But then, it’s not like a hobbit would beat a dragon in a fair fight.
No one would.
I’ve been thinking about this in terms of reptilian metaphor for the amygdala.
You know that ‘lizard’ part of your brain? You can’t fight that, either.
You have to trick it.
Here’s a quote from Seth Godin’s latest offering, Linchpin.
Incidentally, this book is the reason I don’t see myself penning a success magic ebook anytime soon… Because he already wrote it. Check out the link, watch the video and buy the book.
It’s only recently that our brains evolved to allow big thoughts, generosity, speech, consciousness, and yes, art. When you look at a picture of the brain, the new part is what you see: the neocortex. That’s the wrinkly gray part around the outside. It’s big, but it’s weak. In the face of screaming resistance from the amygdala, the rest of your brain is helpless. It freezes and surrenders. The lizard takes over and tries to protect itself.
The challenge, then, is to create an environment where the lizard snoozes. You can’t beat it, so you must seduce it. One part of your brain worries about survival and anger and lust. The rest of it creates civilization.
The older the part of the brain is, the more power it has to suspend younger functions. This is an evolutionary necessity. Without it you wouldn’t be here.
In the modern setting, however, the lizard brain is more insidious and usually far less helpful. It can’t recognise the difference between you standing up to give a presentation to the board and being stared down by a rival pack of chimps. The lizard brain will shut you down, either way.
But, like Smaug, knowing you can’t beat it doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it.
Tricking the dragon
- Dragons hoard gold. When you feel the dragon -what Seth calls ‘the resistance’- you are close to doing something important. Keep at it, even if it feels uncomfortable. It means it’s new… It’s not a habit, a rut. It’s a change. The dragon hates change.
- Know your strengths. You’re not the dragon, you’re the hobbit. Just being aware of the feeling is enough to start mitigating it. If you have ever got over a fear of turbulence you will know what I mean. Planes don’t crash because of turbulence and you can’t do anything about it, anyway… But you can’t reason with the dragon. It’s terrified. Acknowledge the dragon, maybe distract it with a riddle/in-flight alcohol consumption and push through.
- Ship. Finish that chapter, give that presentation, look your employee in the eye when you give her constructive criticism. Complete something. The dragon hates this. Completing something is new, it’s unknown. From an evolutionary perspective, the lizard brain hates the new because it might be dangerous.The resistance is what stops you finishing something because people might laugh at your or because it’s not very good anyway. Well, suck it, dragon. You’re going to ship.
- Remember the riddle. The riddle beats the dragon. How many states of being are there?
There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
Only three. If you haven’t heard of it before, that’s from The Cult of Done. Which is an awesome, dragon-tricking manifesto that you have to read.
Because the thing about wizards is that we’re wired for adventure.
And the thing about adventures is that you never know when a dragon might show up.