BLOG, Leadership / September 11, 2017

Garbage In = Garbage Out

By Janine Garner

I was recently watching the Forbes video “Secrets of the World’s Most Powerful Women”. There are so many words of wisdom in this video from the likes of Christine Lagarde, Sheryl Sandberg, Debra Lee and Ertharin Cousin – I've linked the video below and well worth taking a look.

There was one particular comment however, from Jane Fonda, the actress, that got me thinking. She said, “The most important thing is to stay interested. That’s much more important that being interesting.”

With so much information at our fingertips surely there is no excuse to not remain interested in learning more and becoming more? Surely with the constant stream of information and access to articles, ideas, innovative and controversial thinking there is no excuse for becoming bland and boring?

And yet, when you take a look around perhaps boring has become the new norm because there appears to be way too much sameness and beigeness going on - people doing and saying exactly what’s expected, obsessed with keeping small talk the norm rather than engaging in interesting, insightful, sometimes maybe controversial conversation. Even those people with mega social profiles share the expected and if they happen to share something new is the latest lunch bite, bathroom shot or party grab really that interesting?

Staying interested is a self-directed desire and a choice. You must choose to keep interested. Harvard professor Linda Hill put it perfectly when she said, ‘You can’t think of something new unless you are being pushed to think in new directions, and you can’t do that unless you are engaging with people who have a different viewpoint.’

I really love Darren Hardy’s concept of garbage in, garbage out which he discusses at length in his bestselling book, The Compound Effect. He says, ‘If you want your brain to perform at its peak you've got to be more vigilant about what you feed it,’. Feeding our brains with mind-numbing sitcoms or reality TV shows is simply garbage in, he suggests: ‘all that drive time radio yak…drives your thinking process, which drives your expectations, which drives your creative output. That IS bad news. But just like a dirty glass, if you flush it with clean water…long enough, eventually you will end up with a glass of pure, clear water.’ Hardy suggests that instead of garbage we should be feeding our brains strategies of success, inspirational stories, ideas for growth. This is what makes you interesting and memorable — the information you have, the ideas you share, the stories at your fingertips.

I have my own personal junk and inspiration filter. I watch very little TV, I scan the headlines and certainly don’t listen to the depressing daily newsfeed. I have very select feeds so I can keep track of relevant news, I subscribe to some key publications that improve my knowledge, I treat myself to a coffee date every week where possible when I either read a book abstract or watch a TED talk and I read every day and — a lot!

So what is influencing you? What garbage are your feeding your brain with today?

Make a choice. Replace the garbage and instead feed your ‘being memorable’ brain bank with new ideas, concepts and perspectives so that you are not just interesting but staying interested.

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