Tuesday 11th April 2017

Making Learning Stick Through Attention Density

By Lou Banks

Do you ever find yourself saying things like I have no confidence when it comes to public speaking, or I'm really terrible at Maths, or even the dreaded I'm not good enough.

If you’re running negative internal dialogue, you’ll become your own self-fulfilling prophecy. Telling yourself day after day that you have no confidence, guarantees you won’t be winning any prizes for most audacious pitch of the year.

We’ll explore this in more detail, but first, let’s talk bananas.

“Oh God! Not another up close and personal with a piece of fruit blog” I hear you cry.

Ok. Yes, well, not entirely. Just stick with me.

THINK about a banana. What does it bring to mind? Yellow? Bent? Squishy on the inside?

Now TELL someone about it. What do you say? Bananas are…a piece of fruit? Sweet? Full of potassium?

Ok, now tell me how bananas make you FEEL. Do you have a happy memory of banana milkshake as a child? Did you see your Dad slip on a skin once? Or does the smell make you run for the hills?

When you THINK about a banana, there is a flash of energy to that particular brain circuit and then it’s gone. When you TELL someone about a banana, you have to gather up information and make connections. You have to maintain focus on that particular part of your brain, driving more energy to it, which in turns fires up more brain circuits. When you employ FEELINGS, this creates even more energy, makes brain circuits fire at an astonishing rate and brings the banana into full HD focus.

That negative dialogue, which probably transpired as a result of some kind of unhelpful experience you had in the past, re-enforces harmful neural pathways until they become hard wired into your brain.

You are what you think about.

In the same way we can hard wire our brain negatively, we can actually re-programme it positively. Where we choose to put our attention can change our brain, which in time changes how we view and interact with the World.

‘The mental act of focusing attention holds in place brain circuits associated with what is focused on.” Dr Jeffrey M Schwartz.

Neuroscience and quantum physics research tells us, if you focus long enough, hard enough and often enough, you can change your neural pathways and brain circuitry.

This is Attention Density. And this is how we make learning stick.

When people say, “I can’t change!” let me tell you now, that you can. It has been scientifically proven. And who are we to argue with science? It isn’t easy and takes a lot of effort, but it can be done.

And here’s how.

Exposure + Repetition + Application = Permanent Change.

  • Expose me to new knowledge.
  • Repeat it in a way that is useful to me. Am I a visual or auditory learner? Repeat the learning in as many different ways as possible. Thoughts, words and feelings.
  • Apply it – Ever heard the phrase ‘use it or lose it?’ Anyone can learn something new, but if you don’t apply it, it won’t stick.

So is Attention Density just about repetition? Not entirely. We can repeat the learning as much as we like but if there’s no connection, it won’t stick.

Connection is crucial to our brain. If you tell me what to do and I don’t connect with it, then I’ll reject it. When we tell our kids to try a new dish, it’s generally a massive battle of wills. You coax, you entice, but it doesn’t wash. However, get your child involved with the preparation and they’ll be much more likely to eat it. It’s the same in the corporate World. Tell your team that there is a new way of working which they must comply with and they may reject it. Get your team involved with new ideas from the off and they’ll be much more likely to engage.

‘People tend to support that which they help to create.’ Peter Drucker.

Furthermore, be aware of judgments and threats. If we feel judged we become defensive, as we aren’t very good at taking criticism. Think about how to communicate in a way that is appealing and inspiring. We should of course step outside of our comfort zone but likewise, if we feel threatened, our fight, flight or freeze kicks in and we immediately shut down.

As we discovered in our banana experiment, when we use feelings and emotions, energy within specific brain circuitry is maximized. As a result we connect, we engage and we are inspired.

Often after learning has taken place in the corporate world, there is very little or no impact because there hasn’t been an Attention Density approach. And that’s where we come in. Our ‘Boltology’ method means Attention Density is part of everything we do.

Boltology instigates change. It helps you tap into your internal dialogue, so you can begin to understand what is holding you back. It shows you how to maintain the quality of focus on the specific learning by showing, repeating and role modeling. And not just on one level, we’ll encourage you to make connections through thinking, writing, speaking and feeling so that you can ultimately…

Say it. Do it. Be it.

About the author 

Lou Banks

Lou Banks, Bolt from The You

To find out how Boltology could radically transform your mindset and your organisation, drop an email to us at hello@boltfromtheyou.com

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