First book that was on this list and tackled on the list-
Your Brain at Work
A bit of background about David Rock- He’s not a neuroscientist (which is what I felt made this first choice even more promising and the goal of what this challenge is about), he’s a business consultant. He’s worked with top organizations to improve people’s performance. His discoveries occurred by accident where he’s learned teaching people about their brains made a big difference to their performance and often their lives. He’s interviewed over thirty leading neuroscientists various nations throughout the world to put what he’s learned into solid foundation of teaching How their Brain Works.
The book is just under 300 pages and has many good points. Let’s focus on a few of the key concepts and see how they
1. Fundamentals of Thinking
Your brain uses excessive energy. It’s the job of the prefrontal cortex for understanding, deciding, recalling, memorizing and inhibiting. Thinking is a limited resource and your best quality thinking lasts for a limited time. The prefrontal cortex which is conscious mental activity, chews up metabolic resources such as oxygen and glucose in your blood significantly faster than automatic brain functions such as keeping your heart beating and your lungs breathing.
To be aware of this and how your brain uses up energy faster then we thought, is to learn to prioritize prioritizing. The optimal number of items to hold in your mind is 2. The less you hold in your mind the better.
2. Your Brain and Emotions
The impact emotions have on your thinking, even at subtle levels can have a dramatic impact on how and what you think. Your brain (specifically your limbic system), tracks your emotional relationships to thoughts, objects, people and events which determine how you feel and the behavior you take on a moment to moment basis. Everything you do in life is based on your brains determination to minimize danger or maximize reward.
You have to have a strong ability to regulate your emotion instead of being at the mercy of them, it’s central to being an effective person. Emotions fall into two main categories of either towards of way. Curiosity, happiness, excitement are examples of towards response; while anxiety, sadness, fear are examples of away responses. Tools to assist you in regaining emotional regulation is through the use of cognitive appraisal and labeling.
3. Your social world from your brains perspective
The capacity to collaborate well with others has become vital to good performance in every endeavor. Our mind automatically classifies people we meet as either friend or foe right off the bat, from there leaving our behaviors with those people on auto-pilot, allowing our preconditioned responses to take over and having our relationships at a potential disadvantage. The brain has basic needs such as connecting, fairness, status, autonomy, relatedness and doing things that generally increase feelings of closeness which in turn releases the pleasure hormone oxytocin. Learning these needs has the ability to reduce potential conflict that could arise when interacting with others.
4.Our Brains and effective management of Relationships
Instead of trying to facilitate change in people by pointing out things about them, making suggestions and giving feedback about things they could work on, it’s more efficient to help people arise to their own conclusions by helping to redirect their focus. Asking people solution-focused questions gets them looking and searching for their own solution which is more effective then just giving you opinion on what people should be doing.
5. Having a strong director
Peak mental performance requires a combination of knowing your brain and being able to observe your brain processes occurring. The key is to learn to be self aware in order to brake free of the automatic flow of experience and choose where to direct you attention moment to moment. Without a strong director, you’re a mere automaton driven by fear, greed and habit.