Over the past 20 years, we’ve learned more about the brain than in the entire course of human history. Researchers are on a quest to find out how can we translate brain science into practical strategies for increasing individual and organisational effectiveness – and along with that, more details about the relationship between neuroscience and entrepreneurship.
Research has shown that entrepreneurs’ brains are wired differently than non-entrepreneurs in that they tend to be quicker to respond to problems and less inhibited. Founders embrace a problem or opportunity – fast – and then become more thoughtful about the implications after the fact.
Other studies found that when entrepreneurs performed explorative tasks, they used both the left and right sides of their pre-frontal cortex as opposed to managers who tend to use primarily the left side. The pre-frontal cortex is associated with a person’s executive functions. The right half is associated with expressive and creative abilities; the left side, with complex cognitive behaviour, decision making and problem solving.
Explorative tasks involve looking for new ways of achieving a goal rather than focusing on current practices. This type of decision making – which relies on innovation and experimentation – is often exhibited in entrepreneurs. By using both sides of their pre-frontal cortex, entrepreneurs tend to use all of their executive functions whereas managers tend to be more focused on critical thinking.
While it’s unclear how much of one’s brain is wired for entrepreneurship at birth, we know that both nature and nurture matter. Our brains are soft assembled, and neuro-plasticity allows us to use our mind to improve our brain’s functions. Below are four capabilities which can help wire your brain for entrepreneurial wisdom.
1. Dynamic attention
Learning to focus your attention like a flashlight – with differing degrees of intensity, direction and scope is critical for entrepreneurial success. Starting your own business requires an enormous amount of discipline and focus as well as the ability to take a broader view of the entrepreneurial landscape. The flashlight metaphor is apt because forgetting to recharge your attention batteries with good nutrition and sleep can lead to weaker performance and poor decision making.
- Take time each day to cultivate the kind of healthy mind-wandering that fosters insight and novel solutions to strategic problems
- Protect your time by creating a technology-free zone at work and at home
2. Whole-person capacity
Bringing all of your internal resources to your entrepreneurial venture is critical to increasing performance, resilience and innovation. Developing the grit and agility necessary to weather challenge is essential to being a successful entrepreneur. This includes learning the power of regulating and leveraging emotions; understanding that reason and intuition are the twin engines of decision making; listening to your physical signaling system to increase energy and insight; and staying connected to the power of your purpose and passion.
- Reflect on the meaning and purpose behind your work
- Pay attention to what builds and drains your physical energy throughout the day
- Embrace the day’s honest mistakes with good humour and self compassion
- Check in with your gut and your analytic reasoning when making decisions
- Value your emotions as useful information.
3. Strategic clarity
Being an entrepreneur requires the ability to step back, challenge your own biases and change your course of action based on what circumstances dictate. This form of mental agility is compromised by our brain’s natural default to the beliefs and assumptions, often unconscious, that drive much of our behaviour. We have hundreds of biases that automatically influence our decision making.
Even our beliefs about learning impact our success. Carol Dweck and her colleagues at Stanford teach about the importance of a growth mindset how individuals who believe they have unlimited capacity to learn throughout their lifetime outperform those who believe that intelligence is fixed.
Aspiring entrepreneurs can learn how to mitigate biases by rewiring neural patterns that lead to automatic responses. They can also learn how to reduce automatic behaviours that derail effectiveness and manage the inner voice that blocks healthy risk-taking and growth.
- Cultivate a network of trusted advisors who have very different points of view from your own
- Develop the habit of exploring and writing about situations from multiple perspectives
- Know your own default patterns of behaviour (hint: start with your strengths – they can also become your weaknesses) and develop an internal alarm bell that alerts you to stop, review and reset before taking action
4. Authentic collaboration
Learning how to plug into the power of the social brain for more effective collaborations at all levels is critical for entrepreneurs. Our brains are social organs – we develop better brain functioning and increase neuro-plasticity in healthy relationships. As human beings, our primary and most important context are the relationships that we experience.
Learning how to foster greater accountability without triggering a threat response and building compassion and empathy to increase healthy risk-taking is critical for entrepreneurs.
- Create a strong sense of “we” with rituals and rewards that support collaboration
- Embed the norm of constructive dissent by encouraging others to challenge your thinking and being open to disagreements
- Reinforce the value of experimentation and risk taking by rewarding those who “fail fast” and are open to learning from their mistakes
- Acknowledge that those who work with you are human and that their lives outside of work may call for a compassionate response from leaders and from co-workers.
Developing and connecting different parts of our brain (neural integration) increases wisdom, helps us manage uncertainty and complexity and improves the quality of our relationships and increases our well being.
The reality is that less than one percent of leaders are optimising their brain-mind connection for extraordinary performance and agile decision making. Fortunately, many of these capabilities, which are critical for developing a risk-oriented, entrepreneurial mindset, can be learned and mastered.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The Anatomy Of Peak Performance
Besides paying lip service to “positive thinking” what is the reality behind hard work and the remuneration for it?
“The quality of your life is dependent upon the quality of the questions that you ask”
– Tony Robbins
Positive thinking clichés
We all have heard repetitive clichés emanating from the mouths of our parents, teachers, friends and family such as:
- “Just work hard and you shall be rewarded”
- “What you sow you shall reap”
- “Think positively and all will be better”
- “Do not worry tomorrow will be a better day”
Yet most family members and friends will complain that they work hard but that, in their minds, they are overworked and under paid. Besides paying lip service to “positive thinking” what is the reality behind hard work and the remuneration for it?
The purpose of hard work
“Whatsoever your deepest driving desire is, so shall your thoughts be, as your thoughts are, so shall your deeds be, and your deeds shall echo in all eternity” – Upanishads
“As a man thinketh so is he.” – Proverbs
The only real reason for hard work is to build perseverance and “strengthen your spine” because it is very hard to give up on a cause if you have sincerely put in a lot of hard work. However take the time to consider that when you really love what you do and you live your purpose, long hours do not feel so long and hard work can even be energising as opposed to making you tired all the time. When you are driven by purpose and love what you do there is less stress involved within your efforts and better performance will result.
Of the upmost importance is the quality of the work that you put in versus the amount of hours spent doing your work. A razor sharp focus on the activities that serves your business purpose and vision which in turn increases profits is a requirement of smart work.
The Pareto principle applies here:
On average team members spend only 20% of their time on the activities that really serves the business purpose and vision and brings in the desired business results and 80% on activities that does not fully support business results or only to a very small degree. Smart and quality work is therefore ensuring a razor sharp focus and spending 80% of your time on the 20% of the activities that really drives business results.
“The quality of your life is dependant on the quality of the questions that you ask”
– Tony Robbins
How do I identify the twenty percent of the activities that bring in the profits and serves our collective purpose? Now, that is already a better quality question than for example: “Why am I so tired? Why am I so de-motivated? When you ask high quality questions you are already starting to train your brain to come up with better quality answers that will lead up to better quality actions, that is if the reader is brave enough to venture outside of the self-imposed boundaries of his or her own comfort zone.
The following table clearly highlights the difference between high and low quality questions. High quality questions that is answered and acted upon consistently leads to peak performance and lowered stress levels.
Low quality questions often leads to excuses that are void of solution driven thinking and increased stress levels:
|High quality question. (Peak performers should ask)||Low quality question. (That generally leads to poor performance)|
|What creative solutions can we come up with in order to generate more leads from our marketing campaigns?||Why is it so difficult to get leads?|
|Which accurate metric system can we put in place in order to measure all activities that will reveal which ones drive the most profit?||Why am I so overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done?|
|What type of candidate with which type of characteristics do we need to serve our collective purpose?||Why is it so hard to find the right person?|
|How can we align all our processes and systems and remove waste (waste of time and waste of effort) to deliver better results?||I am so tired and demotivated, why is this not working?|
The three pillars of peak performance in business and any area of life
1. A laser focus on Purpose
Being purpose driven and doing what you love is a key factor in producing the desired results and delivering a great performance consistently. Then people start acting out of own accord and no longer have to be asked to do their work.
2. People skills
Sincerely care for people. Study and learn until you know how to speak to different personality types and respect different world views in order to get the best out of each individual. Inspire people to want to do what they sincerely love instead of constantly telling them what to do. Ask high quality questions to your team members to help them to train their brains to come up with high quality answers and solutions. Study human behaviour to understand your clients better and improve upon your people skills in order to enhance your customers’ experience of your product and service.
3. Technical skills
A high level of product knowledge, sales skills, and knowledge of all business processes and systems is of course a requirement of sustainable success. Technical skills only however becomes a potent driver of sought after business results when combined with highly developed people skills.
A peak performance equation
Carefully selecting from the key points of this article the following “peak performance” equation is created:
Being Purpose driven x Asking high quality questions x taking immediate action (no procrastination) x developing to a high level of people skills x developing to a high level of technical skill x Removal of waste (Time wasters and a waste of effort) = Peak performance.
**** Multiplication is used within this equation to portray the fact that all elements within this equation is necessary to create a peak performance environment. Therefore if one element equates to zero the answer is zero, and will not lead to a peak performance environment.
21 Inspiring Quotes About Success, Persistence And What It Means To Be An Entrepreneur
Leaders of companies big and small share the mindset it takes to achieve your dreams in the face of all obstacles.
True, being an entrepreneur can be exhausting, lonely, frustrating and terrifying. But it’s worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears when you are pursuing your passion, turning your dream into a reality.
In an ongoing series called Real Entrepreneurs, we pick the brains of founders and leaders about what it is like to have every decision big and small rest on their shoulders and have compiled their thoughts on what it takes to succeed on the long, sometimes crazy journey of an entrepreneur.
The Mindset Strategy From The “Rock Star” Coach Can Turn Your Beliefs Into Results
William Badenhorst, a Director of Global Strengths shares his mindset secret to ongoing entrepreneurial success.
William Badenhorst, a Director of Global Strengths, is a coach to the coaches. His “Rock Star” attitude along with the deep driving desire to help others find their true selves formed the fabric of a highly interesting and entertaining interview.
The rolling thunder of his voice brought forth quote after quote, quip after quip and wisdom after wisdom. As a “peak performance coach” to professional athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs and corporate career orientated individuals, William believes that knowing who you truly are as an individual is the catalyst for lasting growth and useful change in business and in life in general.
His intense eyes and energetic hand gestures emphasized one of his core beliefs and that is that we all are nothing but our very own beliefs.
“Everyone is focused on Results”
Everyone is always focusing on the outcome – the results they want. But what creates results? Let’s do some reverse engineering. In order to achieve RESULTS we need to take ACTION. And in order to take ACTION we need to make a DECISION. To make a DECISION, we need to think about it – THOUGHTS.
The interesting thing about humans is that we do not create our thoughts, we can only control them. So what does create your thoughts? Your BELIEFS creates your THOUGHTS. So ultimately your BELIEFS creates your RESULTS.
“You don’t attract what you want, you attract what you are.”
It is our very own limiting beliefs, such as for example that “I am not good enough” and “I am not deserving” and “I’m not worthy ” that creates barriers to our own success in entrepreneurial ventures and in our lives. In order to reach our limitless potential we must find and remove the self-created barriers that hold us back.
Although he loves the interaction and benefits of social media he is quick to point out that it also has created a fantasy of who and what we should be. He advises to not to adopt such fantasy as your desired reality but to instead be who you really are as an individual and goes on to quote the famous Greek philosopher Socrates:
“Know thyself, Be thyself and Love thyself”
You always end up falling back on your beliefs -whether they are empowering or disempowering. The challenge with that is that a large number of your beliefs are unconscious especially when you have not put in the work to find out what your belief system truly is.
Through his vast experience as a coach he realized that a large number of people veer away from self-awareness as they are afraid of being judged for whom they truly are.
The conversation naturally evolved into the exploration of the true meaning of the concept of faith and William’s mind grasped at a Quote from the apostle Paul:
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”
He went on to explain that faith is evidence of true-self which creates certainty which in turn is equal to confidence. Confidence brings a certain state where everything flows. He calls it “Peak State”. He further advises to search for evidence of who you really are and gain belief in yourself.
Advice to young entrepreneurs
William’s thoughts on self-development for entrepreneurs are to get a Coach. If you are already in business and don’t have a Coach – get one! Begin with taking extreme ownership and responsibility of everything in your life. And when you do that you win.
Stop blaming everything and everyone around you. Stop complaining about circumstances. You are in control and it is up to you to make it happen. There are no un-resourceful people, there are only un-resourceful states. Go where you are celebrated not tolerated and love yourself unconditionally. Remove the very unrealistic expectations of what and who you should be and authentically be yourself. Believe in yourself and go all in on YOU!
Become the best form of yourself because as an entrepreneur you are the business. Play to your strengths and manage your weaknesses. You do not need a title to lead, have massive self-belief and others will follow.
Have an attitude of constant learning:
“If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room”
And then yet another quote rolled off his tongue that put me in a self-reflective mood:
“A person that shines from within does not need a spotlight”
William Badenhorst, the father, the coach, the entrepreneur and key note speaker left the author and the reader with a question of mesmerising depth:
“What if you woke up this morning with only the things that you were grateful for last night?”
Gratitude is everything!
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