CEOs and Nobel Laureates aren’t so Different

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The following post is derived from insights shared by Nobel laureate, Daniel Kahneman, founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, and finally, neurologist, V.S. Ramachandran (sources below).


What makes them “rock stars”?

They have the necessary emotional intelligence to hack their experiences. How?
This post’s goal is to reveal how they hardwire their experiences for success and how you can apply the quick idea to find your own success today.

A creative experience,” a simple event, could, and probably does, mean something different to a newborn baby and a business leader. I’m not saying one interpretation is better than the other, but what really makes up an experience?

For all practical purposes, an experience is a dynamic driver of future endeavors based on your current situation and surroundings. Yes, your experiences are always-changing, but they are also, never-ending.

Confused yet? Let me break it down. An experience common to most of us is public speaking, maybe giving a presentation to classmates or colleagues. Now that you have an experience in mind, think about how you felt during the presentation. Now, think about how you feel about that same presentation looking back. Chances are, your feelings while experiencing the presentation differ from your feelings today, thinking back to the presentation.

This is not irregular.

In fact, if you experienced something right now, that experience would feel distinct if you thought about that experience a couple weeks down the road.

Being aware that this occurs is critical to seeing what follows.

So, what makes an experience an experience?

  1. Your recollection (memory): Has your glory from scoring 3-pointers in a basketball game ever been subdued by your teammate scoring a couple more points than you? Contrary to popular belief, your memory does not record your life in the same fashion as a tape recorder. Rather, your memory of a particular event arises from your current emotional state as well as from the stories you told yourself as you experienced that event.
  1. Your current focus: Can be thought of as a microscope into your life. If you’ve ever felt unstoppable walking out of the movie theater after watching an action movie, you’ve been a culprit of your own focus. Watching a movie doesn’t change your life, but it does change your focus.

How to hack your own experiences

Your daily life is sprinkled with uncontrollable, immature fragments of experiences and short-lived spurts of inspiration. The single thing in your life that you can control is what you are thinking at a given moment.

Belief in something right now -> (translates to …) belief in that something in the next 10 minutes -> (which translates to…) belief in that something in the next 1 hour, and so on.

Get the idea? The only way to will yourself to experience a certain future is to believe in that future now, at this very second.

That said, how does one make the most of their experiences? That’s another question entirely. We have demonstrated that experiencing life is shapeable, and it’s moldable, and it’s also on autopilot, yet it’s the fundamental motivation for all our actions.

To take the reigns to your success and set your experiences straight, there is no better advice than that of Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn. Outlined in Ben Casnocha’s essay “10,000 Hours with Reid Hoffman: What I Learned,”

“the people you spend the most time with will change you in ways you cannot anticipate or ever fully understand after the fact. The most important choice of all is who you choose to surround yourself with” (Casnocha).

If the wise words of Mr. Hoffman are not enough to persuade you, brain expert, V.S. Ramachandran, believes our brains’ neurons are adept in social learning. Similarly to how a dog watches you open your door, and then goes for the knob himself/herself, we are designed to subconsciously experience one another’s experiences. Regardless of how an experience manifests itself, you are the key player in shaping your experiences. Why? You make your own decisions and one of those decisions is who you choose to surround yourself with.







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