Got a brain cramp?

Braincramp Robyn McMaster over at Brain Based Biz asked the question – what would you suggest to overcome a brain cramp?

Let me answer that by way of a short story.

When I was a kid, I used to wake up in the middle of the night, yelling for my mom and grabbing the calf of my leg, which was knotted in a spasm.

My mom called them growing pains. (Turns out that’s not quite accurate…but it sounded good at the time.) The pain was incredible and the more I moved…the more my leg knotted up.  My mom would have to calm me down and have me hold very still.  She’d tell me a story so I’d focus on that and then, she’d slowly rub the knot out enough that I could walk around on it.

I can remember the first time she suggested walking on it.  I thought she was insane.  But she was right…I needed to work out the knot by getting back up on the leg.

Sometimes as adults we get brain cramps.  Same knotted feeling.  We usually cramp up when we’re faced with a new truth.  Or maybe a truth we don’t really want to see or isn’t playing out the way we want it to.

That happens at MMG all the time. Many times, what we recommend or what we uncover during our branding process isn’t what the client expected – and they cramp up.

So just like my mom helped me, it’s my job to help undo the knots.  And just like my mom, I use stories to quiet the clients and help them understand.  I love analogies – I find them to be incredibly effective in taking the abstract and making it tangible.  After I’ve told our client a story or two and have them slowly nodding, I know I need to get them to try out the new ideas.  They need to walk around on the fresh thoughts and see how they hold up.

They don’t want to do it.  It seems counter-intuitive.  They want to protect the status quo.  But my role is to encourage them to slowly stand up and test the new ideas by walking on them for a bit.

Many times, after they take the risk — they are surprised by their reaction.  They see new possibilities.  They get fresh perspective.  They were ready to take the next step all along.

So what’s my prescription for overcoming a brain cramp? 

First, don’t panic.  Breathe deeply.  Focus on something else.  Then, go ahead and look at what has you cramped up.  Is it possible that it might not be all bad?  Try to understand it from a different point of view.  Maybe use analogies to help grasp the key points.

Then…test drive the new ideas.  Slowly at first.  Sure, it’s going to be uncomfortable.  It’s new territory.  But walk around on them a  little.  See if maybe they take you to a different and new place. 

Maybe even a place you didn’t think you could reach.

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5 comments on “Got a brain cramp?

  1. Jake Nudge says:

    Analogies are a great way to work though a problem I agree and as much as I think they are over used in business, sporting analogies seem to work great and i think I know why.. Some of the greatest stories of triumph over adversity come from the sporting arena and thanks to an unhealthy dedication to statistics that so many sports fans have, its so easy to see the bad place they have come from (their recent losing streak) and track the steps to their now winning form.


  2. Jake,

    I think one of the reasons so many sports jargon terms have creeped into mainstream language is for that very reason — the analogies really work.

    Of course…we have to be careful and remember that there are segments of American population and certainly the world’s population that don’t know the terms like we do.

    Sometimes you need some explanation with your analogy!


  3. Drew, your experience with “braincramp” is unique since what you recommend or uncover during your branding process isn’t what some clients expect – and they cramp up.

    You walk your clients through a very wonderful process, when they balk.

    Drew, I sense readers’ on my site would enjoy seeing what you have shared here and I’d like your permission to publish this on my site, too!

    I’m in Ireland right now so will publish when I’m home again. 🙂

  4. Robyn,

    Of course you can share it with your readers however you think that might work best.

    I can’t wait to read more about Ireland — I hope you’re having a fantastic time!


  5. I’m back now… and will be posting this piece fairly soon, Drew! Thanks so much for your well wishes.

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