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Outer Order, Inner Calm with Gretchen Rubin

Episode 192
Chad sits down with Gretchen to discuss her most recent book and what you can learn from two of history’s most influential leaders.

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Gretchen Rubin (Twitter: @gretchenrubin) is a New York Times Bestselling author and podcast host. Her past works have explored everything from the life and times of Winston Churchill to how decluttering your life can help lead to a calm mind.

In this episode, Chad sits down with Gretchen to discuss her most recent book (Outer Order, Inner Calm), her writing process, and what you can learn from two of history’s most influential leaders.

[0:55] Outer Order, Inner Calm

  • “Outer order contributes to a sense of inner calm.” Click to Tweet
  • Getting control over the small things in life helps people gain a sense of general control over their lives. Gretchen’s book explains why this is true, how to do it, and how to maintain it.
  • There is no right way to create your own “outer order”. Gretchen gives examples of the things that work for different kinds of people.

[4:30] The One Minute Rule

  • The One Minute Rule states: “Anything you can do in one minute or less, do without delay.” Click to Tweet
  • A lot of times it’s not huge tasks that weigh us down, it’s a whole bunch of little tasks. The One Minute Rule helps take care of that.
  • What to ask yourself when purging your house of old items: Do you need it, use it, or love it?
  • Another good way to get rid of clutter is to do a virtual move. This is when you ask yourself: “Would I take this with me if I were moving?”

[6:30] Gretchen’s Background

[12:00] Useful Models For Refueling Creativity

  • As a writer, how do you choose which narrative structure to follow?
  • Pick… “the form that will most clearly express what it is you are trying to express to others.”
  • If how you are telling the story gets in the way of the telling of the story, then you may want to reconsider the structure you’ve chosen.
  • “So the question is, ‘Everything has its right form, what is the right form for this?’”
  • “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” -Winston Churchill Click to Tweet

[16:00] Strategies We Can Learn From Churchill

  • Churchill meticulously used pacing and specific vocabulary to drive home a message
    • “When he really wanted to hammer it home, he took it down to one syllable.”
  • No matter how fact-based the biography, biographies will lead you to a certain conclusion. That is the nature of storytelling and of biography.
  • If you want to convince people, you want allies – and that’s one thing Churchill did wrong.
  • Churchill had held nearly every important position in the government. That experience gave him authority.

[20:30] Strategies We Can Learn From JFK

  • Gretchen shares positive stories about JFK
  • “He’s greatest who’s greatest in men’s thoughts.”
  • JFK stood for excellence in the public’s imagination, which is an impressive accomplishment. Whether he lived up to that is a different question.

[22:00] How To Make Allies

  • Communicate effectively with those who disagree with you.
  • “Sometimes you want a well-placed enemy.”
  • Be polite and respect the other person no matter how much you disagree with them.
  • “When you are going to kill a man, it costs you nothing to be polite.” -Churchill Click to Tweet

[24:00] Gretchen’s Creative Routine

[33:00] Closing Thoughts

  • “We can build a happy life only on the foundation of what’s true about ourselves.” Click to Tweet

Learn more about Gretchen (Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Website).


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