When I first read the excerpt from Geoff Colvin’s book ‘Talent Is Overrated’ in a Fortune issue I was so excited that I could barely sleep that night.
I was excited because it was not your typical self help manual where the author charts out life strategies based solely on his personal experience or worse based on what he claims is the golden bullet while he himself is living a life without results. This was a book excerpted in a most unlikely, place the hard nosed business magazine, Fortune. Further this was based on research, not the kind, where all kinds of crazy conclusions are extrapolated from studies that involve all of a less than a dozen participants. No this book was based on research conducted in the last 30 years in many places such as the INSEAD school of business. Finally the ideas outlined by this apply to every area of life not just the normal haunting spots of talent such as sports, music and so on.
Your thinking style improves when your state of mind improves. Never ever take a decision or act when you are under emotional stress. Maintain a positive attitude to get into a peak state of performance. Research in the field of sports psychology has proved beyond doubt that a positive attitude is not just for dreamy eyed idealists.
You might feel that you are a multi tasking genius. But science has again shown that when it comes to performing demanding tasks multi tasking actually makes you dumber.
Success books can promise much. Given the right book by the right person this advice is useful and can potentially change your life.
Potentially because you first need to deal with your brain.
There is now solid science to prove the importance of the brain and the fact that it is the most complicated machine in the entire universe.
We take our brain for granted and treat it like an ordinary body part. But our brains run everything and every part of our life.
Changing our life for better starts with our brain. The sooner we realize how important our brain is the sooner our life will change.
In fact according to Dr Daniel Amen, full body scans reveal so much activity in our brain compared to the rest of the body that our brain appears like a small heater in the scan while the rest of the body is ghostly pale.
The brain has approximately 100 billion cells called neurons. Each neuron is connected to one another by by about 40,000 synapses.The number of combinations among the neurons exceeds the number of starts in the universe. According to Greg Iles in Footprints of God the brain can store 6 million years supply of the Wall Street Journal. I will repeat that again this time slowly…6 million years of the Wall Street Journal. Staggering! All packed in a 3 pound piece of buttery soft mass.
When it comes to our brains the old axiom ‘use it or lose it’ really does apply. Our brains grow rapidly till the age of 11. In fact the ages between 3 and 11 are extremely important to brain development. You are not just a by product of your parent’s genes. Your environment matters a lot. So if you have a child in that age range make sure there is good stimulation for brain development. From the age of 12 the brain actually starts pruning neurons that are not being used. The slide continues. Brain activity scans have revealed that adult brains can never recapture the amount of brain activity found in young brains. But that does not mean you have to check into a instituion the moment you turn 12. There is still a lot you can do to prevent your brain from damage and not only maintain its function but actually improve it.
To truly understand the consequence of an improved brain to your life you must understand the difference between brain directed behavior and will directed behavior. The hallmark of a superior person and by definition a superior brain is that there is high level of consciousness behind every action. You are goal oriented. You persist despite obstancles. Emotional storms don’t leave you wrecked. Orison Swett Marden has written a short but powerful book on the importance of will power.
In brain directed behavior you are hijacked by your impulses. An ill developed or injured brain is more likely to cause impulse behavior.
You can do a lot to prevent your brain from rotting. Drug and alcohol abuse ravage brain cells. So does smoking. So do sports that involve impacts to the head such as boxing, football, soccer. So does riding motorcycles. Motorbikes, oh how I am grateful to my mother for never letting me ride one when I was kid! Our skulls are strong and the brain is cushioned by by the cerebrospinal fluid. Despite that injuries can happen to the brain. The inside of our skull has several sharp edges some as sharp as a knife. In an accident the brain has no other place to go but within the skull against these hard edges.
The most insidious thing about brain injury is that it is very subtle. Even after a hard knock on your head you could be conscious. You would probably dust yourself off shrug your shoulder and walk off as if nothing ever happened. But researchers are now discovering that brain injuries are additive. The centers that operate consciousness are deep inside the brain so there could well be injuries that have affected the superficial part of the brain. Also the brain has enough reserves to operate around damaged portions of the brain. The general consensus is that you have to lose about 30% of your brain mass before you notice anything amiss. But without a clue about how much your brain has already suffered you could just be one brain injury away from a disaster.
You are your brain. Without a properly functioning brain you can never be successful. With a properly functioning brain you will perform well in every aspect of your life from being a good employee, to being a good mom, wife, friend etc.
You can’t hide a good brain.
There are three things you can do to improve your brain function:
- physical excercise
- mental exercise
- social bonding
Get your brain in order first and then feed it the right stuff. Stuff such as positive uplifting thoughts, affirmations, inspirational true stories, time tested strategies for peak performance.