Makes Perfect

Renato, one of my Jiu Jitsu instructors, convinced me to get back into grappling in a kimono. “It will be hard at first,” he told me. “But after a few months, when you go back to fighting without the gi, your game will be better.”I know he’s right. But when he worked with me on it yesterday, I felt like a white belt again. He was slapping arm bars, foot locks, and collar chokes at the rate of one per minute.

At the end of my hour-long class, I was ready to cry.

I’ve been practicing this sport for seven years now. But when I put on that kimono, I regressed. Big time. Renato, who competes at 145 pounds, was tossing me around like a rag doll. And I outweigh him by 50 pounds.

I know from experience, though, that if I keep on practicing, I’ll get better. A month from now, after I’ve relearned my gi defenses and have regained a little confidence, I’ll be
giving away fewer submissions. And one day, I’ll give none.

 have no great natural talent for submission wrestling, but
 I am improving every day because I am willing to do what
 it takes. Making myself a better wrestler is no tougher than 
improving my Spanish language skills. I simply have to set
 myself specific goals, put in the time to practice, and keep
 at it until I succeed.

 is almost nothing you can’t accomplish so long as you are
 willing to put in the time. This is something I’ve been
 saying for years – and now there is a substantial
 academic work that confirms my view.

 Anders Ericsson, a professor of psychology at Florida State
 University, has studied the subject of “expert performance” pretty
 much his entire professional life. Thirty years ago, he performed
 an experiment in which he trained people to hear and repeat
 series of numbers. Untaught subjects were able to remember
 about seven digits in a row. After 20 hours of training,
 their memory had improved to the point where they could remember
 a 20-digit sequence. After 200 hours of training, they could
 remember a sequence of more than 80 numbers.

 experiments led Ericsson to conclude that whatever
 innate capacity a person might have for remembering, that’s
 nothing compared to how much he can learn by practice.

 of Ericsson’s research and findings were put together
 in an 800-page book titled The
 Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance. The bottom line: “Talent
 is highly overrated.”

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Storing documents in your computer makes it easier to retrieve them, but …

A study at Columbia University headed by Betsy Sparrow found that people were more likely to forget things if they felt they could retrieve them easily via computer.

In one experiment, participants typed 40 bits of trivia (e.g., an ostrich’s eyes are bigger than its brain) into a computer. Half were told that the information would be saved. Half believed it would not. Those that believed it would be saved had a significantly harder time remembering the trivia than those who thought it would be lost.

In another experiment, participants were asked to recall not just the bit of trivia but which of the five folders it was saved in. Most were better able to recall the folder than the fact.

This confirms what I’ve always suspected: The reason I don’t keep track of what our friends are up to is because I have a folder, my wife, who does it for me.

The same is true when we travel together. I never pay attention to street signs because I know she does. Is this a sign of laziness or intelligence? I’d say both. In fact, there is a term for this – the idea that we rely on our family, friends, and colleagues as well as references to “store” facts. It’s called transactive memory.

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Three Brains

We have three brains: the neocortical, the limbic, and the reptilian. As a marketer, it is useful to understand the functions of each.

The reptilian brain is the oldest and simplest of the three. It is responsible for all of our survival instincts, including the “freeze, fight, or flight” response and the sexual impulse. (Any marketing approach that touches on the reptilian brain will evoke a strong reaction.)

The limbic brain is the center of our emotional intelligence. It guides us in a hundred decisions every day — from how far to stand when talking to someone to whether we should buy a new pair of shoes.

The neocortical — the newest part of the brain in terms of evolution — has nothing to do with instincts, emotions, or feelings. It is responsible for logical thinking. It is where we process abstract thoughts, words, and symbols.

Thus, if you appeal to the neocortical with your marketing, don’t expect much. But when selling products related to sex or survival, it stands to reason that you should excite the reptilian brain. And when selling other products, go for the limbic brain.

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