Seth Godin, marketing genius extraordinaire, has been talking about the lizard brain lately—that’s the older emotional/reptilian part of your brain that deals in fear, sex, and food. Lizard brain often kicks up fear when you do something new and creative.
If you are lucky enough to get paid to do creative work, you are being paid to do stuff that scares you. So deal with it. Fear increases as you get closer to the delivery date for your creative work. Lizard brain will make sure of that.
Here is one idea for taming lizard brain—or at least putting him or her on a leash.
Research from Columbia Business School has shown that posture affects testosterone levels. Puff out your chest, lean over your desk, or kick up your feet, and testosterone, the power hormone, goes up; cortisol, a stress hormone, goes down.
What you do with your body will affect how you feel.
But what is your body doing? To find out, you need to be able to pay attention. And that’s hard when we get stressed and fearful.
I’m a big proponent of meditation and mindfulness practices, simply sitting quietly each day for 15 minutes and paying attention to your breathing and what is going on in and around you, while letting your thinking come to rest. This daily practice builds your muscle for paying attention and being able to handle upsetting thoughts and physical feelings like fear.
It may not sound like much, but paying close attention to your thoughts and bodily sensations and acting mindfully, such as breathing fully or standing tall, when you feel like collapsing like a kicked dog, is a very powerful technique for calming down lizard brain, dealing with fear, and delivering your creations on time.