Jason Rigden's Blog

Soldier vs. Scout Mindset

September 22, 2021

I've been messing around with some new podcasting projects and I just haven't felt that great about them. I'm really proud of my Talk to Seattle episodes and my stuff on The Jason Rigden Show. But I've wanted to explore beyond the space of these interview podcasts. A monologue podcast seemed like a nice place to experiment. On a monologue show, I don't have to depend on other folks. The whole thing is up to me. I wouldn't need cohosts or guests. I'd just write a script and read it. I thought the big question would be what the monologue show would be about. I experimented with writing scripts for shows about the crimes of capitalism, the paranormal, conspiracy theories, and even a political commentary show. Writing is hard. Performing something you have written is even harder. But I expected that. What I didn't expect was to feel weird about the episodes. It really felt like I was trying to be someone I am not. At first, I thought that was just about a lack of confidence. Most of these experiments never saw an audience so I didn't get much feedback. But some things did. Most of the feedback was really positive. More positive than most of my interview episodes. But I still really felt weird about them. So, I'd move from one topic to another. I thought maybe it was just what I was talking about that made be feel uncomfortable. But that didn't help.

Then one day I caught some TED talk about Soldier vs Scout mindset. Basically, the soldier mindset is to win and the Scouts job is to gather information. There is way more to it, but I think the lady in the video explains it much better than I ever could. I kept thinking about these mindsets. What did they mean for my personality and creativity? When I look back at things I've made, the stuff I'm happy with is stuff that was made in the scout mindset. I wasn't necessarily trying to convince anyone of anything. I wasn't trying to win some argument. I was just gathering and sharing information. I wasn't impartial, objective, or unbiased but I wasn't trying to win.

Then I started thinking about those monologue podcasts I'd been tinkering with. I don?t know if it was the format or just the way I was doing it, but these shows were not about gathering and sharing information. These shows were about winning. I was still presenting information, but the goal was to win. I was making propaganda for my point of view. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. Lots of really cool and amazing folks do that kind of thing. But maybe that just isn't my style. Maybe that is why I had this strange discomfort with these monologue podcast. Maybe I was trying to be something that I'm not. Maybe I was trying to be a soldier when I'm really a scout.

Right now, we live in a world kind of dominated by this soldier mindset. Social media and recommendation engines form this reality bubble around us. A reality bubble where all our opinions are 100% correct. A bubble where there is an endless parade of voices saying how right we are and how wrong our opponents are. These voices are almost all in the soldier mindset because winning feels good. It's like a little sugar cube in a skinner box. We push the button to hear our favorite voices and are rewarded with the feeling of being right and winning. Eating an endless supply of sugar cubes probably isn't very good for our physical health. Endlessly being told you are right and winning probably isn't very good for your mental health.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think everything fits into the Soldier or Scout mindset. I also don't believe either one is better than the other. But I do think that as a media consumer we should be careful to have a balanced diet.

So, I'm going to stop with these monologues and I'm going to double down on doing these interview shows.