Author Draws Success Strategies from Neuroscience
When Robert Cooper advises us to think with our guts and hearts, he means it quite literally. According to Cooper, an acclaimed leadership writer and educator, these places in our bodies have true motivational capabilities that have been neglected for long enough. Cooper's new book, The Other 90%: How to Unlock Your Vast Untapped Potential for Leadership and Life, not only explores the amazing potential for better working and living that has remained dormant in all of us for too long, but he also describes the results of new scientific research that formulate the basis for many compelling theories about life and leadership.
According to Cooper, the human intestines actually contain a "second brain," also called the enteric nervous system, which shapes all we do through 100 million neurons that learn, remember and influence our thoughts and actions. His book also describes a third brain in the heart, which communicates with the rest of the body information that pushes us to expand our possibilities and look for new creative opportunities. These impulse centers are constantly working with, and against, the powerful forces of the reticular activating system (RAS) at the base of the brain, which has a tendency to push negative incoming messages to the forefront of our thoughts, Cooper writes, before positive messages enter our perceptions.
Redirecting the Subconscious
These developments in the understanding of the human thought process create a compelling framework from which Cooper describes how we can actively manage the responses our bodies and minds generate to cope with daily existence.
For example, if your RAS is telling you that the mixed messages coming from a manager are a threat to your status, role or integrity, deeply set patterns and habits can affect your actions and limit your potential. Once you are aware of your subconscious reactions, they can be shaped and redirected through reconsideration, as well as projecting yourself into the future to ask yourself what response would have been the best. Responses like these reduce tension and distress, and foster growth and insight.
Keep Emotions In It
The cerebral cortex is the last place impressions reach, after first traveling through the neurotransmitters in our gut, heart and other parts of our brain. As a result, if we rely on the strictly thinking part of our brain too much, Cooper writes, "needless extra struggles appear." Balance is the key to unlocking the inner potential that lurks beneath our rational thinking, and feeling out situations will help us improve our leading and living. "It turns out that the oft-heard call to 'keep emotions out of it' ends up being a sure track to poor decision making," he writes.
From the neuroscience research as well as his personal experiences, Cooper draws lessons of inspiration and motivation based on tapping into the positive parts of ourselves that we have yet to experience. How can you clear your mind of distracting clutter? Keep a journal and refer to it regularly. How can you make better decisions? Tap into your collective intuitive intelligence instead of ignoring gut feelings. "Don't compete, excel," he writes. Get to know the core values that define who you are. "Notice what truly matters to others," he writes, and "slow down to show that you care." And, if you want to be respected, show others respect.
Cooper doesn't only focus on increasing mental ability. Physical conditioning also plays a part in how we project ourselves into the world, and this includes good posture, which he says is not forced, but unlocked. Bad posture makes breathing harder and reduces oxygen flow, he writes. After teaching readers how to align their bodies and align their lives to their biggest dreams, he encourages them to hope, care, take chances and rise up to see and utilize the best parts of themselves.
Tapping the Other 90 Percent
Cooper relates many of his ideas about leadership and the expansion of personal potential to the messages imparted to him by his insightful family members, and the diverse people whom he has met along the road of his own life. His book takes a warm and straightforward approach to personal development, and continuously projects the assumption that we have much more beneath our surfaces than we realize. He makes tapping the other 90 percent of our unused potential seem only a few easy mental and physical adjustments away. The benefits of his messages are applicable to all aspects of work and life.