Your brain has two parts. The neocortex is responsible for thinking, planning and taking risks. It’s the part you use when you decide to start a business.
The limbic system is often called the “old brain” and it’s responsible for emotions, safety and survival. It’s in control when you’re stressed and feel frustration or anxiety.
Like when your best employee quits and starts a competing company.
Or when profit is down and your sales pipeline is weak.
Or when your biggest client cancels.
Events that trigger your survival instinct reduce your ability to think clearly.
They cause you to react instead of respond.
This is what Daniel Goleman calls an “amygdala hijack.”
When it happens you’ll react with your version of fight, flight or freeze.
You’ll get frustrated be short with your team (fight).
You’ll abdicate important decisions (flight).
You’ll hesitate to hire that expensive COO and invest in the technology to scale (freeze).
Your old brain thinks it’s keeping you safe.
But its rules are outdated.
Do this instead:
1. Thank your old brain for trying to protect you, but put your neocortex to work. Planning and execution are two of its superpowers.
2. Separate the facts from the stories. By writing down the facts of the situation, you can intentionally focus your neocortex on them to make better decisions.
Fact = Employee started a business.
Story = They’re going to take my clients and they’ll poach my employees next.
Fact = Our profit is X and the pipeline is Y
Story = We might not make it and I’ll have to shut the company down.
It’s the stories that trigger your old brain to react.
Facts are neutral. It’s up to you to decide the meaning and write the story of life.