Be the Change…

…and watch the magic happen.

Two things happened this week. First I saw a show called:  How Does the Brain Work, on PBS.org. I tend to watch a lot of this sort of stuff since it is my passion.

What I found most intriguing was where the show explained how Magicians create illusions that make their tricks work. I’ve seen these types of tricks before but what clicked in my mind, was what the brain was actually doing. These Magicians were able to “trick” people because they either learned, or instinctively knew, how to create the illusion. They took advantage of an activity the brain normally does. During the program, Neil deGrasses Tyson described these illusions as “brain failures” and this is why…

Our brain will focus, on movement at that moment, to the exclusion of everything else within the human range of vision. The brain FAILS to see everything around what you are focusing on. This powerful and instinctive behavior was meant as a survival technique. To paraphrase Neil deGrasses Tyson, he stated: that it was probably better we THINK we see a leopard in the bush and be wrong, than to NOT see it and get eaten or maybe it was a tiger….guess it doesn’t really matter if either way, I get eaten.

Magicians have learned, how to utilize this thing the brain does: create physical movement to distract people and they will fail to notice HOW the illusion occurs and voila you have Magic! How do Magicians to this? Well, if a Magician wants to create an illusion they will divert your attention by creating a broad, sweeping movement with one hand while the other hand does the magic.

The second thing that occurred was a discussion I was getting involved in on a particular blog post, one of my favorite blogs: The Happy Ever After Project by Alisa Bowman.

It got ideas madly whirling around my head. Yum, candy to the brain! Maybe, just maybe there might be a connection between what a Magician does and what we can do to create a new behavior. The connection between these two events started percolating in my brain…

Does the distraction have to be physical movement? Could I use this primeval skill to my advantage as the Magicians did? Does the magic, what the other hand is really doing, have to be physical movement as well? What if the brain notices other types of movement? Could the magic be an intention? a goal? What would be something I would want to change and how can I do this to myself without alerting my brain to what I am doing? Could I distract myself with an idea, so I accomplish what I intended, or reach the goal I wanted, or create some magic in my life? At one point two magicians do a trick hiding balls under cups, only they use see-through cups and still manage fool their audience. Maybe this means I can truly distract myself.

What about from a Leadership angle? If I used this concept to create new behavior or magic, how would someone feel about being distracted? Definitely an idea to be explored in my next post.

Just how does this work if I want to change or if I want someone else to change?
I started to think about what Alisa Bowman was suggesting on her website: “be the change you want others to be” in your marriage. This might be why it works so well.
What is it I want people to see while I am distracting them? I think the distraction is me changing. I intentionally draw them away from their behavior by having the focus on myself. The distraction would be enhanced by the novelty of my behavior and act as movement to my brain. I would want my partner to see this new behavior in me and the magic is THEM changing in response to MY change.

Goodness does that make sense? Would that really make sense? Changing ourselves, is a distraction for sure. Are we doing something unexpected but compelling for the brain to focus on? Your wife may think the whole relationship is changing but it’s not – it’s an illusion. We are only changing ourselves with the added bonus of improving ourselves. We could quite conceivably be distracting them into change in response to our change. Will it always work? I don’t think so. Sometimes your partner may chose to see it as an illusion and refuse to participate. Sometimes your husband might feel he is being hoodwinked despite your good intentions. And of course sometimes our husbands, wives or lovers just might not be interested in watching a Magic show.

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