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Understanding Your Biology to Transform Your Learning

By Dr. Cameron McDonald

Attention deficits, mental fog, demotivation, flow, focus and maximum productivity are all buzz words when it comes to how an individual learns. With 4000 strategies to enhance focus, to get the most out of your day, medications to take help you dial in and special foods, exercise and morning routines to get you in the zone, we need to take a step back and realise that our biological make-up and it’s response to the environment are key to unlocking our best mental work.

‘It’s not what you are trying to learn, it’s how you are trying to learn it!’

When it comes to understanding biology and how it influences learning, the HealthTypes are the best lens through which to view.

An Activator with greater release of adrenaline and a higher competitive drive will have intense periods of focus, and then they need to move their body. Make the learning a little competitive and urgent and you have the best environment for high powered brain activity.

A Diplomat on the other hand, for optimal serotonin balance, needs a schedule for their learning, a plan with as few external time pressures as possible. Combine that with some time in nature before learning and watch the steady rhythm of focus flow.

A Guardian, with their nurturing/protective focus needs a steady rhythm again, and if they understand how the learning they are doing will support those people around them, it allows their prolactin to flow and their endless selfless drive to support their focus.

A Crusader, with a need for Dopamine and to feel like an expert, needs to see the importance of this learning to their overall greater purpose/interests, then give them the reference information, a list of priorities, a short 5-10 breathing session and watch them fly, particularly if they get to tell others about what they have learnt!

A Connector is all about oxytocin, trust and fun. If learning starts out easy, with some quick wins (start the job with a mate and help each other), they’ll feel great and want to focus. Have them talk their ideas out loud and watch them solve problems with the best of them. Ultimate task switchers, don’t fight the shiny light, just make it fun to come back to finish the previous task.

A Sensor is the poster child student, feeling best when they can follow rules, gather information and work through a list, their strength is in mental focus and completing things diligently. The big distraction for Sensors come from a cold, noisy, busy environment. So ensure that they are warm, it’s quiet and they had a comfortable warm meal.

As you can see the ‘optimal learning environment’ is different for different people. There is no one-size-fits-all morning routine, productivity hack or learning aid that will work for everyone.

Want to understand more about your own learning style and that of the people you work with?

Get along to the next PHA Level 1 Course!

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