Ode to Innovation Brainpower!

Have you every thought of practicing to be a genius at anything? Several gurus in intelligence, claim that endurance and hard work get higher grades than raw intelligence scores from IQ tests. Do you agree?  Einstein claimed he was no more intelligent than others – but he stayed with problems longer. You?

Ericsson calls this the 10-year-rule. Simply put, it takes 10 years or 10,000 of committed practice to master complex skills. You may remember Anders Ericsson‘s work from its reference in the Outliers, which landed in top 10 books of 2008.learn%20from%20others.jpg

Dynamic brainpower yielded by practice makes sense if you consider that each night your brain rewires – based specifically on what you did that day. How does your world shape your brain for benefits – even in tough times? Or how can you learn to expect calm under pressure?

Neuro-discoveries changed life forever, yet it’s up to each one how they will win or lose because of these changes. People complain that youth are losing their love for books. If you consider how brains work, though, you’ll see how it happened over time. You’ll also see how new brain discoveries can work in one’s favor for the future. Think of change here as the tug-of war between a brain’s basal ganglia which is a bit like a backpack and working memory which is more like a wine glass that holds little at any time. How does it work?

Whenever people interact more with technology they rewire for more of that back-and-forth sort of learning engagement, and they likely grow less interested in reading without much opportunity for active exchanges, for instance. It’s the same for anything you do today — the action itself shapes neuron pathways to follow and reconfigures your brain for future interests and actions. It’s wild when you think about a brain shaped differently daily – yet it’s based on your decisions to act. Why so?

Brains rewire through stimulation to the world around you. It’s called plasticity and it’s quite miraculous when you think about it. Simply put, action on your part sparks changes in the brain shape and capacity – and it’s key to note that coach potato passivity yields far less rewiring. Can you see why lectures work against human brainpower, or how multiple intelligences can grow daily?

Highly talented change agents tend to rely more on their working memories, a short term memory system that maintains relevant information in active status, which can be accessed quickly to solve problems. They also create serotonin settings, to avoid the negative pressures that limit others who attempt to create solutions under pressure.

Your working memory rarely receives enough credit for its capability in your day. It’s quite miraculous when used. How so? Tiny as a thimble, it’s in tug-of-war with your basal ganglia which stores boring routines and ruts. Don’t get me wrong, without your basal ganglia, basalGanglia.gifyou’d lose your way to work, go naked, and forget how to drive.

Yet it’s your working memory that nudges you to take terrific risks that can change a life. It can grow in size with use, but boring habits hold it back. We store isolated facts in the brain’s basal ganglia til they stink like dead fish, yet working memory plucks them out and integrates with new directions.

The human brain’s equipped to hold ruts and routines up the gazoo – in mental comfort zones – which is why we even bore ourselves at times. Bureaucracy and tenured positions do it best! It doesn’t have to be that way, it has more to do with brain rewiring and we can reboot daily for far more!

Facts fly at brains far too fast to act on all. It’s important to note that facts not acted upon will flee your working memory to make room for new fads flying in. If you knew the power or limits of working memory you’d never encourage one-shot workshops for those who crave lasting change?

Constantly try out new ideas that reshape or replace old worn out practices, and you begin to grow your working memory for creating effective and lasting change. Your basal ganglia refuses to work with new ideas — it’s created to default back to ruts. Know that and you live much more in your working memory. Ignore it and you settle for stagnation.

Your basal ganglia is like the brain’s packrat for all experiences and routines. Live beyond it and risk the discomfort of wonderful new journeys to growth, rather than allow your basal ganglia to snare yet another day. Check out these brain myths stored in basal ganglias to rate your own brainpower to live more in working memory for facing current realities.

When you practice a new skill – you begin to shift fleeting ideas from the working memory into application and a lifetime storage within the basal ganglia.  New knowledge works in your favor on a regular basis when you sustain change and growth as on-going practices to prevent ruts that kill innovation in your life. Ready for the challenge of a lifetime?

12 Comments

  1. I have a tactile example of my brain rewiring after an activity of the day. The first time I tried snowboarding, that evening while I slept and even before, I had sensations of snowboarding still. It was as if the reactions of the day were being studied by my brain.

    In fact many times a awake with solutions to problems, or ideas I need to write down.

    As always a delight to read, and a way for me to use my working memory in order to defeat my ruts.

    One last one, I like what you said, “you’d never encourage one-shot workshops for those who crave lasting change” It reminds me of growing up in a conservative church, and we would have weekend revivals to jumpstart our christianity. I always wondered why people usually went back to their “old ways” shortly thereafter. I now recognize that true devotion happens with ongoing and decisive actions rather. Much better plan of attack.

    Chris Crimminss last blog post..Leaky Faucet

  2. eweber says:

    Chris, like you I often wondered how we could be so on fire for things like beliefs and then slip back into ruts:-) LOl This brain stuff explains so much – and it’s literally changed my life and leadership as a result.

    Who’d have thought that working memory was worth the disquiet of being out of one’s comfort zone, or that brain’s default back to ruts unless we act from working memory on a regular basis.

    Love the snowboarding story and you’d be interested in the amazing activity of the human brain as a person sleeps:-) What extravagance! It also helps when one raises children, because it allows wonderful insights for guiding them. Have a great weekend Chris.

  3. Ellen
    again great post. The way you described the tug-o-war with the basal ganglia was excellent.
    I also enjoyed the explanation of why young people are losing love of books. and prefering an plugged-in environment.

    Just wanted to say hello.

    michael carduss last blog post..Angry People at Training

  4. eweber says:

    Michael, thanks for stopping by, and for your kind words. It’s been way too busy here all week – and good to stop and greet a friend. What’s up?

  5. Eva Ulian says:

    Ellen,
    after reading your article I took a look at paintings I did at school and those I’ve done recently, what a difference. If I had a gift of any sort and didn’t work at it, my paintings would have remained at school level, I would think.

    Also, the challenge is something that brings, not burden but excitement. With Robyn’s encouragement I am now going to daily twit in 140 characters the immense and intricate narrative history of Rajasthan I am working on and try to make it not only comprehensible but enjoyable to the normal person. Remembering too that I can only twit about known facts, those I have discovered through research are copyright secrets. These secrets regard Gogunda Palace which the architectural studio I work for restored and of which there is no previously recorded history except for a list of rulers without any dates of their rule whatsoever. That, for the time being is my challenge- so please be content and ask me to stretch no more.

  6. eweber says:

    Wow – what an inspirational approach, Eva. Robyn’s idea and your execution is brilliant! How can I ever survive such amazing minds? Me thinks you stretch daily and what a delight to try and follow suit with my own 2-bits!

  7. Eva, stretching your brain cells like this will keep you very mentally sharp as you age. The more you stretch… the more new neuron brain cell connections your body manufactures.

    Robyn McMasters last blog post..Say Congrats to Ellen Weber – New USA Citizen

  8. eweber says:

    Bravo Robyn, you model the stretching so well! Thanks!

  9. Wally Bock says:

    I love how you explain the scientific underpinnings of good practice. Brava.

    Wally Bocks last blog post..2/21/09: In case you missed it

  10. eweber says:

    Thanks Wally – I agree that it’s good to see what works – really does work:-) It also helps us to tweak what could work even better – for the finer results people deserve!

  11. […] Practice opposites of a cynical mind in daily chunks. […]

  12. […] a bit like a tug-of-war where the basal ganglia tugs for tradition and familiar, and working memory pulls for inn…. Have you seen […]

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