Acknowledge the Lizard

Reading Seth Godin’s latest micro-blog this morning. He posts one a day. Most of the time they are at least tangentially thought provoking. Often they’re more than that.

I’ve written about Seth before, my post, Enormity on Horizons of Significance began as a response to one of his.

Brainwashed! is a gem of the art of the Keynote, Short, sweet, to the point.

His slide, Acknowledge the Lizard.

The lizard brain—that prehistoric brainstem that all of us must contend with—doesn’t like being laughed at. It’s the part of our brain that worries about safety and dishes out anger. Being laughed at is the lizard brain’s worst nightmare. And so it shuts down our art.

Steven Pressfield calls this shutdown, “the resistance.” … the little voice in your head that keeps your head down and encourages you to follow instructions. The resistance lives in fear, and doesn’t hesitate to shut us down at the first sign of possible derision…. The resistance is the voice that was complicit in the brainwashing, because the resistance is easy to arouse. When your teacher threatens you with (insert social punishment here) if you don’t do your work in school, you do the work. The resistance wins.

What artists over time have figured out is that the resistance is the sole barrier between today and their art. That the act of genius required to produce original and important work is crippled by the resistance, and ignoring the voice of skepticism is critical in doing the work.

And so, we acknowledge it. We stand up and we hear the voice of the lizard brain and we recognize that it’s there and then we walk to the podium and do the work. We acknowledge the lizard so we can ignore it.

The risk the artist takes is that you might …actually laugh at the effort. And it’s taking these risks that leads us to get rewarded.

I’ve quoted this at length because it’s so beautiful!  So much could be accomplished if we got past this.

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Published by Antonio Dias

My work is centered on attending to the intersection of perception and creativity. Complexity cannot be reduced to any given certainty. Learning is Central: Sharing our gifts, Working together, Teaching and learning in reciprocity. Entering into shared Inquiry, Maintaining these practices as a way of life. Let’s work together to build practices, strengthen dialogue, and discover and develop community. Let me know how we might work together.

5 thoughts on “Acknowledge the Lizard

  1. Like you, I subscribe to Seth’s Blog, and was struck recently by his reptilian brain post, since I have been practicing noting mine and trying to mine it for amusement value. I like your qualified description: “his quick clarity and my ponderousness, or his glibness and my depth”.

    One just has to try to not completely believe what one assumes to be the case.


    1. In John McPhee’s “Annals of the Former World,” I just found the best quote on that, taken from a naval officer’s training school in Kiel, Germany,

      “Say not ‘This is truth’ but ‘So it seems to me to be as I now see the things I think I see.'”

      Not just good advice for submariners!


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