There’s a famous experiment in which volunteers watch a video of two basketball teams, one wearing white shirts and one wearing black shirts, passing around a basketball. The volunteers are asked to count how many times the white team passes the ball. During this video, a person in a gorilla suit walks through all of the action. After the video ends, the volunteers are asked to write down how many passes there were by the white team. The volunteers are then asked if they noticed anything unusual.
Forty-six percent of the volunteers completely missed the gorilla.
This is due to Inattentional Blindness – You see what you focus your attention on and you don’t see what you’re not focused on.
Why does this happen?
There are two brain systems at work, when you are focused intensely on something: The Reticular Activating System and the Thalamus.
The Thalamus sits between the Sensory Nerves (Optical Nerve and Auditory Vestibular Nerve, or Hearing Nerve) and the Cerebral Cortex, where our consciousness/awareness is located.
Attached to and part of the Thalamus, is something called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The purpose or function of the RAS is to decide which environmental sensory signal is allowed through and on to the Cerebral Cortex, your consciousness.
In a very real sense, this RAS/Thalamus gate is the brain’s Traffic Cop, directing traffic into or away from the Cerebral Cortex.
Because we are bombarded with an enormous amount of external environmental information, without this vetting process by the RAS/Thalamus gate, your brain would very quickly overload.
So, the RAS/Thalamus Traffic Cop is given specific instructions about what external environmental sensory signals are allowed to pass through. Any signals that are not allowed through are re-directed into the depths of the Limbic System, or your unconscious, never to be seen or heard.
They are essentially lost.
But the few signals that are permitted through by this Traffic Cop, enter your consciousness and, thus you are made aware of them. They are brought to your attention and your awareness because they are deemed important.
What are some examples of the specific things allowed through this RAS/Thalamus gate?
- Your Name – When you hear your name you will immediately turn to the direction of the person speaking your name.
- Voices of Loved Ones – You can hear the voices of your loved ones even through the din of the busiest airport, food market or stadium.
Which brings me Focus.
When you are focused on pursuing Dreams and Goals, your RAS/Thalamus is given specific instructions to tune into anything and everything in the environment, related to your Dreams and Goals in an effort to help you realize those Dreams and Goals.
This is why pursuing Dreams and Goals is fundamental to success. Their very pursuit unleashes the incredible powers of the brain – it opens your brain up to external environmental cues that will help you achieve and realize your Dreams and Goals.
Your brain is put on receiver mode for any and all opportunities that the RAS/Thalamus Gate identify within your environment – things that are important to you.
Without Dreams and Goals, you become blind to opportunities – opportunities that can transform you from ordinary to extraordinary, from poor to rich, from nobody to somebody.
When you pursue Dreams and Goals, you toggle on this innate superpower that is hidden deep inside each one of us.