How to Get Back Your Mojo and Crush Your Goals ~ Melanie Boucarut

As entrepreneurial-minded people, we all want to achieve some serious goals, but it's really hard to do that with an untrained mind. That's why I interviewed Melanie Boucarut to learn how to train the mind and crush ever-increasingly ambitious goals.

We Covered
  • All about Melanie’s six-month program and what she does to help students get back their mojo (02:01)
  • What made Melanie want to create her six-month program (03:39)
  • How your brain is always on your team, how it works to train your brain to help you reach your goals, and the importance of separating your goal from your strategies.(08:03)
  • The importance of also separating your identity from your goal and strategies (17:28)
  • How to regain your mojo (18:40)
  • Examples and illustrations on how your thoughts and feelings are tied to your perceptions, not your circumstances (32:52)
  • How to broaden your tolerance for success and reach bigger goals (37:58)
  • Final questions (45:24)

In a Nutshell
  1. Pull out a piece of pen ;-)… and paper, and write down your goal and a strategy to reach that goal which includes the actions you will need to take
  2. Write your current feelings about the actions you need to take to reach your goal
  3. Write down the emotions you need to feel in order to actually take the actions needed to reach your goal, and compare those emotions to your current feelings
  4. Identify the thoughts you need to change (and truly believe in) in order to feel those new emotions. For example, maybe you recognize that successful creators weren’t always successful in the beginning, and so you can treat your efforts as a fun experiment.
  5. Reach your first goal, feel the satisfaction, and then broaden your tolerance for success by creating a more challenging goal
Full Transcript


[00:00:13] Jonathan: Ahoy, captain! Welcome to this super actionable podcast made for cohort-based course creators. I'm your host, Jonathan Woodruff. You are a cohort-based course creator, which means you are also a human being, which means you face a lot of challenges day to day, and maybe you're struggling in a personal relationship and you feel like you've lost your mojo, your motivation to crush it every day and dominate the world with your cohort-based course. Maybe you've lost your mojo for another reason.

That's why my guest today is Captain Melanie of ExcellentRider.com. That's excellent rider, R I D E R.com. She is a life coach offering a six month program that I consider to be a cohort-based course, combined with ongoing group coaching.

I had the chance to meet with her for 30 minutes one week before this. And she completely changed my perspective about life coaching. To put it simply, if I were to get help from a life coach, I would hands down take Melanie's program because she knows her stuff. And I know that my ability to get back my mojo and take on challenges would be transformed.

And not only that, but she's a super, super kind person as well. We were supposed to chat for 30 minutes a week ago and we did, but she took an extra 15 minutes at the end to ask me about any kind of personal struggle that I was going through so she could give me like the tools that I needed to work through it.

So she's super cool. I feel very lucky to be learning from her. And she is here right now to help you get back your mojo and conquer your day. What's up, Melanie?

[00:01:53] Melanie: Hi, Jonathan. I love the introduction. Thank you. I love your enthusiasm and I love being a captain. So thank you very much.

[00:02:01] Jonathan: I love that you're here. And seriously grateful. So, so tell us more about your six month program. What's the goal of the program? What do you help people to accomplish?

[00:02:12] Melanie: All right. So the people that I help are people who feel that they have lost their mojo. So it means that usually they were finding it relatively easy to accomplish tough things, or to at least set challenges for themselves and find the resource and the motivation and the determination to reach them.

And they're at some point in their life, where for whatever reason, they're not able to do that anymore. So it can be that they, they are not able to find motivation at all at work or they feel lost all of a sudden when they used to be very clear headed and have a clear goal and a clear purpose before, they feel that they have more potential than what they have, but they're not able to tap into it.

Or they feel that it's okay in most areas of their life. And they still have all of this great stamina and great determination, but there is this one area of their lives, which resists and where they are not able to be as disciplined and as clear-headed as they are elsewhere. So what I do is that I provide six months space for them where teach them exactly what mechanisms are at play, because basically what's at play is just what the brain is designed to do.

So it's not a problem. It's not a, it's not a bug, it's a feature. And once you understand that, then you can make it work for yourself. So I teach them the tools that they need to understand the mechanisms and make them work in their favor instead of against them. and then I also help them directly make it work for them.

We look at their specific situation and I help them see maybe what they're not seeing, get rid of some limiting thoughts, and find the drive again that they have lost. So that's basically what I do.

[00:03:39] Jonathan: I love it. And what made you want to create this program? What made you realize that you needed to do this?

[00:03:45] Melanie: So I was coaching one-on-one before. I had my clients in a one-on-one setting. And one thing that is very, very powerful, which I noticed in other settings, in which I was coaching people in front of a group for different reasons. For example, a couple of years ago, I had a meetup group that I was organizing to teach about different concepts.

I ended up coaching people in front of the group. And I noticed that when you are coaching somebody in front of the group. It's not just the person who is being coached who benefits from the coaching. They benefit equally well as if they had been coached one-on-one, but everybody who is listening actually benefits from the coaching in a slightly different way, but which is also very powerful.

So when you're being coached, basically the coach is helping you see your mind. So the coach is helping you see how you are thinking about a problem, and the coach is helping you find different ways of thinking about the same problem so that you can apply basically a way of thinking that will give you more benefit in the situation, but it can be difficult to notice. 

In the beginning at least, it can be difficult to notice that you are thinking a certain way and that this way can be changed because you are thinking about your thinking, right? You're using the… it's the tool, looking at the tool. It can be difficult to really grasp that what you are seeing as the one and only reality is just only whatever you are describing to yourself.

So in the beginning that little step aside can be a bit difficult to understand that what feels like reality, what feels like what, what is really happening is only what you're describing to yourself about the situation. And you could describe the situation in many different ways that could feel equally real, and that could help you move forward with more ease.

And so when you hear somebody being coached, because you can see the situation in a completely different way than they can, and you can see sometimes how they are stuck in their own way of seeing the situation, it becomes so much easier to realize that, oh, okay, this is probably what's at stake for me in the same situation.

So I'll give you an example because this is very, very generic and it's difficult to really grasp. I guess it's happened to you and to many of the people who listen to us now, you park your car in the street and you go and look for your car again the next morning. And your car is no longer where you are sure it was parked. And so for a few minutes, you look around, you go a little, a few meters ahead, a few meters below in the streets. You know, you try to look for the car and it's not there. So you start to panic or to have this really heavy feeling that, oh, no, the car has been stolen.

And then you can imagine all the administrative nightmare it's going to be, and then you're going to be late for your meeting, whatever. So for 10, 15 minutes, it becomes this whole bubble where you are like, in this universe where your car has been stolen. And then suddenly you remember that last night, you drove home a little bit later than usual.

So you couldn't park in your usual street. So you had to park a couple of streets down. And so then you walk a couple of streets down and then, and your car has moved and nobody has stolen it and everything is okay. So for the 10 minutes, when you were looking for your car, you really sincerely believed that your car was not where it was supposed to be.

You sincerely remembered that your car was there. Right? It's completely sincere. So your view of reality is absolutely genuine and it feels completely real until something else helps you change the way you're thinking. And when you change the way you're thinking, suddenly the solution becomes apparent, right?

And so this example is a little bit trivial, but it's exactly that mechanism that I help people realize. And instead of helping them find their cars, I mean, I have helped a few people find things they had lost. So maybe it counts, except instead of helping them find their car, where I help them is to read a situation that they feel stuck in, or that they feel completely de-motivated by, in a different way that suddenly recreates the motivation or helps them clearly see what should be the next step. Right? 

And so my program is the place where I help them do that. So they, over six months, every week, they get a different lesson, which helps them understand better and better the mechanisms that are at play. And then every week they get coached and every week they get some small homework to, to apply to their own life that helped them do this change for themselves and learn how to do the change for themselves.

[00:08:03] Jonathan: I love that example. And just to give our listeners another example. So Melanie, when we were doing our 45 minute session before this, in the last 15 minutes, you asked me like a problem I have, and I didn't even bring this up right away, but like just in the natural flow of the conversation, I mentioned that I am not good at group work, like thinking back to college, when we had like group projects, I just kind of mentioned offhandedly that I'm not good at group projects.

I'm better off like just doing a project, like solo projects. You called me out on that. You were like, that's just your perception. That's not the reality of the situation. And I feel like that's like, that made me go, oh, okay. That's what you mean. Because it's like, we carry these, these things with us that feel so real. Like I really believed, like I carry these stories with me and confirmed this belief, like over and over again, I'm not good at group projects. I'm not good at group projects. I can't do group work. And, it just felt so real. It felt like part of my identity, but you called that out and you're like, no, that's not part of your identity.

That's just what you think. That's just what you believe you think. And so it's just very, I can just imagine how powerful this is to be in a group where you can't see these things within yourself because they just feel so real. It feels like it's part of you, and to realize that is difficult to do, but, yeah, just hearing about other examples and then, and being part of a group, I feel like that would be, that'd be really helpful.

So one of the things that we talked about too, was, Not only like dealing with the loss of mojo, but also, when your brain is exposed to kind of like these new situations and your brain is almost fighting against you to take a risk and put yourself out there. Like for me, it was starting this podcast actually, like I was terrified of starting this podcast, particularly, I was afraid of reaching out to people on LinkedIn, strangers and being like, Hey, I'm Jonathan, you don't know me, but I'm starting a podcast. Do you want to be a guest? 

And like, it was just like, my brain fought me so hard on doing that outreach. I almost didn't do it, and this podcast wouldn't exist. So one of the things you talked about was separating like, goals from strategies. So like what would be a goal and what would be a strategy and, like what would be an example of how to do that?

[00:10:24] Melanie: So before we jump into the goal and strategy, I just have to comment on something that you said when you were asking the question is that you said that it feels like your brain is fighting against you or you're fighting against your brain. The brain never fights against us.

Our brain is never against us. It's always, always, always watching out for us. and it's always trying to save us, but it's just seeing little bit different things than what we are seeing. So if I can just take a minute to explain a little bit how this works. so that everybody understands what, when I'm, where I'm coming from.

When we talk about goals and strategies, but basically you have to imagine that your brain has this huge capacity, which is mostly unconscious. Most of the things that your brain does, you're not conscious about. You are not consciously giving orders to your lungs to breathe or your heart to beat or to your liver to function, and all of that.

Most of this is unconscious. And, but it's doing much more than just governing your body. It's also governing all the things that you do automatically when you drive a car, when you have like a chit chat conversation with people, like even if you're, if you're looking at a complex calculation, what's automatic is for you to know whether you can solve it or not. To solve it requires conscious effort.

But to know whether you can solve it or not, that's automated, right? That's unconscious You look at the, I don't know, 17 times 24, and you immediately know that you are able to solve that, even if the answer is, I mean, for most people, the answer is not just automatic and coming to the front of your brain, you know that you're completely able to solve that.

So the conscious part of the brain is a teeny tiny little part of us. And this is where we think we are. And we think we are mostly conscious and mostly in control and mostly in charge of everything. But we are actually just this teeny tiny little part of all the, everything that's available.

So it doesn't mean that we're not using most of our brain. We are using a hundred percent of our brain all the time, but we are conscious only a fraction of the big brain. And so this is why my motto is, there is no bad horse, only untrained riders, because I imagine this big brain as the horse and the conscious part, as the rider, right.

If you want to get your brain to do something, if you want your brain to go in one direction, if you're a small little rider, you can push the horse as much as you want. The horse is much heavier than you. It's not going to budge. It's not even going to be disturbed by you pushing against it.

It's going to think, oh, nice. Somebody’s scratching me. Right? Nothing is going to happen. And you can hit the horse. And there's many things you can do, but it's not going to be sustainable. It's not going to work very well. So you can exercise a lot of willpower, a lot of discipline over yourself. And through that, you might make the horse do exactly what you want it to do, but it's going to be very short-lived because as soon as there's going to be something that requires your attention, some other events, some unsuspected thing, or some stress that pops up or whatever, you're not going to be able to sustain the willpower and the discipline. And so you're not going to have control over the horse again. And then the horse is going to go left when you want it to go right. 

And you're going to feel that you're in this fight with your brain, and it's going to feel like you're pushing a donkey and nothing happens. Right? So the trick is to really understand how your brain works, so that instead of trying to push and hit, and force the horse to go in the direction that you want it to go.

You just understand what makes the horse tick so that you entice it to go in the direction where you want to go. And so what happens is that we want to go in one direction. So for example you want to start a podcast, but you are describing the podcast to yourself or whatever endeavor you, you want to undertake…

You're describing it to yourself in a way that sounds uncertain, that sounds dangerous, that sounds like it's going to be a lot of effort, and your horse is very sensitive to the words you're using. So when you're describing something that you want to do as something, well, I'm not sure I'm going to succeed and I'm not really sure how people are going to receive it.

And probably nobody's going to listen to my podcast. And if you describe it this way, the horse hears there is danger in the direction that he wants to go in. And so very helpfully, the horse removes you from the danger. And so it's not fighting against you. It's just doing your bidding exactly. But it's very literal.

So if you're describing going to the right as a dangerous thing, the horse will go to the left, no matter how much you push it to the right. So what you need to understand is you need to understand first of all, that your words matter a lot, that the way you describe things for yourself matter a lot, because this is what your subconscious brain is picking up on all the time.

And it doesn't mean that you should describe things as you know, everything is rosy and I'm going to do a podcast and it's going to be amazing right away, because your brain is not stupid. Right? So your brain knows exactly what you're thinking, if I can say it like this. So don't try to paint it as a very rosy way, but just try to find a different angle that would work.

So for example, if your spontaneous thoughts are, I would like to do a podcast, but I'm terrified because I think I'm going to fail, people are going to think it’s really silly, and the way I speak is not interesting… So if this is the way that spontaneously you describe the thing for yourself, don't try to tell yourself I'm going to be amazing at it, and it's going to be awesome and whatever, cuz you don't buy that. 

But maybe you can try to describe the situation as I don't know yet how I'm going to succeed, but I'm willing to try, for example. And so that's a different angle of you because suddenly what you're telling your horse is that there is a little bit of difficulty in there, but I really want that difficulty because I think it will make me stronger.

And the horse likes you to be stronger, right? The horse likes to be stronger. That's a desirable thing. That's like a carrot you're giving to the horse. So you just need to paint things in a way that entices the horse to want to go in that direction, and you need to do it regularly. When I think about goals and strategy, basically your goal needs to be clear for you all the time.

So for example, the goal is to create a podcast, but the strategy that you have right now is that you're telling yourself, you know, I'm not sure I can succeed, et cetera. And maybe it sounds modest to you. Maybe it sounds reasonable. Maybe it's a way that you want to prevent yourself from being disappointed if it doesn't work later on. 

So that's just one strategy, right? You're just trying to cushion the blow in case it doesn't work out later on. And that's one strategy. So you never have to challenge the goal. If you want the goal, it’s completely fine, but you just have to find a different strategy to reach your goal.

So the strategy that didn't work, you just leave it aside and you find a strategy that does work. And in order to do that, you're going to need to test several strategies most of the time. And that's where the difference between success and failure is. I have a very smart teacher who says that the difference between success and failure is seven more failures, so that's where the difference is going to be between people who do succeed and people who don't is that if the second strategy you try doesn't work out, are you willing to try a third strategy, a four strategy, a fifth strategy? Are you willing to test all the strategies that are needed until you succeed, or will you give up and tell yourself the story of how you are not made to do a podcast? Right? 

So that's basically this idea.

[00:17:28] Jonathan: I feel like if you tie your goals to your strategies and you see them as one in the same and your strategy fails, it's almost like an identity crisis. Like if I believe I'm not good at group projects, and then I do a group project and it fails, or I fail in some way, if I'm not separating the goal from this strategy, then that's just another confirmation that I am a failure at group projects.

But I feel like if you separate the goal from the strategy, then you don't have to assign your identity to that. You can just say, oh, well my strategy didn't work. I can still be successful at group projects. Let's just try this different way.

[00:18:04] Melanie: Yeah. And your identity is a third thing separate from your goal. So you can, I mean, I'm guessing that the goals you have now are not the same goals that you had 10 years ago, and yet you are still the same person. Right? So there's a difference there also. It's important all the time to have a clear view of who is who and what is what so that you don't get entangled.

Because otherwise it's so easy to exactly, like you said, you fail at something and you make it mean that you will never succeed at the goal in general, and that you are a failure as a person. If you go there well, then you're not going to be able to achieve much of your goal.

[00:18:40] Jonathan: Yeah, so if I'm a cohort-based course creator and I've lost my mojo a little bit. So, you know, maybe the first cohort didn't go as well as I wanted it to. and the responses I got back weren't as good as I wanted, I'm a little discouraged about cohort two for one reason or another. I'm afraid that, you know, maybe, not enough people will show up to cohort two, that it won't be very good, that my community engagement, I… there's lots of things that could be going on, in my head, but I just feel overall discouraged.

I've lost my mojo a little bit. So what's the first step that I need to do as a cohort-based course creator to get back on the horse and try again?

[00:19:23] Melanie: So the horse analogy, I use it to explain how the brain works, but this is not how I recommend to work day to day, like when you're experiencing discouragement, for example. So, the first thing that everyone needs to understand is that everything we do in life, we do because of the way we feel.

So we are like, take another analogy… We are like an engine and our feelings are the fuel that we put into the engine. And it's very clear for us that we are feeling feelings when we are feeling feelings that are very intensely noticeable in the body. Like if you're feeling very stressed or overwhelmed, or if you're feeling ecstatic or passionate, then you will notice that in your body, because usually in your chest or in your stomach or in your throat, it will bubble, it will fizzle, it will boil of some kind. So you will notice that, but you’re always feeling a feeling. So if you're, maybe you're feeling calm, maybe you're feeling focused, maybe you're feeling connected, maybe you're feeling confused. All of these feelings, they don't feel in the body necessarily.

They do feel in the body always when you know where to look, but it's not obvious if you're not very in tune with your emotions. And so it's really important to understand that you are always, always, always feeling something and you can be feeling several feelings at the same time, but you're always feeling something, and whatever you're feeling, this is what is fueling your actions.

So some of the feelings are great fuel for whatever you're trying to do. And some of the feelings are not great fuel. So I don't think there's a good or a bad emotion. I just think there's an emotion which is appropriate for whatever it is that you're trying to do. So for example, love is an amazing emotion, but if you're trying to climb a very tall wall, it's not a very useful emotion.

Determination would be more or more useful, right? Or fear usually sucks. But if you are running in the streets with a tiger behind you, fear is wonderful. I want to be afraid in that moment because that's going to make me run very fast and notice, you know, where I can, what I can climb or whatever I can do to escape the tiger.

So there's only ever emotions which are adapted to whatever it is that we're trying to do. And most of us, we live our lives as if, and I definitely did live my life this way until I learned all this stuff, but we live our lives as if emotions are… so we are these really cool and rational beings, which is always logical and always analyzing what's happening, and then from time to time, we have a flare of emotion and that's a little bit like the irrational side, and yeah, and we sort of try to manage it and try to patch it and try to not notice it so much.

But that's not reality. Reality is that we are always feeling an emotion. So that's the first thing to understand. Are you in the right emotion to do whatever it is that you want to do?

So if you want to do something that you're afraid of, you're going to need to create courage. You can create love and other things, but it's not very useful. It's wonderful, but it's not very useful. You need to create the proper emotion for the task. And the second thing is that we also live under the illusion that our emotions sort of happen to us because of whatever situations we are in.

So if somebody says something and we feel happy. Somebody doesn't do something, and we feel irritated. It rains outside and we feel depressed. We win the lottery and we are ecstatic. You know, it feels like this. It seems to us as if it's our circumstances that are creating our feelings.

But the reality is that between the circumstance and the feeling, there's always a thought. We always think something, we always have an interpretation of the circumstance of the situation that creates our feeling. But we think so quickly. And we also think usually the same thing in the same type of situation.

So we don't notice what we're thinking most of the time, which is why, and it, so it goes so quickly that something happens and boom, we feel the feeling and we haven't noticed that the thought that has gone in between, right? So for example, if it's raining outside and I'm feeling a bit down, it's probably because I'm thinking “what shitty weather.”

Right? And that thought creates the feeling. It's not because rain creates a feeling of being down because the farmer down the road is probably very happy that it's raining because it's making the oat grow or whatever is good at growing in the rain. Right? So that's really important to understand that our feelings are created by our thoughts.

So if I put this together, it means that our thoughts create our feelings, our feelings fuel our actions and our actions of course determine our results. So our results in life, whether you are able to put together a podcast, record it every week, have success with your podcast all the time… it depends only on your actions. It depends on nothing else. 

The circumstances like the soil… So it might be more or less fertile. You might need to take more or less action in that circumstance, in order for you to reach your goal. But it's always your actions that are going to determine your results. And your actions are always the product of your feelings, nothing else.

And you know that because we've all had a to-do list, or if you have a to-do list with 10 things to do, there are some days when you just, uh, wiff through the list and boom, boom, boom, you get everything done. And some days you have exactly the same list or even a little bit shorter list and you just procrastinate and you start one thing and you don't know where to go. And you don't know if you're going to manage to do this. And you go to bed in the evening, you have done almost nothing, and you're exhausted, right? 

You're exactly the same person. You have the same knowledge. You have the same experience. You have the same, everything. The only difference was what feeling were you in that day?

So what fuel were you using for your engine? And that feeling was created by a thought, and then these are the thoughts that randomly pop up in your mind all the time. And so, those thoughts, they feel random, you just, or either they feel very random, like you start thinking things or they feel like very deliberate and very, on purpose, but they're just all thoughts we have learned.

So we have learned through our education. We have learned through culture. We have learned through our own experience to expect a certain behavior from the world and from ourselves and the rules of that behavior are the thoughts that we believe. So, for example, maybe you have been brought up in a household where you were told that it's important to wash your hands before you go for dinner.

And so then you have a belief that it's important to wash your hands before dinner, and you don't even notice it. You don't even think about it anymore, but it drives your action because it creates a feeling. You have a very teeny, tiny fleeting moment of pride of being a good person, because you’re behaving according to the rule.

And the pride makes you want to go and wash your hands. And so you don't even notice this chain of events, but you're thinking to yourself, you know, good people wash their hands before dinner, and then you feel this little hint of pride. And from that, you go and wash your hands before dinner.

And this is repeating itself throughout the day, all the time. And it happens for the things that you do everyday, like brushing your teeth or reading the newspaper or speaking to your spouse or whatever. But it happens also for the new thing that you're trying to do, like launch, a new business, launch a new cohort, launch a new podcast, all of these things.

So what you need to understand when you're not able to do something, so for example, your first cohort was not the success you were expecting and you're trying to launch the second. The problem is not that people are not interested in buying your cohort. The problem is not that your program is not good enough or your material is not good enough.

None of that is the problem. The problem is that you're not in the right feeling, because if you were feeling determined, curious, optimistic, connected to the people that you serve, all of these feelings and many more, you would set about testing different strategies and trying different things until you figure out the combination that works, right? 

This famous product market fit that we talk about all the time. It just means that you've tried, you've tried different things until you figure out whatever works. And in order to try different things, you need to have the grit, the perseverance, the resilience, and those are all feelings.

So if it's not working and you think it's not a problem because you're just testing, then you don't have a problem. If it's not working and you make it mean that it's a problem, then you have a problem. And the problem is what feeling you're in.

And the feeling is created by the thoughts that you have about the fact that it's a problem. So the way I work with my clients is that I help them, first of all, notice whatever feeling they are in compared to whatever feeling would be useful for them in this situation. And then we go about identifying what they are telling themselves that is creating these feelings.

And everybody wants to find the, you know, these really grandiose thoughts about what happened to me when I was four, and, you know, it's none of that. The thoughts that we have that create our feelings, they are very basic. So for example, if you're telling yourself, the cohort didn't work out, it's probably not going to work out, it's difficult to find new clients, and I don't have the time to do everything I should do... It sounds like very mundane thoughts, but if we take each of these thoughts individually, you will notice that each of them create some form of defeat, of disappointment, of fear, of confusion, maybe.

So all of these feelings, which are very poor fuel to continue testing what you need to test in order to figure out the winning combination. And the winning combination, this is going to be very specific to you, to who you are, to who you are serving to whatever product you or your service you're putting out there.

So only you can know or can figure out what will work out, right? Which is why there is… otherwise we would just buy the, the magic formula and it would be easy and it would be boring. And that's my opinion. Right? So, so in order to stop, for example, procrastinating or, or to dare to call people, or to dare to, I don't know, call the previous people from the previous cohort and figure out what they didn't like, for example, that you could fix, or maybe they have ideas that you could exploit, and like, and maybe you're not daring to do that. 

You need to figure out okay, how, if I wanted to do these things, how would I need to feel? And for example, I would need to feel confident. Okay. What would I need to know for a fact that would make me confident without changing anything to the circumstance. So I wouldn't change anything to the success of my first cohort and to the number of people who are signing up or not signing up for the second.

But what would I need to know for a fact that would create this feeling? And once you identify what you could think. So that's very specific to each person, but it could be, for example, all the great companies always started by trial and error. So, if you knew that for a fact, you wouldn't be, you wouldn't make it mean that it's so dramatic that the first cohort didn't work out and you would think, okay, the second cohort is also a test until I figure things out.

And so you would feel much more confident, much more relaxed, and then you would pick up your phone and call… pick up your zoom maybe, and call the different people, from the previous cohort, just giving a random example. 

So it's all about always figuring out what are you telling yourself. And the way to do that… It's very simple. You just take a piece of pen and a paper, a piece of paper and a pen. Sorry, can do the other way around. I don't know if it works, or you can do it on your phone. You can do it on a computer. It doesn't matter. You need to write it down. Don't do it just in your head because that doesn't work because your brain is much more routine at this than you are.

And so it will fool you. So you need to write it down somewhere, but write down what you think about the situation. So the first cohort didn't work out. Okay. Why? And you just write down what you see basically, and what you're describing you… it feels like you're describing reality. What you're describing is actually just the thoughts that you have about reality.

And once you identify that, then you can stop noticing what kind of feelings are these thoughts creating for you. And when you really understand, deeply understand that your thoughts create your feelings, that it's never, whatever people do or don't do, or whatever circumstance you're in, that creates your feelings, well, then suddenly you can start to take ownership for those feelings, and it's very good news that you have identified the way you're describing the situation to yourself, because now you understand the mechanism. Now you can change it. So then you can start asking yourself, okay, and the basic question is always, if I didn't think there was a problem, if I thought that everything was okay and it was a completely normal step on my way to success, basically, how would I see the situation?

And so if you knew that it's completely normal, like if you had a time travel machine and you had been to the future, and you knew that in a few months from now everything is wonderful, and your cohorts are just packed and there's a huge waiting list. And, you know, like everything, all the markers of success are there.

And it's just that the time travel machine is, uh, the panel is a little bit broken. And so you couldn't see the date. So, you know, it's there in the future. You just don't know exactly if it's in two months from now, or if it's in two years from now, but you know it's there. So if you knew for a fact that you were going to succeed, how would you read the fact that the first cohort was not so successful when you're about to prepare the second one, right? 

And then you start to describe that to yourself, and then you practice that. And when I say practice, I really mean practice it. I mean that every single time your brain will pull you back and tell you, no, but you it's a failure. We want to see it as a failure.

Your brain is just trying to protect you, right? It doesn't, you are describing this as a big danger, so your brain doesn't want you to go there. It wants to save your life. So until you have convinced your brain or taught your brain to see this, not as a danger, but as an opportunity, your brain will very nicely try to bring you back to your old thoughts.

And so that's the tough part of the work is just that you notice that your brain really wants to think in its old way, and you need to ask your brain to think in the new way. And the best way to do that is to ask yourself lots of questions, but what if it were possible to fill this cohort, even though the first one didn't work out, what would that look like?

And what would I do then? If I knew for a fact that I'm going to fill out the second cohort, what would I dare to do? If I knew that there are tons of people out there who love what I do and who just don't dare to sign up, what would I do then? Like you ask yourself all of those questions and you figure out the answers, and then all of these answers, they're just strategies as always.
And then you just go about and test them.

[00:32:52] Jonathan: Wow. There's so many amazing things that you said. And it reminded me, about this book that I read called the nurtured heart approach, where, and in that book, the author talks about a toll booth operator and how, you know, there might be, I don't know, four toll booth operators and three of them basically hate their jobs.

They think it's boring and don't want to be there, but then there's this other toll booth operator that loves their job. They love the opportunity to talk to people for a couple of seconds. And in the meantime, they're dancing, listening to music, making the most of their time. And, they use that as an illustration to talk about, yeah, it's how you perceive the situation, your thoughts that really dictate your feelings, how you feel about your situation. 

And I can think back to when I was dating my wife, we've been married 10 years now. But I used to say, whenever we stopped at red lights, like, oh, well, I'm glad that it's taking us longer to get to where we're going, because that means I get to spend more time with you.

And you know, I don't know if you’re like in this mad hurry and you’re like, oh, red lights, they're the worst I have to stop. I have to wait two minutes. But like, if you just change your thought about it, well, it kind of makes it quite fun. You know? Like you look forward to the red lights. And in a way, like, uh, in what you're talking about, you look forward to the experiment and the process and the journey.

[00:34:19] Melanie: That's exactly it. And to continue on the red light analogy, if you're going to the, I don't know, you're going to the cinema, for example, and so you're driving and there's a red light. You don't make it mean that it's impossible to go through the cinema, right? 

You don't tell yourself, oh, no red light, we'll never make it. Let's just go back home and watch TV instead. You don't do that. You expect red lights on the way, and sometimes you don't have red lights. And most of the time you do have red lights and that's just normal. And you also expect stop signs. And sometimes there's unexpected things like, uh, there's construction work going on, and so there's a detour, but you don't make it mean that you're never going to get to the cinema. You just adapt to whatever it is. 

For you, getting to the cinema is like a done thing. And we know it's not a done thing. Like we've been in the pandemic now. We know that we all thought we were going to live life a certain way. And then the pandemic happened and lots of things which used to be normal turn out to not be normal anymore. So it's not because you're taking your car to go to the cinema that you actually will get to the cinema, but we operate from the certainty of being able to get to the cinema. And when you operate from the certainty of reaching your goal, then whatever obstacles you have on the way, it's just the peculiars of like what chapters they will be in your story. It’s just the fun parts of how you're going to tell it to your grandchildren. But it doesn't change anything about the fact that you're going to get to your goal.

But I love the idea of enjoying the red lights for a few seconds longer, because then you get to be with someone you love. That's a very cute way to see it.

[00:35:50] Jonathan: And the other thing that you're talking about that I love too, is when you're taking out your piece of pen and paper and you're writing down, um, you're writing down your thoughts and your feelings, is that it feels like reality. Like I totally get, like, it would feel like reality.

Like this is reality. The way I think about this is reality, is the way it is. I think we, I think that's just the way we live. We live in this illusion that the way we think about things is reality, but it's not. It's worth it to challenge those things. And that's a, that's a known fact, right?

I think two people can experience the same exact thing and have two totally different experiences about it. Like the red light, like, you know, someone could be sitting behind me saying, oh, this red light is the worst. I can't sit here for 10 more seconds. And then me and my wife are like, oh, let's just wait a couple more minutes. Like, this is great.

[00:36:40] Melanie: I can give you a very concrete example. This happens all the time in cross-cultural communication. So I'm French. I live in Sweden. In Sweden, punctuality is very important. So in Sweden, if you're not one minute early to the meeting, you're late. And in France, what really matters is to finish the conversation or to come to a conclusion of whatever conversation.

So you imagine that if you're in a meeting and you need to come to the natural conclusion, you're probably going to be late to the next meeting. So, in France being a few minutes late, I mean, not if you're 20 minutes late, but if you're like seven or eight minutes late to a meeting, nobody's going to think that you're a rude person if you just say sorry when you come in, etc, there's a few forms that you have to respect, but nobody's going to make it mean anything. But in Sweden, the exact same attitude is a really big sign of disrespect. So it's exactly the same behavior, but depending on what lenses you have on, it means one thing or the other.

And it's not that the French are right and the Swedes are wrong or vice versa. It's just two different pairs of glasses. And I know both. And when I'm in France, I behave a certain way. And when I'm in Sweden, I behave another way. Sometimes I forget where I am and I behave in the wrong way, but then I accept the consequences then I just, I don't make it mean that I'm a bad person or that the people around me are stupid, I just remember, oh yeah, sorry, I used my Swedish sunglasses in the French context or vice versa. Right?

[00:37:58] Jonathan: Totally. Yeah, totally makes sense. So what's the end result of this? So like, I could imagine a newbie doing this would have a difficult time with, you know, writing down their thoughts and feelings, but like you, for example, having done this for a while, and I remember you saying in our conversation before that, it's just kind of like, it's second nature now.

It's almost automatic that you can do this. Like, do you still pull out your pen and paper and write things down, or like, what does that look like after you practice this for a while, and you start getting mastery over it?

[00:38:30] Melanie: So, what's automatic is the reflex to do this work, but the work never gets easier. Right? So that’s really, really important to understand. So there is no such thing as over the rainbow, unfortunately, I have to tell you everyone. So the brain is designed to continuously scan the environment for danger all the time.

That's what it's built for. It's been honed over millions of years of evolution for that work. It's extremely good at it. And so it's a feature. It's not a bug, it's not a problem. It's just a feature. So you need to give your brain something to be occupied with so that it's not continuously scanning the horizon for danger of everything. It’s just looking for the danger linked to your specific goal. And so it will come like a very faithful dog. It will tell you, oh, there's a smell here. Oh, there's a smell there. And then you, as the conscious person, you can decide what you want to make of it.
 
Your dog is going to pick up all the scents of all the animals in the forest, but if you are only interested in picking mushrooms, you don't have to react when your, your dog is telling you that there's a, I don't know, a bird over here and a bear over there. You just need to adjust whatever you're doing. Right? So the work I do with myself every day is, and I do it every day, I do it with pen and paper several times a week, but not everyday, just because it's not convenient. And now I'm so used to doing it that I have a little bit more leeway with my brain, I will say, but I really don't recommend doing that the first few months, at least, or the first year where you do it.
I do it by recording myself, and this forces me to really be present to what I'm saying and if I forget it, which happens often, I just play back what I just said so that I, as if I were reading, and the benefit of that is that I can do that while I'm walking. So I combine, you know, taking a certain number of steps every day and also, doing my thought work.

But so basically what I do is that I look at what goal I have, and then I, uh, I try to broaden my thoughts around this. So, that's the second part of the work. I described the part of the work where you try to understand what you're already thinking and what feelings that’s creating. But I also do this part of the work where I am building belief for thoughts that I don't yet believe.

So, for example, If I have I don't know, I have 10 clients per cohort, and I would like to go to 20 clients per cohort, for example, maybe my brain is just barely getting used to the idea that it's possible to find 10 clients for each cohort. And so when I set to myself an objective to find 20 clients for the next cohort, either my brain is going to go in total meltdown and freak out and going to go like it's impossible and freak out and then I will procrastinate massively and I will achieve zero clients for the next cohort or maybe one.

Or it will do something else, which is like, it's going to go, yeah, I am probably sure that I can do it. Right? Which means that it doesn't believe it at all. Like when your brain is not freaking out about a goal, it means either, either you are completely certain that you can achieve the goal and you know exactly how you're going to do it, and you know that. Or it means that the goal is too ambitious. So it's so far away that your brain is like, yeah 20 clients in three months. No problem. Right? It just doesn't buy it. So it's sort of humoring you in a way. So the middle ground is the right place, and it's the place where you are you're a little bit freaking out. And when you're a little bit freaking out, what you need to do is you need to go and build belief for that possibility. And so what I do every morning is I go out and walk and I tell myself, for example, okay, let's figure out all the ways that it's like, in what way is it possible for me to find 20 clients for my next cohort?

And in the beginning, the evidence I find for this, the evidence that this is possible, that this is feasible is very, very, very slim. So in the beginning, the only evidence I can find is that I have example of other people doing it. And it's very slim because I can always find a reason why it's possible for them and not for me. Right? 

But at least there is some evidence that it's feasible. I'm not talking about going to Mars. I'm talking about, you know, finding 20 clients for a cohort, and then, uh, well, last time I did 10, and it only took me two weeks. So if I want to do it in a month, I could probably double in, like, if I double the time, maybe I can double the number of clients.

So you try to find all the small evidence and the more you find evidence, the more their brain will open itself up for the opportunity to find evidence, because when you task your brain to do something, it tries to automate it and it tries to become really good at it. It tries to anticipate what you're going to ask it to do.

So if every evening you ask your brain for evidence that it's possible to find 20 clients, your brain is going like, the first time you're going to sweat over this, cuz it's going to be really difficult when you really don't believe that it's possible. It's going to be really difficult to find evidence.

And if you do it the second time in a row, and then the third day in a row, and after three days, your brain is going to be like, okay, tomorrow evening, he's going to ask us this really annoying thing. So let's automate this so that during the day we're going to collect evidence so that during the evening we can spit out the evidence and it will be easier, and he will, he will not bother us for half an hour. And we can just go and watch Netflix instead, which is more fun. Right? 

So what happens is that during the day, suddenly your attention will be brought to things that were there all the time, but you just hadn't noticed. So for example, you will notice that there is this particular person who has been very nicely commenting on all your posts on LinkedIn, for example, and you have never thought of contacting them and offering your cohort to them.

And when you do they say, oh yeah, I didn't dare to ask. I wasn't sure it was for me, but I would love to sign. Right? And all of these things. And they don't happen, it's not magic or anything. It's just that you are forcing your brain to take it, to stop filtering out things it didn't believe, because your brain is a filtering machine all the time.

So, uh, it filters according to what it believes, which can become a very closed loop thing. Right? Because it believes something, it filters out anything else besides the belief. And then the beliefs come and confirms that the thought is true, right? So this is why it's really important to open your, broaden your views all the time, which is why traveling is amazing, because when you are in other countries, you see hundreds and thousands of other people doing things in a completely different way than yours. So you have to consider the possibility that this other way, or this other thought, or this other worldview is possible. Right? So it helps you do this gymnastic of the brain.
 
I can talk about this for hours, Jonathan, as you can hear, so just stop me whenever you think it's too much, but you were asking how my current practice and my practice is basically that I still work on noticing what I'm actually thinking spontaneously and what kind of feelings it creates for me and whatever, but most of my work now, but it's because I have done all of this work before.
Right? It's, don't do it in reverse order. Most of my work now is around building belief for the things I want to believe that serve my business, that serve my private life, that serve my life goals in general.

[00:44:58] Jonathan: Love it. No, I could listen to you for hours, and I think our, my listeners could as well. So, um, appreciate just everything you're

[00:45:06] Melanie: Saying that through a French person is super dangerous. I might take you up on your offer!

[00:45:08] Jonathan: (laughs)

[00:45:10] Melanie: (laughs)

[00:45:13] Jonathan: So funny. Um, well, we, we are, uh, over time, Melanie. Do you have to go like right now or do you have time for another, pretty, relatively quick question or two?

[00:45:23] Melanie: Sure go ahead, shoot.

[00:45:24] Jonathan: Okay. Cool. Well, thank you, so what's the biggest challenge that you have faced as a program creator so far.

And how did you solve that challenge?

[00:45:34] Melanie: I think that the biggest challenge is always selling. For me it still is a challenge, but I'm getting much better at it. So selling has always been so far. I mean, I say always, I only had a company for a year, so I've only sold my coaching for about a year now, a little bit over a year. But selling is not something that I was used to doing before. I was always in roles in companies where selling was done by other people, so I benefited from it but I never was the one perpetrating it, if I can say that.

And the way I work on it. So the first few weeks and months, what I did is that I noticed all the thoughts that I had around selling, and how selling is icky, and I'm going to force services on people who don't really need them, and like all the thoughts, you know, that we all have, I think, or many people have.

And so I just wrote all of those thoughts down, and then I challenged them. And they found better thoughts instead. And, my thoughts now are more along the lines of, I actually serve people, and selling is just coaching. So I'm just coaching them through their objections. So it's exactly what I love doing.

I love coaching. And so selling now is a part of coaching. And so now it's fun for me to sell because I'm actually looking forward to the objection because it's an opportunity for me to show the person their mind, and then whether they decide to buy or not at the end, that's their decision.

But at least I will have had the fun of coaching for a few moments, right? So I have much better thoughts around this. And now my work is more around, stretching my mental tolerance for selling. So, a few months back, my goal, like in the beginning of the year, my goal was to like, if I could sell four one-to-one clients per month, like one a week, I was very satisfied with myself.

And now if I sell 16 a month, I'm satisfied with myself. Right? So, I've grown that capacity during the year, and I will continue to grow it. So maybe at the end of next year, if I sell a hundred clients in a month, I will be very satisfied with myself. Right? So, and I don't mean that I'm not satisfied if I do less.

I just mean that I am broadening my tolerance for success. I'm making my identity evolve. So in the same way that I used not to speak Swedish, and now I do speak Swedish fluently after living in Sweden for so many years. And I am still the same person. It's just, I have added one skill.

But in order for me to be this person who is like, if I call the tax office and they start speaking Swedish to me now, I don't even think about it now because I am a person who speaks fluent Swedish. But if the same thing had happened to me 10 years ago, I would have freaked out because my identity was, I am a person who doesn't speak Swedish fluently.

And so I would have freaked out. So now I'm doing exactly the same challenge. Before I was, I'm a person who cannot sell, or I don't know how to sell. Then I was a person who can sell to four people a month. And now I'm a person who can sell to 16 people a month. And then very soon I will be a person who can sell to 100 people a month and maybe to 1000, and maybe 10,000.
And the sky's the limit. It's just a matter of how much I practice in my belief.

So that was the challenge, but it's only a challenge during the amount of time where you resist the challenge. As long as you're bracing yourself, you're telling yourself it's a problem and you're bracing yourself against it, then it's a problem. 

But as soon as you, you understand that the obstacle in the way, the obstacle is the classroom, the obstacle is exactly what you need in order to practice the skill that you need to acquire. So if I don't know how to speak Swedish, then the opportunity to speak in Swedish is amazing.

It's not a problem. It's amazing because it gives me an opportunity to become better at speaking Swedish. So when the tax office calls me and they want to speak Swedish, it's not a problem. It's not an obstacle. It's an opportunity. It's an opportunity that makes me sweat a lot. No doubt, but it's an opportunity, right?

[00:49:16] Jonathan: I love it. And that was a beautiful summary, as well of everything you've been talking about. And, you know, I can imagine a cohort-based course creator listening to this and being like, oh, okay. Like, you know, this is how I get through my challenge. If I don't think I can, you know, sell my course, well, maybe I can sell it to four people.

And then if, once I sell it to four people, maybe I can stretch that and get to eight people. And you've really given us the process to be able to do that. And that's very, very powerful. So I'm very grateful. And I have one more question for you Melanie, before we go, and that is, where can listeners keep in touch with you?

[00:49:49] Melanie: So the easiest way is to check out my website. So it's ExcellentRider like riding a horse, so ExcellentRider.com. And on that website, you can find the link to my LinkedIn. I have a podcast as well, so you can find all the information on my website. It's the easiest way to find me.

[00:50:07] Jonathan: Awesome. Well, thank you very, very much Melanie again, and, uh,

[00:50:11] Melanie: You're most welcome. And I'm a little bit disappointed because I was told I'm a captain in the beginning of this podcast and I was not made to sing any limericks or any, uh, any, uh, you know, uh, sailor songs. I don't know any, but I was hoping you would teach me one, so…

[00:50:26] Jonathan: Well, that gives me an idea for what I could do to end this, these podcasts, like maybe do a captain limerick. Maybe do like a captain, like yarrrrr like accent and like say a Limerick or something.

[00:50:36] Melanie: Invite me again when it's time to sing, I will try to write a Limerick for your next, uh, next show

[00:50:41] Jonathan: Ooh. Okay. Yeah, we'll have to have you on the podcast again now.

[00:50:47] Melanie: Cool. Looking forward.

[00:50:54] Jonathan: Thanks for listening. If you'd like to listen to more episodes, hop aboard CohortCaptain.com. If you'd like to be my matey, I would love for you to message me on LinkedIn or Twitter. And remember, always captain your cohort, always be my matey, and never lick an iceberg while your ship is passing by.

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