Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thought for the Day 11.0

"Never let the lizard send an email."

I laughed out loud when I read this, of course, precisely because my lizard brain has sent some doozy emails that I wish I could take back. (And I have received emails sent by others' lizard brains.)

The quote is from Seth Godin's Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? I'm on my second read of this book and have underlined lots of pithy statements like the above.

To understand his meaning you have to read chapter xx (they aren't numbered), "The Resistance." Godin's "lizard brain" is the flip side of Steven Pressfield's "resistance" as defined in the latter's book The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle. (Godin's Domino Project published a short version of The War of Art called Do the Work as a free e-book available on Amazon. It's no longer free, but Pressfield's short and long treatise on "resistance" are both worth the read.)

The lizard brain is what kicks in when resistance to creativity, starting, and shipping arises. Godin describes the lizard brain this way (p. 107 in Linchpin):
Your lizard brain, the part that the [creative force] has no control over, is working overtime to get you to shut up, sit down, and do your (day) job. It will invent stories, illnesses, emergencies, and distractions in order to keep the genius bottled up. The resistance is afraid. Afraid of what will happen to you (and to it) if the ideas get out, if your gifts are received, if the magic happens.
If we aren't aware of the existence of resistance, if we don't do battle daily with the lizard brain, then we have become overtaken by it and live in submission to it.

Why should the lizard never be allowed to send an email? Because it's usually an act of self-sabotage; an effort by the lizard to create trouble that will keep us from our true task of starting and shipping creativity to the world.

(Don't misunderstand: not all email is sent by the lizard. If we don't know the ones that are when we hit "Send," we will soon find out.)

For an 18-minute overview of how the lizard and resistance (using different terms) work in the creative process, watch this. (Rather than leaving you to watch the video in peace, I have to add this: I'm always intrigued when I hear secular, or quasi-spiritual, talks that contain ideas or explorations in thought that are more fully explicated in the Bible. There is nothing biblical about this talk, yet the spiritual sources of creativity she discusses [with a helpful overview of creativity from the Roman and Greek perspectives] could easily find a place in the outline of cosmology found in Scripture, imho. Yet many folks are unwilling to end their quest and settle into that outline, for some reason. Too simple, perhaps. As Luke said of the Athenians, "[they] spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas" [Acts 17:21].)

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