Brain Bulletin #76 - The Charles Schulz Philosophy

in Brain Bulletin

What really matters to most people?

On a recent speaking engagement in Switzerland I had the opportunity to visit the Olympic Museum in Lausanne with my good friend Poll. The museum is interesting, and after we left a thought lingered in my brain. Let me put it to you as a question:

Can you name the winner of the very first gold medal awarded at the modern Olympic Games?

I couldn't either. It was James Brendan Connolly for the triple jump. The first gold medal.

Sorry James, we forgot your name.

The above observation serves to remind us of an important aspect of how brains work. Thinking is a process of electrical and chemical reactions that takes place across a rich tapestry of connections in the brain. In other words, thinking is a physical process. One of the great recent discoveries about the brain is that most of the neural messaging originates in the limbic system. This is the emotional part of your brain. Not as many messages come back the other way from the cortex, or the rational part of your brain.

Our brains remember what touches us emotionally.

I hear a lot of talk these days about leaving a legacy. So many times leaders, teachers, parents, all of us get it wrong.

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the 'Peanuts' comic strip. You don't have to actually answer the questions.

Just read straight through, and your brain will see the pattern.

  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last five Heisman Trophy winners.
  3. Name the last five winners of the Miss Universe pageant.
  4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
  6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.

These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields.

But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special!
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials.. the most money...or the most awards.

They simply are the ones who care the most. They were just there.

Pass this on to those people who have made a difference in your life, like I passed it on to you.

And remember who you are. Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.

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It has been a busy month. Lots of presentations and tons of learning. I spoke to teachers and health care workers in Flin Flon, Manitoba, Metro Vancouver, a bunch of schools, and the University of BC.

The best part of my month was my week of of work in India. Seven presentations in Mumbai at Oberoi Realty and Oberoi International School. India is beyond amazing. Great people, great food, great weather, great things to see and do. My brain loved it. I did lots of walking. There is a real consensus building in neuroscience regarding how important exercise is for the brain, so I've been really trying to "step it up" in this area.

I also read some great books. I think my favorite was "Split-Second Persuasion - The Art and Science of Changing Minds" by Kevin Dutton. It is "over the top". Great stories.

I leave for Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday. I am looking forward to doing some brain boosting with Unigestion. I also get to spend some time in Annecy, France. Then home to finish up the research on two new presentations that I will be introducing in 2012: "Brain Focus - How to Overcome Distraction and Be 3 Times More Productive" and "Leadership Genius - The Neuroscience of Getting a Following".