Ron Macklin & Michelle Mosolgo


Episode 26: Lifework

Michelle opens by talking about how practicing for learning is typically thought of as ‘homework’. She then asks Ron what the word “homework” triggers for him, and what new practices he has developed now that he is past the phase of having ‘homework’ for school.

  • Ron recalls being assigned homework in school, and how he would procrastinate which would ruin him having fun because he knew he had homework waiting for him.
  • He then explains how he loves to run experiments, and how much fun they are. 
  • Those experiments have challenges, exploration, and everything that homework tries to instill, but does it in a fun way.
  • He explains that much later in life, if he is able to change the mindset from it’s homework to it being “lifework” because this is how you grow in life, then he found the process much more enjoyable.

Ron then asks Michele what that word opens up for her.

  • Michelle starts by recalling a time when she took apart the electric stove in order to figure out how it works, during which she learned a lot.
  • She recalls school, homework, and tests is more about memorization than about learning.
  • She then discusses how in college the lab, that’s where the mindset shifted more towards that experimentation that Ron was discussing earlier.

Ron then adds onto both of their stories.

  • He notes there is something about how the brain works differently when something is real, such as taking the oven apart at home, versus doing experiments in a lab.
  • Reading or watching a youtube video is no substitution for real world experience through running real world experiments.
  • Ron holds that everything is an experiment. Sometimes you’ve done something similar before, but there will always be new challenges to overcome.

Michelle then recalls conversation she has had with some of their students.

  • The students want to know that their answer is right, but she points out that there is no true singularly right answer.
  • The homework is for them to explore and hold different thoughts and spaces in their own mind.

Michelle asks Ron what his experience has been with reflective questions and “lifework” and who is it really for?

  • Ron notices that it is a product of our culture.
  • We knew we had to get good grades in school, without understanding why it was important for us to learn.
  • Ron says what is important is whether or not you can do something, and can continue to learn and grow on your own.
  • Students will ask whether they have the right answer on the homework, but then Ron has to also point out that there is no real right answer, only the mindset and thought experiments that you are running while doing that work.

Michelle adds her own perspective from her previous career.

  • She recalls a time when she was afraid to say “I don’t know” as a member of the company’s management, realizing after the CEO says it that it’s okay.
  • After saying “I don’t know” in some of her meetings, she would then venture out to find the answers. 
  • After a few times of that situation happening, others started joining her on the journey to find the answers to their questions.
  • Saying “I don’t know” is much more powerful than saying you do know something, when you really don’t.

Ron discusses how her actions likely changed the company where she used to work.

  • He says that while she might not have changed the whole company, she likely affected her department where she made it an okay space to say “I don’t know”
  • He then brings up the idea of the greatest knowledge is to know what you don’t know, and then asks Michelle how that shows up for her.
  • She says that there are certain things she doesn’t know, and she’s okay with not knowing them.
  • There are lots of things she doesn’t know because the world is changing so rapidly, but as long as you make the experience of discovering it fun, then learning will occur.

Michelle asks Ron what shows up for him when thinking about knowing what he doesn’t know.

  • Ron says that he made up a lot of stories, but especially during the first 20 years of his life, he wasn’t paying close attention to who he was being influenced by when creating those stories.
  • He notes that there is a lot of power to be open and searching for things that you don’t know, as long as you’re also able to re-evaluate old stories that you have told yourself along the way.
  • Michelle jumps in by talking about chasing after knowledge that isn’t real, and being open to modifying your story if you figure something out that doesn’t align with the current story you have written in your own head.

Join us to hear how understanding the idea of “self talk” — and what you can do about it — could change your relationships and life for the better.


Episode Summary


In this episode of “The Story in Your Head,” Ron and Michelle discuss different practices for learning. They talk about how homework can really be lifework if you shift your mindset from one of pure memorization, to one of learning and understanding different tactics. They also discuss the mindset of what happens when something is unknown to you, and the best ways to find answers to those questions.