Are You the CEO of Your Brain?

You think you’ve got it under control. Signed, sealed, all but delivered. You are in charge.

Suddenly, the Itty-bitty Shitty Committee cranks up the volume in your head. Can’t, shouldn’t, better not, watch out for, told you so, what if. The cacophony becomes overwhelming.

Suddenly, nobody trusts you. And why should they? You are no longer the CEO of your brain.

The Diagnosis

If you are not the CEO of your brain, who is? There can be no good answer to that question, at least not from the perspective of those listening to you—your customers, coworkers, those you hope to lead. If you are not the CEO of your brain–nothing good follows.

Don’t confuse being the CEO of your brain with being perfect, excellent, or even self-confident. It is simply about being comfortable with who you are. If you know who you are and are at ease with it, then people trust you. They say you have integrity, that you are transparent, that you have no hidden agenda. They may even say you care.

By contrast, when the Committee has taken over, the inmates are running the asylum. No one is in charge, and fear stalks the land between your ears.

The Prescription

As far as I know, all wisdoms of the world offer a two-step solution to the dilemma. The first is to fix the acute situation; the second is to amend the chronic condition.

The acute situation. Stop the noise. Put the plug in the jug.  Just don’t do that. Stop the pain. First, do no harm. Staunch the flow. Take the first breath of oxygen before passing the mask to your child. Admit there is a problem. Take 10 deep breaths. Count to 100. Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

The chronic condition.   Do what you can, leave the rest. Live in the moment. Detach from the outcome. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Right-size your ego.  Resign from the debating society.  There is a God–and you’re not it.  An expectation is a premeditated resentment.  The only true mistake is a repeated mistake. You’re just another bozo on the bus.  Learn to laugh at yourself.

The Prognosis

Since the underlying condition is Life, the long-term prognosis is not good.  However, considerable success can be had in the interim.

Much of that success seems to depend on recognizing that the chronic cure comes not by a single dose, but by a regimen.  Excellence is but a habit, said Aristotle.  So are sanity, sobriety, and gratitude.  That doesn’t mean you can’t have a constant itch for improvement–just don’t let it ruin your sleep.

This is how you become the CEO of your brain; not by revelation, but by repetition. After a while, the Committee steps down, and you’re back in charge, where you should be.

And that’s when people can trust you.