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Despite our many differences, modern humans share a common failing: We consistently handicap our own best efforts, with disastrous consequences.

Which one of the following describes you?

You want to be successful, but you’re afraid you will fail and look stupid.

You want to find a romantic partner, but you think you’re too ugly.

You want to be patient and kind, but you always seem to lose your temper and shout at everyone.

You want to be focused on your work, but you end up wasting time on lesser priorities…or Netflix.

You want to be calm, but you’re always anxious.

You want to welcome feedback, but you always close down defensively.

You want to be happy, but you wake most mornings with a head full of sadness.

If you’re anything like the rest of us, at least one of these descriptions resonates with you. Despite our different circumstances, we’re all united in one common ailment: We struggle to get out of our own way.

That’s right: Every one of us has a part of ourselves standing between us and success, guarding the gates of triumph.

And that part is in your head, the same place you find the greatest gift of all: your powerful brain.

I know that we don’t really understand where our brain ends and our mind begins, or even the exact nature of the relationship between the two (if they are in fact two). But here is a very curious observation…

Every organ in your body works for you, except your brain.

Your heart beats 72 times per minute to distribute blood and oxygen around your body and to remove waste from working tissues. Your lungs move air in and out of your body 12 times every minute in order to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide with the atmosphere. Your kidneys filter your blood to remove unneeded chemicals. Your digestive tract breaks down food substances to internalize the nutrients you require to operate your complex body systems. Your muscles contract and relax to move your limbs, enabling you to navigate your physical environment.

Whether under your voluntary control, your involuntary control, or both, all of these organs and systems work for you.

And, for the most part, your organs are controlled by your brain, either consciously or subconsciously.

Your brain is the ultimate control center.

So perhaps it’s not unreasonable for the brain to assume it has responsibility beyond your physical survival.


Who gave your brain permission to take over your life?

Who gave it permission to limit your happiness, your financial success, your romantic accomplishments, or the realization of your dreams?

You’ve probably read enough self-help articles and quotes from famous people to know who is responsible for this painful predicament.

Yes, it is you.

We are each powerfully and individually responsible for our own limitations. We alone control our brain. We give it permission to curtail our achievements, or we license it to unlock our success.

The why and how is different for each of us. Your specific combination of hereditary traits, parental influences, and environmental pressures makes your relationship with your brain and mind as unique as your fingerprints.

But we all have the authority to command our brains to serve our own interests and needs.

I call this personal mastery, because when we have all our organs, systems, and faculties working for us, including our brain, we have truly mastered our own biology.

Many of us spend hours, days, and even years learning to master modern technology to enhance our lives. We learn to drive cars, we employ our computers and cellphones, and we increasingly harness the collective intelligence of the Internet of Things. On top of this, we also strive to engage (or manipulate) the other humans in our biosphere for our own benefit.

Isn’t it alarming that we devote so much time and effort to learning computer algorithms and digital gadgets before we have mastered our own enormous power? Isn’t it strange (and even dangerous) that we’re reaching beyond our own capabilities, trying to control others before we have achieved self-control?

Modern science has taught us that we can take clearly defined steps to achieve personal mastery. The brain is a plastic organ. We used to think it was limited, cast in stone soon after our intellectual maturation. Today we know that we can make substantial structural and functional changes well into our final decades.

Personal mastery is achieved through knowledge of our complex neurobiology, personal insight, and hard work. Like skeletal muscles, our intellectual and emotional muscles can be trained.

This is why I believe that everyone who wants to succeed should have a coach—and not just any coach, but a professional coach with intimate knowledge of their neuroscience. The emerging science is empowering and may soon be the differentiator between those who are successful and those who are not; between those who are happy and fulfilled and those who are not.

With escalating competitive pressure, life is no longer a game for amateurs. We must each equip ourselves with the best possible insight and guidance.

Human society is advancing at a terrifying pace, faster than the pedestrian dawdle of natural evolution. One day soon, the very survival of our pinnacle species, the mighty Homo sapiens, will depend on our collective personal mastery.