WHAT IS YOUR CAREER MAXIMUM? What is your biological career potential?
Exploit biological maximizing for a career beyond your innate potential Flow maximizes instantly Your maximum flow: top-talent flow Sudden savantism through top-talent flow Growth through top-talent flow New meta-skills from extensive top-talent flow experience Paid growth, paid play – Make your natural growth path your career path
Executives are charged with maximizing corporate resources for corporate gain. Many mechanisms, processes, procedures and systems have been put in place to discover and achieve maximum returns on corporate resources. However, one’s personal asset maximization is seldom the focus of career or life strategies. Few identify their maximum possible career and then pursue it. Few pursue their maximum lifetime contribution to the advance of the world nor the commensurate tangible and intangible rewards. However, this is a common regret on the career front for the majority from their retirement rocking chair.
WHAT IS YOUR CAREER MAXIMUM?
Before I introduce some new potential career maximums, take a moment to determine what you currently consider your highest possible life’s work. The questions below may spur your thinking:
- If you had total freedom and unlimited resources, what creations or footprints would you want to leave over your lifetime?
- What work would you dedicate yourself to do to contribute to or advance our world?
- Generically, what might your maximum career look like based solely on the continuous application and improvement of your strongest, most rewarding talents?
- To what meaningful work would you dedicate your life in the absence of all impediments and distractions?
- If we removed all of the demands of family, finances, and the challenges life throws at you, what would be your ultimate career?
- If we stripped away all competing “careers” such as parenting, supporting one’s family, a hobby, or a cause, what would be your maximum creative expression? What are the creations for which you would like to receive your income?
- What are your maximum possible lifetime achievements?
- What could be your maximum possible career legacy?
In an unrestricted vision of lifetime career maximization, each of us would want to do meaningful work we are passionate about. We would want to grow in our ability to do that work. We would want to continuously increase its value and impact. We would want to apply our greatest talents – the talents we most enjoy – at their maximum to the work which would be most valued by the world and by ourselves. This is the work which will bring the most tangible and intangible rewards.
In the previous blog, we learned about a biologically addictive ‘paid play’ that pulled seven executives to success: Bill Gates (Microsoft co-founder), Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Apple co-founders), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook founder), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google co-founders), and Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder).
Because this ‘paid play’ is driven by addictive drives, the more you do this kind of work, the more you want to do it. And the more you do it, the better you get at it. Eventually you will achieve breakthroughs that advance your paid-play domain. The drives which biologically predispose us to our field of ‘paid play’ pulled our seven iconic founders to superior performance and accelerated growth. The result was performance, throughput, and breakthroughs that far exceeded what they could have achieved through the controlling push of discipline. These superstars were internally or biologically driven.
Let’s have a look at some other biological maximums that you may not have thought to include in your previous determination of your career maximum. Let’s look at some of the new career maximums that will dramatically upgrade today’s state-of-the-art career strategy.
What is your biological career potential?
Strip away for the moment all of your competing life goals and struggles. What do you have the potential to accomplish if you applied full power to a singular focus? What is your true career potential? What does nature consider your maximum?
A career based on our biological maximum would be dedicated to work to which we are “biologically predisposed to excel” and “biologically predisposed to crave”. Such maximum work would require us to apply our strongest, most rewarding talents to their maximum. Our expertise with those talents would continuously upgrade at our maximum possible growth rate.
Our peak performance would be committed to our most valued work. This is the work for which we will receive the greatest intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. A biologically maximized career would be defined by the pull of our most addictive ‘paid play’ and ‘paid growth’. It would be propelled by drives not discipline.
However, more than this, a career based on our biological maximums would comply with and capitalize on the maximizing mechanisms and processes that have evolved human beings. It would have us reintegrate with the flow of systems synergistically maximizing each other. It would not have us dissipating energy to oppose that flow. It would exploit maximizing forces and co-evolving systems so that their capabilities could be added to ours to enable us to achieve beyond our internal potential.
This is precisely what we observe in the careers of the seven accomplished founders of Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook.
Exploit biological maximizing for a career beyond your innate potential
The human biological imperative seeks the maximization of the individual and the species for survival. Nature routinely, perpetually, and impartially maximizes human systems for survival. Over generations, a ‘machinery’ has evolved inside and outside of us to promote this maximization.
Inside, we may observe it maximizing systems within our body for health and performance. Think especially of the adaptivity of our immune and nervous systems to external elements, for example. Outside, we see this machinery maximizing stock markets, and economic and sociological systems.
It is only logical to assume that the same forces maximizing systems within a biological ecosystem would also act on each of us. We are a part of the larger maximizing machinery that evolved us. If we knew how to capitalize on this machinery, we could raise the bar on our career potential. We could extend our capabilities with these maximizing mechanisms, systems, processes, and intelligence to operate beyond what we might perceive is our inborn potential.
Only by reintegrating with this maximizing process will we know our true potential and hence our career potential.
- What could you accomplish if you spent decades operating beyond your potential in your strongest domain?
- What would be your career maximum if you spent a lifetime conscripting other systems to achieve bigger goals than you are capable of attaining on your own?
- Where would your career take you if you rejoined the massive orchestration of all biological systems?
- If you learned how to exploit this maximizing machinery for your own system and your career, could you not also apply it to maximize any human system to achieve beyond its potential?
- Could you not extrapolate the same process to your subordinates, your company, your family, your child, a market, a country, or the system of humanity as a whole?
- How much more profoundly capable would you be as an executive leading multi-system companies in multi-system markets? This too will increase your career maximum.
- What business can succeed against a competitor harnessing the maximizing mechanisms of evolution?
- What leader would choose to operate contrary to the direction of the evolutionary flow?
Let’s look first at some aspects of maximizing internally in Part One. In Part Two, we will look at some of the new career maximums possible by exploiting the external portion of the maximizing machinery.
Flashes of genius and sudden savantism
Our seven super-achievers experienced frequent flashes of genius beyond their potential as they complied with their biologically maximized careers. With some tweaks of biology, it is possible for even those of normal intelligence or less to experience those same spikes of genius.
Let’s compare these moments of brilliance to savant syndrome for a moment. Savants exhibit extreme talent in the wake of profound disabilities. A person with below normal intelligence is able to display an exceptional if not prodigious talent or ability in a specific area. Savants operate at levels that would be unusual even for normal people.
Many were introduced to this exceptional intellectual capacity by the savant star, Raymond, in the popular movie, Rain Man (1988). The inspiration for Dustin Hoffman’s role came from Kim Peek or “Kimputer” who was born without the thick band of axons connecting the left and right hemispheres. Kim is capable of incredible feats of memory and calculation. He can recall over 7,600 books and has a nearly complete and up-to-date knowledge of world history, area codes, zip codes, roads and highways and much more.
Savantism appears to emerge when birth, injury, or dementia removes left-brain control of the right brain. There is evidence that the brain “re-wires” itself to not only avoid damaged areas but to compensate for them. The exceptional abilities observed in those who acquire savantism later in life do not emerge because of a sudden creation of skills. Rather, experts believe that what occurs is a release of skills and talents already present.
Since savant syndrome can be acquired, scientists believe that all of us, theoretically, have the potential to become savants. It appears that each of us may have a super-talent territory or savant domain in which flashes of genius beyond our normal intelligence can be achieved. Savantism suggests a greater potential of the human brain and how talent and genius may manifest. Since flashes of genius would upgrade anyone’s career maximum, let’s examine some alternative means to release our own savantism with some adjustments to our modus operandi.
Most of the known savants have been left-brain weak. This suggests that the level of left brain intelligence will not determine who will experience the flashes of genius we observe in the lives of our seven super-achievers.
The left hemisphere of the brain provides logic, reasoning, analysis and objectivity. It is verbal and rational. Our right hemisphere is the hub for creativity, novelty, intuition, subjectivity, pattern recognition, and holistic and divergent thinking. It is your nonverbal and intuitive brain. It thinks in patterns. It comprehends pictures and ‘whole things’. It controls visual, spatial and relational thinking. It does not comprehend reductions, numbers, letters, or words.
Our goal is not the elimination of the left brain as in savants. However, the current scientific evidence suggests we will still need the left brain to release control of the right brain. This can be more advantageously accomplished by an increase in the right brain so that a partnership of both hemispheres can give us whole-brain operation. Our goal is a synergy in which the whole brain is greater than the sum of its two parts.
One might try allowing the left and right brain to operate simultaneously in parallel or synchronously to achieve this equal partnership. However, the right brain may be better freed for aspiring novice whole-brainers if one consciously uses alternating applications of right brain then left brain to any project. This will free the creative right brain for insights and genius without sacrificing left-brain logic and functionality.
Writers, for example, could do one or more freehand, unedited, and unrestricted right-brain passes for creativity, insights, and genius to develop concepts or story. A left-brain pass would address the logic, editing, grammar and spelling. Executives could do the same for developing strategic or tactical plans. However, whole-brain operation is easier to achieve than one might think. Other options are built into us as part of the maximizing machinery.
Whole-brain operation is a biological maximum. It is therefore better for the survival of the individual and the species. Consequently, we have evolved a biological bias to it. Many mechanisms, processes, and urges have evolved to promote whole-brain operation. Flow state is one important example internally that will be discussed below. External mechanisms that promote whole-brain flashes of genius will be revealed in Part Two. We can learn to bypass or overcome the cultural and corporate interferences that pressure left-brain control.
The “Eureka!” or “Aha!” effect
When normal intelligence is applied to action, implement, or operationalize your periodic ‘smart events’ or breakthroughs, the sum total of your career performance will increase. Sometimes it only takes one breakthrough to make a career and change the world. Our seven iconic founders experienced serial breakthroughs as a way of life. You can too. Let’s examine internally and externally (Part Two) what will make that new career maximum possible.
The “Eureka!” or “Aha!” effect refers to the common human experience of suddenly understanding a previously incomprehensible problem or concept. If you source only partial solutions to a problem then you are likely in the midst of a left-brain reasoning process rather than a right-brain “Aha!” event. This is about sudden knowledge, sudden knowing, and sudden access to new information.
‘Insight’ is the official psychological term in problem solving for instances in which a previously unsolvable puzzle becomes suddenly clear and obvious. Neuroscience and brain scans have located the part of the right brain in which true insights occur. The anterior superior temporal gyrus of the right hemisphere is where remote and unconnected associations are brought together and linked. As you will learn, the gyrus along with the rest of the right brain is activated by flow states.
It is interesting that anecdotal evidence records rapid experience of “Eureka!” events or seeming all-knowingness during near-death experiences (NDE) when cultural interferences have been minimized. The brain seemingly clicks into its maximized state of coherence and synergy especially with respect to the super-talent or savant domain associated with the strongest talents of each individual. NDErs experience savantism. For some, the savantism and bias for this domain survives the near-death experience.
There is an addictiveness to the highs of “Aha!” experiences that pulls you to pursue them again and again. As they increase in number, the baseline of your intelligence and functionality increases. Also your knowledge of your savant domain goes up with each breakthrough. Your career maximum augments accordingly. In no time at all you are penetrating new frontiers in your field just as the seven super-achievers did with Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple. Have you been settling?
Flow maximizes instantly
As mentioned, one of the internal mechanisms in the maximizing machinery is flow state. Psychologist, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, describes flow as our optimal and our most enjoyable experience in his book of the same name (1991). Flow is our maximized state. All the body’s resources are trained on the current intrinsically rewarding work. The biological imperative, then, will seek to have us operate in flow 100% of the time. Because flow is an addictive, peak-performing and peak-growth state, it is one of the key drivers of human evolution.
To experience this wonderfully rewarding state of flow, one must be stretched beyond one’s previous capabilities. Therefore, a maximum- or flow-seeking career will go beyond peak performance to peak growth. We are not only biologically biased to peak performance but to increasing the baseline functionality of that peak performance. How smart of the human species to have evolved an addictive maximum state that draws us to perpetually transcend ourselves. Accordingly, the maximum of a flow-focused career would continuously rise as well.
Your maximum flow: top-talent flow
All flow states are not equal in achieving savantism or your biological and career maximums. Maximization promotes peak performance from peak strengths for peak expression, peak impact, and peak rewards. Your true maximum flow state will therefore emerge from using and improving your strongest, most addicting, and most rewarding talents in the domain most facilitating for and valuing of their use. I call these extended periods of operating at your talent-based maximum ‘top-talent flows’.
If you were going to release your inner savant or super-talents, this is the territory in which it/they would emerge. Just as in savantism, the skills of extraordinary performance are already biologically present rather than having to be cultivated. Most who acquired savantism later in life never demonstrated their savant domain or super-talent territory prior to the injury or dementia which damaged the left brain thus releasing their right brain to savantism.
Since top-talent flow is our true maximum, we are biologically biased to pursue this intrinsically gratifying state. This is the flow state most supported by mechanisms, processes, and drives enmeshed within the internal-external maximizing machinery. It is dramatically more powerful and transformative than any other form of flow. Accelerated growth, breakthrough creations, new meta-skills, and flashes of genius and savantism are significantly more prevalent.
Exponential magic happens in your top-talent flows. Now imagine how powerful and transformed our seven founders would be after spending years in these transformative flow states which emerge while they are applying their greatest strengths. This is what I believe caused the significant accomplishments of our seven achievers. In many cases, these flow states enabled achievements beyond their innate intelligence.
A majority of the seven had computer, internet, and software work in their childhood or early careers. Computer programming is particularly compelling for inciting top-talent flow states. Colloquially, they are called ‘hack mode’, a Zen-like state of total focus. They are so captivating that many programmers blissfully program all night and forget to eat. They are so addictive that they not only became the ‘paid play’ of many of our seven founders but fostered an industry of computer and video games. This is how I believe these seven were pulled to their achievements rather than pressured by a superior discipline or outside force to achieve them. This suggests an alternative career strategy for those highly disciplined executives who have achieved neither the intrinsic nor extrinsic rewards that they seek.
Sudden savantism through top-talent flow
A person in flow state has alpha brainwaves not unlike those of a Zen monk in meditation. When in this alpha-intensive state, we can retain cognitive consciousness for far longer than the few seconds of duration characteristic of normal, beta-wave consciousness. This extended consciousness equips us to solve complex problems, follow extended chains of reasoning, and take on tasks that we simply cannot fit into the transient episodes of normal beta-wave arousal.
Flow states also seem to be more conducive than normal consciousness to activation of the right anterior superior temporal gyrus, the region of the brain associated with intuitive leaps and sudden insight. It appears that the chatter of beta-wave activity in normal consciousness somehow competes with our “Aha!” circuitry. In addition, the requirement for stretching beyond one’s previous capabilities to enter into flow, upgrades capabilities and performance towards savant stature.
However, the real power of top-talent flow is that it releases our whole-brain genius to full power. The right brain is freed from left-brain domination in this maximal flow state. Thus the triggers of acquired savant syndrome are duplicated. Whole-brain flow incites the perfect left-brain and right-brain synergy.
Growth through top-talent flow
Flow is a peak-performance and peak-growth state. Growth is built into flow and particularly top-talent flow because a) flow is so fulfilling that it becomes addictive, b) achieving this intrinsically rewarding flow state requires us to be stretched beyond our previous capabilities, and c) flow is a transforming state. Learning adds new information to one’s existing system. However, top-talent flow actually reformulates or re-wires one’s system with new functionality and new potential.
This is what I believe our seven super-achievers experienced. As a result, they spent their careers operating at peak growth. Year after year they raised their baseline functionality and the level of impact of their creations and achievements faster than most of us would. This is what happened with Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple. Not all of the founders are as brilliant as what they created. However, by adhering to the domain to which they are biologically predisposed, achievement beyond expectation was possible.
Year after year, their meta-skills and “Aha!” events increased in top-talent flow so they not only operated beyond their potential, they raised that potential. Consciousness expanded. Conceptual skills increased. So even if Gates, Jobs, Wozniak, Bezos, Brin, Page, and Zuckerberg did not start with genius, it would likely emerge over time. The skills and meta-skills that developed in the savant domain would spill over into other facets of their life to raise overall performance and intelligence.
For example, one’s ability to break through frontier after frontier in one’s savant domain would provide expertise for penetrating new or unknown territory in other disciplines in which one’s performance was innately inferior. What would your career maximum be if you never diluted your savant strengths and never left your savant domain? This is what our seven iconic founders share and demonstrate for us.
New meta-skills from extensive top-talent flow experience
Elevations in consciousness will increase our functionality and meta-skills. Cognitive skills, for example, will advance. Operational intelligence will be improved by upgrades in abstract thinking, conceptual thinking, big-picture thinking, systems thinking, strategic thinking, mental agility, adaptivity, pattern recognition, trend perception, environmental scanning, problem re-framing, and ambiguity resolution. Notice the addition of many right-brain capabilities in particular.
Few educational programs have been effective in developing any of these meta-skills. However, they upgrade collectively as a paradigm shift when we reintegrate into the maximizing machinery and experience serial top-talent flows. These kinds of meta-skills are pivotal to executive performance. Executive career maximums therefore will upgrade significantly with this proposed maximum modus operandi.
Paid growth, paid play – Make your natural growth path your career path
The biologically maximum career would consist of a series of top-talent flow experiences in which you would continuously a) surpass your previous performance and b) re-wire your system to raise not only your baseline functionality but also your potential.
Our growth path, then, will be a nonlinear amplification or expansion or intensification of our strongest talents to increase their power to impact reality and the precision with which they create. It will be a growth path in which we are constantly breaking through new frontiers of knowledge, skill, and reality impact in our savant domain. This accelerated growth path would thus define our maximum career path, biologically speaking.
We have a biological predisposition towards enjoying the application of certain talents more than others. Therefore, your maximum is innate. Hence, your growth path will be innate given that nature only seeks to maximize systems for survival. Therefore your ideal career strategy is one of being paid to grow your most fun talents and to apply them to larger and more meaningful projects
(see figure 1).
Read Part Two to learn more about external maximizing mechanisms and their synergy with internal one’s such as those discussed here in Part One.
Sourcing your Savant: Hyper-Focus your Career on your Genius
The New Career Maximums – Part Two Have your Settled for too Little?
The Secret Career Strategy of the World’s Most Successful Executives
As CEO of Frontiering.com, Lauren Holmes designs customized companies, projects, jobs, and career and company strategies which will enable people to biologically maximize to achieve goals and impact at their maximum or beyond. Lauren is a biological anthropologist who helps people and companies to superachieve by extending their capabilities with surrounding biological infrastructure with which humans have evolved to partner. See LaurenHolmes.com for more about Lauren’s books and articles.