TEDxPortsmouth - Dr. Alan Watkins - Being Brilliant Every Single Day (Part 1)

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Translator: Queenie Lee Reviewer: Ellen Maloney Thank you very much, Lee. I'm going to talk to you about you, and how you can be brilliant every single day. So, a big ask! I spent the last 15 years working with some of the best CEOs and executives around the world. One of my observations is some of them are absolutely fantastic, but the problem is they can't be fantastic every single day, which reminds me of a story. I was sat on the couch at home, watching the TV about five years ago. Not that I'm a golfer, but I was watching the British Open. A very good golfer, Sergio Garcia was playing, and he'd been brilliant all week, dominating the field. It came to the last round, and he was fantastic. On Sunday morning, in the front nine, he scored 39 shots. The previous day, on the Saturday, he'd scored 29 shots on exactly the same holes. So overnight, he'd lost ten shots on the same hole. What happened was Padraig Harrington came past him and won the British Open, and the Claret Jug. Very interestingly, exactly a year later, Padraig Harrington beat Sergio Garcia. I think it was in the US Masters, Sergio played brilliantly all week. He got to the Sunday, and something went wrong, he was leading the field by six shots, and on the Sunday again, Padraig Harrington came past him. So that was really interesting to me. And Peter Alliss, the famous golf commentator, is watching this, and says, "It's a funny old game, golf." (Laughter) As though, it's a complete mystery why these things happen. As though there's a complete loss of form. So I'm shouting at the television. It's no mystery to me. Actually, I know why that happened, and I know why Sergio Garcia basically between 2007 and 2008 really didn't learn that much, because he made exactly the same mistake in 2008 as he'd made in 2007. So I'm going to share with you the secret about that - some of the things that we've been teaching the executives, bringing in some neuroscience, which is my background; and going to reveal some secrets as to how your system works. When I go through that, and I'm going to break with TED tradition at the end of the talk. We're going to have a bit of live demonstration of something. But I want to just give you model that we work to that starts to explain why Sergio or anybody or why you may lose performance, and what you need to do to maintain your brilliance every single day. If we're all after the same goal, we're after improving our performance in some way, or the results in some way. It doesn't really matter what kind of results we're talking about. Whether they were talking about sporting results, whether we're talking about business results, academic performance, relationship performance, sexual performance. Don't know why I'm looking at Simon when I say that! (Laughter) But whatever we're talking about ... (Laughter) What is going to improve our performance? First and foremost, in order to change the result, you've got to focus on people's behavior. So we've got to do things differently in order to get a different result. Most performance appraisals in industry focus on what you've been doing. You go to see your boss, and he said, "Oh, I've got some 360 data. You've been doing these kind of things, that's really good; these other things; not so good. So a bit less of that please, and a bit more of that, I want you to do that and less of that." Sometimes that actually works, and you get a different result. But an awful lot of times, it doesn't make much difference. It will only make a difference if the leaders stood over that employee cracking the whip and making sure they do this. So it's necessary but insufficient. And the reason being is that even when people know what to do, sometimes they just don't do it. I know I ought to make another thousand calls to a thousand customers, but do you know what? It's Friday afternoon. Mmm, I'm not going to do that. So it's not enough just to focus on what you can see on the surface, on the behaviors. You've got to get to grips with what's on the inside of individuals. Why do people do what they do. If you really want to change performance permanently, and be brilliant every single day, you've got to get to grips with the inside. First and foremost, what's driving behavior is how people think. How you think determines what you do. When I'm coaching a CEO, if he thinks I'm an idiot, he's not going to do what I say. Why would he? Or if he thinks what I'm saying is rubbish, he won't do it. So I've got to get a grip of what he thinks about, in fact, that requires me to ask him some questions, which is a lot more complicated than just observing the behaviour. But our view is if you don't get to grips, and start to ask some more detailed questions, you won't get a sustainable change in the results, it won't last. You'll get this variance in performance, this form loss. So you've got to get to grips with how people think about you, about what you're saying, about the world. But even if you did, it's not enough. Because there's something more fundamental driving how people think. So how you think is really hugely influenced by how you feel. In fact, these two things affect each other - thinking affects feeling, and feeling affects thinking, it goes back and forward in a loop. But the dominant factor really is feeling. So for a whole bunch of neuro-scientific reasons we haven't got time to explain, if you want to change what people do, you've got to change their thinking. If you want to change their thinking, you have to change how they feel. This is a much more significant impact on that than the other way around. So if you feel anxious, for example, it's no good me saying to you, "Don't worry." You all have experienced that doesn't work. "I'm doing this exam." "Don't worry." "Oh, do you know what? I hadn't thought not to worry, that's the answer then." (Laughter) "I'll not worry! Oh, good! How much was that?" "There's the check." It doesn't work like that. You've all experienced if you feel anxious, you feel anxious, and no amount of, "Don't worry," is going to help. Often makes it worse. You'd say, "It's OK for you to say, 'Don't worry,' I'm worried." So the real active ingredient is you've got to change this. It's still not enough. There's something more fundamental driving how you feel, and that is your raw emotion. So you've got to change the emotion in order to change the feeling in order to change the thinking. You may be sat there wondering, "Wait a minute. Feelings - emotions are the same stuff, isn't it?" It is not, right? So many people don't realize, in particular, many of my own friends in science and medicine don't realize that feelings emotions are not the same thing. Many people don't even realize feelings and thinking are not the same thing. Particularly men, right? (Laughter) So you ask many men to tell you how they feel, and they tell you how they think, because they don't understand the question, right? You can see most of the women in the room nodding. "That's true. That's been my experience." Most of the men sat there going, "What, what's he talking about?" (Laughter) These are not the same phenomenon: thinking and feelings, feelings and emotions are not the same thing. If you want to change the result by changing the behaviour, there are multiple levels ... Even if you've got to grips with the emotion, still not enough. There is something even more fundamental down in the basement of the human system is your physiology. So the reason you get variance like Sergio did in his performance is there are multiple levels that Sergio Garcia hasn't got control over. He's just concentrating on his technical putting performance or the way that he drives the ball. He hasn't got a grip of any of this other stuff. Even if he's telling himself and rehearsing mentally, "I'm a good golfer ... " It's not enough. Because there's still three levels that he hasn't got a grip off. So if you want to be brilliant every single day, you've got to get a grip of every single level. And that's how you crank out your A-game every single day. Let's just work from the back to the top. If we start with physiology, what is that? That are just simply streams of data. That's all physiology is. It's data streams. So as I'm talking to you right now, most of you are getting streams of data coming into your brain about what's going on in your body. So some of you had the cupcake at the break, and you'll be getting a signal from your gut saying, "Oh, sugar. We got sugar." It's coming into your brain tell your brain what's going on in your gut, right? Some of you are getting contractions around that cupcake, so you've got pressure waves being created, telling your brain about what's going on in your gut. These are just bits of physiology. They're just data streams. As some of you might write or type, you've got joint position sense going up the nerve channels into your brain telling your brain about where your fingers are. They're just bits of physiology, just streams of data, if you will So what's an emotion? If you take all the streams of data whether it's coming from your gut, or your joints, or your heart, or your lungs. If you take the data from all the streams, all the bodily systems and it comes into your brain is are electrical signals, electromagnetic signals; chemical waves, pressure waves, take all of those signals, all of those systems, that's what an emotion is. It's simply energy - "E" - in motion. That's all emotion is. So we all have that, even us fellas. We've all got emotions every second of every day. There is an energetic state going through us. Because we're constantly digesting, breathing in and out, our hearts constantly beating. It's happening all the time. So we've got energy in motion every single second of every single day. But we may not all have feelings. Feelings are the awareness in our mind of that energy. That's where the problem is. The energy may be there, but we just don't feel it. For example, if you take a very common experience of most people, if we look at what is the energetic signature, if you will, of something like anxiety? So what goes on physiologically when we're in a state of anxiety? We look at the heart rate, it's fast. The heart is going boom, boom, boom. What else is happening? What's happening in the mouth? The mouth's dry. You're talking as though you've got cotton wool and can't ... That's happening. What's happening the palms of your hand? They're sweaty. What's happening the gut? It's churning. These are the specific physiological constituents of that thing that you would know as 'anxiety.' And then I ask you, "How did you feel?" and you say, "Alright." So all that data is there, you're just not feeling it. If you're not feeling it, it's altering what you're thinking and how well you're thinking it, which is changing what you're doing. But you don't realize that because you feel alright. You're not noticing any of that. You're just thinking what you're thinking and doing what you're doing. So what we're saying is that the brilliance every day requires not only to tune in to what's happening down here at a physiological and the emotional level, and not only become aware of that, but get control over it. Because most of you do not have the control at that level. In fact, very few people have got control of any of this stuff on the inside. Even when people have been highly trained on regulating their behavior, even then got that much control over this, so that's the source of your brilliance. If you can get control over the whole thing, you can crank out your A-game every single day. So how do you get control? To start, which bit of the physiology? Given so many different signals, where are we going to start? We're going to start with one specific signal, which is the electrical signal of your heart. So your heart beat, when your heart beats: ping, ping ... If you watch the medical programs before it goes (Beep) As it always does, doesn't it? So the "ping" is the heart basically contracts, and causes a spike of electricity. You can measure the distance between each heartbeat, and I don't know if you know but the distance between each heartbeat varies over time. If we look at your heart rate over time, we'll see that your heart rate will vary up and down like that. If you go to the doctors, he takes your pulse rate and says. "The average is 70." But in taking the average, he's not ignoring all the variance. It's the variance that really matters. Taking the average, you lose all the critical data. That's like listening to Mozart and say the average is "Da..." (Laughter) Was that Mozart or was it Pearl Jam? OK, we don't know. So it's the variance or 'heart rate variability,' that's key. Heart rate variability key for three reasons: First, it predicts your death. By measuring your variability for 24 hours, I can tell you when you're going to die. Now I have your attention. (Laughter) So we tell this to organisations. Did you know what? They don't care. So we can't sell them on that. The other reason is it predicts ... If we measure HRV for 24 hours, it can tell you how much energy you've got, which is interesting to leaders because leaders need lots of energy. But the real reason that they buy and they're interested in this is because HRV alters brain function. So when I put you under pressure, what basically happens to your HRV is it becomes super chaotic. So basically, your brain receives a signal from your heart up the nerve channels, which when under pressure becomes super chaos. The consequence of the super chaos is it shuts off your frontal lobes and you have a DIY lobotomy. (Laughter) So under pressure, you lobotomize yourself. It's as though you've suddenly taken the stupid pills, and you are "Uh ... " like that. So I thought we'd just show that to you for a live demonstration to show you how easy it is to create chaos in your biology, whether you want it to happen or not. So we need a willing volunteer for this moment. Just come up and sit down. I'm going to show you how to be brilliant by showing you your physiology. We need a volunteer to come up. All we're going to do is just put a little clip on your earlobe. Thank you very much. Give him a round of applause by way of encouragement. (Applause) Thank you. What's your name? Neil: Neil. So Neil is very kind. He has no idea what we're going to be doing to him. So this is really very brave. First of all, we going to make sure Neil is alive. So is his heart beating? You can see that every time his heart contracts, it squirts blood up into his ears and his ears go red. Between contractions, all the blood drains out and his ears go white. If you look at the person next to you, you can see their ears flashing. Red white ... Actually, you can't see that because your eyes aren't sensitive enough. But what this little clip on Neil's ear can see is we can see the change in color, - here's red, here's white ... So this is a heartbeat. It's a good news, you know. You're alive, mate. The heart's beating away. Boom... So the heart's beating. So what the software does, it measures the distance between each one of those beats, and based on the distance between this beat and this, it calculates its heart rate says it's 76, and calculates it again and again ... You can see that his heart rate boggling along about 75 beats per minute. So pretty relaxed, sat in a chair, your heart rate should be doing about beats 75 per minute. What we're going to do in a moment is we're going to put him under a bit of pressure, and see how well he copes with that kind of pressure. Are you good under pressure, Neil? Neil: Don't know. We don't know. We're about to find that out, aren't we? Let's see how well he does under pressure. So we haven't started yet, and already his heart rate sort of creeping up to about 90. So he said well, what are we going to do here? We're going to give you some mathematics How good are you at maths? Neil: Quite good. AW: He's quite good. This will be no trouble, right? He thinks he's quite good, but his heart rate now ... (Laughter) I'm good. I'm quite good. He's gone off the charts and he's settling back down. You can see there's a lot of chaos going through his system right now. So even though I'm good at this, that is a natural physiological response to a challenge. You put someone under pressure, whether he wants it to happen or not, you see he might look like he's in control. He is not. In fact, I am the puppet master, right? (Laughter) I'm pulling his strings whether he wants me to do that or not. At the moment, there's uncertainty. The physiology is settled around 80, higher than it was before, because he doesn't know what's going to happen. Let's see how well his brain functions under pressure, how good at that math he really was. What needs to do is count out loud back with subtracting threes. I'm going to start with a certain number, take away three, then give me the answer. Keep going, serial subtractions, odd threes without making a mistake. If you make a mistake, it's 50 quid, OK? So financial penalty for every error. Is that alright with you? No problem at all. Count out loud, backwards, subtracting threes, the mention of "50 quid", look the heart rates crept up to 120, just the tension in the system. So again, I'm just talking to him that's all happening. Actually by me just talking to him, a physiology chaos is kicking in. That'll send a signal from his heart to his brain; that's going to be inhibiting his brain function. As fast as you can without making mistakes. subtraction of three, starting off at 300, go come on. (Snapping) 300, Go, come on. 300, Faster, Neil: 300, 297, 294 ... AW: 286, 270, 80, 75 ... AW: 73, 86 ... What? Two? (Laughter) Well done. Give him a round of applause everybody. (Applause) So what you can see is ... When I started to feed him the wrong answers - "208 ... What? ... What?! ..." It's called "cortical inhibition" or frontal lobe shutdown. So under pressure, the frontal lobe shuts down and the simplest of tasks - subtract three from that number - "Eh ... Ju ... Wha ... ?" Can't do it. That is happening to all of you when you're under pressure, right? Your brain is built this way. So one of the things you need to learn to do is to get control of that physiological level and switch from a chaotic signal to what's called "coherence." So the thing that underpins brain function is the ability to generate a coherent signal. So there's variance, but it's stable variance, as opposed to wildly fluctuant variance. That is the source of your brilliance. Thank you very much. (Applause)
Channel: TEDx Talks
Views: 1,501,734
Rating: 4.8448029 out of 5
Keywords: Portsmouth, TEDx, TEDxPortsmouth, Alan Watkins, tedx talk, ted x, English, ted talks, Psychology, Medicine, tedx, tedx talks, ted talk, United Kingdom, Dt Alan Watkins, ted, Complete Coherence
Id: q06YIWCR2Js
Channel Id: undefined
Length: 18min 42sec (1122 seconds)
Published: Tue Mar 13 2012
Reddit Comments

It would seem that meditation would honestly be a huge benefit to help solve this problem of frontal lobe cutting off.

👍︎︎ 3 👤︎︎ u/[deleted] 📅︎︎ Jun 17 2013 🗫︎ replies

He didn't really explain how to get control over your physiology though..

👍︎︎ 1 👤︎︎ u/[deleted] 📅︎︎ Jun 19 2013 🗫︎ replies
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