If you read personal development books or motivational ones, you’ll have no doubt read about the most amazing things happening once someone made a decision to commit to, and focus on, a project. An example of the type of thing I’m talking about can be found here. This is a quote of W H Murray, who was a Scottish Explorer. To paraphrase him, he said that once you decide ‘Right! This is it!’, all sort of opportunities appear all over the place that weren’t there before.

He was right. They really do and there’s science behind why.

The Science Behind Unforseen Opportunity

We each have an area of our brain referred to as the reticular activating system (RAS), which is responsible for helping us to filter the billions of bits of information we receive all day, every day. The ‘chatter’ that the RAS filters out is what we have taught it is stuff that we’re not interested in. For example we don’t need to hear:

  • the traffic outside
  • the sound of the washing machine
  • the kids bickering in the other room
  • the feel of our jeans on our legs
  • the sensation of the chair pressing against our bottom
  • the train that passes every hour (we did when we first moved here, but hey, we don’t notice it any more!)

Using your brain to help you succeed

You get the idea? We filter out things that we don’t need to pay attention to. I mentioned the train because a friend of mine used to live in a cottage right next to a railway along which went the intercity train to London or Glasgow. It passed her house on an hourly basis at about 125mph and the first time it did that when I was there, I nearly dropped my cuppa. It was astonishing! The whole house rattled and shook and the noise was deafening. My pal barely batted an eyelid “oh”, she said “I don’t notice it anymore”! That’s how good we are at teaching our RAS to filter out the stuff we don’t need.

The Science Of The Other Way Round Too

Even better, our RAS works the other way too. You know when you buy a new car in a very unusual colour and suddenly the exact same make and model appears everywhere you go? Well, that’s your RAS doing its thing. You thought the colour was unusual, because your RAS was filtering out details of individual cars – as opposed to traffic. They were of no particular interest to you, so your RAS filed it as something else not to bother you with. However, once you consciously expressed an interest in that particular colour of that sort of car, your RAS perked up and moved that exact thing from the ‘don’t bother noticing this’ file, to the ‘I’m very interested in this’ file. At this point, you suddenly started to notice them all over the place. Clever huh?

Use The Magic Yourself

What could you choose to focus on in your life or your business in order to harness the power of your RAS? If you consciously choose to focus on something, your RAS will kick in and help you to see opportunities that you would never have seen otherwise. W H Murray was right, ‘opportunity exists where there was none before’.