What do you see when you look at the picture?
A duck? A rabbit? It’s an ambiguous image so you’ll first see one, then the other. Ambiguous images are the gateway to understanding how awesome your brain has the potential to be. That’s right, you can also be Einstein.
What the duck’s got to do with genius
Ambiguous images are caused by the multi-stable perceptual phenomenon — aka spontaneous subjective change. Why this is relevant is because nothing about the image changed between seeing a duck or a rabbit.
What changed was your mind/brain conversation in which your perception (the mind) altered neural pathways (the brain), making you see something different. Therein lies the key. How your mind relates to your brain has the potential to change your world.
A brief lesson in brains
When Einstein died, an autopsy revealed a plain old brain — no bigger, denser or different than anybody else’s. What made him remarkable was his adaptability and ability to relate to the world in an entirely different way.
Okay so I lied a little, they did find something different… his corpus callosum, the nerve superhighway connecting the two halves of the brain, was thicker which allowed for greater connectivity between creativity and logic. He had an extraordinary prefrontal cortex, the bit responsible for abstract thought, decision-making, correcting errors and assessing situations. He also had peculiarities in his parietal lobes (the mathematical bits) and no surprise there.
But before you think my argument’s invalid, Einstein’s brain anomalies aren’t isolated. ’The Knowledge‘ of London black cab drivers is a memorised detailed map of the sprawling, disorganised city.
Through training, their hippocampuses (the spatial intelligence part of the brain) actually grow larger than ordinary folk, proving that the brain you’re born with isn’t the one you’re stuck with. How you use it influences its structure due to the ability of the brain to remodel itself.
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Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain, instructed by the demands of the mind, to remodel and remap itself. This isn’t just post injury, but all the time. That means your 100 billion nerve cells forming a trillion (perhaps even quadrillion) connections have the ability to re-route in response to the world around you and based on how you tell your brain to.
And here’s the key to turning your bog-standard brain into a super brain. The brain and mind work seamlessly together, but are separate things.
What makes you is not your brain, but the mind, something philosophers have been very busy arguing for centuries.
Deepak Chopra, co-author of Super Brain, offers this simple analogy to describe the mind and brain: “The brain doesn’t create a thought in the same way that a radio doesn’t create Mozart. The brain provides a physical structure for delivering thought, as a radio allows you to hear music.”
Though the mind and brain can work seamlessly together, there are times when one dominates the other, throwing things out of balance.
Brain games: What’s really in control?
Part of developing a super brain is understanding and being aware of the difference between the brain using you, or you using your brain. Here you’ll see two examples.
Brain using you
- Phobias are negative outcomes imposed by a false reality. Heights and spiders are not automatically cause for panic, but a phobia is a conditioned response causing a cascade of chemicals in the brain that trigger a primal freak out. In today’s world, we don’t just fear spiders but also failure, humiliation, rejection, sickness etc.
- It’s incorrect to believe the instinctual brain overrides the higher brain, blocking out all rational thought when we’re scared. If that were true we wouldn’t have any mountain climbers, Fear Factor, or desensitising therapy. The same brain that subjects you to fears is also able to conquer them.
You using brain
- Your thoughts are able to affect your body: Excitement, fear and anger can increase your heartbeat. Happiness boosts your immune system.
- Meditating monks use their minds to lower blood pressure and heart rate, regulate body temperature, and induce alpha-waves. The same monks are also able to reach a state of compassion because of the physical changes they induce in their prefrontal cortex.
- So you’re not a monk. The mental demands your mind makes of your brain shape physical structure. It’s up to you whether you use this power for good or evil.
The more you master the process, the closer you get to developing a super brain. The first step is in creating awareness. Through awareness you’re able to make beneficial choices that will evolve your brain, create new neural pathways and unlock a second evolution that rests on personal choice rather than circumstance. It’s better than mind over matter. It’s mind into matter.
Your three-pound universe, in other words, doesn’t simply interpret the world, it creates it. So if you want to be Einstein, you’ve just got to start thinking like him — with adaptability and creativity.
The human brain can do far more than we ever thought and its limitations are imposed by us, not by its physical shortcomings, after all it’s continuously changing. The more you ask of your brain, the more it responds to you.
Here’s the catch though: It needs stimulation. Stimulation doesn’t mean you need to learn Mandarin. It can be as simple as intentionally doing old things in a new way like trying a new route to work; it’s not falling into the trap of ’being set in your ways.‘
Related: Ways for You to Improve Your IQ
From baseline to super brain
Here’s the other catch. Your brain is a mass of neurons waiting to be conducted. To usher in your brain’s golden age you need to act as leader, inventor, teacher, student and user all at once. All these roles require just one thing: Attention. So how are you using your brain? Test yourself with these assumptions.
So you fall victim to some standard thinking patterns that are hampering your super brain development. To unleash your inner genius you need to adjust how your mind relates to your brain. This isn’t brain magic, but straight forward retraining. Once the brain has been trained in something, be it good or bad habits, the response feels normal. It therefore takes attention and focus to retrain yourself.
Rebooting the brain
Like a physical workout builds muscle and flexibility, mental workouts focusing on awareness create new brain connections and strengthen existing ones. By choosing to be aware of the thoughts and feelings evoked in your brain and choosing to follow an upward learning curve no matter how old you are, you can fundamentally alter your brain’s performance and adaptability.
Keys to adaptability are:
- Stop repeating what never worked in the first place
- Step back from the problem, the answer never lies in the thick of it
- When old stresses are triggered, walk away
- Taking on more of the burden than you think you deserve
- Stop attaching so much weight to being right.
You’ll become more adaptable when:
- You can laugh at yourself
- See that there is more to the situation than you realise
- Other people aren’t antagonists just because they disagree with you
- You’re able to negotiate, and compromise isn’t a negative word
- You can hang loose in a state of relaxed alertness
- You’re delighted by seeing things in a new way.
When you’re adaptable, you’re able to create new solutions. Saying “I need to think about this,” is a good first step, but you must allow yourself time to hang loose — which can be especially difficult in a crisis. Mounting anxiety fuels the lower brain, which amps up its emotional and instinctual reactions — neither of which are good for higher brain functionality and creative solutions.
Worried this won’t happen to you? First, stop worrying. Second, if you’ve had an out of the blue aha! moment in the past, you can trust that it will happen again. In your quietness, ask for an answer. Then back off and relax.
Think Global, Act Local: Business Education For Disruptors, Innovators And Entrepreneurs
As one of the largest and most prestigious business schools in Africa, JBS is focused on producing visionary leaders and managers who are geared for progress across the continent, but connected to the world at large.
Disruption. Innovation. The fourth industrial revolution. These aren’t just platitudes at the Johannesburg Business School (JBS), they’re the bedrock of the various courses and programmes on offer.
“We are authentically African, as we believe there are huge opportunities in both South Africa and Africa at large, but we are also looking at the global landscape. We have an incredible opportunity to educate and mentor the future generation of Africa’s leaders and managers by providing them with the tools they need to be true innovators and disruptors,” says Professor Lyal White, Senior Director of the JBS at the University of Johannesburg.
“Day-to-day business in Africa requires leaders to focus on — and deliver — development with a direct impact on communities. The challenges we face present an opportunity. The fourth industrial revolution requires soft skills and humanism in leading and mentoring for competitive and progressive business performance. This is particularly relevant in Africa.”
Taking on a new era
The JBS believes it has an important role to play in future-proofing Africa and her leaders, and is building programmes and a professional teaching staff with this specific goal in mind.
“The scope of the fourth industrial revolution is far beyond its digital or information counterparts,” says Professor White.
“It’s a systemic transformation that impacts civil society, governance structures, human identity, economics and manufacturing, while integrating human beings and machines.
“The underlying technologies for this shift are artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, nanotechnology, biotechnology, the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud computing, autonomous vehicles and 3D printing.”
JBS sees the humanities as playing a critical role in developing the creative and critical thinking that will be essential ingredients to success in Industry 4.0.
“UJ has the highest concentration of staff with PhDs in AI on our continent and we are more than ready to tackle this new era,” he says.
“At an unprecedented level, the global environment demands innovative business leaders with entrepreneurial spirit and government officials who can lead African businesses to succeed in Africa. With our focus on providing global management thought leadership and deep African insights, JBS prepares students for that role, giving them a critical edge for success.”
Depth and creativity
Given the opportunities and challenges presented by doing business on the continent, the JBS is developing and delivering bespoke programmes, designed with a keen focus on depth and creativity.
“We’re taking an alternative approach to the norm while ensuring we deliver on international standards,” says Professor White. “Africa needs world-class business education with a local flavour to develop the management competencies we need and to build excellence. This is the model and approach JBS has taken.
“Fortunately, we attract a great diversity of students who have the drive to succeed, confidence, a strong record of triumph and a burning desire to advance the evolution of business in our society,” he adds.
Bringing world-class education to Africa
“Our offering includes undergraduate diplomas and degrees, postgraduate degrees and programmes, and will soon include a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. On the cards are also online programmes, blended learning and unique contact programmes with delegates from across the continent and partners from around the world.”
JBS as a disruptor in the executive education category has two goals: Designing programmes to match the demand of an emerging market, and reshaping existing programmes to meet the demand of customers as their needs evolve.
“As a late entrant to the business school market, JBS will be agile and adaptable in order to stay relevant and take advantage of the disrupted higher education environment by offering business skills for disruptors,” concludes Professor White.
“Conventional approaches and standard business acumen do not work. Preparing individuals and organisations for this context requires programmes with a difference, which is why we’re including an MBA with a difference in our offering going forward.”
Upcoming Executive education programmes and Masterclasses in 2019:
- Project Management (26 – 27 Feb)
Become proficient at project management. An essential workplace skill that can boost the impact you have on any organisation.
- Finance for Non-Financial Managers (4 – 8 Mar)
Expand your overview of financial performance from a commercial perspective across management functions.
- Storytelling and Creativity (1 – 2 Apr)
The power of the narrative is becoming more recognised across leadership disciplines. Implementing creativity in storytelling will enhance your leadership presence.
- Negotiation Skills (9 – 10 Apr)
Develop your negotiation skills to create more effective partnerships and better results for your organisation.
- Implementing Strategy (1 Feb)
Delve into the core aspects of implementing strategic deliverables and cascading these across your teams.
- Coaching and Mentoring Centre of Excellence: Session 1 (7 Feb)
Access a network of leaders and coaches to enhance your personal growth.
- Marketing Series: Session 1 (13 Feb)
Leverage marketing tools and practices to enhance your clients’ experiences.
- Generating Shared Value (21 Feb)
Implement practices focussed on business with the purpose to generate sustainable value for your organisation.
- Innovation Series (12 Mar)
Learn about innovative success stories in the context of industry 4.0 and how to prepare and future-proof your organisation for this digital revolution.
- HR Series: Session 1 (26 Mar)
The HR Series will address key issues facing HR practitioners with robust debate and suggestions to enhance this function.
English: The Language Of Oppression Or Opportunity?
We offer a wide range of courses specifically aimed at professionals who want to enhance their professional English communication skills. Some of our most popular courses are.
Having to communicate professionally in English sometimes strikes fear into the hearts of many South Africans irrespective of their gender, age or business field; the mere thought of presenting to a group of colleagues in English or submitting a report to your manager is daunting and nerve wracking. If you are one of the many, do not be embarrassed; you are in good company.
Despite South Africa’s recognition of 12 official languages and its embracing of multilingualism, English continues to be the dominant language within schools and workplaces and competence is considered a pathway to upward mobility and professional opportunities. While it is evident that one requires good English skills to excel academically and professionally, little attention has been paid to improving the English proficiency of South Africans. This may in part be because English is an official language and it is assumed that all South Africans can speak English well. However, the differences in the type of English one is exposed to and the difference between fluency and accuracy are overlooked.
South Africans are unique; we are multilingual, vibrant and dynamic individuals who utilise a wide variety of linguistic resources when we communicate. It is not odd to find us communicating in multiple languages at the same time; we code switch when we cannot remember the correct English word or when we want to express a thought accurately but cannot find an appropriate English word and we do it effortlessly and automatically. These skills set us apart as innovative language users as we mesh and blend languages in our common goal to communicate accurately.
Unfortunately, these skills do not hold us in good stead in the workplace where standard and ‘proper’ English is required and suddenly we lose confidence and nerve. We become more conscious of how much we do not know and question what we do know. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and paralysed by fear when you have to communicate solely in English and are suddenly evaluated against monolingual, Western, middle class norms. Furthermore, it is easy to assume if we incorporate more complex words and use lengthy phrases as well as adopt an American or British accent, our English language skills will suddenly improve. This is a myth; do not believe it!
In order to communicate effectively and appropriately, one needs to be cognisant of the following factors: the audience, the purpose of the message, the message itself, the grammatical accuracy of the message and the tone of the message. Simply put, one has to ensure that the meaning of the message is always concise and coherent and is phrased in a manner that can be easily understood by the reader or listener. Secondly, one has to ensure that the grammatical accuracy of the message is maintained; editing and proofreading are essential in order to win the reader’s or listener’s confidence in what you are communicating.
Here at Wits Language School, we are passionate about improving the language skills of South African second language learners and our courses are especially designed to help you improve your English language skills. We offer a wide range of courses specifically aimed at professionals who want to enhance their professional English communication skills. Some of our most popular courses are:
|Communicative Grammar||Are you interested in improving your editing skills and English grammar knowledge?
Join our Communicative Grammar course.
|English Speaking and Pronunciation||Do you want to improve your pronunciation and gain more confidence speaking in English?
Join our English Speaking and Pronunciation course.
|Business Writing||Are you interested in improving your proposal or minutes writing skills?
Join our Business Writing Skills course
|Presentation Skills||Do you want to give presentations that are dynamic and interesting?
Join our Presentation Skills course.
|Report Writing||Do you want to write reports that are coherent and well organised?
Join our Report Writing course.
|English for Critical Thinking in Business||Are you interested in improving your critical thinking skills and becoming a strategic thinker?
Join our Critical Thinking in Business course.
Climb the ladder to success and apply today. Applications for 2019 are now open. Wits Language School, changing lives and opening doors.
Read next: Tips To Becoming Fluent
“Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses
Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.
The Internet is currently abuzz with advertisements for “free” online language courses and online education. While developments in technology have undoubtedly created opportunities for more people to access education, the question still remains as to whether it is actually possible to learn a language solely with the use of an online platform. Whilst there are numerous advantages to using online platforms, there are equally as many disadvantages.
Online platforms are limited in their capacity to support group discussions, as well as the engagement with language facilitators and tutors. Many platforms are also unable to cope with the thousands of students that try to join online discussions. Language learners benefit greatly from human interaction within a classroom. Mark Edmundson (2012), an English professor at the University of Virginia, argued that online education creates a “monologue and not a real dialogue” in the learning environment.
Classroom environments allow learners to express their opinions, participate in debates, and engage in face-to-face interaction with classmates and their instructor.
Language facilitators are responsible for explaining material, answering questions and guiding learning based on students’ needs and language levels in real time. From an online perspective, this resource becomes diluted, as often there exists back and forth communication between the student and the facilitator over an extended period of time. Within a classroom environment, learners are immersed in the language and encouraged to speak. Learning takes place in a pro-active way with a balance of learner-facilitator interaction and group work. Language learners receive undivided attention from the facilitator, and the pace and content of the tuition is thus tailored to the learner accordingly.
Two of the benefits of online courses are that they offer flexibility and convenient accessibility; however, they also require a greater amount of self-discipline, reading and time-management skills. Online courses tend to make it easier to procrastinate and they create a sense of isolation. These elements are not conducive to successful language learning. Motivation levels are likely to decrease when using online platforms, as learners have no real external influences to help keep them motivated and inspired.
The quality and accreditation of online language courses is also a concern to most learners, as many online courses lack valid accreditation and certification. It is crucial to enrol in a course that provides legitimate information and that is accredited with a relevant board or organisation. A course that does not provide valid accreditation will serve no purpose or advantage to the learner.
Wits Language School was established in 1997 and forms part of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the last 19 years, the school has built a reputation for providing high-quality language services and short learning programmes in a dynamic and international learning environment. Wits Language School endorses interactive teaching styles, uses up-to-date teaching methods, and employs experienced and highly qualified teachers who are mother-tongue speakers to assist all participants in their quest to learn a second language.
Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.
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