A few years ago I trekked along part of the Camino Inca - a 45 km track at high altitude through the Andean mountains finishing at the amazing ancient Incan site of Machu Picchu in Peru. About 5 km into the trek we arrived at one of the extraordinary sacred sites along the way to have a short break. As we stood there taking in the view our tour guide shared that down below along the river was a track that merchants used to take to get to Machu Picchu that only took about 6 hours and jokingly offered for those of us not interested in continuing for the next 4 days to take the short cut.
I like to think of our brains as a network of trails made up of our past thoughts, emotions and behaviours. When we find a 'trail' that works for us we tend to stick with it because it's known to have served us in some way in the past. If you think of your life, and the different areas like family, health, work, leisure, finances etc you will notice that you have 'go to' thoughts, emotions and behaviours that have helped you learn right from wrong, keep you safe and reward you, or help you avoid painful outcomes.
Over time those trails become so ingrained and familiar that we just follow them without a second thought. At work our success and failure is determined by how well we perform by behaving in ways that reward us and lead to positive outcomes for ourselves, our team, the business we work in and the customers it serves. Top performers are those who are constantly learning, innovating where possible, taking time to reflect on what they are learning and share important learning with others who might benefit.
A question we may all benefit from asking ourselves more often is - what am I UNLEARNING that will help me perform at my best? Knowing that our brains are pattern seeking machines looking for ways to conserve energy and take shortcuts, that question will help us take stock of thoughts and behaviours that aren't serving us and develop new neural pathways in our brain.
Like my trek on the Camino Inca, consider creating mindful moments in your day to pause and uncover new 'trails' of thinking and behaving that will help you achieve the things you need to get done in a more innovative and efficient way.