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The neuroscience of Failure and Success

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

Success comes from within.

Success and personal power are both very personal. You have to do it your way. Yes, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. You can look-and-learn, but to be successful and equally important, to feel successful, you have to be authentic.


Authenticity is about genuineness and originality. It is not a skill to acquire. Authenticity is being true to form, and ‘form’ is innate. It is not out there, but in here. It is partly inherited, partly cultivated through upbringing, schooling, shaping and pruning, and partly fashioned by choices made based on what you value. True to form authenticity is hardwired in your brain and body, and as neuroscientists consistently illuminate, your brain and body wiring is unique. One of a kind. Not like any other.


Neuroscientists continue to point out that the brain is economical in its use of resources, meaning attention, energy consumption and real estate. Effort consumes vast amounts of energy, while skilful competence runs on economy mode.

Repetitive use of a specific combination of brain and body wiring becomes hard-wired (myelinated in neuroscience-talk). These hard-wired patterns of use occupy brain real estate, while less used combinations of brain and body wiring forfeit real estate, called pruning. Less used space in the brain needs to make way for expanding and frequently activated patterns of use.


Neuroplasticity is none other than real estate transactions happening in the brain and body following the ‘use it or lose it’ principle. These transactions happen every minute of every day of your life. You know this, but often don’t think about it. When you wink, you tend to consistently wink with the same eye, yes? When you pick up your keys, you consistently reach out with the same hand, yes? These are myelinated ‘habits’ due to consistency of use. The eye you winked with and the hand that reached out own more brain real estate than their partners.

But wait, there is more! These myelinated patterns of use run so fast that you are not even aware of them. And that is why it is so difficult to change a habit. Once a specific combination of brain and body wiring becomes hard-wired (myelinated) it moves the brain into energy efficiency or economy mode. Now you have acquired the status of unconscious competence. Congratulations, you have just established a habit!


Those unconsciously run programmes of habit can boost or bite you. They can support or undermine your choices, behaviour and performance. That is why at the Mind Dynamix Institute, Johannesburg, our research for the last 26 years has been focussed on discovering and measuring hardwired programming of the brain. The answer is inside, not outside.


You have programmes to talk; programmes to listen (or not…); programmes to socialise or be a loner; programmes to kick or catch a ball; programmes to juggle different tasks at the same time and programmes to be patient, caring and understanding. There are programmes for self-discipline, for assertiveness, for logical thought, and programmes to be a creative and innovative idea-spinner. For each competency at work, in life and at play, you may or may not have a supporting programme, and hence your innate ability to be competent at certain tasks and skills, and less competent at others.

Your programming is a natural consequence of your genetic make-up and the environmental influences during your formative years. Due to the plasticity of the brain, the interplay between your genetic make-up and the environmental influences before the age of 18 years seems to contribute the most to your unconscious programming and innate competence. If you grew up with non-sporty parents living in a high rise building with limited access to sports facilities, marathon running might not come as easily to you at first, as it could to a person who was raised by marathon athlete parents living in a country estate (genes & environment). If you were raised by introverted parents who encouraged reading and a love of learning you may be an avid reader, but may find it challenging to come across as confident and assertive (genes and environment), especially if your upbringing included a ‘children should be seen but not heard’ policy. Your early programming gets hard-wired through use, but can be changed at any stage due to the plasticity of the brain and its ability to rewire and re-programme.


As an adult, brain wiring and the associated programming are largely influenced by the choices you’ve made and are making. That means the wiring and programming that occurred during your formative years can be changed if you choose to do so. You can rewire your brain and write a programme for any skill you want to develop; it just takes time and commitment. It can be done:

  • If you are an introvert, you can become more extroverted so people pay more attention to what you have to say.

  • If you are off-the-wall creative, you can pay enough attention to detail to meet the deadline, complete the project and paperwork to get paid for your innovative work.

  • If others perceive you as overly sensitive you can develop a programme to shift from feeling to thinking when needed.

  • If you are an obsessive compulsive counter (of everything in sight), you can develop a programme to up your people game.

You can become more assertive or more sensitive; more analytical or innovative; more expressive or more able to hold your tongue; better at administrative tasks as well as facilitation; less dependent on others and more self-reliant. The list is endless.


Mind Dynamix Profiling offers you a peek at the wiring that underpins your programming. It is a fresh angle on personal assessment and elegant in bringing about self-awareness – personally, in relationships and professionally. It also offers an innovative look at career options, career pathing as well as recruitment and selection processes to empower you to find your ideal job-to-person match.

Programming is the result of genes, environmental influences and choices made. The effectiveness of your unconscious programming, in any given situation, impacts on what you are naturally competent at or not; how you perform, or not. A peek into your brain with a Mind Dynamix Profile Accredited Practitioner might just enable you to live authentically – powerfully and successfully.

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