“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Last night Belinda and I had a little trouble convincing Indrani that she should spend some time learning her times tables. Actually, we had a LOT of trouble.
Indrani has a natural gift for the written word. She routinely gets full marks in spelling tests, and reads books well beyond her years. (Harry Potter books 1-5 by the age of seven, for example…)
Indrani’s reaction to learning maths, however, is to get angry, frustrated, upset and irrational. It’s really just her Amygdala – or her lizard brain – thinking that she’s in immediate danger, and triggering an extreme emotional response. Fight or flight. (Or in some cases, both, as she screams at us and then runs to her bedroom.)
I had the exact same emotional response a few days ago when I was working through my irrational fear of Marketing our business. Even after writing that lovely piece about Make Art Not Products, I still found myself wanting desperately to be distracted, rather than go through with the new marketing artform.
Here’s what I learned, when I explored this with Indrani last night:
Our fear, anger and frustration are signposts to telling us we’re on the right track. Yep, they’re the indicators that we’re about to learn something new, that we’re about to step outside our comfort zone, and that we’re about to get creative.
Seth Godin writes about this in his latest book The Icarus Deception (affiliate link) – about how our lizard brain continually tries to stop us from going outside what we know, and throws up all sorts of ridiculous emotional responses when we get uncomfortable.
I explained to Indrani how I want her to recognise that feeling, and say to herself: “I’m feeling this way because I’m about to learn something important.” And then keep going, despite the uncomfortable feelings.
Because on the other side, is the world of unexplored riches – the realm of creativity and innovation.
I suggest we each take this approach: keep learning, keep getting uncomfortable, and keep pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone.