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Getting Too Intense About Work

Getting Too Intense About Work

It’s easy to get intense about your work. Most people, deep down, believe what they do is valuable and important. They care about it. The employees most likely to feel burnout are the ones who put more of themselves into their job, spend more time at work, and take work more personally. But it’s a major step from there to treating your job with such intensity it starts to take over nearly all of your life.

Are you working harder and harder and feel like you’re getting nothing done? The problem may lie in your mind, not in your ability to organize your schedule. Piling on the intensity is the typical response of a potential workaholic to increased job demands. It’s also likely to be a major part of the cause of the increase. Overwork and frenetic intensity are great ways to lower productivity and increase mistakes and reworking. The employee who is approaching burnout is likely to be the last to see it. Until then, he or she will probably try methods of coping that make the problem worse — like increasing the hours spent at work, becoming even more personally involved in work problems and trying to drive away the blues by increased effort and concentration. You may be able to outperform your colleagues, but you can’t outperform your own limits.

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Surviving Burnout

Don’t just shrug off burnout as superstition or think you’re immune. It’s a serious issue that can wreck lives and produce problems for other people as well. The good news is burnout is entirely survivable. And your teammates and coworkers are more likely to be part of the solution that the cause of the problem.

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In most cases, they’ll already know there’s something wrong. They’ll have sensed the difference in your behavior and seen the change in your mood. If they’re keeping their distance, you’ve probably been growling every time they came near you. Any good manager will already have started to investigate to find out what’s wrong. It’s their job. But not every manager is good; and some see the problem and apply James Thurber’s classic remedy of “don’t think about it and it will go away.”

In the end, it’s up to you. Your health and well-being is more your concern than anyone’s. Change comes best from within. Slow down. Take time out to think and reflect on your needs. Break problems down into smaller pieces. Start with the most obvious bit and ignore all the rest. Then take the next piece. Never try to drive ahead and work your way out of the problem by making still more effort.

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As long as you take on tough assignments and push yourself you run the risk of going to far. What you need it to learn where your limits lie and stay this side of them. Pay attention to what works and doesn’t work for you. Forget the macho nonsense that you can take whatever the world throws at you. You can’t and nor can anyone else. If they say they can, they’re fools. The sooner you slow down and allow your own best ways of coping with life to guide your actions, the better off you’ll be.

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Adrian Savage is an Englishman and a retired business executive who lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his serious thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for anyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and his crazier ones at The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on June 20, 2019

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

There’s nothing quite like picking up a guitar and strumming out some chords. Listening to someone playing the guitar can be mesmerising, it can evoke emotion and a good guitar riff can bring out the best of a song. Many guitar players find a soothing, meditative quality to playing, along with the essence of creating music or busting out an acoustic version of their favourite song. But how does playing the guitar affect the brain?

More and more scientific studies have been looking into how people who play the guitar have different brain functions compared to those who don’t. What they found was quite astonishing and backed up what many guitarists may instinctively know deep down.

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Guitar Players’ Brains Can Synchronise

You didn’t read that wrong! Yes, a 2012 study[1] was conducted in Berlin that looked at the brains of guitar players. The researchers took 12 pairs of players and got them to play the same piece of music while having their brains scanned.

During the experiment, they found something extraordinary happening to each pair of participants – their brains were synchronising with each other. So what does this mean? Well, the neural networks found in the areas of the brain associated with social cognition and music production were most activated when the participants were playing their instruments. In other words, their ability to connect with each other while playing music was exceptionally strong.

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Guitar Players Have a Higher Intuition

Intuition is described as “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning” and this is exactly what’s happening when two people are playing the guitar together.

The ability to synchronise their brains with each other, stems from this developed intuitive talent indicating that guitar players have a definite spiritual dexterity to them. Not only do their brains synchronise with another player, but they can also even anticipate what is to come before and after a set of chords without consciously knowing. This explains witnessing a certain ‘chemistry’ between players in a band and why many bands include brothers who may have an even stronger connection.

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This phenomenon is actually thought to be down to the way guitarists learn how to play – while many musicians learn through reading sheet music, guitar players learn more from listening to others play and feeling their way through the chords. This also shows guitarists have exceptional improvisational skills[2] and quick thinking.

Guitar Players Use More of Their Creative, Unconscious Brain

The same study carried out a different experiment, this time while solo guitarists were shredding. They found that experienced guitar players were found to deactivate the conscious part of their brain extremely easily meaning they were able to activate the unconscious, creative and less practical way of thinking more efficiently.

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This particular area of the brain – the right temporoparietal junction – typically deactivates with ‘long term goal orientation’ in order to stop distractions to get goals accomplished. This was in contrast to the non-guitarists who were unable to shut off the conscious part of their brain which meant they were consciously thinking more about what they were playing.

This isn’t to say that this unconscious way of playing can’t be learnt. Since the brain’s plasticity allows new connections to be made depending on repeated practice, the guitar player’s brain can be developed over time but it’s something about playing the guitar in particular that allows this magic to happen.

Conclusion

While we all know musicians have very quick and creative brains, it seems guitar players have that extra special something. Call it heightened intuition or even a spiritual element – either way, it’s proven that guitarists are an exceptional breed unto themselves!

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Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

Reference

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