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Episode 197 – Overthinking vs. Processing

It isn’t the other person we are defeating. It is simply a matter of overcoming the obstacles he presents. In true competition, no person is defeated. Both players benefit from their efforts to overcome the obstacles presented by the other.” ~Dr. Chad Johnson

How often do you find yourself overthinking a situation which then results in a less-than-desirable outcome compared to times when you’re “in the zone” and you can’t lose?

Everyday Practices Podcast co-hosts Dr. Chad Johnson and Regan Robertson continue their fun and informative subseries in which they dive into the world’s leading business books and share summaries of the valuable lessons you can apply to your dental practice. In this episode, Dr. Chad and Regan discuss The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance by W. Timothy Gallwey. 

They discuss fascinating concepts like Self 1 (the conscious mind that overthinks and gets in the way) and Self 2 (your innate talent or unconscious mind that processes things and gets the job done the way you usually want), and how to better quiet Self 1 so Self 2 has the opportunity to perform well. Drawing from their own personal journeys, Dr. Chad and Regan candidly recount instances in which their conscious thinking led to unfortunate complications, and then finding success when they surrendered control to their innate talents. 

As you listen to this episode, we want you to think about:

  • How frequently do you find yourself overanalyzing things with your conscious mind when your subconscious abilities or innate talents could effortlessly handle them?
  • What can you do to quiet your overthinking mind and trust your innate talents more?
  • How can the concepts of mastering the mental side of peak performance be applied to your life, your team, and your career?


Regan 0:01
Hi, Doctor. Regan Robertson, CCO of Productive Dentist Academy here and I have a question for you. Are you finding it hard to get your team aligned to your vision, but you know, you deserve growth just like everybody else? That’s why we’ve created the PDA productivity workshop. For nearly 20 years PDA workshops have helped dentists just like you align their teams, get control of scheduling, and create productive practices that they love walking into every day. Just imagine how you will feel when you know your schedule is productive, your systems are humming, and your team is aligned to your vision. It’s simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. We can help visit that’s to secure your seats.

Regan 0:47
It’s really interesting to me how the ego can get into the way of certain daily activities. Like if we’re, if we’re breathing, we’re not really thinking about it, that sits in the subconscious. It’s a program that runs. We don’t, we just do it, we never really stop and think about it and that’s, that, that self to that subconscious, we trust our bodies to breathe and perform essential functions without really thinking about it. Yep, however, when it switches into an athletic or a business application, all of a sudden the stakes change and we start thinking about it, which is that conscious mind. Welcome to the Everyday Practices Podcast. I’m Regan Robertson, and my co-host Dr. Chad Johnson and I are on a mission to share the stories of everyday dentists who generate extraordinary results using practical proven methods you can take right into your own dental practice. If you’re ready to elevate patient care and produce results that are anything but ordinary. Buckle up and listen in

Regan 2:00
Welcome to Everyday Practices podcast I am your host Regan Robertson here with the ever-knowledgeable, ever-vast Chad Johnson Hi Chad. How you doing?

Dr. Chad Johnson 2:10
Keep it coming Regan. I love flattery. I’m doing well. How are you?

Regan 2:16
Hello, selfishly, I’m very much enjoying our book journey that you have had me cramming. So this way No, no, don’t need more things to do. This has kept me on my toes and in fact, when we get down into lesson three of this book, I think that this is really applicable because you should have something to sharpen your sword against. I think it’s really good. So I like this. I feel like you’ve given me a challenge that’s doable. So yes, for everybody, audible, you guys get audible, put it in your earbuds and when you’re working out, you can get through these books. I do one-and-a-half speed. Just so you know. I can’t do two, two, I can’t process that fast. But thank you do too, don’t you Chad

Dr. Chad Johnson 3:00
know, depending on the book, but a lot of times I’m at 1.5 If I want to think stuff through and 1.8 If I want to get through it, but two is like I want to skim it real quick. Yeah. Okay.

Regan 3:10
Yeah. So this week’s book is “The Inner Game of Tennis” by Timothy Galloway, you read this quite a while ago, it’s on your list of books. Correct And there are three lessons that were very intriguing to me as the casual reader and you really probably have had a chance to put this into play in your own life already.

Dr. Chad Johnson 3:32
Yeah and it’s, it’s it’s concise. I mean, so the first point that the book makes is that there’s two selves and I actually thought of another book that we’re going to review, which is by Daniel Kahneman. This book is or this guy is promoted, this author is promoted by John kois. It’s called “Thinking Fast and Slow”. So anyone who’s done Kois courses, Kahneman is one of the videos that he shows at the beginning of his first course Thinking Fast and Slow is the book but Daniel Kahneman uses different verbiage but he talks about to two selves, two thought processes. So in the book by Galloway, there are two selves. So one is in charge of when we’re our best and self one is when we, and hold on a second and often self one only gets in the way. So self one is the overthinker, self two is the processor immediately you know making a split decision and so like you can think in tennis, but this book is bigger than tennis Regan but the book you know about sports application is you know that some athletes go, “Stupid, stupid, stupid, I should have done better. I need to think harder. I need to consciously think through this and, and you know, be stroner to resolve this,” and sell to is the subconscious when you’re flowing when you’re relaxing, when you’re just letting things happen.

Regan 5:09
It’s really interesting to me how the ego can get into the way of certain daily activities, like if we, if we’re breathing, we’re not really thinking about it that sits in the subconscious, it’s a program that runs, we don’t we just do it, we never really stop and think about it and that’s that, that self to that subconscious, we trust our bodies to breathe and perform essential functions without really thinking about it. Yep. However, when it switches into an athletic or a business application, all of a sudden, the stakes change and we start thinking about it, which is that conscious mind,

Dr. Chad Johnson 5:47
Which is probably why doing for example, even though 10,000 hours isn’t the magic bullet number, but you know, you do something enough hours, and then you’re letting go of the self one that’s always thinking, thinking, I really liked in the book, how, you know, he was like, when when you tell yourself to stop being nervous, stop being nervous, does that really help or, you know, does that ever work? Rarely, you know, so, the idea is that we need to have a different approach and applying pressure to ourselves, you know, like, you get up to the free throw line me thinking about basketball, and be like, “Okay, I only have 2000 people in this little, you know, arena watching and, and no pressure, because if I hit this the game”, you know, like all those thoughts that are calculating it, it’s not gonna help.

Regan 6:31
One of the stories that Timothy told in this first section of the book that I really loved was, he was coaching in tennis, a gentleman who had been to many coaches, and, and he went down the path of, you know, telling the client, you know, you’re swinging too high, and the guy continued to swing too high and he knew that probably other coaches had told him as well. So he, I believe, recorded him. Timothy, don’t quote me on this, but this one I got from the story, he was able to see. So the client was actually able to see that he was hitting it too high. So he was able to have it mirrored and reflected to him and he went, “Oh, my gosh, I’m hitting it too high,” and the coach was a bit befuddled, because he was like, “I’ve been telling you this, other coaches have told you this,” but something wasn’t quite connecting, and allowing us and how many times like it’s in the the obstacles away practicing objectivity. How many times have we told somebody else, “You just need to do XYZ,” and they hear it and they say, “Yep, I get it,” and then they, they don’t seem to change. I know, for bowling for me, when I watched myself, I don’t watch myself bowling, but when I’m bowling, and I’ll notice, “Oh my gosh, that that went too far to the left, that went too far. So next time, Regan, don’t do it to the left,” and then I do it even more to the left, and I’m really frustrated. I’m like, why I told myself and that’s, I think a great example of the self one and self two is how he explains it is you can tell yourself, don’t do it to the left and then often what happens is the opposite of what we want. So either continues or even gets worse. Yes and that’s because you are not trusting self to which is that subconscious level where you’re in the flow, and you are relaxing and that was the same applied for me when I did dance for so many years, if I thought about every single step I was going to have to make before I was in the public eye. So before I was on stage, if I obsessed about it right before I went on, guaranteed I would be making a mistake. Yeah. So I had to be I had to figure out how to do the opposite of that. .

Dr. Chad Johnson 8:38
Yeah, I mean, a lot of this, this book is our summary that you and I established for the listeners is quite concise, but the book really is fascinating. Shall we do lesson two? From the book?

Regan 8:51
Yes, quick summary, lesson one self one is your conscious mind. That’s the mind that tells you like, for example, I am going to, I’m going to really place that implant Well, I am going to turn my hand whatever degree it has turned and the result is unfortunately you don’t turn your hand the right way and the implant gives you trouble why is that it’s because you are letting self one your conscious mind control your talent as it were because you really should be letting your subconscious self to in control, you need to trust it that that is lesson number one.

Dr. Chad Johnson 9:24
I’ll be transparent. So I just got a manual vehicle and so as I’m getting used to driving the stick, I’m, I’m normally flowing pretty well after the first week unless someone’s right on me at a stop sign and then I’m thinking, “Oh, no, I gotta get moving. Okay, don’t kill it. Don’t kill it. Okay, I killed it.” You know and so it’s funny how a perfect example is a perfect example because a lot of my life I think I’m in the flow and then that’s an example where I’m learning something new and I’m like, “Oh, oh, don’t kill it. Oh, crud, I just did the very thing that I was hoping not to do.” So yep, relax, go in the flow, use your subconscious. It’s stuff you’ve heard before, but now it’s just like, No, the science is proving it. So lesson two, basically, we’ve talked about being in the zone and he calls it, the author calls it ‘Out of mind’, and so we don’t want to get stuck in our own head and so when there’s a, we assume that there’s a repeatable process that we can use to get into that zone but that’s not really the case. So what we can do, however, is to resolve this inner conflict is to quiet self one and trust self to so now that we’ve defined self one and self to, you know, your goal isn’t to be you know, to go, you know, don’t don’t mess up, don’t mess up, don’t mess up. It’s just okay. Just, you know, go in the trust zone and as opposed to the counterproductive scolding yourself, your thoughts?

Regan 11:02
Oh, my. So I’ll tell you my hack for lesson two and I’m looking for additional tools to quiet the self I meditate daily. I love that. I’ll tell you, though, for public speaking, which has been quite a battle for me over the years, but but now I have no problem. I seem to have no problem like with my confidence level of it. So I’ll tell you what I do. My little hack is, of course by saying that now I’m letting voice one takeover and I know,

Dr. Chad Johnson 11:33
Again, I was like, no, come on share.

Regan 11:38
The hack that I do is I tell my brain I’ve prepared as much as I can do if I truly believe it, I have to believe it, Chad. I have prepared as much as I can, that’s it, that is all I can do. Whatever happens up there onstage, just that was actually how I got out of my fear with dance and messing up and dance too so I probably unintentionally pulled that same particular tool forward. I’ve practiced as much as I can, there is nothing more I can humanly do, you have to trust yourself, and thinking about it is going to give you the opposite results. So I adopted that and dance, after a few failed attempts pretty early on. For speaking the same thing I’ve prepared as much as I can, I have to just leave it. I’ve left it all out on the field, what shows up is what will show up and my other big tip with that is my inspirational quote from Bruce Baird, that he started. I don’t know, in over a decade when I met him, he said, “Just Just tell them, just share with you with people what you know, just tell them what you know.” So if I mean, I wouldn’t tattoo it, but that would be something that I’ve written down many, many times over the years. Just tell them what you know, and it relaxes me. So I think it quiet self one, and allows me to trust self two because it reminds me, I know what I know, that’s okay, you’re just sharing what your note you’re not sharing what you don’t know. So for public speaking, that’s exactly how I’m able to quiet self one. So I can trust self two like,

Dr. Chad Johnson 13:08
I like that, even roll in less than three of three. Lesson three is the inner game isn’t limited to tennis or sports in general, it matters everywhere in life and again, this isn’t rocket science, but he’s just saying, you know, the inner game of tennis in this book? Why would you read this if you don’t play tennis? You know, when the last time I’ve played tennis, your guess as good as mine? I don’t know, but I found this book to be fascinating because of this very principle. You know, the third principle is that it’s this book isn’t about sports, or whatever it is, but it applies everywhere in life. So you know, being able to he talks about as children, what he called, or, you know, what he explained, as implicit learning is that when we observe, and then we just try it on our own as kids, you don’t over-intellectualize everything you don’t, you know, you can’t master the verbal skills of how to describe it and normally in dentistry, I think of, you know, like mastery as being able to explain it and to, you know, to do it and stuff like that, and teach others how to do it but this actually is like, no, it’s simpler than that. You’re like children just implicitly learn by observing and then just do it and they go, you just do it, Dad, you just do it. You know,

Regan 14:22
I love the childlike reference, because Timothy does say that our brains tend to not take credit when we’re actually in our flow state and we’re just doing it and we don’t have an explanation for how we do it, which is another trick into getting us into that self. One, where as children, we don’t have anything to prove. I think that’s to me that that connection there. So, so when we memorize the skill, we’re just we’re not doing it to necessarily impress others, and we don’t. It’s not like a career where our job is to then pass on that knowledge also, so we’re allowed to ease up on ourselves a little bit.

Dr. Chad Johnson 14:57
So I was in high school and I was job shadowing a guy on the other side of town, Greg, sir, also, he’s retired in the last couple of years. But he, I asked him, I was like, “How do you drill backwards in a mirror? You know, like, are you thinking, the reverse, or like, are you thinking I’m pushing to the left while you’re drilling to the left or are you thinking pushing to the right, while you’re pushing to the left? Like, how does that work? “And he was like, “Ah, I don’t know, you just do it,” and, and it was later either that day or that week that I thought, “Wait a second, when I comb my hair in the mirror, I don’t over process it, you kind of just do it. Now. If you’ve ever watched a three or four-year-old use a comb, it’s, it’s not like it goes easy, but I thought it’s got to be that easy to a dentist someday to drill backwards in a mirror. As much as when I comb my hair, and that kind of, I don’t know, like, solidified to me that it’s just like, okay, someday I’ll be able to do it because, you know, like, you’ll just figure it out and you know, don’t overthink it. Just do it.

Regan 16:06
That is it quantum physics, quantum mechanics in which does the show greener? Cat? I can’t remember I can never pronounce that traders, cat?

Dr. Chad Johnson 16:25
Strangers cat?

Regan 16:25
Yes. The whole summation of this is you can’t focus directly on it, like focusing directly on what you want in this application actually makes you perform worse. Correct and the goal is to get yourself out of that mindset, so you’re not directly looking at what it is that you want to improve your performance.

Dr. Chad Johnson 16:36
Yes. Yep. It’s funny, too. Sometimes when I’m suturing, like this morning, I had three wisdom teeth cases, and while I’m suturing and stuff, I’m talking about other stuff, and it’s almost maybe it’s my brains way of just oversimplifying the the difficulty of the matter. Hey, so let me read this quote, If you don’t mind that I found in chapter nine, that the listeners will find interesting. “So in this use of competition, it is the duty of your opponent to create the greatest possible difficulties for you.” So this sounds a lot like our book, what was it Regan, ‘The obstacle is the way” by Ryan Holiday, okay, just as it is yours to try and create obstacles for him. “Only by doing this, do you give each other the opportunity to find out to what heights each can rise. So I arrived, this is still part of the quote. So I arrived at the starting conclusion that true competition is identical to true cooperation, each player tries his hardest to defeat the other but in this use of competition, it isn’t the other person we are defeating it is simply a matter of overcoming the obstacles he presents. In true competition, no person is defeated, both players benefit by their efforts to overcome the obstacles presented by the other, like two bulls butting their heads against each other both grow stronger, and each participates in the development of the other.

Regan 18:05
That just blows my mind.

Dr. Chad Johnson 18:05
Isn’t that cool?

Regan 18:06
Well, it’s, it’s trust, and it’s trust. So if you have another person to sharpen that sword against, that you trust, you can go much further. So when I look at my very close relationships, they are built on trust, and respect and so what could come off as adversarial, the whole dynamic completely changes and I love it when, very similar to you and I discussing in our in last week’s podcast, BMS versus traction and I’m thinking it’s gonna be like a throwdown and we get to the end of it, and I’m like, Oh, my gosh, we can see the pros and cons of both of these but when you have a lot of trust, established, you can really, truly take something to its fullest potential. So you have a safe space to evaluate without emotion and the book does talk about that being able to evaluate objectively without throwing the ego and the emotion into it. So, you know, for me, when I think about that, the biggest takeaway is how can you build that internal to yourself, so you’ve got to trust yourself? Yeah.

Dr. Chad Johnson 19:12
Yeah, so for example, my wife gets mad at me, Sarah will get mad at me when we’re watching a game and we’re supposed to be rooting for the team that we like but the other team if they do something good, I go, Oh, man, that’s that was good. And she gets mad. Yes, but she gets mad because she’s like, “No.” For example, last night, we watched the women’s national team play Sweden for the Women’s World Cup in soccer. And, and Sweden was bringing the ball down and put it in the corner and kicked a cross over to the other side. So they are crossing it and I was like, “Oh, man, that was good. She burned you know that other player,” and my daughter and Sarah what they were like, “What Why are you saying that like We’re supposed to,” and, “I was like, listen, it was, it was just purely awesome. athleticism,” they’re like, I can’t not do that, like, I’ll even if there’s a team that I really like, but then the other, you know, the best player on the other team does something really good. Even if I can’t stand them or something like that, I’ll be like, “Man, that was good,” and most people won’t go so out loud to say that, but I even remember back, you know, playing varsity ball. That is if another player on another team did something good. I’d run down the court and you know, said, Dude, that was fun, that was actually awesome and it helped. It helped me realize, you know, that the other player should be playing as hard as I don’t want them playing patty cakes with us. I don’t want the other team to be, you know, only throwing me lob balls and stuff like that and then what you so someone could think short-sighted, well, yeah, you do, then you’ll win the game. Yeah, but then what? They think that? Yeah,

Regan 20:55
It’s easy to observe well, when people get super passionate about sports, I can see why Sarah would be not thrilled when you have a team. I think the, I think the game changes dramatically when you throw in a career or a livelihood, and you up the stakes, so that it really does matter. And so for

Dr. Chad Johnson 21:15
For example, like if I have a dentist down the street, that is my competition, I actually just go bring it on. It’s like Fight Club, but we can’t talk about it. Right, Regan.

Regan 21:24
Yes, yes, you again, I think you have to be very, very firm in your own identity, trust yourself, be able to pull apart the essence of who you are, away from the outcome of what you’re trying to accomplish that that is a, I’m looking forward to the other books that we read and listeners if you have advice on how you’re able to remove your identity from your job title, or how you perceive that you bring value to the world so that you can calm your ego down. I think that’s a really compelling and provocative topic because if it’s a game where the stakes are very low, I think it is easy to get into the flow state a little bit easier, but when you pull in career and things that affect your livelihood, it can be a little bit trickier but it’s not impossible at all once you’re once you’re in it. This book really will be will make you think about that and ask you to define things and it was backed up with some pretty interesting science. So thank you for the upgrade.

Dr. Chad Johnson 22:22
I liked your welcome and I liked that Timothy, the author said that this is a non self-help book because a self-help book would be teaching you to overthink, analyze, and to overthink stuff and he’s like this book is actually a non self-help book. So if you don’t like self-help books, this book might be for you.

Regan 22:39
Thank you so much, Chad.

Dr. Chad Johnson 22:40
You’re welcome Regan. Thanks, listeners have a good rest of the day.

Regan 22:46
Thank you for listening to another episode of Everyday Practices Podcast. Chad and I are here every week. Thanks to our community of listeners just like you and we’d love your help. It would mean the world if you can help spread the word by sharing this episode with a fellow dentist and leave us a review on iTunes or Spotify. Do you have an extraordinary story you’d like to share or feedback on how we can make this podcast even more awesome? Drop us an email at and don’t forget to check out our other podcasts from Productive Dentist Academy at See you next week.

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Your use of this website indicates your agreement to be bound by the Terms of Use and you expressly agree to be bound to the foregoing terms and conditions.

All materials on this website, including the site’s design, layout, and organization, are owned and copyrighted by Productive Dentist Academy, or its suppliers or vendors, and are protected by U.S. and international copyrights.

Material on this site may be used for personal use only. Commercial use of any sort is strictly prohibited.

Use of Resources & Information
This site may not be used as a supplement or alternative for health care, and is not intended and does not warrant or guarantee the quality or quantity of any services of any of the advertisers identified; further, the information provided is merely for educational purposes, and its accuracy is not guaranteed. Do not use this site as a substitute for health care. Please consult with your doctor or other health care provider regarding any health questions you may have. This site may not be used for health diagnosis or treatment. Do not use this site to disregard any health advice, nor to delay seeking health advice, because of something you read or see in this site.

You understand and agree that neither Productive Dentist Academy nor its suppliers or vendors or linked domain names are responsible or liable for any claim, loss, or damage of any kind, directly or indirectly resulting from your use of this site or the information or the resources contained on or accessible through it.

Productive Dentist Academy expressly disclaims any implied warranty or representation about the information or accuracy, relevance, completeness, timeliness or appropriateness for any particular purpose of any kind. Your use of this site is also subject to all additional disclaimers that may appear throughout the site.

Other Internet Sites Links
This site also includes links to other internet sites created and maintained by Productive Dentist Academy’s suppliers, vendors, affiliates, or subscribers. Be aware that Productive Dentist Academy does not control, makes no guarantees about, and disclaims any express or implied representations or warranties about the accuracy, relevance, completeness, timeliness or appropriateness for a particular purpose of the information or the resources contained on these or any other internet sites.

Further, the inclusion of these links is merely for your convenience and is not intended and does not reflect Productive Dentist Academy’s opinion on the accuracy or the importance of these other sites; further, Productive Dentist Academy does not endorse in any manner any of the views expressed in, or products or services offered by these other sites. All information in any site by Productive Dentist Academy, or associated or linked site, is extracted, read, used, or relied upon by you at your own risk.

Disclaimer of Warranty
Productive Dentist Academy and its suppliers and vendors disclaim all express or implied representations or warranties regarding the information, services, products, materials, and any other resources contained on or accessible through this site, including without limitation any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. All information provided by Productive Dentist Academy is made available “as is” and “as available” without warranty of any kind, or any express or implied promise, including, by way of example, its continuing availability.

Limitation of Liability
With respect to products, goods, or services purchased from any entity identified, listed, named or contacted through Productive Dentist Academy’s website, or any links to Productive Dentist Academy’s website, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, in no event shall Productive Dentist Academy or its suppliers or vendors be liable for any direct, indirect, special, punitive, incidental, exemplary, contractual, or consequential damages, or any damages whatsoever of any kind, resulting from any loss, which by way of example, includes loss of use, loss of data, loss of profits, business interruption, litigation, or any other pecuniary loss, whether based on breach of contract, tort (including negligence), product liability, or otherwise, arising out of or in any way connected with the use or performance of this site, with the delay or inability to use this site, or with the provision of or failure to make available any information, services, products, materials, or other resources contained on or accessible through this site, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.

You acknowledge and agree that the limitations set forth above are elements of this agreement, and that this site would not be provided to you absent such limitations.

You agree to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless Productive Dentist Academy and its suppliers and vendors from any liability, loss, claim, and expense (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) related to your violation of this agreement or use of this site in any manner. Your use of this site shall constitute your acceptance of the terms of this Agreement, as revised and modified, if any, each time you access this site. Productive Dentist Academy may modify this agreement at any time, and such modifications shall be effective immediately upon posting of the modified agreement.

Productive Dentist Academy’s failure to insist upon strict enforcement of any provision(s) of this agreement shall not be construed as a waiver of any provision or right.

This agreement and the resolution of any dispute related to this agreement or this site shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Washington, without giving effect to any principles or conflicts of law. Any legal action or proceeding between Productive Dentist Academy or its links, suppliers or vendors and you related to this agreement or this site shall be brought exclusively in a state or federal court of competent jurisdiction sitting in Skagit County, Washington.

All materials on this website, including the site’s design, layout, and organization, are owned and copyrighted by Productive Dentist Academy or its suppliers or vendors, and are protected by U.S. and international copyrights.

This site contains links to other sites. Productive Dentist Academy is not responsible for the privacy practices of other sites that are linked to us.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding Productive Dentist Academy’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, please contact us.

Read More About Our Terms of Service and Why It Matters

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