Do It With Doubt…Confidence Comes Later with Dr. Pensacola Jefferson

Pensacola Jefferson, Ed.D. has served as counselor, speaker, and teacher with churches in Arizona, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Japan, and Maryland – through bible study, retreats, conferences, and professional counseling sessions. She has written extensively, with over 90 books available on Amazon.

Dr. Jefferson served as the Director of Counseling and Clergy care with Nekadesh Farm Retreat Center in Maryland from 2010-2014. Her counseling style focuses on the relationship with God through Christ while helping clients process through personal issues and concerns. This kind of counseling encourages spiritual growth and development of the whole person by placing emphasis on the interior life of individuals. The Believer works on supernatural transformation through real life application by relying on the divine enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Dr. Jefferson’s favorite scripture that best describe her deepest hope for herself and her brothers and sisters-in-Christ: “….They (you and I) might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ (the WORD), whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3 KJV).




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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Wanting to be influential
  • Doctors don’t know everything
  • “Elementary” doctoral classes
  • Your dissertation committee asking you to teach them…priceless
  • The importance of having a process to deliver your expertise
  • Learning the lesson of humility
  • Statistics without math
  • No style points for your dissertation

In this episode…

You don’t have to know it all to earn a doctoral degree…or to hold one!

In this episode of An Unconventional Life, Dr. Pensacola Jefferson and Dr. Russell Strickland discuss doctoral students’ desire to be influential by serving others. Dr. Jefferson reveals how her doctoral degree has empowered her to serve as a counselor and prolific author. Dr. Jeffferson credits her doctoral degree for the confidence she has developed since graduation. Her confidence has enabled her to freely admit her own limits and comfortably operate in her area of expertise.

Dr. Jefferson’s humility and down-to-earth style serve as shining examples of how to earn a doctoral degree and a real shot in the arm for your own confidence.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done, America’s #1 authority in dissertation completion for working professionals.

Founded by Dr. Russell Strickland, Dissertation Done serves people in two ways:

  1. If you’re struggling with your dissertation, getting ready to start your dissertation, or just plain wanting to get your dissertation done as soon as possible, go to and Let’s Get Your Dissertation Done
  2. If you’re busy living your Unconventional Life and have a message that you want to share, maybe you should join our Expand Your Authority Program to become a published author. Go to and let me know that you’d like to talk about Expanding Your Authority.

Visit to learn more about our other services and leave a message or call them at 888-80-DR-NOW (888-803-7669) to schedule your free 30 to 45-minute phone consultation.

Episode Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript is here for your reading convenience. It was created by machines and may (a-hem) contain some errors. If you email us about these errors, the machines will undoubtedly find out. I hope they won’t get angry.


Intro [00:00:03]

Welcome to An Unconventional Life, a podcast where we share stories about the crazy one percent out there who earned their doctoral degrees and then went on to use them in crazy, cool, unique and unconventional ways. Here’s your host, astrophysicist turned teacher, author, dissertation coach and more, Dr. Russell Strickland.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:00:28]

Hello and welcome to an Unconventional Life podcast. This is your host, Dr Russell Strickland, and I have with me today Dr. Pensacola Jefferson. I have known Dr Jefferson for quite a long time, helped her a little bit on the dissertation path when when she was working to earn her doctorate. And she has just gone crazy writing since since since we last worked together. She has published nearly a hundred books, if you can believe that one hundred and give you a little peek as to how you can get Amazon and see some of what she’s been up to. But Dr Jefferson is going to share with you today her journey, some of the trials and tribulations she’s been through, how she’s overcome those and how she’s able to help folks these days that that are going through their own journey. So, Dr. Jefferson, thank you so much for joining me here today.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:01:25]

You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:01:28]

You’re quite welcome. Today, I want to remind folks that this episode brought to you by Dissertation Done if you happen to be a doctoral student who is getting ready to start the dissertation process, maybe you’re working on your dissertation right now, maybe struggling through it. Maybe you’re fed up with it and thinking about quitting. If you’re at any of those points in the process, reach out to me at That’s And let’s have a conversation, see what’s going on. And if you might be a good fit for our Fast-Track Your Dissertation coaching program where we get students to graduation a good year or two faster than they would on their own. And if by any chance you have earned your doctoral degree or you’re otherwise an expert and you have a message that you want to get out into the world, we can help you with that as well. Reach out to us at and we’ll see if we can get you from white page to published author, as Dr. Jefferson is going to talk about today, opens up a whole world of possibilities, the best thing that you can do for from a credibility standpoint is to earn your doctoral degree. The best thing that you can do from an exposure standpoint is to become a published author. So we’d love to help help you with that goal and get you to be a published author, go to, and we’ll make that happen. Dr. Jefferson, again, thank you for for for for joining me here today. And I want to start off by asking you. You told me a little bit you had a funny story about why you decided to pursue your doctoral degree and share with folks what what your reason why is for for for undertaking that journey.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:03:19]

Well, I know some people want the title doctor and stuff like that, but I had a childhood dream to be a professor, so I just wanted to become a doctor so somebody could say Professor Jeffferson, will you help me with this? And I would say yes. So after that, I don’t care what happens to the degree, but also I wanted to shape education. So I always thought doctors got to write the questions and the answers. And so they have the opportunity to shape which direction education went in. And I wanted to be one of those, too. So I think that’s what a professor does. They help shape education. I’ve always had that dream.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:04:01]

And that notion of of going out and and helping people and. Directing the conversation, yes, I think it’s important, it’s a vital role in our society and one which maybe not with the professor title, but one which you’ve certainly undertaken with your writing. So. So you’ve been able to to to leverage that degree in that regard, I think.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:04:26]

Yes, and I do with the books, what that affords me to do is when I’m thinking about shaping education, I can also have an opportunity to go through the process and make learning on any subject a little easier. The reason I never undertook the doctor and I looked at it for years and years because of the dissertation and the research, and I thought, I’m not going, I can’t do it. I said it for years. I can’t do that part. All the other classes were great, but the research has always stopped me.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:05:06]

Yeah, and we’ll talk about this a little bit more in a minute. But you actually didn’t have to do that part. That’s kind of what we put together.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:05:14]

Yes. Yes.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:05:15]

OK, so we’ll talk about that more. But let’s let’s go back to. So you were motivated. You wanted to you wanted to get that professor title, but more so as you said, you want it to be influential. You want it to be able to shape the conversation. You want to make education more accessible to people. Yes. And I think that’s why we work with folks here at Dissertation Done is because so many people want to go out there and make this world a better place for their community. Wherever that community is. It doesn’t have to be your neighborhood. It could be a group of people that you’re trying to help that are going through right in their lives, whatever it might be. But that that calling to help people, I think is so important that that’s why I enjoy working with.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:05:58]

Yes. Yes.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:06:00]

Well, tell me, once you got into school, how did that how did that go for you just starting off your doctoral degree program? Did you find those classes easy or what was that like for you?


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:06:12]

Well, I found this because you’re going from your master’s program and into your doctoral program. So some of the classes are not too challenging, but they do have some more. Classes that took a little bit more time and research in and in thinking, and so there was one when it was something like a school program. And what if you were over the whole staff and you had to get all their stuff together? They wanted you to put that together. And I really didn’t find much research on it was very frustrating. And, you know, I think I even crying over name is the thing that made me want to quit, you know, but I was determined to go. You have to be determined. You have to have your own self motivation. So I was determined to get it. No matter how hard it was, no matter how much I cried, I was determined to get it. So I was able to do it, put it together, and I got to A on it. So sometime, even if you think you can’t do it, do it anyway, do it with doubt and do it with fear and do it when you cry and just do it and see what happens so them do it and see what happens. So I was able to get it together, put the program together and I was shocked myself. So that’s what I had done a lot in my life. If you try it, you may shock yourself.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:07:43]

Yeah, but I like the way you said that. That. You don’t have to be confident all the time, you don’t have to feel like I got this all the time. Yes, you can do it without where you can do it with fear and you can still get it done. And it’s going to move you closer to your goal. Yes. You know, the only sure way to fail is to not do it, right? Yes. Yes. And you might fall along the way, but you don’t really fail unless you give up. So and that’s why that reason why that’s that’s why we usually start by asking our guests, hey, what was your reason? Why have you and why as a big banner, as right out there in front of you that you can look at all the time is really, really important because the difficulties will come. The reason to overcome has to be there.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:08:32]

So that yes, for I do I do say that and I say that’s why they call it earned earned doctor, because at the end of it, you earned it. That’s right. You really earned it.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:08:47]

I agree. I do not like it when people will write this way all the time, but they’ll say someone received a degree. Right. If they received the degree, they didn’t do something right. Yeah. And there’s a few there’s a there’s a school in my neck of the woods that got into trouble because their athletes were receiving degrees, not earning. And I think they should write a lot more trouble than they did because it was it was very serious from an academic standpoint, what they were doing. But everyone who goes through a degree process, they should feel like they earned that.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:09:22]

Yes. And I do feel that way now.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:09:26]

A lot of our students you mentioned having some struggles in one of your classes as you’re going through a lot of our students like classes just that weren’t that hard. They almost like to say, you know, the classes were easy, but there’s there’s invariably this point where you hit. Usually it’s the dissertation and things anymore. So, yes, everybody everybody hurts this one way or the other.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:09:47]

And you don’t get online and you don’t get all those honors in your doctoral program. Cause one of my professors say you are supposed to be working at that level so you don’t get getting credits for being an A student because it should be.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:10:05]

Nobody’s going to ask you what your GPA was. You have a doctoral degree.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:10:09]

Yes. I mean, I realize I said I did so good. And when they said, well, that doesn’t matter. I what I was shot highest grade point average and it didn’t matter now.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:10:21]

Well, I guess students that would come to me, a dissertation done sometimes like, oh, I’m a 4.0 Student. I’m like, “So?”.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:10:28]

I know.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:10:30]

You’re working on your dissertation now, you better take that for other stuff and put it in the truck. Come on, if I get you in trouble because of the things you worry about in the dissertation is getting things done. Yes, being perfect. A lot of people. Yes, I’m that guy, too. I want things to be perfect. I like, you know, or 4.0. I think I didn’t have a 4.0 going through my doctoral classes and I told them I wanted to take the class is pass fail. And they started giving me grades. And I was mad because I was like, you’re gonna give me a grade, I got to make sure it’s an A.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:11:04]

I mean, what I would do I got an A minus and took my 4.0 down to a three ninety eight and I cried over that and my family said, you’re sick, something’s wrong with you. And I cried over three point eight because I worked so hard because I got an A minus but it didn’t matter anyway.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:11:24]

That’s the thing. It’s important while you’re there but. You got to take the big picture approach, you know, this isn’t going well. In fact, something I’ll remind people from time to time, there’s a there’s a special word they use for the person who graduates last in their class for medical school. Do you know what that word is?


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:11:46]



Dr. Russell Strickland [00:11:50]



Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:11:50]

Oh, OK, I get that one,.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:11:53]

So yeah, so two things. Number one, if you’re going through and you’re worried about an A or an A minus, don’t be. And the second thing is. If you’ve got to go to a physician’s office, maybe talk to him a little bit and figure out where he was last in his class, you have to go ask the doctor either way. And that’s another point. I’m sure that you guys I’ve had this experience. Most of you guys have probably had this experience of going to a physician who is smart. You know what? This guy knows what he’s doing. Yeah. And then you go to another physician and you’re like, you’re a doctor? They don’t seem to be as smart you don’t have to be like super smart, intelligent, nerdy, genius person to get a doctoral degree, either a medical doctor or a Ph.D. or. Ed.D. You have to work.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:12:49]



Dr. Russell Strickland [00:12:50]

I guess that’s smart that your position is still qualified, right? They’re still going to be a good physician. You just recognize some people are smarter than other people. And that’s really true when you’re going through this process as well. So, yes, determination so important.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:13:07]

And that’s what I think that got got me through. You got to be determined to do it there. It’s not going to be easy. And if somebody is all very easy, I really just don’t believe every single class was easy because some of those doctoral classes are going to take you outside the box of education. So they have to challenge you in that way because we we are going to be up there with professionals and we need to be able to do that kind of work. So I just don’t believe it. Even if you’re smart, I think I’m smart, too. But I realize there are some things I just don’t know.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:13:49]

Oh, absolutely. Now, that’s that’s important. And if you if you go through a doctoral degree program and you don’t realize that there are so many more things that you don’t know. Yes, there are things that you do know then you have a problem. Because the smartest of us out there realize that we don’t know most of the things that are out there in this world.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:14:13]

Yes, we know where we may be good in that in that area, that vein, you know, but that doesn’t mean we’re good at everything. We have to sometimes surrender to somebody else’s brilliance.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:14:28]

We were I was it was drilled into my head in graduate school. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, well, don’t talk to people you don’t know. That’s OK. Yes. I remember one of my professors saying, listen. It’s not OK to know nothing. That’s not good. Yes, but it’s absolutely OK to not know everything. No one knows everything. And you’ve got to you’ve got to know what you don’t know. And this and that’s that’s very important too.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:14:55]

Be humble enough to. I think this being a doctor is also humbling if you face that truth that I am gifted to know what I know, but I don’t know everything. I can’t answer that. I don’t know that.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:15:10]

And if you and if you face that truth, then you should be humble. You should be able to talk with anyone and you should be is help anyone. That’s one thing that I see some doctors having problems with some folks who have their doctoral degree having problems with. And that is, you know, thinking that they’re better than everyone else or trying to put other people down because they haven’t gone through the same thing. Right now. It’s OK from time to time when someone’s giving you problems to remind them you are Dr. Jefferson.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:15:43]

And right now I that some people try to put you there who you are. No doctor. So some people have an attitude about, you know, you being a doctor. But I don’t apologize for that because I know what we went through to get there. But some people try to put you if you say I don’t know. I don’t know all you don’t know, Doctor. And, you know, you have to explain to them. No, I don’t know. Yeah.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:16:12]

And some people have an attitude, and that’s where you can you can rise above. What was it I think was Michelle Obama used to say when they go low, we go high? Yeah. We don’t have to get mud and fight with them over that. You don’t know doctors like. No, actually I. Yeah, I don’t. And one of the most important things I learned is what I know and what I don’t know. And when you know that then we can start thinking about the stuff that we don’t know and, you know, be OK without making some educated guesses, trying to puzzle through some things. And we can do that together. I’m happy to do that. Right. But I’m going to start with. Well, listen, I don’t know. I know these things and these things might help us figure some stuff out over here, but. I don’t know I don’t know if anybody knows, in fact or I might know, no one knows people are investigating that right now. I might know that.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:17:07]

When I was going through my doctoral program, the class I told you about was not my area of expertize. Well, what it did show me is that no one I don’t know everything. Right. But at least I can look at something difficult and at least attempt to tackle it. So I was able to go and ask for help. Look, I’m not good at this. Could you give me any pointers? So I went out and found people who might know what I didn’t know. So that’s what it taught me, that I could face a problem and tackle it.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:17:44]

Yeah. And that to me is a real sign of strength that someone can say, hey, I don’t know this, that I think I know someone who could help me with this. I’m going to go out and get help because no one is recognizing a truth. It’s just ridiculous to rail against reality and say, you know, I do know that. No, you don’t, but you don’t know it. And let’s move on. Yes. That’s not a punishment that you admit you don’t know. It just you have to tell yourself. I understand. I don’t know this because you can’t fix the problem until you acknowledge the problem.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:18:17]

Yes. Yeah. Oh, God, yes.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:18:19]

And then when you say, I don’t know this, if I need to know it now, I can go out and get help. Even as a doctor, as a professor, as a Nobel Prize winner. There are things I don’t know.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:18:31]

Yes. And I’m OK with it doesn’t make me a less of a person.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:18:35]

And you can be OK with not knowing. And I just will never know that thing. That’s alright. Or if I need to know that I can go out and get help. And that’s fine. It doesn’t make me a weak person to get help.


Dr. Pensacola Jefferson [00:18:46]

And I think you asking a why is a very good question, Dr. Strickland, because we need to know why so so we can see. Well, is this a good reason to want a doctor now so I can be a know it all so I can help people in the area. I want to help them with and that’s it. So I can do what I want to do. So you have to. I think that’s a good question. Why did you pursue it?


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:19:13]

I always want to know the answer to that question because invariably, as a as a doctoral student, you are going to find that there’s going to be a late night when you turn and look at the person in the mirror and you ask, why the hell are you doing this to me? Why have you got me doin this at 2 o’clock in the morning or whatever it is? And if you can’t if you can’t get an answer back to that question that that makes you say, oh, OK, that’s a good reason. Yes, it’s very easy just to say, well, to hell with this, I’m going to bed tonight and I’m going at night, turns into I’m not going to start working on my dissertation tomorrow night. Turns into it’s been a week since I even cracked open a book, turns into, you know, I’m out of the program.

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.