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The First Rule of Mastery: Dr. Michael Gervais On How To Stop Worrying About What People Think of You

By January 22, 2024No Comments
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Episode #808



Obsessive worry about what others think of you may keep you safe—but it will also keep you small.

In our evolutionary past, belonging to a tribe was crucial for survival, as rejection posed a near-death peril. Although societal dynamics have evolved, our brains still assess how others perceive us, giving rise to the Fear of People’s Opinions. The crux of the fear hinges on the learned behavior of identifying ourselves as separate selves—masquerading like we are individuals in a social world—rather than recognizing that we are social animals who have learned to identify as separate selves. 

Here to guide our dance through this carnival of life is Dr. Michael Gervais. 

Dr. Gervais, a leading expert in human performance psychology, returns for his fifth appearance (episodes 120, 252, 366, and 550) to discuss his new book, The First Rule of Mastery: Stop Worrying About What People Think of You, which is all about liberating yourself from the opinions of others. The rubric is to turn the spotlight inward, understand your purpose and values, and create a structure that aligns with them, muting the extraneous noise of the outside world. 

With decades of experience in high-stakes environments, Dr. Gervais is toppling the pathologized psychology model. His clients include the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, Olympic medalists, MVPs from major sports, world record holders, musicians, and corporate leaders. Beyond this, he hosts the instructive Finding Mastery Podcast and has been featured by every major media outlet.

The ancient adage, often ascribed to Lao Tzu, forewarns, “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”

“When you cultivate your inner world, you can achieve extraordinary outcomes.”


Today’s conversation delves into Dr. Gervais’ transition from working with athletes to corporate leaders, emphasizing the power of vision and imagination, mental skills, the pervasive Fear of People’s Opinions, and the profound concept of purpose.

Often, we irrationally empower others—rooted in a self-centered, self-preserving mechanism—permitting them undue influence over major life decisions. Whether consciously or unconsciously, individuals can alter the trajectory of our lives until we realize we’ve relinquished too much control. As we over-index on others’ opinions—we fail to grasp that individuals are self-focused—and not constantly judging us. Social science confirms our cognitive biases, creating a false narrative akin to applying Vaseline to the lens through which we perceive the world.

For those who prefer a visual experience, the conversation is available on YouTube. As always, the audio version streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

I hope this conversation proves educational and formative on your intellectual journey.


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