Brain Bulletin #90 - Mind the Gap

in Brain Bulletin

So, how are your New Year's resolutions going so far? {I thought I should give this about a week before checking in...}

92% of people don't make it, according to the University of Scranton. So, what do the 8% do right?

There are probably numerous reasons why the 8% succeed with their resolutions. Here's where it starts: these people pay attention. They pay attention to the gap.

One of the most important things I've learned in my life is that between stimulus and response there is a gap. Success is determined by choices made in the gap. This is where your resolutions have a chance.

So, what's this gap?

I recently read a brilliant explanation by Susan Goldsworthy. I met Susan numerous times while I was presenting in Switzerland. Susan is an international executive coach, award-winning author, former Olympic finalist, and one of the brightest friends I have. This year she co-authored, with Walter McFarland (Chairman of ASTD) "Choosing Change - How Leaders and Organizations Drive Results One Person at a Time".

Here's Susan on the gap:

"....neurophysiologist Benjamin Libet was fascinated by the question of whether humans have free will. He led experiments to understand the mental timing involved when someone does a voluntary act. He chose a simple task the lifting of a finger. His research showed that 0.5 seconds before the voluntary movement of the finger there is a brain signal related to the action that is about to occur; it's called an action potential. Your unconscious brain decides, I will move my finger, 0.3 seconds before you are aware of it. At this point, there is a further 0.2 seconds where you are aware that you are about to move your finger, and you can intervene in the process and stop the move.

Now this is the exciting part! For every move you make, you have 0.2 of a second where you can actively, consciously intervene in the process and choose a different response. Viktor Frankl, Austrian psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor, was spot on when he wrote, between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Now 0.2 of a second may not sound like much, but in brain terms, with billions of connections every second, it is a decent amount of time. Every time you make a decision, you have 0.2 of a second to choose a different response. Wow! Our right ventro-lateral prefrontal cortex can step right in and intervene in the limbic process."

The key is to be mindful. To be awake. Train your brain to notice the gap and the choices that are available for your to choose. This is difficult, until it's not.

Remember, You are never stuck. Your brain is capable of great change! Your brain can change itself and a brain changed is a life changed.

Bob Marley once said, Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.

Here's something else to jump start 2014. It is my most requested piece that I use in my live presentations:

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Congratulations on learning something about your brain today. The Brain Bulletin is committed to help to do just that. If you missed any Brain Bulletins you can find them in the Brain Bulletin Archive: Brain Bulletin Archive

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My favorite book this month "Brain Changer - How Harnessing Your Brain's Power to Adapt Can Change Your Life" by David DiSalvo. This book is brilliant. Full disclosure: David is a friend. So, as usual, never any affiliate links. Please find at your local bookstore.

It has been a crazy-busy fall. 53 presentations. Highlights include: Futuraskolan in Sweden, The French American School in San Francisco, 6 presentations in Japan, and The Education Neuroscience Conference in Indianapolis, and 12 presentations in 4 days in The Northwest Territories.

I'm looking forward to some downtime over Christmas, but first 4 presentations in Saskatchewan next week. Will it be cold?

Also, this spring I will on a speaking tour in Australia - Sydney, Newcastle, and Melbourne. Please let me know if you would like me to speak to your organization.