The Lizard Brain
I’ve been watching Seth Godin on YouTube recently, he’s up there with Tom Peters for being a thought leader for business, leadership and strategy in my opinion and I write this blog post from listening to and reflecting on some of the stuff I’ve recently watched.
Back in 1954 the limbic cortex was described by neuroanatomists as the seat of emotion; satisfaction, fear, anger and the need to reproduce. It’s the most primitive part of the brain and is so named as ‘The Lizard Brain’ and it’s about all a lizard needs as a brain to function; fight, flight, fear, freezing-up and fornication…. And Seth Godin riffs about this part of the brain really well.
The Lizard Brain is really powerful and controls much more of what we do and how we feel than we could possibly give it credit for. Behaviours become ‘unexplained’ when governed by the Lizard Brain, they’re reactions to situations rather than fully thought trough ideas and thoughts. The point is that we are ALL prone to irrational behaviour which in a workplace where value adding activity goes on can be (very) destructive to the process.
The thing is this; the Lizard Brain stops us doing what we know to be the right thing. Think about it, how many times have you said to yourself you’d like to lose a bit of weight or get a bit fitter, plenty times I guess? But then you go and eat too much cake or drink a bit more wine than you intended. What caused you to do this irrational thing? The Lizard Brain of course. It stops us doing those things we know are just the right thing to do, it gets in the way of functioning in the world today.
Right, so that explains irrational behaviour but how else does the Lizard Brain get in the way. Well, normally about the time you’re ready to launch a project or ship new product, that’s when. It comes along and says you should have a meeting, talk about this thing you’re about to do or finally commit to.
The symptoms; late meetings, middle of the road products, rationalized service… yes these are symptomatic of the Lizard Brain kicking in and getting you to compromise on service, and experience.
You know because you spent months on the design of the product or service that its good, that it’s probably going to be special, remarkable even but then comes along that Lizard Brain thing and stops you in your tracks. You have to be honest about it, after all the effort are you honestly going to ignore the obvious and compromise. Most of us do, but you don’t have to.
Your job as a leader is to figure out how you can ignore it, how are you going to deliver that outstanding product or service, on-time and on budget?
In the end it comes down to being brave, knowing you have a great product or service and going for it. But not just you going for it, your whole team has too as well.
Thanks for reading, please post an comments’ or questions and I’ll respond or answer as best I can.
The Lizard Brain