Wired for Success: The Science of Possibility

Why has the human brain developed the way it did? What is the driving force behind this development? Why has it grown to be structured in this more complex way and underneath it all, what is the most major need that has driven this change? A recent study posited this: a long time ago, all the brain did was “perceive.”. It took in what you saw, felt, tasted, touched, smelt and heard. That was it-it took it in and started processing it. But over time, our needs have changed-and one major need in particular has risen to the top. Rather than simply processing perceptions, the brain has shifted its programming capacity to be able to infer -to deduce what might be happening instead of “waiting for the final answer.” Now, this would be perfect if what we deduced always “made sense” or if it were right. But it is oftentimes neither. Still, if we learned how to deal with an inferring brain, this could become one of the strongest tools to help us reach our goals. Success is about achieving these goals-about getting yourself from where you are, to where you want to go. Sounds easy enough, right? But what if you don’t know what you want? What if you simply can’t move because you have absolutely no idea what you want? Sound familiar? Every college student I have ever seen has this problem. Even adults, after years of working the same job, have a problem with this. “They tell me to find my passion, and I will get what I want, but I have no idea how to do this. How do I find my passion?” Well, if you used an “optimal” approach, you might be stuck in the same place for the rest of your life-pondering, taking in whatever you could, looking for the answer. But what if the answer was on the other side of the mountain, and you were simply trying to see what you could not see? What if you had to move to the top of the mountain to see that pot of gold on the other side? To do this, you would have to tap into that inferential brain and embrace the hero’s journey step by step. Now, after decades of research on this subject, we know that such an inferential brain does exist. And a “trial and error” approach might be just what we need to master rather than the “optimal” one. Optimal approaches suggest that we wait until we find the answers. Good enough approaches tell us that we might have to move to find those answers-and anywhere would be better than standing still. William James referred to this a long time ago when he implored us to move even if the path ahead was impossible to see. And now we are uncovering the brain science that supports his view. We are wired for success and can leverage what is possible only when we act in good faith and “update” every few steps rather than waiting to find an answer that may never come. In my Tedx talk, I will tell you a true story of how this came to be, and explain the brain biology behind this. I would love for you to listen to this, and after that, listen to yourself more closely so that you can start to learn how to program your brain’s GPS to get you to your goals.

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