Toast Note - 4 May 2017

It’s time to stop reading about change and change management for a spell. That was great while we were prepping a Thing for Work, and as an exercise in navel gazing and ‘talent and development’ it was entertaining, but there is a decided limit to how much you can learn from TED talks and bloggers about influencing the organisational soul. Merlin Mann helped me recover my equilibrium by reminding me that, “Joining a Facebook group about creative productivity is like buying a chair about jogging.” So instead I’m going to use my podcast and research time on refreshing myself on the latest in cognitive neuroscience. Brace yourself. Today, I offer you the completely counter-intuitive tip that you shouldn’t tell people about your commitments.

Why d*mit!?!? Cause that ain’t what I learned back in People School 101!! #brainscience

It turns out that your brain feeds you a wee bit of chemical happy juice when you do something it likes. If you do a small incremental task that moves you towards achieving a Big Objective, >zap< happy juice. You literally get the biochemical equivalent of a gold star. You know this feeling people… it’s the one you get when you do something, then you write it on your to-do list, and then you immediately cross the item out as complete. YEAH ME!

But like your primary school teacher, the brain only has so many gold stars in its box; There is a finite amount of happy juice per day. Now this is where it gets tricksy. When you TELL someone you’re going to do a Big Objective, the brain doesn’t know you haven’t done a small incremental task and instead it thinks you’ve done something useful so it gives you some happy juice >zap<. In other words, you can get just as happy telling someone you are going to lose 10kg as you can by actually passing up cake after dinner. Moreover, you’ve now used up the will power (sacrifice reward) that will make it possible for you to not eat cake tonight.

This is not good news unless you want to be fat and happy.

It’s looking better by the minute.

“Being an adult means being the kind of hypocrite you can live with.” ~ Merlin Mann (again)