Thursday, May 11, 2017

Train Your Brain To Focus. It'll Make You a Better Leader

Inc., May 11, 2017

You've probably seen the famous experiment that Harvard University psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons conducted in 1999. They filmed two teams of students--one in white t-shirts; one in black t-shirts--weaving around and through each other. Each team was passing a basketball back and forth. Then the psychologists showed the film to a group of subjects, who were asked to count the number of passes by the white-shirted team. Simple, right?

Not so much. When they made the film, Chabris and Simons had a student in a gorilla suit walk into the middle of the two teams, stop and beat her chest, and walk out the other side of the picture. After they showed the film to their subjects, the duo asked the subjects if they had noticed anything unusual. Almost half of the subjects never saw the gorilla.

The "Invisible Gorilla" experiment is often cited as one more lesson in the many facets of cognitive failure. But Friederike Fabritius and Hans W. Hagemann of Munich Leadership Group argue that a sharp, strong focus is an essential trait and strength of leaders.

"The truth is that what is often perceived as distracted behavior by outsiders is actually an indication of the exact opposite! It's a sign of intensely focused behavior," they write in their new book, The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-Based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance (TarcherPerigee, Feburary 2017). "Your brain has allocated nearly all of its resources toward solving one specific problem and has deliberately and efficiently shut out any stimuli that are considered irrelevant to the task at hand."

The problem with which leaders must contend isn't too much focus, but too little. We live in an era of distraction, when the ability to multitask is often celebrated as a virtue. Instead, say the authors, "multitasking is the arch enemy of focus." To beat this enemy and sharpen your leadership focus, Fabritius and Hagemann recommend these seven the rest here

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