How to Keep Your Giant Lizard Behind the Electrified Fence

Possibly my favorite scary scene from Jurassic Park is the one where T. Rex breaks out from behind his electric fence and attacks the kids when they are all alone in the car. In the dark. (And then the guy on the toilet perishes rather spectacularly, heh.) Awesome, right?

The reason we dig that film – and I’ve included you in the fandom, you’re welcome! – is because no matter how 80s that movie feels, it taps into something that is genuinely scary. We get it. We identify. It’s primal. It works, and it’s why we still avidly watch Jaws, too. Those are some scary-ass monsters and we freakin’ UNDERSTAND them.

Did I just say we understood T. Rex? I did.

We are half human, half lizard

We identify precisely because our brains are part lizard. It’s this ancient “reptilian brain” part of us that often keeps us from doing really risky things. It’s the potentially useful part of us that makes Indiana Jones resist being let down into a pitch-dark ancient Egyptian tomb filled with writhing snakes. It tries to scare the wannabe hero in us enough to keep him or her from pulling stupid, crazy, insane stunts.

Hey, nobody scares us like we scare ourselves.

And here’s proof of your lizardly-ness

For example. Think seriously for just a moment about what it would mean to quit your job tomorrow with absolutely zero idea what you would do this week, this month, this year for food, shelter, or income. The future’s all a big gray unknown, and you’ll have to figure it out, starting tomorrow. And get it moving incredibly, freakishly fast if you’re gonna keep the Cheetos and Mountain Dew coming. (And the baby in Pampers, etc.)

Or what if tomorrow you decided to drop everything and sail (with some other wackos) from New Zealand to French Polynesia, then to Hawaii, then even further across the Pacific, all the way to San Francisco? In a canoe. And you’ve never even been in a boat before.

Got heart palpitations yet?

T. Rex might as well be a fwuffy widdle bunny compared with the stuff we come up with in the long, dark hallway of our own minds.

3 tips for keeping your T. Rex on a chain

Here’s the thing. Doing something insanely new and crazy is going to make your inner T. Rex try to rip down the electric fence and snatch you right outta the Jeep. The key is to not let him stop you from doing something that, while it may seem crazy to others, is completely and totally essential if you’re going to radically change the way you’re living and doing business today.

Sometimes you NEED to reinvent yourself. Sometimes you MUST stop doing things one way in order to create a new you. This is how reinvention happens.

And here are 3 tips to help you keep your inner lizard on the chain:

1. Get out of isolation

You are not alone, even though you often feel that way. Our brain is very stingy about who’s in our tribe. It’s always wanting to cast things in the stark terms of “Friend or Foe.” This impulse helped us get out of the trees and into the suburbs, but now it can leave us feeling isolated. Storytelling helps us expand our circle of friends. The golden principle of storytelling is about helping people realize they have more in common than they realized!

There are thousands of other engaged, passionate DIY-ers, reinventing themselves and telling their story in a new way. All you have to do is find and connect with them. That’s why you should come hang with the tribe at Reinvention Summit 2, of course! You can also find your tribe by joining forums, attending a local gathering of like-minds, or simply reaching out over a social network. It feels great to hear from others in your own area, struggling with the same stuff you face.

2. Picture the ending of your new story

Knowing the desired end of your own new story will help put a stop to your lizard brain’s fear. They say (at least, the International Public Library says) that most stories boil down to 7 basic plots. They overlap, and your story might carry several of the themes, but which ones are they? How do you envision the end of your particular plot? If you’re too close to your own story that you’re not able to do the pattern recognition, ask a friend. Spend some time fleshing out the details, and keep that image firmly in mind. T. Rex won’t stand a chance of getting off the leash if you’re firm with him….

3. Set your goals (and change them, if necessary)

As you set your goals for reinvention, ask yourself these questions about each one.

  • Ownership: Am I doing this because I really want it, or am I doing it because other people think I should?
  • Alignment: Are my goals aligned, or are they working against each other? Have I considered how my goals for reinvention will impact my goals for home and family, my physical and spiritual health, or other areas?
  • Clarity: Have I written out the details? Do I know what it will take to get me where I’m headed?
  • Positivity: Are my goals described in positive ways, or am I simply putting my energy into what I don’t want to do or be?
  • Aspiration: Is this goal high enough?

Although it’s risky, reinvention brings with it a wealth of fresh opportunities, and exponentially better ways to tell the story of you, your business, or your cause. Reinvention is how we change the world.

Remember: YOU are the biggest badass!

Be aware that T. Rex is going to be upset, but he’s your own, personal T. Rex, and you are stronger and meaner and uglier than he is. (Sorry about that ugly part. You know what I mean.) You don’t have to let him stop you. In a badass contest with your inner lizard, you can win.

Seth Godin talks more about the lizard brain in his book Linchpin, but you get the idea, I think. The real thing you need to know is that reinvention is possible.

And to keep your giant lizard contained (I won’t say “safely,” I’ll just stop with “contained”) behind the electrified fence in your head, you could probably use a little bit of coaching, inspiration, and a tribe of like-minded dino-wranglers.

That’s why you should join us at Reinvention Summit 2

This is going to be the world’s largest online gathering of entrepreneurs, visionaries, and heretics who are transforming business, culture, and society while living life on our own terms.

We rocked it in 2010, and we’re gonna blast it out of the park in 2012.

Ain’t no T. Rex gonna stand in our way, either.

>>> Reinvention Summit 2 will happen from April 16 – 20. <<<

5 days. 20 speakers. 500+ attendees. All online.

You can get lots more info about Reinvention Summit 2 by clicking the link above. The speaker line-up is still coming together, and it’s already sincerely kick-ass. And in case you missed out on the awesomely awesome free 5-part video series on reinventing yourself using powerful storytelling, you can get those goods delivered straight to your inbox here.

Keep that lizard behind the fence, fellow crazy people. And I’ll see you at the Summit.

3 thoughts on “How to Keep Your Giant Lizard Behind the Electrified Fence”

    1. No way could I forget the guy in the bathroom — it’s exactly the kind of rotten, wretched details my brain loves to hold on to, rather than important things like… I dunno, calculus equations.

      Thanks for the taking the time to comment, Ron!

  1. Lindsey Dawson

    I love the way we have that civilized, polite space in our brains too – the one that prompts Ron to use the phrase “in the bathroom” so as not to offend anyone. I love your energetic, easy writing style, Lisa. And I live in Auckland so enjoyed see the vaka story pop up here too. 

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