Complete Coherence’s CEO Dr. Alan Watkins’ TEDx Talk: Being Brilliant Every Single Day (Part 2) at TEDxPortsmouth Conference (Full Transcript)
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Well, this is kind of nice, isn’t it, because 18 minutes is incredibly difficult to contain what you want to say to 18 minutes, well it is to me. So we kind of showed you earlier on what goes wrong under pressure. So, the human brain is constantly getting a signal from all the bodily systems, but particularly the heart of the vagus nerve, which as we showed you is sort of erratic and under pressure, super chaos causes that DIY lobotomy. So you’re all built that way, and you’ve all had the experience when somebody kind of puts a challenge to you and it doesn’t really matter as you saw how small that challenge is. And it can be any type of challenge. Challenge to your point of view, a challenge to your ego, a challenge to your relationships, any type of challenge causes the physiology to go chaotic, causes the frontal lobes to be inhibited, and you become suboptimal straight away.
And what’s kind of interesting about that is when the brain’s inhibited it also inhibits your perceptual awareness so you don’t realize it’s happened. So you can come out of a meeting and go, “That went well.” And everybody’s going, “What do you mean that went well. You were rubbish,” because your awareness is inhibited, you don’t realize how rubbish you were. So it’s a bit of a Catch-22. So this is really what the phenomena underpins, lots of different things that you’ve seen and experienced yourself and seen. Stage-fright, people get stage fright and can’t remember their words. Kids go blank in an exam, it’s the same phenomena. Or my personal favorite Family Fortune, if you’ve ever watched that show Family Fortunes, the two people sit at the front. We’ve asked 100 people in the street to name something you put in a jacket potato, jam. It’s hysterical, you know, when your frontal lobe is inhibited you say anything, and it’s really funny.
Anne Robinson, The Weakest Link, she throws you a simple question, then stares at you, and you blurt out any sort of rubbish. So when you’re up with your boss, he might be the nicest boss in the world. If you’re feeling a little under pressure you suddenly discover you’re talking rubbish. Sometimes you even have that awareness. You almost sort of see yourself coming out with the most ridiculous nonsense. You think, “Why is this happening?” And it’s because you’re built that way. The human system is built that way is that under pressure, physiological chaos, brain shutdown. You’re designed that way.
You think, “Well, why are we designed that way?” And the reason is, the only reason you have anything in your physiology is survival. There are survival advantages to having brain shut down. And it goes back 200,000 years, so when you were wondering across the prairie, and a big grizzly bear comes out from behind a rock and says, “Oh, human being, there’s my lunch”. You don’t need clever thinking, in fact, if you stood there trying to be clever, “Is that the brown bear, or a spotted grey bear?” He will eat you. So you need brain shut down, your thinking has to become very unsophisticated, in fact it has to become binary. So you either have fight-flight, or play dead. Two choices, you either just drop to the ground and faint, or you’re prepared to slug it out or run. It’s binary. Anything more sophisticated you don’t need, it will kill you.
So here we are, 200,000 years later, and we still have the same biological mechanism. We’ve basically got 200,000 year old software, and we’ve never had the upgrade. We don’t meet Bear today, we meet each other. But in meeting each other, the same phenomenon goes on. We showed you how that chaos can cause somebody who’s even good at math, like Neil is, “Two hundred, uh, uh, ah, uh, shut up you’re putting me off! Two hundred uh, eh,” it becomes impossible, a simple task like that. I can tell you, I did this in the office of the Chief Exec of one of the leading retailers in the UK. His first answer was 298. And he went, “Oh, no, no that’s wrong!” And, he was so embarrassed that he got the first one wrong, he couldn’t think of the second one. It literally sounded like, aahh, like he was in headlights. He just couldn’t come up with anything.
So as I said, you’re all at the mercy of that. The point being, until you’ve got control of this physiology anybody can make you look like an idiot. Right? And what’s worse? You’re doing it to yourself an awful lot of the time. Right? Your own anxiety about you own performance is actually causing the chaos. So you’re just lobotomizing yourself. A lot of people around you can trigger you into a lobotomy but most of the time you’re just lobotomizing yourself.
So until you’ve got control of that absolutely, fundamental basic, you might be brilliant one day, you might be poor, and who knows what’s going to show up that day. So right about fundamental, the cleverness of your thinking, or your ability to read the line on a golf putt, or your ability to come up with a great idea, or how to innovate that sales process, or any of that stuff. The quality of your thought, in fact, the very things that you think and how well you think them is hugely influenced by your biology. All right?