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Confidence Fake It 'Til You Make It?

Posted by Stephen Hager

We'd like to introduce guest blogger, Dale Furtwengler, and share his recent blog post on living a life free of fear, anxiety, and frustration. The original post can be found at Confidence: Fake It 'Til You Make It?

Enjoy! 

Confidence: Fake It 'Til You Make It? 

During a recent conference on confidence the primarily female audience bemoaned the fact that men are better at “faking it until they make it.”

Based on my experience in working with both female and male clients for more than 25 years, I believe that the difference in confidence between men and women lies in where they place their confidence.  Women tend to rely on their experiences for their confidence whereas men tend to draw confidence from their ability to learn and adapt.

Generalizations

Before we delve more deeply into this idea, I want to emphasize the danger of generalizations.  You and I both know men who won’t take on a task unless they’ve had experience performing that task.  We also know women who readily embrace any opportunity that comes their way.

While there are some natural tendencies that differ between genders, there are always exceptions to the rule that make the use of generalizations somewhat risky.  What doesn’t differ between the genders is the ability of the person to retrain their minds to overcome natural tendencies that get in their way.  Women and men alike possess this ability.

Experience vs. Adaptability

When presented with an opportunity, the question that women seem to ask themselves most often is “Do I have the experience to be successful?”  And even when they do have experience, they tend to discount the value of that experience.

Men, when faced with the same opportunity are likely to think “I didn’t have any experience doing ‘x,’ yet I was successful doing that.  I didn’t have experience with ‘y,’ but I was able to produce good results doing that, so why wouldn’t I be able to be successful in this endeavor?”

The difference between the two genders lies in where they place their confidence.  Women tend to place theirs in their experiences whereas men tend to place theirs in their ability to learn and adapt.  The implications are huge.

Implications

The first implication is that men are more progressive than women.  That’s not true, it’s just that women tend to be more deliberate in their decision-making process which is a great counter-balance to men’s tendency to decide quickly and suffer the consequences.  When blended, these two differing styles provide better and quicker results.

Another implication lies in the way men and women are evaluated for promotions.  In a 2011 McKinsey study, researchers found that men are judged on potential, women on performance.  That raises the proverbial chicken and egg question.  Are men and women judged differently because they are of different genders or because they express their confidence differently?  I can’t help but think it’s the latter.

If I’m correct in my observations and women tend to admit that they don’t have experience in a given area or discount the experience they have, they’re sending a message that is framed within the context of their past performance.

If, as I suggest, men are more inclined to point to situations in which they’ve been successful even though they possessed no prior experience, they’re sending a message that highlights their potential.

This difference in presentation could easily account for the results in the McKinsey study.  It’s not much of a stretch to see how that difference influences managers’ decisions.

As a manager considering a person for a job or an employee for promotion which would you prefer, someone with potential or someone with experience?  Someone who has demonstrated success in areas in which they had no prior experience or someone who needs prior experience to feel comfortable taking on new responsibilities?

Good news

The good news is that regardless of whether you’re a woman or man who feels that a lack of experience is holding you back in your career pursuits, you can retrain your mind to focus on your success in situations in which you had no prior experience.

It doesn’t matter whether that success was a personal development achievement, career success or business success.  The key is that whenever the doubt which inevitably accompanies a new opportunity arises, you’re able to quickly remind yourself of the successes you’ve enjoyed in situations in which you had no prior experience.

When you’re able to make this transition from experience-based thinking to confidence in your ability to learn, you’ll be judged on your potential rather than your experience.

Author: 

Dale Furtwengler is a coach, speaker, and internationally-acclaimed author who helps people lead a life of confidence.  He helps them free themselves of the fear, anxiety, and frustration that stand in the way of living their dreams.  You can find more of Dale’s tips, books and services at www.TheLifeOthersDesire.com.

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The Practical Neuroscience of Leadership

Posted by Stephen Hager

We'd like to share a recent blog post on leadership from Dr. Ada Gonzales of Logos Noesis.The original post can be found at The Practical Neuroscience of Leadership.

Enjoy!

Good leaders inspire, persuade, and connect. They create productive relationships and environments for themselves and for others. Environments in which they and the people they lead can feel safe and motivated. Environments where they use their knowledge and brain strengths to achieve performance excellence.

Applying neuroscience to leadership begins with an understanding of self. I spent the end of last week in what I called a "brain jam session" with Stephen Hager, the creator of the well validated Brain Pathways assessment system. I wanted to "pick his brain" on how knowing how we take in information and learn (our sensory paths), as well as how we process information, plan and think (our cognitive paths) can help leaders in a practical way.

Here are a few of the points we explored that have direct practical application to your leadership.

1. Knowing yourself better is the first step for excellent leadership

Every human being has a unique sensory sequence and cognitive thinking preference. When you are aware of yours, it's easier to improve:

  • Communications by understanding your strengths and limitations.
  • Learning about yourself and others.
  • Creativity, both personal and group.
  • Alignment with your job characteristics for promoting success.
  • Decision making, by understanding neurodiversity. You will then surround yourself with those that are strong where you might be weak or have a blind spot.
  • Productivity and effectiveness by better managing time and stress.
  • Relationships by enhancing the exchange of information.

2. Understanding others will increase your influence.

It's easy to assume that everybody learns and thinks the way you do. Therefore, you tend to communicate using your preferred methods. Yet, good leaders modify their methods to the preferences of their people, the situation, and the environment. When you learn to appreciate the preferences of others, you will expand your circle of influence by communicating in a way that others can receive more easily.

3. Creating a safe environment will encourage high performance.

Good leaders realize they create a safe environment with their words and actions. When you build rapport, support others to achieve their potential, and place others ahead of you, you create a high energy, high creativity, high engagement environment. These will naturally lead to high performance

You can exchange information in ways that:

  • Align with the basic sensory and cognitive preferences of your followers by employing all sensory and cognitive methods in the delivery of your messages.
  • Build rapport by playing to natural preferences and using words that resonate and make sense.
  • Engage people's minds in a way that facilitates openness to new ideas, thoughts and change. You have to model self-regulation of feelings and start looking for win-win solutions.
  • Help yourself and others put your egos aside and be able to engage with empathy, from the heart.

4. Diversity of thought enhances success.

Understanding, leveraging, and welcoming the diversity of people's minds is critical to success. Look for your team's strengths and areas that need development. Make sure you build greater tolerance and respect for each others' unique strengths. Be inclusive of everyone's thoughts. Invite them to collaborate. Minds that work together, bond together and succeed together.

Every leader should take the Brain PathWays assessment. It will also be helpful for their team to do so.

Brain PathWays™ is a powerful online neuroscience system to discover your sensory perceptual and cognitive processing strengths. If you haven’t taken it, I encourage you to do it. It's easy to take. You will need only 10-15 minutes. This system teaches you how to apply and leverage that knowledge to align your unique strengths with your leadership activities for the best possible outcomes.

If your team also take the test, we can provide you with a team report that will increase understanding and will help leverage everybody's strengths for the good of all. I can facilitate a one or two day workshop after a team has taken the test to increase understanding and practical application. People feel energized and teams perform better.

The test is short and very affordable. If interested, click here to contact me. I can give you information on how to take the test and will offer you afterward a free 20 minutes session to answer any questions about your report. Together we will explore how you can use your new knowledge in your practice of leadership.


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Upgrade to Active Learning

Posted by Stephen Hager

We’re pleased to introduce guest blogger, Aditya Singhal, co-founder of Transtutors.com, and share with you his active learning techniques to supplement traditional classroom learning. Can you find examples of how a teacher might engage students’ sensory and cognitive strengths using these techniques?

Some learn best while following instructions, some learn best while reading and others learn while doing.  Active learning is anything that involves students doing things and thinking about what they are doing. Anything that engages the student in an experiential activity-based lesson can be classified as active learning. In this method, the responsibility of learning lies with the student. Studies show that active learning strategies are much better recalled, enjoyed and understood as compared to passive learning or the lecture format.

Active learning is based on the simple principle that people generally remember 90% of what they do as compared to 20% of what they hear and only 10% of what they read. Students absorb new knowledge through organizing information and manipulating material rather than just reading, listening and note-taking. Active learning increases student interest, motivation and attendance. The best part is that the student learns to take learning into their hands. They learn how to monitor their own learning and invest in class to succeed.

Active learning can be used in a number of cases to supplement traditional teaching methods. Create opportunities to involve students in the process of learning. Here are a few useful examples:

  1. Peer Teaching: Assign a topic to students, ask them to research, gather information and prepare a presentation. The presentation can be done in groups, pairs or individually. Students feel more comfortable and open interacting with their peers.
  2. Field Visit: This is a chance for students to learn outside the classroom. The activity can be planned as an incentive and an opportunity to further their learning. Take for example a visit to a neighboring dam to learn about the importance of water for living and agriculture. Allow time for pre-visit research and class discussions. During the visit, groups of students can experience various elements of what goes into building a dam, measuring the width of the dam, drawing the kinds of vegetation surrounding the dam, participating in a talk by one of the government engineers. After the visit, groups can exchange information through presentations or reports.
  3. Flipped Classroom: In the traditional model, teachers give lectures in the classroom, students take notes, teachers assign homework, students complete assignments and are graded accordingly. In the flipped classroom, lectures are delivered online at their own pace, communicating with peers and teachers via online discussions and the classroom is used as a place for activity and engagement-based learning. This method gives students the chance to absorb information in a relaxed environment, taking the time they need to grasp new concepts and in the classroom it gives them the opportunity learn through activity. The classroom becomes a safe learning environment where questions are encouraged and doubts are cleared. Teachers can be more hands-on with concepts that students don’t understand and support students in solving problems in class.
  4. Minute Paper: Even in a regular lecture based class, teachers can make an effort to include active learning practices. One of the techniques found to be exceptionally rewarding is the one minute pause. In this method, the lecture is paused just for a minute and students are asked to hand in a short assignment on what they have just learnt. Introducing a writing activity in the middle of the listening activity not only provides a much-needed change of pace, but also makes sure the students attention span is maximized.
  5. Think-Pair-Share: Have students first work on a problem individually and then compare answers with their partners and present their findings to the class. This technique incorporates peer learning and group work.
  6. Brainstorming: Pose a problem and ask for solutions from the class. Provide enough time for teams to collate possible solutions and discuss the best possible outcomes. Interactive learning techniques can help boost the confidence of the students and encourage teamwork.
  7. Pass the problem: Add a twist to the brainstorming sessions by introducing a folder in which one group’s solution is collected and passed on to the next group for the next level of problem-solving. This way the more complex the question, the more participative the solution becomes.
  8. Icebreaker Review: Best suited to the first class of the term, this activity serves as an introductory crash course. Write a set of 10-20 questions pertaining to topics you would expect the students to know about from the previous term. Each student gets a card with one question and its answer. The task is to find the answer to all the questions. Students exchange information and review answers together until all the required information is with each of them.
  9. The Fish Bowl: A simple and easy-to-implement technique to encourage students to ask questions without hesitation. At the end of the class, each student writes down his/her question and places it in the fishbowl/cardboard box/hat. The most asked question can be the topic for discussion in the next class.
  10. Student Debate: An interactive method to provoke research and discussion. Students have to present their point of view with relevant supporting arguments. This technique not only encourages verbal presentation but also shows both sides of the story when it comes to challenging topics.

Active Learning Techniques are not only beneficial to the students but also the teacher. Active participation from the students ensures that concepts are understood not only in their rudimentary form but also in their application in problem-solving. Methods like peer teaching and the flipped classroom save precious time on both sides of the classroom.

 

AUTHORSHIP: Aditya Singhal is the co-founder of Transtutors.com (www.transtutors.com), a leading online tutoring help for college students. Having graduated from prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), he worked briefly with American Consulting firm, Kurt Salmon Associates before taking the entrepreneurial route. Outside the work ambit, Aditya has a personal interest in helping students in their career aspiration and skill development. He is also actively involved in giving back to the society by contributing a part of the revenue towards education of poor students in India. 

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Looking for the Best Online University?

Posted by Stephen Hager

Are you feeling stressed about the challenges of continuing education to advance your career? Perhaps you are returning for retooling, or enrolling for the first time. Your pathway to a successful career begins with two steps, if your goals require an educational degree.  

  • Step 1: Identify the best university for you.
  • Step 2: Successfully complete the program and get your degree.

Identify the Best Online University

In today’s busy and frantic world, you must use time wisely to enhance your quality of life. Online universities offer options and flexibility not available from traditional institutions. However, it can be a daunting task to research accredited online universities and align your needs with their programs, degrees, curriculum, tuitions structure, and philosophy.  It’s important to get this done quickly and efficiently for your peace of mind. Unless you get this first step right, you’ll be wasting lots of money and time, not to mention the additional stress from an avoidable mistake.

I have had the opportunity to gain personal experience with bestonlineuniversities.com, a website that exceeds my expectations for “One Stop, Full Service.” It’s kind of like going to Travelocity or Orbitz to plan and book a vacation, but for online education. Besides user friendly interfaces to access and analyze over 1,000 accredited online degree programs, the site offers valuable articles and an extensive library of resources for achieving your academic and career goals.

Best Online Universities CEO, Scott Hawksworth says, “Since our inception in January 2010, Best Online Universities LLC has been committed to developing quality niche websites to help students accomplish their career and education goals- and we always will be.“

Best Online Universities has researched and made available an extensive list of resources on The Science of Learning. “Researchers in neuroscience, psychology and education are uncovering new information about how brains learn best at an unbelievable pace. We have more insight into the brain’s learning processes than at any other moment in history, and we are poised on the brink of a radical shift of how we think about education.”

Successfully Complete Your Program

Now that you’ve breezed through identifying the best online university, the next challenge is completing your program with enthusiasm, ease, and great grades. Unfortunately, few students have mastered the life competency of “learning how to learn.”  Brain PathWays for Academic Success, based on recent advances in neuroscience and personalized, accelerated learning strategies, is the most comprehensive system available for adult learning success; it teaches strategies for aligning learning with your brain’s preference for taking in and retaining information. Doesn’t it make sense that when you learn in the way your brain learns best, you will experience less stress and learn more, faster?

In summary, you can eliminate much of the stress of selecting the best online university, and succeeding academically, by researching programs online, and using resources such as Brain PathWays for Academic Success, or those presented in the Science of Learning article. It’s never too late to learn and develop the life skill of “learning how to learn.” The rewards of “being the best you can be” through continuous learning and improvement are priceless and last a lifetime.

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Strengthening Relationships During the Holidays

Posted by Stephen Hager

What better time is there to strengthen your most important relationships than during the holidays?  This may seem a bit counter intuitive, considering that the holidays are often the most stressful time of year for many people.  Multiple things are going on, such as event planning, decorating, gift purchases, budget concerns, and family expectations.  However, what’s the sense of getting your to-do list accomplished, when your stress level rubs off on others and everyone around you is in an agitated state, rather than being in a grateful and playful mood?

Holidays are windows of opportunity to celebrate life with the people you love and care about. Life is meant to be joyful and shared with people who support and love one another.  The key to strengthening your relationships is to get in touch  with and prioritize the qualities of your kind and caring nature; it’s ”how” you treat yourself and others as you accomplish life activities. This simple mental refocus shifts relationships to the high road, while providing more meaning and fulfillment to your life.  Things still get done; the difference is that you have greater peace of mind and less stress, plus, you feel better about yourself and have stronger personal relationships.

Following these practical neuroscience steps will make this holiday season the best and most memorable ever:

1. Reflect deeply and honestly on the following questions to be more self-aware of your patterns of thinking and behaviors. A visual record of your stream of thoughts will help you process the information, and gain clarity on what you want to change.

a. What do I see and feel are the true purposes for the holidays?
b. What is my state of mind before the holidays?
c. Are my favorite memories linked to:

  • Doing and getting things done?
  • The quality of interactions with others?
  • A dynamic balance of giving and receiving?

d. Where and how do I expend the most time and energy?
e. Who are the people I most want to celebrate life with?
f. What’s my state of mind and body during this period?
g. How satisfied and fulfilled am I after the Holidays?
h. Am I willing to change my thinking and priorities for better outcomes?

2. Shift your focus from your sense of obligation and responsibility for “doing” to getting clear on what you really want to experience with people you care about. The litmus test is achieving outcomes that serve all parties in good and reciprocal ways.

3. Communicate your intention of making relationships, with the people you will be with, your #1 priority during the holidays. Use language that truly reflects your deeper, caring nature.  Communicate: “I intend to be more (fill in with the qualities you select) with you.”  Examples of “being” qualities include kind, forgiving, grateful, patient, happy, playful, fun, helpful, open, available, respectful, trusting, empathetic, compassionate, generous and trusting. You’ll be amazed and touched by how people respond, when you communicate that you care about them and they are an important priority.

In summary, putting your caring nature in charge of relationships and how you go about accomplishing life activities is your key to greater happiness. You may even find that you will get more accomplished in less time with less stress, when you get your relationship priorities aligned with your "high road self." By now, you most likely have come to the conclusion that these strategies are ways of living and being, not just for seasonal use. Becoming and being a “Neu and Better You” is a continuous and joyful journey.


ANNOUNCEMENT:  Please take a look at the Events page for our special, Home for the Holidays: Building Stronger Relationships Webinar. We will build on the theme of this blog post and provide high-impact, practical neuroscience communication tools.  We will respond to questions during the session and craft personalized messages via email. We will also cover how to repair and improve damaged relationships.

Look forward to seeing you online!

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Simple Steps to Be the Best You Can Be

Posted by Stephen Hager

Being the best you can be is the motto and mantra of the neuidentity blog. If you believe you are a “work in progress” with the potential to improve, you are on the road to becoming the captain of your life. Your brain is designed for learning and making choices that contribute to creating positive and negative outcomes. Imagine making “high-road” decisions to consciously control your positive response to people and situations. Can you feel how good it is to be skillfully navigating your ship?

Captain of Your Life 

So, take a deep breath, relax, and learn how to continuously move toward being a “neu” and better you. The power of neuroplasticity is alive and available to anyone willing to engage and unleash the power within.

1.  Accept that you are doing the best you can in every moment, given:

  • Your thoughts (composite of beliefs, attitudes, values, and life experiences)
  • Your physical state (pain free or hurting)
  • Your emotional state (positive, negative, neutral)
  • Your outer environment (events; situations; mental, physical and emotional state of others)

2.  Embrace that you are a work in progress and capable of positive change. Your choices are framed by your life experiences that include the “good, bad, and ugly.” A full range of experiences is a blessing in disguise, because you have the gift of contrast to form the basis of improved future choices. How do you know what constitutes a comfortable and tolerable temperature unless you have experienced hotter and colder conditions?

3.  Review events and situations involving  good and positive outcomes

  • Recognize that “good” is relative and always subject to improvement.
  • What were your mental, physical, and emotional states?
  • What personal thoughts and behaviors contributed to the “good” outcomes?
  • What would it look like if you could revisit, rewrite, and replay a situation as a “neu” and better you?
  • Establish a checklist of best practices; continuously update with improvements.

4.  Play “Monday morning quarterback” with events that had negative consequences for you and/or others; these are situations where you have a sense of regret, personal responsibility, and ideas for how you could have done better.

  • Remember, you were doing the best you could in that time frame.
  • Be gentle and kind with yourself.
  • View the analysis as a valuable learning experience.
  • What were your mental, physical, and emotional states?
  • What personal behaviors would make this situation better if it emerged again?
  • Reenact (in your “mind’s eye”) the situation with a new script; practice until you feel like a “neu” you.

5.  Ten seconds are all you need in stressful, volatile, or emotional situations to:

  • Put yourself in “neutral gear.”
  • Disengage judgment.
  • Suspend your need to emote, attack, defend, and “be right.”
  • Think: What are my best behaviors here for a good outcome?

In summary, being the best you can be is a continuous, never-ending cycle of learning and growth. All learning experiences are equally valuable. Negative outcomes provide the gift of contrast for better future decisions; forgive yourself and know you can and will do better the next time around. You can react, unconsciously, through prior and possibly faulty programming, or respond, consciously, with your highest-road behaviors. Self-awareness of your potential to improve, coupled with a willingness to make better choices, is a sure fire way to get on the pathway to being a “neu” and better you. You can do it! Up-shift your thinking, change your life!

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Neu Who?

Posted by Stephen Hager

The “neu who” is a “neu” you! The “neu” in neuidentity represents using the power of neuroscience to reinvent yourself. No matter how old you are, your situation, or your circumstance, you can create a better life with the “power within.” Think of your brain as computer hardware and what it stores as the software. The software is your “operating system” for how you interpret and experience life.

You may not be aware that your brain is innocent and childlike; this applies to people of all ages. Your early software was built by parents, teachers, friends, religious authorities and life experiences. You had no trustworthy internal mechanism to judge the value and truth of what you took in; this process continues today from life and social media.

What’s stored in your brain and how you use it defines the life you experience. As you become more conscious of your beliefs and what you think about, you build the foundation to gain greater control of your life. Imagine no longer being a victim of unconscious programming that holds you back from that better life you so richly deserve.

This quick 3-step DIY exercise gets you started to be a neu and better you:

1. Pay attention to what you think about
Take 20 minutes after you get up in the morning and pay attention to your stream of thoughts. Pick a quiet and comfortable place to sit and write down your thoughts. Neither try to initiate, nor stop thinking; thoughts will come of their own accord. Pay attention to the way each thought makes you feel; then, record positive and negative symbols next to each thought. This exercise gives you a diagnostic view of what’s going on “under your hood.”

2. Use “high road” thinking to cancel out negative programming
Every thought with a negative feeling can be cancelled out with “high road” thinking and behaviors. As an example, you may experience fear about your financial situation. Make a list of your beliefs about your finances; they may include scarcity, competition, unworthiness, helplessness and victimhood. Reverse these beliefs with their positive counterparts; your neu thinking is now abundance, cooperation, worthiness, capable and captain-of-your-life. Even if you don’t believe this, “fake it until you make it.”

3. Use your brain strengths in a conscious manner
When you know your brain strengths you can leverage them to process incoming information, examine your beliefs and implement high road behaviors. Now your strengths are working for you instead of against you.

When you change your thinking, your behaviors automatically change; then, outer-world experiences automatically change. You can trust your brain to correct and change what’s holding you back from being the best you can be. The key is to keep thinking on the “high road” until your desired outcomes occur. Change your thinking, change your life.

Neuidentity.com, with its myriad of products, services and resources provides you with trusted practical neuroscience knowledge and tools to be a “neu you.” You can do it!

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