Mrs. Miller was a brain scientist ahead of her time.


I've always believed in the power of our brain to assist us in a myriad of mysterious ways, if we would just ask for the help.

At least a few times a week I have occasion to practice asking for the answers I need: sometimes, it's as simple as not remembering a song title or someone's name. Usually, it involves feeling overwhelmed about a project or assignment. And occasionally, it's something rather profound and complex - those "meaning of life" questions or other existential inquiries of the Universe.

Molecular ThoughtsIn each of these instances, I turn to my brain for help and before I go to bed at night, I say something like, "Dang it, what's the name of that song from the 80's by that so-and-so band that had that one person as the lead singer?"

When faced with a writing project, I'll often stop working mid-day, stepping away from the keyboard when facing writer's block. In the evening before bed, I'll make a request, "Brain, I know you know everything I have been thinking about and all the research I've done.  But I can't put it all together for some reason.  I'm counting on you to sort it out for me while I am asleep tonight so I can start writing in the morning."

Before I discovered the possibility of coaching as a career, I approached my brain in a fair amount of desperation. I wailed, "I am so confused! Why can't I make this career work for me? Why can't I be better?  What am I supposed to be doing? What kind of impact am I supposed to be making on the world? What else is there??"

Sure enough, in the morning, after a good night's sleep, the song title came to me - and the name of the band AND the lead singer! I was able to hop on my computer and pound out a term paper that was brilliant, if I do say so myself.  And it got an  A from the professor.

Admittedly, the answer to my career woes did not come so quickly.  It tookYoung businessman yelling in car a few months for my brain to expand my awareness enough so I was able to notice an article online about coaching; then a few days later, to hear someone on television talking about being a life coach. And I started to do more research and put the pieces together.  I firmly believe, however, that I had to allow my brain to take the reins and show me the way.

And now, onto the headline of this post.  Where on earth did this obsession with talking to my brain come from? I have such a clear memory of my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Miller, telling the class one day how we did not need to use an alarm clock to wake up in the morning. We simply needed to tell our brain before we went to bed in the evening what time we wanted to get up in the morning. And our brain would wake us up at that time.

Mrs Miller3Of course, I tried it that night and was astounded to discover it worked! And I continued to test my brain for the rest of my life, saying to myself, "I wonder if it will work in this situation?" And it always worked.

I'm sure an actual brain scientist could tell me why this happens and it may not have anything to do with our brain itself, but I believe it does. This reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon in which Dilbert is on a date who tells him, "I believe in the power of crystals to heal. I don't have any scientistic evidence to prove this, but I choose to believe it anyway." Dilbert offends her greatly with his response, something along the lines of, "And so you choose to be ignorant?"

This brain technique comes up a lot in my coaching.  We are often stuck, really stuck, when it comes to doing things differently.  So when I ask my clients what they might do to move themselves forward, I often hear, "I don't know." Or if I ask them to tell me what is special about themselves, what are their strengths, their talents, their passions, I get a similar response.

So I will often just say we'll put a pin in that question but ask them to take a minute or two before going to bed to ask themselves (their brain): "This seems like such a simple question.  But I am so stuck! Nothing is coming to me. So I am going to turn over this question to you tonight to do the heavy lifting while I sleep. I'm confident I'll have answers in the morning when I wake up."  Be ready with a notebook to record your answers.

And if the answers don't come immediately, acknowledge that you've planted the seed and in short order, you'll start getting clues that will allow you to put the pieces together. What answers are waiting for you, right now, if you were to just ask your brain for its wisdom this evening as you sleep? What could be the impact on your life of having this new-found information to apply?