LALLY: Welcome to The Brian Buffini Show, where we explore the mindsets, motivation, and methodologies of success. My name is David Lally. I’m the producer of the show. I know we may be in challenging times, but that’s just why we’ve been working on shows to keep us upbeat and focused on the good stuff. Let’s listen in.
BRIAN BUFFINI: The top of the morning to you, and welcome to the program. Today, I’m very excited to have our good friend, Shawn Achor on the program. Shawn has spoken on our MasterMind Summit. If you haven’t seen his TED Talk, absolutely check that out. I know over 20 million people have seen that as PBS Special. Shawn is a bestselling author whose works include “Before Happiness,” “The Happiness Advantage,” and his latest book, which we’ll get into a little bit today, is “Big Potential.”
He also recently launched a 21-day happiness course with Oprah Winfrey, and is working on bringing the happiness research into the schools of Flint, Michigan. Shawn, I’m sorry it took a global pandemic to get us together this time, but welcome to the show.
SHAWN ACHOR: Well, thank you for having me on.
BUFFINI: It’s crazy times here. You have some great info and some great stuff for us at a time like this, but perhaps before we get into that, let’s do a little backstory, and tell us a little bit about where you’re from. I’ve heard some of the story about your dad, and you and your sister, Amy, and all of that stuff. Maybe you can fill the folks in a little bit on where you’re from, and what it was like growing up in the Achor household.
ACHOR: I grew up in Waco, Texas. I lived there for 18 years. This was the Waco of the ’80s and ’90s. I loved living there. My father was a neuroscientist at Baylor University. I grew up him hooking me up to brainwave machines. He actually literally tested my brainwaves, in utero, on my way too patient mom. I grew up in a household where we were fascinated by what the brain is able to do. I then applied to Harvard on a dare, and somehow got in. I was a valedictorian in my high school in Waco, Texas. I was a volunteer firefighter, and was shocked and excited to get into Harvard, then we couldn’t afford it.
Three weeks later, I got a military scholarship from the navy that paid for the whole thing. Suddenly, I got this opportunity to leave Waco, to see the world, and be part of the military, and to experience Harvard. While I was at Harvard, I just assumed everyone would be so grateful to be there. It’s an incredible opportunity in this amazing school, and yet 80% of the students were going through depression, 10% of them contemplated suicide. I got hooked on the question of, what is it that creates happiness and meaning and joy within our lives?
What we were finding was that the people who were the most positive ones, when they become more positive, we saw all of their business and educational outcomes improve. Happiness has this incredible advantage, but it wasn’t being accessed by so many people, even in this incredible environment. Ever since then, I’ve traveled to 50 countries, doing this research trying to figure out, how do we create happiness, how do we spread it out to other people, and how do we use happiness to become an advantage within our lives?
BUFFINI: I think everyone always thinks, “Hey, that person has no excuse to be unhappy, but I have reasons.” Right? You look at it, and people in Harvard typically, are coming from a lot of backgrounds, and sometimes there’s great resources and wealth, and sometimes it’s academic excellence, and so on and so forth. You would think, “Man, if any group’s got to be content in life, it’s got to be the folks at the top of the ladder.” You found every day, and helping people out there, that even the folks with the most privilege and so on and so forth, it wasn’t the case that they were that happy. In fact, in many cases, it was the opposite.
ACHOR: Yes, you’re so right. I was a freshman proctor, which meant, as a graduate student, in exchange for room and board, they give you 30 freshmen a year, and you live in the dorms with them, and you counsel them during that first year of being in that hypercompetitive environment. You eat all your meals with them, you advise them, you bring them together for study breaks, you watch Dawson’s Creek with them. Whatever you have to do to get them to come together. What we found was that while people were coming from such different backgrounds, they were all in this amazing space, but their happiness levels were not anywhere what we expected.
Later on in life, I went and did research working with a shantytown in Soweto, South Africa. The school that was there, serving the shantytown, they had dirt floors, they had almost no books. The students I met there were so thrilled to be doing schoolwork. They just thought it was the greatest privilege because their parents didn’t have it. I fly back to Harvard, and I hear these students playing misery poker, seeing who had the worst hand compared to who had slept the least. Who had the most papers to do, who had the highest levels of stress.
That’s exactly what we’ve seen in the business world as well. That some of the people that I started working with at the beginning were the banks. We found that these people that had so much money, they were so successful, when the banking crisis happened, they missed their bonuses once, and they shattered. Or you find people that have everything. I work with professional athletes now, and they’re who we idolize, yet there are levels of happiness are extraordinarily low.
I worked with one movie star who, as his star ascended, he became more and more popular, and he couldn’t go out anywhere. He couldn’t go to Starbucks because people would ask him to do an impression or ask him to sign something. He stayed in his beautiful Hollywood home, and his levels of happiness dropped dramatically because the social connection plummeted. There’s research coming out of California that suggests that only 10% of our long-term happiness is predicted by the external world. 90% of it is still predicted based upon the external world, it’s just how you process it.
How do you process your income? How do you process the news that’s coming in? How do you process your family, or your spouse, or your neighbors, or being at a school, and if we could change that part, the lens, through which we view the world, not only can we raise people’s levels of happiness, but their success rates rise dramatically, especially in the midst of a crisis.
BUFFINI: Here we are, right? You were born and bred to be a scientist. In utero, you were being trained to be a scientist. You have dedicated yourself to the study of happiness. Now, here we are, and we have this global pandemic, we’ve got the bad news coming around the clock. Some of us have been affected by this, personally, in relationships and things like that. We got all these people shut in, bouncing off the walls. We got 10 million people filing unemployment in two weeks. We just have a cascading event. We know this is a very unique time in life, that will be talked about for decades to come.
As you talk about this, everything we’re experiencing, unless somebody has the virus, or a family member specifically has the virus, 90% of our happiness, right now, is dependent on how we process it. Give us some tips that, from your approached and understanding of happiness, how can we process what’s going on now and produce a happier, more productive outcome?
ACHOR: I love that we’re even having this conversation, Brian, because I feel like so many people think, “Let’s talk about happiness when everything’s solved. Let’s talk about happiness when the economy … ” I think you’re so smart to have this conversation for so many people because this research we’ve been doing, I think happiness in great times is a luxury item. I think right now, optimism happiness becomes one of those essentials, the necessities that we absolutely need.
One of the things I keep hearing from everyone, and that we see in the research as well, is that people keep saying, “This is unprecedented.” It becomes so fearful, because we’ve never experienced something like this, their brain keeps saying to themselves. With all that unknown, anxiety and uncertainty rip apart our feelings of hope and optimism and meaning, even in the present. While it is unprecedented that we’ve never shut down the world because of a global pandemic ever, what isn’t unprecedented is the fact that humans have gone through crises and overcome them.
ACHOR: Even just in the past 100 years, we’ve already been through, a little over 100 years, a World War, a Great Depression, another World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, September 11, and now this. What we have great precedent for is that humans overcome challenges and crises in the exact same way. Eventually, the turning point comes when people are able to raise their level of optimism, social connection, re-find the meaning that they have within their work, and be able to restart that forward progress.
BUFFINI: I’m going to get you to say those again. We have an audience that loves to learn, and I just think those levels of optimism, for sure, social connection, what was the next one?
ACHOR: Gratitude. Optimism, social connection, gratitude, perceiving meaning, that’s feeling like our contribution to the world matters. Those are the things that restart forward progress in every one of those situations. You look back to the World Wars, you look back to the crises that we’ve experienced, every time — that’s just within the past 100 years. Going through a massive crisis seems to happen every 20 years for humans, but it’s been so long. It seems terrifying because it’s almost the same thing we see– we did some initial research on relationships. You know that song, “The First Cut Is the Deepest”? I think Sheryl Crow.
The first breakup is the hardest because you have no empirical proof that you’re going to be able to get over it. We’ve never gone through a pandemic that’s caused a global shutdown, so we have no idea how to get through it, but yet, the very same thing is we’re going to get us through it that we’ve seen in the past. This is when I think we turn back to look at the research, to find out, “Okay, if that’s true, what do we do to raise levels of optimism?” Or, “How do you raise social connection in a world that’s going through social distancing?”
One thing that I think is so crucial to point out at this point, before I discuss those ideas, is that what I study isn’t irrational optimism. Irrational optimists sugarcoat the present, and then they make terrible decisions for the future. They turn a blind eye to problems, but then they don’t get fixed. The other side of the challenge is pessimism, which is where you see a problem, but you get paralyzed by it because you think it’s permanent.
What we find is, we find two camps almost dealing with the crisis that we see within this world, when what we know, from previous research, including what we saw on the financial crisis was, we saw that if somebody can take a realistic assessment of the present, realistically see how their business is hurt by this, or impacted by it, how their family is affected by it, how the society is, realistically assess where they are, but maintain the belief that their behavior matters, if linked to the right people, what you find is those people take that middle path between turning a blind eye and being paralyzed by the problem. Suddenly, you get to see forward progress again.
I don’t want anyone listening to think that I’m like, “Hey, let’s forget about all the negative that’s going on.” I think we need to realistically assess that. I don’t want to assume that it’s going to completely paralyze us. I think that there’s things we could be doing today.
BUFFINI: For sure. What I hear in your voice, Shawn, that’s crucial, because when you present and when you speak, your TED Talk, it’s funny, it’s light-hearted, and people think happiness — people think happiness is connected to whimsy. I really see what we’re seeing, and what’s in your voice right now, and what’s very important for our folks listening, is the strength of us. That this is a toughness. This is a determination. This is a resolve. It’s a spirit. It’s mind and heart. You’re talking about raising the levels of optimism. Of course, there’s things to be optimistic about.
The worldwide economic crisis last six years. We’re talking about this perhaps being six months. Social connection. I don’t know about you, but Shawn, I’ve had more connected conversations with people via Zoom, and via phone call, in the last three weeks, than I’ve had in the last six months. It’s different. I don’t get to hug somebody. You and I have been talking about getting together to do an interview about that “Big Potential” book for months, but it was like, “You know what, I need to get Shawn out to the people now.”
I think, at the end of this, people are going to become more grateful because convenience has been taken out of our life, and everything’s become inconvenient. I think when the convenience comes back bit by bit, we’re going to have an appreciation for it, for many people, and you talked about this. This is not irrational optimism, it’s this permanent view for the future. I think people are either going to get bitter or better at this time.
BUFFINI: I wonder how somebody can approach this. There is bad news, there is negativity, there is stuff coming at us. How can people actually, this behavior you’re talking about, how can they actually make a change both emotionally, and even do some things physically, practically, to actually change the direction and change the compass of where they’re headed right now?
ACHOR: I think what you’re asking is the most important thing. I think there’s two things that have to happen. I think that there has to be a mindset shift, and there has to be physical behavioral takeaways, or changes that we make within our life. I want to start with the mindset part, which I think people really want, tell me what to do, but really, it’s a mindset shift first. We’ve been talking about– you were mentioning the newest book, “Big Potential,” I didn’t realize, when I wrote the book, that this crisis was going to happen, but “Big Potential” was literally, like the book, it’s the research that changed everything I was doing in terms of happiness research as well.
My TED talk was based upon the idea that if we change your individual habits, your behaviors, your happiness will rise, and then your success rates rise. What we were missing out on was the entire ecosystem of potential around us. The mindset shift, I’m hoping, people make. It’s not, how do I get out of this crisis myself? How do I hunker down? How do I solve this? Rather, how do I create an interconnected pursuit of happiness and success within my life? I started “Big Potential” with a study that I think is so crucial right now.
These two researchers out in Virginia, found that if you’re looking at a hill you need to climb in front of you, if you look at that hill by yourself, your brain constructs. It shows you a picture of a hill that is 20% steeper than a hill of the same height, you see, while looking at it with someone who is going to climb the hill with you. It’s a little awkward phrasing, but basically, the inclusion of another brain that you think is going to climb that hill with you, your brain shows you a different hill. I always thought, when I looked at a mountain, I’m like, “Well, that’s how tall it is, and now I can decide whether or not to climb it.” That’s not how the human brain works at all.
The geometry of the challenges in your life are constantly in flux, based upon whether or not you think you’re alone or with other people, overcoming a challenge. The reason I’m saying that is, I want to move away from a self-help approach to happiness. Because what we’re finding is, when we put happiness in the self-help section of a Barnes & Noble, we make it 20% steeper for people to achieve. When the greatest predictor of our long-term levels of happiness right now, are other people, which you just referenced as well.
BUFFINI: Right. We’ve got to get the self out of self-help, right?
ACHOR: I love that. That’s exactly it. The other thing I was going to mention, just a brief aside, the story I started “Big Potential” with is, there’s these fireflies. You know how fireflies light up individually and randomly. They do that across the world. These two researchers in MIT found that in two places in the globe, opposite sides of the world, one in Southeastern Indonesia, and one in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, lightning bugs, instead of lighting up individually and randomly, they time their pulses so the entire community lights up and goes dark at the same time.
When they light up individually and randomly, their success rate of reproduction per night is 3%, which still is really good. When they light up all together, as an interconnected community, the success rate goes from 3% to 82% per bug. It’s not like one bug is doing well with the new system. The entire ecosystem is doing better, when we find some way of lighting up together. As I’m talking about some of these habits, I don’t want them to be just something you do by yourself. It’s one more thing for people to do.
I want people to feel that we’re interconnected in our pursuit of happiness and success in the midst of it. So that those hills, like overcoming the challenge and the economic fallout we’re going to see on the backside of it, is something we do with one another instead of alone, which I think, just validates why you’re even having this podcast. Some of those behavioral habits are very simple. One of the ones which you already referenced is that you’ve had deeper social connections with some people over Zoom. My research on social connection was actually done virtually before this even started.
We got people, initially on Facebook, but now we’ve done this worldwide. We got people for just two minutes a day, if people believe that happiness improves their success, we started all their days, before they did their work, writing a two-minute positive email, praising or thanking someone in their life. We asked them to do a different person for 21 days in a row. That was actually the key because around day eight, you run out of family members and friends, the close friends. Where you’re like, “Well, that’s everyone. Already wrote to my mom twice.”
That’s where a turning point occurs, where you realize you have to scan, and you’re like, “Well, that was all my people.” Then you remember that coach that mattered so much back in high school, or that friend from college you haven’t seen in forever, or that ex who just had a baby, or that neighbor that was one of your best friends until you moved, or that mentor that got you into this, and you’ve never really thanked him or her in the past decade. Suddenly, all these people start to light up on your mental map of social connection, through this simple two-minute email that you send out.
When you send that email out, like I wrote to a high school English teacher saying, “You’re the reason I fell in love with reading, you’re the reason I wrote a book. Thank you for changing my life.” Very short. She got it, she read it to her class, then she wrote back to me. Then, not only is she lighting up on my mental map, but it impacted her class, it changed the way she is in her classroom. I’m smiling, even as we’re talking about it now, even though that happened more than a year ago.
What we’re finding is that these moments that seem small compared to a global pandemic and 10 million people unemployed, what we’re finding is that when somebody is unemployed, their likelihood of finding employment again rises dramatically when they have optimism and social connection. We’ve worked with unemployed groups in the past, and homeless groups. What we’re finding is, when somebody is going through a challenge, optimism doesn’t shield them from it, but optimism and social connection cause them to become more adaptive to get out of that quicker.
What we’re looking for is, as we see these things, these small things, like we did a Zoom date with three different couples, which we probably would’ve never done because you need childcare, and one of them was in a different state, and we had these deep conversations. The other part of it is, it’s not just that we’re having these conversations. The crisis actually gives us something meaningful to bond around. I was working out at Camp Pendleton in January of this year, before we knew too much about what was going on, and I was brought out there by Colonel Rideout, who’s this amazing guy, was for sixth battalion and Marines.
One of the things that we were talking about is that all these people that I talk to at companies are like, “We’re going through so much stress and change right now, we’re worried we’re going to lose good people.” He said, “It’s so funny because we onboard people, not with a beach vacation we onboard them with boot camp. We literally put them through an incredibly stressful situation, but when you break down the idea that you can do this alone, and when you give them the right lens, to see the meaning involved with it, it turns out they create these meaningful narratives they talk about the rest of their life.”
They keep them bonded even in the midst of high challenge situations. I think this crisis has a potential like you’re describing, to actually make us socially better, to deepen those social bonds and to give us meaning as we move forward.
BUFFINI: That’s awesome. I think also, a lot of people right now, their life has hit pause, and a lot of times we’re so busy that we don’t take a chance to hit pause and reflect. I think right now, not only the dynamics or the tools you’re helping us with for a better outlook, the tools to be happy in a deep and profound way, the social connect and the gratitude, the optimism we need to embrace, but also this. Now is a time for people to examine. Maybe the dream that was hidden in the heart. The goal they had in mind.
I’ve asked every audience, and you can take this to the bank. I’ve asked three million people the following questions, Shawn, and you can quote me on this. In 37 countries, at some point in time in a presentation I’ll say, “How many of you in here believe you have some untapped potential?” Everyone in the room raises their hand. Everybody. It seems like something that, “Yes, I know that about myself.” I always say, “Well, what are you waiting for?” Because you don’t get to pass it on to the next generation. When we pass away, that potential passes away with us.
I think, actually, now that people have time, as you know, even though you’ve written so many great bestselling books, right now, people are reading more books than they have in a long time. There’s only so many Netflix shows you can watch. There’s only so much that you can take of these press conferences, and bad news, and updates. Now, people are back to reading. I think “Big Potential” is a fantastic book to read during this time, to get somebody focused on the future, and what they can be. One of the analogies you portray in the book is that of an acorn and an oak tree. You use this dynamic of seeds.
I’d love you to dive into this because I think, right now, now is the perfect time. Someone’s going to be locked down for the next 30 days or so, or 40 days. Now is the time you’re forced to hit pause, forced to reflect, forced to analyze and put the good stuff in, and maybe tap into that untapped potential. Lord knows we’re going to need it. Maybe you could talk a little bit about this acorn oak tree and some of the seeds, and really have people dive into this understand of their own potential.
ACHOR: “Big Potential,” the reason we came up with the title is that, exactly what you’re describing. Is that people have these seeds of untapped potential that they oftentimes don’t even know that they could cause to flourish, or they don’t have the time for it. One of the things I’ve been thinking about so much in the midst of this crisis is, I felt initial frustration because so much of my life was on pause. I had like 25 talks all postponed till next year. I was like, “I want to share this research” What I realized was, how much of my life was already on pause.
I had paused meeting up with some people. I had paused picking up yoga. I had paused spending time with my family, or doing these projects, or creating a photo book. Whatever it was, I realized I had cabinets in my house that would have had that junk in it for 20 years because I would have never had time or a little priority to get to it. Suddenly, I realized how much of my life was frozen. If I never got to that door, that’s fine, but I really want to get to some of these other things in my life, to really explore, go deeper.
In “Big Potential,” I talk about five seeds that when we look at what causes somebody to thrive in the midst of crisis, it’s the same ones. They surround themselves with positive people, which have to pause because we’re doing social distancing. By surrounding yourself with positive people, actually mean exactly what you were describing was, I can surround myself with negative news conferences, and negative information on Twitter. I can watch “Contagion” over and over again, on Netflix, and my life will not be better. Right?
The people I need to surround myself with, are podcasts like this one. I need to surround myself with my favorite author, C.S. Lewis. I’ve been reading through a ton of his stuff just recently. Surrounding ourselves with positive people that are giving us practical things to move forward. You surround yourself with the right people, you expand power out. Instead of being like, “I’m fine, I’m a happiness researcher, I can hunker down and get through this,” I’ve been reaching out to people on text, and on Zoom, and in these dates, and have phone calls, and letting them know some of the frustrations, how I was feeling too.
Letting them in, and letting them help me get through some of it, I’m deputizing them to call in and text me and see how I’m doing. Suddenly, you realize you’ve deepened your social connection by expanding power out or just controlling it yourself. I have a whole chapter on how we’ve seen people expand power out to other people.
BUFFINI: The very thing we’re talking about, big potential, in the midst of a crisis, and you mentioned C.S. Lewis. Here’s his most famous book. This worldwide bestseller, a transformative book called “Mere Christianity,” which wasn’t a book at all for a brilliant riser. He did a series of radio interviews during World War II, when the British population was getting shellacked every night in London and all throughout the country. Four years of being bombed in their homes, civilian bombing.
He did a series of radio interviews, and they correlated the radio interviews and produced a book. C.S. Lewis exploded his footprint and tapped into this giant potential, in the middle of a crisis, by bringing powerful encouraging messages at a time of crisis. It’s the very essence of what you’re talking about in this book.
ACHOR: I think you’re right. We all can’t be C.S. Lewis. I would love to be, but I feel like we can be that C.S. Lewis for our families, right? Or our friends, who are starting every conversation with all the things they can’t do right now, or all the fear, or, “Did you hear?” Then it’s usually something negative. It’s not, “Did you hear?” And hear something amazing. Did you hear? Did you see what happened? We’ve got this negative messaging out there. We need to find a way of broadcasting the positives as well. We need to find some way of being able to get other people to see the meaning involved with their lives and to move forward.
One of the other seeds was enhancing other people. One of the traps I found myself on in social media is, you want people to read your books, or to think you’re smart, or pretty, or successful, whatever it is that somebody wants that’s around social media. I found that that always made me feel empty when I left social media. I try and write something smart, I get like three likes. I’d see somebody else who is in my space who gets a 100,000 likes, and that’d be a cat video with 12 million views. Then I’m like, “Well, I’m not doing this right.” Or like I’ll put my kid and I’m like, “I think he’s cute,” and then no one likes them. I’m like, “Well, I guess he’s not that cute.”
It was eroding my happiness. You know what I’ve been doing? I go on and I like everyone’s posts and comment about how great they are with their homeschooling with their kids right now, or I comment, “Congratulations on that promotion.” I’m spending time on social media, but I’m doing it, lifting other people up, when I finish, I actually feel rejuvenated and connected, instead of empty and isolated. What we’re getting people to do is, if the height of your potential is predicted by the people around you, we need to find some way of lifting them up right now.
It’s not just about our health. It’s not just about even their health, it’s also about their optimism as well. How do we get them to that point? Then the last two chapters in the book are, how do you defend the system together? Which I think we’re seeing an amazing display of big potential right now, as social distancing. That health isn’t necessarily about the individual social distancing, it’s about all the people they’re caring for by doing that. We feel like we’re in this together. It’s how you defend the system against the negative.
The last one is, how do you sustain any type of gain? How do you celebrate those when you’re separated from one another? When we find that people go through those five things, oftentimes, we catalog all the things we’re missing out on, in the midst of this crisis. We’re really looking for is that growth mindset, which is something I had to really push myself to do, over the past couple of weeks, which is, how am I going to be better? This is what you said, bitter or better. How am I going to be better after this crisis is over?
I’m not going to ignore the fact that financially, I and many others will be worse off. I’m not going to ignore that part, but at the same time, I’m going to hold onto the fact that I’m going to have deeper social connection on the backside of this. I am going to be more physically fit. I’m going to have a deeper relationship with my two kids, my wife, because we spent so much time with one another. I’m calling my parents every day, when I used to call them once a week. There’s ways to find growth in the midst of the challenge.
BUFFINI: Yes sir. Brilliant stuff. Just to go back over those seeds, S is, surround yourself with positive influence. E, expand your power by helping others. The next E, enhance your resources become a praise, encourage others, like other people’s likes and what they’re doing. Defend the system against negative attacks. Physically, emotionally, personally, and then sustain the gains by fuel that virtuous cycle. We could go on a long time here, and I’m sure people would love it. I’m going to encourage people to do what they should do. Go get a copy of the book.
The good news is, they still are delivering books, and you can get a copy of this book. I’ve read it, I love it, I affirm it. I know the man. I know your lifestyle. I know this is not something that is a technique. This is something that you have dedicated your life to, and we’re very, very thankful for it. I really believe this, it was going to be a blessing to so many people here today. I hope you continue to throw your bread out on the water, and continue to share all your work.
When we do our podcast, Shawn, no matter who I have on, from whatever walk of life, I like to finish up with five rapid fire questions, and it gives us a little insight into the person behind the interview. They’re five fun questions, and we’re just going to do it rapid fire and see where we go from there. Number one, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
ACHOR: My mentor, Tal Ben-Shahar, at Harvard, told me that you’re never as great as you think you are, nor as bad as you think you are. I never liked that quote, but until recently, it’s really dawned on me that I fluctuate back and forth in my life. Sometimes I think what I’m doing has no impact upon the world, and I should give up doing this happiness research. Then I have to remember, that’s not true.
Other times I feel like I’m amazing for doing this, and I have to remember, that’s not true either because I’m not sure how I would deal with this. If I was unemployed right now, or if I just lost someone. I think that it helps me stay in that middle area of not getting spiritual pride, but at the same time, never to come into depression.
BUFFINI: I love it. Wow, what a statement that is. Fantastic. The next thing, what one talent or gift do you wish you possess that you currently don’t?
ACHOR: I wish I was patient. I’m impatient for things to happen, and I think impatience has helped me sometimes, but I’m reading a book right now about hurry. I feel like it does erode a lot of our happiness when we’re hurried. When I’m with my kids right now, I want to get to the next activity, or get back to an email, or do something, and I realize, “Wait, what am I hurrying to?” I wish I had more patience. I love the thing from the Bible. I won’t quote the whole thing, but that love is patient, love is kind. The whole passage starts with patience. I never realized that before. I immediately go to a client and forget how important patience is.
BUFFINI: Right. With that, the next one, what book has been most instrumental in your life?
ACHOR: It’s “The Great Divorce,” by C.S. Lewis. Another one that was a short one by him, but he talks about these people who are in the grey town, and they could take a bus ride up to heaven, and they could stay there if they want to. From a psychological perspective, not just a religious one, you see all these people who get off the bus, or don’t even get on the bus to go to heaven, or once they get up there, they find some reason to go back to this grey town that they were in before. You see how there’s parts of us that prevent joy and peace and heaven from even happening here on earth, much less in the beyond.
BUFFINI: Wow. I got to say, I haven’t read it. I don’t know how I missed that one. Guess what? I’ll be on Amazon later on today. I know you’re doing a lot of different things right now, but let’s say you’re scrolling through the channels on a normal time-frame. There’s a movie that comes on, and whenever it’s on, it’s the one that you’d just watch over and over again. What would that be?
ACHOR: I have a couple. My favorite movie is “Out of Africa.” The reason for it is because it’s an older movie, but I’d love that there was the sense of wild and nature and adventure and having a life that is different, that sometimes, even though I study psychology and science, most of the books that I have been reading recently, are fantasy. I needed an escape. Living in Africa for a little bit, during that period of time, is something that recharges me.
BUFFINI: didn’t see it with those eyes. Last but not least, and I think it’s time to look forward, and I have a bucket list, and I had the bucket list, I was going to go to the British Open and Wimbledon this year. In the last 48 hours, both of them just got canceled. I had tickets and a hotel room. It took me a year to organize my family. I’m having to redo the bucket list, but what’s on your bucket list?
ACHOR: There are so many things. I’ve never been to Cape Town, in South Africa. I’ve just heard amazing things about it, and having never been there, I idealize it as a beautiful place with incredible people and lots of nature, and would love to go there and then take my family on a safari, to get to see the animals live, instead of just on “The Lion King.”
BUFFINI: Well, my mom got me started on books by Wilbur Smith. If you get a chance to look at some of the Wilbur Smith books, it’s all about South Africa like 100, 120 years ago. It’s rock them sock them kind of novels, and John Wayne type characters, and stuff like that, but there’s some imagery that comes through the books that are really spectacular. There is a book referral for you, my friend.
ACHOR: Awesome, thank you.
BUFFINI: First of all, thank you. I am just such an admirer of your work. I’ve watched you be so consistent over the years, and I’m so thankful for what you do and how you’re doing it. I think your work is making a difference. I think this interview we did today, we’re going to get this to hundreds of thousands of people, and it’s going to make a difference for them. I hope they get your book, not just for selling a book, I hope they get this book because at this right time that this would be the ultimate time to tap into that potential.
We all know we have it, we all know God’s blessed us with certain gifts, and we all know that, for some reasons, we hit pause, and we haven’t pursued some of that potential. Sometimes it’s risk, sometimes you have to get away from what you have, that’s comfortable, to go after what’s great. I think this book is fantastic. I think your work is terrific.
I love who you are as a person, and I’m just so thankful that you’re a friend of our organization and who we are, and just very thankful you joined us today, Shawn, and I wish you nothing but the best. Keep loving on those kids and your bride, and I wish you nothing but great success in the future, and we will definitely be staying in touch, my friend.
ACHOR: That sounds wonderful. Thank you so much for letting me share this with everyone, and for championing all of these positive changes in people’s lives. You’re exactly the type we love to research, so thank you.
BUFFINI: Thank you, my friend. Let me leave you with a little Irish blessing, as I always do. Folks, may the roads rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the rain fall soft upon your fields, and the sunshine warm upon your face. Until we meet again, may God hold you, especially right now, in the hollow of His hand. We’ll catch you next time.