What To Do When Your Brain Explodes

Last week I wrote about the value of being human, but not forgetting that you have a team to draw on.  If you missed that, you can read it here.  Remembering that you have a team to draw on requires that we make a conscious decision to do so, and yet I speak daily to people who are buried so deep under the mental processes of life that they couldn’t drag themselves out to think if they tried.
Perhaps you run or are involved in a business that frequently gets the better of you.  Perhaps your circumstances seem generally overwhelming and all consuming.  Whatever it is, we all have numerous moments when our brains seem to have exploded, or be damn close to it…..what then?  How do we remain or regain productivity?  How do we find the right route forward with clarity?
Over the past week, as I’ve juggled my own mental energy between the goings-on in Zimbabwe that seem to threaten not only everything I know and believe in, but my family too, and the energy I must apply to delivering value to my clients, my child and what lies ahead; I’ve been reminded just HOW often we need to recenter ourselves.  How often we need to catch ourselves before we mentally go somewhere unpleasant and unhelpful that drains our ability to contribute and do whatever we need to do to reboot our thinking.
Exactly what you need to do to recenter and reboot your thinking is a personal thing.  Perhaps you need to withdraw and recharge whilst listening to something that centers your thinking.  Perhaps you need to call a strategic meeting to draw on the collective thinking process.  Perhaps you need to reassess and realign with strategy. 

The first step is to recognize how often we need to recenter ourselves in order to stay on track.

You’d think that something as highly technical as an aircraft would be on track more often than not, and yet aircraft are off-track 90% of the time!!  On any given flight, thousands of minute corrections may need to be made to counteract the forces of nature, traffic and other circumstances that a flight may encounter to keep it on track.  The precision of the route taken is largely down to the constant vigilance of the pilots who scan the available information and verify it against the track they know they need to follow.  There’s no illusion that the aircraft will just stay on track once it’s pointed in the right direction.  Even the information that the pilots use is constantly checked and rechecked to make sure it’s correctly entered and accurate.  Nothing is taken for granted and the fallibility of systems, equipment and people is assumed and constantly monitored.
So, Step #1 is to acknowledge that we are human and therefore fallible, and that conditions are constantly trying to pull us off track.

Dale Carnegie said “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it.”

Step #2 is to DO something about getting back on track. 

Here are 3 D’s to get you back on track when your brain wants to explode:


When an aircraft has been blown off course, the first piece of obvious information used to correct the situation is WHERE we decided we were going in the first place.  What is the destination we wish to arrive at?
When we have too many things going on in life, or when what we’re faced with seems incalculable, confusing or insurmountable, we must rescue ourselves by remembering our basics.  WHY are we doing what we’re doing?  What was the intention in the first place?  What is it we want or are aiming at?  What are the VALUES we agreed to conduct ourselves by?  Who is it we want to show up as?
We must look at all the information in front of us, seek out more to fill in the blanks if required, and make a decision based on that information that reorients us towards the destination that’s important to us.  Indecision is what brings about frustration.  We dilute our power when we wallow in indecision.  We procrastinate because we fear making the wrong decision when all we really need to do is make the next decision.  One course correction can be followed by another, and another.  Just make a decision so that you can regain your mental power.  When you’ve decided, then you are powerful, and the next decision isn’t so hard to make even if further correction is required.
One of the most powerful things I was ever told was “Just release Version 1.0 – you can update it later.”


The more we make decisions, the easier they seem to be.  Being able to make decisions is a habit – and once we become accustomed to choosing the feeling of powerfully moving forward rather than the painful frustration of staying put – making that choice regularly seems obvious.  The next “D” we need to empower ourselves with is Discipline.  The Discipline to continuously make decisions that align us with our required destination.  Discipline to stick to our value systems and principles, even when doing so creates resistance, rejection or unrest in others.  If we don’t stick to our guiding principles and values, and consistently correct towards the destination we decided on, we can find ourselves irretrievably off course without enough fuel left to get back on track.
Your brain needs leadership.  We must self-discipline enough to create strong and steady leadership for others.


The third “D” we can use to keep us on track and stop our brains exploding is Determination.  When we’re in a space where our brains are exploding, sometimes it’s hard to find the energy to be determined.  That’s why the Decisiveness and Discipline must come first to help recenter you and regain energy and momentum.  The definition of Determination is “firmness of purpose”.  It’s a firm belief in WHY you’re doing what you’re doing, and if what you’re doing is good, necessary, productive and beneficial, then nothing should be allowed to blow you off course.
I had the pleasure of listening to Billy Selekane speak at the REAL Success 2019 seminar this last weekend.  His closing statement was an assurance that if we’re all prepared to deal with our own “monkeys” (the destructive thought processes that sit on each of our shoulders and that converse with the monkeys on other people’s shoulders), and we’re prepared to acknowledge that the world owes us nothing and it’s ALL about how we choose to show up and take responsibility for our part, our contribution, and the results we create, then TOGETHER, we can make it happen.
Putting myself in the right room to hear that and to absorb that energy was what I needed to reboot myself.  What do you need?

by Christen Killick

January 21st, 2019

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