What Are Your Brain Games Telling You?

Recently, I saw an episode of National Geographic’s TV show Brain Games. One segment was on confidence and how it plays out in our actual performance.

To illustrate this, they got the help of both a pharmacist and a professional basketball player.

They gave a basketball to the pharmacist who admitted she sucked at the game, never plays, and was just kind of going along with the exercise.

They made her shoot ten free throw shots, of which she made absolutely none.

Then they gave the ball to the pro ball player. He got nine out of ten on his turn. To be expected, right?

Then they blindfolded the pharmacist, encouraged her to take a couple shots, and gave her the ball.

She shot once and the crowd went wild with her having made the shot. The host was amazed.

She took a second shot, and again, she plunked that baby through the hoop. The crowd freaked and the announcer was ecstatic.

Then they took the blind fold off the pharmacist, gave her the ball again, and encouraged her to shoot another ten shots. After all, she aced the first two blind-folded and was feeling pretty good about herself.

Remember, the first time she tried, she got zero out of ten baskets. This time she made four out of the ten shots. A40% increase from her original try.

Can you see how confidence worked for her?

By the way, when she was blindfolded? She really did miss the hoop by an Arizona mile, but she was convinced she made the shots by the encouragement and false positive feedback she got from the crowd and show host.

Maybe you’re a doubter and are excusing her four successful shots by saying, “Yeah, but she had some practice shots and so she’s inevitably going to do better. Odds are in her favor she’d make some the second time.”

Okay, explain this.

The pro ball player, having missed his blind-folded shots with a less than encouraging crowd, was getting ready for his shots without the blind-fold.

The crowd was eerily silent, and when the ball player shot and made one, the crowd remained silent and talked among themselves. If he missed I think they even snickered and booed trying to embarrass him a bit. Basically, they were feeding him negative influences.

Remember he originally, being a pro ball player, shot nine out of ten shots before?

He now only made five out of ten, pretty close to the same 40% difference, only in reverse.

Can you now see how both outside influence and our own confidence and positive outlook has a major impact on how we perform?

So, how does this apply to business?

First, don’t hang with people who have a negative attitude or want to dump on your success parade. Those people who enter doubt, even if they seem like they mean well, can bring you down.

Find people who are encouraging, who cheer you on even in your failures. You know, those folks you can always count on to not let you off the hook and help get your head on straight.

And most importantly, don’t listen to yourself when you hear yourself say things like:

“Who do I think I am that I can be a business person anyway? I can’t even remember that person’s name I met this morning!”

“If I was so smart, or meant to be an entrepreneur, I’d have done it years ago. I’m too much a late bloomer for this now.”

“I should be further along than I am; maybe I’m just forcing something that shouldn’t be.”

Learn to recognize when you are telling yourself this crap, and stomp it out immediately. And I mean immediately!

Give yourself a break. You are going to have failures. Well, they are not failures if you learn something, and you will learn something. No one gets it right from the first crack.

Famous basketball player Doctor J said once that everyone was so amazed when he made it big. Everyone thought he was such a gifted player, but they never saw the thousands and thousands of hours he practiced.

There are no people so gifted they get it without failures or distinctions, there are just good marketing behind them to make it look like that is the case.

Here’s an assignment for you. Go look up just about any sport Hall of Famer. They got there by the awesome success they achieved, right?

Maybe. Did you know they all have more failures than successes? Like two-thirds more failures than success.

They had plenty of failures they could have turned into self-doubt, but they didn’t.

It’s what you tell yourself and who you listen to that will make you a success or not.

You can have all the training in the world, all the digital gizmos, all the fancy tools of the trade…

But if you believe lies about your ability and doubt yourself?

You ain’t goin’ nowhere baby!

Here’s a friendly little anchor to remind you to think on the sunny side of life.

When you here a weather forecast that is anything other than a gorgeous day…

Something like, “We have a 40% chance of isolated showers today.”

Ask yourself why the weatherperson is so negative.

Change what he or she said to, “We have a 60% chance of beautiful sunny weather today! For that leaner side of percentage, bring an umbrella, just in case.”

Until next time…

Live like you’ll never get hurt, dream like nobody is watching, and above all… Try-try-try until you succeed!

About Brad Dunse'

Freelance writer, entrepreneur, and life student of personal development with a passion for writing, learning, and helping others... a winning combination to live the writer's life! Looking for e-mail campaigns, web content, case studies, or more? www.braddunse.com
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4 Responses to What Are Your Brain Games Telling You?

  1. CommonSense says:

    This is the most ridiculous article I’ve read in a very long time. You are going to extrapolate your simplistic self-help nonsense from this single, ridiculous example? How in the hell is shooting a basketball like the business world? You mean to tell us that if we simply imagine we can make it to Fortune 500 we will do so? Guess business majors should drop all of their classes and join your “Imagine yourself to riches” course. Why haven’t you used these magical powers to make it to the season finale of a silly show like The Apprentice? Why haven’t you imagined yourself to millions in cash? Please do yourself a favor and dump your junk science and pop psychology as your current pool of knowledge is embarrassing you.

  2. Joe Orozco says:

    Wowzers! A bit of an inflammatory post there, don’t you think? I don’t think Brad, and Brad can certainly speak for himself, but I don’t think he was drawing a direct link between shooting hoops and Fortune 500 success. I believe he was speaking to the direct and indirect challenges imposed by others and by ourselves to reaching those goals we might otherwise find unattainable.

  3. Brad says:

    Oops. Get the novacane, I think we hit a nerve.

    Well, Common Sense, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy my little Basketball to Riches course. And here I was so silly as to think if I got my pop cultured-self a basketball, shot a few hoops, by day’s end I’d be on my way to the Fortune 500. I sure am glad you came along and straightened me out there before I wents to duh WalMarts to get me a ball. No wonder I’ve been a failure in all areas of my life to date.

    Okay, well. There are a few points I’ll make for clarity, and then we’ll let you flame into the sunset, sound good? It does to me.

    I don’t think, … no… I didn’t. I never did say anyone should drop their business courses or say business or studying one’s skill set was out of the equation. I believe education can come from places other than a college degree. That doesn’t mean either method of learning is wrong, it is just another way of suiting one’s learning style.

    Embarrassed? Me? No, I’m not embarrassed at all for the point I was making. I think you’ll see why in a minute. I was embarrassed for you however. That was quite a statement. I have yet to find anger that isn’t fueled by fear of some sort. That might be worth some thought on your part.

    What about the bit of imagining myself to what success I want?

    Well now, I did say that, yes. I have to admit that one. I’m glad you pointed that one out to me.

    Funny thing though, I’m like this biography buff? You know, of successful people?

    And, by successful people, I don’t always mean household names of the rich and famous. Some yes, but Very honestly, many rich and famous people aren’t successful by my standard.

    You see. There are all sorts of definitions of success in life. Money, happiness, material things, freedom, travel, time with family, work their dream career, adventures, too many to mention here.

    It’s really odd about all those people I read about, talked to, and know personally; but most, if not all of them, imagined themselves being what they were before they actually were. Isn’t that silly?

    But you want to know the craziest thing? They actually had to work for it too.

    If they wanted to be a successful musician? I’ll be damned if they didn’t have to practice their scales or study music.

    If they became a computer whiz? Invent like a programming language or operating system? They poured themselves into their work.

    If they could barely walk due to a grotesque bone disorder, have people point and gape at them because they were for-foot nothing in height, had almost no femur bones in the legs, and if they desired to become an engineer despite near inability to hold a draftsman’s pencil in deformed, elongated fingers? If someone like that imagined themselves a success to overcome and succeeded?

    They didn’t just imagine themselves being such and do nothing to make themselves so.

    I don’t recall ever saying that. Nope, I just looked again, and you know? I didn’t.

    Isn’t that so weird how people read something that isn’t there on the page in the first place? You know though, it must be in their own thoughts to have read it.

    And then there are the people who we never hear of. Everyday people who overcome tremendous challenges. I know a few right in my own family and home community in fact. Tremendous successes, overcoming absolutely incredible odds. Living happy, successful lives.

    No, sorry Common Sense, some of those people aren’t rich, well they aren’t on the Fortune 500 list anyway, but I can tell you two things about all the above people considered successful by their own standards

    First. They didn’t get where they are by feeling defeated every day of their life. Feeling jealous of others. Feeling as though life jipped them? Feeling like as though life owed them something.

    They didn’t give up when people around them said they were crazy, insulted them, … kind of like you here actually.

    They didn’t get there by telling themselves they can’t, or listening to others who would dare to say the same.

    Nah, they didn’t buy into that.

    And secondly? They didn’t allow themselves to be drug to the mat by hanging around those who come out of the gate shooting down any hope of others to rise above a challenge. They didn’t hang around angry folks who felt sorry for themselves and needed to have company down in the bowels of hope.

    Did they use what not to be as fuel to overcome. Absolutely. They saw others who they did not want to be like, then they imagined themselves as disgruntled, angry people, or people others would feel sorry for, or some other value they hated, and they used that as fuel to say, “I’m never going to be like that person, ever.”

    Kind of like me right now actually, reflecting back on your post.

    Those successful people persisted until what they saw they wanted to be, came to pass. If it took them a year, great, if it took them a lifetime, so be it. But, they imagined it first.

    That little basketball object lesson?

    Okay, I confess. Here is where I am actually a little embarrassed…

    That little analogy was nothing I invented.

    In fact, I sort of borrowed that one from many successful coaches and business people who used it for their own successes over the decades. I saw the similar display on an episode of Brain Games and thought it’d be a good analogy for overcoming our own rotten thinking.

    Sorry for that little confession there.

    And really, it is just a little object lesson, but unfortunately from your perspective, yes, everything to do with business. Creating and imagining are indeed qualities of an entrepreneur or business person. Being in business for most of my life, that’s what I’ve found anyway. But don’t take my word for it, read just a few more lines and take someone else’s word.

    It is apparent you have large ambitions for yourself, and Common Sense, even though I found your off-cuff flame more humorous than insulting, and have been sporting with you a bit here today, I honestly do wish you the success you have envisioned for yourself. If it comes by a degree, great. If it comes by mentoring a champ? Awesome. If it comes by the gifted individual you are who can create where no one has before? I truly admire you.

    I don’t claim to know all the answers. I am a life student in a classroom that spans the globe of which you are classmate. We teach each other, and we learn from each other.

    Oh, one more thing, you speak as though you may already know my successes, both in what I’d like and what I’ve achieved. However, you do not really know. Friendly suggestion? It might be good to hold assumptions when commenting from the hip. Each has their own measurement of success, achievements, and goals. I’m rather proud of what I’ve done in life thus far, but displaying them to others without reason, along with appearing on The Apprentice or having a Fortune 500 company, is just not high on my list.

    Since big business and entrepreneurship is your motivator, I’ll leave you with a quote from probably the modern day icon of business and entrepreneurship, Richard Branson. You might take in what he has to say. Take it away Richard…

    I was recently asked to sum up what I do in just five words, to which I answered: I like to create things. Creativity is a direct offshoot of imagination, and is essential not only to life, but to business too. Creativity and imagination are driving forces behind most things we do, and have been the key to many of our successes.

    The business world often gets caught up in facts and figures, and forgets the importance of imagination and creativity. Like Albert Einstein said: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.” While the details and data are important in business, the ability to dream, conceptualize and invent is what sets the successful and the unsuccessful apart – and in life, often the happy from the unhappy. …

    At Virgin, we have never entered an industry just for small wins, but instead to reinvent the game with imaginative and disruptive products and services. We haven’t followed numbers, done what’s expected, or limited ourselves to what’s possible. We have dreamed big dreams to make the impossible, possible.

    Imagination should be intertwined in daily life, and not just restricted to problem solving. Imagination gives hope, drive and inspiration, and is incredibly motivational. In that sense, dreaming should not be the reward, but instead a habit. The fruits that come from the success of achieving a dream should be the reward. Bette Davis summed it up nicely: “To fulfil a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labor, to be given a chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy.”

    It is a natural human instinct to want to know what lies before us. By dreaming and imagining, we can effectively chart our own paths, and see what we already believe to be true.

    As Mark Twain pointed out: “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” It is therefore crucial that we put our imagination in focus, so that we can realize opportunities and act on them to reach our goals, and in turn move the world forward.

    Don’t limit yourself to what you know and what you have been told to be true. If you use your imagination you will be presented with opportunities and possibilities beyond your wildest dreams.

  4. CommonSense says:

    Ok, Yoda. …I didn’t get past your first couple of self-help junhk-science clichés once I realized your comments weren’t really directed at me–apparently you think you have some sort of audience. Get yourself some newer clichés–and pickup a new writing style while at the 7-11.

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