Reviewing and Improving

Have you ever been accused of ignoring what others suggest and only wanting to do things your way? If so, join the club.

Advances in neuroscience are confirming what psychologists and those interested in human behaviour have understood for a while. The brain accepts ideas and insights it comes up with itself much better than acting on what it is told to do. Change is therefore easiest when the individual has the underlying insight or idea themselves. Apparently developing your own insight or solution uses up brain energy but also releases adrenaline-like chemicals that sustain the energy. When other people suggest something different, we use brain energy again but no chemicals are released to replenishing this energy. Insights create new neural circuits and connections, which, if positive and successful, become new behaviours or habits.

As a coach this is very positive as a coaching conversation is all about stimulating peoples’ own thinking and insights, leading to new, more positive actions. One important “frame” is the idea of reviewing what happened in order to feed-forward into different, positive actions next time. This is one of the foundation behaviours of successful people.

Many successful leaders share an ability to give themselves objective, candid and accurate review and feedback – both positive and negative. They then take action to build on positives and adjust negatives. What is very noticeable is they do this review without affecting their self-confidence.

One of the most effective ways to do this is a technique taught to top athletes: always review what has already happened in the third person but talk about the future in the first person. For example, if a long-jumper makes a less than perfect first jump, he quickly reviews the jump in terms of “John’s jump was shorter than he is capable of because he got the stride length wrong in the last two steps”. He dissociates himself with “that John back there” and says “I will get the stride length right when I jump next”

In this way the athlete quickly and factually deals with issues and develops an action plan to correct/improve next time without having to deal with the emotional trauma of berating themselves.

Building this process into your day, or week, or after important events, is one way to continually create positive feed-forward to success.  But - for you to agree with this idea your brain will have to try it for itself! 


To contact Rosie Miller, please email her at

For more information on the human brain visit the MyBrain International web site.