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Help! My Brain is Full.

I remember reading a funny “Far Side” cartoon years ago. A kid raised his hand while sitting in class and said, “Mr. Osborne — May I be excused? My brain is full.”

The fact is, I feel that way right now. I’ve been researching, reading articles, journals, and books to the point that I’m saturated. I need to take a break in a few minutes.

It reminded me of two conversations I had recently. Dr. Ben Carson said to me last, “Our brains are so brilliant that they actually never get full. They can handle so much more, but they’re often undisciplined. They are like a muscle.” For example, someone may say, “I can’t lift that heavy weight,” but in reality they could if they worked out for several months and built their biceps. Dr. Carson is right. Our brains aren’t full but undisciplined.

Another conversation explained what was happening to me. Doctor G reminded me: “Because the human brain packs so much circuitry in so little space, it creates continuous pressure to extinguish connections the brain no longer needs to make space for those it must have. The adage ‘use it or lose it’ refers to this ruthless neural Darwinism, where brain circuits vie with one other to survive. Those neurons we lose are ‘pruned,’ disappearing like a twig cut from a tree.”

It’s true. Either we use the data in our brains or we lose it. Again, just like a muscle.

The next time you feel your brain is full, take a break. Then, remind yourself that its circuitry can only consume so much at a time and will prune data that isn’t used. If you work with students, you’re probably like me. So much of the “stuff” you hear seems like nonsense. Superficial. It seems irrelevant to your life. That’s where we, as leaders, must discern how to best invest our time.

Are the experiences and information you consume this week the kind you want taking up space in your brain? What’s getting used? What’s taking up space today?

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Help! My Brain is Full.