Lincoln Stoller, Clinical Counselor, Mind Strength Balance
Lincoln worked consecutively as an astronomer, physicist, and chemist before patenting a computer accounting system and spending two decades selling and supporting business automation systems. Motivated from experiences in science, music, and world travel, Lincoln mentored in neuropsychology, hypnotherapy, and psychotherapy. He is certified as a clinical counselor and is in private practice, supporting clients worldwide from his home in Victoria, BC, Canada.
For those who don't know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?
My desire to understand things, coupled with a creative desire to invent and discover, has taken me through every field I could get my hands on. I began physically engaged with mountaineering and musical performance, worked theoretically in physics and computation, culturally by collaborating with people from Indigenous cultures, pragmatically in management, and finally personally as a therapist and counselor.
My strength lies in not being limited to rational frameworks; I enjoy chaos and complexity. I am able to bring these threads together in dealing with people's personalities and their conflicts.
What does an average day look like for you?
I deal with dreams at night and first thing in the morning, and then marketing my business until noon. I see clients in the middle of the day, and then work on writing books and articles later in the afternoon.
In the evenings, I pursue my research topics. I have no time to socialize. Dealing with my clients' intense personal lives keeps me in touch with humanity's constructed world and provides more than enough insight into behavior and current events.
How do you balance the needs of your business with the needs of your personal life?
The two are the same, it's only time that's in short supply. My business generates conflicts with those who resist or object to my new ideas in psychology and culture—those being the areas in which I work as a psychologist. I deal with resistance by giving criticisms a fair consideration, but also avoiding compromise.
As long as I'm putting out good work, I'm satisfied that I'm making progress. I feel much the same with regard to my clients and with professionals, who are agents, publishers, and academics: consider carefully but don't compromise.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?
I've never gotten good advice in business, but I've seen many bad role models. The bad modelling I've seen was rooted in dysregulated personalities: dishonesty, obduracy, avoidance, and ignorance. These are problems that plague both my therapy clients and have plagued my management clients, when I was playing the role of a management consultant for businesses.
My best business and professional relationships have been with people who are most informed, involved, and responsible for their work. Casual, hierarchical, and uncommitted relationships have never gone far. They have been disappointing because I aim for deep, long-term relationships. In retrospect, I will be more assertive in establishing relationships as long-term.
The lesson I've learned is to be more discerning at the start, and to avoid doing business with people you don't trust. To be useful, this lesson has to be applied from a distant perspective: you must be discerning well before you have full certainty. By the time problems are clear, it's often too late to change the relationship. The key lesson is to act on any information that casts doubt on a relationship. Explore your intuition well before the evidence is clear.
What's been the hardest part about the path you've taken and how would you advise someone facing a similar situation to overcome it?
I doubt many would face situations similar to my own in a professional context. As a creative person in the sciences, one finds better role models in art than in business.
As a mountaineer, many of my partners were psychologically unusual and extreme. As a pilot, my colleagues were careful, inflexible thinkers. As a scientist, my colleagues lacked broad intuition preferring to specialize. Psychotherapists rely on rapport rather than insight.
In each area, I've found it essential to look beyond what's obvious and expected. Success largely rewards mediocrity with slight improvements or slightly greater appeal. Novelty exists outside the safe and well-established domains. If you want to better than average in thought, business, and relationships, then success cannot be your first priority. The question is whether “better” means more or different.
It's in the area of personal relationships where my experience is most typical, and the mistakes I've made were most common. But in all regards and every area, greater personal experience, more patience, deeper commitment, and higher standards would serve one well. The essential point is that you must go beyond what's average. If you're not trying the patience of those around you, you won't get beyond average.
Are there any well-known Books, Podcasts, or Courses that you credit your current success to?
It is much easier to find information that one should not follow, as this information is both easy and popular. The good advice is subtle, complex, and addresses areas we find uncomfortable. These are the areas we overlook. These are the areas of depression, trauma, and dishonesty.
In order to learn we have to navigate the difficult issues; become involved with them: invite and engage those around you to share their problems without your being judgmental, interrupting, or attempting to solve other people's problems. You learn by following the observations, thoughts, and actions of others, not by making revisions based on your own theories and projections.
Do not follow people who offer answers; instead, look for people who ask questions. Your insights come from taking the widest perspectives. This comes from asking more questions and including more alternatives.
If you're a parent, listen to your children. If you're an adult, then listen to your parents. Don't try to fix them. If you're a child, then observe other children and how they relate to their parents. Western culture handles personal boundaries poorly, and with the internet age, our boundaries are only being further confused.
There is no "normal" and your life is only average when you stop being authentic. The people who have the most to offer are the most raw and honest, and they are never the people who sell the most books or have the most money.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out as a business owner?
Go slow, be careful, invest wisely, and make as many mistakes as you can afford.
What are the top three things you think are essential for business success?
Which sort of success do you mean? The failure to define this lies at the root of the problem. Are you talking about making money or developing one's self-worth?
For making money: have low standards and exploit people's desires. For building a valuable personal life, do the opposite.
Being emotionally perceptive is valuable, but being spiritually perceptive is more valuable. This is not taught and rarely recognized. Spiritual values are the foundation of motivation.
Know your field as that enables you to evaluate opportunities. It's generally agreed that you should specialize, but that's boring and generates a commodity mentality.
Do you think someone can be a great business owner without having many years of experience first?
If you're a good actor, and you know what people want, then you can sell profitably. Such skills are taught and rewarded, but do not lead to long-term, personal satisfaction. It's not business experience you need, it's personal maturity.
In general, do you think the world is producing better business owners in 2023 than it was fifty years ago?
No. I don't think the world produces anything per se, it simply orbits around a vague point of balance. It's a network, and every point and person within looks for their own balance.