People Insight

Insight is the master key to unlock your full potential – and not just in business.

I know that is a very bold statement to make, so let me explain why.

Every thought and feeling that you have is the result of connections being made in your brain. Whether you’re shy or sociable, a worrier or a risk-taker, someone who plans relentlessly or lives in-the-moment, is simply the result of neural connections. And most of these connections are happening automatically and unconsciously. You do not wake up each morning and ask yourself:

“Shall I be an introvert or an extrovert today?”

It is not a conscious decision to be either quiet and thoughtful or outgoing and talkative – you simply are because your default connections predispose (note this word!) you to behave in these ways.

But if you understand these unconscious processes and what triggers them, then you can intercept and influence them. You can rewire. Think about what this means. Literally you can change who you are at any given moment by changing the way you think. For instance, if a situation requires you to be more assertive than normal, you can overcome your predisposition but only if you can access what is happening beneath the surface of conscious thought; only if you have insight.

And it’s not just your personality.

Your thinking is distorted by a huge range of cognitive biases. If you are unaware of these ‘brain bugs’ as one neuroscientist called them, you are likely to make poorer decisions – and these could have significant consequences.

But perhaps the biggest impact on your thinking is emotion. Our emotions evolved from very primitive processes that kept our evolutionary ancestors alive; see a snake : run. And the same primitive mechanisms underpin our emotions today.

Your emotions are instant, instinctive and imprecise – and, if not understood and managed, can seriously impact your success and happiness.

Referring to all these unconscious processes, Minsky described the brain as a collection of ‘Zombie Systems’ – insight will save you from the Zombie Apocalypse.

“Who we are is not just a given. Rather, we become who we are in part through our actions and choices. Being you is an exercise in constant self-creation …” Baggini and Macaro.

Insight gives you control. It enables you to choose how you react in any situation, rather than being at the mercy of unconscious processes. Insight does not mean discovering the ‘real me’ – as you will learn on the course, there is no such thing. Insight allows you to create the ‘me’ that you want to be at that moment. You know that different situations require different approaches, different ways of thinking. But without insight, adapting your thinking to the needs of the current moment is very hard.

Insight will:

  • improve your analytical thinking and decision-making
  • make you more emotionally intelligent
  • strengthen your resilience and ability to cope with challenging situations
  • make you more flexible, enabling you to choose the most appropriate response in any situation
  • help you to overcome issues such as shyness, lack of confidence and the need to impress others
  • develop your realistic optimism
  • make you the best version of you

Of course, insight is not only about you. You will gain a much greater understanding of how others think. This will lead to stronger relationships and greater influence, at home and in your work life. Insight will make you a better leader, colleague, team member, parent, spouse, sibling, friend, partner …

Overview of the insight content

The first part of Personal Insight is the neuroscience foundation where you will learn, without getting bogged-down in anatomical details, how your brain works. You will discover why and how unconscious processes operate and how three thinking systems interact in your mind. This part of the course underpins everything else and the principles you encounter here will be a red thread running through the course. Even at this early point in the course, your view of yourself and others is likely to be radically altered.

Next, emotions. As a human being, you are hard-wired to be emotional first and rational second. In your conscious mind, this may not appear to be the case but as Nobel laureate Richard Feynman said: “you are the easiest person to fool.” I will reveal the primary emotional triggers and show how they set in motion automatic and unconscious processes that influence your conscious thinking and the decisions you make. You’ll learn a technique for dramatically increasing your emotional awareness and control.

Personality is not a straitjacket, it is a starting point. You will explore several personality models and discover how you can stretch and adapt your personality. The models will also increase your understanding of other people and help you to adapt your approach so that you achieve the most from your interactions.

Closely linked to personality are internal drivers and scripts – how some people want to please people, while others are focused on being perfect or showing no sign of weakness. These irrational thinking styles can be a major obstacle to success (and happiness). I will show you how you can overcome them and become more effective.

From unconscious irrationality, we move to conscious rational thoughts and the thinking traps and biases that are a consequence of how your brain is structured. If you are not aware of these, your decisions, in every area, are likely to suffer.

This video from The Edge Program explains how a couple of these biases, availability and priming, work. (There are references to content covered in other videos from in the program)

Finally, you will learn about the different types of intelligence – and why our academic systems don’t necessarily bring the best out of everyone. You will delve into emotional intelligence, a key factor in achieving success and happiness, and I will reveal how you can increase yours.

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