Silence your reptile and monkey

Posted in Project Management by Nolan Walker on Nov 14, 2015

I believe very strongly in taking advantage of the work of others to improve yourself, your business, your life..all of it. In many cases, hearing the ideas of others can be the spark that ignites and unlocks motivation and passion. I recently experienced this spark from “The Entrepreneur Revolution” by Daniel Priestley. As an entrepreneur myself, I experienced not only validation from this book but motivation and genuine excitement. I highly recommend it, and I would like to issue a challenge to you taken and adapted from this book.

First, a bit of background about your “entrepreneur brain.” Priestley describes three keys parts of your brain:

  1. The Reptile: the part that is concerned with basic survival. Fight or flight.

  2. The Monkey: the worker, satisfied by repetitive tasks. To the monkey, the world is full of problems waiting to be solved, and while it craves emotional stimulation, it hates risk.

  3. The Empire Builder: the part that views the world as interwoven matrix of complexity, but one that you can control and transform in a meaningful way.

What does all of this mean?  Simply, if your reptile brain is in control, you only believe in what is right in front of you, things you can touch and feel. You have no empathy, no ability for value creation. You’re there to simply survive.  To an entrepreneur, the monkey isn’t much more useful either. A monkey is functional, can follow instructions, and do repetitive work. It craves peek emotional experiences but is satisfied experiencing them from the sidelines. A monkey believes in the limitations that are told to them. If someone tells a mokey they are worth $45,000/year, the monkey believes that is all that is available to it.

To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to unlock the empire builder part of your brain. That’s where all of the empathy, logic, reasoning, and higher consciousness exist. You need to live like an emperor, and truly believe that you have the ability to influence the world you live in, and strategically acquire all of the resources you will need to build your empire.

But the problem is, your brain is built in a way that the lower parts can shut down the higher parts. So here is a challenge, 10 tasks designed to keep the empire builder active, and live like an entrepreneur:

Challenge 1: Talk to 3 people.

Empire builders believe that they have access to any resources that exist on the planet, whenever they need it, and that they only need to have the right conversation to get them. So start 3 conversations, without a specific purpose and see where it goes.

Challenge 2: Save 10 percent of your income.

Open a bank account for your monkey, and put in 10 percent of your income every month. Your monkey needs to feel ok about taking risks, so it will stop making you do the boring, “safe work”. Consider this money gone; it becomes part of your wealth. Don’t touch it.

Challenge 3: Stop spending time with people who bring you down.

You need to spend as much time as you can with people who inspire you. It’s amazing what synergy produces. So spend time with people you bring that out in you, not who temper it. This is most likely going to involve branching out and finding people who inspire you.

Challenge 4: Carry cash.

Carry $1,000 on you at all times, or whatever amount you’d love to earn in a day. Priestley points out that it’s almost impossible to “go reptile” when there is no worry about immediate survival. That kind of cash on hand also makes you less susceptible to promises of “quick cash” distractions.

Challenge 5: Buy two lunches per month for people you don’t yet know.

Entrepreneurs reply heavily on their networks, so keep building yours. Let your personality and generosity open the door to new connections. Don’t try to sell these connections at all, simply try to learn about who they are. It’s about building relationship without the expectation of anything in return. You’ll be amazed at what you learn from others.

 Challenge 6: Turn off the news.

Try this for awhile, no TV, radio, newspaper, or new-based websites. This one is daunting for me; I’m a bit of a news junky. But if something important happens, someone will tell you about it. And the nature of the news is to tell you about the most sensational events of the day, and it feeds your monkey. Remember, the monkey likes the emotional highs and lows but doesn’t want to take any risk to experience them. So cut this out, focus that energy on your life.

Challenge 7: Keep a journal.

More than just keeping a record, take the time to write down goals. Specific ones, and then document the journey of achieving them (or not achieving them). This is a core concept in project management too. The idea is that you can’t measure your progress if you don’t plan and document it ahead of time. So set some milestones, and measure your progress incrementally so that you can monitor and control it as you go.

Challenge 8: Plan your vacations first.

Don’t wait for “slow times” to take a break. If you’re like us, there are no slow times. And we do this to ourselves; it’s an entrepreneurial trait. There is always something to be done. So plan your vacations first. Commit to them, block off 4-8 weeks per year for non-negotiable vacation time. It seems like a lot, but if you know vacations are coming, you’ll work that much harder, and the people in your life (family, etc.) will give you more support in between. I feel like this is one of the most important items on this list.

Challenge 9: Get financial structured and organized.

Most people think that they don’t need to concern themselves with wealth planning/management until they are wealthy. This is not true.  You can save yourself all kinds of hardship if you take the time and money now to work with professionals to plan your wealth structure. And, you will experience a ton of subconscious motivation when you start visualizing yourself achieving your financial goals. It makes a huge difference.

Challenge 10: Get your entrepreneurial team in place.

Priestley says “There’s no such thing as a self-made millionaire”, and he’s right. To be successful, you’re going to need to rely on other people. You need to lead them, motivate them, and reward them. Your team has more to do with your success or failure than you do in many ways.


This challenge will change your life, even if you only do some of it. Give it a try. I’m going to, and it’s not going to be easy. And most importantly, we’d love to hear about it. Share your story, let’s learn from each other!



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