Brain Food

Brain Food


People are like dogs. We respond better to success than we do failures. Scads of platitudes have been written about learning from failure, and while it is possible to learn great lessons from life’s clunkers, neuroscience now shows us that nothing succeeds like success. Here’s how it works.

When you’re learning something new and you have a success, even a small one, your brain gets a little reward bump of the pleasure neurotransmitter dopamine. But the big news is that the more you succeed, the longer your brain retains the proper information to help you succeed again.

The implications of this seem enormous for you and your business. We now know that what you celebrate (typically success) gets repeated, and the more you celebrate it, the more of that behaviour you get. Following are five things you can do to take advantage of this science in your organisation and get the snowball effect of success breeding success.

Five ways to maximise success:

  1. You’re looking to experience success, not to learn from mistakes. Understand what is correct and try the successful behaviour until you have a positive outcome. Don’t just focus on the what-not-to-do part of it.
  2. Get your head positively in the game. When you make a mistake, don’t allow negativity to rule you. As ‘new-agey’ as it sounds, stay positive. Your attitude should be that you get another chance to make it right.
  3. Nothing replaces practice. When you achieve success, mimic the very same behaviour again relatively quickly after the last success. You’ll build thicker neural pathways for the successful behaviours.
  4. Celebrate. If you’re trying to teach someone a new skill, celebrate their successes and ignore their mistakes unless the failure is going to be harmful.
  5. Positive feedback is like cash in the bank. The old adage is true: “People have a tendency to become what we encourage them to be, not what we nag them to be.” As a leader, catch people doing things right and make sure they know you’ve witnessed it.
Scott Halford
Scott Halford, CSP is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer and an engaging presenter. His expansive knowledge in the area of achievement psychology, which includes brain-based behavioral science, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and the principles of influence add richness and depth to his programs.