Let go of the lizard brain and become a linchpin

You can become a linchpin.

But first, you’ve got to get in touch with your lizard brain.

You know, that anxious, angry voice in your head that tells you that you can’t do something? That feeling of internal resistance? …that’s the lizard brain.

Our lizard brain “wants us to be safe and average,” Seth Godin shares in his book Linchpin.

Well, last month I finally gave the middle finger to my lizard brain, and said yes to the adventure of a lifetime; I traveled to Peru and Brazil with my father and sister.

When I said yes to the opportunity, my lizard brain had a field day; it came out in full force.

I worried about leaving the country, and started asking myself nervous questions about how I would handle the altitude of Cusco and the mosquitoes in Brazil.

Did I want to feel anxious?

Of course not. But as someone who lives with anxiety, my lizard brain is always here, playing a role that it feels is critical to my health, wellness and safety.

However, instead of giving in to the lizard brain, I took a page from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, and refused to let my anxious lizard brain steer the train.

Sure, I could bring the lizard brain with me for the journey, but I was going to set it straight that it did not call the shots.

I told my anxiety that it could come on the adventure, but it couldn’t run the show.

So, despite the fear that I felt, I said yes and embarked on an adventure to push myself far outside of my comfort zone.

As Seth says, “you can train yourself to matter.”

I believe it.

I truly think that you can train yourself to quiet the lizard brain and, in doing so, become a linchpin. 

You can’t completely mute the lizard brain because it sounds like your voice. That’s why we give it credibility; we trust ourselves.

However, I do think that you can learn to recognize when the lizard brain appears and, when it arises, make the choice to take the road less traveled.

You can say “no thanks, not today.” 

As Seth says in Linchpin, the first step is to acknowledge that it’s a skill, and one that grows stronger with practice. 

Each time that I push myself outside of my comfort zone, whether that is taking leaps in my career or traveling, I learn more about myself.

Each time that I refuse to let the lizard brain call the shots, I get a little stronger. My discomfort in taking leaps lessens, and my confidence grows.

By focusing on my unique strengths, gifts and characteristics (and not dwelling on my fears and/or limitations,) I make myself more indispensable.

That focus makes me more meaningful to my family, friends, colleagues and community.

Had I succumbed to the lizard brain, I would’ve missed the adventure of a lifetime with my family. I would still be scared to travel to South America, and I might have never seen the Sacred Valley and/or met my extended family in Rio.

Had I listened to that lizard brain, I would’ve missed out on experiences that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

Am I saying that I was happy and comfortable for the entire trip? HELL NO.

But that’s exactly the point.

Discomfort can, if you let it, lead to discovery. 

It’s a choice.

You can be average (you can play it safe, work a job just for the paycheck, and never leave the town you grew up in,) or you can choose to be the linchpin (you can pursue your passions, create art, and leave your comfort zone.)

It’s up to you.

I hope you’ll choose the latter.

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