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Six Pixels of Separation Podcast

Apr 21, 2024

Welcome to episode #928 of Six Pixels of Separation - The ThinkersOne Podcast.

Here it is: Six Pixels of Separation - The ThinkersOne Podcast - Episode #928. Let’s explore what it means to master something. Dr. Michael Gervais is a world-renowned high-performance psychologist whose work has revolutionized the way we think about fear, potential, and personal growth. Mike, whose career spans working with top athletes and Fortune 100 leaders, delves into the critical barriers that impede our success and satisfaction in life — chief among them, the Fear Of Other People's Opinions (aka FOPO). His new book, The First Rule of Mastery - Stop Worrying about What People Think of You, dives deep into overcoming this pervasive fear. Mike articulates how FOPO manifests in nearly all aspects of our lives, constricting our actions and dampening our authenticity. From the sports field to the boardroom, the consequences of surrendering to FOPO are universally detrimental, leading us to play it safe and small. During our conversation, Mike shares his personal journey of curiosity, which has fueled his passion for understanding the human mind and its vast capabilities. He emphasizes that the path to mastery isn't just about achieving external success but about engaging in a lifelong process of learning, artistic expression, and embracing the moment. This approach not only enhances personal fulfillment but also drives us to contribute meaningfully to the world around us. We discuss the broader implications of living under the shadow of FOPO in today’s society, where insularity and tribalism often dominate. He highlights the importance of embracing a balanced perspective and the dual recognition of our significance to others while acknowledging our smallness in the grand scheme of things. As someone who splits his time between innovative projects at the Performance Science Institute at USC and his podcast Finding Mastery, Mike embodies the balance between action and reflection, making him an ideal guide for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of themselves and the world through the lens of mastery. Whether you're a leader, educator, or simply someone pursuing personal growth, this conversation will empower you to lead a high-performance life by mastering the art of tuning out the noise and focusing on what truly matters. Enjoy the conversation...


  • Fear of other people's opinions (FOPO) can be a major obstacle to personal growth and potential.
  • Setting high standards for oneself is more effective than having expectations.
  • Context and culture play a crucial role in shaping our actions and behaviors.
  • The path to mastery involves a deep commitment to learning, artistic expression, and a love affair with the unfolding moment.
  • Maintaining authenticity and staying true to oneself can be challenging in the face of external expectations and pressures. 
  • The voice inside our heads can either be a protector or a propeller, and it's important to be aware of its influence on our thoughts and actions.
  • Success is a subjective concept that varies from person to person and is influenced by cultural and individual values.
  • The current state of society is characterized by increasing insularity, tribalism, and a focus on superficial metrics of success.
  • To live a good life, it is important to prioritize experiences, relationships, and personal growth over external achievements.
  • Investing in mental skills training, such as mindfulness, journaling, and conversations with wise individuals, can help cultivate a positive mindset and navigate challenges.
  • The path to mastery involves embracing duality, recognizing our significance in the lives of others while also acknowledging our smallness in the grand scheme of things.


  • 00:00 - Introduction and Background.
  • 08:24 - Setting High Standards for Personal Growth.
  • 30:34 - Navigating Authenticity in the Face of External Expectations.
  • 39:33 - The importance of awareness.
  • 48:30 - The current state of society.
  • 55:24 - Unleashing human potential.