Is Your Brain Limiting Your Federal Success?

Thanks to the way our brains work, we have a built-in tendency to see what we want to see as well as what we expect to see. The author says this has implications for employees in their federal careers.

That may be the case if you don’t regularly give it exercise.

According to scientific research, below are some of the benefits of brain games:

  • Boost brain activity
  • Provide emotional satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
  • Enhance memory and processing speed
  • Help slow the decline and reduce the risk of dementia
  • Improve concentration
  • Reduce boredom

But they actually do more.

For example, what’ the first thing that comes to mind when you read this brain teaser: Johnny’s mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May. What was the third child’s name?

What was your answer?

For most people, the first word that comes to mind is “June” because our brain quickly spots familiar patterns such as April, May, and June. Upon rereading the question and analyzing the data, the answer “Johnny” becomes obvious.

Thanks to the way our brains work, we have a built-in tendency to see what we want to see as well as what we expect to see.

Do you see the huge implications this has when it comes to our federal careers, and how we normally do things in our daily lives?

Our brains are great at recognizing patterns (April, May, June). That’s why as federal employees we tend to look for information that supports what we already believe to be true. But, in doing so, we can miss information that exposes alternative viewpoints, creative solutions, or competitive threats because our brains tell us they couldn’t possible come from where we aren’t looking.

Here’s an example: Many federal employees would like to get a raise and get promoted. And in the past, it was, dare I say, fairly easy. There used to be, in the federal government, an unwritten, but agreed upon invisible contract that said that as long as you worked hard and remained loyal you were pretty much guaranteed a job for life. What about getting promoted? That was a piece of cake too. You pretty much started off at an entry level GS position and after you gained experience through employer-sponsored training, you eventually worked your way up to the top.

Is that still true today?

Many of us still think so because we’re not doing anything differently.

We are not:

  • Adding value to ourselves
  • Investing in ourselves
  • Actively seeking ways to improve ourselves

Rarely does your level of income exceed your level of personal growth.

But, once again, it goes back to our brains and how they work. (So you may not be fully to blame).

Since we tend to see things the same way we’ve always seen them, we miss opportunities in the workplace, marketplace and in life. That’s why companies like Blockbuster and Kodak were driven to extinction. They never saw it coming because they only saw what their brains allowed them to see — the things that worked in the past — and they ignored or avoided new information. Instead of ignoring the handwriting on the wall, we need to embrace it.

In her book, Using Your Brain to Win In Today’s Hyper-Paced World author Holly Green says, “Humans are the least likely creatures to want to change. We’re much more likely to continue wanting to do the same things over and over, even when all the data around us says that everything else has changed.”

We are living in a hyper-sensitive, fast-paced world. The success we had as a federal employee a week, a month, a year or even ten years ago will not be the same success that catapults us into the future.

Relying solely on what we already know is like working for 30 years but having just one year’s worth of experience repeated 30 times.

We have to use that 2.7 pounds of brilliance, also known as our brain, to lead us to where we eventually want to be. We must actively seek new ways of seeing things. A great way to do that is by exercising our brains with brain teasers and asking ourselves “what if” questions. We have to deliberately expose our brains to new and different ways of thinking.

Psychologists have always maintained that “when a person is truly ready for a thing, it puts in its appearance.” If you do not already have what you truly want in life, ask yourself, “Have I honestly done the work and am I truly ready for its appearance?”

About the Author

Meiko S. Patton is a writer for the federal government and the author of the #1 Amazon Best-Selling book, How a Postage Stamp Saved My Life.