In the first part of this series, I described the conventional forces of the Enemy – the Army of Bad Habits (the largest of Enemy forces)
In the second part of this series, I explained the unconventional force of the Enemy: Negative Self-Talk Propaganda (the most insidious of Enemy forces).
In this third part of the series, we will examine who leads these Enemy forces, why he is invincible, and what we can do to outwit and beat him.
The leader of the Enemy forces isn’t your boss or your competitor; it’s not the world conspiring against you; it’s not your bad luck or your genetics.
The leader of the Enemy is nothing external at all.
The leader of the Enemy is the battle-hardened, combat-veteran Commanding General: your brain stem.
The brain stem is that small part of your brain, way in the back, which connects to the spinal column.
“The brain stem is the Commanding General of the Army of Bad Habits, and it will stop at nothing to keep you from creating your life’s work.” [The Art of Instigating]
The brain stem is the conduit from your brain to the rest of your body, and it controls life-sustaining, essential functions, including your heart beat and central nervous system.
That’s right: the same thing that is essential for your existence controls the Enemy, seeks to destroy your worthwhile project and will put a halt to your life’s work if you’re not aware of it.
Without the brain stem, we can’t live (hence, the brain stem is invincible).
But without outsmarting the brain stem, we can’t create our life’s work.
Outsmarting the brain stem is simple if we understand two basic facts:
1) The brain stem’s existence is to preserve itself
2) The brain stem is living thousands of years in the past
When we understand these two basic facts – that the brain stem’s motivating factor is self-preservation and that it’s living in the past – we can develop a fighting style that outwits and beats the Enemy.
Since the brain stem’s purpose is self-preservation, it hates anything that might expose us.
That’s why it’s so hard to produce creative work; when we do something extraordinary, when we become the outlier, we stand out from the pack.
And standing out from the pack does not improve our survival rate.
Because the brain stem is living thousands of years in the past, it doesn’t understand that standing out from the pack today is actually nonlethal.
Today, we can separate ourselves by being great at what we do with no threat of being destroyed by wild, man-eating animals, but our brain stem doesn’t understand that.
No amount of rational thought will convince it otherwise.
The brain stem is unforgiving and irrational.
For the brain stem, shipping your product to market and exposing yourself to criticism is like taking on a monster-sized, man-killing wolf with nothing but your bare hands.
It’s hard; it’s scary; you might not make it.
So how do you outsmart and beat the Commanding General of the Enemy?
You do it anyway.
To beat the Enemy, to outsmart the brain stem, all you have to do is get to work.
When you take action, go to work, and start creating, the bull**** of the Enemy goes away.
But it will come back.
It always does.
And that’s why taking action every day is so important.
No matter how many times you go up against a monster, it never gets less scary.
But every time you willingly go up against the monster, you become stronger.
When it comes to instigating your life’s work, creating something worthwhile, and building your empire, your goal is to become the strongest.
So go be the strongest.
Get to work.