One thing that every human has in common is that dinosaur brain that is wired to protect us from harm. Think fight or flight. For startup founders, it is this flight mechanism that prevents most from giving up that stable paycheck, cushy house, and annual vacation.
But that same part of our brain is also there to protect us from situations where we don't have answers, where our ideas are put to a rigorous test, where we are put in positions we have never been in before (hiring someone, signing a lease). All of these have potential for embarrassment. Our dinosaur brain wants to protect us from that as well.
I share the last set of embarrassing circumstances as a reminder to all of us that regardless of wealth or status, we all can start at the same place of fear.
A few years ago, I decided to find a way to slay that dinosaur brain (it comes back every time I have a new idea).
My trick? I developed a personal Board of Directors. Not a formal, paid, and regular meeting kind of Board of Directors. Think of an informal set of people who help me think through difficult situations. Some of these people do not even know that they sit on the board of Heivly Inc.
But boy are these diverse, talented, alternative thinkers valuable to me.
Without too much thought or intention, here are a few of them and their roles & backgrounds shared anonymously.
The grizzled vet. Sven was my bosses boss and then my boss many years ago. He has fantastic gut instincts. He has an almost savant like ability to cut through all the noise to find to core of any situation. He also is never shy about giving me honest feedback about my behavior.
The public-facing inner coach. Darla is a PR maven who has worked at the highest levels with very senior executives. She understands the human condition and the insecurities that come with others view of you and your position. She has a gift for steering me to gain comfort and embrace the public image and brand of me.
The geek savant. Carl is one of the smartest people I know. He is also someone who thinks just about 180 degrees opposite of me. I love that. We both enjoy sharing what is on our brains, what the future holds, and what role we can play. Carl and I are still developing our relationship, which leaves me excited for what comes next for both of us.
Many years ago, I began to build a process for slaying my dinosaur brain. The key was to find smarter brains that could literally kill my dino brain. This personal board of directors changes over time and I find that I need different directors for different issues.
Don't overthink it - the first step is your willingness to share the dinosaur fear.