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Dr. Adam Grant: How to Unlock Your Potential, Motivation & Unique Abilities
Dr. Adam Grant: How to Unlock Your Potential, Motivation & Unique Abilities

Dr. Adam Grant: How to Unlock Your Potential, Motivation & Unique Abilities

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Adam Grant, Andrew Huberman
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23 Clips
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Nov 27, 2023
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Episode Transcript
0:00
Welcome to the huberman Lab podcast where we discuss science and science based tools for everyday life. I'm Andrew huberman, and I'm a professor of neurobiology and Ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine. My guest today is dr. Adam Grant Adam Grant is a professor of organizational psychology at the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. He has authored five best-selling books and most recently has authored a new book entitled hidden potential. He received his bachelor's degree.
0:30
Harvard University and his Doctorate from the University of Michigan today. We discuss peer-reviewed studies and tools based on the data from those studies that can enable people to meet their goals and overcome significant challenges including how to overcome procrastination as well as how to see around or through blind spots as well as how to overcome sticking points in motivation and creativity. We also discuss the research on and practical tools related to the underpinnings of performance in any Endeavor in
1:00
including how to increase ones confidence and how to have a persistent growth mindset by the end of today's episode. It will be clear to you the doctor Adam Grant has an absolutely spectacular depth and breadth of knowledge and that knowledge is both practical. It is based on peer reviewed research and he conveys those tools with the utmost Clarity and generosity indeed by the end of today's episode. You will have more than a dozen do tools never discussed before on the huberman Lab podcast that you can apply.
1:30
In your academic Endeavors in athletic Endeavors and creative Endeavors. In fact in any area of life before we begin I'd like to emphasize that this podcast is separate from my teaching and research roles at Stanford. It is however part of my desire and effort to bring zero cost to Consumer information about science and science related tools to the general public in keeping with that theme. I'd like to thank the sponsors of today's podcast. Our first sponsor is eight sleep aids,sleep make smart mattress covers with cooling Heating and sleep tracking capacity.
2:00
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2:30
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3:00
As a special holiday discount eight sleep is offering $500 off their bundles with a pod cover eight sleep currently ships in the USA Canada the UK select countries in the EU and Australia again. That's eight sleep.com hubermann. Today's episode is also brought To Us by levels levels is a program that lets you see how different foods affect your health by giving you real time feedback on your diet using a continuous glucose monitor one of the most important factors in your immediate and long-term health is your blood sugar or blood glucose.
3:30
Regulation with levels, you can see how different foods and food combinations exercise and sleep patterns impact your blood glucose levels. It's very easy to use. You. Just put the monitor on the back of your arm. And then you take your phone and you scan it over that modern out again and it downloads the data about your blood sugar levels in the preceding hours using levels has allowed me to learn a tremendous amount about what works best for me in terms of nutrition exercise work schedules and sleep. So if you're interested in learning more about levels and
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A continuous glucose monitor you can go to levels dot link / huberman levels has launched a new CGM sensor that is smaller and has even better tracking than the previous version right now. They're also offering an additional 23 months of membership again that's levels dot link / huberman to try the new sensor and two free months of membership. Today's episode is also brought To Us by waking up waking up is a meditation app that includes hundreds of meditation programs mindfulness trainings Yoga Nidra sessions and NS.
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Arnon sleep deep rest protocols. I started using the waking up app a few years ago because even though I've been doing regular meditation since my teens and I started doing Yoga Nidra about a decade ago. My dad mentioned to me that he had found an app turned out to be the waking up app, which could teach you meditations of different durations and that had a lot of different types of meditations to place the brain and body in two different states and that he liked it very much. So I gave the waking up a petri and I too found it to be extremely
5:00
Only useful because sometimes I only have a few minutes to meditate other times. I've longer to meditate and indeed. I love the fact that I can explore different types of meditation to bring about different levels of understanding about Consciousness. But also to place my brain and body into lots of different kinds of States depending on which meditation I do. I also love that the waking up app has lots of different types of Yoga Nidra sessions. Those of you don't know Yoga Nidra is a process of lying very still but keeping an active mind. It's a very different than most meditations and there's excellent.
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Tuvok data to show that Yoga Nidra and something similar to it called non sleep deep rest or NS TR can greatly restore levels of cognitive and physical energy. Even with just a short 10 minute session. If you'd like to try the waking up app, you can go to waking up.com huberman and access a free 30-day trial again. That's waking up.com hubermann to access a free 30-day trial and now for my discussion with dr. Adam Grant Adam welcome excited to be here very
6:00
Good to have you here your career, both public-facing and academic career of covered an enormous range of topics. So we have a lot to cover liquor talking and anytime to Professor sit down or even one professor says we have a lot to cover. I think everyone listening braces themselves like oh no but these topics I assure everyone are of the utmost interest and you cover them in such both fabulous detail and you make it very clear. So I'm really looking forward to this.
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I'd like to start off by talking about something that I'm obsessed by and I know a lot of people are obsessed with and struggle with and I know you also have a recent publication on this topic, which is procrastination.
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I am a bit of a procrastinator but a different way of stating that is that I love deadlines. I learned in college that I love love love deadlines because it seems to harness my focus in my attention like just enough. I guess you call it anxiety or autonomic arousal for the you know Neuroscience or physiology oriented folks for me just brings about
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A total elimination of all of the distractors and it seems to both slow and accelerate my perception of time and it seems to bring out my best to have deadlines but I would prefer to not have to procrastinate in order to self-imposed deadlines. I prefer that other people impose those deadlines in fact, so what do we know about procrastination? Why do some people complete things well in advance why do other people procrastinate is?
7:42
It that they're seeking deadlines as I believe I am and interestingly and sort of alluding to this recent paper of yours. What is the relationship between procrastination and creativity? I feel like we should just deal with all that later. Let's put it off good one, by the way, there's extra credit for science horns on here. So but nicely done one of the best articles on procrastination ever written was titled at last my
8:12
Article on procrastination fantastic. I love it. Yeah, it just made me smile. So I think that the basic question I think to start with is why do we procrastinate and I thought I was immune actually when I came into this topic. I was the the person who annoyed my college roommates by finishing my thesis a couple months early. I found out there was a term for me. I'm a procrastinator. So the, you know the focus and the pressure that you get from a deadline I get that the moment the project starts.
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And sometimes months or years in advance. And so I was really proud of finishing everything early and then I discovered there are things that I procrastinate on to which was a little bit disappointing. Are you willing to share what some of those? Yeah, so I procrastinate on anything that's administrative. So I'm right there with you when I get time on my calendar. It could take me weeks to respond. You asked me a question about social science. I will be back to you in a minute. I procrastinate on grading.
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Takes me forever. I basically put off a whole bunch of tests that I thought had nothing in common. It turns out that I procrastinate when I'm bored like boredom is I guess it's probably my most hated emotion. And so I will do anything to avoid a boring task and I think this goes to why people procrastinate which is a lot of people think it's laziness or you're not disciplined enough, but actually the research on this is really clear that you're not avoiding work when you procrastinate in fact a lot of our procrastination
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His focus on doing things that involve a lot of energy you've seen people probably clean their entire houses when they're putting off a task. So it's not that you're being lazy. It's that you're avoiding negative emotions that a star's up. So for me it's boredom for a lot of people. It's fear or anxiety. I don't know if I can pull this off. I have an extreme case of impostor syndrome in this role. The the challenge in front of me is too daunting for some people it's confusion. I haven't figured it out yet. And so I can't work on this because I
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II feel like I'm stuck. So what's I guess the big question for you than answer is what's the emotion that causes you to procrastinate, you know, it's hard for me to identify the stick here. I think of it more as the carrot that comes with deadlines. And again, I don't consider myself a procrastinator per se. I just really love deadlines and procrastination is a terrific way to simulate the deadline. So for me, oh you wait, so you delay starting or finishing a task?
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In order to have a sense of time pressure. That's right. It builds a certain amount of internal arousal me to know. Okay. I've got 72 hours to complete something and it's now game time. I like the game time before the game time before a podcast. I'll put in anywhere from you know, several days to weeks or even months in preparation. So it's really elastic depending on the topic, but when it came to exams in school or if it comes to writing deadlines,
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If I consider the the shipping of the product or the presentation of the live event that I happened to be doing as the second game the or event the first event is the pressure and the excitement of getting into the groove of doing focused work because for me that's such a drug. I mean, it feels like all having all the systems of my brain and body oriented towards one specific thing is just sheer Bliss for me. So it sounds like that in your
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Actually, not a chronic procrastinator. Thank you. And I've never that's never been the way I viewed myself. But now I'll take that it's a strategy for you. It is a strategy. That's right. And I didn't you know, I was fairly Wayward youth barely finished high school Etc. So by time I got serious about school which was my second year of University when deadlines were presented like there's an exam. There's a midterm exam on a given date that was exciting to me that was exciting was like, okay. That's the big thing. That's my
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Opportunity to prove myself to myself because I was really coming from behind and then the opportunity to or I should say that the feeling of dropping into that Groove like this is the exciting part is the preparation likewise with podcasting for our solo podcast. I love the research as much as I love presenting the material may be maybe more maybe more right likewise for University lectures or for traveling and giving seminars as a traditional academic. I'm sure you're familiar with that right? It's nice and preparation.
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Where you realize it's almost like I think of it as somebody like a like a minor in a mine and just finding a gem and of course, there are then they're all the thoughts of what you can do with that later and you're going to show people it has a certain value to the world Etc. But but it's the the searching and finding those gems that is like even as I talk about I feel like my body's going to float out of the chair a little bit. I've the same experience. It's that it's the sort of the Unleashed curiosity and then the rush of Discovery and by the time you're teaching it or explaining it.
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It but I already know this like I'm not learning anything anymore. And yes, I'm excited to share it and I hope it's helpful to other people. So, you know, I think as you talk about what your process looks like, I don't even think what you do qualifies as procrastination Technically. She's getting better and better. It's yours. If you think about it how procrastination is defined. It's it's delaying despite an expected cost.
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And you don't think there's a cost you actually see a benefit. That's right. And I've tried started things Across the Nation. That's just the way you have tried starting the is earlier and and I should say that my process often begins much earlier than the physical process. Like if I was being observed in an experiment be okay, you know Andrews finally sitting down to write this book chapter or you know, finally sitting down to research some papers for an episode, but I'm thinking about it all the time. Yeah, maybe much to the dismay of people.
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My life, you know, I'm I'm constantly thinking about these things. I mean walking to take out the recycle. I'll have ideas and then I'll write them down. I constantly am writing things down voice memos into my phone. I have a method of capture where I basically try and just grab everything and then filter out. What's useful. Do you have a process like that for for gleaning ideas a little bit I do now. So when when G Haitian and I started this research on procrastination she had she had come to me. She's very creative doctoral student and she said,
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I have my best ideas when I'm procrastinating.
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And it was it was one of those moments where I didn't believe her but I thought it was an interesting enough idea that it was worth exploring and I said show me get let's get some data. Let's see if we can we can test this and she ended up Gathering data in a Korean company where she surveyed people on how often they procrastinate and then got their supervisors to rate their creativity and sure enough found that people who procrastinate sometimes were rated as more creative than people who rarely do like me the procrastinators.
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And I remember asking her what about the chronic procrastinators? And she's like, I don't know they never filled out my survey. Yeah, is that recall from that paper? There's an inverted U shape function with procrastination on the vertical axis and and and creativity on the horizontal axis event flipped. Sorry. Okay. So explain to me then the relationship between procrastination and creativity Yeah. So basically the peak of creativity is in the middle of procrastination. Okay. Got it.
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And yeah, there's a there's an upside down U curve there. And so then I thought this was fascinating. So then we go into the lab to say can we replicate this? Can we control it in an experiment? And the hardest part of that was how do you randomly assign people to procrastinate to my knowledge never been done before and we eventually figured out that we could give people a bunch of tasks to do and then tempt them with highly entertaining YouTube videos that were placed on their screen and we put different numbers of YouTube videos there so that you know, there's only
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And you're not tempted to procrastinate much if there are four you're probably going to get sucked into a little bit of a YouTube spiral if they're eight. You might be putting off the task. That's much less exciting than then, you know watching Jimmy Kimmel's Mean Tweets for example, and this was done in a fairly naturalistic environment for this particular people are on a computer. They're asked to you know to solve some created problems that look pretty similar to what you might do in your job. And then we're going to score your creativity later and it turned out that the people who
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Who were attempted to procrastinate moderately ended up generating the most creative ideas? So why is that there are a couple things that happen and you have to look at both sides of the curve. So what's wrong with the procrastinators? And also what happens to the the extreme procrastinators and in both cases? What happens is you end up with a little bit of tunnel vision. So when I dive right into a task, I'm stuck with my first ideas and I don't wait long enough to incubate and get my best ideas. I'm less likely to reframe the problem.
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Less likely to access remote knowledge because I'm just I'm just diving right in and meanwhile The Chronic procrastinators end up in the same boat because they don't get started until the last minute and so they have to rush ahead with the easiest idea to implement as opposed to really developing the most novel idea and meanwhile the people in the middle who you know starting to feel that pressure of wow, you know, I respond by wheels for 10 minutes watching a bunch of YouTube videos. I'm running out of time for this task. They still have enough time to work on the ideas that were active in the back of there.
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Mine's and that gives them a shot at more novel ideas. So I've tried to adopt this to answer question. I've tried to adopt this as my process now to say I will still dive into a project ahead of schedule, but I will not commit to an idea until I've let it incubate for a few weeks and I'm working on other things where as an earlier version of me like when I sit down to write a book as soon as I had the book idea, I would start writing on day one now. I have the idea. I file it away and I get myself at least a month before I began Drafting and I think it feels less.
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But it's far more creative. What are your thoughts about some of what you described being in an unconscious way of seeding the mind and the unconscious with an idea. So for instance, let's take a School academic scenario where students get an assignment and the assignment is contained within a folder and it just says assignment, okay, and it's do in a particular date and it says do on that particular date and they're given the folder but they have no sense of what the assignment is.
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It is you can imagine one category of procrastinator that will take that thing and put it down and avoid looking at it entirely versus another category of procrastinator that will Flip Flip it open and take a look at okay. This is going to be an essay on you know, I don't know something about an economic theory in the late 1700s close it and then procrastinate there is an idea which I frankly I subscribe to a little bit because we recently did this series on Mental Health not
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Walnuts, but mental health with dr. Paul Conti where he talked extensively about the unconscious and how the unconscious mind is always working with ideas things that we are concerned about performance these sorts of things even if we're not aware of them. What what are your thoughts about the creativity that seeded by slight procrastination being related to actually knowing what you're procrastinating on specifically. I think it turns out to be I don't want to say essential but critical so one of the things we found is
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Is in order for moderate procrastination to fuel creativity, you have to be intrinsically motivated by the thing you're procrastinating on interesting. And so what happens is if if you if you're bored, for example by the topic, you're not going to open the folder. You're not going to start thinking about it at all. It's not going to begin. You're not gonna do any subconscious processing. You're not going to have any unexpected connections between this topic and something else you've learned learned about or been curious about if you're interested in the problem then
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When you put it off, you're much more likely to still keep it active in the back of your mind. And that's when you begin to to see you know, I imagine you could explain the biology of this. I imagine for example, there's there's probably there's probably more neural networks that are connecting. You probably get you get access to ideas that previously would have been sort of separate nodes. And so I think that you want to
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Know what the topic is, right? You don't want to just see the blank assignment. But you also have to find a reason that this is exciting to you. Otherwise, you're going to avoid it as opposed to letting it percolate that brings us to the topic of intrinsic motivation and I'd like to link that up with the topic of performance. So when I was in university, there were many topics that I was excited to learn about some more than others, of course, but occasionally I'd be in a class or I'd get an assignment that frankly I had minimal.
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Interested never zero but minimal interest and as a way of dealing with that I embarked on a process of literally lying to myself and just telling myself. Okay. I'm super interested in reading this and I'm going to force myself to be interested in reading it and lo and behold I would start falling in love with certain things. Maybe he was it was even the, you know, the arrival of a word that I didn't recognize and then I would go look it up and I knew I was studying for the GRE at that time. So I had filed that away. I still have my notebooks of all the vocabulary.
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Larry words that I learned in the course of my university courses that frankly made the verbal portion of the GRE pretty easy, you know, which if you ever try and study for that the end it's pretty tough to commit all those new words to let to memory and context so I could find little hooks and and through those hooks I could kind of Ratchet my way into a larger interest and then lo and behold I'm really interested in Greek mythology, you know that actually like that one at first, but I didn't have to trick myself but
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No, maybe we could spend a little bit of time talking about what is true intrinsic motivation. Is it always reflexive can we make ourselves intrinsically motivated about us given topic or scenario or group of people and then let's talk about how intrinsic motivation links to Performance because there's a rich literature on this as I recall and I remember, you know, the Stanford study of rewarding kids for things. They were already not very motivated to do it we could touch on that a little bit and remind people who haven't heard about it.
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But I'm fascinated by this topic because I feel like so much of life is about doing things that initially we don't feel that excited to do. Yeah and yet succeeding in life, you know until you can afford to offload your administrative work to somebody else which hopefully but you know by now you have to get it done, right? This is fundamental to being a functional human being frankly not just successful in air quotes but functional we got to do stuff that we don't enjoy doing. Yeah, so I think
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We can talk about a couple different ways to nurture intrinsic motivation we can think about how the task itself is designed we could think about reward systems and then we can think about also the things we say to ourselves and others which I hope her not lies, but rather persuasive attempts, let's start on that one. Actually. I don't know a lot of people who are that good at deliberate self-deception. Well, I like to think it was only around a particular set of goal motivated Pursuits, but at that time for me also,
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Is survival as I mentioned I didn't do well in high school. I really want to perform well in University, but I knew that working just for the grade wasn't going to carry me. It was it felt catabolic and I don't know maybe I at that age I was still in the window of heightened neuroplasticity. We know it never closes, but but I think I also fell in love with the process of learning how to do what I just described. Yeah, so I think for most people the best method of self
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Persuasion is actually to convince somebody else something of Elliot Aronson, 's classic research on cognitive dissonance where he would he would ask you to go and tell somebody else a task you hated is really interesting. And if he paid you a lot to do it, you still hated the task because you had a justification like I got 20 bucks to you know to kind of FIB a little bit about this task, you know, the task is bad, but I did it for the for the payment when he paid you one dollar to go and tell somebody that
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You loved a task that you didn't you ended up liking it more. Wow, and maybe I shouldn't be surprised but maybe you should tell me why I shouldn't be surprised because I hope people got what you just said very clearly and if they didn't if you don't like doing something going and reporting to somebody else how great that thing is. So lying about it to somebody else is one way to increase the degree to which you like or enjoy that behavior or topic and if you're paid twenty dollars,
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To go lie to somebody in the positive direction. So against your true belief. It's less effective in shifting your underlying effect about that thing your emotions then if you're paid less, correct, exactly. Now, I think obviously in the experiment lying was an easy way to show the effect but in real life, I think the way that you want to apply this is to say, all right. I've got to find something about this task that's interesting to me and then in the process of explaining it to somebody else. I'm going to convince myself because I'm
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The argument from somebody I already like and trust that also chosen chosen the reasons that I find compelling as opposed to hearing somebody else's reasons. And so I think there's this goes to the point that you were making which is if you're trying to find a hook to make a topic intriguing you've got to figure out. Okay. What is it that would make this fascinating to me and in a lot of cases what you're looking for is a curiosity Gap. I think social scientists like to talk about curiosity as an itch.
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That you have to scratch. So there's something you want to know and you don't know it yet. So I would say I tell my students often like take your least favorite class and find a mystery or a puzzle like something that you just do not know the answer to like I actually have talked with our kids about this like what what really happened to King Tut do you know, can you get to the bottom of that and all of a sudden? I wonder I need to Google it and then I need to see if Wikipedia has credible information on this and the more you learn about that the more
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And it becomes and I think that's that's the beginning of the process of finding intrinsic motivation. I see so
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inherent in your answer is the idea that there's something wired into our neural circuits and therefore psychology that Curiosity as a verb.
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The act of being curious and seeking information where well and I should say I Define curiosity and I hopefully you'll disagree with me or agree. Either way. It doesn't matter as long as we can get a bit deeper understanding I Define curiosity as a desire to find something out where you are not attached to a particular outcome. Yes. Is that right? Yeah, I in Psychology is typically defined as just wanting to know and that means you're driven by the question not a particular answer which is exactly what you're driving at. Okay, great. So and I think it was Dorothy Parker that
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It the cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity as there shouldn't be a care for curiosity. So and by the way folks, we don't know what neural circuits subserved curiosity in the brain is about it's got to be a distributed Network. There's no brain area for curiosity, but it's got to be linked up with the reward systems of dopamine etcetera in some way because when one discovers something new that satisfies some curiosity, that's clearly there's a there's an internal reward.
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R okay, let me back up. So if your child or an adult is
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Dreading working exploring a topic or going about an assignment of any kind. You will give them a question that they then need to resolve. What if the assignment is like rake the leaves off the front lawn. Do you do you say, you know count the leaves or I mean, how does one get past the sort of procrastination and generate some intrinsic motivation for things that one dreads where it's unlikely that they're going to discover.
28:34
Some knowledge. That's exceedingly useful for the future. You always start with. Okay. What's the first experiment? I can run find the most interesting looking leaf for your favourite leaf, and then that that lasts for about two minutes and like okay now it's a lot of leaves there. Right? I think not all tasks can be made intrinsically motivating to everyone and so when when intrinsic motivation is difficult to find what you want to substitute with is is a sense of purpose maybe a better way to say that is when the process is not interesting to you. You need to find a meaningful outcome. So
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There's there's some research on the boring but important effect where kids who have a purpose for learning this goes through high school and think you know, this is not just interesting to me, but I'm going to be able to use this knowledge to to help other people one day they are more persistent and they're studying they end up getting better grades. And so I think in terms of motivation is often driven by curiosity about the how a sense of purpose comes from really thinking hard about the why why does this matter?
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And so I'd say with the you know, the raking leaves. Let's try to connect that task to something that looks that you care about are you going to be pleasantly surprised your parents when they get home. Are you going to you know have a place to play soccer that you didn't before and I think then the, you know, the process of getting to that I guess I would say is if you're trying to motivate yourself. It's a little bit harder than if you're trying to motivate somebody else on this if I was going to motivate somebody else.
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Take a page out of the motivational interviewing Playbook where I would say Okay, Andrew actually this place that for a second. So you're going to make a pile of leaves. It's a two-hour task 0 to 10. How excited are you about that? 33 really? I'm surprised. I thought you were gonna say 0 or 1. Hmm. Why is it not lower? I like any sort of physical activity because it allows me to move and I just like moving my body. There we go. Okay, so you just identified a potential source of purpose for that activity.
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And I don't have a I don't have a vested interest in convincing you to do this task. I am genuinely curious about what would motivate you to want to do it. And as you start to articulate it boom self-persuasion kicks in love it. I'm going to start using these these approaches right at your own risk as we all know quality nutrition influences, of course our physical health, but also our mental health and our cognitive functioning our memory our ability to learn new things and to focus and we know that one of the most important
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Features of high quality nutrition is making sure that we get enough vitamins and minerals from high-quality unprocessed or minimally processed sources as well as enough probiotics and prebiotics and fiber to support basically all the cellular functions in our body including the gut microbiome. Now, I like most everybody try to get optimal nutrition from Whole Foods. Ideally mostly from minimally processed or non-processed Foods. However, one of the challenges that I and so many other people face is getting enough servings of highwomen.
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High quality fruits and vegetables per day as well as fiber and probiotics that often accompany those fruits and vegetables. That's why way back in 2012 long before I ever had a podcast. I started drinking a G1 and so I'm delighted the ag-1 is sponsoring the huberman Lab podcast. The reason I started taking a G1 and the reason I still drink ag1. Once or twice a day is that it provides all of my foundational nutritional needs that is it provides insurance that I get the proper amounts of those vitamins minerals probiotics and fiber to another
32:04
Sure, optimal mental health physical health and performance. If you'd like to try a G1 you can go to drink AG one.com huberman to claim a special offer. They're giving away 5 free travel packs plus a year supply of vitamin D3 K to again. That's drink AG one.com huberman to claim that special offer. I have a question about extrinsic motivation. So if
32:31
we grow up being incentivized by extrinsic things, you know, you'll get your allowance. If you blank you can spend the money that you make and you know on your paper route doing the things you really want to do.
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Is there any value in those kinds of learning based incentives for kids and for adults because I mean that's the real world as well. I know plenty of people have family members that only work for a paycheck and they're pretty okay because they like spending their paycheck probably more that I you know, I'm not intrinsically attached to money. I mean I certainly have needs in life, but but I don't enjoy spending money for the sake of spending it or for gaining more possessions, but I know people that do and I certainly don't
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Don't judge are they somehow existing in a in a diminished landscape of happiness or because they seem pretty happy to me but they seem to have also worked out this relationship. They do certain things to get the extrinsic rewards and they really enjoy what they can do with those extrinsic rewards. There's a so, there's a huge body of evidence on what are the effects of end extrinsic rewards on motivation and performance and I think the latest conclusions if you look at the the latest meta-analyses, so
33:47
A huge study of study is trying to accumulate what's the average effect of adding a financial incentive to a task that wasn't incentivized before or to a job where you were paid salary and now we're going to give you incentive compensation. There is a boost so in general people are more productive when they're incentivized for their output, but these incentives are better for for motivating quantity than quality. So you see people get more done, but they're not necessarily more careful or more.
34:17
Errol they less careful unless there are no actually they're still positive effects on average. They're just weaker. And of course you could then start to say well, how do I incentivizes, you know being fast and careful, but I think we're where we do have to be really cautious is there's an undermining effect of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation and you were you were alluding to this earlier dating back to the early 70s where we know that if we take an interesting task and then we pay you for it. You might conclude that you're only doing it for the
34:47
Come and you lose interest in the test. So the classic demonstration Mark Clapper and colleagues is kids playing video games and they're they're playing them because they're fun and then you start to add in an incentive and then when the incentives taken away, they don't want to play anymore because the meaning of the task has changed and now I'm doing it because I want to get something out of it as opposed to I love the process. I think that that that phenomenon does not have to exist so we know for example at work if managers
35:17
Yes, as long as they give people autonomy, they don't present the rewards in a controlling way. So instead of saying, you know Andrew in order to earn this you need to do the following work if they say hey look, you know, I'd really love it. If you you know, if you would deliver the following in order to make that worth your while I'm offering this incentive people react very differently when they have a sense of choice and control. So I think that that's I guess the starting point in the presence of autonomy. I don't think there's
35:47
Your downside of extrinsic rewards. I think you also have to be careful that yeah, I guess that you're not over justifying the task. In other words, you're not you're not swapping people's intrinsic reason for doing it. But you're adding a reason to try it. So actually if we if we go to a different domain for a second so you look at kids who don't want to eat their vegetables extrinsic incentives are very effective to get kids to try vegetables for the first time, but then the hope is that
36:16
That they discover a vegetable or two that they don't mind and then they find reasons to keep doing it. And I think that that's how I want a lot of rewards to work. I don't think that rewards should be carrots that we dangle to try to control people's behavior. I think they should be symbols of how much we appreciate in value a particular behavior. And if you frame them that way it's a lot easier for people to say. Yeah, you know what I'm that that reward is something that I really want, but I'm not only doing the task for
36:47
Reward yeah that that you basically answered the question. I was going to ask which is and your risk of sounding new agey. But we are sitting in California I could imagine that when one is focused on the lsats tranzec rewards so of physical tasks or cognitive tasks for an extrinsic reward, if I'm focusing on the extrinsic reward. I'm also air quotes again not present right? I'm thinking about the outcome. I'm not thinking about process and
37:16
And I think there's you perhaps you can flush out some of what this is exactly. But I think there's a fairly extensive data to support the idea that when we are physically and mentally present to the tasks that we're going to perform better and presumably are intrinsic liking of that task or performing that task increases as well. Is that true? Yeah, I think so, I think so if we want to break down the mechanisms for why intrinsic motivation is useful for for performance one you touched on earlier its focus of attention your it's much easier.
37:47
Find flow when you're intrinsically motivated you get into that state of deep absorption where time melts away. So you mentioned, you know, sort of either speeding up or slowing down your sense of time. You forget where you are. Sometimes you even lose track of your identity and you're just you're just merged into the task. And so that that that concentration is helpful. There's also a greater persistence effect that when you enjoy what you're doing you're less likely to give up in the face of obstacles. You're more likely to think about it when you're not doing the task and come up with great ideas and
38:16
So, you know, I think there's there's a working harder. There's a working longer. There's a working smarter and there's also a thinking more clearly affect. This is a brief but related tangent one of the things that I found incredibly difficult in recent years is that you know, most of my life really since I was a small kid I was forging for things and then, you know, I used to give lectures on Monday in class if they let me until they eventually stopped me about the stuff. I was reading about all weekend so down early
38:47
Rotten egg and the professor aerial front but now if I'm reading something and I discover what I think is a really valuable piece of information or a tool or a protocol like wow, this is really cool. These findings are oh so cool. There's a problem, which is that now I have an opportunity to cast that out to the world through social media.
39:11
We all do this could be but I'm sorry you're on social media from time to time. I do much you're all over my feet you and I both do our own social media, by the way, which I really appreciate. I think he won can always detect if someone else has handling someone social media. So yes, I'm on social media and and I love that. I have the opportunity to both send out ideas and information and also receive feedback. I really love the comment section and always encourage comments I learned from it. Frankly. Love is a strong word I learned
39:40
From it, you know and you and I were weaned in the academic culture where frankly the kind of hazing that you one receives. An academic culture is very different than the kind of hazing the one receives on social media. But let's just say that if you come up through Academia, you develop a pretty thick skin. I do have to say though that there was a part of me that was really surprised. When I started posting on social that I love. I love constructive criticism. I was unprepared for the number of people who will need York criticize a study without even looking at whether the methods are rigorous.
40:10
The Tatian app that includes hundreds of meditation programs mindfulness trainings Yoga Nidra sessions and NSD are non sleep depressed protocols. I started using the waking up app a few years ago because even though I've been doing regular meditation since my teens and I started doing Yoga Nidra about a decade ago, my dad mentioned to me that he had found an app turned out to be the waking up app, which could teach you meditations of different durations and that had a lot of different types of meditations to place the brain and body into different.
40:40
States and that he liked it very much. So I gave the waking up a petri and I too found it to be extremely useful because sometimes I only have a few minutes to meditate other times. I've longer to meditate and indeed. I love the fact that I can explore different types of meditation to bring about different levels of understanding about Consciousness, but also to place my brain and body into lots of different kinds of States depending on which meditation I do. I also love that the waking up app has lots of different types of Yoga Nidra sessions. Those of you don't know Yoga Nidra is
41:10
A process of lying very still but keeping an active mind. It's a very different than most meditations and there's excellent scientific data to show that Yoga Nidra and something similar to it called non sleep deep rest or NS TR can greatly restore levels of cognitive and physical energy, even with just a short 10 minute session. If you'd like to try the waking up app, you can go to waking up.com huberman and access a free 30-day trial again. That's waking up.com hubermann to access a free 30-day trial.
41:40
And now for my discussion with dr. Adam Grant Adam, welcome excited to be here very excited to have you here your career both public facing and academic career of covered an enormous range of topics. So we have a lot to cover liquor talking and anytime to Professor sit down or even one professor says we have a lot to cover I think everyone listening braces themselves like, oh no but these topics I assure everyone are of the utmost interest.
42:10
You cover them in such both fabulous detail and you make it very clear. So I'm really looking forward to this. I'd like to start off by talking about something that I'm obsessed by and I know a lot of people are obsessed with and struggle with and I know you also have a recent publication on this topic, which is procrastination.
42:33
I am a bit of a procrastinator but a different way of stating that is that I love deadlines. I learned in college that I love love love deadlines because it seems to harness my focus in my attention like just enough. I guess you call it anxiety or autonomic arousal for the you know Neuroscience or physiology oriented folks for me just brings about
43:00
A total elimination of all of the distractors and it seems to both slow and accelerate my perception of time and it seems to bring out my best to have deadlines but I would prefer to not have to procrastinate in order to self-imposed deadlines. I prefer that other people impose those deadlines in fact, so what do we know about procrastination? Why do some people complete things well in advance why do other people procrastinate is?
43:29
It that they're seeking deadlines as I believe I am and interestingly and sort of alluding to this recent paper of yours. What is the relationship between procrastination and creativity? I
43:44
feel like we should just deal with all that later. Let's put it off good one,
43:49
by the way, there's extra credit for science horns on here. So
43:53
but nicely done one of the best articles on procrastination ever written was titled at last my
43:59
Article on procrastination fantastic. I love it. Yeah, it just made me smile. So I think that the basic question I think to start with is why do we procrastinate and I thought I was immune actually when I came into this topic. I was the the person who annoyed my college roommates by finishing my thesis a couple months early. I found out there was a term for me. I'm a procrastinator. So the, you know the focus and the pressure that you get from a deadline I get that the moment the project starts.
44:30
And sometimes months or years in advance. And so I was really proud of finishing everything early and then I discovered there are things that I procrastinate on to which was a little bit
44:40
disappointing. Are you willing to share what some of
44:42
those? Yeah, so I procrastinate on anything that's administrative. So I'm right there with you when I get time on my calendar. It could take me weeks to respond. You asked me a question about social science. I will be back to you in a minute. I procrastinate on grading.
45:00
Takes me forever. I basically put off a whole bunch of tests that I thought had nothing in common. It turns out that I procrastinate when I'm bored like boredom is I guess it's probably my most hated emotion. And so I will do anything to avoid a boring task and I think this goes to why people procrastinate which is a lot of people think it's laziness or you're not disciplined enough, but actually the research on this is really clear that you're not avoiding work when you procrastinate in fact a lot of our procrastination
45:29
His focus on doing things that involve a lot of energy you've seen people probably clean their entire houses when they're putting off a task. So it's not that you're being lazy. It's that you're avoiding negative emotions that a star's up. So for me it's boredom for a lot of people. It's fear or anxiety. I don't know if I can pull this off. I have an extreme case of impostor syndrome in this role. The the challenge in front of me is too daunting for some people it's confusion. I haven't figured it out yet. And so I can't work on this because I
45:59
II feel like I'm stuck. So what's I guess the big question for you than answer is what's the emotion that causes you to procrastinate,
46:07
you know, it's hard for me to identify the stick here. I think of it more as the carrot that comes with deadlines. And again, I don't consider myself a procrastinator per se. I just really love deadlines and procrastination is a terrific way to simulate the deadline. So for
46:25
me, oh you wait, so you delay starting or finishing a task?
46:29
In order to have a sense of time
46:31
pressure. That's right. It builds a certain amount of internal arousal me to know. Okay. I've got 72 hours to complete something and it's now game time. I like the game time before the game time before a podcast. I'll put in anywhere from you know, several days to weeks or even months in preparation. So it's really elastic depending on the topic, but when it came to exams in school or if it comes to writing deadlines,
46:59
If I consider the the shipping of the product or the presentation of the live event that I happened to be doing as the second game the or event the first event is the pressure and the excitement of getting into the groove of doing focused work because for me that's such a drug. I mean, it feels like all having all the systems of my brain and body oriented towards one specific thing is just sheer Bliss for me.
47:28
So it sounds like that in your
47:29
Actually, not a chronic procrastinator.
47:32
Thank you. And I've never that's never been the way I viewed myself. But now I'll
47:37
take that it's a strategy for
47:38
you. It is a strategy. That's right. And I didn't you know, I was fairly Wayward youth barely finished high school Etc. So by time I got serious about school which was my second year of University when deadlines were presented like there's an exam. There's a midterm exam on a given date that was exciting to me that was exciting was like, okay. That's the big thing. That's my
47:59
Opportunity to prove myself to myself because I was really coming from behind and then the opportunity to or I should say that the feeling of dropping into that Groove like this is the exciting part is the preparation likewise with podcasting for our solo podcast. I love the research as much as I love presenting the material may be maybe more maybe more right likewise for University lectures or for traveling and giving seminars as a traditional academic. I'm sure you're familiar with that right? It's nice and preparation.
48:29
Where you realize it's almost like I think of it as somebody like a like a minor in a mine and just finding a gem and of course, there are then they're all the thoughts of what you can do with that later and you're going to show people it has a certain value to the world Etc. But but it's the the searching and finding those gems that is like even as I talk about I feel like my body's going to float out of the chair a little
48:50
bit. I've the same experience. It's that it's the sort of the Unleashed curiosity and then the rush of Discovery and by the time you're teaching it or explaining it.
48:59
It but I already know this like I'm not learning anything anymore. And yes, I'm excited to share it and I hope it's helpful to other people. So, you know, I think as you talk about what your process looks like, I don't even think what you do qualifies as procrastination Technically.
49:14
She's getting better and better. It's
49:15
yours. If you think about it how procrastination is defined. It's it's delaying despite an expected cost.
49:23
And you don't think there's a cost you actually see a benefit.
49:26
That's right. And I've tried started things
49:28
Across the Nation. That's just the way
49:30
you have tried starting the is earlier and and I should say that my process often begins much earlier than the physical process. Like if I was being observed in an experiment be okay, you know Andrews finally sitting down to write this book chapter or you know, finally sitting down to research some papers for an episode, but I'm thinking about it all the time. Yeah, maybe much to the dismay of people.
49:53
My life, you know, I'm I'm constantly thinking about these things. I mean walking to take out the recycle. I'll have ideas and then I'll write them down. I constantly am writing things down voice memos into my phone. I have a method of capture where I basically try and just grab everything and then filter out. What's useful. Do you have a process like that for for gleaning
50:12
ideas a little bit I do now. So when when G Haitian and I started this research on procrastination she had she had come to me. She's very creative doctoral student and she said,
50:23
I have my best ideas when I'm procrastinating.
50:26
And it was it was one of those moments where I didn't believe her but I thought it was an interesting enough idea that it was worth exploring and I said show me get let's get some data. Let's see if we can we can test this and she ended up Gathering data in a Korean company where she surveyed people on how often they procrastinate and then got their supervisors to rate their creativity and sure enough found that people who procrastinate sometimes were rated as more creative than people who rarely do like me the procrastinators.
50:56
And I remember asking her what about the chronic procrastinators? And she's like, I don't know they never filled out my survey.
51:02
Yeah, is that recall from that paper? There's an inverted U shape function with procrastination on the vertical axis and and and creativity on the horizontal axis event flipped. Sorry. Okay. So explain to me then the relationship between procrastination and
51:20
creativity Yeah. So basically the peak of creativity is in the middle of
51:23
procrastination. Okay. Got it.
51:25
And yeah, there's a there's an upside down U curve there. And so then I thought this was fascinating. So then we go into the lab to say can we replicate this? Can we control it in an experiment? And the hardest part of that was how do you randomly assign people to procrastinate to my knowledge never been done before and we eventually figured out that we could give people a bunch of tasks to do and then tempt them with highly entertaining YouTube videos that were placed on their screen and we put different numbers of YouTube videos there so that you know, there's only
51:55
And you're not tempted to procrastinate much if there are four you're probably going to get sucked into a little bit of a YouTube spiral if they're eight. You might be putting off the task. That's much less exciting than then, you know watching Jimmy Kimmel's Mean Tweets for
52:09
example, and this was done in a fairly naturalistic
52:12
environment for this particular people are on a computer. They're asked to you know to solve some created problems that look pretty similar to what you might do in your job. And then we're going to score your creativity later and it turned out that the people who
52:25
Who were attempted to procrastinate moderately ended up generating the most creative ideas? So why is that there are a couple things that happen and you have to look at both sides of the curve. So what's wrong with the procrastinators? And also what happens to the the extreme procrastinators and in both cases? What happens is you end up with a little bit of tunnel vision. So when I dive right into a task, I'm stuck with my first ideas and I don't wait long enough to incubate and get my best ideas. I'm less likely to reframe the problem.
52:55
Less likely to access remote knowledge because I'm just I'm just diving right in and meanwhile The Chronic procrastinators end up in the same boat because they don't get started until the last minute and so they have to rush ahead with the easiest idea to implement as opposed to really developing the most novel idea and meanwhile the people in the middle who you know starting to feel that pressure of wow, you know, I respond by wheels for 10 minutes watching a bunch of YouTube videos. I'm running out of time for this task. They still have enough time to work on the ideas that were active in the back of there.
53:25
Mine's and that gives them a shot at more novel ideas. So I've tried to adopt this to answer question. I've tried to adopt this as my process now to say I will still dive into a project ahead of schedule, but I will not commit to an idea until I've let it incubate for a few weeks and I'm working on other things where as an earlier version of me like when I sit down to write a book as soon as I had the book idea, I would start writing on day one now. I have the idea. I file it away and I get myself at least a month before I began Drafting and I think it feels less.
53:55
But it's far more creative.
53:57
What are your thoughts about some of what you described being in an unconscious way of seeding the mind and the unconscious with an idea. So for instance, let's take a School academic scenario where students get an assignment and the assignment is contained within a folder and it just says assignment, okay, and it's do in a particular date and it says do on that particular date and they're given the folder but they have no sense of what the assignment is.
54:25
It is you can imagine one category of procrastinator that will take that thing and put it down and avoid looking at it entirely versus another category of procrastinator that will Flip Flip it open and take a look at okay. This is going to be an essay on you know, I don't know something about an economic theory in the late 1700s close it and then procrastinate there is an idea which I frankly I subscribe to a little bit because we recently did this series on Mental Health not
54:55
Walnuts, but mental health with dr. Paul Conti where he talked extensively about the unconscious and how the unconscious mind is always working with ideas things that we are concerned about performance these sorts of things even if we're not aware of them. What what are your thoughts about the creativity that seeded by slight procrastination being related to actually knowing what you're procrastinating on specifically.
55:19
I think it turns out to be I don't want to say essential but critical so one of the things we found is
55:25
Is in order for moderate procrastination to fuel creativity, you have to be intrinsically motivated by the thing you're procrastinating on interesting. And so what happens is if if you if you're bored, for example by the topic, you're not going to open the folder. You're not going to start thinking about it at all. It's not going to begin. You're not gonna do any subconscious processing. You're not going to have any unexpected connections between this topic and something else you've learned learned about or been curious about if you're interested in the problem then
55:55
When you put it off, you're much more likely to still keep it active in the back of your mind. And that's when you begin to to see you know, I imagine you could explain the biology of this. I imagine for example, there's there's probably there's probably more neural networks that are connecting. You probably get you get access to ideas that previously would have been sort of separate nodes. And so I think that you want to
56:25
Know what the topic is, right? You don't want to just see the blank assignment. But you also have to find a reason that this is exciting to you. Otherwise, you're going to avoid it as opposed to letting it percolate
56:35
that brings us to the topic of intrinsic motivation and I'd like to link that up with the topic of performance. So when I was in university, there were many topics that I was excited to learn about some more than others, of course, but occasionally I'd be in a class or I'd get an assignment that frankly I had minimal.
56:55
Interested never zero but minimal interest and as a way of dealing with that I embarked on a process of literally lying to myself and just telling myself. Okay. I'm super interested in reading this and I'm going to force myself to be interested in reading it and lo and behold I would start falling in love with certain things. Maybe he was it was even the, you know, the arrival of a word that I didn't recognize and then I would go look it up and I knew I was studying for the GRE at that time. So I had filed that away. I still have my notebooks of all the vocabulary.
57:25
Larry words that I learned in the course of my university courses that frankly made the verbal portion of the GRE pretty easy, you know, which if you ever try and study for that the end it's pretty tough to commit all those new words to let to memory and context so I could find little hooks and and through those hooks I could kind of Ratchet my way into a larger interest and then lo and behold I'm really interested in Greek mythology, you know that actually like that one at first, but I didn't have to trick myself but
57:55
No, maybe we could spend a little bit of time talking about what is true intrinsic motivation. Is it always reflexive can we make ourselves intrinsically motivated about us given topic or scenario or group of people and then let's talk about how intrinsic motivation links to Performance because there's a rich literature on this as I recall and I remember, you know, the Stanford study of rewarding kids for things. They were already not very motivated to do it we could touch on that a little bit and remind people who haven't heard about it.
58:25
But I'm fascinated by this topic because I feel like so much of life is about doing things that initially we don't feel that excited to do. Yeah and yet succeeding in life, you know until you can afford to offload your administrative work to somebody else which hopefully but you know by now you have to get it done, right? This is fundamental to being a functional human being frankly not just successful in air quotes but functional we got to do stuff that we don't enjoy doing.
58:54
Yeah, so I think
58:56
We can talk about a couple different ways to nurture intrinsic motivation we can think about how the task itself is designed we could think about reward systems and then we can think about also the things we say to ourselves and others which I hope her not lies, but rather persuasive attempts, let's start on that one. Actually. I don't know a lot of people who are that good at deliberate
59:17
self-deception. Well, I like to think it was only around a particular set of goal motivated Pursuits, but at that time for me also,
59:25
Is survival as I mentioned I didn't do well in high school. I really want to perform well in University, but I knew that working just for the grade wasn't going to carry me. It was it felt catabolic and I don't know maybe I at that age I was still in the window of heightened neuroplasticity. We know it never closes, but but I think I also fell in love with the process of learning how to do what I just described.
59:52
Yeah, so I think for most people the best method of self
59:55
Persuasion is actually to convince somebody else something of Elliot Aronson, 's classic research on cognitive dissonance where he would he would ask you to go and tell somebody else a task you hated is really interesting. And if he paid you a lot to do it, you still hated the task because you had a justification like I got 20 bucks to you know to kind of FIB a little bit about this task, you know, the task is bad, but I did it for the for the payment when he paid you one dollar to go and tell somebody that
1:00:25
You loved a task that you didn't you ended up liking it more.
1:00:29
Wow, and maybe I shouldn't be surprised but maybe you should tell me why I shouldn't be surprised because I hope people got what you just said very clearly and if they didn't if you don't like doing something going and reporting to somebody else how great that thing is. So lying about it to somebody else is one way to increase the degree to which you like or enjoy that behavior or topic and if you're paid twenty dollars,
1:00:55
To go lie to somebody in the positive direction. So against your true belief. It's less effective in shifting your underlying effect about that thing your emotions then if you're paid less,
1:01:06
correct, exactly. Now, I think obviously in the experiment lying was an easy way to show the effect but in real life, I think the way that you want to apply this is to say, all right. I've got to find something about this task that's interesting to me and then in the process of explaining it to somebody else. I'm going to convince myself because I'm
1:01:25
The argument from somebody I already like and trust that also chosen chosen the reasons that I find compelling as opposed to hearing somebody else's reasons. And so I think there's this goes to the point that you were making which is if you're trying to find a hook to make a topic intriguing you've got to figure out. Okay. What is it that would make this fascinating to me and in a lot of cases what you're looking for is a curiosity Gap. I think social scientists like to talk about curiosity as an itch.
1:01:55
That you have to scratch. So there's something you want to know and you don't know it yet. So I would say I tell my students often like take your least favorite class and find a mystery or a puzzle like something that you you just do not know the answer to like I actually have talked with our kids about this like what what really happened to King Tut do you know, can you get to the bottom of that and all of a sudden? I wonder I need to Google it and then I need to see if Wikipedia has credible information on this and the more you learn about that the more
1:02:25
And it becomes and I think that's that's the beginning of the process of finding intrinsic motivation. I see so
1:02:33
inherent in your answer is the idea that there's something wired into our neural circuits and therefore psychology that Curiosity as a verb.
1:02:45
The act of being curious and seeking information where well and I should say I Define curiosity and I hopefully you'll disagree with me or agree. Either way. It doesn't matter as long as we can get a bit deeper understanding I Define curiosity as a desire to find something out where you are not attached to a particular
1:03:02
outcome. Yes. Is that right? Yeah, I in Psychology is typically defined as just wanting to know and that means you're