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May 26, 2011
| Issue 05.2.2011

In This Issue:

* Steve’s Field Note
* Advisory Board – Spread the word!
* Trailblazing TV
* Tapa Palapa Radio Show Menu
* Feature – “Blazing Trails In Your Brain”

Steve’s Field Note

Hello, Trailblazer!

Birdward’s a girl!

A couple of days after I published the previous issue of The Traveler I woke up earlier than usual and was ambling through the house. My wife, always up early and strangely energized by the arrival of dawn, came up to me carrying a small towel with a piece of broken egg shell on it. She told me it was at the bottom of the bird cage that morning.

We’ve had Birdward for almost four years and she had never lain an egg, so we assumed she must be a boy bird. My younger son and I had a conversation about this when he got the news. He told me it was hard to think of our bird as a girl because he was so used to him being a boy. I said, “Let’s think about this. Birdie is loud, and screechy, and demanding…”

About that time I heard my wife yell, “Hey! I heard that!” from way over in the laundry room. Man, she has good hearing! So I finished my point with my son: “So of course you assumed Birdie was a boy!”

My wife thinks Birdward is a boy name so we might have to rename her, even though we rarely call her Birdward. We call her what she calls herself: Birdie!

Our bird didn’t really change, but our understanding of our bird changed. Change is coming at us all the time, some of it with varying degrees of predictability and some of it completely surprising. In fact, a person dedicated to the status quo will find himself powerless to stop the changes around him that erode his predictability. We can’t prepare for everything that might happen, but we can prepare to be adaptable, ready to change. That’s the topic of the feature article.

On adaptability, you might notice the newsletter is coming out later this time. I decided it could get annoying if I send you a newsletter and then the very next day send an announcement about the latest episode of Trailblazing TV. Now I will release the newsletter after Trailblazing TV is posted.

Stay flexible! That’s how you

Enjoy the scenery on the Twisting Road !


Advisory Board

That’s you – my subscribers! You’re my best advisors.

If you like what you read, please tell your family and friends. If you don’t like something, please tell me!

Trailblazing TV

Each episode focuses on one tip for navigating your custom-designed life and work off the beaten path. An episode takes only 3-5 minutes to watch. This weekly (so far) show is my latest play project.

This week’s episode is “Sunset… Aaahh…”
Click the picture to watch it. It’s a little grainy because I was filming near dusk by porch light, but I think it gives it an edgy indie film look. What do you think?

Tapa Palapa Radio Show

Tapa Palapa is a short weekly radio show, lately under 10 minutes per episode, available through the internet.

This month our menu theme is “Circle of Champions.” We’re talking about the friends and family members who support and encourage and comfort you. They stand by your side and they have your back. All four shows on this theme are available here for you to stream or download.

Our topics this month:
* Who’s in your tribe? (May 3)
* Finding your champions (May 10)
* Being a champion (May 19)
* Champions 2.0 (May 24)

* Wildcard Wednesday is coming up June 1!

For April our menu theme was “Play Is Serious Work.” We discussed the importance of fun and recreation in a healthy, balanced life. All four episodes from April are available so you can listen to them in order at our website.

Click here to stream or download the show through iTunes.

Feature Article: “Blazing Trails In Your Brain”

The hallmark of intelligence is being able to adapt to one’s environment.

That’ a real kick in the pants, isn’t it? Don’t blame me! This wasn’t my idea. Scholars and researchers decided this long before I studied cognitive psychology. Fortunately for those of us who struggle with change – which includes all of us, I’m sure – the key word is “able,” not “willing” or “comfortable.” You see, we can have great intelligence, a broad capacity for understanding new information and navigating new situations, but still resist change.

We resist change because it’s in our DNA. If you do some high-powered scanning of a person’s brain while she’s learning a new task, you’ll see it light up like the Vegas strip. But over time, as she learns the new task, the activity level drops. She’s performing more adeptly and correctly, but more efficiently as well. Her brain’s goal is to do a task using as little energy as possible.

I’ve been part of conversations that included Dr. Karen Shue, whom I call “Dr. Brain,” where she has explained ideas about the way people gain new perspectives and insight. Pardon me for stomping on the elegant description Dr. Brain gave as I summarize it in my way, but here goes.

Brains don’t have pathways as much as patterns. A memory is stored as a pattern of neurons firing. The way I pictured it I was like flying over a landscape with pockets of light and empty space in between. That pocket of light over there is spherical and has dozens of lights flashing in sequence. That one over there is more oval and has big, slowly twinkling lights. Way over there is one that looks like a firework display. They represents things your brain already knows, patterns it uses to fit your experiences.

This experience you’re having is a lot like all these similar experiences so the sphere pattern flashes in your brain. A different experience sets off the firework signal because it’s more like that group of experiences. Your brain likes to put new information into old patterns.

On the one hand, that’s a really quick way to learn. Making a chocolate pie is like making a banana cream pie, except you don’t use bananas or banana flavor and you do add chocolate at some point. A lot of it is the same, so you don’t have to learn the whole process as a separate thing. You just need to know the core pattern and where it’s different.

On the other hand, when you’re looking at established patterns, you’re not getting new perspectives or concepts. To expand our thoughts to more perspectives, we have to go away from the clusters of light and into the empty spaces. As Dr. Brain explained, when the information in front of us doesn’t easily fit an existing pattern, our minds go to the “in-between places” of the brain. These are places of not-knowing.

This can be unsettling and frustrating, but it’s where truly new awareness is formed. You wind up creating a new light pattern for a new concept. As the light pattern takes shape in your brain, you have a new level of awareness and recognition – maybe a real light bulb moment!

How can you put this to work for you? Step out of your comfort zone. Put yourself in situations where things are new to increase your brain lights. Try one of these ideas… or come up with your own!

  • Try a physical activity that’s very different from things you do well.
  • Read an article, or even a book, on a topic where you know very little.
  • Attend a religious service for a different faith
  • Tour a workplace that is very different from anything you’ve done
  • Have a conversation with a person who has different political beliefs – learning, not arguing!
  • Try learning a new dance – go to a lesson or just watch a video
  • Practice a new artistic skill, like sketching or painting
  • Take your camera with you and look for unique images to capture
  • Sing karaoke
  • Buy a book of logic problems
  • Get a review book for the SAT, GRE, or other advanced test and take the sample test
  • Volunteer to help with the sets for a theatrical production
  • Visit a craft fair and talk to people about their woodworking or stained glass or soap making
  • Start learning a new language

Can you tell I was trying to spend time in the “in-between places” when I came up with these?

You’ll probably recognize similarities to things you already know, but keep pushing until you wind up unsure of what to think. That’s fertile ground for new ideas to grow!

About Steve

Steve Coxsey is The Trailblazing Coach (TM), helping people navigate life and work off the beaten path. He helps people develop their strengths and natural talents so they can take ownership of their productivity and creativity. Then they become powerful, able to break free of other people’s boxes and cubicles and to start living and working in alignment with who they really are. They are able to design their lives around their values, their purpose, and their natural way of being. They tailor careers that use their unique strengths and talents and support their life design.

Click here for more information than you could possibly ever want to know about Steve.

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Copyright (C) 2011 Twisting Road Media and Stephen Coxsey
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