The Light Watkins Show

207: The Third Perspective - How to Break Free From Your Echo Chamber with Africa Brooke

May 15, 2024 Light Watkins
207: The Third Perspective - How to Break Free From Your Echo Chamber with Africa Brooke
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The Light Watkins Show
207: The Third Perspective - How to Break Free From Your Echo Chamber with Africa Brooke
May 15, 2024
Light Watkins

In this episode of The Light Watkins Show, Light Watkins sits down with Africa Brooke for the second time. Africa is a celebrated writer, speaker, and consultant to discuss her transformative new book, The Third Perspective. This conversation dives deep into the nuances of brave expression, self-censorship, and navigating the complexities of our polarized world.

Africa is renowned for her work in developmental coaching, focusing on self-sabotage and self-censorship. She shares her compelling story of growing up in Zimbabwe, moving to London, and ultimately finding her path through personal struggles and public declarations of her beliefs. 

She also talks about overcoming personal battles with alcoholism, and stepping away from the "cult of wokeness" has shaped her unique approach to authenticity and integrity. Her book, The Third Perspective, encourages readers to explore the often-ignored gray areas in life and find their voice amid societal pressures to conform. It provides a framework that advocates for embracing complexity and rejecting binary thinking. 

This episode delves into the principles behind her approach and the tools she offers for fostering authentic and courageous conversations.

Send us a text message. We'd love to hear from you!

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode of The Light Watkins Show, Light Watkins sits down with Africa Brooke for the second time. Africa is a celebrated writer, speaker, and consultant to discuss her transformative new book, The Third Perspective. This conversation dives deep into the nuances of brave expression, self-censorship, and navigating the complexities of our polarized world.

Africa is renowned for her work in developmental coaching, focusing on self-sabotage and self-censorship. She shares her compelling story of growing up in Zimbabwe, moving to London, and ultimately finding her path through personal struggles and public declarations of her beliefs. 

She also talks about overcoming personal battles with alcoholism, and stepping away from the "cult of wokeness" has shaped her unique approach to authenticity and integrity. Her book, The Third Perspective, encourages readers to explore the often-ignored gray areas in life and find their voice amid societal pressures to conform. It provides a framework that advocates for embracing complexity and rejecting binary thinking. 

This episode delves into the principles behind her approach and the tools she offers for fostering authentic and courageous conversations.

Send us a text message. We'd love to hear from you!

AB:“It's still that pressure people are experiencing to pick a side. That is still the running theme. Pick a side. Show us your position. Show us your goodness. And even those that are trying to take a very balanced approach. I even remember one of a post that you shared very soon after the initial attacks that happened. And it was a very beautiful, thoughtful, balanced perspective inviting people to sort of not have this reactionary approach and make a big decision and take a stance that wasn't fully acknowledging just how layered and complex all of this is. And I saw the people thanking you for it, but I also saw the massive pushback. I think I even sent you a text after that. Because that, became the trend where even those that were courageous enough to share something that was balanced, acknowledging that third perspective, right? That it's not as simple as an either or it's not as simple as a good or evil, wrong or right. They were severely punished for it. And I saw a lot of them deciding to censor themselves from that very moment on, or maybe deciding that actually, it's just not worth it to even try to be balanced to even try to have common sense. And I get that. I really understand that. So I appreciate that. We're having this conversation, not necessarily at the time when all of this originally happened, but at a time where we can look at it a little bit from a distance because we're still very much in it. But I think it's, so in line with what I'm trying to do with the idea of the third perspective, just this invitation to remember and to try and see that things are never as simple as we are made to believe they are, that you don't have to prove your goodness just because of the demands of other people.”


Hey friend, welcome back to The Light Watkins Show. I'm Light Watkins, and I have conversations with ordinary folks, just like you and me, who've taken extraordinary leaps of faith in the direction of their path, their purpose, or what they've identified as their mission in life. And in doing so, they've been able to positively impact and inspire the lives of many other people who've either heard about their story or who witnessed them in action, or People who've directly benefited from their work.

The goal of these conversations is to expose you to as many people as possible who found their path and to humanize them. And after hearing story after story, hopefully, eventually you give yourself permission to move further in the direction of whatever feels like your path and your purpose. Because what you're going to see is that anyone who does that has to overcome any of the same obstacles that you might be facing right now. 

And this week on the podcast, I am back in conversation with Africa Brooke. She is returning to the podcast with the third perspective, which is her new book about brave expression in the age of intolerance. You might remember Africa from episode one 50, where she shares her backstory of growing up in Zimbabwe and then moving to London and overcoming alcoholism at 24 years old after seven relapses.

And then during the pandemic, she published a post called Why I'm Leaving the Cult of Wokeness, which ended up going viral. She was interviewed all over the place about her thoughts on intolerance. And in her book, The Third Perspective, she teaches us how to navigate the echo chambers of social media and how to bring more authenticity and critical thinking to difficult discussions. 

Her work is intended to help us figure out what we truly, truly believe, as opposed to just parroting what we've heard or reacting with knee-jerk opinions during online discussions or even in real-life conversations.

And whenever somebody comes back onto my show. I tend to do a deeper dive into their current body of work, as opposed to what I'm typically known for, which is doing the extensive dive into their backstory. 

So we've already done a deep dive into Africa's backstory. I recommend checking that out in episode 150, after you listened to this episode and you'll get even more context into our discussion and how she developed her third perspective. 

And I believe that Africa's work is more crucial now than ever before because so many of us have a desire to move away from the rigid thinking that we see happening collectively whenever we're navigating potentially difficult discussions around subjects like politics and personal responsibility and race and sex and gender and religion. And this could be happening either in person or online, but we ultimately want to communicate our point of view and we want to be authentic in that. So Africa gives us tools for doing just that, and these are tools that have been honed over years of her experience of working with high profile clients who are seeking to be authentic while under the scrutiny of the public eye.

So Africa and I will discuss her three pillars of the third perspective, awareness, responsibility and expression. And each of these pillars asks questions like, what is stopping you from speaking your mind? And again, this could be online or even in a personal relationship. What do you stand for? And most importantly, what are you willing to risk by speaking up?

So this is going to be a good one. I cannot wait for you to hear this conversation. And without further ado, let us get right into it. The third perspective author, Africa Brooke, back on the podcast.

[00:05:52] LW: Africa. So, so, so excited to have you back on the podcast. You and I have already had a conversation about your superhero backstory, so we're not going to get into as much of that in this episode. You just released a book, The Third Perspective. And so we'll talk mostly about that, about what's the first perspective, the second and the third perspective and just everything related to that. I'm really excited to dive back in. Thank you so much for coming back on. 

[00:06:19] AB: Thank you. I've been very excited about this because it really registered that we'd last spoke two years ago, maybe more than that now. And it was a very different time, but in terms of just our thinking and our values and our, just the way in which we view the world. It's evolved, but it's also the same in a lot of ways. So I think through the context of this book, I want to see what comes up because I'm just, yeah, I'm just very excited to get your perspective on a few things. So thank you so much for having me.

[00:06:49] LW: Yeah, absolutely. And then we also got a chance to meet up in person when I was in London, which was awesome, and it was as advertised. A lot of times you meet people online and you meet them in person and it's not exactly the same experience, but with you, I felt like there was this sort of seamless transference of energy and it was just, it was beautiful. You're someone whose work I've admired for so long.

And what's great about writing your first book is that you really get to interrogate your thoughts and your ideas that you've been putting out into the world, and you've developed this really elegant framework that helps people basically live more into their truth and develop a perspective that they can then defend in a way that's not necessarily invalidating other people's experience, but it's really just kind of helping them get clearer on their experience. And I feel like that is a struggle that we all have. 

And, I want these conversations to be evergreen, but what's come up recently for me, we're in May of 2024 and we're like, I don't know, seven or eight months into this Israel, Palestine, Gaza conflict. And to me, that has been this kind of anomaly outlier event where normally people who would speak up have been a lot quieter because of a lot of the ramifications you're seeing in people who have spoken up. And so I want to talk about some of these concepts through that lens. We don't have to get into what side anybody's on, but just how do you navigate conflict in this way when the consequences can be so severe. 

[00:08:38] AB: And you know what, I really appreciate like you bringing that to the table because I think it can be very easy to shy away from getting very specific and stay in the abstract. But I actually think now more than ever, especially in the name of courageous conversations, brave expression, we actually do have to acknowledge in some way what's happening around us in that moment in time. And I think it's still evergreen in the sense that there will always be something. 

For example, two years ago, when you and I sat down, we were just coming out of the really, just the intense space of the racial reckoning and everything that had happened from the fallout of the summer of BLM. And shortly after that, it was the vaccination conversation, right? Because COVID we had no idea what the outcome of all of that would be. And it's quite mad to me to think we're speaking about four years ago, but it still feels so fresh. I think psychologically we don't even quite yet understand what happened to all of us emotionally, spiritually, psychologically.

So I think it is important to still root these conversations in what is happening right now. So to me, be it the conflict in the Middle East or other things that are coming up, other things that are happening in Congo right now, as you and I are having this conversation and many different civil wars happening all over the world, it's still that pressure people are experiencing to pick a side. That is still the running theme. 

Pick a side. Show us your position. Show us your goodness. 

And even those that are trying to take a very balanced approach. I even remember one of a post that you shared very soon after the initial attacks that happened. And it was a very beautiful, thoughtful, balanced perspective inviting people to sort of not have this reactionary approach and make a big decision and take a stance that wasn't fully acknowledging just how layered and complex all of this is.

And I saw the people thanking you for it, but I also saw the massive pushback. I think I even sent you a text after that. Because that, became the trend where even those that were courageous enough to share something that was balanced, acknowledging that third perspective, right? That it's not as simple as an either/or it's not as simple as a good or evil, wrong or right. They were severely punished for it. And I saw a lot of them deciding to censor themselves from that very moment on, or maybe deciding that actually, it's just not worth it to even try to be balanced to even try to have common sense. And I get that. I really understand that. So I appreciate that we're having this conversation, not necessarily at the time when all of this originally happened, but at a time where we can look at it a little bit from a distance because we're still very much in it. 

But I think it's, so in line with what I'm trying to do with the idea of The Third Perspective, just this invitation to remember and to try and see that things are never as simple as we are made to believe they are, that you don't have to prove your goodness just because of the demands of other people, of other people, you know, so yeah, I, again, it comes back to me just saying, I appreciate you being willing to speak from that place of actually what's happening around us right now in this moment. 

[00:12:03] LW: Yeah. When I was reading your book, I mean, I got so excited because it's something that I literally think about every single day because I put out content every day and I want my content to be as honest and as truthful as possible.

And also to ideally not invalidate other people's experience as much as possible. You can't always control that, though, because there are people out there who just are looking to be offended by something. And I have my own sort of framework and mental assessment that helps me navigate that, which we can talk about later. So I'm looking forward to just learning a lot from you and just having a really insightful, fascinating conversation that I think can help a lot of people in real world scenarios, especially because this is something that we're all having to deal with as social media continues to spread and new platforms come on the scene and the echo chambers, the algorithmic echo chambers get stronger and stronger because what you were referring to earlier that little post I made, it literally got seen by everybody and their mother. And it's because when you get that, that opposing views social media just kind of pushes that stuff. 

[00:13:11] LW: You can not go on there without seeing stuff like that. I love how you broke it down in your book and helping us to understand that this is how it actually works and you need to understand that. So when you're seeing posts from people, you're seeing the most extreme views and that's also presenting us with a level of pressure to side with one view or another, but we're going to get to all that for now. For people who haven't heard the first interview and they don't know about your backstory, give us a montage of just how you got to where you were when you basically were 24 years old. 

[00:13:48] AB: I'll kind of start with a snapshot of where I am now, what I do now, and how that has even come about. So in worldly terms, I am a developmental coach and I'm a consultant and a writer, and I focus on two main areas in the work that I do.

So that is self-censorship and self-sabotage. And for a lot of us, these might be quite alien terms, or we've had them, but we don't really know exactly what they mean. For some of us, we know exactly what it means, but I like to be clear on the definitions that we're working with so that we're all on the same page.

So put very simply, self-sabotage is when you find yourself getting in your own way. You don't need any outside force. It's you doing all of the work. It is you pulling the plug on yourself. Maybe when you find yourself really doing well in your job, you're starting to earn good money. You're starting to have good relationships around you. For some reason, you find more discomfort in things actually working out. You always have this feeling that the shoe is going to drop at some point in time. And then maybe you just do something to sabotage even one of those areas, because you're much more used to the chaos of things than things actually going very well. And this was a very big one for me. And I will come back to that in just a moment. But self-sabotage, again, you are the one pulling the plug on yourself. You don't need any outside forces to do it even procrastination is a very big one. A simple one, but it's a very common one for a lot of us. For whatever reason, you plan and you plan and you plan. But when it comes to executing, there's always some discomfort that comes with it so you end up doing the busy work, focusing on things that you don't really need to be doing. Then maybe when you're close to that deadline, that's when you have this sort of adrenaline and you do everything that you need to do in a very short space of time. Because it's better to say, you know what? I didn't make that much effort. And it's still kind of worked, then you actually putting everything you need, and then it may be not working out. 

So self-sabotage can look like so many different things. But that's something that I'm very curious about what happens when what we say we want is in direct conflict with our behavior? And I look at that from the context of interpersonal relationships. But also personal relationships as well. 

And then on the other side of that, the second pillar of my work is self-censorship. So put very simply, that is when you withhold your opinions, you withhold your speech, your ideas, even your general expression, how you dress, how you move in the world, because you're afraid that if you were to really put forward your authentic self in voice or in other you will be punished for it in some way.

There's always this feeling or this story that there is going to be a price to pay for me expressing my truth, whatever that looks like for you. So either you self edit your thoughts, you agree with things that you don't actually agree with, which we also call fawning. So there's fight, flight and fawning.

So fawning is when you end up sort of succumbing to everyone else's worldview. Succumbing to everyone else's values because you're afraid of actually expressing your own. 

[00:17:01] LW: And how do you spell fawning? 

[00:17:03] AB: Fawning is F A W N. So fawn is what it is. And then fawning is the action in itself. So my work takes a very close look at all of those things.

It comes from my own personal journey with getting sober. And it might seem like a little bit of a disconnect if you have only met me, let's say in the past couple of years or even five years, but the origins of my work comes from me trying to get sober, me trying and failing many times to get sober.

And if you have the time, I would urge you to listen to the episode that I did with Light a couple of years ago, because we really go into the intricacies of that. But through me trying and failing to get sober, that's when I came across the term self-sabotage. I said that I wanted to get well, but my behavior was in direct conflict with what I said I wanted to do.

Anytime that I reached sobriety, whether it was three months or four months or five months, I would always pull the plug on myself. I relapsed. And I'm very aware now that I didn't relapse because I missed alcohol and I missed partying. It actually wasn't about that. There was a very deep discomfort in meeting that version of myself who was reliable, the version of myself that didn't cheat in relationships because she was in a blackout and would just act out and had no idea what she had done. The version of myself that actually had strong friendships, honest friendships that were not based on partying and nightlife. There was so much of discomfort in things actually working out because I was used to the chaos. I knew how to deal with the chaos. I knew how to apologize. I knew how to make promises that I was going to change and not actually follow through with them. I knew that way of being better, that the unfamiliar, good well-being just didn't work. 

Self-sabotage is a term that I came across. And then at 24. I decided to get sober again, and because of how much insight I now had into my own psychology, into the very real impact that alcohol was having on me on a brain based level, understanding my own father's addiction, it just helped me continue on the path of sobriety. And I started sharing my story. So this was nearly nine years ago now. 

And through that, I realized that I could actually with this work, it went beyond me just getting well, it stopped being just about Africa, the individual Africa, the self. I realized that a lot of the insights that I was coming across, and the way in which I was able to take pretty complex topics and sort of put them forward in an accessible, shame-free way was a gift and I just kept on nurturing that gift. 

I got trained in developmental psychology and union psychology as well which is all about the shadow, which we might end up going into. I can't remember. We might have gone into it in the previous episode. But over the years, nearly a decade now, it's just become the work that I do in the world where I really want to understand why human beings behave in the way that they do, why do we act against our own best interests, which is what leads me to this conversation around intolerance and the need for brave expression in the collective. So that's the bullet point version of the story. 

[00:20:25] LW: Alright, so I want to get into denial. You talk about denial which is, I guess, linked to just honesty. And you talk about how hard it is for us to face the truth head on with ourselves. And I was joking with a friend of mine the other day because we all have like family members and friends who are clearly in denial and maybe they're thinking we're the ones that are in denial but I was joking.

I said, we thought diamonds were the hardest substance on earth. Denial is actually the hardest, you cannot break somebody who's in denial until they get ready to see their own truth. So talk about the anatomy of denial. 

[00:21:08] AB: This is a big one and I can't wait for people to read the book so they can really get the full story and how I even introduced the idea of denial.

But to me, the point that I like to start with is that we all have these very elaborate stories about who we are. And the way that I talk about it when I write is that we create a story about our lives and our reality that is easy for us to live with. So anything that we get introduced to, be it an opinion, a perspective, or even the energy of someone else that has the potential to disrupt that we are going to push it away, even if it's good for us, we are going to stick to the story that helps us sleep at night. We're going to stick to the story that is so familiar. So for me, even though there was so much evidence around me that was showing me that my life was falling because I was losing so many friends. I was having so much conflict with my family and partner and internal conflicts as well, not being able to… 

[00:22:09] LW: …and your internet search history. 

[00:22:11] AB: …and my internet search history.

Is it normal to drink this much? Is it normal to lose up to six hours of my memory and have no idea what has happened. So I had so much proof not being able to stay in a job for longer than a month. And even then was a long time, a couple of weeks moving from job to job relationship to relationship, friendship to friendship group, so much evidence. But I chose not to see it because choosing to see it meant that. Everything had to change. 

So I was forced to face my denial. It's not as if and when people ask me, so when was the moment that you decided to get sober and stayed sober? I'm always very honest about the fact that there was no single moment, there was no sort of dramatic moment. And then there was this elaborate, inspiring music that came with it, and then I made this decision. 

It was me being sick of running away from the truth, me not being able to sleep with my denial anymore in the way that I used to be able to. So that’s where I like to show empathy and compassion for it, and I'd love to know what you think or your relationship with denial is to accept that we all have stories about ourselves. We live in our self-perception. We will move things around in our minds and in the world around us. So it creates just a self concept that makes it easier to be who we need to be in the world, even if it's working against us in a lot of ways. So I think for a lot of us, unfortunately, we will have to hit rock bottom and the rock bottom doesn't need to have anything to do with drugs or alcohol. It might just be you being confronted with a new way of being or information that you can't unsee or hear anymore. But I think it's so easy to stay in the cycle of denial because it keeps us safe ultimately even though it doesn't at the same time. 

[00:24:06] LW: Yeah. And you could argue that's a part of our evolutionary psychology and I believe that we all have story, like everything's a story. Our life is really comprised of stories. The question is do these stories empower you the ones you're telling yourself and versus do they disempower you and I think that's a good measure of whether or not you're in denial and I want to hear what you have to say about this is in the quality of the stories you're like, I don't think there's anything wrong with telling yourself stories, but in the quality of the stories you're telling yourself, are they making you believe in yourself more or are they causing you to put your power into other people or to other things that you are now comparing yourself against?

[00:24:50] AB: Absolutely. Which is why I think the first step undeniably of any process of change is the awareness phase. And that's how I start the book actually, because it's so easy to see, let's say the subtitle of the book, Brave Expression in the Age of Intolerance. And as human beings, our natural instinct is to externalize. So, oh, thank god Africa's talking about how intolerant everyone else is, right? We'll never for a second think, oh, maybe it's an opportunity for look at. My own intolerance. So something that I always do, even if I'm working with someone one to one, we have to be able to look in the mirror. You by yourself and me standing right alongside you. And to just see, ask yourself, even is my current way of being working for me or against me, whether it comes to how you're currently communicating, how you're currently viewing the world. So your internal world, before you even say anything out loud, just be very honest. Is it working for me or against me?

So I think what you say around denial is so, so important because I don't think it's an easy thing to spot where you are being in denial in your life. But I always like to think that the results that you have around you, be it your relationships, personal, professional, your relationship with money, your relationship with food, your relationship with social media, your relationship and ability to have healthy conflict and repair, whatever it is, the results in your life will tell you the truth before you can even intellectualize it.

So I think that's one way in which you can start to be like, ooh, Is this working for me or against me? And that can help you spot where a part of you is resisting to accepting the reality of what is. 

[00:26:33] LW: That's what's great about your book is I don't think we really know how to be honest with ourselves to be perfectly honest, to be perfectly frank. And I think that's why a lot of people, find therapy very helpful and your book kind of plays the role of the mirror of the therapist where it's just asking or it's offering prompts for you to like, you have a broken down into three pillars. 

The first pillar is honest introspection, which is what we're talking about. Then we move to responsibility. Then we move to expression. And it's a very non-intrusive way for people to just be introduced to, okay, well, how are you communicating? What are the phrases you're using the most? How are you coming to terms with your viewpoint about X, Y, and Z. And so I think it gives people a safe place to admit to themselves that maybe there is a problem. Maybe I have been dodging the truth. I don't know, but how does someone, what are some of the telltale signs that someone may be in denial?

[00:27:42] AB: I'll come back to the thing that I've said quite a few times, because to me, this is really at the core of it when and what you say you want. 

Let me just use my example of getting sober and then I'll use the other really current thing for me. I say that I want to get sober, but my behavior is indirect and I mean very direct conflict off that. So I would make an invitation for you to think about something you're saying you want. I want to have a better relationship with money, but the reality of your life is that you're constantly overspending. You never have a budget. You always seem to justify high purchase items that have nothing to do with your long term goals. And I'm bringing forward these everyday things because I think sometimes we want to hear these sort of big audacious things. But actually it's in the everyday. It's in your micro-interactions. It's in the micro decisions where you're shown where you're in denial. You're saying that you want to be healthy. Okay. Go and open your fridge right now and tell me what's in there. And I'm not talking about the spinach wilting at the back of the fridge because it's been there for the past three days. I want you to look at just the tiny little seemingly small everyday things that can show you a smaller level of denial.

Then we can get to the bigger ones because the bigger ones are often to do with self-censorship, which is at the core of everything we're talking about right now, right where are you holding back, verbally and non-verbally, your honest opinions, your true ideas? Where are you stopping yourself from leaning into a new identity because people are used to you being a certain way, right?

You say that you love transparency and honesty and free expression. Now look at the results in your life. Is that actually true? Right? Because if it's not, then maybe a part of you is actually in denial about what the truth is. So I want us to start with all of those small little things that are to do with your own wellbeing, your lifestyle, your daily decisions, how you speak to yourself.

And then go to the other bigger things that we always like to sort of start there. I think there's so many opportunities for us to look at, where am I currently in denial? And I think we all know them. We all do, but we don't want to admit to them. 

[00:30:04] LW: Yeah. I mean, the game we can play when it comes to speaking our truth is, Oh, I'm just waiting for the right time so I can consciously choose when I want to say what I want to say, as opposed to admitting that I'm just afraid to talk.

What's the difference in those two things? 

[00:30:20] AB: I think there's well, there's a very big difference. 

So self-censorship, again, is quite literally about fear, right? That's the thing that underpins it. You're afraid that you are going to be punished in some way. And I need to make it very clear that you're not walking around.

Actually, some people are using that language of punishment. But most of us are not. It's such an unconscious story that we have that truth equals punishment. Full stop. So it's driven by fear. So you slowly start to edit your thoughts. So you don't need, again, an outside force to say you can't share that. You have that theme in your mind. I call it the mob in your mind. You already have that team of people in your mind that are removing the documents, that are removing the opinions. So crossing out things and saying, oh, you can't say that. You already have that internally. Self-censorship is a very different thing. 

Whereas social filtering, and I think this is really important because a lot of people might say things like, well, Africa, isn't that just me being tactful? Isn't that just me being mindful and knowing that there's a time and place. That is its own thing and it's not self censorship that is social filtering.

So it's a thinking skill that we use without even realizing that we're using it. We understand that there's a time and place. We're able to read the room. We understand that there's context. We understand that there are some jokes that will hit with a certain group of friends and with some people, it's just not going to be the case, you know, but it's not driven by fear. It's driven by grounded discernment. And it happens in very unconscious ways a lot of the time. So I do want us to know that there's a very big difference between self-censorship fear and social filtering, which is grounded discernment. So that's how I distinguish those two. 

[00:32:14] LW: I've developed my own sort of frameworks over the years, because we didn't, I didn't have the benefit of having your book years and years ago, but I kind of conclude it for myself that I don't speak my truth sometimes if I feel like people whoever I'm in communication with illustrates that they don't have the capacity to integrate what I believe to be the case into whatever their current reality is, which then gets manifest as reaction, getting triggered, being offended, etc. So how does that play a part in what you're saying in choosing versus being afraid? 

[00:32:52] AB: Yeah, can I ask a follow up question to that? Because I completely, I was nodding my head because I think that's, I think that's a smart thing to do, right? And it falls into social filtering in a way, but I'm going to check and see if that's actually the case. It would fall into social filtering if you have at some point in time actually tried to express yourself and to be very honest in what you need to say, and then you received the feedback and the confirmation that, okay, these are people that don't have the capacity versus assuming that they don't have the capacity. So that's what I wanted to check in on is it a case where you've actually tested broaching certain conversations with those people wanting to understand their perspective? Truly making sure that they don't have the capacity or is it assumed maybe based on how they've treated other people or maybe yeah, I just want to check in on that. 

[00:33:47] LW: Generally, yes. Generally, it has been. It has been tested and confirmed that person doesn't. And so I kind of have this, it sounds very judgmental, but I just have this thing where I say they don't deserve to hear my truth because they haven't gone the extra mile to create a safe space for me to be in this dynamic. And if they wanted that honesty, then they would do that because that's what I do for other people. 

[00:34:09] AB: I love that. 

[00:34:10] LW: Yeah. I like to let people say whatever they want to say and very intentionally not reacting, not responding, maybe just asking clarifying questions and oh, well, have you considered this?

And if they say whatever they say and just kind of let, and so therefore I have a lot of people who express very openly and honestly with me that, and they don't do that with other people. So I've kind of experimented with that, but it was, when I read that part in your book, it was about because at the same time, to be perfectly honest with you, and this happens in relationship a lot. I don't speak up because I don't want to, I don't want to ruin my day. I don't want to say something that I know is going to be a very sensitive thing to hear for my partner. 

And the justification that I have for that is that just, I'm not as young in psychologists like you, but I know that a lot of men are wired for peace, especially in their home, you know? And so you don't tell your kids, there's no such thing as Santa Claus. Don't go around and say there's no such thing as the Tooth Fairy. It's like it's much easier and more playful to kind of play along with these stories than it is to go around delivering the cold hard truth like we do to other men. 

Other men wouldn't appreciate if you didn't tell them the cold hard truth. But a lot of times when you're dealing with family and that dynamic, It's not received this the same way. And it's not that you don't have the capacity to do so. It's just that you, like you say, you have to read the room.

So I'm really curious to kind of hear how you think about the family dynamic when it comes to this. 

[00:35:49] AB: I love, I just love what you're sharing because I think it brings it back to the interpersonal, which I think is really important with this kind of conversation, because. The moment people hear the word censorship, regardless of the term self prefacing it or not, we think of big tech, we think of like the bigger things outside of us, unless someone really explains what they mean, which is why even in writing this book and in a lot of my work, I bring it back to the self, to the individual. It's why I truly believe like that our interpersonal relationships are the best training ground. They really are because for me, I was able to see that with my audience in business meetings, when I'm on stage with the wider world, I can have such conviction. My default is to be assertive. It's as I am who I am.

But I can see that my biggest work to do is in romantic relationships and familial relationships because these environments sort of bring me back to what most of my conditioning for most of my life has been where in certain instances, it did actually mean that truth equals punishment because there was so much uncertainty and there's the cultural context of being a Zimbabwean girl from a Christian home. You don't speak to elders in a certain way, even if they're doing you wrong. So there's all of these layers, right? But I think where you started off this part of the conversation is a game of discernment. I actually don't believe that everyone deserves your raw, honest, truthful expression. You need not just environmental safety, but you also need psychological safety. If people have a track record of being leading with a I, call it a malicious intent, like an ear that looks out and listens for malicious intent, an ear that scans for what is wrong instead of what is right. An ear that is so used to the past version of you that when you're introducing a new version of you, maybe you get mocked, you get made, whatever it might be, right? So I think it is important to have boundaries. I think in all of this, it's so important to have boundaries. I don't want people thinking that to undo self censorship, to truly be courageous or to lead with brave expression, you need to give your full raw self to every single person. I don't think that's the case with some people. They've just shown, they have a history of showing that they don't have the capacity to hold nuance.

They don't have the capacity to disagree well, or to honor you as a human being in a moment of conflict. Maybe they go to insults and dehumanization, or again, mocking is a very big one when people are putting forward boundaries or allowing for themselves to see things in a more nuanced gray way, which is why a lot of people resist it, but at the same time, I think it's important. And this is the other thing that stuck out as you were speaking because I resonate with it. I realized that for most of my life up until even I would say five or four years ago, I was assuming what people can and cannot handle. So I didn't have the proof or the track record that they can't, especially in romantic relationships.

I would base my previous experiences and my own internal discomfort to decide what someone can and cannot handle. But I wasn't allowing for me and my partner to be in healthy conflict, because that actually builds intimacy. I wasn't allowing for my partner to see different sides of me, that maybe bring something uncomfortable forward, but it's about the how.

I think I also approach things in a very binary way, which I write about, in that I had this idea that to speak my truth and to be direct can only look a certain way. And I think the image that I had in my mind was more on the aggressive side, I didn't allow myself to see that I can be direct. I can be very firm. I can disagree in a loving way that it is about my tone. It's about when I bring something up. It's with all of this, you need to have little strategies. It's about when you bring something up. What mood is someone in when you bring forward a difficult conversation? Do you have that psychological, emotional safety between you?

Are you willing to put things forward in a way that actually prioritizes without crossing your own boundaries in a way that prioritizes the other person's emotional state instead of saying, well, this is my truth. This is what it is. Like, I think there's a delicate dance that we can have with communication.

It's not an either or because I think even in subconscious ways, we tend to assume how other people will respond. If I speak up, I will lose my job. If I speak up, my audience will not like it. If I speak up, I will lose clients. Sure. That's a possibility. I'll lose my relationship. Sure. That's a possibility.

But the idea of The Third Perspective to be like, actually, maybe there's so many ways it could turn out. Maybe my partner will give me a little bit of the cold shoulder. But maybe that will only be for a couple of hours and then we can approach it again. We don't have to have a big mammoth conversation in one. It can be tiny little conversations over time, but I think In my own awareness phase, and it's an ongoing thing in different relationships you encounter different things, even with my family. I had to realize rather that I was making so many assumptions about how people would respond and I wasn't taking enough accountability for the way in which I'd approached people. So maybe because of my approach, which would have already been defensive when I was telling my truth, it gave me. That person responded to me from that place. So now I have a track record of them responding in an antagonistic way, but I was also leading in an antagonistic way. So maybe if I change the way in which I approach those conversations, they might change in the way that they respond.

So I think for me, I had to bring it back to the self to think if this is a conversation I really want to have. Perhaps my approach could change a little bit and then let me see if it produces different results. 

[00:41:52] LW: Yeah, I mean, I just posted something the other day about critiquing people versus complimenting them and how I didn't come up with this framework.

This is from Stephen Colby, but he talks about how relationships are like a bank balance, a bank account and a compliment is like a credit deposit and a critique is like a withdrawal. And if you just critique critique, and then you want to offer another critique and you're overdrawn on the account, it's not, no matter how well intention, no matter how honest, truthful, meaningful it is for you, it's not going to be received that way. The other person is going to be triggered and offended in the same way that we would, if someone was constantly critiquing us and never taking time out to say, Hey, this is what I really like about you. This is what I think is amazing. This is why I'm inspired by you. And you have to nurture these relationships in the same way that when you look at your lifetime customer value in business you're in service to that oftentimes.

And you're thinking about that. And that becomes a conversation in your weekly meetings, how are we going to address the customer's needs? Because everybody has needs, and if you're not addressing those needs and then they're reacting, it doesn't necessarily mean there's something wrong with them.

It could be that you haven't been doing your part in nurturing the relationship enough to be able to earn the right, to be honest, to speak your truth whenever you feel like speaking your truth.

[00:43:15] AB: Yes… 

[00:43:16] LW: I think that's an interesting perspective to it as well. 

[00:43:19] AB: Yeah. I love that a lot because it reminds me of something I am constantly thinking about and writing about, which is the idea of self-reputation. Why it's so important to have a strong self-reputation because your reputation out there in the outside world, it can change at any moment especially now more than ever, when it comes to technology, you say one wrong thing that is misinterpreted by people. You say something in a meeting that you think is a joke, but people take it maybe very seriously because you did it in the wrong context, whatever. We really can't rely on external reputation because I think it's part of the reason why we censor and don't speak what we believe to be true. And this is not just about spouting every single opinion. We're talking about Speaking in a grounded, intentional way, even if it's a little bit fiery, even if it's controversial, you trust that what you're saying is important to externalize.

That's the place in which I'm speaking from. You can't control how it's going to be received on the other end. So it's really important that you have a strong, just a deep self-trust within yourself and a respect and a reverence for who you are and your ideas and your thoughts, and still making room for all of that to change because I think when we don't have that strong internal reputation, we rely so much on the outside. And then we modify ourselves based on what the audience wants, based on what my family wants, based on what my partner wants, based on what my children want. So you're constantly shape shifting constantly. And the more that you do that, you trust yourself less and less. And your decision making gets weaker because you don't know when something is the right decision or wrong decision. So it just made me think of something that I also think is a big part of this, which is self-trust. The more that you allow yourself to be courageous in your expression, the more you allow yourself to bring forward things that are uncomfortable and to do it in a tactful way, which I do teach you, I take you through so many things here.

But the more that you do that, the more that you build your self trust and you're able to discern moments whether you're actually self-censoring or if it's actually useful. So social filtering. Otherwise, you will never know the difference. You will never ever know the difference. And I think that's where a lot of people are where they struggle to know. Am I self censoring in this moment? Or am I actually just being tactful? And these people don't deserve my truth. It's not the right place to use this opinion. Or maybe this is an opinion for offline instead of online, you know? So I think it all comes back to something that we maybe don't think about enough, needing to cultivate that muscle of sel-trust.

[00:45:58] LW: Yeah, we don't learn how to do this. We just don't learn how to communicate. And I think one of the biggest trap doors in communication is you assume that people have the same definition for words that you have and that they automatically know what your intentions are. And you have to reiterate all of this stuff if you're having a difficult conversation in my experience, you know?

[00:46:18] AB: Yeah. How do you… Because I'm really curious about sort of where you ended up going around relationships. Do you feel even in your personal relationships that you censor any parts of yourself or find it difficult to have certain conversations?

[00:46:33] LW: A hundred percent. All the time. That's why your book was so enlightening for me. I was like, Oh my God, I'm doing all of this. Of course I have stories in my head that I use to justify everything. And a part of me, when I extrapolate this behavior, I think to myself, I mean, do you even, and this is going to sound very sort of crass from a meditation teacher, but do you even want to be the most aware conscious person in the room full of people who are just us completely unaware, right? 

[00:47:03] AB: Yeah. Yeah. No, but that makes sense. I get that. Is there, because I think again, I used to have this story that I was very open minded, that I was very, outspoken, not just spouting my opinions, but outspoken in ways that really mattered. So it was very easy for me to not pay attention to the fact that I was self censoring in situations where I really actually needed to speak up. 

For example, I bring up my romantic relationships because they have been My biggest teacher.

[00:47:37] LW: Oh my goodness. That's that's the Achilles Heel for everybody.

[00:47:43] AB: Oh my gosh, you and I spoke about some of this in London, but it really has been my biggest teacher to really observe myself. Even when I was writing the book, I was like, Oh, okay there were so many moments where I was like, okay that's what I need to do. And I did all of the things that my romantic relationship was my best teacher for all of this, because it really humbled me to see where I'm still afraid to speak up, where I'm still a part of me is still afraid that the person will reject me and abandon me or judge me for what I have to say or the way that I want to live or the way that I want to be in relationship or just all of these things where again, it leads to truth will mean punishment, and I know that's not actually true consciously. Of course I do, but it's like that little child, that little girl who really bought into that story family for such a long time. I still have to encounter her and work with her, and she's my guide in romantic relationships.

So I think it's useful to know that this isn't just about the cultural, political, social landscape. It's about those, Oh my goodness. Those very, very intimate relationships where we're just used to withholding because we think that it will mean trouble in some way. But I always appreciate people that are honest about what that looks like. Yeah, I think you're right. It's all of us. 

[00:49:04] LW: And even more than, I mean, I think just a more nuanced way of describing it. It's not necessarily for me, it's not as much withholding as it is curating. Like what I feel like will keep the relationship on the rails long enough for us to navigate through this. Because I may want it to be resolved in the afternoon, but it may not get resolved for another 10 conversations. And very slowly, very gradually you're introducing your perspective. And then creating space to hear their perspective and then acknowledging their, you know, and we want, I think the problem is we get impatient and we want it to all just get worked out right away. That's not the reality of the situation. 

[00:49:47] AB: Yes. And I think that's a shadow for a lot of people, impatience. It was one of mine for sure. And one that I had to start being very honest with partners about that a part of me just wants to resolve things and have clarity, because when I don't have that clarity or that feeling of resolve, it can turn into passive aggressiveness, something that I write about in the book, so that was my own shadow in relationships, and it was important for me to be honest with partners about that, because from the very beginning my history and the home that I grew up in, in expressing yourself and your needs and putting yourself in an honest way did mean trouble.

And it meant physical abuse a lot of the time, because my dad was an alcoholic. So you could be punished for something you say, or stepping out of line or not doing something on time, or just being in his. In his view, and you're just annoying him in some way, so we needed to operate in the space of uncertainty, so it meant that I would sort of express my needs in a passive aggressive way, and that spilled outside of the family home, but it's something that I had to confront through the lens of sobriety. And what allowed for me to sort of weaken that behavior and that programming was being honest with people about that shadow. So I think that's also a way in which I've been able to deal with and confront my own tendency to self censor because it wasn't a self censoring of agreeing with things that I didn't know to be true. Or withholding certain things, it was still expressing things, but in a passive aggressive way and having impatience. If things didn't sort of go my way. So I, yeah, I think impatience tends to be a big shadow for a lot of people.

[00:51:33] LW: You talk also about in the book, how there are certain cultures that have severe consequences for speaking your truth.

You know, like you said, Zimbabwe, Russia, Saudi Arabia probably China. So are you this third perspective idea or framework, is this mostly for people who live in places like Western countries, or are you suggesting that this is something to be mostly applied in interpersonal relationships? Obviously, you're now, we're having this conversation because you went public with it, but you went public with it in China, we may not even be I've heard from you 

If you got too close to a window, you may have had a little accident. So where are the red lines when it comes to this, when you're living in a culture, that's not as accepting. 

[00:52:19] AB: Yeah. I'm so glad that you've asked that question. And you're the first person to ask me that question, actually. Is this from a Western lens or can it be applicable elsewhere?

And I really want people to know that it's applicable anywhere you are in the world, because I'm not giving you I'm not giving you a scripture to follow the whole idea is that you create your own roadmap, one that is based on your historical context, on your environmental context, the specifics of your life, which is why even something that I write about and stress so much.

This is not about making any of this a public performance. It's not about going online and declaring anything out loud. It's a very slow and internal thing, and some things will apply some things will resonate, some things won't. And you'll be able to really filter this through your cultural context as well, because I think that's important. Something that I truly believe is kind of leading to the big cultural problem we have, especially when it comes to cancel culture. And just the inability for us to have conversations that are grounded in reality conversations that seem to turn very academic, all of a sudden, and not really attached to the way people actually speak in real life. I do think it's so much for, and you can tell me what you think, but so much of it is coming from the universities in North America when it comes to like activism and the jargon around conversations, even the terms of cancel culture. So for me, as a Zimbabwean immigrant living in London, someone that was born and raised in Zimbabwe, someone that has. I have something to compare my Western experience to. I know what it's like to be from a country where there is no such thing as freedom, a country where you can't criticize anyone in the government because there will be a price to pay. Not just like a social online price to pay, but a very real tangible price to pay, which is why I think these conversations around brave expression and freedom, they're really not a nice to have, this is not just a self development book and the self-development conversation.

It's through that lens, because that is my expertise and my speciality, but I wanted to write something that doesn't just cater to the Western eye or the Western ear, which is why I think this is important. So yeah, to me, it's more of a roadmap. I want it to be a roadmap that you get to create based on who you are and where you are.

[00:54:44] LW: And I don't think people have to read a book to know, don't be reckless. If you live in a society where somebody's being thrown out of windows, don't say the thing that'll get you thrown out a window. But I think overall, the takeaway from this book is that there are always, no matter what it looks like, there are always more than two perspectives. There's always what you experience, which is a hundred percent valid in your mind. But then there's what the other person experienced, which is a hundred percent ballot in there. But then there are other perspectives to consider. So talk about those other perspectives. 

[00:55:19] AB: Yes. I think it's that, and this is also about when you encounter views that you don't agree with. So it's about that when you encounter views, you don't agree with. Things that make you uncomfortable, but I also want you to remember that the third perspective is pretty much you are an embodiment of that. You're an embodiment of someone that doesn't neatly fit anywhere in a world that has become just so obsessed with identity and identity markers. Where do you rank in society? Because of your identity, because of your race, because of your sex, your gender, your disability, your class, whatever it is. We're made to believe that we should think, feel, speak, and behave in a specific way, depending on the identity marker. And to me, the idea of the third perspective, and you accepting that you're an embodiment of a being that is so fluid and ever evolving, your ideas get to change.

You're not bound to the mistakes that you made five years ago. You're allowed to change your mind. You're allowed to say, I don't agree with that. You're allowed to say, I don't see things in that way. I have nothing to say about that. Let me come back to you on that, you know. You're allowed to be in the grey, in the fluid, and to me, that's essentially what it's about.

I want to make this very clear, there's a time and a place for making a very clear decision, taking a stance, right? And that's going to look very different, depending on who you are, depending on who you are. What feels very important for you right now. I even write in the book, I give you a series of things that I take a clear position on, because I think that's also important. I don't think it's actually very useful and it wouldn't work for the human brain to see nuance in every single thing at every single moment. Listen, if you have to cross the fucking road, look left or right, you shouldn't be saying, is it, it could be, there's a time and a place. The binary mind exists for a reason, but I need us to remember, especially in moments of, just encountering so much external pressure and the pressure to pick a side, which is happening right now, even if you're listening to this two years on, I promise you there's something happening right now online and offline where there's a demand for you to pick a side, but you don't have to do that. You can do that. If you want to do that, make sure it's grounded in the truth and integrity of what you want to do and what is best. 

But I really want us to think of this idea of the third perspective, not as a concept or a title, but I truly believe that it's a way of being. There's always an option available in every single moment, you know? So to me that's what it is. It's a fluid option that is constantly available when you need it. 

[00:57:59] LW: I think one of the biggest perpetrators of this whole pick a side mentality is social media. So let's just unpack how algorithms work, how echo chambers work. And then if we recognize, Oh shit, I'm in an echo chamber and it's making it's reinforcing this belief. How do I change it? Is there a way to change it in an efficient manner? 

[00:58:24] AB: Yeah, when it comes to the social media conversation, I always feel that it's important and I'm not someone that likes to give so many disclaimers, but I think it's necessary at points to make it very clear that I'm not anti social media, not even close. Because of social media, I've been able to reach so many people. Because of social media my work continues to live on and on, so I think even with that, we need to not take a binary approach of social media is bad. Crazy this, this, this. And we also need to be very honest about the way in which it has absolutely changed the way we communicate, the way we view each other, the way we encounter people's worldview. It's really not normal to be encountering so many people and so many opinions, so many ideas, hundreds and thousands every single day to the point of not even being able to retain any information. 

It's becoming increasingly difficult to retain information because of how much we have access to and also the algorithms prioritize outrage. They do. They want us to keep us on the platforms for as long as possible because it allows for advertisers to serve us as many ads as possible. So these companies make money. It's really important to understand the objective side of things, but also the role in which we're playing in that. So if we start to understand that people are rewarded for outrage and outrage creates its own echo chambers.

So echo chambers essentially are when you find yourself in a tight, closed environment where everyone is mirroring the same beliefs that you have, same opinions that you have, same ideas that you have. So that means that you're in an environment where there's not really any critical thinking because you're not being challenged or introduced to anything new. No information, no new information gets in. Okay. It all stays in this little bubble. Also, social media makes it very easy for us to create our own bubbles. 

But the other side of that is that we can call those bubbles community. There's a use for community. There's a use for being around like minded people. But when you find that you're in a space where no one is asking any hard questions, when no one is introducing a new perspective, and when they do, they get shouted down, they get shamed in the comment section, people label them a bigot, or whatever kind of new ist or phobe there is, you know. So I think it's very important to realize that in an echo chamber, there's rarely any questioning, no challenging happens.

I think when it comes to social media, it's something that is so big, and it's such a layered conversation, which is why I like to bring it back to the self, because I think once you have a deeper understanding of the way in which you're currently communicating, is it working for me or against me?

Once you have an understanding of the objective nature of the internet and social media and the platforms that you're on. It will make it easier for you to navigate the world of social media. But I think we'd like to do it the other way round, teach me how to navigate social media, and then I'll become better in my expression.

But I think that's a very backwards way of doing it. 

And there's also something called context collapse, which is a area of research that just excites me. Look it up if you're listening to me right now, or you can read about it in the third perspective. But essentially there was a time where online you could have there used to be more boundaries. You could have a little bit more control in terms of who had access to your thoughts and your ideas, what you were sharing. So think of the early days, even I would say up until the early 2010s of Facebook and social media platforms. You could make a post, write a status, put out a song on your page, whatever it is, and you could kind of know that it's going to go to your friends because you had a friends list. It's going to go to my friends that I grew up with, maybe people that I go to school with, but I know these 300 people on this list. So it would stay sort of confined in this digital space, right? Which was pretty much in many ways different, but closer to the reality off how we live as human beings. We have our friends, people that we go to school with people that we used to know people that we might have met on a night out and you all have them on your friends list. So the context was very clear, right? And because they're your friends, the people, your opinions are probably going to be maybe not exactly the same, but sort of similar because they're from a similar town, culture, whatever it might be now, because of the globalization of technology. All of that is out the window, and because of the shareability, you can share a post can end up on any algorithm.

So now you might write something that you think is fairly non controversial wherever you are in the States, and then it lands on the phone of someone who's in the middle east and then it goes viral because that opinion might be correct and appropriate where you are. But because of context collapse there are no boundaries a post can end up anywhere. You could have 30 followers just going about your day sharing the new Dave Chapelle special and then it lands somewhere and all of a sudden it blows up. You have thousands of people telling you that you're a bigot. You're a transphobe. How can you like this? How? So there's no context because we post. And assume that the people reading it are from where we're from. They think in the same way we do. They're probably the same age. And we also don't realize that your post might be landing on a 10 year old's phone, on a 12 year old's phone. So you're arguing in the comments section, assuming that it's an adult, but sometimes it's an 11 year old. There's just no context. 

And I think that's important for people to understand. Because it can really allow for you to see that a lot of the things we think we have to engage in all of these pressures that are online, we apply them to our real life and think that they hold the same weight when actually they really don't.

So I think when you come back to the self and just have an understanding of your internal world, but the external world in which you're operating, it will just allow for us have more sort of internet and media literacy, so we're not wasting our time over exciting ourselves online.

[01:04:46] LW: Yeah. And you talk about getting clear on your non negotiables, which I think another way of saying it is determining which hills you are willing to die on. And this is kind of what I experienced with my initial posts on the conflict in the Middle East is I got to a point where I was like, I'm not, this is distracting from my main message. And so do I want to keep, because in order to provide the context, you have to keep feeding the beast.

If you're going to celebrate all the new followers and all the new attention, you're going to get an equal amount of opposing views and you have to keep trying to explain yourself. And I'm just like, I don't, this is not what I want to be doing. I'd rather be putting out original content. That's what I wake up excited about. 

And it's true. When I look at everybody who has like gone all in on this thing, that's all they post now. They're every story, 90% of their stories, 90% of their posts are all about, and they become known for this thing. So it's like, do I want to be known for this thing?

The opposite of that is this sort of appreciating the ambiguity of it all and you, what you described. How are compared to a skilled musician? And I would love to hear more about that. 

[01:06:03] AB: Yeah. Oh I love that because it's really important again. And to me, all of this falls under discernment. Even that appreciation of the gray of nuance of ambiguity of the uncertain. I think it sounds beautiful, even as I say, but it's actually an uncomfortable place to be in, especially in the culture that we're in, where there's so much urgency. 

[01:06:26] LW: Your silence is deafening. I can't believe you're not saying anything. Why aren't you using your platform? You have so many followers and yet you're posting about this inspirational bullshit. 

[01:06:56] AB: I have to laugh at it a lot of the time. Because I think it's very useful when you strip it back and you see the entitlement and self-righteousness of some stranger. And then you click on their profile, one follower, private account, no posts. It's such an uncomfortable place to be in for a lot of people because of that intensity of, you have to say something right now. And I really have seen that where people speak. And then they get the reception, even if it's the reception that they want. So a post goes viral, whatever it might be, I think for those people, because I have a feeling a lot of them do listen to your podcast, people that have a so called platform on some level. You have to be very careful about that sort of affirmation and validation and feedback. Because if you don't use your own discernment. You will end up trapping yourself in that new identity where you're expected to speak and behave in a very specific way. 

You and I spoke about this like a couple of years ago around what happened in the summer of BLM, where a lot of people they ended up making that their entire identity and two years on, I ended up working with people that had fallen into that, but now they had book deals. Now they had all of these collaborations based on that moment in time that they've now outgrown. Some of them had changed their minds. They had new information about certain things, but they were locked into performing that version of themselves. So now for the average person, it can still be the same, but it can look very different because of that context collapse. You don't need to be a person with high visibility anymore to end up buying into this idea that I'm getting rewarded for speaking in this way. 

So now I have to speak this way forever, you know, so I think there's some discernment we can all use there. Here's the thing, because I also want to speak to those people who do on a nuance and ambiguity and knowing that there's a time and a place, etc and you don't have to share every opinion or every stance. But I do absolutely believe that we need more mavericks. We need more courageous people. We need more people that are willing to say it how it is. People that are willing to still be in the nuance, to still be in the gray, but to have some conviction. Because I never want people to use the excuse of nuance and the gray as an excuse to not say anything, as an excuse to stay silent. So I think we also have to hold multiple truths here to say, let this conversation and what I'm saying and what Light is sharing offer you some relief and don't allow for that to be an excuse for you to continue censoring yourself because with everything that's happening, whether with the conflict in the Middle East and there's real damage being done in the world. There are so many horrific things happening every single day. And I don't think it's useful for all of us to sit back and say, well, actually nuance, it's complicated, etc. 

In some ways it is, but also I'll be very honest. In some ways, it's not you are able to say that this is fucked up. This should not be happening. No one should be losing their lives. That is okay to say too, because I think I'm seeing people being afraid of even. So it's like we can allow ourselves to be in this beautiful space of the third perspective, but to truly be in that space also requires you to say, where do I need to meet my great edge and speak and say something? And it doesn't have to be online, but maybe you feel strongly enough about something to do something offline to contribute in some way to start having impactful conversations, to donate where you need to reach out to the people that you need to, even if it's something you've never done before. So I want us in this conversation to realize that it's not about staying. I even write this line. It's not about unpacking your suitcase and ambiguity. You're just there to look around and honor the neighborhood and the environment, say, okay, this exists, this is good. But it's not about unpacking that and getting your sun lounger out and getting a copy of the third perspective and just sitting back.

[01:10:50] LW: I'm so glad you said that because in the beginning of the book, you won't, you have a disclaimer. You say, look, this book is not going to make you all of a sudden magically brave. You have to put this stuff into use and you have to employ your own level of discernment. And in your own example, because I, oftentimes say and put out there, I was like, guys, this is Instagram. Instagram is not meant for context.

When you did the piece about leaving the culture of wokeness, you didn't post that originally on Instagram. You wrote out a long form sort of think piece where you could kind of give a lot of nuance and a lot of context, and then you shared it on social media. And I think what you're saying is that we need to be aware enough about these certain issues that may, we may feel that may be non-negotiables for us to know how best to present it and guess what? There are other platforms besides Instagram that will allow you to provide the nuance that a topic may deserve.

[01:11:50] AB: Yes. Yes. That's such a good point. And I find even when I work with individuals or teams or I'm speaking to people, that's always a point of relief to be reminded that social media is not the only place in which you can have brave conversations. 

I really want people to get that out of their minds because I think that's also the trap of just how technological our world has become, where we devalue our in person lives, where we can touch people, see people's facial expressions, read people's body language, feel that natural and useful discomfort in conversation where you take an emotional risk and a conversational risk, because especially for the younger generation, their Social skills are wiltering at a shocking degree. It's happening to us as adults too so imagine what's happening to the younger generation, which is why I constantly make the invitation that we should be trying all of this offline because it does mean that it will naturally change the way in which we are online as well whereas when we try and do it in the reverse way, it's not tethered enough to the reality and actually learning to be brave and courageous in face to face conversations. 

So I want people to understand that there's this push to use the language of platform to see people as platforms. But that's not what it is. You're dealing with human beings, and you can also speak and find people. It takes work, right? Find people in your local community. Join book clubs, fine. I think we want to be handed a like minded community. We want to be handed people that understand it. Not many people are like, actually, what can I do to create the spaces that I can't see?

So I think that piece around work is very important because I think we're already in a culture of convenience and being so passive. But I think with what we're talking about now we can't do that. It just, it doesn't work that way. 

[01:13:48] LW: And If you look at the most popular figures in media, your Jordan Peterson's, your Joe Rogan's, your Ben Shapiro's, very polarizing. They have a perspective that a lot of people don't agree with. 

[01:14:00] AB: Yes. Yes. 

[01:14:01] LW: And you have to be you said something in your book. You said that if you're not ready to be misunderstood to be seen as controversial. Or to stand alone at times, then you're gambling away a lot more. 

[01:14:17] LW: What do you mean by that?

[01:14:17] AB: So before that line, I was talking about how we think with the truth, even non controversial things. Because I want to make this very clear. We're not talking about brave expression and courageous conversations in the context of controversy or starring the part or it's not about that because we are in a time and we all have to admit the truth. You only have to look around or online to see that you don't even have to say anything remotely controversial anymore to kind of get backlash. I remember seeing a post. I don't know if you might've seen this. I think this was earlier on in the year or something like that. It went extremely viral on Twitter. So this woman didn't have maybe she had about 300 followers or something like that on Twitter. So she's just kind of coming online and she writes this beautiful tweet about how some of her favorite moments is waking up every single day and making her husband coffee and both of them sitting down and having beautiful conversations and how she loves catering to her man, and this tweet just exploded. 

She was being called a pick me. I mean, it was insane. She's being a slave to a man. This submissive wife culture is sick. All this woman said, I am so grateful for my man. And I love that I get to make him a cup of coffee and we sit and we just sort of look out at nature and talk every morning, you know? So I say that to say, you don't even need to be saying vaccines are good or vaccines are bad. You don't need, you can just say, I love my partner and that's enough. Okay. So I really want to make it very clear that controversy aside, people have this idea that speaking or just speaking their minds, being sincere, expressing their thoughts means that they're going to be punished in some way. So it feels like a gamble, but I wanted to make it very clear that if you're not willing to, on some level, be misunderstood, have people misinterpret your words, have people call you a pick me because you love your man. Then I'm sorry, you're gambling away so much more because I think the other option is to buy into a culture of anti intimacy, a culture that doesn't allow us to be sincere, a culture that doesn't allow us to explore ideas to get things wrong and to, you know, change our minds and to make mistakes. So I really wanted to put that forward as like a pull out quote, because I think when you make peace based on the self reputation that you have with you and you make peace with being misunderstood people getting you wrong, you I think you just liberate yourself. So many levels offline and online.

[01:16:59] LW: Yeah. You'd also don't do anything brave when you're overly concerned about that and like what Brene Brown says, if you are always wearing the straight jacket of what everybody else is going to think, you're never going to think or be brave. And this is the first time I've heard about this tweet you're referring to, but I wouldn't be surprised if now she's like a traditional woman's advocate. Her first book deal has already been signed. It's coming out in the fall. She's going to be on Steven Bartlett and you know, all these different podcasts. You got a million followers. You talk about the rewards of brave expression. So let's just talk about some of the more counterintuitive rewards that people can potentially experience if they are brave enough to express their truth.

[01:17:43] AB: Yes. I love that. And what I can do, actually, I would love to just take a moment to actually open that up because I think it would be right there. I just opened it up on the right page. So for those people, that would say integrity is a top value of theirs, which a lot of people would, by the way, if you were to ask people, what are your values, the values that represent you as a person, most people will say integrity, but something that I encourage people to do, and I do it in the book as well, is to look at whether that's actually an embodied value. So the way in which you live your life every single day. 

[01:18:19] LW: Wait, you want us to embody these values? That's where we draw the line. 

[01:18:31] AB: We draw the line. I want you to know whether those values are actually embodied or are they desired. And I think it's fine if things are desired, but it's just about us being honest about what the truth is. So for me, one of the biggest rewards of brave expression is personal integrity because when you stay true to yourself and your values, it helps you create a strong sense of personal integrity and authenticity, which ties into that self reputation piece that we spoke about earlier. And I know that you probably have a lot of people that are leaders in some shape or form, and not while leaders are on the stage or anything like that. It could even be someone that's in a management position or wants to be someone that's an entrepreneur and found themselves leading a team. Someone that is a founder. Someone that just wants to work on self leadership so they can do big work in the world. One of the biggest rewards of brave expression is leadership and influence.

When you're a brave communicator, you often become an influential voice. And this is very important. We need, I know there's always, there's so many people saying how noisy everything is. Everyone has a microphone and they do. I'm hearing people saying they need to increase the prices of microphones because everyone has one now.

But I think we could do with more influential voices that are truly rooted in integrity and bravery. So to me, that is one of the biggest rewards for that because you get to inspire other people with your courage and your conviction. And then one more that I want to share here, which is a big one is community building.

A lot of us are lacking community we are in a loneliness epidemic in the Western world, which is insane to me when you think of how hyper connected we are in terms of technology, but the rewards of brave expression, and I have experienced this, and I know you have too, Light, is when you speak out, you can connect with people that are truly meeting you at eye level, people that you don't have to perform for, people that allow for you to change and to be fluid because they humanize you. They don't put you on a pedestal and dehumanize you in doing so. So it helps you cultivate a sense of community and you get true support, not a superficial support, but it's a support that is created because you're not saying things that are safe. You're not saying things that neatly aligned with the status quo.

And I think you also get to find something in doing that goes beyond you, that goes beyond the ego, that goes beyond the self. And yeah, I would say those three are really important. Yeah. For most people, while they say they are, but the path there is non negotiably brave expression. 

[01:21:15] LW: There's something just popped in my head and I wanted to ask you about this. So your profile obviously has gotten huge. I'm sure you're being recognized on the street, maybe of New York. I don't know. But. If someone recognizes you, what's a good way to approach Africa Brooke these days? 

[01:21:33] AB: Oh, what a great question. I'm a big hugger. So if you're too, I would just love a hug. Sometimes I think words especially the English language, sometimes it doesn't truly convey how you feel in a moment, and I think the body can do that very well. So if someone's comfortable to do so, just give me a big, cozy hug. And even if we just laugh together for a moment without saying a single word, that's That's good enough for me. And it's amazing because I attract people who are huge huggers. So almost every single person I meet is just, they are people that don't need to say too much because we get it.

But also when they share their story with me, even in that moment, which you can also do, it means so, so much, but when you can hold someone and exchange energy in that way, it means a great deal. So I think that's one way. That's my favorite way. 

[01:22:27] LW: Beautiful. I'm sure. I mean, I get people from time to time messaging me and say, Oh, I saw you in such and such place. I was afraid to say something and I'll always tell them, you know, always come up and say, hi, I love it. Absolutely. 

[01:22:40] AB: Yeah. Especially if I'm with my mom, please do that. She'll be so she will finally stop telling me to get a nursing degree, just in case 

[01:22:48] LW: I say that when I’m with my girlfriend definitely come up and say something to me.

All right. So you've been posting a lot about this thing, Flight Studio. Talk a little bit about that and whatever else you're excited about now as well. 

[01:23:15] AB: Oh, I'm so excited. So excited about that. So Flight Studio is a, just, I think a podcast network that is going to really revolutionize the space. And it's created by Steven Bartlett, who is the founder of Diary of a CEO.

So what I'm going to be doing there is launching a new show called unthinkable thoughts. And I'm sure the name already gives you a bit of an idea of what it's going to be about, but I just want to have, I already have my podcast beyond the self, but with this, I want to have brave conversations with other people and not just famous people. I don't want it to be a replica of anything that's already out there. I want to make it very interesting. I want to make it really connect with the everyday person. I want to have conversations with the everyday person. But I want to bring forward all of those conversations we've been told can only happen behind closed doors. I want us to explore our unthinkable thoughts out loud. And I'm so glad that I found a home in which I can do that and to have the support to do that. And I also think it's going to be a fantastic sort of partner for my book, The Third Perspective and yeah, I'm just so excited to bring this work out into the world more. 

I want to have more live events, in person conversations because I think it would be a shame to just confine all of this dialogue to the online world, you know, I think there's something special. I do a lot of events anyway, but I've been writing for the past three years. So I've stepped away a little bit, but now I can step back and meet my community in person. So I have very big plans for all of this and I'm just, I'm so, so excited. So excited. 

[01:24:36] LW: I know when I've written books before and I've been fortunate enough to write four books and I've written on various subjects. And when I'm done writing a book and I promote it and put it out there, I'm kind of done with that subject a little bit. And I'm just curious how you're seeing your next. iteration or evolution in this space cause you've been talking about this for a little while now. 

[01:24:59] AB: I have and I don't know, I think I'm going to let, I'm going to let the path tell me what it needs to be. That's what I'm going to do. I want to make sure that I savor every single moment and that I'm fully present and that I give this my all and that I don't put the thing out and then sort of detach from it or think what's next. I'm just going to, I really want to be in that delicious in between of even not knowing. I'm really looking forward to the not knowing, but I, most people might not know this. 

But I'm an artist first. I am a writer, fiction writer as well. I've always wanted to write a screenplay. I've always wanted to fictionalize aspects of my work. So I'd love to create a short film or a feature film based on some of the components that I speak about. I'm really fascinated with the idea of. What happens when your public self takes over your private self? That's something that I would love to explore in a fictional way. So I think that could be a really cool thing to do next because I do want this conversation to evolve, but I want it to naturally evolve. I don't want it to evolve from an intellectual place of being like, okay, what's the next iteration of the work, you know, I'm just going to continue what I'm doing, continue playing. I also want to create like an auditory experience of the third perspective with like music sounds, like a sort of cinematic voice scape. I just want to do some cool things. I want to do like an art exhibition based on it. And. Yeah, I just, I want to turn it essentially into a form of art. It's been in a written form, in a non fiction form, and I want to see what sort of lives it can live in different forms.

[01:26:39] LW: Well, that was my prediction for you as I see you talking about this on massive stages. I know you're already doing a lot of speaking, but just all over the world and it eventually becomes perhaps a one woman show or something with multimedia. And yeah, I think that's, I think that's where this is going.

[01:26:58] AB: Oh, that's amazing. Can you produce it?

[01:27:01] LW: Done! Well, thank you so much for coming back on and sharing more about your perspective and this third perspective. And we'll put links to everything in the show notes. And hopefully we get this book in as many hands as possible because I think this is something that the world truly, desperately needs as these topics keep circulating around our echo chambers on social media.

And we just don't know how to communicate around it. And I would say at the end of the day, this is really about just a healthier way, more constructive way to express yourself. And I don't know anybody who couldn't use that myself included. So thank you. 

[01:27:40] AB: Thank you so much. I'm so grateful. Thank you.


Thank you for listening to my interview with Africa. And The Third Perspective is available everywhere books are sold. So I highly recommend that you check that out. You can also follow Africa on the socials at Africa Brooke and that's B R O O K E. And of course I'll put links to everything that Africa and I discussed in the show notes, which you can always find at 

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All right. I look forward to hopefully seeing you back here next week with another story about someone just like me, just like you. Taking a leap of faith in the direction of their purpose and until then keep trusting your intuition. It's very important. Keep following your heart and keep taking those leaps of faith.

And if no one's told you recently that they believe in you, I believe in you. Thank you. Sending you lots of love and have a great day.

Navigating Conflict in Today's Society
Self-Sabotage and Self-Censorship in Society
Anatomy of Denial
Self-Censorship vs. Social Filtering
Navigating Interpersonal Communication and Boundaries
Building Trust in Relationships
Navigating Social Media Echo Chambers
Identity and Authenticity on Social Media
Encouraging Courageous Conversations Offline
Rewards of Brave Expression and Integrity
Community Building and Brave Expression
The Light Watkins Show Happiness Insiders