How to Make Sure You Keep Growing and Learning: The Neurobiological Miracle of Horse-Human Cooperation

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Sep 13, 2023

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How to Make Sure You Keep Growing and Learning: The Neurobiological Miracle of Horse-Human Cooperation

Leaders who are widely viewed as effective and highly successful in their organizations will tell you that 70% of the learning that got them there was through their experiences, 20% was through other people, and 10% was through courses, books, and other types of education. This reveals that a learning mindset is crucial for personal and professional growth. Those with a learning mindset are open to challenges and focused on improving themselves rather than comparing themselves to others.

One way to foster a learning mindset is by recognizing the pain of the present. When there's something in your current situation that's causing pain for you or others, it creates a motive to grow, change, or try something different. This discomfort can serve as a catalyst for learning and personal growth.

Additionally, our fantasies of the future can be powerful motivators for learning. Whether these fantasies come from our imagination or our observation of role models, they create learning goals for us. It's important to note that these goals should be focused on improvement and personal growth rather than a desire to be the best. When we shift our mindset from being the best to getting better, we can stay in a learning mindset and avoid getting caught up in proving our greatness to others.

Feedback is another critical aspect of the growth process. To be personally and interpersonally effective, you can't rely solely on your own assessment of your effectiveness. Seeking feedback from others, whether it's your boss, peers, or subordinates, is essential. Many people are afraid to ask for feedback directly because they worry about appearing weak or uncertain. However, research shows that asking for feedback actually makes others perceive you as more effective and caring. By seeking feedback, you can gain valuable insights into areas where you can improve and continue growing.

Now, let's explore the neurobiological miracle of horse-human cooperation. Every step a horse takes is determined in conjunction with many invisible cues from its human rider. This collaboration between predator brain and prey brain forms a feedback loop, allowing communication from brain to brain in real time. Horses, with their prey brains, and humans, with their predator brains, share largely invisible signals through mutual body language. This neural dance extends the mind of each species beyond its own skin and into the mind of the other.

The horse's brain provides astounding touch detection, allowing it to transduce external pressure, temperature, and body position into neural impulses. This exceptional touch sensitivity, coupled with the horse's reliance on body language for communication, forms the foundation for brain-to-brain communication between horses and humans. Horses are also natural learners, unburdened by the social and cognitive baggage carried by human brains. This pure form of learning allows them to quickly understand and respond to human cues.

The fact that horses and humans can communicate neurally without the need for language or equipment is critical to their ability to initiate the cellular dance between their brains. This communication occurs through invisible cues and signals, such as pressure applied by a rider's calf muscle. The horse's brain interprets these signals based on its learned associations with specific behaviors. Over time, with countless neural contacts, the human brain learns to respond to the horse's signals and cues, allowing for a seamless partnership.

Brain-to-brain communication between horses and riders goes beyond touch and body language. It also involves sharing attention and focus. Horses, due to their evolutionary history as prey animals, have heightened vigilance and the ability to notice slight movements in their environment. Humans, on the other hand, excel at concentration. Through neural interaction, the human brain can learn to heed signals from the equine brain that draw attention to specific stimuli in the environment.

Furthermore, it is possible for horse and rider to share features of executive function. While horses do not possess a prefrontal cortex like humans, they excel at learning, remembering, and communicating. By interacting with the human's prefrontal cortex, horses may be able to tap into small glimmers of executive function, allowing for more nuanced behaviors and responses.

Incorporating these insights into our own lives, we can apply three actionable advice to ensure continuous growth and learning:

  • 1. Embrace a learning mindset: Focus on getting better than you were in the past rather than comparing yourself to others. Set goals that promote personal growth and improvement.
  • 2. Seek feedback: Don't be afraid to ask for feedback from others. It shows that you are open to learning and improving. Use feedback as a tool to identify areas where you can grow.
  • 3. Approach experiences with a learning mindset: When faced with challenges or discomfort, view them as opportunities for growth. Experiment, try new approaches, and seek feedback to maximize your learning and development.

In conclusion, continuous growth and learning are essential for personal and professional success. By adopting a learning mindset, seeking feedback, and approaching experiences with a focus on personal growth, we can ensure that we keep growing and evolving. The neurobiological miracle of horse-human cooperation demonstrates the power of brain-to-brain communication and the potential for deep connections between different species. By understanding and harnessing the principles of this unique partnership, we can unlock new possibilities for growth and collaboration in our own lives.

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