As part of my series about prominent entrepreneurs and executives that overcame adversity to achieve great success”, I had the pleasure of interviewing…
G. Brian Benson who is an award-winning and #1 best-selling self-help author, life coach, speaker (TEDx), radio personality, actor and filmmaker. 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.
Crowley: Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
G. Brian Benson: 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 to stay in balance 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!
Crowley: Can you share your story of when you were on the brink of failure? First, take us back to what it was like during the darkest days.
Benson: It had to have been right in the middle of the final year of my running the family business just prior to coming up with my “balance” list. I had already made my decision to leave and couldn’t wait to see what my future held for me and I felt really stuck and a bit directionless. Not only that I was dealing with a staph infection in my right knee that had to repeatedly be drained and then eventually go through surgery for. It was a dark time.
Crowley: What was your mindset during such a challenging time? Where did you get the drive to keep going when things were so hard?
Benson: It was really hard to be honest. There were times I just wanted to throw in the towel for sure. I questioned myself repeatedly if I made the right decision to leave the security of a successful family business. Even though it was tough, I still felt intuitively I needed to stick it out, get healthy and a direction would begin to show itself. And it did. When I wrote out the initial “life-balance” list for myself and then expanded that idea into a book. I suddenly had a direction and began to move forward.
Crowley: Tell us how you were able to overcome such adversity and achieve massive success? What did the next chapter look like?
Benson: The first step was by learning how to really begin to trust my intuition. Leaving the family business was a big one, and after that experience I really began to be even more aware of and honor my intuitive hunches. That second thing that really helped move forward was to begin to step out of my comfort zone.
After writing the book I knew that I would need to learn how to be more comfortable in front of people, but the proposition of giving a speech or talking in front of others terrified me. But I honored what I needed to do, so I began the process of learning how to be more comfortable in front of others.
I started off by taking a couple of community college speech classes, I joined Toastmasters for a while, I took an acting class, I hired someone to help me co-host my own internet radio show and I also created an “interactive” workshop that I could offer people. I ended up calling it “An Introduction to Balance” and I tied it in with my first book. I really went for it! And everything I did were all great opportunities to learn, acquire self-awareness and gain confidence.
Crowley: Based on your experience, can you share 3 actionable pieces of advice about how to develop the mindset needed to persevere through adversity? (Please share a story or example for each.)
-Boldly Say Yes
One of the things I am most proud of is the fact that I have continued to show up and say yes. Yes, to trusting my intuition. Yes, to leaving my family’s business. Yes, to continually stepping out of my comfort zone and yes, to all of the projects that I felt compelled to bring to life. I have learned that saying yes sets an intention of success as well as creates a positive flow of momentum, both incredibly important as we build our foundations for success.
Yes, is such a simple yet powerful word. It can transform lives, move mountains, and change the world. Saying yes isn’t always easy but it’s worth it. To say yes requires trust. Trust in yourself; trust in the hunches that you are receiving and trust that you can accomplish whatever you are saying yes to. More than likely it is something that you haven’t had the opportunity to do before. And that involves risk. I knew that I was headed in the right direction if something felt both “scary and fun.”
-There Are No Rules (Happily Expect the Unexpected)
I had no intention of becoming an actor, speaker or an author. They weren’t even on my radar. I originally just signed up for a beginning acting class a few years back because I thought it would be another tool to help me become a more confident speaker. But I would soon find out that it would become an important part of my self-growth and creativity process, not to mention an important part of strengthening my foundation.
Acting, just like writing found me because I simply listened to my intuition. I had no expectations. I just kept an open mind and I showed up. Once I began to realize that there were no rules and that my path didn’t have to look like everyone else’s, I relaxed and my whole world opened up. I now happily expect the unexpected.
-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.
Crowley: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Benson: 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.
Crowley: Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Benson: Yes, thank you for asking. I have a brand-new book out that I am very excited about called “Habits for Success — Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar.” I feel like it is a culmination of the journey that I have been on the last 10 years of my life after I left my family business stepping out into the unknown. 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, self-awareness and new beginnings the last 10 years. I am really proud of how this book turned out. I feel like I was able to write and capture them in an inspiring, entertaining and thought-provoking way.
I am also starting to do a lot more speaking and coaching and really enjoying both. I love to connect with people. And of course, you will never take the “Creative” out of me, I have more spoken word videos coming out this year that I am really excited to share as well as a small part on a new TV show called Sangre Negra that will be airing on the El Rey network.
Crowley: You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂
Benson: 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.
Crowley: Any parting words of wisdom that you would like to share?
Benson: If one is wanting to start over in life, 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. Life is so much richer when we continue to grow, mature, and have new experiences. I know it isn’t always easy, but that’s what makes it so fulfilling to continue to test ourselves and see the world with new eyes.
Crowley: How can our readers follow you on social media?
Social media handle — @gbrianbenson