8 Feb, 2022

#191 How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life


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“By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul.” – Epicurus

What would be your greatest accomplishment? The question sounded off, right? It’s probably because not a lot of people ask this question. A lot of people focus on what you’ve already done, emphasising the value of what you have already built. But doesn’t that feel a little limiting? To be defined only by your past?

The world has conditioned us to be distracted. Instant gratifications, quick-fix solutions, antagonising failures. These things make it so hard to focus on what’s important, becoming who you want to become.

A lot of people stop from reaching their goals because they experience setbacks and, in response, they allow and get comforted by the distractions because it is easier and doesn’t need tons of effort. But I want you to start challenging this mentality. Let me help you become “indistractable”.

In this episode, listen as I talk about attention and how learning to control it can help you take charge of your life.


✅ Practice being “indistractable”. Learn how to focus on what’s important.

✅ Your attention is one of the most powerful things you own. Do not let it slip away.

✅ You don’t have to be in pain to realise you need growth. If you learn how to focus on becoming who you want to be, you’ll be able to live your life and choose your life mindfully.

Some important stories in the episode:

✍🏼 (7:40) Reflecting on Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar Speech about chasing yourself, to be your own hero.

✍🏼 (11:48) Listen to this simple drawing exercise that can help you identify what your distraction is and your traction.

✍🏼 (12:34) Recollecting my conversation with Ronnie O’Sullivan on self-blaming.


Do you feel that you are not in control of your life? Are you ready to live to your fullest potential?
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Excited to hear your thoughts about this episode.


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About Pete Cohen:

Pete Cohen is one of the world’s leading life coaches and keynote speakers. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world have been motivated and inspired by Pete’s presentations. He has professionally impacted the lives of thousands of people worldwide, including business executives, professional athletes, and everyday people.  Pete focuses on the importance of closing the gap in our lives between where we are and where we want to be, both personally and professionally.

It’s then all about coaching you to remove the obstacles that are in your way and helping you install the habits of success.

Pete is the author of 19 published books, several of which have been best-sellers across the world, including Shut the Duck Up, Habit Busting, Life DIY, and Sort Your Life Out. He has also presented his own show on TV called The Coach and was the resident Life Coach on GMTV for 12 years. His new book Inspirators – Leading The Way In Leadership is available for free here –


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Pete Cohen 0:00
Happy beautiful day. Welcome to the Mi365 podcast. today's podcast is called 191 How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. I'll see you after the theme tune.

Pete Cohen 0:44
Let's get ready to rumble. Happy beautiful, amazing, fantastic day. Thank you so much for being here for the podcast. I think we must be at 365 episodes I better kind of do my maths to kind of work out maybe this could be the 365 episodes. That's pretty amazing, isn't it? That's pretty consistent. Would you not say 300 And in fact, it's even more than that because I've been podcasting. This podcast. Mi365 podcast is coming up to five years old and no over five years where we're moving into our six year come on. And I was doing a podcast in 2012 on something called Blog talk radio where you'd literally use the phone to phone up and record your voice and you could interview people and we did a whole load of episodes. You know, there was one of the things I would I would absolutely love everyone to just take a moment to think about which is this. How would you want people to think about you, you know, people around you people that you know your colleagues, your friends. What do you think they think about you? Because I was thinking about this the other day when I was doing some work around the whole subject of charisma, you know, charisma is I love the word just oh you're so charismatic. And I was looking what that word actually means. And, you know, it's obviously having an energy around you and going into a room and just being yourself and making a difference. But I realized that I'm, I'm not as charismatic as I could be. Because I'm not as in the moment as I could be. You know, when I'm recording podcasts, sometimes when I'm talking to people when I'm actually with people I'm not always present. And that made me realize, well, I'm not as charismatic as it could be. It really kind of made me stop and look for a minute. And that's kind of what the Mi365 podcast has always been about. It's always about giving people a different perspective of something because, you know, we know that people don't change when we tell them what to do. They, we tend to really change when our perspective changes. The biggest perspective shifts we tend to have are through a crisis, you know, a really bad thing happens and then all of a sudden, we a real difficult thing happens and then through going through that thing, we then have a different perspective than the one that we had. before. But you know what? I believe that the only thing that exists in our universe is possibilities right is space. If you look up to the stars, you just see Wow, look how much space there is. What can we do with the space that we have? And what most people do with the space that they have is they keep repeating it keep repeating the same thoughts, the same actions. And I really want to talk today about what you can do about it. And one of those things is definitely becoming aware of your your attention.

Pete Cohen 3:32
You know, where is your attention? Where do you put your attention or maybe you've heard whatever you put your attention on expands. And we know that the mind is a very powerful thing, but it's very disruptive if if you don't become aware of it if you don't become the passive observer. Really, that's such an important thing. I was talking in a room on clubhouse yesterday and it was amazing lady who was talking about the fact that she had been kidnapped and then she had literally been a slave to someone for a number of years. It was just like, Wow, what an incredible story. But who she's become was far more inspiring that she decided to forgive this person. And she also decided obviously did a lot of work and had a lot of therapy I believe but also became the inspired observer became the passive observer to become aware of the experience of you moving through the world. And this to me is something that requires practice. And as we launched the start one, stop one challenge in January. We're genuinely looking for people that want to decide who they want to be, who they want to be with their health. Their energy, their relationships, their wealth, their work, who is that person? Because that person isn't you? Otherwise, you'd probably already have it. Or maybe your work in progress, which we're all working progress, but it's to be able to identify why you aren't where you want to be. And that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with where you are. I mean, you can look at it that way. But I don't think that's a very advantageous way of looking at it. I just think you know, this is where you are well done. Fantastic. Great job. Now, what do you want to do? What do you want to do with where you are? How's that working out for you now? You can judge it often say to people on a scale of one to 10 Where would you say your health was? Right? And most people I don't know what most people would say but whatever that number is, I then say okay, why is that number not lower? Now, of course, that's not the the question that most people expect me to ask. Most people expect me to ask why is the number not higher, or forget why it's not higher? The fact is, it's obviously important, but it's not important enough. What would it take for it to be important? What would it take for you to get fitter and healthier? Because I think if we if we all start off with a blank page, and just look at it like this for a moment. If you want to just take a moment to pause with a blank page and just like the founder of a Alcoholics Anonymous said, let's start off with the truth. Let's start off with the truth of where we are right in this moment in time. And if we are being honest we will probably be aware of our attention is very fragmented. And I would love to ask you are you interested in becoming in distractible, indestructible you know, once this is one of the things again, for those of you that don't know the MI 365. The AI stands for a few things. It stands for Yes, being inspired. Because if you want to control your attention, I think it's absolutely essential that you're inspired about what is in the future. For you. And I would say not necessarily what you want, but who you could be to be inspired by that person to be driven by that person to be consistent with that person. And that's not always an easy thing to do for a few different reasons. But that's the first is to be inspired and to know the impact, which is the second eye the impact that you could have by being that person and then the third eye is the third eye get it? The third eye is to identify with that person to practice being that person just like Matthew McConaughey He said you know, in his the Oscar winning speech, you know, he he knew basically who we needed to be. And he had a relationship with with that person. You know, we've we've shared this so many times on this podcast, but just because, you know you've heard it once. It doesn't mean you've kind of got the message. And I would really encourage you to you know, to listen to what he said not about

Matthew McConaughey 8:09
it. You know it is I said it's me in 10 years. So I turned 25 10 years later that same person comes bingo so you're a hero and I was like not even close. No, no, she said why? I said because my heroes me at 35 So you see every day every week every month and every year my life my heroes always 10 years away. I'm never gonna be my hero. I'm not gonna pain that I know I'm not and that's just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on Chase. So any of us whatever those things are, whatever it is, we look up to whatever it is we look forward to and whoever it is we're chasing to that I say amen. to that. I say all right, all right, all right.

Pete Cohen 8:51
You know, ultimately, that is to identify with who you could be identify with your hero. And I ask people the question, what will be your greatest achievement in your in your entire life? What will be your greatest achievement, not what has been, because we're all has bins, but it's what we could be. That's the third eye to identify with that person and to bring that person into this world every single day. If you want to you don't have to. But that's the play I'm making. I'm making the plan. I know this isn't for everyone. Because the fourth eye is to become in distractible. Right. It's to become somewhat you don't get distracted when if you do you get back on track. Very, very very quickly. Because I promise you if you're not equipped to deal with distraction, your brain will be manipulated by time wasting devices, or diversions, time wasting diversions and in the future, there will be two types of people there will be people that will be in distractible and there will be people that are just constantly constantly stuck in a tragedy of their own creation. And that's what you know whether we like it or not, that's what social media is doing. A lot of people don't want to have that conversation. But let's just be honest, how addicted are you to your device? How much spike time do you spend on your device? Like I said, the people that started social media started for one reason, one reason only to manipulate people. That's all you invent the ship. You invent the ship wreck? That there's no there is no question about it. But ultimately, I'd say you know, you know, what is the ultimate goal? I think I'm one of the most annoying people. Sometimes there's some of the people I know because when I get together with my friends, which isn't really that often these days, and we talk about the good old days and that they were great. We had great fun, but I'm much more interested in what are we doing? Where are we going? I don't know about you, but I just feel that the best is yet to come. And in our world right now. That is full of there's never been a time in history. I don't believe where there's been more fear more direct. More doubt, more worry, more anxiety, more depression, more suicide, more just uncertainty. And I don't know if you agree, but what I think is the world has given me a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very clear message, which is well who do I want to be? There's To me this is like a war, you know, and ultimately, I want to be a hero. And for me, the hero is identifying with the person that I'm going to be and chipping away and bringing that person and being more charismatic, being more wet, being more in the moment and holding myself accountable. So I want to ask you this question because this is what I'm really really really really really interested in because again, this is this is pretty gonna be pretty intense, but I think it's important. I dare you to draw, get a piece of paper and literally draw on one side of the paper the word attraction, and the other word, distraction, destroy it. And if you want to know what traction means, it's fascinating. It comes from the Latin word to hear, which means the action of drawing forwards. It's absolutely fascinating. And then I'd like you to write plus one on one side and minus one for distraction. Because obviously, the word distraction, believe it or not, is when your mind is being moving away from something where our mind has been pulled in another direction. So I don't know what your distractions are. But you know, I think the most important thing is to not be hard on yourself. around any of this because you're not alone. And if you use the analogy of a snooker player, this is what used to say to Ronnie O'Sullivan, six times sneaker world champion, I used to say to him, Ronnie who's responsible for because you keep blaming the cue, you keep blaming your action, you know, you keep blaming the balls, sometimes sometimes you blame the table, but who's responsible for getting the ball in the pocket? Who is it? You see the cue and the balls are the proximate causes. They are not the causes. You know? And if this triggered something in you, then I would encourage you to have a longer conversation with someone who maybe can help you with this. Because if it's gambling, you know, definitely me heads up. I've always had an issue with gambling. That's why I don't do it. Sugar yet meat hands up. Drugs. Yep. In the past sex. Yep. me up, put my hand up. TV put my hand up social media. Yep, Instagram. Yep. Facebook. Yep. Guilty. LinkedIn. Yep. Guilty. Twitter. Yep. Guilty clubhouse Yes, seriously guilty.

Pete Cohen 13:43
But when I say guilty, I don't mean like there's something wrong with you. We are all we're all. We're all slaves to these. What we don't realize is behind lots of these social media and all of these companies, whether we realize it or not, you know, the food manufacturers. They shouldn't really be allowed and now they're being more held to account from the colors that they put the packaging of the food in. So the content from the ingredients in the food which is extremely addictive to the cigarette manufacturers, to the alcohol producers, they all produce these things because they're addictive, that take our attention away from but this is where I think it gets really interesting. And I think, really, you know what motivates people? Really, and this goes back to Stoic philosophers that were talking about this. What motivates people is basically is the absence of pain in the body, and trouble in the soul. I think it was Epictetus that said that think about that what motivates people the absence of pain in the body and trouble in the soul? So what happens when we feel bored, boredom when we feel stuck, rather than letting those letting us become curious as to where those emotions are coming coming from you know, as I do some therapy on myself. I know for a large period of my life, I'm not present haven't been present. When I was with my parents, you know, a lot of the time I wasn't there. I was doing something else. My mum when she was alive, and I was, you know, spending huge amounts of time on clubhouse. She said, Your cottaging again. For those of you that don't know what cottaging is, you might not want to know but if those that you do that, it did make us all laugh. But really to think about what is the most powerful thing that you own? Is it not your attention? Is your attention not one of the most powerful things, your ability to focus your attention on something and the fact is, there's just way too much information? The prefrontal cortex of our brain, it can't, it can't deal with too much information. So if you've got all of these different things going on, right, all the browsers that might be open, or all of the social media platforms that you use, you're going to spin out. Now if I said to you, Hey, everyone, remember this number? You're ready, let's go 5439218765412 How many of you go right? That's it I forgotten but if I said 3791 to eat remember that because there's not too much information. So too much information is really confusing people and is causing a lot of discomfort. But but let's face it, most of us in our life have grown up and experienced some form of trauma or difficulty for me personally, I believe that I really struggled to be present because I didn't feel I was good enough. So I was trying to prove to everybody else that I was something or someone. So I'd always be trying to prove rather than actually just being where I am and it's not one of the greatest things we will ever do in our life, is be where we are and in what we are doing in our business as in as in helping people identify with who they want to be. And I know I say this a lot, but I'm going to say it again if I work with an athlete, which I've done in my life, many times Olympic medalists or gold medalists, and they come to me, you know, the question is, what do you want? And ultimately, they want to win, right? So I asked the question, How would you know that you've won, and they look at me like I'm crazy. And the only reason they know they would have won is because they can imagine it. They can see it. And I say you know that person you see that's not you. That's not you. It could be you. But that's not you if you wanted it to be you right now in this moment, what would you have to stop doing? Stop what would you have to stop doing? Probably making excuses. You'd have to go really, really deep into your training because right now, you don't you don't practice like you're performing. Now obviously this is a kind of generalization but having spent years working with athletes, I was always really fascinated between what they said and what they did. Very, very occasionally I'd see athletes that would just give it their all put everything into the attainment of their goal.

Pete Cohen 18:18
Because what will be your greatest achievement will one of your greatest achievements be in your life who you become, you become more charismatic and you wake up to the fact of right now, drawing a piece of paper and one side of the paper put a line down the middle and writing down traction and the other side distraction? Because I want to help people create traction in their life. Get on a streak with something you know, this is again what we're launching with the Stop stop one start one challenge is to help people bring into play certain behaviors that if practiced over an extended period of time they get huge traction, that it then becomes really hard to go back. So is it possible that the proximate causes that you might have in your life or are they I mean, I mean, I don't know if you've got a few but most people have, you know that cause distraction. It could be social media, it could be food, it could be drugs, it could be alcohol, it could be many, many things. It could be Netflix, and to realize that is it possible that there's some sort this is relieving some sort of pain or discomfort that is already there? And maybe part of that is just not allowing yourself to grow. There's the pain of discomfort of just knowing that you're not being who you're capable of being. So you just numb it out with something that gives you something in the moment

Pete Cohen 19:45
what we need to do is master the internal distractions that we have, but it's that's work. It really is work and it's whether people want to do that or not. Because I think a lot of people don't want to do that. And if they don't want to do that, that's really none of my business. I'm just really fascinated by human beings. What we're capable of. And as we start to wrap up this podcast I'm going to talk about something I've mentioned before, which is about identity. And if you go and look at that word identity, it comes from a Latin word SN Titas which means basically it means it comes from another Latin word identity, which means repeated beingness what does that mean? This is something Dr. Joe Dispenza talks a lot about you know, every single day we just go and repeat. Repeat, repeat. We just repeat don't wait. We just repeat what we did yesterday. And those peak experiences that many of us had when we were younger, which we we don't have we just work we convince ourselves we are who we are. This is me. This is my personality. I just think is garbage. Personally, I just think it's absolute garbage. I don't believe in personality testing. I think most of it is just a joke that people have just bought into that people don't want to talk about it and say really Myers Briggs, what's that all based on? Disk? What's all that based on? I think it's based on people wanting to put themselves in a hole and live a life of mediocrity. And the word mediocrity means being caught in the middle of a rugged mountain. I don't believe in personality testing. I think there's personality traits. And most of our traits have come along from the life that we have. But if a bus came towards you right now, you're not gonna say Listen, can you leave me alone? I'm just you know, I'm, I'm a shy person. I think our personality and our identity is who we're choosing to be. And what are most people choosing to do? Let's be honest. Come on, let's be honest. Most people are making a conscientious choice to continue to be who they are. A disaster comes along and all of a sudden, people will change once they get out of a disaster. You know, I saw this I used to live in Ladbroke Grove Grenville tower that the woke up to the smell. We're living on a boat got out saw the saw this thing on fire. I saw people behaving in a way that they'd never normally behave. I knew people there, they hated each other. There was a lot of racial tension there. It wasn't a great place. Actually. You could feel the tension but that all just went away. The few days and weeks afterwards, people were giving what they didn't have. Wow, look at the beauty of people. What we can do. But as Ghandi said, what we what what we can be is what we what we say every day to be the change that you want to see in this world. And you're not I don't know if anyone gets that, you know when I when I talk about it. It's like look at our world. Look at our world. What is the world crying out for you to do? If there was a message coming from the situation with COVID If there was a message coming from the world and what the temperature of the world changing if there was all of everything that's going on? What's the message? For me, it's to make a real decision about who I'm going to be through this through this time. But ultimately, we still have choice. I would imagine everyone who's listening to this you are in a privileged position still of being able to make choices. What will the choices be that you make, they'll probably be quite predictable. They'll probably be very similar to the choices that you've made in the past. And ultimately whatever you choose to do, that's your business. I am not here to tell anyone even though it might seem like I'm coming across it. I'm telling you what to do. It's none of my business to tell you what to do. It's your business. But maybe you've got a different perspective of what it takes to be in distractible to be in distractible starts off with telling yourself the truth. Look at what you're doing. What is the pain in yourself that maybe you're not dealing with that you're distracting yourself? Maybe you're afraid to go all in and focus your attention on something like never before. You know because I'm ready. I'm ready this time last year we created the 30 day program that you know over 7000 people have gone through three and a half percent of people completed it that's not good enough for me. It's like all these people starting with good intentions but the good intentions go out the window because how many people gave into distraction how many people were then saw another course that someone had to offer? I think it's so important. By the way, just as an aside, when you decide who you want to be in this world, surround yourself with a few people that support you. That's hugely important, but don't follow too many people.

Pete Cohen 24:46
People very few people asked me who I follow by the way, I don't think anyone asked me who do you follow? Well, first off, I follow myself. You know, I follow the person I'm becoming. I'm very mindful of the people I listen to. Because it's very easy to be swayed by what other people have to say. But ultimately, it's your life. And what will be the biggest achievement Let's wake up to the fact that we have some challenges in our life. What can we do about them? It's up to us. It's let's get some traction. Remember what the word traction means? It comes from the Latin word to hear t r a h e r e what does that mean? It means the action of being pulled towards something fascinating, right? Distraction. It's when you're moving away from something. I love it. It's like a growth mindset. You're either growing or you're dying. Where do you want to grow? Where do you want to go? I really appreciate every single one of you that listens to our podcast. You know, this has been going now for a long time. And we've only just got started. I'm really excited about the opportunity to work with people. As we launched the Start One Stop One challenge in January. It's going to be the best thing I've ever done. Without a doubt because we're going to help more people go to a place that they want to go. It's going to be absolutely epic. We're going to be guess what we're going to be yes. That's right. I love it. When a plan let's get ready to rumble.

Pete Cohen 26:34
Let's go. It's the A team.


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