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Envy as a Tool, the 40% Rule & Go and No-Go Brain Circuits

🤸‍♀️ Stretch 41

Peak of Mount Agung, Bali (3,000m)

🤸‍♀️ IN THIS WEEK'S STRETCH:

  • My Podcast Conversation. From following your envy to sharing your ideas online to the power of coaching.

  • The 40% Rule. David Goggins’ rule for mentally pushing through discomfort.

  • Go and No-Go Brain Circuits. Training your brain’s discipline and self-control neural pathways.

🎧 PODCAST CONVERSATION: FROM ENVY TO ONLINE WRITING TO COACHING

Nick Diller, health and fitness coach, recently invited me to come on his podcast, Limitless.

Pretty new experience for me but so much fun!

We spoke about my journey from working in advertising for 10 years before jumping into the world of writing; the power of sharing your ideas online; how and why I’m so interested in writing about neuroscience; the techniques I use to be more creative, focused and motivated; and muuuch more!

I added a few clips below, and if you’re interested, you can check out the full episode here:

🎧 Listen on Spotify // Listen on Apple Podcasts.

P.S.: in the last clip, I talk about how I’m thinking of working with a coach on public speaking and video. If you have any tips or recommendations here, please let me know. Also, if you have a podcast and think we could have an interesting conversation, also let me know. I’m excited to do more of this stuff!

Transforming envy into motivation and drive:

The power of sharing your ideas online:

Working with coaches as an underrated tool for growth and learning:

💪 THE 40% RULE FOR PUSHING THROUGH MENTAL DISCOMFORT

Over the last few days, I went freediving and hiked up a 3,000-m mountain here in Bali.

Both activities involved quite a bit of mental friction.

It’s not natural to swim down headfirst on a single breath or to trek up a steep incline in pitch-black darkness.

It’s fascinating to see where the mind goes in those moments, and how hard it tries to make you stop—even when there’s no reason to.

This reminded me of David Goggin’s 40% Rule:

“When your mind is telling you that you’re done, that you’re exhausted, that you cannot possibly go any further, you’re only actually 40% done. Your brain is wired to protect you. Most of the time, our brain will show up to protect us when we don't need protecting."

I don’t know about the 40%, but I do know it’s true that my mind will jump in long before it needs to.

As Milton, our wonderful freediving instructor, told us:

Purely physiologically speaking, we are all able to spend 2 minutes underwater on a single breath and go to 50 meters of depth—minimum. Our bodies are built in a way that allows that. So that's not the problem. The problem is the mind.

And yet, after just 10-20 seconds and a few meters deep into the water, my mind was interfering. Even though rationally I know I have more than enough oxygen in my system to keep going, the panic of not being able to breathe hits immediately.

It was the same with the hike.

We left at 12 am to make it to the peak for sunrise. The first few hours, the voice in my head was having a field day. “I’m too tired to do this. I haven’t slept, and now I’m hiking up and down a mountain for the next 10 hours. These boots are too big; I won’t make it up the steep parts. And I can feel a blister coming up. I should’ve worn thicker socks.”

On and on it went. A constant barrage of gloomy thoughts, trying to convince me to stop and turn back.

Finally, we ended up being on our feet for about 14 hours, and my body did just fine.

A great reminder of the importance of mental strength:

Hearing your thoughts, recognizing the urge to stop, and moving forward anyway.

Luckily, we don’t have to travel to Bali to train and strengthen our minds.

We can use simple, everyday moments to do this... 👇

🚦 GO & NO-GO BRAIN CIRCUITS

I once heard Andrew Huberman speak on a podcast about how he regularly stops himself from doing trivial things—like picking up a paper clip or fidgeting with a pen in a meeting.

Why does he do that? Why does that matter?!

It starts with a concept called limbic friction. The “I don’t want to’s” and “I can’t do this’s”—just as I was describing earlier.

Limbic friction is the struggle between your limbic system and your forebrain:

  • The limbic system is made up of the parts of your brain that control the primitive, reflexive states and impulses. This system is focused on the now. This is the oldest part of your brain.

  • The forebrain, or the prefrontal cortex, is the rational decision-maker. This system can draw on a memory bank and make decisions based on the past and the future. This is the newest part of our brain.

Now, it’s possible to train yourself to overcome mental friction by:

  • Doing things you don’t want to do (i.e. getting out of bed, going to the gym,…)

  • NOT doing things you want to do (i.e. checking your phone, finishing the bags of crisps,…)

The aim is that you recognize the impulse or urge, and then let your forebrain take over to make the right decision despite the mental friction.

By consistently doing this, you are strengthening the ‘go’ & ‘no-go’ pathways in your brain. These are  the neural circuits involved in motivating you to do something (self-disciple) or not do something (self-control).

Just like a muscle, you can make these pathways stronger so it becomes easier and easier for the forebrain to override the limbic system.

Huberman explained that by stopping himself from picking up a paperclip or fidgeting with a pen, he’s training his No-Go circuit. A well-trained, strong No-Go circuit can then be relied on in any situation where not doing what you want to do is crucial.

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