I recently read an article titled: BIG BALLS + SMALL BRAIN = ??? by Adam Shapiro. What was fascinating to me about the article was not just the title but the thought that many times, your brain could be an obstacle to progress. Let me explain, most times when we have goals, there is a part of us that wants to go out and achieve and become those things. Some other times, there is a part of our brain that kicks in and tells us not to even try.
We start to over think. To rationalize.To think of all the reasons why we shouldn’t try what we want to do. What if we fail, what if people laugh at us and we look like idiots? These thoughts drive us to abandon the big dreams we have for fear of failing. We even go to the point of sabotaging ourself.
This concept, known as the lizard brain has been widely written about. Seth Godin explains this best when he says:
We say we want one thing, then we do another. We say we want to be successful but we sabotage the job interview. We say we want a product to come to market, but we sandbag the shipping schedule. We say we want to be thin but we eat too much. We say we want to be smart but we skip class or don’t read that book the boss lent us.
The contradictions never end. When someone shows up and acts without contradiction, we’re amazed. When an athlete just does the sport, or when a writer just writes the words, we can’t help but watch, astonished at the purity of their actions. Why is it so difficult to do what we say we’re going to do?
The lizard brain.
The lizard is a physical part of your brain, the pre-historic lump near the brain stem that is responsible for fear and rage and reproductive drive. Why did the chicken cross the road? Because her lizard brain told her to.
The amygdala isn’t going away. Your lizard brain is here to stay, and your job is to figure out how to quiet it and ignore it.
Now that you know this and you know its name, what are you going to do about it?