Tame The Primitive Brain (Wiley, 2013)

Tame the Primitive Brain


28 Ways in 28 Days to Manage the Most Impulsive Behaviors at Work

© 2013 by Mark Bowden, 290 pages, Hardback

5R Score: 30/35

Keeping Your Reptilian Brain in Check

1. Seek other environments that do not support the triggers.

2. Mindfully choose another less instinctive behavior.

3. Let people know what triggers you and what to expect.

On a scale of 1-7
Relevance – is it right for personal branding? – 6
Resonance does it make sense to the reader? – 6
Relation is there a connection for everyone? – 6
Remarkability – does it stand out, will it get noticed? – 6
Real – does the personal brand come through? – 6

Would you pick it up?
Each year I always end up finding one or two key books that have the most impact on the way that I think, act or say. It’s great to find not just a book that fits that criteria so early in the year, but I know it is one I am going to be picking up and again and again, referring to on a regular basis.

Biology was never one of my strong subjects, my teacher even had me labelled as an idiot – perhaps that was his primitive brain talking! So when I started to read this book my fear was this was going to be too science based, I started to come out in cold sweats again, just like cramming for an exam.

Almost immediately Mark Bowden puts the reader at ease. You do not just realise that deep down we all react in the same predictable ways when it comes to our reptilian brains, but also that there is nothing wrong, it’s just good to be aware of the impact.

The book breaks down in to punchy, workable chapters, looking to tame one reaction or impulse. There is always an example or story to kick off, followed by clear explanations and suggested actions, circling back to the story and highlighting how things changed or might have been different.

Mark uses an excellent balance of neuro-science, humour and practical solutions that will appeal to a wide range of readers. This ensures that the message gets heard, appreciated and acted upon.

Perhaps not immediately evident that this is a book about your personal brand. But once you have clearly identified what your personal brand is and who needs to know about it, then you have to get on with living and communicating that brand.

As Mark writes in his Introduction “Anyone who works with other people – which is pretty much everyone – has to deal with all kinds of challenges involving human nature. Chances are that at work one of your biggest challenges is handling the most basic behaviors of people – such as impulsive decision making, tunnel vision, and resistance to change. And that’s just you!”

Being more conscious and proactive with your personal brand means stepping outside of your comfort zone on occasion, something the primitive brain is trying to avoid at all costs. That is why this book is going to prove so useful to you. As you try new things and do not get the results or reaction you expected you can dip in to the book to understand why, and then take a suggested approach or action.

The overall concept I found able to quickly to grasp, no biology cold sweats, and the actions fairly easy to initially implement. Because the default for the reptilian brain is to go back to several hundred million years ago I can see the challenge for most of us will be to stick to new approaches.
With many books these days there are additional resources to access and what might be useful in this case would be a quick glance reference guide, perhaps even in pocket style format.

The relationships you have at work are critical to getting your own work done, projects completed and ultimately your longer term success, so this book will prove to be a useful, constant reference guide. For leaders in particular I can see this being invaluable.
The bonus is that while the book is focused on work situations this is obviously equally applicable in all other relationships too.

The reptile brain is the most basic part of our brain. Because this subject on the surface appears so simple there is a danger that people do not see this as remarkable. That would be a shame. We do not have to complicate or over think things to have them make us more effective or successful.
I would recommend a read through of the book in logical order first time and then after that you can refer back as needed to handle specific situations.

I like Marks relaxed style, (the English humour helps!) he is constantly using personal and real life work and client examples to get his points across. With the short, yet informative and practical chapter make up it easily gets that one key point for the day across. This makes for easy reference and pick up again stickiness. Each 7 chapters focus on one area and are collected in to weeks, week 1 focuses on You, week 2 Relationships, week 3 Tribe and week 4 the New You. Unless you are Mark, I am not sure it will ever be ingrained so it’s certainly one you will want to keep on the bookshelf next to your desk!

Question; What did you think of the book? Leave a comment.

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