Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Connecting and Brain Rules

Cover of "Brain Rules: 12 Principles for ...Cover via Amazon

I am reading a fascinating book called Brain Rules by Dr. John Medina. I have always been fascinated by the function of the brain and how it works or in my case, sometimes doesn't work. My good friend Carlon Haas was in town over the summer and suggested I read it so many months later and three quarters of the way through it I am so glad that he did.

One of the interesting aspects that I have learned is just how active a role we plan in forming new neural pathways when we put ourselves in a position to learn something new. For example, I have diligently tried to learn to play guitar for years but have only recently committed the time necessary to practice and play; each time learning a new rhythm, strum or pick sequence. I can't make any of my music sound like anything you've heard but every time I pick up the guitar I sound better and according to Dr. Medina, each time I play I am training my brain to build upon what it discovered the time before. My brain and my ability are actually getting stronger with each self-imposed lesson.

I find this fascinating and of course look for similarities between how we build our brains, so to speak, and what can be learned from such an example as we apply to how we make and build connections. What I have discovered is something very similar. Just as each time you challenge yourself to learn something new or practice at building proficiency at a skill or ability the same exact thing happens when you are building a new relationship. With each interaction, each new discovery of commonality (or dare I say it....connection point) with the increased awareness of someone's uniqueness/coolness we are building something. Like with the brain each experience we take on the journey of getting to know someone further strengthens and builds upon the experience before and that's where mere connections can become so much more. I find that fascinating.

So if I picked up my guitar and taught myself to play the G chord one time my brain will hold onto that. It may sound like crap but it's a G chord. However if I never pick up that guitar again then the G chord knowledge and my pathway to it slowly over time diminishes and eventually disappears -- the brain assuming it is unimportant since you've never come back to it (see a pattern here on why some of your connections stay just as connections? I'm just saying!). In order to get good at the G chord, like with building my relationships, I have to keep building upon what I've learned and experienced before and allow my brain and my knowledge to be further reinforced until I become proficient and skillful at playing it.

Your connections require the same commitment in terms of attention, focus and practice. You have to continually build upon those pathways to discover and grow your relationships and that takes time and determined effort. But just like playing the guitar, if you proactively put forth the effort and take the time to build upon what you know and learn from your connection the rhythm of a connect can turn into a relationship which may eventually start to hum like a jukebox full of quarters.

Wow....I got all of that from a brain book.

Ripple On!!!

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Carlon Haas said...

Glad you're enjoying the book, Steve.

Steve Harper said...

It's a good one. I am recommending it to virtually everyone!