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Selecting for Talent

By | David Klaasen | Helping You Create Clarity, Inspire Your People & Drive Performance | Retain your best people | Changing Management Mindsets and Behaviour | Practical Behaviour Analytics

Imagine everyone on the planet simultaneously getting in contact with 150,000 other people. This is what is actually happening with each of the neurons in the brain of a young child. Scientists now know that by the age of three there are up to fifteen thousand connections for each of the one hundred billion neurons in our brain. Not surprisingly this is far too much information to cope with, so we have developed a way of making sense of it all. Our own unique sense of it! During the following ten years our brain refines what it believes is important and begins focusing on particular connections more than others.

Superhighways and Barren Wastelands

Dr. Harry Chugani, Professor of Neurology at Wayne State University Medical School has a nice way of explaining this refining and pruning process: “Roads with the most traffic get widened and the ones rarely used fall into disrepair”.

Each and every one of us is left to our own devices when it comes to this pruning process and by the time we are in our early teens we have only half as many neural connections as when we were three. This means that we have each carved out our own unique network of connections. We each have our own beautiful free-flowing and open superhighways, but that also means we have some barren wastelands where no connections are made at all. Our mind becomes like a filter that only responds to what is on the superhighways and the wastelands are not even noticed.

If someone has a superhighway for the logic of numerical patterns they will enjoy calculating and measuring. Every activity will be given a numerical value, depending on their preferences it may be time, money or some other quantifiable notion. They enjoy seeing the calculations match up and balance up; it makes them feel good and that their world is in order.

If someone has a superhighway for empathy they will feel every emotion of those around them as if they were their own, they will have a comfortable familiarity with the language and expression of emotions. However, if someone has a wasteland for empathy they may be emotionally blind, be confused by other’s emotions and may have a habit of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time. It is interesting to note that they don’t do this out of malice, it’s just an inability to pick up on the emotional signals being sent out.

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