In one significant way, we all have a learning disability. By design. And by our choice. Let me explain.
By design, our brains are wired for speed. Over 100 billion neurons, connected by one quadrillion synapses, process approximately 100 trillion bits of information per second. The processing power of the human brain is unmatched by even the fastest supercomputers.
Yet, all that power creates enormous excess capacity when it comes to listening. After accounting for comprehension, our brains think at a rate of about 500 words per minute—four times faster than the average person speaks.
The result? While our over-productive brains are instructing our heads to give an attentive nod on the outside, on the inside we’re thinking, “Enough already! Finish your sentence so I can tell you all the great things I just thought about while you were talking.”
All that happens automatically, subconsciously. We may only become aware of it in the presence of a voracious talker. It’s then we feel our angst rise as we’ve not had opportunity to “speak our mind.” It’s why most of us avoid a chatterbox.
And that’s where our learning disabled choice comes in. We don’t want to expend the energy it takes to remain engaged, so we either tune them out or avoid them altogether. So while we may have conserved energy, we may have chosen to forfeit learning. As the famed television talk show host, Larry King, once put it, “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”
The next time you find yourself zoning out in a conversation, give a swift kick to your learning disability and put that souped up brain of yours to work at engaging in it instead.
When are you most inclined to disable your learning?