The Human Mind
Talked about skill acquisition this morning everybody clear on what we talked about or any questions that came up over the course of the break that you want answered all quick yeah kannapolis what was the fast greenback lower for you are only skill acquisition one or two examples oh yeah so so in in terms of fast feedback loops the computer compiler when I was learning learning programming was a big one uh falling into the water and wind surfing is if they go on um when I was learning how to type I uh actually you know, having the text appear on the screen the way that I wanted to is a fast feedback loop um I learned how to play a really complex really old board game called go it's it's kind of like chess only different um I playing against human players and playing against the computer is a really great fast feedback loop when you do something that doesn't work, you find out very quickly and so yeah, every skill you know, that's that's kind of the fun part about picking up new things ...
as every every skill is is different in ways that sometimes you don't don't expect and so researching just enough about to sculpt about the skill to figure out what works and what doesn't and how you can get fast feedback that's part of fun and so we're going to talk about in this section behavioral psychology in cognitive psychology how people think how we collect information, how we behave and how we can use information about how the human mind works to make better decisions and very critically to anticipate the likely results of doing something. So the whole purpose what we're trying to do here is have a more accurate understanding of how people act and behave and that way if you're thinking about doing something in the context of your business or trying to change your own behavior you could have a much better guess of what's going to work and what's not going to work or ah prevent preventable mistakes if you have a really accurate understanding of how the human mind functions and really this is a topic that most people uh in business seriously seriously undervalued so when when you think about learning business you think about learning things like finance that's all well and good finance is important but this is the stuff that's really important because businesses are built by people for the benefit of other people right? You're a person you need to be able to work with yourself to get things done you need to be able to work with employees and customers and contractors and and peers and colleagues and business is people in a very real sense the more you understand about how the human mind works, the more you're able to take that information and do things that make a difference now, a couple of grounding concepts uh, here and this is the first one is is what I kind of refer to tongue in cheek is cave man syndrome, which your brain and body really aren't optimized for the world in which we know exist, right? In the grand scope of human history, the distraction of the internet has accounted for point zero zero zero, zero one percent of that amount of time, right? Your brain's not built to handle handle that level of stimulation, the number of things that we need to do or pay attention to in a given day, the amount of information that that is entering our minds, the structure of the world around us is way different today than it was even fifty years ago, one hundred years ago, let alone several a thousand years ago, which was a much more realistic situation for how humans have have lived for thousands of years were not built for this stuff. We're not built for business. This is not natural and that's okay, that's okay? And so one of the things that I think makes this concept really useful is starting the process of understanding the human mind and how we work with a certain amount of being gentle on ourselves, you're not meant to manage to do list five hundred items long, you're not okay, and sometimes we have expectations of we should be able to handle all of the stuff that's coming at us, we should be better at this stuff. It shouldn't be this hard, and really, we're doing things that are new in the grand scheme of human history and that's really cool, and we can learn how to do it well, but we can go a little bit easier on ourselves because our brains aren't built for this stuff. Okay? Now, as we talked about a little bit earlier as well, our brain and our body have performance requirements you have, you need to get enough sleep, you need to get enough food, you need to get enough water, you need to get enough air. There are physical limitations that are present on your mind's ability to do things, and if you take away the inputs, you don't get the output. All right? So a lot of times, you know, it's it's, easy to become so wrapped up in, particularly if you run your own business where you're responsible for everything so easy to say, don't have time to exercise don't have time to eat lunch don't have time to sleep because they got stuff to do uh, I'm is guilty of this as anyone else. Ok, this is something that if you don't get what you need to keep going at some point you will stop these were things like burnell and all of those wonderful psychological things start to happen and so really starting with the basics of how the human mind functions uh starts with the physical stuff right? Are you eating well are you sleeping enough? Are you getting exercise? Are you resting because if you don't you're not gonna be able to get things done okay, now in our understanding of the human brain it really helps tohave a very clear, very simple understanding of how the brain uh developed over time and I am not a neurologist I'm not a psychologist. Neuroscientists would probably kill me but it's useful to have a working model so we're just gonna do it so your mind very briefly with apologies to anybody any uh neuroscientists in the audience uh your brain is is comprised of very roughly very simply three layers they do different things and I call this the onion brain because uh these layers are built over top of each other. So you've got a layer in the core and then a layer over top of that in the layer over top of that and everything at the core it's kind of down here by your brain stem those air all of the parts of your brain that are responsible for keeping you alive so managing your heartbeat, making sure you breathe making you hungry, making you tired. All of those core physiological things are at the base of your brain is the oldest part of the brain responsible for keeping you alive, bill, and that that structure is called the hind brain, and this is actually there's, a really great book that covers a lot of this stuff written by an actual neuroscientist. His name is john medina in a book called brain rules. Um, so the hind brain keeps you alive. The midbrain is responsible for all of the things that allow you to interact with your environment, right? All of your sensory information, all of your emotions, your ability to recognize and anticipate patterns all of those things s o so think of all of the things that make a cat a cat in terms of what a cat can do. Those are all the things that you're midbrain takes care of. Okay, really old, very sophisticated, extremely fast. Another wonderful book about these types of processes thinking fast and slow by daniel condiment talks about this as system one really fast, really the types of things that allow us to take in information and turn that inaction midbrain, the forebrain is this little thin layer on top of the midbrain that really is responsible for all of the things that make us human in a sense logic, rationality, language all of those things are very new and sit over top recently developed okay what's helpful to understand is these systems interact with each other, but they're responsible for different things and sometimes they fight right? I really should go on a diet, but man, that don't it looks really good right now is an example of your brain fighting itself and innocence, right? So it helps to understand that what we perceive ourselves doing between and the difference between what we want to do and what we actually do. A lot of times those conflicts have biological roots, there's something happening in our brain that's resulting in this particular output. And so a lot of the things that we're going to talk about in terms of understanding how to work with our brain will really revolve around trying to eliminate or reduce the conflicts between the different systems in our mind that want different things, ok, that makes sense extremely simplified, but a model that is detailed enough to be useful okay now defining human behavior and where it comes from there's a very common theory hypothesis about human behavior that's that's been taught for a long time most of us have probably heard it, which is is the whole stimulus response kind of model? Right? So you poke something and it yells something happens and then something how else happens? Um that theory has been around for a long time was was very famously taught by famous psychologist b f skinner and a lot of what really is behavioral psychology changing things in order to get people to act in a certain way is based on that model, right? If we poke in a certain way, we're going to produce a certain response interesting thing about that model is it's wrong? It doesn't really help you accurately predict what somebody is going to do, and a very basic illustration of this is let's say you're running a business and you have part time employees that are paid hourly and you want to the response or trying to get is you want them to work more? What do you tell them? Right stimulus response? If I pay people more, then they will put in more hours so they can make more money and so they'll work more right? Good in theory nice, simple you couldn't do do that right here is what will actually happen. Some of your employees will work more because they want they'll pick up more hours because they want to get paid more that's awesome some of your employees will work exactly the same number of hours you're just paying them or to do it right and they will say a boss, thank you and I am going to work the same number of hours and you're just going to pay me more for that privilege. Some people will work less because they're working to achieve a certain amount of money and they can do that in less hours once they reached that threshold there out the door doing something else right one stimulus the same stimulus applied to everybody produces three different results, two of which are exact opposites of each other stimulus response does not really capture the complexity of human behavior. So as a theory it's not so useful. What is useful is this and this is an idea called perceptual control and there's a wonderful book on this topic by william t powers called making sense of behavior, which I which I highly recommend this is something that route that really involves rewiring your brain to think in a new way it's just just a different way of thinking about behavior. And this is the idea we act, not a stimulus response machines. We act to keep our perceptions within acceptable boundaries, and this happens at all levels of human behavior. So on a very basic biological level, we want a certain amount of, for example light to enter our retina so we can see things right that's a perception and we act in ways to regulate that perception, so if it's too dark and we want more light we may do lots of different things, right? We may open the blinds, you may turn on the light switch, we may find a flashlight, we're going to act in a way if the amount of light hitting our retina is lower than we want it to be, we're going to act in a way depending on our environment to bring that perception back up into a normal range. Okay? Likewise, if there's too much light, we're going to do the same thing, we're going to act in a way we're going to put on some glasses. We're going to turn off the lights, which we're going to do, things that lower that threshold of light, heading our retina into a comfortable level. Ok, that is perceptual control and you can really think of it as a zone analogy. Humans are more like thermometers then anything right? So in your house, if it's too cold heater kicks on, it is too hot air conditioner kicks on, but there's there's some type of perception that is managed by that behavior and all of our actions are really designed to bring that perception back into an acceptable level. Does that make sense slightly different way of thinking about it now the core idea there is there some something that where it means to be in control, the system is in control and that's called a reference level right so we tend to as human beings tends to like the temperature to be somewhere between sixty eight degrees and seventy four degrees if we can add at all control that right if the temperature is out of that range we act to change it okay that range is called the reference level right what is the range of acceptable behaviors and there's a bunch of different things uh reference levels can look like different things right so we talked about a range of temperatures that's a range sometimes it's a set point it needs to be exactly a certain amount in order to be in control or we we'll take action sometimes the reference level is an error and a good example of that is actually the pain receptors on your skin if they're not sending signals everything is normal right the minute you get poked those signals fire off there's an air there's something wrong something needs to be changed so the controlling part of of the perceptual control systems in our mind and in our body is the reference level when the reference level is violated we act does not make sense corollary to that when the reference level is not violated we don't act right good example here let's say you know go back to the working as a freelancer you're working to make a certain amount of money what happens when you're making enough money always good you don't work right I'm going to sit at home in my pajamas and play xbox because that sounds like a really wonderful thing to do right? Yeah seriously yeah there's there's so much about these ideas that really like instantly explain why we have been doing certain things if the reference level like if all is good we don't do things and we're not going to do something until the reference still some type of reference level is violated sometimes is a freelancer that's a source of income drying up it was like oh crap I need to go out and make money and that kicks you into action now the historical basis for this being lazy is a feature not a book because when food was scarce er and we had less energy to expend you know, we didn't spend all of our time time running around because if a neighboring tribe came over or a lion tried to pounce on you you need to have some energy left in reserve to take care of that threat right? So there was a payoff to being lazy you're conserving your energy for a more important use that does not serve us so well now right particularly if you want to keep expanding or growing or doing things tio provide a particular result you needs to be able to kick yourself into action they're a bunch of different ways of doing that all of those things involve choosing to violate a reference level, right? So one of the things that really happens a lot to business people is you reach a certain level of income all this good, you're happy you're satisfied not feeling particularly motivated to really do anything else because everything is cool there, and then you open up a magazine and you see some competitors in your industry who is doing super awesome and you say to yourself, man, I could do that, I don't have that thing, I don't know, I could do that particular thing, it violates your expectations of what's possible, and it kicks you into action, right? So a lot of the things that we're going to be talking about in terms of goal setting are all based on this ability, we ourself we're choosing to violate our reference level for ourselves in a way that kicks us into action and gets us moving again, right? So we're all of the things that we're talking about. Here are the theoretical underpinnings of all of the productivity techniques that we're going to be talking about for the rest of the day. This is why it works, and the cool thing about knowing about why it works is you can use it in specific instances to accomplish certain goals.