Sports Stars Making a Social Impact: 4x Ironman triathlete G. Brian Benson on the importance of being easy on yourself
With Edward Sylvan
Be Easy on Yourself. Negative self-talk is just one way that you can be hard on yourself. Another is to hold extremely high expectations of perfection. There have been many times where I have spent a lot of anxious energy being worried about having something come out just “perfect.” It kept me from enjoying the process. Just go for it! And if you make a mistake or fail, keep trying and cut yourself some slack. We all make mistakes.
I had the pleasure to interview G. Brian Benson. Brian is an award-winning and Amazon #1 best-selling author, life coach, radio personality, actor, filmmaker and TEDx speaker, knows the value of trusting intuition and wants to share his own personal journey of self-growth, discovery and accomplishment to help others re-connect with their own personal truths to live an authentic and fulfilling life. As a 4x Ironman triathlete and cross-country bicyclist, Brian knows the value of hard work and never giving up on his dreams, a message he shares with audiences through each of his creative expressions. Brian lives in Los Angeles, CA.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?
10 years ago, I was running my family business which was a golf center in Salem, Oregon but I was really unhappy. I know a lot of people would give their “left arm” to have that job, but I didn’t feel like I was being true to myself and that bothered me. I felt like I had this giant gift inside of me that wanted to come out, but I didn’t know what it was …I just knew that it needed to be released. So, I left the business. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I trusted my decision.
While finishing up the last few months at the business I was struggling with finding balance in my life and I came up with the idea to write down a few things to help me through the process of leaving. They helped me so much, even though I was a writer, I decided to expand the list and try and write a book to help others as well. After self-publishing it, it even ended up winning a couple of awards which shocked me, but more importantly it gave me the direction I was looking for after leaving the business.
I knew that if I wanted to market the book, I would need to overcome my fear of public speaking so I stepped out of my comfort in a lot of different ways to deal with that. I started off by taking a couple of community college speech classes, I joined Toastmasters for a while, I hired someone to help me co-host my own internet radio show, took an acting class and I also created an “interactive” workshop that I could offer people. I really went for it!
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
I think one of the most interesting stories is how I came into acting. It was quite unexpected. As mentioned earlier one of the methods I used to try and overcome my fear of public speaking was to sign up for an acting class. Shortly after finishing it, I had an idea come to me in the form of a dream one night that was about a street guitarist. When I awoke, I immediately wrote it down. At the time I was a closet guitar player and had never played in front of anyone before. I ended up connecting with a young filmmaker and asked if he wanted to make a short film.
No more than a few weeks after that we found ourselves on the streets of Reno, Nevada making Guitar Man. I didn’t really know what I was doing; I just knew that I wanted to do it. It was a very powerful experience for me. I had never acted before and I certainly had never played guitar in front of anyone and there I was doing it on film. The film ended up doing well at film festivals and lead to other acting jobs which eventually brought me to Los Angeles to pursue it on a larger scale. Acting, just like writing found me because I simply listened to my intuition.
What would you advise to a young person who wants to emulate your success?
I think it’s incredibly important to continue to learn, grow and continue to keep moving forward. Life is constantly flowing and evolving around us. I feel we should be doing the same. We aren’t meant to be stagnant.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
Absolutely. After I left the family business, I ended up moving from Oregon to Reno, Nevada. It was in one of those community college speech classes that I met a fantastic human being by the name of Joe Giampapa. Joe was the teacher of the class and just a very kind, empowering individual. He had been a motivational speaker and was a teacher at heart. He really took me under his wing and gave me the confidence that I was on the right track and that I could be successful.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?
I try and bring goodness to the world through all of my different creative projects. As for new projects, I have a brand-new book out that I am very excited about called “Habits for Success — Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar.” I was reminded recently by my mother that when I was really little the only word that came out of my mouth was “why.” Well, I brought that “inquisitive” little boy with me along for the ride and I have always tried to be the best version of myself. So, in a sense I have been sitting in an observer’s perch watching and documenting my own journey of growth and self-awareness the last 10 years. I feel like I was able to capture them in an inspiring, entertaining and thought-provoking way.
I am also speaking a lot more and loving that. And of course, you will never take the “Creative” out of me, I have more spoken word videos coming out this year as well as a small part on a new TV show called Sangre Negra that will be airing on the El Rey network.
What methods are you using to most effectively share your cause with the world?
All sorts of methods. Books, video, presentations, webinars/workshops, spoken word, social media, radio/podcasts etc. I love it all!
Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
I have always felt driven to create positive media. I love to empower others to identify their own unique gifts and gain self-awareness, which in turn helps people journey through life with more confidence and fulfillment.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
There was a very kind teacher from Canada who found out she had cancer and after bravely going chemotherapy and beating it let me know after that she really gained a lot of inspiration from my social media posts and what I was doing. She even did a project with some of my work and had her students share their thoughts and write to me. That really touched me.
What are your 3 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
-Trust the Process
Sometimes we aren’t quite ready for a task even though we might think we are. After my first couple of books came out. I felt like I was ready to do it on a larger-scale, long before I really was. Whenever I created and released a project (book, film, video etc.), in the back of my mind I would be thinking, “Is this going to be my big break?” Looking back, it’s quite embarrassing, but it took a lot of faith and trusting the process to keep moving forward. I was really working hard and investing all of my time, heart and personal finances into my projects. Looking back, I needed to go through all that I did to solidify my foundation and continue to grow.
I remember feeling like I needed to be perfect and almost pious when I started writing self-help books. I really did a huge disservice to myself. I am by nature a witty and fun person. I held that part of me back, after my first books were written. I mistakenly thought that since I was writing about self-improvement topics, I needed to be a model of perfection for the readers. Which is actually the furthest thing from the truth. I just needed to be me. Don’t lose your playful nature.
-Be Easy on Yourself
Negative self-talk is just one way that you can be hard on yourself. Another is to hold extremely high expectations of perfection. There have been many times where I have spent a lot of anxious energy being worried about having something come out just “perfect.” It kept me from enjoying the process. Just go for it! And if you make a mistake or fail, keep trying and cut yourself some slack. We all make mistakes.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I love to empower others to identify their own unique gifts and gain self-awareness. With that being said, I think the key to that is to come to a place of true self-acceptance. From that place I feel like things fall into place. So, if I were to verbalize it as a movement, it would be “be yourself to free yourself!” I actually have the domain and would love to do something with that in the near future.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
Absolutely! It’s actually something that I came up with years back that felt very appropriate to where I was at in my life and the message is timeless.
“We are all here to learn about ourselves and inspire others in our own unique way.”
I think it really emphasizes the point that our greatness is already inside of us.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
There are so many but if I had to choose one person, I would enjoy grabbing lunch with Justin Baldoni the actor/filmmaker. I love how he is using his fame and influence to make the world a better place through compassion, awareness and art. Plus, we both grew up in Oregon… ;)
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring
Thank you, it’s my pleasure.