Are you really thinking?

Now I’ve got your attention and you are reading this, can I indulge you in a couple of tests? It should only take a minute or two.  No peeking now.

Let’s start with spelling.

So here goes, look at this image and tell me what fabric you see?

Ok, I want you to spell it.

Now sound out each letter – one at a time. If you wouldn’t mind, say it out loud (or mutter it under your breath). Ok, and once more to be sure.

Ok let’s check your answer.

The correct is answer is silk. Which is spelt S I L K.

Do you get it right?

Now answer this question.

What do cows drink?


scroll down

and check your answer.


Rather milk is what comes out of cows. It’s water they drink.

Did you say or think milk rather than water? Don’t worry if you did, most people do.

Ok, so spelling is not your strength. Lets try maths then…

The task is to count the number of basket balls that are passed between the people in white shirts. Now concentrate!

It’s made all the more difficult as there are other guys in black bouncing a ball too.

Did you get the right answer?!

I’ve used both these tests in talks or at the start of a team away day. It’s a great way to wake people up. The best thing to do is put someone on the spot. Put them in a spelling chair or bring them upfront to watch the basketball video. Under such pressure no one has ever got it right first time.

But apart from some fun, what’s my point?

Firstly the brain can be lazy at times, and tricked very easily. So to make sure you are ‘in the moment’, break your routines. Change the route you take to work or that cafe you go every morning. Or instead of always having a latte have a smoothie or rearrange your desk – just to make sure you are paying attention to the world around you.

Prime your mind

Secondly, if you are so focused on what you are doing, you are probably missing gorillas everyday. For “gorillas” read ideas or insights which could help solve the very problem you are obsessed with sorting out. So prime your mind to look out for gorillas. If you have a problem write it down in one sentence. And then let go. Your subconscious will work on it and when it sees the gorilla (answer to your problem) it will let you know. For me the hairs on the back of my neck react. Think of your subconscious as the sum total of your experience. All you have to do is be in the moment in order to listen to it.

It’s funny, when you start looking for “gorillas” they have a habit of turning up just when you need them.

So relax and step back from your screen and see the world.

A couple of fun books about the brain and how to use it to get engaged…

4 thoughts on “Are you really thinking?

  1. The idea of “Priming” is really interesting. Behavioural psychologists have done lots of research into how the effects of words, pictures and ideas can affect performance.

    There are a couple of famous examples:

    – In one test people were asked to find the odd word out in groups of four words. One group got normal words and the other group got words about aging and being old. At the end of the test the subjects had to hand their paper in and then walk down the hall to an office to get their payment for completing the test. Here’s the odd thing – people who had the words about aging and being old actually walked slower than the control group. They had been primed to think about being old and then acted it out.

    – In another test on under acheiving school children, an exam was set. Half were given the generic start of the exam rules statement. The other half were given a priming statement which was full of phrases about them being clever and high achievers. The group that got the high acheivement statement got better results than the other group – when normally there was no academic difference between them.

    No one really knows why this effect happens, but it is being shown to be quite powerful (see Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely).

    The implications for fundraisers?

    1) Prime your donors: if you can figure out how you can put your donors in a generous and compassionate mindset, you can get more out of them

    2) (and what you wrote that got me thinking of this) See if you can prime yourself: figure out what you can do to put yourself in a positive and primed state to tackle the problems you need to face



  2. Pingback: What have you got to lose? | ifundraiser

  3. Pingback: Confessions of a fundraiser | ifundraiser

  4. Pingback: Confessions of a fundraiser | ifundraiser

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