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Brain neuroplasticity: is it overrated?

by Rick Baker
On May 27, 2011
I think we should focus on strengths.
 
We should spend time working on our strengths rather than our weaknesses.
 
So, I have been captured by the good work the people at the Gallup organization have done to create STRENGTHSFINDER.
 
I own copies of all the books written by Marcus Buckingham and by Tom Rath…and I am re-reading all of them.
 
While doing this re-reading, I was slowed down by one section of Marcus Buckingham’s book ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths’. Marcus talked about brain neuroplasticity and he had a strong view that brain neuroplasticity is overrated. His words made it clear he knew the facts – ie, the 2001 facts – about brain neuroplasticity. He knew about neurons and lost-limb work [I immediately thought about Ramachandran], etc.
 
Marcus made it clear he thought people were overestimating the value of using ‘brain plasticity’ activities/exercises to create better results at work. He stressed, at the very least, this is an inefficient way to go about self-improvement.
 
Rather, he recommended [I am using my own words here]:
  • Focus on Strengths…that’s the best place to improve one’s performance
  • When the job/role requires it, patch up Weaknesses…or work around them if that is possible.
Also, Marcus talked about:
  • Talent Themes…how they are innate and cannot be changed
  • Values…how we can choose to adjust them [and adjust our character]
Marcus Buckingham got me thinking.
 
First 
 
I believe people only do 3 things.
 
I believe if we boil things down then people only do 3 things:
  • Good Habits
  • Bad Habits
  • New Things
That’s it. Whether I do things voluntarily or in reaction to some unknown drivers in my involuntary back-up systems, whether I do things in reaction to subconsciously-driven emotions, or whether I logically plan out things and do them…every single thing I do can be sorted into one of 3 categories:
  • Good Habits
  • Bad Habits
  • New Things
Not to get too bogged down in detail [assuming it isn’t already too late], some examples:
  • I breathe whether I want to or not…that’s a Good Habit because it tends to keep me alive
  • I look both ways before I cross the street…that’s a Good Habit my Dear Mom taught me
  • I eat too much ice cream…that’s a Bad Habit because it removes my ability to buy smaller belts
  • I have trouble getting to sleep…that’s a Bad Habit because it wastes time, annoys me, etc
  • I read books…depending on the book that’s a Good Habit [re-reading Napoleon Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich’] or that’s a New Thing [when it is my first reading of the book]
  • I took the STRENGTHSFINDER test…that was a New Thing that led to some Good Habits
  • I read plenty of books about the brain: de Bono, Ramachandran, Doidge, Schwartz, Amen, Glynn, Lynch, Maltz, Ratey, Robbins, Calvin, Begley…etc, etc
 
Here’s the point
  
Yes - I read plenty of books about the brain and I am specifically interested in reading about brain neuroplasticity.
 
Putting Marcus Buckingham’s thought together with my philosophy about Good Habits, Bad Habits, & New Things
 
Is that a Good Habit or a Bad Habit?
 
What if I asked Marcus Buckingham, “Marcus, is that a Good Habit or a Bad Habit?”
 
I wonder if Marcus would say, “Rick, that’s a Bad Habit”.
 
I wonder if Marcus would say, “Rick, that’s definitely a Bad Habit because you are not focusing on one of your Strengths!
 
Ouch!
 
  
 
Footnotes
 

Striving, Driving, & Relating

by Rick Baker
On May 19, 2011
What are your talents?
 
Most of us have a fuzzy answer to that question.
 
How do you define the major categories of talents?
 
Most of us have a fuzzy answer to that question.
 
Isn’t that interesting!
 
Stop the next business person you see. It doesn’t matter who the person is. Could be someone you know. Could be a stranger. Regardless, stop that next business person. Ask that next business person:
 
Are talents an important thing…YES or NO?
 
I am guessing the person will answer, “YES”.
 
Ask a bunch of people that same question.
 
Again, I am guessing the vast majority of them will answer, “YES”.
 
“YES, talents are an important thing.”
 
If I am wrong then the rest of this Thought Post is wasted effort…please do not read the rest of it.
 
If you are still reading...
 
Ask that next business person the following question:
 
What talents do you rely on when you do your job?
 
Listen carefully to the answer.
 
Doesn’t the answer sound fuzzy!
 
I am re-reading ‘First, Break All The Rules – What The World’s Greatest Mangers Do Differently’ [Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman, 1999, by the Gallup Organization]. Their observation is accurate. People do not have a clear understanding of their talents. And, as Gallup concluded in 1999, people often provide answers that mix up talents and weaknesses… people claim their talents is also their weaknesses. Often, the talent they mention is not a talent…rather, it is a skill. Or, instead of a skill or a talent, people claim a piece of specialized knowledge is their talent.
 
The fuzziness expands if you ask about the major categories of talents, let alone how to structure a business team to make the best use of people’s talents. [that is, people’s amazingly-diverse talents]
 
Isn’t that interesting!

Tags:

STRENGTHS: People-Focused for Success

Sales Tweet #217

by Rick Baker
On May 17, 2011
Sales Tweet #217 When you recognize your strengths, click with people, and can lead change….you can sell.
 
The Thinking Behind the Sales Tweet
These 3 things are the talents of leaders and successful entrepreneurs. Successful leaders and successful entrepreneurs have much in common with successful sales people.

Tags:

STRENGTHS: People-Focused for Success | Thought Tweets

Sales Tweet #214

by Rick Baker
On May 12, 2011
Sales Tweet #214 Don’t make a career out of weaknesses….sounds simple enough…but…
 
The Thinking Behind the Sales Tweet
…but…do you know your Strengths? Do you really know your Strengths? If so – how do you know you know them? If so – what actions are you taking to make sure you employ them at work? Have you spent as much time on this as you did learning how to spell? Have you spent as much time on this as you did learning how to do math?

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STRENGTHS: People-Focused for Success | Thought Tweets

Stop And Think

by Rick Baker
On May 3, 2011
I notice ‘Stop And Think’ is a common thread in self-help literature.
 
On the other hand, maybe I notice it because I am predisposed to finding it?
 
I notice an array of Stop And Think recommendations:
  • Stop And Think before you act…an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
  • Stop And Think before you react…social skills and conflict resolution education
  • Stop And Think and Grow Rich1…“what Man can conceive and believe Man can achieve
One piece of Stop And Think advice really catches my attention:
 
Stop And Think about how you feel
 
 That is the most powerful piece of Stop And Think advice.
 
It is most powerful because, with practice, it can be done very quickly, it can yield immediate rewards, and it can solidify long-term success.
 
Stop And Think about how you feel can be done quickly…
 
It is as easy as taking a few seconds to make a mental note as you face situations and activities.
 
Stop And Think about how you feel can yield immediate rewards, with practice

You can learn to adjust your feelings and behaviour.
You can replace Bad Habits with Good Habits.
You can be more comfortable in situations.
You can do better at many tasks.
 
Stop And Think about how you feel can solidify long-term success…
 
You can uncover the nuances of your unique Strengths. That’s a major key to success.
You can develop a more pleasing personality. That’s another major key.
You can hone your decision-making skills. That’s another major key.
You can find it easier to set life goals. That’s another major key.
You can enjoy your work. That’s another major key.
Stop And Think About How You Feel
Success Simplified
 
Footnote:
  1. Napoleon Hill, ‘Think and Grow Rich’ www.naphill.org

Sales Tweet #191

by Rick Baker
On Apr 11, 2011
Sales Tweet #191 You must recognize your Strengths.
 
The Thinking Behind the Sales Tweet
I see this as the 1st key to success. Know your Strengths. And, I like the way StrengthsFinder defines Strengths: Strengths = Natural Talents + Knowledge + Skills. This straightforward definition allows us to zero in on the things required to build Strengths. And, StrengthsFinder provides a good way to get started at this very-worthwhile work. www.strengthsfinder.com

Tags:

STRENGTHS: People-Focused for Success | Thought Tweets

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