Too much focus really does tire your brain

Have you ever felt that your attention is completely drained after a long day at work? Or maybe you find yourself struggling to concentrate after a few hours of studying? You’re not alone. Research has shown that excessive focus does lead to fatigue and a decrease in cognitive performance. That’s because your brain has a limited capacity for sustained attention. When you use it continuously without taking breaks or switching tasks, it gets overloaded and works less efficiently.

So how can you combat this brain drain? Here’s an interesting fact for you: by shifting between intense concentration and unfocused thinking, you can activate what is known as the “default mode network” (DMN) in your brain. This network activates when you are relaxed and not focused on a particular task, allowing your brain to rest and recharge.

It plays such a paradoxical role in mental focus that researchers jokingly refer to it as the “Do Mostly Nothing” circuit. After all, it only becomes active when you’re not concentrating intensely. When you’re at rest, though, the DMN in your brain uses up a significant 20% of your body’s energy.

As a success-focused professional, it’s important to understand why this matters to you. Put simply, regular breaks from intense concentration are crucial for developing new ideas, being creative, and sustaining high levels of productivity. By allowing your brain to rest and activate the DMN, you’re giving it the chance to make valuable connections between seemingly unrelated information.

 

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So, when you find yourself stuck on a problem or searching for new ideas, consider giving your brain some downtime. Go for a walk, enjoy a hobby, or simply let your thoughts drift. You’ll be surprised by the creative insights that come to the surface.

When making decisions, intense focus on a single task can limit your perspective. By relaxing and exploring alternative viewpoints, you can make more informed choices. So, when faced with a difficult decision, step back, relax and let your mind wander.

Always remember that your brain functions best when it alternates between focused thinking and relaxation. By embracing moments of relaxation, you can cultivate resilience, spark creativity and boost your decision-making prowess. Make sure you take those breaks, let your mind wander and use your downtime to power your uptime!

If you’re eager to delve deeper into this captivating study, the original article is available here.

This article summary was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer, success coach and people skills expert. She helps managers and business owners build thriving teams and organisations, using tools from Positive Psychology. She's trained more than 60,000 people during her career as a corporate trainer and professional development consultant. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference. 

 

Leadership coaching: the support you need

As a manager, your days are filled with people problems, budget issues and all sorts of other challenges. You’re expected to support everyone else, but who supports you? That’s where coaching comes in. Find out how coaching can help you thrive in your leadership role. Book a FREE discovery session with Eleanor Shakiba today.

Relationships are a key ingredient in happiness

Have you ever wondered what it takes to live a healthy and happy life? New research from Harvard reveals that, after 80 years of study, the answer may be simpler than you think. Through years of data collection and analysis, the study has identified certain lifestyle habits that are strongly correlated with health, happiness, longevity and fulfillment.

In 1938, scientists started to track the health of 268 Harvard students. This was during the Great Depression. They wanted to learn how to live healthy and happy lives. The study lasted for 80 years and is called the Harvard Study of Adult Development. Researchers collected lots of information about the physical and mental health of these students. They looked at their relationships, careers and other lifestyle habits.

The study demonstrated that close relationships are far more important than wealth or fame when it comes to living a long, healthy and happy life. This was true across all social classes, regardless of IQ or genetics, indicating that even those with few resources can still experience the same benefits of close relationships.

Fostering supportive connections within the workplace should be a priority. This can help employees feel more supported and less stressed, leading to greater job satisfaction, which ultimately leads to improved performance. Additionally, leaders should look for ways to encourage social connections with colleagues outside of work.

 

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Having a sense of purpose is essential. People who had meaningful goals and aspirations were more likely to live. Efforts should also be made to promote mental health. Leaders should be open to conversations about stress and mental health and consider ways to engage employees with purposeful activities, as this can have a major impact on productivity. The bottom line is that understanding these principles, leaders and organisations can build meaningful connections with individuals.

You can read the original article here.

This article summary was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer, success coach and people skills expert. She helps managers and business owners build thriving teams and organisations, using tools from Positive Psychology. She's trained more than 60,000 people during her career as a corporate trainer and professional development consultant. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference. 

 

 

Success coaching for leaders

Leadership can be tough at times. One-on-one coaching will give you the confidence to address any situation. Coaching zeroes in on your skills. You’ll learn how to solve your problems and flourish. Book your coaching program today!

Leadership is your job, not your identity!

Are you feeling overloaded and overwhelmed by the demands of your management role? You’re not alone in that! Many managers find themselves in this position at some point. Often, it happens because you haven’t learned to separate your self-concept from your job. And it leads to problems like workaholism and toxic persistence.

Does this resonate with you? Well, fear not! I’m about to explain the difference between the two and give you some tips on how to avoid this trap. As a leader, it’s important to recognise that your job is not the same as your identity. Your job is what you do, while your identity is who you are. Separating the two allows for a healthier and more resilient leadership career. And it is easy to do once you stop making three rookie leadership mistakes.

Mistake 1: Failing to see leadership as new career

It’s easy to fall into the trap of treating leadership as just an extension of your old professional role. But this is huge mistake. It feeds overwork, perfectionism and control-freak tendencies. As a manager, you need to see that leadership is not just a role. It is a distinct profession. That’s why management and leadership courses exist! So don’t assume you already have what it takes. Drop your old ways of doing things and start mastering the art of leadership!

 

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Mistake 2: seeking to please everyone

Woops! This is a biggie! New managers, in particular, often mistakenly think they need to keep everyone happy. But the truth is, you can’t! Nor should you. After all, leaders sometimes need to make tough decisions and handle difficult situations. Trying to please everyone will only create confusion, conflict and stress. Instead, focus on making the best decisions for your team and organisation. And don’t be afraid to communicate your decisions and reasoning clearly.

Mistake 3: confusing your job with who you are

Remember this. You are not your job. It’s important to have interests, hobbies and relationships outside of work. Plus, continuously striving to be the perfect manager will only lead to burnout and disappointment. Instead, focus on being real. Set boundaries, delegate and take care of your job is just one part of your life – don’t let it take over your entire identity.

So, are you ready to stop making these rookie leadership mistakes and start creating a healthier and more fulfilling career? Remember, your job is what you do, not who you are. So go forth and lead with clarity and confidence! By untangling your identity from your work role, you’ll bring authenticity, adaptability, and renewed energy to your leadership.

This article was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer and success coach. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference.  Since discovering her passion for training and development, Eleanor has trained more than 60,000 people. She delivers face-to-face workshops for corporates, online masterclasses for leaders and Positive Psychology retreats for trainers, HR practitioners and leaders. 

Where do your emotions ‘live’?

Imagine a life without  emotions. No happiness, no sadness, no anger, no fear.  It’s hard to even fathom, as emotions are such a taken-for-granted part of everyday life. But have you ever stopped to think about where these emotions come from?

That’s a complex question and it has intrigued scientists for decades. Thanks to advances in neuroscience, psychology and  technology, we now have a better understanding of the brain’s role in generating and processing emotions. It  turns out, they don’t just come from one specific area of the brain.  Instead, different parts of the brain work together to create and regulate your emotions.

The amygdala, the insula and the periaqueductal gray are three key structures that play a significant role in emotional processing. The amygdala, located deep within your brain’s temporal lobe, is often referred to as the ‘fear centre’. It’s responsible for detecting potential threats and triggering fear responses.

 

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The insula, on the other hand, is involved in both physical and emotional awareness. It governs the powerful negative reaction you have to unpleasant smells or tastes – disgust. Neuroscientists believe that the insula creates links between your internal states, your feelings and your conscious actions.

The periaqueductal gray, located in your brainstem, also contributes to your emotional processing. It is involved in pain perception. Plus, it moderates your reactions to pain-reducing compounds like morphine and oxycodone. So it’s no surprise that it also plays a role in regulating fear and anxiety.

As we learn more about the brain’s role in emotions, we are also gaining a better understanding of how brain function can impact emotional responses. This has implications for emotional intelligence, mental health and even leadership.

If you’re intrigued and want to delve deeper into the captivating world of emotions and the brain, I recommend reading the source article here. Keeping up-to-date with the latest research helps broaden your knowledge and aids in creating effective strategies for emotional health and well-being.

This article summary was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer, success coach and people skills expert. She helps managers and business owners build thriving teams and organisations, using tools from Positive Psychology. She's trained more than 60,000 people during her career as a corporate trainer and professional development consultant. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference. 

 

 

Inspire your team with positive provocation

We often talk about provocation as though it’s a  negative thing, but it can actually be a powerful tool for inspiring and motivating your team. By challenging the status quo and pushing boundaries, positive provocation can help create new ideas and drive change within your team. Let’s look at some interesting research about this intriguing concept and consider what it means for leaders and high achievers.

Positive provocation is a technique used to stimulate or challenge thinking constructively. Unlike negative provocation which aims to incite conflict or cause offense, positive provocation seeks to inspire and motivate. Psychologists have found that positive provocation can generate fresh perspectives and creative solutions to problems.

One study conducted by the University of Amsterdam looked at the effects of positive provocation in a team setting. The researchers divided participants into two groups – one group was exposed to positive provocation while the other was not. The results showed that those who were positively provoked demonstrated significantly higher levels of creativity and innovation compared to the control group. This supports the idea that positive provocation can be a powerful tool for unlocking untapped potential within teams.

 

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This finding is supported by a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, which emphasises the importance of appreciative team building. By focusing on the strengths and positive qualities of each team member, this approach fosters a supportive and empowering environment for collaboration and growth.

So, how exactly can you harness the power of positive provocation at work? It all starts with creating an open and inclusive space. Encourage team members to ask “what-if” questions and explore unconventional ideas. Here are five more questions to experiment with:

  1. What are the benefits of this problem?
  2. Let’s ditch the standard assumption that…is true. What does that mean for us?
  3. If …was not a problem, what would it be?
  4. If the opposite of what you’ve said is true, what possibilities could arise?
  5. What bold action would you take if there were no limits or consequences?

Remember, positive provocation is not about stirring up conflict or causing tension but rather inspiring creativity. Positive provocations have the power to transform your team’s dynamics, sparking creativity and collaboration. Backed by robust research, these thought-provoking questions unlock new perspectives and generate innovative strategies. Embrace the “what-if” mindset and watch as your team’s excitement and commitment soar to new heights.

Read the original article here from Psychology Today.

This article summary was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer, success coach and people skills expert. She helps managers and business owners build thriving teams and organisations, using tools from Positive Psychology. She's trained more than 60,000 people during her career as a corporate trainer and professional development consultant. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference. 

 

 

Be a bold, self-assured leader

Leadership is tough. Sometimes you need support. This is where coaching comes in. Leadership coaching deals with the real stuff. You focus on YOUR needs. You beat the issues that are holding your back. Book a free discovery call with to learn more here.

3 unconventional ways to show leadership potential (and get that promotion)

Want to stand out as an emerging leader? Then stop behaving like everyone else!  Real leaders aren’t scared to be different; in fact, they embrace it. They understand that being unique and authentic are key to creating a lasting impact. However, most of us are socialised to do exactly the opposite. This means that to stand out as an emerging leader, you need to break the mould in positive ways. For example, resist the temptation to be a Lone Ranger. Sure, it’s a common misconception that managers must cope alone.

With this in mind, here are my top tips for showcasing your leadership acumen – even before you get that first leadership role!

Tip 1: Be a (leadership) team player

No-one becomes a great leader without mentors, collaborators and inspiring peers. Right from the get-go, think of yourself as a member of the leadership team.  Collaborate. Ask questions. Listen to others’ ideas. And connect with people outside of your department or industry – you can’t think outside the box if you stay in it!

Tip 2: Embrace the power of positive deviance

Remember this: chameleons don’t stand out. Being a ‘positive deviant’, on the other hand, will set you apart. Positive deviants are people who challenge the status quo in a constructive way, driving innovation and change. So, don’t be afraid of going against the grain – that’s where real leadership is shown. Be the person who makes a difference, because then you’ll show you can be a leader who makes a difference!

 

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Tip 3: Swap politics for courageous conversations

Early in your career, it might be tempting to become a yes-person. Stop right there! As an emerging leader, it’s crucial to voice your opinions and challenge the status quo. However, this doesn’t mean being confrontational. Instead, have courageous conversations – those that are honest, respectful and solution-focused. This will demonstrate your assertiveness and emotional intelligence. In combination, these two traits are way more powerful than any skill in political manoeuvring.

So, what are you waiting for? Start standing out and making an impact as an emerging leader today! Remember, being different is a strength, not something to hide. Embrace it, be authentic and lead from within – the rest will follow.

This article was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer and success coach. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference.  Since discovering her passion for training and development, Eleanor has trained more than 60,000 people. She delivers face-to-face workshops for corporates, online masterclasses for leaders and Positive Psychology retreats for trainers, HR practitioners and leaders.