Handling Challenges With Oww Or Wow Brain

Are You Good At Handling Challenges?

handling challengesIn a recent post I looked at handling challenges when starting an online business, and how I, after a tricky few months, I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

One thing that helped me through the difficult time earlier in the year was a fascinating home business webinar a few weeks ago about handling challenges. I really could relate the subject matter to my own recent states of mind. This can apply to business as well as personal challenges.

This material isn't mine – if only! I have searched online and found several people who appear to have “borrowed” the concept, but I hope I have correctly identified the originator.

As far as I can tell, the author is Todd Hermann and you can click on his name to download a free ebook about this topic. At the time of writing (May 2017) that download is linking to the re-launch of his program, rather than an affiliate link. But it looks valuable free info so I hope you'll enjoy it and that Todd won't mind me sharing it.

The OWW Brain or the WOW Brain

Todd Herman's hypothesis is that here are two different ways your brain might operate. The OWW Brain or the WOW Brain.

People may operate by handling challenges with an OWW Brain (motivated by PAIN) or a WOW Brain (motivated by GAIN).

It's important to know which mode a person is “operating in” at any given time – because the state may change, depending on the task and circumstances.

And when I say “People” – I mean YOU, or people you might be working with.

If you are in WOW mode, and those around you seem permanently in OWW mode. You may prefer to dissociate yourself from their company. (Or… they from you, if YOU are the “toxic” one.)


Many people have areas of business and personal life where they struggle, so if this is something really important to them, their lack of success causes stress, anxiety and worry. Nothing they do is ever good enough, so they're never satisfied, whatever success they achieve.

Pain vs Gain

People like this are driven by PAIN – this has been referred to as operating in the OWW Brain Mode.

Or…. people may be driven by GAIN – when they are doing something that's more easy for them. They will be measuring improvements and creating positive feedback loops of learning and growth. This has been referred to as operating in the WOW Brain Mode.

Different Ways Of Thinking

So…. given the same Start Point, Level of Achievement and Goal, here's how people operating in the the different “Modes” will respond.

  • People in the (Negative)  OWW Brain Mode, will look at their results and evaluate them in comparison to the desired goal. Seeing that they still have a LOOONG way to go to reach the end goal, they may become demotivated and feel they'll “never make it” – plunging into a “chasm of despair”.
  • People in the (Positive) WOW Brain Mode will evaluate the exact same results, but they will compare the improvement they made to where they started from. Celebrating each small success increases confidence, with a positive feedback of learning and further confidence.

Life In The Oww Brain

Operating in the Oww Brain generates thoughts such as:

  • Why are they so much better than me? Because they are better looking, had better / richer parents, know the “right people”, or are just brighter?
  • If only I had ……. (whatever).
  • I don't feel like it, I'm tired, I'll start tomorrow.
  • There's so much left still to do….
  • I can't be bothered…. nothing works for me anyway.

handling challenges in the oww brain

Life In The Wow Brain

When in WOW mode you will have more positive thoughts…

  • I need to emulate that person's success – it's really motivating.
  • I CAN do it, because I am in control of my actions and no-one can take away the efforts I make.
  • I'm improving daily, there's tons of information available to help me on my way, I'm coachable and eager to learn.
  • You may say “Yewch – I made a mess of that, BUT I can see what I did wrong and won't make that mistake again”. You learned from your mistake.
  • Although I don't feel like doing it, I'll start for a few minutes and see how I get on.
  • It was easier the next time. What I learned last time really helped.
  • Wow, look how much I've improved.

handling challenges in the wow brain
Your Plan vs What Happens

Getting from start point A to desired outcome (goal) B, looks so easy – when seen as a straight line, or when described on a sales page of the next “Bright Shiny Object” you're tempted to buy.
But what usually happens is ….

  • It's not as easy as it seemed at first (it's never as easy as the sales page promised!)
  • There's so much to learn, you get confused, so progress is slow
  • You hit a complete block and don't know what to do next
  • No matter how hard you work, it gets no better – you've hit a plateau
  • The worst resistance seems to happen at the end, when you're “almost there”

The answer to all these setbacks is – just keep taking action every day.

When you reach the reward it's great – you went through hell…. but a new you emerged.
Once the “WOW” cycle gets moving, seeing small improvements create more motivation and momentum. These encourage motivation and self-belief.

Am I Oww Or Wow?

There's a bit of both in me – which I'm sure is completely normal.

For the last few months, things seemed rather “Oww”, as I explained in my previous about facing challenges starting an online business.

But when I started analysing my offline and online businesses in terms of Oww and Wow brain I realized that there are enough WOWs to keep me going (quite apart from the fact that I'm one stubborn soul).

How About YOU?

Please share instances of when you have been handling challenges with an OWW brain or a WOW brain. What changed your mindset?

Please share

I left it too late to plan for a financially secure retirement. Don't make my mistake. Start building an extra income with a part-time (or full-time) business online. Think you don't have time? Can't afford the start-up cost? Can't meet sales targets? Contact me for free advice (no obligation) on the best fit for your circumstances.

Sharon McLaughlin - May 9, 2017

This is great. I love the WOW, very positive and a better way of looking at things.

    Joy - May 10, 2017

    Glad you like it Sharon.

    I first heard about the WOW and OWW brains when I was struggling with a lot on my plate.

    Once I heard the training these slides were based on, I could see what I was doing wrong, and felt better for taking the WOW path.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Ravi Roshan Jaiswal - May 9, 2017

Hi Joy,

Definitely not.. Not good at handling challenges but always try my best. The success story of Wow Brain looks great and would like to think and create my story like Wow brain. Honestly saying as a person, negative thoughts also comes in my mind but I immediately remove it from my mind and become positive minded.

Life in wow brain is awesome and I will prefer it to fill my life happiness and joy. Very interesting post indeed. I enjoy it too much and learned many things that actually happens to our life.

Thanks for sharing a brilliant post, Joy.
With best wishes.
– Ravi.

    Joy - May 13, 2017

    Glad you liked the post Ravi.

    Although you say you’re not good at handling challenges, I think that what you said about removing negative thoughts means that you ARE good.

    We all aim to live with wow brain, but being aware of oww brain means that we know what to guard against.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Mandy Allen - May 9, 2017

Hi Joy, I think you are quite right, I bet most of us are motivated by both at times. Brilliant post, and a great concept to share. I never thought of it quite in this way but it makes absolute sense and simplifies the explanation so it can be completely understood.

Enjoy the journey!

    Joy - May 10, 2017

    Thanks Mandy,

    It made a lot of sense to me too, that there are such different ways to react to challenges, leading to different outcomes.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Sue Bride - May 10, 2017

I love the concept of Owwing and Wowwing 🙂 The Google image encourages us not to give up especially the part that says “the worst resistance happens at the end. You are so close.”

I recently had a period where my brain was Owwing for various, mostly non business, reasons. I thankfully got past that.

    Joy - May 13, 2017

    Hi Sue,

    Love that phrase Owwing and Wowwing 🙂

    I too have been Owwing for a few months, which is one of the reasons i could relate so strongly to this theme.

    Although the main Owws were non-business, the time they took had a detrimental impact on my business. Happily I’m getting back into the swing of things, although with quite a backlog to catch-up on.

    Happy that you’re back Wowwing again 🙂

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Marquita Herald - May 10, 2017

Fascinating theory and great graphics! I definitely lean strongly into the WOW mindset and that comes from years of intentional work on building my capacity for emotional resilience. I think one of the most important takeaways I get from your excellent article is validation of the critical importance of self-awareness. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Joy - May 13, 2017

    Good point Marquita,

    With “training” and work on self-awareness, we can edge ourselves more into the WOW mindset than the OWW.

    Glad you enjoyed the article,

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Elise Cohen Ho - May 10, 2017

I think working on things with different side of our brains or ow vs wow can really help us gain new perspective. That is so very important.

    Joy - May 13, 2017

    Yes Elise,

    Using the left or right side of the brain is another important aspect of the thought process.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Chery Schmidt - May 11, 2017

Hello Joy! I do believe we all experience both Oww and Wow at somepoint in our lives. I really never heard of anything like this before, but it does make a lot of sense HUH?
Keep Up The Great Work, Thanks Chery :))

    Joy - May 13, 2017

    Hi Chery,

    You’re right – sometimes we’re Oww and sometimes we’re Wow. I guess that’s just human nature. But this training gives ideas for switching from one to the other by being aware of our thought processes.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Kathryn Maclean - May 13, 2017

Hi Joy,
Wow I gotta say that I am really a WOW brained person, now …

Operating in the Oww Brain. I was there once, thoughts of if only…and nothing works for me. I was truly a negative and miserable person. I will never go there again.

Life in the Wow Brain is the place to be. I learn from my mistakes, I am coachable
and eager to learn. I am improving daily. I love life.

What made the mind shift? Every day it’s a matter of choice. I choose to be positive. Great article !!!

    Joy - May 18, 2017

    Hi Kathryn,

    Yes, you’re right. You CAN choose to be positive. I didn’t know that for many years, and it’s not always easy to remember if “things” get tough. But it’s worth making the effort, because we feel so much better with a positive outlook on life.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Edward Thorpe - May 13, 2017

Hi Joy,

Superior piece of writing, regardless the concept’s source! Brilliant graphics as well.

I’m usually a wowser but not always immediately, if ya know what I mean.

As Marquita said, successfully using the concept does rely on use of our powers of self-awareness. Uh, by strange coincidence, my latest post looks at 2 types of self-awareness. Hare great weekend,

    Joy - May 18, 2017

    Hi Edward,

    Glad you like the article and graphics – credit for the latter, and the concept, goes to Todd, not me. If only LOL

    I think most people will slip in and out of both states… and yes, some it can take a while, and self-awareness.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Donna Merrill - May 15, 2017

Hi Joy,

Reading through and evaluating myself honestly I do believe that I’m mostly in the Wow and sometimes in the Oww. The thing is whenever I’m in the Oww, I can’t stand it…I feel like crawling out of my skin lol.

I do, however recognize it and when I’m there I fight so hard to get into the Wow. I think some people are like me whereby they can have a bit of both.

I’ve talked to those people in the Oww and find comfort in the negative. But try to keep them at arm’s length because their energy can really bring me down. Or I find myself repeating the same thing to them over and over again. Then come to realize they won’t budge, not even for a moment’s thought to the Wow. It brings to mind one person I know in my family. Oh boy…she is the poster gal for the Oww and is always sad.

Great stuff here my friend.


    Joy - May 18, 2017

    Hi Donna,

    I certainly have Oww times, like most people. But as you say, I recognise it and do my best to get back into Wow. The last 3 months have were Oww, because of my Dad’s illness, which led to me getting “behind” with my offline business.

    But some good friends gave me a bit of a pep talk – plus various challenges resolved – and I’m back on course again.

    Haha – think we all know an Oww poster person! To be avoided when possible – which isn’t easy if its a family member.

    Glad you enjoyed the post Donna. Thanks.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

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