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Wouldn’t it be great to just decide to be amazing and be done with it?
Why can’t we just decide to be great, and then, sit back and watch our wonderfulness unfold? 🙂
Turns out our brains aren’t wired that way.
We recently learned that our brains are literally, scientifically, naturally programmed to avoid threats.
Dan Radecki, with the Academy of Brain Based Leadership, explained during a keynote talk that the brain has not one, but six categories of safety, that act as operating rules for our brains.
And because of these built-in safety mechanisms, Dan explains that we each have a “negativity bias” built-in to ourselves.
It’s as if each day our “default operating mode” is for the brain to protect us from anything new, anything different, anything that changes our normal habits.
From our understanding, it’s this default negativity bias that often makes it so difficult to change our lives.
So when it comes to setting new goals for ourselves or setting new intentions for our lives … our brain is not our friend.
In fact, our brain, by default, is our enemy.
It is working against anything new and different.
Our brain wants the same.
It doesn’t want new.
It wants the old.
It wants your life to stay exactly as it is.
For any psychology majors out there, we realize we’re simplifying greatly here but the fact remains this…
Our brains have more processing power directed at saving us from threats than aiming us at new rewards.
Knowing this is super insightful.
It’s a big part of the reason that accomplishing new goals is often very difficult.
To actually do something new you have to fight or reprogram your default operating system.
And unfortunately, if you do manage to win over your brain today … you have to fight it again tomorrow.
We recently learned from another neuroscientist, Robert Cooper Ph.D., that in one of Abraham Maslow’s last lectures (Maslow is famous for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) a student asked him, “Why can’t we just choose to grow.”
The student was asking why we, as humans, can’t just decide that we’re going to grow each day, become better and better, and be done with it.
In essence, he was asking why we can’t decide to be great once.
Then after that moment, perhaps we would just automatically grow into our desired lives bit by bit every day … because we had “decided to.”
Maslow’s answer was, every morning you must choose to be great.
We’ve heard that type of answer before but now we understand it.
Because our brains are literally wired with a safety or negativity mechanism built-in, we must literally choose to override that default operating procedure each and every day.
So it’s not our fault that we don’t accomplish our goals easily.
It’s actually our brain’s fault!! It’s working against us! It’s the enemy!
Knowing this gives us a new perspective on the importance of creating a daily environment for winning the day.
Because if we don’t have a daily routine that overrides our habitual behaviours, we’ll never create the new habits that push us towards our new goals.
For us, this means we need to have an environment that serves us.
This means that each day we must have a few hours of time where we can shut off interruptions, shut off email, shut off everything, and spend some time working specifically on the important stuff.
And doing it, knowing that we have limited attention, likely an hour or two a day of pure focus, and then it’s gone.
Our brain can’t handle any more very well.
Once we allow email and interruptions and “random daily urgent emergencies that really aren’t that urgent” into our day, we’re going to lose any productive goal-oriented efforts.
The brain will naturally want to defend us against these perceived threats, won’t want to focus on new habits, and prevent us from doing new things.
And if we actually do manage to control our brains and have a productive few hours focused on something new … we then must prepare for the same fight tomorrow.
We must choose to be great every day.
Over the last few years, both Nick and I have known that our morning routines are critically important to getting things done.
And with the latest neuroscience around the brain, we now know why.
We’re refocused on creating perfect morning routines that set us up to “win the day.”
Everything from food, planning, work time, is all meticulously planned out.
We’re not perfect at this, far from it, but we are conscious of its importance.
We are aware that if we let the day’s natural distractions lead us, then we’ll never focus on doing the new, goal-oriented work.
We’ll get caught up in “busy work” and the day will slip by.
We’re literally in a battle each and every day with ourselves.
For us, our only chance to win is to do the big important stuff first. This is obviously not new but now understanding the science behind this, it takes on new importance to us.
So perhaps, if each of us is not accomplishing our goals, it’s because we’re letting our brain run its default operating mode instead of putting ourselves in a daily routine that overrides it.
If we don’t, our ideal lives, our goals, our great new intentions, will not materialize.
Are you choosing to be great?
Or are you choosing to be the same?
Our futures seem to literally depend on making that decision each and every day.
Until next time … Your Life! Your Terms!