things like commitment, things like learning, being teachable, fears that we face. It’s talking about systems and how to apply them. It’s talking about momentum. It’s talking about failure and it’s talking about perspective. This kind of mental models and themes for it.

It’s been really fun to share and it’s been really cool to hear people’s feedback. Even this morning, I got a text from someone that read the book and she said that it’s, “The entire theme for the book has totally propelled me forward with a new outlook and new concept of what is possible.” Things like that, that’s the thing that makes all of those hours and days and the 18 month journey of writing a book. It makes all those efforts worth it. I’ve just been so blessed by it.

Steve Gordon: I love that definition. Simplicity on the far side of complexity. You talked about these three phases. I almost see that first, simplicity is really more of simplistic. The first solution that you come up with is often too simplistic. Then we make it too complex. Then as we get to mastery we can truly simplify to the fundamentals. To what’s really necessary.

As you’ve kind of grown and developed through the last three and a half years through your golf career and now into your new career, how have you taken that idea and applied it? Where has it shown up in your life?

Thane Marcus Ringler: I think that thing that has been really cool about it is it helps me grow, and I think the most important thing for this whole path. That is the key to unlocking the door to mastery, to far side simplicity. That key that has kind of been highlighted and this journey has been the key of self-awareness. In the sixth chapter, really the last chapter in the complexity phase, it’s about systems, and in that it talks about both universal and individual systems for success. In our lives we’re all learning universal systems, whether it be from our teachers in school, our parents, our coaches in sports, and then ultimately into our bosses and people that are giving us the systems that have been created for success within our current role or current work.

To be able to then move from the universal or generally true systems that are given to us, that’s the adoption phase, but then move into the creation phase of starting to create our own individual systems, the only way we can bridge that gap is by self-awareness. I think that in today’s society, in the world we live in now, with technology and mass dissemination of information it’s growing increasingly hard and harder to have a refined self-awareness, to have a developed self-awareness.

I think ultimately this mental model, this equation to mastery, has really helped me grow in my own self-awareness of where I am in that process in different areas of my life. I think that highlights really two kind of universal realities about each one of us here and everyone listening and both you and I, is that we are all two things. We are in a process and we are all on a spectrum, meaning we are all in a process of development of some type. Maybe moving from here to there, moving from where we’re at now to where we want to be, some type of development process. We’re all in a process. In that process, each step of the way, we’re on a spectrum within that step. Meaning, there’s usually two polar opposite realities that can both be true and somewhere we’re between those two polar opposites.

Self-awareness is really understanding where we’re at in the process and on the spectrum. I think this equation is really, this simplified understanding of mastery has really helped me identify accurately and objectively where I’m at so that I can better prepare and equip myself for the next steps ahead.

Steve Gordon: For somebody listening to this, what are some things that they can begin doing to increase their own self-awareness as they kind of get on this path to mastery?

Thane Marcus Ringler: I think self-awareness is so important. I think one is just believing and recognizing the importance of it and that it won’t happen by chance.

There’s a threefold process I like to talk about developing self-awareness in. It’s defined as retroactively, actively, and then proactively. Stated in different terms you can say it’s discovering, it’s understanding, and it’s optimizing.

The retroactively or the discovering side is really looking back in reflection. Reflecting back on life and saying, “Okay, why did I do what I did? Why did I say what I said, or why did I take the action that I took?” Sitting with yourself, your thoughts, usually a journal, writing down your mental process.

After you do that for enough time you can start moving into the next phase, which is the actively or the understanding phase, which is seeing yourself more in the movement. After you’ve done something in the moment, recognizing, “Oh, I just did this, and this is why I did that. Or I just said this, and this is why.” That’s in the moment, recognizing what’s causing what, and growing in your awareness of why you do what you do in the moment.

Then the proactively, or the optimizing phase, is really the far side simplicity, the mastery phase of being able to know how you’re going to handle a situation before you get there, or how you’re going to act in a moment before it comes and then being able to prime yourself for the action or the response or the words that you want to say in that specific moment.

I think that’s, just understanding that kind of process will really help us in understanding where we’re at in it but also how to move forward in that because again, this is things that don’t just happen by chance. We really have to take the time to sit with ourselves and our thoughts and there’s a lot of tools to do this. Things that are not very sexy but they’re simple. It’s journaling, it’s meditating, it’s getting feedback from others. It’s listening to yourself. There’s a lot of things that we can do to grow, but ultimately it usually requires us carving out time of our day, pausing, reducing the noise around us and really becoming comfortable and aware of ourselves.

Steve Gordon: It’s such a difficult thing to achieve these days. My wife and I were just talking about this as it relates to our kids. They don’t have a whole of time where they’re disconnected from inputs from other people. Whether it’s music, or texting, or whatever. The older they get, the more constantly connected they are. The two of us were even kind of lamenting the fact that there aren’t very many opportunities anymore just to sort of sit with your thoughts. But really, that’s what you’re talking about is the only to become self-aware is to sort of spend time with yourself and do that without bringing along the inputs of others.

It’s a difficult thing to do, I think, just because of the way society but boy is it valuable. A lot of people will look at it as being unproductive time, but I actually think that the time I spend taking a walk without having earbuds in my ears, listening to something. Where I’m just taking a walk and thinking, probably some of the most productive time I ever have.

I used to, back in the late 90s, used to drive all over the state of Florida with my company at the time. I called it windshield time. A lot of times I’d be driving through the middle of nowhere, no radio, and it was fantastic because you had quiet. You could work a lot of things out, I think, and answer a lot of questions for yourself when you get that time if you give yourself the space.

Thane Marcus Ringler: Yeah, and not only that, I would even add it’s going to add so much to your overall well-being and happiness I guess at the end of the day. We think that being connected is what’s giving us joy and happiness but it’s really just playing with our neurochemistry within our brains and our body. Instead, it’s actually disconnecting from that which will bring us true joy and happiness.

We’re training ourselves in harmful ways and that’s the hard part is. It’s unintentional, right? I mean, there’s intentional things about it that aren’t great, but a lot of it’s just unintentional. It’s the power of culture and social proof.

The big thing I’m really focused on, on this next year especially, is how can we as a society and as a country, how can we start utilizing these natural levers we have and how we operate as humans? How can we start utilizing things like social proof, and the power of culture to start influencing us for good instead of for harm? How can we start helping ourselves help ourself in these areas because we need help. It’s not just your kids and the next generation right, it’s us too. We struggle with this. We’ve been affected by it, but when you’re younger you’re even more susceptible to it. It is a growing problem. It’s not going away.

I’m interested to keep thinking of and creating more solutions with others about how can we counteract this trend and start turning it around for good.

Steve Gordon: I’ll be watching for that because we’re always looking for a solution there.

I wanted, before we wrap up, I want to talk a little bit about another aspect of this idea of mastery. I think it’s one thing to take the time and really understand yourself. I think that’s necessary for it, but I also know that there’s this factor of practice and repetition. I know that for you to be even at a level where you are at in golf, the number of golf balls you had to hit to get that groove down perfectly so that you brought that club back to that ball in the same place with the same timing every time. You didn’t just go out there and hit five balls and make it happen.

Thane Marcus Ringler: No. Yes, no. There’s a great quote by Michelangelo, and he said, let me just, I don’t want to butcher this, let me just find this real quick. He said that, “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, they would not consider it so wonderful at all.” That’s exactly it you know. There’s literally no substitute for the work you have to do. You just have to do the work. Hours and hours and hours and on end. That’s life, right? Life is not sexy. Life is not glamorous. All these amazing things that you see images of are pictures of 1/100th of the reality of what got them there. The reality of what got them there is years and years of persistent effort and work in one direction with one focus. The same is true with the golf pursuit, and it definitely does not happen overnight, and it definitely does not happen by chance. It takes intention and effort over a long period of time.

That really, I think, speaks to what is important for us, which is enjoying the process. There’s always going to be a process, and the process really is the beauty of life. I think that even harks to Ralph Waldo Emerson talking about that life is a journey not a destination, because any destination is ultimately made a destination by the journey that it took to get there. If you’re just going on a run, and you run up a small hill, and it’s got a good view, well if it didn’t take that much work to get there you’ll enjoy the view for a little bit, but you’re going to move on pretty fast. If was a mountain that you climbed up to get that view, you’re going to actually appreciate that view a lot more. You’re probably going to spend 30 minutes, maybe an hour up there just enjoying that view.

That’s why the journey is what makes the destination the destination. That’s why it’s really important in life to enjoy the process, enjoy the hard work that it takes to get to that mastery because that’s really where a lot of the joy comes from anyways.

Steve Gordon: I think I’m so glad that you shared that because I think for a lot of people, especially right now, and this ties into what we were talking about with some of the distractions that are out there. A lot of the stuff that you’re seeing people share these days are sort of the curated version of what it’s like.

You write. You’ve written a book. I’ve got a couple of them out there. I’ve written thousands and thousands of emails and marketing pieces and all that over the years. If somebody saw what it really took to do that. I don’t know how you went about your writing process. I know when I wrote my first book the only way I could get it done was I had to get up at like 5:00 in the morning or 4:30 in the morning and write for an hour every day. At first, I’ve got to tell you, I was slow, it wasn’t great. By the end of that book, I was cranking out 1,000, 1,500 words an hour, which is not a bad pace. Most of it stayed in the book at that point. But it took 30, 60 days of every day doing that and not only that it took two years of writing on a daily basis leading up to that before I even got to the point where I could contemplate putting a book together. I don’t know what your process was like but I imagine it wasn’t like you just woke up one day and by the end of the day the book was done.

I think people look at this like you’re looking at Instagram or you’re looking at Facebook and you see somebody’s done this wonderful thing but you don’t see the bottom of the iceberg, all the effort and work that went into it that was completely unglamorous. The waking up without brushing your hair or brushing your teeth and putting on a cup of coffee and sitting down and cranking it out, or going to the driving range for the third time in the day to hit another hundred balls when your hands are already blistered and bleeding, right?

Thane Marcus Ringler: It’s so true, man. I love this because, again, we’re not going to say that these tools are bad, they’re great tools, but we have to see them for what they are. They are snapshots of the best, and they’re there for inspiration. That’s what they’re there for so let’s stop using them for anything else. Let’s stop using for envy or jealousy or things like, “If only my life was X, Y, or Z.” They’re not there for that. They’re there to see inspiration. Honestly, if it’s not helping you, if it’s hurting you, stop using it. It’s as simple as that.

That really speaks to the fact that inspiration needs to be a small part of the process, but a much much much larger part of the process is discipline. Discipline is a thing that gets us to where we want to go. Jocko Willink talks a lot about discipline equaling freedom and that’s really true. Discipline is what unlocks our freedom to create within that structure and to really do the things that we want to do, but we have to start with discipline. It’s saying no to the moment to say yes to the future. That’s a daily practice. That’s waking up every day at 5:00 like you’re saying to write. Literally it feels like banging your head against the wall much more than it feels like a walk in the park.

Steve Gordon: I think there’s a lot to be said for being okay with being bad at something in the beginning and still getting it out there. I’m sure you went through that in athletics. I’m sure you probably went through that as you built up your current business. I know that the only way I’ve ever learned is to go do something and get it out and see what happened and then adjust. It’s that magic of the repetition of that cycle that really helps you improve and helps you get to that point of mastery.

Thane Marcus Ringler: Yeah. I think, just one more thought, one of the greatest blessings in life is to see progress. Progress is such a blessing. To see growth, one of the best parts of working out or going to the gym is to see the tangible results of that in your body. That’s so fulfilling and encouraging. The same with golf or business, or any pursuit, seeing the results, the fruit of your labor is such a blessing, but it just takes a lot of work to get there. It doesn’t happen by chance and doesn’t happen overnight. I think those are just really helpful reminders.

One of the quotes that I loved recently this guy Diego Simila said that, “Forward progress is not a finished process.” We can always be making forward progress and Harrison also said that there’s no limit for better. That’s really, it’s endless. There’s an endless supply that we can keep making progress and improve and be better in. It’s such a blessing to be on that journey.

Steve Gordon: It’s fun too. With the right attitude, it’s tremendous fun.

Well, Thane, this has been fantastic. We could probably sit here and use up the rest of the Friday afternoon we’re recording this on just to talk about this stuff, but I know you’ve got a schedule and things to do. Before we wrap up, the book is “From Here to There: A Quarter-Life Perspective On The Path To Mastery” and where can folks find the book and check it out?

Thane Marcus Ringler: Thanemarcus.com is where I house everything. The book’s on there. The speaking I do is on there. Coaching practice I have is on there and then some links to my blog and the podcast. Check out thanemarcus.com. I’m on the socials as @thanemarcus. Instagram is probably the one I use most but I would love to have you guys reach out and say hi and connect with you.

Steve Gordon: Awesome. Well, thanks for investing a little bit of time with us today. This has been a lot of fun, and I hope everybody has learned a lot from hearing what you have to say.

Thane Marcus Ringler: Thanks for having me on, Steve, I really enjoyed it. A lot of fun.