[Transcript] – The Art Of Insubordination: How To Dissent And Defy Effectively, With Todd Kashdan.

Affiliate Disclosure


From podcast: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/todd-kashdan-podcast/

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:00:52] Podcast Sponsors

[00:02:52] Guest and Podcast Introduction

[00:05:30] How To Define “Insubordination”

[00:07:48] How Todd became interested in preaching the gospel of Insubordination and made him write the book

[00:16:41] The difference between principled and destructive insubordination

[00:20:21] Five principles of persuasion when you're in the minority or demographically disadvantaged

[00:30:09] Podcast Sponsors

[00:33:12] cont. Five principles of persuasion when you're in the minority or demographically disadvantaged

[00:53:52] How a minority that affects change can avoid the mistakes of the preceding majority

[01:03:22] The three steps to raising principally insubordinate kids

[01:15:12] How to teach kids to view themselves as heroes in waiting

[01:24:40] Closing the Podcast

[01:26:19] Legal Disclaimer

Ben:  On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.

Todd:  You're basically training her to say nothing when a guy tries to push her, to say nothing in the future when she's working at a company, and basically, she's looked over for a promotion.

The status quo is fine if trying to listen to you and incorporate your ideas is going to make me spend more time at work and less time with my family and friends. That happens there.

It's a different way of looking at this topic. Do we want people to agree with our views? Or, are we interested in educating people to create a healthier future?

Ben:  Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.

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Alright, folks. So, I got this book. I don't even know who sent it to me honestly, just showed up on my doorstep. This happens to me sometimes, then I am tempted to just toss the book because I need another book like another hole in the head. But this one just caught my eye, so I read it. It's called “The Art of Insubordination: How to Dissent and Defy Effectively.” And, I honestly thought this was going to be something like “The Alchemist” cookbook or some crazy title meant to incite riots and violence, but I was pretty wrong. It's actually really good. It's like this research-based toolbox for people to be able to basically get along better but also it's almost like a handbook to create a world with more justice, and creativity, and courage. And, it's written by a professor of psychology and my guest on today's show, Todd Kashdan, K-A-S-H-D-A-N, Kashdan.

And, Todd actually gave a TEDx talk. And, I'll link to it in the shownotes. If you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Insubordination. He wrote or he gave a TEDx talk on psychological flexibility. He writes up for Psychology Today. He writes the “Curious?” blog for Psychology Today that over 4 million people read. He has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. He founded the Well-Being Lab at George Mason University, which just sounds a very pleasant place to be.

And, this new book is basically this guidebook for being heard and making change and questioning unhealthy or stagnant status quos but doing so in a very level-headed manner. And, even like a peaceful and impactful manner. And so, I just had so many things I kind of highlighted in the book and so many pages folded over. I had to get Todd in the show because obviously, it's pretty relevant to the times that we're living in as well because there's so many things that we're tempted, so many new normal, so to speak, we're tempted to rebel against but yet we don't want to be that person who's inciting some type of a Molotov cocktail party downtown in front of the sushi restaurant.

So anyways, I'd love to jump into some of this stuff with you, Todd. Welcome to the show, man.

Todd:  Yeah, thanks for having me. I should have you as my publicist. That's great.

Ben:  No, I don't want that job. I've seen publicist and I don't think I'm cut out for that. I'm not very good at sending out 100 cold emails a day.

But anyways, insubordination. Yeah. I think a lot of people maybe throw around that word but possibly don't really know what it means. And, since we're probably going to be using that word a few times in today's show and because it's the link for the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Insubordination, I suppose we should define that word. How would you define insubordination, Todd?

Todd:  Yes. So, we're intentionally being provocative by taking a negative and turning it into a positive. Every place that you hear about insubordination, whether it's general, whether it's an athlete refusing to listen to their coach, whether it's a kid that refuses to abide by the orders of the school is treated as a negative. Essentially, it's refusing and resisting the dominant social order. And, the automatic question that comes to mind is, “Well, who makes the rules? Why does the authority have the right to tell me what to do, what to think, and where are they wrong and who taught them?”

And so, in some ways, this is about questioning social norms, it's questioning authorities and it's a questioning that the rules that the vast majority of people abide by that makes a functional predictable society. But, as we're going to get into, there's a lot of norms and behaviors and stands that people are taking that are just really nonsensical, really problematic, and we need these people who are insubordinates to ask questions.

Ben:  Okay, alright. So, that makes sense. And, I suppose people can always look up insubordination in the thesaurus as well if you need to review that definition. But, this idea of basically not necessarily being a sheeple or a lemming so to speak is I think something that appeals to a lot of people but so many of us. Maybe it's based on our education system that teaches us how to be good little factory workers, and maybe question authority a little bit less, or maybe it's just because it's so comfortable sometimes to just do what we're told to do and line up and not make a fuss or cause trouble. I think a lot of people just really haven't practiced insubordination in a healthy manner to any given extent.

But I'm curious, what made you write this book? Was it the COVID pandemic and you seeing that people needed to stand up for themselves more? Was it something else? How did you actually get on the road to write a whole book on insubordination?

Todd:  Yeah. This is long before Trump, long before COVID. There's a personal side and there's a sociological side. The personal side is probably many listeners–I grew up where my dad walked out of my mom's life when I was the age of two. My twin brother and I didn't have any male role models. We were raised by a single mom. I grew up in Uniondale, New York which is pretty much a 90% or higher predominantly Black community. So, it's kind of the inverse of what most people talk about. And, you grow up in an environment like that of being raised by a single parent, being one of the lone racial minorities, but the opposite of how people think about it. And, you have to learn in the most inefficient way possible how to be a man and how to figure things out and how to develop friends and how to tell good stories and how to win romantic partners by trial and error. It's the most inefficient way possible. It's why people like you were talking about fitness and health and relationships. It's better to learn from people that have kind of field-tested this beforehand. So, that's the personal story behind us. I wanted to give the book that I wish I had and I wish other kids and other adults who basically are just big children in adult bodies of like, “Hey, here's a way to improve the way that you live your life.”

Ben:  Yeah.

Todd:  And then, the sociological side of things, now remember, this is pre-Trump, I've been doing this for about 10 years working on this book.

Ben:  Pre-Trump. But, just to clarify, from what I understand just because I looked at the copyright inside flap of the book, the book just came out. This is the 2021 release, yeah?

Todd:  Oh, yeah. I mean, you're an author. I mean, you know how long it is from when you start doing the research and writing it and finally gets into publication. It's supposed to come out–

Ben:  So, you say you started writing the book kind of pre-Trump. You didn't even start this a year into COVID or something like that?

Todd:   No. This isn't a book about Trump or COVID, but it's every issue that comes up. Everyone that knows about this book is like, “Oh, my god, this becomes more and more relevant”–

Ben:  I know, it's so relevant.

Todd:  But, you did have the start of social media and you did have the start of a massive level of voiceless people getting a voice and not really knowing how to wield it properly. And so, I saw two things happen: a beautiful thing an ugly thing happening. A beautiful thing is that, my god, you could be living in Idaho and you could be gay and you could find a whole community of other gay people online and then speak your piece and then talk about what you want to and then you find your tribe. I mean, that was amazing. And then, on the destructive side was you found at both political extremes but really all over the place is that any mishap or failing or attempted sarcasm or attempt to be funny that was misinterpreted end up being the end of some people's mental health for the next few years or the rest of their lives, much less losing their jobs.

When I wrote this book, this is when–I don't know if you remember in 2014, Justine Sacco, she was the one that wrote a tweet of, “Hey, I'm going to Africa, I hope I don't catch HIV.”

Ben:  Oh, my gosh. And, she was getting on a plane, is this the guy you're talking about?

Todd:  Yeah. And then, you had two million people following her as she's on flight doesn't have access to her phone, it was a very interesting sociological moment in the history of society because–

Ben:  Yeah. Because she landed and shit had hit the fan, yeah?

Todd:  Yeah. But, she attempted a joke and she's not that funny. She was kind of pointing out of how absurd it is. I mean, she's going to Africa, clearly, she has an interest in international travel and learning other cultures but the joke didn't land.

Ben:  Right.

Todd:  But, what was really interesting that would never happen now even seven years later, and I can't even say it on the air is the amount of misogynist comments calling her a C-U-N-T, saying they want to rape her, saying that they hope that she kills herself with a cyanide pill. And, this went on. And, I mean, there's just hundreds and hundreds of strangers. And, no one stood up for this woman until years later when Jon Ronson wrote a book about public shaming. And, nobody said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, wait, your comment's going way too far.” Like, “Wait, raping her because of a joke? Wait, she should die because of a bad joke that happened there?” And, I thought to myself, we need more heroes in waiting that are there to kind of stand up against the crowd. This just keeps on adding up. I mean, Charlottesville, standing up against a bunch of people that are tiki torchbearers and standing up against people that are saying that we have a president that's not the actual president.

And then, on the other side, you've got people that are not allowing questions or allowing people to be curious about how diversity should operate in society but basically are being told this is the way. If you don't follow the rules and the rules keep on changing and it's your job to keep up on the rules to change, then we're coming after you. So, you've got all of this huge mess of voices that some of them have pretty good intentions but ineffectively trying to mobilize social change.

Ben:  There's this term–I don't know if it appears in your book, but I know Charles Duhigg who actually wrote a really good book what's called “The Power of Habit.” I think it's called “The Power of Habit.” Really good book from Charles Duhigg. He wrote a testimony for your book and he said, “This is the book all virtuous rebels need.” “Virtuous rebels” is an interesting term. How would you define a virtuous rebel?

Todd:  Yeah. I mean, Charles is great. I just use the word principled as opposed to virtuous just to kind of remove it from religiosity.

Ben:  Okay.

Todd:  But, essentially is I kind of put this into a mathematical formula, so people can remember this. You can think of a principled rebel, it's about the motive behind your behavior. And so, here's the kind of the formula in a nutshell. You've got deviance in the numerator multiplied by how much authenticity you have plus the attempt to make a healthy contribution to your group or society and divided by the amount of social pressure that you're experiencing.

Now, what's cool about a formula is there's two ways to become more of a principled rebel. One is you can reduce how much you're obsessed about your appearances and your social status, and the social pressure that's being put on you. As that gets smaller, you become more likely to actually take action and actually engage in courageous movements. The other way of doing it is to develop a greater ability to see the gaps and to see the nonsense in front of you and be able to speak your truth. And, this has to come from a place where this is not something for you to do to gain status in your community by saying the right things, this is something that you believe in and you believe that society would be better. But, if they were to follow through with questioning these beliefs, altering beliefs, or taking a different stance for things and you're seeing a lot of people are as opposed to being principled or virtuous rebels, they're really just kind of this is a great way to get social status points and win kind of approval and move up the social hierarchy in my personal tribe.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. And, I think there's some people out there who are doing a pretty decent job at questioning authority and at presenting insubordination as more of a virtuous rebel. There are certain people I follow, Charles Eisenstein who I had in the podcast who writes great series of essays. And, that includes essays that kind of question is this whole process of all of us scapegoating each other. And, another friend of mine and I'll link to these in the shownotes, Tucker Max, just wrote one last night about what he calls the impending doomsday. But, he wrote it from a really level-headed standpoint without necessarily scapegoating the opposite side or anything like that. And, I think that your book serves as a good kind of guide to be able to do that. But, how would you begin to describe the difference between what you would call principled insubordination versus more destructive forms of disagreement? What's an example that you could draw of principled insubordination?

Todd:  Yeah, I'll give you an example that happened last month that didn't get that much attention. This is in my neighborhood in DC. At Howard University, dozens of students had to sit in front of the president's office outside in tents because basically the dorms, they had rodents and they had molds. I mean, there was a chemical leak in one of the dorms and basically, they were saying these are not livable conditions for any human being, much less we're paying tens of thousands of dollars for tuition.

Finally, the president kind of came out and made a statement. And, many like myself probably thought, “Listen, these are your paying customers, you're going to make sure to improve the dorms, you're going to put them in a hotel.” And, he said, “We're going to have to agree to disagree on this one. And, I'm going to ask people to leave the grass, return to their dorms, return to the classrooms and go back to normal.” It was a very interesting contrast. So, you have these students that are basically risking their physical comfort for weeks. And, actually, some of them went on food strike to kind of make this statement that happened there. And, they were asking for, let's have a conversation in a dialogue. This is happening at a historically Black college, which is really designed so that they could have a dialogue and they can actually produce societal change.

And, this whole notion of agreeing to disagree is essentially has a few tenets which leads to destructive forms of dissent, which is we underestimate the benefits of productive conflict, so we try to avoid it. We don't realize that conflict is just a source of information, it's not something that's bad or problematic, it's just we're having a dialogue and we happen to not have the same talking points going in. That happens there. We underestimate how much influence we have. I don't think that these students realized they could get the president to come out and speak, that's why they were there for weeks. And, if you hear reports the news, you'll see that they're surprised that it's still going and that they still have a coalition that's still cohesive together fighting against the university.

And, the president on the other side of this, in terms of dissenting from this group that's asking for something, is basically saying that “I don't realize how much influence I have this conversation and so I'm going to call it a draw.” But, he had a ton of influence and the students had a ton of influence but neither one of them actually allowed a conversation to take place where they can kind of work through the mechanics of, where can we find a place where hospital living is a right of any student that goes to university?

The other part that leads to reckless and problematic dissent is when our identity gets too tied up in the groups that we're with and we're not focusing on the topics and the issues at hand. And, this is the big problem in politics and it's a big problem in social media is that we really focus on our group winning and we're not going in with the goal of learning and growing from the disagreement that could occur.

Ben:  Yeah, okay. Okay, that makes sense.

I want to get into some of the practical nitty-gritties here. You have a section of your book that you title the “non-conformist cookbook” and you get into how we can begin to persuade other people but do so in a very graceful manner that doesn't instigate or spark conflict and riots and hopefully avoids things like a violent approach to changing. And, you highlight five principles that we could use to be more persuasive to maximize the persuasive potential of our message. What are those five principles that we could use if we want to be more persuasive but we don't necessarily want to just necessarily shove stuff down people's throat or cause a bunch of conflict?

Todd:  Yeah. Let me separate the first two from the final three because–

Ben:  Okay.

Todd:  It's good to think of this as a series of questions. So, I should probably preface by saying, we're really talking about when you are in the minority. So, whether that's you're lower on the power hierarchy, you're talking about privates that are in the military, you're talking about school students in whether it's kindergarten through 12th, or the college campus that happens there, or you're an intern, or just an administrative assistant working in an office, or demographically, there's a bunch of people that don't look like you in the organization or the group: race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, class, you name it, and you don't have the numbers. So, because the way you persuade when you have power and status is different than the way you persuade as a minority.

Ben:  Right.

Todd:  So, what I'm going to share here is when you're in the minority demographically, numerically, or empowered status, you cannot persuade except by luck if you don't follow what I'm going to say. And, this is based on science. This isn't me proselytizing here.

Ben:  Okay.

Todd:  So, there's two questions in the beginning that you want the audience to be able to answer in the affirmative. The first one is you want the audience to answer this question, is the minority member that you part of our in-group? If they're able to say yes, you just won the group identity test. That's the first thing that people think about in terms of the group. So, if someone walks up in a Silicon Valley, you're Uber, Google, wherever, and they're an 18-year-old kid and they're talking to a room full of adults, the first thing they want to know is, “Are you one of us?” Or, “Are you a mole? Are you a Russian spy? Are you a human bot that's coming in here?” So, you have to showcase your record, your behavioral record. What have you done here at the organization that makes you worthy of having a platform?

Ben:  Right. So, I think you call that the principle of working it from the inside, figuring out some way that you can establish even if you're not a part of that group some type of a common bond with the group that you are attempting to influence or change.

Todd:  Exactly, common purpose. So, take a concrete example of someone who failed at this. When Andrew Yang ran for governor of New York, he was pretending to be a New Yorker. I think he lived in Minnesota at the time, and you had a bunch of local New York citizens that were asking, “Yeah, what's your favorite pizza place?” “Hey, Yankees or Mets?” Like, “Hey, what's your favorite part to go to hang out and have a beer with your friends?” And, he couldn't answer any of these insider questions. And, right off the bat, they're like, “You're not one of us, you're not a New Yorker, you don't ride the subway every day, you don't go to Papaya Dogs for $1.50 hot dogs. You're an outsider trying to gain some status on your rise to becoming a presidential candidate.” And, people saw right through it. So, he lost right then and there about being an insider.

Ben:  Right.

Todd:  So, once you pass that test, if you pass it in terms of insider test, then there's the group viability test which is a jargony way of saying, is your message more of an opportunity or a threat to the group's health and longevity? So, they want to know. Should we be afraid of you? Should we be afraid of what you're going to say? Should we be in defensive mode? This is a really important principle of it takes more time to give a message where you're making people intrigued enough to wonder how is this related to my preferences, how is this related to making my life easier, and are you going to make my life harder for me? And, if so, I'd rather keep things the way they are. The status quo is fine if trying to listen to you and incorporate your ideas is going to make me spend more time at work and less time with my family and friends to happen there. So, your job is to be very clear up front in terms of whatever sacrifice I'm going to ask, here's what's going to come in just a few weeks or a few months.

Ben:   Right. I think that one of the examples that you use when you're talking about kind of inciting change but doing so from a spirit of trying to get people curious about your unique approach versus kind of coming at things from a spirit of fear is the story of Dr. Semmelweis. I don't know if I'm pronouncing his name right, but the guy who came up with the idea of hand washing to prevent human sickness. And, I guess from what I understand in your book, he actually really didn't make any attempt to reconcile his findings with the current theories of diseases. He went on his way to attack doctors who rejected his thesis. And, he basically was very divisive in his approach. And, as a result, I don't think it was until, correct me if I'm wrong, after he died when his crazy ideas at that time actually became widely adopted and lended themselves quite well to current modern medical hygiene. But, at that time, he was vilified but he also went about things with the spirit of fear versus curiosity and working hand-in-hand with the current physician thoughts at his time.

Todd:  Now, I know why you almost went to medical school. Excellent reading. Yeah. And, you can easily see the parallels to the mistakes over the past two years that the CDC and epidemiologists have made with the public of assuming, listen, all you have to do is be presented with the evidence. And surely, you'll think like a scientist like us even though you're not a scientist. You're a janitor, you're a carpenter and you're a firefighter. Obviously, the evidence will be so amazing, you'll change your behavior. Well, no, that's not how persuasion works. You basically have to explain the costs and benefits and be very clear.

And, one of the great strategies of persuading people as a minority is if you could be upfront about the fact that there are sacrifices that you will make, you win the audience's attention and you win the audience's respect of saying, oh, you're trustworthy and credible because you're not just making this very hyper positive statement, you're very clear that there's uncertainty, there's doubt and there's actually going. Everything's trade-offs. So, there wasn't a good explanation. When you had epidemiologists that basically were having were unclear about what to do about people protesting for a very good cause. How to deal with the trade-offs about that? It was a blunder. I don't blame them too badly, but we should learn from those mistakes. The blunder was there were two things that were really important, trying to reduce the transmission of the virus so it wouldn't mutate further and kill people with immunological problems. And, it's good to protest once you have the numbers and you've got a really nice coalition on your side to start making social change. Whenever that happens, whenever you get mobilization, write it out but not addressing that there were costs.

By leading on that the protests for racial equality were valuable and not saying that this deviates from the message we're having and there's a question of whether or not it's worthy to do that, they didn't raise it as a question, they raised it as a fact that it's okay. And, that was a bad message.

Ben:  Yeah.

Todd:  And, that lingers a year and a half later in terms of people losing their trust and credibility in epidemiologists talking. And, I think these are great moments to kind of think about, okay, how do we be more–I mean, most of your work that you do, Ben, is about health promotion. How do you get people to exercise knowing that the first few months if you've been sedentary for most of your life are going to be physical hardships and extremely painful? And, in terms of eating healthier foods, the level of willpower that you're going to have to engage in to start switching from black and white frosted cookies to eating broccoli, it's not going to be a pleasant experience, but this is the benefits for this sacrifice that you're going to make.

Ben:  Yeah.

Todd:  And, you have to really spell up front that this is not a pure happiness story, this is a story about meaning, purpose, and mission.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah, that makes sense, you just gave me an idea too for some type of broccoli-flavored Oreo, black and white on the outside, maybe some green on the inside kind of mom used to sneak vegetables in the spaghetti sauce.

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So, we've got the fact that minorities have these special persuasive powers, but we have to articulate how this common identity exists between ourselves and our audience. And, that would be the first way that we can enhance our ability to be able to persuade someone to change. Next, we would want to operate out of a spirit of curiosity versus fear like not shaming or blaming the current status quo enthusiasts but instead kind of adopting this conciliatory approach in a more friendly tone. And then, what would be the third principle for talking persuasively as a principled insubordinate?

Todd:  Right. So, now that you passed the first two tests, now it's all about the quality of the message. Now, you moved from the source of the message being the minority, being the person who kind of that's the outsider and now it's basically how do we craft this nicely to kind of get people to be, “Ha, this is worthy of me thinking about the merits and I'm going to elaborate and think about this more deeply.”

So, the next one is about really honing in on where things are objective and where things are subjective or about taste. Before COVID, I took one of my twin daughters. I think, she was nine at that time and we climbed Mount Fuji together.

Ben:  You have twin daughters?

Todd:  Yeah. And, I have a twin as well.

Ben:  How old are they now?

Todd:  They're about to turn 15 next month.

Ben:  Okay, cool. I have 13-year-old twin sons.

Todd:  Oh, yeah. Okay. So, you know that the first two years are, I mean, the most painful thing humanly possible. When people tell me they have twins, I'm like, “I'm so sorry those first few years.”

Ben:  Yeah, it gets better after that because they have [00:34:50]_____ friends. So, that–

Todd:   Oh, yeah, yeah. It's amazing.

Ben:  That makes the process a lot easier. There's always a built-in playmate. Okay. So basically, you're talking about this third principle, the aura of objectivity.

Todd:  Right. I mean, what you want to do is really clarify where it's objective subjective. So, I was given the example of my daughter and I hitting Mount Fuji together. And, one of the things is they have an enormous number of Kit Kat flavors in Japan. When you climb down Mount Fuji, it's basically like Disney World in terms of things that you can buy. So, you've got sweet potato Kit Kats, and you've got green tea Kit Kats and you probably have broccoli Kit Kats that go in there.

Ben:  Probably.

Todd:  And so, the way to sell this to people why it makes so much money in Japan and neighboring countries and not in the U.S. is because they're very clear of, listen, as a company, we respect there's so many personal preferences, there is no taste bud that matches everyone in Japan. And so, we've created everything humanly possible, find your match and be open to exploring to see, “Hey, what have you not tasted that could expand your taste buds?” But they're very clear about that this is subjective.

And then, when they make advertisements or they're selling Kit Kats, they make very clear in magazine articles that there are things that are objective that makes Kit Kats different than every other candy bar. Objectively, just like sushi where you basically balance the crunch of the seaweed and then kind of the soft unagi or crab, whatever it is you're interested in, the idea is matching the crunchy and the soft together is what makes sushi amazing. Kit Kat's very clear, we've added a crunchy inside flavor along with the soft outer coating. And, it's the combination of the two that's different than other chocolates that are out there.

So, by them separating, the objective part of why there is nothing to argue about this is clear Kit Kat is superior and the subjective part essentially is we've got all these flavors because we appreciate how much variability there is in what people are into. That's part of what the magic of how Kit Kat is so popular.

Ben:  So, when it comes to this idea of approaching things with an attitude of objectivity, I suppose that the way that I interpret this is let's say that I want to convince people, gosh, I don't know like there's the big vaccine debate going on right now and I want to convince people that I'm either pro-vaccine, or I have hesitations about the vaccine, or I'm anti-vaccine, or alt-middle, or whatever. The very, very best way for me to be able to have a platform that is respected regarding all of that is to take a status of objectivity not to say, “Hey, my third cousin twice removed seems to have come down with what I'm pretty sure is autism after having gotten X, Y, Z vaccine” versus saying, “Okay, hey, here are 14 peer-reviewed research papers that do or do not show some type of vaccine-induced injury. None of this is coming from me. This is all just objective research-based data that I've found. Do what you want with it.” And, that approach versus this whole anecdotal subjective, well, in my personal experience type of approach is probably going to be far less effective and less well-received.

Todd:  Yeah. Let me add to what I think is those are excellent persuasion strategies. There's some work by Kurt Gray at North Carolina Chapel Hill that actually shows that if you do give a personal narrative, you should be clarifying the objective harm that you have experienced. So, one of the most persuasive moments for conservatives in the vaccine debate or in the midst of COVID was when Chris Christie famously known for looking like a kidnapping victim behind Trump on stage was when he basically told his constituents New Jersey as a center is that, “Listen, I'm extremely overweight,” a joking comment also useful persuasive side of strategy, self-denigration, “I am at high risk for suffering from everything humanly possible.” And, he went through some of the science. And. if you went on to his website, he had additional scientific research of the problems of being obese, close to morbidly obese Chris Christie that basically immunosuppression. He was more likely to get everything.

Him talking about the difficulties that he experienced when he got COVID and how there's research showing is that people that are obese, they experience greater symptoms, longer recovery more likely to actually have long-term effects more likely to die than people that are physically fit. So, objective data combined with the objective physical harm that he experienced turned that anecdote into a persuasive story that worked.

Ben:  Okay, got it.

Alright. So basically, we've got establishing some type of common bond, we've got working from a spirit of curiosity, not fear, we've got using some type of aura of objectivity versus subjectivity and anecdotal data as the first three principles. What would be the next one?

Todd:  So, the other one is something that I think people forget because there is a desire to be humble in front of other people when you're speaking, and I get that. But, it's about projecting the personal sacrifices that you made by either speaking to the majority trying to influence people or in your experience of whatever it is that you're talking about. So, if you go back to the Howard University example of the students protesting by being intense for several weeks in front of the president's office, the way that they are persuasive to win over the public as opposed to seeing entitled gen Z or gen X, which is kind of a dominant storyline about younger adults in the world is by them talking about what they sacrificed. “We don't have Wi-Fi here. This is what I've ate over the past two weeks. You can look at my legs. This is basically the gangrene that's forming in my legs, in my toes after week three in the cold sitting outside the president's office.” As soon as you project the self-sacrifice you're making, what that does in the audience it says like, “Oh, you're very serious about this, you're committed. Now, I'm listening because you have skin in the game.”

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. And, it makes sense because it's obviously pretty easy to, I suppose, be the person that, let's say, is making some kind of or taking some kind of a stance against, I don't know, a medical issue or a health issue or whatever, but you aren't actually able to show how you're stepping out and being uncomfortable. I guess a good example would be for our family in 2022, one of our new year's resolutions because we're pro-life and my wife volunteers at the local agency that supports expecting mothers to be able to find a nice home for their child rather than having to resort to abortion. And, we just thought it would be consistent with our family values to begin to avoid purchasing household products, and foods, and medications, and things like that that directly support the abortion movement.

And, I could just come right out on Twitter or whatever and say, “Hey, I don't like abortions, I am pro-life and therefore I'm going to put it out there right now that you all need to stop killing babies or like something like that.” Whereas, if I'm like, “Hey, I haven't had a Nestle, or a Kraft, or freaking Pepsi product, and haven't used Netflix or bought anything from Patagonia for the past two years because I'm actually standing by my beliefs and my convictions and no longer wanting to support these companies,” it actually shows that I'm making some sacrifice. I got some skin in the game and there's a little bit of psychological vulnerability. You even say in the book to even consider saying it out loud like I feel seriously uncomfortable disagreeing, or that you lost some sleep over this decision, or that it's kind of scary for you to be publicly interrogating the status quo. But basically, kind of being willing to take a difficult journey and being able to share that with others to support the stance that you're taking will cause you to have more respect when you actually are or cause you to receive more respect when you actually are defying the status quo on a certain topic.

Todd:  Yeah. I'm so glad you brought this up because in my world of academia, the idea of being anything that deviates from pro-choice, you will be ostracized from the community. And, I've had a problem with this, I have a next-door neighbor. And, this fits with what you're saying. I have a next-door neighbor and I'm an atheist, he's religious, we get along great, we've hung out in fire pits for the past two years. And, one of the reasons why he's so persuasive to me in terms of his views on abortion is that he has five kids, he donates to orphanages, he spends time and has trained all of his kids that they will spend multiple times per year at orphanages providing food, giving gifts for their birthdays, giving business for the holidays to happen there, facilitating adoptions. And so, he's doing everything that had a differing political perspective of like, “I'm caring for all kids that exist that are alive, especially those that don't have parents and a secure household right now that happens there. I'm actually living these values in terms of as many kids as God gives me I'm going to have that happens there.” And, you can see all the sacrifice he makes with his time, his effort, and his life. And, with that, I regularly say to him, “I can only have praise and admiration for your life. And, even though we disagree on this issue and yet you've moved me further away from where I was.” And, this is kind of a key point, which I'm skipping a little bit here, is that when you're in the minority and you're trying to influence the group, you can't expect the full conversion.

I mean, if you think about people's identity, they revolve their lives about the groups that they identify with, the causes they identify with. Their friends tend to have similar views, these echo chambers that we're part of. And so, the idea of fully converting to another viewpoint is very difficult to expect at the most in the short-term small slight changes. Just the fact that I'm talking a different attitude about the abortion debate, that's the influence of my neighbor having on me. That's what a minority dissent will often do to people regardless of whether I'm flipping the script in terms of what I would say publicly about this topic.

Ben:  Yeah.

Todd:  But, one of the things that is really useful on this topic. And, I think it's worth kind of thinking about these points in context is you ask provocative questions. You go back to sparking more curiosity and less fear. What if scientists in the next couple months discover that at ten months after a baby is born that it can experience pain? And then, if you can actually detail exactly what happens neurologically in terms of the pain that that 10-month–I'm sorry, 10 weeks in what they experience, how would that change or not change your view? And, why?

And so, with these provocative questions, it forces people to have to grapple with. We tend to reason motivationally. We look for evidence that confirms our views and we ignore or really fight hard to argue against information that conflicts with our views. But, provocative questions force people to go as opposed to winning or losing and seeking information that helps you win or lose, it just has to make you think. And, we really should be thinking more about not educating or training people, but asking people to spend the effort to contemplate issues that are so important to humanity. And, that's part of this kind of curiosity sparking as opposed to inducing fear.

Ben:  Yeah, that makes sense. And, kind of related to that is this idea that–and I think this is actually kind of related to the fifth principle of persuasion that you get into is you do want to be consistent back to my analogy like people are going to be watching me now. And, it'd be inconsistent for me to say this and mostly not drink Pepsi but maybe on the weekends especially when I'm out about or at the club, have some diet Pepsi here and there, and maybe some Nestle and Kraft products here and there, and not necessarily stick to my conviction. So, you say that we need to be consistent but it has to be a flexible consistency. What's that mean a flexible consistency?

Todd:  Yeah. If you look at the science really hard and you take 97 studies on what makes minority dissent persuasive to other people in the group, the number one predictor is consistency of your actions, consistency of your statements over time. Now, this is important because people are really pushed especially–we have a speed problem for thinking in the culture right now where we're looking for the faster that you respond, the more that you can recover from a misstep that happens here. But, this issue about consistency is I'm asking people to deliberately pause because your desire to reduce the negativity that comes at you from an audience that's skeptical or cynical is going to prevent you from not only sticking with your own value system and you're sticking with your own belief system, but also preventing you from actually making sure that the message is actually heard.

And so, the worst thing that people are told as a politician is that you could flip-flop on an issue. So, if your thoughts are going to evolve on an issue over time, let it be because of evidence and because of personal experiences, not because the social pressure is you should take back the statement you said because we, these random characters in the world, are saying we don't like how you're saying it. For the consistency part, you really want to have a track record, a behavioral track record to showcase what you're about.

So, if you about Seal 6 when a lot of these individuals come out of the military and they go into organizations and they're trying to kind of increase fortitude, make people not so much more compassionate but more aware that there are strategies that you can engage in to keep people focused on the mission and realize that perseverance and devoting sweat equity and substantial effort is worth it if you have clarified what the mission is. And, this is one of the big principles that are moving through organizations and the school system right now, taking the military strategies and applying it elsewhere.

Well, to do this, you have to show that you've actually have the scars, the bruises, the dirt, the rejection, the failures, and that you've kept going and modified your behavior because you learn from those mistakes, and those failings, and those errors that happen there. That's part of the flexible consistency.

Another part of the flexible consistency is when do you give concessions? So, not disband your beliefs. If you wanted to convince people that maybe we should get rid of Columbus Day and maybe we should have Indigenous People's Day, now you could force it into people and shame them that if you don't agree with this principle, there's something wrong with you. You are immoral in some way. That goes against everything we know about how to actually get people to change their belief system, you will get public compliance where it'll look like they agree with you. And then, when they're hanging out in small groups at barbecues and the water cooler and at parties, they're going to be talking about what they really believe in. And, that's not how you want to persuade people. You don't want compliance, you want people to be interested in something because this is a better approach to living and it's a better way to respect diverse groups that live in society.

And so, one of the ways of being flexibly consistent in that is if you're going to take Christopher Columbus out of the historical equation, a concession would be is historical characters that you are going to still accept and add in additional information of during the time that they were alive, most people are racist, most people are discriminatory. Pretty much everyone was. And, actually, the greatest behavior that you often saw in the 1500s, 1600s, and 1700s was that you would befriend someone of a different race. And, we should remember that and also realize that we live in a different time now and you would wonder how they would change their behavior in the present.

A simpler way was about these concessions that are actually flexibly consistent is think about the confederate statues that were removed in my land of the woods in Virginia is a lot of people argued is keep the statues up and basically put in the inscription, and they were racist as most people were at the time. And so, when you passed by the statue, it wasn't pure admiration, it was a sense of, “Huh, this was a person in their time period that engaged in behavior that may have been useful then but definitely problematic. Now, I'd like to tell more. It's good to know that society is changing, let's hope we don't have a backslide back to this time period.”

It would evoke more thought. And, I'm not saying that's the answer but I'm saying is that it's a different way of looking at these topics in terms of, do we want people to just on a superficial surface level agree with our views? Or, are we interested in educating people to create a healthier future?

Ben:  Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. And, one thing that you really get into that I really loved in the book was the idea of teaching our kids, raising a new generation of youth who feel emboldened to disagree and defy and deviate from so-called problematic norms or standards for the sake of progress.

And, I want to ask you a few questions about the whole parenting and children component. But before I do, you bring up something in the book that I think is important to consider, and that's this idea that let's say that we are in the minority but this once minority becomes the new majority. And, one of the reasons that we may have been motivated to replace the new majority was due to, whatever, maybe anarchism or totalitarianism or some type of unfair treatment of the minority. And, oh hey, cool, all of a sudden the once minority has become the new majority using the tactics within your book and affecting change or whatever and that's all wonderful. But then, we risk making the same mistakes as a majority that came before us and ostracizing or scapegoating whoever is the new minority now that we are the new majority.

Are there specific ways that you think the minority if we come in and start some type of a new structure, a new thought pattern or new legislation or whatever? How can we avoid making some of the same mistakes as the majority that came before us? Does that make sense?

Todd:  Yeah. I mean, this is one of my favorite chapters to write because I don't think this has been discussed often enough, which is as people are developing new initiatives, I've been involved with well-being initiatives in the universities, particularly George Mason and organizations, anti-racism initiatives. When you're doing this, a question everybody should be asking publicly and privately is what's the end game. When will you know it's effective and when will you modify the strategy and maybe titrate and reduce some of the legislative power is to kind of make change because you're making progress? And, what are the things that we're measuring to make sure that we're seeing, okay, you know what, now that actually there's a power shift, we're actually going to kind of move in a different direction. It has to be an evolving mechanism.

There's a few strategies kind of to make sure that we don't end up becoming the thing that we hated previously. At the core of this is the trifecta of curiosity perspective-taking and intellectual humility. Intellectual humility is sort of might be one of the keys here where you have to realize is that everyone's knowledge base is fallible and none of us are able to fully grapple with how many individual differences there are in a group, much less a society. And so, I remember when I was on the diversity initiative panel at George Mason University. And, I was one of the only people in the room to just ask from the get-go like, “Hey, can we go over the definition of diversity?” And, right away, a number of people on this committee said, “No, no, we're done with that. Now, it's about what are we going to do to actually increase diversity?” But first, we have to kind of land in on the definition like what's included, what's not in there, and why. A place of curiosity not fear.

And so, someone asked me with kind of their arms folded which was like, “What else should we include do you think as a white heterosexual male should be included in there?” I'm like, “Well, I said, one, social class isn't in there.” So economics, in terms of we have first-generation college students but they're also people that might be third-generation college students but you could have multiple people be losing their jobs and they drop down in terms of economic mobility. Why are we not included in that diversity?

And then, there's neurodiversity. So, everyone's brains are different. And, the idea that if you're on the autism spectrum that that wouldn't fall into the category of diversity, you literally see the world differently and visually gaze at faces differently. You spend less time on people's eyes, you spend less time on people's faces, you spend more time on the environment in which the person is in. I mean, if you think about diversity, I mean, their actual scanning of the environment is different than you and me and many people on the planet. It happens there.

And, what about personality? Susan Cain wrote this great book, “Quiet.”

Ben:  Yeah, great book. “The Power of Introverts.”

Todd:  Yeah. So, I mean she basically made the case that if you're introverted living in a hyper-social world where everyone's supposed to be positive and effervescent and seeking out social interactions regularly, if you're introverted, you are going to lose out on opportunities in terms of promotions, in terms of being invited into meetings and invited to sit on boards. And so, isn't that a form of diversity in terms of how you operate socially and how your energy is depleted or activated as you walk through the world? And, I didn't have the answers, I said questions, but it was shut down off the bat. It's just an example of we have to keep the questioning constant over the course of when we win, after we win. And, if we don't, what happens is the group often dispense because there's a sense of for the once powerless that no longer has that power, there's a sense of I need to find another group to identify with and be part of because this is no longer my group. You have to consider. These individuals, they must have knowledge and skills and expertise and unique contributions that are possible. And, to think otherwise is another question asked. How are you able to dispel and dismiss everybody that believed in the old way immediately as opposed to seeing that their belief in the old way is not them, it's just one of their many beliefs, values, skills, and personality traits that happen there. So, we need to be able to see the complexity of individuals and we need to be able to welcome people in.

And, there's been a big movement for saying as opposed to calling out culture that we should have a kind of a call-in culture, which is not to make people responsible for having worn-out views that no longer last the test of time but actually helping them to evolve and kind of figure out where can they find a place in the new world where they might have lower status right now. And, that is the path to having a group that is more formidable. And, to have greater longevity, the group and the belief system has a chance of survival.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. And, when it comes to avoiding the moral hypocrisy that can arise when we do become the new majority, you just have so many great tips but I love the idea of providing assurances to everyone involved in the war of ideas like friends and foes and neutral observers that their opinions still count. Basically, when you're setting up the new majority, make sure that you are weaving in the ability for people to be able to engage in open discussion with their opinions and to stay focused on the ways in which power can compromise self-awareness, just being aware that if your side is one. Or, if you are more powerful, if you are the new majority, just being aware that that can actually cause you to become more closed off to the majority's ideas are just based on the fact that you're in the majority, and then basically recognizing the skeptic's power to reshape and refine the orthodoxy. Meaning that while you do want to have, in my opinion, some type of absolute truth or moral structure or definition of right and wrong, you should also at the same time remain open. But that's something I'm always trying to do is remain open-minded to all the beliefs that come in after I interview a podcast, guest, or people are asking questions or comments in the shownotes, or whatever. I'm always asking myself, “Okay, is this something? Is this a firmly held belief or a hill that I'm willing to die on because of some type of pre-programming or because I'm in charge, baby, because I'm the majority, or is this something that I need to reconsider? I'm constantly finding myself reconsidering and changing my mind and staying open to others' opinions and beliefs. But, I think that just being aware of the potential for dogmatism while at the same time being willing to stand up for your beliefs and acknowledging the existence of some type of morality, some type of truth and falsehood, some type of and wrong, but then also being able to listen to others' beliefs and being able to listen to others' opinions, I just think it's such a wonderful strategy. That whole chapter I agree, I'm not being a moral hypocrite was really good.

Now, you have this whole part–and I'm writing a book on parenting now, so this just really struck a chord with me, this chapter on raising insubordinate kids. And, while I would encourage people to get the book and read that entire chapter, towards the end of that chapter, you just lay out in a really nice concise way three different steps. You call them your recipe steps for raising insubordinate kids. And, I just want to give a head nod to those and spend a little bit of time explaining what those three steps would be to help us raise more insubordinate kids who are virtuous or principally insubordinated. So, what are the three recipe steps for raising and supporting the kids?

Todd:  I don't remember what the three steps are.

Ben:  Well, I wrote them down, so if I say I'm sure you could riff on them.

Todd:  Sure.

Ben:  Okay. The first one in my notes here is you wrote to foster a sense of agency in kids.

Todd:  Yeah. One of the things that's important to think about kids is that we often treat them as that they're these underdeveloped creatures that don't have their own identity, their own sense of self and their own narrative about who they are and who they aspired to be.

One thing that I do, I have three daughters, is from the age of five onward is I talk to them as if I would talk to other adults in terms of the content. And also, often I tried it with the words as well. My nine-year-old regularly says to me, “Listen, dad, would you talk to me about baking or you talking about pickleball,” whatever I'm working with her at that time. I don't want you to use simpler words just because I don't understand them, the only way I'm going to learn things is if you talk about the things I don't know. And, every kid is like this, but every once in a while, your kid shows that they are almost these virtue prodigies where she's showing this level of wisdom. I'm like, “I didn't make that, that's not my genetics.” I'm like, “What the hell is that? That's amazing.” Because she hears me talk to her older sisters in a different way and she's like, “I don't want you to talk differently to me.”

The goal of the chapter is we don't want to wait for our kids to say something. And, many adults, no offense to how you parent or how you run a classroom or how you run a doctor's office, but to put the onus on kids to assert themselves to say, “Talk to me as if I'm intelligent. Talk to me as if I can comprehend what you're doing. Talk to me with the belief that if there's something I don't know, I'm going to try to find out about it later.” And, this just start with that default system. And, right away, you're training your kid that they have the power to walk through the world as someone who will be listened to, someone that could speak for themselves. And, when they speak, they'll be heard. And then, you're not going to face the problems that you face where right now if you look at the organizational psychology literature that women are less likely to ask for negotiations where for higher salaries and higher promotions, they wait for their annual evaluations compared to men.

Well, I'm training my three daughters not to wait and be hunters of if you think that you are deserving of more, realize you have more power than you think, the worst they can do is say no and just learn how to say it well. And so, this is about training youth of you're supposed to question authority, not because you're a teenager who's supposed to be the next James Dean and rebel with a cigarette hanging from your mouth while you're driving a Mustang, it's because the authorities aren't always right.

And, there was a moment that I had with one of my twins who's now 15. So, she was in fourth grade. And, the music teacher came around and was having a hard time recruiting students for the orchestra. And so, she took all the kids outside of class and said, “Hey, you guys liked music with me last semester, you guys should do it again.” And, my daughter, I'm so proud of her, I got called into the principal's office. My daughter said, “Hey, I thought you're not supposed to put pressure on the kids to join orchestra?” And, she wrote up my daughter, this is in fourth grade. So, I came in, met with the teacher, met with the principal, and said, “If you're upset that my daughter said something that was right, now she might not have said it properly, but she's in fourth grade.” But basically, she called out the teacher for a wrongdoing. The teacher got upset because she was engaged in insubordination and she just got punished right now. And, I'm saying, “If you want me to hold her tongue until she can frame it properly, you're basically training her to say nothing when a guy tries to push her to do something she doesn't want to, to say nothing in the future when she's working at a company.” And basically, she's looked over for a promotion, you're training her now like bite your tongue on things. And, that was the end of the conversation. They're like, “You're right.”

And, we should train our kids to engage in that insubordination. And, we should also as an adult we should have training where as much–I mean parents, they should really get a training manual. But, any adult that's working with kids should be trained to accept some level of disobedience. And, your job is not to shut them down, your job is to help them say it even better the next time.

Ben:  Yeah. This seems to tie in really well to our parenting approach that we use in our house of love and logic, which is basically this idea of educating your children on the consequences of any decision that they can make, and then as much as possible letting them be empowered to make their own decisions. And, this idea of kind of consequential parenting seems to do a really good job fostering that sense of agency in kids. And then, we also really go out of our way to let them have opinions be engaged in discussions, and chat in the same way that you've kind of dictated as adults or like adults with the rest of family. I read all the little current events, magazines that they get. They subscribe to this one called The Week and another one called World Magazine for Kids. And, I read those when they arrive and I'll circle certain things and then bring them up during our dinner table discussions just for my kids to be able to engage in discussion and generate their own thought patterns around certain current events. And, we really do chat with them, mom and I in the same way that we chat with a couple of adults who would be out at a restaurant with.

And so, I love this idea of fostering a sense of agency in kids just because I think it really allows them to really in a more intelligent and responsible way stand up for their beliefs versus kind of swallowing hook line in sync or what an adult says to them because they've been raised in a disciplinary household that focuses on yes/no, do this, do that, thank you, sir, and if you don't do this, then you're going to be punished. And, I just think that the parenting approach being used can or cannot foster a sense of agency in the kids depending on how it's being done.

You also talk about building a kid's critical thinking skills that principled insubordination is going to hinge on a kid's ability to be able to sift through information at their disposal or to filter out the useful stuff from the BS or convince others to accept the useful stuff as well. Is there anything that you think stands out as far as one parenting approach that you think really works in terms of fostering this whole critical thinking skill type of approach for kids?

Todd:  Yeah. I mean, this is an extension of Carl Sagan's “Baloney Detection Kit” and just applying it to kids. I mean, one of the most important principles is that nobody gains your allegiance, it has to be earned. This comes from political figures, this comes to adults in the community. Now, this isn't about respect, this isn't about kind of showing a level of politeness and kind of communicating in an effective manner and being nice to people, but this is like you train your kids to basically look at what people say and do, not at their status and not because they're big people and they're taller and they're heavier. That happens there. And, it's important to look at the sources. When you look at the sources that are providing information to you as a kid, your job is to look at the merit of the messages. And, there's a couple principles in there in terms of the narrative messages is, does it make sense with how the world operates?

You have a number of books that have come out in the past couple of years talking about the fact is, did aliens actually land on Earth? Those alien abductions that were on unsolved mysteries in the 1980s, did they actually happen? If you raise those kinds of questions and a child is learning about science and astronomy, they have to see like, does that fit with how the world works? Does that fit with how the mind works? How come all alien abductions often occur with somebody in the country on a highway in the middle of the night and that's where they fall asleep and they're abducted? Is there a simpler explanation for such an extraordinary phenomena?

Once you learn about the nature of sleep and you learn about the nature about in terms of visual acuity at night time, you start to say, “Huh, well, how do you rule out these alternative hypotheses?” And, this is kind of a cool way for kids to have fun about learning how to think constructively, how to think critically, and how to think for themselves is take these really benign stories and events and walking through, huh, what evidence do you have to refute in order for this to be true? And, once you work through alien abductions, then actually then you can start applying that for them to think for themselves when it comes to vaccines, when it comes to sleeping eight to ten hours per day, when it comes to why you would exercise five times a week, and what are the consequences of sedentary behavior to get to the really important hard stuff. You can teach them to think through the really fun stuff.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. And, I think one other thing that we find works really well in our house for generating this type of discussions that build critical thinking skills is not only the idea of game theory and the fact that we play games a lot almost every night as a family at the dinner table, but the nights we don't play games, we often use these table topics cards. There's all sorts of different versions other than you can buy from Amazon, but we'll draw a table topic and it might be something like, would you rather have $100 today or $1,000 in a year? And, little questions like that begin to foster these really cool critical thinking skills in kids and also allow you to have discussions kind of relate to that first principle in the recipe with your children that allow you to treat them free-thinking independent spirited resilient adults. So, if you don't have any table topics cards for the table and some good board games to play at dinner, I recommend that as well.

There's one really good game called Rhetoric that literally assigns the kid a topic and then they make a defense on the pros and the cons or the top five things related to that topic, et cetera. So, that's a really good one as well.

Todd:  I love that.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. It's super fun.

The last one, and I know we're getting kind of long in the two, so we'll probably address this and then I'm going to encourage people to go to the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Insubordination and grab Todd's book and give the whole thing a read because we literally have barely scratched the surface of everything that's in his book, but I just want to give my audience just a few of the goodies here.

So, you say expose kids to various forms of courage and give them the language to describe their own bravery. How can we teach kids to see themselves as I think what you described as heroes in waiting, like the people who are actually going to step up to protect a stranger from a bully or take the time to support a grieving friend, or even just stand up when things are going wrong politically when they're older and step up for theirs or others' rights?

Todd:  Yeah. There's a lot in that question. Again, thanks for the deep reading. I mean, we often see in the news and we often spend a lot of time about physical bravery. So, we honor our military, we honor people that are actually willing to physically protect somebody else, first-line responders, EMT workers, police officers, firefighters. We spend a lot of less time about moral bravery. And, we do have our whistleblowers to get a lot of attention, but we have characters like Snowden. This is a guy who had a close to a 50/50 love affair hatred for in terms of him leaking documents from the government. And, we have to explain that there are multiple ways that courage can manifest. One of it is persevering on something that they're trying to work on a skill, whether it's learning how to do an ollie on a skateboard or starting to surf when you go on vacation.

There's the courage of vulnerability to break free from social scripts. And, for boys to be able to cry and express their sadness and anxiety and for girls to constructively express their anger and break those scripts. There's the notion of the courage of resilience of going through adversity and then making the attempt to build and reconstruct a life for yourself in the aftermath of a car accident, or having a bone marrow transplant, or being on the front lines of a war or seeing someone die, or being maimed or hurt in front of you.

So, once we expose that there are different ways of being courageous, then kids can kind of identify that as opposed as viewing themselves as courageous or not is that it's really about actions in the moment when you experience fear. And so, the willingness to take action despite the presence of fear. And, if you don't have the fear, you don't get to claim the moment is courage. And so, when you see somebody, I don't know if this happens anymore in schools, but if you see someone who says, “Listen, me and you, we're going to fight at 3 o'clock in the parking lot after school,” most people do nothing. Most people are super excited to see a fight, just to see some action in their lives. Kids that don't have cars yet, they've got nowhere to go and nothing to do, that happens there.

But you potentially have the person to actually intervene before something happens, especially if it's a lopsided affair where you've got the 95-pounder who likes to read “Harry Potter” books in their free time and you've got the mixed martial artist who wants to beat the crap out of this kid. I think we underestimate that the social pressure that exists to do nothing and join the crowd and get excited about seeing a fistfight versus I'm going to do whatever it takes to make sure that this kid is not physically harmed because this is not a fair fight in the first place that happens there.

Ben:  Yeah.

Todd:  And, the heroes in waiting theme is borrowed from Phil Zimbardo, famous for “The Stanford Prison Experiment,” which is essentially is you should walk through–and this isn't just for children and adolescents but also adults, walk through the world as if you are waiting for the very rare moment where you get to stand up for your principles and help someone else stand up for their principles that maybe doesn't have the voice or the fortitude to do it themselves. That happens there. And, this is being a lifeguard at a pool. You're basically sitting up there with your, whatever that orange device is, red device that have–

Ben:  Yeah, I don't know what it's called, the floaty toy.

Todd:  The floaty. So, you're sitting with the floaty for the one time the entire summer over the course of three months that a kid will almost drown and not even really drown. You're staying awake and keeping your eye on every kid for just that one moment. And, that's the heroin waiting principle is it's a very low-frequency situation. You're going to see someone's hand grab someone's butt. You're going to see someone go into someone's pocketbook and try to take it. You're going to see someone cut in front of someone in line. You're going to see someone throw a piece of food at someone's car. I mean, in general, people tend to be pretty kind, compassionate people. But in those moments like sit there wait, look, I want to be courageous and have the youth set up of like go through the world wanting to be crazy. It's such a beautiful thing. You will feel so good about yourself and do good for the world, and that's an attitude that should be trained into kids as early as possible, especially those kids that they are widely accepted and popular, they have high social status, and the people look up to them. I mean, those kids can focus on keep on maintaining their status or use it for the forces of good.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. And, I think a big part of this too when it comes to developing heroes in waiting who will have courage is beginning with them developing preferably in some state of ego disillusion their own internal courage. Probably by the time this podcast comes out, I will have released a podcast that I did with Rich Christiansen who's a family branding and legacy guide. And, one of the things we talk about in that episode is certain years of a child's life in which the parents systematically weave in some type of rite of passage or adventure, one based on courage and one based on non-entitlement. Meaning, a rite of passage based on courage might be after that child has trained for a certain period of time when they're 13 or 14 years old doing a solo overnight in the wilderness with their backpack and a wool blanket and a knife being able to face their own fears and being able to be in that state of ego dissolution and develop their own internal courage which they can then turn around and use to develop more courage in outward-facing circumstances.

And then, the other, the non-entitlement, and this is another really, really lovely one that he weaves in to his own kids' upbringing and that I've woven into my own children's now as well. It's this idea of recognizing the value of forgiveness and also the state of living of others who might be living in a different scenario or environment than you are by, for example, when a child is 16 years old between say high school and college taking them on a trip in which you're going to go build a school or a church, or engage in some type of a service or charity project in an underprivileged community. Or, when his kids are actually in their 20s, he takes them to a prison and they just basically hang out at a prison for a couple of days speaking with prisoners and learning about the mistakes those people made and learning about the value of forgiveness and also looking at the consequences of certain decisions that people make. But, this idea of systematically weaving in episodes where a child learns courage and episodes where a child learns non-entitlement, I think really, really lend themselves well to developing heroes in waiting who are willing to stand up for what's right in a responsible way, in an act of principled insubordination when the time calls.

Todd:  I love that. I mean, one of the things that people forget as they're thinking about multicultural experiences, traveling to other countries, meeting people from different walks of life is you're not taking people's perspective, you're in the process of getting it, you're learning their perspective. So, you're really kind of actively asking questions, listening, paying attention. And, you're not trying to be interesting, you're trying to figure out what's it like to run a rickshaw in Sri Lanka? What is it like to operate a train when you're in Kyoto, Japan? That happens there. You can't have a kid read this in a book. You can't have this in a lecture format. This has to be of someone describing what's it like to live in different circumstances which allows a kid exactly what you're describing to realize like where do I have this privilege in my life and where do I have this sense of entitlement?

And, the hope is that you can use this as a linchpin to return back to you regularly. It's very different than our parents or grandparents saying, “Listen, you need to finish all of your peas because think of the people that live in Ethiopia.” That doesn't mean anything. I haven't taken their perspective yet. I don't know enough about Ethiopia. I can't even pick it out on a map. I'm 11 years old. So, they skip so many steps that it's a completely fruitless endeavor to actually get people to actually to be more virtuous and to be more strength-focused in their behavior.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. Gosh, there's so much more that we could dive into, but I know we're kind of out of time for this show. But man, I really, really love the way that the book is written in such a manner that we can disagree with others. We can affect change, we can engage in healthy discussions in a society that especially right now tends to be highly polarizing and rife with scapegoating and name-calling. And, that doesn't mean that change cannot be affected and there can't be new normal. We can go about doing things the right way.

So, I love the book, it's called “The Art of Insubordination: How to Dissent and Defy Effectively.” I'll link to the book. I'll also link to everything that Todd and I talked about today. If you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Insubordination where you can also leave your own comments and questions and feedback. So again, it's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Insubordination.

Todd, thank you so much for coming on the show today for sharing all this stuff with us, and for writing the book.

Todd:  Yeah. I'm going to say I think I learned as much from you as whatever I said to you. I mean, thanks for being so thoughtful and comprehensive and you're thinking. I'm going to start listening to your podcast more often.

Ben:  Awesome. Well, thanks, man. And, I appreciate that. The feeling is mutual and just keep me posted if I can help out with anything at all. I'm overjoyed to be able to get the word out about this book because I would love for a lot of my audience members to be able to read it.

So again, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Insubordination. And, I'm Ben along with Todd Kashdan signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.

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When I first received the book The Art of Insubordination: How to Dissent and Defy Effectively by my guest on today's show, Todd Kashdan, I thought it was going to be some fringe rebel handbook or something like The Alchemist's Cookbook, or a title that was meant to incite riots and violence.

I was dead wrong.

Instead, this book is a research-based toolbox for anyone who wants to create a world with more justice, creativity, and courage.

For ideas to evolve and for societies to progress, we desperately need rebels to challenge conventional wisdom and improve on it. Unfortunately, most of us fear nonconformists, perceiving them as disloyal, reckless, destructive, or just plain weird. Because most would-be rebels lack the strength and skills to overcome hostile audiences, principled insubordination remains an underleveraged asset in the workplace and public square.

Based on cutting-edge research, The Art of Insubordination is the essential guidebook for anyone seeking to be heard, make a change, and rebel against an unhealthy, stagnant status quo. The book also gives the rest of us the evidence-based strategies we need to become better allies of our leaders in change, ensuring that the best ideas, products, and solutions survive and win the day. Inside this book lie answers to several questions, including:

• What are the most effective ways to express unpopular, important ideas?
• How can we help principled rebels be heard and influential?
• How can we better manage the discomfort when trying to rebel or interacting with a rebel?

Filled with fresh and engaging stories about dissenters in the trenches as well as science that will make you see the world in a different way, The Art of Insubordination is for anyone who wants to see more justice, creativity, inclusion, cultural dynamism, and innovation in the world.

As a Professor of Psychology and a leading educator to the public, Todd Kashdan translates state-of-the-art science for practical application to improve our everyday lives. He is well-known for his energetic and disarming communication style. Todd received the 2010 Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year Award at George Mason University for his teaching and mentoring. He gave a TEDx talk on psychological flexibility and writes the “Curious?” blog for Psychology Today, which is enjoyed by more than four million readers.

After receiving a Ph.D. in clinical psychology (2004), Todd founded the Well-Being Lab at George Mason University which has produced over 210 peer-reviewed journal articles on well-being and resilience, psychological flexibility, meaning and purpose in life, curiosity, and managing social anxiety.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-How to define “insubordination”…05:36

  • Intentionally being provocative by taking a negative (dissent) and turning it into a positive
  • Refusing and resisting the dominant social order
  • Who makes the rules anyway?
  • Questioning social norms, authorities, rules we've accepted as standard

-How Todd became interested in preaching the gospel of insubordination and made him write  the book…08:05

-The difference between principled and destructive insubordination…16:46

-Five principles of persuasion when you're in the minority or demographically disadvantaged…20:23

  • The Art of Insubordination
  • The “non-conformist cookbook” section of the book:
    1. Is the minority member part of our “in group”? (Group identity test)
    2. Is your message an opportunity or a threat to the group's health and longevity? (Group viability test)
    3. Identifying where things are objective and subjective
      • Kurt Gray at UNC Chapel Hill: If you give a personal narrative, you should be clarifying the objective harm that you have experienced.
    4. Project personal sacrifices you've made by expressing your message
    5. Concessions with flexible consistency
      • Consistency in statements and actions over time is the number one predictor of success in what makes minority dissent persuasive to other groups
      • Evidence and personal experience should be the cause for you to change your views on an issue, not because of social pressure
  • When you are in the minority and trying to influence the group, you can't expect a full conversion
    • People revolve their lives around the groups that they identify with, the causes that they identify with
  • Ask provocative questions, sparking more curiosity and less fear; provocative questions force people to think

-How a minority that affects change can avoid the mistakes of the preceding majority…54:19

-The three steps to raising principally insubordinate kids…1:03:30

-How to teach kids to view themselves as heroes in waiting…1:15:18

-And much more!

Upcoming Events:

Resources from this episode:

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