This issue’s post
Use your head
- Emotion makes us human,
- …but too much of it makes us stupid.
Albert Einstein once said (have you noticed that he said a lot?) that “There are only two things that are infinite: one is the universe and the other is human stupidity.” He then added: “And I’m not sure about the universe”.
We know that what made us “homo sapiens” the dominant species of the planet was our big, superior brain. We even acknowledged this somewhat immodestly when we gave ourselves our name. “Homo sapiens” means “Wise human”. So how is it, when we look around the world – at politics, wars, climate change etc. – that we see so much stupidity?
In our relationship-building course “Adult Conversations” and in our assertiveness-development course “Stand Your Ground”, we look at how our intelligence can be completely overwhelmed by our emotions. Our desire for things to be different – to be the way we want them to be – as well as feelings such as fear and anger mean we simply cannot see or accept the reality in front of us.
Have you ever said to yourself: “What I did there was really stupid. Why did I do that?” The chances are that you acted driven by your emotions before your homo-sapiens brain could click into gear to stop you. Therein lies the problem! Our emotions, honed over hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of years in order to protect our survival, move faster than our brains.
So, what to do? If you find yourself in a situation where you feel fear or anger or any kind of urge, stop, don’t act immediately and give your brain time to catch up.
Of course, sometimes we have lots of time to make decisions, whether they be political, personal or professional. In that case, ask yourself the question: “Am I about to do something that is logical or am I about to do it because of the mood I’m in?” If you ask that question really honestly, your magnificent Homo sapiens brain will look after you.
If you want to see what happens when logical thinking is not used, just take a look at the world in 2020. Take a look at politics, as well as a huge section of the business world. I think most of us would agree that we Homo sapiens are better than this.
What’s in it for you?
What talent is really made of
- Myelin is the substance that encases every nerve
- Myelin is talent’s superconductor
At Najberg Milne, we demystify relentlessly the notion of “talent”, a bit like some root out fake news. This is because blind faith in this so-called birthright too often leads to choking one’s potential or that of others. For example: “I dreamt of being an actor, but early on it was clear that I wasn’t very gifted. So I moved on.”
Daniel Coyle* explains the development of competence or expertise – of talent, according to its true definition – from the perspective of cell biology:
“(1) Every human movement, thought, or feeling is a precisely timed electric signal traveling through a chain of neurons—a circuit of nerve fibers. (2) Myelin is the insulation that wraps these nerve fibers and increases signal strength, speed, and accuracy. (3) The more we fire a particular circuit, the more myelin optimizes that circuit, and the stronger, faster, and more fluent our movements and thoughts become.”
But in the same way that myelin consolidates an often-used circuit, via repetition, practice or training, it can also reinforce bad habits. That’s why Daniel Coyle adds that proper training, in addition to repeating a behaviour, must constantly ensure that the behaviour being practised is the correct one. The body, meaning here the neuronal circuits, must record and reinforce good habits.
* “The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.” Daniel Coyle (2009). Bantam
This issue’s link
Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace-Prize
In part 2 of our “Winning Hearts and Minds” programme, we reference how Nobel Peace-prize winner Malala Yousafzai starts a speech in a way that is both shocking and inspiring.
Here is another of her speeches. Notice how she takes her time, leaving long pauses to allow the enormity and importance of what she is saying sink into her audience’s consciousness.
Najberg Milne news
Forthcoming open courses in London, Paris and Brussels
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