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  • Kathryn Hume

Four Simple Steps to Performance and Fulfillment

Updated: Nov 10, 2019


Fulfillment can be achieved by finding what brings meaning to your life and doing that to the best of your ability. Performing at your best relies on your belief that you are able to develop knowledge and capability to improve your performance. There is increasing scientific evidence of the brain’s plasticity which supports the growth mindset. The steps below outline how you can experience fulfillment by continually improving your performance in something that brings meaning to your life.

This is a cyclical, repetitive and unending process that continues to build on the mental representations that have formed memories over the course of your life. None of us are blank slates, so we are already somewhere in the cycle across a multitude of subject areas.


Set

When planning to improve performance, set a clearly defined goal that you value. Think about what brings meaning to your life and ask yourself how attaining the goal will achieve this.

Imagine yourself having achieved your goal. This will stimulate a release of dopamine in anticipation of your desired reward and will help motivate you to pursue your goal. It may even alter your trade-off between risk and reward so you are more prepared to take risks in pursuit of the goal, supporting you to move just outside your comfort zone where learning will be enhanced.

Find a coach who is able to support you to achieve your goal by defining tasks to develop the knowledge and skills required to performance and achieve your goal. Have the coach monitor your performance and provide immediate feedback and further instruction as you continue to repeat the process.


Seek

Determine what knowledge is required for the desired performance. Consider your existing knowledge and identify any gaps that need to be filled.

Seek knowledge to fill the gap by:

  • reading

  • completing a course

  • watching a video

  • listening to a podcast

  • attending a lecture

  • asking targeted questions

  • researching using Boolean searching methods

  • following specific hashtags or twitter conversations.

Just get started.

If the information is completely new, much of the information will flow over you because it does not yet have any existing mental representations to build onto.

That’s OK. Because, some of the information will relate to your existing knowledge and you will start to make associations.

As you engage with information, make a list of anything unfamiliar or that you don’t necessarily agree with. We shall return to this a little later.


Process

Exposure to information alone will not automatically create knowledge. Sensory information must be processed so it can be held in long term memory. This requires you to actively engage with the information rather than passively receive it.

Arguably the most efficient way to achieve this is by applying the new information to perform the skill you are attempting to develop. If you are not able to apply it immediately, there are a number of ways you can enhance processing including:

  • writing a very concise summary of what you have understood

  • recreating the information as a diagram

  • producing a flowchart

  • explaining the concept to another person.

There are many options, but you must be active in this process.

By activating your brain in this way, you will stimulate new connections between synaptic cells that build neural pathways for information to flow through. The more these neural pathways are stimulated, the faster the information will flow along them, reinforcing your behaviour.

However; reinforcing thinking patterns may inhibit the creative thinking required to solve complex problems that support innovation as our brains will find it easier to follow these neural pathways and not consider alternate options.

Therefore, it is important you are able to identify your thinking patterns that are not serving your purpose and actively unlearn to foster creative thinking.

By regularly moving through the process of learning, unlearning and relearning you will support distributed learning to drive creative thinking and problem solving required to tackle today’s complex challenges. Unlearning can be achieved by:

  • dissolving existing neural pathways; and/or

  • developing new mental representations of equal or greater strength.

Social interaction will stimulate oxytocin in your brain which will not only make you feel good but can also assist with dissolving neural pathways to allow new ones to form.

It can therefore be worthwhile engaging with others to overcome limiting beliefs or consider alternate points of view that can support alternate ways of thinking.

So, refer to your list and determine what knowledge you may need to unlearn to make it easier to learn the concepts you were unfamiliar with or didn’t necessarily agree with and process the new information so it can be held in long term memory.


Solve

Your brain makes it possible to learn, unlearn and relearn so you are able to think creatively to solve complex problems. By developing diverse knowledge and creative thinking capability, you will be able to partner with machines to add value and derive meaning from your performance.

By developing your ability to set, seek, process and solve you will be capable of complementing the work performed by robots so we can truly add value and achieve the goals that we are passionate about.

References

Doidge, N. MD (2007) The Brain That Changes Itself. New York, Viking.

Ericsson, A & Pool, R (2017) Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. Boston, MA, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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