This is Think Like A Genius, tread the line of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, persuasion, and so much more than gray matter. Let’s dive in as we fall into a world of intrigue, and now Think Like A Genius with your host Lance Wantenaar.
Lance Wantenaar: Welcome to the thinking like the genius podcast and today’s guest is Ben Winter.
Now Ben is, you could say an improv aficionado, he’s also an author of his most recent book, which is about expectations. This has got me slightly you can say intrigued because expectation can be in some aspects thought of as everybody’s got expectations, everybody manages expectations but you’ve decided to go into this in a bit more detail.
So what we’ll do is I’ll get you to do a bit of an introduction of yourself and talk about why you decided to write a book specifically about expectations. Then we’ll talk about a couple of the other topics specifically improv, because there’s a certain aspect of about that which I’m quite fascinated about, especially watching comedians and stand-up comedians in general.
So why don’t you give people a bit of history and background about yourself and we’ll get into the podcast?
Ben Winter: Yeah. Sounds good. So you mentioned improv and that’s kind of where everything started around expectations. I’d been doing a lot of personal growth work and the person I was dating at the time who ended up being my first wife, decided to take an improv class.
I had always thought about taking an improv class, but I was never, I never felt like I was good enough or smart enough for any of those things and I finally just, you know, she was going, I had no more excuses so I went. At the beginning of the class, they talked about the rules of improv and if you follow the rules, everything works out well.
And I was like, well, I can follow rules. That’s fine. Let’s do this, and I just took to it very naturally. And then the progression from there was I’d been doing it for a long time and I started to teach it, and I wasn’t necessarily teaching it for people to be on stage, but for life and work and just, you know, a better workplace environment.
And it was throughout that teaching process that I started coming across this expectations thing and I kept kind of coming across the same point of the only reason we get upset is because an expectation isn’t being met or hasn’t been met and I was like, okay, that’s really cool. That saying actually holds true, there’s truth to it.
So, let me explore it a little bit further and so, because it doesn’t solve any problem, it just points out a problem, and so I said, well, let’s, let’s solve this problem, and that’s where I started to play with this moment in time where you’re upset and trying to solve that for people, and mostly myself and I created a flow chart that kind of walks through that process.
From the flowchart, I was like, well, there’s so much more depth to all these little pieces, so I need to need to write a book and fill in all the blanks. So that’s how the book came to be, is I’d wanted to solve the problem of people being upset because of an expectation going on.
Lance Wantenaar: So from a cognitive point of view, how do expectations fit into people’s everyday use processing of information, and how does that fit into what people see on a day-to-day basis?
Ben Winter: Yeah. So our past creates our present reality. So the way that we look at the world really comes from how we grew up in the world. So if we grow up, seeing that everybody’s happy and healthy and caring about one another, then we grew up expecting that to be our world.
And then, you know, when we’re adults, when we go out in the world, we start to see everybody else and how they don’t act the same way. They don’t think the same way. And it just kind of throws us off and sometimes it affects us directly. Other times we can watch it and see it affect other people. But you know, you turn on YouTube, you turn on the internet, the social media, you’re going to see things that don’t make sense to you from a reality standpoint, because that’s not how you were raised.
And so some things will certainly upset one person versus another, just because of those expectations we had of how the world works. So cognitively we have a reason to think the way we think it’s how we were raised, and when that gets put in question either we’re okay with. Or we freak out because somebody is questioning our thoughts and beliefs.
Lance Wantenaar: Do you find a lot of this is very much tied into people’s belief systems?
Ben Winter: Yeah, absolutely. Because how we’re raised kind of creates those belief systems. If you generally believe people are good and then you go out in the world and they’re being jerks to one another that kind of messes with your belief system. If you’re raised in a certain religion and you don’t know anybody who’s not at your church or at your synagogue or wherever it might be, then when you go out in the world and you meet other people that don’t believe what you believe, it’s like, wait, there’s other options.
Like, wait, they told me that you have to believe this, or you go to hell, are you going to go to hell? You know or whatever it might be, whatever the beliefs are, whether they’re religious or just personal. You know how we live life. They become our expectations of how the world is.
Lance Wantenaar: Those raised some interesting questions because expectations seem to be tied into a lot of what is known and what is previously experienced. But if you going into a completely new environment, you doing something completely out of your comfort zone, you’ve certainly got a different way of structuring an expectation of what you want the whole experience to be, or you’re going with a completely blank slate. Do you get a situation where you go in with a completely blank slate or you’re just going into it with a lowered expectation or a mindset that the expectation is going to be completely different?
Ben Winter: When it’s something that’s new, we tend to put together expectations of things that are related to it. Or, you know, with the world that we live in today, there’s so much material out there that we can do a lot of research about what we’re about to do, and therefore we’ll create a prejudice or a preconceived expectation of what will be. It’s very hard to find anything that’s absolutely brand new that’s not somewhat related to something we already know or something that we’ve already seen.
So it’s almost impossible not to have an expectation at some level, whether it’s, I expect to go in there and try something new and if it’s great, it’s great. If it’s not, it’s not, no big deal, but I don’t think that we’re really able to go into something that’s super brand new that we’ve never experienced before in our lives.
A lot of people haven’t experienced virtual reality yet, like putting on the goggles and going into this world where you look around the room and it actually like changes the visual input that you’re seeing. But, you know, we’ve watched enough movies. We’ve seen enough videos where we kind of have a preconceived idea of what that experience will be.
So I would say there are experiences out there where your expectations, I don’t think can be set high enough to be disappointed, whatever expectations you set are going to be low enough that when you experience it, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised you’re not going to be upset because the expectation wasn’t too high.
In other times we’ll say like, you know, a friend is constantly going on about this restaurant and the food, and it’s amazing and you just have to try it out. You got to go and eat this food. It’s the best food I’ve ever had. Well, now you have this expectation that you’re going into a restaurant that it’s the best food you’ll ever eat and then when it’s not. You’re now disappointed.
Now, if it’s a brand new food item that nobody’s ever tasted before in their lives, you know, there’s going to be some sort of like expectation of if we’ve never tried this before, are we going to die? Like, has anybody tested this for, you know, food poisoning or, you know, whatever it might be, but nobody’s going to really have an expectation that other than I’m going to try something new.
Now, once you see the food’s sitting there, you’re going to, your mind is just going to race and race and race to come up with. Well, that looks like this food and that looks like that kind of food, and so it’s sort of maybe is going to taste like something that I’ve had before, and then you bite into it tastes completely different.
You know, that could be disappointing. It might not be, it just depends on how quick we are to create those expectations.
Lance Wantenaar: So, a lot of it seems to rely on previous structured experiences or relatable knowledge, or even associated knowledge to structure what you perceive something’s going to potentially either be experienced, like, or what its going to feel, or taste or smell like, that then almost predetermines what you think the outcomes going to be.
Ben Winter: Yeah, and that’s a survival trait for humans, you know, for thousands and thousands and thousands of years, if you didn’t put together a puzzle, uh, something new, that’s crossing your path. That could mean death it’s in our DNA and our brain structure.
It’s just in our way of survival of here’s something new that I’ve never experienced before. Is it going to kill me or not? Like that’s kind of the quick thing that’s happening inside our brains because we don’t want to die. Now, once we determined that’s not going to kill us, then we can, you know, our brains still working on what is this thing that is about to happen.
And do I need to do anything special for survival or, you know, so I don’t get hurt. So it’s not that we can control this and say like, I’m going to go into there without any expectation whatsoever. That’s I believe impossible just because our brains are wired to figure stuff out.
Lance Wantenaar: Now, the emotional aspects of expectation.
Do you find that you can say mindset and also personal ability to want to learn or experience new things determines more or less, whether somebody thinks it’s pleasant or unpleasant, or whether it’s a worthwhile experience where something to be ignored or discounted?
Ben Winter: I think our past experiences help us determine what is a good experience or what is a bad experience.
There are people out there that love to jump out of an airplane and skydive, and they think it’s the most exhilarating thing ever. There are other people that have done it and say, that was the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’ll never do it again. We’re both humans, but we’re having completely different experiences.
So, it really just becomes a question of why, and you know what happened in our past, what happened you know in our, that created our physiological nature, that’s different than the other person. So something that’s pleasant to one person isn’t pleasant to another. I kind of believe that comes from, you know, there’s an emotional tie to certain things.
So some people like certain foods because it reminds them of how they felt when they first had it, and similarly they don’t like it because the way they felt when they first had it. So there’s a psychological tie to that experience and I think when it’s a new experience, it goes back to that. Let’s relate it to something we’ve done in the past.
And then we almost have a preconceived idea of whether or not we’re going to like something or not.
Lance Wantenaar: So, what would you suggest to people when it comes to expectations to get the best out of a situation? Because obviously you know each potential experience or each potential person, they need to each for a thing that they’re looking to learn has got a certain level of preconceived expectations that people go with.
[00:11:15] So how can people make it a useful tool instead of just relying on it as. I kind of emotional trigger and trying to run on some past behaviors or some past experiences.
[00:11:28] Ben Winter: Yeah. And I think you just kind of hit on something is that expectations. And when they go out and met is a trigger point and an emotional trigger point to recognize that the expectations going on met and most of the time, we don’t even know we had the expectation until that point.
[00:11:43] So to kind of preemptively stop those. From happening. And I think that’s kind of where learning the rules of improv and learning how improv works can definitely help with that. One of the things is an improv is kind of, it’s called focus on the present. That’s called being in the now, like if you’re fully present and paying attention to what’s going on around you, there’s a lot less, I’m going to say.
[00:12:07] Stuff going on in your head, thinking about making up ideas and thinking about your past and creating these prejudices about the situation. And you’re just fully there at the time. So if anything, it’s sort of setting an expectation on yourself to just be in the moment. It takes away a lot of the issues from our past and how they affect our present time.
[00:12:28] Because some of the things that we learned when we were kids, they don’t serve us. Now as adults, they served us for a while, but you know, being wary of strangers is a good thing when you’re a kid being wary of strangers when you’re adult and you’re in a new situation where you’re networking and you’re supposed to meet new people.
[00:12:44] It doesn’t work out very well. You need to set that aside so you can meet these new people and build a network and grow your business. Or maybe you’re just out at a social event and you want to have more friends. You got to let that guard down and you have to let those friendships, you have to meet the people.
[00:12:59] So it’s almost like just it’s setting expectations about how you’re going to be. Preemptively. And that’s really all we can do to combat the expectations from our past that are just, they’re set. They’re programmed in because of our youth. And so do you go into a new situation? It’s like, I know other times I’ve gone into new situations.
[00:13:18] I’ve been very afraid this time. I’m going to be less afraid. I’m going to, I’m going to go in it with open eyes and open arms, and I’m just gonna see how it goes. And, you know, maybe it’ll work that time. Maybe it’ll work the third time. Maybe it’ll work the sixth time, but it’s a practice that you have to kind of take over time is just to kind of mentally set those new expectations versus just letting the programmed subconscious expectations take over
[00:13:44] Lance Wantenaar: the expectations and changing.
[00:13:47] You can say the outcome or certain expectations very much to being able to live. Obviously being present, but also being willing to learn and test and, you know, be adaptable in certain aspects.
[00:13:58] Ben Winter: Yeah. The main piece that anybody who wants to grow, however, they want to grow. However, they want something different in life.
[00:14:05] They have to start with awareness. They have to understand what is happening right now. You have to know your point a before. You can get to point B. If you start from point C, you’re never going to hit point B cause you don’t even know which direction to go. And so if you know that new experiences are, I’m going to say painful, well, you’ve got to figure out like, why is it painful and what can I do differently?
[00:14:26] So it’s not painful. Or if new experiences are like the only thing that brings you joy, then you kind of have to say, why is it only new experiences that bring me joy? Why doesn’t the same thing that brought me joy a month ago? Bring me joy today. You know, like what is that about? And again, it’s just being aware of these thoughts that we have and choosing something different repeatedly enough over time that it becomes our new habit, our new subconscious expectation, our new, our new program.
[00:14:57] Lance Wantenaar: those tie back very much to metacognition. And as you said, awareness, but also being willing to learn and willing to adapt, and also being curious about having new
[00:15:08] Ben Winter: experience. Absolutely. You know, half and get asked the question of like, how does somebody change or how does somebody grow or experienced something different?
[00:15:18] And I said, well, they first have to want to, because nobody’s going to change unless they want. My friend keeps doing this well, does your friend even want to change? Like let’s not even start that conversation. Does he want to change? If he doesn’t want to change? There’s nothing I can say. There’s nothing.
[00:15:32] You can do that. Nothing until they’re ready to change or realize they need to make a change. Nothing’s going to happen. So, you know, in society today, a lot of people are like, well, how do I get so-and-so to believe what I believe? Or how do we stop fighting? Politics or religion or whatever it might be.
[00:15:48] Well, does the other person want to change? Do they want to have that conversation? Do they want to have a discussion that makes sense in the adult conversation? And if they’re not willing to, then it’s not going to work, you can’t do it by yourself. All we can do individually is choose to make a change for ourselves.
[00:16:06] And so, yeah, it’s a hundred percent about awareness and if you want something different, then you can do something different. But until. Nothing’s going to be different, whether that’s learning about expectations, whether that’s, you know, taking a class from some big names person like Tony Robbins or whoever, you’re not going to make a change, unless you want to.
[00:16:25] Lance Wantenaar: I mean, as one of the biggest factors, when it comes to anybody’s engagement, we’re seeing. It doesn’t matter what it is that you want to do, which you want to get involved in, unless there’s personal buy-in and interest to actively be engaged with it, or unless there’s something in the whole process, which is going to make the person feel like are they got an interest or got some kind of involvement in it?
[00:16:51] It’s just going to be overall something that they’re going to ignore it. You could say, not enjoying any way, shape or form. So there has to be a certain amount of interest in novelty and stimulation in there, which they find is going to be useful and interesting. And you know, if that does boldly into something that’s.
[00:17:11] Engaging. It provides a lot more feedback and a lot more positive response for them. Then it’s more or less, you know, waste of time and effort for that person to be involved in all situation. So it is a very tricky situation. I mean, you can’t change another person’s mind, even if you talk to them for an extended period of time, the.
[00:17:31] That’ll change another person’s mind is the other person. And whereas they willing to explore other options and to look at things from a slightly different perspective. That’s I think just a de facto, you can say rule
[00:17:45] Ben Winter: of life. Yeah. All we can really do is change the way we connect with somebody. If we’re in a relationship and we want to change our partner for whatever reason, first of all, everybody’s going to say you can’t change your partner.
[00:17:56] You can only change yourself. So from that standard, It’s more, if the approach that you’ve been taking with your partner hasn’t been working, then all you can do is change your approach and have a different kind of conversation with them. Start a different way, asking questions, instead of asking for things, you know, it’s like, you know, what do you want in the relationship?
[00:18:16] Or what do you think about X, Y, Z, as opposed to just saying like, I need you to do this in the relation. You know, if you engage them as though they matter in their opinion matters, you’re going to get a different result than just telling them what you want. And that might spark them to want to make a change because they will have said something out loud that sparked an interest in that change.
[00:18:38] You can start the spark, but again, it’s gotta be their choice. And sometimes the approach that we take has to change for somebody else to realize they want to change.
[00:18:48] Lance Wantenaar: Um, a certain amount of ego is also involved in the whole situation because you’ve got the journey. You go to one side to be able to be compassionate and being a bit more understanding of the other person.
[00:18:58] So that is probably a bigger challenge, more than anything else, or being willing to just sit and listen. I’m not predetermined and outcome of the whole.
[00:19:09] Ben Winter: Yes. He goes big for everyone. Like, and the main piece there is that nobody wants to be wrong. For some reason, we’ve made it so bad to be wrong, that people will fight each other to not be wrong.
[00:19:23] You know, just look at American politics. Oh my God, nobody wants to be wrong. Like even if the truth is staring them in their face and it’s just like, here is the truth repeatedly over and over and over, they will still fight you and say, Because they don’t want to be wrong and it’s showing the ego in macro form.
[00:19:46] Lance Wantenaar: Yeah, it’s a, I think that’s, you could say that is probably the bigger challenge in anything is because ego’s going to be such a big challenge to get that. And, you know, that can be the philosophical discussion. They can carry on phages, getting back to the improv side of things. The reason why I’m fascinated with improv is I’ve been watching stand-up comedians for a very long time, and it’s always been incredibly fascinating watching how.
[00:20:16] They can construct a narrative very, very quickly out of random pieces of information and this capacity for learning as something which I find incredibly inspiring certain aspects. And the question then to you is that will the improv that you’ve learned to now teach. What do you find are some of the basic skills that people can learn to be able to one learn faster, but also connect information together better so that they can actually make the information.
[00:20:51] Ben Winter: So when the word improv comes up, a lot of people equate it to stand up comedy. And the improv that I do is more along the lines of the show, whose line is it anyway? And it’s a group of people coming together and creating a scene based on a suggestion by somebody in the audience or whatever. So I know that in standup comedy, there are rules for standup.
[00:21:15] That’s more formula. That you put together to create a joke to create that narrative. So whether you’re learning standup or whether you’re learning improv, the rules that you learn definitely equate to life in general. So, you know, standup comedian. Are considered very fast on their feet. Now, the reason is because they are constantly flexing that muscle in their brain that, that as you asked, does it connect things faster?
[00:21:43] Does it help think faster and create these narratives faster? And I would say absolutely. If you have a formula that you’re constantly using to build your material, then your brain is going to be constantly thinking that way. And it’ll go faster and faster and faster and faster. The same thing with improv.
[00:22:00] You know, the, the rules of improv apply to everything we do every moment of every day, because what do we do every moment of every day we improvise, we make stuff up as we go. And so if you understand the rules, the most common rule of improv is referred to as yes. And you know, most people. If they’ve ever heard a rule of improv, it’s usually that one and yes.
[00:22:21] And really just comes down to accepting what is in the moment and then moving from there because how many people walk around and deny like, no, I have money on my credit. No, run it again. No, I have gas in the car. I don’t need to stop at the gas station. Like they’re denying the situations that are going on around them, and then they get, they get upset later when they didn’t do what they needed to do at the time.
[00:22:42] Whether that’s pay off the credit card bill or use a different credit card or fill their gas tank up when it reads empty. Well, it read empty, but I thought I could make it now I’m upset because I didn’t fill up. You know? So if you accept that your gases at empty, you accept that you don’t have any more money to spend.
[00:23:00] Then you can do something about it. Like, okay, I need to go work more or I need to put gas in my tank before I move on to doing anything else. Your life is just going to work better because you’re accepting what is and choosing from there as opposed to denying what is and fighting against the. And so, you know, when I teach the rules of improv, it’s, like I said, it’s not necessarily to get people up on stage to perform improv it’s so that they understand how the life works better by knowing and understanding the rules of improv.
[00:23:30] The rules are
[00:23:31] Lance Wantenaar: there that people can use apart from the Yesod, because it seems to be one of the most crucial ones to. Which I think ties into awareness because you have to be willing to pay attention to either the situation or the environment or the engagement or what it is that you focusing on. So what other rules would you suggest?
[00:23:52] So therefore,
[00:23:55] Ben Winter: So I mentioned one earlier, which is focused on the presence. So again, if you’re accepting what is in the moment and you’re focused on the here and now, the options that you’re going to have are going to be exponentially larger than if you’re in denial of the situation. You know, like let’s take the tank of gas.
[00:24:11] For example, if you’re aware that you’re almost out of gas and you need to get to a gas station, but you’re sitting there on your phone or you’re thinking about your laundry, you might miss the gas station that you just drove past. And there’s not another one. 10 miles and you run out of gas. You know, if you’re not focused on the road, you’re going to get in an accident.
[00:24:29] If you’re not paying attention to the person sitting across from you, when you’re having a conversation, you’re not going to hear what question they just asked or how they asked the question, because sometimes the inflection is more important than the words. So focus on the present is very important for survival in life, just because so much happens right in front of us.
[00:24:51] How many people walked down the road, they’re looking at their phone and they just, they walk into a pole or a wall or a door, you know, if they were focused on the present and not on their phone, they wouldn’t have walked into it. The rule that kind of feeds the expectation thing was, is called, be specific too often.
[00:25:06] We’re not specific enough in what we’re asking people who are not saying. When we’re asking somebody to do something for us, we’re not being specific about when or why, or even how, you know, the example I use in the book. It’s very easy for people to relate is, you know, husband and wife and the wife is saying like, Hey, can you take out the trash?
[00:25:25] And the husband’s like, sure. Right. Problem solved. No. Well, you know, he’s sitting there and watching sports ball and who knows, what’s getting, you know, he’s busy doing his own thing. He’s not taking out the trash right then and there, but she wanted him to, but it was never spoken either way. Now, if she said, you know, Hey honey, can you take out the trash right now?
[00:25:44] Because I just threw fish in there because we’re having guests over for dinner and I don’t want the house. Well, that’s pretty specific and he can come back and say, I will do that just as soon as this half is over, which is in about two minutes, does that work? And now they’re doing, what’s called communicating, which is something we’ve all forgotten how to do, but they’re communicating, they’re negotiating.
[00:26:05] They’re figuring out the common ground. They’re setting those expectations of one another, but being specific, really just helping. With communication and the world today, because too often we’re like, Hey, we’re meeting for dinner at seven at this restaurant. And oh, by the way, they won’t seat us until everybody’s there.
[00:26:22] So make sure you’re on time. Okay. That’s a little more specific than see what’s there, you know, dinner’s at seven. Me as an adult, dinner’s at seven it’s in my calendar. I’m going to be there at seven. That’s just not a question, but there are some people that need the extra information so that they do some other things a little earlier than they normally would.
[00:26:41] So they show up on time. Cause there are people that are constantly late, mostly because they’re not focused on the present. That’s three really basic rules of improv. And, and just following those three alone are so huge. Now the first rule I talk about is called don’t deny, which is mostly a deeper dive into the whole.
[00:27:01] Yes. And so don’t deny as basically the word. Yes. And the yes. And, but there’s so much more depth to the very moment of choosing to accept what is, because there’s so much there. So yes. And it becomes a second rule in my book. Until you can accept what is, there’s no reason to do the hand part. So I’ve kind of separated the two, you highlighted
[00:27:21] Lance Wantenaar: quite a few aspects, which I think people need to buy quite a lot of intention to.
[00:27:27] It sounds very simple in the way that you said it, but I think there’s quite a bit of complexity to the statement that you made. I’m just revisiting the holes expectation and the communication aspect, because the example that you gave was quite succinct in that where the wife says, honey, can you take out the trash?
[00:27:48] And the husband is watching his falls, whatever else it is is watching on TV. Now the perceived expectation on the wife obviously, is that what she’s involved in is important. Getting this done is important. And she was expecting a certain level. There’s a certain expectation that her husband was going to understand this.
[00:28:09] You could say mentioned expectation because she was hoping that he would pay attention to the fact that you preparing facials. And he would know that something was being done with. The groceries or for board and hence it’s inferred that it was a certain amount of understanding, but in essence, people tend to be very forgetful.
[00:28:30] Most of the time, they don’t always have that. You can say information readily available because. Yeah, they get involved with those things. So you tend to unload that part of the memory. If you want to reference software in a way, or how computers work is that it becomes a bit of a dormant memory, and you’re not thinking of it at the time.
[00:28:48] So unless you’ve either actively involved in helping out in the kitchen doing something with the table or getting the table prepared and, you know, you want says, look, can you talk out to try as you know, Part of the scenario or the context of the situation. So you’re going to be a lot more willing to do it at that time, because it’s part of your active experience.
[00:29:09] If you want to quote you reference something that I read from Dr. Flint with a treatment that he was talking, because he separated the memories out into dormant memories and active memories, and he calls. Something that’s actively being sort of an active experience. So that’s why I’m using those terms because you, in that situation, you actively involved in it.
[00:29:29] You’re going to be more likely to take out the trash without the additional communication and the reference where if you’ve got somebody that’s doing something else and they actively engage with it and that their most dominant part of their thinking, the expectation is not going to be met for a wife because she’s.
[00:29:47] Accurate and communicated her expectations for him. And he’s not understood. Here’s the expectation from her because he’s focused on the task that he’s doing, whether it’s watching sports, whether it’s working with something else. And it seems it’s this awareness again, I think it very much comes down to awareness about the present situation, as well as the situation that you’re in to make sure that you relay the information in a way with a certain amount.
[00:30:16] Justification for doing it. I think that’s also part of the example that you gave is by saying, providing a justification because you know, I’ve bought fish on preparing fish tonight and I don’t want the house to smell of fish and the guests are coming. Now that justification is going to be. A lot more understanding is going to provide a lot more context to the whole situation, but it’s also going to vote.
[00:30:41] You could say the emotional side of things, because nobody really likes the smell of old fish in the house. And that’s going to provide a certain amount of motivation to actually take out the trash and kind of keep the peace in certain aspects. And there’s a lot of subtleties. I mean simplicity in what was said, but I think there’s a lot of complexity in the way that the examples can make people potentially learn and adapt to make their life a lot easier.
[00:31:12] Ben Winter: I kind of feel like the phrase that keeps coming up as you’re talking about this as common sense. Like how many times do we walk around? And people just are not using common sense because of the situation that’s happening right there. You know, too often I’m out in the world. And I just see people like questioning the cashier about something that they’re buying or some rule that’s going on.
[00:31:32] And I’m like, did you not see the sign? Or did you not? Like, do you not even know where you are? Like you’re asking the videos that I see where somebody walks into McDonald’s and they’re trying to order like KFC chicken, and I’m like, you do know you’re in the wrong place. Right. Or, you know, somebody walks into a Mexican restaurant and they want to order French fries.
[00:31:51] And they’re like, well, we don’t serve French fries and people just like, they’re so unaware of the situation that’s going on around them. That common sense. Unfortunately, no longer common. And, you know, back to what you were saying, yes. He would hope that the husband in that scenario would be aware enough to understand like the situation of the day is we have guests, Kevin, and everything we do is going to revolve around that fact.
[00:32:14] So, you know, getting the house ready, keeping it from smelling bad, like one would hope that he would be aware enough. And I think back to the rules of improv, if he’s focused on the present, she would say, take out the trash and he would be aware enough. To realize that. We have guests coming over. She’s making fish.
[00:32:32] Cause she’s really good at it, but it smells up the house. If we don’t take the trash out, you know, hopefully by the time they’re married, that fact is just there and ready to go. But yeah, it’s, I mean, it’s a simple scenario for people to understand, like, okay, you add a little more context in what you’re asking people and it takes away a lot of the guesswork.
[00:32:49] It takes away a lot of the need for them to have common sense because unfortunately in today’s. So we have to spell things out for people. There’s a meme that I just keep seeing on the internet. It’s like basically saying like, if people think this generation is smarter than the one 50 years ago, just remember the manual for vehicles taught you how to adjust the valves.
[00:33:12] And now it’s telling you not to drink battery acid. Yeah. I mean, we’ve kind of reached the point where we have to spell out everything for people like your coffee’s hot. Don’t spill it on your lap. I mean, it’s like, do people really think like things aren’t going to hurt them unless it’s written in legalees on the package?
[00:33:31] Like is so common sense. Just, I don’t know where. It needs to come back.
[00:33:39] Lance Wantenaar: It’s almost like a lost presence or it’s a dog’s ball that’s been thrown in the woods is like, can you come
[00:33:47] Ben Winter: back? Yes. I want common sense to become, and again,
[00:33:51] Lance Wantenaar: part of the challenge to the whole common sense. Discussion is most of it.
[00:33:57] I think down to distraction, we also driven was distraction with the technology and the lifestyles and everything else that we’ve built up for us, that we also focused on the. More attention seeking aspects of the technology, smartphones people’s attentions and everything else that we’ve, you know, exposing ourselves to on a daily basis that you could almost say the cognitive capacity for common sense has gone out the window.
[00:34:28] I think that’s where a large portion of the problem is. And I’m going to take the smartphone is in his own. It’s a fantastic invention. The amount of computing power that’s in a smart phone nowadays is severe. And the amount of flexibility that it provides in feeding us and distracting us with information means that people are more focused on the novelty aspect of the phone.
[00:34:52] Not actually paying attention to something as simple as being. And hence the reason where people have to have things spelled out like, you know, this coffee is hot, then spill it and your life, various other ridiculous requirements that people have to have on a day to day basis to ensure that they can get out of bed and don’t fall down the stairs.
[00:35:13] So I think there’s, you could say we’ve created our own scenarios situation. That’s made all life become more complex, but also less. Which means people are paying less attention to the things that they should be doing on a day-to-day
[00:35:28] Ben Winter: basis. Yeah. And distractions take us away from that. The rule of improv that really helps with life, which is focused on the present.
[00:35:35] So many distractions keep us from seeing what’s actually happening around us. I mean, it’s, it’s just that simple.
[00:35:42] Lance Wantenaar: I that’s a big challenge because a lot of the technologies, so. And grinded designed to drive distraction and focus, but it actually feeds into, you could say the novelty aspect, the awareness, you know, to always be aware on the device and hand and then information they’re feeding all the time, because obviously they’ve designed it.
[00:36:03] You just don’t put me in a novelty and all the things which makes people feel nice and they have light buttons and all kinds of engagement, which obviously makes people feel a lot more, you can say present in that moment, in that device, which then takes them away from being aware and present and paying attention to, you know, day-to-day life, which in certain aspects can prevent you from walking straight into that.
[00:36:29] Yeah. I always end up having this huge chuckle when I read some of the incidents where people have said, oh no, you know, they’ve taken photos. Like the one lady that took a photo of us sticking around into an enclosure where there was a, I think there was a lion or a tiger or a leopard or something on it, basically ripped her onto pieces.
[00:36:51] And then she was. I mean the zoo it’s like, well, you decided to cross over a barrier. You then knowing they took y’all and stuck it into an enclosure where there’s a dangerous animal. And then you trying to blame somebody else for your lack of attention, to warning signs and barriers to prevent people from doing things that you’ve just.
[00:37:14] So I think people get so engaged in the virtual world and they don’t climb to look for validation that they’re not paying attention to things which basically can prevent them from doing something stupid.
[00:37:26] Ben Winter: I mean, I couldn’t agree more, even when we put up signs that say, do not enter, you might die. We still get people doing stupid things and then trying to blame somebody else for their own stupidity.
[00:37:37] And it’s, it’s just, it’s annoying. So tell us a bit
[00:37:41] Lance Wantenaar: more about what else you’re involved in apart from your book. What else do you do on a day to day basis? Are you involved with any other youth charities or challenges or anything that.
[00:37:52] Ben Winter: Yeah. So mainly I am just kind of promoting my book of what to expect when having expectations, some, writing some other books, and I’m actually starting to take a dive into trying some Saifai.
[00:38:06] So I’m writing a scifi novel,
[00:38:08] Lance Wantenaar: which areas of SIFA, what’s your areas of interest about which topics is it that fascinates you? That.
[00:38:15] Ben Winter: So the types of scifi that I like are futuristic and dystopian futures. So sometimes it’s one in the same and other times it’s just out in space. And the one that I’m writing is more or less out in space in the future.
[00:38:30] And it involves wormholes and taking the wrong turn.
[00:38:36] Lance Wantenaar: Sounds like a interesting project. What was the reason for getting involved in the SciFest side of things? What was that kind of peak of interest
[00:38:43] Ben Winter: for you then? Basically the last five, six years I’ve really gotten into sci-fi and reading it. And since I’ve authored some books, it was kind of like, well, maybe I can try it writing Saifai in it.
[00:38:55] That would be kind of cool to have my own scifi story. Okay. Took about six months before my brain decided to give me an idea. And I started writing down ideas and I think I have like four or five ideas that are just sitting there. And then I was driving down the road and I saw a tree. I was like, well, what a form holes are kind of like trees where they just branch off and go a bunch of different places.
[00:39:15] What if you took a wrong turn? And then my brain just. Brain dumped this whole story on me. And so now I’m writing it and in a way I’m improvising it so that I can, because it keeps taking turns that I don’t even realize they’re going to happen until they’re happening. So it’s kind of like being able to read a story, but also write it at the same time.
[00:39:35] So I’m just as excited to see where this book is going to go as somebody who just picks it up and reads it for the first time. That sounded like some
[00:39:41] Lance Wantenaar: interesting concepts. I liked the way that you use the improv aspect too. You say salt, structuring the story and use it as a curiosity mechanism to develop the story and the end of the day, that’s what you need to make something to engage them.
[00:39:55] And just making sure that there’s a lot of novelty and curiosity in it for people to be engaged and also to enjoy writing it because that’s the most important thing is you’ve got to enjoy.
[00:40:04] Ben Winter: Exactly. And I think that was the other piece is that I may have wanted to write one, but it wasn’t until I came across somebody who said, you know, writing is kind of like improv, you just sort of making it up as you go.
[00:40:14] And I was like, oh, well with that connection in mind, I can definitely do this because it almost gave me the permission. And, you know, some people will sit there and they’ll map everything out. They’ll know exactly what the chapters are before they even start writing. But I think even then you’re going to come across dialogue or some idea that’s going to change things and you’re going to have to adapt.
[00:40:36] And, you know, that’s what improv is just adapting to the situation.
[00:40:40] Lance Wantenaar: And from what you’ve mentioned, that improv is very much about creativity and being able to look at ideas from a different perspective. So it’s always going to be a learning experience and it’s always going to make it worthwhile if you do it from that.
[00:40:54] Ben Winter: Absolutely. And yeah, it definitely helps with the creativity process because they sit down and I have these ideas of where things are going to go. And then all of a sudden it’s like, it’s almost like my fingers are typing the word. Without my brain catching on until after the fact, I was like, wait a second, but why is this happening?
[00:41:11] So, yeah, it’s just, it’s been fun so far. And I have no idea how far along I am. I could be a halfway there. I could be a third of the way I could be. You know, I might have 20 more chapters to go. I have no idea.
[00:41:25] Lance Wantenaar: Sometimes you just don’t know how it’s going to
[00:41:27] Ben Winter: turn. Exactly,
[00:41:29] Lance Wantenaar: but, and tell people where they can get hold of you if they want to engage with you or they want to listen to the talks or actually get involved with you to do something.
[00:41:40] Ben Winter: Yeah. So there’s a couple of websites. People can check out. The first one would be having expectations.com and that’s where you can find more about the book and or all the books and other stuff like that. And then when it comes to team building or improv. Which I just call it. Team building is success improv.
[00:41:59] Excellent. What
[00:42:00] Lance Wantenaar: I’ll do is I’ll share all of that in the via, in the show notes. And you can have people want to get ahold of you. They can reach you through those Balkans. Definitely all people know. So that
[00:42:11] Ben Winter: sounds
[00:42:11] Lance Wantenaar: good. Excellent. Thank you very much for your time. I really did enjoy it. There’s a couple of nuggets in there, which I do appreciate, and it was a worthwhile experience and that’s definitely something that I’ll be paying attention to myself, walking to a telephone poles and everything.
[00:42:29] It’s never a
[00:42:29] Ben Winter: guarantee that now never a guarantee.
[00:42:33] Lance Wantenaar: Excellent. Excellent interview. Have a good
[00:42:35] Ben Winter: day. Yeah. Thanks for having me on when you support and review a podcast like this from someone like Lance, it gains more visibility and motivates him to produce more. What topics most interest you, the best topic.
[00:42:48] Gains a shout out on the podcast. .