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3 Neuroscience Tips to Get Your Brain Working


Our ability to ask insightful and useful questions depends on several things, and our own knowledge is one of those. As Coaches we know that our questions are powerful. Imagine the potential impact you would have if you understood what was going on in your client’s brain. (Slight caveat here for scientific accuracy, with all the neuroscientific knowledge in the world, you couldn’t know for sure what was going on in their mind, but you might have some more likely ideas).

Understanding some of the basics, and some of the concepts that build upon these basics gives you an edge as a Coach. Let’s have a look at 3 ways you can use Neuroscience in your Coaching.

1. Get to grips with your PFC

The first chapter of Neuroscience for Coaches is in the section called Brain Areas and focuses on your prefrontal cortex. For anyone involved in executive coaching or work with individuals who need to do the following:

  • Plan effectively
  • Make good decisions
  • Align thoughts and actions with internal goals
  • Moderate social behaviour

Then you’ll want to learn about the PFC because it is involved in all our executive functions. In some situations with a client you may choose to step into the teacher role or signpost them to more information about how this area of the brain works. Having observed many leaders it always amazes me how often people are working against the grain of how our brain wants to work. We struggle on when we should take a break. We leave our emails on all the time, having them ping in and disrupt us whenever they fancy. We try to multitask. Even changing these three simple things could improve many aspects of performance and wellbeing.

2. Dance with Dopamine

The second chapter of the second section on brain chemicals is all about the molecule dopamine. This is critical for a Coach to be aware of.

Dopamine is involved in:

  • How we behave
  • How we think
  • Our ability to move
  • Our feelings of motivation
  • Reward
  • Punishment
  • Working memory
  • Attention
  • Learning

So if the clients you work with need to do any of the things listed above then it would be useful to understand a little of how dopamine works. Achieving goals for most people requires the right balance of short-term actions and long-term habit creation. Dopamine is key to these processes. Something you could do this afternoon would be to look at how you are rewarded for the small steps that make up a big goal. Marathon runners don’t just get a chemical reward for the final big run; each training session gives them a boost that keeps them coming back for the next one.

3. Work that working memory

Our working memory is a term to describe our ability to hold things in the front of our mind and manipulate these small chunks of information. For example, performing mental arithmetic. It is suggested that by improving our working memory we can become happier, more focused and more effective. Some odd ways you could improve it include:

a) Climbing a tree – you’ll use your working memory to balance and plan your route while evaluating your current position;

b) Dive into some red meat or oily fish or dark chocolate (temporary boost);

c) (The big one): Turn off your smartphone – the constant interruptions are deadly to prolonged focus and getting the most out of your working memory.

Your brain is a truly fascinating organ and as a Coach you are working with it on a daily basis. There are so many ways your Coaching can be positively impacted by equipping yourself with quality information about this squidgy mass.