By Brian Schwartz

brianschwartzIn last month’s column, I wrote of the analogy of a farmer and how viewing yourself as one can help you stay focused in your publishing endeavors.

This month, I want to ask you to put on a different hat; the hat of a hunter.

We all know the reference to our ancestors as hunters and gatherers. Hunters and gatherers stem from the most primitive part of our brain. We see animals doing it all day long. They are constantly hunting and gathering. It gives them the energy to live, love, and play.

As humans, we are fortunate to have not one, but three brains. One: the instinctive brain (hunter/gatherer, fight/flight). Two: the emotional (limbic) brain (pain/pleasure). Three: the left/right sides of the thinking (neocortex) brain. The left brain asks ‘why?’, while the right brain asks ‘what?’. More on this later, but I want to plant the seed of why vs. what now.

The left brain is deeply rooted in our past experiences, while the right brain is the creative, future imagery aspect of our brain. When you think in terms of the past (was), your left brain is engaged. When you plan for the future, your right brain is in charge (what’s next).

Being in control of our actions involves developing a better understanding of how our brain works. Why do we often fail at acting consistent with what we know we ought to be doing? Because our three brains aren’t aligned. While your thinking brain has determined the best next step (what you ought to do), your emotional brain might sabotage the good intention because it’s perceiving some level of pain in the result. Your decision to act or not comes down to those tasks where all three brains are on the same page.

Can’t one of my three brains just make an overriding decision? I believe it’s the *instinctive* part of our brain truly in charge, the one we were born with, the one that exists to keep the rest of us alive and intact. But I’m smart enough to know the one in charge (the instinctive brain), isn’t exactly the smartest apple on the tree. So I’m going to have to do a little manipulation to get it to act the way I want.

Back to the hunter instinct as you go about your day ahead. Take another trip in your mind and look at how it might play out… You know in your gut that there’s something vitally important to get resolved, and it’s something you need to put 100% of your focus into right now, so try this imagery on with me:

You are leaving the cave. The more time you spend outside the cave, the more dangerous it becomes. Minimize your exposure and get back as quickly as you can. But before you head out, it’s important you’ve adequately prepped for the safest journey possible. Be sure to take all your tools with you, but travel light so you can be nimble when necessary. Decide to make as few decisions as possible on this journey. There are more journeys ahead, but right now you need all of your energy to complete that which has already been decided.

You are out of the cave and fully exposed now. There’s no more rehearsal and it’s time to get to work and complete the task you’ve been called to do today. If you need others to help you, be sure to call on them early and be sure they are fully equipped for the journey ahead. The fight begins. Your instincts will call on all your experience and knowledge to win the fight (or in this case, finish the task) as quickly and effectively as possible. You are the hunter. Your sole goal is to bring back the reward (the result), so the best you can do is focus on the task at hand and not be distracted by the result. Expect to get bruised along the way – what’s a warrior without a few wounds? Wear them with pride. Please, for your own safety, don’t ask WHY in the middle of the fight – your left brain is not the problem solver. Instead, ask WHAT – as you need all the creativity and optimism of your right brain right now. After you’ve determined WHAT, shift into fight mode by stating I WILL and get to it.

Tips to remember…

Asking: Why am I here or Why am I doing this? = no progress

Asking: What am I doing here or What needs to be done? = progress

Stating: I Will = a decision to act.

The word ‘What’ calls on the hunter inside you to step up and solve the problem. The word ‘Why’ instead looks at the past and all the flaws of spent time that’s gone. Asking ‘Why’ isn’t going to serve you right now – because you’ve called on the ‘Will’ which is the trigger to proceed.

Don’t leave without your self-confidence!

The most successful hunters are armed with a high level of self-confidence. Self-confidence is the most important tool of all! And that self-confidence comes from belief. And belief comes from seeing evidence. And evidence is built from action. So to build more self confidence, you need to take more action. Action begins with two words: I will. Don’t leave the cave without your most important tool – self-confidence. In the battle ahead, your self-confidence will be tested. Consider it your most important weapon.

Never ask why, instead ask what. State I will and action will follow. What follows action is experience. What follows experience is self-confidence. Self confidence answers the why so you can get on to the next what.

So the only question left to ask is: When will you?

Hope to see you Saturday! Don’t forget the change in the location because of the downtown St. Patrick’s Day parade. I’m excited to see what creative new thoughts and experiences come as a result of being on a different field.

-Brian Schwartz
CIPA President 2012-2013