The Runaway Brain

I’m a risk mitigator. My brain likes to think of all the possible things that could go wrong and try to reduce or eliminate the risks. It’s a great skill to have – sometimes. But, like all strengths, it also has a flip side.

You see, my brain loves questions – especially the worst-case scenario “what-if” questions:

  • What if people don’t show up?
  • What if I fail miserably?
  • What if no one likes what I have to say?
  • What if there isn’t enough food? (This is my worst fear while hosting a dinner.)
  • What if _______ (fill in the blank) doesn’t work?

Can you relate to the relentless what-ifs? Do you take the time to answer them?

If you answer and follow your what-ifs down the path of the worst-case scenario, most people usually end up homeless in the streets. It goes something like this: If no one shows up, it will mean I’m a failure. No one will ever buy from me again. I also won’t be able to ever get a job and I’ll end up homeless on the street.

The Runaway Brain

I call this the runaway brain. To be clear, this is not risk mitigation. This is your monkey-brain running wild. Pat yourself on the back – it means you have a healthy imagination!

Now, let’s put that imagination to more productive use. Let’s give at least equal attention to the best-case scenario what-ifs.

Ask yourself these what-ifs:

  • What if all the right people show up?
  • What if I’m widely successful?
  • What if people deeply resonate with what I have to say?
  • What if I hire a caterer and don’t have to worry about having enough food?
  • What if _______ (fill in the blank) works?

Do these best-case what-ifs also trigger some fear? Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal. But, if you’re going to have fear with what-ifs, why not choose the best-case scenario fears?

Choose Best Case Problems

Being alive comes with risk. No matter where you are in business and life, you’re going to have problems and challenges. But, when you change your thinking, you’ll have better, higher level problems and challenges for your brain to chew on.

Next time you find yourself going down the negative what-if path, tell your brain, “Stop.” Then, take a deep breath, and reign in your runaway brain. Reframe and give your brain better problems to work on – the problems you would love to have.