You didn’t expect us to give it away in the first sentence, did you? 🙂
Before we share our keys to optimization, let’s chat about the barriers to optimization…
Have you ever spent hours attempting to perfect an email, assignment, or project only to catch an error or misspelled word long after submission? Ugh, we know, we know, it has happened to us too! If you’re wondering why this happens, the answer is, the brain. Working on something for too long, or being under significant stress for prolonged periods, impacts our attention span and ability to focus. Overworking (obsessing over things) our brains reduces our ability to spot errors or conceptualize new opportunities because ‘obsessing’ is anti-optimization.
The brain is designed for efficiency and automates high-level tasks (i.e. writing to convey meaning) into simple (i.e. turning letters into words) parts so that it can focus on more complex functions (i.e. forming the meaning of our experiences and surroundings). This process, called generalization, is the reason why we miss details such as spelling or grammar mistakes when we review and continually review our own work. In seeking simplification, our brains will fill in concepts rather than expending the energy needed to focus on all the little details. If the brain is wired for efficiency and designed to create meaning from experiences, are all meanings formed based on fact and reality? Well, no and that’s because the path to optimization is grounded in growth and growth requires a commitment to fact-checking ourselves and accountability (sign up for the AJEDI-B Masterclass™ to learn more!).
How might unchecked ‘facts’ impact our ability to optimize? Easily! For example, if we encounter an aggressive dog, our brain will receive and process the information (whether factual or complete) as applicable to all dogs. As familiarity (safety) has been central to survival since the dawn of time, a support-narrative that all dogs are dangerous (unsafe) and should be avoided may be created, not that the specific dog or situation is. Similarly, we form bias-based narratives about people, processes, and things unfamiliar to us. These narratives coupled with the human tendency for sameness and a preference for routine may present themselves in how we treat others, perform tasks, and our willingness to learn and adopt new concepts, thereby preventing optimization.
If obsessing and bias-based narratives prevent optimization, yet I desire optimization, what do I need to do? Great question! The human brain is wired for connection and it is possible to ‘train and rewire our brains’, develop different meanings, and learn new skills and competencies. In its most basic form, this concept is called neuroplasticity. One way to increase brain connections is to learn from and with others; your willingness to engage those perspectives, learn from others, or learn a new task can lead you and/or your business to the level(s) and outcome(s) you desire. To best support the ‘rewire’, consider: 1) Gathering varying perspectives on you/your business from those around you and those impacted by you/ your business product 2) Investing in a consultant. Having someone who isn’t intimately connected to you and/or your business by your side will enhance your growth potential, and finally, 3) get comfortable with making mistakes and being cognitively flexible.
Studies have shown that our general fear of making mistakes may foster poor learning habits and impede our ability to have a growth (aka optimization) mindset.
Follow the optimization #Gems below to maximize personal and business results:
- Get Clear – on your why, your goals, and the support you’ll need to achieve them
- Ensure Alignment – between your strategy, goals, people (accountability partners), and deliverables
- Measure – know what is being measured, why it is being measured and when it has to be measured
- Step back & Support – take breaks, trust the best (those entrusted for support) and then get out of their way.