Get UNSTUCK by Pat Flynn

We all have pacifiers 😬

published12 days ago
4 min read

Hi, it’s Pat! 👋

I haven’t used a pacifier for over 10 years now.

Wait — I mean as a parent, for one of my babies. Not for myself. 😅

The origin of the word pacifier — derived from the 15th-century word pacify — literally means to “make peace” or “bring peace,” and if you’re a parent with a crying baby, you can really resonate with that meaning.

But no matter what age you are, when something makes us uncomfortable, sometimes we subconsciously try to “bring peace” to the situation. Nail-biting is a common bad habit associated with nervousness, just as an example.

In this email, I’m going to point out one of my own “pacifiers,” and how I actually used it to my advantage.

Because here’s the truth: when you aren’t conscious of the actions that hold you back…it sucks.


See what I did there? Pacifier? Sucks?

I couldn’t help myself. Alright, let’s get unstuck.


“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not."

— Denis Waitley


I first realized I had an “adult binky” when I filmed my first online course in 2017. I had a bad habit that was subconscious until someone else pointed it out.

What was it?

When filming, I immediately grabbed my phone and started checking Twitter or Instagram after each take.

Filming was hard. I was really nervous and I felt very self-conscious about how I appeared on camera. After I trudged through the first module, I handed over the raw files to my editor and a day later, he sent me this message:

“Hey Pat, this is kind of random, but I noticed that you were checking your phone between every take. Was there something going on while you were filming?”

He thought maybe there was a football game on that I was following, but that wasn’t it at all. Twitter and Instagram had become my pacifier, soothing me when things got tough.

My social feeds were distracting me from the hard things I was trying to do, and it absolutely delayed my production. Deep down, in the subconscious mind of a first time course creator, a delay is probably what I wanted to happen.

I didn’t want to film, so I grabbed the nearest thing that brought me comfort.

But hey, at least I didn’t put my phone in my mouth.

This was an eye-opening realization, and I immediately did something about it:

  1. I put my phone in my bag when it was time to film.
  2. I used printed copies of my notes for each lesson, rather than a Google Doc on my phone or laptop.
  3. I only allowed myself to check Twitter or Instagram during a break (i.e. as a reward) after filming major parts of the course.

And it worked.

These strategies weren’t revolutionary, but understanding of WHY the distraction existed in the first place was a revelation.

Every time I had the urge to check my phone (and trust me, it kept happening even after taking it out of my sight), I used it as a signal that things were in fact hard, but I was making the conscious choice to do it anyway.

Opting-in to the challenge, versus seeking an automatic out was the key difference, and it allowed me to move a lot faster through the material. In late 2017 the course, Smart from Scratch, was finally published.

Since then, Smart from Scratch has served over 30,000 people. Click here if you’d like to check it out, especially if you’re new to creating online businesses, or you can get access to our entire course library with an SPI All-Access Pass membership.

Your Call to Action

It took my editor watching me on film to point out what my pacifier was; since then I’ve been consciously trying to uncover more of them.

When I’m on stage, if I don’t control my nerves, I tend to walk aimlessly back and forth. When in a podcast interview, if I’m intimidated by the host I tend to say “awesome” a lot and then revert to basic, surface level questions, rather than go deeper.

I challenge you to find at least one “pacifier” that you unconsciously gravitate toward when you get nervous or are faced with a challenge. Understanding those signals and reading the signs can help you not only get over them, but also use them to your advantage and get better results.

As a bonus, ask people close to you to point out possible “pacifier habits.” Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to see what’s been there all along.

Good luck!


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We work hard at SPI to remain unstuck and consistently provide you with the latest news, trends, and events to support your business. Check it out:

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