Diving deep in to our brains

Neuroscience teaches us that the functioning of our brain is determined by a very simple principle, which can be summarized in two propositions: our brain spontaneously seeks short-term rewards and it spontaneously tries to reduce short-term dissatisfaction.

This "reward system" is activated by the release of dopamine. Boston-based author and science writer Deborah Halber teaches us that it's not the reward itself, but the expectation of a reward that most powerfully influences emotional reactions and memories.

Moreover, our brains are a bit "lazy". The more a solution has been used, the more systematically and spontaneously it is reused. This simply works more economically. Reproducing a habit in the short term is less tiring than trying something new or different.

Brain errors

However, this is not without risks. Thinking errors or "cognitive bias" can strike more quickly here than one might think. Kendra Cherry Author, Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist, Educator, defines them as follows: “A cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking that occurs when people are processing and interpreting information in the atmosphere around them and this affects the decisions and judgments that they make”. (https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-cognitive-bias-2794963)

Cognitive bias, brain errors, will get in the way of rational decisions and will lead us to make wrong decisions. It is therefore important to be able to recognize them in order to anticipate those wrong choices.

Among the most common thinking errors is the tendency to look for people or even groups and viewpoints to confirm our advantages (confirmation bias). Social media play into this and offers us information that matches our thinking pattern. Several studies and surveys today show us "Why Social Media is Making us Narrow-Minded".

Probability, bias, system bias and the routine associated with it can also negatively influence us in our decision-making. Talking about negativity, the negativity effect, in short, those potentially negative consequences that we estimate and make us take a decision, should not get in the way of estimating the potentially positive consequences. Neither should the so-called herd spirit or herd instinct prevent us from making our own decisions in good conscience.

When we start projecting our thinking deeper into a further future, we also encounter other cognitive biases such as the project bias, which causes us to often project our current, personal preferences and opinions onto the future when making a decision. Or the time bias, where we start focusing too much on short-term consequences and not enough on long-term consequences.

Risks and rewards

Beyond biases and prejudices, science also teaches us that we allow our thinking and decision-making to be determined by a consideration of the risks involved in the search for a possible reward.

Deborah Halbert teaches us that: "Decision-making often involves evaluating risks in addition to rewards. Neuroscientists are investigating how the brain balances reward and risk, and how one’s emotional state affects this balance”. (https://www.brainfacts.org/thinking-sensing-and-behaving/learning-and-memory/2018/motivation-why-you-do-the-things-you-do-082818)

Central to this is the functioning of the prefrontal cortex, where motivation and reward are influenced, as well as self-regulation. For example, younger people whose prefrontal cortex is still developing are more easily inclined to take risks.

Neuroscience is a particularly exciting field, which will undoubtedly play a greater role in our future way of thinking, doing business and the decision-making associated with it.

That being said Stanford researchers are also observing decision making in the brain – and influence the outcomes: https://news.stanford.edu/2021/01/25/watching-decision-making-brain/

Adaptive intelligence

The Belgian Institute of NeuroCognitivism teaches us that societies, lifestyles and organisations accelerate with the rise of complexity. This institute posits that it is therefore vital to develop the skills of individuals to anticipate and serendipitously adapt in real time. So-called "adaptive intelligence", and developing or fostering it should allow us to (re)find "pleasure and sustained energy" to engage with meaning, serenity, confidence and autonomy in all circumstances.

Anyone who takes a moment and dares to question their own thinking pattern will probably absorb a lot of extra information that will enable them to build a deeper perspective of their activities and goals as a person or entrepreneur. This is all the more true for entrepreneurs who face new challenges and questions in a changing world, but also for high self-employed profiles, Interim Managers (to be) who will be able to make full use of their adaptive intelligence temporarily to bring a mission to a successful conclusion, resulting in a sustainable outcome.

So, our brain is not perfect but challenging it every day brings us a long way.

Are you ready to make the most of your skills?
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