Wonder-Brain

28 02 2008

On Tuesday I was discussing falling off the wagon and re-reading Getting Things Done, and how I was made to realise that although I thought I “got” GTD, I really had no clue. This took me back to David’s phrase of how people have “different ears to hear”, and this part is the bit that may be of interest to those of you that couldn’t care less about GTD (that’ll be all of you, I presume?).

You see, what you may not know about The David is he’s not just your typical productivity guru, the man is incredibly philosophical too. There’s a lot of talk about the deeper more meaningful issues in our lives in the book, and I very much would urge you, if you’re at all interested, to check out Productive Talk (link in Tuesday’s post). In it he talks a fair bit about the deeper, more amazing things we all have to grapple with.

So what does “different ears to hear” really mean? Well, it means you could tell someone something once, and six months later you could tell them the exact same thing, but they’ll hear something different. Not literally, obviously, but rather that they’ll take something different away from it. My take on that is that people see and hear things through “filters”, we all have them, and we’re all “programmed” to begin to interpret inputs almost instantaneously. Ever read a book and find it triggers your own thoughts?

Our brains are amazing things. Have you ever heard something and noticed your brain just jumps into action? Immediately those synapses fire off ideas, often in the most unorganised way possible. This part of your mind doesn’t seem to know about things like dependencies, it just spews ideas, it’s up to you to make sense of them all. You’ll often find you’ve missed a step or two, and when you go back and look at the thing that inspired the ideas, all of a sudden you get all the ideas your mind “jumped over”.

This, I think, is why David encourages brainstorming, allowing yourself to just have ideas in complete free-form, not analysing what’s a good idea or a bad one, but just spewing it all out as your brain gives it to you. If you’re mind-mapping, for example, when you eventually run out of “stream of consciousness”creative energy, you’ll probably stop writing down ideas. If you walk away and come back to the mind-map with fresh energy, one look at it and immediately you’ll see something that wasn’t obvious before.

You suddenly find you have different eyes to see, to borrow from David’s phrase.

Whilst the inspiration for this stems from David’s comments I’d like to make it clear that this is my own interpretation and by no means should be construed to be his. That’s the point I’m making, we all automatically interpret everything we see, or hear or read. To go back to what David’s saying, then, I think that these “filters” evolve over time, as our experiences shape us as human beings. Take, for example, a betrayal of trust.

Over time this sort of experience could make you automatically interpret things in a way that is naturally mistrustful. You may attribute hidden motives to people’s words, you may become cynical, or you may simply refuse to believe anything you’re told or that you read. If you then have an uplifting experience this may all change to the complete opposite, you may then automatically put a positive spin on everything, interpreting everything in the most optimistic way. Such is the wonder that is the human brain.

Tomorrow I’ll be talking about what this means for my GTD implementation.


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29 02 2008
Contextual Relations « Textual Relations

[…] 29 02 2008 So what does all this mean for my GTD implementation? Well, I’ve obviously read the book, and I was implementing […]

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