What does neuroscience and increased sales have to do with each other? It seems more than we would think. The latest research into neuroscience reveals that how we use our brain does make a huge difference to our long term sustainability, our overall wellbeing and our success in sales and other professions. The world of neuroscience proves what high performers have intrinsically done all along – by engaging in effective self appraisal, continuous learning, a healthy lifestyle and a mindful approach to work and one’s personal life leads to clearer thinking, better decisions and much better outcomes overall – short and long term. Kelly Rothwell, Barrett’s neuroscience expert says the choices we make, the view we take of things, how we process and manage information and how we take care of our overall health and wellbeing can all be learned. She says that “there is a lot of information about how to lead a physically healthy life style, i.e. diet, food, exercise but very little on healthy mental habits that can lead to enhanced performance.” Mindfulness is the practice of being in the moment. Mindfulness training, even a short amount has been found to increase attention span, increase cognition and reduce stress, and even increase our immune function. So how can we make our brains fitter generally, more practiced in ways so they can work for us in ways that help us achieve better results in sales and in our lives? A study published in the first NeuroLeadership journal found that there was a 30-50% improvement in the stress levels in a group of people trained in mindfulness, that is from just 100 minutes of training in one week. From the psychical sense of the brain, it is understood that practicing mindfulness thickens a specific set of neural circuits regarding our focus, control and attention. By practicing focusing and switching your attention, you increase your ability to do so – and the benefits are multiple – for example, several studies talk to the stress and health benefits that appear to come from practicing mindfulness. You also increase your self-regulation capacity, which is the ability to control what are known as our automatic neural functions – self-regulation has been closely linked to personal productivity, and even success in life overall, in long term studies by Walter Mischel. So how can we make our brains fitter generally, more practiced in ways so they can work for us in ways that help us achieve better results in sales and in our lives? Some important Brain facts:

  • Our Brain uses up to 30 per cent of our entire body’s energy supply
  • Our Brain uses about 20 per cent of our body’s oxygen supply
  • Our Brain wants to conserve as much energy as possible
  • When we expend energy from our Brain, it is from our Conscious processing part – our thinking, our focus i.e. problem solving, decision making, creating, etc. Thinking and focusing use up more energy which is not the main goal of our Brain, yet we need these functions to succeed and thrive. Ever wonder why you feel so tired after really concentrating on something?
  • The Conscious part of our Brain is our computer programmer (what we think). It is where all our thoughts, our ‘self talk’ takes place – whatever we think drives how we feel, which in turn drives what we do or say, and is then etched into our Subconscious
  • Our Subconscious is our hard-drive, with all the programming (our thoughts) in it. The subconscious part of our Brain manages 99.7 per cent of everything we do. Therefore if what we think is faulty or toxic we are programming our subconscious to be faulty or toxic
  • Interestingly our Brain does not recognise what is helpful or unhelpful to us, it just does what we tell it or ask of it. If we ask unhelpful questions or feed it unhelpful information, we are likely to get unhelpful answers when our subconscious retrieves it
  • The quality of our thinking in the Conscious part of our Brain can really affect our ability to perform well and if we do not recognise unhealthy programming that resides in the subconscious

This information is important if we want to work out how we can perform at more optimal standards with fitter brains. Finding ourselves in a more complex world requires even more considered thinking and focus. This means using the conscious part of our brain more often requiring more energy. Unfortunately the brain, by nature, wants to use less energy. Kelly Rothwell points out that one of the reasons we make assumptions is that from a simple brain perspective, we ‘assume’ to save energy. If we operate off old memories and experiences which are etched in our subconscious, rather than creating or writing new ones, it helps us save energy which is the main goal of our brain. Saving energy is a very important function, yet it does not help us in situations where we really need to pay attention and listen with focus and without prejudice. This is why, even with the best intentions, we are not always helping people or clients the best way we could or should. There is however some good news. As before, we can train our brain habits to improve the quality of our performance such as listening, questioning, processing, focusing, etc. Purposefully training our brain to the standard we want and need in turn improves our sales results and customer experiences. The good news is we can program in better capabilities by first consciously, deliberately making them important and practicing them until they become automatic, part of our subconscious. This way when we need to access these skills, they are easier to retrieve and fulfill the brain’s main goal; to consumer less energy. So which subconscious programs are currently serving us well and which are viruses causing us to derail? Every thought we have is either health enhancing or health depleting, so how are you programming your brain and is it able to give you the performance you need? We need to take care with our thoughts. We have a saying at Barrett ‘watch who you let near your mind’ for good reason. Thoughts are very contagious and passing on the wrong ones to others can have disastrous consequences. Just think how most people feel about prospecting – most people are scared of it even if they haven’t had to do it themselves. Most of their perceptions are formed from hearsay not actual experience. This is why all of our programs include Mindset as a critical component so people can reboot their subconscious hard drive with better quality content and habits. It’s also why Barrett recommends interval training for all our programs to provide opportunity for people to apply their new skills, behaviours and mindset bit by bit so they create new and better habits in their subconscious. If you want to develop or improve your brain fitness take a specific look at our Optimistic Professional program on our Mind Your Emotions website. And for more information on neuroscience and sales culture please contact our head of Consulting and neuroscience expert, Kelly Rothwell on 03 9533 0000. Remember everybody lives by selling something. Author: Sue Barrett, MD of www.barrett.com.au

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