"Just Tell Me What to Do!" Haircuts and the Tyranny of the Left Brain

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I was consulting with a client, Michael, recently and he made this comment…

“Perry, I’ve been applying 80/20 to my life and business for the last year or so, and now I have a very odd problem. I don’t know what to do in my free time. Tell me what I should be doing because I feel like I’m just wasting time.”

If you’re a go-to guy or gal, you’re probably unaccustomed to enjoying downtime. When you’re truly free, do you feel itchy, agitated, anxious? Do you feel like you’re procrastinating? Do you feel like you’re shirking your responsibilities?

“Just tell me what to do!”

Does the idea of carving out time in your schedule to “do nothing” -nothing but let your mind wander and play- does that make your pulse beat faster, do you break out in cold sweats at the idea of doing NOTHING?

Do you know what my brain tells me when I get like that? Do you know what odd compulsion I feel when I’m doing some powerful, but unstructured, musing and reading and thinking?

“Perry, you need a haircut. Go get a haircut today.”

Bizarre, I know. I used to let that odd feeling of agitation and anxiousness get the better of me. But now I know that the “haircut” nagging is an indication that I’m on to something big. Something good. Because my left brain is trying to interrupt me. Trying to assume control again. Trying to get me back on the routine, mundane, comfortable track again.

Michael’s day to day business problems are pretty much under control. Now he needs to answer the BIG, STRATEGIC questions. And you don’t solve problems like that unless your right brain has ample time to play. But your left brain will nag you until you learn to quiet it. It will tug at your sleeve incessantly, begging, “Just tell me what to do!”

"So many options for growing my business, but what should I do NOW?" Tell me your most pressing business problems and I'll show you your BEST next step.

Your left brain, the brain you use when you’re putting out fires and consciously solving problems, your rational brain, is limited. Period. Your business will have limited success if all you ever do is apply left-brained thinking. But most of us apply ONLY left-brained thinking.

Your right brain, however, is unlimited. It makes connections that the left brain would never dream of.

But it only makes those connections when you’re “not around”. It only makes those connections when your ego, your rational, controlling left brain has “left the building”.

When you’re playing, when you’re recreating, when you’re free-form journaling, when you’re praying or meditating, when you’re sleeping. (And I’m not talking about the five-hours-per-night, burning the candle at both ends kind of sleep that most of us entrepreneurs get). Realizing that you have to turn your rational brain off to achieve breakthrough success can be a slap to your ego. Realizing your brain is more powerful when your conscious mind is not directing it – when YOU are not controlling it – can be humbling…and, for a while, very uncomfortable. But I assure you, it’s essential to achieving your business and life goals.

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

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