Your Brain and Your Business

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A close friend of mine recently guided me through a fascinating exercise to show me the power that our brain has over our business decisions. However, the most fascinating part of the process was showing me the limitations of our brain. Here was the most fascinating part:

1.   Look around and notice anything yellow in the room. 

2.   Now without looking around. Close your eyes and name 3 red objects in the same room. 

It’s almost impossible!

The amount of work your brain does in every second is staggering. It keeps your heart beating, lungs breathing, and is even communicating with your eyes constantly to measure how moist they are so it can tell your eyelids when to blink. When you need to focus on a task, your body will shut down many of the non-vital systems of your body and send energy to your prefrontal cortex. 

Your body has incredible problem solving capacity. In fact, for most people, you brain can easily solve any problem you will come across in your life and work in a short amount of time with little effort. 

The problem is we control what our brain focuses on with our emotions. We allow our emotions to tell our brain “the answer is yellow”, all the while our brain is saying, “I’m pretty sure it’s red, stupid”. But instead of allowing our brain to do its primary function, which is solving problems, we crowd it with complicated, often negative emotions like doubt and fear.

You will be amazed what happens when you calm your emotions and center your thoughts on the best possible outcome. 

The same friend who told me the previous story told me about one of his clients named Steve who owned a successful retail carpet store in the Midwest. Steve loved his business and did not want to sell, but he had grown severely frustrated with the annoying small issues that any small-business owners tend to go through. He called my friend because he wanted to give one last effort to solve his frustrations before giving up and selling the company to get rid of his stress. Like many of us, Steve told my friend he didn’t know where to even start with naming all the problems, but really keyed in on one his clients that was causing him immense stress. Despite being one of his largest clients, the account manager was constantly threatening to leave, calling Steve at all hours of the night with stressful calls, and consistently asking for discounts. It was the worst part of Steve’s day. It was hampering the company’s growth and causing Steve anxiety that spilled over into his home life constantly.

My friend’s advice to Steve? It’s time to let the client go. While they were his “largest client,” what Steve was failing to recognize was what his brain had been telling him all along- this account is wrong for your business. Steve was so blinded by the negative emotions clouding his brain that he didn’t realize he was working his tail off for a client that he hated and that was actually losing him money! He knew it was what he needed to do.

I kid you not, within one week Steve was excited about his business again. Within a week, Steve was excited to be back at work again. Within a month, he had replaced the account with two clients that he enjoyed working with and enabled him to grow further.

If you think about your company, I’m sure you can think of a similar example of a problem that has constantly caused you stress. Emotions are incredibly powerful and they can keep us distracted and stuck for months. There is no reason to let this keep happening. Next time, try listening to what your brain is trying to tell you. Block out the emotions and make the wise choice. You’ll be rewarded almost every time.