Your RAS is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal as a business leader.
You use it every day, whenever you brainstorm a solution or make a decision–and you probably don’t even know it. Your RAS is the key to unlocking new levels of growth for you and your business, but first, you need to understand how it works.
What is your RAS?
Barely wider than a pencil and roughly only two inches long, your RAS, or reticular activating system, is a bundle of nerves in your brainstem that acts as a mediator between your conscious and unconscious mind. It is responsible for parsing sensory data and subconscious perceptions to determine what you need to be actively aware of at any given moment.
This internal process keeps your conscious mind attuned to important signals without being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information your brain takes in from your environment.
A Curated Personal Perspective
Your brain is bombarded with information every second of the day, but not all of it is useful. Your RAS is responsible for filtering the constant barrage of data so that your conscious mind doesn’t waste valuable energy and attention processing irrelevant information. Instead, your RAS operates unconsciously, creating filters based on your focus and then bringing only the most pertinent data to your attention.
⇒ Like when you learn something new and start seeing applications for it everywhere.
⇒ Or the way you tune out the noise of the crowd at a networking event–until someone calls your name.
⇒ Maybe you’ve noticed that when you’re looking for something of a particular color, other items that are a similar shade seem to jump out at you.
These are all examples of your RAS in action, cutting through the noise to shine a spotlight on the details that are significant to you.
A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
It’s also why it can be so incredibly difficult to change someone’s mind, including your own. Your RAS is conditioned to find and deliver information based on your values and priorities, which means it is constantly seeking evidence that reinforces your existing beliefs.
Because your RAS acts as a conduit between your subconscious and your conscious mind, it isn’t only reinforcing the beliefs that you’re aware of; It’s working to reinforce your unconscious beliefs, too. Like how you define success, the value of your work, what you believe good leadership looks like, who you think you have to be and what you have to be willing to do to achieve your goals.
Ever heard of imposter syndrome? That’s your RAS.
It’s why so many business owners struggle with raising their rates and setting firm boundaries around their time. It’s also part of the reason why growing your business to the next level can be so challenging. Because it isn’t just about the strategic actions you take to build your business, it’s about how you show up, who you’re being, and what you believe is possible.
Notice the Narrative
Your RAS shapes the way you see yourself, the world, your business, and the opportunities or obstacles you see. It is the fundamental operating system that crafts your internal narrative, empowering or impeding your personal and professional success.
Unfortunately, you can’t run an OS update on your RAS overnight, but understanding how your RAS works to moderate your attention is the first step towards building and leading your business more strategically.
Start by paying more attention to the thoughts that come up around your work.
⇒ What mental objections arise when you consider raising your rates to reflect the ROI your clients receive from working with you and your company?
⇒ When you start to doubt yourself and what you’re capable of, what does your imposter syndrome have to say?
⇒ When do you feel the most confident and empowered in your business?
Notice the narratives that play on repeat. When you bring more intentional awareness to your internal thought processes, you begin to identify the patterns and beliefs that no longer serve your success and start to shift your perspective of what is possible for you and your business.