Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The Brain Likes Surprises

According to some newly published research in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience (light reading anyone?!) and as reported by ABCnews.com (more my speed), our brain's "pleasure centers are more "turned on" when we experience unpredictable pleasant things, compared to expected pleasant events."

"This means that the brain finds unexpected pleasure more rewarding that expected ones, and it may have little to do with what people say they like," said Dr. Gregory Berns, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Emory and Dr. Read Montague, associate professor of neuroscience at Baylor, the authors of the study. So, in effect, we may really prefer unpredictable experiences far more than the same-old-same-old experiences we have trained ourselves to endure.

Let's test this out: The next time you have a chance to do something new and different - even if it will make you stretch outside of your Comfort Zone - hey, BECAUSE it will make you stretch outside of your Comfort Zone - try it ... as an experiment. Approach it as if it's a surprise unfolding right before your very eyes and see if you can (and do) enjoy it more than you thought you would.

If so, great! And if not, well at least you did it!

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Monday, March 15, 2004

How Dogs Became Man's Best Friend

Something out of the February 21, 2004 issue of The Economist magazine. What makes a dog man's best friend? (Apologies to both women and cats on this one!) Well it seems that it's because dogs are superbly sensitive to social cues from people. And Brian Hare, of Harvard University, has now proven it.

In a very clever experiment, he hid a small piece of food under one of two cups and then challenged dogs and chimpanzees - "often regarded as second only to people in their level of innate intelligence" - to pick the correct cup.

First came the baseline test where the experimenter gave no cue whatsoever. Results: both dogs and chimps scored right about 50% of the time. The second time around, though, the experimenter signaled in some way where the food was, by pointing at it, tapping it, or even just glanced at it (the signal test). Lo and behold, in this test, the chimps did slightly better than chance, but the dogs chose correctly EVERY TIME!!!

Was it because the dogs descended from wolves? No. The wolves scored no better than the chimps - on either test. Was it because the dogs learned these cues from being around people? No. When Dr. Hare ran the tests with dogs that had been reared in kennels with minimal human contact, these dogs scored as well as the other dogs. So what became clear was that the ability for dogs to interpret human social cues had become, over time, part of their actual genetic makeup.

All of this raises some interesting questions about humans interact with humans. More specifically, how good a job do you do in interpreting the cues that other people give you? How do you know? If some times you do an excellent job of interpreting the cues, might you do a not-so excellent job of it at other times? Whose cues aren't you paying attention to as much as you'd like to believe you are? What cues do you tend to typically misinterpret and how? And what cues might you be unknowingly sending to others that you'd rather not?

You might not be sure, but chances are pretty good that you're dog knows!


Friday, March 12, 2004

Indian Winter?

"Nobody lives here for the weather," he said. It was January 1979, in what was one of the worst snowstorms in Chicago's history - and my first in this part of the country. We were standing on an unprotected train platform at 59th and the Midway waiting, hoping, that a train would come and that it would actually stop - unlike the last 3 that just blew by in blizzard-like fashion as if to emulate what was already happening outside. "Only two seasons, here," he continued. "Winter, and August."

That was many years ago, but I still remember it clearly - as clearly as possible given the total white-out conditions out there that bitter morning. And I was reminded of it again just this morning? Why? Because it's mid-March and we're having an Indian Winter.

Everyone knows what an Indian Summer is, right? It's a period of unusually warm weather in the autumn. After so many cool, crisp days and nights, we just love it when the warmth of summer suddenly returns - even if it's only for a few short days. Well my term for the weather we're going through now is Indian Winter. That's because after a few weeks of increasingly spring-like weather, it dropped back down to freezing on Wednesday, snowed on Thursday, and as I'm typing this on Friday morning, the windchill is a brisk -2. That's MINUS 2.

Those poor little crocuses. Can you hear them screaming as the temperature drops? I just may have to coach in front of the fireplace today. Hope I still have some wood left!


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Creatures of Habit Walking Down the Street

Habit can be one powerful obstacle. Anyone who's tried to eat less, exercise more, go to bed earlier, get up earlier, stretch a comfort zone, or just try something new can relate to the gravitational pull of habit. That's the bad news. But the good news is that habit seems to have an Achilles Heel - getting conscious, and purposeful, about the choices you make.

Portia Nelson gets at this in her book called, There's a Hole in my Sidewalk. Under the heading of Autobiography in Five Short Chapters she writes, in part:

Chapter One
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in.

Chapter Two
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I fall in again.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in ... it's a habit ... but, my eyes are open.

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

Which chapter most closely resembles where you're at with your bad habits?


Friday, March 05, 2004

A little self-promotion

It seems that whenever I talk to a new prospect, they usually comment on how much good information they found on the GottaGettaCoach! website. That's nice. I like to think of it as a living and breathing entity so I try to add things to it regularly - sometimes new pages; sometimes tweaks to existing pages.

Because of that, chances are pretty good that there's been a number of updates to the site since the last time you visited it. So let me invite - and encourage - you to see what's new. And if you haven't yet subscribed to the mailing list, please. You might even want to take the 3-Click Challenge and enter for a chance to win one month of free coaching.

Regardless, since one of the ways I build my business is through word-of-mouth referrals, I'd appreciate you telling people you know about me and GottaGettaCoach! After all, even if they aren't looking for a coach, they quite possibly know someone who is. And I just love it when friends-of-a-friend come a-callin'.


Thursday, March 04, 2004

Inspiration AND Craft

I've already recommended Béla Fleck as a musician worth checking out - even if you're not sure what the heck 'fusion banjo' even is! But there's more to the story.

In listening to an interview he gave a while back, he spoke of two essential elements of musical success - inspiration and craft. And it got me thinking about how applicable those elements are to success in almost anything.

Think about it. Craft, is having the ABILITY to succeed. Without it, we really can't ... unless we're incredibly lucky. Inspiration is what gives us the WANT to succeed. Without IT, we likely won't care enough to do what it takes to BE successful. Together, they pave the way to making good things happen sooner.

The application of this insight might take the following form:

Step One - identify something in your personal or professional life that's not going as well as you'd like.

Step Two - Identify whether the 'cause' is more a lack of Inspiration, or a lack of Craft, on your part.

Step Three - Identify three steps you can take to improve that element.

Step Four - Do those steps.

Then let me know how it worked for you.

In the mean time, here's a sample of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones:

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Wednesday, March 03, 2004

USA Today Headlines

New feature - USA Today Headlines now available by clicking on link over on the right side of the page. Check it out!


Monday, March 01, 2004

The Confidence Radial©

A 6-Step Process from GottaGettaCoach!® Incorporated for Turning the Seemingly Impossible into the Imminently Doable.

The Confidence Radial - graphically.
The Confidence Radial- in words.