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Applying the Science of Neuroplasticity for Talent & Leadership Development

Neuroscience Integrations at TLG: The Brainjo Method for Talent & Leadership Development

 

In the video (and transcript) below, Part 1 in our series on how we’re integrating neuroscience into the work we do, Dr. Turknett outlines how we’re applying the science of neuroplasticity, or how the brain changes itself, to enhance our work with leaders and organizations.

 

THE BRAINJO METHOD: How to Stop Wasting Time and Start Remembering

Do you sometimes feel like you can’t remember anything?

The major points of that book you read last month? The plot details of the movie you watched last week? Those 3 years of Spanish you took in high school?

And do you find it hard to change?

Do you feel like, in spite of your best intentions, you revert back to old habits and routines, ones that are much the same as they were a decade ago?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then congratulations, you’re a human. And you’re like all the rest of us humans.

Why is that?

Because what I’ve just described are natural and intended byproducts of the way the human brain – every human brain – is designed. Forgetting the latest book you read, behaving the same way day in and day out is not a bug, it’s a feature.

It’s your brain operating exactly as it should.

It turns out, if you want to acquire and retain new information, and if you want to make lasting changes to your behavior so that it helps you become the person you want to be, there are two really important things about our brain to understand. And most training and education fails because it doesn’t factor in and address either of these two really important, which are:

  1. The brain is designed, by necessity, to forget almost every piece of information it takes in.
  2. The overwhelming majority of our daily behaviors are the output of subconscious brain circuits – long established habits that many times you have no conscious access to or control over.

In the course of our day to day lives, our brain processes and filters a staggering amount of information.

Making a new memory literally requires us to build new structures in the brain. This means that, to store any of that information so that it can be retrieved at a later point in time requires our brain to change, and that change takes time and resources.

Imagine what would happen if the brain stored every piece of information it processed.

We’d quickly burn through all of our resources, we’d be completely incapacitated in the process, and we’d die in short order.

Clearly that’s a terrible idea!

Fortunately for us, our brain has developed a very smart system for how it decides what it should and should not spend its energy on remembering.

In its system for triaging information, our brain primarily cares about what is useful or, more specifically, what information is likely to help further ensure we live to see another day.

We’re wired to remember those things our brain thinks may improve our chances of survival – so the details of last Monday’s drive to work, or Episode 56 of The Real Housewives, shouldn’t make the cut.

And that applies to almost all of the information our brain processes during the course of the day. Remembering it won’t help us live to see another day, so our brain, being the intelligent organ that it is, doesn’t commit precious resources to doing so.

So does that mean we’re doomed to forget everything?

Not at all.

But it does mean that if we don’t understand how our brain decides what new things it should learn and remember, if we don’t understand it’s process for deeming something worthy enough to devote its resources towards, then we shouldn’t expect to learn or remember new things. Willpower and good intentions aren’t enough.

On the flip side, our brain is capable of massive growth and change throughout our lives.

In fact, one of the great lessons of the past half century or so in the field of neuroscience is that the brain has far greater capacity to change, throughout our life span, than we previously thought.

At first, this may seem like a paradox: our brain, the basis for all our behavior, is capable of incredible change and yet, by adulthood, human’s rarely change their behaviors or learn new and complex things.

The reason we forget, the reason our behaviors tend to remain fix, the reason why change is uncommon is not because our brains are incapable of these things, but because we don’t do a good job of exploiting its ability to change itself. And so most of that capacity for radical change and growth lies dormant and untapped.

In recent years, we’ve learned an incredible amount about how our brain’s change, and the principles governing that process. But that knowledge has remained largely unapplied to the realm of education, leading to an enormous amount of time and money wasted on ineffective training and educational programs.

On the other hand, the intelligent application of these principles can lead to exponential gains in the effectiveness of learning materials, and of the learning process.

Understanding these principles then is clearly is essential for anyone in the business of educating other humans or helping them change their behaviors.

I’ve spent my entire adult life in the field of cognitive neuroscience, with a special interest in how the brain learns. A few years ago I founded Brainjo, a company whose mission is to optimize the learning process for music by applying and leveraging these neuroscientific principles for how the brain changes itself,

Over that time, I’ve been using the Brainjo method, a framework for learning that incorporates the principles of how the brain changes, to teach people how to play music – a domain where the adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” holds strong. And I began with my favorite instrument, the 5 string banjo.

Using the Brainjo Method, a system for learning music created from the ground up, thousands of people who’d never played a musical instrument before are now doing so, many of whom thought such a thing was impossible.

People who’d tried multiple times before and failed. People in their 70s, 80s, even 90s.

Most failures to learn complex skills like music are attributed to failures of aptitude.

What the experiences of all those who’ve used the Brainjo Method to prove the naysayers wrong shows is that it’s the learning process, not aptitude, that matters.

That if we understand and apply our understanding of the science of brain change, we are capable of remarkable change and growth, at any point in our lives.

At the end of the day, Our work at Turknett Leadership Group with leaders and executives only matters if it leads to lasting behavioral change. If it changes brains.

As the preceding discussion should make clear, that’s a tall order.

But we believe that, by incorporating the Brainjo Method into our products and services – from one on one coaching to digital learning solutions – we can become even more effective at doing so.

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