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Are You Ready to Accelerate to Optimized Performance?

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Are You Ready to Accelerate to Optimized Performance?

This week’s article is provided by Dr. JJ Walcutt, scientist, innovator and author, and Jason Armendariz.  It is a companion to JJ’s interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Building a Culture of Brain Health, Growth, and Effectiveness that aired on Tuesday, August 31st.


Recent years have passed without the typical fanfare of annual celebrations of reflecting upon the sunsetting year and looking forward to the new year with goals, resolutions, and a vision of what a person wants to achieve in the new year.  Each new year enters with a renewed focus on challenges and building a road map to accomplish them.  For instance, if the goal is a new body weight, learning a new sport, or even setting the goal of running a marathon, one might expend resources on a training plan, gym membership, or a trainer to strengthen their bodies in preparation for their goal.  As common as these are, unfortunately, a lot of these lose steam, gym memberships go unutilized, and visions go unrealized.  And no one bats an eye.  It is a societal acceptable failure.

According to  US News report, Americans have spent more than $60B on trying to achieve this goal of losing weight.  Tom Van Riper points out in this 2012 article that the cost to train Olympic athletes can cost a range of $13K-$25K per year, monies that do not see a tangible financial return on investment.  Corporations, less focused on Olympic athletes, are focusing on the health and wellness of their employees paying for gym memberships or installing smaller health clubs in their offices.

Have you found yourself or your company seeking, similarly, how to gain the next competitive advantage? Like many, searching for an edge when it comes to reaching their physical goals hiring experts or coaches, has your business sought a workshop to hone and sharpen skills?  Have you found a gap in your knowledge or desired to gain momentum in an area that may not be your strength?  If so, you’re not alone.  However, there is an angle that most do not know about nor consider when it comes to self-improvement or improving individual performance. Training the entirety of the person – mind, body, and brain.

The skills that tomorrow’s workforce needs to thrive in uncertain, changing, and chaotic situations will not be met by the installation of a health club, but by a deliberate focus on training the most important organ in the body – the brain.

Meet the Accelerate program which combines the latest and emerging trends in cognitive psychological research, developed by Dr. JJ Walcutt.  Dr. Walcutt combines her experience from academia, industry, and the US Government to concentrate training for businesses, teams, and individuals to gain the most out of personalized training and accomplish a higher level of performance.


The foundation of this elite-level training centers around the findings of cognitive psychology.  Educating participants on the cognitive processes and how the brain system works to process information and understanding choices can drive toward optimal performance.  Working to understand resilience can enhance your ability to recover from stressful moment’s compartmentalize, and function with clarity. This can help productivity as well as work towards innovative solutions by enhancing your ability to clearly analyze the problems at hand. The current workforce faces challenges and deadlines which often force personnel to juggle multiple tasks.  Accelerate discusses agility and leads participants to improve their ability to switch efficiently and effectively between tasks.  These focal areas of training are unprecedented in today’s corporate training but will be key for those corporations, teams, and individuals who want to be ahead of the curve of tomorrow’s challenges.  In his book, A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink points out the importance of developing skills and the mind for skills in which the future will require a human in the loop.

Preparing an individual to be this human in the loop leverages the training that Dr. Walcutt has developed for the accelerate program.  Like the algorithms that suggest the next song on your chosen music platform, personalized learning will help corporations, teams, and individuals achieve greater success through optimized training.


Accelerate spends time honing the understanding of information processing as individuals and across teams.  As a foremost expert in cognitive load theory and unmatched experience in team dynamics from her time doing DoD research, Dr. Walcutt transfers the understanding of working memory to participants.  This allows program participants to learn how to harness the information, increase their ability to hold it, and be able to enhance the speed and accuracy of applying that information.  Having pertinent information at hand may then translate to the ability to process information more rapidly and allow teams to exponentially collaborate on issues.

Part of any corporate success is the ability to get ahead of competitors.  The same may be true of individuals looking for that promotion, edge, or gain that will put them in the driver’s seat for their career.  Getting ahead means being able to make sense of information, connect the dots, and ultimately make decisions that will be impactful for the future.  Dr. Walcutt’s design of Accelerate will allow participants to learn how to best anticipate, assess, and then act to make key decisions efficiently to achieve desired outcomes.


Most organizations, whether corporate, military, private, or even academia have goals that translate across domains.  Accelerate is the one program that delivers elite-level training that deliberately addresses these.  80% of leaders feel they are “time poor” and wanting more hours in the day to accomplish duties and tasks.  Accelerate will demonstrate methods that will allow a reduction in time to do tasks, improving efficiency.  Once time is mastered, the next logical step is to then master the ability to work through multiple tasks and learn specifically how to switch more effectively between skills and settings.  Finally, quality is the concern across all domains.  Through Accelerate, increase your quality of output, learning to accomplish more tasks at a higher level.  Increase the number of good decisions of your corporations, teams, and individuals.

Many Americans spend countless hours exercising the body.  Accelerate wants to know – do you exercise your mind?

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Authors

Dr. J.J. Walcutt is a scientist, innovator, and learning engineer that specializes in strategic development and reform across education, military, and government. Her current work focuses on optimizing human cognition and performance across a wide spectrum of learning programs that promote optimization. Dr. Walcutt has served in the U.S. Government as a Director of Innovation for distributed learning optimization and as a Human Innovation Fellow. In her role at the Pentagon, she also served as a U.S. Delegate to NATO, Partnership for Peace, and as a national and international keynote speaker. Dr. Walcutt has over 20 years of experience in research and development for training, education, and human optimization.

Jason Armendariz is a cognitive scientist with a lifelong learner attitude and a true passion for training, education, and leadership.  Jason started his path in learning as a high school educator prior to joining the military.  During his time in the military, he rose to serve as a trainer in tactics, communications, and leadership.  He has experience in research and development efforts to improve cognitive skills, learning, team dynamics and human performance. Jason has studied cognitive science, human systems interaction, and adult education and strives to build the capability of others to succeed by integrating research into programs and plans to improve learning.

Photo by Fakurian Design on Unsplash

Using Brain Science to Enhance Leadership Ability by Gary Weber

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Using Brain Science to Enhance Leadership Ability by Gary Weber

Weber world on shoulders

This post, written by Gary Weber, is a companion to the July 5 VoiceAmerica interview with Gary Weber, Using Brain Science to Enhance Leadership. Gary talks about our personal mental operating systems and how to replace them with an updated one.

Replacing our current “I”-based, mental operating system (OS I) with an upgrade, largely by reducing the self-referential internal narrative (SRIN), is something I have been exploring for a while. The belief that our current OS has become “maladaptive,” was discussed in the blogpost “Does your nondual awakening benefit ‘everyone’? the world?” and in the video “dysfunctional evolution of the mind.”

OS I developed about 75,000 years ago. (see blogpost “How old is the “I”?  How/why did it come into existence?…new science”) Our predecessors split off from our nearest relatives, the chimpanzees, about 6,000,000 years ago; the “I”-based OS 1 has been in operation for about one percent of the time we have been distinct from other primates.

Our brain size increased three times after that split from the chimpanzees until when we developed OS 1. Many structural, organization, and neural modifications evolved before OS 1 could emerge.

As we know, our current OS has many limitations. It is difficult to focus on important “stuff” with the continual interference from our SRIN. “Does insufficient apoptosis cause cancer?” competes with “Why did Jane treat me the way she did?” “I’ll tell her next week what I think of her,” “I should stop eating ice cream—Greek yogurt would be better”; “What should I wear tonight?”, etc.

The persistent SRIN also consumes huge amounts of energy, wastes much bandwidth, and increases negative energy. It also results in emotionally-charged memories that lead to depression, anxiety, dis-ease, worries, craving, attachment, suffering, etc.

The recognition that SRIN was THE problem causing “my” personal unhappiness occurred when I was in grad school walking to campus. I just could not believe that this never-ending cacophony of the SRIN was how we were supposed to live “our lives.” There had to be a better way. So, I set out to see if and how SRIN could be reduced or perhaps even eliminated, while still retaining functionality in the “real” world.

As an empirical scientist “in-training,” I conducted this investigation totally empirically. Every understanding had to be personally validated. There would be no philosophy, theory, or teachings from millennia ago. To make certain that I had the best possible data, I developed some design parameters:

1. Any information had to come from sources alive now, or who were alive while I was alive.
2. There had to be movies/videos, photographs, and direct transcripts of the information from any of the sources.
3. My preference was to personally see the sources, or talk to folk who had.
4. The sources would be in first-language English to avoid misunderstandings from translations.
5. The sources must have been validated by well-known and credible “experts.”
6. Ongoing direct feedback on progress/success was critical for a DIY approach. Good news/bad news, SRIN provided continuously-available feedback…if SRIN was there, more work was needed.
7. The process must retain/enhance functional “real world” performance.
8. Happiness would increase, and suffering, stress, and anxiety would decrease.
9. The result would be a change in life, not just experiences; it would be a new OS.
10. It would be scientifically verifiable.
The source that met all of these parameters was Ramana Maharshi. I also drew upon sources who partially met these parameters, like the late Toni Packer (my iconoclastic Zen teacher), J. Krishnamurti, Amrit Desai, Swami Rama, Roshi Eido Shimano, etc.

As described in my book Happiness Beyond Thought: A Practical Guide to Awakening, I did many direct empirical exercises to understand thoughts, how they were constructed, whether they were continuous or intermittent, energetic or not, linked or “stand alone,” how the “I” was constructed, etc. With that perspective, particularly “Who Am I?”, I embarked on an intensive program of self-inquiry and “I” deconstruction.

SRIN occurs when my blood sugar gets low (hypoglycemic) or I am very tired. Some early mornings, there is a short clearing out of some residual “stuff” from the day before, such as “Is this important, or should we dump it?” mode. If you don’t take advantage of the invitation to explore, it just vanishes…the brain gets its answer.

Surprisingly, a loss of self-referential desires and fears, as well as dramatically enhanced functional capability occurred with the disappearance of SRIN/”I”.

What also fell away, which was a total surprise, was “free will,” or “control”—without an “I”, there was no other logical possibility. Despite expectations of chaos and anxiety, it was incredibly sweet. Life without the illusion that one is, or can be, in control is like having the world lifted from your shoulders.

There is also much scientific validation manifesting now, for example in the value of meditation. This is described in the blogposts: “Folk who meditate decrease mind wandering”, “Do your mystical experiences fit with w/quantum physics?  neuroscience?”, “What is the Default Mode Network?”, “What is really ‘real’?  What does ‘nothing is real’ mean?”.

There is no doubt that much more will be discovered going forward; we are at the beginning of what cognitive neuroscience will find. A big question is whether it is possible to decrease SRIN without extensive meditation experience. We have evidence that it is absolutely possible based on my experience with clients.

As to why more folk don’t reach the state of a decreased SRIN:

1. They do not believe it is possible.
2. They will not let go of their attachments.
3. They will not let go of their suffering (often caused by the SRIN).

I believe we are at a tipping point. If we don’t make fundamental changes now in how we function, our egoic/”I” operating system OS 1 could well destroy us. The change from the belief that the “I” is a constant, fixed, real entity to understanding that it is an “ad hoc,” haphazardly-assembled, mental construct, needs to be as fundamental and clear as our knowledge that the earth is round. And, in my humble opinion, it needs to happen soon.

About the author

Gary Weber, PhD, is a subject/collaborator in neuroscience studies at Yale, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the Baumann Foundation, the Center for Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness, at Johns Hopkins, and at Penn State.

From 2000 to 2004 he was an associate vice president of research for Penn State responsible for all technology transfer operations of the University, including angel investing, venture capital, licensing, patenting and start-up support. He was also responsible for external industrial R&D contracts and interfaces with the University.
In the late 1990s, Gary was senior vice president of science and technology for PPG responsible for all corporate R&D with four research laboratories, approximately 1000 engineers, scientists, and technical folk, and a $260MM budget. He was also a member of the Executive Committee.

Since then he has been researching and writing about happiness beyond thought. He is applying his extensive research skills to helping leaders.

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