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Autofocus Brain: 5 Tricks To Use Your Brain Like A Camera

Autofocus Brain: 5 Tricks To Use Your Brain Like A Camera

Think about the lens of an autofocus camera. Regardless of the distance, the focus adjusts itself in milliseconds to bring the object into sharp clarity and perfect focus.

Now, imagine if you could learn to use your brain to do that. Imagine if it could focus on various things in matters of milliseconds, seamlessly moving from one thought to another.

An Example on a Ship’s Bridge

If you are the bridge of my ship, you will find a symphony of random information flow and an orchestra of quick decisions.

I stand in command. We are a massive mammoth entering the Mississippi delta, about to pick up Pilot at the Southern end of the Mississippi river. With a draft of 40 feet, my ship is in waters not nearly deep enough. I have little room to maneuver and no room for error! Small vessels are whizzing past my bow and larger ones are coming downriver, often loaded, sluggish, and unpredictable. The port control is of little help in guiding me in. There is an efficient bridge team working for me. Everyone is on high alert. I am getting inputs from all ends.

Use your brain potential

    Here is the list of information packets that are reaching my brain at any given time:

    1. Speed and distance values in real time, as they keep changing.
    2. The possibility of ships and smaller vessels crossing my path at close quarters.
    3. Problems and changes in my ship’s engine parameters.
    4. Vessels departing anchorages heading towards me.
    5. Shallow patches of water creating difficulty in maneuvering.
    6. The Pilot boat is approaching and I need to slow down soon.
    7. There is a vessel behind trying to overtake me on my starboard side while I have another one on my port side.
    8. My agent wants to know my itinerary so that things can be arranged as soon as I enter the port.
    9. Port control is calling me on the radio to report to them.

    Not everything is going right as planned, so I also have additional information to consider:

    1. Technical difficulties I am facing with my ship.
    2. Unexpected movements by vessels around me.
    3. Difficulty in steering the vessel because of shallow depths (just to name a few).

    This continuous information flow is collected by my team and fed in real time into the primary central server — me. Besides, I also also have to control team frustration to prevent the system from crumbling.

    Here’s the thing: the default setting of a brain so bombarded by information is to get perplexed and confused. I just do not have that option. All of these inputs are being prioritized and filtered in real time by mere instinctive reflexes in my brain. Decisions are being made in seconds. One wrong decision can lead to a disaster. I am the last line of defense here.

    Overwhelming? Well, that’s just another day for us out at sea.

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    Maximising your potential

      The Importance of Correct Decisions

      In several professions around the world, decisions have to be made in seconds or milliseconds. And just like me, some people cannot afford to make mistakes — the price is too high. You have to know how to use your brain!

      A concert master conducting an orchestra will pay the price with a ruined performance in front of an audience, perhaps a ruined career over one wrong gesture of his hand. A soldier in the battlefield is going to pay the price with his life for any wrong decision. The pilot of a Boeing 737 will pay with the lives of everyone on board.

      In every phase and every sector of life, high achievers need to develop this habit of making the right decisions immediately.

      To use your brain to its full potential takes more than intention. It takes training.

      When you get hit by several information inputs at once, an untrained brain gets mesmerized and overwhelmed. Productivity declines. The ability to prioritize declines. If prolonged, this can lead to cognitive impairment, where you are unable to make any decision. Your productivity drops to zero.

      However, that is not an option for some people. As I said before, our mistakes cost dearly. We have no room for error.

      The Mechanism of Pulling off a Successful Venture

      To make an operation succeed, you must have:

      1. The ability to use your brain to prioritize information in real time and to act on the highest priority in the moment.
      2. Once solved, the ability to shift focus immediately and concentrate on the next piece of information.

      How You Use Your Brain for Prioritizing

      Prioritizing comes with experience in the job. We prioritize based on the balance between 3 things:

      • The urgency of the decision (Urgency factor).
      • How easy the decision is (Difficulty Factor).
      • The consequence of the wrong decision (Consequence factor).

      In the boating example above, if I make a wrong call on a vessel coming out of the harbour, it can lead to a severe disaster, hence the high Consequence factor. I may have just a few seconds to make that decision – meaning there’s also a high Urgency factor. However, the decision may be elementary for me, meaning a low Difficulty factor. This decision will have to be given a lot of attention in the moment, and once made, the brain can shift into things of lesser priority. How you use your brain for those few seconds can make or break the situation.

      On the other hand, in the same example above, the agent is asking me for my itinerary. Even if I give him the wrong information, nothing disastrous is going to happen, hence a low Consequence factor. The information is easy for me to give, hence a low Difficulty factor and, frankly, it’s not very urgent either — a medium Urgency factor. This decision shall be postponed for later as it is not a priority at the moment for me.

      What I have just explained is done by professionals all over the world. There are ways to improve on setting priorities, which we shall get into at a later date.

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      The Focusing Ability of the Brain

      Let’s talk about developing the ability to shift focus in matters of milliseconds.

      The problem with an untrained brain is that while you are focused on one thing, the remnants of your previous decision are still looming in your mind. It is distracting you and affecting your present decision. You are getting delayed. When there are several quick decisions to make, this will bring in undue haste and your brain may fail or refuse to decide quickly.

      It takes a bit of practice to condition a mind so that it can focus on one issue and then immediately shift focus to a new one with equal attention. This way, you use your brain to pay rapt attention to every decision, which makes them impeccable and error-free.

      That is my concept of the autofocus brain.

      The Auto Focus brain - use your brains true potential

        What if your brain could work like the lens of an autofocus camera, focusing itself and readjusting focus as needed in a matter of milliseconds? What if we did not get perplexed ever, no matter how many tiny bits of information come through to us? What if this was as easy for you as a walk in the park?

        When you get a series of random information inputs, it apparently seems that the mind concentrates on several things at once. This, however, is not true. It is not possible for us to pay attention to many things at the same exact moment. What we really do is dissect the information into smaller parts, concentrate on each part at a time and, once resolved, move on to the next. This is how you use your brain.

        5 Proven Methods to Develop Your Brain’s Ability to Focus Instantly

        What I am going to explain here is not theory. I have practiced this myself and I have trained my juniors to use this ability to their benefit. I know it works.

        These five different methods can be used individually or together over the course of a day. Each of them, with the exception of number 5, takes about five minutes of your time. Even if you follow any one of them just once a day, you will be able to use your brain in ways you never thought were possible.

        1. The breathing technique (5 minutes)

        This is something practised by hypnotists and yoga practitioners around the world. It works like a charm.

        For five minutes a day, sit in a relaxing comfortable position, close your eyes, and let go of your muscles. Now, focus on your breathing and nothing else. Feel the up and down movement of your chest or stomach. Feel the air entering your nostrils leading up to your lungs and feel the freshness in your body. Pay attention to this and to nothing else.

        If you have not done this before, your mind will wander off. This is not a problem. When you realize that you have branched out into different thoughts, just bring your focus back to your breathing.

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        2. Browsers option (5 minutes)

        Do you spend a lot of time in front of computers? This option is ideal for you.

        Open up 5 of your favourite sites in different windows. You can have them open on different browsers, like three on Google Chrome and two on Firefox, just to make it more challenging.

        Now, open one of them and read the content with rapt attention. Really concentrate on it! Do this for exactly a minute and then shift to the next window. As soon as you are on the next one, read that one with your full attention.

        It will seem difficult in the beginning and you will tend to think about what you were reading before. When you realize this, just bring your attention back.

        Time yourself for one minute using your watch or mobile phone. If you can, set it for a single beep every minute. When you find this easy to do, shorten the span to half a minute and use your 5 minutes to browse through ten sites. Try changing focus fast, yet concentrate on each item individually.

        3. The Facebook technique (5 minutes)

        If you are a social media fanatic, this option is great for you. Facebook is an ideal collection of random facts which can be used effectively.

        Open your Facebook page. Now read the first post for a minute. Do this with rapt attention to it.

        At the end of the minute, whether you have finished reading it or not, shift to the next one and pay equal attention. As before, this will be difficult in the beginning and you have to keep bringing your attention back to the post in front of you.

        Even if you have not finished reading one post, you must shift focus to the next one. This can also be done using Twitter, Yahoo, or Google+. It slowly becomes easier to shift focus briskly and to use your brain in this fashion.

        4. The fixed-point method (5 minutes)

        This one is for anyone who can spare five minutes of their time during the day to be alone and undisturbed.

        I want you to sit on the ground in a quiet place with your legs crossed. Draw a small dot on the wall in front of you.

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        Now, with your hands and body relaxed, look at this dot. Concentrate on it. Think about this dot and about its shape and size. You will slowly see everything else fading away, even the wall will seem blurry and the only thing in your focus will be this dot. If your attention wanders, as before, bring it back.

        When you think you can concentrate on this dot effectively for five straight minutes without distraction, put your ability to the test. Choose more noisy and distracting environments and do the same exercise. For example, while traveling, choose a fixed point in front of you and concentrate on it. Do not let the noise of the cars around distract you — needless to say, do not do this if you are driving.

        5. The attention method

        What are you thinking about right now? Are you just reading this post or are you thinking about something else? Just start paying attention precisely to everything that you do from now on. Most of the things you do don’t take much of your attention. They are mostly reflexes and habits. I am asking you to start paying attention to them.

        For example, the next time you peel an orange, peel it carefully and cleanly. Think about what you are doing. Once you’re done, pay attention to the taste and how it feels in your mouth. Consciously use your brain to concentrate on the immediate task.

        While talking to someone, pay attention to the conversation. Do not let your mind wander off to other thoughts. If it does, just bring it back.

        These methods, if followed diligently, will give you results within a relatively short time. They can work wonders for kids too. If your child is at an age where they can follow instructions, get them to do one of these during the day. Trust me, these five minutes can be far more beneficial than hours of study.

        With a bit of practice, the mind works on autopilot, focusing on the essential things only. This will make you a winner in all that you do, big or small, and increase your productivity infinitely.

        Photo credits: Ship heading into the diamond ring; The Azimuth Mirror : Photos Taken by Captain D. Camera: Free Images

        Featured photo credit: Liam Welch via images.unsplash.com

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        Last Updated on March 15, 2019

        How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

        How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

        When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

        Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

        In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

        What Makes a Leader Fail?

        A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

        If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

        And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

        What Is Effective Leadership?

        Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

        Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

        Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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        “… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

        How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

        To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

        1. Courage

        The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

        “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

        Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

        For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

        In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

        It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

        Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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        2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

        If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

        The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

        To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

        3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

        Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

        Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

        4. Likability

        Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

        When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

        Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

        So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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        5. Vulnerability

        Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

        When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

        6. Authenticity

        Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

        Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

        7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

        Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

        Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

        Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

        Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

        As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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        “A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

        8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

        Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

        This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

        9. A Passion for Continual Learning

        Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

        These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

        Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

        The Bottom Line

        No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

        Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

        More Resources About Effective Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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