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brain trustI’m going to tell you how to get past that problem you’re having. Or maybe the one you’re about to have.No matter how expert you are at what you do, you will occasionally run into a roadblock that stops you cold, causes you to get that ‘deer in the headlights’ look on your face, and tangles your synapses in knots.And there’s a reason for it.You May Have Have ExpertitisThe good news here is that it’s not fatal, but it can be fairly unpleasant – what with the shakes and profuse sweating and all.Too much exposure to a particular field, project, or problem can actually lock up the wheels of the creative process.I call it Expertitis…because I make up words.It works like blinders on a horse. Whatever you focus on the most eventually dominates your field of vision. Then when a problem comes up that requires looking at the situation from a completely different angle, we get confused and panicked because we can’t see that angle.Think of any organization you have ever been a part of – or any governmental body you have ever observed. At some point, you have noticed a big glaring organizational problem.To you it looks like a flashing red beacon that just screams, “Fix me! Fix me! I’m right here in your face destroying your work, man! Look at me!”…and yet for some reason, the people in charge seem oblivious to it.

“Well…That’s ‘cause they’re idiots, Gary.”

Maybe so in some cases, but more often than not it’s because they’re too close to the problem.

You Can’t Do It Alone

I get it. You’re smart, you’re capable, and you’re creative. You want to take care of things on your own. The truth is that comes a time when you need others to make the next leap or reach the next level.You alone can’t catch everything. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you are not a super-human infallible being. You can’t comprehend everything that is going on around you at all times. Swallow that pill.You can have only one perspective at a time. While you may be a master at empathy and have a real gift for seeing things from other people’s point of view, you need to realize that you are still only seeing through your own eyes. This is why connection and collaboration are such valuable and crucial tools. We need outside perspectives. 

So What Is A Proud, Ambitious Person To Do When They’re Stuck?

Create a Brain Trust of people you believe in and whose abilities you are confident in.If you’re the boss, then maybe your Brain Trust members are your employees or department heads. Maybe your Brain Trust is a group of friends or co-workers. If you’re a solopreneur, then maybe your Brain Trust is the network of contacts and confidants that you have created over time.(Yes. I used a buzzword in that last paragraph. And I assure you, I’m kicking myself for it.)A Brain Trust is simply a group of people who consult and advise each other. You need one of those. We all do.

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 Brain Trusts Work If You…

1. Have regular meetings with your Brain Trust.Whether it’s a regular face-to-face meeting over coffee, regular email contact, or even an online forum group – make sure you regularly engage these people. I personally am fortunate enough to have all three of those types of Brain Trusts and I cannot tell you how valuable they are to me.

2. Swallow your pride, throw it all on the table, and stand there naked.Woah, woah, woah….not literally. You people. I swear.

What I mean by that is that once you are part of a Brain Trust, you must take full advantage of it. There is no time for worrying about your pride, your ego, or asking stupid questions. Share all the details about your issue: What the problem is, why you think it’s a problem, and how you think it should resolve itself. Leave no stone unturned. I guarantee you that someone in your Brain Trust will have a perspective you never thought of…but you have to openly share first.

 3. Act on sound advice when you get it.When someone takes the time to give you the advice you asked for, the ultimate slap in the face to them is to see you not act on it. You obviously can’t act on every piece of advice that everyone gives you, but when someone makes an effort to help you they want to see you moving forward with the issue. Even if it’s in a different direction than they suggested.

4. Return the favor whenever possible.Be there for your Brain Trust when they need you, too.

A lot of people online talk about The Law of Reciprocity.Most of those people describe it like this…

“The Law of Reciprocity means that if you do something nice for someone, they will feel obligated to do something nice in return.”

I think they’re missing the point. The Law of reciprocity is more profound than that.You should help people and do nice things for them because that is the right way to live. You can’t help everyone all the time, but you should help where and when you can.  When you do something nice for someone else, they do tend to do nice things in return. But I like to think they do it because they want to – not because they feel obligated.

Kindness begets kindness. It’s a way of living. Not a tactic.

 You may be bright and ambitious, but you are not an island. If you don’t have a Brain Trust – or if you have one and you don’t utilize them…get on the ball. They may just be the best thing that’s ever happened to your career.

Thank you to my online and offline Brain Trust. You know who you are. I appreciate you!Now You. Talk  to me. Be my Brain Trust.How do you get unstuck?Who is your Brain Trust?How did you meet them?How do you use them?Photo Credit: Lovelornpoets