What’s Missing In My Performance?

Does this describe you or someone you know?  You wake up every morning tired because you only got about 5 hours of sleep.  You get up, get ready for work, get the kids ready (if you have them) and off to school.  You go to work – maybe by car, maybe by public transportation.

Arriving at work, your long ‘to do’ list awaits you, and that’s before you check your emails.  You spend the majority of your time during the day in meetings, trying to get work done in between.  You eat lunch at your desk, more meetings and then before you know it, it is time to leave.  You pack up your laptop so you can finish more work at home and do the commute in reverse.

At home, you get dinner ready or order takeout, eat, maybe help the kids with their homework and then around 10 pm you start reviewing emails and trying to get some work completed.  At around 1 you call it quits, fall into bed, spend hours getting your mind to calm down, finally fall asleep and before you know it, you get up the next morning and start all over again.

Maybe this doesn’t exactly describe your life, but I bet there are similarities.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, get sufficient rest and to be able to take a much-needed break from work.  There just isn’t enough time.

Longing for the ‘Good Old Days’

With the introduction of technology, there is little separation between work and home lives, and there is precious little time for down time, let alone sleep.  Trying to ‘fit it all in’ is the name of the game.

There used to be enough time – in the ‘good old days’.  There used to be a separation built into the 24 hours in a day.  Eight for working, eight for playing and eight for sleeping.  But that doesn’t exist anymore.  With the introduction of technology, there is little separation between work and home lives, and there is precious little time for downtime, let alone sleep.  Trying to ‘fit it all in’ is the name of the game.  You probably think other people have it all figured out.  You probably think you just need to master some good time management techniques.  After all, you see books like ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’.  You just dream of a true 8-hour DAY.  But here’s a comforting thought.  On a recent search in Amazon for Time Management Books, I received 40,000 suggestions.  40,000.  Believe me, no one has time figured out.

Maybe This Isn’t About Time

Maybe this isn’t about time at all.  Maybe this is about energy.  What do I mean by that?  Think about a project either at work or at home that you dislike doing.  Maybe it is your expense reporting, or perhaps having to help your child build their science project.  Whatever it is, think about it, picture yourself having to work on that project.  Do you have that picture in your mind? How are you feeling – do you feel energized or excited OR stressed or defeated?  Does it take a short time? Does it take a long time?  Or does it just FEEL like a long time?  That’s what I mean by energy.

Now, imagine you are working on a project at work or at home that you love – this time you probably feel energized, excited, happy – maybe you could even describe it as working ‘in your zone’.  The work feels effortless and the results are amazing.  That’s also what I’m talking about when I say energy.

The energy we feel when we work on tasks and projects, solving problems and creating solutions – this energy is directly related to how our mind is working.

Using ALL the Parts of Your Mind

Maybe if you used all three parts of your mind instead of just two, you might find that the ‘time’ problem solves itself. What do I mean by this?  Simply that you think intelligence or emotions are all there is.  That’s what you’ve been taught anyway.

Throughout history, scholars believed there were actually three parts of the mind – cognitive – knowledge or intelligence; affective – motivation and emotion; and conative – volition or action.  As far back as Plato and Aristotle, there was a recognition of the “three faculties through which we think, feel and act”.  Yet not everyone believed this.  During the Age of Enlightenment philosophers claimed that reason was the sole basis for human action.  Yet, Freud, Jung, McDougall, and others in the field of psychology rejected the notion that humans were purely rational.  Unfortunately, the tide turned once again in the mid-1920s and the study of instinctive action was once again pretty much ignored.

The creation of IQ tests allowed behaviorists to study the cognitive part of the mind.  Jung’s theory of personality, and others that followed allowed for the study of the affective part of the mind.  Fields of study, school systems, and educational curriculums were based on ONLY these two parts of the mind.  The third part lay unstudied until Kathy Kolbe began her research over 30 years ago.  The results of Kathy’s work, which includes primary research, studies, books, papers, and the Kolbe Indexes, is considered by those of us that use her work refer to as the Kolbe Wisdom.  And Wisdom it is.  Because we can have enough hours in the day if only we use our brains in the right way and take advantage of our natural abilities.

Why is this Important? 

Although we have been taught that there are only two parts of the mind – think left brain/right brain – there are actually three.  We have the Cognitive part, the Affective part, and the Conative part.  Conative is defined as an action derived from instinct.  The Latin root – conatus, is defined as “any natural tendency, impulse or directed effort.”  Even Carl Jung has said that “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the instinct acting from inner necessity.”  That’s the conative part.

Each part of the mind – cognitive, affective and conative – is essential for problem-solving.  Yet you’ve been taught to only focus on cognitive and affective, essentially ignoring the conative part.  So when you sit down to solve a problem, you basically ignore your instinct to take action in your way, missing an essential part of the process.  No wonder we run out of time in the day.  No wonder we are stressed out and can’t fit our lives into the 24 hours we’ve been allotted.  We are only utilizing 2/3 of our brain when clearly we need to engage all three parts.

And if you are only utilizing 2/3 of your brain – and you are ignoring your natural problem-solving instincts – it stands to reason that you are not as productive or as efficient as you could be.  Maybe that’s why it takes you so long to do certain tasks while you fly through others.

Next up: digging deeper into the Three Parts of the Mind


Beth Banks Cohn
Beth Banks Cohn
BETH is dedicated to helping individuals and companies implement business changes that actually work. Beth believes in the ripple effect – that change handled well benefits everyone in an organization, over and over again. As a recognized expert in change as well as corporate culture, Beth consults domestically and internationally with a wide range of disciplines and businesses. Beth is the author of two books: ChangeSmart™: Implementing Change Without Lowering your Bottom Line and Taking the Leap: Managing Your Career in Turbulent Times…and Beyond (with Roz Usheroff).

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