We have all heard that multitasking does not really work very well, and now I understand why!  I am one of those people that loves what can be known and understood just as much as I love what cannot be proved and just needs to be felt/experienced and believed.

How our brain works

Learning how our brain works, in this easy to understand way that David Rock offers in his book, Your Brain at Work, was eye opening.  To know that the part of our brain whose function is to learn, assimilate, and put together information is small and takes a lot of energy gave me a new awareness of why it is tiring to be focused and intent on something – and why it is so important to take a lot of breaks to allow that part of our brain to rest/rejuvenate. It also helped me see even more value in creating systems and automating as much as I can to allow a different part of my brain to take over when it is most appropriate and purposeful, conserving much needed energy for other things.

Brain and stress

He goes on to talk about how a reasonable amount of “stress” that he defines as a sense of alertness and interest is the sweet spot to greater performance.  That makes perfect sense in that for me, and my clients, I notice a marked difference in the amount of action put forth when engaged and excited about something vs when disinterested or overwhelmed.

Our emotions and the brain

Emotions are another big topic in Your Brain at Work and there is information about how to shift our emotions, through cognitive changes like labeling them and reframing our interpretation of an event.  “All interpretations of the world are only that – interpretations your  brain has made and ultimately just yours, therefore you have a choice about which interpretation you might use at any moment”.  Mr. Rock suggests that perhaps the keys to a happy life are “a good amount of novelty, creating opportunities for unexpected rewards, and believing that things are always going to get slightly better”

Relationships and our brain

There was some great insights into work relationships here too – both in how to collaborate and how to lead. We use different parts of our brain when thinking about people we believe are like us (and we see them as friendly/friends) and those we feel are different than us (we see them as foes).   This helps us understand why establishing rapport, getting to know others as individuals, before we attempt to work together, is so important.  Also shared is how to facilitate change in others.  When you (or you help others to) focus on the outcome wanted, insights/solutions will come more easily.  When the mind is more quiet (not getting lost in the details/story/history of the problem) the solutions evolve.

If you read this book you will learn “this is just my brain” which will give you a richer understanding of why some things work, why others feel like a struggle and what changes you can make to make the most of this part of you that is more changeable than you think!

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