The ex-champion steps into the court. The restlessness of the crowd, engulfs you with an aura of anticipation. He was an affable champion. The fans adore him. It is reported that his two years off to 'see the world' was actually spent in rehabilitation from an addiction. Today, he is taking on someone who should not pose him any big problems.

The match started. Suddenly, the ex-champ is trailing by eight points. Someone exclaims in horror, "he's lost it." Exactly. He's lost it.

It's a darn hot day. You hurry into the cool ambiance of the Indian cuisine restaurant. The service person is approaching.  "Mango Lassi," you order, even before he places the menu on the table. Why did you order a drink which you will regret, its high sugar content, after you drink it?  You are a smart person. Why?

Inspired by characters from Studio Ghibli, Akira has been trying to get his manga right. He's been at it since the NHK documentary on Hayao Miyazaki , six months ago. He is still not happy with the action postures. He is making mistake after mistake. He has crumpled the 91st daily sheet of art paper. He will keep on. He will find success. Why am I sure?

And then there is Dora, the orchestra cellist. Every time she plays, she plays like she is in trance. They say she is in the 'flow.' It is as if she is born to play the cello. She performs like she is one with the instrument. They say she's done 10,000 hours of playing. Is that why she is so good?

What are you thinking?

These are manifestations of the brain at work. The early self help books never tell you why. They just instruct you to craft affirmations relevant to the goals you want to achieve and read them. When you wake up. Before you sleep. They even tell you to place the affirmations where you will see them a few times a day. "Make a vision board." "Read into a recording device and play back when you are driving. Or when it is possible." If you follow their recommendations, they say you have a better chance of achieving your goals. They say by doing that you are commanding your subconscious to help you find ways to achieve your goals. The one technical term they used was the 'RAS.'  The Recticular Activating System will drive you towards your goal. It was likened to a goal seeking missile. To me, it was mumbo jumbo. I used to challenge the coach, "How can?"

Now I know; Can!. Unlike the gurus of the old, who probably thought they were burdening their audience with bothersome technicalities, the present horde of self help preachers have to prove their claims are science based. Today, the audience wants proof of everything. A coaching website will not fly unless you have 'social proofs,' people saying the good things about the service provider (I have often wondered, "how do they get the first 5 clients?" This is the secret I probably have to buy.) In fact, many of the self help gurus today are neuroscientists, and many are writing from their own researches. It is common that every claim is backed by scientific research. I am convinced with most of what I have read.

The brief case studies mentioned are based on the phenomenal discoveries of how the brain works. Not only do the findings offer understanding of behaviors and attitudes, they give hope. Hope that you can actually do better and be better, if you put in the effort.

The connection is electric!

It's all about neurons, neural pathways and connections. It seems that our neurons are wired ( a very popular term with the neural experts) into pathways and connections that enables the different parts of the brain communicate through electrical impulses, to coordinate our behavior, sensation, thoughts and emotion. The simple principle is that what you think about most gets reinforced in terms of power and speed. The pathway or the connection to the part of the brain related to what you desire and are thinking frequently gets better and better insulation as you use it. Not only does the stronger insulation prevent electric current leaking from your circuitry, it enhances your processing power up to 3000 times over the non insulated circuitry, and up the response time 100 fold faster! So, if you think more and do more about what you want to do and be, you' ll get better at achieving the intended result. For simplicity, you can rewire your brain to a new behavior, helping you achieve your goals through purposeful repetition.

How can you lose the skills you had? Simply because the brain re-prioritize the more frequently used connections over the unused ones. Use it or lose it, as they say. The other thing about the brain is that it does not judge what is good or not good, correct or incorrect, real or unreal. This feature allows to be as bad or as good you want to be. You have to slow down your thinking to a snail's pace, use your (thinking) mind to make that discernment. This feature of the brain allows you to make believe until you make it. This is the foundation of visualization. See and feel as if you have achieved your goal. Think until you feel it. Feel it until it becomes natural. Then, you know you are wired for success. The brain does not care if you are making a mistake or error and  you are reworking. As long as you focus on a thought or practice something, your neural connection on that pathway is strengthened and you'll enjoy the same boost: 3000 times the power and 100 times faster!

Who done it?

The other startling discovery is that your subconscious can process a million bits of information per second and your conscious mind can only do 40, the reason you drank the Mango Lassi when you really shouldn't. And a million other things you did, are doing and will do.

A lot has been written about the 10,000 hours practice to mastery or the 90 day threshold to a new behavior. I am not particularly enthralled with exact numbers, because we are human beings.Not human beens. I think the numbers are used to illustrate the intensity of the work needed. It cannot be a one number fits all. We are all 'wired' differently.

The good news from all these, is that we are all on an even playing field. Whether you are the careful Carrie or mistake prone Michael, you have the equal chance of a shot at whatever you want. You just have to keep on keeping on,focusing on what you want to achieve. Think about it. Take action on it. We have neuroplasticity on our side. Isn't this a comforting thought? Think about it. Again and again.


*The Success Mindset by Kerrianne Cartmer-Edwards


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