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Posted: May 05, 2014

You can change your IQ!

Surprising new neuroscience finding

TC North

New neuroscience research shows that distractions can drastically decrease your fluid intelligence. In fact, this research demonstrates that distractions can literally make you dumb!

Other research shows that certain interruptions (distractions) can change fluid IQ as much as 13 to 14 points. This is huge! It represents an increase in intelligence from average to superior or a decrease from average to borderline deficient. Remember a time when you were continually distracted — did you feel at your brilliant best or less than that?

Terri Griffith, in a Harvard Review blog, reported that Stefan Groschupf, founder and CEO of Datameer, created a culture to help reduce negative interruptions and increase flow. He promotes consciously engaging with work and encourages people to turn off email, hold fewer meetings and focus on smaller chunks of work. This helps create a higher-performance organization.

What is fluid intelligence?

Fluid intelligence is slightly different from what we normally think of as intelligence. It is directly linked to creativity and innovation, which are two of the most valuable traits in progressive organizations today. Christopher Bergland defines fluid intelligence as the capacity to think logically and solve problems in novel situations, independent of acquired knowledge.

Two types of distractions

There are two types of distractions: external and internal. External distractions are obvious; they include anything that is external to your thinking. External distractions include:

  • Meetings.
  • Email.
  • Instant messaging.
  • Phone calls.
  • Unexpected visits.
  • Getting something to drink.
  • Eating.
  • Going to the restroom.

Internal distractions are not obvious and include negatively focused thoughts. Internal distractions include:

  • Things you worry about.
  • A fear that grabs your attention.
  • Anything that preoccupies your mind.

Research also shows that it takes at least 23 minutes to get back on track after being distracted. How can you be your best and be a high performer when continually being distracted and losing focus?

Fluid intelligence is critical for leaders and managers to be better problem solvers, strategists and visionaries. It helps everyone be higher performers.

Minimizing distraction is a new individual high-performance characteristic and is necessary to build a high-performance organizational culture. How might minimizing distractions help you be a higher performer?

Dr. TC North is co-author of the Amazon bestseller Fearless Leaders. For 28 years, he has been a high-performance executive coach and speaker who helps individuals and organizations identify and attain their visions and dreams. He also has coached professional and Olympic athletes in the art of creating thoughts and emotions that maximize success. He’s a professional speaker on “Fearless Leaders” and “Master Fear.” Dr. North’s work has been featured on TV and radio and in business and scientific journals. Learn more at Contact Dr. North at 303-665-8920 or, or connect on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.





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Readers Respond

Thanks Todd! Yes, it's time to rethink the cube and open office concept to design an environment that strikes a balance between fostering collaboration and creating an environment that has fewer distractions, allowing individuals and teams to be their best. By TC North on 2014 05 07
Good stuff, TC! Applicable to individual performers and has substantial application for the "operating systems" of large organizations! By Todd Ordal on 2014 05 07
Big Data Analytics, the measurement was actual fluid IQ! Liz, thanks for appreciating my expertise! By TC North on 2014 05 05
Wow! Changing the IQ! My argument is about the methodology. It kind of measures the outcome, not the actual IQ. Am I right? By Big Data Analytics on 2014 05 05
That was great information TC. Thanks for always sharing such wonderful insight and expertise. Liz By liz wendling on 2014 05 05
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