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Concurring my lizard brain

By January 2, 2013 Blog, Grow No Comments
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2013 is here!
I wish you all good health, lots of love, great fun and some nice challenges to keep yourself entertained with!

How did you spend new year’s eve? I actually sort of stumbled over it after the birthdays, Christmas days and family visiting that has been going on for the last few weeks. Only yesterday morning after breakfast I realized it was new year’s eve already, so I send out a quick email to our family in the city inviting them over. Luckily, they all came :)

Crossing the chasm to a new year is of course a good time to think about the things you would like to see different in your life, either by doing more of something and/or doing less of something else. When I was in university, every year I drowned myself in long lists of new year’s resolutions. Maybe the length of them scared me off, but never did any real change seem to come out of these. The last years I have stopped making any resolutions at new year’s, instead focusing on appreciation of what I already have and am. Appreciation and acceptance is still an approach I value in this age of fast and constant development. But this year, 2/3 into our San Francisco adventure, a new year’s resolution started to form a few weeks ago.

I have been reading a great book called Making ideas happen by Scott Belsky. Someone I talked to after yoga practice suggested reading it when he heard my business plans. The direct relevance to my business comes in the third part of the book that is about leadership capability. I’ll tell you more about that in a later post. The first part of the book focuses on organization and execution. Although this is not my primary area of interest, it holds many good tips on how to get things done. Belsky makes a good case for ‘acting without conviction’, defying the conventional advice to think before you act. Being someone who forms ideas while talking about them, the concept of thinking before you act has never really felt true or even do-able to me. To act without conviction in the way Belsky advices takes the concept to a whole other level though.

What Belsky says, is that creative people (and who’s not creative?) need to start executing their ideas quickly: way, way before they are totally and completely sure about the effect their ideas will have on the world. By sharing your ideas with others in an early stage, you’ll find out weather they have enough value to pursue them further, before you have spend too many hours contemplating on them. That way, in case the response isn’t all positive, it’s easier to make adjustments or abandon the idea entirely (and move on to the next).

I can relate to this completely. In theory.

In the real world, something happens to me that was excellently described in this talk by Seth Godin as the lizard brain taking over.

It’s pure sabotage, really.
The lizard brain or the amygdala is the oldest part of brains. It is the part of our brain we share with chickens. It’s very valuable: it is hungry, selfish and horny, making sure we take care of some very basic needs.
It is also very scared.

And what happens is that when that brilliant thing you have been working on is very close to being shared with the world, the lizard brain speaks up, saying things like ‘they’re going to laugh at me’, ‘they won’t like me when they’ve seen this’ or ‘I am going to get in trouble’. And what happens as an effect of this, is that we do not ‘ship’, as Godin calls it. We hold back.

This is exactly what is happening to me in this phase of my life. I have decided to leave the safety of employment by others for the uncertainty and the immense freedom of self-employment. This decision was relatively easy once I started to get a better idea of my purpose and talents, because it gives me the possibility to be, to do and to say what I am really about. The hard part is now, just before shipping and showing people what it is I believe so deeply in that I am willing to risk so much for it.

Godin, and Belsky with him, do have something of a solution to that. Instead of listening to the lizard brain when things get though and witdraw, it is necessary to pull even harder. And then it happens: you get the thing out there, ‘breaking the status quo and everything changes’.

So this is what I have to do. Pull harder, get it out there and just get started.

Or…

Godin actually does listen to his lizard brain. Before he starts to really get involved with any idea, he listens to and debates with the lizard in him. Being (very) open to other views in the early stage, just like Belsky suggested, shutting them up later when you decided to go for it.
Maybe that is what I should do now?
Before even thinking of shipping, first have a really good, long & hard discussion with my inner Lizard. You know, just to be sure that this is what I really want and that I am truly willing to take all the risks involved…

Or am I being outsmarted by a lizard here…?

I would love to know: when did you last get outsmarted by your personal lizard? Share your leap of faith in the comments below.

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