My Blog

Big Brain

I’m dating again. And it’s a scary process to re-open my heart.

How am I handling that?

I’m hiding behind my brain.

Thankfully the Universe is bringing my walls down.

I was on a date and covering up my fear by asking qualifying questions (very CEO of me).

“Do you think you’ll live in Hawaii long-term?” I asked pointedly.

So he starts to qualify me back.

And suddenly we’re in a freaking interview process.

Halfway into it, he has the presence of mind to pause the exchange.

“I feel like we’re big braining each other. But are we really connecting right now?”

That’s when I felt it. I felt the tears come to my eyes and the fear emerge behind the shield.

He was right. I was hiding behind logic, my favored defense mechanism.

It’s a comfortable shield that the CEOs I coach hide behind too.

It feels safe. Black and white. An arena where smart people have a right answer.

But it also shields connection, emotion, and intuition. All things that create an X-factor in leadership.

I coached a founder going through an investor conflict. And she has 15 reasons why she’s right (let’s be honest, she probably is right).

But what did she want more than being right? She wanted the investor to trust her.

Using her logic as a weapon wasn’t the best way to build trust.

We opted for a vulnerable conversation to build connection and clarity instead.

How do I know when I’m in my brain?

  • My voice gets flat and loses affect.
  • My energy goes up to my head and out of my body (I feel numb below the neck).
  • I start to build up negative stories about the other person.
  • I look for logical points to build my case (well, my fortress).

Here are my lessons on moving from big brain to big heart:

  • Close your eyes and drop into the body. Identify one physical sensation below the neck.
  • Identify one emotion. I ask myself, “What feeling is here?”
  • What’s the best and scariest way to shift? Call it out loud.
  • “I know we’re in our heads right now, but I feel disconnected from you. What’s under this?”
  • If you don’t feel comfortable sharing, ask to re-visit the conversation. Take a breather to get to the literal heart of what the conversation actually requires.

Being an emotionally intelligent leader who has heart access is no easy feat.

It requires a level of self-honesty and willingness to risk looking “soft” or “weak.”

But the pay-off in connection and trust is HUGE.

So ditch the walls when connection is called for. Move into the heart instead.

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