GREAT INSTINCTS = GREAT ATTITUDE = GREAT PERFORMANCE!
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Posted January 1, 2012 at 12:01 am by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Comments Closed
In: Instinx (General)

Optimum Interning

Question asked on Quora today:  What are some unexpected benefits from being “self-taught” in something?

Reply from Gus Griffin:  There are advantages and drawbacks to both learning approaches, whether: a) you are setting your own learning agenda, or b) someone else is deciding what you need to learn first, second, etc.

When your learning is self-selected you are more likely to be able to use what you learn because you will be following an instinctive learning agenda whether you are aware of it or not. If you trust your mind to learn what it needs when it needs it, you will find it easier to retrieve and use your learning later on when you need it. You will be more likely to “think with your subject” rather than follow “now I am supposed to” memories of what you were told.

On the other hand, the learner doesn’t know what they don’t know. When your learning is guided by someone with greater expertise, then it is likely to be more comprehensive and with less blank spots you don’t realise you are overlooking or lacking. Even when they don’t possess greater expertise, a good teacher will still seek to feed you knowhow in a layered sequence that should make it easier for you to smoothly progress through levels of competence, thus protecting you from biting off more than you can chew until you become well grounded in the basics.

The most important thing to know about truly adaptive human learning is that it is always fundamentally based upon emulation: seeking to be able to do what you see others can do (and then also seeking to surpass that if sufficiently motivated). Even 2nd-hand learning from books etc is still based on imagined emulation – if not, if it’s just facts remembered, then the so-called learning is non-adaptive and will be useless “busy-work”.

People learn most effectively when they have the freedom to try out different ways of copying what other people can do. This is a natural process of finding what works for you, what fits with your particular personality and concenters your best aptitudes upon the task. Leaving plenty of room for such personal adjusting of knowhow also breeds the most interesting and useful innovations.

So, as a manager and teambuilder for over 20 years, I found it most effective to pair up my new recruits to work under a hand-picked series of more experienced staff, one after the other. You can’t always tell who an apprentice or intern will find it easiest to emulate (learn from), so I would watch how each did with the role model assigned – and when his or her improvement seemed slow or leveled off, I would then re-pair them with the next role model I had in mind.

When I found a good match—where the newby was clearly making good progress gaining in competence—I might leave that pair together for six months or more. This informal method of apprenticing obtained the best from both worlds: allowing the learner to acquire knowhow at their own pace and in their own way, but through exposing them to different styles of expertise within their field.

I also required all my staff to let their assistants sit-in and observe any work they wished to (as long as they didn’t neglect their assigned duties), so they had access to everything the senior was doing as they wanted it. In practice, each assistant would then gradually take duties off their senior’s plate as they came to feel competent enough to do so … until they had ultimately learned the whole job at their own pace and in their own way and from a variety of role models, simply by following their own natural learning inclinations.

Painless apprenticing while maximizing integration of natural talents. Most so-called teaching clashes with a person’s instinctive learning processes far too much to obtain optimum results.

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Posted August 14, 2019 at 4:09 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

Overcoming their avoidance

Question asked on Quora today:  Why is everybody always complaining about the way the world is but so insistent they could never do anything to change it?

Reply from Gus Griffin:  The short answer is that very few people are capable of thinking for themselves.

They could certainly become more capable of thinking for themselves if it was expected of them, but the stronger people in their lives don’t want them to. So it continues to be easier to let others do their important thinking for them—their family, their religion, the norms of their peer group, their bosses, etc—and thus their ability to think for themselves becomes atrophied.

When he or she is confronted by someone who wants them to do something about what’s wrong—someone who does not resemble the people they normally “follow”—they are suddenly confronted by this whole other way of thinking that they have been avoiding. Especially if you are asking them to disagree with what they are currently being told to think.

It is actually easier (but not easy!) to get most people to switch who they follow than it is to get them to think for themselves. You are not just asking them to change their approach to a specific issue, you are actually asking them to swim against the general tide of how they conduct their life—which is much more confronting on the inside than it may appear to be on the outside.

Insisting (continuing to believe) they can’t do anything about it is their way of sticking to what works for them and thus staying inside their comfort zone.

In order to get people actually fixing what you think is wrong, you have to get them following you instead of the other guy—which is hard work and also an awful lot of responsibility–unless you are a control-freak and just love having a lot of people hanging on your every word.

Or you can get people actually acting on their own judgment and initiative: but to do that you have to overcome their habitual avoidance first. You have to keep on directing their attention to what actually needs attention (and what can be done about it) until slowly their aversion to looking straight at the problem is dispelled and they can see it for themselves. (This usually requires great patience and persistence.)

Once he or she can willingly look at it without cringing or feeling overwhelmed, only then can you get them to consider what to do about it. But then you will have an intelligent helper—a comrade—instead of a bumbling follower. You have liberated them from their cocoon.

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Posted August 13, 2019 at 1:29 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

Tapping Intelligence

Question asked on Quora today:  How can you immediately notice whether somebody is intelligent or not?

Reply from Gus Griffin:  A common misunderstanding about intelligence is that it is a general capability like health or physical strength. It is not. We are actually intelligent at some things and not at others.

I have been coaching high-performing individuals for over 30 years and I have never met anyone who was intelligent at everything they did. In fact, I have often been amazed at how stupid at some things otherwise highly-capable people can be.

So – intelligence is relative to aptitude. Intelligence is an indicator of high aptitude (talent). When a person appears intelligent to you, they are concentered on utilizing their strengths: their highest aptitudes. (‘Concentered’ is an old word which means bringing your powers to bear on the problem or situation.)

And when a person appears unintelligent or stupid to you it is because the situation they are in is not calling on their strengths but making them rely on weak areas instead. The people who appear most intelligent in life are the ones who have figured out how to put their best foot forward; who have arranged things so that they avoid situations where they are called upon to do what they aren’t good at and mainly stick with activities they are good at.

The more you concentrate on doing what you are good at, the more people will want you to keep on doing that, instead of wanting you to do what you are not good at. That’s the real secret to success in life – because you also learn fastest where your aptitude is high, and have the greatest difficulty learning and changing where your aptitude is low.

The easiest way to improve your personal performance is by continuing to develop your strengths: that is your high road to excellence.


These are important and practical things to know about utilizing intelligence, but they don’t fully answer your question of how to recognize it. For this, I refer you to Abraham Maslow, one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th Century. He labelled the most psychologically healthy human beings as self-actualising individuals.

Such people may not always score the highest on IQ tests, but definitely they are most intelligently going about living their life—which is, of course, much more important. Here is Maslow’s list of the traits of such people—based on decades of research by one of our greatest researchers into the human mind:

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Posted August 13, 2019 at 12:36 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

Dealing with Depression

Question asked on Quora today:  Is depression a sign of mental weakness?

Gus’s reply: The idea of one person being mentally weaker than another is an outdated expression, not because the words are invalid – everyone has mental strengths and mental weaknesses – but because the expression was once used to peg someone as being inferior to others.

As a performance coach, every day I work with the mental strengths and weaknesses of people. In that context, we think of a mental weakness as something that impairs a person ability to perform in life as he or she would like to, some mental trait that is making it difficult for them to get the outcomes from their actions they are hoping for. So the comparison here is not between people but between the performing reality of a person and the performance he or she desires – in this context people seldom find the use of the word “weakness” as offensive.

Manners and political correctness aside, there is such a thing as strong performers and weak performers in every field of human endeavour. In most cases, this is easy to measure and thus establish objectively. But to then extend this to calling a person mentally weak is generally considered offensive and is also factually incorrect.

Any person’s performing, measurable weakness or strength is always relative to the activity being engaged in. I admit that I am weak at thinking with numbers (accounting, algebra, etc), so I guess that means it is a “mental weakness” of mine – (though putting it in those terms would make most people wince these days). But I am mentally strong at other activities – like putting myself in other people’s shoes (empathy) – which makes me a good coach.

My older sister, Margaret, who sadly passed on some years ago, was born with a genetic condition called Fragile X Syndrome which resulted in her IQ being well below average. Throughout school, she was always put in the “slow learner” special needs class. Whereas my older brother and my younger sister were both assessed as having genius level IQs and were consistent straight-A students.

But it was Margaret who turned out to be the best money manager in my family. Somehow, she just had a knack with numbers which made her the best practical economist of us all. My so-called genius siblings often found themselves borrowing money off Margaret just to get along in life.

So who was the one with the real “mental weakness”??? I don’t care how “weak” a person may appear to you on the surface, if you go looking for them you will find plenty of strengths they could be encouraged to focus on more thoroughly.

In my job I have found that it’s much more beneficial to help people get a clearer idea of their strengths, rather than their weaknesses. It is easy to learn how to improve your performance at things you are already good at, whereas it is difficult to learn how to fix your weaknesses. So people who learn to rely on their strengths to help them along in life are always much more successful than people who fixate on fixing or “getting rid of” their weaknesses.


So what does all this have to do with depression? The more you can focus on what you’re good at, and keep on improving in those areas, the less depressed any person will feel. So the final answer to your question is a definitive No!

Depression is not a sign of mental weakness, it is a sign of fixating on your weaknesses. And believe me, we all have them to fixate on, just as we all have strengths we could be relying on more than we are.

If you are feeling depressed, I suggest you go and do my Talent Tuneup (for free!), which will give you a general idea of activities you could focus on to make you feel less depressed.

(If you can’t trust me enough to give us your phone number, which the Tuneup requires, then you can read all about the concepts embodied in the Tuneup and try to do it by yourself here.)

And if you want to know about your strengths in more detail than that, then I suggest you spend twenty bucks on Gallup’s online Strengthfinder.

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Posted August 9, 2019 at 2:06 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

When selfish isn’t selfish

Question asked on Quora today:  Are introverts usually less selfish than extroverts?

Gus’s reply: I can understand why you might ask this question: extroverts often seem to be all about me me Me!

But on average they also attract more attention and support to their activities, thereby also benefiting you if you happen to be taking part. Whereas the apparently unselfish introvert—who may seem more considerate—could in fact be benefiting you much less.

Many Divas and other high-performing celebrities also get described as selfish by people who don’t understand what it truly takes to perform at your best. By demanding the conditions he or she finds necessary to be able to give a professional performance, they are also making success more likely for everyone who is relying on them.

So selfishness is relative to circumstances as well as behaviour. On the grand scale, it may paradoxically prove less selfish than unselfishness.

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Posted July 25, 2019 at 5:13 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

Instincts: science or slang

Question asked on Quora today:  What does it mean to have good instincts?

Gus’s reply: “Good instincts” is a colloquial (informal) expression, not a scientific one. So if you are seeking a scientific, practical understanding of what enables a person to display good instincts—you won’t find one. Ethologists and Evolutionary Psychologists are still trying to come to grips with this question.

(But have a look around this blog and you may begin to gain some understanding of what’s involved.)

If you simply want to know what people are meaning when they use the term, this definition is as good as any other: Instinct definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary

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Posted July 25, 2019 at 5:09 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

Diligence vs Bliss

Question asked on Quora today: When should one recognize that our mind doesn’t have the answer to the challenge we’re facing and just hand it over to the “universe”?

Gus Griffin’s reply: There is a state of mind—an instinctive modus operandi—that transcends the orientation to overcome or to achieve. Abraham Maslow called it actualising your B-Value (B for being), Ken Robinson calls it being in your element, others refer to it as pursuing your bliss or exercising your gift. I talk about it in my coaching sessions in terms of “dancing with your muse” or “concentering upon your forté”: which could also be expressed more prosaically as simply putting your best foot forward.

Whatever you care to call it, it is about getting into the zone and operating from that optimum way of approaching things that is your highest aptitude—your personal sweet spot. If you can find a way to operate from that special headspace, to align your career so that what people expect from you is to exert this greatest strength of yours, then your intuition will make it clear to you whether you need to change things up … or down … or find more effective perspectives.

When you look into the lives of the Paragons of our race—those humans we esteem and praise above all others—you will find that their great contributions came as a natural consequence of communing with their personal muse. The enormous benefits they bestowed upon the world were a by-product of what gave them joy. Contrary to popular assumption, while serving greatly, their service was not driven by diligence, but by bliss.

So don’t try to put more effort in, don’t strive to get better results: find out instead how to alter your work so that you rejoice in it.


One caveat, though: Sometimes it is the taking-on of a great challenge, the ardent pursuit of some “impossible” dream, venturing beyond the conventional realms of the possible to push the frontiers of what people find impossible—sometimes that great test is what finally puts you in intimate communion with your muse. Sometimes it takes a great task to reveal to you what is your own greatness.

In order to rise to the challenge you have set yourself, you have to reach within, you have to dig deep to find what is needed to prevail. The refining fire of daring greatly—and utterly refusing defeat—ultimately throws you back upon accessing what proves to be your most powerful faculty (often previously unsuspected). Thereby the task itself brings out in you your greatest self.

In this way, yes, striving greatly and dancing with your muse are intimately connected. But it still helps to remember that the end you are pursuing—though it may be so real to you that you can taste it—is nevertheless a figment of your imagination. It’s the journey here and now that always remains the reality.

And the more joy-laden that journey is here in the present, the more your waltz will throw out its radiating benefits to others, regardless of whether you are trying to make it so or not. And the less you will find yourself questioning things like level of commitment in the meantime.

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Posted July 18, 2019 at 11:36 am by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

Freedom is the courage to choose

Question asked on Quora back in 2015: How can I achieve freedom?

Gus Griffin’s reply (21 April 2015): There’s no such thing as simple “freedom”. There is only “freedom from” or “freedom to”. What do you want to be free from? What do you want to be free to do?

When we say “it’s a free country”, what we actually mean by this is that we think we are free to do more things in this country than we think other people are allowed to do in some other countries. One of the most important freedoms in a “free country” being the right to come and go as you please: which makes you free from the restrictions of that country whenever you choose to be.

I remember living in a densely populated Asian city where it was impossible to walk down the street without being bumped or jostled. After a year of this, I was well and truly sick of it. The freedom I craved more than any other – I was always thinking about it – was simply to be free to walk in a straight line when I went outside. So I went to the Australian Outback for my holidays and revelled in the freedom I had to move in whatever direction I wanted to without interference. You wouldn’t think that anybody could have that much fun just by walking in a straight line, but I sure did!

Functionally, when a person doesn’t feel free, in some way they feel their power of choice is being denied them. You may need to change your circumstances so that you can exercise more choice about what you accept or reject in life – as I did in my holiday (in fact, I then quit my job and never went back). Or sometimes you can just start making these choices for yourself regardless of what anyone else is trying to get you to choose. A little less cooperating might win you more freedom than you expect.

Probably you have more physical freedom than you think. We often feel trapped when we are not willing to pay the price that some choices entail. So it’s the cost of making the choice that’s holding you back, not the actual restriction.  You could choose a different situation, but you aren’t willing to give up or go through what you have to in order to make that choice. 

Or you don’t want to make some other person feel bad, even when he or she feels ok about making you feel bad. Perhaps it is time to balance the scales.

Sometimes all that is really trapping you is your own fears – and when you make the choice to feel the fear and do it anyway, all of a sudden you feel you have more freedom than you did a moment ago.

In other words, you don’t feel free because of the way you are looking at your situation. Finding a different way to look at it can give you a much greater feeling of freedom and cause you to act with greater freedom too.

People often feel trapped by life – as if someone or something out there is doing it to us – when in fact it is our own feelings and reactions to things that are doing the trapping. Any time you feel your freedom is curtailed, ask yourself: What am I reacting to here? How could I try to react differently? 

This brings into clearer view the ways that you are making yourself feel trapped. And it is possible to permanently change the way you react to things – I help people do this every day.

For more info on ways to try to react differently to things, this earlier answer of mine might also be helpful: Why is my life so hard?

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Posted July 5, 2019 at 1:03 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

Rezoning Yourself―anytime, anywhere

Asked on Quora today: What’s something that sounds truly easy to learn but is indeed truly difficult?

Gus Griffin’s reply: Not thinking. Ask anyone to stop thinking for just 30 seconds and see how they go. Chances are they won’t make it to 10 seconds.

This is actually a mentally healthy thing to do, if you do it in a way that improves your powers of concentration.

Like this: close your eyes (to cut down on distracting stimuli) and focus your attention on some body part you can feel—like the point where your lips touch each other (or two fingers or toes touch, etc). Then just keep your attention there without thinking anything else.

As above, you won’t be able to do it for long, but every time you notice your attention has wandered, just bring it back to the same point on your body. Keep doing this over and over for a few minutes and it will refresh your focus and improve your attitude.

You will stop noticing the difference this refresher makes after a few minutes, but it will actually keep on making you more alert and responsive for several hours afterwards. It’s a great way to prepare whenever you want to perform at your best. Also very helpful in moving on from upsets and aggravation.

I call it Rezoning. It’s the most effective way of “exercising mindfulness” I’ve ever tested—and believe me, I’ve tested dozens.

 

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Posted July 1, 2019 at 2:45 am by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc

The real source of behaviour

Question asked on Quora today: Why is it a natural human instinct the more money you make the more you will spend?

Gus Griffin’s reply: Sorry, but this isn’t a “natural human instinct”. An instinct is a response or reaction shared by all members of a species.

It may be a common inclination, but it’s clearly not universal. I’d guess that the instinct which usually actuates spendthrift behaviour is our instinctive desire for gratification. But this would be outweighed by some other instinctive desire—like for security, for instance—in people who don’t behave as you describe.

Human behaviour patterns are generated when contending instinctive desires come into play, like simple elements making up complex molecules. Of all the hundreds or thousands of patterns you can detect in the conduct of human beings, almost all of them can be explained in terms of the interplay of just fifteen simple native reactions.

The proof of this claim is—at Instinx.com—when we show a person how to “tune up” or “tune down” one of these simplest of responses, their inefficiencies or bad habits then instantly improve for all time.

Master your instincts and you master all of life.

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Posted June 23, 2019 at 7:02 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Misc